Wisdom is our ability to act with common sense and insight in ways ethical and compassionate. Wisdom facilitates the harmonization of love and power. C. G. Jung wrote: “Wo die Liebe herrscht, da gibt es keinen Machtwillen, und wo die Macht den Vorrang hat, da fehlt die Liebe. Das eine ist der Schatten des andern” (1966). From Swiss German the English translation might be: Where love is, there is no struggle for power, and where power overwhelms love is missing. The one is the shadow of the other. Jung points out how the power principle annihilates love. This is especially so when we are unaware of how we are aligned with the power principle. We commonly experience the inappropriate exertion of power and its destructive sequelae. Interestingly, love too may annihilate but differently so.
When in the thrall of the love archetype we might feel devoured or disintegrated because love deconstructs our alignment with the power principle. In the ancient Egyptian netherworld (Duat), the love principle decapitates beings who seek to overpower the sun god’s process of transformation by destroying his soul, without which he cannot be reborn (Matus, 2014). The Egyptian book of the dead refers to the lion-headed Sekhmet who brings all her fiery power to defeat the enemies of Re-Osiris (Budge, 1967). By helping him, Sekhmet preserves love as the creative force of the world, of which the union of Osiris and his sister-consort Isis are symbols (see Figure 2). Interestingly, Sekhmet is less destructive in her guise as cow-goddess Hathor who is mistress of love, dance, music, birth and fate, and much else related to love and life. Perhaps love and power are neither good nor bad but equally purposeful archetypal forces within the psyche.
Jung wrote that; “Love may summon forth unsuspected powers in the soul for which we had better be prepared” (Jung, 1966, p. 101, para. 164). Many of us who have fallen in love could attest to that. Love is portrayed mythically and symbolically as both healing and dangerous. The alchemist Dorn maintained that; “There is nothing in nature that does not contain as much evil as good” (Quoted in Jung, 1989, p. 55, para. 49). Dorn may well have been describing the idea of the duende. In the Spanish Gypsy flamenco tradition, geniuses of flamenco music, dance or song are thought to be possessed by a supernatural entity called a duende. The duende unites love and hate, light and dark, life and death. The duende possessed artist embodies the union of death and the chthonic with love and life, the outcome of which is a profound connection to the numinous or divine (Cave, 1999; Maurer, 1998). Spanish poet Frederico García Lorca said this about the duende:
In part Lorca describes psycho-spiritual development that Jung (1970) called individuation.
Individuation is a journey during which we strive towards a profound connection to what we experience as holy or numinous (Otto, 1923), requiring of us, like the duende of its artist, the reconciliation of seeming opposites. We reconcile the ways we have become dark and destructively driven by power with the ways in which we are called by love and co-creativity. Our psycho-spiritual process is at first unconscious and personal. We act compulsively and neurotically, driven by our personal unconscious psychological complexes. Jung describes how the will to power is expressed through corporeal desire that is misunderstood as love, and is yet a critical aspect of individuation:
“Now it is, as a matter of fact, true that apart from the personal striving for power, or superbia, love, in the sense of concupiscentia, is the dynamism that most infallibly brings the unconscious to the light … But what can love mean to a man with a hunger for power! That is why we always find two main causes of psychic catastrophes: on the one hand a disappointment in love and on the other hand a thwarting of the striving for power. ”
— (Jung, 1963/1970, p. 86, paras. 98-101)
Individuation requires that we experience the lesser coniunctio—the crudeness of corporeal love and materialism—as an early stage of individuation (Edinger, 1985). Over time, if we are honest, diligent and courageous in encountering the truth and depth of our ourselves, we meet our genius for embodying love and harmony—body, soul, and spirit.
At some point during the individuation process, we encounter the collective unconscious—the world soul—and have the chance to reconcile the seeming opposites therein. We witness how our striving for power reveals our inner deprivation of love, and how that turns to a violence that never satisfies (From, 2006; Guggenbuhl-Craig, 2008). We begin to understand how what seemed to be love was really a power play. We see how we abandon responsibility in matters of love and how the pain of that becomes the impetus to stay connected to love. We become wiser. We accept that the nature of both love and power are mysterious and mercurial the effect of them on us inevitable. We learn that for life love is most important and that love, as the alchemists described, is the glutinum mundi or glue of the world (Matus, 2014). In kindness we accept how the individuation process is incremental, taking up the latter half of our life with increasing meaningfulness, grace, and satisfaction. We let go of our willfulness to control people, places, and things and we find peace and love is our constant companion.
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