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Are you in a stage of awakening? Jung's character transformation from 2 perspectives

Carl Jung, the renowned Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, delved deep into the intricacies of human psychology and transformation. One of his intriguing contributions is the concept of character transformation, which he divided into four distinct stages.

Could it be that humanity is now in one of these stages of personal initiation and illumination, but may not be conscious amidst the drama of our current paradigm?

This article provides a framework of understanding and information for any one who resonates and is on the path of true self development.

Today we'll explore these stages from 2 distinct perspectives. One from a practical real world lens and the other from Gary Z McGee’s content found in an article where you can find at

Any italic area is from Gary and credited with and more information can be found at the end of the article.

“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?” ~Rumi

1.) The Athlete is called upon by the darkness:

A Quest for releasing old Identity

Jung's character transformation model begins with the "Athlete stage”. At this point, an individual is preoccupied with outer appearances, achievements, and societal expectations. It's a phase of self-discovery driven by the desire to establish an identity within the broader social context. In his book "Man and His Symbols," Jung asserts that during this stage, people often invest their energy in honing their abilities and skills, striving to gain recognition and validation from the external world. At the right time, unknown to the individual one may begin to sense something is afoot…following is an excerpt on Gary Z McGee’s interpretation of Jung’s 1st stage which holds more spiritual density and symbolic reference.

Gary’s version at

1.) Confession (Nigredo):

“When you see your matter going black, rejoice, for this is the beginning of the work.” ~Rosarium Philosophorum

The process of confession begins alchemically with the concept of the nigredo, also called “the blackening.” It’s a psychosymbolic death. This is the stage of revelation and catharsis. It’s where we burn away our psychological dross. It’s where the shadow gets integrated and then mined for hidden gold.

As Carl Jung said, “No tree can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.” Our shadow reaches all the way into hell. We climb into hell to integrate it. We climb into hell to animate our inner monster and bring it into sacred alignment with the whole self.

This is no easy task. It’s a dark time. Despair and disillusionment are all consuming. The ego is murdered by the Id. The blackening is a cocooning that cooks the corpse of the ego inside it. Annihilation becomes integration: the marriage of chaos and order, the coalescence of shadow and light, the union of summit and abyss. This gives way to the illumination of the Albedo.

2. The Warrior Stage: Embracing the Shadow Self

As individuals progress in their journey of transformation, they encounter the Warrior stage. This phase involves confronting the darker aspects of oneself, commonly referred to as the "shadow." In Jungian psychology, the shadow represents repressed emotions, desires, and traits that are considered socially unacceptable. In "The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious," Jung emphasizes the importance of integrating these shadow elements, as they hold the potential for personal growth and a deeper understanding of the self.

Gary’s version at

2.) Illumination (Albedo):

“The encounter with the shadow is the ‘apprentice-piece’ in the individual’s development… that with the anima is the ‘masterpiece’.” ~Carl Jung

The process of illumination begins alchemically with the concept of the albedo, also called “the whitening.” This is the stage of awakening and insight. It’s where our new shadow perspective helps us deflate the ego and where unneeded, illusory, or false conceptualizations are shed. It’s where the anima/animus gets integrated and cultivated for maximal co-efficiency.

The personality becomes a masterpiece when the masculine integrates the anima and the feminine integrated the animus, and vice versa. The ashes leftover from the blackening are purified by the persona’s opposite. The black crow is transformed into a white raven. The heavyhearted coal is pressurized into the lighthearted diamond. The end of the lesser work is at hand and the beginning of the higher work becomes manifest.

Anima/animus integration is no simple task. But it is quite rewarding. As we begin to resolve the animus in every yin and the anima in every yang, we discover that there’s a lightside to every darkside, a softness buried within even the roughest patch. There’s even good luck hidden inside bad luck.

A man honoring his anima and a woman honoring her animus is truly a force to be reckoned with, what Nietzsche referred to as the “Primordial Unity.” For they are that much closer to achieving cosmic heroism. They have become a force of integrated nature first and individual human second. This leads to the sacred dawn of consciousness.

