Table of Contents
- Introductory Remarks
- The psychological approach to the Bible in general
- The psychological approach to the Christian image
I’m gonna talk about the symbolism of Christianity today and I want to begin by making some introductory remarks first of all concerning the psychological approach to the Bible in general and then secondly more specifically to the psychological approach to the Christian image.
The psychological approach to the Bible in general
You know the 20th century is witnessing the emergence of a whole new viewpoint that’s growing out of depth psychology. This new viewpoint is now a science that studies and charts the psyche as an experienceable objective phenomenon. Herefore humanity has been so close to the psyche that is couldn’t see it and it’s still hard for us to see the psyche because we’re so close to it. It’s very difficult to realize that the psyche and the “I” – the Ego are two separate things. Very difficult. This new capacity has just begun to emerge in 20th century man. What this new attitude is then able to do is to take all the old data that humanity’s very existence has rested upon, I’m talking about religious and mythological data, and re-interpret or re-understand that data in terms of the reality of the objective psyche. What it amounts to than is that what has heretofore been experienced by man as metaphysical reality, the content of dogmatic creeds, can now be seen to be the phenomenology of the objective psyche. That’s easy to say but exceedingly difficult to fully assimilate, but that is what the new science of depth psychology is in the process of bringing about.
The idea is that what humanity has always perceived as the life history of the gods, metaphysical reality, can now come to be perceived as the phenomenology of the objective psyche.
Now it’s not possible for those who are still living out of the experience of metaphysical reality to make a sudden leap into the experience of psychological reality. The analogy I think of is this: in Los Angeles I live on the ridge of a canyon. I can look out my window across the valley over to the ridge on the opposite side but unless I had very large legs I could not step across from the ridge that I live on to the ridge that I see on the other side where other houses are located. Instead if I’m going to get to that ridge on the other side I have to first go down through the valley and this is how I perceive what’s required for an individual to make the transition from a religious faith and the full awareness of psychological reality. The only way he can reach that ridge on the other side, the ridge of psychological reality is first of all to go down into the valley that separates the two and what that means experientially is loss of faith. It means going into a state of alienation, despair, loss of the sense of a meaningful universe before he may have the chance to ascend the ridge on the other side.
My reading of the current collective situation is that a large number of people, in fact the creative minority of our civilization has lost its secure dwelling place on the ridge of faith and is somewhere in the midst of that transit, hopefully to the new ridge. Many don’t make it. It’s really and exceedingly dangerous and precarious time for all concerned. However I’m speaking to an unknown audience and I have no way of knowing how many of you are in what situation. I do know that those of you that are safely perched on the ridge of religious faith you have nothing to fear from what I say. There’s nothing need disturb you because the psychological approach that I’m going to present can be seen as an interesting addition or variant to the richer more profound experience you already possess. You’re absolutely safe if your faith is safe. Faith is enough, as Jung says some place, if you have it. It if exists. That of course is the catch of the matter. The trouble with the preachers of faith is they neglect to point out that faith cannot be willed. It’s impossible to will faith. If you have it, you don’t need to preach about it, you just quietly live it. The more preachy you get the more doubt comes up as to whether or not you really have it. At least that’s the psychological observation we psychologists tend to make.
We owe an immense debt of gratitude to Jung who has discovered the reality of the psyche, because for those who have fallen off that secure ridge of faith the discovery of the psychological approach can very well be live saving. I have no hesitation in my own conviction that it was life saving for me. I don’t think I could have survived, couldn’t have survived psychologically certainly, if I had not found a standpoint that would meet all the requirements of my scientific conscience and still enabled me to make a relation to the archetypal realities that have always been enshrined in religions and I don’t think I’m alone in that situation.
If you’re going to approach the psychological standpoint that very approach is an admission of bankruptcy on the level of religious faith. Jung puts it very explicitly, this comes from paragraph 148 in volume 11 of Collected Works, it’s his essay in psychology and religion:
“I am not, however, addressing myself to the happy possessors of faith, but to those many people for whom the light has gone out, the mystery has faded, and God is dead. For most of them there is no going back, and one does not know either whether going back is always the better way. To gain an understanding of religious matters, probably all that is left us today is the psychological approach. That is why I take these thought-forms that have become historically fixed, try to melt them down again and pour them into moulds of immediate experience.”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 11, Paragraph 148
The psychological approach to the Christian image
Now let me speak more specifically about the psychological approach to the Christian myth. As I first surveyed the territory knowing that I wanted to investigate this really nuclear, central myth of the western psyche, I reached the decision that using the New Testament narrative as the immediate and primary data didn’t seem quite suitable. I decided instead to order my studies and my presentations around the central or nodal images of Christianity that the collective psyche has crystallized out in the course of centuries of experience as pictured especially by art. What I had in mind in particular were the images of the “books of hours” of the middle ages which we’re now very fortunate to have a number of beautiful reproductions of. That’s one of the optimistic thoughts I had as sort of what they call these days spin-off from the more basic study.
You know in the middle ages various artists and art studios were commissioned to produce exceedingly beautiful and richly illustrated “books of hours” for royalty or nobility. One of the kinds. Tremendous quantities of talent and effort were poured into these unique single volumes for one person. Little did those artists know that several centuries hence means of mass reproduction would allow their unique work of art to be duplicated in the hundreds of thousands and distributed across the Earth. It’s as though that isolated unique totally focused artistic and personal commitment to doing the best job they could that at the time would seem to be benefiting only a single individual, the king or the duke of berry or someone of that sort, through later developments has undergone a vast multiplicatio and now can be appreciated literally by millions.
I think of this as a paradigm. I’m spending some time on it because I think of it as a paradigm of what can and indeed does happen when a single individual human being lives his own unique life in his own small setting unknown to the wider world with as much commitment as he’s able to bring to it and really does his very best to fulfill his individuation as Jung means the term. I suspect that living such a life will or does have something of the same multiplying consequences that the artist who made an individual “book of hours” experienced at later time.
Anyway I want to slip that in that belongs to the alchemical symbol of multiplicatio if you want to look it up.
As I was studying these “books of hours” and the artistic response to the common faith of western man in the middle ages it became clear that certain very specific images crystallized out and were the important ones. It’s interesting that factly all of Christ’s ministry was disregarded and instead what one got was certain crucial events in the course of the life story. One could choose a varying number of such images. The ones I chose to give special focused attention to were 16. Let me just read them chronologically so that you’ll know what I consider to be the basic images of the Christian myth.
- The Annunciation
- The Nativity
- The flight into Egypt
- The baptism
- The triumphal entry into Jerusalem
- The last supper
- The agony in the Garden of Gethsemane
- The arrest and trial
- Mocking and flagellation of Christ
- Carrying the cross
- The crucifixion
- The deposition and lamentation and entombment
- Resurrection and ascension
- Assumption of the Virgin Mary
- The last judgement
Now you will notice that the last 3 of those do not even pertain to the life of Christ specifically speaking but take on a more general quality.
As I studied these images in their sequence it became clear to me that what we’re dealing with here is a cycle. Since the material I present can go into detailed byways that you may lose the overall basic core, therefore I put at the very beginning this chart that I think summarizes in essence what I’m calling the Christian archetype. I will talk some more about this chart in my last talk tomorrow, but I wanted to present it to you now because the essence of my whole approach is right there. For purposes of just room I have not put 16 different events in this cycle, I’ve reduced it to 8, but the number of events that’s arbitrary anyway, you understand. The point I want to make is that what we’re dealing with here is a cycle and the cyclic nature is evident in the material itself if you’re looking for it as I hope to show you as we go along. This is my image and understanding of what I call the Christian archetype and another term for the same psychic reality is the incarnation cycle which I will hope to make more understandable in the last talk.
Now let me tell you what I have in store for you. Right now I’m making my introductory remarks about the subject matter following which I shall discuss the first image of this cycle “The Annunciation”. This evening we will go to two other images in this cycle namely “The Baptism” and the second one I will concentrate on the image of “The agony in the Garden of Gethsemane” as an example of the passion cycle. You can understand in this very brief time I have to be highly selective. Then tomorrow morning I will talk about “Resurrection” and “Pentecost”, so that’s the sequence that I’m going to follow.
In volume 11, paragraph 146 Jung says:
“… what happens in the life of Christ happens always and everywhere. In the Christian archetype all lives of this kind are prefigured …”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 11, Paragraph 146
As you can see that’s where I got the phrase “Christian archetype”. I always feel more comfortable when I can place what I’m doing on Jung and I can do it in this case.
What it comes down to is that the Christian archetype is the root of the western psyche and when we examine this archetype represented by the life of Christ, when we examine it as a prototype, we discover that the life of Christ pictures symbolically in very rich and complex detail the process of individuation. When we talk about these matters I’m reminded of the way the alchemists speak. The alchemists define one symbolic image in terms of another symbolic image as if they’ve settled the matter, you see, and everything is perfectly clear, but of course that’s not quite the case because when I speak of the life of Christ as representing individuation that’s describing the unknown by the more unknown, and that’s one of the principles of alchemical interpretation. I’m sorry about that, but it’s the best we can do when we try to talk about something that cannot be rationally explicated. In another words when we are trying to evoke an experience which is beyond the Ego’s grasp of intellectual or rational interpretation. Hopefully as one talks in such a way he constellates in the Unconscious what he’s talking about. Although the Ego may not understand it exactly very often the Unconscious does and the Unconscious says: “yeah, right on, that’s it”. It reminds me of an anecdote I heard about Jung, an experience that pleased him very much. After giving one of the Terry lectures at Yale in 1936 he was walking out of the auditorium and he heard two people in front of him talking about the lecture and one said to the other: “I didn’t understand a thing that man said but he knew what he was talking about”. The Unconscious broke in, you see, and announced itself.
