Monsters of the Ego
Monsters are important. They appear in art to represent us, humans, the dark sides of ourselves we don’t acknowledge, the ugly part in the mirror we neither wish to nor are able to see. This is the same as the Shadow and the Ego, the anti-hero. That is the lesson of every myth and legend and story, to show us the dark and light sides of ourselves. The Hero represents the transformed Ego, or Shadow; these are villainous monsters of mythology and dreams, the dark side of the Ego we let transpire when we ignore the true reflection in the mirror. As we examine the monster within, we heal the psyche, gradually, becoming integrated in Psychoanalytic terms. Integration, healing the psyche, is the outcome of the Hero’s Journey, Joseph Campbell’s seminal idea found in The Hero With a Thousand Faces.
Although I may say challenging things about myself and society in general, the real darkness in our world is our terrible overseers, the people controlling our lives by creating monsters through the Ego, distracting humans from spiritual connection. Social media companies, the rich, addiction peddlers all, they know exactly what they are doing and their ends are malevolent. It is as though being controlled, given Bread and Circuses like the Romans to keep us subdued from finding inner spiritual connections. The only way out is to break free of society’s grand scheme for those of us it has affected and controlled. This occurs by staring at the Shadow, as Carl Jung taught.
The Vampire Slayer, Hunting Monsters Within
When I dressed as a vampire slayer for Halloween, I took the costume very seriously. I wore a shoulder bag with a tree on it filled with cedar oil and oregano oil and stakes and other medicines, with a string of garlic. The guests at the Halloween party remarked that I smelled strongly of various oils, as well as sage. Some extra sage decorated my hair in case purification was required.
I dressed up as a vampire slayer because I see a vampire, a monster of the psyche, within me. A vampire is a monster, the anti-hero, the vampire slayer is the Hero. I mean this objectively, and symbolically. Objectively, means the outside, materialistic world—how the monster manifests in myself, the psyche and physically as we and our world appear. This material world is the world we live in every minute when we are awake and have our eyes open, and also not immersed in thought. The symbolic world is the imagery in artwork, myths, dream worlds, stories, immersed in thought, and anything unconscious that we make up in the quiets of the mind. It is everything involved in creativity. The message of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung to me, are that when the symbolic and objective world is bridged, something is truly true.
We live in a post-truth world, such that nobody believes in objective truth anymore. Artificial intelligence is destroying that, if it ever existed. Few seem to remember symbolic truth, for technology and addiction has destroyed that. This will destroy us, if something else does not first, whether that be artificial intelligence eating up our world, climate change, or the new proliferation of nuclear weapons occurring as we speak, a new Cold War. The United States, for anyone looking in, most certainly appears to be undergoing a breakdown. This could be a problem, since the United States is the one country which has most held the world together since World War 2 ended by wielding its economic and individualist might. A lack of truth is now dividing our bastion of freedom further and further apart. Social media companies and the rich prey off destruction of truth and are reaping the rewards.
Truth in myself can be found by bridging the material and spirit/symbolic worlds. So, I see a symbol in artwork or imagery or poetic words, and then make the connection with something in my life, as well as society–which is a reflection of within.
The vampire represents the Ego. The Ego is the destructive part of ourselves we do not wish to look at, what Carl Jung calls the Shadow, with Joseph Campbell describing it as that which we overcome through the Hero’s Journey. This matters, because the Ego is wreaking havoc in our world. In the United States the Ego is on full display, with our President proudly having an enormous one, for example. The Ego, in technical terms, is selfishness towards others, causing destruction to nature to the detriment of future generations, of eating too much generally or certain types of food, and it wreaks havoc on families and young children through many addictions. It is obsessively hoarding wealth to pass on to children; it is having an abortion; it is obsessively being concerned for one’s legacy in life, churning up our beautiful Earth in the process.
The Earth used to be a Garden of Eden. Look outside and look at what humans have done, what you and I have done through our ridiculously excessive Western standards of living.
A vampire, in myth, sucks the blood from perfectly healthy humans; they suck the lifeblood of the soul of another human being. In so doing, they selfishly prolong their life towards immortality. They seek to be trapped in this material, Mind Prison world as long as possible. Vampires have no soul. Humans have destroyed our souls through the many forms of their selfish Ego. The Ego and the soul, Carl Jung’s Self, are mutually incompatible, and the lacking of one reflects the stronger of the other. A Vampire, in building their Ego, sucks the energy from their Soul.
The Hero’s Journey pattern seen in every myth, religious tradition, and story shows the same thing: that a broken psyche reflects a broken world; the loss of soul as destruction of our minds and bodies. The outcome of the Hero’s Journey is the Hero unifying spirit and matter/Mind, the disconnected parts of the psyche, thus living in the Body. If we are trapped in a Mind Prison, the Ego also feeds off the body by sending pain and suffering that hasn’t been examined, faced like the Shadow. The suffering written in our hearts is written in our daily lives as we shy away from our suffering, and the world writ large through the destruction we see everywhere.
