“I see behind you, behind the mirror of your eyes, the crush of dangerous shadows, the dead, who look greedily through the empty sockets of your eyes, who moan and hope to gather up through you all the loose ends of the ages, which sigh in them. Your cluelessness does not prove anything. Put your ear to that wall and you will hear the rustling of their procession.”
C.G. Jung, The Red Book, Liber Secundus, chapter XV “Nox Secunda”
We have now reached chapter XV of Liber Secundus. Its title is Nox Secunda (Second Night). Having left the library with a copy of The Imitation of Christ, Jung finds himself in a large kitchen, where he meets the Cook, a large woman in a checkered apron. She also loves the book Jung is reading and asks him whether he is a clergyman. He is idly browsing the book when his eyes fall on the following passage: “The righteous base their intentions more on the mercy of God, which in whatever they undertake they trust more than their own wisdom.” Jung realizes that what Thomas proposes here is equivalent to “the intuitive method,” introduced by the philosopher Henry Bergson (born 1859). As Sanford L. Drob explains, Bergson favoured intuitive thinking over conceptual one. He saw intuition as related to the flow of life, “grasping an underlying metaphysical reality.” (1) Intuition is beyond the scope of the scientific method. It feeds upon both instinct and life as well as the mystical view of reality.
The peaceful reveries in the kitchen are suddenly interrupted by a roar of shadowlike human forms entering the room with the words, “Let us pray in the temple!” One of the figures speaks to Jung, introducing himself as the prophet Ezekiel. Jung wishes to join the group on their quest to Jerusalem, but Ezekiel tells him that it is impossible because he is still alive while all the other wanderers are dead. He entreats Jung to tell him why he and his companions cannot find peace. Jung replies, “”Let go, daimon, you did not live your animal.”
The Old Testament vision of Ezekiel exerted a powerful influence on Jung’s work. Throughout his collected works he returned to it frequently. In Mysterium Coniunctionis he wrote:
“…Ezekiel’s vision of the four creatures, with the faces respectively of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. These four figures are associated with four wheels, itheir construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went.’ Together they formed the moving throne of a figure having ‘the appearance of a man.’” (CW 14, par. 266)
Jung’s concept of the self as One divided into Four (the Quaternio) stems partly from that vision. Jung explains further:
“Psychologically the vision of Ezekiel is a symbol of the self consisting of four individual creatures and wheels, i.e., of different functions. Three of the faces are theriomorphic and only one anthropomorphic, which presumably means that only one function has reached the human level, whereas the others are still in an unconscious or animal state.” (CW 14, par. 269)
In The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, Jung stressed the importance of integrating the instincts as “a prerequisite for individuation.” (volume 9i, par. 660) He saw the mandala as the most important symbol of the achievement of such a unity. A little later in the chapter Jung ponders the significance of the animal side and its integration into the psyche. He writes:
“Consider animals: how just they are, …, how they keep to the time-honored, how loyal they are to the land that bears them, how they hold to their accustomed routes, how they care for their young, how they go together to pasture, and how they draw one another to the spring.”
It seems that here Jung is calling on us to strive for reverence and humility towards time-honoured traditions. He asks later:
“Do you not know that if you are successful in destroying what has become, you will then turn the will of destruction against yourself? But anyone who makes destruction their goal will perish through self-destruction.”
The other aspect of “living the animal” is associated with temptation and the satisfaction of the senses, which is inextricable from life. In the footnotes to this chapter, Shamdasani tells us that in Jung’s view Christianity aimed to suppress and castigate the animal element in humankind.
Immediately after telling Ezechiel to “live his animal” Jung is seized by the police and brought to a madhouse. He realizes that his knowledge has brought him in the conflict with the society, which suppresses the animal instinct. At the mental hospital doctors diagnose him with a “form of religious madness, perfectly clear, religious
paranoia.” Jung reflects:
“The problem of madness is profound. Divine madness-a higher form of the irrationality of the life streaming through us-at any rate a madness that cannot be integrated into present-day society-but how? What if the form of society were integrated into madness?”
Drob points out that Jungian psychology was in fact “the path of transforming the individual and society through a re-integration of the myths and archetypes that the West had long since relegated to the garbage-bin of irrationality and madness.” (2) What better place to ponder the phenomenon of madness than a madhouse. Jung realizes that he has indeed fallen into “the boundless, the abyss, the inanity of
eternal chaos.” The integration of the instinctual, unconscious elements of the psyche is not without peril. The human soul contains the unfathomable darkness, continues Jung, or the I of The Red Book, while still in the madhouse:
“Every man has a quiet place in his soul, where everything is self-evident and easily explainable, a place to which he likes to retire from the confusing possibilities of life, because there everything is simple and clear, with a manifest and limited purpose. About nothing else in the world can a man say with the same conviction as he does of this place: ‘You are nothing but … ‘ and indeed he has said it. And even this place is a smooth surface, an everyday wall, nothing more than a snugly sheltered and frequently polished crust over the mystery of chaos.”
This chaos is filled with the figures of the dead – “not just your dead, that is, all the
images of the shapes you took in the past, which your ongoing life has left behind, but also the thronging dead of human history … .” The chaos contains also everything which has been renounced or damned. The work of the soul consist in delivering the dead to freedom. The new cannot be built without the old, and “a new salvation is always
a restoring of the previously lost.” We are not complete without our dead and we will be hearing their laments “until we grant them redemption through restoring what has existed since ancient times under the rule of love.” Instead of looking forward we need to look back and into ourselves. The following words of Jung sound eerily current:
“We are a blinded race. We live only on the surface, only in the present, and think only of tomorrow. We deal roughly with the past in that we do not accept the dead. We want to work only with visible success. Above all we want to be paid. We would consider it insane to do hidden work that does not visibly serve men.”
The two beautiful mandalas accompanying this chapter speak of the integration of the opposites professed in this part of The Red Book. Image 105 contains the Senex figure at the top, symbolic of tradition, and a chthonic dark figure at the bottom, symbolic of Chaos. Two anima figures on the horizontal axis – one light on the right (the conscious side) and one dark on the left (the unconscious) complete the quaternio.
Mandala 107 is to me one of the most trance-inducing images of The Red Book. I agree with Drob that it conveys awe and an absolute sense of Oneness. (3)
(1) Sanford L. Drob, Reading The Red Book: An Interpretative Guide to C.G. Jung’s Liber Novus, Spring Journal Books 2012, pp. 134
(2) Ibid, p. 136
(3) Ibid, p. 142
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