Now concerning the Christian archetype Jung has a very keen observation to make about how that is experienced as long as the image is completely contained within the church or religious creed. This remark is found in paragraph 41 of Psychology and Alchemy, he says this:
“In so far as the archetypal content of the Christian drama was able to give satisfying expression to the uneasy and clamorous unconscious of the many, the “consensus omnium” – “consent of all lit” / “universal agreement” raised this drama to a universally binding truth—not of course by an act of judgment, but by the irrational fact of possession, which is far more effective. Thus Jesus became the tutelary image or amulet against the archetypal powers that threatened to possess everyone. The glad tidings announced: “It has happened, but it will not happen to you inasmuch as you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God!” Yet it could and it can and it will happen to everyone in whom the Christian dominant has decayed.”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 12, Paragraph 41
The critical sentence is: “it will happen to everyone in whom the Christian dominant has decayed”. In other words when the use of the Christian imagery as an amulet as a protective amulet no longer works, then the individual is exposed to the direct experience.
As one studies alchemy and as Jung studied it, it’s discovered that to a large extent the imagery that belongs to the Christian sequence re-appears in alchemy in a different context, in a different setting. In other words the Philosopher’s Stone that is the goal of the alchemical process is in many respects parallel to Christ. The ordeal that the materia in the vessel must go through in order to become the Philosopher’s Stone is often analogized as corresponding to the sufferings that Christ had to go through. Jung makes clear that this parallelism is not consciously derived, it’s not simply a substitution of the Christian imagery put into the alchemical context, but rather it’s the fact that the same archetype is constellated in the alchemical transformation process as is at the root of the Christian myth and therefore the images are bound to be of a similar nature.
Paragraph 492 of Mysterium Coniunctionis goes into this matter. Jung speaks of the Christ image that is activated in the alchemical process and he says:
“It is no longer an effort, an intentional straining after imitation, but rather an involuntary experience of the reality represented by the sacred legend. This reality comes upon him in his work, just as the stigmata come to the saints without being consciously sought. The passion that vibrates in our text corresponds the real experience of a man who has got involved in the compensatory contents of the unconscious by investigating the unknown, seriously and to the point of self-sacrifice. He could not but see the likeness of his projected contents to the dogmatic images, and he might have been tempted to assume that his ideas were nothing else than the familiar religious conceptions, which he was using in order to explain the chemical procedure. But the texts show clearly that, on the contrary, a real experience of the opus had an increasing tendency to assimilate the dogma or to amplify itself with it.”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 14, Paragraph 492
Here’s the crux of it: a real experience of the Opus has a tendency to assimilate the dogma. Now the same thing comes up in the course of the psychological Opus. I think the really crucial issue of the modern mind is whether the church is going to be able to assimilate Jungian psychology or whether Jungian psychology is going to assimilate, not the Church, that would be indigestible with all those stones, but the imagery that the Church rests on. This will not be settled by any matter of opinion. It will be settled by profound organic realities. In the sea the big fish swallows the little fish, that’s the rule of life and whichever is larger is going to swallow the smaller one. It’s not quite clear, which is which. My personal opinion is that Jungian psychology is going to swallow religious imagery, but I can be wrong about that. That is the issue when we’re talking about assimilation we’re talking about swallowing, since what we’re dealing with is the basic stuff of psychic existence. If the western psyche is going to survive, and that I really think it is, then it has to be grounded on whatever its basic foundation is and psychologically what we’re talking about here today is its ground, it’s foundation matter. It has to be in contact with that foundation matter in some kind of form, in some kind of contained context if it’s to survive.
Now those are my introductory remarks to these nodal images that go to make up what I call the Christian archetype. What I want to do now is examine briefly several of these images to give you something of the feel of what these images look like when they’re examined psychologically as contrasted with their more familiar religious formulations.
Let’s talk about the annunciation. The only account of the annunciation is found in the first chapter of Luke. I’m going to read you the relevant passage. The translation I use is the “Jerusalem Translation”. No translation is quite ideal, but I like it a little better than the others, but I won’t argue with anybody that prefers another one. Anyway, that’s what I’m using.
1:26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,The Jerusalem Bible, Saint Luke, Chapter 1
1:27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
1:28 He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’
1:29 She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean,
1:30 but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour.
1:31 Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus.
1:32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David;
1:33 he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’
1:34 Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?'[*g]
1:35 ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God.
1:36 Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month,
1:37 for nothing is impossible to God'[*h]
1:38 ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.
This is probably the most frequently painted and represented image in the whole sequence of Christ’s life so far as the medieval material is concerned. That means of course that it is a profoundly relevant archetypal image for the collective psyche. The fact that it should exhibit such fascination and indeed, it is. Put with brevity it symbolizes the soul’s impregnating encounter with the Self. It’s a moment of immense danger and ambiguity. That’s only hinted at in the text but it’s made more visible in some of the legendary material. In the Jerusalem Translation what we read is that the “Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow”. Well, that doesn’t sound particularly pleasant as a matter of fact. It has certain correspondences to how a little newborn chick might feel if the shadow of a hawk swing were suddenly to overshadow it. There’s an instinct built into the newborn chick, they don’t learn this by teaching from their mother, if a shadow crosses their path they flee. A newborn chick knows that, it is a part of the archetypal reality of the chick’s psyche and this is the kind of image that is represented here. The basic word “overshadow” – “επισκιάζω” refers to being enveloped in the shadow of a cloud and it brings into consideration the whole rich symbolism of the cloud. Just to put it briefly, the cloud symbolizes God from the very beginning in the Old Testament material God manifested himself in a cloud among other ways, but a pillar of cloud was an instrument of guidance and when He inhabited His tabernacle in the wilderness and when He came to inhabit the tabernacle that Solomon built He came as a cloud. For instance we read in Exodus, when He came to Moses He came in a cloud:
24:15 And Moses went up the mountain. The cloud covered the mountain,The Jerusalem Bible, Exodus, Chapter 24
24:16 and the glory of Yahweh settled on the mountain of Sinai; for six days the cloud covered it, and on the seventh day Yahweh called to Moses from inside the cloud.
What is indicated is that Mary allows the cloud of Yahweh to rest on her. In the course of allowing that to happen she makes herself synonymous both with the Holy Tabernacle in the wilderness in which the cloud rested and also with Solomon’s Temple. The Church-Fathers made a great deal of this equation between Mary offering herself as a dwelling place of Yahweh and the Ark of the Covenant which was also the dwelling place. The idea then is that at the beginning of the Christian archetype, the beginning of the incarnation cycle comes a willingness to allow the cloud of the transpersonal reality to rest on one and incarnate and come into manifestation in one’s own life. This is as likely to be a dark experience as it is to be a bright one. For example in some of the apocryphal material we read that at the time of the birth of Christ which is said in the apocryphal material to take place in a cave a black cloud overshadowed the cave at the moment of birth and this was then followed by great light, but the whole theme of the black cloud that comes up very prominently in alchemy and it’s an image of the nigredo, the dark night of the soul, the state of despair, depression and defeat.
Now I must bring you some more personal material to give you a real feeling of what the annunciation means when it’s when it’s considered psychologically rather than dogmatically. It means from the images I’ve been alluding to the Self which is a union of opposites is asking to be manifest in the human life and that means then that that human life will be exposed of to the opposites because the Self is a union of opposites. Let me give you an example of that. A woman who had had surgery for malignant melanoma with an apparent cure, had this dream:
"I'm standing on flat, grassy ground. A small woodland creature runs through my legs. I think it was a squirrel. Suddenly I am lifted up by a great black cloud off the ground and held there cradled by the cloud underneath the branches of a great tree. I'm absolutely terrified and scream for help. No one comes. Eventually I'm brought down again to Earth. I'm shaken, reach out and touch my cat and say: so, this is God."
A few months later the same person had this dream:
"The great black cloud has come again. It's terrible, I can't handle it. Then a voice comes and says: I can handle it. I say: no, I can't. The voice says: yes, you can."
The next day following this dream the dreamer learned that her most beloved brother had been killed in a plane crash, the night before. This event initiated a deep depression that lasted for several months, the deep depression being the black cloud that enveloped her. But then out of that agonizing experience a whole new level of development took place. This woman is now a Jungian analyst.
These dreams give you some idea of what being overshadowed by the Most High can mean experientially. It’s this personal, concrete aspect of the annunciation experience that the human being Mary must have lived and which is left out of the account of the Gospel texts. I think the time has come to acknowledge this aspect of the image and thereby humanize it and in the course of humanizing it we are doing on another level the very thing that the image of Mary is doing in the symbolic sequence, if you follow me.
I’ll say a word about Mary as virgin. Brings up the whole question as to what psychological virginity is. Esther Harding has some interesting remarks which I don’t have time to go into, but if you’re interested, you can look it up in “Women’s Mysteries”, page 124 and the following. This is an archetypal image, the theme of a virgin impregnated by God or by the Sun. One can gather other examples of it from Fraser’s “Golden Bow”, again I don’t have time to go into particulars. It’s part of the traditional symbolism that virgins were used as caretakers of the sacred flame. The outstanding example of that was the sacred flame of ancient Rome that was tended by the Vestal Virgins. There are similar examples of the archetype other places to such as among the Incas of Peru. There seems to be an archetypal connection between symbolic virginity and the ability to handle transpersonal energy, which is what I would understand the Sacred Flame to represent. Now, what does that mean? The whole question is here we’re interpreting one symbolic image by another symbolic image: psychological virginity, what’s that? Well, I think it means that the Ego is clean enough to relate to transpersonal energies without being blasted by them. Philo for instance wrote, that was the Jewish Neo-platonist of the first century:
“For the congress of man for the procreation of children makes virgins women. But when God begins to associate with the soul He brings to pass that she, who was formerly woman becomes virgin again.”Philo of Alexandria
I think John Donne expresses something the same sort of thing in this paradoxical nature of symbolic chastity in number 14 of his “Holy Sonnets”, which reads as follows:
Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for youJohn Donne – Holy Sonnets, Number 14
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
So, it’s as though, Yahweh or in the New Testament image the Holy Ghost, won’t have congress with a woman unless she’s a virgin. That’s sort of the archetypal idea, that men used to be possessed by the same archetype, you know, that they wouldn’t marry a woman unless she’s a virgin. That’s not appropriate. Much better to have a woman with experience. That’s not appropriate concretely, but it’s the archetypal reality that’s being expressed there, you see. What you have to inquire at to understand this psychologically is what is psychological virginity. We don’t exhaust the answers by certain formulas or intellectual statements about it because fundamentally we’re dealing with symbols that transcend intellectual capacity to grasp entirely, but it really does enrich one’s life to carry ideas like that around and ask yourself every now and then, what is psychological virginity? This is the sort of thing that’s generated if you pay attention to these fascinating images that go and make up the Christian archetype. You start asking questions as to what they mean and how they apply to your individual life. As you do that, you very gradually are drawn in to the incarnation process, whatever that means.
