Sum it up for me

Aion – Class 14 by Edward Edinger


Table of Contents


This is Aion class number 14 and our assignment covers paragraphs 213 to 235. We are continuing the chapter 10 entitled Fish in Alchemy.

I have four themes I want to talk about tonight:

  • Number one is the Cinedian Fish and the Cinedian Stone,
  • Number two is the Echeneis Remora Fish,
  • Number three is the Cathar Revelation and the Fall of Satan from Heaven,
  • Number four is Lambspringk’s Fish Symbol.

Starting with number one, the Cinedian Fish and the Cinedian Stone.

The Cinedian Fish and the Cinedian Stone

This name, Cinedian, comes from the Greek word κινέω – kinéo, meaning “to set in motion”, as I indicate on the board. Our alternative definitions would be “to originate” or “to be the author of”. You will recognize that root in the word kinetics, for instance, or in the word cinema, or from moving pictures. Paragraph 213 tells us about this creature. That’s the second part of the paragraph on page 138 where Jung writes that:

“[CW09:2:213] A round and transparent fish of a peculiar sort, without “cortices,” is described in the Cyranides: the “cinedian fish” lives in the sea on the shores of Syria, Palestine, and Libya, is six fingers long, and is a “pisciculus rotundus.” It has two stones in its head and another one in the third vertebra of the tail (spondilo), or notochord. This stone is especially potent and is used as a love-potion. “This stone is twin or twofold: the one is opaque and black, but the other though black is brilliant and shining like a mirror.” This is the stone which many seek, without finding it: for it is the dragon’s stone (dracontius lapis).”

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

And Jung then mentions that this stone was known to Pliny, who named it Draconites.

“[CW09:2:214] This stone was known to Pliny and also to the medieval alchemists, who named it draconites, dracontias, or drachates. It was reputed to be a precious stone that could be obtained by cutting off the head of a sleeping dragon.”

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

And Jung then refers to Ruland‘s lexicon of alchemy, which I’m going to quote about the subject of Draconites, the dragon stone. This stone in the Cinedian fish is a kind of equivalent of the stone in the head of the dragon or the stone in the head of the serpent. And here’s what Ruland says about it.

“[LASDA:Page:128] Draconites is a precious stone to be found in the brain of serpents. But unless it’s removed while they are alive, it will never become a precious stone. By the inbred malice of the animal, who conscious of death approaching destroys the virtue of the stone. Therefore the head is removed from dragons while they are asleep, and thus the gem is secured. And the color of the dragonite is white. It drives away all poisonous animals and cures and venom bites.”

Lexicon Alchemiae Sive Dictionarium Alchemisticum by Martin Ruland the Younger

And he then goes on to say, “I myself have seen stones of this sort taken from the heads of serpents”.

Now this Cinedian fish that contains in its core, in its brain, and in its backbone these remarkable stones. By that very name, it’s demonstrated that it has a motor function which corresponds to the same motor function that was attributed to the pole. The celestial pole, you remember, of last week. The Cinedian fish is the mover. It’s the originator. And this image reminds us of that very pregnant statement that I drew your attention to in last week’s material. That the Self is the source of energy. So this Cinedian fish is a motor fish. It’s the fish that motivates. That being one of the aspects of the symbolism of the Self.

And it’s not only a fish, but it’s also a stone, and not only a stone, but a double stone. Jung talks about this in paragraph 215 and 216.

“[CW09:2:215] The cinedian stone has a double nature, though, as the text shows, it is not at all clear. One might almost conjecture that its double nature consisted originally in a white and a black variety, and that a copyist, puzzled by the contradiction, inserted “niger quidem” (‘though black’). But Ruland distinctly emphasizes that “the colour of the Draconite is white.”

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

So as Jung then suggests in paragraph 216,

“[CW09:2:216] In view of all this, the double nature of the cinedian stone might signify the polarity and union of opposites, which is just what gives the lapis philosophorum its peculiar significance as a uniting symbol.”

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

He then goes ahead to give the psychological interpretation of what this fish stone or this draconite stone would indicate psychologically. He says,

“[CW09:2:216] Our draconite, too, is endowed with extraordinary powers (“potentissimus valde”), which make it eminently suitable as the “ligature of Aphrodite,” i.e., love-magic. Magic exercises a compulsion that prevails over the conscious mind and will of the victim: an alien will rises up in the bewitched and proves stronger than his ego. The only comparable effect capable of psychological verification is that exerted by unconscious contents, which by their compelling power demonstrate their affinity with or dependence on man’s totality, that is, the self and its “karmic” functions.”

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

Now those are quiet little statements that has considerable psychological implication. Let me restate the important punchline there: the unconscious contents by their compelling power demonstrate their affinity with or dependence on man’s totality, that is, the self and its karmic functions.

