The process of ‘othering’ has allowed humans to treat Nature as a mere object instead of a living organism with its own organizing intelligence. Philosopher and author Charles Eisenstein refers to this as the myth of separation which underlies our modern civilization (1). He blames this dualistic view for setting people against each other, but also turning Nature into something we want to control, dominate and dissect. The age of enlightenment or reason, borne from the cultural and industrial revolutions, catapulted our consciousness into overvaluing of left-brain rational consciousness and moved us away from embodied awareness and resonance with all living things.
Carl Jung recognized that ‘We are Nature’ - that the natural world is important for the development of consciousness and wholeness (2). “He linked the loss of our mystical identity and the de-spiritualization of nature with the atrophy of our phylogenetic roots, or survival instincts, which have fallen back into the unconscious psyche.” (3) Jung stated that in the “civilization process, we have increasingly divided our consciousness from the deeper instinctive strata of the human psyche.” (4) Eisenstein’s myth of separation parallels Jung’s view of modern mans’ alienation from our two-million-year-old archaic original nature when we lived in a more participatory process with nature.
“African and other indigenous belief systems see the human psyche as whole and nondualistic, both containing and being embedded in relationships with others—people, ancestors, descendants, society, animals, nature, the cosmos as well as the spiritual and transpersonal realms. This fundamental interconnectedness between self and others, broadens the idea of what it means to be a human being—in contrast to the Western individualistic view. This holistic view is captured in the South African concept of Ubuntu, meaning a person is only a person through others, giving priority to the interdependence of relationships as an embodiment of our humanity. It is precisely this interconnected relationship with nature that many of us have lost.” (3)
Image credit: “Spiral Matrix’ - Sam Brown - https://www.fineartnewmexico.com/sam-brown
(2) Sabini, Meredith, ed. 2002. The Earth Has a Soul: The Nature Writings of C. G. Jung.
Berkeley: North Atlantic books.
(3) Denise Grobbelaar (2020) The White Lion as Symbol of the Archetype of the Self and the Cannibalization of the Self in Canned Hunting, Jung Journal, 14:2, 11-29,
(4) Jung, C. G., and Marie-Louise von Franz. 1964. Man and His Symbols. New York: Dell
Publishing Co. p. 36.
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