Is it possible that we each have our own personal Divine Twin? by Susan Gifford


Susan by GaryEI recently re-read several books written by Jeffrey Raff, a Jungian analyst with a deep interest in spiritual alchemy.  Raff has a Ph.D. in Psychology from Union Graduate School and a diploma from the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich.  While studying in Zurich, he was most influenced by Marie-Louise von Franz.  Raff, von Franz and many others feel that Jung was most importantly a spiritual teacher and that Jungian psychology follows in the path of other western esoteric traditions such as Gnosticism, Kabbalah, Sufism and Alchemy.

The Divinity in these traditions is very far from the patriarchal god of current organized religions and that is attractive to me.   It is a “God” with both masculine and feminine energy – who relates to all humans – as partners.  Equality and partnership are feminine/feminist qualities.  Surely such a “God” would not be in favor of patriarchal religions that view women as second-class and give men all the religious leadership power. 

Raff has been an analyst in Colorado for close to 40 years, serves as President of the Jung Institute of Colorado, and has written three books: Jung and the Alchemical Imagination, The Wedding of Sophia, and The Practice of Ally Work.  He has also co-authored another book, Healing the Wounded God, with Linda Bonnington Vocatura.   I read all four books about three years ago and, while I found them compelling, his ideas seemed so far beyond anything I’d ever considered that I put the books aside for a time.  His ideas are post-Jungian in that he describes psychological and spiritual processes that go beyond the idea of individuation.  Raff writes that each of us has a “divine twin” which he called our ally.  Our ally can help us in our own individuation process and then continue to work with us further – to the point where we and our ally eventually merge with the Divinity.  This divine merger does not, however, destroy our unique being or our ally’s unique being.

Jung never wrote about the ally or even about processes beyond individuation.  Jung considered an individual’s psyche to be composed of both their consciousness and their personal unconscious.  The center of an individual’s consciousness is their ego.  The center of their entire psyche is their Self, an inner image of the Divinity, which initially is in a latent form.  Through the process of individuation, the individual’s unconscious is integrated with their consciousness and their Self manifests and becomes both the center of the psyche and the whole of the psyche (a paradox).  Their ego does not disappear; it is an equal partner with their Self.  This individuation process is usually a very lengthy one and likely rarely completed.

Although Jung did not discuss any theoretical spiritual growth that might occur after individuation, Raff proposes that there are further spiritual steps that are evolving and moving into our current collective unconscious. (These further steps are not entirely new.  Some people in the past were aware of them, but this spirituality is becoming more “accessible” in our collective unconscious.) Raff feels that he has seen evidence of these steps in the hundreds of client dreams that he analyzes every year, as well as in his own life and the lives of his students.

Writing both from his own personal experiences and from his studies of western esoteric traditions, Raff postulates a cosmos divided between our physical world and the spiritual world, but adds a third dimension of reality termed the psychoid realm.  In the spiritual world, the Divinity is undivided.  The Divinity divides its own unity and manifests in the psychoid realm in an infinite variety of Names.  Each Name is a “face” of the Divinity and as such is part of the undivided Divinity, but paradoxically each Name is also an entity with a life and consciousness of its own.   Each person has an ally and their ally is one of the infinite Names of the Divinity, a Name/entity unique to that person.  Although the ally exists in the psychoid realm, an individual has access to this realm during dreaming or active imagination.  The ally is best met through the process of ctive Imagination since this is a way in which the individual and their ally can have “conversations”.  Their relationship can develop over time and is described by Raff as one based on love and trust.  Once formed, the relationship is a continuing one between equal partners who need each other in order for both to evolve and grow spiritually.

To drastically simplify Raff’s description of spiritual growth following individuation, the ally and the Self of the human eventually form a unified being, although each maintains its own uniqueness.  This union recreates a wholeness that was previously lost.  Each human and its unique ally were somehow split and separated during the creation process and their re-union is a restoration of wholeness, but at a new level.  Since the ally is a Name of the Divinity, this re-union not only unites the human with their ally, but also both with the Divinity.  Again, neither the human nor their ally lose their own unique “personality.”  (Raff says that he only writes about spiritual processes that he and his associates have personally experienced.)

For me, I have reservations about using active imagination to develop a relationship with a psychoidal being and perhaps am not ready to for that.  But, I have been considering many of Raff’s ideas and they bring up other, on-going questions for me.   I wonder why the Divinity ever created anything at all – the universe, animals, plants, rocks and more personally – humans.  Many spiritual teachers say that the Divinity wanted or needed to be in relationship with “others” in order to see itself and even in order to evolve.  It is difficult for me to understand how the Divinity can or would evolve and why humans would be a necessary and important part of that evolution.  Does anyone else care to give their thoughts in the comments?

 

Susan Gifford earned her B.S. from Millersville University and did extensive graduate work in Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado. She worked as a Mainframe Computer Systems Analyst and Programmer for many years, while living in Colorado. She and her husband are retired and, along with their dog, moved to the southern Oregon coast last year. She reads extensively and thinks about what she’s read as she walks along the incredibly beautiful beaches there.

