Table of Contents
- The image of incense
- The image of “the angel throwing down the fire from the altar to the Earth”
- The image of the destruction of 1/3 of the Earth’s major aspects
- The image of the abyss
- The image of the locusts
- The image of eating the scroll
This is class number 5 on the apocalypse archetype and the material we’re covering tonight is chapters 8, 9 and 10.
Before I proceed I want to mention the suggested additional small assignment for next time in addition to chapters 11, 12 and 13 of Revelation, please also read in Answer to Job paragraph 710 through 716. Those paragraphs are actually relevant to our subject matter and I’m going to be talking about them.
The image of incense
I have several items I want to talk about tonight in tonight’s material, the first one is referred to the beginning of chapter 8:
"8:2 Next I saw seven trumpets being given to the seven angels who stand in the presence of God.
8:3 Another angel, who had a golden censer,[b] came and stood at the altar.[c] A large quantity of incense was given to him to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that stood in front of the throne;
8:4 and so from the angel’s hand the smoke of the incense went up in the presence of God and with it the prayers of the saints."
What comes up here is the question of incense and censers that dispense incense. You know a censer is a little circular item on a chain that the priest moves about to cense the proceedings. I wanna spend a little time talking about that image. As I mentioned before, the temple and its furnishings are duplicated in Heaven. I made a little sketch on the board of the chief contents of the temple and what’s adjacent to it. The square room is the Holy of Holies containing only the Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat on the top and then on the other side of the curtain is the Lamp, the Table of Showbread and the Altar of Incense. Then outside are the Basin or Sea and the Sacrificial Altar where the animals are sacrificed. Inside is the Altar of Incense and quite explicit directions for its construction. You find them in chapter 30 of Exodus:
"30:1 ‘You must make an altar on which to burn incense;[*a] you are to make it out of acacia wood."
And then He gives the dimensions of it.
"30:3 The top of it, its surrounding sides, and its horns, are to be plated with pure gold, and decorated with a gold moulding all round."
"30:7 There Aaron must burn fragrant incense each morning when he trims the lamps,
30:8 and between the two evenings, when Aaron puts the lamps back, he must burn it again. You must make these offerings of incense before Yahweh unfailingly from generation to generation."
Then farther on in the same chapter, He talks to Moses about the incense:
"30:34 Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Take sweet spices: storax, onycha, galbanum, sweet spices and pure frankincense in equal parts,
30:35 and compound an incense, such a blend as the perfumer might make, salted, pure, and holy.
30:36 Crush a part of it into a fine powder, and put some of this in front of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, the place appointed for my meetings with you. You must regard it as most holy.
30:37 You are not to make any incense of similar composition for your own use. You must hold it to be a holy thing, reserved for Yahweh. Whoever copies it for use as perfume shall be outlawed from his people’."
Then in Leviticus, chapter 10, we find out how dangerous this incense altar and the censer associated with it can be because in this chapter we’re told that there had been a rebellion against Moses and his authority was being questioned and the result of it was that Moses instructed the rebellious ones, there were 250 of them in all, to bring their censers, they were claiming to be priests, they were to bring their censers to the tent of the tabernacle where the presence of Yahweh resided and the test was going to be whether or not Yahweh would accept their administrations, their censing and the use of their censers and when they proceeded to do that fire shot out of Yahweh’s presence and destroyed all 250 of them in the midst of their censing. That’s referred to in the 10th chapter of Leviticus:
"10:1 Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, each took his censer, put fire in it and incense on the fire, and presented unlawful fire before Yahweh, fire which he had not prescribed for them.
10:2 Then from Yahweh’s presence a flame leaped out and consumed them, and they perished in the presence of Yahweh.
10:3 And Moses said to Aaron, ‘That is what Yahweh meant when he said: “In those who are close to me I show my holiness, and before all the people I show my glory”‘.[*b] Aaron remained silent."
