Monday, July 31, 2017

Living Thelema: A Practical Guide to Attainment in Aleister Crowley's System of Magick

Book Review: Living Thelema: A Practical Guide to Attainment in Aleister Crowley’s System of Magick – by David Shoemaker (Anima Solis Books, 2013, kindle ed)

This was a good overview of Thelema as a magickal system and as it can relate to psychology, philosophy, and religion. Shoemaker is a Jungian therapist and is also into Cognitive Behavioral therapy and so a psychological perspective adorns the book, which works OK for me but maybe not for others. However, for me, the idea of “attainment” in the context of a graded hierarchichal system, is not very useful as it is for others. Shoemaker is deeply involved with the O.T.O. and the A.A. and that is generally his perspective. One of his main teachers was Phyllis Seckler, aka Soror Meral. The book is a thorough example of working the system of Thelema and is quite useful in that context. He is a knowledgeable guide. In some ways the book seems like a modernized version of Crowley’s Magick in Theory and Practice.

Part One focuses on foundational magickal tools beginning with Qabalah. He emphasizes the psychological aspects of Qabalah. Creation/manifestation of the universe as the ‘mind of God,’ the structure and function of the human psyche, and the ‘way of return’ to the source of the creation are major features of the Qabalah. The Tree of Life is essentially a map of this universe and these scenarios. The ten spheres or sephiroth on the tree represent the multiplicity of forms and types of the mind of God. Creation/manifestation moves down the tree into grosser forms (lightning bolt path) and return moves back up the tree (serpent path). The sephiroth are sometimes seen as archetypal realities. In terms of the human psyche the Qabalah delineates five parts of the ‘soul.’ The highest aspect is yechidah, the essence of Spirit, which he equates to Jung’s Self. Yechidah resides at Kether on the top of the tree. Below that are chiah and neshamah, life-force/will and intuition, which reside as the next highest spheres, Chokmah and Binah, respectively. These are the links between the divine yechidah/Self and the ego-self below. Next the ruach encompasses several “energies” of the conscious mind. He also equates this with life force and compares it to pneuma, prana, and chi and considers it analogous to the Jungian ego. Its aspects are memory, will, imagination, desire/emotion, and intellect which correspond to the middle five sephiroth. Subconscious instinctual drives are attributed to the nephesh which corresponds to sephiroth Yesod and Jung’s ‘personal unconscious.’ Imagination and the astral plane are other possible correspondences. The nephesh is harnessed by the conscious mind, the ruach. Lastly there is the guph, the physical body, corresponding to sephira Malkuth. The way of return is the personal spiritual quest, or in Jung’s terms the integration of the four functions of personality: thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. There are also the four worlds of the Qabalah, described later.

Another aspect of Qabalah is the practice of gematria, a system of equating consonant letters and words to numbers in order to find hidden meanings and relationships. This aspect can be quite divinatory and perhaps arbitrary. 

On the whole the Qabalah is a metaphor for the human psyche and how to evolve it. Here Shoemaker presents it as analogous and complementary to Jungian metaphor/system of personality integration. For me I think the Qabalah is fine but one should realize that it is a theistic system and not strictly psychological – it is based on theistic assumptions. 

The Holy Guardian Angel is the next subject, a central tenet of Thelemic mysticism. He states it as Crowley’s term for the ‘higher self’ or ‘higher genius.’ Crowley’s use of the term varied, he notes, sometimes indicating some sort of external entity, or at least seemingly so. The HGA certainly seems to have a strong subjective component. Plato, Pythagoras, and others spoke of the importance of the inner ‘daimon.’ The Persians and others also had guardian angel concepts. The Thelemic goal is referred to as the ‘Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel’ and is sometimes referred to as ‘the mystical attainment.’ He suggests the attainment as more gradual than sudden, a developing rapport with the Higher Self. He sees it as developing from an unconscious connection to a conscious connection. Eventually it is said to be a willed connection. There are magickal methods for invoking the angel when one is deemed ready or deems oneself ready. Phyllis Seckler (Soror Meral) noted that contact with the angel may begin through intuition and become a regular ‘inner voice.’ OTO’s Karl Germer noted that once recognized as such the voice and guidance of the angel should be followed without exception (I question this) and that its influence will continue to grow. He also said we are all alone in the task.

True Will is another key idea in Thelema, which itself is the Greek word for will. He defines True Will as “the will of the deepest inmost Self – the core of who you really are as a spiritual being.” It is not the will of the ego, the ruach, the conscious mind, but a deeper/higher level of will. He suggests thinking of yourself as the prophet of your own angel, the priest of your own religion. He also suggests one’s True Will relates to one’s individual uniqueness and your personal mythology.
Having a regular magical regimen (he uses magical rather than magickal), a practice, is often emphasized in Thelema and Western esoteric orders. He suggests a series of goals: 1) magical ‘hygiene’ which fortifies the aura and charges the ‘body of light,’ 2) increase the ability to call forth and direct magical force, 3) utilization of yoga, particularly asana and dharana, posture and concentration, 4) internalization of symbol systems like Qabalistic Tree of Life as a model of the psyche, and memorization of correspondences, 5) develop the discipline to keep a magical record, and 6) establish a link to the HGA through ‘enflaming thyself with prayer,’ however defined, as Crowley recommended.

He gives four phases of developing a magical practice. Phase 1 involves developing self-control and learning to focus through relaxed meditation and a basic breathing practice such as the four-fold breath. As a magical practice he recommends memorization and working with Liber Resh vel Helios, Crowley’s Egyptian-based adorations to the daily path of the sun. Phase two involves adding the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram in both banishing and invoking forms as well as the rite of the Star Ruby. Banishing helps with hygiene while invoking helps with wielding magical force. The rites also aid in internalizing symbol systems. Deepening posture and concentration practices is also part of phase 2. Phase 3 involves regular meditation on the sephiroth and the paths below Tiphareth. For this phase he also recommends the Middle Pillar exercise described by Regardie. For phase 4 he recommends the Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram after previously aligning with the sub-Tiphareth regions of the tree. The Star Sapphire rite is an alternate form – he sees it as more exalted yet more dangerous since there is no banishing.

Additional recommended practices include a Eucharistic practice of some sort – Crowley’s works give examples. The OTO public ritual of the Gnostic Mass is a Eucharistic rite. Mindfulness practices are also recommended. Liber Jugorum, Liber Resh, and study of the symbolism of the five elements of the pentagram in one’s life are recommended in this regard. Breath awareness and pranayama practices also aid mindfulness. Rhythm and regularity are emphasized in developing a magical regimen. He also suggests perusing the published magical records of other practitioners of the Thelemic tradition.

