The following transcript is …
Note: The talk starts at [00:05:48]
Table of Contents
- When dreams remind us about death
- Alchemical references to the Egyptian mummification process
- The symbolic identity of the philosopher’s stone and the mummified body
- Preservation of the dead person’s individual identity
- Vegetation as the symbol of the dying and resurrecting body
- Harvesting and sowing wheat as a symbol of death and resurrection
- Allusions to the Self’s simultaneous uniqueness and universalness
- The symbolic meanings of Aker the ancient Egyptian deity in alchemy
- The dual symbolism of vegetation
- The dead as the helpers of the dying person
- Unification with the Self in the moment of death
- Death related fire symbolism
- Death as the sacred marriage
- The motif of the dead body
- Speculations about life after death
When professor Jung was 80 years old one of his former patients, a woman of 70, came to him in order to ask him what his ideas about death and possible afterlife were.
He answered: “it won’t help you on your deathbed to think about what I believe, you must form your own ideas and conceptions of death”.
He obviously meant that she should be preoccupied herself by the problem of death and watch what the dreams would tell her.
She told me this later, and it stuck in my mind.
I have therefore puzzled for many years now about this question myself.
Being 63, I have had quite the few death-dreams myself, and also had to go through the hard task of accompanying some contemporary friends and analysands towards death.
It is about these experiences and what I think they told me that I will speak to you today.
When dreams remind us about death
In a BBC interview Jung in an answer to a question about death said that the unconscious psyche seems simply to ignore it and that dreams behave as if life would go on as before.
That is true as far as I have experienced it.
Dreams about the Shadow, Animus and Anima, the Self, etc, go on as before, right till the end as if individuation was the goal and sole purpose of our dream life, regardless of whether death may occur on the way or not.
There seems to be however one situation where the Unconscious does not allow one to overlook death in its approach, namely in the case when the dreamer foxes himself or herself about its coming.
Dream about the damaged wrist watch
Thus a woman who had cancer and whom the doctors in their usual manner tried make believe that she could still be cured dreamed that her wrist watch was damaged.
She brought it to the watchmaker who told her, that it was beyond repair.
Two nights later she dreamed that her favorite tree leaf fell to the ground.
I did not have to tell her what it meant.
She herself remarked sadly: “it is only too clear, what this means”.
After she had accepted this however, she then continued to dream normally, ie. the process of her inner development went on just as before, the Unconscious looking out for conveying to her more consciousness about herself, her relationships and surroundings.
The only thing one might have observed that was different, was that the Unconscious was more inexorable about her inner truth then ever before, as if it was now really urgent that she gets rid of all illusions and self-deceit.
The dream about a coffin in the ambulance car
I witnessed another such seemingly cruel dream when an analysand of mine, 54 years old, had to go to hospital for an operation of a cancer in the bladder.
He was very uncertain and worried about the outcome.
He dreamed that an ambulance came to fetch him to go to hospital.
In reality he was quite well enough to go by taxi to hospital.
The driver with a cynical grin opened the back door of the ambulance for him to get in and in it was a white coffin.
He woke up with a terrible shock.
In fact, he did not leave the hospital alive, but died there after several weeks of great suffering.
But as soon as he accepted the bitter fact that the operation would not help, he began to have really comforting dreams about life after death, but only after he first had faced the truth.
The first dream he had afterwards reacted to the fact that he felt very bitter about in consciousness that he had to die so soon, at only 54.
He always said to me I wouldn’t mind death, but there are so many things I wanted still to do.
He then dreamed:
“I saw a wood which was green, not yet autumnal.
A fire was raging which destroyed it completely.
It was a terrible sight.
Afterwards he was walking through the burnt up area.
Everything was turned into black coal and ashes, but in the midst lay a big round boulder of red stone.
It showed no trace of the fire an the dreamer thought within the dream that one the fire has not touched or even blackened.”
You all know from Dr Jung’s writings that this is obviously the philosopher’s stone of the alchemists, a symbol of the Self.
Alchemical references to the Egyptian mummification process
The symbolic identity of the philosopher’s stone and the mummified body
From the very beginning of alchemy the making of the philosopher’s stone was linked with the idea of death.
The prima materia, the basic material from which they started the opus was called Osiris, lying in his lead coffin, overcome by Seth and waiting for resurrection.
And the making of the stone is compared in the earliest alchemical texts which we possess with the different stages of the mummification process.
The Egyptian sacred art of mummification was a symbolic performance whose goal it was to produce the resurrection body or eternal body for the dead.
One of the main operations consisted in bathing the corpse in natron, that is a mixture of carbonate, sulfate, and muriate of soda.
Our world natron comes from the Egyptian word “netr” (ntr), which simply means “god”.
Thus the corpse was literally bathed in god-liquid in order to become deified.
The linen bandages which were wound around the corpse symbolized the goddesses Isis and Nephtys, the two wives of Osiris, or the mother-goddess Nut.
The dead person thus became Osiris and rested then in the eternal embrace of his feminine partners.
At the very end of the Egyptian death-liturgy, when all sacrifices and prayers had been performed one made a stone pillar called “djed” (djt).
[here she walks away from the microphone]
It was also called statue, or made as a statue and one made this pillar of a statue which was lying on the ground to stand up by hauling it up with ropes from the floor and then the priest announced, “now, the dead person had come back to life again”, and then one left the tomb chamber and sealed the tomb chamber forever.
The djed pillar is a very old archaic symbol and till today one hasn’t succeeded to quite explain it.
One thinks it is a stylized tree or possibly a stylized spinal cord.
Listen now to the earliest description of the alchemical opus in the text called Cymerius to Cleopatra:
“If you take plants or elements from their places they look beautiful but they are not beautiful when the fire tests them.
But when they have been clothed in glory through the fire and have acquired their real color then you will see them augmented by a hidden glory and transformed into a state of divinity.
For the alchemists nurse them in the fire like an embryo in the womb and it grows in it quickly.
Thus our technique proceeds: the waves and floods in the underworld in Hades wound them in their grave in which they lay and when one opens the grave they come out of it like a child from the womb.
Look here wise man and understand.
Look at the fulfillment of our art in the union of bridegroom and bride who become one.
Look at the plants and their differences.
See, I told you the whole truth.”
This is rather a mixed-up text as you’ve noticed, but I’ll go through it afterwards.
“When the dark spirit has been chased away and no whiff of it and no color is left then the body becomes illumined and the soul rejoices.
And the soul calls to the illumined body:
Wake up from Hades and stand up from your grave.
Wake up from your darkness, put on like a garment spiritualization and deification for the call of resurrection has been uttered and the elixir of life has come into thee.
For the spirit rejoices again to be in the body and the soul too.
She is in him and runs to embrace him and darkness does no longer prevail.
For the body submitted itself to the light and the soul will not be separated from it any longer in eternity, enjoys being in its house, and has united with it as it has become divine.
And they unite in love, spirit, soul and body.
And have become the one thing in which the mystery lies hidden.
