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Black, R.A. (1978). Implications of Jung's Prefiguration of Priestesses. J. Anal. Psychol., 23(2):149-160.

(1978). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 23(2):149-160

Implications of Jung's Prefiguration of Priestesses

Ronald A. Black, Ph.D.

RECENTLY THE DECISION was made by the Anglican hierarchy in America to permit the ordination of women as priests. This step was not only consonant with, but actually prefigured by, Jung's perception that the Christian Church has always been seeking the addition of a fourth element to make the unstable Trinity into a solid quaternity. It is true that this step was taken only in the Anglican Church in America and India, and has not even been accepted by the British bishops. Furthermore, the Pope has altogether rejected the proposal for the Roman Catholic Church. Nevertheless, for reasons clearly outlined by Jung, there would seem only one inexorable conclusion, which in turn suggests some further forecasts.

To those who, over the years, have objected to the lack of ‘empirical verification’ of some concepts in Jung's psychology, the moves already made by the Anglican Church might serve as one more example of Jung's grounding in empirical reality. When an abstract analysis (hypothesis or theory), predicts complex action or behaviour, and that behaviour takes place, empirical verification of the hypothesis or theory has occurred. Jung spoke of metaphysical events and symbols as well as the tensions, the pent-up energy these events were collecting. Speaking psychologically, he discussed theological events and images that were pale abstractions, which have since shattered theological boundaries, and have burst forth, to be actualised in everyday affairs. The movement that Jung foresaw is still continuing in the struggle for complete acceptance of the ordination of women priests.

Whatever the ultimate fate of the women's rights movement in the United States, especially towards changing male thinking, and attitudes, Jung's psychology warns that the ordination of women as priests is not a light step. Indeed, Jung's whole attitude toward women gave advance warming that the ‘equal rights movement’ would come, and that it would be an equilibrating movement by the collective unconscious of Western civilisation. Jung personally helped to elevate women's self-esteem by helping them to actualise the self.

Jung was not patronising. He made it clear to women, patients and analysts alike, that they could be, or become, tough enough to do anything they needed to do.

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