He says that the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram (LRP) should be the foundation of magical practice and that Crowley recommended it twice daily until one dies. The LRP is a clearing and a cleansing, he says. He gives a version of the practice here. The rite includes a magical gesturing known as the Qabalistic, vibrating divine names, and the invocation of archangels. 

The Lesser and Greater Rituals of the Hexagram are also recommended. The LBRH is recommended before invoking a planetary, sephirotic, or zodiacal force. He gives a version here. The rite includes the IAO formula of Isis-Apophis-Osiris, various magical gestures and the magical word ARARITA.
Next is Liber Resh vel Helios, the adoration to the sun. This is done four times throughout the day and night representing stages of the sun’s path. He gives descriptions of the four god-forms: RA, AHATHOOR, TUM, and KEPHRA. Also included here is the adoration from Liber AL used by the A.A. In the last lines of the adoration one visualizes oneself as Ankh-af-na-khonsu as in the Stele of Revealing. 

Ritual construction is based first on understanding magical theory, causing change to occur in conformity with will. Control of thought is key, according to Crowley who noted “Fixed thought is a means to an end.” Ritual is a means to focus attention, and intention, through the use of symbols, gestures, and other devices. Other types of ritual include dramatic ritual which presents mythic narrative and our culturally-embedded unconscious rituals of everyday life. Structured ceremonial magic has been systemized quite a bit by groups like the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, from which Crowley sprung. 

Magical goals are formulated in the Qabalistic world of Yetzirah (the world thought and word) and then linked to the world of Assiah (the world of deeds). Deed is linked to goal. Shoemaker recommends one do a meditation to consecrate the aim. Purified intention and fixed thought are one. This is very good advice as one’s motivations and intentions should always be examined and reflected upon. After this one may work with symbol system correspondences to tweak things like timing.
Along the lines of Magick in Theory and Practice he goes through banishing, purification, consecration, general invocation, oath/proclamation, specific invocation, bringing down the magical force, establishing the magical link, closing, and conferring license to depart. He gives three sample sephirotic rituals showing each of the afore-mentioned stages. 

Asana and pranayama of raja yoga are the next subject. Posture and breath control are utilized in magical practice and the means may be borrowed from the yoga tradition. The A.A. grade tests (given in MiT&P) are to be able to remain very still in posture for an hour and to develop certain body trembling as a result of breath control. The goal of asana is simply to lessen the distraction of the body. Crowley gave some basic postures he preferred. The specific pranayama effects are described by Crowley as well as in the Shiva Samhita: 1) fine perspiration on the body, 2) automatic rigidity, which gives way to spasmodic trembling, 3) ‘jumping about like a frog,’ and 4) so-called ‘levitation.’ 

In exploring meditation and visualization he gives the texts studied for each A.A. grade including Liber HHH, Liber Turris, and Liber Jugorum. Raja yoga based on Patanjali’s eight limbs is encouraged as well as Buddhist techniques. Increasing self-discipline is one goal. Holding mental images, mantra, and breath awareness are emphasized. Another goal is ego-disidentification. This is initiated through a will to lose oneself, so-to-speak. Self-guided imagery is also practiced.
Astral projection or more specifically the development and control of the Body of Light is a key magical practice in the Western esoteric tradition. The etheric body, closer to the physical body, is distinguished from the astral body. Developing lucidity and consciously traversing the so-called astral plane is a goal. He gives tips and techniques.

Devotional practices like invocation are a key part of the work, the Great Work. Crowley encouraged: “Invoke often. Enflame thyself in prayer.” The central invocation is that of the Holy Guardian Angel. Liber Astarte is recommended, as are Liber Had and Liber NU. The last two he refers to as:

“essentially tantric instructions in the cultivation of worship of the inner energetic polarities symbolized by these two ‘deities’” {Had and Nu}.

Liber Resh can also be undertaken as a daily devotional invocation of the aspects of the solar principle. Liber Astarte gives ways to approach deity: slave to lord (awe), vassal to liege (fealty), child to parent (dependence), priest to god (adoration), brother to brother (confidence), friend to friend (comradeship), and lover to lover (passion). These approaches can be applied to ritual design.
He suggests that the invocation to the HGA should be individualized and customized. He recommends study of Liber Samekh as some of Crowley’s most lucid instructions about the HGA. Crowley seemed to suggest that initial encounters with the HGA were of an external presence but later that presence is revealed as the inmost Self. Knowledge and Conversation with the HGA and taking that experience to effect change in the world is the mark of an adept. He notes that the ritual identification with the HGA is best performed in the Body of Light after practicing and perfecting it in the physical body. Along with Liber Samekh, one should also study Liber VIII and the Abramelin works. These are months-long practices and conclude with a period of solitary confinement. Karl Germer notoriously practiced while in a concentration camp in Germany. Shoemaker goads that persistence will bring success.

Sexual magick (Chapter 14 he seems to add the k to magic) is an established part of Thelema. One aspect is the reversal of previous negative attitudes about sexuality and sin among Christians and in other societies. He sees Thelema as well suited to tantric work, with Liber AL and the deities Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor- Khuit being a big part. He compares Hadit and Nuit as well as the Beast and Babalon to Shiva and Shakti. Sexual ecstasy is encouraged to be identified with divinity. Seeing sex as sacred lends it more to mindful control. He recommends rooting out any residual guilt and shame about sex that is culturally-derived. This begins the sequence of purification, consecration then initiation. Ecstasy and orgasm can be devoted or offered to Nuit. In the initiation phase the combined sexual fluids become the eucharist for consumption or consecrating talismans. Being well-grounded in Thelemic mysticism is helpful as is consulting and studying the extensive work of Crowley and others. Internalization of symbol systems is a great aid. He gives a meditative technique from Liber HHH which involves seeing the spinal column as lingham and the ‘cavity’ of the brain as yoni and awakening kundalini. Liber NU offers more instruction via the development of the devotional and emotional connections. Most of the other practical advice he gives pertains to magical practice in general. 