And they’re becoming one, the mystery is fulfilled and the house is now sealed and a statue has been erected full of light and divineness.
The fire has made them into one and transformed them and it, the one, has come out of its womb.”
This oneness is also in a later part of the text called “icon” – image, and also “elixir which runs without hindrance through all other substances”.
This refers to the Egyptian idea that the resurrected person can walk through all the material things without hindrance.
The important factor is here that the fire is the great transforming principle.
And also the motif of the statue or icon – image, being an image of the resurrected person.
The statue is identical with the philosopher’s stone or called the “nature which overcomes all other natures”.
The statue was looked at in Egypt as a form of the immortal body for the dead, his eternal image.
It comes forth from the consuming fire of the lake of fire in the underworld, the latter having a feminine, maternal quality.
Preservation of the dead person’s individual identity
The idea of the statue was that it preserved the individual identity of the dead person.
You know now that in modern literature there are many attempts to speculate about life after death and I’ve just read a French book (Garon?) [could not discern], where he tries to comfort mankind that we all wouldn’t disappear but survive in the electrons from which our body has been built up.
There he thinks we disappear to the primordial soup of matter so to speak and that is our form of immortality.
And people who are more influenced by eastern thought strive for immortality in nirvana, but to my personal feeling I don’t give a damn about immortality if I cannot witness it, if I cannot experience it myself.
And obviously the Egyptians felt the same way and their whole performance to preserve the body in the mummy was the idea to preserve the … [interruption in the recording] … they projected onto the body their idea of identity, individual identity and therefore they thought the body had to be preserved in its individual identity and then the soul-bird the “bah” comes to visit the corpse from time to time to remember his identity.
He remembers how he looked like and by that the remains are aware of his individual identity.
In life we derive our feeling of identity from the body.
If you ask a small child where is Mary, she says here is Mary.
We feel that way and therefore they thought, the Egyptians thought, that the statue made, sometimes stylized in this form, or as a human, stylized as a human being, or the mummy – that was all the same thing – that meant the immortal identity.
One passage addressing the dead is often repeated in the text:
“Thou livest as a scarab, thou lastest as a pillar, forever and ever.”
So the “djed” (djt) meant this immortal lasting on.
There are many more traces which point to the fact that the philosopher’s stone of the alchemists was conceived as the immortal body of the dead.
Its completion happened in the stage of rubedo, the redness.
Thus the red stone in the dream of my analysand points to this completion.
It is as if the Unconscious would say to him: yes, the forest is still green, you have to die in the summertime of life, unnaturally, by a catastrophe, but the innermost core of your being, the red stone remains untouched.
Vegetation as the symbol of the dying and resurrecting body
It is not by chance that the Unconscious chose the image of the forest when it tries to describe the destruction of the mortal body.
According to Jung:
“The forest symbolizes that area of the unconscious psyche where it melts with the physiological processes in the body, for the vegetation is that form of life which directly grows out and feeds on inorganic matter.Carl Gustav Jung
It is therefore an image for our vegetating life in its deep connection with the chemical somatic processes.”
It is there that the destruction takes place through the cancer.
The latter is symbolized by the destructive fire, life-energy – libido that has gone wild and chaotic like the chaotic growth of the cancer cells.
But vegetation has also an indomitable will to live.
Its capacity of regeneration in outer nature is always amazing.
It is also to me always moving to see in the high mountains how little herbs, dwarfed trees and flowers cling between the stones in frost and snow and constant wind and fill every corner of the dead stony slopes with their tenacious little life.
Evergreen plats, like ivy, cypresses, etc were therefore regarded in antiquity as symbols of the afterlife, just as seeds of all forms from which vegetative life springs again.
Once a man came to me for a single consultation.
He had a death warrant of cancer and could not accept it.
He too was only in his early forties when it happened.
He told me the following dream:
“He saw a field of wheat which was green and not yet ripe.
A herd of cattle broke into the field and completely trampled it down.
Everything seemed to be destroyed.
Than a voice said: the plants are destroyed but the roots are not.
From them new wheat will grow again.”
Even this dream did not convince the dreamer.
He left in bitterness assuring me that he did not believe in a life after death.
My dreamer of the dream with the red stone had a similar comforting dream and thank God, he believed it.
“He was walking in a wintry forest.
Everything was covered with snow.
The air was misty and chilly.
In the far distance one heard the noise of a chainsaw and from time to time the thundering crash of a big tree falling to the ground.
Suddenly the scene changed.
He was like on a higher level again in a forest, but it was summer time.
The Sun shone through the leaves, making a speckled design of light in the green moss on the ground.
The dreamer’s father, who in reality had been dead for over 30 years, stood beside the dreamer and said:
Look, here is forest again.
Don’t pay any attention to what happens further down there – he meant the felling of the trees in the lower forest.”
The cutting down of trees probably alludes to the brutal operation which the dreamer was going to have and which did not save his life.
Harvesting and sowing wheat as a symbol of death and resurrection
But also in art, death is also represented as an old man with a sickle, the instrument of the old harvest god, Saturn.
He reaps the corn, and man is like the wheat he cuts down.
As Christ says:
“I say onto you, unless the green of wheat falling into the ground die itself remaineth alone.
But if it die it bringeth forth much fruit.”
This image of the dying and resurrecting wheat is of pre-christian origin.
Again, we must turn to the Egyptian tradition, to gnostic and alchemical writings to understand it better.
The Egyptian god Osiris with whom every person became identical after death, was simply called wheat.
The dead person lived in the afterlife in the so called field of reeds, a fertile land where:
“the wheat and barley grow much higher than in our world”.
And one coffin text runs:
“Oh Osiris, nnxy, I Oriris nn” – that means the name of the person comes after Osiris – “have nourished the herds” … [here is an interruption in the recording] … “and what is withered I let become green again.”
The soil in which the dead was buried is Osiris himself and also Osiris is called “the farmer”.
“I sow and I reap and I prepare a feast.
My tomb is opened
Light comes into the darkness
And the wolf nourishes me”
– that is the god Anubis.
And one beautiful coffin text which says:
“I went in unconscious and I came out again as one who knows.
I will be seen forever in my human form.”
Osiris is the principle of germination which lets everything grow.
In one coffin text the dead person says:
“I am Osiris
I come forth from you, wheat
I went into thee
I grew fat in thee
I grew in thee
I fell into thee
I live as wheat
I live I die
I am barley
I never die”
In western alchemy wheat and barley also retained this meaning of resurrection.
Allusions to the Self’s simultaneous uniqueness and universalness
In the Aurora Consurgens, a text of the 13th century, the glorified matter speaks of her own resurrection as of a growing of gold into thousandfold fruit.
“For from the fruit of this green is made the food of life which cometh down from heaven.
If any man shall eat of it, he shall live without hunger.”
The resurrected green of wheat has thus become also supernatural, spiritual food.
This alludes to the alchemical idea of “multiplicatio”.
