Myth is the natural and indispensable intermediate stage between unconscious and conscious cognition” Memories Dreams and Reflections, p. 311

When Jung and others speak of the containing myth of previous generations, they are not telling the whole truth, in order to see that we need to look at the different notions of truth over periods of human development. Ken Wilber talks about three levels of development: mythic, rational and post-rational. For a person in the mythic stage, myth is seen as concrete, universal truth. However, for a person in the modern age the standard for truth is the scientific method. Through scientific thinking we can see that myth is a story with little basis in reality. We can also, as Jung did, recognize the power of myth but for many of us, myths still fail the basic test of truth. And so, the question is asked how can a modern person connect to a myth?

The power of analytical psychology is not just in the analysis process, it is also in the fact that analytical psychology is, in itself, a modern myth. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Jung’s autobiography, a classic hero myth that is also the creation story of this mythology. Jung’s continuing efforts to prove, despite constant claims to the contrary, that his psychology is based in science are part of his noble attempt to make this mythology relevant and acceptable in the modern age.

By creating a modern myth, Jung made it possible to breath new life into existing myths through reinterpreting them in light of depth psychology. Through this process both mythologies gain something. The new mythology of depth psychology gains support in an established history. The other, older, mythology gains a chance to become relevant again, in a way that it has never been relevant before.

To claim that Jung is strictly set in a rational, scientific mind-set would be too limited a view. In fact, it sometimes appears that this dedication to science is a burden he had to bear in order for his ideas to be seen as credible. Jung saw beyond the small mindedness of his peers and of modern society in general. It is post-rational thinking that formed the basis of all his science. His ability to see beyond mere “scientific truth” is what made it possible for him to recognize the reality of the psyche and the validity of subjective, psychic experience thereby moving beyond the dualism forced on us by scientific thinking.

The answer to the question at the top of this paper is given by the symbol of the trinity. In the first stage (mythical) we identify myth with objective reality. In the second stage we step away from myth and claim our own (egoic) view of the world. In the third stage we must learn how the two aspects relate to each other thereby transcending the apparent difference. This stage involves losing some of the control the Ego claimed in the second stage and some of the clarity afforded by the first stage. But, through learning to hold the resultant complexity, we finally gain the ability to be in full contact with our wholeness, as part of a continuing process of individuation.

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