Archetypal Polytheism 

James Hillman

October 27, 2015 / by Todd

The word “archetypal”…has no descriptive function…Rather than pointing AT something, “archetypal” points TO something, and this is value.  By attaching “archetypal” to an image, we ennoble or empower the image with the widest, richest, and deepest possible significance.

James Hillman, “Inquiry into Image”

The Gods are taken…as foundations, so that psychology points beyond soul and can never be merely agnostic.  The sacred and sacrificial dimension…is given a place of main value.  And, in truth, it is precisely because of the appeal to the Gods that value enters the psychological field…giving personal acts more than personal significance.  The Gods are therefore the Gods of religion and not mere nomina, categories, devices ex machina.  They are respected as powers and persons and creators of value.

James Hillman, “Polytheistic Psychology and Religion” in Archetypal Psychology

By setting up a universe which tends to hold everything we do, see, and say in the sway of its cosmos, an archetype is best comparable with a god.

James Hillman, “Re-Visioning”

The Gods are places, and myths make place for psychic events that in an only human world become pathological.  By offering shelter and altar, the Gods can order and make intelligible the entire phenomenal world of nature and human consciousness.

James Hillman, “Polytheistic Psychology and Religion” in Archetypal Psychology

The “worst” images are thus the best, for they are the ones that restore a figure to its pristine power as a numinous person at work in the soul.

James Hillman, “Re-Visioning”


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