Archetypes of War and Peace
ISBN: 978-82-300-0721-1
Year: 2011

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Archetypes of War and Peace

This volume is a commentary on war and peace from the perspective of depth psychology, which uses symbolic and mythic analysis to assess behaviors that are influenced by the unconscious component of the human psyche. The chapters discuss certain archetypes that impact on war and peace.


Ramon Lopez‑Reyes
Archetypes of War and Peace

Table of Contents

Introduction 8

1. Violence and the Sacred Revisited 16

2. War in the Middle East: A Psycho‑Political Commentary 44
3. Presidential Elections of 2008: Alchemist with a Father Complex
and Warrior‑Hero with Vietnam Complex 71
4. The Mythology of the United States 82

5. The Return of the Feminine and Development of Modern Weapons 98
6. The Redemptrix Archetype: Interpretation of the Fairytales
Twelve Swans and Twelve Brothers 118

7. The Labors of Heracles: Transformation of Masculine Excessiveness 150
8. The War God Archetype 174

9. Myth of Oedipus and the Pestilence of Terror:
The Price for Remaining Unconscious 190
10. The Mark of Cain: Toward a Nonkilling Paradigm 204

Closing Commentary 225

Appendix: Dialogue Between War Gods: St James, Killer of Moors (Spanish Holy Warrior), and Huitzilopochtli (Aztec God of War) 227

