The emphasis on words may abstract the living reality of these forces. Understanding how these forces work in you and others is necessary to ground this distinction. Using myself as example: It took me a while to recognize the androgynous nature of my own mind as I was brought up in a family and culture that emphasizes the intellectual, analytical, and verbal modalities as the leading edge of perception and that which validates insights. When I was younger I identified with that side of mind and didn’t recognize what now seems obvious — intuition was always the leading edge of my mind, the analytic and verbal followed behind processing the information streaming in from intuition. I have also noticed that others frequently misperceive me in the same way that I misunderstood myself: because I was brought up to favor a mode of detached analysis, people hearing me talk, or reading what I write, often have the false impression that what I am communicating is the result of a sequence of analytical thoughts. Actually the primary process is intuitive, and analytical thinking and verbalizing come in as a secondary process. Since the “finished product” is often a set of words presented in a tone of detached analysis, the secondary process is the more visible and manifest and seems to be the driving force. Now that I have recognized that my mind is a melding of intuition and analysis I have also shifted to discussing ideas (at least some of the time) in a more intuitive, surreal style (Stop the Hottie!, and Vision at Chichen Itza are examples).
One of the general implications of my particular case is that the process of becoming androgynous is largely a matter of inner recognition rather than transformation. I was always more intuitive than intellectual, but recognizing that allowed me to transform, to become more who I always was in my essence, and that process is not finished; as I age I notice that I am becoming more and more comfortable with allowing intuition to be the leading edge.
Often I find that the most intelligent people I meet have identified with their thinking process. Intuition often tells me that these people are powerfully intuitive, but some inner bias in them causes them to discard intuitions. My intuition senses their intuition as active and online, and it used to shock me when I would catch on that they were not reading or accessing their intuitions, because they have a prejudice that this source of information is not as valid as thinking. I find myself trying to communicate to these unrealized intuitives how much more empowered they would be if they learned how to meld intuition and intellect so that intuition was the leading edge (see discussion of the hierarchy of psychic functions in A Guide to the Perplexed Interdimensional Traveler).
A less perceptive sort of person I frequently run into in counter cultural circles has rebelled from the intellectual and analytical altogether, dismissing it as a patriarchal constraint. They believe themselves to be beyond the intellectual when they are actually not up to its mark, so they prefer to scorn that which they desperately need, but in which they are desperately incompetent. This rebellion does not, of course, empower their intuition but rather turns their psyches into a lunar landscape of complete confusion where discernment is entirely lacking. They falsely believe they are involved in occult or metaphysical study when actually their minds consist of a mushy hodgepodge of fragmented urban legends, “can you top this” bits of pseudo-esoteric lore, New Age clichés, etc. Their “study” mostly consists of narcissistically excited bull sessions in which they proffer bits of this inner refuse to anyone that will join them in kind or even pretend to listen to them. They personify what Singer identifies as “hermaphrodites” rather than androgynes. The androgyne, however, values and is skilled in intuitive and intellectual abilities.
Singer credits Ornstein with recognizing that the passing age is characterized by its tendency to polarize the left and right, the lunar and solar modalities of consciousness. You are either a “serious” scientist or thinker or you are an artist, mystic or freak. But the present dilemmas and Swords of Damacles hanging over our heads will not be understood or addressed by those who work out of only one hemisphere of consciousness. We need people, like Jung, who had both hemispheres firing, the androgynous mind, to comprehend what is happening to us.
A radical surgical treatment for grand mal epilepsy involves severing the corpus callosum (the dense bundle of nerves connecting the two hemispheres of the brain). It was discovered that these two hemispheres, each of them connected to a different eye, were forced to work independently so that when patients who had undergone this procedure closed one eye they could read words but not comprehend pictures, and if they closed the other eye they could recognize pictures but not name what they were seeing. Singer makes an excellent point that this surgical procedure can be viewed as the ultimate symbolic act of the age of Pisces, the Age of Polarities. The Internet, which in just a few years has come to be a global central nervous system, may be seen as a technology of the Aquarian Age since it wires everyone together. Also, since it involves word, sound and image it has the potential to engage both hemispheres and to wire many billions of brains or psyches into one interconnected system.
Singer suggests that Systems Theory may be a mythology of the Aquarian Age that she expects to be an age of androgyny. Although as a Jungian Singer recognizes mythology as a far more substantial thing than the way most people hear that word (many people hear it as: a bunch of nonsense and superstition), I think that Systems Theory might more aptly be called a paradigm of the Age of Androgyny. Singer writes,
“As we move into the Age of Aquarius (which may come to be designated as the Age of Androgyny), no one would be surprised to discover that a new myth is emerging. Naturally it manifests as have all the other myths, in the guise of a “sacred truth”; only this time the truth is designated as science: The Systems View of the Universe. Systems theory does not announce itself as a mythology; no mythology ever does.”
One Sidedness Versus the Integrated View
Indeed, Systems Theory does seem like an inevitable evolutionary correction of Western thought and science that has gone to such extremes in dividing, reducing, and compartmentalizing knowledge and investigation. Systems Theory recognizes what the I Ching long before recognized, that everything is a pattern of energy and change embedded in other patterns of energy and change interwoven with all patterns of energy and change and harmonizing with the principles of energy and change found everywhere.
As Singer puts it,
“….the universe is not lying in fragments at the feet of the philosopher. Nor are the polarities ‘worlds apart’ in reality. The world is characterized by a remarkable degree of consistency and coherence. If we do not see it that way, it is because of the limitations of our own capacities—the elephant is not divided into pieces because the blind men are only able to sense its parts.”
