Unrequited Passion

In analysis it is so easy to come to harsh or unfair judgements without considering the whole picture, or indeed knowing all the facts. Worse, unrecognized bias, untempered emotion, unconscious repression and culturally implicit prejudice will taint even the most careful investigations. Misguided analysis leads to condemning the innocent, thus making the judge into the true criminal.

In the story of the prisoner, I recounted how in fantasy I experienced the feminine as my enemy, the cause of my problems. In a semi-conscious way, I tried to deny that she existed and almost convinced myself that it was so. I persecuted her, even as I felt ashamed to do so. What compulsion brought her into my consciousness, was she a seductive demon? What need did I have for any other spiritual influence but what I perceived was from God?

Prayer could not long dismiss her, or save me from the compulsion to visit her. Surely this fantasy of the feminine was not from God, and she seemed to be beyond his direct control or mine. She must be an inconsequential image, a meaningless relic from my wounded past, but what made her so attractive? Surely I was responsible for the workings of my conscious mind and should be able to control it. But no matter what I did to her, her image kept coming back. It was as if this "she", this quirk of the mind, had its own autonomous existence - and even more unlikely, it was as if this "she" really loved me.

In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers discuss how the Persian Muslim tradition differs from the Christian in its perspective on Satan. In the traditional Christian understanding, Satan was condemned to hell for his egotism. But in this Muslim view, "Satan was condemned to hell because he loved God so much... he could not bow to man because of his love for God - he could bow only to God... and then God says, 'Get out of my sight.' Now, the worst of the pains of hell, insofar as hell has been described, is the absence of the Beloved, which is God. So how does Satan sustain the situation in hell? By the memory of the echo of God's voice, when God said, 'Go to hell.' That is a great sign of love."1

However it was that Satan came to be in hell, we see him represented as the archetypical adversary of God and God's works, bitter in his separation. But as for the feminine phantom in my soul, her only desire was to be with me: if that was her sin then it seemed to be her only one. Instead I, the one who judged her, in trying to suppress my companion shadow became guilty of much more.


1. Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth (New York: Broadway Books, 1988), p. 204.
The Inner Beloved ©2004 David J. Wilson
Updated November 6, 2004
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