The New Image of the Self in a Multicultural Perspective
Stefania Dimitrova, PhD
Are the global processes in culture relevant to our psyche in any way? We tend to ignore and underestimate those processes and, even more so, to be unaware of their impact on the contents of the collective unconscious. This paper inspired by analytical psychologist Michael Vannoy Adams's revolutionary book “ Re-imaging Ourselves: What Does It Mean to Be "Multicultural?”.
Two powerful and parallel processes may be discerned in contemporary culture. On the one hand, an opening up towards" the stranger", "the other", "the unfamiliar". On the other, the raising of "a wall in our mind" , which protects yet also isolates us from anything that might shake our illusions and identifications. This bipolar model seems to update the archetype of the ancient binding deities whose bond is protective yet restrictive; the severing of whose bonds is, "liberating" yet "imperiling".
The approach of analytical psychology to the processes under way in culture is the link between social and human sciences that ensures our cognition of humans as executors and creators of collective and personal stereotypes. This approach is of paramount importance precisely today, when humanity is faced with the challenge of maturing an unprecedented scale. When the sciences are coming to realize their responsibility for the emotional and psycho-physical atmosphere around us, and when along with ecology, which deals with the issues of the environment, people have become increasingly preoccupied with "human ecology".
Analytical psychology has set out to provide a comprehensive answer to the question of how collective psychic experience is projected on our notions, emotions and reflections, and how the human sciences can boost a constructive process of liberation of the human mind and, hence, of creation of a congenial social environment.
I will proceed with a brief introduction into the problematic of analytical psychology, since the literature translated in the past seven years has caused some confusion about the terminology in depth psychology.
Sigmund Freud, the founder of the psychoanalytic school, and Carl Gustav lung, the father of analytical psychology, were concerned with the phenomenon of the "black box" or the "consciousness of the patient" , and therefore called their theory " analysis of the psyche" or " psychoanalysis" .The two scholars studied the unconscious psychic phenomena that are not subject to willful control. Yet if Freud postulates that people are a priori neurotic since unconscious sexually conditioned factors make them dependent, Jung argues that the unconscious is the realm of complexes, but also of the Self.
Jung defines the Self as the tendency towards totality that makes consciousness independent of destructive unconscious factors. In other words, in the zone of the unconscious -where consciousness cannot penetrate and willfully regulate the psychic process Jung perceives, along with the darkness of destructive tendencies, a Self that spontaneously organizes the psyche. Figuratively speaking, Freud describes the Psyche - cloud across the sun as "darkness" and Jung, as a "dark day". Carl Gustav Jung set out to discover, in the depths of the human psyche, the deep resources of the personality, the " living water " or "the philosopher's stone" that changes everything it touches into gold...
The model of psychic life may be pictured as concentric circles that darken towards the centre. The external light circle stands for the processes that may be consciously perceived and willfully regulated. This is a system of orientation about how to operate with the realities of the external world, which are represented by means of the sensory functions. It includes the following functions: perception, thinking, emotions, intuition. This is the system that associates the content of consciousness and the impressions of the external world - ectopsyche. The system of relations between the contents of consciousness and the processes that are presumably under way in the latter is called subjective components of functions, affects, obsessions.
The less possible it is to exercise willful control over a fact in the psyche is, the darker the sphere in the endo-psyche in which it is located. Memory, for instance, is in the twilight zone. It is partly influenced by willpower, but cannot readily recover all details of past perceptions. For instance, we cannot reproduce in detail the street we have just crossed since many of the peripheral objects of perception have sunk into the twilight of memory.
Investigators are well aware that eye-witness accounts, sincere as they might be, are not a hundred per cent reliable because of the socalled "confabulation " phenomenon -unconscious distortion of memories depending on personal preference. If you have three witnesses, one will have noted the visitor's age, the other, his clothes, and the third, his face.
The next circle is the circle of specific reactions. In this case the content of the unconscious manifests itself spontaneously in an unfamiliar situation. For example, if I saw a Japanese professor in slippers at a faculty meeting, I would think that he must be day-dreaming, but I would never assume that this was a group and cultural convention. In other words, the content of the unconscious to ascribe negative characteristics to the others may be realized in an unconventional situation, when one has an opportunity to realize one's illusions and misconceptions.
The level of specific reactions may still be subject to willful control. Once I realize that my qualifications of events are inadequate, I am capable of correcting them. If I were to show greater vigilance, I would be able to identify the sphere in which my unconscious had illusions and destructive tendencies, and would be capable of avoiding them in future.
The sphere of affects is situated even deeper. Affects are seldom subject to willful control. Perhaps that is why primitive peoples unequivocally described the affected as having "fallen under the power of demons" .Translated into analytical terms, this means that the person has fallen captive to the destructive contents of the unconscious
The shadow of the personal unconscious is the product of personal constructive and destructive experience.
Delving deeper into the unconscious, Jung discovered the core of the unconscious -the collective unconscious, which influences the entire psychic life. The collective unconscious cannot be consciously I recovered at all. The presumable content of this sphere manifests itself in images that may be understood only by means of historical parallels.
Unless one identifies those surfacing historical parallels, one cannot integrate those contents into one's consciousness, so they remain projected only. This practically means that if one is living with red-skinned people, one will become red under one's skin. That is inevitable, for deep down you are the same as the black, the Chinese or any other person you live with. In the collective unconscious you are the same, as the people from other races, just like everybody else, you are a human being. The contents of the collective unconscious cannot be influenced by willpower at all. One is left with the impression that one definitely doesn't have such contents, one will perceive them in others but not in oneself.
I would like to note expressly that this is not the non-conscious "matrix of categories, ill-perceived if at all by contemporaries; something self-evident, an invariable given, common codes of convention. In other words, this is not the image of the world, image du monde.
The interpretation of collective notions as phenomena of the "nonconscious" all too often refers to mentality, to the model of culture -but not to "archetypes". The blurring of the distinction between the two terms may be qualified as underestimation of the precision requisite for an analysis of the deep layers of psyche.
The non-conscious is capable of being brought into consciousness by ordinary recall and effort, while the unconscious rules out any recovery whatsoever unless mediated means are applied. The unconscious is a level at which tendencies are manifested -tendencies which are common to all people from all ages and cultures are manifested. Jung calls the dominant tendencies in the collective unconscious "archetypes ". Archetypes are reflected in universal images and symbols in all cultures: the sun, the earth, numbers, the five elements, etc.