Inner and outer are not the irreconcilable opposites which they were for Descartes and are for many in science,
“Inwardness, called “psyche,” and outwardness, called “world” may appear to be in opposition to one another. From a more encompassing viewpoint they may be seen simply as two systems, one subsystem contained within another larger system.”
“….We need to recognize that we are members of an interrelated series of systems which all obey the same principles and have a common theme. “
Some people in the New Age, particularly those who have dabbled in Eastern practice, have swung with the pendulum of enatiadromia to a new extreme or one-sideness. They will monotonously insist on the oneness of everything no matter what is being discussed, and use this obvious reality as a way of leveling all difference, distinction and discernment. This point of view can be even more limiting than the tunnel vision of the reductive thinker, since at least the reductive thinker is still thinking about and investigating something, no matter how much they miss the infinite, interelated context of the something. This type of New Ager, however, takes oneness as a truism that relieves them of the need for thinking, discrimination and discernment and pulls oneness out of a hat, like the most tired of magician’s rabbits, whenever any issue requiring discernment appears. Recognizing that individuals or groups that are in conflict are part of the same oneness is crucial, but it is also crucial to recognize their individual differences and what sets them apart. The great American pioneer psychologist William James wrote more than a century ago that besides the oneness of things, anyone who glances at the phenomenal world should also be struck by the eachness of things. We see a world of unique individual trees and people, for example, and not an homogenous mass of treeness or undifferentiated pool of humanity. The androgynous mind recognizes that there is both oneness and eachness, these are the two poles of the paradox that must be held in mind to understand both interrelation and individuality. (See Dynamic Pardoxicalism and Lessons for an Entity Incarnating as a Mammal for more on the dynamic paradox of eachness and oneness.)
Quite often the same person who is a proponent of the oneness of things will unconsciously switch to reductive dualism and the next minute be preaching to the choir of like minded friends about the badness (and implied otherness) of corporations, environmental destruction, etc. What is really maddening is talking to the New Age person who, if they are not preaching about the oneness of things, are telling you about the badness and wrongness of everything they don’t like (always something human associated) which they will inevitably damn with their harshest of epithets, their version of the Mark of the Beast, the fiery brand of “unnaturalness.” Whenever you hear the words “natural” or “unnatural” being used you are almost certainly in the presence of sloppy thinking. The fundamentalist tells you, for example, that homosexuality is unnatural though it is displayed by about 450 species. Often the same people who condemn the simple-mindedness of the fundamentalist will tell you that everything modern technological man does is unnatural. From my point of view, nothing is outside of nature. Therefore nothing is unnatural or supernatural. Mother nature created, as Terence McKenna put it: “a technology extruding primate.”
Of course, what I just said is still only one side of the paradox, there is a meaningful discrimination to be made between, for example, eating a toxic diet of processed foods and eating a diet of live, organic whole food. But furless primates who choose to eat poison are still part of nature, part of the Tao, and what doesn’t make sense to someone’s preferences, may make perfect sense if understood out of the judgment box and seen as part of an unexpected web of connections. (For more on the false use of “natural” see A Guide to the Perplexed Interdimensional Traveler ).
Singer quotes one of the original systems theorists, Buckminster Fuller:
“What seems to be important at the moment is never what is really going on. For the bee, it is the honey that is important; for Nature, what matters is the cross-pollination the bee effects in going after the nectar. So also, 99 per cent chromosomically programmed humans have been doing the right things for the wrong reasons. What we think of as side events are really Evolution’s main events. How events and discoveries will cohere is unforeseeable. The one sure thing is that cohere they will. The “Planner” incarnates the human mistake of supposing that Universe is waiting for human beings to make the major evolutionary decisions.”
Of course, Buckminster’s statement is flawed since bees are obviously not separate from nature, but the principle is sound. As Singer points out,
“Fuller is the generalist par excellence…One of his favorite principles is synergy, a word that means the unexpected interaction of parts in combination”.
An Androgynous Mind is a Generalist Mind
Jung, himself a master generalist, decried the growing prevalence of soulless experts which increasingly characterizes our society (see “Crossing the Great Stream…” an article I wrote for Holistic Education Review). The “expert” is almost the opposite of the androgyne. The focus on expertise in academics and science tends toward that well known syndrome of knowing more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing. The androgynous mind is a generalist mind, it may have expertise in certain areas, but will not become so married to its expertise that it will be unable to see the gestalt of things, it will instead be able to thrive on the serendipitous synergy of different fields of knowledge. This is what characterizes a great Renaissance thinker, and androgyne, like Leonardo Da Vinci who was creative in arts and sciences. Another of the great Renaissance androgynes is William Shakespeare. His androgyny is not reducible to his bisexuality (the classic love sonnets were written for a male youth), it is his ability to project himself empathically and with great penetration into such a wide spectrum of human types of every age and gender. Shakespeare pioneered the rediscovery of androgynous “Green Worlds” (see A Splinter in Your Mind ). When the characters in As You Like It find themselves in the Green World of the Forest of Arden, gender bending (a boy plays a girl who plays a boy who pretends to be a girl) becomes the key to unlock their various neurotic dilemmas. Although androgyny may seem to be worked out interpersonally, remembering that Shakespeare created all the characters from within you can see As You Like It as manifestation and realization of his own intrapsychic androgyny.
