Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
July 12, 2008
The Intuitive-Connections Network

Archetype of the Apocalypse

Edward F. Edinger

Summary and Commentary

By Jane Marks, Ph.D.


This book has valuable information for the mind on a quest for eternal questions. Questions like, “Why is there a snake in the garden of Eden and why is there a two-way world of good and evil?  How do you explain pathology that is so out of proportion, like the holocaust and both World Wars?”  

With Dr. Edinger we have a very cogent answer to all of this and more.  It is Jungian theory here, which is gone into in some depth to speak of the ego and the Self.  The ego is our personality and individuality.  It is often denigrated and put into the shadow by philosophies that belittle the physical reality of life. 

The ego exists through the information we choose.  We are often overly aware of the traumas of our childhoods and how that has skewed our choices.  But most of us quite enjoy our point of view no matter how skewed.  It remains a fact that we rarely see the whole picture, quite satisfied with our small part of it.  What doesn’t work for us gets placed in the shadow and we only sense it through the vague uncomfortable  confrontation with others and odd happenings that shake our perceptions.

The Self could be defined as the soul, both individual and collective.  Although that is probably not a completely true statement.  The Self is wholeness, a point of departure to or from God.  A whole perception; knowledge not gained through reason.  It is charisma, inspiration and perceptions that father beauty and truth.  A kind of poetry of movement and reality.  It can’t be commanded by the ego.  Although we can see our ego as a limitation it is the sanctification of matter.  Who is the driver?  The Self or the ego?  It is our usual point of view to feel that we, as the ego, are directing the show.  We don’t perceive the many layers of the psyche.  Not perceiving, we lose meaning.  We suffer from ego inflation, unnecessary suffering and confusion.  To understand this is the opening premise of Edinger’s book. 

 To get to the clearest example, he uses the Book of Revelations as the best known  apocalyptic literature.  In theology school I was taught that Revelations had no relevance and was simply an artifact of early Christian suffering in connection with martyrdom Other interpretations are the more concrete belief in the rapture that is popular with fundamentalists or the various explanations of its symbols.  The four horsemen of the Apocalypse remain popular as some symbol of disaster.

My thought about Revelations was that it was a zoo of a book dedicated to endless symbols meaning nothing.  It was in my shadow and had no relevance to my ego.  However my Self had another mission on the whole subject.  Dr, Edinger states that the present age of terrorism is a result of people picking up the Apocalypse as a dark sense of vengeance with themselves as the army of God, meant to kill others not like themselves.  On the whole, the twentieth century is like that.  The only progress we have made is to correctly label this as terrorism.  It is to bring terror to others.   Life has a mechanism wherein suffering is designed to break ego formations.  However,  the baby can go out with the bathwater and you can have horrible destruction that is  largely pathological wherein whole populations are sadistically murdered making the poor people involved in this history, manly dumb actors in a perversion.  It doesn’t do much for the six million who died in the holocaust to inform them, if we may, that sacrifice led to a better condemnation of racism, changes in theology and philosophy and the beginning of Israel.

It is to ask, isn’t there some other way to do this?  Or why did Eve have to run into that snake in the garden?  Why not just stay with her Self state and let off eating apples of good and evil?  Dr. Edinger’s task is to explain the whole state of the Apocalypse in order to give us more rational choices.  First of all we don’t see the psyche as a player in cosmic dramas.  We think, ego like, that we are handling all of the decisions ourselves.  He sees the Apocalypse energy as being autonomous and gathering its own energy from the other factors in the individual psyche and the collective one.  It then exists on its own and has for some time.  We don’t seem to deal with it directly.  It wouldn’t be enough to feel the Apocalypse coming.  Fear it.  Run away from it.  Join up with a terrorist movement or deny its validity.  We need a very clear understanding of it which is hard won and personal.  Most responses are reactive through misunderstanding.  

In the early epoch of beginning Christianity we faced a similar version of this phenomenon.  When Paul was in Ephesus, he faced the whole pagan world and Judaism.  He didn’t have much on his side except the one big fact that he knew the Apocalypse energy.  He knew things were changing.  Hence, he destroyed in time the whole pagan world devoted to  blood sports, heightened sexuality and worship of strength.  And in part, the Jewish world which was rather rule bound and couldn’t serve as a missionary religion.  With him all of western civilization was altered.  It wouldn’t seem that one man could do that, or that there was a necessity for it to be done.

At Ephesus, people argued that they were quite happy worshipping their mother  Goddess that they had worshipped for seven thousand years and was the mainstay of their economy.  We will fall without her they declared, which was certainly true as Ephesus is a ruin and you don’t meet anyone worshipping a many breasted Diana today.  There aren’t acceptable brothels or the deaths of thousands of tortured animals in an arena.

Edinger states all this as the revolution in thought coming from the Self, preempting  the ego and the primordial id which gets along great with bloody realities.  He also mentions what we have lost in this process.  Usually there are choices to take and something goes into the unconsciousness.  Two thousand years ago we lost the worship of the earth mother as gentleness and fertility and balance.