The reason I’m going into this so much is that this symbolism has to do with transpersonal libido in the hands of the Ego. That’s what the issue is about, so you know this is not just antiquarian interest, moving around these various images. The person I’ve quoted previously, J. M. Ford (Josephine Massyngbaerde Ford), has an interesting remark on this material, this is from her extensive commentary in the Anchor Bible Book of Revelation. She’s referring to the quote I just gave you and goes on to the next verse, I’m going to repeat it, so we have it all (from the Book of Revelation, chapter 8):
"8:3 Another angel, who had a golden censer,[b] came and stood at the altar.[c] A large quantity of incense was given to him to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that stood in front of the throne;
8:4 and so from the angel’s hand the smoke of the incense went up in the presence of God and with it the prayers of the saints.
8:5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire from the altar, which he then threw down on to the earth; immediately there came peals of thunder and flashes of lightning, and the earth shook."
Here’s what Miss Ford says about that:
"The angel with the censer hurls the coals from the altar onto the Earth. Four astonishing reversals occur. From the throne and altar whence one might expect mercy and atonement comes wrath. Incense which originally meant fragrant smoke and was used with burnt offerings to be a sweat savor to the Lord becomes an instrument of punishment. The hurling of the coals is in rude opposition to the gentle rise of the cloud of incense symbolizing prayer penetrating Heaven and calling down God's mercy. The trumpets in association with the altar and throne should suggest the instruments was played during the pauses in the psalms when the people prostrated themselves and worshiped."
She goes on to paint a picture that I wanna present to you.
"One can re-capture the scene of the daily sacrifice of incense offered in the temple. This took place in the morning after the lamb had been immolated but before it was placed on the altar of holocaust. The incense offering was repeated in the evening, after the lamb was placed on the altar but before the libation. Accompanied by two other priests the sacrificing priest chosen by the lot entered the holy place, one of the assisting priests carried in a brazier burning coals which he had taken from the altar of holocaust with silver pincers. He placed the coals on the altar of incense, prostrated himself in adoration and then retired. The celebrant took the incense from its container which he handed to the second assisting priest and poured the incense upon the coals. Then having an incline profoundly toward the Holy of Holies, he departed slowly, walking backwards in order to avoid turning his back on the altar. Finally while the incense was burning the priest prayed and the sound of trumpets interrupting the chanting of Psalm 150 by the Levites announced to the people that they should join in adoration with the sacred ministers."
The censer used by the priest containing burning coals that’s used to burn the incense offering for Yahweh is the Earthly version of the Heavenly fire that we have a picture of in the Book of Revelation. This is Heavenly fire granted by Yahweh under very rigid prescription as to how it may be used. Ecclesiastically one could say that the operation of censing, the incense sacrifice symbolizes the transpersonal power and authority assumed by church leaders over their flock of believers. They assume the authority to interpret the nature of God and how He should be worshiped. In other words they’ve got at their disposal a certain amount of the sacred divine fire which grants them transpersonal authority. That would correspond to the idea of the Church being the sole access to the Holy Spirit too.
Psychologically of course we understand this symbolism in terms of the individual and what all the injunctions surrounding its usage indicate is how careful transpersonal libido must be handled. This is a very complex subject because transpersonal libido doesn’t come with a label around its neck, so identifying it as transpersonal. It comes in surges of special facility, special creative inspiration, or special gifts and capacities. This passage in Revelation brings up the question what is a censer doing in Heaven? It’s a form of sacrifice, it’s a kind of subtle sacrifice in which the incense is placed on the fire and a fragrant smoke ascends to the nostrils of God in Heaven, but what’s an incense altar doing in Heaven? What seems to be happening is that the Heavenly incense altar works in the reverse direction, it moves downward, distributing divine fire from above downward as opposed to the incense altar that distributes the effects of the fire upward.
The image of “the angel throwing down the fire from the altar to the Earth”
That leads into the next item I want to talk about, which is the whole matter of casting a fire on Earth. That’s what the angel is required to do.