The grades of the A.A. rise up the Tree of Life. Procession is along the various paths connecting the sephiroth. Below Tiphareth the paths are geared toward K&C of the HGA. Tiphareth is the place of connection with the HGA. He delineates five ‘tracks’ below Tiphareth: 1) development of magical skills, 2) training the mind for focus and receptivity, 3) activation of chakras and raising kundalini, 4) devotional practices, and 5) “balancing the psycho-magical constitution. He goes through each grade: Probationer does initial experimentation, Neophyte works on the astral, Practicus works with divination, Philosophus works with evocation and talismans. Working with goetic spirits can aid the ability to work with the HGA, he suggests. Practices for training the mind are included in texts like Liber Turris, Liber Yod (compressing mind into a singular point of focus), and Liber Jugorum. The Practicus attempts to control speech, the Philosophus action, and the Dominus Liminis thought. Section SSS of Liber HHH is a Thelema-ized version of kundalini arousal technique. He also says it can lead to acute awareness of the divine nature of our own ecstasy and such ‘divinized ecstasy’ is very helpful in inducing HGA connection. Devotion, or bhakti yoga, is another way to approach the HGA. Thus Liber Astarte is assigned to the Philosophus. In Thelema one may attempt to become the prophet of one’s own Angel. In track five one becomes a vessel, a grail, for the light of the Angel to dwell. Force follows form is the idea. The paths/grades below Tiphareth involve the four elements and he also connects them to Jung’s four functions of the psyche: sensation, intuition, thinking, and feeling. He touches on the various modern claimants to A.A. lineages and the relationship of the A.A. and the O.T.O. He says he can only vouch for his own group but does not condemn other groups, suggesting that proper function of the initiatory system is what is most important.

He notes that in the Western esoteric traditions the Tarot is seen to be a ‘complete symbolic map’ of the myriad transformational processes that make up ‘initiation.’ In addition to divination the Tarot is part of the symbolism of the paths between the spheres on the tree of life which represent the spiritual paths. The spheres are considered static and the paths dynamic, or transformational. The paths are also seen as mediators between the sephira. Grades and tasks are aligned in accordance with the symbolism, grades as sephira and tasks as paths. This “pathworking” is utilized in various ways in various orders organized qabalistically. The quests are in the cards. He gives details and symbolism of the paths and trumps below Tiphareth here. The paths are each assigned one of the Hebrew letters with accompanying symbolism. He also gives an interesting Tarot divination method adapted from Jungian psychology.

He considers that magically the candidate for initiation is the talisman. The vowels of the Tetragrammaton formula, Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh are aligned with the four worlds of the Qabala and each is a stage of the ritual. He goes through symbolism and gives a sample ritual.

As Crowley and other Golden Dawn members were students and practitioners of yoga it is no surprise that the subtle body characteristics of yoga, particularly the chakras or energy centers, have entered the correspondences of the Western esoteric traditions. The chakras have been aligned with the sephiroth as both systems involve a serpent path upward from less to more refined states of consciousness. The chakras have also found their way into alignment with other psycho-spiritual systems including Leary and Wilson’s Eight Neural Circuit system and Nema Andahadna’s system of the instinctual Forgotten Ones. Shoemaker’s chakra correspondence system given here has some aspects similar to Nema’s system.

The role of the ego in the Great Work is explored. Ego is defined in the Jungian sense as the ‘everyday self.’ Before Tiphareth and K&C of the HGA the ego is the center but as one progresses toward the goal the ego gradually gives way to the integrated Self as Jung would call it – the Higher Self which identifies with the HGA. He sees the Jungian model of the psyche as analogous to the Qabalistic model of the psyche. He also identifies the deepest self as the star within, the khabs in Egyptian terminology. The ego, he says, is the lens through which we view the everyday world. Jungians suggest that we look at the world through psychologically ‘projecting’ onto others. 
 Perception itself is seen as projection, perhaps not too unlike perception is seen as illusory as one of the five aggregates (skandas) mistaken for a self in Buddhist philosophy. When we project we identify with ego rather than with the integrated Self. (Of course, Buddhism contends that even the notion of an integrated Self (atman) is illusory and really there is no self (anatma) – which perhaps puts it at odds with both Upanisadic Indian thought and HGA-based indwelling spirit beliefs. Buddha taught that we should examine the aggregates that resemble a self and develop insight into their illusory nature. There are other Buddhist ideas that do resemble indwelling spirit-esque features such as the Tathagatagarbha or Buddha Nature as the indwelling capacity to become awakened. The Mahasiddhas later adapted the idea to that of innate spontaneity/effortless naturalness aka Sahaja). Projection (and obsession) often involves a strong dichotomy between self and other. We project jealousy, self-loathing, pride, etc. – all things that compare self and other. Even romantic love can be seen as a projection of self onto other. The Great Work involves aligning ego to Self (or what I have been calling integrated Self). They are also aligned to True Will (an aspect of that Self?). Identifying with the Higher Self (neshama) also involves dis-identifying with the ego (ruach). He and Crowley note that this can backfire into ego-inflation if done incorrectly. Like a true Jungian he suggests that each stage on the initate’s path, each grade, has a shadow side. Attaining K&C of the HGA does not wipe out neuroses in itself though it may, he suggests. It is the ego that is stripped of its sovereignty and offered to the cup of Babalon in Thelemic mysticism. 

The magickal formulas L.V.X. and N.O.X. are next considered. He considers the ‘attainment’ of ‘union with all’ or ‘union with God’:

“…one of the symbolic frameworks that most vibrantly and viscerally conveys the essence of this attainment is the dissolution of oneself into the grail of Babalon – the great holy grail of the sphere of Binah. This dissolution constitutes the adept’s attainment to the 8=3 grade of A.A., known as Magister Templi.”

The L.V.X. formula was utilized by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the context of the ‘myth of the dying god.’ Crowley changed its mythic focus toward accessing the ‘light’ of the angel, the HGA. The formula in alchemical terms is ‘solve et coagula,’ dissolving the different components of the self then reconstituting. The N.O.X. formula has to do with the ‘Night of Pan’ whereby all light and consciousness becomes inseparable from True Will so that all light and consciousness is offered to the grail. The HGA is also identified/associated with the divine spark within, the star, or khabs. Some Golden Dawn groups have updated their L.V.X. rites toward Thelema and the New Aeon.
He next discusses magical power and the ethical working of the ‘Mars force’ which is here compared to kundalini. The goal is to remain centered and balanced both magically and ethically. The Hanged Man (path of Mem) symbolizes the subordinated ego, suspended and receptive to the angel’s light.

