Selections from Chapter 14 of Jung's Aion
The Structure and Dynamics of the Self
"Seek him from out thyself, and learn who it is that taketh possession of everything in thee, saying: my god, my spirit, my understanding, my soul, my body; and learn whence is sorrow and joy, and love and hate, and waking though one would not, and sleeping though one would not, and getting angry though one would not, and falling in love though one would not. And if thou shouldst closely investigate these things, thou wilt find Him in thy self, the One and the Many, like to that little point, for it is in thee that he hath his origin and his deliverance." ~ Monoimos, Letter to Theophrastus
"Therefore, as it seems, it is the greatest of all disciplines to know oneself; for when a man knows himself, he knows God." ~ Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus
"By whom willed and directed does the mind fly forth? By whom commanded does the first breath move? Who sends forth the speech we utter here? What god is it that stirs the eye and ear? The hearing of the ear, the thinking of the mind, the speaking of the speech...That which speech cannot express, by which speech is expressed...which the mind cannot think, by which the mind thinks, know that as Brahman." ~ Kena Upanishad
"He who dwells in all beings, yet is apart from all beings, whom no beings know, whose body is all beings, who controls all beings from within, he is your Self, the inner controller, the immortal...There is no other seer but he, no other hearer but he, no other perceiver but he, no other knower but he. He is your Self, the inner controller, the immortal." ~ Brihandaranyaka Upanishad
"Gnosis is undoubtedly a psychological knowledge whose contents derive from the unconscious. It reached its insights by concentrating on the 'subjective factor', which consists empirically in the demonstrable influence that the collective unconscious exerts on the conscious mind. This would explain the astonishing parallelism between Gnostic symbolism and the findings of the psychology of the unconscious."
Symbols of Self
Found in dreams, visions and products of active imagination
special variant of quaternity motif is the dilemma of 3+1 (Axiom of Maria Prophetissa). Twelve (3x4) seems to belong here as a solution to the dilemma and as a symbol of wholeness (zodiac, year)
Three can be regarded as a relative totality, since it usually represents either a spiritual totality that is the product of thought, like the Trinity, or else an instinctual, cthonic one, like the triad nature of the gods of the underworld--the 'lower triad'. Psychologically, however, three--if the context indicates that it refers to the self--should be understood as a defective quaternity or as a stepping-stone towards it. Empirically a triad has a trinity opposed to it as its compliment. The compliment of the quaternity is unity."From the circle and quaternity motif is derived the symbol of the geometrically formed crystal and the wonder working stone. From here analogy formation leads to the city, castle, church, house, and vessel. Another variant is the wheel (rota). The former motif emphasizes the ego's containment in the greater dimension of the self; the latter emphasizes the rotation which also appears as a ritual circumambulation. Psychologically, it denotes concentration and preoccupation with a center, conceived as the center of a circle and thus formulated as a point. This leads easily enough to a relationship to the heavenly Pole and the starry bowl of heaven rotating round it. A parallel is the horoscope as the 'wheel of birth'.
The image of the city, house, and vessel brings us to their contents--the inhabitant of the city or house, and the water contained in the vessel. The inhabitant, in his turn, has a relationship to the quaternity, and to the fifth as the unity of the four. The water appears in modern dreams and visions as a blue expanse reflecting the sky, as a lake, as four rivers (e.g. Switzerland as the heart of Europe with the Rhine, Ticino, Rhone, and Inn, or the Garden of Eden with the Gihon, Pison, Hiddekel, and Euphrates), as healing water and consecrated water, etc. Sometimes the water is associated with fire, or even combined with it as fire-water (wine, alcohol).
The inhabitant of the quadratic space leads to the human figure. Apart from the geometrical and arithmetical symbols, this is the commonest symbol of the self. It is either a god or a godlike human being, a prince, a priest, a great man, an historical personality, a dearly loved father, an admired example, the successful older brother--in short, a figure that transcends the ego personality of the dreamer. There are corresponding feminine figures in a woman's psychology. Just as the circle is contrasted with the square, so the quaternity is contrasted with the 3+1 motif, and the positive, beautiful, good, admirable, and lovable human figure with a daemonic, misbegotten creature who is negative, ugly, evil, despicable and an object of fear. Like all archetypes, the self has a paradoxical, antinomial character. It is male and female, old man and child, powerful and helpless, large and small. The self is a true 'complexio oppositorum', though this does not mean that it is anything like as contradictory in itself. It is quite possible that the seeming paradox is nothing but a reflection of the enantiodromian changes of the conscious in general, for its frightening figures may be called forth by the fear which the conscious mind has of the unconscious. The importance of consciousness should not be underrated; hence it is advisable to relate the contradictory manifestations of the unconscious causally to the conscious attitude, at least to some degree. But consciousness should not be overrated either, for experience provides too many incontrovertible proofs of the autonomy of unconscious compensatory processes for us to seek the origin of these antinomies only in the conscious mind. Between the conscious and the unconscious there is a kind of 'uncertainty relationship', because the observer is inseparable from the observed and always disturbs the act of observation. In other words, exact observation of the unconscious prejudices observation of the conscious and vise versa.