One of the final stages is alchemy is the so called “multiplicatio”, or multiplication and that is the idea that when the matter in its transformation reaches the final stage, it has a multiplying effect, which was either understood that it was a lump of gold which when you touched it with any other metal turned every other metal in gold.
But in a deeper psychological sense it was the idea that the resurrected kernel of the inner personality of what we now would call the Self, was at the same time a multiplicity as if in reaching the final stage of the Self we reach with it also all other man.
It is the paradox that in the final stage of the process of individuation we become finally our uniqueness and just opposite, we become completely one with all other human beings.
There is a parallel in the Christian tradition, that after his resurrection through the coming down of the Holy Ghost Christ is now so to speak living in everyone of us as the inner Christ, which happened only after his death as a human being.
The symbolic meanings of Aker the ancient Egyptian deity in alchemy
In a very early Greek alchemical text of the 1st century AD, the goddess Isis instructs her son, Horus how to make the philosopher’s stone.
First she makes Horus swear a solemn oath not to reveal the secret, it not to a close relative or friend, so that you become him and he becomes you.
Because if one revealed that secret, one melted with each other, so to speak.
Then Isis continues:
“Go now and watch and ask the farmer Acharantos – in relation to the text, the sailor Acharantos – what it is that one saws and what it is that one reaps and learn that if you saw wheat you will reap it and if you saw barley you will reap it.
Then reflect on the whole of creation and realize that man engenders man and lion lion and dog dog.
And if something else is engendered as [could not discern] it has no substance.
Because nature enjoys nature and nature overcomes nature.
Thus also gold reaps gold, the same the same.
This is the revelation of the whole mystery.”
This text seems to not convey anything.
It seems to be rather banal and stupid, a lion engenders a lion and a dog a dog, well, if that’s all.
But, one has to know the Egyptian symbols to which Isis alludes here.
Acharantos the sailor or farmer is no one else than the Egyptian god of the underworld called Aker or Akeru (3kr).[she walks away from the microphone] … very mysterious person.
Aker is called “the one who contains the mystery of death and resurrection”.
He is sometimes represented in the form of a double lion, Ruti, whose name is yesterday and tomorrow.[she walks away from the microphone] … and this was called the double lion yesterday and tomorrow.
And he represented the moment of resurrection and was also identical with Aker.
This double lion or this Aker was looked at as the very mystery or agent of resurrection.
The god of that mysterious process in the earth when the dead comes to life again.
The lion in Egypt was the symbol of the human soul and Aker the double lion was therefore also represented in this form as a soul-symbol.
The child is either the resurrected sun-god or then the coffin-drawings represents the resurrected person.
In some texts Aker is not the double lion but the double jackal or dog.
So here we have the dog to which our text alludes.
The dog naturally is associated to the god of the mummification process with Anubis.
Strangely enough – that’s a digression – but the last painting of Goya before he died, he made a beautiful painting of a picture all only brown gold and at the bottom at the under rim of the picture looks up the head of a black dog.
That was the last picture he painted.
You will remember that our alchemical text mentions the engendering of lion through lion and dog through dog, and man through man.
The sun-god too goes through the same mysterious transformation as every dead person does every night.
He is invoked:
“Shining by day
Lion of his night
He who engenders himself
in the many transformations in his name
The becoming of the becoming”
The god Aker is so to speak a guardian figure who watches over all these mysterious transformations.
But he is also simply a word for the corpse itself who as it says keeps watch over his own image.
Here is again this idea that the meaning of the corpse is to preserve the awareness of one’s own image.
Aker is also called the one whose forms are mysterious.
Sometimes his name used for describing the whole underworld or the primordial waters.
In one coffin Aker is represented as wise old man who carries the egg of the new sun-god in his hand.
If we consider these amplifications we’ll understand that in our alchemical text the seemingly trivial passage which states that wheat engenders wheat and lion lion, is an allusion to the most relevant Egyptian ideas about death and resurrection.
And we can see that in these connections of religious thought wheat and plant life in general were associated with the idea of resurrection just in the same way as in the dream of the skeptical man, the voice had told him that from the trampled down wheat from the roots under the earth life would resurrect again.
So, as we have seen so far there is on the one hand the felling of trees and cutting of wheat as a symbol of death and on the other hand there is as our dream says again another forest, or the wheat will grow again emphasizing the continuation of life.
The dual symbolism of vegetation
Thus vegetation seems the very transient mortal nature and the everlasting life which returns again from its roots.
The most differentiated symbolization of this fact we find in the writings of the gnostic philosopher Simon Magus, a contemporary and rival of Saint Peter.
Simon taught that the universe consists of fire of which one half creates the visible world, the other remains invisible.
This invisible supra celestial fire is the treasury of all perceptible and invisible things.
It is like a big tree, like the one Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream and it nourishes all life.
The visible part of life are the leaves, branches and trunk and all those parts will be destroyed by fire in the end.
But the fruit of the tree which is the soul of man will be brought to the heavenly barn and not burnt.
After the soul has become a purified image and freed from her former shape.
To become a purified image refers to First Moses (aka Genesis) 1:27:
“and God created man according to His image”
Thus the fruit is saved in the barn while the chaff is burned by the fire.
The invisible part of creation has consciousness whilst the visible one in unconscious.
In this way the image of vegetation and of the tree is simultaneously a symbol of transitoriness and of eternal life.
From such sources comes the image of the tree of life described in Revelation:
“and in the midst of the heavenly Jerusalem
was there the tree of life
which bear 12 manners of fruit
and yielded her fruit every month
and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of nations”
A similar image is represented in the two forests in our dream.
There are two trees are felled, most probably an allusion to death.
But in some upper realm the tree life continues as if nothing happened at all.
The dead as the helpers of the dying person
In this upper realm the dreamer meets his father who had died long ago when the analysand was a young boy.
This father was a positive figure in his memories.
He had a negative mother complex.
Here the father instructs him how to behave in the new realm in the land of the dead.
This is a frequent archetypal motif that some dead relatives our friends come to help the dying person.
When another analysand of mine was very close to death in hospital he dreamed for instance the following dream:
“He was leaving the hospital and was waling towards an old gate which in the middle ages was the exit from the city.
There he met Jung, who was dead and had become the king of the realm of the dead.
Jung said to him: now you must make up your mind if you want to go on living and continue you work – he was a painter – or if you want to leave your body.
Then the dreamer saw somehow that his sickbed in hospital was also is his easel.”
48 hours after this dream he died peacefully.
This dream seems to me to tell us that it is important to meet death consciously, not in the sense that one may not die in one’s sleep or so, but as long as one is conscious one should concentrate on death and make up one’s mind as the Jung figure says about it.
That the sickbed is now identical with the easel seems to indicate that now the dreamer has to concentrate his creative efforts onto his illness by being as conscious as possible, just as before painting had been his form of effort in life to become conscious.
Seen in this way it seems that individuation is all that is important to the Unconscious, much more important than death itself.
