Throughout Earth’s long geologic history, no single species has ever posed a threat to the global environment. This geologic heritage has now changed because humans have created tremendous disruption to Earth’s natural environment through the burning of fossil fuels and pollution of air, land, and oceans. It is imperative we act quickly and globally to address these disruptions to avoid further environmental catastrophes.
Humans hold within their hands the ability to insure a flourishing future for all life on Earth. Essential to accomplishing this task is the need to create and implement new technologies and economic systems both locally and globally. However, to achieve this task with minimal shadow effects, we need a transformation of consciousness that enables us to live in true balance with the natural world. Presently we are very much out of balance with the natural world, in which we see Nature as an inanimate resource to be indiscriminately used to meet our wants and needs. We see and experience ourselves as separate from Nature and from one another. I believe Jungian psychology provides a pathway to accomplishing the needed shift in consciousness to restore inner and outer balance with Nature.
Jungian psychology recognizes the reality of unconscious processes. Hidden within the shadows of the unconscious are the dynamic processes that both separate us from Nature, but also hold the keys to reconnecting us to the sacredness of the natural environment. Jungian psychology provides a map which enables us to navigate our way into the interior depths of psyche where we encounter the personal and cultural complexes that keep us from experiencing the richness of nature. By becoming aware of these complexes – personal and collective – we can then consciously engage with these fields of perception. Importantly, building relationships with our inner world is accompanied by engagement with our outer world. Thus, by reciprocally working with both inner and outer worlds we come to see how interconnected we are to the environment. Coming to know our inner and outer worlds rebalances us.
Beyond the personal and cultural dimensions of psyche resides the archetypal realm. Jung argued that archetypes have their roots in Nature. Thus, by experiencing the archetypal energies of the collective unconscious we reconnect to the numinosity of Nature itself. The natural environment that surrounds us is experienced as truly numinous and sacred. Connection to the archetypal realm occurs in many ways. Dreams provide a portal to these archetypal forms, in particular dreams of animals and other aspects of Nature often come to us to remind us that we too are Nature. Certain dream figures can also appear to collectively warn us of just how endangered Nature is. Synchronicities with Nature also provide bridges to the archetypal dimensions of psyche. With synchronicity we enter the so-called psychoidal realm where psyche and matter merge into One World. At this level of experience, we enter a non-dual relationship with everything. We transcend the false belief of separation and enter the deeper reality of the Unus Mundus. Experiencing this One World places us in a state of wholeness, in which doing harm to the natural environment is unthinkable.
The journey from our personal relationship to the natural world to experiencing the wholeness of the world may seem impossible. But I personally feel that although the journey is not easy or pleasant at times, it provides a very practical and realistic pathway to finding balance with Nature leading to a new mode of consciousness. A mode in which we are consciously aware and engaged with the dynamic, living unconscious realm and Nature. A way of living that opens us to the sacredness of the everyday world.
Join Dr. Jeffrey Kiehl, Jungian analyst and a climate scientist, in this moving course Ecopsychology, Fear and Healing. He discusses Jungian principles as they relate to human-provoked climate chaos. You’ll learn how personal and cultural complexes have split us off from nature. You’ll also learn how to find the bridge back to the natural world, back to the center of sacredness. Learn More Here.
Jeffrey Kiehl, PhD, is a Diplomate Jungian Analyst and senior training analyst for the C.G. Jung Institute of Colorado and the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts.More Posts by Jeffrey Kiehl