How we encounter the split-off shadows and reach the depth of anima-animus and
eventual integration and individuation becomes a spiritual journey for most of us who
recognize the need to reach some form of reconciliation and at-one-ment with our Higher
Self. The two pictures above by Robert M Place from the Alchemical Tarot show two
distinct ways of encountering the dilemma of reconciliation of opposites. Like all
alchemical processes, the coniunctio entails innumerable lesser and greater stages.
While we go through the psychological stages of nigredo and albedo, we often coagulate
into a new level of awareness where we find ourselves unconsciously repeating old
behavioral patterns. This is usually the state that the lion devouring the eagle symbolizes,
which represents a lesser coniunctio at the instinctual level. But most people are satisfied
with this kind of pattern in their lives and remain at this level, their egos safely in control
(and blocking energies from the higher chakras).
Raising our awareness level requires at every stage an ever increasing recognition and
acceptance of the darker energies we all carry within. One image of resolution is not
necessarily better than the other. It just depends on where we are in our spiritual
journey. Identifying without conscious awareness with one side of a pair of opposites and
projecting the other side to someone or something outside of ourselves is commonplace
and a most normal way to operate in the world.
There comes a time when this process must come to the surface, must filter out and lift
itself to the top of the alchemical vessel like the red rose in the picture to achieve a state
of rubedo, of conscious intention that recognizes the one-ness of nonduality and signals a
new psychological approach to the challenges of life.