Unification with the Self in the moment of death
The Self as a helper in death
In the material presented in Raymond Moody’s book Life after Life, there are many examples of how the dying person is met by a helper who gives him instructions.
These kind of dreams and hallucinatory experiences lie probably at the root of the widespread spiritualist belief that the dead come to help the dying to get over to the other shore safely.
In Moody’s material this helper of the dying often has a globular form which can stretch out arms or legs or head occasionally.
In our language this is obviously a visualization of the Self.
It appears like a luminous double of the Ego.
The Self as a helper in death can however take many shapes.
An Italian analysand of mine aged 49 had the following initial dream:
“He walked on a field.
It was a gloomy atmosphere.
The sky was clouded over.
Suddenly a slit opened between the clouds and a ray of sunshine came through and there he saw the shape of a beautiful naked youth who was intently looking down on him.
He felt an indescribable feeling of love and happiness.”
I did not dare to tell him but I got rather frightened because I thought at once of Hermes the guide of souls fetching and leading the dead to the Beyond.
As it soon became clear the health of this man had been ruined during the war when he acted as a pilot and constantly took Benzedrine pills and he died about 6 years later from liver trouble.
And the analysis was or soon became an urgent preparation for death.
He was like most of the Italian intelligencia an atheistic communist and believed only in the reality of matter, but he slowly changed and found in his own way back to his catholic background.
In the end, when he was too weak to analyze and he was dying in Milan and I was in Zürich, I couldn’t see him often, he sent me all his little papers and finally didn’t send me anymore dreams but he only sent me sentences out of the mass book underlined in red as a message what he still wanted to convey.
And the last little paper I got from him was: gravissimum onus homini est homo – the heaviest load for man is man himself.
After this, he died.
The Shining figure who fetches the dying person has its parallel not only in Greece but also in the old Persian religion.
The dying person first comes there to the Chinvat bridge and if he can go over it he is saved, but if not, he falls into hell.
At this bridge a beautiful girl called Daena comes to meet him.
She is his own good deeds, or she has kept for him his good deeds.
She has dogs who chase away all demons and she is herself a kind of star or called “the storehouse of good deeds”.
In other old Persian texts it is Sraosha the righteous or the messenger of light who comes to meet and help the the dead.
Or death himself is called “the messenger” or the “personified loyalty”.
He frees the dying from the world and his name is Sabriel –my rock is God.
When the dead has reached the beyond he finds the wine of life or tree of life:
“Whose roots are water,
Whose leaves or fruit are angels,
Whose branches are light,
And whose trunk consists of souls.
Whoever smells it is vivified.”
There the dead is closed in a garment of light and enters then paradise.
This elaborate religious imagery goes back to much more primitive roots.
The motif of the half-human being throughout different cultures
In the world-system of the Malayans for instance every person who is born on Earth is only a half human being.
This happened already to the first mythical man, anthropos figure, of the Malayans.
The first man in the Malayan myth is called Budangima Sononga which means “half body”.
In Japan too, the first human couple were a brother and sister who both had only one eye, half a nose and a harelip.
In the Mabinogion King Arthur has to fight Kynvelyn Keudawd Pwyll the half-man.
These motifs allude to the psychological fact that in gaining consciousness man splits himself and leaves something behind which belongs to his wholeness.
In death the split is healed.
A similar meaning is represented in the widespread primitive custom of treating the placenta of a child as its simultaneously born double, but a double which does not enter life.
The Celebese [Sulawesi] for instance one keeps the placenta of royal children in a pot and carries about behind them, all day long.
And when they die the placenta is buried with them.
Out of the placenta the old Germans developed the idea of a double who follows each person as a kind of personified destiny, his personified luck or curse.
This explains why in many countries people believe that if one sees one’s double or mirror image, this is a sign that one will soon die.
The other half is so to speak approaching to be soon reunited in death with the dying person.
Thus we all are as long as we live only halves of our true self and death is a joyful moment when we are reunited with our lost other half.
In the old Egyptian religion the dead being Osiris is also called “the one who has now two souls”.
That means, they thought that the dead person comes up and embraces the sun-god and becomes one with him and then he is the one who has two souls.
He has reunited the two halves again.
The Anima as a death omen
If we look at this material from the standpoint of Jungian psychology it is at first bewildering that the other half is sometimes represented more as a counter-sexual being, for instance in Persia as the Daena, a feminine being, a beautiful girl, or as a person of the same sex like for instance as Hermes in the dream of this Italian analysand.
Either as the Anima or as the Self.
But we must not forget that these distinctions of Jung, as he often stressed himself, are only different categories to classify that mysterious other in us that we call the Unconscious.
Thus they are often interchangeable when expressing the other soul in us.
If this other is represented as the Anima we must assume that the dying person mostly needed at that moment to experience the Anima, that he had not been completely aware of her before.
The Italian analysand, a friend of his, who stood with him through till he died, wrote to me afterwards that in the last moments he always murmured “what is this beautiful Indian woman”, “what does she want”, “why does this beautiful Indian woman come”, “why does she approach me”.
So there the other half came to him in form of the Anima.
I remember the dream of a 60 year old man which he had 3 weeks before he died of a sudden heart attack.
This dreamer was in reality married to a cold, power-ridden, uncongenial, wife, but he was always faithful to her and never gave in to love impulses which tried to make him approach other women.
He was unhappy and moody, in other words he did not know how to deal with his Anima at all.
“He was in a church beside his wife, apparently to be married again with her or as an attempt to reconfirm his marriage.
But in front of him was a blank, white-washed wall.
The minister was a parson whom he knew in reality, a very decent but depressive neurotic man.
Suddenly a most beautiful looking gypsy woman broke into the ceremony, fettered the parson with ropes and began to drag him away.
At the same time she looked with flaming eyes at the dreamer and said: and with you I will soon loose my patience.”
He woke up feeling threatened and shocked.
And as I told you, three weeks later he suddenly dropped dead from a heart attack.
In this dream the dreamer tries with no success to mend his hopeless marriage situation, but he finds himself literally up against the wall.
He does and cannot see how life could still go on.
The parson obviously personifies his conventional Christian convictions, decent but hopelessly neurotic and hostile to life.
The gypsy woman, his Anima, on the contrary is life itself.
Healthy, full of temperament, wild.
She is his own unlived life that’s now turning against him.
Death here is represented as an unconscious catastrophe, as a consequence of an unlived problem.
This man was not in analysis and that is why there is such a big gap or tension between him and his Anima.
And the latter shows him her dark facet as a death-demon.
This is however a facet which the Anima always has in mythology.
As Jung says about the Anima:
“She is the much needed compensation for the risks, struggles and sacrifices that will all end in disappointment.Carl Gustav Jung
She is the solace for all the bitterness of life and at the same time she the great illusionist, the seductress who draws man into life.”
