Reading The Red Book (27)

The title of Chapter XIV of Liber Secundus, the second part of The Red Book, is Divine Folly. Jung* finds himself in a library, where he engages in a dialogue with a librarian. He summarizes the atmosphere as “troubling-scholarly ambitions-scholarly conceit-wounded scholarly vanity,” which are the very values he has tried to leave behind by engaging with the unconscious in The Red Book.

James Tissot, “Jesus Goes Alone onto a Mountain to Pray”

Jung wants to borrow a fourteenth-century devotional book called The Imitation of Christ. He says this particular book is written from the soul while scientific works leave him empty and sick. The librarian derides his “old-fashioned” choice and says that Christian dogmatic is a thing of the past. Jung protests by saying that there is more to Christianity than we see. The librarian suggests reading Nietzsche instead as a substitute for the religion that has collapsed. Jung replies:

“Perhaps from your standpoint you’re right, but I can’t help feeling that Nietzsche speaks to those who need more freedom, not to those who clash strongly with life, who bleed from wounds, and who hold fast to actualities.”

While Nietzsche glorifies superiority by criticizing Christianity with its shackles of morality and its attempts at keeping people down, Jung states: “I know men who need inferiority; not superiority.” For Jung, liberation from Christianity is delusion.

Jung’s words here are strongly reminiscent of the Beatitudes, which are the eight blessings Jesus proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the Earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

I am currently reading a wonderful book written by Eugene Drewermann, a former Catholic priest, who integrates Christianity with depth psychology. The book Worte der Freiheit: Die Seligpreisungen Jesu (Words of Freedom: The Beatitudes of Jesus) proposes that the eight blessings capture the true beauty and the true spirit of Christianity. To be poor in spirit means to free oneself from the trap of superiority and acknowledge one’s limits, humility and weakness. The terror of efficiency and the constant busyness mask our inner emptiness and existential void. At the same time of us are hungry and thirsty to start a real, proper life, says Drewermann in his book.

Jung ponders in this chapter what it truly means to imitate Christ, who himself emulated no one, and comes up with a paradox:

“If I thus truly imitate Christ, I do not imitate anyone, I emulate no one, but go my own way, …”

Sanford L. Drob reminds us that Jung has written extensively on imitation. (1) In CW 7 (Two Essays on Analytical Psychology, par. 242) Jung wrote:

“Human beings have one faculty which, though it is of the greatest utility for collective purposes, is most pernicious for individuation, and that is the faculty of imitation. Collective psychology cannot dispense with imitation, for without it all mass organizations, the State and the social order, are impossible. Society is organized, indeed, less by law than by the propensity to imitation, implying equally suggestibility, suggestion, and mental contagion. But we see every day how people use, or rather abuse, the mechanism of imitation for the purpose of personal differentiation: they are content to ape some eminent personality, some striking characteristic or mode of behaviour, thereby achieving an outward distinction from the circle in which they move. We could almost say that as a punishment for this the uniformity of their minds with those of their neighbours, already real enough, is intensified into an unconscious, compulsive bondage to the environment. As a rule these specious attempts at individual differentiation stiffen into a pose, and the imitator remains at the same level as he always was, only several degrees more sterile than before. To find out what is truly individual in ourselves, profound reflection is needed; and suddenly we realize how uncommonly difficult the discovery of individuality is.”

Imitating Christ means for Jung not imitating any sterile and lifeless social structures but “to return to simple life.” The humble and everyday life right beneath our feet can solve more than thinking can.

The Sower published 1864 Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896 Presented by Gilbert Dalziel 1924 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/A00800

Notes:

(1) Sanford L. Drob, Reading The Red Book: An Interpretative Guide to C.G. Jung’s Liber Novus, Spring Journal Books 2012pp. 132-133

* Throughout the series I refer to the “I” of The Red Book as Jung, though it is not completely accurate to equate the narrator of The Red Book with Jung.

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Reading The Red Book – part 1

Reading The Red Book – part 2

Reading The Red Book – part 3

Reading The Red Book – part 4

Reading The Red Book – part 5

Reading The Red Book – part 6

Reading The Red Book – part 7

Reading The Red Book – part 8

Reading The Red Book – part 9

Reading The Red Book – part 10

Reading The Red Book – part 11

Reading The Red Book – part 12

Reading The Red Book – part 13

Reading The Red Book – part 14

Reading The Red Book – part 15

Reading The Red Book – part 16

Reading The Red Book – part 17

Reading The Red Book – part 18

Reading The Red Book – part 19

Reading The Red Book – part 20

Reading The Red Book – part 21

Reading The Red Book – part 22

Reading The Red Book – part 23

Reading The Red Book – part 24 

Reading The Red Book – part 25

Reading The Red Book – part 26

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Women’s Wisdom: Hildegard of Bingen

Karlheinz Oswald, Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth-century German Benedictine abbess, was a mystic, a healer and an intellectual, whose achievements are hard to believe if we realize that she lived in the times, when women had very limited opportunities. In the so-called High Middle Ages (1000-1250) Christianity was at its peak: monastic life was thriving and Gothic cathedrals were being erected all over Europe. Hildegard’s visionary mysticism was both sublime and rooted in sensuality; her endless body of work spanned painting, composing most sublime music, writing poems on the one hand and establishing monasteries, healing and writing on botany, medicine and theology on the other.

The Sibyl of the Rhine, as she was later called, managed to emancipate her community of sisters from the monks of Disibode, with whom she shared headquarters. She transferred the sisters with their dowries to Mount St Rupert near Bingen in the lush Rhineland valley, notwithstanding the vigorous protestations of her former abbot. (1) At the age of 42 she experienced spiritual awakening, which she thus described:

“… a burning light of tremendous brightness coming from heaven poured into my entire mind. Like a flame that does not burn but enkindles, it inflamed my entire heart and my entire breast, just like the sun that warms an object with rays.” (2)

She spent the subsequent tenyears writing her book Scivias (Know the Ways) and working on her illuminated paintings. In one of the most memorable ones featuring the man in sapphire blue, we can immediately appreciate her unique vision. The man is channeling the compassionate energy of the cosmos through his hands, which are “extended in a manner of healing and assisting.” (3) The figure in blue that Hildegard saw in her vision is “Christ in his earthly ministry” or Christ as man, wrote James Hillman in his Alchemical Psychology (4). His blue colouring is in the midpoint between the black of the earthy nigredo and the sublime white of the next stage of the alchemical opus. Interestingly, blue was also the colour used to depict Vishnu and other Indian gods such as Shiva. One of the explanations that I have come across says that while fighting with a primordial snake demon, Vishnu was bitten and as a result his skin turned blue. That would corroborate Hillman’s point concerning the shadow aspect that is associated with the colour blue in alchemy. Another explanation is that blue symbolizes cosmic wisdom, as the colour of the cosmos is deep blue. The visions of Hildegard truly surpassed the symbolism of Christianity and reached deeper into the universal realm of archetypal images common for all cultures.

