Towards a Jungian Model of the Supernatural, part one
Let’s talk about paranormal activity. I want to take a look at some well documented phenomena, ranging from UFOs and Bigfoot to Ghosts and fairy tales; the idea here is to look for commonalities. We are going to take a very brief survey of the history of the paranormal this month, and pay attention to the common threads. From this I hope to weave a tapestry using Jungian psychology as a working model from which to consider the occult. My idea is that within the proper framework, many of these seemingly different kinds of phenomena are actually different facets or paradigms of the same thing.
There is an old fable that goes something like this: three blind men encounter something in the jungle, and they are trying to figure out what it is. The first man goes up to it and feels its legs, which are huge, and he says, “Well, what we have here are a couple of really big trees.” The second blind dude feels the tail of the large creature and proclaims, “You’re crazy, what we have here is a simple paint brush.” The third blind man reaches out and, touching the nose of the creature, declares, “Both of you must be loco! Even a blind man could tell you this is a boa constrictor.”
I would like to suggest that part of why the accounts of the paranormal appear so mysterious (and as we shall see baffling to the point of appearing silly) is because when considered just on their own, for example a specific account of Bigfoot or a UFO encounter, often smacks of strange, whimsical, and ridiculous details. Consider cow mutilation for example – the idea that sentient beings capable of traversing Space-Time have nothing better to do then anally mutilate cattle! Likewise a person who tries to build a theory that accounts for the literal occurrence of every known paranormal activity soon is tied up in the most absurd, illogical and paranoid pretzels. That leaves a middle path that few have trod. It is only by stepping back and looking at the big picture, and allowing our minds to play with the inherent contradictions, that the true picture begins to emerge.
What I would like you to consider may be viewed as a model in the scientific sense. Full disclosure: I once taught high school science, so this is a familiar mode of thinking to me, but it takes a bit of imagination to try out. Of course most scientists are skeptics, quick to dismiss anything that smacks of the paranormal as utter horse pucky, because it does not fit into the commonly prescribed Descartian, materialist world view of the scientific (1687 to present). People who investigate the unusual are mocked and scoffed at in the scientific community. The true spirit of science, however, is to examine all the evidence with an unbiased and open mind.
Our paradigm of the world has always been very resistant to change. Keep in mind that the idea of meterorites, that large rocks fell from the sky, was thought to be scientifically ridiculous for a long time. Likewise the scientist who proposed that slow moving glaciers shaped the land was long considered a nutjob by the scientific community. And the first person who proposed the theory of continental drift, now a component of every high school curriculum, was at first a laughingstock! Time however showed that their models were the only ones that held water and accounted for the evidence at hand.
With this in mind we shall take a survey of interesting cases of the supernatural covering everything from Bigfoot to UFO’s over the next few weeks. Keeping an eye out for the connecting themes that may help us build a framework, or a larger holistic theory of the reported phenomena.
Look for a new installment each Monday.