Sum it up for me

Apocalypse Archetype – Class 1 by Edward Edinger


Table of Contents


Good evening and welcome. Thank you for braving this inclement weather, it’s coming down, I didn’t anticipate this good of a turn out. I’m pleased. For the next 10 weeks we’re going be talking about the apocalypse archetype, a fairly close study of the “Book of Revelation”. I divided it up into assignments, let me list those assignments.

As most of you know if you’ve been here before I rather like the “Jerusalem Bible”, it makes less difference with the Greek scriptures than it does with the Hebrew, but nonetheless I still suggest it especially because it’s the only readily available version that gives in footnotes all the Old Testament references and you will notice that the Book of Revelation is just loaded with direct quotations from the Old Testament. A handy version of it, they issued a new revised version of the Jerusalem Bible called the “New Jerusalem Bible” and this is a kind of a handy version of it, provided your eyes are good. I rather like it just for its compactness.

My procedure will be pretty much as usual, I’ll talk for perhaps an hour and then we’ll have the remainder of time for questions and discussion. I prefer written questions, I think one gets a more thoughtful level of interchange when the questioner writes it out and then I have the chance to reflect on it. On the other hand I will not rule out spontaneous questions from the floors, so you may use those thought mediums.

I have no particular reading list this year we’ll be examining this text intensively rather than reviewing an extensive body of material. What I would suggest is a careful reading of the assigned text each time looking up each of the references that appear in the footnote. You will discover by doing that it will be a kind of a spontaneous amplification process and you will discover what a rich mosaic this book is. You don’t get this book by a superficial reading, in many ways it strikes the modern mind as bizarre and almost unintelligible but if you apply yourself carefully though it especially considering all of the quotations that are embedded in it, it starts to open up to you.

I would point out to you a rather interesting book that’s just been published recently, it’s an interesting collection of apocalyptic dreams, something called “Dreaming the End of the World”. It’s particularly interesting to me for the dreams and I’ll be quoting some of it in the course of our sessions. The author is not an analyst and his approach is not even primarily a psychological one, his generalizations have a kind of quasi-Buddhist quality to them, his interpretations and generalizations, but he has a lot of good points to make and it’s very clear that he’s gripped by this apocalypse archetype and has an earnest concern about the coming catastrophe and as I said the dreams that he’s collected are quite worth to examine.

If someone would be so good as to bring me a glass of water, I would appreciate it.

About the title “Apocalypse Archetype”

The term “Archetype”

So let’s start now with the subject matter proper. I always pay attention to other people’s titles and naturally I also pay attention therefore to my own titles and my title is the “Apocalypse Archetype”. I’m not going to assume anything on the part of my hearers, I’m gonna identify both terms. So let’s ask ourselves first of all, what is an archetype? We probably think we know, – thank you very much (for the water) -, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. First of all an archetype is a pattern a primordial psychic order of images that has a collective or generalized quality and therefore can be seen as deriving from the collective transpersonal objective psyche rather than the personal psyche. That’s one aspect of what it is, a pattern, typical primordial pattern.

The other aspect I think that we don’t pay quite as much attention to and really does deserve emphasis is that an archetype is a dynamic agency. It’s a living organism really, a psychic organism that inhabits the collective psyche and the fact that an archetype is both a pattern and an agency means that an encounter with an archetype has two aspects: as a pattern we can encounter it, we can speak about it as an object, something as an object of knowledge and understanding but as a dynamic living agency it appears as a subject. That means it appears to us as an entity like ourselves with intentionality and some semblance at least of consciousness. Jung refers to this double aspect at the beginning of “Answer to Job”, in paragraph 557, he talks about the archetypes and here’s what he says:

"They are spontaneous phenomena which are not subject to our will, and we are therefore justified in ascribing to them a certain autonomy. They are to be regarded not only as objects but as subjects with laws of their own."
"If that is considered, we are compelled to treat them as subjects; in other words, we have to admit that they possess spontaneity and purposiveness, or a kind of consciousness and free will."

