Wizardry with elephants
Wizardry with elephants
When I was a small child of six or seven, I was 'transferred' from Pocklington, the tiny village and tinier school at which I had been taught, to a larger town in the middle of Yorkshire called Bridlington. The school was 'Moorfield', and a long time after its 'special' education I came to be described as a polymath, which means 'an expert in many fields' or 'more fields', as it were. While at 'Moorfield's' I was taught using an experimental 60s method that employed Sufi techniques, 'whirling dervish' dance and all.
The Sufis were Moors who had an ecstatic form of worship in which, wearing cloaks and holding in place with one hand their toweringly tubular ceremonial hats, they span round and round, the effect produced being something like a spinning top, and the idea being to invoke a loss of the sense of ego that would bring them closer to God; which is one of the reasons why the point within the circumference, is seen - by psychologist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) and others - as a symbol of the ego's relationship with the invisible transpersonal 'Self'.1
Indeed, Carl Jung wrote extensively on one of the great riddles of the twentieth century, the UFO phenomenon, suggesting that, properly understood, flying saucers or UFOs (some the cognoscenti labelled 'spinning tops') were also symbolic, that is, representative of the higher 'Self'.2 If God is in the heavens, then UFOs appearing from above to take us there would be a logical response to the needs of the higher or spiritual man who wants to be closer to the divine. Clearly there is a need for symbol systems that point us towards and connect us with the heavenly, irrespective of whether we believe UFOs to be psychologically symbolical or physically practical. Perhaps we should, therefore, look to older symbol systems in order to try to see if they would seek to take us to the same place. In this way we may be able to justify - or at least understand - the modern myth of belief in UFOs.
There is a Zen koan; 'If a tree falls in the forest and there is noone there to hear it, does it make a sound?' The reader is meant to experience a frustration of ratiocination in, as we say, 'trying to get my head round it', which takes their consciousness to a higher level. Try another; 'What is the sound of one hand clapping?'3 Sufi riddles, like Zen koans, aren't simple either. They are designed to be meditated upon and pondered over till their meaning becomes clear. One of the books we were asked to read at school was full of Sufi-style riddles, the simplest being:
Q: What time is it when an elephant sits on a fence?
A: Time to get a new fence.
The joke, of course, is that a fence would break if an elephant sat on it. As a child, I was always very literal in my understanding; and for the life of me I couldn't see why an elephant would want to sit on the fence to begin with. Maybe it was because the time was special? Like a signal for the apocalypse and the Archangel Gabriel's blowing of his trumpet at the Last Judgement, for example? No, seriously. The thought crossed my mind. The best place to judge is to sit on the fence. After all, if you think about it, it's what the umpire does at the Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows lawn tennis championships. Can't you just hear John McEnroe? 'That soul was in!' I am almost 50 years old now, and after 40 years or so I think I may have found a satsfactory solution to the riddle. The elephant is, logically enough, a symbol. The motif that first suggested itself was the four-armed Ganesh, the elephant god of Indian mythology and, some would argue, itself a symbol of the invisible transpersonal 'Self'.4
What is the fascination we, as human beings, have with representations in art and mythology of humanoids with six limbs? Clearly an extra pair of hands would be helpful. In Judaeo-Christian tradition, we often see depictions of human figures with additional limbs in the shape of wings like the angels; in fact, Archangels or Seraphim are doctrinally believed by the Catholic Church to have six wings.5 They are helpful too, of course. Spiritual beings that are there to raise us up to heaven. Is Ganesh, therefore, and the elephant symbol generally (elephants are luck charms in Arabia where there are none), representative of the spiritual side of man's nature that, invisibly but powerfully, helps to raise his level of development?
Scientifically, it has long been posited that it's a person's aura that has given credence to the idea of humans as partaking of the divine in such a way that they are deemed to possess wings. We might think of our aura as extending around us in the manner of a constantly fluctuating, inflating and deflating baloon.
