Here is an excerpt from a recent paper:
The African culture that Jung saw was a cultural transference fantasy, a reflection of the organizing images within the collective consciousness of the early 20th-century educated European. With regard to individuation, for instance, Jung’s concept is so thoroughly cultural that it all but forecloses the possibility of individuation for people of color, especially in Africa. Individuation is the guiding term in analytical psychology; Jung’s Collected Works can be read as elaborations of that central theme. (Brooke, 2008, p. 39)
I will explore the notion of identity congruency for people of African descent; specifically women, by looking at the Yoruba concept of Ori Ire – “one’s who’s consciousness in aligned with their destiny” and how it compares to Jung’s individuation. I am interested in this topic for two reasons. First, is my personal experience as a mid-life African American woman whose quest for psychological congruence has provided me with a sense of transpersonal development. Secondly, this research seeks to advance the discipline of Africalogy (Bankole, 2006). Africalogy utilizes Afrocentric theory created by Molefi Asante, it serves to unite African diaspora and Black (African-American) studies (Bankole, 2006, pp. 664-665)
My research is significant because it may be the first study of its kind to address the use of the Yoruba concept of orì ire for people who are not devotees of the religion, Ifá. My topic is relevant to transpersonal studies, because it is centered in the application of pycho-spiritual principles. It is practical because the outcome is to create wellness programs for my nonprofit organization, Sankofa Cultural Institute.
Individuation – African Perspectives
In my research, I have come across two examinations of Jung’s theory and how it relates or contrasts with African notions of self, identity, and consciousness. Roger Brooke (2008) is a white South African scholar and author of numerous books and articles on Jung and analytical psychology, psychological assessment, and psychotherapy. Awo Fa’lokun Fatunmbi (1992) is an Ifá high priest and author of several seminal texts on Ifá (Yoruba tradition) and Santeria/Lucumi (its Cuban variation). He is a white American man initiated into the faith in 1985.
As mentioned, the Zulu term Ubuntu is a common awareness found in African communal societies. “Ubuntu is a term that defines what it is to be a person, where being a person is both a given and a task of self-realization” (Brooke, 2008, p. 49). Self-realization from an African humanist perspective is Ubuntu. African humanism, evoked by the term Ubuntu, would imagine individuation as a process of personal growth and transformation within that network of relationships that make such transformation possible and to which the person remains, therefore, ethically indebted. (Brooke, 2008, p. 49) For Jung however, individuation has “an emphasis on the withdrawal of projections…Separate-ness is the key to the process” ((Brooke, 2008, p. 39). Fatunmbi (1992) outlines the Ifá concept of psychology. by discussing several key concepts, including Odù, orì, iporí, orì inú, and orì ibi.
Each of these Yoruba concepts relate to the development of consciousness, psychological congruence, and destiny. Fatunmbi begins with the concept of Odù defined as, “the energy patterns that create consciousness” (p. 16). He states that it is “analogous to what Carl Jung called archetypes of the collective unconscious” (p. 16). Fatunmbi continues,
“Jung believed that there exists a set of primal patterns that form the content of self perception and place the self in relationship to the world. According to Jung, these patterns remain abstract until the unconscious gives them a cultural and personal context”. (p. 17)
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