Another key concept bequeathed to us by Hildegarde is viriditas – the greening power. She connects it with creativity and bearing fruit. (5) She speaks of the moist power of the earth in the spring. In The Book of Divine Works, which she composed ten years after Scivias, Hildegard gives a voice to the personification of Love, who says:

“I am the fiery life of divine substance, I blaze above the beauty of the fields, I shine in the waters, I burn in sun, moon, and stars. And I awaken all to life with every wind of the air, as with invisible life that sustains everything. For the air lives in greenness and fecundity. The waters flow as though they are alive. The sun also lives in its own light, and when the moon has waned it is rekindled by the light of the sun and thus lives again; and the stars shine out in their own light as though they are alive.” (6)

The universal vision of Hildegard was of cosmic proportions. The following illumination showing the Cosmic Egg is an image of the “universe as surrounded by a firmament of fire.” The stars in the picture stand for planets. (7)

Hildegard’s vision of the universe as an egg explained

Picturing the Universe as an egg was more characteristic of Pagans than Christians. Here Hildegard displays an unorthodox, deeply feminine vision. The great symbolist Rene Guenon wrote on the World Egg that it contains in seed all that the Cosmos will contain in its fully manifested state, and all that is essential to create life.

Cultivating the Cosmic Tree is another breathtaking vision of microcosm linked to macrocosm that Hildegard included in Scivias. As Matthew Fox says,

“For Hildegard, the cosmic tree and the world axis do not just sit there. They require cultivation and human creativity. The world is organic, but human ingenuity is required to bring the organism to its full potential. (8)

This is reminiscent of Jung’s idea that God needs an individual as much as an individual needs God.

One of the most enigmatic of her illuminations depicts “The Red Head of God Zealous or Erotic Justice.” A terrifying red face looks towards the north. In her vision, the three white wings grew larger and larger while beating the air. Christ spoke to Hildegard in that vision: “This head signifies the zeal of the Lord who is the rod of freedom from unbending injustice.”

via https://www.wikiart.o
rg/en/hildegard-of-bingen

Hildegard excelled in all of her endeavours, more astonishingly so as she was self-taught. She composed inspiring, breathtaking music despite the lack of any formal musical education. She always struck on her own guided purely by her soulful inspiration.

Notes

(1) Matthew Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, Bear and Company: Rochester, Vermont 2002, p. 4-5

(2) Ibid., p. 7

(3) Ibid, p. 32

(4) James Hillman, Alchemical Psychology, Kindle edition

(5) Matthew Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, Bear and Company: Rochester, Vermont 2002, p. 43

(6) Mark Atherton (transl.), Hildegard of Bingen: Selected Writings, Penguin Books, 2001, p. 26

(7) Matthew Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, Bear and Company: Rochester, Vermont 2002, p. 50

(8) Ibid., p. 69

(9) Ibid., p. 145

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Symbolist Art: The Mysteriarch (The One Who Presides over Mysteries)

In volume V of Collected Works (Symbols of Transformation, par. 299) Jung quotes a passage from Goethe’s Faust, in which he hero must descend to the realm of the Mothers:

“MEPHISTOPHELES: This lofty mystery I must now unfold.
Goddesses throned in solitude, sublime,
Set in no place, still less in any time.
At the mere thought of them my blood runs cold.
They are the Mothers!
… … … … … …
Goddesses, unknown to mortal mind,
And named indeed with dread among our kind.
To reach them you must plumb earth’s deepest vault;
That we have need of them is your own fault.
FAUST: Where leads the way?
MEPHISTOPHELES: There’s none! To the untrodden,
Untreadable regions—the unforgotten
And unforgettable—for which prepare!
There are no bolts, no hatches to be lifted,
Through endless solitudes you shall be drifted.
Can you imagine Nothing everywhere?
… … … … … …
Supposing you had swum across the ocean
And gazed upon the immensity of space,
Still you would see wave after wave in motion,
And even though you feared the world should cease,
You’d still see something—in the limpid green
Of the calm deep are gliding dolphins seen,
The flying clouds above, sun, moon, and star.
But blank is that eternal Void afar.
You do not hear your footfall, and you meet
No solid ground on which to set your feet.
… … … … … …
Here, take this key.
… … … … … …
The key will smell the right place from all others:
Follow it down, it leads you to the Mothers.
… … … … … …
Then to the depths!—I could as well say height:
It’s all the same. From the Existent fleeing,
Take the free world of forms for your delight,
Rejoice in things that long have ceased from being.
The busy brood will weave like coiling cloud,
But swing your key to keep away the crowd!
… … … … … …
A fiery tripod warns you to beware,
This is the nethermost place where now you are.
You shall behold the Mothers by its light,
Some of them sit, some walk, some stand upright,
Just as they please. Formation, transformation,
Eternal Mind’s eternal recreation.
Thronged round with images of things to be,
They see you not, shadows are all they see.
Then pluck up heart, the danger here is great,
Approach the tripod, do not hesitate,
And touch it with the key.” (1)

Mysteriarch is a plaster bust by George James Frampton, a British sculptor (1860-1928). The title means “the one who presides over mysteries.” The emblem or brooch in the central part of her dress include the Medusa and the bat while her headdress is made of bird feathers. A golden halo with swirling motifs surrounds her head. The most striking element of the sculpture, though, is her enduring, otherworldly gaze, haunting and hypnotic at the same time. She seems to have all the qualities of the mysterious Mothers, who for Jung symbolized the Unconscious with its simultaneously redeeming and perilous qualities. Like the Mothers, she encompasses the depths and the heights, the light and darkness. She gazes into the eternal void, which is “thronged with images of things to be.”

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Reading The Red Book (26)

Edvard Munch, “Golgotha”

“There are not many truths, there are only a few. Their meaning is too deep to grasp other than in symbols.”

C. G. Jung, The Red Book, Liber Secundus, chapter XIII

Chapter XII of Liber Secundus, the second part of The Red Book, is called “The Sacrificial Murder.” This has to be the most grisly vision to be encountered in Liber Novus:

“But this was the vision that I did not want to see, the horror that I did not want to live: A sickening feeling of nausea sneaks up on me, and abominable, perfidious serpents wind their way slowly and cracklingly through parched undergrowth; they hang down lazily and disgustingly lethargic from the branches, looped in dreadful knots. … A marionette with a broken head lies before me amidst the stones-a few steps further, a small apron and then behind the bush, the body of a small girl-covered with terrible wounds-smeared with blood. … a shrouded figure, like that of a woman, is standing calmly next to the child; her face is covered by an impenetrable veil.”