Today you see the sustained rising of this energy in the ecology movement which has the language and the actuality of a new religion.  The good Mom is coming back and not the horrific Mother Nature we created for ourselves.  Remember, we fear Mother Nature who sounds suspiciously like the negative energy of the Apocalypse, always there to destroy mankind through war and plague.

Edinger asks several questions as to what we’re to take from these changes and looks to Jung and Revelations for answers.  As some of the explanations are even beyond Edinger, I would say that a lot of this is action based.  You get it as you go along.  We recover a better balance, with nature leaving us some questions about civility and ethics.  In some cases Revelations seems to point to a completely different connection to the Self.  There is some rather disgusting imagery in connection with this.  I know from experience that farming is less romantic in the sense of Gaia worship, as it is a trip to a series of mucky mixing of fertilizer, deceased animals and new life coming from it.  We are all rather a brew of gross chemicals in a primordial slime and that isn’t something that we want to contact directly.  

Edinger states that suffering without meaning isn’t anything, but with meaning it becomes redemption.  I think that is why you have Jesus dying on the cross which is really a horrible image of sadism and humiliation.  That it changes to redemption is beyond mystery and it is indicative of all the levels mentioned in this book.  

We have to get our hands dirty like the fellow who crucified Jesus; who must have led a rather unusual life after that act.  The fact the we don’t ever discuss him, whoever he was, shows that he is in a shadow position.  People like Judas lived the life of the shadow, wherein you deal with horrific and dirty acts.  If you get it wrong you display symptoms of pathology and assume an inflationary position as a gifted leader.  You can be quite charismatic and dangerous to others, but actually you don’t have the balance factor of obeying God.  God’s will comes through the Self when no pathology is present and he uses all of the material at hand, even ones seemingly grossly sadistic.  

It is interesting to note that the Nazis saw their victims not as people, but as dead puppets or chemicals that they could make into household objects.  As weird as that was, they had the part of the Apocalypse wherein we break down, hopefully without sadism, to our basic parts and reform.  

To be an actor in this, is simply to reenact it in a petulant and horrible manner.  To be an adult in this drama we would accept our limitations fully and be open to Gods being-ness.  When does fertilizer become a nutrient for growth?  When does a horrible fire that destroys, become the ground for growth of new trees and crops?  There is a turning point that is rare for people to observe.  Jung, in his book, “An  Answer to Job,” explains this process to people.  If only a few prepared, there would  be a difference in choice.  

To that end I have added my own interpretation of Edinger’s book.  I’ve had some amazing things occur to me by just reading this material.  So I would say that the Apocalypse is the focus as both the horrific and the unbelievably creative.  Would you not like to open such a gift given freely without any obligation of ego-ness and open to all, for all? 

What will we become when we deal with this material more?  Humble to the word of God I would hope.   Remember, Jesus said, “Man doesn’t live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God.”  We perceive some new words not new to the universe, but new to us as a corporate entity.  We receive a new message about balance with nature and awareness of creativity and the primordial ooze that we live with.  We find out that the psyche is a player in every drama and not a footnote in a textbook. Not an abstraction, but a palpable reality.  We discover that the psyche is not an anomaly but what makes us create.  We see sex, not as a phenomenon of mating, but as creativity in itself.  

Some new changes will create a new civilization, a new religion.  The rest of our collective self is out there for our brethren to do with.  I think some things will occur  around connections and living in community.  We will have a corporate self again that will have a much more refined community center.  The church of tomorrow will be open twenty-four hours a day for worship.  In it will be all the socialization that is now done in the dark in bars and clubs.  I think we will dance again for God.  Our misplaced Puritanism will recede.  I think too, that one of the messages in the new Self is forgiveness.  We will learn more of what that is as the ego extends beyond its hurts.  New parameters will occur for the ego.  We won’t live in paradise but a better one than we have now.

How much horrific stuff happens to make that so?  I hope very little.  But if it must happen, the odds are in favor of that hope.  We’ll get the message soon that we aren’t alone.  That God is with us, in us and means to take us beyond our amorality and into a world less crucified by good and evil.  

What is this then, but a world less of a series of bad choices than a creative matrix of the best and recognition of all choices?  We can choose what is destructive or extreme, but wont if we truly knew in our heads that there were other ways to go.  We choose evil because it seams to us at the time that this is the only good choice.  What happens when our egos open up and we have a variety of response?  Would we not then see other ways?  Ways now that we can’t imagine, literally can’t imagine.

Creativity has always been novelty and a new start, undefined really by the past. Where did Shakespeare come from?  How did Rembrandt paint with such inner light? What made Paul defy the ancient world?  Let us not deny the evil of our natures.  Let us not repress and deny what is in the shadow.  Use it.  Learn from it, as the primordial ooze builds us.  Evil should be fertilizer for the new order of things.  When that happens we have the message of the Apocalypse.  It isn’t  the rapture taking us out of our cars, or the pornography of constantly buying more consumer goods, or a politics built on nothing but clichés.  A new beginning gets born form weird left over parts.  All of the rejection comes back into the soup.  

Read this book…Hardily recommend!  Hope I’ve given you a taste for the material.

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