Psychophysically, it seems likely that, were the twin hemispheres of our brain fully actualized, in terms of our aura they'd baloon outward and appear in the fashion of an angel's outstretched wings. Our aura would then appear to have similarities with the elephant's silhouette - especially as seen from behind - as we often find it in childrens' books such as The Story of Babar the Elephant (1931).6
In Kundalini or Tantric yoga,7 there are two serpents, male and female that, during sexual-instinctual or psycho-spiritual activity, rise up from the base of the spine which, by no means coincidentally, is an energy point known as the elephant chakra. Ganesh, in fact, is often depicted as being there with serpents about his body. He is called 'Lord of Beginnings' as well as 'Lord of Obstacles' because the transforming of instinctual into spiritual power represents a long, arduous climb up the chakra 'ladder'. We might think of the Kundalini serpents, therefore, as invisible additional pairs of hands - or de facto potential wings - necessary to the journey. The image that comes readily to mind is, of course, that of the fallen angels with their blasted wings after rebelling against God. Symbolic of the egoist's outreaching of himself in the quest for higher consciousness, wingless Satan is the serpent/angel in Eden who tempts Adam to Fall even before he has wings, and it is God's promise that 'man shall be greater than the angels' (Hebrews 2: 9). The myth of Icarus whose hubris caused him to fly too close to the sun and fell into the sea is a further reminder of how circumspect man is expected to be if he is to become god-like. How might our wings, then, appear? According to perceived experts, the normally achieved zenith associated with sexual fulfilment and the raising of a family is, in terms of chakra level, somewhere centred around the belly, although in more spiritually oriented individuals the Kundalini or serpent energy can rise up to the crown of the head or lotus chakra, passing through all of the energy points along the spine, including one in the region of the throat known as the purification chakra.
A chakra called the 'snow white elephant'. We might think of the elephant as 'relaxed' prior to its spiritual level rising as it passes through the temptations that are 'the world, the flesh and the devil' to reach the higher level of the ajna chakra cleansed, having overcome every psychological obstacle on each chakra level in the manner of a spiritual Nintendo master, symbolized by the figure of Ganesh as 'Lord of Obstacles'. Afterwards, with the spirit renewed and released at the ajna chakra into a greater level of conscious awareness, the elephant might be thought of as existing in a state of excitement and blowing its trumpet.
In some ways we have to put ourselves in the place of the blind men who were asked to examine an elephant and say what it was to them. Each had a different perspective. Each gave a different answer. The one who examined the tail exclaimed to the others that what they'd been asked to look at was a piece of rope. Obviously ours has two heads. But we shouldn't be fooled by our eyesight either. Human beings are victims of chirality or handedness, that is, we are left or right-handed, and our 'other' limb is about as much use as a piece of rope when it comes to the dexterity required for the performing of more spiritual tasks such as writing. Our elephant, therefore, doesn't have a lop-sided look to it because it represents a spiritually balanced individual who has overcome the handicap of chirality to harmonize the creative and active hemispheres of the cerebrum. Indeed, we can only tell which end is which - or which side - by the spot representing its eye, a vestigial sign, as it were, of the ego's role in self-actualization. Sightedness, of course, has its advantages. With our increased understanding, we can change our perspective and recognize our 'cartoon' elephant's trunk and tail as not only resembling but symbolizing the wings in our Archangel or seraphic aura model.
In Graeco-Roman mythology, the chakra system is represented by the caduceus or magic wand of Hermes/Mercury, a divine messenger who, like our seraphim, possesses six wings; his wingéd sandals, wingéd helmet, and wingéd wand, that is, the spinal-column's penis-instinct mind-
spirit development package. As a way of emphasizing which, the god is often represented as the bust of a head on a column with a penis prominently displayed.
Our elephant symbol would then denote the aura or energy field created by the activation of Hermes' caduceus, that is, the chakra system - at least as far as the ajna or elephant chakra.
There are, of course, further parallels between the elephant blowing its trumpet and the Archangel Gabriel of Judaeo-Christian tradition, that is, the angel who heralds the approach of God's 'heavenly kingdom' (Luke 1:1:33).
In Hinduism the devotees receive gifts from heaven in two ways, that is, either by petitioning the angels or the demons; in any event, it is the angels that give the gifts, either directly or indirectly through the demons.8 So, what has this to do with our fence-sitting elephant? Well, in the Judaeo-Christian tradition there are three levels of angels, the heavenly led by Michael, the Captain of the hosts of God, the fallen or 'rebel' angels led by Lucifer (also known as Satanael the Elder), and the 'doubting' angels9 - Zwilare in German - or, in the English vernacular, those who - like our elephant in the Sufi riddle - 'sit on the fence', that is, those who weren't sure whether they should remain loyal to the hosts of God under Michael or join the rebellious angels under Satan. But they are important for another reason too. In English slang the word 'fence' means 'one who sells stolen property', which reminds us of the 'heavenly gifts' that are 'fenced', as it were, to our Hindu demons who pass them on to their petitioners.
