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The Wounded Healer
by Paul Levy

In 1977 a new planet named Chiron was discovered orbiting between Saturn and Uranus. Seen symbolically, where the inner and the outer are synchronistic reflections of each other, the recognition of a new planet suggests that an archetypal pattern, another facet of the divine, is being activated within the collective psyche. Chiron represents the archetype of the wounded healer, and its arrival could be interpreted to symbolize our need to reintegrate this archetype, which has gotten constellated in the collective unconscious in response to our global situation.

The archetype of the wounded healer refers to the birth of our unique gifts and healing powers by going through, as opposed to getting stuck in and endlessly recreating, our wounds. Jung's closest colleague, Marie Louise Von Franz, says "the wounded healer IS the archetype of the Self.and is at the bottom of all genuine healing procedures. " To quote Kerenyi, a colleague of Jung, who elucidated this archetype, the myth of the wounded healer refers psychologically to the capacity "to be at home in the darkness of suffering and there to find germs of light and recovery with which, as though by enchantment, to bring forth Asclepius, the sunlike healer."

Our wounds are crying out to be recognized as a deeper process trying to unfold; they are truly a doorway into our totality. The wounded healer is a shaman and alchemist par excellence, as he or she is able to redeem the mythic "treasure hard to attain," which is none other than the True Self, hidden within what the alchemists call "the prima materia," the wounded, rejected and marginalized part of the psyche.

To quote a nameless Buddhist monk, "He who tries to get out sinks in deeper. I roll in it like a pig. I digest it and turn it into golden dust, into a brook of pure water. To fashion stars out of dog dung, that is the great work."

The wounded healer is related to the stage in alchemy known as the nigredo. This is the point where every effort of the ego seems futile, and we appear hopelessly stuck. If we continue to try and escape the pain of this situation, we are like a squirrel running around in circles in its cage, or like an eyeball endlessly spinning around trying to see itself. We waste a lot of energy and our efforts are ultimately unproductive. But when we realize that there is nothing that we, as an ego, can do, we have started to embrace our situation, which para-doxically, is the very thing which initiates the trans-formation in the deeper psyche. Even more paradoxical is that the very origin of the wounding is itself the source of the healing, which is none other than the deeper psyche. To quote the Delphic Oracle "He who has wounded will also heal."

Our wounds drive us into ourselves, and can genuinely allow us an immediate and intimate contact with our soul. This will only happen, to quote Jungian author Charles Ponce, "if we are capable of receiving it as a numinous event, an archetypal moment that seeks to make us participants in an eternal happening." This involves a complete shift in our level of consciousness, in which we literally snap out of the narcissistic, hypnotic trance of the separate self and realize that we have been merely playing a role in what Jung would call a "divine drama."

When we realize this, boundaries between inner and outer dissolve every-where. We begin to discover the omnipresence and nonlocality of the deeper psyche, which has spilled outside the boundary of our skulls and astonishingly enough expresses itself by incarnating in front of our very eyes, in the form of the events of our life. As Jung has shown, at this point the deeper psyche is experientially no different than the Godessence itself, our own true nature. The entire ordeal is then recognized to be like a dream whose purpose was none other than to initiate us into the deeper mystery of our infinite and unspeakably magical being.

For more articles about dreaming, see