Now if we translate that into clinical terms, what he’s saying is this. Every neurotic symptom, every compulsion, every addiction, every primitive affect that can’t be controlled by the ego, all these aspects of psychological symptomatology derive their power and effectiveness from the Self.

See, this is very important practical analysis because the symptom, the primitive affect or the compulsive symptom, that unconscious content that has the ego in its grip, that’s the dragon, that’s the serpent, or that’s the Cinedian fish with the motive power, but the heart of it is the precious stone of the self, which is contained within it, and that’s what needs to be extracted from the symptom, from the primitive compulsive experience by the analytic process so that the stone can be extracted from the dragon’s head, from the fish’s head, and then it becomes a precious stone.

There’s a variation of this image in the theme of the poisonous toad with a precious jewel in its head. This particular image is enshrined in Shakespeare‘s, “As you like it”, in these lines.

"Sweet are the uses of adversity, which like the toad, ugly and venomous, lures yet a precious jewel in its head."

That’s a relevant passage, whenever one is dealing with some kind of problem or psychological obstruction, the idea that the adversity one’s encountering has a sweet use if you can extract the precious jewel that’s embedded in it.

Theme number two is the echeneis remora fish.

The Echeneis Remora Fish

As Jung tells us, this is an actual fish, but it has certain ancient legendary attributes attributed to it. According to legend, this fish, if it attaches itself to a ship with its sucker, has the power of stopping that ship in its course and bringing it to a standstill. That’s revealed in its etymology, which I put on the board. The word “echeneis” derives from two roots, from the verb ἔχω – écho “to hold”, and the word ναῦς – naus, “ship”. So the “echeneis” means “the ship holder”. And the word “remora” has as its root the term “mora” [Note: it’s a Latin word], which means “delay”, and you’ll recognize that root in the word “moratorium”, which is a delay of the payments or whatever the moratorium is about. Jung goes into this in paragraph 217 where he quotes text. [Note: in my edition it’s in paragraph 218.]

“[CW09:2:218] … that little fish the Echeneis, which has no blood or spiny bones, and is shut up in that deep mid region of the great universal sea. This little fish is extremely small, alone, and unique in its shape, but the sea is great and vast, and hence it is impossible for those to catch it who do not know in what part of the world it dwells. Yet none the less, when we speak somewhat in confidence in the ear of a trusted friend, we teach him that hidden secret of the wise, how he can naturally, speedily, and easily catch the little fish called Remora, which is able to hold back the proud vessels of the great Ocean sea (that is the spirit of the world). Those who are not sons of the art are altogether ignorant and know not those precious treasures. … it is needful that I instruct you concerning the magnet of the wise, which has the power of attracting the little fish called Echeneis or Remora.”

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

The Jung man interprets this text, which I’ve quoted in abbreviated form in the next paragraph.

“[CW09:2:219] We learn from this text that the fish is found, if it can be found at all, in the centre of the ocean. But the ocean is the “spirit of the world.” … the “spirit of the world” is a somewhat unusual term, because the expression more commonly used was the “anima mundi.” The world-soul or, in this case, the world-spirit is a projection of the unconscious … This idea is nothing more than an analogy of the animating principle in man which inspires his thoughts and acts of cognition. “Soul” and “spirit,” or psyche as such, is in itself totally unconscious. If it is assumed to be somewhere “outside,” it cannot be anything except a projection of the unconscious. … At any rate, we know that in alchemy “our sea” is a symbol for the unconscious in general. … The extremely small fish that dwells in the centre of the universal sea nevertheless has the power to stop the largest ships.”

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

And this fish, which is so difficult to catch because it’s so small in this vast sea, can be caught by the magnet of the wise, which young man speaks of later on in the same paragraph. He says

“[CW09:2:219] … There would be no hope whatever of catching this insignificant creature if a “magnet of the wise” did not exist in the conscious subject. This “magnet” is obviously something a master can teach to his pupil; it is the “theoria,” the one solid possession from which the adept can proceed. For the prima materia always remains to be found, and the only thing that helps him is the “cunning secret of the wise,” a theory that can be communicated.”

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

He uses the original word “theoria” there to draw our attention to the fact that he’s not referring to the modern use of the term so much, which is an abstract kind of formulation, but rather to the original usage where it meant a “beholding”, a “contemplation”. It was more or less equivalent to a revelatory image, the term theoria. So this magnet of the wise that Jung equates with the theoria of the adept, the alchemical adept, which can be transmitted, would correspond psychologically to the analytic procedure and the understanding of the psyche that that procedure is based on.

