Many of the myths that present the creation of man, link it with the transformation of the human being into a conscious and complex creature, often having a soul or a spirit that distinguishes it from other animals. In many cases, the gods create man by sculpting him out of earth, and then breathing life into him. This creation from the earth, emphasizes the human as being an integral part of nature and creation, although a certain sequence of events that will usually arrive at a fairly early stage in the myth, will cause man to separate from nature, and will emphasize his uniqueness over other living beings.
Thus, for example, the Greek myth about the creation of man tells us: After the war of the gods (the Theomachy) ended with the victory of the Olympian gods led by Zeus, Zeus asked the titans Prometheus and Epimetheus to populate the world under his rule. To this end, Zeus gave them many gifts so that they could give to their creatures: fur, feathers, hooves, nails, teeth, speed, physical strength and more. Epimetheus created the animals and gave them all the gifts he and his brother received from Zeus. Prometheus labored for a long time, weaving from earth and water a creature shaped in the image of the gods, in which he breathed life. But by the time Prometheus finished his work, there were no more gifts to give it, since Epimetheus had distributed them all. The man created from dust is left helpless, naked and weak. Therefore, Prometheus gave him the gift of fire.
Prometheus creates man from clay, detail. Constantin Hansen, 1845.
This must be a very ancient knowledge, that the control over fire is what gave man his comparative advantage over other animals, and enabled him to survive in a hostile environment. In a world where death lurks in the dark and you have no physical qualities that allow you to defend yourself, fire control is a superpower. The fire allowed man to light his way in the dark, to protect his camp and tribe, to ignite initiated fires and to soften his own food. Even the figures of these ancient myths understood that fire made it possible for man to become a kind of god on earth, but they did not know how much. They had no idea that a few thousand years into the future, the same ability would give man qualities that are really reserved only for the gods - fire will move man from place to place at unimaginable speeds, it will help him hunt and kill from distance and without contact, it will help him destroy diseases, and even bring him to worlds Other and distant beyond the sky. Moreover, the mythological figures also did not know what we know today, that cooking food on the fire probably contributed directly to the development of Homo sapiens, in that on the one hand much less energy was required for the digestive process, and on the other hand nutrition improved miraculously. These processes directly led to the development of the human brain as we know it today.
The distancing from wild nature, which is represented in the Greek myth by Prometheus' gift of fire, appears in Hebrew mythology in the image of the original sin - eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge. In chapter 2 of the book of Genesis, the creation of man is described from the dust of the earth, into which God breathed the breath of life. The woman was created by God from the body of the first man, and thus Adam and Eve walked around Paradise, naked and innocent, until they met the serpent. The serpent is the one who tempts humans to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge, and become like God, knowing good and evil. As soon as the sin is discovered, Adam and his wife are expelled from the garden, and will never be able to return to it. From the moment you are exposed to knowledge, language, morality and law, there is no going back - your innocence is lost forever. From now on you are no longer like the other animals, who, according to French philosopher Georges Bataille, behave in the world like "water within water". Now, you are an animal aware of its very existence, and of the possibility of its non-existence.
Egyptian God Khnum, god of the Nile and
creator of man.
According to one of the ancient Egyptian traditions, the god Khnum, who was responsible for the sources of the Nile (Egypt's only source of life), created humans from clay. After the sculpting process, the frog goddess, Heqet, the goddess of fertility and birth, breathed life into the body of the newly formed man. According to the Egyptian religion, the human soul is a complex consisting of several parts. It is interesting to get to know them, and think about ourselves for a moment in this way:
The Khet and the Sah are the physical and spiritual bodies of the human person. In order for the soul to have the opportunity to be judged in the afterlife, it was necessary to preserve the physical body well after death, and to give it proper and adequate care, with special rituals created for this purpose. The spiritual version of the body was called Sah, and it was created after the deceased was found worthy by Osiris and the other gods of death to continue the journey to the afterlife. The Sah is the one who could communicate with the beings in the next world, and sometimes he could even come back and haunt the living.
A part of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, in which the Ib, the heart, of the deceased is
measured against the feather of Maat. on the left, the Ba can be seen, as a bird with a
According to Jung, as mentioned, the main forces that make up the soul are these:
The Self, which is a union of the conscious and the unconscious, the soul as a whole, and as a container within which the other archetypes exist side by side. The Self is a product of the individuation processes that the human psyche goes through from the moment of birth, and the physical and mental separation from the mother. According to Jung, from the moment of birth a person develops a sense of completeness of the Self, but with this development an Ego consciousness will form from it, which will split from the initial sense of unity.
The Ego is the self we identify ourselves with. He is what we call "I" when we talk about ourselves, our desires and our conscious passions.
The Persona is the image we put on, in accordance with the demands of society as we see them. This is our social personality, which functions according to society's expectations and hides the "real self". The Persona is actually a kind of compromise between our personality and the demands of the society in which we live. In recent years, when our lives have largely moved to the virtual space of social networks, the Persona has become a significant and large component of our identity, and often it even "takes over" large parts of us. The Persona is the myth we tell about ourselves in our social settings.
The Shadow, according to Jung, is that part of the personality that consists of qualities, values, feelings, passions and urges that the person does not identify with himself/herself (as part of the conscious Ego), and therefore denies and represses. The Jungian Shadow constitutes the unconscious and it contains the dark and unknown sides of man (not even known to himself). Similar to Freud's Id, the Shadow is home to all the animal instincts that are repressed from childhood by the conscious parts of the psyche. To a large extent, the Shadow element in the human soul represents the Chaos we described in the previous chapter, which is also belongs to the reality of the unknown and the un-"enlightened".
