God, and the Devil, Are in the details

From letter to students for Therapeia 22.6: 10-11 September 2022.

The Perception of Uniqueness.

In the previous lecture, we set about to radically review our understanding of mythology and what it might mean for the soul: “The purpose of myth was to relate the soul to.. its divine nature..” (MoA 192).

Contrary to 19th century paradigms (which still dominate psychology), which would first split and then stigmatise our imaginings from our rational and wilful ego, we have understood psychopathology as memoria; those realms of fantasy expressed both in the twisted tales of mythology, and also in our own distorted imaginations. This view allows access to a more profound experience of our human condition, since “.. through the memoria the Gods enter our lives.” (MoA 180).

Our view shifts. “We enter a myth and take part in it directly through our afflictions” (MoA 196). Psychopathology, and the perversions of imagination that accompany it, become a method that “shows the Gods.. as living right now and speaking through our fantasies and afflictions” (MoA 197). And it is therapeutic. “.. we can be cured of what ails us by what ails us.” (MoA 197).

We paused our studies of Myth of Analysis on p199. However, to gain deeper insight into mythology, we ended that course with a short detour into the imagination of salt, with special reference to the Biblical instruction, “You shall season your every offering of meal with salt; you shall not omit from your meal offering the salt of your covenant with God; with all your offerings you must offer salt.” (Lev2:13). Aside from the emphatic three mentions of ‘offering salt’ in one verse, there is also the enigmatic phrase ‘a covenant of salt with God’. We will return to the story of salt, as it flavours our understanding of mythology and psychopathology.

Back in our primary text, we arrive at some narrow straits that require a slower passage: “.. details are an inherent part of fantasy figures; if the details are not originally in the mytheme, the image will take on ‘sharpened expressions’, a pathological distortion, in order to bring the pathological into the mythic.. to gain entry into the imaginal and mythic, is through the ‘sharpened expressions’ of personalised pathology.” (MoA 199).

And: “‘Distortion’, ‘tortured’, ‘torment’ – these words refer to the twisted nature of the psyche, it’s complexity.. Our complexes are a twisting together of opposites.. We are twisted in soul because soul is by nature and of necessity in a torturous condition. We cannot be explained, nor can we be straightened out.. For, as Jung said, the complexes are life itself…” (MoA 200).

Once we are through these, and can again stand up and stretch, it’s plain sailing in the salty spring breeze. We can return more kindly to those many names that psychology has used to label psychopathology, and view those with a necessarily dark eye, since these nomina are themselves “expressions of the mythical imagination.” (MoA 204).

The port is in sight.