If we view a dream as some kind of stage-play, then these figures take on roles in the play that reflect their particular natures. In a series of dreams we will continually meet these same players over and over again in different dress and with different plots, speaking different line but always representing particular "patterns of behavior." This is not unlike the medieval morality plays, whose characters represented not persons but attitudes such as "Faith," Sorrow," "Courage," etc. Even today these morality plays are performed "out there" in movies and on television. Some styles of play have become honed and perfected the degree that they are now more like rituals than like plays. The universal appeal of the "Western" movie largely due to its use of players as archetypal symbol. We all recognize the Hero (the good guy, with the white hat), the Shadow (he wears the black hat), the Old Wise Man (the rancher, or the old doctor), the bright anima (the rancherís daughter, pure and sweet), and the dads anima (the dancehall strumpet, sullied but redeemable). The great Hero Myth replays itself every night on the living room TV. This is our own unique Hero Myth, and serves us as the tales of Ulysses enchanted the Greeks, or the stories of the Knights of the Round Table served the people of medieval England.
Our own personal dreams are no less interesting or significant. They are far more valuable to us, in fact, because they are a record of our inner growth. We do not pay as much attention to them as we should, but if we did, we would soon learn to recognize the "players" just as we recognize them in the Western movie. These players are parts of ourselves, and each night act out our problems, our hopes, and our potentials. They often have contradictory desires and needs which will be acted out in conflicts of various kinds. Sometimes the dreamer is a passive observer, and in these cases the dream is a way that the unconscious tells the ego what the unconscious wants it to know. This is reasonable enough, since the unconscious canít talk to us when we are "awake," but when we are "asleep," it has control, and then it can complain to us, or congratulate us about how we acted during the day. In psychological terms, some dreams are compensatory (makeup for what we do not do when "awake"), and some dreams are complementary (complement our "waking" life).
In some dreams the dreamer takes an active part and himself participates in the play. Often he represents himself (the ego), but sometimes he may take the part of one of the archetypes. In such a role he may do many things that he ordinarily cannot do (like flying through the air), or that he would not do (like murder), and can experience great successes and great failures. Proper analysis and reflection upon these plays can lead us to greater self-understanding, and also to inner growth.
To do this requires some understanding of ancient symbolism, however. Our dream figures do not always appear as cowboys and bandits and other easily recognized figures. Often they appear as ancient or archaic images. Dr. Jungís dream analysis rests upon his postulation anent the arche-types, where he often associates dream symbolism with the symbolism of ancient cults. Arriving thus at his abstract conclusions we see why these have served to baffle many of the more orthodox psychologists of our day, and why they would be inclined to think of Dr. Jung as being mystical. His conclusions about this do, however, agree in the main with the teachings of the Mystical Qabalah, and other genuine occult systems.
One of the structures Jung finds in the psyche he calls the Persona. This, he says, is the mask the self-conscious personality wears to meet the exigencies of its world. If the personality becomes totally identified with the Persona it becomes a "grown on" mask that thereby rules and dominates the true personality. This results in the conscious mind being cut off from, and therefore unable to recognize the inferior element or function, which Jung calls the Shadow. (In occult terms the true personality would be the "unit of incarnation," and the Persona would be the conditioning, mores, etc., that this personality becomes identified with, including oneís position in life-doctor, lawyer, merchant chief, butcher, baker, candlestick maker, to quote from the old nursery rhyme.) Jungís shadow archetype would equate with the Dweller on the Threshhold of occultismóoneís inferior proclivities hidden in the unconscious. The cutting off of this element from consciousness, as the "good" Christian in particular does, results in psychic eruptions that must (due to their subconscious origin) be projected onto oneís world.
In terms of current psychology, the Persona is the role which a person plays, the major or predominant role. Most people have several roles to play: businessman by day, boy-scout leader at night, church-elder on Sunday, etc. Most of us are aware of these roles and can play them without becoming fully identified with them. That is, we are aware that we are playing a role, and do not fully believe that we are what we are playing at being. This does not mean that we are not serious in our play; we can be deadly serious. But we do not intend to become one of those roles for 24 hours a day. In fact we usually cannot keep it up for 24 hours. This is the success of the "marathon therapy" currently in vogue; it wears down the Persona which a person cannot maintain, and it then permits the personality to emerge. The fact that such large numbers of people profit from this therapy suggests that very few of us ever show our real selves in public. But the ease with which the person may be unmasked (by sheer 24 hour endurance) also shows that marathon therapy is not dealing with the psychological depths, but only with the most superficial aspect of the psyche. Anyone who is able (or rather willing) to drop his mask at will is neither frightened by such therapy nor helped by it.
The personality is the "it" which knows that it is the businessman, the boy-scout leader, and the church elder all together and is also "itself," Harry, who once fenced hot goods to work his way through college and who has a secret passion for the poetry of Keats. Harry is the unifying intelligence which keeps all the others together, and the danger comes only when he forgets he is Harry and starts to believe that he is one of Harryís roles, like Mr. Business man. If he comes to believe that he is Mr. Businessman to the exclusion of all the rest, then the other parts of Harry become repressed and have no chance to live. Living unconsciously, they will turn mean and nag him. Mr. Businessman comes to dominate Harry, and will not let him remember that he was once a fence.