Our 'doubting' angels or zwilare correspond, in psychological terms, to the person whose 'left hand doesn't know what his right is doing', that is, the 'heavenly gifts' are not at the disposal of he to whom they belong; or, in other words, the vulnerable personality is at the mercy of the unscrupulous who represents the demonic, and to use a further example of colloquial English, what we mean when we say 'given with one hand and taken away with the other', that is, the heavenly angels - symbolizing the good genius of the invisible transpersonal 'Self' present in our best efforts - pass on the gifts of God to our 'doubting' angel or, in more modern terms, the manic creativity of our less capable ego-fractured 'Self' who, often 'in two minds' and hesitantly fence sitting, is unable to take advantage of the products of his own mind, and is taken advantage of, acting, as it were, as a 'fence' through which the fallen angels or demons, that is, the exploiters (enslavers) of our best human potential, appropriate the heavenly gifts (profits) that they then distribute to their worshippers (shareholders); and if this sounds like an exaggeratedly confused conflation of opposed realities, that is, the spiritual and the material worlds, take a look at the back streets of India where child labourers in sweat shops sew their lives away for purportedly unwitting high street clothes' stores and less than a meagre pittance.
If this is, as it surely is, business economics, what does it have to do with the reality of what is required, the change in consciousness necessary to benefit from our own efforts? Well, in Hinduism, the yogi or mystic passes through the state known as schizophrenia, that is, what we are taught to think of as a mix up of warring or multiple personalities, on the way to selfhood.10 We might remember our Kundalini serpents, representing the libido that is transformed into spirituality and how, because Adam didn't follow God's instructions on how to live in Eden, he is tempted by that whispering instinct which is, perhaps, best represented by the figure of Kaa, the snake in Walt Disney's version of Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book (1967) with its 'Trusssst in meeee' cajoling of Mowgli.
Adam, of course, beguiled by Satan in the guise of a serpent, loses paradisical immortality because he doesn't accept the guidance (neither did Satan) of his higher power: a salutary lesson (Genesis 3:5). Christianity often talks of 'testing the spirits to see if they are true' (John 4:1), which is a way of acknowledging the ofttimes ambivalent nature of communications from the level of unconscious instinct trying to mediate inspirations from our spiritual nature. We have to listen with care to what our 'inner voice' may be saying in order to become attuned to our 'higher man'. In Walt Disney's Dumbo (1941) it's the elephant's ears that are his wings; although he carries a symbolic 'magic' feather to indicate that, without the angels' gift, he wouldn't be able to attune himself to the divine word and ascend into the heavenly realm.
One who adheres to the 'Word', in Christian parlance, follows the path of the higher self (John 1:14). He achieves self-actualization and is, as it were, 'in heaven' or 'One with God', that is, 'the Godhead' in Buddhist or Hindu parlance, where he is, presumably, entitled to those 'heavenly gifts' of which we have spoken - whatever they might be.
However, if the 'Angelic One' can be prevented from achieving 'godhood', he/she remains at the mercy of instinct, the many-sided whisperings of the desirous soul we term 'schizophrenia', and the 'heavenly gifts' that are his/hers can be stolen. How? Because the multi-faceted personality, when schizophrenic, is the psychological equivalent of those parallel universes that, according to the quantum physicists,11 coexist alongside what we think of as our own. We might think of them as alternatives that could become realities if we have the will. 'God moves in mysterious ways,' we learn quite early in our general education (Romans 11:33), 'His wonders to perform.' And, in the world of quantum mechanics, God moves very mysteriously indeed. Science has discovered that we and all living matter are complex wave forms, and that this is what matter is. It has also been discovered that wave forms are made up of particles but, and here's the strangest thing, these particles behave differently when we are looking at them than when we are not. In the particle world a wave is a plethora of possible paths available to a particle, but only when we are looking does it choose a path. In other words, consciousness per se is deterministic in terms of what kind of physical world we inhabit, a world which is constellated from out the quantum web by us as we interactively observe it. Those among us with a differently differentiated kind of consciousness are often described, therefore, as 'living in a world of their own', and to a real extent this would be true - if they didn't have to share a world with the rest of us with our more materialistic-deterministic minds. That's why, in the Islamic world, we often find the tradition of the poisonous 'evil eye', and it is interesting to note that the talisman used to turn it aside is very similar to that point in the circle which we earlier interpreted as a symbol of the ego surrounded by the invisible transpersonal - and apparently protective - 'Self'.
