THE LADY AND THE UNICORN – Symbols of individuation
The course is based on an evolution of the symbolism in a series of six beautiful and unique tapestries held in a specially designed room at the Cluny museum in Paris.
The tapestries, whose origins are not known, are believed to have been created sometime between 1480 and 1500 AD. They were discovered in 1841 hanging in a small insignificant castle Boussac in central France. Who created the tapestries, where they were made, who designed them, who commissioned them and why is not known.
The tapestries suggests that Goddess energy although often aggressively suppressed in the fifteenth century was alive and deeply embedded in the human psyche and able to manifest in symbolic forms when circumstances where favourable.
In Jungian psychology and also in Alchemy the True Self (the Soul) is symbolised by the feminine and so the lady represents the Soul/ True Self. The tapestries trace symbolically her journey towards individuation as her ego becomes subject to the true Self.
The weekend consists of teachings, experiential exercises and sandtrays that helps us develop our understanding of the symbolism and stages of the individuation process. The programme may also help us to integrate our spiritual and egoic natures as part of our process of individuation.
Participants will be given the opportunity to discuss their sandtrays (if they wish to do so) and relate their sandtrays to their world view, their stage of growth and their spiritual development.
Through the symbolism presented to us we can follow the lady’s development from her childhood through puberty to maturity and later life as her spiritual, instinctual and aggressive qualities are developing and are eventually brought under her control.
As she grows psychologically we see that she takes responsibility for her development and is able slowly to let go of her grasping and attachment. The tapestries make it clear that her actions are of her own will. Her instinctuality is still present however and is not easily overcome. Self reflection and contemplation leads the lady to Self knowledge and understanding as she integrates her egoic nature which eventually becomes subject to the True Self.
While the large number of symbols that appear in the tapestries will be considered the lion and the unicorn are of particular significance. The lion refers to the ruling principle of the ego. In addition to power and strength the lion also symbolises the masculine principle, the sun, the fire elements, sulphur, gold and the power of the instincts.
The goddess riding on a lion is a common symbol found from Crete (1.500 BC) to Greece (200 AD) and India (1.500 BC to the present), and symbolises the true Self (the spiritual self, the Soul) controlling egoic and instinctual nature.
The unicorn symbolises unworldlyness, purity, spirituality and light. In the Christian tradition the unicorn symbolises Jesus thus the unicorns blood offers eternal life.