Mary’s classic response to the annunciation is the ultimate example of submission to God’s will. I wonder how many thousand sermons have been preached on that subject. She says:
“I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.”The Jerusalem Bible, Saint Luke, Chapter 1
More literally the translators do euphemize in their translation, they really do. It really ought to be translated: “I’m the slave girl of the Lord”. Somehow that’s got a different quality to it.
Mary’s obedience to God, represented by that phrase, is often contrasted with Eve’s disobedience. The connection between these two events, between Mary’s response to the Holy Ghost and Eve’s response to the Serpent bring up a very interesting psychological connection. This connection is made explicit, not infrequently, in medieval paintings. I have several examples in which the annunciation to the Virgin by the angel Gabriel is in the foreground and in the upper left half corner of the picture is an image of Adam and Eve being ejected from the Garden of Eden or in some cases by Eve’s accepting the apple from the Serpent. These unusual pictures link quite explicitly the two events. In certain examples Yahweh as a dark winged deity is hovering over Adam and Eve as they’re being banished from the garden, so we have the overshadowing image expressed quite explicitly. In both cases what we have is that a human being is being overshadowed by the cloud of God. Paul connects Christ and Adam in 1st Corinthians when he says:
15:21 Death came through one man and in the same way the resurrection of the dead has come through one man.The Jerusalem Bible, 1 Corinthians, Chapter 15
15:22 Just as all men die in Adam, so all men will be brought to life in Christ;
And likewise Mary has been linked with Eve as Eve was the bad one and Mary is the good one. In an apocryphal book called the Proto-Evangelium of James, when Jesus first hears of Mary’s pregnancy this is what he says:
“Who has done this evil thing in my house, and defiled the virgin? Has not the history of Adam been repeated in me? For just as Adam was in the hour of his singing praise, and the serpent came, and found Eve alone, and completely deceived her, so it has happened to me also.”
Gregory Thaumaturgus says:
“An angel talks with the Virgin in order that the Serpent may no more have converse with the woman.”Gregory Thaumaturgus – The Third Homily, On the Annunciation to the Holy virgin Mary
These passages all consider that the fall of man through Eve’s disobedience and the conception of Christ through Mary’s obedience to be parallel but opposite happenings. What the two events signify psychologically must therefore be closely related. We know psychologically, that when the Self is activated the opposites are constellated, therefore whenever one encounters a one-sided attitude of any sort in Consciousness, one is on the lookout for its opposite in the Unconscious. This in fact is what we perceive in this material, because this is the material of the collective psyche. This is the incredible capacity of Jung to be able to take the whole cultural evolution of the human race as a case history. That’s what he did and that’s what we’re trying to do in a smaller way as we review the data of the collective psyche in the way it expressed itself artistically from the myth of Christ, just as we would examine the paintings of an individual patient, to see what they tell us. This is the patient “western man” and the way his Unconscious expressed itself. The way it did it was by this intense fascination with the image of the Virgin Mary, especially at the point of her accepting the announcement of the angel and opening herself up to be the slave girl of Yahweh. But then what we find on the margins of the material is Eve, her sister, her dark sister who is supposed to have done just the reverse. That gets us to reflecting, well now, what about this? Eve was disobedient, yes, she was told not to eat the fruit, but she was obedient to the Serpent. Then things get a little ambiguous. It’s that ambiguity that knocks one off the ridge of faith and down into the dark valley, if you start thinking about these things seriously. Anyway, my suggestion is that the expulsion from the Garden of Eden and the annunciation of the conception of Christ are two different expressions for the same thing. Or, to put it even more boldly, that Eve’s obedience to the Serpent and Mary’s obedience to the angel Gabriel are essentially the same event.
Now in order for us not just to descend into chaos when we start making such equations we have to elaborate it a bit. So I would have to add the phrase: “at different stages of development”, they are the same event. In other words the event of the Garden of Eden which led to expulsion belongs to an earlier stage of Ego development in which a necessary crime is committed in order for Consciousness to be born, but at the price of suffering. At a later stage of development it takes on the opposite cast. I know that raises more questions than it answers, probably doesn’t answer any questions at all, but, that’s alright.
Just another example or two of how people have responded to this profound and complex image of the annunciation. The evidence that it is an archetypal image is provided by the fact that it carries this universal fascination and that the deepest artists and thinkers are gripped by it and try to give it again and again new facets of meaning. For example the medieval theologian Hugh Saint Victor writes this:
“The motive for a conception according to nature is the love of a man for a woman and of a woman for a man and therefore since a singular love of Holy Spirit burned in the Virgin’s heart the love of the Holy Spirit wrought great things in her flesh.”Hugh Saint Victor
Now this passage concerning love as the operative agent must be followed by another one from Hugh Saint Victor that explains what he means. This is an apostrophe to the power of love as the operative agent in the Virgin’s heart. He says:
“You have great power oh love, you alone could draw God down from Heaven to Earth, oh how strong is your bond with which even God could be bound, you brought Him bound with your bonds, you brought Him wounded with your arrows, you wounded Him who was invulnerable, you bound Him who was invincible, you drew down Him who was immovable, the eternal you made mortal, oh love, how great is your victory.”Hugh Saint Victor
That’s an image of the power of the “image of the annunciation”. Psychologically we might say that Mary’s obedience or love is an expression of her willingness to face the numinosum, to allow herself to be affected by it and therefore to bring it into reality, that is to incarnate it, to give it a Earthly dwelling place.
William Butler Yeats has a poem on this subject of the annunciation, title of it is “The Mother of God”. He’s a contemporary, you know, he died just the other day of a few decades ago, but this was written in 1922, so he belongs to us, to our generation of psychological understanding:
The threefold terror of love; a fallen flare Through the hollow of an ear; Wings beating about the room; The terror of all terrors that I bore The Heavens in my womb. Had I not found content among the shows Every common woman knows, Chimney corner, garden walk, Or rocky cistern where we tread the clothes And gather all the talk? What is this flesh I purchased with my pains, This fallen star my milk sustains, This love that makes my heart’s blood stop Or strikes a Sudden chill into my bones And bids my hair stand up?William Butler Yeats – The Mother of God
That’s as clear as a formulation by Jung, that “the annunciation is an encounter with the numinosum”. It’s the same thing.
Let me end with some verses by Angelus Silesius. He was someone that Jung was fond of, he quotes this in Mysterium Coniunctionis, in paragraph 444. This is an English translation, it’s verses were in German but it’s reasonably accurate:
If by God’s Holy Ghost thou art beguiled,Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 14, Paragraph 444
There will be born in thee the Eternal Child.
If it’s like Mary, virginal and pure,
Then God will impregnate your soul for sure.
God make me pregnant, and his Spirit shadow me,
That God may rise up in my soul and shatter me.
What good does Gabriel’s ‘Ave, Mary’ do
Unless he give me that same greeting too?
The Baptism of Christ
I want to remind you and particularly myself my basic procedure in dealing with this material which is to work from specific images. On other occasions when I’ve given some of this material I have used slides of the images as they occurred in “books of hours”. It didn’t seem like a practical thing to do to use slides here so I left them home, but I want to remind us all that I am talking about images, actual pictures as they manifested themselves in the history of western art. With that reminder I hope I’ll remember to describe tonight little more specifically the nature of the painted images that I’m talking about.
This morning we started with the first image in the cycle number one the annunciation and now we are proceeding around the circle. We are skipping the nativity, which is a very major image of course, and the next one on our agenda is the baptism of Christ.
I’m sure you are all familiar with the conventional picture of the baptism of Christ. Incidentally if any of you are so inclined to look in more fully to the medieval books of hours the one I suggest you start with, which really was the first of the series to be reproduced in recent years and in many respect is still the best and best of all still in print and that’s the “Hours of Catherine of Cleves” that’s published by Geroge Braziller. It’s an art book and it costs – I don’t know the exact sum now – somewhere between $30 and $40 but it’s worth it. It really offers you an excellent opportunity to reflect on the images I’m talking about and one of the big advantages of pictures is they speak directly to the Unconscious an they keep one from getting too heady.
The baptism of Christ the characteristic conventional image is of a central Christ standing in the river Jordan and John, often John the Baptist, may be standing in the river with him or he may be standing on the right bank of the river, very often pouring water over Christ’s head. On the left side of the bank of the river usually conventionally two angels who are holding Christ’s garments. From above the dove of the Holy Spirit is descending in Christ as he is being baptized and rays of light almost always accompany the image of the dove of the Holy Spirit radiating certain luminosity onto the head of Christ. That’s the traditional image, there are variations of it, but that’s the typical one. It’s a basic image, I don’t think there are any books of hours that I’ve come across that haven’t included that particular image. It’s very widespread. One painter’s representation of this scene I reproduce in “Ego and Archetype”. The image derives from Matthew 3:13, at least that’s the one I’m going to read, you find parallel accounts in Mark and Luke and it reads as follows:
3:13 Then Jesus appeared: he came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. 3:14 John tried to dissuade him. ‘It is I who need baptism from you’ he said ‘and yet you come to me!’ 3:15 But Jesus replied, ‘Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands’. At this, John gave in to him. 3:16 As soon as Jesus was baptised he came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. 3:17 And a voice spoke from heaven, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him’.The Jerusalem Bible, Saint Matthew, Chapter 3
I should also mention a very common variant to the image of the literal baptism. In that variant of the picture shows John the Baptist dressed in his hair garments, since he was an anchorite in the desert, holding Christ, pictured as a lamb, in his arms with a halo around his head. This particular image comes from John 1:29 where we read:
1:29 The next day, seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.The Jerusalem Bible, Saint John, Chapter 1
That particular reference alludes to the fact that Christ is specifically identified with the Passover lamb of Exodus. That’s the lamb that was sacrificed before the Passover and whose blood was placed on the door posts in order to spare the Israelites from the Avenging Angel who came to slaughter the firstborn of the Egyptians. Not only is Christ therefore the Passover lamb he is also associated with the expiatory sacrifice that one reads about in Leviticus, a purification ritual that involves the sacrifice of a lamb. Here the purification ritual applies to the whole world, to the sins of the whole world and Christ as a voluntary sacrificial victim purifies the whole world. This sort of parallel as I’m sure you well know of the New Testament events with the Old Testament prefigurations is a recurrent theme in the New Testament especially Matthew and is very important in understanding that the symbolic imagery of the two divisions of the Bible are absolutely continuous and belong to each other.
