The Archetype of You:
Henry Corbin and Your Celestial Twin
Reflections by C. Michael Smith, Ph.D.
When someone says they have found their god, they are also referring to their own Archetype.
It is the Face of God within you that is your numinous and beautifully patterned Essence, the Issuer of Inivitations, the Lure of Becoming, within your own heart.
You can think of the Archetype of You as the Angel of your being, your Guardian and inspiring Muse, Your Double, as well as your true ground-plan, Daimon, and individual paradigm that you are meant to use like a blueprint for building your home.
Henry Corbin, the great Islamic mystical scholar who influenced James Hillman,
placed the abode of the Angel of your being within your heart, and spoke of the method of ta’wil, which leads you back to your own Archetype, your own Angel.
Jean Houston called the Archetype of You, your Entelechy Self, placing it in the non-local implicate order of reality posited by quantum physicist David Bohm. She said the purpose of your life is to place your local everyday self [she calls it the local Exotype] in service of the Entelechy Self [Your non-local Archetype]. C.G. Jung also pointed to this aspect of the Self, some 70+ years ago, calling it the numinous “entelechy of the Self,” –in CW 12, par 248
While I will be using the language of The Archetype of You, (or Your own Archetype) your personal Angel is known by other names: Your God, Your Daimon, Your Muse, Your Spirit Guide or Totem, and C.G. Jung gets at it with his concept of the Archetype of the Self. I may use any of this language, but my underlying focus, here, will be about the Archetype of You, and its personified form as Your Angel of being and becoming.
Corbin was influenced by Jung, but only slightly. He liked Jung’s
language. Yet he had direct mystical experience, and studied the mystical texts of the Islamic mystical philosophers, as well as the Sufis, and other Abrahamic traditions. Jung’s concept of the archetype of the Self implies transcendent Selfhood, but Jung often was unclear and emphasized the horizontal, immanent aspects, so that it seems all contents and functions of the Self have to do with depth psychology, and Corbin’s work is metaphorical, theological, and mystical, and the vertical dimension, the connection with the divine Reality through Your Angel is the central axis of life. Wholeness must include integrate with the vertical dimension, your everyday local Self, and your Sacred Self, the Archetype of You, which itself is a creative individual manifestation of God for your life. When I use the language of the Archetype of You, the Corbinian range of meanings are included along with the Jungian.
I stand in the archetypal tradition, explicated by Jung, Corbin, and to a degree, James Hillman.
Here are some of the basic features:
We each have an individual Angel, a term for the Archetype of You. It is a transpersonal, ontological, and metaphysical being seeking to guide, inspire and manifest in your life and work and becoming. It takes an interest in our lives and demands that it be recognized, especially by its earthly twin.
This Angel, who dwells in and is always out ahead of you, luring you forth on your heart path. It is inside you, but when you enter into relationship with it, you can experience yourself as inside of it, as an inexhaustibly larger Self.
The Archetype of You is not only your individual Angel, it is your celestial counterpart. This corresponds to Jung’s term syzygy, which means your dyad partner in life, your higher Self, your Celestial
Angel, Celestial Twin, Spirit Twin, Double, Guardian, all personifications of the Archetype of You
Twin, Your Double, Your Archetype in Heaven. It can be seen in visionary states, and it can be dialogued with in Active Imagination or shamanic journeying, and entheogenic states, and in holotropic type breathwork.
Individuation is not only horizontal-psychological and social development and differentiation, and integration, it is also metaphysical, where wholeness also means integration with the transcendent world of spirit or mundus imaginalis (alam-al-mithal). It is a rising up from lower states of consciousness and selfhood and being, a transcendence of the dominance or lordship of the ego, and embracing more profound and spiritual planes and dimensions of selfhood.
Loss of the Sacred in our time, and the nihilism, meaninglessness, purposelessness, materialism, greed, addictions, idolatries, and despair are results of losing connection and relationship with the Archetype of You. Corbin writes:
“Each of us has to recognize his [her] God, the one in which he [she] is able respond. The Angel is the Face that our God takes for us and each of us finds his God only when he recognizes that Face.”
-Preface, D. Miller, The New Polytheism.
Without the help of Your Archetype, individuation is not possible. It is your lure of becoming, always out ahead of you, inspiring and guiding you as you stand in the situation you are in now.
It is crucial to understand that it is not simply you, the local self, who is individuating. It is your Angel, Your Archetype who is also individuating, each with a different but complementary purposes. It is good to ask, what does my Angel want from me??