Because of the role of the 'evil eye' in determining the world we inhabit, science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein (1907-88) describes our reality as a product of multiple-egoism. In The Number of the Beast12 he introduces a car as a symbol of the self-actualized individual that is able to access the plethora of possible alternative worlds that exist in his 'multiverse', a construct that symbolizes what kind of dream world we could inhabit if our consciousness were released into the care of our own imaginative selves rather than inhibited by the unmaginative minds of others.
The number of universes accessible to Heinlein’s multiversal spacecar is made to correspond to the mythical biblical 'number of the beast' in St John the Divine's 'Book of Revelation' (13:18). 'Let he that hath wisdom understand,' the reader of the New Testament is exhorted, 'six-hundred three score and six' is the 'number of a man'. In Heinlein's The Number of the Beast 666 becomes 6 raised to the power of 6 raised to the power of 6, an almost infinite number of possible alternatives, given the premise that it's the number of universes, and allows Heinlein to posit a quantum particle he calls a 'ficton', which means that, not only are the best of Candide's 'all possible worlds' to be found in his fiction, but the best of all possible fictional worlds, enabling his characters (time permitting) to visit the worlds of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Frank L. Baum's Oz, and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom - amongst others.
The 'Beast' in Heinlein's novel is what might be described as the projected shadow of the 'evil eye', the egoism of unenlightened 'vested interest', that is, those exploiters who stand to profit from our ignorance of the greatness of what we are and have. In The Number of the Beast Heinlein's fabulous car contains four characters whose quest for peace - and escape from would-be car thieves - is designed to symbolically mirror the Jungian individual's self-actualization through differentiation of the four functions of consciousness (Thinking, Feeling, Sensation and Intuition13) to which the four characters (Jacob [Jake], Dejah Thoris [Deety], Zebediah [Zeb] and Hilda ['Sharpie']) are made explicitly to correspond. Hilda Sharp, for example, denotes the sharpness, and indeed combativeness, of female - or feminine - intuition and, symbolically, is Brünhilde, who takes the heroes to Valhalla when she's in the driving seat. But the obvious image that comes to mind is that of the biblical 'Jacob's ladder' (Genesis 28:12) - Jake is the inventor-owner of the car - upon which the angels of the Lord are seen to be ascending to heaven.
Clearly Heinlein's 666 is a chakra ladder, an individuation process14 that requires the four to develop a retentive memory capacity, that is, they learn by their mistakes and become wiser as they grow older. Like us with our elephant symbol, which would take on a similar dimension as a symbol of the actualizing 'Self' because, symbolic of memory, as everyone knows, 'an elephant never forgets'. That's why there are two elephants in the Hindu chakra ladder. It contains parallels with the Egyptian myth of the sun god Ra, a symbol of the ego who is reborn15 daily as Osiris but dis-remembered, that is, cut into pieces, by Set, the Evil One. There is then a mythic promise - against the 'evil eye' of shadow-possessed consciousnesses - in the form of a re-membering in which Ra-Osiris is restored as Horus who represents the higher or spiritual man that has to be re-remembered - as it were, a rebecoming.
Our elephant chakra at the base of the spine would then represent the unreflective and unconscious-Self, Ra in Egypt's mythology, and his son Osiris representing the threat of schizophrenia, that is, the fragmented personality symbolized as dismemberment. So, in Hinduism, there at the base of the spine, in the first elephant chakra, the conscious totality of the Self is already present in potentiam, a potentiality that becomes conscious or re-membered when the ajna chakra or 'white elephant' is actuated. And, in this way, we can truly say that the elephant never forgets because, though the Self be there unconscious, it is always waiting to become what it 'was, is, and ever shall be' - in the words of a popular Quaker hymn.