Next is alchemy which he defines here as “the Science and Art of transforming consciousness” and “the extraction of meaning from mystery.” He also explores ‘collective human consciousness’ in light of psychological projection. Jung utilized alchemy extensively as a metaphor for his psychoanalysis. Projections are often mythic and can be explored through mythology. One’s personal mythology is akin to one’s quests for psychological integration. He mentions what he calls our ‘mystery projection’, or how we project to in attempting to deal with the unknown:

“…myths are the field onto which we project our quests for understanding, our strivings for spiritual insight, and our deepest fears of the unknown.” 

He explores scientific models as the collective projections as experienced in scientific unknowns in the fields of biology/genetics, physics, space exploration and the possibility of ETs, and computer science. This section is quite speculative but interesting.

Alchemy provides yet another symbolic system to work with and intertwine with Qabalah, yoga, Jungian psychology, etc. He explores the alchemical formula of ‘solve et coagula,’ of breaking things down into parts and then re-synthesizing into a whole. Analysis separates. Synthesis combines. He compares the alchemical operations of the Black Work, White Work, and Red Work to both Qabalah and raja yoga. It should perhaps be noted that Crowley’s system here is a great synthesis of many strands with varying levels of fit. The idea of magical correspondences is by nature comparative. Ideas are compared and categorized. 

In exploring patterns and cycles in magical practice he notes the IAO formula (Isis-Apophis-Osiris) as cyclic. The Isis stage involves initial wonderment, the Apophis stage strong inertia and disillusionment, and the Osiris stage involves overcoming the inertia via ‘rising from the dead’ – some say as Horus the Avenger. He offers various suggestions for getting “unstuck.”

Dreamwork is explored mostly from the Jungian perspective. He reminds that dreams are personal and involve our own personal symbol sets. He describes Jungian analyst Robert Johnson’s four-step approach: 1) recall, write-down, and make symbolic associations, 2) connect dream images to your own inner dynamics, 3) weave the inner dynamics together to arrive at an interpretation – try to discover the knowledge imparted by the dream, 4) do a ritual to honor the dream so the knowledge imparted remains a part of you. He sees this four-step process as mirroring the four Qabalistic worlds. Jung also prescribed active imagination such as re-engaging imaginatively with dream characters. Keeping a dream journal and striving to remember dreams are encouraged. 

Interpersonal relationships are explored in light of clinical psychology and Shoemaker’s own work in couples therapy. He mentions that the ideas of Dr. David Schnarsch in his book Passionate Marriage seem to be quite in line with Thelema. Individual responsibility is emphasized rather than one trying to change one’s partner. Relationships are agreements and explorations between individuals. Relationship problems can highlight areas needing work so they can be utilized diagnostically. Issues around doing magick with a relationship partner or being at different levels in a group are addressed. His main advice seems to be that we should just be as mindful as we can towards what comes up and why. He gives some excerpts from Crowley’s essay Duty – different points of view can be beneficial if approached skillfully, one should endeavor to not interfere with the will of another, and enlighten one another accordingly. 

He goes through some Qabalistic coping skills and Jungian means of conflict resolution. As a psychotherapist he of course recommends psychotherapy in conjunction with magickal practice as had Soror Meral and Israel Regardie before him. Crowley liked it too and even wrote essays on ways to improve it during his time when the field was young. Jung considered that we had an intrinsic drive or will to be healthy and whole and this impressed Crowley. Shoemaker recommends Jungian, transpersonal, or humanistic therapists for ‘deeper’ work. He recommends cognitive behavioral therapy for symptom reduction. He mentions psychiatrist David Burns’ book The Feeling Good Handbook as a great resource. The O.T.O. has a psychology guild where he and others sometime give psychology workshops. 

The Jungian model of the psyche, particularly anima and animus, is explored. The idea is that whatever gender is one’s conscious outward expression there will be a less expressed unconscious manifestation of the opposite gender. Anima and animus are considered archetypes of the collective unconscious. They might function as psychopomps, guides to the underworld. He compares the HGA to anima/animus and notes that psychopomp Hermes was often depicted as androgynous.

He explores cognitive therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy as a means to break free from destructive habits. It seeks to undistort or cognitive distortions – how we develop unnecessary negative emotions toward difficult events. He goes through David Burns’ ten common cognitive distortions from The Feeling Good Handbook: 1) all-or-nothing thinking, 2) jumping to conclusions, 3) magnification, 4) overgeneralization, 5) mental filter (tunnel vision), 6) discounting the positive, 7) emotional reasoning, 8) ‘should’ statements, 9) labeling, and 10) personalization and blaming. Recognizing and avoiding capitulation to these pitfalls leads to a less biased mind. 

He ends the book with a poem by Soror Meral about the rapture of the angel. Ways to contact the various magickal orders are also given.

Shoemaker offers a sane and thorough introduction and exploration of the philosophical and practical aspects of Thelema. I might say, however, that the focus on “attainment” is less to my personal taste but I do see its practical value for some and the attainments themselves are entwined with the symbolic systems and part of the mythology and the mysticism. Is there really something to be attained or are the stages along the evolutionary path toward knowledge and away from delusion actually able to be discerned? Often it is hard to say.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Dream and the Underworld

Book Review: The Dream and the Underworld – by James Hillman (Harper Colophon Books, 1979) 

The late James Hillman was a pioneer of depth psychology. This is one of his earlier books, much of it written between 1972 and 1977. It is not easy to follow at times as here he offers a more contemplative delving into the structure of dreams and underworld mythology. At the end of the book he notes that this was intentional, not having the book lead to developing analytical principals in dealing with the underworld or shadow side of things. One of his main ideas is that the underworld needs to be explored on its own terms and so he favors developing an underworld perspective of things, since trying to explain things in “dayworld” terminology and analysis is often ineffective.

In much of this book, Hillman explores metaphors. He notes Freud’s metaphor of the dream as the royal road to the unconscious. Hillman tries a different approach. Rather than seeing dreams as repression (Freud) or compensation (Jung), he sees dreams as being related to the soul and death. He sees dreams as emerging from archetypal realms and ideas. It is a reversal or reversion idea, going against the grain of culture – from logos to mythos rather than from mythos to logos. He talks about “reversion through likeness, resemblance” as a way to approach events of the psyche through archetypes. He sees this as a shift in perspective to make a bridge to the dream world of shadowy images, the underworld. He takes the idea from Aristotle, who noted: “The most skillful interpreter of dreams is he who has the faculty of observing resemblances.” 