Bibliography 242

Notes 248


Ramon Lopez‑Reyes
Archetypes of War and Peace

What follows is a commentary on war and peace from the perspective of depth psychology.
Depth psychology is a rather new field of study. It emerged in 1900. The word ôpsychologyö is said to have been first used in the closing of the Sixteenth Century. Then ôpsychologyö was closely linked with soul (æpsycheÆ being the Greek word for soul). The word psychology literally means the study or knowing of soul. It was only later that psychology began to be associated with mind, brain, cognition and behavior. With this development, psychology came under the regime of the rational and its prior dimension of depth faded. As the Age of Reason unfolded, psychology focused more on the cognition as advanced by Rene Descartes while the unconscious or deeper layers of the psyche (where the soul resides) were mostly set aside.
Modern depth psychology can be said to have been ôbornö in 1900 with the publication of Sigmund FreudÆs book, Interpretation of Dreams. FreudÆs ôdepthö dimension referred to the personal contents of the unconscious. Although Freud was the founder of modern depth psychology, Ira Progoff, in his Death and Rebirth of Psychology, held that FreudÆs psychology of personal unconscious made little room for the study of soul and for the deeper layers of the unconscious. He inferred that Freud was partly responsible for the ôdeathö of psychology. Bruno Bettelheim, in his Freud and the Soul, argued that Freud did entertain a concept of soul but that his works were badly translated so that FreudÆs conceptualization of soul was overlooked. Ira Progoff gave Otto Rank, particularly his Psychology and the Soul, credit for psychologyÆs rebirth, that is, a return to ôirrationalö thinking and symbolic analysis so that psychology could once again study the soul and the deeper layers of the psyche. It is exposure to these depths, and not necessarily to the concept of the soul itself that enables depth psychology to explore the hitherto ôhiddenö or unconscious dynamics that impact on the realities of war and peace.
Epistemologically, reason and science have advanced knowledge through direct or rational thinking. For the most part, the study of war and peace has utilized rational thinking to attain its findings. Rational or dialectic thinking, however, is not effective for examining the various levels of the unconscious. The unique contribution of depth psychology is that it revitalized symbolic analysis, as a way of accessing the depths of human character. Indigenous cultures have remained comfortable with symbolic thinking. In short, symbolic analysis permits comprehension of what rational analysis cannot, namely, the unconscious.
For those not familiar with or sympathetic toward depth psychology the process of symbolic analysis may prove confusing or too speculative. A similar state of confusion may exist with the term archetypes. Symbolic analysis focuses on the symbol and its meaning. Where rational analysis calls for a direct grasp of meaning from the concrete content, symbolic analysis obtains meaning indirectly, that is, the symbol represents something other than the symbol itself. For example, Chapter 7 examines the twelve labors of Heracles, the Greek mythic hero. By analyzing the hidden or symbolic meaning of those labors I arrive at an interpretation of what the labors signify psychologically. Likewise in Chapter 4 I explore the symbols found in the Great Seal of the United States (pyramid, eagle, etc) in order to understand the psychological meaning of the Great Seal and, in turn, the mythology of the United States.
Carl Jung held that knowledge attained through competent symbolic analysis increased the body of knowledge by enabling unconscious material to become conscious. Rational thinking, in comparison, can only amplify the knowledge that already exists at the conscious level; it fails to enrich consciousness with unconscious material. Clinically, symbolical analysis is extremely useful in interpreting the symbolic content of dreams. Freud called the dream the royal path to the unconscious. Symbolic analysis is also useful to bring to consciousness the meaning of myths. It is also a tool or methodology to make conscious the unconscious contents of war and peace.
Archetypes are rooted in humanityÆs instinctual mammalian base. Whereas other primates are totally programmed instinctually, humans have broken away from such instinctual control. Humans have choices but only in context of the instinctual base. Archetypes represent the potential or latency of that instinctual base. On occasions mammals behave instinctually in a destructive manner. But humans have a choice. For example, rather than automatically behave violently with a fight response when threatened, humans can discharge a nonviolent fight response. In Chapter 8 I discuss the War God Archetype. The War God Archetype is rooted in those instinctual behaviors associated with violence and destruction. I also discuss the alternative to fight nonviolently.
Homo sapiens have engaged in war since time immemorial. War has been so popular that in many societies the War God is usually considered one of the chief gods. Although humans have within their behavioral base destructive and war‑like patterns of behavior, they are not programmed deterministically to act out such destructive behaviors. Humans can opt not to engage in war‑like behaviors. At the same time, history documents that humans are very prone to give full expression to their destructive behaviors. Because humans have choice, there is hope that humans can eventually discard the choice to engage in violent destructive behaviors as manifested in wars.