Androgyny and Auto-Eroticism
Photographer: Richard Ian Cox
There is a strange way in which my interest in androgyny, the Tolkien Mythology and Singer’s book intersect, and oddly enough it has to do with masturbation (hereafter I will omit the word masturbation and instead use auto-eroticism which is not a euphemism, but a more accurate term, as masturbation defines only a physical act of manipulating genitals while auto-eroticism encompasses a type of eros with much larger implications.)
For most of the time I’ve had a connection with The Lord of the Rings trilogy, since I was twenty or so, I was extremely uneasy about the ring symbolism of the trilogy. Since the ring is a circle, and the circle is the classic symbol of wholeness and the Self (the Sanskrit definition of God is: “A circle whose center is everywhere, and circumference is nowhere”) I was rather suspicious of the need for it to be destroyed. I was aware of Tolkien’s orthodox Catholicism and felt that it might be the source of Tolkien’s antagonism toward any human, or human-like individual possessing a symbol of divine wholeness. I felt that Tolkien’s hostility toward the ring came from a problem with what I call “mislocation of the Godhead.”
I am minimizing here the use of the word “God” because it is contaminated by anthropomorphisms and emotionally charged projections of such variety that using the term only invites confusion and tends to widen the gap of miscommunication between the person employing the term and their audience. Instead I am using the term “Godhead,” which has various dictionary definitions, but I am using it to mean: that which is divine and the source of divine emanation. Like all definitions this is imprecise and circular, but hopefully the meaning will emerge.
Locating the Godhead and the Monad
From my point of view, the location of the Godhead should be oriented like some of the more recent interpretations of the Sanskrit salutation “Namaste.” A popular (if nontraditional) version is sometimes translated as: “I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me.” You recognize the Godhead in the other, but also recognize that is within you and everything else. This location of the Godhead is like the Sanskrit definition of God as a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. If your location of the Godhead, however, is asymmetrical, if it is unevenly distributed, you get major schizoid splits and often violent outcomes. If I locate the Godhead exclusively in me than I will tend to become an Anti-Christ, a psychopath, a Wall Street executive looking out for “number one.” For this type, their ego is the only subject, and everything else in the universe is real estate, livestock or the hired help. On the other hand, if I externalize the Godhead onto a savior, a sky god, or something like that, I tend to feel that everybody is a wretched sinner compared to this Godhead shining in the sky. Since God is said to be the summum bonum —the source and principle of all good and utterly without taint, then I need to find the dark side of reality carried by someone else. I need scapegoats to carry the dark side of reality which I don’t want to attribute to my savior or sky god who is supposed to be entirely outside of the dark principle. Ultimately this can fill me with feelings of conviction that some sort of blood bath is necessary to please God, and so forth. (see Jung’s book Aion for more on this schizoid split that is especially apparent in Christians (except Gnostic Chrisitians).
Viewing everything as the Godhead may be the position most in accord with the findings of physics. Once the “monad,” or indivisible constituent of reality, was believed to be a small particle. This was first postulated by the Greek atomists. The word “atom” comes from the Greek “atomos” which means uncut. An atom, as the early Greek philosophers saw it. was the uncuttable, indivisible constituent of physical reality. The belief in atoms as the monad fell apart by the time of Einstein, when matter was shown to be not a particle but a special case of energy. Matter turned out to be mostly empty space and a more congealed form of energy. The universe came to be recognized as a flow of patterned energy. Now many physicists are saying that the universe is more accurately considered a flow of information. Physicists Fred Alan Wolf and Amit Goswami go a step further and say that if you posit the monad as consisting not of matter, energy or information, but of mind, of consciousness, then all the paradoxes of quantum mechanics vanish. This is what I believe—-everything is the Godhead and everything is composed of consciousness.
Many Christians (and orthodox Catholics would especially tend toward this) do not view the Godhead everywhere but see a very uneven distribution of it; mostly they locate it in God the Father and his son, Jesus. This relocation of the Godhead into two male identified figures is part of a strange evolution of mythologies:
Joseph Campbell’s five-volume study of mythology, published under the general title of The Masks of God, contains in each of its volumes an extraordinary record of the ancient shift from matriarchy to patriarchy. The shift is schematized by Campbell in four steps as follows:
1. The world born of a goddess without consort,
2. The world born of a goddess fecundated by a consort,
3. The world fashioned from the body of a goddess by a male warrior-god,
4. The world created by the unaided power of a male god alone.
(Heilbrun/ Toward a Recognition of Androgyny)
The Schizoid Split of Christianity
Many forms of Christianity (but not Gnostic Christianity) moved toward a massive schizoid split which fractured every layer of reality — cosmological, spiritual, psychological, sexual — it split men from women, Masculine from Feminine, light from dark, mind from body, Christian from nonChristian. This split was caused by the drastically uneven distribution of the Godhead. God the Father and Jesus became ever more divine and perfect, the “summum bonnum” and all darkness, through ever more tortured reasoning, became the fault of Satan, humans through “original sin,” female witches, the Jews… As white light came to glow around father and son, man and human nature (though created by God and in his image) came to be seen as blacker and blacker. Divinity was almost exclusively in the two male Gods, and humans were dust and corruption. One apotheosis of this insane split was American Puritanism. Among the most classic expressions of this madness are the hellfire and brimstone sermons of the Puritan minister Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). The schizoid split in Puritans became so extreme that it resulted in the most pathological projections. Women were burned as witches (nothing new there, Europe had burned several million) and human beings were so dark and repellent that God could scarcely hold himself back from damning them to eternal punishment in hell for even one more moment. Here are some excerpts from Edward’s most well known sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”:
“The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. …There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell. …Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; …He will not only hate you, but he will have you, in the utmost contempt: no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet to be trodden down as the mire of the streets. …It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long forever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts…and you will absolutely despair…You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite….this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. …The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber, the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them. The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own…”
A Question Few Christians Ask
Jung, a Christian and the son of a Protestant minister, had the courage to ask himself a question that few Christians have ever had the courage to ask themselves: Why has more blood been spilled in the name of Christianity than anything else in human history? Jung considered this question in his book, Aion, and basically concluded that by removing all darkness from creator and messiah a schizoid split was created which required a feverish need for shadow projection, a need to locate darkness in some human group that would serve as scapegoat. Once you created an all white light Jesus, then unconsciously you needed to create as his twin — antichrist — to counterbalance this one-sidedness.