Christ’s baptism is a prototype of the sacrament or the ritual of baptism in the Church which marks the entry into the Church. Looked at psychologically it’s a solutio initiation ordeal that symbolizes death and rebirth representing the death of the old life of the flesh and a rebirth into the new life of Christ and the eternal life that he promises. You know in the original baptism ritual it was meant to simulate drowning, literal drowning and therefore total immersion was used in the early Church. The Old Testament prototypes to this image were “Noah’s flood”, in which only 8 people survived, hence the symbolism of the number eight, hence the reason that the medieval baptisteries were octagonal and also “the passage through the Red See” in which the Israelites escaped the pursuing Egyptians. That’s also used by the Church-Fathers as a ante-type or foreshadowing I should say of Christ’s baptism.
Another way of putting it would be that his baptism symbolizes his vocational initiation. He here encounters his destined work and this is the implication of such imagery in modern material.
It’s one of the most important nodal points in the whole drama. The Gospel of Mark begins with the baptism, he doesn’t even bother to speak of the annunciation or the nativity. Also when we look at the text carefully it’s clear that Christ was initially a follower of John the Baptist and in allowing himself to be baptized by John what he’s doing is submitting himself to immersion in the Unconscious under the guidance of another. This then led him to an experience of the autonomous psyche represented by the descent of the Holy Ghost. I think something very similar may happen when submits himself to a personal analysis and to whatever transference may emerge to the analyst in the analytic process. It’s as though he is allowing himself to be baptized by another, he’s putting himself in the hands of another and if the other drops him in the water, the imagery anyway is, that he could drown. But if a perspective analysand submits to such procedure what can then happen is that although initially a personal dependence develops that can then lead later to an encounter with the autonomous objective psyche which resolves the personal dependence and gives the individual an immediate individual relation to his own depths.
This explanation to Christ’s willingness to submit to baptism by John is contained in the enigmatic phrase “it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands”, that’s why he says to John he should go ahead and do it, to “do all that righteousness demands”. I have gathered together different translations of this phrase just to see if I can get some different angles to it, that’s what the Authorized Version says: “to fill all righteousness”, the Douay–Rheims says: “to fulfill all justice”, the New English Bible says: “to conform with all that God requires”, the New American Bible: “to fulfill all of God’s demands”, another one: “do all that God requires”, and another: “to meet all the law’s demands”. If I try to extract a psychological meaning of this phrase the idea that it leads me to is that “to follow what is just, right and required by God” means that one must at some point submit himself to the authority of another before he can safely experience the transpersonal other from within and I think that is indeed the case that one must serve an apprenticeship, a psychological apprenticeship first and that way the encounter with the autonomous transpersonal spirit is mediated, humanized and connected with the human community in a way that it isn’t, if there is no such step of apprenticeship.
You know what’s very interesting is as one delves into the various associated images that have accumulated around the central symbol the various images elaborate psychological aspects one wouldn’t otherwise think of. For instance, according to the “docetist heresy”, there were two baptisms, not one, but two. The one baptism was the baptism that John the Baptist performed on Christ and the other baptism the descent of the Holy Spirit, the baptism by the Holy Spirit and that it was that second baptism that Christ referred to when he said “I have another baptism to be baptized with and I hasten eagerly toward it”. This corresponds psychologically, I think, to the personal dimension of what we might call the “baptism of confession” administered by another which would be part of the person transference in an analysis in which one finds that the confession of one’s guilty complexes give one a profound sense of relief being able to share them with someone who can stand them and not condemn you for it and that then is the type of thing that generates the personal transference. That would be the first baptism, that’s the baptism of repentance so to speak corresponding to what John administers. The second baptism is the baptism of the encounter with the autonomous psyche corresponding to the Holy Ghost in which one becomes aware that the important thing is not what the analyst thinks of you, who cares, he is just another human being like you, that isn’t what matters. What matters is the realization that one must answer to the Self. The experience of that autonomous factor in the psyche then is the second baptism and that resolves whatever personal transference may exist. I think we have an example of that double sequence in the imagery of Christ’s baptism.
So many interesting things are associated in the legendary and apocryphal material with the baptism of Christ. For instance several mention the presence of the manifestation the appearance of fire over the Jordan at the time of Christ’s baptism. One commentator informs us after quoting such a text that the fire surely refers to the Shekinah that probably attended the descent of the Holy Spirit. The Shekinah is the glory of Yahweh. Other texts speak of the manifestations of light associated with the baptism. So here we have dove, fire, and light, all belonging to the same image. But then the scripture itself gives us another feature, the most important feature, namely the “voice from Heaven”. So we have dove, fire, light, and voice as all belong to the same image. This “voice from Heaven” occurs 3 times with Christ. The baptism is the first time it occurs, it also occurs at the time of the transfiguration in the 17th chapter of Matthew, where we read:
17:5 He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.’The Jerusalem Bible, Saint Matthew, Chapter 17
It’s practically identical message, you see. Then the third time is before the passion in the 12th chapter of John where Christ says:
12:28 Father, glorify your name!’ A voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’The Jerusalem Bible, Saint John, Chapter 12
I make special point of this image of “voice from Heaven” because it is something that shows up in dreams. It is always a very important occurrence when the authoritative voice appears. It’s the voice of the Self and it must always be treated with the utmost respect. If you’re interested Jung refers to this phenomenon in /Psychology and Alchemy/ in two places, in paragraph 115 and in paragraph 294.
At his baptism the voice announces to Christ “this is my Son the beloved one with whom I am well pleased” and essentially the same thing is said at the transfiguration. Now what does that mean? This is the question we must put to these images again and again. What does this mean psychologically? It really astonishes me the more I work on it how these images have been meditated upon and worshiped and carried around with millions of people for all these centuries and the question would never get asked. What does this mean? What does it mean that these images are so powerful that they grip us and we live by them. What do they mean? That question of course had to wait the birth of the psychological standpoint and therefore couldn’t happen sooner. But once the question comes one wonders why hasn’t it been asked sooner? Anyhow, that’s the question we must put to ourselves now. What does this voice mean coming at this particular time that Christ has submitted himself to baptism by John. I think it suggests that as an embodiment or representation of an Ego in the act of individuating has the love, support and commendation of the Self and this comes specifically at the moment that he accepts his destiny and takes on his vocation by a willing descent into the Unconscious, because that’s the image, he descends into the water supported by someone else. So at that moment that he commits himself to that descent into the Unconscious he has the experience of being justified and that justification establishes the connection with the transpersonal, with the Heavenly Father, the connecting link being represented by the dove. Symbolically we can think of Christ’s descent into the water of baptism as kind of “calling down the descent of the Holy Spirit from Heaven”. As he descends into the water, the Holy Spirit of Heaven descends onto him.
Now the term “beloved one” links Christ with the suffering servant of Yahweh as depicted in Isaiah 42, where we read:
42:1 Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom my soul delights. I have endowed him with my spirit that he may bring true justice to the nations.The Jerusalem Bible, Isaiah, Chapter 42
The baptism is almost an exact portrait of that account because the endowment of Yahweh’s spirit is pictured by the descent of the dove.
In some of the early Patristic texts Christ’s descent into the Jordan was described as an Heroic encounter with the daemons of darkness. That would correspond to our psychological understanding of it as a descent into the Unconscious. For instance:
"Since therefore it was necessary to break the heads of the dragon in pieces he went down and bound the strong one in the waters."
This theme of the “dragon hidden in the waters of death” and Christ’s baptism as a descent into the dragon’s domain was to endure in tradition as the commentator Jean Daniélou says. So it’s as though He allows Himself to be baptized He permits Himself to have an encounter with the dragon that existed in the waters.
There’s another related idea that’s also found in the Patristic writings. Ignatius writes:
“Our God, Jesus the Christ was born and was baptized that by his passion might cleanse water.”Ignatius of Antioch
And there’s another closely related conception of that sort from Clement of Alexandria who writes:
“The Lord had Himself baptized not that He had need of it for Himself but so that He might sanctify all water for those that are regenerated in it. In this way not only our bodies cleansed but our souls also and the sanctification of the invisible parts of our being is signified by the fact that even the impure spirits which cleave to our soul are rooted out from the time of the new spiritual birth.”Clement of Alexandria
This I think is a really remarkable symbolic idea when you reflect on its psychological meaning, that Christ by submitting to baptism cleansed water and purified it of the daemons that naturally inhabit it. Now what does that mean psychologically? We who work in analysis with the Unconscious certainly know for certain that water the commonest image for the Unconscious is inhabited by daemons. What are daemons? We have to ask everything, can’t take anything for granted. Daemons are autonomous complexes with archetypal cores as all complexes have. They’re autonomous dissociated partial personalities that inhabit the Unconscious, I assure you, they really do, and the idea that the Unconscious could be purified of daemons is an astonishing one. But as one reflects on it in relation to psychological experience one can being to perceive what’s referred to in this symbolism. In the ordinary state of the human Ego one must be constantly on guard for what comes out of them spontaneously, because the old Adam comes out spontaneously, the unregenerate Unconscious filled with daemons and filled with primitive desirousness and destructive and self-centered, self-serving and potentially negative and dangerous entities. A good part of our early education, our psychological education is to teach us to be on guard of from what’s in us spontaneously, for good reason, because the original organism is not innocent. Freud was really right about that, that the child is on his terrible word “polymorphous perversity”, but the fact is, that the Unconscious, the realm of water, is indeed the dwelling place of daemons. But what we do discover that with a long process of analysis, very diligently applied, which involves prolonged scrutiny of the shadow aspect of our spontaneity, the daemonic aspect of our spontaneity, that prolonged period of baptism does bring about as a consequence hopefully and at least partially in some cases, a purification of the Unconscious or a de-daemonization of the spontaneous aspect of the psyche that makes it safe to be spontaneous once again and with that comes the prospect of a certain amount of wholeness you see, because you can’t be whole as long as you have to scrutinize everything that’s going on in the Unconscious to check the shadow from coming out inappropriately.
