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