Evolution, Jung, and Theurgy:
V. Theurgy

A. Συνθήματα and Σύμβολα

In order to discuss theurgy, we must begin with the συνθήματα and σύμβολα, the so-called “signs and symbols,” with which theurgy operates.  Originally these terms referred to means of recognition: a potshard was broken in half and the pieces given to two parties.  Later, when the two pieces were brought together and the whole restored, recognition occurred, bridging the familiar and the unfamiliar, thereby establishing trust.  So also in psychology, a symbol transcends differences and creates a connection between the known and the unknown, most commonly between ego consciousness and the unconscious, thereby establishing meaning (Jung CW 9, pt. 2, ¶280; Stevens 1982, 242, 273).

[Figure: The Seira of Apollo]

Figure above: Part of the σειρὰ of Apollo.  Shown are Apollo, Helios, Pythagoras, the cock, the sunflower, and the gem citrine.

In neuroethological terms, symbols are the many releasing stimuli that can activate an archetype or complex and cause it to manifest in experience with consequent possession and projection.  Some of these stimuli are “unconditioned,” that is, instinctual, part of the universal archetype; they are, so to speak, in the σειρά (chord or line) of the god.  Others are “conditioned,” that is, a result of individual experience, and thus mediated by personal daimôns.  Intermediate between these extremes we may place cultural symbols (culturally conditioned stimuli), the operation of which is mediated by the daimôns of groups.  Whatever their origin, by activating archetypes and complexes, these σύμβολα and συνθήματα invoke the gods and daimôns and invite them to possess and/or project.

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Last updated: 2006-04-22.