Sum it up for me

Aion – Class 20 by Edward Edinger


Table of Contents


This is Aion class number 20, and it covers paragraphs 328 to 346, which constitute the conclusion of chapter 13, entitled The Gnostic Symbols of the Self.

This assignment, along with the previous one, is very largely a synopsis of Hippolytus text, which is covered in volume 5 of The Ante-Nicene Fathers pages 52 through 55. So you can get the original there.

I have seven images I want to talk about tonight:

  • number one is the Moses Quaternio,
  • number two is the Omen Cup,
  • number three is the God who dwells in the flood,
  • number four is the Door or Gate,
  • number five is the Mumia, M-U-M-I-A of Paracelsus,
  • number six is Proteus,
  • and number seven is the Point.

The assignment starts off with a discussion of what is called the Cosmic Triad and the Moses Quaternio. This image gets a great deal of attention later on. So be sure it registers now so that you’ll have it firmly fixed subsequently.

The Moses Quaternio

The reference is found in paragraph 328, which in his condensed synoptic style describes Hippolytus as saying that

“[CW09:2:328] The Naassenes, … derived all things from a triad, which consists firstly of the “blessed nature of the blessed Man on high, Adamas,” secondly of the mortal nature of the lower man, and thirdly of the “kingless race begotten from above,” to which belong Mariam, …, Jothor, …, Sephora, … , and Moses. … Together these four form a marriage quaternio.”

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

That’s the condensed text.

It’s represented in the image I’ve put on the board. The so-called Cosmic Triad consists of three sequential levels.

  • The higher Adam is one level,
  • the four-fold grouping of Jethro, Miriam, Zipporah, and Moses is the second level,
  • and the lower Adam is the third level.

So we have here an example of the very common phenomenon of triadic symbolism merging with quaternity symbolism. You see, there’s a three-fold sequence of the unfolding levels, but what is constructed, at least on the middle level, is a quaternity.

Now what this text is doing is the same thing that our other texts are doing, our Hippolytus texts. It’s showing how the Gnostics treated both the Hebrew-Christian scriptures and the Greek myths. The Gnostics assimilated the imagery in Hebrew-Christian scriptures and the Greek myths into their own elaborate cosmic fantasy.

So in this case, what they’re doing is they’re taking these basic characters in the book of Exodus and turning them into a Gnostic image. And the four characters are Moses, Jethro, Miriam, and Zipporah. Let me just remind you who those people are and what their context is.

  • Moses, of course, is the man that led the Israelites out of bondage, and that whole theme of being released from bondage crossing the Red Sea and reaching the promised land was imagery that the Gnostics used a great deal.
  • Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law. He was a Midianite priest. Moses had to flee after he murdered the slave driver, and he fled into the wilderness, and there he took care of the flocks of Jethro and married Jethro’s daughter, Zipporah. So Jethro is the father-in-law, a Midianite priest who’s got the associations of wisdom belonging to an alien culture, not Israelites.
  • Miriam is Moses’ sister, and in one text she’s called a prophetess,
  • and Zipporah is Moses’ wife, and in one text she’s called the Ethiopian woman, so she’s got associations of blackness connected to her.

So this is the Moses Quaternio that we’re going to hear more of later, Moses, Jethro, Miriam, and Zipporah, and from this Quaternio the text proceeds in paragraph 330. Where Jung speaks of the triad, the triad is three levels, and he says this triad is

“[CW:09:2:330] The triad is characterized by various names that may be onomatopoetic: Kaulakau, Saulasau, Zeesar. Kaulakau means the higher Adam, Saulasau the lower, mortal man, and Zeesar is named the “upwards-flowing Jordan.” The Jordan was caused by Jesus to flow up-stream; (That refers to some unknown reference that we’re not familiar with, some legendary reference.)

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

[Note: the text in parentheses is Edinger’s interjection]

So the middle level then, the Quaternity, has not only the name Kingless Race, but also the name Upwards Flowing Jordan.