This corresponds much to the image of the fairy tale of the “Spirit in the bottle”. This is a fairy tale that Jung starts out his essay on “Spirit Mercurius” with. The story is that the bottle was found that had locked up this “Spirit Mercurius” for 2000 years. A woodcutter’s son found it, he opened the bottle and the Spirit rushed out and the first thing it did was is started to murder him, started choking him. Fortunately he was clever enough, he got him back into the bottle by trickery and then he had to negotiate with it and then when he let him out the second time, the Spirit was more amenable. In other words that spirit in the bottle corresponds to the state of the Unconscious in its original condition, in its unpure, daemonized condition so to speak. The Unconscious itself through being worked on has to undergo a purification before the spontaneous principle dare to be let out into the general world. All this I think is what symbolized by these Patristic images that when Christ submitted to baptism, to the descent into the Unconscious, He purified the water that was the dwelling place of daemons. It’s one of the consequences then of achieving some degree of totality that the Unconscious becomes purified.
I think the basic psychological idea in this image of the baptism is that it’s an expression of an individual’s confrontation with his vocation, his psychological vocation, which is also his destiny of course, what he’s supposed to do, what he’s meant to do. There are certain representations of the baptism that are particularly impressive. I’m thinking of one that’s in “The Grandes Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry”, that’s published in a great big volume and magnificently illuminated and the picture of the baptism is somewhat unusual in that the descending dove of the Holy Ghost is a great giant bird with extended wings that occupies the whole upper portion of the picture. I mentioned that particular picture because it came to my mind immediately when I encountered this dream. The dream was of a woman patient in her middle age, she dreamed that:
"She was locked in a battle to the death in a conflict with a huge bird. She was plotting how to destroy the bird, even though she knows that this plan and effort is evil. Just as she is about to bring about the destruction of the bird as she thinks and to complete the final act of her plot suddenly the situation reverses itself ans she realizes abruptly that she doesn't have the superiority over the bird as she thought. Tables have turned and now she is terrified that the huge screeching bird will get her. In order to keep the bird out she has covered her whole house with a great plastic tent so the bird can't get in, but the bird has gotten in somehow and is silently waiting for her to rest when it will kill her or peck out her eyes. She is terrified and awakes for the start."
This woman is in conflict with her transpersonal destiny. She has considerable talent as an artist she has what I’m going to call a “play orientation” to life ans she can’t quite make that final commitment to put herself in the service of what’s required of her. This is clearly an example of the question of a baptism. Whether or not she’s going to submit to the baptism experience. The outcome is still uncertain. In the light of this dream one might say it’s as though Christ got into a fight with the descending dove and refused to accept his assignment, you see. “Go back where you came from I don’t want any of it.” That’s the nature of the dream image.
Immediately after the account of Christ’s baptism we read about the temptation, because when Jesus was lead by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Then follows the 3 temptations: he’s asked to turn stones into bread, he’s asked to cast himself off the cliff to prove that Yahweh will protect him, and he’s offered worldly power if he will worship Satan. This sequence of images of first baptism, descent of the Holy Spirit and the inspirational quality, I mean by that the inspiring, the breathing in of the Spirit followed by the temptation is absolutely characteristic of psychological experience. The temptation refers to the danger of inflation following the experience of a connection with the Self. It happens uniformly. The danger of inflation is indicated by the image of Christ being lead to a high mountain. Height is an inflation image. You see it’s the same Spirit. If we understand this material psychologically, it’s not that there are two different Spirits, not the Holy Spirit descending as the dove and an evil Spirit that takes them off to be tempted. It’s two different aspects of the same Spirit. It blessed Christ at the time of his commitment to his vocation but then it turned diabolical as an expression of the fact that there was a temptation to being inflated. It corresponds to the trickster aspect of the Unconscious which is very dangerous for the naive Ego. Experiences of the Self and what’s represented by the baptism imagery gives one a feeling of well-being and specialness and “I’m the one” sort of feeling that is very dangerous and that danger is represented by the image of the temptation. In the scriptural account Christ avoids that temptation, however in the total picture he doesn’t entirely because what happens in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem is something analogous to the temptation but more conscious. He’s going to his fate, he knows it, but then he does allow the trappings of grandeur to be applied to him in the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I’m not going to talk about that particular image except to mention it here as an important one. It was a necessary part of the whole sequence that he allow himself to be given that victorious parade and also to allow himself to succumb to his anger against the money changers and live out the wrath of Yahweh so to speak. It’s all part of the necessary sequence but it’s also analogous to the temptation imagery from the Evil Spirit.
The agony in the Garden of Gethsemane
I’ve just been talking about baptism, we move on from the baptism. You recall I said that in the books of hours the ministry of Jesus is almost never mentioned. It doesn’t fall into the pictorial representations. It’s as though it’s not archetypal enough, it doesn’t belong to the fundamental archetypal sequence. We passed through the triumphal entry into Jerusalem which I alluded to, we pass through the last supper, another certainly very major image in this cycle and come to my next image which is “the agony in the garden of Gethsemane”. The account in Matthew 26 reads as follows, there are parallels in Mark and Luke too:
26:36 Then Jesus came with them to a small estate called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Stay here while I go over there to pray’.The Jerusalem Bible, Saint Matthew, Chapter 26
26:37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee with him. And sadness came over him, and great distress.
26:38 Then he said to them, ‘My soul is sorrowful to the point of death. Wait here and keep awake with me.’
26:39 And going on a little further he fell on his face and prayed. ‘My Father,’ he said ‘if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.’
26:40 He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, ‘So you had not the strength to keep awake with me one hour?
26:41 You should be awake, and praying not to be put to the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’
26:42 Again, a second time, he went away and prayed: ‘My Father,’ he said ‘If this cup cannot pass by without my drinking it, your will be done!’
26:43 And he came back again and found them sleeping, their eyes were so heavy.
26:44 Leaving them there, he went away again and prayed for the third time, repeating the same words.
26:45 Then he came back to the disciples and said to them, ‘You can sleep on now and take your rest. Now the hour has come when the Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of sinners.
26:46 Get up! Let us go! My betrayer is already close at hand.’
To this should also be added a portion from Luke 22, which adds another very important image. We read there:
22:43 Then an angel appeared to him, coming from heaven to give him strength. 22:44 In his anguish he prayed even more earnestly, and his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.The Jerusalem Bible, Saint Luke, Chapter 22
The name “Gethsemane” as I understand means “oil press”. Perhaps it’s significant that the place where olives had their oil extracted is the place where Christ sweat drops of blood. This image of profound grief and heavy depression to the point of grief, the point of death that extracts bloody sweat is an image of an extraction process. I’ve reproduced a picture in “Ego and Archetype”, it’s picture 46, that shows Christ in a wine press as a grape and having juice extracted from him which is similar to what would happen in an olive press.
Then on the way to Gethsemane Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 26:
26:31 Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all lose faith in me this night, for the scripture says: I shall strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’,The Jerusalem Bible, Saint Matthew, Chapter 26
This is a reference to Zechariah 13th chapter, where we read:
13:7 ‘Awake, sword, against my shepherd and against the man who is my companion – it is Yahweh Sabaoth who speaks. I am going to strike the shepherd so that the sheep may be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the weak.The Jerusalem Bible, Zechariah, Chapter 13
Now it’s pretty distressing to read things like this in Holy Writ. It can only mean psychologically, I think, considering the imagery of sheeps and shepherds it can only mean that Yahweh is fed up with sheep like people and the passage since it’s directly referred to in the Gethsemane experience it tells us that the Gethsemane experience involves a loss of faith, a loss of confidence and morale. You see, Christ says to his disciples “you will all lose faith in me this night, for the scripture says: I shall strike the shepherd”. Now what’s implied here then that although the loss of faith is not imputed to Christ, it’s imputed to his disciples, you could say it’s carried by shadow figures, auxiliary shadow figures, the idea of the loss of faith. But the loss of faith of the apostles would foreshadow the despairing cry on the cross “My God, My God, why have you deserted me?”.
There’s a very touching passage in a medieval meditation on the life of Christ that reads this way, talking about the garden of Gethsemane:
"Although he is God and equal to his Father, and co-eternal, he appears to have forgotten that He is God and prays like a man."
See this theme of loss of faith comes up again as I said on the cross, quoting the lines of Psalm 22:
22:1 My God, my God, why have you deserted me? How far from saving me, the words I groan!The Jerusalem Bible, The Psalms, Psalm 22
Jung tells us, you can find this in one of his conversations published in “C.G. Jung Speaking” that:
“Jesus, you know, was a boy born of an unmarried mother. Such a boy is called illegitimate, and there is a prejudice which puts him at a great disadvantage. He suffers from a terrible feeling of inferiority for which he is certain to have to compensate. Hence the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, in which the kingdom was offered to him. Here he met his worst enemy, the power devil; but he was able to see that, and to refuse. He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” But “kingdom” it was, all the same. And you remember that strange incident, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The utter failure came at the Crucifixion in the tragic words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ? ” If you want to understand the full tragedy of those words you must realize what they meant : Christ saw that his whole life, devoted to the truth according to his best conviction, had been a terrible illusion. He had lived it to the full absolutely sincerely, he had made his honest experiment, but it was nevertheless a compensation. On the Cross his mission deserted him. But because he had lived so fully and devotedly he won through to the Resurrection body.”Carl Jung – C. G. Jung Speaking, Page 97
So, this cry of Christ on the cross describe a loss of faith which is sort of presaged in the garden of Gethsemane indicated that his sense of mission had left him. Something of a same question he’s wrestling with in the garden of Gethsemane.