Keep that in mind as we proceed talking about the apocalypse archetype because it, like all archetypes, when it’s evoked and when it’s constellated or activated it then takes on an autonomy and tends to direct anything of a psychic nature in its vicinity to lining up according to its lines of force.

The term “Apocalypse”

The other term in my title is “apocalypse”. Now, ἀποκάλυψις – apokálypsis, is just the Greek word that was used for the Book of Revelation and it means “revelation”, it’s translated as “revelation”. But more specifically if you dissect the word a bit, it refers to the uncovering of what has been hidden. The root is καλύπτω – kálypto, which means “to cover” or “to hide” and ἀπο – apo preposition means “away” of “from” so, apocalypse means “to take the covering away from what had been secret or covered” and thus revealing something that previously had been invisible. According to general usage the term “apocalypse” has taken on the larger meaning of the “coming of deity to assert sovereignty” or “the coming of a messiah to judge, reward and punish humanity”.

Apocalyptic literature

We have a whole body, a whole genre of what’s called “apocalyptic literature” in antiquity, they grew up around the idea of apocalypse. There are a number of Jewish and Christian apokálypsis in the extra canonical literature, but certainly the Apocalypse of John that we’re going to study is the most famous of that genre. The main characteristics of this literature is that it’s a description of dreams or visions or journeys to Heaven in which the seer is shown otherworldly secrets and programs of world history culminating in the end of the age, that’s typical of apocalyptic literature. They almost all have images of a last judgement with the coming of a messiah or a divine king who will impose his punishments and reconstitute things and bring about a new order. There are 4 chief features to this literature and to the image of the apocalypse:

  • revelation
  • judgement
  • destruction or punishment as a consequence of judgement and then
  • renewal and a new world

Now what I call the “apocalypse archetype” is what underlies all this literature. It’s composed as a network of interrelated images as all archetypes are, that make up a complex symbol system. I thought I try to hint at some of the images that cluster around this archetype in the chart that you all have a copy of. I could have put in a lot more. What I put in are almost arbitrary because as you know once one starts charting the network of an archetype it can extend farther and farther and if you keep going you can encompass the whole Collective Unconscious, but then you’ll drown in the process, so you have to impose some kind of limits. But perhaps it offers a kind of a roadmap to the subject matter that we’re gonna be talking about. Most of these subject will come up in more detail later, I’m not gonna go into them, into the chart now, but just as a general overview for purpose of orientation.

The constellation of the apocalypse archetype through the aeons

Remember that what we are going to be talking about is a primordial psychic pattern of the Collective Unconscious that is at the same time a dynamic agency with intentionality and that when it constellates it generates itself. It’s self-generative then and manifests itself in the individual psyche and the group and the collective psyche that is touches and lives itself out then through whatever psychic stuff it can appropriate. Archetypes are like devouring mouths you know, they find the little Egos that they can consume and then they live out of those Egos.

This archetype certainly constellated very powerfully at the beginning of the Christian aeon and that was why so much apocalyptic literature was generated. Now again, on the verge of the beginning of another new aeon it’s again constellating very powerfully. I’m going to be giving examples of different ways that happens as we go along in both the individual and in the collective.

What does the apocalypse mean psychologically?

I don’t like to keep anybody in suspense, so I’m gonna answer the basic question right at the start and then all the rest of the course will be an enlargement upon it. The basic question that I’m concerned with is: what does the apocalypse mean psychologically? My formula answer to that question is: apocalypse means the “coming of the Self into conscious realization”. When this happens it’s a momentous event. Of course it’s experienced to manifest itself in very different ways if it takes place in an individual psyche of if it takes place in the collective. Very different indeed. But in either case it’s a momentous event because it is literally world shattering that’s what the content of the archetype speaks about, shattering the world as it’s been and redoing it.

