The Unconscious: A Hades Analogy

The underworld with dozens of people swarming Hades, the god of the unconscious mind


Wrestling With the Unconscious Mind

We can no longer deny that the dark stirrings of the unconscious are active powers and that psychic forces exist which cannot be fitted into rational order. The layman can hardly conceive how much his inclinations, moods, and decisions are influenced by the dark forces of his psyche, and how dangerous or helpful they may be in shaping his destiny. – Carl Jung


Poseidon and Hades are brothers, sons of Cronus and Rhea. They were devoured by their fearful father and then released to battle and overthrow him. Hades is the lord of the underworld while his brother Poseidon rules the vast domain of the sea. Both spheres are symbolic of the worlds below conscious awareness. Therefore both gods are daimons of the unconscious mental state representing powerful hidden archetypal forces. 


The Unconscious as Shadow Images

Both brothers rule a vast expanse of the world. However, most of the inhabitants of this world are shadow images of the humans dwelling aboveground. Hades’ population is full of shades and ghosts while monsters and shape-shifting prophets populate Poseidon’s realm. As brothers and custodians of these places, they are united in their rulership of the unconscious realms.


The Internal Unconscious Influences

“It is in the light of psyche that we must read all underworld descriptions. Being in the underworld means psychic being, being psychological, where soul comes first.”James Hillman


Hades was not only a personification of the underworld God commonly known as Pluto. His name also refers to a place: his extensive underworld kingdom. Mythological tradition and epic clearly differentiated the underworld and the God Hades was the regent of this place. This mythological netherworld serves as a symbol for understanding the textures and shades of subterranean psychic life. 


In contemporary psychological terms, this dark underworld territory is akin to the unconscious. Examining the customs, laws, and landscapes of the underworld amplifies our comprehension of the feeling life of the psyche. Hades, as a place, is a metaphor for what lies below the line of conscious thought and helps map out the internal psychic landscape.


Hades Within the Unconscious Self

Take time to explore the Hades role in our lives. Without Hades, we have known discoveries of our unknown potentials or our hidden passions or our soul solutions. A Hades-dominant inner self is one who remains outside of the experiences at hand, one who is less attuned to the conscious mind. 


Hades prefers his underworld state. This can look to us like depression, social isolation, deep contemplation, avoidance, or even cleverness as a disguise for intimacy avoidance. Primarily, it is our philosophy that Hades plays an important role and even is necessary. 


It is likely the figure we work with most as clinical therapists and healers. To listen in order to understand rather than retort we are in the realm of Hades – attending to what’s underneath someone’s words, actions, body language, and more.


The Importance of the Unconscious

We must discuss the importance of the unconscious as well as the role of Hades in its most positive light. Should we repress, avoid, or “treat” away the Hades condition, we then neglect the soul in its unknowing. To put it another way, if we are heaven-bent, striving to liberate ourselves from the notion of the unconscious, inflated in the fantasy of resolution rather than integration, we run from, then, our own humanity. Indeed, the soul lives in the process, not in the radiation efforts of our perceived struggles.


The Unconscious & Mental Health in Orange County, CA

If you are struggling with the Hades within, Barn Life Recovery can help you become one with the unconscious through our mental health services. Learn more about our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and our Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP).

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