But it won't have escaped the notice of the perceptive reader that our seraphic elephant corresponds more closely to the figure of Osiris than Horus, that is, a truncation of what's possible in terms of human consciousness. It is a feature of the birth of Ganesh that one who has the evil eye burns his original head to ashes and he is given an elephant's head as recompense. We might say that Osiris represents the capacity of the Self to be remembered whereas Ganesh represents the capacity of the Self to never be forgotten. But we're still talking about a disintegrated Self's capacity for self-actualization, the unremembered and forgotten lot of the Van Gogh type of figure who, doubtless now recognized as a seraphic genius, reaching the heights of spirituality in his art, during his lifetime remained obscure and uncelebrated, crumbling woefully in his personal life and his finances. We might remember the painting of crows over a cornfield thought by many to represent Van Gogh's attempts to stave off the schizophrenia of a fragmenting personality.
People often describe such a personality as having something 'lacking' in them. From a yogic point of view such individuals represent a failure to deal with - and emerge from - schizophrenia, which as we have seen can be viewed as a stage in the development of a higher, more differentiated, and successful consciousness (symbolized in The Number of the Beast by the often warring personalities of the characters as - metaphorically - they try to decide who gets to sit in the ego's seat and drive). But the successful artist - like Robert A. Heinlein - is likely to escape his keepers, which is why, in the last century, we saw so many fall by the wayside because of the tempters with their drugs and alcohol. It is, therefore, interesting that the Tempter is often conflated with the figure of the Trickster16 identified by Carl Jung as a folkloristic archetype to be found in such tales as the Aesop's (620-560 BC) fable The Fox and the Crow where it is the task of the fox to trick the crow into dropping the cheese down to him from the seemingly unscaleable heights of the tree in which the crow is safely perched with his prize.
Perhaps that's why Van Gogh, in his determination to remain in command of his art and, figuratively speaking, not let fall his cheese, filled entire canvases with crows. As it says in the ancient Chinese book of wisdom, the I Ching, 'the superior man is kept down by the inferior man'17. Why? For profit. Van Gogh, a great artist, was 'unrecognized' and living in penury for his entire lifespan. Because that's what the unscrupulous do, take advantage of the creative personality (sell us your daubings now for a meal and later we'll sell them for $50,000,000) or create schizophrenic zwilare by giving the one who has reached the snow white heights of the elephant's ajna chakra forbidden fruit, that is, the apple in the shape of LSD, for example, that poisons the ‘third eye’, thus rendering it impossible for the victim (Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and Syd Barrett of The Pink Floyd, for example) to enter the heavenly kingdom of the lotus and see with the eyes of the god within. Instead, he remains yearning expressively for what can now only be glimpsed inwards occasionally and is praised for his vision while his keepers line their pockets with their Judas' silver.
Those who remain or become schizophrenics may, because of their 'special' elephantine auras or energy fields, still randomly access, as it were, different aspects of Heinlein's 'multiverse'; but, as these artificially truncated and fragmented angels do so, their unscrupulous creators can appropriate the 'heavenly gifts' that await them there - whether the 'cheese' be a job opportunity, marriage, the latest car, new or unknown technology, alternative history or a cure for Aids.
The meaning of our Sufi riddle is, therefore twofold. When the trumpeting elephant (the angel Gabriel in Western tradition) 'wakes up' the yogi-type personality and he passes out of the condition of schizophrenia, through the process of purification centred, in psycho-physical terms, at the throat or what might be termed the Gabrielephant chakra, the 'fence' is broken, which means that an individual with the 'angelic' gifts of an Albert Einstein, Britney Spears or Bill Gates can no longer be used by the unscupulous to access the multiverse, that is, the plethora of possibilities open to a polymath, a gifted artist or Renaissance Man, and appropriate what they find there.
Perhaps, more importantly, all of this offers a ray of hope to the so-called 'mentally ill' person, that is, schizophrenia as a phase of the development of a transcendent consciousness which is able to both choose and accept from what they are given to understand by God (for want of a better word) is theirs. Why wouldn't Britney Spears proclaim herself the Anti-Christ; if she perceives the collective shadow of her Christian society as schizophrenically responsible for labelling her an 'unfit mother' because she's sexy? She was asserting herself as a woman of Eros. In the Bible the new redeeemer is given birth to by a woman 'clothed with the sun and with the moon at her feet' (Revelations 12:1), according to Jung18 a symbol of the synthesis of masculine (sun) and feminine (moon) principles that is essential if the human race is not going to allow the Sword of the masculine Logos (violence) to destroy it (the birth of the new redeemer is threatened by a devouring dragon, symbol of the collective shadow). In ancient Greece they termed what we have become used to from Christianity as enantiodromia, a denigration of Eros and a dangerous weighting in favour of spiritual-mindedness that can result in an inward repression that is manifested outwardly. Darker components of the collective psyche are projected so that the 'other' appears negative and inferior (as happened to the Jews in 1930s Nazi Germany), the exact opposite of what is intended by Christianity's lop-sided overemphasis on ego-consciouness. In Britney's case, a legitimate concern with the upbringing of young children, turning into an all-too-familiar shadow-projecting witchunt against a young woman clearly doing her best to love herself and her offspring under highly pressurized circumstances.
