(With thanks to alchemist-pac for the cover image for this post. His work can be seen at the link in his name.)
Spoiler alert – this will be a boring post unless you’re deeply interested in my personal development.
I have long used Dante’s works as a metaphor for my own issues and transformation. I have filtered Dante through a layer of Jungian archetype, and it all makes sense to me as I map my inner world. This morning, in #showerthoughts tradition, it occurred to me that Dante is really like an OS on a phone. It’s a layer of … something … that I can interact with symbolically, between my consciousness and my psychological self. In other words, my use of Dante, Jung and archetype are kind of my psychic user interface. Once I framed it this way, it felt to me to be less about ‘strange mentalizations’ and more about ‘this is how I work, so let me be fine with this.’
For the longest time, something about Virgil spoke to me. Here was an archetype – the damned traveller/guide, who helped others get to where they needed to be. The dynamics of this (travelling by grace, a ‘free passage’ (mostly) through hell, and the ability only to go so far – Virgil was turned around at the gate of the garden because he was still a denizen of hell) fit me so well and helped me make sense of my world.
Last spring, this version of my symbolic operating system took a massive hit, and I was transformed through a truly Jungian alchemic process by a very skilled Jungian analyst. That transformation of my inner world and inner identifications frankly saved my life. But it also left me adrift. Not in a bad way, but still, adrift.
Before, I knew who I was and what I did. I was Virgil. I guided others to their heaven. And then I began to question it all. What happened when Virgil was done, and went home? That led to a near complete breakdown as one can have and still be functional. Once the transformation happened, I was left in a very here and now state of being, for the longest time.
I wasn’t idle by any means. In Rossi’s terms, this was a stage of incubation. Some of the insights came from the oddest places: a phrase from Michner’s Covenant. The ending of another of his novels, Caravans. The ending of Star Wars VIII. My odd pursuit of pushing candidates to define “intangibles” during recent hiring interviews.
Fast forward to yesterday evening, on the usual drive home from the mountains. I determined that I needed a new OS, or at least an upgrade. Put another way, I needed some map of inner reality to replace Virgil’s archetype, since I was no longer Virgil (thanks to that alchemal transformation so skillfully led by my analyst.) The new map needed to include my past. It needed to include my various abilities which I haven’t lost. And then it hit me. Or more accurately, it dropped into my head in a Rossi insight moment. Alchemy. Transformation. The alchemist. The archetype of transformation.
So as of now, I see a new map, a new OS with which to interface/interpret/understand my growth and my place in the universe. All of this has led me to this point where I can say, with resonance and congruence, that I am an alchemist, and this role, this archetype, now defines and guides my continued path for self-understanding. Becoming aware of this, and then confirming it in my mind, it has also re-ignited a passion to know and to seek and to explore once again. I have been in limbo for a long time, maybe a 13-month prolonged reset/reboot loop?
But now I have rebooted. “Upgrades” as Agent Smith said. And now I begin the long process of reading the manual, and figuring out how I now operate.