I should say a word about what the Kingless Race can be understood as. It can be understood as referring to individuals who are their own authority and therefore have no King over them. So if you belong to the Kingless Race, you’re your own King, so to speak.

Now the reference to the upward flowing Jordan is called:

“[CW09:2:330] … the rising flood and this, as already mentioned, is the begetter of gods. “This, they say, is the human hermaphrodite in all creatures, whom the ignorant call ‘Geryon of the threefold body’ [that is, ώς έκ γῆς ῥέοντα, ‘flowing from the earth’];.”

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

Now there’s a pun, play on words in Greek here, which I’ve put out here. Γηρυών – “Geryon”, you remember, was a monster having three bodies who was conquered by Heracles. In his tenth labor, he stole the cattle of Geryon, and he had to conquer that three-bodied monster. And according to the play on words, the term Geryon derives from “γη ρυών”, which means, “from the earth flowing”.

There’s a further play making an analogy between the word Geryon and the word Jordan. You twist Jordan a little bit, and you get the word “ιο ρυών”, something else flowing, you see.

γη ρυών – “ge-ryon” and ιο ρυών – “jo-ryon”, it’s a play on those two terms, those two kinds of rivers. And the Gnostic texts are full of that kind of fluid phony etymology, and what makes it so interesting for us is that we witness the unconscious behaving the same way in dreams. It likes to do that kind of playful stuff. It’s a punster. It’s a shameless punster.

This upward flowing Jordan is also linked with the Cosmogonic Logos, and a quote from the first chapter of John is mentioned, in which Christ is described as the light and the life that was in him, and so that scripture is linked to this particular Gnostic image.

What you’re going to see, and what I’m going to try to elucidate a bit of, is the rich network of interassociations that go to make up these Gnostic texts. Since these Gnostics are functioning just exactly the way we witness the Unconscious to be functioning today, therefore Jung can speak of them as really the original psychologists, because they took the imagery of scripture and myth empirically, so to speak. They didn’t take it dogmatically, and used it as exemplary of their own themes, which are basically psychological themes.

Moving on to item number two, the Omen Cup.

The Omen Cup

The text proceeds with a number of different images, all of which cluster around the same primordial idea. The basic idea is the original man, the original creative stuff, the initial totality, and so Jung continues to summarize a Hippolytus in paragraph 331.

“[CW09:2:331] This Logos or quaternity is “the cup from which the king, drinking, draws his omens,””

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

Well, that’s a scriptural quote. That refers to Genesis 44.

And what happens in Genesis 44 is that Joseph’s brothers, after having visited him, are sent back, and the king’s cup is deposited in Benjamin’s sack. And then his sack is searched, and he’s been set up, you see, by Joseph. And Joseph tells his servants, “put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack’s mouth of the youngest”, that’s Benjamin. And when they were gone and not far off, Joseph said, “up, follow after these men”. And then ask them why you stole my cup. And I’m looking for the particular reference. I can’t find it, but the statement then says, “this is the cup that the king drinking out of uses to cast his omens”. That’s the cup. The cup they’ve been put in Benjamin’s seed sack.

So what the Gnostics are saying, then, is that this Logos Quaternity corresponds to that cup found in Benjamin’s bag of wheat.

It’s also the beaker of Anacreon. So they shift with absolute ease from the Hebrew Bible to Greek sources. The reference to the beaker of Anacreon refers to some verses, Anacreon was a Greek poet. And the verses are that “my tankard tells me the sort I must become”. In other words, the poem is saying that the poet learns who he is. What is essential identity in nature is by his cup. And the idea, of course, is that in vino veritas, that’s the underlying idea. But the cup of Anacreon is the one that tells you who you are and what sort you are. So that’s another associated reference, then, to this Quaternity.

The cup then leads Hippolytus onto the wine miracle at Cana, which he says “showed forth the kingdom of heaven. For the kingdom of heaven flies within us like the wine in the cup”. The wine miracle at Cana is reported in the second chapter of John, where Christ turned water into wine. They didn’t have enough wine for the party. So that scripture has now been taken over by this Gnostic text.