Freud thought that the nonsensical content of dreams could be interpreted. Hillman criticizes Freud’s rather intuitive and obvious idea that dreams are built from the “residues of the day,” or our memory traces. Is dream merely the rearrangement of these dayworld residues in light of the needs of sexuality and sleep? Freud saw it thus, as a kind of compromise between dayworld and nightworld. Through interpretation of dreams the dream is brought back into the rationality of dayworld, which Hillman thinks weakens its usefulness. Thus to interpret a dream is to see it not from its own perspective but from another, much removed and with different laws. To interpret a dream is to translate it from its native nightworld language into the vastly different dayworld language and much is inevitably ‘lost in translation.’ Even so, the Freudian goal is to reclaim the dream so ego can conquer id. Jungians accept that – ego conquering id or making the unconscious conscious – even though dreams often resist interpretation. However, for Jungians interpretation is symbolic rather than literal. According to Hillman both Freudians and Jungians agree that:

the dream requires translation into waking-language either to extend waking-consciousnesses’ domain {Freud} or to serve nature’s demand for the more broadened and balanced quality of consciousness {Jung}.”

Hillman’s style is an attempt not to bring the dream into the dayworld but to understand it in its nightworld contexts of images, resemblances, correspondences. Dayworld thought in contrast is literal, comparative, proceeds by processional steps, and is imbued with contrary opposites. Freud, taking a cue from Fechner, a previous dream researcher, came to think that nightworld has its own geography, different from dayworld. Hillman suggests that underworld lore helps to define that geography. According to Freud, repressed images are kept in this ‘psychological underworld.’ We know of it only through dreams, suffering, and hypnosis, and occasionally through the classic Freudian ‘slips’ where we slip through the cracks of consciousness into the unconscious like the cracks in the earth that are the traditional entrances to the underworld – (a metaphor-pun there). The id of the unconscious knows not morality nor time but is a kind of residue of the ego. The timeless nature of the underworld in lore also suggests a ‘place’ of residues. Freud’s ego signifies “reason and circumspection.” He saw the ego as like the hero in the underworld resorting to “tricks” to fulfill the quest. He referred to ‘denizens of the underworld’ as “instinctual cathexes seeking discharges – that, in our view, is all the id contains.” ‘Residual idea-energy’ is maybe another way to say it. His idea there is not too unlike the Indian Vedanta and Buddhist notions of samskaras and vasana (habit-energy), also equated to ‘karmic prana.’ Id can only ‘communicate’ through the ego that descends like a Homeric hero into the underworld. Freud’s own early description of his therapy through talking was done with therapist and patient not looking at one another, faces averted, not unlike ancient Greek offerings to the dead were done while averting one’s face. Orpheus looked back and paid the price. Euphemism or substitution is a way to cover anxiety. Hillman says that Freud, Jung, and Fechner all had midlife breakdowns of a sort as one form of access to the underworld. Freud also had cocaine, hypnosis, and hysteria therapy. Through study of his own dreams Freud created his own personal underworld mythos. Freud psycho-analyzed himself, ie. made his own descent into the underworld as did Fechner and Jung. Thus, psychology from these roots (psychoanalysis) has a strong mythological component. Myth and psychology are often intertwined.

“Myth lives vividly in our symptoms and fantasies and in our conceptual systems.” “Mythology is a psychology of antiquity. Psychology is a mythology of modernity.”

Both involve the relationships between humans and ‘more-than-humans’ – myth with gods and spirits and psychology with fields, drives, instincts, complexes. Zurich psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler first referred to psychoanalysis as depth psychology. Thus rather than taking things apart as in analysis the focus was on exploring them in depth. Indeed the naming is even metaphorical. Aristotle said that Heraclitus took soul as his archon, his first principle, so in a sense he was the first depth psychologist. His statement, “Nature loves to hide” is referent to the mostly hidden realm of the psyche. The urge for psychological understanding, says Hillman, is akin the Freud’s ‘death drive’ and what Plato called the desire for Hades.

Hades is invisible, hidden. The Greeks had no altars to Hades in the upperworld and very few iconic representations of him. Encounters with him were often violent or violating  (Perspephone’s rape). His name was rarely used. He overlapped with Thanatos, the god of death. Hillman says Hades is not an absence but a hidden presence. Metaphorically, the hidden and death and darkness all overlap. Both Hermes and Hades don the helmet of invisibility which keeps them underworldly. Hades is brother to Zeus and sometimes equated to Zeus chthonios. Hillman sees this brotherhood as evidence that dayworld and nightworld are the same but the perspectives are different.

Homer had it that Hypnos and Thanatos, sleep and death, were brothers. They are the sons of Night. Her brood also includes Old Age, Envy, Strife, Doom, Lamentation, Destiny, Deceit, and Dreams. In Orphic mythology sleep is the brother of both death and forgetting. In Vedic myth dreams come from the realm of Yama, lord of death. The place of Eros is less certain. Some see him as part of the ‘brood of the night.’ Hesiod described him as a first principle. Freud noted that dreams protect sleep. He called Eros the architect of dreams and that by fulfilling erotic wishes he protected sleep. Hillman sees dreams as inherently mixed with existential introspective depression.

Hillman thinks it is important to distinguish underworld and underground, chthon and ge’. Ge refers more to Earth Mother but chthon also includes male deities like Hermes, Dionysus, and Zeus. Thus chthonic does not refer specifically to female and not to agriculture and fertility. Ge is a world ‘of the earth’ while chthon is a realm below the earth. These two (or three as fertility involves both above earth and in earth) realms often merge in epithet and cult. He calls the whole complex Demeter-Ge-chthon. The underworld is ‘subterranean,’ below the earth. The Egyptians had it that the underworld was upside down, that gravity was somehow reversed and people walked upside down, and this wreaked havoc on digestion, their excrement came out of their mouth! Hekate was also associated with dream interpretation. She is also equated with Nyx (night). Hillman makes the comment that the underworld spirits of the dead were thought to be plural – in Ancient Egypt a dead human could take multiple forms simultaneously in the underworld, perhaps not unlike how we seem to change form in dreams. The dead and shades are without body, blood, and bone and yet seem to seek vitality, or zoe. Dionysus has been equated with Hades and shares aspects of the underworld and yet also exemplifies vitality. Psyche is underworld, says Hillman. Psyche is place where there is existence without body and form and vitality. Freud approached his own death with stoic fascination. We can see death and the underworld from a psychological perspective or we can, as he did there, see psychology from the perspective of the underworld. Oddly, he notes that suicide rates among psychiatrists were/are amazingly high. Hades comes from the depths to rape the maiden. She/we are taken from dayworld into nightworld, by depression, pathology, mental illness. Hekate witnessed the abduction as she can “see” through the dark.