Collective manifestations of the apocalypse archetype

Now certainly in terms of collective phenomena we have evidence all around us in our daily analytic practice and in contemporary world history that this earthshaking archetypal event is taking place right here and now, it’s already started. It’s manifesting in international relations and the breakdown of the social structures of western civilization, in political, ethnic, and religious groupings and in the psyche of the individuals. One can perceive the apocalypse archetype active in all those various arenas once you have eyes to see it, once you’re familiar with it. You see the further evidence in science fiction books, movies and television programs, you see it in the proliferation of apocalyptic cults, sects and even mainstream fundamentalism is taking on apocalyptic tones. That has been a very prominent feature that I’ve noticed as I’ve been observing that phenomenon for about more than the last half century and 50 years ago mainstream fundamentalists did not have the kind of apocalyptic presuppositions that they now have, it have been a big change.

Linked to the apocalypse archetype and the idea of the coming of the divine sovereign we have this image that’s more and more gripping the modern mind and that’s the image of possible encounter with extraterrestrial intelligence, which in many cases in science fiction when it happens is followed by apocalyptic consequences, it’s an aspect of the same archetype.

When we consider the phenomenon of religious groups who are quite explicitly identify with the archetype and not just marginally so, I see the whole spectrum from one end to the other. At one extreme one sees apocalyptic sects of a semi-suicidal nature that are often no more than large family groupings centered around a charismatic character who is quasi-criminal and/or quasi-psychotic, such figures as Charles Manson, Jimmy Jones or David Kouresh. That’s an extreme example of concrete group possession by the apocalyptic archetype. Moving along the spectrum a little less extreme but still pretty far out are the bomb-shelter stockpiling survivalist cults who are holing up in remote regions heavily armed and waiting for Armageddon.

Farther along the spectrum on a larger scale we have apocalyptic sects. The only difference between a cult, a sect and a denomination is numbers. If you only got a small group, you’ve got a cult, if they get up to a 500.000 or a 1.000.000 members, you can’t call them a cult anymore, they’ve become a sect and if you get 10.000.000 members then they’re a bonified denomination. Truly statistical, no other qualitative difference basically. Of course the larger the grouping the more it gets ironed out and before the fire gets damped out of it, let’s say. Anyway now coming to the apocalyptic sects. There are a number of those, probably the well-known are the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the 7th Day Adventists. Those are each approaching between a 750.000 and 1.000.000 members in the United States and they’ve got world wide connections too. They are becoming almost conventional just by virtue their statistics.

But still farther along the spectrum are the relatively more moderate conventional fundamentalist churches and preachers who are convinced that the time of the end is upon us and are expecting to be raptured up to Heaven anytime. There are millions and millions of Americans who have those convictions.

Finally at the complete other end of the spectrum of possession by the apocalypse archetype are the apparently secular rationalistic environmentalists. I don’t mean just people that are concerned about the environment, I mean the ones whose behavior and way of life indicate that they are functioning on the basis of their religious dimension to their libido. It’s their passioned intensity that reveals the evidence of possession by the archetype, so you don’t have to be consciously religious to be possessed by the archetype.

Individual manifestations of the apocalypse archetype

Those are some of the collective manifestations that are immediately visible and then we have individual manifestations, which analysts are in the position to see all the time and in this case the imagery of the apocalypse archetype comes up in the analytic process it’s immediately recognized as part of the phenomenology of the individuation process representing the emerging of the Self into conscious realization by the individual and those 4 aspects that I mentioned earlier in the apocalyptic literature also apply in the individual manifestation: revelation, judgement, destruction or punishment, and new world.

  • Revelation has a psychological correlate of a shattering new insight with the flow of transpersonal images into Consciousness. That would be the individual version of revelation.
  • Judgement is experienced in the form of a profound awareness of the Shadow which at time can be so overpowering that it can threaten complete demoralization when one suddenly is confronted with the dark and dubious nature of it. He’s known all along abstractly and intellectually but suddenly it comes into focus as living, concrete reality, it’s a big shock.
  • And then the theme of destruction or punishment is manifested by anxiety in the individual.
  • And the coming of the new world will correspond to the emergence of mandala and quaternity images as the possibility of a conscious relation to the Self and its wholeness begins to appear.

