Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The Lightning Archetype

Good evening Wolf Runners, it has been sometime since I have posted anything but I now return to you with some Jungian Psychology. Today's topic will be about the Lightning Archetype. 

First of all, what is an archetype? As eXplained by Carl Jung, an Archetype is a symbol all humans share in their collective unconscious. By collective unconscious, it is the part of the hidden mind all humans share - we're all connected by it one way or another. In this collective unconscious, we have what Jung called Archetypes - symbols programmed into us passed down from generation to generation. 

Now not to sound mystic, let us try to give tangible ideas by putting ourselves in the eXamples I will now present. All of us reading this have some sort of religion; a belief we follow to say the least or in a modern sense, an idea we choose to believe or not to believe in. We never chose these religions bestowed upon us on birth and some of us choose to change during the course of our lives. Now stay with me and use your imagination if you have one. Imagine the first man and by that I don't eXactly mean Adam and his vegetarian fetish. Imagine the first man standing on a vast field still new to life - no one to tell him what earth is, wind, flowers and everything else is around him. Everything is a mystery - it's just him and his senses and instincts. 

Imagine all that - it's pretty scary, no? Over here I'll jump to something important. At this point although he doesn't know what is what and has no sort of language to even question himself with, he is master of his environment because he can step on the earth beneath him and he can hold the grass and taste the water but there's something that baffles him with fear from end to end. Can you guess what that is? Here's a hint - it's the first thing man worshiped. No matter where man sprouted upon this Earth, they all worshiped this entity. That entity is no longer worshiped and it is known as the Sun. 

The sun was once worshiped because the moment he looked at it, his eyes hurt. He could not reach it no matter how hard he tried unlike the earth and water. He could feel it and could not escape it. And alas as the daylight dies, something else came - this time less scary and didn't demand obedience. The ever changing moon. The first man isn't going to know that the moon changes phase because the earth rotates so he'll interpret it as a living being just as he does. He can look at it without getting his eyes hurt and be marveled by it. 

Now as the days came to pass and man is learning by fear, something came to pass which was a breaking point in man's life: It started to rain. The rain came down from the heavens - the same heavens where man looked to see the sun and the moon. He could feel the rain and the wind with all its fury and at right moment, what sparked is what I decided to write my blog about. In the dark skies, lightning in its purest form struck and after that, the heavens roared. Now take a second to put yourself in this position. No idea what anything is about and while you're feeling this feeling for the first time, you see a spark of lightning. Like a child first seeing something - can you imagine the depths of astonishment this man eXperienced? Lightning that cuts the sky with all its glory and power and followed by a thunderous sound - something so loud he never heard before. The loudest he's ever heard is probably the roars of wild animals or himself so compare that with the entire world roaring. The fear - yes that's it. The driving stone that has pushed man since his developed a spinal cord. In order to conquer his fear, he has to destroy it. He can destroy the lion, the boulder but you can't destroy the sun or the lightning. So what's plan B? If you can't beat it then join it. That is why man decided to worship this entity and offer sacrifice to appease it. This is how all religions first developed - to be at peace with what we don't understand and what we fear. That is why in every ancient religion you will find similar entities - the sun god Ra from Egypt to Awondo from Ancient Africa and Aztec's Tonatiuh. BUT THIS ISN'T ABOUT THEM

So what about the lightning archetype? Let's go back to man now sitting in his cave all dark with people just like him. It's raining outside and it's all dark and lightning strikes a tree nearby and so falls a branch immolated partially. Man walks out and touches the flames and is hurt by it. He looks toward his thunder/lightning entity angry at first. He holds the branch not held by the flames and scares the beasts away. He enjoys the warmth of it and therefore takes it to the cave and for the first time in the dark, there is light. Man looks towards the sky and thanks this entity for this gift bestowed up them today. As man eXperimented different things with the flame, in time they came to learn how hunted food tasted better. 

So now remember we all share this same archetype. If we were to be put in his position, we would have done the same thing. The brain identifies it this way. If I asked you what comes to your mind when I say motherhood, your answer would be something like this: care, shelter, protection, wisdom etc  Your mom could be a whore but the idea of motherhood in your head will remain the same. 

In the words of Antoine Saroufim, an eXpert in Jung Psychology - here is the idea of the lightning archetype in ancient religions. 

I can tell you that many of the ancient chief gods were associated with lightning. While they were never the omniscient gods, they are often sons of these omnipotent beings and rulers of an equal rank. Zeus was the son of the titan Chronos, who was the original ruler (Zeus overthrew him). Thor was the son of Odin, but later became diety worship more than Odin. Indra was never even close to Brahma, Shiva, or Vishnu but he had a story that became equal in popularity to Krishna (Vishnu's incarnation). As you can see, in many classical societies, lightning was quite venerated. We can draw some aspect of the archetype from these gods. They are wild, unruly, and impulsive. They did as they pleased and followed their pleasure, however, they were divine, associated with spiritual power, revelations, judgement, and even sometimes purification. What I can tell you about the lightning archetype that it symbolizes destruction, impulsiveness, the pursuit of pleasure, but it also symbolizes divine might, revelations, and intervention that is beyond human control. Many people would imagine our God as having a thunderous voice, this is quite a good example of the divine might the lightning archetype displays. A flash of lightning and a crack of thunder are of the same source and can be viewed as one entity.

Why I chose to pick the lightning archetype is because it's the closest thing we have to being human. It can symbolize complete destruction and at the same time, help and even purification. Remember anytime you see lightning cut the sky, it is always a beautiful majestic sight and I hope after reading this, you'll let your imagination take its toll on you and remember what this symbol represented and still represents to many cultures around the world. 

Special thanks to Antoine Saroufim.