Hermes was the bringer of dreams, the messenger with free underworld access. The underworld is populated with images and shadows. Jung said that images are the self-perception of instinct. Hillman says,

“Our blind instinctual life may be self-reflected by means of imagining …”

It is a mirroring but one where we lose our 3D form and vitality and long to rediscover it. Thus, there is a feeling of loss. But there is also gain, of the underworld perspective. Hades is also Pluto, “void-of-day” with his horn of plenty, his cornucopia of understanding. Hillman points out that psychic images are images as metaphors. Dreaming is imagining but the images are not ‘chosen’ consciously but unconsciously. The images were also called shadows. In Greece and Rome funerals were held at night. Lucian, in his The Descent into Hades, said that our shadows always accompany us and that the dead are prosecuted by their own shadows. Many people are ‘shadowed’ by guilt. Hillman suggests that from the underworld perspective it is perhaps better to say that our shadows cast us rather than us casting shadows.

The gods swore their oaths on the River Styx, which means “hateful.” Her children are zeal, victory, force, and strength. According to Freud these are the means for the ego to sustain itself through struggle. He said that hatred uses the ego to destroy pain. Hatred and her children are thus what drives our heroic and moral activities.

Dream persons are not the persons depicted, say both Hillman and Jung. A dream-brother or dream-father does not represent dayworld brother or father, but rather aspects of one’s psyche. They do not represent oneself directly but aspects, or masks – archetypes. He says elsewhere that they are not part of one’s personality. Thus he distinguishes psyche and personality, although the so-called masks of personality may relate to these masks of the underworld.

Hillman talks about the names and epithets of gods as signifying their mythologies:

“Part of the name is its etymon, its hidden truth buried in its root. The search for the roots of words, the etymological fantasy, is one of the basic rituals of the imaginative tradition, because it seeks to recover an image within a word or to reattach a word to a name of a thing, an action, a place, or a person.”

By naming our dream characters we can better work with them. They become epithets. The Egyptian underworld soul, the Ba, was interchangeable with the name. Dream characters may be our personality masks.

Hillman laments that our modern culture has scant underworld characters, ancestor worship, initiatory mysteries, or death metaphors. He proposes depth psychology as a means to regain them. Our underworld persona-complex is the soul, the patient of psychotherapy. Hillman concedes that maintaining an underworld perspective is difficult and unnatural. He sees depth psychology in a fashion as a resurrection of the dead, “the recall of life of so much forgotten and buried in each of us.” The id is the chthonic psyche, he says. Our culture has neglected death and it has become deeply buried within.

Hillman details what he calls three barriers to our recognizing and reclaiming the underworld as psyche: materialism, oppositionalism, and Christianism. His argument about materialism which he defines as related to terra mater, or the great Mother Earth goddess, is that it kind of gets in the way of the underworld. “As long as the archetypal mother dominates our psychology, we cannot help but see dreams from her perspective or read the dream’s message as corresponding with her concerns.” He seems to equate this materialism barrier to Freud’s view of the psyche as a ‘place’ where ego is projected. He says that depth psychology can be provide the main function of religion: “connecting the individual by means of practical ritual with the realm of death.” Going beyond the materialistic barrier means thoroughly distinguishing the ground (material aspects ruled by the archetypal mother) from the underground realm of the shades of the dead.

The oppositionalism barrier has to do with our habit of thinking in terms of opposites. This kind of metaphysical dualism is inherent to us, he says, and the best we can do is be aware of it. This book even relies on it as in distinguishing nightworld-underworld and dayworld-upperworld perspectives. He sees Jungian psychology as especially oppositional and gives Jungian examples like introvert/extravert, individual/collective, conscious/unconscious, eros/logos, ego/self, and anima/animus. He notes that Jung’s opposites are not exclusive of one another, not either/or, and for example anima can contain animus. They can be antagonistic and complementary at the same time. Jung and others utilized the statement of Heraclitus, “The way up and the way down are one and the same.” One might even call Jungian methods oppositional therapy. Freud saw dreams as wish-fulfillment but Jung saw them as compensation. “Because it is a compensation, a dream is always partial, one-sided, unbalanced.” Thus according to Jung dreams are incomplete and can be completed, balanced by the ego or dayworld context. It is Jungian dream analysis that does the compensating and this is often done through opposition to the dream content and figures. The same procedure is used in allopathic medicine, treating symptoms by balancing imbalances. Hillman notes that death is the ultimate opponent and we know that opponent will prevail in vanquishing life. Regulation or restoration of balance is the death of imbalance. There are hidden connections between opposites. This is Jung’s alchemical psychology. The underworld perspective, however, demands that the ego and dayworld methods are ineffective. We cannot see the soul without experiencing it. Hillman even states that overcoming opposites can be a mystical experience. Jung and others posited that only things that are similar can be opposite. Thus opposition becomes “an extreme metaphor, a radical way of saying one thing as though it were two violently differing things in sharp war with itself…”

The barrier of Christianism refers to the Western Christian perspective. He suggests that through Christ’s efforts the mythical descent to the underworld was no longer required since he conquered death. The underworld, death, Thanatos, was thus ‘satanized’ and became hell, a place where the evil and immoral are punished. “Christianism’s defeat of the underworld is also a “loss of soul.” By implication, dreams are lost too. He observes that dreams play no role in the New Testament and are rarely mentioned. Only occasional reappearance of the underworld occurs in the visions of John. Christianism denies the underworld and yet psychotherapy utilizes it so that psychotherapy and Christianism are at odds.

Dream interpretation from Freud onward makes assumptions that Hillman finds hard to fathom. Jung noted that dreams interpret themselves and “dream the myth onwards.” Hermes as psychopomp was traditionally the bringer of dreams.

He notes that later Freudians saw the dreamwork as Freud called it as a means to “regress and displace a person through symbolizations into the “maternal vagina and archaic uterine waters of fetal sleep.” Hillman says this method of taking the ego over the bridge into the dream should be reversed – instead of translating the dream into ego-language we need to translate the ego into dream-language. Gestalt psychology uses a technique of role identification. For instance one’s relative in a dream may represent some personal capacity of oneself. However, he notes, this is similar to Jung’s symbolic methods and ends up merely exalting the ego. Dream persons are not gods and spirits, nor oneself, but somewhere in between. They are in between personal and archetypal. The Gestalt technique is the depth psychology technique of subjectivizing, often called taking back projections.