The Apocalypse of Saint John

Now we’re going to be talking about the Apocalypse – Revelation of Saint John, the final book of the Jewish-Christian bible. This book is really an amalgamation of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic imagery. It’s really only semi-Christian, it’s as though the basic imagery of the Apocalypse which derives from other Jewish apocalyptic material has had plastered onto it the image of Christ. It makes repeated references to the Old Testament prophecies of the “great day of Yahweh” for instance. What it really does as a culmination of the Hebrew-Christian canon that lays out the final scenario of the end of the Christian aeon and describes symbolically the concluding events of the Judeo-Christian myth that has been the womb and the metaphysical container of western civilization. So it’s no small claim that we’re examining.

An immense amount of scholarly work has gone into the study of this text by biblical scholars and practically all of this scholars had been contained within the myth itself so that they’ve been trying to understand their own mythological container. I find it very interesting as a depth-psychologist how individuals come to intellectual terms with mythological texts that they are still contained in. There’s a lot of twisting and squirming and it’s a bit like fish trying to understand the properties of water the medium that they are surrounded in. See it’s not really possible to understand or to achieve the subject as an object until one’s outside of it. One have to be outside of it for that to become possible. In general the scholars have divided into 4 main camps, holding 4 main views about how to understand this text, the Revelation of John. I’m not gonna go into this very detailed, but most likely what we have here is an evidence of temperamental variations, typological variations among scholars themselves.

  • One group holds a what’s called a “praeterist” interpretation. That’s from the Latin word “praeter” meaning “beyond” or “past” and according to that view the Book of Revelation is a picture of current events in the Roman Empire that are taking place or had just recently taken place in the recent past and therefore they’re not prophetic at all, but put into symbolic form that which is passed, “praeter” is just already taken place.
  • The second viewpoint is called the historical and it interprets Revelation as a symbolic representation of the entire course of Church history leading up to the final consummation.
  • The third group is called the futurist group and according to this view the text refers to events around the return of Christ coming sometime in the future.
  • Finally we have the idealistic or symbolic viewpoint and that considers that the Book of Revelation refers symbolically to the conflict of good and evil in any age, at any time and is not specifically or literally historical, kind of the Platonic view of the Revelation we might say.

I would set up somewhat different set of categories looking at the text psychologically. First of all we will see the text as a manifestation in a very powerful expression of the apocalypse archetype. The archetype which can express itself in different contexts in the Book of Revelation which overlap and interpenetrate one another. Let me be more specific. I can detect different strands of different contextual reference running through the tapestry of the book. One of the strands that it’s a description of past concrete events in the sacred history of Israel, the outstanding example being the Babylonian exile. That was an experience of apocalypse for Israel if ever there was one a collective experience and many of the Old Testament quotations that are embedded in Revelation refer to that incredible event that is miraculously didn’t destroy the whole nation, it’s a miracle the nation survived that. That’s one strand of archetypal reference.

Second strand is reference to present concrete events, by present I mean 1st century A.D. present. That would correspond to the praeterous position and there the chief reference would be to the Roman Empire and to the destruction of Israel, the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. by the Roman Empire and then the anticipation of the Roman Empire itself was going to be destroyed by divine wrath. So that would be a second strand of manifestation.

A third strand would be that it’s a description of future concrete events, end of the age events, in another words events occurring in our time. We are in a position now since we witness our contemporary events in our own lives we can see how good that it has imagery fits, so retrospectively anyway we can see that strand of future concrete events of being present in the facts.

Still another level would be what I would call, to use a religious term, the eschatological strand, but to use a slightly more psychological term I can also call it the pleromatic strand. I mean by this term that the book refers to events outside of time entirely that are taking place in the eternal or pleromatic realm of the psyche in other words they take place in the Collective Unconscious and don’t even register at the level of Ego-consciousness. An archetype to the extent that it’s pure archetype and does not descend or arise into incarnation behaves in that fashion, it’s an eternal drama that’s going on all the time you see.

