Portals to the Unconscious

The world of depth psychology places an enormous importance on the role of the unconscious in the well-being of individuals.

Jung posited the existence of two layers to the unconscious, being the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. As the unconscious is essentially unknowable in its entirety, we have to find ways to demonstrate its existence through its effects. By effects I mean spontaneous symbolic material that the unconscious produces, such as dreams. However, if the unconscious is so important, and is essentially unknowable, how can we access the contents, or the products of the unconscious in a deliberate fashion? The pathways to solving this question relate to the idea of the portals to the unconscious. These are the access gateways through which we can glimpse the unconscious, as well as retrieve, interpret, and understand it’s contents.

The portals to the unconscious include dreams, the body, altered states, psychiatric conditions, ritual, and the analysis of complexes. By altered states I mean experiences such as active imagination, trances, meditation, mediumship, channeling, or substance induced. How can we distinguish these various portals to the unconscious from each other? How is active imagination distinctly different from meditation? Why is an encounter with the numinous contents of the unconscious so significant in analytical psychology? If we view the psyche as fulfilling the core tasks of individuation in a person through the effects of the unconscious, we can see that many of these portals are also attempts at healing.


Date: Friday 14th June, 2013

Location: Casas Adobes Congregational Church on Oracle Rd., Tuscon, Arizona