Why Destroy the One Ring?
For more than twenty years I suspected that the need to destroy the ring came from the schizoid disempowerment of locating the Godhead outside the Self. As an orthodox Catholic Tolkien would tend to think that recognizing divinity in the Self would swing the pendulum of enantiodromia to the other one-sided extreme of antichrist. Even today I believe that this is a factor in his ring symbolism.
When I was twenty I recognized a parallelism between the need to destroy the One Ring, and its corruption of any ring bearer, with the harsh Catholic taboo against auto-eroticism. Freud pointed out a crucial difference between what he called “primitive” man and modern man in their perception of sexual energy. The primitive worshipped the mysterious fire within, while the modern man worshipped the beloved, the object on whom the fire was projected. In other words, our eros had become configured or conditioned so that we project power outwards. Just as with Christianity (except Gnostic Christianity), where divinity was projected outside the Self onto an all perfect God or messiah, sexual fire was projected onto an idealized, external love object. From the age of Chivalry to Victorian times, and even in some rare cases to this day, a classic form of this projection was for a male to feel his desires “unworthy” of some idealized woman whom he thought “too pure for this world,” certainly too pure to have any sexuality of her own, etc. ( See No Tristans Allowed Beyond this Point—Debunking the Modern Myth of Romantic Love for much more on this.) This form of schizoid eros parallels the schizoid projection of the Godhead as outside the Self and residing in an all white light divine figure. To the extent that the Feminine was recognized as divine at all it was in the inflation of Mary, mother of Jesus (who in the Bible Jesus treats rather contemptuously) into a demigod, a distant fourth in the otherwise male field of three (father, son, holy ghost) that comprise the Catholic Trinity. Also the earthy and dark side of the Feminine were edited out and she became the “white Madonna,” a virgin mother too pure for sex, etc.
Breaking the Prime Commandment of the Matrix
What makes auto-eroticism so horrifying to this schizoid mind set is that the human personification of Godhead, the beloved, is not necessarily projected into the external world or into an assigned mythology, but is instead generated internally by the individual. A person engaging autoeroticism is generating both subject and object, and is partaking in the potential sacrament of orgasm without the mitigation of individual power by an external person, institution of marriage, Church delivered sacrament, etc. No control system wants the individual to be so empowered and able to close the circle within themselves. In the Catholic Church, to this day, birth, marriage and even death require priestly sacraments— i.e. authorization by external authority. A control system wants you to always be seeking fulfillment, love, security, salvation outside, out in the society and institutions that it controls, so that you become an object of control within the system. This is the prime commandment of the matrix: Thou shalt not exercise the ability to generate your own reality, but shall abjectly submit to the reality created for you. George Bernard Shaw seemed to understand this when he said, “”The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” The “reasonable” person is the one who submits to the matrix, the control system, the “unreasonable” person is the androgyne, the person who is aware of themselves as cocreator.
I believe it is appropriate to redefine masturbation and autoeroticism to parallel the way Singer has redefined hermaphrodism and androgyny. The conventional form of masturbation common in our culture involves the same kind of projection of power outside the Self as it practices with interpersonal sexuality. An idealized beloved (or in promiscuous, materialist contemporary society — a “hottie”(see Stop the Hottie!) becomes the subject of externalized focus as if he or she were the energy source of the autoerotic experience. As in the hermaphrodite, this type of masturbation is characterized by the confusion of Masculine and Feminine rather than the integrated fusion of them in the androgyne. Autoeroticism, as I am redefining it, means androgynous autoeroticism, and that means that the individual is conscious of both the content of the fantasy and of themselves as the creator of all parts of the fantasy. This means that the autoerotic person would be conscious of themselves as both subject and object, lover and beloved, Masculine and Feminine, and whether they generate a lover of the opposite or same sex, no one at all, or any other possibility, they are consciously closing the circle (wielding their own ring of power). The androgyne in an autoerotic experience realizes that they have the power of the shape-shifter to be in any body they deem appropriate as well as to generate a lover in whatever form is desired. They also realize that their point of view is not bound to the subject, but may travel back and forth between the created lovers if they feel so drawn.
Orgasms that are not merely the result of genital stimulation may in some cases be experienced as a sacrament, as a participation mystique with the universe where one emerges into an energy body that is interpenetrated with the universe. That such a sacrament could be experienced by an individual without permission or reference to outside power and authority is horrifying to a control system which demands that power in all circumstances be projected outside.