The woman remarks that such horrors happen every day and no one is enraged. Jung replies, “The horror is less real if all I have is knowledge.” The woman wants Jung to traverse from knowledge to experience. She says she is “the soul of the child” and orders Jung to take the liver out of the corpse. Then she adds:

“S: “You know what the liver means, and you ought to perform the healing act with it.’
I: ‘What is to be done?’
S: ‘Take a piece of the liver, in place of the whole, and eat it.’”

The woman tells Jung that as a man he shares in the guilt and therefore he must abase himself and do what she asks. By virtue of being human, we are all complicit in all acts of evil. After initial objections, Jung agrees to take part in this bloody ritual for the sake of the soul’s atonement. Here his writing is very visceral and the images he paints vivid:

“I kneel down on the stone, cut off a piece of the liver and put it in my mouth. My gorge rises-tears burst from my eyes, cold sweat covers my brow-a dull sweet taste of blood-I swallow with desperate efforts-it is impossible-once again and once again- I almost faint-it is done. The horror has been accomplished.”

This is when the woman throws away her veil and tells him she is in fact his soul.

For the ancients, the liver was the seat of life, as they believed that it produced blood. Now we know that one of its chief functions is purifying blood, which then goes to the heart. The livers of sacrificed animals were also used for divination, already in Babylonia. Anger and defiance were the emotions commonly associated with this organ, not only in Ancient Greece but also in China. (1) All of this points to the liver as an important seat of deep emotions, passion, intuition; an organ which links the soul with the body. Paracelsus called it “Alchemist im Bauche” – an alchemist in the belly. The punishment of Prometheus, whose liver was devoured by an eagle every night only to grow back for the torture to repeat, stands for the perpetual nature of suffering on the one hand and, more importantly, seems to suggest that he who soars to the heavens to steal the fire from the gods is not immune to the pains of the flesh, being only human. In another of his works Jung wrote that “every step forward along the path of individuation is achieved only at the cost of suffering.” (2)

Peter Paul Rubens, “Prometheus Bound”

An important thought that Jung expresses in this chapter is that to save one’s soul (“the true mother of the divine child”) one needs to eat from the bloody sacrificial flesh. Only this sort of communion with the body with all its darkness and suffering will heal the soul by letting it “redeem its primordial powers.” The Christian sacrament of the Holy Communion, understood as symbolic partaking of the body and blood of Christ, which Jung draws upon in this chapter, was preceded by similar rituals in ancient cultures, notably the Aztecs and the Greeks, who saw omophagia (eating of raw flesh) as an inextricable part of the cult of Dionysus. Also in the Orphic Mysteries, Dionysus Zagreus was torn apart and devoured by the Titans. His divine substance was distributed throughout the creation to vivify it. Similarly in the Egyptian myth, Osiris’ dismembered body served as the source of life and nourishment.

In this chapter Jung also conveys an important thought, which is one of the tenets of his psychology, and which may be surprising if taken at face value. Jung seems to issue a warning that Gods want to possess us humans but we must remember that we are not gods. He says:

“But if the soul dips into radiance, she becomes as remorseless as the God himself … But despite all the torment, you cannot let it be, since it will not let you be. … You feel that the fire of the sun has erupted in you. … Sometimes you no longer recognize yourself. You want to overcome it, but it overcomes you. … You want to employ it, but you are its tool.”

The gods and their solar power will not let humans simply “be.” When Jung had healed his god in the previous chapters, he was robbed of his life force. Now the encounter with his soul restores it. Jung finishes the chapter with a defiant statement: “Yes, I even find the divine superfluous.” The soul, which partakes both in the body and in the spirit, defies the gods, refusing to be held hostage by them. Sometimes “a reasonable life” must suffice, adds Jung.

The images in this chapter are predominantly mandalas. Sanford L. Drob finds them inhuman, even schizoid, and says that “they may reflect Jung’s extreme isolation and inwardness during this period and the difficulties he seems to have had in bridging the gap to an actual other.” (3) Jung indeed viewed the act of drawing a mandala as “an attempt at self-healing on the part of Nature, which does not spring from conscious reflection but from an instinctive impulse.” (4)

Notes:

(1) The Book of Symbols, Reflections on Archetypal Images, ARAS, edited by Ami Ronnberg p. 398

(2) C.G. Jung, Psychology and Religion: West and East (CW 11), par. 411

(3) Sanford L. Drob, Reading The Red Book: An Interpretative Guide to C.G. Jung’s Liber Novus, Spring Journal Books 2012p. 129

(4) C. G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, part I (CW 9), par. 714

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Reading The Red Book – part 1

Reading The Red Book – part 2

Reading The Red Book – part 3

Reading The Red Book – part 4

Reading The Red Book – part 5

Reading The Red Book – part 6

Reading The Red Book – part 7

Reading The Red Book – part 8

Reading The Red Book – part 9

Reading The Red Book – part 10

Reading The Red Book – part 11

Reading The Red Book – part 12

Reading The Red Book – part 13

Reading The Red Book – part 14

Reading The Red Book – part 15

Reading The Red Book – part 16

Reading The Red Book – part 17

Reading The Red Book – part 18

Reading The Red Book – part 19

Reading The Red Book – part 20

Reading The Red Book – part 21

Reading The Red Book – part 22

Reading The Red Book – part 23

Reading The Red Book – part 24 

Reading The Red Book – part 25

Reading The Red Book – part 27

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Hamnet and Tutankhamun

Shakespeare’s life is a great mystery but we do know that he had a son, Hamnet, who died at the age 11, possibly from the plague. Four years after his son’s death, Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, maybe his greatest masterpiece. In an extraordinary new novel called Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell tries to reimagine Hamnet’s death and its aftermath. The beating heart of the novel is neither Shakespeare nor even Hamnet, however, but Shakespeare’s wife called Agnes. She was the one who took care of the family, which stayed behind in Stratford, while Shakespeare spent most of the time in London.

The way O’Farrell writes is so palpable, so arresting that I felt transported back into those times, almost being able to sensually experience that distant historical reality in its full corporeality. By far the most devastating to read was the scene of Hamnet’s death and burial. The coldness and finality of these words were chilling to the bone:

“And there, by the fire, held in the arms of his mother, in the room in which he learnt to crawl, to eat, to walk, to speak, Hamnet takes his last breath.

He draws it in, he lets it out.

Then there is silence, stillness. Nothing more.”