Thus the self can appear in all shapes from the highest to the lowest, inasmuch as these transcend the scope of the ego personality in the manner of a daimonion. It goes without saying that the self also has its theriomorphic symbolism. The commonest of these images in modern dreams are, in my experience, the elephant, horse, bull, bear, white and black birds, fishes, and snakes. Occasionally one comes across tortoises, snails, spiders, and beetles. The principal plant symbols are the flower and the tree. Of the inorganic products, the commonest are the mountain and lake.
Where there is an undervaluation of sexuality the self is symbolized as a phallus. Undervaluation can consist in an ordinary repression or in overt devaluation. In certain differentiated persons a purely biological interpretation and evaluation of sexuality can also have this effect. Any such conception overlooks the spiritual and 'mystical' implications of the sexual instinct. These have existed from time immemorial as psychic facts, but are devalued and repressed on rationalistic and philosophical grounds. In all such cases one can expect an unconscious phallicism by way of compensation. A good example of this is the mainly sexualistic approach to the psyche that is to be found in Frued.
Such is the meaning of the quaternio when seen from the standpoint of Moses. But since Moses is related to Jethro as the lower Adam, or ordinary man, is to Moses, the quaternio cannot be understood merely as the structure of Moses' personality, but must be looked at from the standpoint of the lower Adam as well. We then get the following quaternio:
as cult hero a higher mother
as ordinary man as ordinary woman
From this we can see that the Naassene quaternio is in a sense unsymmetrical, since it tends to a senarius (hexad) with an exclusive upward tendency. Jethro and Miriam have to be added to the above four as a kind of third storey, as the higher counterpoints of Moses and Zipporah. We thus get a set of progression, or series of steps leading from the lower to the higher Adam. This psychology evidently underlies the elaborate lists of Velentinian syzygies. The lower Adam or somatic man consequently appears as the lowest stage of all, from which there can be only ascent. But as we have seen, the four persons in the Naassene quaternio are chosen so skillfully that it leaves room not only for the incest motif (Jethro-Miriam), which is never lacking in the marriage quaternio, but also for extensions of the ordinary man's psychic structure downwards, towards the subhuman, the dark and evil side represented by the shadow. That is to say, Moses marries the 'Ethiopian woman', and Miriam, the prophetess and mother-sister, becomes 'leprous', which is clear proof that her relationship to Moses has taken a negative turn. This is further confirmed by the fact that Miriam 'spoke against' Moses and even stirred up his brother Aaron against him.
Accordingly we get the following senarius:
The Lower Adam________________________________Eve
the heathen priest the 'white' leper
Basic schema of the cross-cousin marriage
Husband________________________________Cousin as wife
Husband's sister___________________________Wife's brother
variants--sister replaced by mother or wife's brother replaced by a fatherlike figure
Since the schema is a primary one for the psychology of love relationships and also if the transference, it will, like all characterological schemata, obviously manifest itself in a 'favorable' and an 'unfavorable' form, for the relationships in question also exhibit the same ambivalence: everything a man does has a positive and a negative aspect."
"...the texts make it abundantly clear that the Gnostics were quite familiar with the dark aspect of their metaphysical figures, so much so that they caused the greatest offence on that account. It was, moreover, the Gnostics--e.g., Basilides--who exhaustively discussed the problem of evil (when comes evil?). The serpentine form of the Nous and the Agathodaimon does not mean that the serpent has only a good aspect. Just as the Apophis-serpent was the traditional enemy of the Egyptian sun god, so the devil, 'that ancient serpent', is the enemy of Christ, the 'novus Sol'. The good, perfect, spiritual God was opposed by an imperfect, vain, ignorant, and incompetent demiurge. There were archontic Powers that gave to mankind a corrupt 'chirographum' (handwriting) from which Christ had to redeem them.
*Footnote 25 Coloss. 2:14 'Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross' (DV). The handwriting is imprinted on the body. This view is confirmed by Orosius...who says that in the opinion of Pricillian, the soul, on descending through the spheres into birth, ws caught by the powers of evil, and at the behest of the victor (victoris principis) was cast into separate bodies, upon which a 'handwriting' was written. The parts of the soul receive a divine chirographum but the parts of the body are imprinted with the signs of the zodiac (caeli signa).
