Transformational Narrative:
Night Sea Journey
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NIGHT SEA JOURNEY

LEFT EYE reflects on Frobenius and the Night Sea Journey—a predecessor of Individuation and the Hero’s Journey. The story he identified was that of the hero through night—in the belly of a whale.

According to the pioneering comparativist, there are eight stages, which, according to Jung, culminated in a triumph of consciousness. First, the hero is swallowed. This mimes sunset —into the sea. Then, once the hero / whale / sun have passed through the pillars of midnight—beyond the nadir of darkness—new light sparks. Fire is stolen. The whale’s journey is then to sunrise—returned as a flame of consciousness.
DATABASES
LEFT EYE reflects on Frobenius and the Night Sea Journey—a predecessor of Individuation and the Hero’s Journey. The story he identified was that of the hero through night—in the belly of a whale. 

According to the pioneering comparativist, there are eight stages, which, according to Jung, culminated in a triumph of consciousness. First, the hero is swallowed. This mimes sunset —into the sea. Then, once the hero / whale / sun have passed through the pillars of midnight—beyond the nadir of darkness—new light sparks. Fire is stolen. The whale’s journey is then to sunrise—returned as a flame of consciousness.
The monster begins the night sea journey to the East, i.e., towards sunrise, while the hero is engulfed in its belly:
This is the almost worldwide myth of the typical deed of the hero. He journeys by ship, fights the sea monster, is swallowed, struggles against being bitten and crushed to death (kicking or stamping motif), and having arrived inside the “whale dragon,” seeks the vital organ, which he proceeds to cut off or otherwise destroy:...
Night sea journey. An archetypal motif in mythology, psychologically associated with depression and the loss of energy characteristic of neurosis.

The night sea journey is a kind of descensus ad inferos--a descent into Hades and a journey to the land of ghosts somewhere beyond this world, beyond consciousness, hence an immersion in the unconscious.[“The Psychology of the Transference,”CW16, par. 455.]

Mythologically, the night sea journey motif usually involves being swallowed by a dragon or sea monster. It is also represented by imprisonment or crucifixion, dismemberment or abduction, experiences traditionally weathered by sun-gods and heroes: Gilgamesh, Osiris, Christ, Dante, Odysseus, Aeneas. In the language of the mystics it is the dark night of the soul.
At the core of the story is the archetype of transformation young Max undergoes during the mythopoeic adventure of a night sea journey. Jung writes in The Psychology of the Transference, “The night sea journey is a kind of descensus ad inferos – a descent into Hades and a journey to the land of ghosts somewhere beyond this world, beyond consciousness, hence an immersion in the unconscious.” Typically, in night sea journeys the hero is swallowed by a whale or sea creature, but Jung’s description suggests a form of katabasis, the Greek word for “gradual descending,” used in the ancient world to describe a descent in search of understanding, often to the underworld for the purpose of renewal and rebirth.
What does it mean to be in the belly of the whale?

The idea is frequently linked to two central notions in Jungian psychology. The first comes from the writings of St. John of the Cross. He wrote about the dark night of the soul. A German anthropologist, Frobenius, wrote about the dark night sea journey. It is to this second idea that we direct our attention. Frobenius of course did not come up with the idea of the dark night sea journey, rather wrote about it in his research as an anthropologist. The dark night sea journey is a mythical idea, hence has been in our language and thoughts since our early history as humans.

In this mythical story, an individual is tossed into the ocean, or falls into the ocean, whereupon he or she is swallowed up by a Leviathan, a sea monster, or more commonly a whale. The journey takes an enormous amount of time, with the individual losing any track of how long the journey actually takes. Inside the belly of the whale the individual is in darkness, and is constantly washed by the contents of the whale’s stomach. They cannot see, they lose their hair, and the clothes melt from their body.

Finally, the whale coughs them up onto a distant shore. They are in the land they do not recognize, in which they are a stranger, do not speak the language, have no sense of purpose, and are essentially as if newborn. And they are naked!
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