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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
(1) Sanford L. Drob, Reading The Red Book: An Interpretative Guide to C.G. Jung’s Liber Novus, Spring Journal Books 2012, p. 113
(2) Ibid., p. 113
(3) Ibid., p. 113
(4) Ibid., p. 113
(5) Ibid., p. 114
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