The religious myth is one of man’s greatest and most significant achievements, giving him the security and inner strength not to be crushed by the monstrousness of the universe. Considered from the standpoint of realism, the symbol is not of course an external truth, but it is psychologically true, for it was and is the bridge to all that is best in humanity.
Psychological truth by no means excludes metaphysical truth, though psychology, as a science, has to hold aloof from all metaphysical assertions. Its subject is the psyche and its contents. Both are realities, because they work. Though we do not possess a physics of the soul, and are not even able to observe it and judge it from some Archimedean point “outside’ ourselves, and can therefore know nothing objective about it since all knowledge of the psyche is itself psychic, in spite of all this the soul is the only experient of life and existence.
It is, in fact, the only immediate experience we can have and the sine qua non of the subjective reality of the world. The symbols it creates are always grounded in the unconscious archetype, but their manifest forms are molded by the ideas acquired by the conscious mind. The archetypes are the numinous, structural elements of the psyche and possess a certain autonomy and specific energy which enables them to attract, out of the conscious mind, those contents which are best suited to themselves.
The symbols act as transformers, their function being to convert libido from a “lower” into a “higher” form. This function is so important that feeling accords it the highest values. The symbol works by suggestion; that is to say, it carries conviction and at the same time expresses the content of that conviction. It is able to do this because of the numen, the specific energy stored up in the archetype. Experience of the archetype is not only impressive, it seizes and possesses the whole personality, and is naturally productive of faith. ~Carl Jung, Symbols of Transformation; Symbols of the Mother and of Rebirth; Pages 231-232; Paragraphs 343-344.