In the papyri of late-antiquity this figure is invoked as goddess of death and life as follows:
“Come towards me nocturnal one
Killer of animals
Who feeds on cemeteries
Listen to me Moon
Bringer of light
Nocturnal, subterranean one”
And another prayer says:
“Have pity with me who calls you
Thou who orderest the world in the night
Whom the demons fear
And the gods shy away from
Thou who givest birth to gods and man
Thou art beginning and end
Thou reignest alone
In thee is everything
And into thee all disappears in the end
Goddess of Hades
Night, darkness and chaos”
So the Anima has this double facet that she is also the goddess who is the bringer of death.
And in Latin language death therefore is feminine word but it is all really just the other half coming in that moment to life and reuniting with the dying person.
[END OF PART ONE]
Death related fire symbolism
… he who wanted to begin a training analysis with me in order to become an analyst. He was in good health, happily married, his children were grown but his profession, general medicine, began to bore him.
That is why he wanted to study Jungian psychology.
And that is his initial dream:
“He as going to a funeral of some man who was indifferent to him.
- You see, doctors have very often to go to funerals. -
He was just walking with a lot of people in the funeral cortege.
In a little square place in the town where there was a green lawn the cortege stopped.
On the lawn the was a pyre and the bearers led the coffin on it and set fire to it.
The dreamer watched it without any special feelings.
When the flames sprang up the lid of the coffin opened and fell off.
Out of the coffin sprang a most beautiful woman.
She opened her arms and went towards the dreamer.
He too opened his arms to embrace her and woke up with a feeling of indescribable bliss.”
When I heard this dream I got affright.
It somehow seemed to me to portrait death.
We began analysis anyway and now the dreams were all normal dreams of the individuation process.
After a year the dreamer had to return to his country for financial reasons.
We continued to correspond.
Three years later , out of the blue, I got the news that he was dead.
He caught the flu, it became rather bad and he died from a heart attack in the ambulance which was taking him to the hospital.
The initial dream had been a foreboding as I had felt.
Let’s now look at it closer.
First there is this funeral of an indifferent man.
This I felt meant his body which was dead and had already became completely indifferent to him.
It could also mean the old Adam, his past unconscious personality to which he was rendering its last service, so to speak to his consumed and finished earthly task.
But the coffin contains a mystery because when it is put on to the fire not a dead man but a beautiful living woman comes out of it.
In the square place with its green grass – you remember what I said about vegetation before – the fire is set up.
This is naturally an allusion to the habit of cremation but we must here also consider its deeper symbolical meaning which has led us to this habit.
In the Canarius text, which I had mentioned to you before, it is said in a later part that the womb of fire gave birth to the statue which is the new form of the philosopher’s stone or the Self.
In the mythology of the Egyptians the dead person has to pass through a lake of fire to reach his new life in the beyond and he has to meet many lion headed demons of which some are called “the flame at whose sight one dies of fear”.
Seen as a whole the fire is more a consuming force, destructive of life with the exception of two aspects:
- the fire used in cooking
- and the fire used in alchemy or chemistry today.
They are the fire submitted to human power acquires the gift of bringing out of the substance what is hidden in it.
In cooking it brings out some more flavor, which one does not taste in the raw material and in alchemy fire therefore becomes the agent to bring forth what they called “hidden qualities or colors” of the different substances.
This power of fire discovered by man gave it a creative and generative aspect.
It is like a womb in which the philosopher’s stone develops like an infant.
But it was also thought like that in Egyptian death-liturgy.
One coffin-text for instance runs:
“I am the shapeless one in midst of the fire.
I enter the flames and come out of the flames.
The shining flames do not sting me,
they do not burn me.”
And another text addresses the dead person:
“Oh thou, who is fettered in his corpse!
Whose glow becomes fire,
Glowing in the sea and the sea rises.
Come! Bring the fire!
Pour out the glow over your enemies!”
Here the fire servers to overcome all demons who want to tear apart the dead.
I don’t want to go deeper into this side but there we have an allusion to the fact that in most mythologies which are concerned with the problem of death there is a thought of either having to go through a trial – think of the last judgment, or the weighing of the soul in Egypt – or that one has to go through a hell of a fire before one can reach the peaceful land of the dead.
And I have observed that this happens actually also very often to people who are shortly before death.
People before dying sometimes get in a strange way what one could call attacked by the devil.
They suddenly break down, they loose all their faith or belief, they say thing like: “my whole life has been a nonsense”, “I don’t believe in anything anymore”, most terrible black night of the soul sometimes dying people have to go through.
Generally after a while when they have gone through a phase of deep depression and total negation, then they find a peaceful and more whole attitude towards death.
It is like kind of last showdown with the shadow and with the dark forces in the psyche.
And that you find in the early mythologies projected generally into life after death, that first the dead have to go through this.
I think that such a process lies very often behind what one calls “old age psychosis”.
And there the fire, at least in the Egyptian context, is meant to burn away everything which is superfluous and which is not truthful and which is not genuine so that when the person has gone through the fire is only left what is permanent and immortal of the person, while everything which is not genuine in the person is burnt away.
Our image in the dream of the coffin in which out of the fire a dead man turns into a beautiful woman is exquisitely alchemical.
It describes what the alchemists called the “extractio animae” – the extraction of the soul.
The alchemists heated with fire certain substances or oars for instance and material and when they turned into vapor or became vapored what they called “volatilize”, they called that the “extraction of the soul” because they thought in each thing which is vapor-like is the soul.
Then the alchemists say: “one can see the soul’s colors”.
And that for them is the very moment of what they call resurrection.
This resurrected soul or new life principle and that is the same thing in our dreams so to speak the dead body is heated up and then comes out of it this beautiful woman figure.
And this new life principle runs in our dream towards the dreamer to embrace him.
Death as the sacred marriage
This is the famous motif of the hieros-gamos, the sacred marriage which is also one of the most frequent motifs in which the oncoming death is described by the Unconscious.
You also know that Saint Thomas of Aquinas for instance died in a state of ecstasy interpreting the Song of songs.
And you will also have read Jung’s visions which he tells in his Memories, Dreams, Reflections in the 10th chapter and which are all different variations of the theme of the hieros-gamos.
And Jung was practically dying, he was in the iron lung and the doctors even discussed to take him out because they thought he was completely dead.
And then they left him in and he completely recovered.
Jung at the end of the description of his visions continues:
“It is impossible to convey the beauty and intensity of emotions during those visions.Carl Gustav Jung
One shies away from the word eternal, but I can only describe the experience as the ecstasy of a non-temporal state in which present past and future are one.
Everything that happens in time had been brought together into a concrete whole.
The only thing that feeling could grasp would be a sum and iridescent whole containing all at once: expectations of a beginning, surprise at what is now happening and satisfaction or disappointment with the result of what happened.
One is interwoven into an indescribable whole and yet observes it with a complete objectivity.”
Jung had these visions while he hovered right on the brink of death.
It was the supernatural feeling of happiness in the end the medical doctor’s dream which made me first think of it as being a death omen.
You see one could interpret this dream also that his anima-problem had been repressed until now and the initial dream shows how his analysis goes, that the goal of the analysis would be to find his Anima.
