[NB] More Reflections on Type: Elemental Functions?

I have talked a little here and there about the way in which each of Jung’s core functions (Intuition, Thinking, Feeling, and Sensation) can be mapped onto traditional elemental correspondences, but lately I have been thinking that the better comparison may be the elemental lines within the tree of life diagram. Admittedly, I have been thinking about them an awful lot, but there is a logic there that carries between the two systems and encourages me to think that Jung’s psychological types might flourish better in an occult or magical account of the psyche than in an academic psychology.

If you consider the way in which each person is really two related functional maps, one introverted and the other extroverted, then the diagrammatic possibilities become more clear. The upper elemental diamond reflects the introverted dimension of the functions while the lower elemental diamond reflects the extroverted dimension. Between the two is the embodied personality composed of concrete social experiences and cultural practices which mediates between the two (a typological parallel between the pan of merit and liability, and the articulating tongue between them).

With Keter operating in the diamond of introversion and Malkuth in the diamond of extroversion, there is here a psychical corollary to the implication of Keter in Malkuth and Malkuth in Keter. The way in which the introverted and extroverted faculties operate within the same world but in different registers here reveals another way to consider the two sefirot’s relationship.

That middle region also serves as the point at which the personal work appears in the social milieu, the point at which the products of our personal work appear as cultural products which others can make use of. The middle region is where we are most at risk of losing ourselves to conformity, but also the point at which we are able to share and facilitate the work being undertaken by others. This helps me to appreciate the way in which the middle region is the seat of action, the seat of decision through which the shape of things is given direction.

(I am unwilling to give up responsibility and choice even as I am increasingly convinced that mapping them onto time’s arrow is problematic, not least of which because it seems that time’s arrow is a lot less straight than we might like to believe. Still, there is a way in which we can consider the seat of decision, the inflection of the will, to lie on a plane other than the line of time, such that choice occurs ‘perpendicular’ to linear time.)

I like this account because it allows us to think of the personal dynamics that give birth to spiritual tools and techniques without reducing those tools and techniques to a type. Quite the opposite, in the crossroads of life, the tools we fashion and move beyond, the precipitate of our work, can be the materia that gets taken up and developed by an individual of a different temperament. There is almost something of a metabolism of techniques and tools.

Take for an example the musical “glory, glory hallelujah” which animates both “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “John Brown’s Body.” It forms a musical foundation upon which many songs in the 19th-century United States were constructed. The musical structure forms a kernel of Introverted Sensation, a musical theme that forms a common form of affective experience for its listeners. In turn, that structure allowed individuals to explore rich variations (Extroverted Intuition), each one animated by the religious experience but developing it differently according to the situation the variation was intended to address.

Take the transformation of “John Brown’s Body” into “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as a specific case in point, though, of the reverse movement occurring, too. What begins with the alignment of the abolitionist and Union soldier with the cause of John Brown is subjected to a realignment in “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” God and Christ replace the figure of John Brown, giving the abolitionist vision a more sweeping claim (Extroverted Intuition). That vision, in turn, passes back into the domain of personal affective experience through the medium of the song, back into cultural and personal alignment (Introverted Sensation).

The same things likely happen with singularly magical materials, too. It strikes me as quite likely, for example, that the typological constitution of an individual who composes a grimoire may be a bit different than the individual who seeks out grimoires as a model for their own magical practice. The grimoire itself isn’t ‘typed’ but its structure facilitates the passage of the work from one temperament to another. We can look, too, to the rich forms of Introverted Sensation that often animate ‘traditional’ magical religions and consider the ways in which they give birth to forms of Feeling and Thinking, too. Without trying to type the material, it does become possible to consider the influence on type on its production and reception, of how temperamental relationships come to influence the shape of cultural forms without determining them.

I wonder if it might make sense to talk about the way in which Introversion and Extroversion can also be thought of as vectors for action. Magical action, action to influence the external world, operates along Introversion’s projection to Introversion and initiatic action, action intended to project a magical transformation of the individual by an arrangement of external reality, operates along extroversion’s passage into introversion.

It provides some idea, too, of how we might best use material for ourselves to magical or initiatic effect by appreciating the role played by our personality in serving as the medium for those effects.

More to think about, to be sure. Also, too, an occasion to revisit the geomantic considerations of type that I have made.

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