"8:5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire from the altar, which he then threw down on to the earth; immediately there came peals of thunder and flashes of lightning, and the earth shook."
Something similar to this happened in Ezekiel 10. What had happened was that Yahweh is planning to punish Jerusalem by having her conquered by Babylonia. He is being wrathful against Jerusalem. Yahweh then said to a man dressed in linen:
"10:2 He then said to the man in white, ‘Go under the chariot, beneath the cherubs; take a handful of burning coal from between the cherubs and scatter it over the city’. He went in as I watched."
The man dressed in linen takes the burning coals from below the divine chariot in that great vision of Ezekiel and cast it on the city. That’s what happened in Revelation and the image repeats itself again and again as we go along, fire falling from Heaven. There are a lot of other references to the same phenomenon. Elijah overcame the false prophets of Ba’al by calling down divine fire to consume the sacrifice that he offered when he was in competition with the prophets of Ba’al. In that case the divine energy was at the disposal of the prophet. Even Christ announces “I have come to bring fire to the Earth”. You may remember that Yahweh originally manifested himself in the fire of the burning bush.
The imagery associated with transpersonal fire has a double aspect because as we are going to see shortly not only does fire fall out of Heaven but also smoke and fire rise up from the abyss when it’s opened up, so that you got Infernal fire and Heavenly fire. Fire coming from two different directions, but they are both transpersonal fire. This is a very common and important image because we encounter it in dreams frequently. Fire means affect. To the extent that it’s transpersonal affect, it’s undifferentiated transpersonal libido that can have its origin either in Heaven or Hell and those two aren’t so far apart in the psyche. They can somersault from one to the other very easily, they’re two manifestations really of the same phenomenon.
In dreams the outstanding example of transpersonal fire in mammoth proportion of course is a nuclear explosion. That because of its magnitude links in with the apocalyptic imagery that we’re talking about. Smaller versions of the same phenomenon are gone in the imagery of lightning. You have an example of that in the picture series that Jung reproduces in volume 9-1 in his essay on “A Study in the Process of Individuation”. You may remember there is a whole series of pictures there that ended in a good many mandala images but picture number 2 is a picture of lightning coming down on a rocky landscape blasting out a sphere from the surrounding rocky hillside. It’s an image of blasting an individual psyche out of identification with the containing matrix. It’s the beginning of an individuation process initiated by divine fire, lightning in this case. That’s all directly relevant to this imagery in Revelation.
The image of the destruction of 1/3 of the Earth’s major aspects
Going on a little further. The trumpets were blown. First trumpet.
"8:7 The first blew his trumpet and, with that, hail and fire, mixed with blood, were dropped on the earth; a third of the earth was burnt up, and a third of all trees, and every blade of grass was burnt.
8:8 The second angel blew his trumpet, and it was as though a great mountain, all on fire, had been dropped into the sea: a third of the sea turned into blood,
8:9 a third of all the living things in the sea were killed, and a third of all ships were destroyed.
8:10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a huge star fell from the sky, burning like a ball of fire, and it fell on a third of all rivers and springs;
8:11 this was the star called Wormwood, and a third of all water turned to bitter wormwood, so that many people died from drinking it.
8:12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were blasted, so that the light went out of a third of them and for a third of the day there was no illumination, and the same with the night."
I’ve spoken to you earlier about the significance of number symbolism, now we are being assaulted with threes. Earlier we had this assault with the septenary, the seven, again, and again and again, then we had the assault of the quaternity in the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse, and now we have the assault of a weapon that divides things into 3, it’s like a cookie cutter, it stamps itself down on the Earth and its various aspects and divides all these thinks into thirds and eliminates 1/3 of them.
