The Guardian of the Portal

My last dream of 2011 and my first dream of 2012 involved the figure of the guardian of the portal.

I'm not sure I've read much on Jung or Jungians talking about this archetypal image nor I'm not that versed in mythology (yet) so I don't know how to understand this figure.

At first I thought about the psychopomp, but the guardian just guards the portal, it has nothing to do with mediation or movement between cs and ics.

So how should I begin to understand it? Where to look?


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  • Those "colored blotches of paint on paper" are images and as you know, they are the substance of psyche. You may also recall (from your alchemical studies) the recipe, "For those who have the symbol, the way is easy." So, rather than go about breaking down walls you might transcend the situation. Art is about the best way I know to do this!

  • I'm glad to see that someone else has had similar experiences.

    We each encounter gate-keepers when we apply for jobs or promotions, or are hoping to enter untried new fields, etc., but when we fail to get past the guardians we don't talk about it much. Interesting, that --because we don't learn anything from having continual successes. We learn from making mistakes and doing better the next time, and from failing abysmally but then getting back up and making course corrections.

    Maybe it's not such a puzzling dilemma at all. Maybe the key is in setting one's sights higher than the heights which were previously imagined, and then going for it full-bore. Break down the walls instead of humbly asking permission to pass through.



  • My follow-up posting is absolutely true, and yet also somewhat of a "Look! I made lemonade out of the lemons that I was handed" bit of slickness. 

    Part of my reaction was in response to Mats' intense intellectualization of an experience that is deeply, abidingly painful to me, and part is because I honestly don't know what happened to have caused such a complete de-railment of my life. I asked, and asked, and I never got an honest reply from any of the members of my committee. The closest I came to truth was when the head analyst wrote a letter of reference for me many years later in which he said that I was "extremely, exceptionally, demonstrably creative." I think that may translate to his having held a belief that I live with one foot stuck in the unconscious...

    I know that I was born to be an analyst. James Hillman knew it too, and he gave me some important direction early on. But because my Masters is in International Admin. and only my B.A. is in Counseling, there were very few states where I could work as an analyst without running afoul of the law. I "worked black" as an analyst for more than a year, and then the Jungians began shutting down the practices of anyone who called him/herself a "Jungian Analyst," and I knew that my days were numbered and I would have to do something else. Hence, the adventurous living (above).

    The cost to me and to my family (both emotionally and financially) was staggering. And for what? For paintings --for colored blotches of paint on paper or canvas! That's what still boggles my mind: that they cared more for my paintings than they did for seeing me succeed in the training and joining them as a colleague.

    I like how you say that art had never given you up. In the various Indian tribes that I'm familiar with, they make no distinction between "art" and "life." They gather the clay to make a bowl. While they're at it, they pluck a piece of yucca to use as a brush. They make the bowl to be utilitarian and then, using yucca fibers, they add the decorations --each decoration being a prayer --a prayer for rain, a prayer for family health, a prayer that their family is watched and cared for so long as the bowl is in use in their home. We call those bowls "art." They call them "bowls." 

    At the TED talks, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love gives a very entertaining and sincere talk on creativity. I highly recommend watching it.


  • This "alignment of the opposites" brings to my mind the middle way of eastern thought.  That we bring into balance the yin and yang, that "wholeness" is not the goal, but rather the balancing of opposites.  When we balance the opposites, we are able to transcend them.  However, this requires daily practice, rather than a one time event or epiphany. I cannot acquire wholeness, but must live in the middle space between light and dark, which is transcendence. 

    I love the idea of embracing all the gods.  In my attempts to deny such, they only pursued me more relentlessly.  To my mind, perhaps integration is the acceptance of the many gods.  We cannot overcome or banish them, but learn to live with them, to give them proper respect.

  • Just re-read this and see that it answered my question about the reference to "darkness standing  behind Sol".

  • Laurie,

    I would need to hear more about what you're proposing.  What do you identify as an "abrupt separation?"  If Pluto's abduction, and if Persephone gains individuation hence, than that would be the beginning of individuation, rather than initiation of the dark night journey. 