It is significant that Gnostic philosophy found its continuation in alchemy. 'Mater Alchemia' is one of the mothers of modern science, and modern science has given us an unparalleled knowledge of the 'dark' side of matter. It has also penetrated into the secrets of physiology and evolution, and made the very roots of life itself an object of investigation. In this way the human mind has sunk deep into the sublunary world of matter, thus repeating the Gnostic myth of the Nous, who, beholding his reflection in the depths below, plunged down and was swallowed in the embrace of Physis. The climax of this development was marked in the eighteeth century by the French Revolution, in the nineteenth century by scientific materialism, and in the twentieth century by political and social 'realism', which has turned the wheel of history back a full two thousand years and seen the recrudescence of the despotism, the lack of individual rights, the cruelty, indignity, and slavery of the pre-Christian world, whose 'labor problem' was solved by the 'ergostulum' (convict camp). The 'transvaluation of all values' is being enacted before our eyes."
|"The snake symbol brings us to the images of Paradise, trees and
earth. This amounts to an evolutionary regression from the animal Kingdom
back to plants and inorganic nature, epitomized in alchemy by the secret
of matter, the lapis. Here lapis is not to be understood as the end
product of the opus but rather as its initial material. This arcane
substance was also called lapis by the alchemists."
*Footnote 47 Mylius (Phil. ref., p15) identifies the elements that constitute the lapis with corpus, spiritus, and anima; corpus is matter, earth and spiritus is the nodus (bond) animae et corporis, and therefore corresponds to fire. Water and air, which would properly characterize the anima, are also 'spirit'. Three of the elements are 'moving', one (earth) 'unmoving'. Cf. n. 89 infra.
"This primary substance is round (masa globosa, rotundum) like the world and the world soul; it is the 'stone that has spirit', in modern parlance the most elementary building-stone in the architecture of matter, the atom, which is an intellectual model. The alchemists describe the 'round element' now as a primal water, now as a primal fire, or as pneuma, primal earth, or 'corpusculum nostrae sapientiae', the little body of our wisdom. As water or fire it is the universal solvent, as stone and metal it is something that has to be dissolved and changed into air (pneuma, spirit).
Zosimos calls the rotundum the omega element, which probably signifies the head. The skull is mentioned as the vessel of transformation in the Sabaen treatise...the vas is often synonymous with the lapis, so that there is no difference between the vessel and its content; in other words, it is the same arcanum.
*Footnote 58 The pelican is a distilling vessel, but the distillate, instead of dripping into the receiver runs back into the belly of the retort. We could take this as illustrating the process of conscious realization and the reapplication of conscious insight to the unconscious. 'It restored their former security of life to those once near death', the author says of the Pelican, which, as we know, is an allegory of Christ."
"A is the inside, as it were the origin and source from which the other letters flow, and likewise the final goal to which all the others flow back, as rivers flow into the ocean or into the great sea" ~ Anonymous author of the scholia of the Tractus aureus
"This explanation is enough to show us that the vessel is nothing else but a mandala, symbolizing the self or the higher Adam with his four emanations (like Horus with his four sons). The author calls it the 'Septenarius magicus occultus' (the hidden magic number, seven) Likewise Maria the Prophetess says 'The Philosophers teach everything except the Hermetic vessel, because that is divine and hidden from the Gentiles by the Lord's wisdom: and they who know it not, know not the true method, because of their ignorance of the vessel of Hermes'. 'This is the vessel of Hermes, which the Stoics hid, and it is no nigromatic vessel, but is the measure of they fire'.
Philalethes, summing up the innumerable synonyms for Mercurius, says that Mercurius is not only the key to the alchemical art, and 'that two edged sword in the hand of the cherub who guards the way to the tree of life', but also, 'our true, hidden vessel, the Philosophic garden, wherein out Sun rises and sets'.
Just as a man culminates...in the idea of a 'light' and a good God, so he rests below on a dark and evil principle, traditionally described as the devil or as the serpent that personifies Adam's disobedience. And just as we symmetrized man by the serpent, so the serpent has its compliment in the second Naassene quaternio, or Paradise Quaternio. Paradise takes into the world of plants and animals. It is, in fact, a plantation or garden enlivened by animals, the epitome of all the growing things that sprout out of the earth. As serpens mercurialis, the snake is not only related to the god of revelation, Hermes, but as a vegetation numen, calls forth the 'blessed greenness', all the budding and blossoming of plant life. Indeed, this serpent actually dwells in the interior of the earth and is the pneuma that lies hidden in the stone.
The symmetrical compliment of the serpent, then, is the stone as representative of the earth. Here we enter a later development stage of the symbolism, the alchemical stage, whose central idea is the lapis. Just as the serpent forms the lower opposite of man, so the lapis compliments the serpent. It corresponds, on the other hand, to man, for it is not only represented in human form but even has 'body, soul, and spirit', is an homunculus and, as the texts show, a symbol of the self. It is, however, not a human ego but a collective entity, a collective soul, like the Indian hiranyagarbha, 'golden seed'. The stone is the 'father-mother' of metals, an hermaphrodite. Though it is an ultimate unity, it is not an elementary but a composite unity that has evolved. For the stone we could substitute all those 'thousands of names' which the alchemists devised for their central symbol, but nothing different or more fitting would have been said."
|"The point of greatest
tension between the opposites...(is)...the double significance of the
serpent, which occupies the center of the system. Being an allegory of
Christ as well as of the devil, it contains and symbolizes the strongest
polarity into which the Anthropos falls when he descends into Physis. The
ordinary man has not reached this point of tension: he has it merely
in the unconscious, i.e., in the serpent.
