What I’m going to share with you here is a model of the human mind. This is the concept that took root in me several years ago, and since then I have never returned to the suicidal depths of depression that I suffered through for so long before.
I will not say that I do not still sometimes sink, but it is not that long soul-wrenching drought that ruins my life.
It started as part of a search to heal myself. I was encouraged by the news coming out at the time about the therapeutic use of magic mushrooms in the treatment of mental illness. In exploring the idea, I encountered a suggestion to read Carl Jung’s “Psychology and Alchemy” as a means to understand the psychedelic imagery I might encounter on such a trip.
Psychology and Alchemy
First, let me start by saying that by the time I was 20 pages into this book I had all but forgotten about taking a mushroom trip. I had effectively fallen into a dream – a state of continuous epiphany that was very much the experience of conscious reframing that I so desperately needed.
At the time I was still in the habit of squelching the pain with whiskey, weed, and cigarettes. As I became immersed in thought, developing a relationship with these new ideas, I would pace incessantly over every inch of my backyard with Black Velvet on ice in one hand, a Pall Mall blue in the other, and a loaded glass bowl in my pocket.
There was a point where my thinking would become foggy and unproductive for obvious reasons, but that usually didn’t happen before about 2 AM. For the hours leading up to that, I was reconnecting everything I knew and all of my life’s experiences into a new, more coherent pattern.
The Anatomy of a Mind
As I’m so keen to do, let’s take a moment to reflect on our reflections again… what do we see when we step outside and look into our minds?
So much of our private inner-experience is spent in imagined conversation. Perhaps you have a figure from history to whom you find yourself explaining the workings of the modern world. Maybe you have a friend from the past who was too critical of you and so you imagine defending yourself from their judgments. There could be a celebrity you admire whose respect you’re trying to earn by sharing with them your best ideas, or a family member who disappoints you and so you tell them exactly what you think of them.
While these characters of the mind will vary by personal nuance from one individual to the next, what I will assert to you is that they are in essence the same for all of us. They are discreet appendages of mental anatomy that are as much a part of each of us as our feet and hands.
I’ll go even further as to say that these conscious figures that we so often find ourselves in communion with have been projected as cultural totems for all of human history. I find the clearest example of this to be the pantheons of Gods as seen in ancient mythology.
If you find that hard to believe, consider the words of analytical psychologist James Hillam, “… psychology shows myths in modern dress and myths show our depth psychology in ancient dress.”