Wetiko: Healing the Mind-Virus That Plagues Our World

Epilogue from the book by Paul Levy

4th March 2023

Epilogue from Wetiko: Healing the Mind-Virus That Plagues Our World by Paul Levy

In times of great social and political upheaval such as we see in the world today, whatever has been suppressed by the prevailing agreed upon attitudes builds up in—and disturbs—the collective unconscious, accumulating enormous energy that needs to be channeled somewhere. If these contents of the activated unconscious remain suppressed, however, there is a great danger that the unconscious will get into the driver’s seat of our vehicle. There it will, so to speak—destructively, instead of constructively—act out in the world what has been blocked from healthy expression and thereby rendered unconscious. Then we will be truly dreaming a nightmare, as we see in the converging world crises that are engulfing us at this current moment in history.

Oftentimes humanity is not saved from a crisis by the products of our conscious intellect, but rather the saving grace comes from something being revealed to us that emerges unexpectedly as a result of the crisis. Revelations—which can be likened to timeless treasures waiting to be discovered in time—come in many forms and in many ways. Sometimes they first emerge seemingly outside of ourselves through—or are triggered by—some external event in the world like the coronavirus outbreak. Ultimately speaking, however, the deepest revelation is something that lies hidden within the nature of our soul awaiting discovery. We have to reveal it out of and from within ourselves, which is a self-sanctifying act needing no outside validation.

Awakening Treasures

There are treasures buried within us, concealed within our unconscious. These hidden gems are like precious jewels or diamonds in the rough that are encoded within the fabric of the unconscious psyche. They can be conceived of as existing in a higher dimension relative to our conscious mind, and as such, are typically invisible to our intellect. These treasures, having lain buried and dormant in the collective unconscious of our species from time immemorial, are typically awakened in times of great need and duress.

When the time is ripe, our intuition—due to its connection to our unconscious—divines and begins to “see” the heretofore formless revelation that is gestating in the alchemical cauldron of the unconscious. Our task then becomes how to bring forth and creatively express the revelation in a form that helps it come to fruition as we realize it more clearly within ourselves.

The potential revelation can be conceived of as an innovative force of nature alive in the unconscious. This force is thirsting to incarnate both within our minds and into our world. As if a living entity gestating in the womb of the collective unconscious of humanity, this soon to be revelation will draft a suitably creative person—someone who is sensitive to and resonates with the potential revelation—to become the instrument through which the newborn revelation clothes itself. In this, it takes on a particular individualized form and enters into our third-dimensional world.

Our spirit, the sentient presence that animates us, is by its very nature creative. The very center of our being is an unknown creative energy that forges us in its likeness, one way or another (with our cooperation or not). As human beings we are a creative force thirsting for conscious realization. Our creativity isn’t as a mere hobby, a sideline, something that we should just indulge in on our days off. The creative spirit is an essential part of our being, the life-giving oxygen for our soul. Creative expression is not merely the embellishment of the forms of life, but the very dynamic of the life force itself taking new forms. The mysterious secret of our being can only be realized via participating in the creative act itself. Knowing is an act of creation in itself; if we want to know creativity, we have to be creative. There are no holy scriptures for this creative activity—we are left to our own devices. Being creative means to partake in our innate godlike spiritual freedom.

We can conceive of the creative instinct as a timeless, living impulse implanted in the human psyche that moves through the generations. The inspired individual participates within their own soul in the same creative process that takes place outside of themselves in nature. The creative person follows an unknown directive, a higher authority, what Jung would call the Self, the wholeness and guiding force of the deeper personality. People who are inspired by the creative spirit are oriented toward the invisible, toward a mysterious something that wants to become visible and reveal itself. The creative artist is giving utterance to the authentic and direct revelation of the numinosum, which raises their function to the level of the sacred. “The creative principle,” Erich Neumann writes, is typically venerated “as the hidden treasure that in humble form conceals [and, I might add, simultaneously reveals] a fragment of the godhead.”

Listening to the Voice Inside

Wetiko is a “daemonic” energy, which is to say it is a transpersonal energy—beyond the merely personal—that can take over a person (or a group of people). The “daemon” can be envisioned as an indwelling force that can’t be nailed down because of its nomadic nature, taking up residence in those who are receptive to its call. Etymologically speaking, the inner meaning of the word daemon is our guiding spirit, inner voice, internal teacher, muse, spiritual ally, wish-fulfilling genie, and genius. The daemon connects us with our calling, and helps us find our vocation, our mission in life, why we are here on the planet.