I am not trying to disproportionately glorify the autoerotic experience as compared to the interpersonal sexual experience or the person who abstains from any form of sex. All experiences may be sacred or profane depending on the experiencer and the context. Indeed, for some an excessive indulgence in the autoerotic could be a version of the dark side of the uroboros archetype, the snake swallowing its own tail. A given individual, at a given time, might need the interpersonal to be more powerful to pull them out of themselves, etc. What I try to emphasize whenever I talk or write about eros is that ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL! If there is one obvious fact about human nature and human eros that is most neglected, it is respect for its fantastic variability. Human situations need to be examined from a much more case specific point of view.
I also find it interesting that masturbation taboo is to a partial extent multicultural. Singer points out the prohibitions against masturbation in numerous cultures and spiritual disciplines including Taoism, kundalini Yoga and Tantra and states that it has no basis in human anatomy, suggesting that is based on archetypal material. From the point of view of the Eastern energetic alchemies of Tantra and Chi Gung, ejaculation by males is in most cases viewed as extremely detrimental. While these systems have, in other ways, a very sophisticated understanding of human energy, when it comes to male orgasm they seem to view the energy system not as an open flow of energy, but as a closed system with limited resources which each ejaculation permanently diminishes. But the body creates seminal fluid to be ejaculated and not to be indefinitely retained where it can putrefy and cause infection. Dr. Andrew Weil (go to drweil.com and type “masturbation” into the search engine) reports on an Australian study which finds that men who masturbate are 30% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who don’t! Anybody who knows how hard it is to find detectable statistically significant correlations with many health factors will tell you what a gigantic differential this 30% is.
I am not suggesting that there is no truth to the position of Tantra and Chi Gung on ejaculation, but I am asserting that it is a one-size-fits-all formulation. Indeed, excessive ejaculation can be draining, particularly when conditions are more yin and less yang. Aging makes one more yin, and therefore older males need to ejaculate less than younger males. Also, during winter, which is much more yin, ejaculation may be more depleting than during the height of summer which is far more yang. Again, the case specific points of view, as well as general formulations, need to be considered. When ejaculation is interpersonal, rather than autoerotic, there are all sorts of other factors to be considered. There are significant numbers of people of either gender who are able to drain another person’s energy (see Mind Parasites, Energy Parasites, Vampires). Excess ejaculation, like an excess of anything, can be detrimental, but the phobic, horrified, over-the-top warnings and prohibitions against masturbation indicate schizoid projections.
One of the aspects of June Singer’s book that most resonated with me were her very parallel findings on autoeroticism. Singer implies a parallelism between androgyny and autoeroticism as both are subject to taboo and secrecy:
“If androgyny has remained submerged over the centuries, then masturbation has been similarly ubiquitous and nearly as secret.”
Especially fascinating is that Singer connects autoeroticism to the Tree of Knowledge in almost exactly the same way as Terrance McKenna connected it to hallucinogens. Terrance would sometimes refer to the expulsion from Eden as, “history’s first drug bust.” As Singer puts it:
“From earliest childhood on into youth and maturity, masturbation is an act of self-assertion, the object of which is a movement in the direction of independence… Masturbation and the prohibitions against it can be viewed in connection with the legends that are told about the Tree of Knowledge. Here, also, the issue is the potential independence of the individual from the more powerful Other. There is the prohibition against eating the fruit of that tree because if Adam and Eve do eat of it, they will learn the secrets of carnal life, which are allied with the secrets of creativity. This knowledge would make them like the gods; that is, powerful and independent….The God who prohibits eating the fruit of the tree which enables humans to know good and evil may be afraid they will begin to believe that they can become self-sufficient if they can meet their own sexual needs through self-manipulation.”
Singer connects autoeroticism with the individual partaking of a forbidden independence and power. She quotes a patient:
“That was the first time I remember that I ever masturbated to orgasm. It was a great feeling. For the first time I was feeling in control of my sexuality”.
Those seeking to shame and discourage people from masturbation portrayed it as having the most dire consequences for physical and mental health. As recently as the Fifties, young men were commonly told that they would go blind or insane. The parallels between these absurdly over-the-top and blatantly false warnings, and the Refer Madness type propaganda used to scare young people away from marijuana and other hallucinogens, are quite striking. Engaging in autoeroticism or hallucinogen use can in some cases be an appropriate assertion of power to be your own alchemist, to engage in highly mood-altered energetic practices outside of social sanction or control.
Singer points out that autoeroticism can actually be a practice that, engaged in the right way, can produce healing and lead toward wholeness and creativity:
“Masturbation can provide a person with the intensely felt experience of being the lover and the beloved at the same time. The experience can be a total one if accompanied by fantasies that are healing; that is, ‘making whole.’ It provides also a stimulus for creativity, reminding us of the Egyptian creation mythology in which creation proceeds from a masturbatory act. Here giving and receiving, activity and receptivity are combined. There is great freedom in knowing that one can be whole in one’s inner life, and that this wholeness need not depend absolutely upon a relationship with another person.”
“The difference is that the masturbation that belongs to the androgyne’s experience is performed consciously; the reason for it is understood and accepted; and it is entered into with the fantasy which allows the soul to participate in the experience of the body without guilt or shame.”