*Footnote 79 Most people do not have sufficient range of consciousness to become aware of the opposites inherent in human nature. The tensions they generate remain for the most part unconscious, but can appear in dreams. Traditionally, the snake stands for the vulnerable spot in man: it personifies his shadow, i.e., his weakness and unconsciousness. The greatest danger about unconsciousness is proneness to suggestion. The effect of suggestion is due to the release of an unconscious dynamic, and the more unconscious this is, the more effective it will be. Hence the ever-widening split between conscious and unconscious increases the danger of psychic infection and mass psychosis. With the loss of symbolic ideas the bridge to the unconscious has broken down. Instinct no longer affords protection against unsound ideas and empty slogans. Rationality without tradition and without a basis in instinct is proof against no absurdity.
In the lapis, the counterpart of man, the opposites are so to speak united, but with a visible seam or suture as in the symbol of the hermaphrodite. This means the idea of the lapis just as much as the all-too-human element mars homo sapiens. In the higher Adam and in the rotundum the opposition is invisible. But presumably the one stands in absolute opposition to the other, and if both are identical as indistinguishable transcendental entities, this one of those paradoxes that are the rule: a statement about something metaphysical can only be antinomial.
This arrangement shows the stronger tension between anthropos-rotundum and serpens on the one hand, and the lesser tension between homo and lapis on the other, expressed by the distance of the points in question from one another.
If we look back over the course our argument has taken, we see at the beginning of it two Gnostic quaternities, one of which is supraordinate, and the other subordinate, to man, namely the "Positive Moses" or Anthropos Quaternio, and the Paradise Quaternio. It is probably no accident that Hippolytus mentions precisely these two quaternities, or that the Naassenes know only these, for the position of man is, in their system, closely connected with the higher Adam but is separated from the cthonic world of plants and animals, namely Paradise. Only through his shadow has he a relationship to the serpent with its dual meaning. The situation is altogether characteristic of the age of Gnosticism and early Christianity. Man in those days was close to the 'kingless [i.e., independent] race', that is, to the upper quaternity, the kingdom of heaven, and looked upward. But what begins above does not rise higher, but ends below. Thus we felt impelled to symmetrize the lower Adam of the Naassenes by a Shadow Quaternio, for just as he cannot ascend direct to the higher Adam--since the Moses Quaternio lies in between--so we have to assume a lower, shadowy quaternity corresponding to the upper one, lying between him and the lower principle, the serpent. This operation was obviously unknown in the Gnostic age, because the unsymmetrical upward trend seemed to disturb nobody, but rather to be the very thing desired and 'on the programme'. If, therefore, we insert between Man and Serpent a quaternity not mentioned in the texts, we do so because we can no longer conceive of a psyche that is oriented exclusively upwards and that is not balanced by an equally strong consciousness of the lower man. This is a specifically modern state of affairs and, in the context of Gnostic thinking, an obnoxious anachronism that puts man in the center of the field of consciousness where he had never consciously stood before. Only through Christ could he actually see this consciousness mediating between God and the world, and by making the person of Christ the object of his devotions he gradually came to acquire Christ's position as mediator. Through the Christ crucified between the two thieves man gradually attained knowledge of his shadow and its duality. This duality had already been anticipated by the double meaning of the serpent. Just as the serpent stands for the power that heals as well as corrupts, so one of the thieves is destined upwards, the other downwards, and so likewise the shadow is on one side regrettable and reprehensible weakness, on the other side healthy instinctivity and the prerequisite for higher consciousness.
Thus the Shadow Quaternio that counterbalances man's position as mediator only falls into place when that position has become sufficiently real for him to feel his consciousness of himself or of his own existence more strongly than his dependence on and governance by God. Therefore, if we compliment the upward-trending pneumatic attitude that characterizes the early Christian and Gnostic mentality by adding its opposite counterpart, this is in line with the historical development. Man's original dependence on a pneumatic sphere, to which he clung like a child to its mother, was threatened by the kingdom of Satan. From him the pneumatic man was delivered by the Redeemer, who broke the gates of hell and deceived the archons; but he was bound to the kingdom of heaven in exactly the same degree. He was separated from evil by an abyss. This attitude was powerfully reinforced by the immediate expectation of the Second Coming. But when Christ did not reappear, a regression was only expected. When such a great hope is dashed and such great expectations are not fulfilled, then the libido perforce flows back into man and heightens his consciousness of himself by accentuating his personal psychic processes; in other words, he gradually moves into the center of his field of consciousness. This leads to separation from the pneumatic sphere and an approach to the realm of the shadow. Accordingly, man's moral consciousness is sharpened, and, as a parallel to this, his feeling of redemption becomes relativized. The Church has to exalt the significance and power of her ritual in order to put limits to the inrush of reality. In this way she inevitably becomes a 'kingdom of this world'. The transition from the Anthropos to the Shadow Quaternio illustrates an historical development which led, in the eleventh century, to a widespread recognition of the evil principle as the world creator.
