Archive for December 4th, 2020


At the onset of the Trump regime, I reflected on the rising toxic darkness in America. The lens through which I examined events then was a central tenet of Jungian Analytic Psychology tied to the examination of dreams: the enantiodromia. As we look with deep enthusiasm to the end of the Trump Presidency, in what will surely be a very long 47 days, it seemed timely to revisit the idea.

The notion can be traced to the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. It refers to natural tension that exists among opposites: the “ left,” as it were, exerting equal and opposite pull from the “ right”. This “pull” is especially pronounce when the expression of one side of the opposition is especially extreme. It has resonance with the notion of the “ying/yang” and the natural tendency of systems toward equilibrium or homeostasis.

A few examples:

(1)When darkness is long and deep, as in Alaskan winters, the summer light is especially intoxicating, and sickeningly so if one isn’t careful.

(2) The inseparability of young lovers invariably leads to their getting on each other’s nerves and a rising need for “space”.

(3) Political leaders preaching extreme puritanical views are often keenly tempted by the very things they claim to abhor.

(4) Leaders of the Republican party, seemingly hell-bent on fighting state mandated stay at home and mask- wearing orders ( all in the name of the sanctity of personal freedom), decry peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment rights.

Consider how we appreciate individual dreams within the framework of analytic process. They are regarded as “messages” from the realm of the archetypes: guiding patterns within the fabric of space-time. Often, the images in dreams point to the movement of opposites. For example, a nightmare of a 65 year old moving swiftly and deftly across a collapsing steel scaffolding to save lives, points to ruminations about aging and the loss of flexibility and physical prowess.

Let’s reorient from the context of individual dreams to a collective vantage point and the sociopolitical drama of these dark times which feel like a dream to many ( a nightmare would actually be more to the point).

Political leaders on the right hail the recent, if moot, Supreme Court decision in defense of religious liberty (made possible by the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett). The unsigned decision bars New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, from restricting religious gatherings in pandemic hotspots. In publishing its opinion, the Court argued that when a conflict arises between religious liberty and public health, religious liberty wins out. Nonetheless, the same leaders praising this decision were wholly silent at every turn when it came to denouncing Trump’s consistent and blatant Islamophobia.

The last five years have seen the rise of “Trumpism:” a latter-day American Medievalism complete with the systematic dismantling of the infrastructure of effective governance: (e.g., the destruction of the “roads” connecting people in the form of alternative worlds spun by dedicated social media propagandists). Reference is made daily to these social media “ echo chambers” that create airtight “bubbles” impervious to facts.

We’ve been culturally bludgeoned for four years time by unbridled and even celebrated incivility with the attendant rise of hate groups, vicious and ugly name-calling, death threats against those with whom Trump followers disagree. The virulent political theater is marked by one after another act of verbal and behavioral violence: a pernicious pornography of demonization.

It is an illuminating spiritual practice to search for enantiodromia ( signs of rising opposites embedded in the extremes). Once identified, it is instructive to test the degree to which the extreme occurrence is actually pointing to an emerging subdominant drama that lies just opposite that awaits resurgence.

In 2016, I thought of C.G. Jung a lot, and his commentary on this psychic teeter- totter principle, as Trump assumed his very likely ill-gotten place behind the Resolute Desk. I looked hungrily for signs of forces working to move his extremes back toward the center. There were numerous ones in the beginning: mature voices, all now since fired by tweet, that acted in good conscience as countervailing forces to Trump’s worst impulses.

It was frankly reassuring to reflect on events through the lens of enantiodromia. It is a well documented dynamic that predicts that the larger system will, in time, be rebalanced, in this instance marked by a return to normalcy, reliable process and tradition.

Trumpism is American fascism. It represents a wholesale assault on norms at all levels. It wraps itself in the flag and boasts of standing for freedom while actually dismantling democracy in plain sight. Conspiracy theories create a narrative designed to legitimate lawlessness and criminal conduct, normalize malignant narcissism and twist even prudent hygiene (e.g., wearing masks) into a bizarre, nonsensical battle over individual liberty.

The Biden-Harris character lies diametrically opposite the ways and values of Mr. Trump. The American electorate delivered a decisive movement back toward the center with the Democratic ticket receiving more popular votes than any ticket in history.

That being said, close to half of the Nation is holding tenaciously to the dark side and the exercise of empathy-free power by their “ emperor”. Bottom line though, praise God, the quiet assurance and rationality, collaborative style, experience, competence and graciousness of Biden-Harris won out.

I am under no illusions that Biden’s win signals an overnight shift from night to day. There is enormous and difficult work ahead. After all, even the fictional Voldemort had his “ death-eaters” through to the bitter end. After his demise, they just flew away to hide. They go into stasis, like 7-year locusts, until the next spawning cycle is made possible by the rise of a new dark lord to enable them. Such a one will surely be campaigning soon for 2022 and 2024.

Joseph Campbell was right. Mythologies are alive and well and flowing all around us. We do well to keep them in mind.

He wrote:

One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.

We must remain vigilant; stand ready, like the Knights of old, to leap into the breech and grapple with the ever present and persistent “ dark side”. It lies in wait for the next moment of distractedness and National weakness. It is confident of the recovery of radical selfishness and isolationism, the corrupting lure of “ strongmen” and bullies among the easily impressed, and the aphrodisiac of power that inspires endless fascination with people who talk power and grandiosity rather than love and humility.

It is said that all politics is local. All evil resides there also.

© The Harried Mystic, 2020 and Br. Anton, TSSF. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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