Sum it up for me

Aion – Class 12 by Edward Edinger


Table of Contents


This is Aion class number 12 and the assignment covers paragraphs 177 to 192 which includes the completion of chapter 8, entitled “The Historical Significance of the Fish” and follows up with the entirety of chapter 9, a short chapter, entitled “The Ambivalence of the Fish Symbol”.

I have 5 themes that I want to pay attention to tonight:

  1. Leviathan as Eucharistic food
  2. Apocalyptic literature
  3. Marduk and Tiamat
  4. The double nature of the fish
  5. Symbolism of the North

Let’s start with the theme of Leviathan as Eucharistic food.

Leviathan as Eucharistic food

Eucharist, you know, is the host at sacred food that’s distributed in the ritual of the mass and is considered to be the transubstantiated body of Christ. It’s the literal flesh of Christ that’s eaten in the Eucharistic mass. As Jung talks about Leviathan is described as Eucharistic food. In paragraph 178, in page 116, he says:

“[CW09:2:178] In Jewish tradition, on the other hand, the pharmakon athanasias [medicine of immortality] is the flesh of Leviathan, the “Messianic fish,” as Scheftelowitz says. The Talmud Sanhedrin says that the Messiah “will not come until a fish is sought for an invalid and cannot be procured.” According to the Apocalypse of Baruch, Behemoth as well as Leviathan is a eucharistic food.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Aion by Carl Jung

That’s the image I want to look into at this point. Behemoth and Leviathan are mentioned in only one place in the Bible, and that’s in Job chapter 40, starting with the 15th verse and then running into chapter 41. Let me read you a few verses to remind you of what Behemoth and Leviathan are. Yahweh has just made his grand entrance for Job and in the course of describing how grand he is in comparison to how small and miserable Job is, he produces these exhibits of these great monsters. He says:

[Job 40:15] But look at Behemoth, my creature, just as you are! He feeds on greenstuff like the ox,
[Job 40:16] but what strength he has in his loins, what power in his stomach muscles!
[Job 40:17] His tail is as stiff as a cedar, the sinews of his thighs are tightly knit.
[Job 40:18] His bones are bronze tubes, his frame like forged iron.
[Job 40:19] He is the first of the works of God. His Maker threatened him with the sword,
[Job 40:20] forbidding him the mountain regions and all the wild animals that play there.

And so on. Then He turns to other exhibit, Leviathan:

[Job 40:25] Leviathan, too! Can you catch him with a fish-hook or hold his tongue down with a rope?
[Job 40:26] Can you put a cane through his nostrils or pierce his jaw with a hook?
[Job 40:27] Will he plead lengthily with you, addressing you in diffident tones?
[Job 40:28] Will he strike a bargain with you to become your slave for life?
[Job 40:29] Will you make a pet of him, like a bird, keep him on a lead to amuse your little girls?
[Job 40:30] Is he to be sold by the fishing guild and then retailed by merchants?
[Job 40:31] Riddle his hide with darts? Or his head with fishing spears?
[Job 40:32] You have only to lay a finger on him never to forget the struggle or risk it again!
[Job 41:1] Any hope you might have would be futile, the mere sight of him would overwhelm you.

These are the theriomorphic aspects of Yahweh that he is manifesting to Job. I brought along the well known picture of Blake‘s, to remind you of how Blake perceived those two creatures, Behemoth and Leviathan.

The one is a mammal, a grass eater, the other is a monster of the depths. Jung’s statement that Leviathan is a Eucharistic food leads in to a quite important image in Jewish legend, the messianic banquet. I wanna read you few text concerning the messianic banquet, which I am taking from a fine work which I recommend to you, it’s Raphael Patai‘s book, “The Messiah text” in which he brings together, does a wonderful job, for as we don’t have to go searching through all the obscure literature, he brings all the significant messianic text in scripture, apocrypha, and legend altogether in a single volume. Here are some of the things that the quotes the legends as saying about the messianic banquet. The banquet is what will take place when the Messiah comes and the devout or elect then are all invited to the banquet with the messiah. A legend says:

God created a male and a female Leviathan and had they copulated, their offspring would have destroyed the whole world. So what did the Holy One blessed be He do? He castrated the male and killed the female and preserved her in salt for pious in the future to come. And also Behemoth he created male and female. He castrated the male and cooled the female and preserved her for the pious in the future to come. The Holy One, blessed be he, will in the future prepare a banquet for the pious from the meat of Leviathan. In our hour the Holy One, blessed be he, will set tables and slaughter Behemoth and Leviathan and prepare a great banquet for the pious and he will seat each one of them according to his honor. And say to them: you want to drink apple wine or pomegranate wine or grape wine? And the pious will say: the choice is yours. And the Holy One, blessed be he, will bring them wine, that was preserved in the grapes since the six days of creation. And each pious man will see his glory and each of them will point with his finger and say: this is our god, our god forever and ever, and they will eat and drink and rejoice until the Holy One, blessed be he, commands that the cup of benediction be filled.

The Messiah text by Raphael Patai

That’s a kind of great toast of blessing that’s to be administered. And that cup of benediction, I should mention, is referred to in paragraph 178, on page 115, where Jung says that:

“[CW09:2:178] The Jewish “chalice of benediction”51 was sometimes decorated with pictures of fishes, for fishes were the food of the blessed in Paradise.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Aion by Carl Jung

So you get the image, which I consider a very important one. Leviathan represents the primordial infantile psyche which the legend tells us is assimilated at the time of the coming of the messiah, at the time of the conscious realization of the Self. I might say that this is a larger, a grander version of the image that we spoke about last time of Tobias eating the great fish that leapt out of him.

There’s two ways of seeing this legendary idea.

  • The way the legend puts it, when the messiah comes then the Leviathan will be served up as Eucharistic food. That is, when the Self comes then the primordial infantile psyche will be assimilated.
  • Or, the other way of putting it is that when the primordial psyche is assimilated, then the messiah will come. I thing that’s a psychologically more accurate way of putting it. It doesn’t involve such magical thinking, it involves reality.

The messiah will represent the Self as consciously realized. This messianic banquet is the underlying image of the Catholic mass, which acts out the symbolism of messianic banquet every time it’s performed. Unfortunately it doesn’t bring about the permanent psychological transformation the consciousness does. I consider this messianic banquet to be grand image of the whole enterprise of the developing consciousness of collective humanity. I see it as symbolizing the collective effort of our species to create consciousness by confronting and assimilating, that is digesting and integrating the primordial psyche that it’s born into, and in the process of performing that operation the primitive god-image is progressively transformed.

So my vision is that we have a huge banquet table around which all humanity sits and on the table is the vast hulk of Leviathan to be eaten and here and there in little spots it will have been cooked, most of it’s completely raw, but just a few little spots have been cooked, and the individuals who cooked their little spots if they eat some of t he cooked stuff they’ll be able to succeed in integrating it. But the vast majority of people will be eating the raw slices and to them they’ll just fall into identification with the primordial psyche and live it out and therein won’t be an consciousness. But the few will continue to cook their little pieces and eat them and very very slowly Leviathan is being assimilated and transformed. That’s my personal image, you won’t find that one in the books.

OK. Number 2.

Apocalyptic literature

Jung refers to two Jewish apocalypses in this assignment, so it give me an opportunity to make a few remarks about apocalyptic literature in general. It’s end of the aeon literature, so that at the end of the last aeon a number of apocalypses popped up, clustered right around at the beginning of the era. We had one in the Book of Enoch, that’s dated about 100 BC, and we had too mentioned today both of which were written in the last quarter of the 1st century, they were 75 to 100 AD, right after the fall of Jerusalem. That particular event evoked a number of apocalypses. It’s as though it was the personal dimension for the expression of the archetypal image. Hennecke [Edgar Hennecke, 1865-1951, German protestant pastor and theologian. Source: German Wikipedia Page] in his “New Testament Apocrypha” gives a nice summary of the nature of apocalyptic thinking that I wanted to summarize briefly for you. He considers that apocalyptic thinking has 4 major features:

  • It expresses the doctrine of two ages. It talks about the current age that’s about to end and the age that’s about to come, or other ways of putting it is that two ages may be expressed as time on the one hand and eternity on the other hand, and of course the age, that one’s in is the decadent bad age, and the age to come is the good one.
  • That ties in to his item number two, which he describes as pessimism for the present age and hope for the future age, so it’s the combination of pessimism and hope. Short range pessimism and long range hope belongs to the ideas of apocalyptic thinking.
  • The third item is that this thinking uses the concepts of universalism and individualism. History is seen as a whole and world and mankind are thought of as a unity, so that narrow nationalisms are transcended in apocalyptic thinking. So what’s indicated is that the totality is constellated and the notion of the wholeness of humanity is emphasized in this universal thinking. And the other side of it is that what goes on is between the individual and God, not between a collective and God, and not between the individual as a member of a collective, but the individual as such face to face with the divine process.
  • And the fourth item that he mentions is determinism. That is that apocalyptic thinking considers that the course of events had been predetermined by God and therefore they can be calculated more or less. That particular way of thinking would correspond to the activation and living out of an archetypal pattern, because to the extent that an archetype is governing the course of events, either in an individual’s life or in the life of a collective, to that extent then in a general way, the events are determined, because the pattern is already been laid down.

Those are some of the features of apocalyptic thinking. It’s interesting to consider, since we are at the end of and aeon, is there perhaps some apocalyptic literature showing up in the modern world. I think there is. The old fashioned apocalypses are out of style, they are just a little too primitive in their thinking, but we definitively have end of the aeon literature. I think Nietzsche‘s “Zarathustra” is an example of that, Oswald Spengler‘s “Decline of the West” is an excellent example of that, and Jung’s “Aion” of course is a superb example of that. Such a work couldn’t be written except at the time of the end of an aeon. As long as you are in the middle of it, you can’t see the aeon in its totality.

Now more specifically Jung speaks of two different apocalypses in the assignment. He speaks of a Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch in paragraph 181. He says:

“[CW 09:2:181] According to the Syrian Apocalypse of Baruch (29 : 1ff.), the time preceding the coming of the Messiah falls into twelve parts, and the Messiah will appear in the twelfth. As a time-division, the number twelve points to the zodia, of which the twelfth is the Fishes. Leviathan will then rise out of the sea.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Aion by Carl Jung

This is an apocalypse written by pharisaic Jews, probably about 75 AD, after the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. In this apocalypse there is a dirge over the destruction of Jerusalem and Jerusalem is here thought of as not just as the concrete city but as the whole world of believers. And there is then a description of the coming judgment. Baruch describes 12 woes that will come onto the Earth and then comes the messiah. At this point Behemoth and Leviathan shall appear and they shall be the food for all that are left.

There’s a very interesting image in this apocalypse of Baruch. There’s a vision of a great cloud that form from the sea and floats up into the sky and as a cloud containing black and white waters. Actually the waters are described as black waters and white waters and also waters of all colors. Then this cloud emits a series of rivers, that descend onto the Earth, 12 different rivers, some of them are rivers of black water, a few of them are rivers of bright water. Baruch is told that what’s being pictured here is an image of the entirety of world history from Adam to the messiah, and these 12 different rivers represent different phases. They are different sequences of events. At the end of the 12th river then comes the messiah.

What I think one’s obliged to do in studying Aion, Jung draws our attention to vast multitude of materials, like the Syriac apocalypse of Baruch, he just mentions it in passing, but get the full flavor of what lies behind those references, you need to go back to the original and read it in its entirety and then you get the full range of symbolism that lies behind what Jung is referring to, you see. So, this is the Syriac apocalypse of Baruch.

The other one that Jung refers to is 2nd Esdras. He refers to that in paragraph 185, on page 120.

“[CW09:2:185] Just as in Augustine Christ the fish is “drawn from the deep,”9 so in II Esdras 13 : 2ff. the “man” came out of the sea like a wind. His appearance was heralded by an eagle and a lion, theriomorphic symbols which greatly affrighted the prophet in the same way that Behemoth inspired chiefly terror in Job.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Aion by Carl Jung

Well, there again, he just drops this and then moves on. So, let’s spend just a little more time looking at what 2nd Esdras is. It’s another apocryphal apocalyptic work written about the same time as the Baruch work. It’s impossible to summarize it, because it is composed of a great many different visions, but the particular vision that Jung refers to is that the prophet, the seer, sees an eagle coming up from the sea with 12 wings and 3 heads and the eagle ruled over the entire Earth. Other wings sprout and other wings fall off. And there is a whole process that goes on that is interpreted as being a historical sequence. Then a lion comes roaring out of the woods and berates the eagle for its evil, and the eagle is burned. And we are told the the lion represents the messiah, who comes to overcome the evil rulers of the Earth represented by the eagle and its various wings.