The archetypal images reflected in the mythologies of the different peoples may have different culture-specific functions, but they are essentially an expression of the dominant tendencies in the collective unconscious. No matter how much the functions of the cultural hero may vary from one mythology to another, a comparative cultural anthropological analysis shows that he actually expresses an universal integrative tendency in the collective layer of the unconscious.
The constellation of notions that make up the image of the world (image du monde) specific of a particular culture may be analyzed on a comparative mythological plane. At that level we could study the migration of symbols as a manifestation of one and the same archetypes ( tendencies in the unconscious) .
If mentality is a pre-predicative, pre-ideological level containing , the ideas, the general images of the world that are in the air, the unconscious is a pre-mentality level. It contains myriads of condensed processes of the same type in the form of encrypted imprints. It contains the typical basic forms of perpetually recurrent psychological experiences.
The brain, writes Jung, comes into this world not as tabula rasa, but with a definite structure, it functions in regard to the present but has a history of its own. It has evolved for many years and contains the history whose product it is. Yet just as the body, the brain will naturally bear the traces of this history, and in the deepest structure of the internal human world there ought to be traces of the primordial tendency towards integration –a main, spontaneous, autonomous drive of the unconscious.
The primordial image of the Self is as ancient as humanity itself. The archetype of the Self has accompanied humanity in its evolution, and the invariants of this archetype indicate the evolution of the human spirit over the centuries. These are the images of the Mother Goddess, the Omnipotent God, of the Void, the Wise Old Man, numbers such), as 4, 7, 21, 108, mandala, circle, etc.
What's new in analytical psychology is the heightened interest in stratification of the deepest layer of the unconscious. Freud maintained that the unconscious was mostly if not entirely driven by sex. Today we already know and ought to confirm explicitly that the unconscious is the realm of different instincts, impulses, complexes that come across a very broad spectrum.
Contents of the unconscious identified as "class" and "racial" are just as relevant. Michael Vannoy Adams has issued a serious warning against the negligent and almost arrogant attitude of the human and social sciences to racial and ethnic issues from an entirely unexpected perspective: the perspective of the collective unconscious. Referring to the depths of our collective unconscious in his ground-breaking book, he explicitly qualifies the until recently commonplace interpretation of different races having, by nature, different psychic life or different psyches, as patiently racist. "Contrary to what some biologists and some physical anthropologists still maintain", he writes, " I do not believe that races, as such, even exist. (Racism, of course, does exist -as does ethnicity, which is an artifact of culture)
In this sense, we ought to regard the racist and ethnic contents of the unconscious as a by-product of culture. For Jung, " race" in the white-black sense was continually an issue of keen personal and theoretical interest. In the 1920s he traveled twice to Africa in quest of an answer to the question of whether the content of the unconscious might vary by race. Ultimately he concluded that such contents "have nothing to do with so-called blood or racial inheritance".
Jung shows that at the level of the collective psyche we cannot talk of "race-specific contents," but only of a common human unconscious Addressing whites, Jung says: " In collective unconscious you are the same as a man of another race, you have the same archetypes, just as you have like him, eyes, a heart, a liver, and so on." The only thing by which individuals differ in the unconscious is the historical experience of the different cultures. Yet this historical experience is manifested at the surface level. The contents of the unconscious vary' by race only at the level of the group and individual unconscious.
The Aryan mentality differs from the African or Mongoloid I mentality only by the group unconscious, i.e. only by the surface layer of the unconscious that is influenced by group or cultural identity.
The "cultural unconscious" is not the universal unconscious identical for all human beings from all ages, neither the personal nor I collective unconscious. Its contents have remained in the psychic memory of the exponents of one and the same culture."
Joseph Henderson first proved the need of a new stratification of the collective unconscious and the introduction of the term "cultural unconscious", which he situates topographically between the collective unconscious and the personal unconscious. This term has also been embraced by Michael Vannoy Adams, who writes the following: " I redefine the "collective unconscious", it comprises not only archetypal factors but also stereotypical factors, which include apparently “racial" factors (collective attitudes and behaviors that are really ethnic factors) that may have prejudicial and discriminatory consequences"
Proceeding from the depths of the unconscious to the surface, we will identify specific contents of the unconscious that vary by the degree of community with which they restrict our freedom.
1. The deepest level is that of the collective unconscious, where all people are human beings and have identical psychic tendencies archetypes. .
2. Next come the broad boundaries of the artifacts of cultures. Those are the boundaries of race, followed by those of ethnicity.
3. Then there are the restrictions imposed by the formal and informal groups which the individual belongs to.
4. The boundaries of personal identifications, the fruit of personal experience and history, are narrowest. The identifications of the Self-image start from the narrowest framework: from the "Self-body" to the "Self-emotions", "My thoughts", "My memories", "My family", "My milieu", "My colleagues", friends, and on to My culture, country, race, world.
Those identifications attest to the expansion of internal space. The larger the space of identifications, the less the segregative power of the ego. For example: we will call a person who identifies only with his or her personal possessions an outright egoist. For him or her anything that obstructs his or her personal space is of no interest or is subjected to rejection or aggression.
The range of identifications proceeds from my family and then on to my friends, my colleagues, our institution, our political party, our nation, our race, to culminate in the assertion: " The whole world is my home".The expansion of the range of identifications weakens the power of the hostility of the ego and, hence, reduces the discontented selfishness of both individuals and whole cultures. Any segregation of the ego is tantamount to psychic apartheid against anything beyond it. That is why our psychic life needs an expansive vision that incorporates the whole world. In this holographic perspective, the ego is only a "Self-image" among a "necessary variation of other Self-images" .People and their cultures are conceptualized as individual, not as unique. A multicultural perspective encourages a non-aggressive ego or a Self-image that is more perceptive of the others.
What I call global cultural space is a project through which we could deactivate negative contents of the Bulgarian cultural unconscious and, by expanding internal space, discover our true identity. This, I believe, could be achieved foremost by an analysis of mythology and folklore for the purpose of identifying the universal symbols of the unconscious as an antidote to the destructive culture: specific contents of the unconscious.