As a further example of society's shadow-side, let's take the genius who'd expected to receive the financial benefits of their work on hydrogen fuel cells for cars, but not if all their hard work had caused their mind to collapse and become fragmented so that they forgot to file the patent and their notes are stolen by unscrupulous agents of industrial espionage whose interests lie in ensuring that the genius - and those like him - 'drop the cheese'. In The Fox and the Crow we understand that it is no matter how often the tale is repeated for our instruction, there will always be crows and foxes because this is basic business economics. The creative are doomed to be schizophrenic - or to be labelled so in the case of Britney Spears (which amounts to the same thing; society projecting its own sickness onto the 'other' so that she has to accept herself as Antichristian to remain sane) - and vested interest will always make sure that schizophrenics remain so in order that the cheese will be dropped down to them.
Bill Gates, on the other hand, is clearly someone who didn't drop his cheese and became 'the Big Cheese' to whom all foxes had to defer in the hope of having some cheese. Witness the hard won so-called trade-restrictive monopoly's struggles with the regulators. We might think of the red tapers as corrupt bureaucrats in-the-making, preparing to act as a 'fence' for software licenses and contracts once entirely within the purview of the software giant, an elephant some might have wanted to see sit on that particular 'fence' in order to squash it flat; which is perhaps a part of the solution to the riddle: when the elephant of the Self is strong enough it is no longer schizophrenic (symbolized as fence sitting) and vulnerable to the exploitative (symbolized by the 'fence' as purveyor of 'stolen' goods) but independent and liberated (symbolized by the fence's crushing by our elephant as 'Lord of Obstacles').
So, what kind of development would our symbols require in order to illustrate Bill Gates' kind of higher consciousness, the sort we are discussing? Microsoft is, primarily, about the transfer of data and data communications, and Hermes/Mercury is a symbol of telecommunications globally. Is, then, the caduceus carried by the god, symbolic of the spine-brain 'telecom tower', a type of biological transmitter which we use when praying in our churches; the god's wingéd helmet a symbol of 'thought transference', a prescient classical precursor of the Star Trek style communications' headset as worn by Brent Spiner's Lieutenant Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation?
If the opening of the ajna chakra, or third eye, symbolizes higher consciousness, the wingéd helmet of Hermes would represent the enlightenment of the yogi in receipt of high level communications from the divine. But the wingéd helmet is a little old fashioned a symbol of sorcery to evoke instantaneous communications from the heavens. Our hat, therefore, without visible means of aerial propulsion, to minds conditioned by Buck Rogers in the Twenty Fifth Century and Babylon Five, should appear as what it is in our more modern but equally traditional mythology of 'flying saucers'.
Perhaps it is what the Archagel Gabriel is calling for when he's blowing his trumpet at the Last Judgement? One is again reminded of the Valkyrie Brünhilde in her chariot, descending from the skies, come to take the fallen hero to the heaven of Valhalla in Norse mythology.19
I have long since given up on those who believe that angels will come and take them to heaven when they die but disbelieve totally in Steven Spielberg's notions of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) mother ships arriving to do the same thing in a more technologically comprehensible fashion. Perhaps the ufonauts should equip their craft with wings to make them fall in line with our archaic sensibilities? It was Carl Jung, of course, that suggested UFOs were a modern myth on a par with their more ancient counterparts and, using his hermeneutic approach, striving to be without prejudice, I have attempted to show why this is so by fusing elements of Muslim-Sufi, Aryan-Hindu, Graeco-Roman, Egyptian and Judaeo-Christian traditions to arrive at a New Age understanding of the meaning of the elephant's riddle. Or at least enough to pose another.