This is how the Shadow becomes totally split off from consciousness. Not that the Shadow is conscious, by any means. But most of us are aware to some extent of our own failings and shortcomings, of our Mr. Hyde. It is only when we will not own up to being bad, even to ourselves, even in darkest night, that we are in deep trouble psychologically. When this happens, we can do nothing but project this dark side onto the world and begin to see horrible criminals on every side, threatening our own false goodness. When this happens on a mass level the world turns to witch-hunting, an event as common today as it was in ages past. Witch-hunts inevitably follow ages of spiritual purity, for a witch-hunt is the ultimate in holier-than-thou-ness.
The individual, or society, is constantly oscillating between projecting his better self onto the world and projecting his lesser self. These are but two aspects or sides to life, though manifesting as separate in time. Life experiences alternate in this cyclic fashion, back and forth, back and forth, forever and ever. This forms the basis of the Hindu concept of the cyclic rhythms of the cosmos, whereas we in the West tend to view everything in a straight line: progress onward and upward and things getting better and better every day. The fact that we have wars and peace in quite regular rhythms does not dissuade us from this linear way of thinking, but if there is progress to be had, it would appear from the evidence of psychology and occult science that it is only the cycle itself which progresses. For the individual person, the period or length of time between the "highs" and "lows" gets progressively shorter as psychological unity (Individuation or Adepthood) is approached. For modem nations the period seems, at least in our known history, to be about twenty years. A war (with inflation) followed by a period of peace (with a depression) and again followed by a war, the whole sequence taking about twenty years.
For ordinary man the period is somewhat shorter, maybe fourteen years, with seven "good" years followed by seven "bad" years in a continuing pattern throughout his life. As with nations, the period is so long that it is usually not recognized as being part of a cycle and therefore not dealt with or adapted to. For an Initiate, the period begins to shorten radically, to months and then to weeks. As he begins to work at becoming conscious, the two sides of himself start to assert themselves with increasing frequency until angel and devil (Christ and anti-Christ) are battling it out together, each demanding control of the personality. When the cycle is reduced to days and then to minutes, the crisis is at its head, and is only resolved when one side or the other wins control, or when a higher unity asserts itself. If the angel wins, the man may believe he is God or (in the West) Jesus, and is usually committed to a mental hospital. If the devil wins then he proceeds to do the devilís work and may be caught and committed to prison. Either event is a great tragedy, for the personality is gone, possessed and dominated by what used to be a factor (archetype) in the unconscious. Success is achieved when a higher (i.e., more powerful) force descends to integrate the functions into a unity which transcends the ability of the personality to accomplish.
All in all, the process may be visualized by observing the function f = sin (1/x) as x approaches zero. The oscillation becomes more and more rapid, the period gets smaller and smaller until, as x approaches zero, it would appear that the phases would meld into a constant polarity. But at the moment that x = 0, the function becomes "indeterminate," i.e., it disappears from this dimension into a "somewhere" that is unknown. No one can say what this is, least of all the person who directly experiences it. For, as Crowley put it, "it unites in an explosion of heat, of light, and of electricity." Angel and devil and personality are rolled up into one and spit like a pea into the yawning womb of the cosmos. Freedom indeed for the fettered soul! But a gaping abyss at first sight, which is why freedom, real freedom is first experienced as terror, the terror of insecurity. Such an experience is hard to achieve, harder still to recover from.
Thus recognition of these archetypes within the psyche is the first step toward their integration (Jung, contrary to Freud, makes a distinction between mental acceptance and true integration). Jung posits the archetypes of the anima and animus as part of the Collective Unconscious-like a submerged personality. And this is particularly important to remember, that these two archetypes act like submerged personalities. A whole volume could be devoted to consideration of just these two archetypes alone, because they play such a big part in our unconscious life. These (anima and animus) are unconscious "soul-images" representing respectively the contra-sexual counterpart of the male and female principles in man or woman. This agrees well enough with the Qabalistic teachings on polarity, but this will be referred to later when we consider the shifting of the poles of consciousness in either the psychological process, or initiation.
Jung asserts that among the most important archetypes as far as the individuation process is concerned, are the "mana personalities." More has been written on these in Alchemical literature than anywhere else, but these are also to be found on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. These two archetypes personify the spiritual principle in man (the Old Wise Man) which would equate with Chokmah on the Tree, and the material principle in woman (the Magna Mater) which corresponds to Binah. In the septenary system of the Hindus, Chokmah the Father is known as Purusha and Binah the Great Mother is known as Prakriti. Prakriti is Nature, Creative Energy. Purusha is Being, as Self-as opposed to Nature.
It is very difficult for us, with our Western minds, to grasp these concepts. Prakriti has three gunas (qualities): tamas (inertia), rajas (active or dynamic inertia), and sattva (belonging to the quality of light, and also to the plastic ability to preserve forms). Binah is the form-giving sephira and is the dark sterile Mother, and also the bright fertile Mother. She is mutable or changing Nature, that, as the Magna Mater, may be thought of as the genetic or reproductive function. Chokmah, as the Wise Old Man, personifies primary power.