The serpent and its cthonic wisdom form the turning-point of the great drama. The Paradise Quaternio with the lapis, that comes next, brings us to the beginnings of natural science (Roger Bacon, 1214-94; Albertus Magnus, 1193-1280; and the alchemists), whose main trend differs from the pneumatic not only by 180o but only by 90o --that is to say, it cuts across the spiritual attitude of the Church and is more an embarrassment for faith than a contradiction of it.
From the lapis, i.e., from alchemy, the line leads direct to the quaternio of alchemical states of aggregation, which, as we have seen, is ultimately based on the space-time quaternio The latter comes into the category of archetypal quaternities and proves, like these, to be an indispensable principle for organizing the sense-impressions which the psyche receives from bodies in motion. Space and time form a psychological a priori, an aspect of the archetypal quaternity which is altogether indispensible for acquiring knowledge of physical processes.
The development from the Shadow to the Lapis Quaternio illustrates the change in man's picture of the world during the course of the second millennium. The series ends with the concept of the rotumdum, or of rotation as contrasted with the static quality of the quaternity, which, as we have said, proves to be of prime importance for apprehending reality. The rise of scientific materialism connected with this development appears on the one hand as a logical consequence, on the other hand as a deification of matter. This latter aspect is based, psychologically, on the fact that the rotundum coincides with the archetype of the Anthropos.
With this insight the ring of the uroboros closes, that symbol of the opus circulare of Nature as well as of the 'Art'.
Our quaternio series could also be expressed in the form of an equation, where A stands for the initial state (in this case the Anthropos) and for the end state, and B C D for the intermediate states. The formations that split off from them are denoted in each case by the small letters a b c d. With regard to the construction of the formula, we must bear in mind that we are concerned with the continual process of transformation of one and the same substance. This substance, and its respective state of transformation, will always bring forth its like; thus A will produce a and B b; equally, b produces B and c C. It is also assumed that a is followed by b and that the formula runs from left to right. These assumptions are legitimate in a psychological formula.
Naturally the formula cannot be arranged in a linear fashion but only in a circle, which for that reason moves to the right. A produces its like, a. From a the process advances by contingence to b, which in turn produces B. The transformation turns rightwards with the sun; that is, it is a process of becoming conscious, as is already indicated by the splitting (discrimination) of A B C D each time into four qualitatively discrete units. Our scientific understanding today is not based on a quaternity but on a trinity of principles (space, time, causality[I am not counting the space-time continuum of modern physics]). Here, however, we are moving not in the sphere of modern scientific thinking, but in that of the classical and medieval view of the world, which up to the time of Leibniz recognized the principle of correspondence and applied it naively and unreflectingly. In order to give our judgement on A--expressed by a b c--the character of wholeness, we must supplement our time-conditioned thinking by the principle of correspondence or, as I have called it, synchronicity. The reason for this is that our description of Nature is in certain respects incomplete and accordingly excludes observable facts from our understanding or else formulates them in an unjustifiably negative way, as for instance in the paradox of 'an effect without a cause'. Our Gnostic quaternity is a naive product of the unconscious and therefor represents a psychic fact which can be brought into relationship with the four orienting functions of consciousness; for the rightwards movement of the process is, as I have said, the expression of conscious discrimination and hence an application of the four functions that constitute the essence of a conscious process.
The whole cycle necessarily returns to its beginning, and does so at the moment when D, in point of contingence the state furthest removed from A, changes into a3 by a kind of enantiodromia. We thus have:
|The formula reproduces exactly the essential features of the symbolic processes of transformation. It shows the rotation of the mandala, the antithetical play of complementary (or compensatory) processes, then the apocastastasis, i.e., the restoration of an original state of wholeness, which the alchemists expressed through the symbol of the uroboros, and finally the formula repeats the ancient alchemical tetrameria, which is implicit in the fourfold structure of unity:|
|What the formula can only hint at, however, is the higher plane
that is reached through the process of transformation and integration. The
'sublimation' or progress or qualitative change consists in an unfolding
of totality into four parts four times, which means nothing less than its
becoming conscious. When psychic contents are split up into four aspects,
it means that they have been subjected to discrimination by the four
orienting functions of consciousness. Only the production of these four
aspects makes a total description possible. The process depicted by our
formula changes the originally unconscious totality into a conscious one.
The Anthropos A descends from above through his Shadow B into Physis C
(=serpent), and, through a kind of crystallization process D (=lapis) that
reduces chaos to order, rises again to the original state, which in the
meantime has been transformed from an unconscious into a conscious one.