According to a certain heresy, the docetist heresy, which is very significant psychologically, according to this heretical idea Jesus was just an ordinary human being until the moment of his baptism at which time the Divine Christ descended and took up dwelling in his body. It then performed all the miracles and did the teaching and carried him through right up to the point when he was nailed on the cross, then it deserted him. There is something profoundly significant psychologically about that image because it expresses the fact that there are two entities within the human personality. There is the Ego, the human, fallible, weak, stumbling Ego, and there’s the greater personality the Self or what in this setting would be represented as the Divine Christ. The canonical account itself tells us that his sense of mission left him on the cross. What does this mean psychologically? I think it refers to the fact that one can never reach a state of certainty in the process of individuation. Certainty is inflation. Spare me dealings with anybody that’s absolutely certain, especially about religious matters. Uncertainty is the human condition. We can preserve our humanity only as long as we retain our uncertainty. Even as we try to follow what we sense to be a transpersonal purpose and a transpersonal direction, certainty cannot be properly a part of that experience because certainty is inflation, it’s omniscience. Therefore whenever one starts feeling too certain I’d advise that he subject himself to a severe critique, it might spare him a much bigger fall, if he does it willingly.
As the medieval book put it “Christ forgot that He was God” in the garden of Gethsemane. That corresponds to what happens in the course of individuation. We have an experience of the Self, we have some real realization that there is that other larger center of being, but then we forget it and then we’re exposed to further experiences of doubt, darkness and uncertainty. That’s the price we pay for keeping in touch with the Unconscious. It’s a price we pay for maintaining our humanity. We have to forget that we had the experience of the Self otherwise it amounts to a kind of divine inflation. You know Jung clung to uncertainty to the very end of his life. On the last page of “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” he speaks of life as being both meaningful and meaningless and he concludes by saying:
“Probably as in all metaphysical questions both are true. Life is or has meaning and meaninglessness. I cherish the anxious hope that meaning will preponderate and win the battle.”Carl Jung – Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Retrospect, Page 359
Well, that doesn’t sound like certainty to me. Another aspect of the Gethsemane image that it emphasizes the fact that suffering is a crucial part of the process. The important part is to accept the suffering one encounters. You know we all have the deeply ingrained infantile notion that we’re supposed to be happy. That’s not true. We are supposed to suffer. If you attach any psychological credence to what I’m describing as a Christian archetype, if it has any general validity, can you escape the conclusion that is implied that we’re supposed to suffer?
Another important image in this picture is the image of the cup. Christ says: “if it is possible, let this cup pass me by” and in probably the majority of the medieval representations of the agony in the garden the artist shows Yahweh reaching down from a cloud in heaven handing Christ a cup, a communion cup specifically. Usually it’s a cup and a wafer in other words it’s a precise reference to communion symbolism. So it’s as though Christ in the garden of Gethsemane is celebrating communion. Now this image of the cup I think provides a good opportunity to check up on some of the Old Testament amplifications. The Greek word is “ποτήριον” and we can check up where that word is used in the Septuagint of the Old Testament and get some sense then of what the associations to that term were for someone acquainted with the Old Testament. This term has two chief usages in the Septuagint.
- One usage refers to the cup of wrath of Yahweh. This cup is filled with stupefying wine. It’s found in a number of places, I won’t read them all off. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Obadiah, Zechariah, Psalms, Lamentations.
- In another series of passages the cup is used as a means of divination, as one’s portion or as the container to hold lots that one draws his divine portion out of and in this usage it signifies the fortune that falls to an individual.
Let me give you a few examples of these two usages:
In Psalm 16 we read:
16:5 Yahweh, my heritage, my cup, you, and you only, hold my lot secure; 16:6 the measuring line marks out delightful places for me, for me the heritage is superb indeed.The Jerusalem Bible, The Psalms, Psalm 16
Well, the psalmist here is praising God for giving him a happy cup of fortune. That’s good fortune.
In Psalm 11 we read:
11:6 He rains coals of fire and brimstone on the wicked, he serves them a scorching wind to swallow down.The Jerusalem Bible, The Psalms, Psalm 11
That’s bad fortune from a cup.
Then as examples of the cup of wrath:
75:8 Yahweh is holding a cup of frothing wine, heavily drugged; he pours it out, they drain it to the dregs, all drink of it, the wicked of the earth.The Jerusalem Bible, The Psalms, Psalm 75
And in Isaiah 51:
51:17 Awake, awake! To your feet, Jerusalem! You who from Yahweh’s hand have drunk the cup of his wrath. The chalice of stupor you have drained to the dregs.The Jerusalem Bible, Isaiah, Chapter 51
Well you see these amplifications give us some idea then if we approach this image same way we approach a dream gives us some idea as to what it is Christ is drinking when he accepts the cup in the garden of Gethsemane. We see then that he’s being required to consume digest and assimilate Divine Wrath. In psychological terms we don’t speak of Divine Wrath, we speak of the intense affects of the primitive archetypal psyche. That’s the clean clinical terminology that we use. But it’s Divine Wrath, that’s what it is. If the Ego takes that cup then he has the task of assimilating it and for the purpose of transformation. This brings up the whole theme of the transformation of the primordial deity into a more differentiated deity which I won’t go into now, but that is implied by that imagery.
Another feature of the Gethsemane experience is that it seems to be plagued with sleepiness. There are a group of four people: Christ and three apostles. Three of the four sleep through the whole thing. Christ pleads for them to keep awake and to watch – “γρηγορέω”, watch with me, but they are not able to. This word “to watch” means to be alert and vigilant and it’s used for instance in the 16th chapter of Revelation where the great day of the God Almighty is described and says:
16:15 This is how it will be: I shall come like a thief. Happy is the man who has stayed awake and not taken off his clothes so that he does not go out naked and expose his shame.The Jerusalem Bible, The Book of Revelation, Chapter 16
I think this emphasis on wakefulness indicates specifically that what is at stake is Consciousness. Whenever one dreams one’s sleeping, that means you’re being too unconscious and you ought to be awake. You shouldn’t be asleep in your dreams, you should be awake in your dreams.
The common term that’s used for garden of Gethsemane event is the term agony. That’s a direct translation of “ἀγωνία” a Greek term. It doesn’t mean quite or just anguish, it’s got more the meaning of an intense contest or conflict and Christ alludes to this conflict when He speaks “the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”, so the conflict is between what He calls the Spirit and the flesh. In this intense conflict of opposites one of two possible actions prevail according to this image. Either one goes to sleep or one prays. If one is able to keep awake, prayer or psychologically active imagination is what’s required to do it, because in order for the Ego to remain conscious in a time of such conflict and anguish it has to have the cooperation with the Unconscious in order to endure the conflict of the opposites. Prayer then is what is designed to establish that connection with the Self that makes it bearable. That connection is indicated by the passage in Luke which speaks of an angel coming to minister to Christ. I have a picture of that in “Ego and Archetype”. It’s a beautiful and profound image. But if one can’t pray, he has to go to sleep. Sleep is a viable alternative. We mustn’t depreciate sleep because it brings a kind of healing connection with the Unconscious in an unconscious way so to speak. If that’s what’s necessary then one must permit himself to do that too, but not in dreams. It’s interesting to the psychologist who thinks in terms of the four functions to note that one figure prays and three figures sleep. That would suggest that the psychological situation that’s referred to by this image is one in which only there is 1/4 realization of what the image refers to. It might correspond to the fact that the image is a metaphysical idea but not yes a psychic reality. Anyway it’s interesting to note that it’s a 1:3 proportion.
To say a little more about this presence of the strengthening angel. This feature is reminiscent of the line of Friedrich Hölderlin’s poem that Jung was fond of quoting:
Die Hymne „Patmos“ Nah ist Und schwer zu fassen der Gott. Wo aber Gefahr ist, wächst Das Rettende auch.
“Wo aber Gefahr ist, wächst Das Rettende auch” which could be translated as “Where there is danger, grows also the rescuing power”. The two go right together. The ministering angel the rescuing agency where does it show up? It shows up in the garden of Gethsemane. I think relevant to this same matter is this statement of Jung’s, which is a very profound expression of the same point. This comes from “Psychology and Alchemy”, paragraph 32:
“… the highest and most decisive experience of all, which is to be alone with his own self, or whatever else one chooses to call the objectivity of the psyche. The patient must be alone if he is to find out what it is that supports him when he can no longer support himself. Only this experience can give him an indestructible foundation.”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 12, Paragraph 32
In a nutshell danger and salvation come in the same package. That’s not part of the quote, you understand, that’s my rule.
As I mentioned it’s commonly represented that Christ is accepting a communion cup and a wafer, in other words He is eating and drinking His own flesh and blood. The garden of Gethsemane really completes the symbolism of The Last Supper. Jung has an important statement on this subject that I want to refer to. This comes from paragraph 511 of “Mysterium Coniunctionis”. I’m going to read a bit of it. It’s so important that allow me to quote this fairly lengthy quotation:
“Only the living presence of the eternal images can lend the human psyche a dignity which makes it morally possible for a man to stand by his own soul, and be convinced that it is worth his while to persevere with it. Only then will he realize that the conflict is in him, that the discord and tribulation are his riches, which should not be squandered by attacking others;”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 14, Paragraph 511
I’m reminding you that this quotation elaborates the theme that danger and salvation come in the same package and that involves the endurance of conflict.
“and that, if fate should exact a debt from him in the form of guilt, it is a debt to himself. Then he will recognize the worth of his psyche, for nobody can owe a debt to a mere nothing. But when he loses his own values he becomes a hungry robber,”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 14, Paragraph 511
He then refers to an alchemical text that he’s commenting on that involves the eating of peacock’s flesh and lion’s blood by a queen and he equates this with eating her own flesh and her own blood. So he says this figure must eat her own flesh and her own blood if the projected conflict is to be healed it must return into the psyche of the individual where it had it’s unconscious beginnings. He must celebrate a last supper with himself and eat his own flesh and drink his own blood which means that he must recognize and accept the other in himself, the other that he’s in conflict with. But if he persists in his one-sidedness the two lions which were referred to in the text will tear each other to pieces. Is this perhaps the meaning of Christ’s teaching that each must bear his own cross for if you have to endure yourself, how will you be able to rend others also?