Archetypes enable the human to perform particular behavior needed to live a human existence; they are a powerful element of the life force but they represent only the potential to behave in a certain manner. The archetype may be said to be consolidated psychic energy in a mode of behavior that can operate outside of the egoÆs control. Given their primal instinctual roots archetypes may overwhelm the ego itself. At times, however, this may be needed in that the archetype contains ancient wisdom to which the ego is not yet privy. For example, the activation of the mother archetype can assist a woman to tap into the æway of motherhood.Æ But at other times, an archetype on the ælooseÆ can bring havoc. This is the great fear that the archetypes associated with destruction and war may incite nuclear war if not under the egoÆs conscious control. It takes a mature ego to manage archetypal energy. Thus we are called upon to mature and strengthen our egos in order to gain better control of archetypes linked to war particularly in the form of the War God Archetype.
It should be noted that archetypes have both constructive and destructive features. The most negative aspect of the War God Archetype is the destruction and concomitant agony that such energy inflicts. A positive aspect of the War God Archetype includes the formation of character. In the past even the æBlackÆ aspect of the War God could point to some positive features, for example, out of the ashes of destruction new birth (the Phoenix) rises. Today nuclear war may result in too many ashes and sterility that accordingly preclude anything from arising anew.
The chapters that follow are taken from presentations that I have given over the past ten years in regards to war and peace. They flow from my third phase of peace work. In my first phase I sought to forge peace via violent means. I served twenty‑two years with the United States infantry with duty in Berlin, Korea, Vietnam, Pentagon and Panama. The Vietnam experience disillusioned me from believing that violent means could fashion viable peace. Finally when promoted to the rank of colonel I declined the honor and sought peace by pursuing peace policy particularly the promotion of zones of peace in Central America, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean region. That was my second phase of peace involvement. While the pursuit of peace policy is of utmost importance, I recognized that to implement peace policy one needs to be personally involved in the area of conflict over a sustained period. I came to realize that periodic travel and consultation in a conflict area, while useful, fell short. In my third peace phase I have been exploring the deeper roots of war that reveal themselves through the filter of depth psychology and methodology of symbolic analysis.
It needs to be stressed that depth psychologyÆs contribution to the study of war and peace is still in its early stages. Freud touched upon war in his work Civilization, War and Death. When Albert Einstein asked Freud in the early 1930s to comment on æWhy WarÆ, Freud was somewhat at a loss. He acknowledged little capacity to speak definitively about war. At best, Freud made reference to the role that the Death Instinct might have on war. Erich Fromm attempted to enlarge FreudÆs theory of Death Instinct in his Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. During and after the period of World War II a few psychoanalysts wrote on war and peace to include Edward Glover (1946), Joost Meerloo (1961), James Strachey (1957), and more recently Franco Fornari(1975) and Richard Koenigsberg (1977). Perhaps most promising is the work advanced by psychoanalysts who utilize a psycho‑historical perspective to examine war. Of particular value are the works of Robert Jay Lifton, for example, his Mao Tse‑Tung and ChinaÆs Cultural Revolution.
Carl JungÆs writings on war and peace are sparse. In his Wotan, Jung brought attention to the deep roots of the war god in the German collective psyche. A few Jungian oriented depth psychologists have also added to the study of war: Anthony StevensÆ Roots of War and James HillmanÆs A Terrible Love of War.
The psychologist, Lawrence Leshan, offers a topical review of war in his Psychology of War. Finally, social scientists advancing socio‑biology, ethology and evolutionary psychology have contributed to the understanding of the substrata causes of war: Konrad LorenzÆ On Aggression; Irenõus Eibl‑EibesfeldtÆs The Biology of Peace and War; Robert ArdreyÆs Territorial Imperative; Luigi ValzelliÆs Psychobiology of Aggression and Violence; and Richard Bloom and Nancy DessÆ (editors) Evolutionary Psychology and Violence.
Although rational analysis has been instrumental in coalescing war and peace as a field of study, war is experienced mostly mythically whether in the sense of tragedy or heroics. It is here that the concept of archetypes, in particular the experience of archetypes, brings to life the realities and therefore, the nature of war. War is never mundane, it is grand human theater; it opens the door for the heroic and destructive archetypes to run amuck. War invites an array of archetypes to express themselves whether in the destructive guise of Darth Vader (the evil genius of the Star Wars movies) and Black War Gods, or of noble warriors and White War Gods.