Such an analysis will reveal the negative contents that obstruct the expansion of our cultural space and that are specifically Bulgarian, negative destructive tendencies which prevent us from re-imaging ourselves multiculturally in a way that will enable the others to overcome their segregation in regard to us too.
The processes of globalization in culture spontaneously contribute to the overcoming of the destructive cultural contents of the unconscious by expanding the internal boundaries of our self- identification. Political and economic association and integration facilitates expansion of the range of identifications of the Self-image. The existence of cyberspace, in which everyone is a potential citizen abiding by rules that do not refer to any culture, nation or historical conditioning, is yet another step towards the expansion of cultural space.
The globalization of cultural space proves humanity's readiness to surmount its internal personal, group, cultural boundaries and to meet the challenges of the new millennium in association with the others. If we really want to live in a world without borders, we must first surmount the limits in our internal space.
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The Emergence of the Other in the Evolution of Consciousness
Allen Tilley, PhD
Thirty years ago I read an address by a South American diplomat. I have unfortunately been unable to locate his text, though I am still searching. He was taking the longest possible view of social history.
He said that he saw a tendency in the history of human association.As time has gone on, we are willing to attribute full humanity to larger and larger groups of people. In our hundreds of thousands of years as hunter-gatherers, the people we saw as humans were likely to be the thirty to sixty in our immediate group, with perhaps some closely associated groups thrown in. With the discovery of agriculture we could extend humanity to our village, and then to our city state (as those developed),and finally to our nation. The implication is that we are on the verge of extending full humanity to other humans generally.
Of course, this kind of long view only holds good if you narrow your gaze into kind of a squint. After all, many clannish peoples do not see anyone outside their kin unit as fully human, and perhaps not even some of them - a weird uncle, say, or children, or women, or homosexuals, or the political opposition, or the very old, or the dimwitted - we could all extend the list of those whom majority groups are used to excluding. It would certainly include such ethnic minorities as the Roma in the Balkans and Blacks in the United States . If you are Roma or Black, you will certainly know what it means to be denied full humanity by the society at large.
And of course this century has seen the grossest examples of the denial of humanity to others, whether we think of the American readiness to drop atomic bombs on civilian populations in World War , two, or the Chinese and Russian readiness to kill large portions of their own people after that war, or the mutual extermination programs of the Tutsis and the Huttus, or the continuing hostilities next door in what was Yugoslavia. I hardly need to mention the Nazi attitudes toward groups they defined as other- Jews, homosexuals, Roma, the ill and handicapped, and anyone who lived in southern Russia . What is left of the diplomat's hopeful assessment of our growing sense of community as we survey the wreckage of this century? That is my topic.
Two hundred years ago the world was quite a different place in ways significant for an assessment of social change in the long run. For one thing, chattel slavery existed among most races on most continents and had existed for time out of mind. Only the most insanely naive and hopeful person could have predicted what in fact did happen-that chattel slavery had all but disappeared by the end of the nineteenth century. It hangs on here and there, but by now we may hope that the ancient custom of owning people will be left largely to the credit card companies.
Not that people are not oppressed; not that slavery has totally, disappeared, or that we have seen the end of forced labor, or even that slavery might not return-but that all over the world it has become reactionary to own another human being outright.
Two hundred years ago at the end of the eighteenth century women were considered metaphysically inferior to men the world over. (That is a grand claim, and I make it in the expectation of being instructed otherwise by this learned and diverse audience-but I cannot think of ,a place where that was not true: that women at the end of the eighteenth century were considered to be somehow-but definitely-inferior.) In the few democracies then extant, women did not vote. They were allowed to perform music and theater in public, at least in Europe and in most traditions that itself was relatively recent, where it had been accomplished at all-but their own compositions and writings were not taken seriously. As Dr. Johnson of England said, a woman writing was like a dog walking on its hind legs. It is not that the creature does it so well, but we wonder that it does it at all.
In the English literary tradition-as in many others-that opinion is decidedly dated. The English novel is now unthinkable without Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf , Ursula K. LeGuinn, and their host of sisters. I could go on-anyone could go on-at length and for any form of literature. English literature is now a shared enterprise.
At the end of the eighteenth century, no woman in the world was allowed to vote. Women now have the vote in most democracies. (The only exceptions ring the Persian Gulf . ) Women in this century are making their mark on politics- think of Golda Meier, Corazon Aquino, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, and Aung San Suu Kyi. While we are still a long way from understanding and properly evaluating what women are capable of contributing to our public life, it is becoming markedly less possible to maintain Aristotle's position that a woman is an unfinished and inferior version of a man. And this change is not a swing of the pendulum. For all the arguments and speculations of feminist polemics, matriarchy seems not to have been within the human repertoire of political forms in the past, and, while some cultures have valued women generally more than have others, feminism itself is new, and emerges-is still emerging-in the past two hundred years.
The spread of democracy itself might be part of the pattern I am noticing. The only non-democracy in my home hemisphere is now Cuba . We are meeting in a country which showed the world how to conduct a democratic revolution in early 1997. The first democracy in Athens did not allow the vote to women, slaves, or the poor; the very word democracy now connotes an equality of opportunity. It would not have, necessarily, in the late eighteenth century-even in the constitution of my own country. Certainly democracy of any kind was a rare thing in that world.
By 1974, there were thirty-nine formal democracies; by 1990, seventy-one; by 1995, one undred and seventeen. That is 61.3% of the one hundred and forty-two countries in the study. ( Journal of Democracy, page 26 )
Two hundred years ago we were willing to work our poorer children to death in sweatshops staffed with child laborers. While the infanticide rate had declined from the 50% level estimated for hunter-gatherers by Marvin Harris in Cannibals and Kings, and while we no longer had to pay our citizens not to kill their own children as did the Roman Empire until the fourth century, we were not as solicitous of the welfare of our children generally as we have become. We did not even tend to view them as human but as beings which we had somehow to make into humans.
I am on the shaky ground of a single cultural tradition here-I know little about non- estern treatment of children and await instruction. Until I learn otherwise, I propose that in the last two, hundred years we have all become less willing to abide the suffering, exploitation, and deaths of children.