This is the psychological essence as I see it of the image of “The Garden of Gethsemane” where Christ is enduring the two sides of Himself. The drinking of the cup of Gethsemane corresponds to drinking the cup of what oneself is. It’s probably the fundamental image of Jungian analysis and individuation. Drinking that cup of one’s own blood, one’s own being. Erich Neumann expresses a very interesting aspect of this process in his book on “Depth Psychology and the New Ethic”. I think this is the best paragraph in the book so I’ve extracted the finest thing from it. You don’t have to read the whole thing. The rest of it is just commentary on this paragraph, but if you need the commentary… Neumann says this:
“To the extent that he does live in reality the whole range of his particular life the individual is an alchemical retort in which the elements present in the collective are melded down and refashioned to form a new synthesis which is then offered to the collective. But the pre-digestion of evil which he carries out as a part of the process of assimilating his shadow makes him at the same time an agent for the immunization of the collective. An individuals shadow is invariably bound up with the collective shadow of his group and as he digests his own evil a fragment of the collective evil is invariably co-digested at the same time.”Erich Neumann – Depth Psychology and the New Ethic
You get that? It’s really a very important idea. To the extent that one really assimilates his own shadow and does not contribute to the psychic pollution by projecting it, he is contributing to the collective process of the digestion of collective evil. In the case of Christ who accepted the cup of Yahweh’s wrath and drank it to the drags that event had the digesting Yahweh’s evil and thereby transforming him into a loving God. That’s not theology, that’s psychology.
I’m getting tired so I see I don’t have much farther to go. There’s an alchemical text that uses the garden of Gethsemane image in a reference to the “sweating drops of blood”. This matter is to be found in volume 13 of the “Collected Works”, paragraph 390. Jung quotes a text by Gerhard Dorn who was a late alchemist and Gerhard Dorn’s text speaks of a true man who will come to Earth and will sweat bloody drops of a rosy hue whereby the world will be redeemed from its fall. This corresponds to the blood of their stones, he’s talking about the Philosopher’s Stone, that will free the leprous metals and also men from their diseases, for in the blood of the stone is hidden it’s soul. What he’s presented us with is the image of the Philosopher’s Stone which sweats drops of rosy colored fluid which is a healing elixir. Now comes Jung’s comment about this. The stone that sweats blood is of course a precise parallel to Christ in the garden of Gethsemane. Psychologically it means that the extraction of the Aqua Permanens inevitably involves psychic pain and conflict. Every psychic advance of man arises from the suffering of the soul. Jung gives the following commentary to Dorn’s text:
“Since the Stone represents the Homo Totus, The Total Man, it is only logical for Dorn to speak of the Putissimus Homo, the Most True Man, when discussing this arcane substance and his bloody sweat. He is the Arcanum and the Stone and its parallel or prefiguration is Christ in the garden of Gethsemane. This most pure, most true man must be none other than the entire man, the man who knows and possesses everything human and is not adulterated by any influence or admixture from without. This man will appear on the Earth only in the last days. He cannot be Christ for Christ by hist blood has already redeemed the world from the consequences of the fall. It’s not a question of the future Christ but rather of the alchemical preserver of the cosmos representing the still unconscious idea of the whole and complete man who shall bring about what the sacrificial death of Christ has obviously left unfinished namely the deliverance of the world from evil. Like Christ he will sweat a redeeming blood but it is rosy colored, not natural ordinary blood but it’s symbolic blood, a psychic substance the manifestation of a certain kind of eros which unifies the individual as well as the multitude in the sign of the rose and makes them whole.”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 13, Paragraph 390
Last item. I draw your attention to the fact that in the passage I quoted Christ says “now the hour has come when the Son of Man is to be betrayed into the hands of sinners”. This is what He calls Himself in a number of places: Son of Man. It’s just one of many examples of the use of that term. It’s a very mysterious term that has elicited vast amounts of attention from biblical scholars. I have a whole book on the subject, “The Son of Man in Literature and Tradition”, or something like that. You see the dogma of the Church labeled Christ as the Son of God and the Messiah, but Christ did not apply any of those images to Himself. He applied the term “Son of Man”. If you follow up the sources of that term you come to a realization that term refers to what Jung calls “The Anthropos”, “the great man”, “the original man”, the MAN in capital letters. This is one of the images of the Self and Christ applies this term to Himself. I think there are two aspects of it: one is the inner aspect which will correspond with what we call the Self, the other is the outer aspect that we didn’t say so much about and that is that it’s The Anthropos, The Great Man is the personification of the human race as a whole. It’s a personification of us as species and as one makes connection with the Self in its inner aspect one simultaneously makes connection with the outer aspect too. That’s why individuation far from having isolating effect has just the reverse, it relates one to the species because our species if one great man, really, and the image of that fact resides within us as an image of the Self. It’s the dawning awareness of that fact that this cycle brings about.
But why the “Son of Man”? That’s still to be explained. It suggests that what we are dealing with is the second generation of the Great Man, of the Self, of the Total One. It reminds us to similar alchemical terms for the Philosopher’s Stone. For instance one of the synonyms for the Philosopher’s Stone is the Filius Philosophorum – “the son of the philosophers”, in other words what the alchemists meant by that is that the stone was the son of the alchemist who made it, because the alchemists were the philosophers, that’s the name they applied to themselves. I think we can’t escape the idea that the term “son” has some reference of the Ego or some experience or operation of the Ego, because the Ego is the son of the Unconscious or at the very least if that’s too much to say we can at least consider that the term “Son of Man” refers to a reborn, regenerate second generation version of the original Self that somehow is brought about through cooperation or efforts of the Ego. That’s the thing that’s implied in the Christian archetype namely that Christ in his resurrected and eternal form anyway is the second generation of God, He’s a reborn, regenerate Yahweh. Anyway it’s a profound and mysterious image and with it I shall say Good Night.
So far we’ve made a rather rapid transit around three quarters of this cycle that I’ve schematized. There’s been:
- The Annunciation
- The Nativity
- The Flight into Egypt
- The Massacre of the Innocents
- The Baptism of Christ
- The Temptation
- The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
- The Last Supper
- The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane
- The Taking of Christ
- His Trial Before Pilate
- His Trial Before Herod
- His Mocking
- His Flagellation
- His Crucifixion
- His Death on the Cross
- The Deposition from the Cross
- The Lamentation
- The Entombment
And now we come to the image of “The Resurrection”. Before speaking briefly about that I want to draw special attention to the imagery, especially the apocryphal imagery that paralleled the period from “Good Friday” to “Easter Sunday”. According to that imagery Christ went to hell, this is the so-called episode of “The Harrowing of Hell”. The doors of Hell were shattered, He entered Hell, sometimes it’s called “Limbo”, and there rescued the “ancient worthies” that were confined there and resurrected them, just as He was to be resurrected. This is a particularly significant image psychologically the idea that at the time Christ was dead to the view of the outer world, he was very much alive and performing a rescuing function in the world of the dead, namely the world of the Unconscious. This is a very important image expressing what happens when the Ego descends into the Unconscious and experiences the death of the world, because what that amounts to then from the standpoint of the Unconscious is the salvation of the ancient rejected lost worthies within the Unconscious. It’s the salvation of the unconscious repressed complexes and it’s a very important image.
Anyway the time has now come that the events of “Easter Sunday” are to be noted. The image, the typical traditional image that we see in the “books of hours” for this is an open tomb. The slab closing the tomb has been put aside, the tomb is open, the Roman soldiers who’ve been guarding the tomb have fallen back in a stupor or faint and the risen Christ is emerging from his tomb, usually holding a banner with a red cross on it, “the banner of the resurrection”. This is the image of “the return of life after death”. The death and resurrection cycle is sequence which is not at all confined to the Christian imagery. We have many examples of it in the ancient Near-Eastern religions, probably outstanding parallel is the myth of Osiris. It’s an archetypal image of multiple manifestation. The basic archetypal idea is the death and rebirth of the “year spirit”. In the course of the cycle of the year the “vegetation spirit”, the “spirit of life” as it manifests itself has been thought from primitive times to go through a tragic drama. Gilbert Murray has categorized this drama in four stages which I think are very helpful to understand objectively what’s going on. The four stages that he used to describe the tragic drama of the “year spirit” are:
- first “The Agon”, that is the contest on the part of the protagonist, the “year spirit” with evil. This would correspond to Christ’s life and ministry.
- The second stage of the tragic drama is called by Murray “The Pathos”. That is the suffering and defeat of the “year spirit”, the hero. He does not triumph over evil, he is defeated. That’s expressed in terms of Christ’s passion and death.
- The third stage is “Threnos” or mourning, lamentation. This will correspond to the image of the “Pieta”, the lamentation over the dead defeated Christ when despair has set in, it seems as though all is lost.
- The final stage is called “Theophany”. It’s the stage of divine manifestation, transcendence. It’s as though the whole sequence has shifted to another level of reference. The divine presence intervenes and there is what we call psychologically an “enantiodromia”, so that there is a change from one opposite to the other so that from the depths of defeat and despair the resurrection of life takes place. That corresponds to the resurrection image of Christ.
I think this is an important formulation because it helps us to understand in concise form the nature of the process of the transformation of libido. That goes on in our own psyche. We go through these four stages, not just once but many times. What it makes clear is that the transformation process requires suffering and defeat. You don’t get transformation without it. There can be no rebirth without a death. One must go through the death of encounter with the Unconscious, because encounter with the Unconscious is experienced by the Ego as a death. That’s inevitable if one’s going to be reborn. Therefore those who never have the experience of defeat, those who are always winners, have this process short-circuited so to speak. They miss the whole point which is the transformation.