“Here precisely is the inconsistency in most dream interpretation: all figures are taken on the subjective level, but the ego remains on the objective level.”

The “I” in the dream, the dream-ego, is erroneously taken as objective, he says. The ego in the dream becomes an ‘imaginal ego,’ subjective like the dayworld ego. The dayworld ego and imaginal/dream ego become like twins or the brothers Zeus and Hades. The dream ego does not belong to “me” as normally conceived, but to the psyche. This idea is hard to grasp, he says, because it is hard to let go of the dayworld “me.” Perhaps the “me” of the psyche is different from the “me” of this dayworld because we are in some ways inseparable from the realm we inhabit.

How ‘soul’ is conceived is paramount. Pre-technological animistic ideas of soul are often dualistic. He mentions the Ka and Ba of Egypt and the hun and p’o of China. This dualistic soul observation derives from a Scandinavian ethnology school (Paulson, Arbman, Hultkrantz), he notes. There are various terms for the two like body-soul and psyche-soul and they are similar to the ego and dream-ego (imaginal ego) discussed here. During a dream, says Hillman each ego becomes more like the other – life-soul and image-soul lose some of their boundaries. The dream-ego is the shade of the dayworld-ego and yet as ego (since it is conditioned by dayworld ego) it seems out of place in the underworld. Again he cautions that it is important to interpret dreams from an underworld perspective rather than the Jungian hero myth where messages from the unconscious are being recovered.

“In brief: a dream tells you where you are, not what to do; or by placing you where you are, it tells you what you are doing.”

There is often no rhyme or reason to dreams and thus to the way the soul moves during sleep which was often called “wandering” or soul separating from body, by more animistic peoples. This separation implies that there is a different perspective.

Hercules became mad in the underworld, wounding Hades himself. Hercules represented the life instinct in the realm of the death instinct, said Freud. Hillman puts it this way:

“Rather than die to metaphor, we kill literally; refusing the need to die, we attack death itself.”

Thus the Herculean ego is confused and knows not how to behave in the underworld. He is, unlike other heroes, an enemy of death. Hillman says that ego psychology is the modern form of the hero cult. He suggests dreaming not as compensation but as initiation. Initiation into the mystery cults required simulated and symbolic death. He also suggests that the villain in dream is not Hades but the heroic ego. Hermes tells Hercules his sword is of no use in the underworld of shades, images. He notes many therapies that deal with aggression: EST, controlled shouting, behavior therapy, Rolfing, Reichian therapy, and oriental martial arts training. The heroic ego sees the imaginal as literal and lacks the metaphorical understanding required. He suggests that the herculean-ego aversion to death was taken on in Christianity as fear of demons, spirits, and the dead – reclassifying them as evil. The psychologist is perhaps tutoring the patient like Hermes tutors Hercules in the underworld, teaching him how to dream and how to die. Freud said the dream ‘protects sleep.’ Jung described the relations between dream figures and complexes. The Jungian critique of Freud’s ‘wish-fulfillment’ focuses only on the wish part (dreams are not wishes) and not on the fulfillment part.

Hillman describes a narcissistic interpretation of dream-work:

the images made in dreams fulfill the desire of instinct. Narcissus’s desire was fulfilled by the image of the body experienced in reflection. It wanted nothing else.”  

Another piece of a quote here is perhaps useful:

“… dreams are astoundingly un-understandable.”

He notes that the healing cults of Asclepius utilized dream but not dream interpretation, implying to Hillman that interpretation can ‘kill’ dreams when they are perhaps better left alive. Deriving messages from dreams falsifies their ambiguity, he says. Part of a dream’s ‘statement’ is how it appears: clear, vague, opaque, etc. They may come in styles or genres. The psyche is always in motion and this contributes to the ambiguity of dreams. Ambiguity implies duplicity (either/or, or other opposites?- irony he says) Hillman states:

“If dreams are the teachers of the waking-ego, this duplicity is the essential instruction they impart.

The dream is more a tinkered together handy-work than a constructed moral lesson. Freud noted that as id expression the dream is concerned with love and death (Thanateros). Thus dreams involve both creative and destructive, formative and deformative impulses. Dreams can be analyzed without being interpreted. They can be examined without deriving some definitive meaning. The dream often evokes another duplicity: fear and desire. Here he gives another fragment from Heraclitus, who took ‘soul’ as the root of all:

When we are alive our souls are dead and buried in us, but when we die, our souls come to life again and live.”

Dreaming puts us in touch with the dead in our own dream-world version of the underworld, suggested Heraclitus:

“The soul has its own logos, which grows according to its needs.”

In contrast, he noted, the thinking faculty is common to all. We may actually have our own ‘reality tunnels’ but there is much in common and more in agreement than in our personalized dream worlds. Bachelard (and Freud too) noted that dream imagery arises from the plasticity of the imagination. Hillman notes repeatedly that dreaming is ‘soul-making,’ it molds the imaginal ‘stuff’ of the soul. It is a process of shaping rather than analysis. However, it is not mere stuff but stuff previously shaped to varying levels. Thus Jung’s alchemical approach – a means of transforming or shaping matter into something more refined.

Neurologists have confirmed that we have unconscious knowledge. We discern and regulate biologically without being conscious of doing it in many ways. Plato referred to something called ‘deeper meaning,” or hyponoia, which Hillman thinks is equivalent to Freud’s latencies.
Dream-work involves destruction (of attachments). He reminds that the Queen of the Underworld is Persephone, whose name means “bringer of destruction.”

In a chapter called Praxis, he apologizes that he has stepped away from the underworld perspective in order to satisfy the reader with some possible symbolisms. Black in dreams represents the shadow, said Jung, and Thanatos. Egyptian underworld figures were black. Sickness in a dream, often interpreted as a soul in need of healing, may also represent putrefaction, natural decomposition into the realm of death. He mentions depictions of Frau Holle, Frau Werlte, and Huldren with hollow backs rotting with worms and snakes. Animals have generally been interpreted as parts of our animal, beastly nature. Hillman prefers to see them as gods. Dogs are prominent in underworld mythology: the dog of Hecate, Cerebros of Hades, and Anubis. Horses lead Hades chariot. Pigs are sacred to Demeter. Serpents are by nature chthonic. Black animals were sacrificed to chthonic deities. Jungians see spiders as weavers of maya and mandala. Many cultures believe that animals carry departed human souls, birds in particular.