The last development I would like to highlight is more controversial than the previous movements. If telepathy is strongly defined as two people being directly aware of one another's houghts, I do not find, telepathy recorded before the late eighteenth century. The word itself in English dates only from 1882. Because Freud imagined that telepathy was an atavism, a holdover from the primitive psyche, and perhaps because we wish to authenticate any development by finding , it among ancestral talents, most people believe that telepathy has been around forever. But I do not find that it is imagined as a possibility in either fiction or historical record anywhere in the world before about two hundred years ago. Now it is commonly assumed to be a human capacity in many parts of the world and has been subjected to rigorous study (I would point to Dream Telepathy by Montague Ullman and Stanley Krippner as an example) .If you have had an experience of elepathy, you will immediately recognize that this is a significant development in human cognition; if not, please ignore the topic and, go back to thinking about slaves, women, children, and the rise of , democracy.
All these changes are connected in that they all arise from a growing ability in the population generally to entertain the real presence of the Other-the other race, the other class, the other age group, the other gender and, with telepathy, just the Other mind generally.
The presence of the Other is something of a threat to us. Sabina Spielrein, a protege of Jung's and later a member of Freud's circle in Vienna, observed in 1912 that the reason we repress sexuality more readily than other drives is that the contact with the Other in sex poses a threat to our sense of our own integrity. We have earned our security in our own sense of self fairly recently, if Bruno Snell is right in his book The Discovery of Mind that the evidence of a sense of an integrated self in Western culture is as recent as the ninth century B.C.E. Without moving to a consideration of the history of self and otherness in the philosophical tradition (for I would quickly become lost, and do not really need Hegelian subtleties, or imagine that I do not) I would like you to think about your unwillingness as a child-or perhaps now-to let your arm, (dangle over the edge of the bed when you went to sleep at night. Why does the dark hold such fear for us? We are barely hung together , really; we fear that we will dissolve in the darkness, be undone again to what we were before we were born. To entertain the presence of an Other is to undo to some extent the self boundaries which keep us secure, to include the Other in our own self system and thereby to threaten it.
The root experience of inclusion of the Other in our self system is love. Love is such a diverse experience that it is probably incapable of definition. Trying to include all the types of love-my love for my wife, for my work, for my students, even (shamefully) for this or that material possession-in one statement defeats me. But I can talk about the conditions under which all kinds of love arise. Love arises from a movement, with a more or less pronounced sexual component, toward an experience of self based on an extrapersonal center. The opposite of love is not hate, which also involves one with another, nor indifference, which allows the Other autonomy, but an active foreclosure of the possibility of connection with the Other, and thus a denial of the right of the Other to exist.
In these terms, the general changes I have noticed since the eighteenth century mark an increase of love. Love-an ability to entertain, to some degree, the real presence of the Other-is not so much a symptom or indicator of the evolution of consciousness as the thing itself .
Projection, our habit of attributing to others that which we do not recognize in ourselves, is a root of love in that we recognize in our relationship with the Other a unity of being which is also the ground of our sense of Self.
Evil comes in many forms. The AIDS virus might be called evil. Poverty is an evil. It may even be evil that we find ourselves embodied in a dying animal. But what we usually mean by evil is that which we might do something about--ethical evil. That sort of evil arises from our protection against the Other. The enormous ethical evils of this century-the genocides, the willing despoliation of the planet, the indifference to the suffering of others present and others to come, arises from our self-protective reaction against the growth of our own openness to the Other.
Projection is also the root of evil in that we alienate apart of the Self in alienating the Other. For the perception that there both are and are not two beings-that there is a thronging multitude of living beings " and that at the same time, immediately, nothing to change-is not just: a property of the Zen tradition but may also be found among the Sufis, in the writings of St. John of the Cross, and in the spiritual discoveries of the American Lakota shaman Black Elk. From this point of view-in the world of ri and not of li, as Chinese tradition has it, or the world of the unus mundus in the medieval platonic tradition, or in St. Augustine's presentation of the world as divine, a circle in which all that happens, has happened, or will happen is one event-the world as Dante experiences it in the end of the Divine Comedy-in the world as experienced in deep kensho, what Kitaro Nishida calls the world of absolute experience, which is just this world after all-to deny the other is to deny the self. All compassion is self compassion. The supposed conflict between altruism and self-interest exists only on the lower spiritual registers.
But that is where we spend most of our lives. At best, the world as our spiritual teachers have been describing it to us for so long is just barely emerging into ordinary experience. We umans may be having an easier time than we did just holding together our sense of being an autonomous self in the world, but it still is a stretch for many.
The need for solitude is felt to different degrees in different cultures, and may even be xperienced as a guilty selfishness in some cultures, but until we do have a firm sense of personal identity we will be in danger of a destructive denial of the Other. As time has gone on, by the evidence of the changes I have noticed-in the long run, our tendency to associate in larger and large groups and recently the near-disappearance of chattel slavery, the emergence of feminism, the growth of democracy, the growing sensitivity to the rights of children, the growing sensitivity to racism, chauvinism, and other insensitivities to the rights of others, and the appearance of telepathy-in all these ways we are emerging into an extended sense of Self .
The political history of this passing century is littered with the bodies of those who died as victims of our resistance to this change. Global politics now seethes and twists with our resistance to openness to the Other, our refusals of the growing sense of a global community which includes not only our nation and our ethnic group, and not only human beings. The community of the twenty-first century will include all that lives. The direction of the evolution of consciousness is not toward reactionary groups which exclude others from full humanity but toward a general inclusiveness which continues to affirm individual identity. From the standpoint of that community and out of its strength will come our ability to deal with the horrors of pollution, poison, and war .So far what I have been saying may sound like a psychoanalytic cum Jungian approach to Teilhard de Chardin's Omega Point. In fact, I count myself among Pere Teilhard's students. But I do see an organization in the evolution of consciousness. As I spend my life teaching literature, in fact, the story of the emergence of the Other appears to me to have a plot.
In a theory I have developed elsewhere and may only assert here, plots do not look like pyramids as Gustav Freytag claimed ( following Aristotle) .Freytag said that plots begin, rise to a climax, and fall to the catastrophe. Episodes or anecdotes may look like that, but full plots are more complicated. In fact, plots which come to a firm closure look like the snake on your handout, which uses the Grimms' folktale " Hansel and Gretel" to stand in for all of literature and, for our purposes, all of history.