Than one more strand and for us probably the most important strand of all is understanding the Book of Revelation as an expression symbolically of the psychic event of the coming of the Self into conscious realization in the psyche of an individual.

Now I think undoubtedly the Revelation of John is based on a personal visionary experience but as I’ve indicated it’s obvious that the text as we have it had been influenced by another apocalyptic literature, frequently with direct quotes from that literature. The parallels with Ezekiel’s vision are very striking, there are direct quotes from the Book of Daniel in addition R. H. Charles the scholar has pointed out at least 20 parallels if not actual quotes from the Book of Enoch which is non-canonical. So it’s evident that Revelation is a product of assimilation of one kind or another, maybe more, but I think of two possibilities in understanding how this product may have come about and they’re maybe a mixture of the two.

One possibility is that the original vision was stark and simple and one or more editors structured and enlarged and amplified it out of their knowledge of the other literature.

The other possibility is that in the main anyway the Book of Revelation may had been written in somewhat the same fashion that the alchemical treatise Aurora Consurgens was written. It’s been published by Marie Louise von Franz, that’s a work that some even attribute to Thomas Aquinas. It’s a work that integrates the Biblical imagery, especially the Song of Songs with the alchemical process and it’s evident the way that it’s done that this is no cool calm editor piecing things together, it was done out of the heat of a living experience out of the mind of someone for whom the Biblical imagery and the quotations were such living presences that they became the apt expression for the living experience he was having.

This could quite possibly the case with John, I have no way of knowing, but I do feel confident that one way or another it is an assimilation product. In addition to assimilating the Jewish apocalyptic to the Christian worldview it even incorporates a piece of classical Greek mythology which we will get to, I won’t go any farther.

I make a point of this assimilation issue because it’s an important one for psychology. Jung has said, you’ll find this in paragraph 521 of Mysterium Coniunctionis:

"[521] Any renewal not deeply rooted in the best spiritual tradition is ephemeral;"

And I think we as Jungian psychologists know, or ought to know from Jung that the analytic process in order to achieve its full depth and effectiveness must be related to the archetypal-historical dimension of the personal experiences that the analysand is going through. The net result then is an assimilation product you see.

Now, the author of Revelation is not certain. I have the Anchor Bible Revelation, which unfortunately is now out of print, a very exhaustive commentary on the Book of Revelation, and when it first came into my hands many years ago I was astonished to read in the introduction that the editor had decided that John the Baptist was the author of the Book of Revelation. That shows you how far some of the biblicists can go, that’s not a very popular view, but anyway, traditionally John the Evangelist the author at the least John 1 and 2 is considered to be the author of Revelation.

For our purposes you know, tradition is a psychic fact. Tradition posits that the Consesus Omnium so to speak it’s a statement of the collective psyche and therefore has to be taken as a psychic fact at least on one level. Here’s what Jung has to say on the subject of the authorship paragraph 698 of “Answer to Job”:

"[698] One could hardly imagine a more suitable personality for the John of the Apocalypse than the author of the Epistles of John. It was he who declared that God is light and that “in him is no darkness at all.”"
"[698] The Father has bestowed his great love upon us"
"[698] He who is begotten by God commits no sin."
"[698] John then preaches the message of love. God himself is love; perfect love casteth out fear."
"[698] He talks as if he knew not only a sinless state but also a perfect love, unlike Paul, who was not lacking in the necessary self-reflection."
"[698] under these circumstances a counterposition is bound to grow up in the unconscious, which can then irrupt into consciousness in the form of a revelation."
"[698] it compensates the one-sidedness of an individual consciousness."