However we may look at these mana personalities, they do signify the "extraordinarily effective" power (the power that produces the numinosum) which, when made available to consciousness via either psychoanalysis, meditative and! or practical occult methods, and/or Alchemical distillation, leads to Individuation; which is symbolized by the archetype of the Self. There is a grave danger in trying to integrate these mana personalities, however, because the power in these archetypes can effect an exaggeration of the egotistical aspects of oneís character whereby, due to the flooding of the conscious mind by the unconscious one would experience the contradictory effect of spiritual arrogance. If this occurs to a woman we get something even worse than an animus possession. In a man it may take the form of a Christ complex, as mentioned previously. If a woman is swamped by unconscious content at this level and if her religious background is Christian, she may identify with the Mother Mary figure, in which case she becomes too good to be true! In everyday life, at the animus level, we find mild degrees of this complex in otherwise quite ordinary women. Such a woman is well portrayed (in absentia) in OíNeillís wonderful drama, The Iceman Cometh.
In Alchemical literature a very definite distinction is made between the polarity of anima-animus (Hod-Netzach) and Rex-Regina (Chokmah and Binah). If we consider that Tiphareth is the Higher Self, drawing into its unity the functions of anima (Netzach), animus (Hod), personality (Yesod) and the Shadow (the repressed aspects of the personality that show up as undesirable complexes on the 32nd path), then the appearance of Rex and Regina (the Old Wise Man and the Great Mother) upon the scene is slightly disconcerting, to say the least. The Qabalah of course teaches that each sphere is but a blind or cover for a deeper sphere, so that the expansion is infinite, and we should not therefore be surprised to find another world beyond our local world. The experience of relief and peace and solidity achieved by the participant in marathon therapy is the experience of rediscovering his personality beneath the Persona mask. But this personality is but one member of a quarternity which is absorbed into Selfhood, an experience one thousand times deeper and more rewarding. It is an experience which few survive however, and which is therefore the more important for its rarity. When this baby-pea Self is thrust onto its own, it is lost in the abyss of night; and it is only later that it comes to see that its night is filled with other stars: Geburah and Chesed, Chokmah and Binah, the stages of Adepthood. Self hood is suddenly no more the final unity than the personality was.
We have no better example of the process of Individuation than Jungís own evolution of his psychology, for he discovered these principles as he himself experienced them. First he discovered the Shadow, then the anima. The animus eluded him until his women students pointed it out to him. This gives him the edge on men teachers of the occult even though he was late in discovering it. Men teachers are all too prone to expect that women cannot make any gains whatever. Jung did discover, however, that through the Eros principle women could achieve the same Selfhood that had since the fall of the pagan temple been thought to be manís prerogative.
For many years the interplay of anima-animus occupied Jung, until the concept of the Self as unifying factor imposed itself upon his mind. By this time he had discovered the archetypes of Magna Mater and Old Wise Man in the Alchemical literature, but it was only later in life that he began to pay devoted attention to them as powers. That is, he began to experience what he previously knew intellectually. This is the value of the written Qabalah to us, that it can prepare us intellectually for what we are to experience later, and thus it can soften the impact of what is always a soul-shaking event, thereby lessening the danger of being swamped by the content of the unconscious.
From this we can see that when Alchemy speaks of operations involving Rex and Regina (Chokmah and Binah) it is referring to principles that are far deeper (more fundamental and more universal) than a simple man-woman relationship. It most often speaks of a quarternity with the two operators in the art (man and woman) standing in Hod and Netzach and reflecting across the Tree aspects of the higher Man-Woman (Chokmah-Binah). But in such a ceremony the operators are not just "representing" the higher powers, as is implied in a lodge ceremony where the Magus stands within the sphere and serves as the ground or vehicle for the invoked power or aspect of a given sphere. In this holy quarternity, Rex and Regina are equal quarters within the whole of the quarternity, so we see that force and form (or the root aspect of matter) are two independent entities in the operation and are required to be so for its success. Perhaps, as Jung said, the Alchemists only projected their art onto matter, so that Rex and Regina might be considered as higher (i.e., idealized) aspects of individual male-female polarity. I, personally, incline toward this interpretation- that Rex and Regina are principles within the Magus himself. But the opposite of projection is identity, and the Alchemists may have chosen this method as a guarantee which prevented them from falling into the trap of misidentifying root principles as a "nothing but" kind of idea. Be that as it may, the Alchemists were by some magical secret able to transform base metal into gold, a feat which eludes us today and therefore commands our attention and respect, even if they did talk about it in Old English gobbledygook. If we are so smart that we know everything, then what hope have we to become something more than we are? Anyway, to know everything takes away all the thrill and excitement of learning. I shall have more to say later about the Quarternity. Let it suffice for now that for most of us the experience of Chokmah and Binah is tentative at best. We can gather a great deal of information about them, and to ponder the principles is a continually enriching exercise.