The plot snake represents plot as the binding of some disruption in a previously orderly narrative world. The disruption is loosed in the first stage, causes increasing disorder in the second stage, and then is subjected to a temporary binding in stage three-the hump in the middle where the climax should be if this were Freytag's Pyramid..
In the fIrst half of Hansel and Gretel the problem IS that there s not enough to eat and the kids are no longer welcome at home. In the temporary binding, they find a home you can eat and the witch makes them most welcome. However, the binding is temporary and unstable, for the witch intends to eat the kids themselves. The covertly hostile mother in the first half of the tale becomes the openly; cannibalistic witch in the second half. In the infernal vision, stage four, she seems about to accomplish her grisly purpose. She has the oven ready and plans to shove in Gretel as an hors d'oeuvres. But now that she is out in the open the children are able to deal with her at the end, in the final binding-Gretel roasts her in the oven, and the children are able to return home in the termination.
The effect of plot analysis is to construct, or to elicit, or-as I prefer-to both elicit and construct a semiosis, a meaning system, within which the elements of the narrative either take their place or stand out as anomalies. If the result is a coherence within which the elements of the tale seem naturally at home, we have discovered a valid understanding of the tale.
The plot snake itself describes the general shape of full plots which come to closure-and it does not matter who wrote them when. It will do as well for Gilgamesh as for the Shakuntala, as well for War and Peace as for tomorrow's American situation comedy. The reason is that it mirrors the psychobiological stages of a full human life. In our first stage we must separate from the mother and find a way to make ourselves at home in our family. Then comes the second stage, puberty, when we come unglued and must reconstitute ourselves so that we may achieve the temporary binding of our life as an adult at I home in the world.
But that will not last. In middle age we find that our friends will not save us, our jobs will not save us, and our family will not save us. In the infernal vision of our life -which has menopause as its Ibiological marker-we are readying ourselves for the last stage of our life when, if ever, we will be at home in the universe. Old age is the vantage point from which we may see life whole, and resolve the great contraries of existence-time and eternity, male and female, meaning and meaninglessness. The sixth stage of our life, termination, is whatever remains after we are gone. It may be the eternal void, union with the larger Self, harp practice in heaven, or simply society marching on. In fact, it is all these things-but that must wait for another paper. Now I just want to observe that in the form of our narratives we continually imagine our lives whole.
In the story of the emergence of the Self as I tell it to myself- using the best I know about the world-we are at the second stage of the plot. We have been teenagers, just finding out what it might mean to be at home in the world. Like irresponsible teenagers, we have been spending the parental bank account carelessly and now are left with the environmental bills of endangered climate, depleted natural resources, and a great mess of pollution. The world feels much like a messy teenager has been living here. The cleanup job will not be easy. I imagine that we are about to make ourselves at home in the world.
It will be too late, of course, for the thousands of species which have disappeared and are disappearing from their own histories as the result of our careless ignorance. The millions who have died in wars and pogroms in this closing century will not be with us, nor will the , descendants they might have had. But things are looking up. Fewer and fewer of us are willing to waste the future in the name of an ideology. More and more of us are aware that there really are other beings, fully as valuable as we, who do not look or act much like us.
We are about to find ourselves at home in the world-and then to begin to see what kind of now unimaginable universe this is, and even to think of ourselves at home there too.
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The Report from the Research of Rituals at Kunitachi Area, The Old village in Tokyo
In this speech, I would like to discuss various aspects of traditional life in an old village of Tokyo , and consider the commitment of one's life to local society. Considering this relationship, we will focus on how the people in the area have been involved with rituals surrounding birth, child care, marriage and funerals.
In our country, Japan , we have various rituals such as birthdays, Shichi-Go-San /7 -5-3 years old/ to celebrate the growth of children,the coming of age, weddings and funerals in the process of traveling from our birth to death.
These "Rituals" have developed as a "Custom" for one to be "approved by the local society. In Kunitachi City , where I live now, we have records of "Rituals", "which have been transmitted from the old village period, beginning around the 18th century. Likewise, the senior citizens in our city have been cooperative in talking about their old experiences and memories with us. Based on these researches and ethnographic materials, we held a project exhibition called "Various Aspects of Rituals -people, Birth, Marriage and Funeral" between lap. and Apr. 1997 at Kunitachi Kyodo Bunkakan / Kunitachi folklore Museum /. This speech has originated from the said exhibition. Kunitachi City I pop. 70, 000 I, localed in the suburbs of Tokyo , has developed as city rich in culture and education. Historically, Kunitachi City consisted of 3 small agricultural villages in the Edo era 117-19th century.
These villages united to become Yahoo village in 1889 122 Meiji era. Yahoo village had 378 households and a population of 2, 4000 at that time. The major industries of the village were agriculture and sericulture, all of which necessitated common work, and encouraged the involvement of the residents with their neighbors Therefore, in this old village district /Yahoo, Aoyagi/, various customs were developed and have renained, concerning family - neighboring families and family- society relationships.
1. The Kouju management system Yaho area, which occupies the southern half of Kunitachi, was formed as village around Koushu-Kaido, the fifth major road built in Japan during the Edo era /17 century/. The village was divided into 10 sections, called" Mura". Each Mura were further sub -divided into 2 or 3 "Kouju'. Each Kouju consisted of 5 or 6 organizacion called" Okumiai " .Each Okumiaj was composed of 5 households. Each Kouju, therefore, was a group of 30 households. These organizations were social rather than familial. The Okumiai system organited from the" Gonin -gumi" / 5 neigh-bours system in Edo era/.
Especially during marriages and funerals, people of each Kouju and Okumiai cooperated with each other and worked together to create these rituals.
Kouju members would join various sub-groups with different responsibilities. There were citizen's groups for Funerals and Nembutsu -kou ISinging at funeralsl, as well as for Daisan –kou /Visiting local shrines/.
All members of a Kouju used their own funds to purchase dishes and cooking materials for weddings and funerals. They kept these commonly -held goods in a little storehouse called a "Kouju -kura".
The people of the village created this sysytem to keep many goods inexpensively, for the use of visitors to their houses. Since the 1950' s, Unions and Neighborhood associations have replaced the Kouju as a method of local interaction. Most Kouju - Kutas have disappeared gradually,and only a few remain nowadays.