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Categories: Belief, religion, Spirituality

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12 replies

  1. I wonder if Raff critiques the standard Jungian view that “the feminine” represents the unconscious and relatedness without individuation, while “the masculine” represents the consciousness and independence. If not, no matter how much it is said that “the feminine” is a good thing, it still represents a “lower” stage of consciousness, the assumption being a patriarchal one, that though the feminine and the masculine need to “marry,” the man is the head and the woman is once again the body.

    In addition,Jungians work with an evolutionary theory of history in which (despite the Unholy Trinity of Rape, Genocide, and War it brought with it), patriarchy is understood as an “advance”and a “neccessary advance,” allowing consciousness and the independent self to develop. This theory excuses patriarchy while criticizing only its “excesses.” Even worse, it denigrates earlier stages of human history that feminists have been working to reclaim. I mean, is it “rational” to say that the women who invented agriculture were still in an unconscious stage of being in the world? Or did it take rational insight to comprehend that if a seed was saved and stored in a cool place in the fall and planted in the spring it would sprout again, If it did, then as Gimbutas suggests, criticizing the Indo-European culture, perhaps “patriarchy” was not necessary for the “evolution” of consciousness. Perhaps culture could have changed and developed without male domination,, slavery, rape, war, the vicious control of female sexuality, colonialism, and so forth. But this would require a genuinely radical critique of western culture (and other patriarchal cultures) that Jungians for the most part have not been interested in doing.

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    • Carol, as a woman who has been deeply wounded by patriarchal thinking since the age of 10, I’ve consciously struggled with this issue ever since I started studying Jungian psychology 26 years ago. Since then, I’ve had three books published. All of them are about my passion for empowering women and “the feminine”. The last one won the 2013 national Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council for excellence in communicating religious faith and values in the public arena and for encouraging understanding among faith groups on a national level.

      You are correct in saying that in Jungian psychology, “the feminine” symbolizes one’s unconscious, self. By “unconscious,” Jung means all the unknown and undeveloped qualities in ourselves that must become conscious before we can become a fully empowered, fulfilled, creative individual. Likewise, “the masculine” represents consciousness, individuality and independence.

      Now here’s the rub: “the feminine and “the masculine” are the two primary foundations of every psyche, whether it belongs to a male or a female. In other words, you and I and every woman have a “feminine” and a “masculine” side. Or we can call these same principles Lunar and Solar, or as Jung called them, Eros (the principle of relatedness) and Logos, (the principle of mental discrimination) or anything else that encompasses the necessity and equal value of both in any pair of opposites that combine to create life. For example, neurologist Dr. Leonard Shlain saw a close correlation between these principles and the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Just as we all have both sides of our brains, so do we also contain both the feminine and the masculine principles. These labels are simply metaphors for the two basic energies of life.

      The critical mistake patriarchy has made is in polarizing these two foundations in themselves and the world, assigning “the masculine” only to men, and “the feminine” only to women. And because of their misogynistic attitudes, (which are based on fear of their own mysterious and profoundly powerful feminine sides and their need to gain power over them), the more physically powerful male leaders throughout history have insisted on equating “the feminine” and by inference, women, with a “lower,” and inferior stage of consciousness. In fact, every new insight that has added to the growing consciousness of the human race has obviously had equal input from, and an equal impact on, males and females alike.

      Thus, it is not “that the women who invented agriculture were still in an unconscious stage of being in the world.” It is that the dominant males of that time refused to acknowledge this brilliant expression of women’s creativity that rises from everyone’s feminine side. Or perhaps they did acknowledge it at the time, which would explain the reverence earlier had for the Great Mother goddess. However, as civilization continued to be influenced by dominant patriarchal attitudes, the male writers of history deliberately ignored, diminished, or co-opted the contributions of women. What I’m saying is that women were and have always been every bit as conscious as men, in some ways moreso, especially in their respect for nurturance, relationship, cooperation, and shared authority, etc., while men may have been a bit more conscious in their own areas of specialty while denying women the opportunity to access those areas (for example, equal education, full participation in governing, individuating, etc.)

      I totally agree that culture would have continued to grow and change without male domination, but it could not have done so had our forebears, males and females alike, repressed the masculine principle in every psyche. Both are needed for humanity’s fullest development. Notice I do not say that patriarchal attitudes and practices were necessary, but that the masculine principle was and still is.

      Patriarchy’s separation and distortion of these principles has brought us to the crises we are experiencing today. The only solution is for us to be conscious of every pair of opposites and integrate them within ourselves. Healing our inner divides will inevitably contribute to the healthy development of all of us. Only then will we create a more peaceful, equitable world.

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      • Do you view your view as Jungian or as critical of Jung and many Jungians. I don’t think there is any doubt that Jung himself viewed the feminine as something men of his time needed to incorporate, while at the same time he and his friends spoke of animus-ridden women, who dared to argue with men, which may have been me and thee. Nor is there any doubt that far to many Jungians do not take the nuanced view that you do, but assert that patriarchy was a necessary advance in culture, otherwise people or men would not have individuated or become rational. Yes they say that today the feminine needs to be reintegrated, but without challenging the view that what happened had to happen.

