Evolution, Jung, and Theurgy:
V. Theurgy

D. Σύστασις

A common practice in Jungian analysis is active imagination, in which a person engages in dialogue and negotiation with an archetype or complex (Johnson 1986; Jung 1997).  This is closely related to the theurgical practice of σύστασις, or liaison, with a god or daimôn in order to establish an alliance with it.  As in the previous operations, sumbola and sunthêmata may be used to activate the archetype or complex; often the symbols are suggested by dream imagery.  Σύστασις may also employ a human or nonhuman receiver, including an animal, plant, or nonliving thing, to receive the projections, but no concrete receiver is required.

Encounters with daimôns are more common than those with gods (since daimôns are nearer to the ego), and such daimôns may serve as intermediaries for their ruling god.  Spirits engaged in σύστασις are not always truthful about their identity (or other things) for gods and daimôns are “beyond good and evil.”  Therefore, theurgists are very concerned with discerning the identities of the spirits they evoke (e.g. Iamblichus De myst. Bk. II).  Similarly, one is advised to maintain a conscious ethical stance in active imagination (since that is, in fact, part of the function of ego consciousness: Johnson 1986, 189–95).

Active imagination allows a person to interact with archetypes and personal complexes and to engage them in a critical dialogue concerning their desires, functions, and potential gifts.  In this way one may benefit by living in accord with archetypal reality and avoid futile attempts to deny the archetypes and complexes.  Further, psychological individuation proceeds by conscious integration of these otherwise unconscious personalities.  In theurgical terms, συστάσεις are important for acquiring familiarity with the archetypal realm and for bringing the theurgist into the ἐνέργεια of a god, in order to turn toward its essence and be actualized in it.  In this way theurgists may learn the will of the god so that they may act in better accord with it.  Συστάσεις are also important for negotiating with personal daimôns, who may otherwise possess others or ourselves in undesirable ways.  Finally, a daimôn may be recruited as πάρεδρος (familiar spirit or assistant) to help in various ways, including in the theurgical ascent (discussed next).

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