2. Birth celebration
For a married woman, the birth of a child meant that family would continue, and this was seen as an event of great importance. Women often visited nearly shrines to pray for pregnancy and an easy childbirth. At the start of the 5th month of pregnancy, the expecting mother would wear a belt made of white bleached cotton coiled an Obi -iwai/ to pray for a safe birth. At this day, her family celebrated together by eating red rice which had been boiled with beans. Almost all pregnant women delivered at their home, helped by a "Toriage basan" /midwif/. After the birth of the child, the mother's parents and relatives would bring some rise and 2 bonitos /dried fish/ to the family for celebration. These foods were nutrious for the mother. In addition, each member of the Okumiai would also bring a bonito. 3 days after the birth, the family made Japanese rice cakes and sent 7 cakes to the Okumiai members as a thank -you gift. 7 days after the birth, the baby was named in the "Okichi-ya " ceremony by the parents. One older women related that in the 1940's she had given birth to -10 children, because having a large family was seen as a patriotic duty and praised by society. However, now almost all families have only one or two children.
* "Miya Mairi" /Visiting a shrine with a baby/ It is reported that in Kunitachi City during the 1950's, a after about 31 -33 days. At this time, the God of the village /Ujigami/ was - prayed to for the healthy growth of the child in the "Obi -ake" ceremony. Following this, the Okumiai members gave money and clothes to the parents. In return, the parents gave the Okumiai a dried squid and red rice as a thank you. 100 day after the birth, the parents an "Okui -zome" ceremony, I symbolizing a long life free from hunger for the new child. In this event, the rarents mock -fed red rice to the child from a bowl and chopsticks.
After 1 year, parents and relatives gave " Hago-itas" I resembling a wooden requites and decorated with artworkl to baby girls, and "Yumi-hamas" la kind of bowl to baby boys. These goods were accompanied by prayers for the health of the child. After this ceremony, the family again gave rice cakes and bonitos as a token of thanks.
* "Hatsu-zekku" /First seasonal festivals/
Hinamatsuri, or Girls' Festival is on March 3rd. Tango-no-sekku, or Boy's Festival is on May 5th. /It is called "Children's Day" nowadays/. At that time, the family celebrated the child at one of these first seasonal festivals. Parents and relatives gave beautiful dolls to girls, Carp-shaped streamers were given to boys by parents and relatives. Boys also received decorative samurai armor and weapons.
These presents symbolized wishes for their healthy growth. Then the family made rice cakes, and ate together for the celebration. In following years, until marriage, the family displayed the dolls in house in March, and also the carp streamers in the garden, decorative samurai armor and weapons in the house in May. These festivals continue to this day, offering enjoyment for both parents and children.
*"Natsu -no -iwai" /Ceremony for 7 -years- old/
When a child reached 7, he or she was approved as a member of the village. Then the child went to the shrine to give thanks. The child thanked their parents as well, and paid a courtesy visit to the relatives. Village people thought that children younger than 7 belonged to the Gods, because young children were often weak and died. Upon reaching seven, they would become full members of the village. The ceremony was especially elaborate for first -born sons and daughters. Children were given special clothes from all of the relatives. Then the family gave 27 rice cakes with wooden bowls, "Handi", as a token of appreciation. These days, many families visit the shrine to gave thanks. This ceremony is now known as "Shichi- go -san" / 7-5-3 years -old
ceremony/ .It is celebrated every November 15th. Before the war, the coming of age ceremony was held at 15 years old for boys, called "Genpuku". During this ceremony, they were acknowledged as having finished childhood, and no longer a child, and they also could participate in the roles of the village. Now, every 20 -year old person participates in a "Coming-of-Age Ceremony" every January 15th, where they are accepted as adults in the society.
* " Yome -mukae" /Welcoming the bride/
In the past, a wedding was held at the groom, match -makers and relatives /5 or 7 people/ went to welcome the bride. The groom greeted the bride's family and Okumiai members, and then returned home alone before the others.
Shortly after, the bride came to the groom's home, escorted by her relatives in a straight line, each following one after the other. Youth association members of each Mura brought the bride's belongings to the groom's home, carrying them on the "Dai -hachi -gurma" /large wheel cart/ .Her belongings included wardrobes, bedclothes futons, kimonos, a dresser, sewingkits and a tarai / wooden washing tub/ .
* "Nyuke -siki" /Entering the Groom's Home Ceremony/
The bride arrived at the groom's house in the evening. Then, the women of Okumiai, wish was a group of 5 neighbors standing next to each other, welcomed her in front of the gate, holding lanterns. The children of Okumiai also welcomed her. They held torches on each side of the kitchen door, pointing downwards."
The bride enterd the groom's house from the kitchen door, stepping over the torch fires which had burned out and were now glowing. The glowing torches represented the many obstructions, which she might encounter through her married life. Her stepping over them showed her firm resolution not to give up through the challenges of her new life.
* " Ai -sakazaki" / drinking of 3 cups of sake/
The bride and groom held a wedding ceremony in his Japanese - style room. A boy and girl of Okumiai poured the sake into their cups from sake bottles, called "Ochou mechou" which means male butterfly and female butter fly.
The bird and groom then drank a cup of sake three times /called " San- san -kudo" which means" 3 by 3 is 9 times" /. They then enchanted marriage vows. This was known as the Aisakazaki Ceremony. On the day of the wedding ceremony, women members of the Okumiai made the feast at the bridegroom's home. The men made a lot of soba which is J apanese buckwheat, noodles. These noodles meant a long life. Then they used dishes and cooking materials of the Kouju. On this day, many children were invited to the ceremony and enjoyed a lot of different food, for example, rice, kenchin –soup /vegetable -soup/ and boiled vegetables.
* " Shuku -en" /The wedding reception/
At the wedding reception, they called for Okumiai member to be master of ceremonies. He was called "Oshou -ban -yaku", and took all responsibility for the wedding reception being held in a happy atmosphere. The wedding reception was held until midnight . The bride changed her wedding clothes two or three times. It is known as" Oiro-naosi". For a bride, wedding clothes were very important. And she showed her" Marriage belongings" to visitors. These belongings were given to her by her parents to enable her to set up her new home. Okumiai members sang festive songs at the party to celebrate the marriages together with the family . 5 or 7 days after the wedding, the bride returned to her parent's home alone, to spent just one day with her family , in her new position as a wife. It was known as" Sato -gaeri " . The report from the research of Rituals at Kunitachi Area 165 After their wedding, the newlyweds visited the homes of Okumiai members for formal greeting to their neighbors.