Consciousness and understanding arise from discrimination, that is,
through analysis (dissolution) followed by synthesis, as stated in
symbolical terms by the alchemical dictum: 'Solve et coagula'
(dissolve and coagulate). The correspondence is represented by the
identity of the letters, a, a1, a2, a3,
and so on. That is to say, we are dealing all the time with the same
factor, which in the formula merely changes its place, whereas
psychologically its name and quality change too. At the same time it
becomes clear that the change of place is always an enantiodromian change
of situation, corresponding to the complimentary or compensatory changes
in the psyche as a whole. It was in this way that the changing hexagrams
in the I Ching was understood by the classical Chinese commentators. Every
archetypal arrangement has its own numinosity, as is apparent from the
very names given to it. Thus a to d is the 'kingless race', a1
to d1 is the Shadow Quaternio, which is annoying, because it
stands for the all-to-human human being (Nietzsche's 'Ugliest Man'),
a2 to d2 is 'Paradise', which speaks for itself, and
finally a3 to d3 is the world of matter, whose numinosity in the shape of
materialism threatens to suffocate our world. What changes these
correspond to in the history of the human mind over the last two thousand
years I need hardly specify in detail.
The formula presents a symbol of the self, for the self is not just a static quantity or constant form, but is also a dynamic process. In the same way, the ancients saw the imago Dei in a man not as a mere imprint, as a sort of lifeless, stereotyped impression, but as an active force. The four transformations represent a process of restoration or rejuvenation taking place, as it were, inside the self, and comparable to the carbon-nitrogen cycle in the sun, when a carbon nucleus captures four protons (two of which immediately become neutrons) and releases them at the end of the cycle in the form of an alpha particle. The carbon nucleus itself comes out of the reaction unchanged, 'like the Phoenix from the ashes.' The secret of existence, i.e., the existence of the atom and its components, may well consist in a continually repeated process of rejuvenation, and one comes to similar conclusions in trying to account for the numinosity of the archetypes.
I am fully aware of the extremely hypothetical nature of this comparison, but I deem it appropriate to entertain such reflections even at the risk of being deceived by appearances. Sooner or later nuclear physics and the psychology of the unconscious will draw closer together as both of them, independently of one another and from opposite directions, push forward into transcendental territory, the one with the concept of the atom, the other with that of the archetype.
The analogy with physics is not a digression, since the symbolical schema itself represents the descent into matter and requires the identity of the outside with the inside. Psyche cannot be totally different from matter, for how otherwise could it move matter? And matter cannot be alien to psyche, for how else could matter produce psyche? Psyche and matter exist in one and the same world, and each partakes of the other, otherwise any reciprocal action would be impossible. If research could only advance far enough, therefore, we should arrive at an ultimate agreement between physical and psychological concepts. Our present attempts may be bold, but I believe they are on the right lines. Mathematics, for instance, has more than once proved that its purely logical constructions which transcend all experience subsequently coincided with the behavior of things. This, like the events I call synchronistic, points to a profound harmony between all forms of existence.
Since analogy formation is a law which to a large extent governs the life of the psyche, we may fairly conjecture that our--to all appearances--purely speculative construction is not a new invention, but is prefigured on earlier levels of thought. Generally speaking, these prefigurations can be found in the multifarious stages of the mystic transformation process, as well as in the different degrees of initiation into the mysteries. We also find them in classical as well as Christian trichotomy consisting of the pneumatic, the psychic, and the hylic. One of the most comprehensive attempts at this kind is the sixteenfold schema in the Book of Platonic Tetralogies. I have dealt with this in detail in Psychology and Alchemy and can therefore limit myself here to basic points. The schematization and analogy-formation start from four first principles: 1. the work of nature, 2. water, 3. composite natures, 4. the senses. Each of these four starting points has three stages of transformation, which together with the first stage makes sixteen parts in all. But besides this fourfold horizontal division of each of the principles, each stage has its correspondence in the vertical series:
|This table of correspondences shows the various aspects of the opus
alchemicum, which was also bound up with astrology and the so-called
necromantic arts. This is evident from the use of significant numbers and
the invocation or conjuring up of the familiar spirit. Similarly, the
age-old art of geomancy is based on a sixteen-part schema: four
central figures (consisting of Sub or Superiudex, Iudex, and two Testes),
four nepotes (grandsons), four sons, four mothers. (The series is written
from right to left.) These figures are arranged in a schema of
astrological houses, but the center that is empty in the horoscope is
replaced by a square containing the four central figures.