The answer to “What does my Angel want from me” is, for Corbin and the great Sufi masters, is that it wants to do its job of inspiring, guiding, and helping you manifest itself in and through your local life and living. It wants to do what it does best, what it is designed to do, just like you do. It is the transcendent person who provides you with a true orientation and
Wing-crowned Hermes, ready for flights of imagination beyond the local order
destiny, who calls you to live it as your essence. It wants your true individuation. It beckons to your with what James Hillman called “pothos” that form of Eros which is yearning. It is out ahead of you drawing your towards it as your individual Omega-point (Teilhard), as your Lure of becoming (Whitehead). Corbin puts it beautifully in the languaging of the relationship of the soul and its Guide (local self and its Archetype):
“…the soul cannot emerge from this cosmos without its Guide, and reciprocally, the Guide needs the soul in order to perform its service. Tobias and the Angel are here committed to the destiny of one and the same pilgrimage.”
-Cited in Tom Cheetham, All the World an Icon: Henry Corbin and the Angelic Function of Beings
My Commentary: The epiphanies of Your Archetype correspond to the degrees of readiness you have. The Archetype of You is your Guide and Muse, it needs you to perform its service, just as you need it to embody and live your destiny.
Each time you connect or dialogue with it, your consciousness is increased, your sense of selfhood expanded or deepened. Each time you merge with it, the self that emerges afterward is increased and is a truer, more complete self. Your everyday local self is changed each time it merges or unites with Your Archetype..
The process of mutual individuation is real a kind of dance, with your local self dancing around the axis mundi of your Celestial Self. In this dance there are stages along the way. One must, like Dante pass through Hell and Purgatory in order not to be pulled down and out of the rooting in the Celestial Selfhood. While this dance is an ongoing process that is never finished (at least as long as you are alive), a sacred marriage with your Celestial Twin is possible, as the true mystics and alchemists of the world recount.
There are clues to finding and connecting with your Archetype: What do you deeply yearn for? What, when and where do you find magnificent beauty in life? When do you feel in your element, and doing what? You can also notice what your own Archetype won’t let you do, even when you tried.
Corbin, again and again tells us that your Angel will reveal itself, by an epiphany, according to the degree of readiness that you have for it.
God, is the Imagination. We live in the Divine Imagination and are ourselves Imagining aspects of it, and the same is True of Your Archetype. Your Angel is imagining and revealing itself through your imagination.
The Divine Artist is at work in us all, and we are all in some sense Artists of the Divine Spirit. Tom Cheetham says of Corbin” “We exist and have our being within the Divine Imagination, wholly immersed in, forever filled with, and ourselves constituted by, the images, the theophanies of creation.” The artist moves into the Celestial Realm, the mundus imaginalis, the non-local dimension of Spirit, accesses his or her Angel,and crystalizes the vision of it in the art work or human project. The vision is what I call the Invitations, and the Angel is the Issuer of Invitations. It speaks through imagination, but also through the body, emotions, felt-senses and NGS of our local selves.
The NGS is my shorthand for the Navigational System through which your Archetype whispers to you, in image, in numinous feeling, in emotional conflicts and physical complaints when you aren’t listening to the subtler movements in your heart and imagination. It also speaks to you through synchronicities, events in the outer world that coincide with its inner guidance and inspiration. My writings of the Four Acts of Power offer a technique for embodying or enacting these invitations (visionary crystalizations, or epiphanies). Knowing that Your Archetype speaks through any or all of these dimensions of your being, means you always have direct pointers back to your source and ground of being, in any situation, which you understand how the NGS works. Your god is in your heart.
We can think of Hillman’s magnum opus, The Soul’s Code, as all about living the Archetype of You, which he equates with the Daimon, the Genius of Each Individual, the guardian Angel, the Totem animal and so on. Hillman stresses the ways that this transpersonal or archetypal power calls us onto a certain path and manner of living. We do best to recognize the call, get our lives aligned with it, including clarify what we must do, be, and have to fulfill our destiny in this life. This is for me, another name for ‘the path of the heart,” and Hillman clearly sees the relationship to the Daimon as an Archetypal Image (or Angel) that dwell in the heart, takes an interest in your life, evokes your desire and passions toward certain particular things. However it also says “No,” and won’t let you do just what you want either. My concept of the NGS and its functioning through the body, emotions, felt-sense, and heart as concentrically nested levels of navigational equipment speaks directly to the function of the Archetype of You guiding you day by day, moment by moment through Yes and No. We need to give more attention to the somatic and felt underbelly of the Images, because the images arise in a matrix of felt experience, and themselves arouse and intensify bodily feeling.
About the author:
C. Michael Smith, Ph.D, author of JUNG AND SHAMANISM IN DIALOGUE, is a clinical psychologist and Jungian scholar. He is also a visionary life-mentor, And is director of Crows Nest Centers for Shamanic Studies International, with communities in SW Michigan, France, Belgium, and South Africa. This article is drawn from his research on the forthcoming book and online series: THE ARCHETYPE OF YOU: Living n Inspired Life.