The dream could just as well have meant that, but it was this strange incredible feeling of happiness which gave me a weird feeling, which made me feel this is not just meeting the Anima, this is death.
I once lectured on this dream to a group of old nurses and received after the lecture a most moving letter of an 83 year old nurse.
She wrote that now at last she understood the dream which she had had just a few months before.
A voice from above told her to get her wedding dress ready.
She always puzzled, what that could mean at her age, but now she knew.
It would be the wedding with Christ.
In the more archaic Egyptian text the sacred marriage is often described as a great sexual orgy in which the soul of the dead unites with all goddesses.
In our dream of the doctor there is as you remember the motif of the indifferent man who is buried.
This reminds me of the dream of an old cavalry officer which he had shortly before his sudden death.
“He was in a military encampment like he had been in his early youth as a 20 year old leftenant.
An old corporal of that time whom he liked and trusted came to him and said: please leftenant come to me in the stables in the basement, I want to show you something.
He then led him to a door made of lead, opened it, and in it was lying on its back a dead horse in full decomposition.
It emanated a terrible stench and the dreamer woke up with a shock.”
After his death I told Jung this dream and he said the horse represented the body, a very apt image for a cavalry man.
The dream wanted to tell the dreamer that now death would happen to him, but not really to him, only to that part of him which is a warm-blooded animal.
It was meant to detach him from his body ahead of time.
The indifferent man in our main dream seems to me therefore to express a similar idea, that the body of the dreamer was going to be buried and had already become a stranger to him.
But out of that dead body, his soul, the beautiful woman who was extracted by the fire and came towards him.
I will return to the motif of the fire once more later, but shall delve once more on the motif of the dead body.
The motif of the dead body
A colleague of mine who is himself now dead some time once analyzed a girl of 29, who suffered from cancer.
She had metastasis everywhere and her case was hopeless.
The analyst visited her twice a week in the hospital and went on with the analysis.
Finally the cancer went into the brain and she became unconscious.
But her analyst still went to see her and sat at her bedside without being able to speak to her.
Then once when he came to visit she opened her eyes and was suddenly fully conscious.
She told him that she had had the following strange dream:
“She stood beside her hospital bed and the Sun was shining into the room.
She was feeling extremely well as she had never felt for years.
The doctor came in and said: yes, Miss X, you are cured, you can put your clothes on and leave the hospital.
Then she looked back at her bed and what did she see?
There she was lying with closed eyes.
Nearly 24 hours after this dream she died without regaining consciousness again.
This dream reminds one of the last words of Socrates.
When he was in prison shortly before he had to take the cup of poison he spoke to his friends – as Plato tells us in his famous lecture Phaedo.
After having drunk the poison he took leave of his friends and in the end he said: oh Crito, we owe Asclepius a cockerel, give it to him and don’t forget.
Crito answered: it will be done, see if you want to say anything more?
But he did not answer.
He stayed for a while, then wrapped himself up and died.
In Greece the cockerel was an animal of Asclepius together with the snake and the dog.
It was therefore the custom that if somebody was healed by the god from an illness he sacrificed a cockerel to Asclepius.
Thus Socrates conveyed to his friends, that for him in a way life was itself an illness and death was its cure.
He’s becoming free and whole again after long suffering.
The dream of this girl seems to convey to her a similar point of view, as if it was saying: now at last she would be well and alive again.
But it also tells her unmistakably that her body would then be dead.
In Moody’s material of people who are briefly clinically dead and then return to life after a heart-massage for instance it is often told that they see their body lying dead in the bed whilst they themselves hover above or beside it.
Some of them worry about what is happening to their body.
But in this case the girl did not worry.
She just saw her dead body.
This is so it seems to me because in contrast to these other cases she was already more detached from her body and she was also not meant to return to life.
I knew her and she is one person I could say she had the most miserable, meaningless, horrible life I’ve ever seen in a person and it was really an absolute tragic life and a tragic early end.
And so one can well imagine that to be able to die was felt as being healed or cured and then a real blessing.
People who are skeptical about the possibility of a life after death often remark when one tells them such dreams as I have told you that these dreams could very well be wish fulfillment dreams.
I once lectured a Christian group where there were several parsons present and the group were very moved by the dreams I told them but the parsons all in a fury got up and said: these dreams are only wish fulfillment dreams!
They said that these dreams could very well be wish fulfillment dreams and that they did not prove anything that there was a life after death.
The dream which I just mentioned seems to me an evidence against this argument, because the very same dream tells the girl brutally of her death, she sees her corpse in the bed, and tells her that she’s surviving in good shape.
That for me speaks against such a skeptical interpretation.
I have already also told you several very brutal death-dreams and they do not at all smell of wish fulfillment.
Speculations about life after death
Let’s now turn to speculations about a life after death.
I’m fully aware that spiritualists would look down on what I’m telling you or going to tell you because they treat such questions as if they were completely known and they can make exact descriptions of the beyond.
I have however rightly or wrongly always shunned away from their doctrines because they seem to me partly made up from different old religious ideas and not from much personal experience.
And also as you know and Jung has pointed out that when these spiritualists talk with dead people convey sometimes quite meaningful fragments but they are always wrecked up in a lot of absolute nonsense.
And one has to sort out what is relevant and what is not relevant and therefore I have always left it and I said to myself I only want to know about these things as much as the dreams tell me because dreams as you know cannot be made up.
They come to as and they tell us only what we need to know and they are not there to satisfy intellectual curiosity.
My own father died suddenly while I was absent from home.
I just got only back in time for the funeral.
Naturally I worried a lot afterwards and wondered if he still existed and how.
Three weeks after his death I had the following dream:
“It was about 10 o’clock in the evening and dark outside and I heard suddenly the doorbell ring and knew somehow at once that this was my father who was coming.
I opened the door and there he stood with a suitcase.
I remembered from the Tibetan book of the dead, which I had read, that people who died suddenly should be told that they are dead, but before I could say so, he smiled at me and said: of course I know that I’m dead, but may I not visit you?
I said: of course, come in!
And then I asked: how are you now?
What are you doing?
Are you happy?
He answered: let me remember what you the living call happy.
Yes, yes. Yes, in your language I am happy.
I’m in Vienna now – that was his hometown which he loved and longed for all his lifetime, he was always homesick – and I’m studying at the Music Academy.
Then he went into the house, we climbed the stairs and I wanted to lead him to his former bedroom, but he shook his head and said: oh no, now I’m only a guest.
And went further up to the guestroom.
There he put his suitcase down and said: it is not good for either the dead nor the living to be together too long.
Leave me now, good night!
And with a gesture he signaled me not to embrace him but to go.
I went into my own room thinking that I have forgotten to put out the electric stove and that there was a great danger of fire.
And at that moment I woke up feeling terribly hot and sweating.”
This dream happened early in my analysis and Jung said to this dream the following things:
He said this is an objective dream, it is not your father-animus, but this is really a visit from your real father.