Then after this two theriomorphic images, eagle and lion, then a man rises from the sea. Violent winds stir the sea and causes the form of a man to emerge who flies into the clouds of heaven and then the voice from his mouth melts everything that hears it. It is a kind of variation of the rivers of water of the previous apocalypse. The voice of the man melts everything that hears and a multitude of man trying to make war against the celestial man but he stands on a mountain and sends out of his mouth fiery stream of flaming breath, a storm of sparks which burned up the multitude against him. It’s all part of an apocalyptic end of the world that is then followed by a last judgment.

As so often the case is with these apocalyptic images, the seer is then told to write down his vision and publish it. That was the same thing that was told Saint John the divine, who wrote down the Revelation, which is a classic example of this form of literature.

OK. Going to theme 3.

Marduk and Tiamat

Jung refers to this in paragraph 185.

“[CW09:2:185] … where we are told that Yahweh smote Rahab “by his understanding” (tebūnā). Rahab, the sea monster, is cousin german to Tiamat, whom Marduk split asunder by filling her up with Imhullu, the north wind.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Aion by Carl Jung

Here again he just mentions that and passes on and the assumption is that everyone is familiar with the story, and perhaps you are, because this is better known, but let me remind you of it nonetheless. This summary of it comes from Alexander Heidel‘s text, entitled “The Babylonian Genesis”.

Marduk who is the young hero of the gods. The old and ineffectual gods have been tyrannized by the monster Tiamat, and he goes to battle with her. He encounters Tiamat and denounces her in trenchant terms for her wicked measures and challenges her to a duel. She becomes like one in a frenzy who lost her reason. She accepts the challenge and the two press to single combat. Marduk spread out his net and amassed her. When Tiamat opened her mouth to devour him he drove in the evil or North wind in order that she should not be able to close her lips. Then he shot an arrow through her open mouth. It struck her heart and destroyed her life. Then he cast down her carcass. Then he split her skull with an unspearing club, cut her arteries, and caused the North wind to carry her blood Southward. Finally he divided the colossal body of Tiamat into two parts to create the universe. With one half of her corpse he formed the sky and with the other half he formed the Earth.

That’s the gist of the image. You see it’s a variation of the primitive Egyptian creation myth of the separation of the world parents, who were in a state of continuous cohabitation and the god Shu came in between them and lifted the two apart. One became the sky and the other became the Earth.

See, this is an image of a developing consciousness. Whenever consciousness touches an unconscious content, the content is split into opposites, because that’s the nature of the way consciousness operates. This is a basic aspect of creation myths. If you are interested, I discuss this at greater length in the “Separatio” chapter of “Anatomy of the Psyche“.

An interesting example of this particular archetypal image is my earliest dream which I’m sure took place before I was a year old. The dream was, that:

I was experiencing sequentially smoothness and roughness. Smoothness was heaven and roughness was hell.

I didn’t have any words. These were just experiential conditions, but they were contrasted with each other, you see. So that’s an example of how even so early in life the opposites are being separated so that the young emerging Ego starts to make distinctions between what it likes and what it doesn’t like.

OK. Theme number 4.

The double nature of the fish

This theme really continues this idea of the opposites. The majority of chapter 9 concerns this subject. Jung tells us that according to a certain ancient text the original sea monster was split into two like Tiamat was, so that some texts speak of two Leviathans and then later the doubleness was expressed by the pairing of Behemoth and Leviathan. Another way of putting it is mentioned in paragraph 183. The idea is that the original deity split Leviathan off from himself, split a monster off of himself – and I charted that here – so that the opposition was between god and the monster, but then the monster split into two, and then the opposition was no longer between god and the monster but was between the two monsters, so that then you had two fish, a good fish and a bad fish.

