Reading The Red Book (40) – The Seven Sermons to the Dead

“One, two, three, but where, my dear Timaeus, is the fourth?”

Plato, “Timaeus”

We have now reached the fourth Sermon to the Dead, in which the dead demand of Philemon:

“Speak to us about Gods and devils, accursed one.”

The Seven Sermons may be viewed as an attempt on the part of Jung/Philemon to illuminate the deficiencies of official Christianity, which undertook to repress the feminine and the body:

“I have argued that Christianity was born out of a dichotomized worldview in which the cosmos is split between the celestial realm of pure, quiescent, undisturbed beauty and grace, and the lower fallen, material world which Christian doctrine teaches was God’ beautiful handiwork but was ruined, corrupted by human sin. … Human nature is … split in Christianity mirroring the dichotomy between the higher spiritual part and the powerful drives of the sinful flesh below. … One – spirit – is to be cultivated throughout life, the other – flesh – is to be overcome, risen above, even despised …

A dichotomized consciousness that repressed the shadow was the result. An intractable enmity against the flesh and its master, the Devil, the Lord of This World (Aeon) became institutionalized.” (1)

Francisco Goya, “The Bewitched Man”

Sharon L. Coggan illuminates in her book how the Greek God Pan evolved into the Christian Devil. Half-man, half-goat, he symbolized the melding of bestial, “primal, animalistic elements” with human, civilized qualities. (2) He thus embodied the Jungian conjunction of opposites. His horns stood for his “vital masculine, phallic essence … virility and lust.” (3) Interestingly, the Indo-European root of the word “horn” itself is related to both “crown” and “corn,” which in turn connects Pan with fertility and majesty. Etymologically, the name of the god is also connected to shepherding, watching, nourishing and fattening. (4) Arcadia, where Pan resided, was the land of the shadows, a rugged terrain in the north where the river Styx had its source. This was a terrain where the reign of civilization ended; it was the shadow and liminal land. (5) It seems that with the advent of Christianity, these vital, nourishing roots symbolized by Pan have been ripped out and cast away:

“Animal instinct was eschewed in favour of the vaunted reason and intellect – and the distorted result is the dulled instincts of the modern human and overreliance on the mind.” (6)

Moreover, the name Pan is naturally connected to the Greek word for “all.” This might have meant, as Macrobius saw it, that Pan was “the ruler of the universal material substance;” but Coggan sees the “all” as encompassing the whole psyche – also the unconscious, wild terrain. She features the Heiroglyphical Representation of Jupiter or Pan from Athanasius Kircher’s Œdipus Ægyptiacus, featured below:

Already in the Old Testament the goat served as a fitting canvas for projection of evil content. In the ancient scapegoating ritual (Leviticus 16) two goats were chosen by drawing lots. One was subsequently sacrificed to God, the other to the demon Azazel. The latter goat absorbed all the sins of Israel in a ritual performed by the High Priest. Why were goats such a fitting symbol for evil? One of the reasons, muses Coggan, might have been their inherent wildness and disobedience. How extraordinary that both “ornery” and “horny” are related to the word “horn”! (7) Rebellion was also what brought on the Satan’s fall.

Coggan’s book ends on a hopeful note.

“As the shadowed energies carried by the Devil are reincorporated into the new Christian spirituality, the heavy visage of the Devil will be lifted off to reveal the Goat God underneath. Pan will be liberated and allowed to return into our collective consciousness as a holy form, representing the powerful and lively energies of the earth, pure lust … and the unfettered beauty and horror of the natural world … When Pan can rise again … we can reinfuse our earth, our bodies, our instincts, our native disobedience, and our sexuality with a new holiness.”

She includes a beautiful Greek sculpture depicting Aphrodite, Pan and Eros, dated back to 100 BCE:

In sermo IV Jung does not speak of Pan but he invokes “two devil Gods.” He calls the first one the Burning One and the other One the Growing One:

“The burning one is EROS, in the form of a flame. It shines by consuming.

The growing one is the TREE OF LIFE. It greens by heaping up growing living matter.

Eros flames up and dies. But the tree of life grows with slow and constant increase through measureless periods of time.”

In Plato’s Symposium Diotima famously tells Socrates about Eros being “a mighty daimon,” that is a spirit that acts as an intermediary between humans and gods. In the fourth sermon Eros stands for the love and passion that “binds two together.” But Eros’s flame is consuming and volatile. In him good and evil are united, says Philemon. The meaning of the Burning One and the Growing One is thus interpreted by Stephan A. Hoeller:

“The Greeks declared that two world spirits dwell in the fabric of cosmic and human life and that they stand in mortal combat one with another. This combat is of such power and magnitude that we can by no means foretell its outcome. The growing spirit is the spirit of civilization; it ever seeks to create forms wherein life may expand, may build, and make itself more secure. The burning one, on the other hand, seeks life in movement, change, adventure, battle, and at times even in conflict and violence. The growing one is peaceful, the burning one is warlike; civilization is conserving and often conservative, while the opposing dynamism is revolutionary. Both forces are part of the natural order … War and peace, conservation and destruction, constructive evolution and destructive revolution are all part of nature. To identify nature with peace and serenity to the exclusion of war and fierceness is contrary to the evidence of observation. Is the peaceful sunset more natural than the erupting volcano? Is the nightingale more natural than the hawk?” (8)

It seems that Hoeller equates Eros with violent, unstable emotions of both love and war. He seems to stand for change that is spurred on by love or hate.

