In an article entitled Why Wicca Is Not Celtic I found some interesting comments about Jungian influence in Wiccan Spirituality.
What allows the practicioners of Wicca to put elements from various religions together is the modernist ideology that has at it’s root the Jungian concept of archetypes. Wiccans tend to work heavily in the idea of archetypes — “All goddesses are the face of the Goddess”. They focus on the traits which various deities share, much the same way a Jungian would focus on the shared traits of heros in a Jungian analysis. Wiccans also speak heavily on the subject of masculine and feminine dualities (anima and animus), which are central to Jungian theories of personality. Some Wiccans focus on claiming the shadow side, or “dark” side of individuals, which is a straight lift from Jungian theory.
The concepts that are traditionallay part of Celtic religions reject this type of analysis and state that the Gods are individuals. Furthermore, as stated, traditional Celtic beliefs hold that the Gods are tied to the people by a familial links. As an example, while a Gaelic Traditionalist might agree that your mom and their mom (or your tribe’s Mother Goddess and their tribe’s Mother Goddess) share some traits by virtue of both people being moms, it is a mistake to say that just because both people are moms, they are interchangeable. To the perspective of a Gael, the basic fallacy of extending Jungian analysis to far is this your mom isn’t their mom, no matter how mom-like both people are. Needless to say, one can’t hold an archetype relationship to either the God or the Goddess and a direct and intimate personal relationship to your people’s gods at the same time. The two ideas contradict each other.
As I agree with this critique in many respects I am also prompted to cast a Jungian eye towards Christianity.
I believe the influence of Jung in contemporary spirituality is profound and if Christians seek to incarnate into this milieu we need to be able to communicate in Jungian terms. A lot of work has been done on the hero with a thousand faces but what about other architypes? How do we understand these from a Christian perspective? And how does that potentially interact with Christian understandings of dreams, that altered state of consciousness we are most familiar with?
At the same time I think this article should also prompt Christians to consider the hazards of cherry picking from Celtic Christianity, something that seems quite common within the alternate worship and new monasticism movements. In forging new approaches to Christianity spirituality and Christian meditation we need to appreciate that ecclectic appropriation may not be appreciated by the heirs of ancient traditions.