How are we to understand that? I’ve mentioned last time something of the symbolism of the number 3, I think of it as the number of Egohood for one thing, certainly in comparison with number 4, it can be seen, the 3-fold process can be seen as a differentiating process in which the opposites manifest and then resolve themselves. Number 1 is the original state of twoness, number 2 is the state of doubleness, which is a state of conflict and opposition, that’s the very nature of the number 2, whenever you’ve got 2, you’ve got conflict. Number 3 is the reconciliation of that conflict by a third position, so the thesis, antithesis and synthesis is inherent in the imagery of the number 3. Right, left and middle. This is the principle of conscious experience this is the way Ego-consciousness organizes and understands its experience and its behavior.
In the imagery of Revelation here, it’s as though the Earth is being assaulted with that phenomenon and forced into a full experiencing and living out of what it means to be conscious and part of the process that separates the opposites and then must endure the conflict that separation occasions and then seek the resolution in the number 3.
That’s my effort to understand that particular image.
I have a personal reason for trying to understand it. It comes from a dream of my own that I had many years ago during a period of sizable psychic transition. One of the series of dreams that I in retrospect recognized contained apocalypse imagery in it. But I wanna read you this one because it’s relevant to this particular theme of destruction of 1/3. This is the dream.
"A special ritual must be performed in order to allow the consecrated host of the communion meal to touch the ground. This is necessary because in the midst of the communion ceremony a group of terrorists is going to burst into the church and massacre 1/3 of the congregation. When this happens, at this point the officiating priest must drop the host to the ground and drop to the ground himself and protect the host with his body the way a football player protects a fumbled football. This must be done to protect the host from the possibility of blood falling on it during the massacre."
I didn’t make it right away, but as soon as I made the association of 1/3 of the congregation being massacred by the terrorists then I made the connection to the apocalypse, to the Revelation imagery and that clicked. That gave me my bearings you see. So here is an example where that very imagery is applied to the dream image itself.
What the dream is indicating is that the sacred food of the Self that nourishes the Ego, the host, during this moment of a crisis must be grounded. Ordinarily it would be a disaster for the host to be dropped during the course of communion ceremony. Very interestingly right about the same time I’ve had this dream, Leonard Bernstein was producing his very interesting mass, what he called a theater piece, which has not gotten the consideration that it deserves, it’s a very interesting piece on all levels, artistically and symbolically. In the course of that so-called theater piece the officiating priest has an accident and drops the elements, you see. They must be grounded, they must be in touch with concrete Earthly ambiguous reality of the same nature as a football game and only that way can the sacred entity survive the apocalyptic encounter. Around the same time of this dream I had found myself watching quite a bit of football on television and wondering why am I doing this? I am really behaving like a mass-man here. As I reflected on it dawned on me more and more to what extent coniunctio symbolism is playing itself out in these sporting contents and what I was really watching was a degraded sacred ritual, what games originally were. They originally were sacred rituals. Sacred rituals of the coniunctio, I talk about this a little bit in my book The Mystery of the Coniunctio. That’s one of my associations with football you see and to the falling on the fumbled ball. It brings a level of Earthly reality to the experience of the sacred that doesn’t have in its elevated, remote position in the ritual itself.
Since that dream which was 25 years ago, that image has lived itself out in reality. At that time there hadn’t been any terrorists breaking in to a religious congregation’s in the midst of worship, and since then there have been. I think the dream has a collective significance as well as a personal one and that’s why I referred to it. The danger was that blood from the massacre would fall on the host. It doesn’t say what makes that so dangerous, but the assumption is that it would dissolve, that it would undergo a solutio and that there would be some kind of a catastrophic solutio of the psychic core, something of that sort is implied. I see it as imagery as to how one should behave in our apocalyptic times. Cover your precious sacred value with everything that you got.
The image of the abyss
The next item I want to talk about is referred to in the 9th chapter.
"9:1 Then the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star[a] that had fallen from heaven on to the earth, and he was given the key to the shaft leading down to the Abyss.[b]
9:2 When he unlocked the shaft of the Abyss, smoke poured up out of the Abyss like the smoke from a huge furnace[*c] so that the sun and the sky were darkened by it,
9:3 and out of the smoke dropped locusts which were given the powers that scorpions have on the earth:"
What I want to talk about here is the abyss. I give you another quote from Ford concerning the abyss.