Q: What time is it when an elephant blows its nose?
A: Time to unpack its trunk.
Our 'elephangel', now looking rather like an old-style Quaker reverend with frock-coat, connotes a religious brand of Christianity noted for a belief in direct experience of communion with God which they called 'flying with the Lord' (Thessalonians 4:17) - like the angels (or the ufonauts). The only thing missing from the picture of my childhood is that Sufi's elongated tubular hat which, pointing backwards and upwards during the swirling, resembles nothing if not an elephant's trunk - to be unpacked (euphemistically speaking) in the home of the higher self.
The highest chakra is where purusha atman is said to dwell in certain Buddhist religious philosophies,20 the 'grain of mustard seed' (Matthew 13:32) from which all greatness magically grows as the New Testament of the Bible has it. In Hinduism he is 'the thumb', Hanuman, who swallowed by the whale (symbol of unconsciousness), mysteriously swells up until the whale is burst21 and the ego - in psycho-symbolic terms - is freed. One might think of it in terms of the mental and spiritual efforts it took to write this article, 'Wizardry with Elephants'. I have mystically burst into consciousness and taken command. My invisible transpersonal god of the 'Self' is now in the lotus chakra where, demons defeated, potentiality actualized, it will continue to prepare me to make my developing ego a self-advancing user of its own 'heavenly gifts'.
The image that comes to my mind is that of Star Trek captain Jean Luc Picard in command of the saucer disc on the bridge of the USS Enterprise. A symbol, to my way of thinking, of how the higher Self trains its young ensign (the developing ego) through symbological promptings and archetypal projections22 from myth and psyche to learn what's been forgotten by the 'elephant' of the unconscious-Self until, one day, having experienced a re-becoming,23 I step up onto the bridge and truly take command of my own ship. But, before I'm finally 'beamed up' by the Captain of my Self to that great starship in the sky, I have living here to do that, in our secular age of status symbols, may justifiably be represented by a more immediately attainable lotus.
1 Carl Gustav Jung 'The Relations between the Ego and the Unconscious' (1928), Two Essays On Analytical Psychology, The Collected Works translated by R. F. C. Hull (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London), Vol. 7.
2 C. G. Jung 'Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth' (1958), Civilization In Transition, CW, Vol. 10.
3 C. G. Jung 'Foreword to the "I Ching"' (1950), Psychology and Religion: West and East, CW, Vol. 11.
4 Robert Brown Ganesh: Studies of an Asian God (Albany: New York State University, 1991)
5 St. Thomas Aquinas 'The Angels (Spirit)' in Summa Theologia: Prima Pars, Questions 50-64
6 Jean De Brunhoff The Story of Babar (Harrison Smith and Robert Haas, New York, 1934).
7 C. G. Jung 'Instinct and the Unconscious' (1919), The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, CW, Vol. 8.
8 James Broderick Saint Francis Xavier (New York,Widlow Press, 1952).
9 C. G. Jung 'Answer to Job' (1952), CW, Vol. 11.
10 C. G. Jung 'Yoga and the West' (1936), CW, Vol. 11.
11 C. G. Jung 'Syncbronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle' (1952), CW, Vol. 8 .
12 Robert A. Heinlein The Number of the Beast (New English Library, 1980).
13 C. G. Jung Psychological Types (1920), CW, Vol. 6.
14 C. G. Jung 'Concerning Rebirth' (1940/1950), The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, CW, Vol. 9, Part I.
15 C. G. Jung 'Conscious, Unconscious, and Individuation' (1939), CW, Vol. 9, Part I.
16 C. G. Jung 'On the Psychology of the Trickster-Figure' (1954), CW, Vol. 9, Part I.
17 Richard Wilhelm (translator) The I Ching (Axiom Books, Australia, 2001).
18 C. G. Jung 'Answer to Job' (1952), CW, Vol. 11.
19 Jesse L. Byock The Saga of the Volsungs (Penguin, London, 1990).
20 C. G. Jung 'The Psychology of Eastern Meditation' (1943), CW, Vol. 11.
21 C. G. Jung 'The Fight with the Shadow' (1946), CW, Vol. 10.
22 C. G. Jung 'The Development of Personality' (1934), The Development of Personality, CW, Vol. 17.
23 C. G. Jung 'The Structure of the Unconscious' (1916), CW, Vol. 7.