3. The Statement Stage: Claiming Authenticity

The Statement stage marks a significant turning point where individuals delve into their inner world to discover their authentic selves. This phase is characterized by a genuine desire for self-awareness and the exploration of personal values and beliefs. Jungian scholar John Beebe, in his work "Energies and Patterns in Psychological Type," suggests that during this stage, people are more willing to embrace their uniqueness and prioritize personal growth over external validation. The process involves aligning one's actions with inner convictions.

Gary’s version at

3.) Education (Citrinitas):

“Every one of us is a mystic. We may or may not realize it, we may not even like it. But whether we know it or not, whether we accept it or not, mystical experience is always there, inviting us on a journey of ultimate discovery. We have been given the gift of life in this perplexing world to become who we ultimately are: creatures of boundless love, caring, compassion, and wisdom. Existence is a summons to the eternal journey of the sage – the sage we all are, if only we could see.” ~Wayne Teasdale

The process of education begins alchemically with the concept of the citrinitas, also called “the yellowing.” This is the stage of absorption and wisdom. It’s where our integrated shadow and anima/animus wakes up to the solar dawn of the emerging soul. It’s where the inner student meets the inner master, where Courage meets Wisdom, where the animal shakes hands with the sage. It’s where the wise old man (or woman) archetype gets integrated into the whole.

The dawn of the soul is like the rising sun, golden, radiant, and enlightening. It gives color and shape to the once colorless black and white world. It’s the lovechild of shadow and animus: the rising “son” of our ego’s death. The emergence of Christ consciousness: From the blackening on the cross to the whitening between worlds to the yellowing into rebirth. Our inner sage grips the masterpiece.

As Aristotle stated, “What more accurate stand or measure of good things do we have than the Sage?” The sage leads us into the alchemical success of the magnum opus, the bleeding out into transformation itself.

4. The Spirit Stage: Transcendence and Wholeness

The culmination of Jung's model is the Spirit stage, representing the apex of character transformation. Individuals who reach this stage have achieved a sense of wholeness by integrating their various facets—the light and the shadow. In "The Psychology of the Transference," Jung discusses the transcendent nature of this phase, where individuals connect with their inner selves, the collective unconscious, and even the spiritual realm. This stage signifies a harmonious equilibrium between the conscious and unconscious aspects of the psyche.

Gary’s version at

4.) Transformation (Rubedo):

“Know, all you seekers after this Art, that unless you whiten, you cannot make red, because the two natures are nothing other than red and white. Whiten, therefore, the red, and redden the white.” ~Turba Philosophorum

The process of transformation begins with the concept of the rubedo, also called “the reddening.” This is the “final” stage of transpersonal self-overcoming. It’s where the alchemy of psychology becomes a fountainhead. It’s where the unity of opposites—shadow and light, anima and animus, beast and sage— becomes transcendent, provident, and mercurial. It’s where the Self archetype becomes the process of Integration itself.

The reddening is a bleeding into blackening. It’s the life-death-rebirth process lived through in real time, in each moment, with each new breath. It’s both a rising out of falling and a falling into rising, both a chaos creating order and an order creating chaos. Self-awareness is self-improvement is self-overcoming. There is no self-actualization without self-transformation. And so, the Self archetype is ever in the throes of overcoming itself.

In the end, there is no end. There is no remaining, there’s no settled state, there’s no final stage. The magnum opus eats itself or it doesn’t sing. The Philosopher’s Stone is always just ahead of the curve on the transformation continuum. The journey is always the thing or it is nothing. The sword is always sharpened dullness. The diamond of the self is always pressurized coal. As James Hillman said, “the pearl is also always grit, an irritation as well as a luster.”

Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide-awake view of the modern world.

The Italic Portion of this article, written by Gary Z McGee, (Jung’s Four Stages of Character Transformation) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.

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