Not long ago I took a journey into the underworld of the unconscious.
There I met a shadowy aspect of my psyche: the Raping Jellyfish.
“Raping Jellyfish!? What part of me warrants that kind of name?,” I asked myself after randomly drawing the somewhat disturbing words from two bowls set in front of me.
As I see it now, the Raping Jellyfish is my superego, the part of my mind that polices the rest of me, that patrols my feelings, thoughts, and behaviors from its high perch and judges them according to the laws of religion and culture and the expectations of an ideal self-image. Like the head of a jellyfish, it is limpid and immaterial, formed by words and ideas conveyed through invisible speech and intangible texts. A slippery, colorless envelope, it entombs the rest of my mind and glides weirdly through my awareness like a watery wraith.
But its delicateness is deceptive. From the head extend dozens of tentacles, sentient sentries that – like my nervous systems itself – penetrate all my bodily centers and extremities. Through these eerie extensions, it keeps tabs on all my thoughts and feelings. It monitors them for correctness and error as it compares them to the ideological standard. Using the sensory data it collects, it supervises the other parts of my brain as well as my heart, my gut, and my genitalia and disciplines them when they start to misbehave. Its presence is pervasive and punishing as it entangles my body in loathsome coils of control.
Through its sting and its poison does it exert this control. Near the surface of the skin of each tentacle are hidden spring-loaded stingers, poised to envenom on command. When the snaky sentinels detect a deviation from the standard – this could be an unorthodox question, or an unruly emotion, or an inappropriate desire – the stingers are fired at that precise location and the offending part neutralized into numbness. This is how, gradually, it gains more and more domination through the subjugation of the body. Eventually, having injected its toxin into all uncooperative, nonconforming constituents, it manages to achieve its ultimate goal: correctness, perfectness, rightness, and righteousness. The once quivering body, now shocked and paralyzed, remains easy prey for a cycle of continual repression.
As an aspect of my psyche, the Raping Jellyfish was created in childhood by the forces of indoctrination and enculturation and perpetuated beyond that by my own desire to belong to groups of others. It has been a harsh and abusive slave-master. So much of my aliveness has been poisoned and paralyzed over the years: thoughts I wasn’t allowed to think, feelings I wasn’t allowed to feel, and wants I wasn’t allowed to want. The exquisite, innocent authenticity I was born with was first raped and pillaged by religious and cultural ideologies, and then over time, I took over their role for myself. I became my own rapist.
The problem with the Raping Jellyfish is not that it is a jellyfish, or even that it monitors and disciplines the rest of me. After all, it was created to keep me safe. It was created by a religion concerned with keeping me out of the eternal torment of Hell and a culture concerned with avoiding all kinds of dangers – many of them valid concerns. No, the problem is that it got too rapey. In its uncompromising devotion to its task, it started to ignore and even despise the very person it was supposed to protect. It became too disembodied, too disconnected from the life of the body. It became too cold, too rigid. As it obsessed over doing its job, it lost touch with the tender soul it was supposed to serve.
The jellyfish is the superego, and the superego is the voice of parents, teachers, preachers, and pundits. It is now time for me to become my own superego, to inhabit the jellyfish for myself. It is time for the victim (ego) and perpetrator (superego) to merge, become one, and be rid of that abusive dynamic. As a sovereign being, I now get to create the standard by which I will judge myself. I now get to become the one who supervises my many parts, protects them, and gives them a voice and a choice in how they want to be present in life. And as a social, synergistic being, I get to co-create with others new standards by which we can all live lives that are healthier, wholer, and truer to our innate human-divine natures.