Cargo Cults of the Unconscious Mind

We have all heard of the South Seas islanders who belong to bizarre cargo cults. The cults got started shortly after WW II when the Americans pulled out of their many military bases scattered across the Pacific. It was cheaper to leave large quantities of supplies and gear behind than to transport them home so, as is so often the case with the Americans, they generously donated the materiel to the inhabitants of the islands. Having seen all this abundance arrive in airplanes, but not understanding where it came from, the less sophisticated natives decided they could get more of this cargo (and thus secure eternal peace and happiness) by simply luring passing planes from the sky. All they had to do was clear a rough runway, build a wooden plane for a decoy, and set up some homemade landing lights by making fires lined up in neat parallel rows.

Douglas C-47 Cargo Plane

Not all cargo cults have to do with South Seas islanders and US supply planes. The West has its own peculiar cargo cults. (Image: public domain)

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The Guiding Hand of the Unconscious Mind

Many people who work with, or are simply aware of, the unconscious see this portion of the mind in a reverential way. Jungian psychologist Helen M. Luke called it the “mystery within.” This inner mystery is thought to harbour all sorts of powers, some wonderful, some potentially dangerous. For Luke, one wonderful power was dreams. All her life she assiduously recorded and analyzed her dreams, and used them as a guide. Reading her journals and diaries, we acquire the distinct impression that her dream life meant more to her than her waking one. Luke also venerated the unconscious powers of creation that inspired her writing.

Galahad by George Frederic Watts

The sense of the numinous generated by the unconscious mind can lead us on a great quest for self-discovery and lifelong self-realization. (Photo: Wikimedia)

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