Bodies of water to Jungians represent death to the soul but death as the underworld is the soul’s natural dwelling place. “… the image-soul’s delight is the ego-soul’s dread.” Again Heraclitus:

“To souls it is death to become water; to water, it is death to become earth. From earth comes water, and from water, soul.”

Remembering and forgetting in dreams may be analyzed in light of the Orphic Lethe, she who represents dreams, sleep, death, and forgetfulness. The mere idea of forgetfulness suggests that which is hidden, the unconscious. Lethe and Mnemosyne may be reversed from an underworld perspective, said Karl Kerenyi. By forgetting the dayworld we remember the nightworld. Hillman suggests that dreaming itself may be a process of forgetting.

The common dream theme of being late in an image-world void of time is often one of anxiety, perhaps the anxiety of the awkwardness of ego out of its element. Time was also mythologized as the ‘hours,’ (Horae) or transformed into space as the regions that Ra traveled through in his ship through the night.

Jung saw roundness, the mandala, as indicative of the self, particularly the integrated self, or wholeness. There is also a confining aspect to circle symbolism: the wheel of time, the wheel of cyclic existence (samsara), the circular rings of slavery and confinement, boundary, etc.

Not uncommon psychopathic dream figures are considered to be permanent residents of the underworld. Psychopathy itself certainly seems underworldly as there is remorseless amorality and a timeless self-centeredness. Deception, sadism, perversion, incest, and other social and moral taboos sometimes appear in dreams. We should not, of course, take these to be literal. The psyche seems to be immune to morality. Of course, one might develop habits that are kind and benevolent that may appear in dreams or even cultivated in lucid dreams. Even Freud warned against assigning morality to dreams:

Psychical reality is a particular form of existence not to be confused with material reality.”

Plato noted that the souls of Hades are incurable. In order to learn from the underworld we must be willing to learn from its psychopathic denizens. Psychopathy has been an enigma for psychoanalysts, especially those intent on curing the incurable. He suggests looking to the ‘death drive’ rather than to morality.

Ice in dreams he suggests as the cold, icy hatred attributed to the River Styx. In the fashion of ‘like cures like’ the icy coldness of our own nature may be required to navigate it. Dead souls were thought to be very cold, refrigerated. The underworld is thought to be cold in many cultures in contrast to the Christian hell.

Ceremonial eating in dreams is explored. Hades was also called “the hospitable.” Pluto has a cornucopia. Offering food for the dead and eating with ancestors is widely practiced and may reach back to Paleolithic times. Rites of feeding souls returning from the underworld are common. In Egypt there are depictions of corpses being given food by the Ba. Hillman suggests that eating in dreams may represent the nourishing of the psyche by its images.

Revelry in dreams is explored. Types of music for both banning and awakening demons of the dead include drums, bells, chimes, and high-pitched fifes. Carnival pageantry has been associated with the dead. The circus is perhaps another. The topsy-turvy upside-down-ness and social reversal of carnival and circus suggests a reversion to the underworld of symbolic imagery. He suggests an archetype of death as a masked dancer. There is an old song that says “everyone must dance” and it refers to death as that dance.  

Doors and gates in dreams is next. An epithet of Hades was “he who closes the door.” A threshold separates two kinds of consciousness. Hermes dwells at thresholds and borderlines, where his herms were built. For Hermetic consciousness there is no threshold for he can travel unimpeded through different worlds. Gates are experienced in dreams, he notes, also when we are awakening from them as we wrestle at the threshold between sleep and wake-ness. Failing to recall dreams is perhaps bringing them too quickly to the Herculean, the ego. Techniques for increasing dream recall include remaining still upon waking so as to not make the transition too quickly which can lead to losing the dream. In myth Hercules captured Cerebros, the dog-guardian of the threshold. In a sense we do this when we wake and take our dreams with us into the upperworld.

The section on dreams of mud and diarrhea notes that some descriptions of the underworld are of a place that is damp and mushy with fecal matter. Plato said it was muddy. Aristophanes and Kerenyi said it was swampy. Diarrhea is similar to death in that once it’s ready to happen it is unstoppable. Shitting has all of its implications – Freudian anality, Jungian alchemical creativity, etc. and possibly more – but then he talks about the ‘crap about shit,’ all the myriad ideas of what shit signifies.

“As residue of residues, feces suggests an essence permanently present and continually forming anew. Its appearance in dreams reflects an underworld to which we daily bend in homage, never to be rid of.”

Seeing is the most common sense in dreams, says statistics. Rarely do we hear, taste, and touch, and apparently smell is the rarest dream-sense. Yet Heraclitus noted that souls in Hades perceive by smelling. Some cultures consider smells and smoke as food to spirits. Images and beings without bodies were generally considered to be vaporous. Gods were said to be able to discern burnt offerings to them by sense of smell. Dung and smoke share a similar etymology in Greek. The devil is known by his smell – sulfurous? Shit, smoke, and decomposition all involve changing states of matter.

Underworlds in various cultures typically have a geography. It is a ‘deep’ place. Hillman sees the psyche as crowded, confining, and somewhat suffocating. He thinks that the stories of dreams do not really matter but how things occur, set, setting, and what aspects of the psyche are on the dream-stage are what matters. Scenes and masks matter more than stories. We become like Persephone, the Maiden Queen of the Dead, in a bodiless world where the mask-king Hades or Hades-Dionysus rules.

Early reactions were that Freud was both shocking and unpopular. Jung was thought to be overly complex and intellectually demanding. Despite their great efforts to unravel the psyche Hillman sees it in a certain sense as unknowable. He suggests that developing a consistent perspective of the underworld is more important than coherent psychological theory. The underworld is a mythic place where only the psyche matters.

He mentions a kind of love or eros where we sense that dreams and dream-work are wholesome, perhaps of a Platonic imaginary sort. We may feel comfortable with our images and exploring them.

While therapy and remembering may reconstitute the ego, “forgetting is the underworld procedure …” Freud and Jung tried to develop principles of mythology while Hillman attempts to explore mythology on its own terms. Hillman favors imagining over interpreting. He suggests that we and therapists connect life to dreams rather than connecting dreams to life. His theme of reversing the normal process is to make underworld imagery the primary concern rather than a means to an end. Our human condition is incurable in some ways so perhaps we can really only explore it as it is.

This is a difficult but very important work.