I thought of Hamnet while visiting an exhibition Tutankhamun – His Tomb and His Treasures last month in Zurich. “The Boy Pharaoh” also died at a very young age. He did not produce an heir – both his daughters were stillborn and their tiny mummies were placed in tiny sarcophagi and buried with their father’s. Admiring the exhibition’s sheer grandeur, I was haunted by two images – the face of Hamnet before Agnes covered it with white cloth -“She cannot cover him the first time. She cannot do it the second” – and Tutankhamun’s magnificent gold mask. This “imperishable surrogate face” was fashioned in the likeness of Osiris. From the description at the exhibition:

“The animated eyes are light quartz inlaid with obsidian for the pupils. Set on the forehead of the striped headdress are two divine emblems: the vulture’s head of Upper Egypt and the serpent’s body of Lower Egypt. … The inscription on the back of the mask contains a text which equates the sensory organs with gods…”

Mask of Tutankhamun, via Wikipedia

While Hamnet’s body is wrapped in a white shroud and buried – “The grave is a shock. A deep, dark rip in the earth, as if made by the careless slash of a giant claw.” – no less than four shrines inscribed with sacred writings are nested around the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. With countless objects ranging from his throne to board games, the pharaoh embarked on a symbolic journey towards the immortal existence as a God. The texts on the walls of the second shrine are partly written in coded or secret hieroglyphs and contain very mysterious depictions from an unknown book of the Netherworld. According to a French scholar, the second shrine depicts how “the souls of
the dead rising up and following the sun are powers which refill and empower the
sun during the night.” Osiris, the god of the dead , and the Sun become one by forming “The Solar Osirian Unity.”

Meanwhile, Agnes picks the flowers for his son’s last journey:

“Agnes selects rue, comfrey, yellow-eyed chamomile. She takes purple lavender and thyme, a handful of rosemary. Not heartsease, because Hamnet disliked the smell. Not angelica, because it is too late for that and it did not help, did not perform its task, did not save him, did not break the fever. Not valerian, for the same reason. Not milk thistle, for the leaves are so spiny and sharp, enough to pierce the skin, to bring forth drops of blood. She tucks the dried plants into the sheet, nestles them next to his body, where they whisper their comfort to him.”

Finally, both the book and the exhibition made me meditate on the difference (or lack thereof) between truth and fiction. O’Farrell’s book is a work of creative fantasy, for we do not have any documents which would support any of the events she describes in her novel. All we know is that Hamnet died prematurely, which is a mere footnote to the biography of the Bard. And yet her book undeniably breathes the truth. The written world becomes palpable, substantial, solid.

On the other hand, the Tutankhamun Exhibition that is currently touring the world does not contain a single object that Howard Carter so famously discovered in 1922, uttering the words that would go down in history – “I see wonderful things“. The truth is that all the wonderful things at the exhibition are meticulously handcrafted replicas. The originals are way too vulnerable to tour the world and are now safe in Cairo.

The way the exhibition recreates the moment of the discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun is quite magical. What we the visitors see is what appeared in front of Howard Carter – we are walking through the tomb of the king with its different chambers.

Since the usual glass cases are unnecessary, it is possible to immerse oneself in the experience. The emotional truth and the enthusiasm it generates is quite exhilarating.

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Reading The Red Book (25)

“I know your shadow and mine, that follows and comes with us, and only waits for the hour of twilight when he will strangle you and me with all the daimons of the night.”

“The Red Book,” chapter XII “Hell”

Henry Fuseli, “The Nightmare”

Chapter XII of Liber Secundus entitled “Hell” begins with a terrifying vision:

“I find myself in a gloomy vault, whose floor consists of damp stone slabs. In the middle there is a column from which ropes and axes hang. At the foot of the column there lies an awful serpent-like tangle of human bodies. At first I catch sight of the figure of a young maiden with wonderful red-gold hair-a man of devilish appearance is lying half under her-his head is bent backward-a thin streak of blood runs down his forehead-two similar daimons have thrown themselves over the maiden’s feet and body. Their faces bear an inhuman expression-the living evil-their muscles are taut and hard, and their bodies sleek like serpents. They lie motionless. The maiden holds her hand over one eye of the man lying beneath her, who is the most powerful of the three-her hand firmly clasps a small silver fishing rod that she has driven into the eye of the devil.”

The eye is a complex symbol, whose meaning here is connected with consciousness coming from the underworld and from the the evil. Amidst decomposition and disintegration, the anima wants to rend the demon apart. She knows that “nothing is more valuable to the evil than his eye” (one cannot not think here of the Eye of Sauron). Jung here juxtaposes the emptiness of evil against the “gleaming fullness” and “the shining power” of what is good, bright and beautiful. Jung stresses that “the eternal fullness” cannot exist without the eternal emptiness.

Furthermore, evil has unquestionable power:

“Once evil seizes you without pity, no father, no mother, no right, no wall and tower, no armor and protective power come to your aid.”

Evil came to Jung because he created a radiant God. He says:

“But if you want to escape evil, you will create no God, everything that you do is tepid and gray.”

He who creates divine beauty is followed by a relentless shadow. The same shadow endows the creator with insight, passion and depth. The fishing rod that the anima/soul uses to pluck out the eye of the demon is the instrument of consciousness that tries to “fish in emptiness” for wisdom.

The theme of this chapter centres around evil and its meaning. Firstly, the individuated soul cannot simply remain in “the light of the upperworld.” Rejecting the evil would mean that the soul of such an individual would be stuck in the underworld – “his soul will languish in the dungeons of the daimons.” Beauty would not exist if the evil did not “long” for it and if the evil did not look at it with his multiple eyes. “The evil one is holy,” concludes Jung.

The many-eyed Devil from the Tarot of Marseilles by Jean Dodal (via Wikipedia)

Sanford L. Drob emphasizes the role of evil in individuation. He says:

“… one cannot forge a powerful, happy, and lustrous self without also creating an evil and empty one. The forging of such a radiant self will be followed by the imaginative unfolding of a nightmare.” (1)

All the qualities traditionally associated with the evil one such as “lust, avarice and earthly desire” (2) are at the ground of all being and are indispensable to any creative impulse. The image that accompanies this chapter suggests a reconciliation of opposing principles, says Drob.