I put it in this particular fashion to indicate that this is a variation of the same archetypal image that Jung speaks of later, of the two sons of God. The good son and the bad son, Christ and Satan, you see, so this is the prototype for the two sons Christ the good fish and Satan the bad fish. This image is an example of how the Self differentiates under the influence of consciousness. Another was of putting it is it can be seen as a doubling of the Shadow, which Jung speaks of from paragraph 185.

“[CW09:2:185] This split corresponds to the doubling of the shadow often met with in dreams, where the two halves appear as different or even as antagonistic figures. This happens when the conscious ego-personality does not contain all the contents and components that it could contain.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Aion by Carl Jung

Another way of seeing that is that that kind of image in dreams indicates that awareness of the opposites is coming into consciousness. See it often happens when an unconscious content is about to emerge in the consciousness that it appears in doubled form in dreams. It’s split like Tiamat. That’s the way it comes into consciousness. What often happens is that one half of the form is accepted and added to consciousness, the half that one likes, and the other half that one doesn’t like is repressed again.

I spoke last time about the double paradoxical nature of the fish and this chapter offers some more evidence on this. After presenting some of this evidence Jung then goes on to say in paragraph 187:

“[CW09:2:187] The ambivalent attitude towards the fish is an indication of its double nature. It is unclean and an emblem of hatred on the one hand, but on the other it is an object of veneration.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Aion by Carl Jung

There is a very interesting reference to the despicable aspect of the fish which appears in Note 61, on page 116. Jung says in Note 61:

“[CW09:2 Note 61] Scheftelowitz, p. 9; from the Talmud Nezikin VI, Sanhedrin II (BT, p. 662). Cf. the εσθιε πιναων in the Pectorios inscription, supra, p. 89n.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Aion by Carl Jung

He doesn’t bother to translate that. And then when we return back to page 89, a note in page 89 we read in that note, he quotes this Pectorios inscription which has an uncertain reading and its translated and it reads:

“[CW09:2 Note 71] “Eat … (reading uncertain), holding the fish in the hands. Nourish now with the fish, I yearn, Lord Saviour.” Probable reading: πɩνάων instead of πεɩνάων.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Aion by Carl Jung

He goes to the trouble to refer to that note here again on page 116. Now that peeked my interest, because practically all Greek he adds a English interpretation but he didn’t this time. The reason is he’s sneaking in some secret wisdom. You see εσθιε πιναων means “eat the dirtying thing”, “eat the filthy thing”. That’s what it means. But considering what he is talking about, Eucharistic food, that’s pretty shocking, so he doesn’t translate it.

The same paradoxical wisdom is alluded to in paragraph 185 where Jung speaks of:

“[CW09:2:185] in Augustine Christ the fish is “drawn from the deep,” “

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Aion by Carl Jung

then he goes on and adds:

“[CW09:2:185] The fish drawn from the deep has a secret connection with Leviathan: he is the bait with which Leviathan is lured and caught. This fish is probably a duplication of the great fish and stands for its pneumatic aspect. It is evident that Leviathan has such an aspect, because he, like the Ichthys, is eucharistic food.”

Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 2, Aion by Carl Jung

See what Jung is saying here is that symbolically speaking Leviathan equals Christ. They are symbolically equivalent. When one eats Christ’s flesh in the Eucharistic meal, one’s eating Leviathan, and conversely, when one assimilates a bit of Leviathan, the primitive infantile psyche, one’s also partaking of the Sacred Eucharist.

OK. Theme 5.

Symbolism of the North

We’ve already talked about that in previous class, but Jung returns to it again and reminds us with further material of the double paradoxical quality of the North. Like the fish, it’s a place that God comes from, it’s the place of Ezekiel‘s supreme vision, and it’s also the place where Set and the devil resign. I think the basic reason for that is that the cosmic axis is rooted at the North Star, the North Pole. It’s the center of the Universe, it’s the great cosmic mandala center, that’s located there. Here’s an example of that. That’s a time lapsed photograph of the Northern sky and what you see there are what Francis Thompson calls “the wheeling systems”.

He speaks of not where the wheeling systems darken. I’ve got a smaller picture passed around, shows how it looks if you focus in right on the Pole directly and that’s where God resides, in the center of that picture. And even though the ancients didn’t have time lapse photography, their Unconscious would have perceived.

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