What Exactly is the Self?
The Self, according to Carl Jung, is the center, the midpoint of the personality, the crossroads where our personal and collective, conscious and unconscious processes intersect. The Self encompasses the totality of who we are.
It is, he writes, “A kind of central point within the psyche to which everything is related, by which everything is arranged, and which itself is a source of energy. The energy of the central point is manifested in the almost irresistible compulsion and urge to become what one is, just as every organism is driven to assume the form that is characteristic of its nature, no matter what the circumstances.”
The Self is the sum of all of our parts, and holistically, it is greater than the sum of all of our parts. The fluid Self transcends time and space, expanding and shape-shifting, changing and adapting to accommodate the possibility of all possibility.
In the art and philosophy of many cultures, the nature of the Self is represented by a four-part symbol such as a mandala, a labyrinth, an equilateral cross, a swastika, or a four-leaf clover. These symbols mirror the four-partite systems that organize the totality of the cosmos into the four seasons of the year, four phases of the moon, four cardinal directions.
The Four-Fold Goddess is representative of not only the stages and ages of a woman’s life, She also stands for the four parts that comprise our united Self. The Self, the Soul, the Center of a person is commonly thought to include our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual sides. These aspects are the ways in which we perceive and relate to the world around us and to our inner Selves, as well. Jung calls these aspects “functions,” and identifies them as sensing (physical), thinking (mental), feeling (emotional) and intuiting (spiritual). These four parts combine to compose our outlook and our insight. Together, they constitute our unique ways and means of being.
Our Queenly assignment, should we choose to accept it, is to identify, understand and connect — or reconnect — all of the component parts of ourselves, to attempt to develop and balance them equally, and to maintain them all in good working order.
The Self is like a jigsaw puzzle or a quilt that promises to become a beautiful whole if we spend the necessary time and concentration to assemble it. It is at once the puzzle, the parts of the puzzle, and also, most importantly, the process of piecing them together.
The ideal of the Queen inspires us to design the artful patchwork of our own lives designed from the wild and wonderful patterns of our own personality and experiences, and crafted from our individual inner authority. Once we do, we are able to shift into a new stage of life, a new state of being, a renaissance rebirth, ready, willing and able to rule.
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to email@example.com.