Notes:

(1) Sanford L. Drob, Reading The Red Book: An Interpretative Guide to C.G. Jung’s Liber Novus, Spring Journal Books 2012p. 124

(2) Ibid., p.124

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Reading The Red Book – part 1

Reading The Red Book – part 2

Reading The Red Book – part 3

Reading The Red Book – part 4

Reading The Red Book – part 5

Reading The Red Book – part 6

Reading The Red Book – part 7

Reading The Red Book – part 8

Reading The Red Book – part 9

Reading The Red Book – part 10

Reading The Red Book – part 11

Reading The Red Book – part 12

Reading The Red Book – part 13

Reading The Red Book – part 14

Reading The Red Book – part 15

Reading The Red Book – part 16

Reading The Red Book – part 17

Reading The Red Book – part 18

Reading The Red Book – part 19

Reading The Red Book – part 20

Reading The Red Book – part 21

Reading The Red Book – part 22

Reading The Red Book – part 23

Reading The Red Book – part 24 

Reading The Red Book – part 26

Reading The Red Book – part 27

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Reading The Red Book (24)

Chapter XI of Liber Secundus is called The Opening of the Egg. Having sung his incantations, Jung kneels on the rug and carefully opens the egg. Completely healed, Izdubar appears in front of him. The god relates what his experience had been inside of the egg:

“I was ancient and perpetually renewing myself-/ Falling from the heights to the depths,/ and whirled glowing from the depths to the heights-/hovering around myself amidst glowing clouds-/ as raining embers beating down like the foam of the surf, engulfing/ myself in stifling heat-/Embracing and rejecting myself in a boundless game/ Where was I? I was completely sun.”

Camille Pissarro, “Sunrise on the Sea”

Izdubar had become one with the Sun; like the Sun he now sees all and knows all. (1) Like the Sun, he had made a night journey into the depths of the nadir and has ascended towards the zenith, symbolizing his perpetual renewal. (2) Izdubar now emits a radiant light that Jung’s eyes “cannot grasp.” Jung compares himself to the mother, who had given birth to a god:

“I became his nocturnal mother who incubated the egg of the beginning. And he rose up, renewed, reborn to greater splendor.”

Bringing Izdubar back to life as an unblemished, radiant solar deity has deprived Jung of his own life force, however:

All my force was now in him. My soul swam like a fish in his sea of fire. But I lay in the frightful cool of the shadows of the earth and sank down deeper and deeper to the lowest darkness. All light had left me. The God rose in the Eastern lands and I fell into the horror of the underworld. I lay there like a child-bearer cruelly mauled and bleeding her life into the child, uniting life and death in a dying glance, the day’s mother, the night’s prey.”

Gustave Moreau, (detail from) “Suitors” (an unfinished painting showing a scene from The Odyssey – triumphant Athena above the bodies of murdered suitors)

Perhaps what Jung is saying here is that reaching divine perfection comes at a terrible price – the shadow will claim those who dared to look divinity in the eye. Jung is left “powerless and groaning,” with the empty eggshell as the only reminder of his divine encounter.

One of the leitmotifs of Jung’s psychology was the co-existence of light and darkness, good and evil in all beings, including the gods. In this chapter Jung says:

“The God suffers when man does not accept his darkness.”

The radiant god is not separate from “monstrous serpents of eternal emptiness.” This is why “if the God draws near, your essence starts to seethe and the black mud of the depths whirls up.” For Jung, the divine is not just “good;” it comprises wholeness with all its opposites.

Jung proceeds to explain why evil is a necessary part of life. He says:

“So long as you persist with the standpoint of the good, you cannot dissolve your formation, precisely because it is what is good. You cannot dissolve good with good. You can dissolve good only with evil. For your good also leads ultimately to death through its progressive binding of your force by progressively binding your force.”

What Jung seems to be saying here is that rigidity is alien to life. When the ego clings to what it perceives to be good, when we are following a certain rigid pattern, which we consider good and orderly, life becomes mechanical and neurotic. (3) If we do not recognize the transformative force and the importance of evil in our lives, it will overwhelm us, thus creating “terrible suffering.” By rejecting evil we also reject our humanity. Jung warns:

“… we make desperate attempts to follow the God into the higher realm, or we turn preachingly and demandingly to our fellow men to at any rate force others into following the God. Unfortunately there are men who allow themselves to be persuaded into doing this, to their and our detriment.”

This explains the numerous atrocities committed in the name of religion.

The images accompanying the chapter are very striking. The image on page 71 represents three intertwined snakes. The crimson background reminds us of the Red One – the devil, who instilled a new lease of life in Jung in chapter 1 of Liber Secundus. The intertwined snakes seem to symbolize the incarnated soul, which has embraced the life in matter, on the earth, where the inferno of passions is forever writhing like the snakes on Medusa’s head.

The closing image on page 72 has quite a hypnotic impact. Sanford L. Drob muses:

“It is a mosaic composition in which a series of six conical beams of light … point up and down over a largely black field, punctuated by small yellow lights. The viewer may have the sense that it is deep night, that his back is against the wall, and he is on the verge of being caught in one of these searching beams. … the contrasts between the darkness and saturated colours suggests a melding together of oppositions. Indeed, it is such a melding together that results from the journey into hell that Jung is about to undertake.” (4)

Notes:

(1) Juan Eduardo Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols, Routledge: London, second edition, p. 317

(2) Ibid., p. 318

(3) Compare these ideas with Krishnamurti’s lecture on rigidity: https://jkrishnamurti.org/content/how-one-bring-about-order-oneself-without-any-conflict

(4) Sanford L. Drob, Reading The Red Book: An Interpretative Guide to C.G. Jung’s Liber Novus, Spring Journal Books 2012p. 121

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Reading The Red Book – part 1

Reading The Red Book – part 2

Reading The Red Book – part 3

Reading The Red Book – part 4

Reading The Red Book – part 5

Reading The Red Book – part 6

Reading The Red Book – part 7

Reading The Red Book – part 8

Reading The Red Book – part 9

Reading The Red Book – part 10

Reading The Red Book – part 11

Reading The Red Book – part 12

Reading The Red Book – part 13

Reading The Red Book – part 14

Reading The Red Book – part 15

Reading The Red Book – part 16

Reading The Red Book – part 17

Reading The Red Book – part 18

Reading The Red Book – part 19

Reading The Red Book – part 20

Reading The Red Book – part 21

Reading The Red Book – part 22

Reading The Red Book – part 23

Reading The Red Book – part 25

Reading The Red Book – part 26

Reading The Red Book – part 27

Posted in The Red Book by C.G. Jung | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Lilith

Michelangelo, Lilith, Adam and Eve (from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel)

On the ceiling of the Sistine chapel we can see an atypical depiction of the serpent of Paradise. Michelangelo chose to portray the snake as a red-headed woman, undoubtedly Lilith. Why did Michelangelo decide to include Lilith in his biblical masterpiece, though she is mentioned only once in the Bible by name? Without a doubt, her fascinating and terrifying presence is palpable also in our times, as it was when Michelangelo engaged with the theme. As Siegmund Hurwitz puts it,

“Of all the motifs in Jewish mythology, none – other than that of the Messiah – remains so vivid to this day as the myth of Lilith.” (1)

Lilith made her first appearance in the Epic of Gilgamesh:

“After heaven and earth had been separated and mankind had been created, …; on this day, a huluppu tree (probably a linden tree), which had been planted on the bank of the Euphrates and nourished by its waters, was uprooted by the south wind and carried away by the Euphrates. A goddess, who was wandering along the banks seized the swaying tree and – (…) – brought it to Inanna’s garden in Uruk. Inanna tended the tree carefully and lovingly; she hoped to have a throne and a bed made for herself from its wood. After ten years, the tree had matured. But in the meantime, she found to her dismay that her hopes could not be fulfilled. Because during that time, a dragon had built its nest at the foot of the tree, the Zu-bird was raising its young in the crown, and the demon Lilith had built her house in the middle. But Gilgamesh, who had heard of Inanna’s plight, came to her rescue. He took his heavy shield, killed the dragon with his gigantic bronze axe, (…). Then the Zu-bird flew into the mountains with its young, while Lilith, petrified with fear, tore down her house and fled into the wilderness.”