An aspect of autoeroticism that associates it with the Tree of Knowledge, and that would particularly anger the gods of patriarchal control systems, is that the individual is exercising his or her power to “subcreate.” “Subcreation” is a term introduced by Tolkien in his essay on fairy stories as his way of acknowledging that the fantasy writer is generating a creation, a subordinate reality within the larger creation of God. Tolkien’s creation of this term, and the way he employs it, reflects a certain ambivalence toward creativity, and may partly explain his dark view of the One Ring. Tolkien acknowledges that fantasy writing at its highest level is a profound act of creation, a birthing of a parallel reality. But as an orthodox Catholic who locates the Godhead more outside than inside, he is careful to put “sub” before it and emphasizes that the fantasy creation is a derivative subset within God’s creation. Tolkien tells us that subcreation is a natural human right and divine, but also warns about hubris and the tendency for power to corrupt and to be used wickedly:
“Fantasy is a natural human activity.”
“Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.”
“Are there any ‘bounds to a writer’s job’ except those imposed by his own finiteness? ….humility and an awareness of peril is required…
The right to ‘freedom’ of the sub-creator is no guarantee among fallen men that it will not be used as wickedly as is Free Will.”
Tolkien also seems to suggest that subcreation can never be an entirely original creation because it must be derivative of “Reality” which he capitalizes. Tolkien may have thought that his own creation of Middle Earth was more a matter of unearthing something or channeling a lost reality:
“Probably every writer making a secondary world, a fantasy, every sub-creator, wishes in some measure to be a real maker, or hopes that he is drawing on reality; hopes that the peculiar quality of this secondary world (if not all the details) are derived from Reality, or are flowing into it. If he indeed achieves a quality that can fairly be described by the dictionary definition: ‘inner consistency of reality,’ it is difficult to conceive how this can be, if the world does not in some way partake of reality. The peculiar quality of the ‘joy’ in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth.”
Tolkien wrote to W. H. Auden “‘I am a West-midlander by blood, and took to early West-midland Middle English as to a known tongue as soon as I set eyes on it.’ Tolkien felt he had an ancestral knowledge of this language that was just waiting to be activated. He gave voice to these feelings in his experimental story “The Lost Road:”
Alboin was trying to explain his feeling about ‘language atmosphere’. ‘You get echoes coming through, you know,’ he said, ‘in odd words here and there — often very common words in their own language, but quite unexplained by the etymologists; and in the general shape and sound of all the words, somehow; as if something was peeping through from deep under the surface.” (p. 40, The Lost Road and Other Writings, edited by Christopher Tolkien, Boston Houghton Mifflin Company 1987.)
But Tolkien also discusses another realm of reality where subcreation is more powerful and divine. He calls this realm “Faërie,”
An essential power of Faërie is thus the power of making immediately effective by the will the visions of ‘fantasy.’
In Faërie, imagination and manifestation are melded and this seems to locate the Godhead, the source of manifestation, closer to the individual, because in Faërie the individual’s imagination is like the mind of God; it has the power of instantaneous manifestation. Even more than the hallucinogen experience where the experiencer typically feels that they are the recipient of vision rather than the conscious creator of it, the auto-erotic experience may be seen as existing closer to Faërie than the ordinary realm. The person able to generate a vivid auto-erotic fantasy, which produces measurable physiological effects in the fantasizer, is asserting the essential power Tolkien attributes to Faërie: “…the power of making immediately effective by the will the vision of ‘fantasy.’”
To be “effective,” the manifestation does not have to have weight or occupy three-dimensional space. Few effects are as powerful as orgasm. This imaginal effectiveness is a forbidden power that may cause the gods that rule society and the collective baseline of human consciousness to become jealous, competitive, angry and fearfully vindictive.
For more than twenty years I saw the need to destroy the One Ring as analogous and parallel to the Catholic taboo on autoeroticism. Being able to access the imaginal plane to generate your own orgasms was unconsciously recognized as too much power for the individual and a forbidden internalization of the Godhead. In the Lord of the Rings movies, which I think were brilliant visual and dramatic amplifications of the Tolkien mythology, we see Frodo (personified in a more youthful and androgynous form than in the books ) secretly and guiltily stroking the One Ring as he lies in bed at night in a way that is obviously intended to evoke guilty masturbation. Tolkien’s mythology reflects his ambivalence about subcreation, which he affirms as a human right but also thinks might be too much power for fallen man to wield.
On Christmas Eve. of 2002 I watched the first Lord of the Rings movie, magnificently realized by Peter Jackson and an army of gifted people. But this was not the first time I had seen the movie, far from it, it was more like the eighth or ninth time, and it was my second viewing of the extended DVD version. Early on in the movie, there was a fifteen-minute period where, unexpectedly, a flood of intuitions and realizations about Tolkien’s mythology and the meaning of the ring cascaded through my mind. The view I had of the need to destroy the ring seemed to fold in on itself and reverse.
First, I had an intuition that seemed to reinforce my earlier point of view. I saw that the ring was an androgyny symbol, a multi-layered T’ai Chi symbol, or yin-yang. The ring’s yin or archetypal Feminine aspect is its coital roundness meant to be penetrated by a finger. Its archetypal Masculine aspect is its solar goldness. This I had already realized, but now I saw that like the black yin dot in the white yang, and the white yang dot in the black yin, its Feminine aspect was carried in its geometric shape, and geometric shapes are part of the dimension of pure form associated with the Masculine. Its Masculine aspect was its goldness and that was carried by its materiality, and materiality is associated with the Feminine. The next layer of the One Ring as Tai’Chi symbol is that it is composed of both matter, the most dense, heavy and impervious of metals, grounding it into the Feminine realm of corporeal, gravity-bound bodies, but it is also composed of language, and when exposed to the yang element of fire, words of power glow as fiery runes, and both language and fire are etherialized elements and aspects of the Masculine.
