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319. Darkening of the light (V)

In the Myers-Briggs personality stack I am INFJ, a person with introverted intuition and extraverted feeling; and I think that each aspect relates to two animals, the first is the primary aspect and the second is the shadow—the dark animal. For me, this works best with animals, but I see no reason why you could not do the same with cars or aeroplanes—in particular, childhood toys or pets could be linked with the personality stack. For me, each dark side animal is taken from an animal for which I have particular disdain; and I take this animal to represent an unintegrated element within my psyche.

Animals and our relation to them tell us a lot about ourselves: my mother’s family has always kept dogs, whereas my father’s family kept a tortoise—and, indeed, my paternal line is cold and reptilian, whereas my maternal line is warm and affectionate. As the median, I like birds; and these are distant dinosaurs—though their feathers make them warm and soft.

I have broken the various constituents from the INFJ profile down as follows:

Introvert: owl / spider

Intuitive Feeling: fox / snake

Feeling: dolphin / leech

Judging: Peregrine Falcon / scorpion

I will start with the judgement function; for this function, I have taken the Peregrine Falcon. This was my favourite bird as a child—though I forgot it for many, many years. This bird is the anchor for my psyche; for me it is important to see everything from a high, strategic view. I prefer, as an introvert, to be alone on high and to take in the broad scene in a single glance. At school, I was told to join the Windhover Society, a club, and the Windhover is related to the Peregrine Falcon, used by Manly Hopkins as a symbol for Christ—and, of course, the Peregrine Falcon stands for Horus in Egyptian lore. This is the solar masculine anchor to my personality, not the imperial eagle but still a distinguished bird. The scorpion, an animal that has repulsed me since childhood, represents the way my ability for acute intuitive judgement can be cruel; sometimes I emerge from a hidden place and sting—then scuttle away, the opposite to the falcon’s frank swoop.

My transitional object as a child was a white dolphin toy; and so this is the dolphin’s significance to me. It represents my playful and empathetic side, the desire for intelligent engagement with people and play with ideas. The dolphin has been put away in the garage now, but he lives in my heart. The dark side to the dolphin is the leech—an animal that horrifies me. It represents the way playful friendship can turn to emotional exploitation and bloodsucking in the wrong circumstances.

My intuition is represented by the fox, for the simple reason that I have red hair like the fox—and I can be guileful and wily like the fox when my intuition works well; just as Odysseus was a fox. The dark side is the snake—and this also represents my paternal side, partly rejected when my parents divorced. The snake has great wisdom and guile, but he is the danger hidden in the grass—the Christian symbol for evil. He is the opposite to the falcon, who sees all high in the sky; the snake strikes from below. Finally, the owl represents my tendency to introversion; it was an important symbol for my grandmother, a teacher, who had many owl ornaments—it dovetails with the falcon, the night bird that sees intuitively in dark places. Its counterpart is the spider; a wise animal found in dark crevices and barns, often with the owl. I think that as a person individuates they come to accept the dark animals. I accept, for example, a snake-like aspect as I reconcile my paternal side; and so we come to the true power within our psyche—for the falcon intertwined with the snake is a Zoroastrian symbol, the Hermetic caduceus.


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