"In the Septuagint ἄβυσσος - "ábyssos" was used to render the Hebrew word תְּהוֹם - "tehom" about 30 times. Tehom has 4 meanings. It can signify the ocean, which once spread over the Earth but is now restricted to a subterranean abyss which is closed and sealed and accessible only through a shaft. It can also mean the deep abode of Yahweh's enemy the sea dragon. A third meaning for tehom is earth, a pit which is a place of intermediate punishment. Finally in certain scriptures tehom signified the temporary residence of fallen angels a waterless birdless fiery place beyond the confines of Earth and Heaven where the angels are in utter darkness and covered by rocks."
We’ve got overlapping terms as they’re used Biblically: the term “abyss”, which is generally translated “the deep”, because that what it means, or the term Άδης – “hades” which means which means “the land of the dead” or the term “gehenna” which refers to the valley just South of Jerusalem where there used to be human sacrifices burned and then it became a kind of great place where trash was burned, so “gehenna” was thought of as a place of fiery punishment.
Here is another image which is immensely relevant to depth psychology because it provides us with illustrations of how the psyche has described its own depth. It’s a description of the Unconscious and the Unconscious has different aspects under different circumstances.
Another view of the abyss is in a Jewish legend that I quote in the Bible and the Psyche and I’m so fond of it I have to quote it again and take this opportunity to do it. It comes from Joseph Gaer’s The Lord in the Old Testament and here’s the way Joseph Gaer stated the legend:
"When king David's workmen began to build the house of God they dug the drain for the altar very deep and inadvertently they lifted the shard on the mouth of the abyss. Instantly the waters of the deep began to rise to flood the Earth. David knew that unless the mouth of the abyss were sealed again the world would be destroyed. He also knew that only a stone with the ineffable name upon it could seal the abyss. David lowered the stone with the holy name on it 16.000 ells and tightly sealed the mouth of the abyss."
A whole lengthy discussion psychologically could be given just on that, but the story isn’t over yet.
"It was soon discovered that the Earth below had lost its moisture and even the rains were not enough to grow the crops."
So they sealed it too far down, too far away. They wanted to ensure that it didn’t flood but it dried up the Earth so badly that they were in trouble.
"King David then composed 15 psalms and as each psalm was completed the waters of the deep rose 1.000 ells. And when the waters reached within a 1.000 ells of the surface of the Earth he offered thanks to God who keeps the ground always moist enough for crops and does not allow the abyss to sink 1 iota below or rise 1 iota above 1.000 ells."
Psalms I equate with active imagination. That would be my psychological translation for that. The rest I leave you to figure out for yourself. I bring it up because it’s talking about the abyss, you see.
One of the aspects of the abyss is that demons and the fallen angels and the transpersonal powers of darkness inhabit the abyss. In another words autonomous unconscious complexes with archetypal cores. Autonomous unconscious complexes that are deeply enough rooted are indeed demonic entities and they derive their energy from the untransformed primordial psyche and they are very real indeed. Anyone with any significant personal analysis will have experienced it in himself at least minor demonic possession. If you haven’t, you had a very superficial analysis because believe me, it’s universal, nobody is immune to it. Only self-knowledge in depth is a protection against demonic possession.
When Jung was asked how he could live with the knowledge of the nature of God he revealed in Answer to Job, Marie Louise von Franz tells us he replied: I live in my deepest hell and from there I can’t fall any further. It also means if one lives in that deepest hell the demonic complexes have undergone resolution. Hell has been depopulated, you see, if the Ego is living there. It’s no longer populated by demons because it’s been penetrated by consciousness.
What comes next then as the abyss is opened and the smoke from the huge furnace irrupts which incidentally is exactly the way the manifestation of Yahweh on Mount Sinai is described. If you looked up the reference in the New Jerusalem Bible the reference for Exodus 19:18 which is the theophany on Mount Sinai. Don’t you find the psychologically interesting, that the same description should be given the opening of the abyss as the theophany on Sinai. That’s because the same phenomenon is basically view from from different Ego standpoints.