You see, the Gnostic text is like a gobbling mouth. It’s digesting all these images that it finds relevant and creating this network of inner associations. And what you find if you follow these up closely enough, the moment comes when they speak to you. For a while, they just seem like dull, disconnected entities. But if you pour your attention into this network, the moment comes when that work comes alive. And you realize that you’re looking at the living psyche, the fabric of it.

That’s why Jung does this. That’s why he puts this out. It’s very hard to have that experience from the book unless you pour your attention into it in detail. But if you do, if you follow up these associations with care and look them up one by one, the moment will come when you’ll have a eureka experience and you’ll see the living psyche in its shimmering, alive reality.

I can’t communicate that to you, I think, by myself. I think you have to each discover it for yourselves if you pour enough effort into it.

But then the references continue.

It doesn’t stop with the wine miracle at Cana. It then brings up Christ’s references to the Self where he says to his disciples in the 10th chapter of Mark, “can you drink of the cup that I drink of”? That’s the cup of his crucifixion that he’s going to drink of. And then again in the 6th chapter of John, “except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you”. And the Gnostic text says, “for he was conscious of the individual nature of each of his disciples. And so he saw the need for each of them to come to his own special nature”.

Now the idea there is that each individual drinks the blood of Christ, but each is nourished by that blood in his own unique way. It nourishes his own unique nature. And in a passage in Hippolysis that Jung doesn’t quote, Gnostic then explains what he means is that from one and the same river, the water is a certain area. From that one water, the olive tree draws oil from it, the grapevine draws wine, and other plants draw what suits them, each according to his own genus. And the analogy is that so it is with individuals, each partake of this same cup, but each derive from it what is uniquely relevant to themselves.

Number three, the God who dwells in the flood.

The God Who Dwells in the Flood

This reference is found in paragraph 332. He speaks of Korybas,

“[CW09:2:332] Another synonym is Korybas, who was descended from the crown of the head …, and permeates all things. … He is the god who dwells in the flood. I need not describe this symbol here, as I have already discussed it at some length in one of my Paracelsus studies.”

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

Now the original of that, let me read that to you.

“This he says is the God who dwells in the flood, according to the Psalter, and who speaketh and cryeth from many waters.”

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5, The Refutation of all Heresies by Hippolytus

That’s a reference to Psalm 29, which says, “the voice of the Lord is on the waters, and the Lord sitteth upon the flood.” So the image of the God dwelling in the flood is being extracted from that particular reference of Psalms.

“The many waters”, he says, “are the diversified generation of mortal men, from which generation he cries and vociferates to the unformed, the invisible man, saying, preserve my only begotten from the lions”.

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5, The Refutation of all Heresies by Hippolytus

That’s a reference to another quotation from Psalms.

The idea there is, it’s a very interesting idea, that the God who’s crying from the waters, the text says, the waters are the generations of men. In other words, it would be the collective image of the Anthropos that is drowning in the collectivity of mass man that’s calling for rescue.

In reply to him, the Bible has declared, “Israel, thou art my child, fear not, though thou passest through rivers, they shall not drown thee”. By rivers he means the moist substance of generation.

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5, The Refutation of all Heresies by Hippolytus

That’s another scripture reference to the 43rd chapter of Isaiah, where Israel is reassured by Yahweh.

All of this illustrates how the significant scriptural passages are being plucked out of their original context and deposited in a new context in the whole Gnostic scheme.

Now, this image of the God who dwells in the flood, or the image of the voice calling from the waters, has an important alchemical parallel. It’s the image of the king drowning in the sea and calling out, asking to be rescued.

One of the pictures of Maier‘s Atalanta Fugiens, shows that image of the king drowning in the sea, and the passage reads, he calls out,

"Who shall deliver me from the waters and lead me to dry land?
Even though this cry be heard of many, yet none takes it upon himself, moved by pity, to seek the king.
For who, they say, will plunge into the waters?
Who will imperil his life by taking away the peril of another?
Only a few believe his lament, and think rather that they hear the crashing and roaring of Scylla and Charybdis.
Therefore they remain sitting indolently at home, and give no thought to the kingly treasure, nor to their own salvation."

