Painting Jung

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The Great Mother (panel two)

As the ego starts to develop definition within the uroboros, it broaches a new outlook towards its situation. The ego's sense of its circumstances is revised with each mythological stage in the evolution of consciousness. The archetypes, and the symbols, gods, and myths that they represent are the prime movers of this transformation.

This faltering freedom from the uroboros brings a materiality charged with ambivalence. Two contending "mothers" vie for the small attention span of the embryonic ego. The wicked, devouring Terrible Mother competes with the fullness and abundance of the Good Mother as two conflicting sides of the Great Mother who rules over this domain.

These two entities represent the immense potency of the unconscious. The evil mother as the destructive force of instinct and the good mother as "Mother Nature" the dispenser of birth and life. Sandwiched between these colossal forces of nature is an iota of an ego.

"Over against all this, the ego-consciousness remains small and impotent. It feels itself a tiny, defenseless speck, enveloped and helplessly dependent, a little island floating on the vast expanse of the primal ocean. At this stage, consciousness has not yet wrested any firm foothold from the flood of the unconscious being. For the primitive ego, everything is still wrapped in the watery abyss, in whose eddies it washes to and fro without orientation, with no sense of separateness, defenseless against the maelstrom of mysterious being which swamps it again and again from within and without." (3)

This world is the abode of primitive man and the child. These innocents match their small and feeble egos against the nameless horrors of the cosmos. As a result, fear is a normal expectation in the mindset of these early explorers of the unconscious.

Eventually, the infantile consciousness begins to see itself as something distinct. This interim plateau which, tentatively, separates the conscious ego from the unconscious is a time of the son-lovers.

These flower-like boy/girls with their frail egos and blank characters have only the fate of the harvest rather then an unique presence. Their destiny is only a ritual one of mass fertility. They are vegetation and as such are pawns of the Great Mother to make the earth fruitful.

As the youthful and struggling ego begins to have a cautious future the Good Mother turns into the Terrible Mother. This agent of fecundity, suddenly, takes the role of lover and annihilator. She claims each young ego lover in a passion of "for better or worst". As a result, the Great Mother, as the feminine principle, mutates into the the negative. Thus causing the Good Mother to be retained in consciousness, and the Terrible Mother to be relegated to the unconscious of the patriarchal society.

Then one day, the plant/lover fears the Great Mother. This is the first rebellious act which will lead to its independence from the Great Mother. This first baby step of self-formation is reflected in the beginnings of self love. This turning away from the Great Mother and seeing itself, as in a mirror, begins a giant step towards becoming stable enough to push on to the separation of the First Parents or world and the struggles of the hero.