The image of the locusts
Anyway the abyss is opened, like smoke from a huge furnace poured out and then came locusts.
"9:7 To look at, these locusts were like horses armoured for battle[*e]; they had things that looked like gold crowns on their heads, and faces that seemed human,
9:8 and hair like women’s hair, and teeth like lions’ teeth.
9:9 They had body-armour like iron breastplates, and the noise of their wings sounded like a great charge of horses and chariots into battle.
9:10 Their tails were like scorpions’, with stings, and it was with them that they were able to injure people for five months."
Those are the demonic powers. Now, this is not an original image it borrows from the imagery of the Book of Joel. In the first chapter of Joel, Joel describes an invading locust army as the nature of the great day of Yahweh. It’s Ford’s opinion that Joel is playing on a play on words, the Hebrew word for locust חַרגוֹל – “HaRGOL” and the Arabic word for troops حَرْجَل – “HaRJaL” (alternative forms: حَرْجَلَة \ حَرْجُول; letter-by-letter: חַרגוֹל – حرجول). Her idea is that Middle-Eastern peoples would have picked up that play on words between soldiers and locusts. Anyway, here is Joel talking:
"1:2 Listen to this, you elders; all inhabitants of the country, attend. Has anything like this ever happened in your day, or in your fathers’ days?
1:3 Tell it to your sons, let your sons tell it to their sons, and their sons to a generation after them.
1:4 What the gnawer has left, the grown locust has devoured, what the grown locust has left, the hopper has devoured, what the hopper has left, the shearer has devoured.[*a]"
"1:6 For a nation has invaded my country, mighty and innumerable; its teeth are the teeth of lions, it has the fangs of a lioness.
1:7 It has laid waste my vines and torn my fig trees to pieces; it has stripped them clean and cut them down, their branches have turned white."
"1:10 Wasted lie the fields, the fallow is in mourning. For the corn has been laid waste, the wine fails, the fresh oil dries up."
"2:3 In their van the fire devours, in their rear a flame consumes. The country is like a garden of Eden ahead of them and a desert waste behind them. Nothing escapes them.
2:4 They look like horses, like chargers they gallop on,"
"2:7 Like fighting men they press forward, like warriors scale the walls, each marching straight ahead, not turning from his path;"
See, he’s talking about locusts.
"2:9 They hurl themselves at the city, they leap on to its walls, climb to the housetops, and make their way through windows like marauders."
This is all a description of the day of Yahweh. It describes an invasion of the pent-up demonic forces that had been activated with the activation of the apocalypse archetype. It’s one of the ways that invasion by the Collective Unconscious can manifest itself but this sort of imagery only applies to individuals where there is a vast disparity between consciousness and the accumulated energies of the Unconscious. There has to be a dissociated state that builds up an intense polarization between those two to get imagery of this sort. For a civilization that has become thoroughly secularized – psychologically speaking, not religiously speaking but psychologically speaking – that has lost al sense of connection to the transpersonal dimension of the psyche and of life that state in the collective psyche then would be fertile ground for the irruption of this kind of imagery. Anyway it shows up in our apocalypse.
Ford has an interesting observation to make, I had already made it myself before I read her commentary in which she says that the various plagues that are called down by these trumpet blasts have many parallels to the plagues of Egypt, and indeed, they do. She parallels 6 different ones. One of the plagues of Egypt was thunder, hail and fire and that came from the first trumpet. One of the plagues was the Nile turning to blood and that was an aspect of the second trumpet. Darkness over Egypt for 3 days corresponds to the fourth trumpet where 1/3 of the light is lost. The plague of locusts is the eighth plague and that corresponded to the fifth trumpet. A couple of others have references to parallels but they are reversed.