  • My first reaction was similar to what Mats described. Then, when I read your response I had a completely different view of the whole matter. Instincts inevitably meet the harsh test of reality, then perhaps, destiny steps in. This may, in part, explain Jung's initial resistance to the formation of analytic schools - analysts are born, not created. By nature, I do not trust the guardians at the gate - this is the province of the trickster. I was more fortunate that you. I began in fine art and for practical reasons pursued a career in psychology. After many years  passed, I realized that I had never truly given up art - or, better, art had never given me up. Now, I intentionally fuse artistic elements in presenting seminars and workshops, sort of performance pieces. In any event, I am so pleased that this felix culpa of analysts unwittingly playing out destiny's hand resulted in such a rich experience for you.

  • I shared my experience in this forum not to cast stones at analysts who made a life-changing decision without themselves having to endure the real-life consequences, but in order to put a human face on the topic of The Guardian at the Portal.

    I do appreciate your choice of words, Mats. It was, indeed, a horrifying experience --one which not only changed the course of my life, but also had a very direct and extremely hard impact on the lives of my two daughters. I still feel regret for that, tinged with guilt for having failed them as their provider. But as for my work in analysis, for my studies in the training program, for developing my talent, and for selling my artwork, I have no regrets at all.

    Because I was unable to return to the training and reapply to take the examinations at a time in my life when it still made sense to do that, the result of my encounter with "The Guardian" was that I had to make different choices --new choices --which were largely determined by my debt-load and my family obligations.

    At first, I became a counselor for the Ute Mountain Ute Indians.. which led to participating in sweat lodges and peyote ceremonies on the reservation. That opened the way to meeting silversmiths, potters, and bead-workers at other Indian reservations...which led to designing jewelry and finding Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni silversmiths to make it.... which led to invitations to attend dances and ceremonials... which paved the way to organizing and presenting intensive college semesters taught on various reservations throughout the Southwest... which led to starting my own business buying and selling antique tribal artifacts...  

    In Zurich, I read about Native American ceremonials and had written a very cogent paper on the Hopi Bean Dance for my examinations. After my return, I had the rare honor to sit in a Hopi kiva, feeling the crush of human bodies around me and the pulse of the drums penetrate, then lift me up, as the gods entered the sacred space.

    I was invited into a Hopi home as the Grandmother kachina and her sons came up from the center of the world to judge who was doing their share in the community... and who was not. I saw the Grandmother berate an old woman for gossiping about her neighbors and I watched as a little boy handed her a bit of liver to prove that he was worth keeping around. I have shared the blessings of bean sprouts with a Hopi clan, been pulled from the Earth Mother in a Navajo naming ceremony, and have raced the sun with Zuni women. I have seen men become gods. 

    When I look back at the extraordinarily rich, interesting, varied, and various life that I have lived since returning from Zurich, I can't help but wonder whether my Selection Committee made the right decision, although, perhaps, for the wrong reasons. What was once theoretical and "understood" is now deep inside my bones, and far beyond the realm of merely "understanding."

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments.    


  • Hey Kelly,


    I am interested in this idea of the dark night coming after individuation.  I would like to know just what you mean by this observation.  I am thinking of the Persephone myth in which it could be said that the Maiden gains her individuation in her journey.  Is it the abrupt separation from some collective uroboros that initiates a dark night journey?

  • Yes, nicely said. Returning the main theme of this post, we would do well to recall that Osiris is a guardian at the portal. He oversees the judgment where the decease's soul is weighed against Ma'at's feather and their fate is sealed, i.e. it either enters the Field of Reeds or is devoured by the 'eater,' Ammet (annihilated). But, Osiris is more than the guardian at this border crossing. In being killed and dismembered by Seth, he cogently expresses that dark night of the soul, and like Jesus, who came much, much later, he resurrects after being reanimated by Isis (the Feminine principle). Following this path in life promises eternity after it. We - not just pharaohs - 'become Osiris' - the final integration of the heaven - we become god-like.9142896487?profile=original

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