May/June 1999 Cosmic
The Wounded Healer
by Paul Levy
In 1977 a new planet named Chiron was discovered orbiting between
Saturn and Uranus. Seen symbolically, where the inner and the outer
are synchronistic reflections of each other, the recognition of
a new planet suggests that an archetypal pattern, another facet
of the divine, is being activated within the collective psyche.
Chiron represents the archetype of the wounded healer, and its arrival
could be interpreted to symbolize our need to reintegrate this archetype,
which has gotten constellated in the collective unconscious in response
to our global situation.
The archetype of the wounded healer refers to the birth of our
unique gifts and healing powers by going through, as opposed to
getting stuck in and endlessly recreating, our wounds. Jung's closest
colleague, Marie Louise Von Franz, says "the wounded healer IS the
archetype of the Self.and is at the bottom of all genuine healing
procedures. " To quote Kerenyi, a colleague of Jung, who elucidated
this archetype, the myth of the wounded healer refers psychologically
to the capacity "to be at home in the darkness of suffering and
there to find germs of light and recovery with which, as though
by enchantment, to bring forth Asclepius, the sunlike healer."
Our wounds are crying out to be recognized as a deeper process
trying to unfold; they are truly a doorway into our totality. The
wounded healer is a shaman and alchemist par excellence, as he or
she is able to redeem the mythic "treasure hard to attain," which
is none other than the True Self, hidden within what the alchemists
call "the prima materia," the wounded, rejected and marginalized
part of the psyche.
To quote a nameless Buddhist monk, "He who tries to get out sinks
in deeper. I roll in it like a pig. I digest it and turn it into
golden dust, into a brook of pure water. To fashion stars out of
dog dung, that is the great work."
The wounded healer is related to the stage in alchemy known as
the nigredo. This is the point where every effort of the ego seems
futile, and we appear hopelessly stuck. If we continue to try and
escape the pain of this situation, we are like a squirrel running
around in circles in its cage, or like an eyeball endlessly spinning
around trying to see itself. We waste a lot of energy and our efforts
are ultimately unproductive. But when we realize that there is nothing
that we, as an ego, can do, we have started to embrace our situation,
which para-doxically, is the very thing which initiates the trans-formation
in the deeper psyche. Even more paradoxical is that the very origin
of the wounding is itself the source of the healing, which is none
other than the deeper psyche. To quote the Delphic Oracle "He who
has wounded will also heal."
Our wounds drive us into ourselves, and can genuinely allow us
an immediate and intimate contact with our soul. This will only
happen, to quote Jungian author Charles Ponce, "if we are capable
of receiving it as a numinous event, an archetypal moment that seeks
to make us participants in an eternal happening." This involves
a complete shift in our level of consciousness, in which we literally
snap out of the narcissistic, hypnotic trance of the separate self
and realize that we have been merely playing a role in what Jung
would call a "divine drama."
When we realize this, boundaries between inner and outer dissolve
every-where. We begin to discover the omnipresence and nonlocality
of the deeper psyche, which has spilled outside the boundary of
our skulls and astonishingly enough expresses itself by incarnating
in front of our very eyes, in the form of the events of our life.
As Jung has shown, at this point the deeper psyche is experientially
no different than the Godessence itself, our own true nature. The
entire ordeal is then recognized to be like a dream whose purpose
was none other than to initiate us into the deeper mystery of our
infinite and unspeakably magical being.
For more articles about dreaming, see www.communityconnexion.com/levy