As for the details, Vienna as I said, was my father’s much beloved hometown so it meant that he had gone home as we often say about the dead.
My father was a thinking type and had rather neglected to develop his feelings.
He was also a very gifted violinist but neglected this also completely.
So the dream says, he is now studying in the Music Academy, he is working on what he had neglected in life.
The rest of the dream is clear in itself, except for the incident at the end with the burning stove and my waking up so hot as with a fever.
Jung said that being in touch with a dead person makes one feel the cold or chill of death.
The stove and the heat were an image of the strong physiological reaction against this chill of death, like a callback into the body and into life.
There are experiences – Jung writes in a letter – that the dead entangle themselves so to speak with the physiology, the sympathetic nervous system of the living.
This would probably result in state of possession. – You find this in the letter.
That is why I woke up with such a physical reaction.
This dream never left me, but one problem has remained a great puzzle for me.
Are the dead able to acquire knowledge?
A friend of mine had an experience in which her dead mother told her in a dream that she should work on becoming more conscious as much as she could because in the beyond nothing could change anymore.
But in this dream on the contrary my father was working on his neglected side for further development.
Also Jung in his memories tells a dream of his own according to which his wife was continuing to work on the grail legend which he had left unfinished when she died.
And in a dream of a patient, as Jung also reports in his Memories, Dreams, Reflections, it is told that the dead were eager to learn from the newcomers from Earth what they brought over to them as if they had no direct information of what was going on on Earth.
Could they therefore no longer acquire knowledge themselves?
This is a question I have no answer to.
It still puzzles me, I leave it as it is.
I wait for further dreams.
Estrangement of the dead from the realm of the living
There’s also that other motif which alludes to a great estrangement of the dead from the realm of the living.
That remark of my father that he had first to try to remember what we the living call happy.
This implies it seems to me that the dead live in such utterly different conditions, that they have quite different ways of thinking about happiness or unhappiness.
A girl’s dreams about her dead pilot
I also wondered for a long time how Jung was so sure that this dream of mine was objective.
He just said: this is an objective dream.
One thing is clear about it: if one took it as a dream of father-animus, it would just say that my positive father-animus visited me which yields a rather poor meaning for a dream which was a most numinous experience.
I got confirmed about my feelings about this question some time later when an analyst wished to control with me a dream series of girl who had been engaged to a pilot who then died in an air crash.
This girl dreamed of her pilot practically every night and the analyst and I took these dreams mostly as the attempts of the Unconscious to bring back to her the animus-projection she had made onto the pilot.
Mostly that made sense.
But in 6 dreams, which were especially numinous, it seemed to contain no such thing, so I ventured to say that in those 6 dreams it was the real, now dead pilot who appeared.
The analyst was indignant and asked for a consultation with Jung.
Jung looked at the series and picked out, without knowing my choice, the exact same 6 dreams and said that they should be taken objectively.
That gave me a certain confirmation that one can smell so to speak which dreams deal really with the dead and which only with their subjective image.
But it is very subtle and one threads on very uncertain grounds.
The threshold between the living and the dead
There seems to be in my opinion an enormous kind of threshold or barrier between the realm of the dead and the living.
And according to what my father said it seems to be even unhealthy for both parties to be in too close or too long contact.
What is this barrier or threshold?
Of what does it consist?
The age old primitive fear of mankind of the ghost of the dead must be connected with it.
About 5 years later after my father’s death I had another dream of him which seems to shed a little bit of light on this problem.
“I was with my sister and we both wanted to take from a certain place in Zürich the tram number 8 to go to the center of town.
We leaped into the tram and discovered, too late, that it was going in the opposite direction.
I said to my sister: if one of us did this it would just be a mistake, but if we did it now both there must be a meaning in it.
Let’s watch out to what it leads.
Then came a so called Kontrolleur and checked the tickets.
On his cap were the letters EWZ, which means Electricity Works of Zürich.
I wondered why such a man should be the Kontrolleur.
At the next tram stop we got out and there a taxi drove at me and out came my father.
I knew at once, that he was a ghost.
When I wanted to greet him, he again made a sign, not to come to near him and then walked off to the house where he had lived.
I called after him: we don’t live there any longer!
But he shook his head and murmured: that doesn’t regard me now.”
The relevant parts of this dream to me are the tram number 8 and this strange Kontrolleur.
Eight is the number of eternity or timelessness.
According to Saint Agustin for instance the 7th day of the creation had no evening.
Eight is in alchemy the number of the completion.
If you turn eight onto its side it is the mathematical sing for the infinite.
A Kontrolleur in Zürich is a man who check is everybody has a ticket.
I associated at once to this word the word “control”.
A “control” is in spiritistic séances a person who mediates between the medium and the contents which the medium experiences in its trance.
Many mediums cannot work without such a control, which is generally of the other sex than the medium.
You could say a control acts in a spiritistic séance like a personified Animus or Anima figure for the medium.
But in my dream this “control” was a workman from the Electricity Works of Zürich.
I associated that he somehow had to change the frequency of the current to make the connection with the ghost world, to tune me to a lower or more likely higher frequency in order to encounter the ghost.
For many years I left the dream where it was but to my great joy I found in the letters of Jung one which deals with this problem and which I hadn’t known.
It is a letter to a Mr Smythies written in 1952, 9 years before Jung’s death.
Jung first discusses the relativity of spacetime in the Unconscious and then he continues – I hope you won’t get upset even if read it infinitely slowly, it’s very complicated.
I’ll read it very slowly, but you’ll see.
“It might be that psyche should be understood as unextended intensity and not as a body moving with time.Carl Gustav Jung
One might assume the psyche gradually rising from minute extensity to infinite intensity, transcending for instance the velocity of light and thus irrealizing the body.”
In the light of this view the brain might be a transformer station in which the relative infinite tension or intensity of the psyche proper is transformed into perceptible frequencies or extensions.
“Conversely the fading of introspective perception of the body”Carl Gustav Jung
– I’ll explain how Jung suddenly speaks about that –
“explains itself as due to a gradual “psychification,” i.e., intensification at the expense of extension.
Psyche = highest intensity in the smallest space.”
Let’s look more closely at these very condensed remarks of Jung.
He begins the letter which I haven’t read to speak about something which puzzled him for a year.
Why do we have so little information about what is going on physiologically in our body?
Most people when they have some internal trouble or even a full-grown cancer which does not hurt need a medical doctor to learn what is wrong and which organ is not functioning properly.
Who can for instance pretend to know that his spleen or thyroid glands aren’t working right except a medical doctor who has learned to look out for certain indirect symptoms.
There too seems to exist a strange barrier or a threshold.
Jung does answer this question not directly, he brings his answer in the beginning of the letter and then he skips and develops what he calls a speculative idea that the psyche could be conceived as being constituted by the same basic energy of which matter consists.
In other words, you know in his former writings Jung always makes difference between physical energy and psychic energy, and at the end of “The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche” he says that the psyche must have a latent material aspect and the matter must have a latent psychic aspect, so there he begins to think that what we call in physics energy and what we call in depth psychology energy must somewhere meet.