Here Inanna covets two symbols of worldly power and comfort – the throne and the bed. The inner wildness and freedom symbolized by the huluppu tree is destroyed with an axe by Gilgamesh at Inanna’s behest. Lilith flies away in a similar manner as she will flee Paradise when Adam refuses to recognize her as his equal.

The name Lilith comes from Sumerian and is connected to storm and wind. Endowed with a pair of wings, Lilith feels most comfortable in the element of air. Some researchers connect her name also with the Hebrew “laila,” the night, but Hurwitz rejects this etymology. Yet already in ancient Sumer Lilith seemed to represent the shadow of the great goddess and thus can be regarded as a hidden aspect of Inanna. The huluppu tree can be interpreted as a symbol of Inanna’s Self, which her ego seeks to suppress. Another Bybylonian goddess Lilith is derived from is Lamashtu. Hurwitz quotes from an ancient text regarding her nature:

“Her abode is on the mountains, or in the reedbeds. Dreadful is her appearance. Her head and her face are those of a fearsome lion, white as clay is her countenance, she has the form of an ass, from her lips pours spittle, she roars like a lion, she howls like a jackal. A whore is she. Fearsome and savage is her nature. Raging, furious, fearsome, terrifying, violent, rapacious, rampaging, evil, malicious, she overthrows and destroys all that she approaches. Terrible are her deeds. Wherever she comes, wherever she appears, she brings evil and destruction. Men, beasts, trees, rivers, roads, buildings, she brings harm to them all. A flesh-eating, bloodsucking monster is she.”

One of the most celebrated images, which possibly depict Lilith, is the so-called Burney Relief. Interestingly, up to this day scholars are debating whether it depicts Ishtar, Ereshkigal or Lilith. For Hurwitz, it is Lilith. He thus describes it:

“The relief shows the erect figure of a naked goddess of exceptional beauty. She has two huge wings and excessively long bird’s feet with the talons of a bird of prey. … She stands on two lions which face in opposite directions and is flanked by two realistic-looking night owls which have exactly the same wings and feet as the goddess herself. … There are no controversies as regards the age and origin of the relief. As has generally been accepted, it is of Sumerian origin and appears to date from the so-called Isin Larsa period, i.e., some time around 1950. For these reasons, we can almost certainly assume – along with Kraeling – that a pictorial representation of a winged Lilith is involved here.”

Fascinatingly, the original relief was painted red, as the approximate colour scheme reveals below. Red has always signified a fallen woman in the Bible; the most prominent example being the scarlet-clad Whore of Babylon from the Apocalypse. Red seems to be the colour frequently associated with Lilith also in the later Kabbalistic tradition.

Burney Relief today (The British Museum) and its probable original colour scheme below
via Wikipedia
Lucas Cranach the Older, “The Whore of Babylon,” a coloured depiction from Luther’s Bible with the harlot wearing a papal tiara

Red is also a colour of seduction. This particular aspect of Lilith’s persona came strongly to light in the Talmud. As Hurwitz comments:

“That she was perceived as such a dangerous and demonic figure in the Talmudic-Rabbinic tradition has both historical and psychological bases. In the first place, it is connected with the patriarchal attitude of Talmudic-Rabbinic Judaism, in which the feminine was always perceived as something threatening. As a result, in Judaeo-Christian, Western cultural development, the feminine was not only devalued but also, in consequence of a marked defensive attitude, virtually demonized.”

One Talmudic text warns that whoever sleeps alone in a house will be attacked by Lilith.

Another important source of information about early Jewish beliefs concerning Lilith are the so called Aramaic magic texts, which were inscribed on the inside of bowls and buried in a magic ritual. The act of burying the vessel was destined to prevent the danger from escaping by containing it underground. This is connected with an important motif of banishment, directly related to Lilith:

“Psychologically speaking, banishing evil out of sight signifies nothing more nor less than a driving out, a wish-not-to-see, which for primitive people meant the same as not existing.”

An incantation bowl featuring Lilith via https://jewishstudies.washington.edu/jewish-history-and-thought/yannai-sotah-poem-piyyut-magic-demonic-women-lilith/

Also Gnostic writing contains stories about Lilith, such as the one in which prophet Elijah cannot ascend into heaven because he had fornicated with Lilith unconsciously at night and as a consequence becomes trapped on the earth. The so called Mandaean Gnosis teaches about a figure called Lilith-Zahriel, who contrary to all other known myths about Lilith, is not a child-stealing demon but helps a pregnant woman and is concerned with the child’s well-being.

One of the most pivotal works on Lilith is undoubtedly The Alphabet of Ben Sira, one of the earliest and most sophisticated Hebrew stories written in the Middle Ages, which most probably was inspired by an earlier Hellenistic work. Hurwitz quotes the following passage from that work:

“When the Almighty – may His name be praised – created the first, solitary man, He said: It is not good for man to be alone. And He fashioned for man a woman from the earth, like him (Adam), and called her Lilith. Soon, they began to quarrel with each other. She said to him: I will not lie underneath, and he said: I will not lie underneath but above, for you are meant to lie underneath and I to lie above. She said to him: We are both equal, because we are both (created) from the earth. But they didn’t listen to each other. When Lilith saw this, she pronounced God’s avowed name and flew into the air. Adam stood in prayer before his Creator and said: Lord of the World! The woman you have given me has gone away from me. Immediately, the Almighty – may His name be praised – sent three angels after her, to bring her back. The Almighty – may His name be praised – said to him (Adam): If she decides to return, it is good, but if not, then she must take it upon herself to ensure that a hundred of her children die each day. They went to her and found her in the middle of the sea, in the raging waters in which one day the Egyptians would be drowned. And they told her the word of God. But she refused to return. They said to her: We must drown you in the sea. She said to them: Leave me! I was created for no other purpose than to harm children, eight days (after birth) for boys and twenty for girls. When they heard what she said, they pressed her even more. She said: I swear by the name of the living God that I, when I see you or your image on an amulet, will have no power over that particular child. And she took it upon herself to ensure that, every day, a hundred of her children died. That is why we say that, every day, a hundred of her demons die. That is why we write her name on an amulet for small children. And when she (Lilith) sees it, she remembers her promise and the child is saved.”