This fourth sermon, perhaps the most complicated and obscure of all of them, focuses on the symbolism of number four. Philemon says:

“Four is the devil, for he opens all that is closed.”

Quaternio was one of the most important concepts in Jungian psychology. Jung postulated enriching the Christian Trinity with the fourth missing element – the feminine, the earth, the shadow/devil. Four was also the number of incarnation and structure. It made the mandala complete and thus allowed the cycle to return to the beginning, standing as such for both creation and destruction.

Alfred Ribi thus analyzes the symbolism of number four and its relation to the Devil:

“Evidently, there is a gap between three and four. The missing fourth thing is something more than merely an additional unity. It poses a difficulty: it exists both in opposition to the three, the trinity, and yet is also as the one that encompasses and completes it. As the fourth function of consciousness, this is the one least accommodated or integrated; it is heavily contaminated by the unconscious and thus retains a degree of autonomy from consciousness. It often goes its own way to an astounding degree; because of the attachment to the unconscious, has about it something of the beyond, something ghostly. In the Christian trinity, the fourth is either the devil or the female.” (9)

Here he is referring to Jung’s theory of the four functions of consciousness – thinking, feeling, intuition and sensation. Jung posited that in each individual psyche one of these functions remains undeveloped, unconscious. It is the task of a lifetime to integrate it and make it conscious lest it erupts in its uncontrollable wildness.

The Fourth Sermon to the Dead is also an affirmation of polytheism, as Philemon states:

“The number of Gods and devils is as innumerable as the host of stars.

But woe unto you, who replace this incompatible multiplicity with a single God.”

The numerous pagan gods encompassed the richness of the human psyche much better than the monotheistic religions. Pan was only one of the many gods demoted to the status of dark demons by the triumphant Christianity.

At the end of the sermon Philemon bends down to kiss the earth and says: “Mother, may your son be strong.” He thus expresses his reverence for the fourth element repressed by mainstream religion – the dark gods and goddesses of the earth.

Edward Burne-Jones, “Pan and Psyche”
Peter Paul Rubens (workshop of) and Frans Snyder, “Ceres and Pan”

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(1) Sharon L. Coggan, Sacred Disobedience: A Jungian Analysis of the Saga of Pan and the Devil, Lexington Books 2020, pp. 198-199

(2) Ibid., p. 9

(3) Ibid., p. 26

(4) Ibid., p. 41

(5) Ibid., pp. 42-43

(6) Ibid., p. 211

(7) Ibid., p. 165

(8) Stephan A Hoeller, The Gnostic Jung and The Seven Sermons to the Dead

(9) Alfred Ribi, The Search for Roots: C.G. Jung and the Tradition of Gnosis

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

Reading The Red Book – part 27

Reading The Red Book – part 28

Reading The Red Book – part 29

Reading The Red Book – part 30

Reading The Red Book – part 31

Reading The Red Book – part 32

Reading The Red Book – part 33

Reading The Red Book – part 34

Reading The Red Book – part 35

Reading The Red Book – part 36

Reading The Red Book – part 37

Reading The Red Book – part 38

Reading The Red Book – part 39

Reading The Red Book – part 41

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5 Responses to Reading The Red Book (40) – The Seven Sermons to the Dead

  1. Jeff says:

    Great post, Monika. I particularly liked the reference to Plato that a daimon is a spirit that acts as an intermediary between humans and gods. In my last reading of the Bible, I paid close attention to footnotes, and discovered that the original word which was translated as “demon” actually meant “spirit of the air.” The two images are very different, especially to the modern reader. As always, love your stuff. Hope you are well. Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jeff. The daimon is such a fascinating subject, one that I’ve been exploring recently. Certainly Philemon can be viewed as Jung’s Daimon. Though spirits of the air, as you say, they can sometimes seem very real.
      Stay safe.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. theburningheart says:

    For many years during the mid 90’s and first decade of the 21st century, I attended Stephan A Hoeller’s lectures at the Philosophical Research Society, and his Gnostic church placed in Los Angeles where Sunset Blvd branch and Hollywood begins, a small place where I listened to his study group, and assisted to services on Sunday, By chance also I knew a priest ordained by Hoeller who later use to go as a customer to the place I worked. The Church it was close to where I lived at the time, I stop when they moved the Church, because it was destroyed by fire, to the historic Besant Lodge in Hollywood, California. The Besant Lodge is located on North Beachwood Drive, immediately below the famous Hollywood sign.
    I got fond memories of those days.

    Liked by 1 person

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