War itself may be said to be a primal archetype symbolizing the eternal conflict between death and life, evil and good, light and dark. This is to say, that war may be seen as the outward projection of the inner war (if not eternal cosmic conflict) which pits the Life Force against the Death Force. Engaging in the inner war is actually taking up the way of individuation, a process which strengthens the ego and enables the psyche to achieve wholeness. Were this point better understood, individuals, if not society, might take steps to strengthen the ego and reduce occasion to project the inner war externally. Prior to the nuclear age, the consequences for engaging in the external war were more of less acceptable. But for us who live in the nuclear age, the consequence of an expansive nuclear war is just too awful to accept. Although it has been a human pattern to engage in war and follow up with efforts to restore peace until conditions again activate the War God Archetype to spew destruction, we must ask whether this very human cycle can be altered.
There is no evidence to conclude that war‑making is embedded in human nature and thus impossible to prevent. Rather, it may be more appropriate to conclude, within a sociological context, that war (at least modern war) is a social institution that humans have created in order to preclude extreme chaos. Some may even stress that war‑making has played an important role in civilization‑building in that the emergencies that emerge in war have made it the ômother of inventions.ö For the present, the mystique of war and its continuation suggest that humanity has not yet arrived at uncovering all the dynamics at play in the why of war. For the most part the study of war and peace has been approached in a topical manner, but increasingly peace scholars are forging their studies in a systematic manner.
This book is organized in five parts, each of which highlights a specific issue central to the study of war and peace from the perspective of depth psychology. Part I focuses on Violence. War is about extreme violence. Chapter 1, ôViolence and Sacred Revisited,ö explores the subtle linkage between violence and the sacred. The spilling of blood, as in war, and blood rites, common to warring bands, join violence with the sacred. A mythic image of this linkage can be found in the relationship between Hades, Lord of the Underworld and Ares, the Greek God of War who fertilizes the earth with the blood of the fallen and sends legions to the underworld.
Part II examines war in context of politics. A Prussian General held that war is the continuation of politics by other means. In this context, war is employed as a social institution to further political aims. War, however, often proves to be the undoing of the initiating politics. In the post‑cold war era of a single superpower, the ôorderlinessö of war has given way to a disorder that non‑State actors bring to war. At the same time these non‑State actors have emerged from the political system. Specifically, they provide a vehicle to oppose the supremacy of the lone superpower. Chapter 2, ôWar in the Middle East,ö reviews the politics that gave rise to the three‑front war raging in the Middle East which has been badly named ôWar on Terror.ö It also introduces a way to view conflict in a geo‑political framework. More important, the analysis introduces the role that æconvergenceÆ (globalization) plays on human affairs. Convergence suggests the Archetype of Wholeness and may be considered a peace archetype that is taking humanity toward a One World; toward a common Homo sapiens identity. In this sense, war operates according to the dynamics of convergence. The Chapter questions whether cooperation (common security, communications, trade) rather than confrontation (war, competing alliances) serves convergence best. Chapter 3 comments on the United States presidential elections of 2008 that pitted Senator Barack Obama against Senator John McCain. Modern U.S. Presidents have had great influence on the decision to wage war. It is critical, therefore, to assess their psychological predisposition to engage in war. The Chapter is an assessment of the candidatesÆ archetypal structure: Obama reflecting an Alchemist Archetype with a Good Father Complex and McCain a Warrior‑Hero Archetype with a Vietnam Complex. Chapter 4, ôThe Mythology of the United States,ö appraises the mythic content that relates to the United States. Symbols associated with the Great Seal of the United States are interpreted to arrive at the countryÆs mythic character particularly relating to war (arrows) and peace (olive branch). (The Great Seal can be viewed on the reverse side of the one dollar bill.)
