As Above, So Below
Relating to the Inner Beloved

In my experience and study, the awakening relationship with the Inner Beloved can progress through several initial phases. In the first phase, one interacts with the Beloved in a state of ignorance and denial, as presented in The Prisoner and The Jailer. The internal twin of the soul is perceived as a vaguely recognized inconvenience or enemy to be ignored, exploited, manipulated or punished. This self-abusive phase may continue for years without resolution. Artistic expression or holistic counseling may at last break through one's continuing cycles of repression, shame and frustration.

In the second phase, the Inner Beloved emerges as a recognizable and distinct entity. Most typically, one experiences a transformational dream or trance in which a sacrifice of the ego leads to the rise of the Beloved. From this phase, four outcomes are possible.

In the first outcome, the encounter with the Inner Beloved overwhelms the ego, whether or not union occurs. Unable to integrate the experience, the ego protectively shuts out any further contact. Like an idealized one night stand, the encounter becomes a glorious but painful and unresolvable memory.

One may attempt to return to the first phase of ignorance and denial, or compensate by projecting the Beloved onto a external person in an characteristically adolescent way, a response which is popularly known as a mid-life crisis. Since the Inner Beloved has not been nurtured and remains in a state of relative immaturity, the object of this anima or animus projection is often considerably younger than the subject. If the projection is acted on, an often inappropriate and unhealthy love affair may develop. Meanwhile the desire of the Inner Beloved to be a continuing and recognizable presence is squashed, making further psychological difficulties likely.

As Marie-Louise von Franz suggested, "Only the painful (but essentially simple) decision to take one's fantasies and feelings seriously can at this stage prevent a complete stagnation of the inner process of individuation, because only in this way can a man [or woman] discover what this figure means as an inner reality".1

Whatever the specific result, the first outcome is a dead end which prevents further growth. I suspect that this unfortunate condition may occur if the first stage of individuation, the resolution of shadow issues, has not be adequately dealt with. As mentioned earlier, it is best if an appropriate counselor is available to help resolve this process, building a grounded psyche who is mature enough to endure the full and continuing glory of the Inner Beloved.

The second possible outcome is that of exploitation. Whether or not union occurs, the Inner Beloved continues as an abiding and acknowledged presence in the consciousness, but a presence which is only tolerated in the minimum degree possible. In this case, one does not attempt to engage fully with the Beloved, only relating to him or her on whatever superficial level is concomitant with the use of the resources of the unconscious that he or she releases.

This refusal to take the Beloved seriously, but to use the gifts that come with his or her presence, is most typically an artistic response. Just as the stereotypical amoral artist may use her or his lover for the inspiration and material support he or she brings without true regard for the lover's needs and rights as a person, the same artist applies a similarly abusive behaviour to the Inner Beloved. In the long run this is a poor strategy for continuing growth, both in life and in art. Working to build a loving relationship which is intimate, respectful and balanced helps one realize her or his full creative potential. As above, so below.

1. Man and His Symbols, ed. Carl G. Jung et al (New York: Dell, 1964), p. 198.
The Inner Beloved ©2004 David J. Wilson
Updated November 28, 2004
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