Apart from the elements described above, Jung also lists the Anima and the Animus as fundamental archetypes that make up the human unconscious. Anima in men, Animus in women, are the gender component of the psyche, opposite to the sex of the Subject. For the man, these will be the unconscious feminine parts, or, in other words, the way the male subject perceives femininity. And vice versa - for the woman, the Animus represents her sides identified with masculinity. Jung was mainly concerned with the Anima and the female motifs in the male unconscious. His approach also brings to light the stereotypical way of thinking about women and men (mainly women, of course) that was very prominent in the years in which he lived and worked. It seems that today, post-Jungian theories try to avoid stereotypical labels and characterizations of gender and sexual identity, and treat Anima and Animus more as representing the "Other" that resides within the psyche of each and every one of us.
Modern psychology, like ancient mythologies, deals with the complexity of the human psyche and the question of what consciousness is. Many questions still occupy the best researchers in various fields of study, and there are, of course, no answers. The latest developments in the fields of artificial intelligence and its use of language, strengthen these questions and arouse them again more strongly: Is consciousness something in the world? Can it be treated as an object or is it the result of chemical and biological processes? What is the connection between consciousness and language, and is it essential? Is there only one form of consciousness, the one we know? Is the human being the only creature with a developed consciousness? Can some form of consciousness be attributed to inanimate objects? What is the Self? Is the Self one or a collection of entities that we are used to treating monolithically? Is there an authentic core of identity that can be attributed to ourselves, or are we just a pile of influences from our genetics, the people we met and the education we received? Will it ever be possible to answer questions like these? Is there one answer to every question?
Conclusions & Highlights
1. We do not know what is the psyche or what is the soul, or what is the nature of consciousness. Countless attempts have been made to explain them. What is clear is that as linguistic categories they do exist, and as such, they form an integral part of the human story.
2. At this stage, where there is no proven scientific explanation, neither for the composition of the soul nor for the nature of consciousness, each of us must accept the story that best suits him/her. Heterosophical thought tends to assume that the self is not uniform and made of one piece, but is a collection of forces, events and beings, which are in constant dynamics and dialogue with each other. The Ego, which is the self that we identify with ourselves, should strive for coordination and reconciliation between all the other parts of the self. This work will last a lifetime, and will never come to an end.
3. The Unconscious is also an unprovable linguistic construct - an invention of philosophers and psychoanalysts. But the fact that I remember nothing of my early childhood, while it is clearly the most significant and influential part of my life as an adult, is sufficient proof that there are factors of which I am unaware, which are embedded in my mind, and frequently influence my daily conduct. Other things that strengthen the hypothesis that there are unconscious parts within my psyche, are instinctive reactions, emotions that I have no control over, memories that appear suddenly, dreams and so on.
4. The conscious and the unconscious, the known and the unknown, are (according to the heterosophical view) the main causes of the archetypal pattern of duality, which includes polar elements that make up the human experience, such as chaos and order, nature and culture, emotion and intellect, etc. In a circular way, these motifs, in turn, serve as metaphors for the conscious and the unconscious.
5. In our opinion, the things we humans call by the names 'soul' and 'consciousness', constitute an inseparable part of human existence, which is primarily a physical and bodily existence. Therefore, when the physical body ceases to exist as an independent system, the soul and consciousness as we know them also disappear. If there is any continuity to the soul and/or consciousness after we die, we probably will know nothing about it.
6. Since consciousness is not separate from the body and it came to us through inheritance, it seems that a large part of our basic and fundamental knowledge was also bequeathed to us from our fathers and mothers. The basic patterns of the psyche, which we inherited biologically and genetically, are the archetypal patterns. Into them we pour the knowledge and experience we obtain and accumulate throughout our lives. Just as the bird does not know what are the sources of knowledge with which it builds a nest or finds its way to another continent, or just as the bee does not know where it learned to decipher its friends explanations of how to reach the nearest field of flowers, so are we: we do not know exactly how some knowledge that seems to us so trivial, came to us without us ever needing to learn it.
7. The fact that humans have a "differentiated" consciousness with unique characteristics, does not indicate anything about the consciousness of other physical beings who share life on earth with us. The fact that humans know how to read or drive a car does not indicate that the consciousness of other animals is less complex; Maybe it is just made up differently. Millions of years of evolution may have resulted in the development of such types of consciousness, which we do not even come close to understanding. Therefore, it is important to remember that any hierarchy - value, class, moral, etc. - between us and other beings or entities, is completely imaginary, and mainly related to power.
8. In Judeo-Christian mythology, the development of human consciousness is compared to the expulsion from the Garden of Eden: from a place where he is an inseparable part of nature and animals, or in fact from the primordial Chaos, man moves to a world of knowledge and perspective, of reflexive thinking, language and culture. After that he will never be able to return to the paradise of animal innocence (as we imagine it). Consciousness is now aware of itself and of the possibility of its death, and from this knowledge there is no way back.
9. Other mythologies tell us about knowledge that is found among various creatures, animals, plants and even inanimate objects. Ghosts and nymphs, demons and fairies, are personifications of various elements in nature, and help humans to project elements from their own consciousness onto the world around them, for various reasons and for various needs. Personification is actually one of the techniques offered by heterosophy, for the purpose of developing creative thinking, ritual work and personal development.
10. Following on from the previous section, and according to the heterosophical approach, adopting a lifestyle that includes an approach of Personification - one of treating the things in the world as someone and not as something - is a recipe for a richer, more creative and moral life. We prefer to treat the tree that grows in our yard as a subject and not as an object. Such an approach can also be extended to inanimate objects. This does not mean that the heterosophist believes that his car has consciousness in the ontological sense. It does mean that the heterosophist understands that our life experience is based primarily on the stories we tell ourselves, and that imagination has an enormous value, in having a practical impact on the world, and on our relationship with it.