Athanasius Kircher produced a quaternity system that is worth mentioning in this connection:
Kircher comments that whereas the senses affect only the body, the first three unities are objects of understanding. So if one wants to understand what is perceived by the senses (sensibilia), this can only be done through the mind. 'Everything perceived by the senses must therefore be elevated to reason or to the intelligence or to absolute unity. When in this way we shall have brought the absolute unity back to the infinitely simple from all perceptible, rational or intellectual multiplicity, then nothing more remains to be said, and then the Stone too is not so much a Stone as no Stone, but everything is the simplest unity. And even as the absolute unity of that concrete and rational Stone has God for an exemplar, so likewise its intellectual unity is the intelligence. You can see from these unities how the perceiving senses go back to reason, and reason to intelligence, and intelligence to God, where in a perfect cycle is found the beginning and the consummation.' The Kircher should choose the lapis as an example of concrete things and of God's unity is obvious enough in terms of alchemy, because the lapis is the arcanum that contains God or that part of God which is hidden in matter.
Kircher's system shows certain affinities with our series of quaternios. Thus the Second Monad is a duality consisting of opposites, corresponding to the angelic world that was split by Lucifer's fall. Another significant analogy is that Kircher conceives his schema as a cycle set in motion by God as the prime cause, and unfolding out of itself, but brought back to God again through the activity of human understanding, so that the end returns once more to the beginning. This, too, is an analogy of our formula. The alchemists were fond of picturing their opus as a circulatory process, as a circular distillation or as the uroboros, the snake biting its own tail, and they made innumerable pictures of this process. Just as the central idea of the lapis Philosophorum plainly signifies the self, so the opus with its countless symbols illustrates the process of individuation, the step-by-step development of the self from an unconscious state to a conscious one. That is why the lapis, as prima materia, stands at the beginning of the process as well as at the end. According to Michael Maier, the gold, another synonym for the self, comes from the opius circulatorium of the sun. This circle is 'the line that runs back on itself (like the serpent that with its head bites its own tail), wherein that eternal painter and potter, God, may be discerned.' In this circle, Nature 'has related the four qualities to one another and drawn, as it were, an equilateral square, since contraries are bound together by contraries, and enemies by enemies, with the same everlasting bonds.' Maier compares this squaring of the circle to the 'homo quadratus,' the four-square man, who 'remains himself' come weal or woe. He calls it the 'golden house, the twice-bisected circle, the four-cornered phalanx, the rampart, the city wall, the four-sided line of battle.' This circle is a magic circle consisting of the union of opposites, 'immune to all injury.'
Independently of Western tradition, the same idea of the circular opus can be found in Chinese alchemy: 'When the light is made to move in a circle, all the energies of heaven and earth, of the light and the dark, are crystallized,' says the text of the Golden Flower.'
The οργανον κυκλισν, the circular apparatus that assists the circular process, is mentioned as early as Olympiodorus. Dorn is of the opinion that the 'circular movement of the Physio-chemists' comes from the earth, the lowest element. For the fire originates in the earth and transforms the finer minerals and water into air, rising up to the heavens, condenses there and falls back down again. But during their ascent the volatilized elements take 'from the higher stars male seeds, which they bring down into the four matrices, the elements, in order to fertilize them spagyrically.' This is the 'circular distillation' which Rupescissa says must be repeated a thousand times.
The basic idea of ascent and descent can be found in the Tabula smaragdina, and the stages of transformation have been depicted over and over again, above all in the Ripely 'Scrowle' and its variants. These should be understood as indirect attempts to apprehend the unconscious processes of individuation in the form of pictures.
I have tried, in this book, to elucidate and amplify the various aspects of the archetype which is most important for modern man to understand--namely, the archetype of the self. By way of introduction, I described those concepts and archetypes which manifest themselves in the course of any psychological treatment that penetrates at all deeply. The first of these is the SHADOW, that hidden, repressed, for the most part inferior and guilt-laden personality whose ultimate ramifications reach back into the realm of our animal ancestors and so comprise the whole historical aspect of the unconscious. Through analysis of the shadow and of the processes contained in it we uncover the ANIMA/ANIMUS syzygy. Looked at superficially, the shadow is cast by the conscious mind and is as much a privation of light as the physical shadow that follows the body. For this superficial view, therefore, the psychological shadow with its moral inferiority might also be regarded as a privation of good. On closer inspection, however, it proves to be a darkness that hides influential and autonomous factors which can be distinguished in their own right, namely anima and animus. When we observe them in full operation--as the devastating, blindly obstinate demon of opinionatedness in a woman, and the glamorous, possessive, moody, and sentimental seductress in a man--we begin to doubt whether the unconscious can be merely the insubstantial comet's tail of consciousness and nothing but a privation of light and good.