And he then goes on point out how the violence of these visions would be commensurate as compensation for John’s conscious one-sidedness of emphasis on light and goodness. So that would mean then that John’s personal psychology was one factor in the experience. But then he goes on to say in paragraph 730:

"[730] Let us be psychologically correct, however: it is not the conscious mind of John that thinks up these fantasies, they come to him in a violent “revelation.”"

I’m skipping a bit.

"[731] It is sufficient that he is a passionately religious person with an otherwise well-ordered psyche. But he must have an intensive relationship to God which Jays him open to an invasion far transcending anything personal. The really religious person, in whom the capacity for an unusual extension of consciousness is inborn, must be prepared for such dangers."
"[732] The purpose of the apocalyptic visions is not to tell John, as an ordinary human being, how much shadow he hides beneath his luminous nature, but to open the seer’s eye to the immensity of God, for he who loves God will know God. We can say that just because John loved God and did his best to love his fellows also, this “gnosis,” this knowledge of God, struck him."

Or to put it in psychological terms we could say that his visions opened up his eyes to the immensity of the Collective Unconscious, in another words, understanding his personal psychology is totally inadequate to explaining the content nature of this imagery.

So, taken as a whole, the Book of Revelation is a representation symbolically of an encounter with the activated Collective Unconscious out of which comes a manifestation of the Self which is symbolized by the “New Jerusalem” that appears in the final chapter. It’s not surprising that modern dreams often have imagery that parallel that of Revelation, sometimes to a striking degree.

Now as the word “apocalypse” has been used it’s come to mean more than just “revelation of a secret”, it’s come to mean “catastrophe” that’s became a deeply ingrained part of the usage of that word, of a grand final catastrophe and I think in all collective manifestations of the archetype that is the correct and appropriate way of seeing it because collective manifestations of the archetype are by definition unconscious manifestations of the archetype.

However this archetype when experienced by the individual is not always by any means experienced in the form of a catastrophe. To be sure the coming of the Self is always an upheaval but this is often overshadowed by its positive consequences coming of an enlargement of personality and the emerging relation to the transpersonal level the psyche so when we were talking about the individual’s experience of the archetype it bodes catastrophe only for the stubbornly rationalistic secular Ego that refuses to grant the existence of a greater psychic authority than itself and since it cannot bend it has to break. So for instance “end of the world dreams”, “invasion from outer space”, “nuclear bombs”, when properly understood do not presage psychic catastrophe for the individual but refer rather to coming into visibility of manifestations of the Self, the nucleus of the psyche which present the opportunity for enlargement of personality. For instance in “Mysterium Coniunctionis” paragraph 209 referring to the image of an earthquake in an alchemical text Jung says this:

"[209] This image tells us that the widening of consciousness is at first upheaval and darkness, then a broadening out of man to the whole man."

He speaks of the same matter in another place in a quite important quotation in my opinion that comes from volume 9-1, paragraph 217 the essay concerning rebirth I quote it in “Ego and Archetype” so I brought that along because it’s a smaller volume:

"[217] When a summit of life is reached, when the bud unfolds and from the lesser the greater emerges, then, as Nietzsche says, “One becomes Two,” and the greater figure, which one always was but which remained invisible, appears to the lesser personality with the force of a revelation. He who is truly and hopelessly little will always drag the revelation of the greater down to the level of his littleness, and will never understand that the day of judgment for his littleness has dawned. But the man who is inwardly great will know that the long expected friend of his soul, the immortal one, has now really come, “to lead captivity captive”;8 that is, to seize hold of him by whom this immortal had always been confined and held prisoner, and to make his life flow into that greater life—a moment of deadliest peril!"

The way I think is that if we understand the image of the apocalypse when we see it in its manifestations, both inner and outer you don’t have to be overcome by it and you don’t have to be possessed by it. It is awesome to be sure, but it is humanized by being understood and as our world sinks more and more into possession by this archetype in my opinion nothing is more important than the existence of a certain number of individuals who understand what’s going on. Now modern dreams of the apocalypse are becoming more and more common. I published several of them myself, and I may allude to some of those later in the course.