At the time of one's death, Okumiai and Kouju members played important roles. During a traditional funeral, it was and Kouju members, rather than bereaved family , who waited in the house of the deceased, expressing condolences for the death.
Two people from the Okumiai announced a death to the various parties concerned; relatives, the village of fice, the temple and neighbors. While male Kouju members prepared for interment as diggers, female members used commonly -held cooking materials to make food) for visitors. On the night following a death, male Kouju members purified the corpse with warm water, and laid out the remain in a coffin. At this time, female members always prayed Nembutsu for the dead person on the next day, a funeral was held.
" Nobe -okuri" /Funeral procession/
Before the funeral, Okumiai members made several items which were used in the ceremony. Flags which were decorated with sutras, Japanese sandals, a special basket filled with 49 dumplings, small flags, and decorative cookies were all created for the event. The actual procession was joined by the Mura, who exited their houses and marched around the village before entering the graveyard. The female relatives of the deceased wore white clothes during the procession.
* " Ana hori yakunin" /Digging officials/
Before Kunitachi town became Kunitachi city in 1967, burials were held by the people. Male Kouju members prepared for the interment as diggers, working in teams of 4 and taking turns. These men were the digging of ficials. Besides digging a grave, they also carried the coffin on their shoulders to the graveyard, where they subsequently' buried it. Because they took on a very bitter job, the digging officials were given a polite reception when they returned to the home of the deceased.
The Kouju members would share the responsibility for digging officials from the Edo era I 1790'sl though to the 1960's. The goods used in a funeral were communally held by the kouju. These included a short coat for the digging officials, covers for the coffins, and digging tools.
5. The Japanese way of thinking concerning the afterlife.
Ever since the rise of Buddhism in Japan 16th centuryl, the Japanese have believed that the mortal world is a temporary world, and that the afterworld is the eternal and enduring realm. It was traditionally believed that although the body might vanish, the spirit would continue to life in the other world. 33 years after death, a memorial service was held so that one's spirit should become a general ancestor. This ritual, then, was an important part of Japanese ancestor veneration. It was widely beloeved that if a person lived a good life, he or she would ascend to heaven, while if one lived a sinful life, one would descend to hell. These beliefs can be seen in drawings of the "Ju -OU -zu" /10 kings of hell It was of paramount importance to hold a funeral, and male"Funeral kouju" were organized in each Mura, for the purpose of helping everybody heaven. Female groups were also important, and would offer prayers to the Buddha in the form of "Nembutsu" chants.
The above -outlined rituals for birth, weddings and funerals which were closely related to local organizations, have almost disappeared in modern Japan . Following a period of rapid economic growth starting in 1950' s, traditional regional relationships collapsed due to the rise of the nuclear family. However, even now various aspects of traditional rituals survive within modern society. It would be my great honor if this speech could contribute to comparative research regarding the relationships of ritual life to local society throughout the world.
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The shadow of God (on Creation Motives)
Albena Georgieva, PhD
In Bulgarian Creation legends God is rarely the only creator of the world, as in Christian doctrine. On the contrary, frequently his assistant or at least a necessary participant is the devil. Satan knows or is capable of doing something inaccessible to God; with his actions he causes changes in God's creations and in their fate; his "devilishness" proves to be apart of the knowledge about the world.
In texts about the creation of the earth the devil is the one who dives into the depths of the water to fetch soil from the bottom. It isn't explicitly said that God is not able to do this, but it is somehow taken for granted -he belongs to the heavens and light, he is only aware that there is soil under the water, but sends Satan to draw it out. The devil is the mediator, he is the one to overcome water as a barrier and to bring the heavy matter from the bottom into contact with the ethereal God.
God occupies the upper part of the world, his power and knowledge dominate and play the decisive role. But Satan is not entirely opposed to him, he also possesses creative energy and initially is to be found where God himself is -above the water. The text reads: " There were only God and devil, who then lived together" and in another text we find: "Once the old Lord and the devil strolled; along in heaven and talked" .
The devil is the dynamic element, who can descend downwards, under the water, while God remains above it. The two powers combine their creative abilities in order to overcome the resistance of the water and to deal with the inertness of the earth under it.
The idea of the initial closeness and cooperation between God and Satan can be traced in many texts. A variant from the region of Sofia , for example, begins as follows: "Once the devil was something of a partner of God and they worked together"
Another text reads: "When God created the wild animals, the devil created the wolf. They -the Lord and devil -are brothers" The fact that they are complementary to one another is most obvious in a text from the Panagjurishte region: "As old people say, the devil had power equal to God's, because God consulted him for many things" What is interesting in this text is that the devil is said to have originated from God's shadow:
"Once, as the old Lord walked around, he caught a glimpse of his shadow and called out to it:
-Stand up, friend!
And the shadow got up in front of him as a human being; it was not a human being though, but a devil. From that time God made friends with him and the devil became a comrade of his"
Satan is a partner, a brother, a shadow and a friend of God; he supplements his deeds; he has power, equal to the divine one; he knows and is capable of things inaccessible to God. But the devil is envious, he cannot accept the dominating role of God and tries to displace him.
That is why, after they create the earth, they separate and start to oppose each other. Satan first tries to drown God as he has fallen asleep on the newly created land. He takes him in his arms with the intention to throw him into the water, but the land beneath his feet begins to expand and he is unable to reach its end. God explains that, carrying him in his arms, the devil has made a cross over the earth, thus helping him to bless it. Satan understands that his intentions are revealed and runs away from God. But now it is God's turn to get into a difficult position: he is unable to stop the extraordinary growth of the earth and sends the bee to spy on the devil and to learn the secret. Again equilibrium is gained thanks to the knowledge of the one -this time of Satan –and the endeavor of the other, i. e. of God.
The legend of the sun's marriage also has variants, in which it is the devil himself (and not some wise animal, as in most cases) who foresees that the earth might get burnt if more suns are born and thus prevents the coming catastrophe.