And there in this letter he makes this assumption that let’s assume there’s a basic energy which is physical energy and psychic energy, and the energy of the psyche would be of an immensely higher intensity, a higher frequency so to speak and that this intensity would be so great that it even transcends the speed of light.
We know that all physical observables in the world of matter are bound to the phenomenon of light.
What is beyond its speed, if there is anything at all, is not observable.
I mean with instruments not observable for us, not even with the help of any apparatus or physical device.
If therefore the psyche’s innermost being transcends the speed of light it “irrealizes” the body as Jung puts it.
It undoes the body.
In other words one could not observe such a psychic phenomenon.
It’s wrong to say it undoes the body, it makes it impossible to be aware of the body.
In other words one could observe such a phenomenon only if its frequency is first slowed down to the speed of light or to a lower intensity.
That is according to Jung exactly what our brain does.
It tunes down the intensity of the psyche until it becomes bound to lower frequencies which create our experience of spacetime.
That is why when Jung returned after his visions in 1944 into his body he felt like going down into that “intolerable gray world with its box-system which is only a segment of existence”.
It felt like being condensed, imprisoned.
It seems to me from all this that one could say that all material phenomena, including our body, lie below a definite threshold of energy intensity.
The incarnated psyche is imprisoned through the activities of the brain on another level, and that again is separated by a definite threshold, and there would lie that part of the psyche which is not bound to the brain activity and which continues to exist after death.
You have probably read in many of Jung’s writings concerning the problem of death, that he always points out that since parts of our psyche seem not to be bound to matter and spacetime, there is no reason to assume that they should be affected by death.
Fire, the great transformer in death or resurrection
Now we can also look back to the motif in alchemy and in the text of Simon Magus which I read to you before that fire is the great transformer in death or resurrection – you have noticed I always went on with the problem of fire.
Fire or heat applied to physical phenomena heightens the energy level of their particles.
So if dreams use fire as a symbol, for instance when Simon Magus does when he says that “the life-tree gets burned but its fruit is brought into the heavenly barn”, one could see this as a symbolization of that process of disincarnation of psyche in death and also in certain trance-like states when our Consciousness is transposed into the not-incarnated psyche, into that aspect of the psyche which irrealizes the body.
All sorts of parapsychological experiences which reveal the relativity of spacetime could be seen in this light.
In exploring outer space in astrophysics man has now come up against still another type of such a threshold of barrier of observability in that what is called the black holes.
If a star has a mass somewhere in the vicinity of 4 or 5 times greater than that of the Sun, it will not reach a stable state of collapse, such as a white dwarf or a neutron star, but will continue to collapse until it is crushed out of existence.
During the collapse the mass of the star will fall within a given radius past which the gravitational influence is so great that nothing, including light, can reemerge.
This radius is called event horizon because no event occurring within the horizon can be communicated outside.
You see, even light is absorbed and therefore there is no communication possible.
Everything which happens within the event horizon becomes thus unobservable.
The phenomenon of black holes demonstrates to us what happens when we cannot contact something any longer by light or other electromagnetic signals.
We are up to something not only not known but not knowable forever.
We are up against a complete wall so to speak.
Death has been represented as something similar in the dream which I want to tell you now.
It was dreamed by an analysand of mine who had had only a few hours with me.
She did not know Jung but venerated him from afar as a great man.
In the night after his death, but not knowing at all that Jung had just died, she had the following dream:
“She was at an outdoor party.
A lot of people were milling around on a lawn.
Among them was Jung.
He had very strange clothes on.
In front his jacket and trousers were bright green on his back they were black.
Than she saw a black wall which had a hole cut out exactly in the shape of Jung’s statue.
Jung suddenly stepped into that hole, and then now one saw only a completely black wall.
Though everybody actually knew that he was still right there.
Then the dreamer looked at herself and then she discovered that she too had such clothes on, green in front and black behind.
She woke up very puzzled and just then heard over the radio that Jung had died.”
Mind you I naturally do not want to say that the black holes in the universe are the realm of the dead or anything like that, you’ll hear that certainly not from me.
I have mentioned them as a simile or as an amplification to lead up to this dream, because it is always comforting if you find another instance of such a terrific threshold of energy intensity.
It is comforting to me because it means that it doesn’t fall out of the laws of nature.
If there is such a thing like an event horizon about the black holes, then there might be also an event horizon about death.
It would be just a parallel or other phenomenon.
According to the dream I told you the dead just go over into another form of existence which we cannot perceive any longer.
But as the dream stresses they are still there just as before, they are beyond the event horizon, they are no longer observable.
To the dreamer herself this dream was also very important because she was exceedingly suicidal.
She herself concluded from the dream that there was no point in killing herself if she would be just still there with all the same problems as before.
She said that spontaneously to me, I didn’t suggest it.
I’m now approaching the end of my paper.
When I began to ponder about its contents I had a dream and with that I will end.
“I dreamed that I was going in the car to my so called other Bollingen. - That means my other holiday house in Bollingen.
The driver was a person who is dead.
The other Bollingen is a place like my real one was in the dream, a place like my real house in Bollingen, but it was lying in the beyond.”
And there let me interrupt telling the dream.
When I built my house I dreamed that exactly the same house was lying also in the beyond and a voice said that that was the important thing.
So I told Jung this and he said he had a similar dream when he built his own tower, he dreamed that there was an exact replica of his tower, not in the beyond, but on the other shore of the lake, and that he thought it meant that if one builds such a mandala shaped house one should be reminded that one means the Self, the psychic symbol of the Self and not get attached the concrete house.
Now I got terribly over-excited when I built my house.
I drowned in excitement and sat around with the workman every day, and I got so to speak only believing in the material reality of that house and therefore the Unconscious said: don’t forget, you are building a symbol and the real thing is in the beyond.
And since then I had periodically – let’s say every 6 or 7 years – sometimes very numinous dreams which were always happening in the other Bollingen, in that house in the beyond which looks exactly as my earthly house, but is in the beyond.
And that’s why you know I go on with the dream.
“The other Bollingen was a place like my real house in Bollingen but was lying in the beyond.
It was in a state of repair.
It laid very high up on the top of a mountain. - My real house is low down on a hill at the border of the woods, so the landscape is completely changed in the dream.
We were surrounded by and packed in white clouds of mist which were constantly moving.
From time to time one could see a bit of the landscape through a slit in the mist.
I saw sometimes just another mountain or I saw a bit of green land and always these look-throughs were bits of landscape of absolute supernatural breathtaking beauty.
Very soon, the mist closed again and you could see no more.”
I feel that it is just what I have tried to convey to you in this paper.
Just a few glimpses of an utterly unknown country which is covered for us in mist for most of the time as long as we still live in the body, but of which one gets from time to time amazing glimpses.
These glimpses seem to confirm Jung’s view that the process of individuation is also a preparation for death, and that the latter is not an end, but an amazing transformation of some kind.