If it has been believed hitherto that the human shadow was the source of all evil, it can now be ascertained on closer investigation that the unconscious man, that is his shadow, does not consist only of morally reprehensible tendencies, but also displays a number of good qualities, such as normal instincts, appropriate reactions, realistic insights, creative impulses, etc. On this level of understanding, evil appears more as a distortion, a deformation, a misinterpretation and a misapplication of fact that themselves are natural. These falsifications and caricatures now appear as the specific effects of anima and animus, and the latter as the real authors of evil. But we cannot stop even at this realization, for it turns out that all archetypes spontaneously develop favorable and unfavorable, light and dark, good and bad effects. In the end we have to acknowledge that the self is a complexio oppositirum precisely because there can be no reality without polarity. We must not overlook the fact that opposites acquire their moral accentuation only within the sphere of human endeavour and action, and that we are unable to give a definition of good and evil that could be considered universally valid. In other words, we do not know what good and evil are in themselves. It must therefore be supposed that they spring from a need of human consciousness and that for this reason they lose their validity outside the human sphere. That is to say a hypostasis of good and evil as metaphysical entities is inadmissable because it would deprive these terms of meaning. If we call everything that God does or allows 'good', then evil is good too, and 'good' becomes meaningless. But suffering, whether it be Christ's passion or the suffering of the world, remains the same as before. Stupidity, sin, sickness, old age, and death continue to form the dark foil that sets of the joyful splendor of life.
The recognition of anima and animus is a specific experience that seems to be reserved mostly, or at any rate primarily, for psychotherapists. Nevertheless, anyone who has a little knowledge of belles-lettres will have no difficulty in forming a picture of the anima; she is a favorite subject for novelists, particularly west of the Rhine. Nor is a careful study of dreams always necessary. It is not quite so easy to recognize the woman's animus, for his name is legion. But anyone who can stand the animosity of his fellows without being infected by it, and is capable at the same time of examining it critically, cannot help discovering that they are possessed. It is, however, more advantageous and more to the point to subject to the most rigorous scrutiny one's own moods and their changing influence on one's personality. To know where the other person makes a mistake is of little value. It only becomes interesting when you know where you make the mistake, for then you can do something about it. What we can improve in others is of doubtful utility as a rule, if, indeed, it has any effect at all.
Although, to begin with, we meet the anima and animus mostly in their negative and unwelcome form, they are very far from being only a species of bad spirit. They have, as we have said, an equally positive aspect. Because of their numinous, suggestive powers they have formed since olden times the archetypal basis of all masculine and feminine divinities and therefore merit special attention, above all from the psychologist, but also from thoughtful laymen. As numina, anima and animus work now for good, now for evil, Their opposition is that of the sexes. They therefore represent a supreme pair of opposites, not hopelessly divided by logical contradiction but, because of the mutual attraction between them, giving promise of union and actually making it possible. The coniunctio oppositorum engaged the speculations of the alchemists in the form of the 'Chymical Wedding', and those of the cabalists in the form of Tifereth and Malchuth or God and the Shekhinah, not to speak of the marriage of the Lamb.
The dual being born of the alchemical union of opposites, the Rebis or Lapis Philosophorum, is so distinctively marked in the literature that we have no difficulty in recognizing it as a symbol of the self. Psychologically the self is a union of conscious (masculine) and unconscious (feminine). It stands for the psychic totality. So formulated, it is a psychological concept. Empirically, however, the self appears spontaneously in the shape of specific symbols, and its totality is discernible above all in the mandala and its countless variants. Historically, these symbols are authenticated as God-images.
The anima/animus stage is correlated with polytheism, the self with monotheism. The natural archetypal symbolism, describing a totality that includes light and dark, contradicts in some sort the Christian but not the Jewish or Yahwistic viewpoint, or only to a relative degree. The latter seems to be closer to Nature and therefore to be a better reflection of immediate experience. Nevertheless, the Christian heresiarchs tried to sail round the rocks of Manichaean dualism, which was a danger to the early Church, in a way that took cognizance of the natural symbol, and among the symbols for Christ there are some very important ones which he has in common with the devil, though this had no influence on dogma.
By far the most fruitful attempts, however, to find suitable symbolic expressions for the self were made by the Gnostics. Most of them--Valentinus and Basilides, for instance--were in reality theologians who, unlike the more orthodox ones, allowed themselves to be influenced in large measure by natural inner experience. The are therefore, like the alchemists, a veritable mine of information concerning all those natural symbols arising out of the repercussions of the Christian message. At the same time, their ideas compensate the asymmetry of God postulated by the doctrine of the privatio boni, exactly like those well-known modern tendencies of the unconscious to produce symbols of totality for bridging the gap between conscious and the unconscious, which has widened dangerously to the point of universal disorientation.
I am well aware that this work, far from being complete, is a mere sketch showing how certain Christian ideas look when observed from the standpoint of psychological experience. Since my main concern was to point out the parallelism or the difference between the empirical findings and our traditional views, a consideration of the disparities due to time and language proved unavoidable. This was particularly so in the case of the fish symbol. Inevitably, we move here on uncertain ground and must now and then have recourse to a speculative hypothesis or tentatively reconstruct a context. Naturally every investigator should also venture an occasional hypothesis even at the risk of making a mistake. Mistakes are, after all, the foundation of truth, and if a man does not know what a things is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not.