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Journal Article

Soul Boats

Igor Medvedev-Mead
The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal
Vol. 24, No. 3 (August 2005), pp. 10-28
DOI: 10.1525/jung.1.2005.24.3.10
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Page Count: 19
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Soul Boats
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Abstract Igor Medvedev-Mead, “Soul Boats,” The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal, 2005, 24:3, 10-28. The symbolism of the boat/ship emanates from what Jung calls “the primordial era when the unconscious was predominant and the conscious weak," primordial era when the unconscious was predominant and the conscious weak,” when myth and lore were taken for factual reality and gods and goddesses for granted as projections of the immutable, incomprehensible forces of nature. Long connected in various world religions with magic, death, and rebirth, the boat as archetype has a powerful significance. This article is a study of the boat's history in the human imagination, from the prehistoric “ships of renewal” in Mesopotamia, to the funerary boats of Northern Europe. It traces the history of the ship in its role as regenerator, savioress, and divine symbol. The article begins with a brief discussion of the author's fascination with wooden boats, and outlines the boat's connection to the Great Mother goddess cult in its many permutations, significantly the Mesopotamian cult of Inanna, in which the ship is a symbol for the vulva, the womb, and the grave. Finally, the article defines the boat in its role as a vessel of death and rebirth, connected to the moon barque used by the Egyptian gods (both solar and lunar), and its place as an important archetype in Jung's concept of the night sea journey.

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