Part III assesses the consequences, relative to war, that have come about with the patriarchal suppression of the feminine. Chapter 5, ôThe Return of the Feminine and Development of Modern Weapons,ö links the emergence of modern weapons and their increased destructiveness with the metaphoric return of the feminine to Heaven, the ôAbove.ö This metaphoric return is tied to the encyclicals of the Roman Catholic Church regarding Mary, the Mother of Jesus. The Encyclical of MaryÆs Immaculate Conception was promulgated in 1854 at the time of the Crimean War (1853‑56). This war is considered to be the first modern war in that rifles and indirect artillery were first used. Symbolically, MaryÆs Immaculate Conception freed the feminine from EveÆs curse that was pronounced on her when she was exiled from Paradise. The Encyclical of MaryÆs Assumption into Heaven (1950) occurred at the time when the Soviet Union fired its first nuclear bomb (1949) and United States Government announced (1950) its commitment to develop a Hydrogen Bomb. The Chapter examines whether a patriarchal Heaven (ôAboveö) without the feminine can operate appropriately. If the ôAboveö is dysfunction because the feminine is missing then such dysfunction may also be said to exist on earth (ôBelowö). A masculine orientation without a balancing feminine one may cause humanity to employ the ôunthinkableö in a most rational thinking masculine manner. Chapter 6, ôThe Redemptrix Archetype,ö probes how a balanced feminine‑masculine ôBelowö might function. The Chapter speculates whether the Second Coming of Christian belief may have more to do psychologically with the Coming of the Daughter (Feminine) rather than with the Second Coming of the Son.
Part IV addresses the issue of masculine excessiveness and its capacity to engage in destructiveness. The return of feminine if it is to be effective requires the transformation of masculine excessiveness which a patriarchal order tends to reinforce. Chapter 7, ôThe Labors of Heracles: Transformation of Masculine Excessiveness,ö utilizes the symbols associated with the myth of Heracles to trace how the masculine can be transformed. In Chapter 8, the War God Archetype and its different manifestations are scrutinized. Societies in the past recognized the ôrealityö and importance of the War God. Whereas the manifestation of the Black War God may be the most destructive, it is the transformation of the Red War God into the Blue War God that enables individuals to experience war as an inner process (psychologically the Way of Individuation) and not project it outwardly. It would be a misnomer to believe that the War God Archetype is not present in modern day wars.
Part V appraises a ôBeyond Warö possibility. Chapter 9, ôThe Myth of Oedipus and the Pestilence of Terror: The Price for Remaining Unconscious,ö utilizes the myth of Oedipus to spell out the tragic consequences that occur when individuals remain unconscious. The events of ô9/11" caused the United States to participate in a war without assessing who was the ôenemyö. Had the nation been more conscious it would have known that it already was at war. The decision makers were content to believe that those who attacked the nation did so because they did not like United States democracy. No effort was made to frame the attack in a political or military background. For example, militarily the attack suggests a ôraidö by the ôenemyö who, in lacking conventional weapons, employed inferior homemade weapons. By calling the war a æWar on TerrorÆ no clear understanding of the ôenemyö was possible. Accordingly, the United States, similar to Thebes, suffers from a ôpestilenceö during the period it remains unconscious. No ôbeyond warö is possible unless leaders are committed to become conscious. Chapter 10, ôThe Mark of Cain: Toward a Nonkilling Paradigm,ö queries whether the Biblical account of CainÆs murder of his brother, Abel, provides any insight regarding the human practice of killing and war. That the first human conceived was a killer infers that creating a nonkilling society will be no easy matter. The Chapter lists several developments already taking place or need to take place that can eventually establish a nonkilling society.
The Closing Commentary emphasizes that humans should be very careful not to invite the Death Force to solve Life Force issues. That we call on death to solve life force issues points to humanityÆs collective psychological immaturity. There is a great need for humans to become more conscious if we are ever are to go beyond such stupidity. Humans would do well to take seriously the ôtruthö that the ends are the product of the means, that is to say, violent means are most likely to result in violent ends.
Since the Life Force manifests itself in multiple ways it is clear that there will be much discord if not rancor among humans. Disagreeing is to be human. Up to the present, going to war to resolve disagreement has been quite human. But the nature of the nuclear age requires that we be on guard not to invite the Death Force (violent means) to solve disagreements. Rather than invite the Death Force individuals would do better, no matter how utopian it may sound, were they to learn how to conduct the inner war and achieve wholeness, that is, to transcend beyond war‑making. Today humanity is challenged to employ the War God Archetype to overcome the psychological foes that engage us in the inner war. Today globalization or convergence is gaining momentum (see Chapter 2) and signaling that politics and economics prosper better through cooperation than with confrontation. And there is reason to believe that the more humans wage the inner war successfully the more capable the collective ego becomes to sponsor cooperation rather than confrontation.
Finally, the Appendix includes the mythic ôDialogue Between St James, Killer of Moors, and Huitzilopochtliö (respectively the Spanish and Aztec War Gods). These War Gods held their exchange in the theosphere while below on earth Mochtezuma, the Aztec Chief, and Hernan Cortes, the Spanish Conquistador, engaged in conversation.
It is hoped that the subsequent pages will encourage greater use of symbolic analysis to increase consciousness and thereby, enhance humanityÆs ability to end external war and sustain peace.
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