The original meaning of the word vocation has to do with being addressed by a voice. In listening to our inner voice—what Jung calls “the voice of the inner man”—we are at the same time given the sacred responsibility to outwardly speak in the world the voice that is uniquely ours to speak—our true authentic voice. The paradox is that in speaking the voice that is most our own, this voice does not belong to us. Rather it is the voice of all of humanity that resounds in us. The truly creative person, be they poet, writer, dancer, or painter, for instance, is that courageous someone, Jung writes, “voicing aloud what others only dream.” In other words, a creative person gives living form to something that exists in the formless and seemingly insubstantial ethers.

The demonic is the creative in statu nascendi, “not yet realized,” or “made real” by a conscious ego. This is to say that hidden encoded within the darkness of wetiko is our unexpressed creativity. When the creativity that naturally bubbles forth within us is suppressed, however, it feeds the poisonous aspect of wetiko. The malady that our species is collectively suffering from is, in essence, the fact that we are not connecting with, mobilizing, and expressing our creative nature. Once our creativity is repressed, the daemonic aspect of wetiko becomes demonic, our creativity turns back on itself and manifests destructively—be it within ourselves or out in the world.

To have eyes and not see—to be blind—is an unmistakable symptom of an occlusion to the call of the creative spirit. The figure of the artist is the one who opens humanity’s eyes, teaching us how to see. The black-hole aspect of wetiko is a creativity-destroyer by its very nature, so we need to generate and mobilize as much ingenuity as possible in order to contend with it. Paradoxically, wetiko both spurns and spurs our creative impulses. The blazing fire of a soul set aflame with its own destiny, burning with the passion of following its deeper calling, fulfilling its mission in life, puts a stake through the heart of the inner vampiric figure of wetiko. The more we pursue what we love, what gives meaning to our lives, the more we allow our creative nature to express itself and the more we “kill” the inner figure of wetiko.

Revelation is not something that the conscious ego could have invented by itself, but can only organically arise out of the tension between a stable consciousness and a charged unconscious. To consciously endure this innate creative tension necessarily involves a state of suffering. Describing the creative individual, Neumann writes, “Only by suffering, perhaps unconsciously, under the poverty of his culture and his time can he arrive at the freshly opening source which is destined to quench the thirst of his time.”

In our own individual suffering of the daemonic energies that pervade and make up the collective unconscious, the spirit within us intimately experiences the profound depths of the woundedness of the collectivity and the time in which we live. Spiritual practitioners and true artists are able to find within their own subjective experience, however, a unique and utterly original response to their wound. As if organs of the collective body politic of humanity, sensitive, spiritually attuned, and creative people are the alchemical retorts in which the poisons, the antidotes, and the psycho-spiritual medicines for the collective are distilled.

The Healing Power of the Creative Spirit

It is no badge of honor or measure of sanity to adapt to a world gone mad. Instead of trying to adapt to the world’s insanity, a person who is awakening remains open to the world—and open to their wounds—such that a regenerative and curative power arises from within their own dark depths in response. This healing power is the creative spirit. The creative impulse is simultaneously an individual and collective phenomenon, which is to say that when any of us becomes a channel for this spirit, it serves all of us.

A creative person’s healing power lies in their willingness to not cling to fixed ideas—of who they are or of the world at large—but to allow themselves to be shaped and informed by new experiences of the world. Then, in turn, they are able to translate and craft these experiences into novel “art”-iculations. This involves a receptivity to authentically and imaginatively respond to the reciprocal interactions and continual collisions—with the inevitable wounding—between ourselves and the world. The litmus test for our creativity is our inspired response—or lack thereof—to these experiences.

The hidden treasure, the great revelation that is hidden within our unconscious—also referred mythically as “The Treasure Hard to Attain”—is the creative spirit itself. When tapped into, this spirit is a seemingly inexhaustible source of inspiration within us that issues forth a stream of revelations like a spring bubbling upward from the depths of our unconscious. This living current—our greatest resource—helps us to connect with our source. Whenever it manifests, this vital spirit appears as a revelation in which we are participating as the instrument through which it incarnates in time and space. Our creativity transforms the world so as to find our place in it. To quote philosopher Martin Heidegger, “A work of art is something new in the world that changes the world to allow itself to exist.”

Our species is desperately in need of the guidance and aid of the boundless creative forces latent within the depths of our unconscious to help us find new ways to resolve the myriad interwoven aspects of our multiple world crises. Creative expression is the zero point at which consciousness and the unconscious momentarily become a generative unity. Only at the point in which the stream of unbridled inspiration emerges from the darkness of the unconscious and enters the light of consciousness, and is thus both at once—darkness and light—is the creative spirit made real in time. As resourceful individuals, it is our job to harness the raw impulses arising from the depths of the unconscious into a form that serves our world. This “creative point,” to again quote Neumann, is “the buried treasure which is the water of life, immortality, fertility, and the after-life all rolled into one.”

