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Sunday, December 15, 2013

New Age Deception: Jungian Psychology & The Goddess Within



At some point in the 1990s I read The Goddess Within by Jennifer and Roger Woolger. Both authors are Gestalt and Jungian psychologists. Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. He gave us the concepts of introversion and extroversion; archetypes; and the collective unconscious. His theories have been influential in the study of religion, philosophy, archeology, anthropology, literature, and related fields.

The Goddess Within is a treatise on feminine archetypes based on six goddesses of the Greek pantheon: Aphrodite, Demeter, Artemis, Athena, Persephone, and Hera. Contained within is a multiple choice quiz which helps you to pinpoint the most prominent archetype in your personality. As with other personality type tests, each person is a combination of types, but you will usually score highest in one particular area.

My last quarter in college, I took a personality test to help point me in the direction of compatible career options. It was most likely the Meyers-Briggs test. Of the six types, I scored highest on the "social", followed by the "creative" and the "entrepreneur" categories. Your top 3, in that particular order, head a list of jobs for which you will be well-suited. My category had the shortest list, and absolutely none of the careers sounded interesting to me!

Before I got married, my husband and I were counseled by the minister who married us. We took personality tests together, so that we would have a better understanding of one another in our marriage. I was "sanguine", followed by "melancholic". According to the minister, my personality type did not exist--one could not be both happy and sad, he insisted. Of course, that was oversimplifying the types, but I was secretly proud to have an "impossible" personality!

My goddess type, you are wondering? Keep in mind that I was single at the time. Aphrodite, followed by Persephone and Artemis. The social, sanguine goddess of love, the melancholic, creative goddess of the underworld, and the independent huntress (which I think would correlate with the entrepreneur). So yes, these tests can be quite accurate. But aren't people, and maybe especially women, more complicated than what shows up on a multiple choice test? I think my impossible personality quite proves the point. And really, there are only 6 basic personality types?

I just remembered that personality can also be influenced by birth order (according to another psychology book). But what if you are not an oldest, middle, only, or youngest child? What if you are 3rd to the last in a family of 15 children? And how does all of this relate to New Age religion, anyway? Let's get back to the archetypes. In Jungian psychology, an archetype is "an inherited pattern of thought or symbolic imagery derived from the past collective experience and present in the individual consciousness" (dictionary.search.yahoo.com).

In other words, I don't have the literal goddess, Aphrodite, living inside of me, but I am a certain type of woman who has the Aphrodite qualities foremost in my personality, if you believe the theory. There is a collective unconscious memory (and some archeological evidence) of worship of the Great Goddess from which the lesser Greek and Roman goddesses derived. The Great Goddess was fractured by patriarchal invaders who worshiped a male "sky" god. The wisdom of women and their close connection to the Earth was trampled under the feet of the conquerors. Gone was an egalitarian, peaceful society of men and women who were equals. In came male dominance and the plundering of the planet. Or so one possible version of history goes, and likely there is at least some truth to be found in it. And as we are seeing, a little truth mixed into a carefully woven web of lies can be exceedingly effective.

Women, according to this Jungian interpretation, represent these fractured goddess figures, and men also contain them in the "feminine" aspect of their personalities. The pantheon of deities is given as a way of uncovering the dignity of our divine nature. From what I recall, The Goddess Within doesn't make a blatant statement that human beings are by nature divine. Yet the title might be making this implication, don't you think?

Is this collective unconscious real? Do individuals really have the collective memories of our species somehow stored inside of us? I don't know the answers to many of these questions. What I do know is that it isn't a far leap from "the goddess within" to "the Christ within", or from the "collective unconscious" to "Christ consciousness". If you have been following this topic of the New Age deception, perhaps you are beginning to see why I didn't want to tackle such a major project.

This whole personality typing thing is not much different from astrology and reading one's horoscope. It is merely more "scientific" in its presentation.  Perhaps it would be more useful if we were all encouraged to understand ourselves first and foremost as beloved children of the one, true Creator God, who is our Abba, and as brothers and sisters of Christ Jesus, with Mary as our spiritual Mother. If we were to see ourselves in the communion of saints rather than in a mythological pantheon. Wouldn't such a worldview have vast potential for helping us to discover our vocation in life and for healing our wounds? Ah, but that is the very last worldview that the New Age wants us to see.

I'm going to take a hiatus now, until after Christmas. So keep doing your own research. And most of all, have a happy, joyous holiday season with your family. Let auld acquaintance be forgot, and have a Merry Christmas!!