A funny tangent is that, as a red head, South Park reminded me that I had no soul. Interestingly, Eric Cartman even calls gingers vampires, too. I sure hope I can find my soul and prove Cartman wrong.
The Ego’s Destruction of Our World
In Washington State, the Ego has destroyed the Western part of this beautiful state in the last several years near where I live, Gig Harbor, and everywhere around it, the entire Puget Sound. Forests are being chopped down and lot sizes decreased further and further so everyone can build brand new houses that, in the United States, grow ever larger and larger it seems. As our houses grow larger, we spend more and more time inside, more like vampires, with less sun, more sucked into technology and the Matrix.
In the United States, the Ego has grown faster and larger than anywhere else; I saw this starkly every time I would travel and return, a culture shock in becoming reintegrated in my now even stranger home culture. In other countries, the Ego was always less on display; people generally eat far less, Europeans have few children, indigenous cultures and those of poorer countries have far smaller carbon footprints. Who are we, in the United States to criticize others for their effect on climate, when we pollute the skies with gas guzzling cars, have massive carbon footprints, and eat/waste massive quantities of food and drink? And it isn’t one political side more than others; liberals consume our world like hypocrites every bit as much as conservatives are prone to doing.
Why are we all beholden to the Ego? It is some selfish conception that our legacy is important, our wealth is important, our desires are important. In real terms this is the human obsession with accumulating things to pass onto future generations, to their ever further control under the material world. Thus, we pass on our curse, the Ego, rather than teaching children there is another world, an accessible spiritual world.
Mirrors, Technology Screens, Reflections of our Ego
Consumerism makes everyone vampires, monsters. And not to our benefit; to the benefit of the rich. So why do so many Americans willingly engage in it, buying endless junk? The way out, is to face our Shadow, face our Ego that we don’t want to see.
Technology builds our Ego like a mirror does. A computer or smart phone screen looks like a mirror to me.
Algorithms, which rule social media through Google searches, Facebook feeds, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube’s neverending videos now teaching children; they show us only what we want to see. Technology’s many algorithms are symbolically equivalent to a virus, infecting the Mind. Algorithms rule us (Harari, 2018). This is technically how algorithms work, a mirror, because the goal is to keep humans engaged endlessly in the social media engine, app or game or whatever. The easiest way to do this is to feed the Ego, to show us exactly what we want to see, like a mirror does. The lesson: be careful with technology, it’s like playing with fire. Stay immersed too long, and your skin will turn white, like a vampire. Remember, vampires don’t like the sun. Vampires also aren’t reflected in the mirror, because they are so blind to their Ego.
Very soon we may live in the Matrix, immersed in virtual reality or computer, with machines as vampires sucking our souls. This isn’t just saber rattling, but a real outcome of our quest for endless pleasure. Perhaps we already are living in the Matrix.
If only the mirror could show us what we truly were, but the mirror is for vanity, like the algorithm. Even Maleficent, representing the Ego, darkness, asks her Magic Mirror, which could show her anything, she instead selfishly, egocentrically, asks “Magic Mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest, of them all?”
Zombies and Hungry Ghosts
The Ego seeks constant pleasure, since pleasure distracts from darkness residing inside every human mind. By distracting ourselves, we never have to face the darkness within. Sitting in silence, I often have darkness visit me.
The Ego feeds on other humans, like a Zombie, eating endlessly, anything in sight. Humans are the zombies by eating so much food, feeding off nature and minds of others by only talking at them, never listening to; seeking to influence others to my views rather than reinforcing each others truth. Addictions, distractions from internal darkness, ineffective uses of our time, feed off of us, our minds and bodies, causing them to decay in both real and metaphorical terms, as we become shadows of our former selves. That’s why zombies are called the living dead, undead. In so doing, the Ego and our desire to distract from it consumes every part of us. If only we could see our true reflections in the mirror. But the mirror is for vanity, not truth.
The older I get the more I find myself not listening to others, only wanting to talk about my “problems” rather than share the struggles of others. Similarly I have eaten too much food, period. Given large amounts of peer-reviewed scientific research shows our excessive consumption of food is related to shortened lifespan, I am trying to be more conscious about this given people in the United States simply eat way too much, but it’s a hard habit to break, and surprisingly few are willing to even try. Go here to do your own research about this fascinating field of new inquiry. In experimenting on myself I suspect that eating more than we need feeds our Ego, not the body.
If you wish, experiment this on yourself. Skip a meal or two or three, just for a day, and see how your mind clears. In contrast, eat more than you need, and sit with your thoughts, and watch them spiral off and away.
At some point living in my old house, I would sometimes find myself consuming 4-5,000 calories a day, whether I was burning it off or not. Each time I would eat more I would become further and further trapped in my Mind, lost in random thoughts. Sometimes those thoughts were pleasant; most often they were destructively negative, projections and resentments outwards. The more I would eat, the more it seemed I was just feeding my Ego. I have never hit a limit to how much I could eat in one day, leading me to believe there is no limit to eating. In contrast, I wonder if one needs to eat very much at all should the Ego within us be corralled.