It is not the conscious ego that will change the world, but rather, sufficient numbers of people who develop a relationship within themselves between their conscious and unconscious parts who then connect with one another—deepening each other’s inspiration in the process. As long as we remain unaware of the contents of our unconscious—therefore not being able to be the conscious architects of our inner landscape—our ability to transform the outer world will be limited.

Given that our widespread systemic crises are the result of a deficiency in human consciousness, it becomes obvious that it is only through an expansion of consciousness that we will be able to navigate the tight passage before us. Consciousness can evolve and develop, however, only where it preserves and cultivates a living connection with the creative powers of the unconscious. Just as our view of the world is a decisive factor in shaping the unconscious, the forces activated in the unconscious reciprocally transform our conscious perspectives. In its collective archetypal dimension the unconscious contains the wisdom and experience of untold ages and could serve as a guide par excellence for us during these troubled times.

Certain individuals gifted with particularly strong intuition sense the moving currents taking place in the collective unconscious and are able to translate these changes into communicable language (verbal and/or nonverbal). These original expressions can potentially spread rapidly—going viral—and have such powerful transformative power because parallel changes have been taking place in the unconscious of other people. Contagious in its effects, genuine creative expression emerging at the right moment can “virally” spread via the unconscious of our species in ways that can ignite latent, creative energy lying dormant in the collective unconscious of humanity. This can bring forth and actualize hidden possibilities (both within us and in the world) into the light of conscious awareness, which is a process that has the power to effect real change in the world.

A new idea is itself an expression of a creative act. Certain ideas can assist us in remembering something that we had forgotten we had forgotten. A new idea—such as wetiko—can set up a chain reaction in people’s minds that can potentially unleash previously unimagined insight and creativity. As part of their design, mind-expanding ideas are meant to be shared with others so as to fully activate their nonlocal benefit and blessing. These ideas endlessly increase in potency the more they are shared among us. Like a key unlocking a door or like a charm that breaks a spell, a new symbolic idea can unleash the dormant creative spirit imprisoned within us. A revolutionary idea has the potential to catalyze revolutions in thinking; a shift in a single idea can precipitate a shift into a new epoch.

The creativity of the unconscious psyche—which is an agency in a state of never-ending re-creation and re-formation—continually transforms our experience of reality as well as itself. As an artist of life, we are what Neumann refers to as a “bearer of the divine miracle,” actively and endlessly participating in re-creating ourselves anew, revealing ourselves—to ourselves—through the bringing forth of our gifts to the world. Only in these acts do we actualize our wholeness. Acting out of our wholeness is like kryptonite to the seeming superpowers of wetiko. In being creative we not only find refuge from the dangers of wetiko, but we discover the true revelation that is none other than ourselves. Each new act of creativity brings with it an element of self-discovery. We must create in order to know ourselves.

When human beings are deprived of their freedom and power of expression, however, they will unconsciously express themselves in the drive for power. This only feeds the will to power of the demonic and destructive shadow, with the baneful consequences we see in the world today. Being oppressed in our expression, instead of stopping us cold, however, can potentially—if we so choose—fuel our creative fire, forging in us an “inner necessity” to connect with the living primal generative spirit that lives within us. The authentic creative spirit—if it’s the real thing—can’t be discouraged or kept down for long, for then it wouldn’t be creative.

Artists as Molders of the Collective Unconscious

To quote poet Allen Ginsberg, “The warfare’s psychic now. Whoever controls the language, the images, controls the race.” Instruments of war in the hands of generals are extremely dangerous. In the same way, nothing is more dangerous and potentially world-transforming than implements of creative expression in the hands of artists. They are the molders of the unconscious psychic life of humanity, the mythmakers of their age. It is the artists—and we are all artists—who are the healers of the world.

Rather than letting our perceptions be managed and manipulated by the powers that be and their propaganda organs, we as sovereign beings can connect with our own perceptions and create our own unique and authentic experience of the world and a refreshed experience of ourselves. What a radical—and truly liberating—idea!

Healing wetiko entails each of us becoming an empiricist—there is no getting around this. In this we must simply inquire directly into the nature of our present moment experience, without giving credence to what any outer authority is telling us is true. Ultimately speaking, we ourselves are the arbiters of our own experience. By our very nature, we are interpreters of our experience and generators of meaning. This is a process that affects our experience of both ourselves and of the universe at large. Realizing our own creative agency is where we find ourselves, which is the beginning of the cure for wetiko as well as the cure itself.

Once we creatively express our nature, it is nature itself that is doing the talking. Then there’s nothing to do but listen and respond in kind to our unique and individual call.