The proverbial Holy Grail of human discovery, human curiosity, the history of human consciousness, has taken many forms, transcending primitive myth, spirituality, religion, philosophy, and modern science.
Genealogy and working the family tree for transgenerational integration can be particularly valuable form of discovery for finding meaning in the second half of life. Like Jung's method being true to who you are carries an innate healing function, especially for uprooted lives divorced from nature.
The tree creates a sacred and ritual space. Jung defines unconscious in a way that can relate to our experience of the Family Tree and ancestors:
Unconscious: "the sum total of autonomous contents. Each of those contents has a consciousness in itself."
Consciousness: "An association of things with an ego center."
"Wherever there is such a center, there is consciousness. Therefore what we call the unconscious could be a form of consciousness." (Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 154.)
Longing for Belonging
Through this consciously created act, we descend into the unconscious where we are no longer separated or single. Our tree is a conscious representation of an approximation to totality -- the truth of our nature. The living totality is represented by our embodied self as a living riddle of nature. We are our own representation of the way we came into being.
While it isn't possible to establish a conscious relationship with the archetypal natural self, we can have one that extends toward the realm of the transcendent through our family tree and reconciling the hidden pieces of our lives. We come to terms with our lives when we realize what happened to our own, not just what we may have believed.
The collective unconscious is comprised of the psychic life of our ancestors right back to the earliest beginnings. Our inheritance consists in physiological paths -- mental processes in our ancestors that traced these paths. It matters because we matter as the psychophysical expression of all those who came before us.
We continue to embody them. Thus, the ancestors are personal, collective, and present. They are available to our search for spiritual sustenance as well as family history. If the collective unconscious is a summary of experiences of our ancient ancestors, we all possess specifics of humankind's knowledge from birth. As we realize it, it becomes conscious.
Symbols, images and archetypes are the language of the soul, of the collective unconscious -- perceptions of supra-normal comprehension. Thus, we gain knowledge of, and participate in, the domains of matter (senses), mind (reason; language), soul (feeling; nonordinary states), and spirit (intuition; silence; gnosis).
Collective unconscious influences every aspect of our life, especially the emotional ones. The reflection of the collective unconscious in our family tree helps us consciously see and study collective unconscious, its patterns and ways of influence. Psyche is a unity of three parts: ego, personal unconscious and collective unconscious, a summary of experiences of our ancient ancestors.
The unconscious is the Holy Grail of consciousness, the supreme value of life, which we find when we truly realize ourselves, joining the family of the Grail. In the family tree we find the presence of the most ancient symbolic appearance of the Grail itself -- the illuminated heart. The soul takes flesh and descends...the hidden gate through which all creation moves.
The youth does not know what the Grail is, but he remarks that as they walk, he seems scarcely to move, yet seems to travel far. Gurnemanz says that in this realm, time becomes space (Wagner, "Zum Raum wird hier die Zeit").
Robert Johnson says, “The object of life is not happiness, but to serve God or the Grail.” That is, we serve not our materialistic questing ego, but our inner spirituality. Here we integrate the mother, the father, and the inner masculine/feminine connection to life that brings us to our personal Grail of spirituality. It may appear as our personal spiritual quest, but, in fact, is a shared journey.
The ancestors, the gods, and the Grail were always there in our Tree, which we bring to completion when we finally bring ourselves to it, fully. Here, we serve ourselves, the ancestors, and the gods as revealed in our own family tree. It is our own matter that forms the elements of the Grail tradition, the present embodiment of past times.
We can, therefore, in our genealogical quest, do as Meister Eckhart suggests: “Start with yourself therefore and take leave of yourself. If you do not depart from yourself, then wherever you take refuge, you will find obstacles and unrest, wherever it may be.” He also said, “We are all Mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born." We all carry that spirit and seek the inner reality of the Grail behind the symbols and stories.
We depart from ourselves following the paths of our descent back up into the heights and roots of our Tree. Crossing that threshold we begin our Genealogical Journey. Our two branches become four, the four branches become eight, the eight, sixteen great-grandparents, and so on.
Jung left the "Spirit of the Times" to enter the "Spirit of the Depths," where he met ancestors and spirits of the dead and resumed a dialogue with his soul.
Go where we went and you will know why.