Also the Kabbalah recognized the importance of Lilith. She is ever present in The Zohar, which is a key Kabbalistic work of Jewish mysticism, written in Spain in the 14th century. Here also, like in The Alphabet of Ben Sira, Lilith appears as the first wife of Adam, who flees from him. The Zohar takes a deeper look at the creation story from the Bible (Genesis, book 1, verse 27):

“So God created man in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

According to the Zohar, this verse describes the creation of the androgynous primordial man/woman – Adam Kadmon. His female part is Lilith. However, in Genesis 2 God creates Eve from the sleeping Adam’s rib. This subsequent creation of Eve seems to contradict the Genesis 1 story, unless it was Lilith who was the first woman ever created, not Eve.

In The Zohar Lilith is portrayed as a great seductress of men:

“She (Lilith) adorns herself with all kinds of decorations, like an amorous woman. She stands at the entrance to roads and paths, in order to seduce men.… Her adornments for seducing men are her beautifully-dressed hair, red as a rose, … her ears hung with chains from Egypt and her neck hung with all the jewels of the East.”

After she achieves her seductive aims she “kills him … and casts him into the very centre of hell.”

John Collier, “Lilith”

In The Zohar Lilith forms an “unholy pair” with Samael, the leader of the fallen angels. They are regarded as the shadow pair to the divine pair of the two Sefiroth (i.e. ten emanations, or powers, by which God the Creator was said to become manifest) – Tiferet and Malchut. Hurwitz explains:

“The Sefiroth are mostly grouped in opposing pairs: thus there are right and left, male and female, active and passive Sefiroth. Within the Sefirothic system, however, two Sefiroth occupy a quite exceptional position. The very first two emanated Sefiroth, Chochma (Wisdom) and Bina (Understanding), are portrayed as a male and female pair of opposites, in which Chochma is the father and Bina the mother.

However, this symbolism was applied in particular to the sixth Sefirah Tif’eret (Mercy) and the tenth Sefirah, which appears under different names. Sometimes it is referred to as Malchut, i.e., the Kingdom (of God), sometimes as Shekhinah…”

God having a female part – Shekhinah, the divine presence in the world – is a revolutionary idea in Judaism, proposed for the first time in the Kabbalah. Lilith and Samael are believed by some Kabbalists to constitute the “demonic, destructive side of the divine personality.” As such, they are also part of the divine plan.

Kabbalistic Tree of Life, via https://www.atthewellproject.com/blog//counting-the-omer-101-a-deep-dive-into-49-days-of-jewish-wisdom

In the last part of his book Hurwitz embarks on a psychological analysis of the myth of Lilith. He compares her to the dark goddess as well as to the Black Madonna, who epitomizes the nigredo of the alchemical process. As he puts it:

“The black of the prima materia of the alchemists is an expression of their unconsciousness. In addition, it is a dangerous state which must first of all be ‘washed’ in the course of a lengthy transformation process, to bring out the different colors of albedo, citrinitas and rubedo, which signify a stimulation of the unconscious. At the same time, the dangerous nigredo is eliminated.“

The lotus will not grow into the light of consciousness without being rooted in the muddy earth. Further, Lilith also personifies “the expression of unrestrained natural and physical desires.” Yet she is also an expression of the darkest feelings of despair, melancholy and loneliness, which need to be washed away so that “the inner gold may appear.”

Her refusal to be restrained in any way is also linked with the emancipation of women, who are still not treated as autonomous beings in many parts of the world. Hurwitz writes:

“The dominating attitude of patriarchal man towards the feminine is, at bottom, nothing more nor less than an expression of his deep-seated fears and his uncertainty of womankind. At the same time, behind these fears must also lie a certain fascination. … Fear of the alien unknown generally leads to quite specific defensive reactions, which first become apparent in an attempt to devalue it. This leads in turn to a tendency to dominate and repress the alien.”

Lilith flies into the air towards the desert and The Red Sea. These two places are highly significant symbolically. The miracle at the Red Sea, when God parted the waves, letting the Israelites pass while the Egyptians drowned, signifies being saved by divine intervention. The desert is where the Jewish tribes originated; it is their first home. The desert and the sea are both symbols of the unconscious, where the heart opens to the infinite in moments of solitude.

Looking at Michelangelo’s painting I was reminded of a Sabian Symbol visualized as “A Serpent Coiling Near a Man and a Woman.” The astrologer Dane Rudhyar had this to say about its meaning:

“We can understand this ‘triangular’ image — man, woman and the serpent — if we relate it to the preceding one in the series, the unexploded bomb of the anarchist or activist. The urge to blow up some structure which somehow has become in the activist’s mind a symbol of the Establishment — the ruling elite — is usually the protest of an alienated and often immature mind that refuses relationship, because in the relationship he would occupy a subservient position. In this symbol, the serpent represents the acceptance of relationship by the two polarized human beings.”

Dane Rudhyar, “An Astrological Mandala: The Cycle of Transformations and Its 360 Symbolic Phases”

Lilith’s escape may have been immature (I actually do not think so) but sometimes a seemingly hopeless protest sows the seeds for the future, when the time will become ripe for a change to occur.

Mark
Rothko, “Rites of Lilith”

Notes:

(1) Siegmund Hurwitz, Lilith – The First Eve: Historical and Psychological Aspects of the Dark Feminine, Kindle edition (all the subsequent quotes in the post come from this book)

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Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

The Black Madonna of Hergiswald

One of the most stunning Black Madonna chapels in Switzerland is located near Lucerne on a hill with a view of the mountains and Lake Lucerne. It was built in the seventeenth century after a Capuchin Friar Ludwig von Wyl had a dream of Our lady of Loreto, entreating him to build a chapel for her in Hergiswald. The distance of the chapel from the lake is exactly the same as the distance of The Holy House of Loreto to the sea.

The original Italian statue of the Black Madonna of Loreto burnt in the fire in 1921. The current remade statue displayed in Loreto was modelled after its Swiss copy in Hergiswald.

The Swiss chapel is a part of St Jacob’s Way – one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostella. It is a lovely Baroque building erected by a clear mountain stream. The gentle sound of the water accompanies the pilgrim entering the chapel. The stream disappears in the forest leading to a hermitage, which was built in the fifteenth century and was the original place of pilgrimage in the area.