Here and later on in subsequent chapters, Jung makes a great deal over the fact that this secret, this theoria, this doctrine can be taught. However, it can’t be taught in collective settings. It can’t be taught in classes like this. It can only be taught in an individual analysis, where the objective reality of one individual can be addressed in its individual uniqueness. That’s totally impossible, of course, in any collective setting. So don’t expect to get the secret from this kind of teaching.

Then paragraph 222 alludes to that same matter.

“[CW09:2:222] What is it, then, that one adept whispers into the ear of another, fearfully looking round lest any betray them, or even guess their secret? Nothing less than this: that through this teaching the One and All, the Greatest in the guise of the Smallest, God himself in his everlasting fires, may be caught like a fish in the deep sea. Further, that he may be “drawn from the deep” by a eucharistic act of integration (called teoqualo, ‘God-eating,’ by the Aztecs), and incorporated in the human body.”

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

That’s a reference to the final sentence of the text. That’s the secret that’s taught in the analytic process, that in the process of dealing with one’s smallest, most despicable, and most apparently insignificant psychic matters, one discovers the God image and makes a connection to the God image.

Theme number three. Cathar revelation and the fall of Satan from heaven.

Cathar Revelation and the Fall of Satan from Heaven

You remember, I spoke earlier a little bit about the Cathars, who they were. The Albigensians were a version of the Cathars. And as I mentioned before, it was a neo-Manichean sect that emerged around 1000 AD, which believed that the material world was evil, that man was an alien and a sojourner in an evil world, and it was man’s purpose to free his spirit, which was by nature good, and restore it to communion with God. And for the perfect ones, sexual intercourse was forbidden, and severe ascetic renunciation of the world. In paragraph 225, Jung quotes a text, an alleged revelation, that was described by a member of the Cathars. And this material is derived from histories of the Inquisition, so it was derived from the Inquisitors who extracted it somehow from a heretic. But it’s evident from the amount of attention Jung gives this text that he considers it quite important psychologically. So let’s look at it.

“[CW09:2.225] … It concerns an alleged revelation which Christ’s favourite disciple John was vouchsafed as he “rested in the Lord’s bosom.” John wished to know what Satan’s state was before his fall, and the Lord answered: “He was in such splendour that he ruled the powers of heaven.” He wanted to be like God, and to this end he descended through the elements of air and water, and found that the earth was covered with water. Penetrating beneath the surface of the earth, “he found two fishes lying upon the waters, and they were like oxen yoked for ploughing the whole earth from sunset to sunrise [or, from West to East] at the command of the invisible Father. And when he went down, he found hanging clouds which covered the broad sea. … And when he went down, he found set apart therefrom his ‘Osob,’ which is a kind of fire.” On account of the flames he could not descend any further, so he went back to heaven and announced to the angels that he was going to set up his throne on the clouds and be like the All-highest. He then treated the angels as the unjust steward treated his master’s debtors, whereupon he and the angels were cast out of heaven by God. But God took pity on him and allowed him and his angels to do what they liked for a week. During this time Satan, using Genesis 1 as a model, created the world and mankind.”

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

This text brings up an important image for the Christian aeon. It’s the image of the fall of Satan from heaven. You see, we know from Job that in Old Testament times, Satan could still come and go in heaven. He was a guest. The first part of Job describes that situation when Satan was visiting heaven and God and Satan had a conversation with each other. But in Luke chapter 10, Christ announces that he’s seen Satan as lightning fall from heaven. What Christ saw was evidently a future event because according to the 12th chapter of Revelation, this was what was going to happen at the end of the eon that Satan was going to fall from heaven. So that chapter 12 of Revelation says,

"[Rev 12:12] … Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! For the devil has come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”
[Rev 12:13] And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman who brought forth the manchild."

So this is an event according to Revelation that belongs to the end of the Christian aeon, even though Christ had an image of it as described in Luke. And even though this Cathar text projects it back prior to creation, it’s as though the image is a creation image, but it’s one that’s particularly applicable to the ending of the Christian aeon.

See it’s interesting that the image of the fall of Satan from heaven should come up in the same scriptures that announce the incarnation of God in Christ, because the incarnation is also a fall from heaven. It’s a fall of the good side of God, it’s a fall of the good son from heaven into flesh. And simultaneously with that event, we hear the prospect of Satan, the bad son of God, who is also going to fall out of heaven and start rampaging around the earth.

Now, Milton picked up this image. He lived in the 17th century, about 100 years after the 1500s. So well into the last quarter of the Christian aeon, Milton picks up this idea of Lucifer’s rebellion and fall from heaven. I talk about this image in “Anatomy of the Psyche” as an example of the coagulatio symbolism. In which an entity that previously had existed only spiritually, not concretely, falls and descends to earth and becomes incarnated thereby. So it undergoes a process of coagulatio.

This rebellious Lucifer, who rebels against God and is kicked out of heaven thereby, can be considered as a symbolic description of an initial pre-conscious act that lays the foundation for the ego. It’s an image of very primordial ego development. Lucifer is the archetype of the ego, and Prometheus is another version of that same archetype. And that’s what this Cathar text has as its fundamental basis.

But in our assignment, Jung doesn’t give much attention to this fall from heaven aspect of the image. He emphasizes some of his other items. He discusses, for instance, the important term “Osob” in paragraph 227. It’s an old Bulgarian word, and he says it could therefore be translated as “that which is peculiar to him”. It means something uniquely pertaining to the individual personality. So that fits the idea that this image has to do with ego development, you see. By making that rebellious dramatic expression that results in the fall, the ego gets established.

Jung then gives an interpretation of this Cathar text as a whole in paragraph 230. Without reading it all, he says that

“[CW09:2:230] … Expressed psychologically, therefore, the two fishes which the devil found on the primeval waters would signify the newly arisen world of consciousness.”

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

“[CW09:2:231] The comparison of the fishes with a yoke of oxen ploughing merits special attention. Oxen stand for the motive power of the plough.”

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

Motive power, that reminds us of the cinedian fish, which is the motivating fish. And he says:

“[CW09:2:231] Since olden times the plough has stood for man’s mastery over the earth: wherever man ploughs, he has wrested a patch of soil from the primal state and put it to his own use. That is to say: the fishes will rule this world and subdue it by working astrologically through man and moulding his consciousness.”

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

He also notes that the plowing begins in the west and moves towards the east, indicating in alchemical terms that the alchemical work starts with the descent into darkness, into the unconscious. And then only at the end of it does he arrive at the east and the newborn son.

I might add to this comment also the idea that the two fishes that Satan discovers when he falls from heaven would correspond also to the opposites that the individual ego encounters when it comes into existence. We don’t encounter many dreams which literally refer to Satan falling from heaven, but we do encounter a lot of dreams of airplanes crashing. That’s the same theme.

Okay, item number four. Lambspringk’s fish symbol.

Lambspringk’s Fish Symbol

Jung refers to this in paragraph 234 where he says:

“[CW09:2:234] That Catharist ideas found their way into alchemy is not altogether surprising. I have not, however, come across any texts which would prove that the Catharist fish symbol was assimilated into the alchemical tradition and so could be held responsible for Lambspringk’s fish symbol, signifying the arcane substance and its inner antinomy. Lambspringk’s symbol appeared not much earlier than the end of the sixteenth century and represented a revitalization of the archetype. It shows two reversed fishes swimming in the sea—nostro mari—by which was meant the aqua permanens or arcane substance. They are designated “spiritus et anima,” … they indicate the double nature of Mercurius.”

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

Now since I don’t believe this picture has been reproduced in any of the easily available sources, I brought along a copy of it to pass around and show you. This is from the book of Lambspringk which is an alchemical treatise that’s found in the Hermetic Museum. It’s a treatise that’s composed of 15 engravings accompanied by brief commentaries associated with each picture.

[Note: Lambspring, Lamspring or Lambspringk is the unknown author of a 16th-century alchemical German poem with 15 allegorical emblems. Source: Lambspring]

This picture of the two fishes swimming in the sea is picture number one, so it’s the introductory picture and it summarizes the meaning of the whole text. And the commentary that accompanies this picture reads as follows:

"The sages will tell you that two fishes are in our sea without any flesh or bones. Let them be cooked in their own water, then they also will become a vast sea, the vastness of which no man can describe. Moreover, the sages say that the two fishes are only one, not two. They are two, and nevertheless they are one, body, spirit, and soul. Now I tell you most truly, cook these three together, that there may be a very large sea. Cook the sulfur well with the sulfur and hold your tongue about it. Conceal your knowledge to your own advantage and you shall be free from poverty. Only that your discovery remain a close secret."

This is a theme that crops up again and again in the alchemical text. It’s the theme of keep this secret. Don’t reveal it to the unworthy. Terrible things could happen in the world if it’s revealed to the unworthy.

I think the way we have to understand that theme of secrecy psychologically is a little different. The psychological secret is really perfectly safe. It can’t be revealed to the unworthy because it’s not that easy to communicate. It can really only grow up from inside and therefore the numinous secret is communicable only to someone who’s already had the experience of it. That corresponds to the alchemical idea that you can’t make the philosopher’s stone unless you already have a little bit of it.

This reference to the secret associated with this first picture I think alludes to the idea that the crucial part of the secret is the nature of the opposites. Because that’s what this is a picture of. This is a picture of the opposites. I guess that’s about as much can be said about it, the opposites. This whole book, Aion, is a kind of circumambulation of the secret that that particular picture is thought by its author to convey.

That completes my remarks.

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