This indicates that the imagery is coming full circle so to speak. Plagues that Yahweh imposed on the Egyptians which were the means by which the Israelites were freed from bondage and eventually made their way to the promised land, that was the beginning of the Israelite nation, that’s where it started. Now, thinking of this apocalypse as a Jewish apocalypse which it is predominantly, now the plagues that were applied to its enemies are now being applied to it, there has been a full circle.
As I talk about in my book The Bible and the Psyche, if we try to understand the Egyptian plagues psychologically we can understand to mean that it was the Ego-tyranny represented by a pharaoh that called forth these responses from the Unconscious and something of a similar nature must finally now be calling it forth again. By Ego-tyranny I would mean the God-almightiness of the Ego that perceives no other ultimate agency other than itself.
The image of eating the scroll
Another item, this is from chapter 10:
"10:8 Then I heard the voice I had heard from heaven speaking to me again. ‘Go,’ it said ‘and take that open scroll out of the hand of the angel standing on sea and land.’
10:9 I went to the angel and asked him to give me the small scroll, and he said, ‘Take it and eat it; it will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey’.
10:10 So I took it out of the angel’s hand, and swallowed it; it was as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach turned sour.
10:11 Then I was told, ‘You are to prophesy again, this time about many different nations and countries and languages and emperors’."
This episode derives quite explicitly from one in Ezekiel, starting in Ezekiel 2:8.
"2:8 ‘You, son of man, listen to the words I say; do not be a rebel like that rebellious set. Open your mouth and eat what I am about to give you.’
2:9 I looked. A hand was there, stretching out to me and holding a scroll.
2:10 He unrolled it in front of me; it was written on back and front; on it was written ‘lamentations, wailings, moanings’."
"3:1 He said, ‘Son of man, eat what is given to you; eat this scroll, then go and speak to the House of Israel’.
3:2 I opened my mouth; he gave me the scroll to eat
3:3 and said, ‘Son of man, feed and be satisfied by the scroll I am giving you’. I ate it, and it tasted sweet as honey.
3:4 Then he said, ‘Son of man, go to the House of Israel and tell them what I have said."
The reference to a sour in the stomach, that’s new, but otherwise it’s precisely the same image. This is an image that comes up not uncommonly in dreams, not that you have to eat books, but that the Ego is given something to eat. It means that it’s to be taken in and assimilated. It’s a striking and interesting image and it concerns the symbolism of the mouth which is twofold. The mouth is on the one hand the receptive organ that takes in edible, nourishing material and assimilates it and turns it into one’s own substance. But it’s also the expressive organ, that emits the creative word. That twofold reference thus gives us a symbolic linkage between food and word and that comes up in the Bible repeatedly. The Bible characterizes the word of God as food.
"8:3 He humbled you, he made you feel hunger, he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of Yahweh."
Proverbs 9:5, Wisdom is talking and she says:
"9:5 ‘Come and eat my bread, drink the wine I have prepared!"
Sirach-Ecclesiasticus 15, again talking about Wisdom:
"15:2 She will come to meet him like a mother, and receive him like a virgin bride.
15:3 She will give him the bread of understanding to eat, and the water of wisdom to drink."
In these passages the two aspects of mouth symbolism are combined. The “word coming out of the mouth of Yahweh” of Σοφία – “Sofia” is then to be taken into the mouth of the recipient as food and digested. If you are a prophet evidently you are then supposed to regurgitate that word and press it again through your mouth, the word you’ve taken in, because in both the passages in Revelation and then in the passage in Ezekiel no sooner had the prophet been instructed to eat the scroll and once it had been eaten then he was to go out and preach what was in it. It does leave open the question as to whether what’s being preached has been assimilated or not. He maybe behaving like the way birds feed their young and that’s always a question you have to ask yourself when you confront apparent prophets who claim to be giving expression to transpersonal truths: are they regurgitate it or assimilate it?
That’s all for tonight, I will get to the questions, I assure you, soon or later.