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The hermitage

What appears in front of a pilgrim who enters the chapel is simply breathtaking. The whole ceiling is adorned with 324 painted emblems illustrating the symbolic meaning of Mary’s role. The images were partly inspired by the Litany of Loreto and painted by Kaspar Meglinger, who is also famous for his Dance of Death featured on the Spreuer Bridge in Lucerne.

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The idea to cover the ceiling with emblems came from the Capuchin monk Ludwig von Wyl, who was inspired by Baroque artists such as Filippo Picinelli, author of Mondo Simbolico. 

From Mondo Simbolico by Picinelli

The sheer number of images and their depth is quite overwhelming. Below are just a few  with English translations. You can see a few more here.

Geminat Incendia – The Sun Doubles its Glow (the strength of the Sun in Leo)

Unspoiled white

She (here symbolized by the comet) shows the way

Darkness does not eclipse the Star

A distillator – I return what is pure

But the heart of the chapel is the house of the Virgin – a chapel within a chapel. It is a separate structure right in the centre. Inside there are votive offerings, frescoes depicting very down-to-earth activities around the birth of Jesus – a midwife boiling water for the newly born Jesus’s bath or Saint Anna cooking supper. The serene statue of the Black Madonna resides in the background.

Loretokapelle20200805_134804

I returned to the village through the forest, descending along the so called Path to Light. This is a Rosary Path with wonderful paintings illustrating the mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

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Water of life

All is Given

 

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Reading The Red Book (23)

Chapter X of Liber Secundus is called Incantations. God (Izdubar) is now enclosed in the maternal egg. Jung  sings “the incantations for his incubation.” If we are the children of Gods, perhaps Gods can also be our children, he says:

“If my father the God should die, a God child should arise from my maternal heart.”

Humans – no matter if male or female – giving birth to Gods in their own souls, warming the egg with tender love and devotion, is a wonderful image, which elevates the feminine to godlike status, denied to her by patriarchal religions.

In this chapter, each incantation is accompanied or embedded within a full-size image.  In the first two incantations Jung’s connection with the wide expanse of the psyche is evident. He chants that he is the mother, the father, the maiden and the holy man from the East, thus incorporating all the traditional elements of the story of the nativity of Christ. Not only that, he is also “the holy animal that stood astonished” and finally:

“I am the egg that surrounds and nurtures the seed of the God in me.”

Image 51 (below) accompanies the second incantation. It shows a figure in deep meditation, contemplating ultimate realities of existence. Sanford L. Drob writes that this image shows “the imaginative temple of the mind.” (1)

The Red Book, image 51

The third incantation elaborates on the all-encompassing attributes of God as “the eternal emptiness and the eternal fullness,” “eternal darkness and eternal brightness,” “eternal below and eternal above.” God is presented here as Unity of Opposites (coincidentia oppositorum). This experience of oneness, non-duality, is common to many mystical traditions. The hypnotic shapes and colours of images 52 and 53 induce an even deeper trance. (2)

According to Jung, two components were indispensable in order to embark on alchemical work: meditatio and imaginatio. The Red Book can be viewed as a full exposition of his spiritual practice which incorporates these two processes.

Image 54 was given a title by Jung – Brahmanaspati, a Vedic deity presiding over prayer and the text of the Veda.  This mythical reference further supports the theme of deep meditation. (3) Brahmanaspati was also identified with Agni, the god of fire and with a deity of vegetation. The image is accompanied by the following incantation:

“Amen, you are the lord of the beginning.
Amen, you are the star of the East.
Amen, you are the flower that blooms over everything.
Amen, you are the deer that breaks out of the forest.
Amen, you are the song that sounds far over the water.
Amen, you are the beginning and the end.”

bookred.54_small

The image is one of many illustrations of non-duality in The Red Book. A black snake arises from the fiery depths; his breath transforming into “the cool light of the blue heights.” (4) Analogically, image 55 is Jung’s rendering of the Egyptian solar myth, in which the Sun is threatened every night by the giant serpent Apep. The solar consciousness of what is visible is forever challenged by the underground forces of chaos.

bookred.55_small (1)

Image 56 with its Eastern opulence reminded me strongly of the Alhambra. As Drob rightly notices, Izdubar has come from the East and the images are an homage to his culture circle.

bookred.56_small

In incantation that accompanies image 57 Jung gently persuades the God to break the shell and “rise up, you gracious fire of the night.” The inscription underneath image 59 says Hiranyagarbha, which can be translated as the Golden Womb or the Golden Egg (5). It is the source, which gave birth to all creation and the god Brahma himself.

bookred.59_small

The incantation that accompanies image 60 contains the following verses:

“I have thrown down my sword and dressed in women’s clothing.
I shattered my firm castle and played like a child in the sand.
I saw warriors form into line of battle and I destroyed my suit of armor
with a hammer.
I planted my field and let the fruit decay.
I made small everything that was great and made everything great
that was small.
I exchanged my furthest goal for the nearest, and so I am ready.”

This seems like an ultimate spiritual task: going against one’s nature, one’s ego, one’s conditioning, in order to open to the wider spectrum of the whole psyche. There are sacrifices and blood is spilled on the narrow path to individuation.

In the final incantation to the God the I of The Red Book says something very profound:

“May your light shine
before us, may your fire warm the coldness of our life. We do not need your
power but life.
What does power avail us? We do not want to rule. We want to
live, we want light and warmth, and hence we need yours.”

A small green-clad figure is kneeling down in prayer, worshiping the god of fire. There is  faint solar barque in the background. The gift of life is the ultimate gift from the gods; it far surpasses any desire for power. Jung is ready for the opening of the egg; the eastern god will be healed.

bookred.64_small

Notes:

(1) Sanford L. Drob, Reading The Red Book: An Interpretative Guide to C.G. Jung’s Liber Novus, Spring Journal Books 2012p. 113

(2) Ibid., p. 113

(3) Ibid., p. 113

(4) Ibid., p. 113

(5) Ibid., p. 114

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Reading The Red Book – part 1

Reading The Red Book – part 2

Reading The Red Book – part 3

Reading The Red Book – part 4

Reading The Red Book – part 5

Reading The Red Book – part 6

Reading The Red Book – part 7

Reading The Red Book – part 8

Reading The Red Book – part 9

Reading The Red Book – part 10

Reading The Red Book – part 11

Reading The Red Book – part 12

Reading The Red Book – part 13

Reading The Red Book – part 14

Reading The Red Book – part 15

Reading The Red Book – part 16

Reading The Red Book – part 17

Reading The Red Book – part 18

Reading The Red Book – part 19

Reading The Red Book – part 20

Reading The Red Book – part 21

Reading The Red Book – part 22

Reading The Red Book – part 24 

Reading The Red Book – part 25

Reading The Red Book – part 26

Reading The Red Book – part 27

Posted in The Red Book by C.G. Jung, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments