April 6, 2013

John Weir Perry On The Psychic History of Man

Below is an excerpt from John Weir Perry's book, "Lord of the Four Quarters: Myths of the Royal Father." 1966. Collier Books: New York. Pg. 26-27.
"Inasmuch as the cosmology of myth  is the exteriorized self-portrayal of the inner psychic world, we may now attempt a paraphrase of its features from the image-language of mythology into the conceptual language of psychology. Man's everyday life is bounded by a spiritual world above and a chthonic world below, the former associated with the Father, the latter with the Mother (these cosmic parents having been separated by a hero's act in the mythological cosmogonies of many peoples). Above is the sky world from whence comes order and the righteousness that puts order into effect, the organizing activity of ideals and of possibilities of form; this Father domain is characterized by the principle of clarity, illumination and rationality. Within the body of the Mother, the earth, is all of the paradox of the feminine: darkness and chaos are yet accompanied by the life-urge itself, which gives forth with profuse abundance in the raw. In her darkness is also death, yet in this case death is the source out of which arises renewed life. Below is her abyss, out of which emerges the raw substance of cosmos, needing the molding hand of creativeness from the masculine above to give it form and proportion and structure. Accordingly, from below arises the blind striving to exist, and from above, the ideation that gives form to this livingness.   

Below accumulates all that has lived before and had its day, subsiding into the night of the past to join there with dream and take on gradually the cast of myth. The general direction of growth moves away from all that was thus left behind and below, and moves forward from that randomness and impulse, toward organization and mind; and, as I mentioned already, moves from the effort of survival of biological man's physical body to the safeguarding of social man's body politic.

The psychic history of man and the evolution of his cultural forms have run parallel along this very course, for the reason that they are expressions of each other. His psyche makes a culture in its own image, and in turn his efforts at cultural creativity carry forward the differentiation of his psyche."