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      • I would say my view is post- or neo-Jungian. Discovering Jungian psychology and adopting the practice of dreamwork over the past 26 years has transformed me from a wounded, angry, unhappy and unfulfilled woman, into one who is manifesting her individuality and creativity and feels she has found spiritual meaning and fulfillment in her life. For that I am profoundly grateful.

        However, I am far from being in total agreement with all his theories. Through my research and personal work I have come to terms with the fact that he was not all-wise or all-knowing, but was speaking as a man from a different era and place who was conditioned (or, as I think of it, brainwashed) by the spirit of his times. Just as we still are. So being from a different time and era and culture, and having consciously explored the spirit of my own depths, I have come to many conclusions that differ from his.

        I honestly don’t know whether patriarchy was inevitable, or whether it could have been avoided. But what I do know from personal experience is that being obsessively one-sided in one’s views (patriarchy is an example of a one-sided obsession with the masculine principle) in either direction is the trigger that motivates the search for a more “advanced” and integrated form of consciousness. Why? Because it sets up an intolerable cognitive dissonance that eventually forces individuals and cultures to look for a resolution. Since this cognitive dissonance was crucial to my own desire to acquire self-knowledge in order to understand the impact that the spirit of the times had on me, I tend to think that this is the same factor that has continued to trigger growth in collective consciousness.

        Historically, obsessive one-sidedness caused chaos which motivated growth and change in small tribes and developing civilizations. Now, with the technology that allows us to be globally collected it has created global chaos. My hope is that this will trigger change away from dominance and separation and toward equality and integration. This is what my studies and experiences have taught me.

        Assuredly not everyone who has been powerfully influenced by Jungian theories would agree with me. For examples, many are so attracted to Jung’s “heady” theories that they project their God-image onto him to the point that his views become dogma. Sure in their “faith” they can continue to cling to beliefs, thus, handily avoiding the pain of facing their own heartfelt woundedness. This, of course, is the basic problem of every one-sided religion that is imposed from without.

        For me, the antidote to one-sidedness of any kind is a committed search for self-knowledge. This alone has the power to create necessary change.

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      • In my opinion, the animus and anima archetypes (masculine and feminine energy) are both part of every individual – male or female. I disagree with Jung on this point and I know that at least one “Jungian” who did too – James Hillman. I think Jeffrey Raff may also, but I don’t remember him ever stating it that way. I’m not sure why you think that most Jungians feel that patriarchy was a necessary step in our evolution. I feel that we can use some or many of Jung’s ideas to help understand our relationship to the Divinity or our Self (and the two may be the same).

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      • http://www.amazon.com/Origins-History-Consciousness-Princeton-Classics/dp/0691163596/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
        Erich Neumann articulated the theory that patriarchy represents an advance in consciousness, from a Jungian perspective, as did many early theorists of “matriarchy,” and his ideas are often repeated.

        From the publisher’s book description: “The intermediate stages are projected in the universal myths of the World Creation, Great Mother, Separation of the World Parents, Birth of the Hero, Slaying of the Dragon, Rescue of the Captive, and Transformation and Deification of the Hero. Throughout the sequence, the Hero is the evolving ego consciousness,”

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      • If we remember that the ego is the organ of consciousness; if we remember that consciousness, like wholeness and enlightenment, is a function of integrating the opposites; and if we remember that patriarchy associates heroism only with the male ego, then we can see the incompleteness of this theory. humanity’s highest goals can never be accomplished without equal respect and reverence for both of the foundational energies of life.

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  2. Why bother to create anything at all? Hmmm. Alleviate boredom?

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  3. For a novelist whose raison d’etre is active imagination the experience of such an ally is a familiar one, though I don’t frame it in Jungian or post Jungian terms. Allow me to introduce you to my friend. Scratch that. She can introduce herself: http://elizabethcunninghamwrites.com/content/maeve-speaks

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    • Elizabeth, I so love your writing! And I think the deepest parts of us can best be described and connected with, through story and other arts.
      When I was scheduled to read the creation story in Genesis chapter 1, I met with the musician and we set it to a simple tune between reader and congregation, with the refrain: “And God saw that it was good”. It was written as a part of temple liturgy. The second creation story in Genesis is the “adam and eve” one that is so different. Then Ann Mortifee has a Creation Song in her album “Reflections on Crooked Walking” which is my favourite! I made a little video of it for my own fun – it’s not on-line but I would send it to anyone who would enjoy it. It’s 21 MB.
      Thinking of Susan’s question, I’m not sure that humans are a “necessary part” of evolution. We have a capacity for reflection and self awareness, but who can say what goes through the mind of a whale or a termite? I also think that if we continue on the path we are presently following, we will go extinct as a species so the earth can recover from our abuse.

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      • Barbara, thank you! And I would love to see/hear the video “Reflections on Crooked Walking.” I don’t know how secure it is to post an email address here. You can email me through the contact page on my website: http://www.elizabethcunninghamwrites.com and I will email you back! I second the reflections in you last paragraph! Thanks again!

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  4. Why did the great spirit create? Perhaps as the amazing Maya Angelou said: A caged bird doesn’t sing because it CAN, it sings because it MUST. And we were created in Her image.

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