Building the New World Within (4) – The Inside Story
This brings us back to the story of Chicken Little and the metaphors within.
Chicken Little is merrily strolling in the forest when something (an acorn) falls on her head. She doesn’t look up. She doesn’t investigate to see what it is. She gets frightened instead of directing her attention to where the hint came from. She panics and decides to warn everyone she comes across that “the sky is falling!” Her hysteria is transferred to the others and they panic too. In the process, Chicken Little misses the full message and she leads everyone off-track to focus on an unseen pending apocalyptic disaster, seemingly of an imminent environmental kind.
In this context, modern man and woman were merrily exercising their will to pleasure in traffic-jammed, smog-clogged cities around the world while being happily distracted by their entertainment systems and electronic gadgets, when the predictions of an ancient belief system increasingly filtered into their awareness. Instead of carefully investigating the symbolism or metaphorical meaning of the “end of the world in 2012”, many of them took it literally. The ensuing hysteria directed everyone’s attention towards a potential full-spectrum apocalyptic disaster.
In both cases, the environmental aspect is telling and accurate, but at the same time the hysteria element is a deflection from the cause and the solution. In Jungian psychology a collective shadow projection is when a group of people project something from the unconscious onto another group. What we project is usually something we are not prepared to face or to take responsibility for.
In the Chicken Little fable, during the process of warning people about the sky falling, she asks one of her neighbours for advice, who then suggests that they call the police. In some versions of the tale Chicken Little decides that they need to inform the king, who will know what to do. In other words, they decide to call on an external authority figure for “help”.
When the acorn fell on her head, Chicken Little was given a “heads-up” to look up. “Up” being a metaphor for the spiritual, or in Jungian terms, the self, or in the context of this investigation, the authentic self or the soul self. It seems that human beings are generally prone to avoiding introspection and this is where we need to be cognisant of that tendency and make a conscious effort to adjust our approach. That in itself takes courage, but that is what personal growth is all about.
To support the interpretations above, let’s refer to a few points made by Jungian analyst, Daryl Sharp in his book “Chicken Little, The Inside Story”. 
Daryl Sharpe citing a colleague, Professor Robert Brillig:
“It was Brillig, you see, who first suggested that Chicken Little’s doomsday warning need not be interpreted literally; it could be taken as a symbolic expression of her own inner plight”.
In Daryl Sharp’s own words:
-1: “I think a Jungian is obliged to see the cry for help as an instinctive plea to the Self. When the ego is in disarray and the persona in tatters, then the inner authority of the Self, in whatever guise deemed necessary, will work toward a balance.”22 
-2: “For already, you see, we have all we need to support the orthodox Jungian view that the end of the world is an archetypal motif; that is, it may be constellated by circumstances (inner or outer) in anyone or in any culture, at any time and in any place.”
The call for inner work by an individual’s own psyche is unrelated to any religion or belief system, although it does imply shining a light into the shadows of one’s “inner rooms”. In this sense it could be interpreted as spiritual work if one considers spiritual work to be working on oneself in order to become a more whole person. Some people would naturally find this to be a spiritual experience. Naturally, anyone can do inner work, including non-religious people and people not following belief systems, but everyone would or should get a heads-up from time to time from their psyches to do so.
The Mayan calendar predictions were the proverbial heads-up for humanity to do the necessary inner work in preparation for huge upcoming changes in our external environment, which could adversely affect our inner environment, if unprepared. A strong and solid inner environment is required to transition through these changes on a personal level as well as on a global level, in order to work through and find solutions to intractable problems. The Mayans also predicted a changing inner environment on the part of those who were prepared or preparing for it.
The universe is considered as an external authority figure by most people and for many the interpretation was and is that the universe will rescue us and help us in our self-created crises. At the same time, we are hoping to keep as many of our luxuries and comforts intact without too much compromise on the comfortable lifestyle front. The interesting thing is that the universe has already helped us to help ourselves by providing us with the archetype of the end. We only need to act on it appropriately and accordingly.
By now it is impossible to deny that we are in a major transition phase. Indeed, the world is in flux. There are crises or change everywhere, plain to see and feel in the global economy, obvious in the geopolitical arena, impossible to deny in environmental and ecological terms and more and more obvious in relation to the disappearance of traditional, cultural, moral and ethical norms and values in society. It is also patently obvious in terms of energy dependence. Yet, there seem to be no major plans afoot for global solutions.
The Chicken Little fable doesn’t end well, but the good news is that the story is incomplete as not all the parts of this ancient tale were originally discovered more than 300 years ago. Humanity’s story need not end badly. From an idealistic point of view, all we have to do is collectively wake up, although we find people are currently more distracted than ever. At least we know that a sizeable number of people are aware of the times that we are living in and would rather not live with their heads in the sand. To insist on living consciously is a decision that will have to be made on an individual level.
The foundations of many of our planet’s problems are very deep and ironically much of it lie in our progress up to now through industrialisation and modernisation.We have progressed so much that our progress has been causing the destruction of our habitat, while we are still refusing to fully acknowledge this fact.
The situation is complex, because moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energies on a global scale will take many decades – and it is debatable whether a 100% transition is actually achievable in reality. First of all, we are far behind in this conversion process and secondly, it takes more fossil fuels to develop and install renewable energy infrastructure, which would cause even more CO2 emissions. Therefore there is a likelihood that we are going to end up having to revert to more traditional styles, once an energy crisis arrives, since we will not have fully converted by that time (expected within the next two decades). In light of this reality, responsible communities and individuals can already step-up their efforts to reduce their ecological footprint as much as possible as an ethical lifestyle of choice and in advance preparation.
During the run-up to 2012 humanity collectively experienced the archetype of the end. This was a call from the collective unconscious to act. We need to re-balance the planet by adjusting our behaviour. At this stage it is unclear whether we are able to do that collectively, but if we don’t we will increasingly feel the results of the imbalance, in some regions more than in others.
To be continued…
© 2014. All Rights Reserved.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Interpretations of Jungian concepts are the author’s and are used to motivate certain philosophical arguments within the context of this essay. Jungian themes are briefly touched upon and this does not constitute a comprehensive overview.
For Jungian terms, please see: Jung Lexicon – A Primer of Terms & Concepts by Daryl Sharp.
References & Citations:
The End of the World, The Sky Is Falling: folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 20C.
by D. L. Ashliman, University of Pittsburgh. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type2033.html.
 Chicken Little, The Inside Story, A Jungian Romance by Daryl Sharp, © 1993.
 Page 15: Chicken Little, The Inside Story by Daryl Sharp, © 1993.
 Page 15: Chicken Little, The Inside Story by Daryl Sharp, © 1993.
 Page 17: Chicken Little, The Inside Story by Daryl Sharp, © 1993.