The contemporary condition of the soul, Jung and shamanism

Jungians have a very different idea about the pre-Oedipal (early childhood) psyche than do those of the Freudian stream. Certainly, they seem to weigh the capacity for spontaneous self-healing as more likely than do those of the Freudian school. Perhaps this is why the view of pre-Oedipal “magic” lost favour? I believe that accessing the pre-Oedipal consciousness for the purpose of self healing is quintessential to shamanistic practice. The fact that there are very few effective shamans and very many who are hardly spontaneously healing from their traumas testifies to how tenuous the use of pre-Oedipal modes such as psychological splitting and projective identification (together) is, in terms of producing healing.


The shamanistic aspect of Jungian healing involves the use of one’s individuated and mature emotions in conjunction with one’s pre-Oedipal self (i.e., a use of shamanistic ‘doubling’) , to “water” (or nurture) one being,thus effectively producing an encounter with split-off aspects of self in the here-and-now. Such an encounter with fragmented aspects of oneself enables one to psychologically rework the repressed trauma in terms of one’s “emergent self”, thus bypassing the futile (and in Freudian terms, pathological) need to repeat (seen in Jungian terms as the constant return to a narrative that is “stuck”). This Jungian view has echoes in neo-shamanistic “Soul Retrieval”. For it is the lack of integration of the split parts of oneself IN THE PRESENT that causes one to become sick.


Why it is that the majority of people seem unable to access this shamanist mode for self-healing? Part of the reason is no doubt attributable to overly “rational” modern lifestyles, which have the disadvantage of also being what Adorno terms “administered lives” — hence not under the control of the subjects themselves. (One would hesitate in doing a “soul retrieval” one oneself if one’s mind and body really belonged to the community and the State.) Another point to consider is that a real engagement with one’s own psychic innards takes a strength of mind as well as a certain capacity to transcend squeamishness, to which not every individual is constitutionally inclined. There is also the need for a lot of time, to do the job properly (which is the only way it can be done) when quick fixes like a medical prescription draw upon the load from the pharmacists’ shelves.


Also, few of us hail from a shamanistic culture, so the wisdom of how to heal ourselves is not passed down through the generations.


I find that if I do not study, I have disturbingly empty dreams that haunt me with their emotional numbness. I must study to feel refreshed in the mornings. I find that reading about the Zimbabwe Situation does not fulfil the requirement of my subconscious to digest many interesting things. Instead, it fills me with a feeling of impotence at the subconscious level. I find that sending little treats and nothings on facebook provides the contents of my dreams as air and fluff. I had a dream last night that somebody was leaning against me, pressing against me, which I allowed having transmuted into motherhood and femininity, perhaps at last. Oh the descent into nothing, of building blocks and playing toys, of supine ignorance, of favours rendered through turning oneself into stone.

I remember having the same or similar sensations as a child when I was forced to travel across Britain. Not enough material for my brain to chew on led to an abiding nausea, soon the plunging into a ferocious ‘flu, and my mind empty, its cogs spinning in the thin air, causing me to be the tyrant that my parents feared.

I’m reading on Jung’s theory of synchronicity now, heavily between the lines (tracing a metatext of thought and modes of logic), since it would surprise me not if Marechera had applied such theory to his works. I would not read Jung otherwise, and I am reading now as a matter of diligence, knowing that Marechera read him. Also, despite myself and my preference for an empirical basis in knowledge, I perceive a kind of magic flair in Marechera’s literature, which is not quite expliquable in terms of current literary theory. He brings, I think it is true to say, his own cultural background of animism and a superstitious dread of the supernatural, into his work as literary aspects. Thus the theory of synchronicity rings true — but only by means of the palpable evidence of my own subjective sense of seeing flashes of a fourth dimension whilst reading Marechera’s writing.

Dear oh dear.