According to folk legends the devil is a very active participant in the creation of man as well: after God has made the body from earth and leaves it to dry, Satan passes by and in order to spoil God's creation, he makes holes in it. When God tries to "blow" a spirit into the body it, it wouldn't keep it and he has to plug the holes up with herbs. Man comes to life but remains perishable and his body becomes vulnerable to various diseases.
An interesting modification of the same idea is found in a legend about the origin of the dog: the devil spits on the drying man's body and the spittle sticks to his belly. God throws away the part with the spittle, but at the place a hollow appears (the navel) and when giving a soul to man, the discarded part comes to life as well and becomes a dog.
More than clear is the idea that man is not entirely God's creation, for if he were, he would truly be an image of God. Interfering, Satan strengthens the "earth" element in him and makes him vulnerable to temptation and corruption.
There is another group of texts with a slightly different idea: when God creates man, the devil tries not to spoil God's work, but to prove that he has no less creative capabilities: he makes the wolf. In spite of his endeavors however, the wolf cannot come to life without the involvement of God. And when it finally does come to life, the first thing it does is to bite off the leg of its creator, proving by deed whose offspring it is.
Satan doesn't stop his activity after the creation of man; he continues his efforts to spoil God's plans and to violate the rules established by him. There is a legend, according to which Woman is made from the devil's tail and not from Adam's rib: the devil steals the rib, taken from Adam, the angel tries to catch him and to bring the rib back, but he manages only to get hold of the devil's tail and that is what he brings to God to make Eve. Hence Woman has become so" devillike".
The devil again is the initiator of man's first sin and of his expulsion from Paradise . He sends the snake or goes himself to Adam and Eve and tempts them to eat from the forbidden apple. Afterwards, when they are already on the earth, he claims to be their patron and promises to teach them how to earn their living and how to build a house. As compensation he wants them to sign with an agreement in blood, that dead people will belong to him. Adam signs and" from that day on Adam lived with the devil all the time and did everything the devil told him", or, as the informant complains in another variant of the legend, "thus old Adam and old Eve, although they were children of God himself, made themselves and their offspring children of the devil, sold themselves to the devil with their signature".
Man was not able to live for long innocently and carelessly, as he did when he was created, because Satan interferes and causes his Fall. But as compensation the devil teaches him to work, to build and to earn his living. Obviously connected with this idea is the belief that it is precisely from the devil that man" steals" various secrets pertaining to handicrafts: for instance, salammoniac, necessary for the tinplating of copper vessels, or the clapper of the water-mil.The same idea explains the conviction that the abilities of the craftsman, his very skill is in a way connected with the devil or is achieved in the course of some relations with him.
Satan is the antagonist of God, but at the same time he supplements I him, he is an active participant in world events and contributes to the ,development of nature and of man. What is more, according to folk legends, once he owned half of the world. In some versions he makes an agreement for a division of the world with Adam and according to this agreement the living people belong to Adam and the dead to the devil, as in the aforementioned example. In another group of texts the agreement is signed with the Lord himself. For instance, in the story of the devil's originating from God's shadow, Satan wants "the earth to be mine, and Heaven may be yours; and let us divide the people as well: you take the living, and to me you give the dead"
There comes a moment when it turns out that Satan possesses much more, owning the earth and all the dead people. There are also versions, according to which he initially governs the whole world without any specification as to how he came to own it: "Once the devil , was the king of the world and kept everything in his hand. Nothing could be taken from him and the soul of everyone who died went to the devil".
In the logic of these legends the birth of Jesus and his mission as mankind's Savior is interpreted as a means for God to redeem the souls of the dead from hell and through his son to conquer Satan's kingdom. What is curious is that the secret of how to achieve this he again learns from the devil. According to different versions he sends the angel, St. Peter or St. John , who live for a while with Satan to gain his confidence and to learn how the signed agreement might be broken or how the kingdom of the devil might be conquered. During his baptism Jesus breaks the agreement between his father and the devil, and upon his resurrection, he redeems the dead from their eternal torments.
The texts discussed above are only apart of all the folkloric stories - about creation. In the others God is the only or the main agent. The very existence of such" dualistic" legends however is telling. They survive in a milieu of facilely dominated by Christianity, although religion has been spread in much the same way as folklore itself.
Their dualism can be explained either as an inheritance from ancient pagan mythology, or as an influence of the Bogomil movement, which had strong roots in folklore. What is more important is that they are not an isolated phenomenon, that in folklore as a whole they coexist with many tales, stories, beliefs and proverbs, which demonstrate the active role of the devil in the life of Bulgarians of the Middle Ages and which reveal him as a real force, fighting on equal terms with God for domination in man's psyche, interfering in man's judgment: "if concerning good and evil, influencing people's views and behavior.
Moreover, the dualistic cosmogonic legends convincingly point out" that the devil is not simply one among many pernicious supernatural ghosts, such as vampires, goblins, bugbears, etc., which one should take into consideration and should avoid, keeping to certain traditional norms and taboos. The devil is revealed as a creator and a ruler, as an agent -together with the demiurg -in the making and in the arranging of the world. His image, to put it in the spirit of Jung, compensates for the asymmetry and the one-sidedness in the image of God. Exactly as the shadow in the psychological sense, in folklore the devil is a designation of the unconscious man, who "does not comprise only morally unacceptable tendencies, but also possesses a number of
valuable qualities, such as normal instincts, expedient reactions, realistic perceptions, creative impulses, etc.". He is the mediator, who links the light of consciousness -the Lord, hovering above the water -and the ultimate unconscious -the shapeless earth under the water.
The legends, which "correct" the biblical version of the creation are a product of natural folkloric psychology. The folk mind cannot understand, and for that reason cannot accept, the Christian doctrine of privatio boni, according to which Evil is only a diminished good and is not substantial itself. Moreover, the folk mind cannot assume the imbalance in God's image, too much dominated by goodness, and so it restores the equilibrium through stories, which "rehabilitate"
God's antagonist and give him back his original primordiality. These stories confirm the idea that the devil is dangerous mostly when opposed as an enemy, but as a "partner" and a "friend" he can be a creator on equal terms with God; that, together with the" dark materiality" for which he stands, he can be integrated into the personality and can take part in the achievement of inner and cosmic harmony.
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