Projection: Projectile

One of the oldest ways of symbolizing projection is by means of projectiles, especially the magic arrow or shot that harms other people.  The oldest explanation for the causes of illness – to be found almost everywhere in the world – is of a projectile that affects its target for good or ill.  P&R 20

   In ancient Judaism there is the idea that God (also the devil, in the New Testament) and/or evil human beings send forth harmful arrows.  In Psalm 91 there is the passage: “You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.”  Job’s plague was also caused by Yahweh’s arrows: “For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me” (Job 6:4). (See also Job 16:12f and 34:6.)

But the evil, harmful words of human beings are also described as arrows.  Deceitful men “bend their tongue like a bow; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land … Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully”  (Jeremiah 9:3,8). 

They “aim bitter words like arrows, shooting from ambush at the blameless”  (Psalm 64: 3-4)

As soon as a person projects a bit of his shadow onto another human being he is incited to this kind of rancorous speech.  The words (barbs, punches) that hit the other person like projectiles symbolize the negative flow of energy directed against the other by the one who is projecting.  When one becomes the target of another person’s negative projection, one often experiences that hatred almost physically as a projectile.  P&R 21

Today we know that sharp, jabbing forms in the drawings of patients indicate evil, wounding, destructive impulses that stand in the way of a synthesis of the personality.  P&R 22

When an archetype is immediately and intensively constellated, the experience is like being hit by a projectile sent by an overpowering being that transfixes us and brings us into its power.  P&R 24

An attack of aggressive hatred, for example, is felt by us as coming not from Mars but rather from an “evil adversary” who “deserves” to be hated (shadow projection), erotic passion not from Cupid but from a woman who arouses this passion in a man (anima projection).  Ultimately, however, it appears that projections always originate in the archetypes and in unconscious complexes.  P&R 24