So here’s an image that began in one context in the Scriptures, was plucked out of that, and used in another context by the Gnostics, and then was picked up by the Alchemists, and used in still a third context, in their alchemical imagery. And now Jungian psychology are picking up that image, and using in still a fourth context, as referring to the transpersonal Self that resides in the unconscious, and that needs to be rescued by the Ego that must be sent into the flood to redeem it.

So we can understand it now as the Unconscious, the abandoned God image calling for conscious realization.

Number four, the door or gate.

The Door or Gate

That reference is found in paragraph 333.

“[CW09:2:333] From the centre of the “perfect man” flows the ocean (where, as we have said, the god dwells). The “perfect” man is, as Jesus says, the “true door,” through which the “perfect” man must go in order to be reborn.”

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

Now that’s picking up a passage from the 7th chapter of Matthew that says, “straight as the gate, and narrows the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it”. Together with the statement of Christ in John chapter 10, “I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pastor”.

Then this door and gate image is continued in paragraph 336. In paragraph 336, they pick up another scriptural reference. This is the reference of Jacob’s dream that he had at Bethel, his dream of the heavenly ladder with angels ascending and descending. And when he woke up from his dream, he said, “how terrible is this place? This is no other but the house of God and the gate of heaven”.

So what the Gnostics are doing then, they’re linking that particular image of the gate of heaven that Jacob dreamt about, with Christ’s remarks about being the gate.

You see, they’re doing exactly the same thing that the Jungian psychologist does. They pick up the image as the living entity, and they don’t mind tearing it out of its context at all, because what they’re related to is the living image itself.

Now, if I had more time, I could go into dream examples of gates or doors, especially ones that open into strange and new regions. It’s a relatively common image. And once you’re sensitized, once you are aware of these particular images as living psychic organisms, then whenever you come across an example of them, you’ll recognize them and you’ll be able to use this material to amplify it and nothing else in your own mind. We don’t want to dump too much amplification material on people waiting down them, you know, sometimes. But it’s very important if these images are resonating in your own mind as you’re hearing a dream told you, because it determines the attitude in which you deal with a dream and that larger, ampler attitude that communicates itself through the Unconscious to the patient. He gets it.

Okay. Number five, the mumia of Paracelsus.

The Mumia of Paracelsus

This reference is found in paragraph 334, where Jung says that

“[CW09:2:334] Hippolytus goes on to say that he is called Papa (Attis) by the Phrygians. … This “Papa” is also called νέκʋς (cadaver), because he is buried in the body like a mummy in a tomb. A similar idea is found in Paracelsus; his treatise De vita longa opens with the words: “Life, verily, is naught but a kind of embalmed mummy, which preserves the mortal body from the mortal worms.” The body lives only from the “Mumia,” through which the “peregrinus microcosmus,” the wandering microcosm (corresponding to the macrocosm), rules the physical body. … “the door whence all created things have come.” … The Mumia is born together with the body and sustains it.”

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

“[CW09:2:334] The Paracelsian Mumia therefore corresponds in every way to the Original Man, who forms the microcosm in the mortal man.”

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

This is a strange and interesting idea. It takes a little effort to get. The idea is that there is a second body lodged inside our visible body, like a cadaver buried in a tomb. And this second body is of a different nature than the visible body. It’s like a preserved mummy. So it’s got an immortal quality, you see. It’s an immortal precursor of our mortal temporal existence.

The image is similar to the idea of the skeleton in relation to the flesh. The flesh disintegrates very quickly after death, but the skeleton lasts indefinitely. It’s a kind of immortal second body buried within the fleshly body. It’s an image of the immortal aspect of the person.

And this idea of Paracelsus, this mumia, and the gnostic idea of the cadaver buried in the body is similar. It refers to that immortal inner entity that exists prior to our temporal existence and subsequent to our temporal existence, because it’s eternal. It’s outside of time.

Okay, number six is Proteus.