Hill, in the book I mentioned, has collected quite a few unfortunately in his collection he tells us nothing at all about the personal reality of the dreamers. He is very intuitive and he draws great generalities, collective generalities from the dreams but omits totally the personal reality details. Let me give you a couple of examples, this comes from page 91 of the book “Dreaming the End of the World”.

"We are in a place like Central Park, the ground's irrupting, swelling of volcanic rumbles through the large dark bristling boil in the ground. Folks aren't overly concerned however, it's a new volcano maybe, something to the 6 o'clock news. We gather what we have and move, but another similar irruption is occurring at the end of the park. Confusion, fear and wishes to remain stationary now grip the people. Other places in the world are now reporting the irruptions too. They were growing louder. Not from underground bombs, but from the Earth itself were either the result of chance or something we have done in our relentless persecution of the Earth's diversity. We ran to the car, drove homeward. Irruptions becoming commonplace. Traffic jams, the air was foul, debris and smoke. The drive became impossible, the baby cried."

One of the features of the apocalypse archetype it’s on my chart in one form or another is the abyss opens up, irruption from below. This is an example of that.

Now, new analysts, supposing someone brought you this dream, what would you do with it? First of all you would investigate what was going on in the personal life of the dreamer, because dreams almost always have a personal level of reference in addition to those other levels we my have. We can’t know what that is in this case, but clearly there is one. It is also clear with a dream like this that it’s more than a personal dream. If you ask me for my exact criteria that I use to determine when I’m dealing with a collective dream it’s hard to be precise but when I see the shimmering of an archetypal image shining through a dream then I know it’s more than personal. My knowledge and understanding of the collective Zeitgeist allows me to make a judgement as to whether the dream has some meaningful reference to contemporary collective agency. The collective component doesn’t necessarily have a contemporary dimension to it but in this case it certainly does.

I want to give you one more dream because in just one or two cases he gives us one little smidgen of personal reference.

"I'm visiting the friend of a gay man I know in a hospital in Florence, Italy. He is a Catholic priest dying of AIDS. My friend tells me before I meet the priest that his nose and mouth are rotten, so I won't react with shock when I see him. I assure him these things don't disturb me as I am a nurse but inwardly I'm uncertain. I tell the priest the dream of our ecological disaster and as I do I look out the window at Florence and see the cathedral in the center crumbling and the town itself falling to pieces into little islands and trunks of trees scattered with the wind over the water. I climb up a rock escarpment and find refuge there, my cousins have also found higher ground nearby."

Now later in the text it kinda slips out by accident that this dreamer is a self-described fallen Catholic. That’s everything we know about her. But you see that’s immensely relevant to the picture of the cathedral in the center crumbling. Now Jung you know scattered throughout his works had brought up various examples of this kind of dream where churches are in ruin indicating that the conventional, traditional, religious mythological container is falling apart. That’s the kind of small aspect of the apocalypse, I wouldn’t call that apocalyptic in itself, it may be for the fallen Catholic, but it isn’t for the larger group.

This particular dream has another reference to apocalypse by the reference to ecological disaster so I quote this dream as an example of how the personal and the collective dimension of dreams can overlap. That’s always the case, archetypal imagery only gets into the individual consciousness via the gateway of a complex and the complex will be of personal nature first of all, so every dream, no matter how profound, requires that one do justice to both aspects. Ordinarily one would work one’s way downward you know, to start with the personal reference and then work your way down to the collective archetypal.

With lot of the dreams in this book and lot of the dreams that analysts are encountering nowadays the individual analysands experiencing of the opening up of the Unconscious is at the same time manifesting itself in terms of the archetype of the apocalypse which is relevant for the collective psyche and is activated in the collective Zeitgeist, so that the Zeitgeist can kind of encourage individual apocalyptic dreams too. I think the influence can work in both directions.

Alright, that’s all I’ll do for tonight and next time we will begin our study of the text proper.

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