We have reached chapter IX of Liber Secundus, entitled “Second Day.” God Izdubar (Gilgamesh) is resigned to dying; Jung, however, is determined not to let him perish. A thought occurs to him, as he watches Izdubar’s suffering:
“And this speech began in me: Great Izdubar, you are in a hopeless position-and I no less. What can be done? It is not always necessary to act; sometimes thinking is better.”
What ensues may be looked upon as a foreshadowing of what Jungian psychology has brought to the world; namely, the notion of archetypes and fantasy as a saving grace. As Sanford L. Drob puts it, the remedy for the ailing god lies neither in the East nor in the West but in “thoughtful meditation.” (1) In order to save Izdubar, Jung declares him as “a fantasy:
“… he is a fantasy-and thus considerably more volatile-I think I can see a way forward: I can take him on my back for now.”
Jung perceived fantasy as a royal way to the creation of reality. Crucially, the objects of imagination are not less real than the so-called objective world. (2) In Psychological Types, Jung wrote:
“Each new day reality is created by the psyche. The only expression I can use for this activity is phantasy. … it is the mother of all possibilities, in which too the inner and the outer worlds, like all psychological antitheses, are joined in living union.” (3)
By suppressing fantasy in the age of science, we became greatly impoverished by such unnatural limitations. However, as Jung argues in Psychological Types:
“… we know that every good idea and all creative work is the offspring of the imagination, and has its source in what one is pleased to term infantile phantasy. It is not the artist alone, but every creative individual whatsoever who owes all that is greatest in his life to phantasy. The dynamic principle of phantasy is play which belongs also to the child, and as such it appears to be inconsistent with the principle of serious work. But without this playing with phantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.” (4)
Light as a feather, Izdubar is carried by Jung to the Western land. On the way, they spot Ammonius and the Red One, who are horrified at their sight. Izdubar asks:
“Iz: “Who are these misshapen ones? Are these your comrades?”
I: “These are not men, they are so-called relics of the past which one still often encounters in the Western lands. They used to be very important. They’re now used mostly as shepherds.”
Jung clearly shows that he is spiritually more invested in ancient pagan gods rather than the official Christian dogma represented by the hermit Ammonius and the Red One, or the devil. Now his whole love is directed towards the dying God of the East, whom he brought to the West to heal:
“Izdubar and I come to a quiet dark garden and a secluded house. I hide Izdubar under the drooping branches of a tree, go up to the door of the house, and knock. I ponder the door: it is much too small. I will never be able to get Izdubar through it. Yet-a fantasy takes up no space! Why did this excellent thought not occur to me earlier? I return to the garden and with no difficulty squeeze Izdubar into the size of an egg and put him in my pocket. Then I walk into the welcoming house where Izdubar should find healing.”
Izdubar is transformed by Jung’s quiet and thoughtful meditation and by his utter devotion into an egg, which can be regarded as a sort of an amulet – a source of life and a living essence of divinity brought down to the human scale. By turning God into a phantasy or a symbol Jung did not reduce him but rather he bridged the gap between the divine and the mortal world. It is the human soul which is the most perfect receptacle for the divine. Jung thus speaks of his soul being filled with God:
“But I loved my God, and took him to the house of men, since I was convinced that he also really lived as a fantasy, and should therefore not be left behind, wounded and sick. And hence I experienced the miracle of my body losing its heaviness when I burdened myself with the God.”
If our God is outside of us, argues Jung, then he becomes our yoke and burden like a stale, outdated ritual, which does not nourish the soul. “The God within us” infuses lightness into our being. Jung compares the inner divinity of the soul to “God’s armour, [which] will make you invulnerable and invisible to the worst fools.” He also admonishes those who have found God in their souls not to reveal the divinity to the world but to conceal it. The reason is because the fellow humans react with aggression if they sense an approaching God. Jung shares these words of advice:
“Thus do not speak and do not show the God, but sit in a solitary place and sing incantations in the ancient manner:
Set the egg before you, the God in his beginning.
And behold it.
And incubate it with the magical warmth of your gaze.”
It is apparent why Jung hesitated to publish The Red Book in his lifetime. Ultimately, divinity blossoms in a quiet solitude of the individual soul. That seems to be the real meaning of the Delphic maxim “Know thyself” and the essence of Jungian psychology.
Support my blog
If you appreciate my writing, consider donating and make my day. Thank you in advance.
(1) Sanford L. Drob, Reading The Red Book: An Interpretative Guide to C.G. Jung’s Liber Novus, Spring Journal Books 2012, p. 109
(2) Ibid, p. 110
(3) C. G. Jung, Psychological Types or the Psychology of Individuation, translated by H. Godwin Baynes, Pantheon Books, New York, p. 69
(4) Ibid, p. 82