The reference is found in paragraph 338. Now they turn, you see, from the Bible to Greek mythology, and this is a reference from the Odyssey. And it’s referring to the story where Menelaus, on his way home from Troy, is held up, doesn’t know how to get home, and he’s told that he must catch Proteus, the sea god, who comes up with a herd of seals at noon time. So what he has to do is he has to hide under a smelly seal skin. And the Homer makes him quite a bit out of how much that stinks and how disagreeable that is. And then when Proteus comes up at noon with his herd of seals, he rushes out and grabs him. And Proteus, he’s capable of changing into all kinds of shapes, and he has to hold on, despite whatever shape he changes into, until finally he says, okay, what do you want of me? And then Menelaus says, I want to know how to get home, how to get back to Greece. And then Proteus proceeds to tell him.

This is a wonderful image to use for psychological purposes, because it expresses very aptly one way we have to deal with the Unconscious under certain circumstances. When we need something from the Unconscious, we need to hold on to it. This is a certain kind of active imagination that pours such diligent attention into it that it finally comes through with what we need to know.

And Proteus, according to the Gnostics, is one of those images of the Self that Jung is elaborating.

Finally, number seven is the point.

The Point

The reference to this is in paragraph 340. I would suggest you write in the margin of paragraph 340, paragraph 310, because he’s also talked about the point earlier in Aion in paragraph 310, and also put into the margin CW 14, paragraph 40, FF, because that’s Mysterium Coniunctionis. And he discusses the symbolism of the point, the considerable detail, in that place.

He gives us a beautiful passage here, this Monoimus quote in which the monad is described as the point. I won’t have time to go into it, but it’s a very evocative image of the Self, the point. It’s the invisible origin and center of everything.

[Note: Edinger didn’t quote the following paragraph and the two footnotes.]

“[CW09:2:340] … The emblem of the perfect Man, says Monoïmos, is the jot or tittle. This one tittle is the uncompounded, simple, unmixed Monad, having its composition from nothing whatsoever, yet composed of many forms, of many parts. That single, indivisible jot is the many-faced, thousand-eyed and thousand-named, the jot of the iota. This is the emblem of that perfect and indivisible Man. … The Son of the Man is the one iota, the one jot flowing from on high, full and filling all things, containing in himself everything that is in the Man, the Father of the Son of Man.”

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

“[CW09:2:340:Footnote:135] The iota (τἠν μίαν κεραίαν), the smallest Greek character, corresponding to our “dot” (which did not exist in Greek). Cf. Luke 16 : 17: “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass than one tittle of the law to fall.” Also Matt. 5: 18. This may well be the origin of the iota symbolism, as Irenaeus (Adv. haer., I, 3, 2) suggests.”

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


Elenchos, VIII, 12, 5ff. (Legge, pp. 107ff.). All this is a Gnostic paraphrase of John 1 and at the same time a meaningful exposition of the psychological self. The relationship of the to the self is the same as that of the Hebrew letter Yod (י) to the lapis in the cabala. The Original Man, Adam, signifies the small hook at the top of the letter Yod. (Shaare Kedusha, III, 1.)”

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

It was the starting point of Greek geometry, for instance. Geometry begins with the description of the point. And it’s defined as something that has position but no magnitude. But everything stems from the point. A moving point generates a line. A moving line generates a plane. A moving plane generates a solid. And a moving solid generates space-time.

It’s a very, very evocative image, and it comes up, not infrequently, in dreams.

Could you repeat that? [Note: an audience member asked Edinger to repeat what he said earlier about the image of the geometrical point.]

Start with the point. It’s nothing but position. It doesn’t have any magnitude. But when it moves, it generates a line. And when a line moves, it generates a plane. And when a plane moves, it generates a solid. And then if a solid moves, then you get time. Then you have space and time.

And so all our conscious existence, everything that we can perceive in spatio-temporal reality, starts out as a point. So that you can think of Euclid’s geometry as just a vast geometrical cosmogeny, really. And it’s that symbolic quality to it that made it so gripping for the ancients. As a study that was a revelation, revealed the nature of the world.

Okay. Thank you.

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