Next in the chain of intuitions was a realization about Sauron’s relationship to alchemical gender. His form, brilliantly realized in the movie, is a red eye of fire atop a tower. This form is the perfect realization of Masculinity completely untempered by the Feminine, the furthest position possible from androgyny.
Chthonic Phallic versus Solar Phallic
Jung identified two poles or types of Masculine power. The first type is the “lower” or “chthonic phallic” Masculine energy. This type of Masculine power is identified with male genitals, machismo, the linebacker, the stud…but it can also be identified with an animal like a bull. This type of Masculine energy is closer to earth and the animal realm and therefore is the far more Feminine type of Masculine energy. The higher, or solar phallic, Masculine energy is associated with the power of the mind, the will, the penetrating gaze, the sword of discernment, Apollo, the larger head rather than the smaller head in male anatomy, etc. The best animal representation of this power I can think of is the bald-headed eagle (whose coloring emphasizes its head) which soars above the earth and has the sharpest, highest resolution eyesight of any animal. (For more on these two poles of phallic power see The Psyche as an Oscillating Entity in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure)
In the books, a human personification of the virtues and weaknesses of lower phallic power is Boromir who is described as, “…taking no wife and delighting chiefly in arms; fearless and strong, but caring little for lore, save the tales of old battles.” He has plenty of phallic courage, but his mind and will are weak, and he is easily corrupted by proximity to the ring.
Lower phallic power is perfectly embodied in the movie version by the great Uruk-Hai Orc that Saruman manifests out of a pit of slime in the earth. This Orc embodies physical aggression, looks like a linebacker crossed with various animal essences, and doesn’t know anything more than it needs to. It has no will of its own, no solar phallic power, and it is completely ruled by Saruman, who, after Sauron, is the character most completely ruled by the solar phallic. Saruman also lives in a great phallic tower (hence the title of the second book, The Two Towers), and has a “mind of metal and wheels” and “…does not care for growing things, except as far as they serve him for the moment,” and, like Sauron, is ruled by an electrified will to power.
When Jung was a child he had a disturbing vision. He entered a tree that was like a cave and found himself in a great chamber. On a throne sat a huge column. The column was a gigantic anatomically correct penis except that at its top was an eye and the head of the penis was surrounded by a glowing aura. Consider how close Jung’s archetypal vision of the solar phallic is to Sauron, an eye of fire atop a great tower. Sauron’s glyph is a red eye. Sauron is the embodiment of the Luciferian will to power. He is so divorced from the Feminine and the earth that his physical form, a red eye of fire, is almost non-physical. Corporeal, flesh-based bodies are mostly water, all fetuses begin as female, but Sauron has no water, no Feminine. Sauron’s Ringwraiths cannot abide water. His Great Captain has a head made of fire and cannot be slain by any man, but is slain by a woman. Notice how much the power of phallic penetration is evoked in this description of Sauron:
“One moment only it stared out, but as from some great window immeasurably high there stabbed northward a flame of red, the flicker of a piercing Eye; and then the shadows were furled again and the terrible vision was removed.”
The eye, as the most ethereal of outer physical organs, and most closely linked to the mind, is closest to the solar phallic. The next closest outer physical organ is the hand, the cutting edge of the mind, with its phallus-like fingers. Saruman’s glyph is a white hand and castration of power is represented in the Tolkien mythology by finger amputation. Sauron has his ring finger amputated by Isildur, a deed which effectively castrates him at the height of his power, and Gollum bites off Frodo’s third finger (his phallic middle finger, not the usual ring finger) which leads to Sauron’s second castration.
The phallic aspect of the One Ring is apparent in a number of ways. During the twenty minute or so cascade of insights on Christmas Eve, 2002, I saw an image of the One Ring — glowing, with fiery letters revealed — on an excited, erect penis. This image was, as you might imagine, rather shockingly unexpected at the time, but makes perfect sense to me now. On the literal level the One Ring behaves much like a penis. Far more than ordinary metal, it expands when hot, shrinks when cool. Isildur, writing in his journal, tells us of his first moments of contact with the ring:
“It was hot when I first took it, hot as glede, and my hand was scorched, so that I doubt if ever again I shall be free of the pain of it. Yet even as I write it is cooled, and it seemeth to shrink, though it loseth neither its beauty nor its shape. Already the writing upon it, which at first was clear as red flame, fadeth and is now only barely to be read.”
In a later journal entry, Islidur no longer describes the ring as an uncanny object, it has now become for him his beloved, his precious, what he covets above all other things. His coveting is fearful, obsessively addictive, jealous and painful. Islidur especially fears that his beloved will be unfaithful, that the ring may be lusting for the heat of Sauron’s hand:
“The ring misseth, maybe, the heat of Sauron’s hand, which was black and yet burned like fire, and so Gil-galad was destroyed; and maybe were the gold made hot again, the writing would be refreshed. But for my part I will risk no hurt to this thing: of all the works of Sauron the only fair. It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain.”
What helps to make the One Ring perfect as an object of almost universal attraction and obsession is its androgyny. As a plain circular ring it has the shape of a zero, but it is also the “One” Ring. Its shape is coital and, if we believe Islidur, it misses the yangness, the heat of Sauron’s hand. The two magics the Ring always provides have a T’ai Chi orientation. Optical magic is about light, the Masculine principle, but the black yin dot in the white yang of optical magic is the ability to erase light, the negative optical magic of invisibility. Healing magic is about the body which is an aspect of the Feminine, materiality, corporeal vulnerability. Our bodies are mostly water, all fetuses begin as females and all bodies are subject to aging which makes them progressively more yin until they encounter death and decay which are entirely yin states (for the body, not necessarily for the spirit). The white yang dot in the black yin of healing magic, is that the bodily effect of contact with the Ring is an increase in “unnatural” yang, Masculine, obsessive vitality, a demoniac energy to gain or keep possession of The Precious, and a desiccating longevity that eventually turns the ring bearer into a wraith.
Geometric shapes are an aspect of the Masculine or yang principle, but the Ring’s shape is a circle, and circularity is Feminine or yin. That is the black yin dot in the yang aspect of form. Materiality is Feminine, and in its materiality it is gold—the most solar and yang of materials, and that is like the white yang dot in the yin of materiality.
The Ring seeks the alpha male, which is Sauron, so it can be said to be a manifestation of the power principle (“One ring to rule them all.”), but it can also be a manifestation of the Feminine and the unconscious because it seeks union and has an uncanny fate that the power principle can’t account for. The Ring has the fate of a seductive lover who has the negative power of betrayal, but can’t ultimately choose its relationships or destiny. Like most lovers sent by the unconscious, it brings pleasure and pain, feelings of power and inflated pride, but also feelings of humiliation, degradation, and powerlessness. It is associated with jealous lovers who are infatuated, and are ruled by possessiveness. The Ring gives and takes—-it promotes the longevity of its bearer, giving him an uncanny vitality that persists even if the ring leaves him. Gollum, though separated from the Ring for decades, still possesses an intense wiry strength, agility and speed. But the Ring is an unfaithful lover, Gollum does not misplace the Ring, “….the Ring betrayed Gollum.”
The Ring as seductive lover is not merely its strategy to gain power, it is also a process of mysterious eros that involves synchronistic encounters and relationships that neither the Ring nor its maker ever intended. Consider some of the major turning points in its history: The Ring and Sauron become separated when Islidur slays Sauron via ring finger amputation, an obvious castration equivalent, that unmans Sauron — disembodying him and breaking his power.
The Ring becomes the possession of Islidiur the man who slayed its creator. But the possession quickly becomes that which possesses; Islidur comes to worship the ring and it seduces, entraps and betrays him to his death. After this particular vengeance is spent, the Ring and its maker seem to sink into a long depression. The Ring, once the companion of a powerful magical entity, and then the captive of a King, becomes the beloved of an obscure Halfling, a Hobbit named Smeagol. Smeagol has a lustful, corruptible nature, and within moments of encountering the Ring on his birthday, he becomes possessively infatuated with it, and seeks to legitimize his claim by defining the Ring as his “birthday present.” Moments later Smeagol murders his best friend, the finder of the Ring, so he can secure his possession. Tormented by guilt and shame, ostracized by other Hobbits, his dark path leads to a long, long lifetime in an underground world where he lives near a pool of slimy water that is surrounded by a maze of Orc tunnels. He now becomes “Gollum” and he and the Ring stagnate underground for centuries chewing on cold fish and Orc meat, a meager, cold life of sneaking and murdering and no companionship except the ring that Gollum calls “My Precious.” The Ring and Gollum, essentially, enter into the long depression of a stagnant, dysfunctional relationship. They are literally sunk into a depression in the earth, encompassed by the yin aspects—-dark, cold, wet and furtive. Eventually, the Ring and Sauron come out of the depression and awaken together. Their lust for power reanimates, and the Ring betrays Gollum falling from his finger onto the floor of an Orc tunnel where it would most likely be picked up by an Orc, of course, which would be a quick shortcut back to Sauron. But, as Gandalf points out, the power of light may play a role in the Ring’s fate as well, and it was found by “the most unlikely of persons” Bilbo Baggins. Like Helen of Troy or Cleopatra, the Ring is like a lover with great powers of seduction, but who cannot ultimately control his/her fate.
The vision I saw of a glowing Ring on an excited penis has many levels of meaning. There is a fever of sexualized power feelings in the image, but it is also an image of enslavement, the Ring can be seen as a phallic manacle that has absolute power over the genital impulse. The Ring as glowing manacle on an excited penis is the perfect emblem of infatuation. The enslaved, excited penis is like an arrow showing the direction of power draining out of the Self and toward the external object of infatuation. This version of enslavement was very concisely stated by the seductive sorcerer in the movie Labyrinth, played by David Bowie: “I ask so little. Just let me rule you, and you can have everything that you want.” This is the aspect of the Ring that means that the power of darkness is ascending unless the Ring can be dissolved in the Cracks of Doom. The more that one has lost the original wholeness of androgyny, the more likely one is to become enslaved by a Precious, and darkness ascends unless this identification can be broken. Our world, the global culture which has created history and which mostly rules the human realm at the time of this writing, can also be emblemized by an excited penis pleasurably/painfully manacled to a Ruling Ring of Power. What characterizes the dominant human culture is the seeking of external objects—-consumer goods, hotties, territory, worldly power. Extremely few humans have achieved an androgynous inner independence where they locate wholeness and fulfillment within rather than without.
What manacles the excited penis is not merely a ring of metal, it is the One Ring, a ring that is also a spell of power wrought of language, an artifact of the technology of alphabets and writing. In the vision, as in the books and movies, when the Ring is hot it is revealed to have fiery letters, “words of fell power.” An alphabet-manacled penis may be an emblem of the fall from androgyny, an emblem of six thousand years of patriarchal, dominator culture, also known as history or his-story.