Why is the Western world destroying the Earth by buying junk item after junk item, new cars, ever more massive houses, or becoming morbidly obese? A refusal to acknowledge the Ego, our endless desires. We distract ourselves from everyday suffering filled with meaningless lives through the many forms of addiction: alcohol, pornography, technology, cigarettes and various forms of drugs. To desire is be an addict of some form. Gabor Mate (2010) wrote an entire book about the dark parts of ourselves running rampant in the lives of many, manifesting as every addiction. We become hungry ghosts through our addictions, feeding off of others and passing our damaged lives onto children, if only we could see it.
Ghosts haunt us, they linger and drain us. Other forms of ghosts are wraiths or shadows. We, as ghosts with addiction, drain the life of others and particularly our children. Myself, when alcohol or addiction has taken over my life, has created in me a hungry ghost. I would feed off of others by never being present for them, only taking taking taking and rarely giving. In effect a hungry ghost lingers around, consuming the material world like a zombie, ever hungry but contributing nothing, just a ghost. The only way I can hope to stop being one is to face the darkness within.
These two images seem to be Eastern representations of Hungry Ghosts, or the symbolic equivalent.
But we cannot see ourselves as hungry ghosts, only others can. With the world’s addictions and mirrors as forms of vanity showing us only what we wish to see, distracting us from the dark sides of how we treat our bodies and treat others, it is no wonder.
Real Damage From the Ego, My Vampire Taking Life
Carl Jung conceptualizes sin as a secret, some darkness within that we hide. In facing my Ego, Shadow, I too must confess my sins. In confessing my sins in a permanent way, through the internet, my personal Cross becomes a little easier to bear, with less guilt.
In 2012 I made decisions which got my then-girlfriend pregnant. The decision was to not use adequate sexual protection, and moreso to engage in sexual intercourse at all when I knew I did not intend to have or raise a child at that point. I was selfish and indecisive in failing to support her that we keep the child. Although I weighed in, I ultimately remained a passive, indecisive person. In this way I lacked responsibility even further and was beholden to my Ego, my selfish desires for my life. In so doing she was influenced more by other voices, and the child was aborted. I bear this responsibility for taking life the rest of my days. The woman too regrets taking life too, to the best of my knowledge. Having an abortion is not as benign a decision as it is often portrayed to be.
In having made that decision I can only atone by stating this darkness within, this sin. The Democratic party seems to minimize the abortion as having any psychological after-effects. My experience is that it weighs heavily as a moral injury on myself and likely at least some other men, and it may do so for some woman, too. This difference in morality, how abortion is viewed, lies at the heart of much of the United States’ divisions. Although there is much to say critically about the Republican Party which I would agree with, the pot is still calling the kettle black. Having experienced it in my own way, I feel there should be a more open conversation about the very real negatives related to it.
Having made this decision, I can only hope and encourage that others do not make this decision, or think it a minor one to be shrugged off easily down the road. If you are a young man, the best outcome is to simply not engage in sexual intercourse until you are ready to bear that responsibility of raising a child. Perhaps, it is better to stop engaging in sexual intercourse, period. I wish I had made that more responsible decision back then rather than listening to hormones.
In confessing this very dark sin of my life, I hope to slay my vampire just a little more by facing my Shadow, by staring at the true reflection in the mirror; which us vampires can hardly see.
Guilt vs. Pascal’s Wager
In closing, I often wonder if I have a guilt-complex, but I do not mean to. I am seeking rather to admit my wrongs in order to let the guilt down, so it becomes a lesson for the future rather than a burden of the past, a means to live in the present. My forms of guilt and regret have weighed me down my entire life, because I did not look at it, like the shadow. As well, some part of me wonders whether we will be judged in whatever comes after this. Psilocybin and the Hero’s Journey has taught me to face my darkness, confess my sins, to prepare for what comes after—for both have taught me that something does come after.
The question of life is Pascal’s Wager: if we live an immoral life, we gamble with judgement day. If judgement day does not exist, nothing we do matters. If it does exist, we each will have to reckon with our decisions. Psychedelics, Jung, and the Hero’s Journey, for those of us without spiritual connections, have taught me that there is something after, that my consciousness will return back to something. And so I am starting to reckon with my past publicly and permanently as we must all do in our own way, hopefully before we die. These concepts have taught me to begin facing my fears, my demons.
In writing all of this, in retrospect, I am not a good judge of who or what constitutes a monster or undead. The best thing any of us, and me most of all, can do, is to treat each other with love and trust rather than hate or fear. This is the greatest lesson I can take from my failures in life.
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Campbell, J. (2008). The hero with a thousand faces. Novato, CA: New World Publications.
Harari, Y. N. (2018). 21 lessons for the 21st century. Spiegel & Grau.
Jung, C. G. (2008). Modern man in search of his soul. Harcourt Brace.
Mate, G. (2010). In the realm of hungry ghosts: Close encounters with addiction. North Atlantic Books.