Actually the resurrection image in the Christian sequence can be thought of as a triad. There is the resurrection, the rising up from the tomb, this is followed by the ascension into Heaven and finally by the manifestation by the return of the Holy Spirit in Pentecost. According to Church calendar on Easter Sunday the dead Christ is resurrected. He then remains on Earth for 40 days, with all the significance of the symbolism of the number 40 has attached to it, which I won’t go into and this then ends with the ascension. 10 days after the ascension or 50 days after Easter comes Pentecost, signifying the return of Christ in a new form, in the form of the Holy Spirit. We find the ascension described in the 1st chapter of Acts. I won’t read that but you can look it up if you’re interested, except for the last sentence, which says:
1:11 and they said, ‘Why are you men from Galilee standing here looking into the sky? Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, this same Jesus will come back in the same way as you have seen him go there.’The Jerusalem Bible, Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 1
That’s a pure psychological remark, when one is familiar with certain of the characteristic images of the psyche then they stand out whenever one sees them. That which goes up must come down. The interplay of the opposites is what’s referred to, “why are you looking up there, men?”, because what went up has to come back down again it says and that is the way it happens with the psyche. Now I think that remark is usually understood to refer to the “Parousia” – “παρουσία”, the second coming of Christ. However I think it can more appropriately be referred to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. He is going to come in only 10 days from now so don’t keep craning your necks up, you see, he’s coming back down again.
The sequence of Christ’s death and rebirth as an archetypal phenomenon has different levels of manifestation. My emphasis here on the conference has been on the individual manifestation. The way these images express themselves in the individual psyche, but they appear not only there, but also in the historical evolution of the collective psyche. There are certain periods in history when God or rather we better say the “god image” undergoes death and rebirth just as Christ does. It seems pretty evident that we are going through such a period now. It could be said that now in 1982 we are between “Good Friday” and “Easter Sunday” in the collective historical passion drama. I think of the 20th century as the “Holy Saturday” of history. God died on the “Good Friday” in the 19th century. Actually it happened at the end of the 18th century. Jung pinpointed the exact time at the time of the French revolution when the Goddess of Reason was enthroned in the Notre Dame. That was the moment when God died, but that was almost the opening of the 19th century. All the poets and sensitive individuals of the 19th century mourned that fact of His death. He died in the 19th century on “Good Friday”. We’re living in the “Holy Saturday” of the 20th century and if I am reading the right archetypal roadmap then there will be a resurrection on the “Easter” of the 21th century, approximately. Jung writes in Volume 11, Paragraph 145 in “Collected Works”:
“When Nietzsche said “God is dead,” he uttered a truth which is valid for the greater part of Europe. People were influenced by it not because he said so, but because it stated a widespread psychological fact. The consequences were not long delayed: after the fog of -isms, the catastrophe.”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 11, Paragraph 145
However he continues in paragraph 149:
“God’s death, or his disappearance, is by no means only a Christian symbol. The search which follows the death is still repeated today after the death of a Dalai Lama, and in antiquity it was celebrated in the annual search for the Kore. Such a wide distribution argues in favour of the universal occurrence of this typical psychic process: the highest value, which gives life and meaning, has got lost. This is a typical experience that has been repeated many times, and its expression therefore occupies a central place in the Christian mystery. The death or loss must always repeat itself: Christ always dies, and always he is born; for the psychic life of the archetype is timeless in comparison with our individual time-boundness. … the present is a time of God’s death and disappearance. The myth says he was not to be found where his body was laid.”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 11, Paragraph 149
He is referring here to the statement “why seek you the living among the dead”.
““Body” means the outward, visible form, the erstwhile but ephemeral setting for the highest value. The myth further says that the value rose again in a miraculous manner, transformed. It looks like a miracle, for, when a value disappears, it always seems to be lost irretrievably. So it is quite unexpected that it should come back. The three days’ descent into hell during death describes the sinking of the vanished value into the unconscious, where, by conquering the power of darkness, it establishes a new order, and then rises up to heaven again, that is, attains supreme clarity of consciousness.”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 11, Paragraph 149
Now here is the final one:
“The fact that only a few people see the Risen One means that no small difficulties stand in the way of finding and recognizing the transformed value.”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 11, Paragraph 149
That’s Jung’s interpretation of the resurrection image. And with that I must now move on to our final image, “The Pentecost”.
The account of the Pentecost can be found in the 2nd chapter of Acts. I won’t read it I’ll just remind you of it. The gist of it is that the apostles have assembled, a mighty wind comes, the Holy Ghost descends as a dove and appears above the heads of each of the apostles as a flame and those around them are astonished to discover that even though they come from many different countries and speak different languages each person hears the speaking of the apostles in their own language so that the separation of nations and people by separate languages is overcome and their languages have been unified. There’s also the significant remark that someone makes that they must be intoxicated because of the way they were speaking and about that idea of intoxication or the ingestion of the Spirit is a part of the symbolism.
Now in medieval art the typical image is not the same as the scriptural account, that’s what’s so interesting about these matters. The collective psyche is alive and autonomous in the way it manifests itself and it’s not a strict follower of scripture, it alters the images to suit itself and this is an example of it because the characteristic typical representation of the Pentecost is the assembled apostles and in the center Mary. Mary isn’t in the account, you don’t hear anything about Mary in the account of the Pentecost, but here she is. The dove of the Holy Ghost is descending and sometimes it lights on Mary’s head, sometimes rays descend from the Ghost and onto Mary’s head and secondary rays go from the head of Mary to the head of each of the apostles where the flame is lighted, but Mary is the center.
Middle ages understood Mary to represent the Church. That was the civic interpretation of Mary in these pictures. Psychologically we can understand the image of Mary to signify the Anima as the mediator between the Ego and the Self. The Pentecostal event brings up the whole question: what is Spirit? Because that’s what descends. Holy Spirit. Holy Ghost. Jung goes into that question in the “Psychology of the Spirit in Fairy Tales” which is in the “Collected Works” Volume 9, Part 1, particularly paragraph 393. He gives a concise statement as to what Spirit is empirically state. I’m not going to read it, I don’t have the time, but you can look it up at your leisure.
“The hallmarks of spirit are, firstly, the principle of spontaneous movement and activity; secondly, the spontaneous capacity to produce images independently of sense perception; and thirdly, the autonomous and sovereign manipulation of these images. This spiritual entity approaches primitive man from outside; but with increasing development it gets lodged in man’s consciousness and becomes a subordinate function, thus apparently forfeiting its original character of autonomy. That character is now retained only in the most conservative views, namely in the religions. The descent of spirit into the sphere of human consciousness is expressed in the myth of the divine νοūς caught in the embrace of ϕúσις. This process, continuing over the ages, is probably an unavoidable necessity, and the religions would find themselves in a very forlorn situation if they believed in the attempt to hold up evolution. Their task, if they are well advised, is not to impede the ineluctable march of events, but to guide it in such a way that it can proceed without fatal injury to the soul. The religions should therefore constantly recall to us the origin and original character of the spirit, lest man should forget what he is drawing into himself and with what he is filling his consciousness. He himself did not create the spirit, rather the spirit makes him creative, always spurring him on, giving him lucky ideas, staying power, “enthusiasm” and “inspiration.” So much, indeed, does it permeate his whole being that he is in gravest danger of thinking that he actually created the spirit and that he “has” it. In reality, however, the primordial phenomenon of the spirit takes possession of him, and, while appearing to be the willing object of human intentions, it binds his freedom, just as the physical world does, with a thousand chains and becomes an obsessive idée-force. Spirit threatens the naïve-minded man with inflation, of which our own times have given us the most horribly instructive examples. The danger becomes all the greater the more our interest fastens upon external objects and the more we forget that the differentiation of our relation to nature should go hand in hand with a correspondingly differentiated relation to the spirit, so as to establish the necessary balance. If the outer object is not offset by an inner, unbridled materialism results, coupled with maniacal arrogance or else the extinction of the autonomous personality, which is in any case the ideal of the totalitarian mass state.”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 1, Paragraph 393
In a nutshell what it amounts to, the way I would formulate it is that the Holy Spirit can be understood psychologically as the dynamic aspect of the Self expressed as autonomous movement and meaningful image. The crucial word in that definition is autonomous. “The Spirit blows where it will”, that’s the central feature of the Spirit as experienced. It blows where it will, not where you will, but where it will. On occasions when you want to go one way and the Spirit is going another way, those are the occasions when the autonomous nature of the Spirit becomes particularly evident. As long as one’s going pretty much the same direction you don’t even know it, you see, but when there’s a conflict between the Ego and the Self that then the autonomy of the Spirit becomes evident.
The Pentecost, you know, is a Jewish “Festival of Weeks” that was observed seven weeks after the “Paschal Feast”. It was a festival of good cheer, a harvest festival that signified the completion of the barley harvest. Later it came to commemorate the giving of the Law at Sinai. The patristic writers made a lot of this parallel, between the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the descent of Yahweh on Sinai to give the Law. For instance, Jerome says:
There is Sinai here Zion There the trembling mountain here the trembling house There the flaming mountain here the flaming tongues There the noisy thunderings here the sounds of many tongues There the clanger of the ram's horn here the notes of the Gospel trumpet
What he’s saying, all he lacks is the psychological terminology, that Pentecost and Sinai are two manifestations of the same archetype. It’s a method of amplification.
Other connections with the Old Testament, particularly important one I think, is that the episode of the “Tower of Babel” which is described in the 11th chapter in Genesis is considered to be the so-called antitype of the Pentecost. Let me explain what I mean. In the “Tower of Babel” episode man, who speaks just one language throughout the Earth, tries to build the high tower and in punishment for this hybris Yahweh brings about a confusion of tongues. Up to then, everyone spoke the same language but then they started speaking different languages. See, that’s the reverse of what happens in the Pentecostal miracle because at Pentecost people of many different languages are united by a return to the original language so to speak, so that all the different languages were understood as one. This is very interesting psychologically. The “Tower of Babel” experience represents a process of separatio, what we might call the “logos aspect” of the Holy Spirit, whereas the Pentecost event represents a coniunctio, a uniting, bringing together and therefore would be a manifestation of the “Eros aspect” of the Holy Spirit. They’re really two aspects of the same phenomenon of an encounter with the Holy Spirit. If one reads these images psychologically he will see this sort of thing running through a lot of material. This sounds very familiar to what I spoke of earlier in the parallel between the Virgin Mary and Eve. They were the same thing at the opposite ends of the spectrum so to speak, and so it is here. These are two aspects of the same phenomenon of encounter with the Holy Spirit. First it separates and alienates and then later it unites. This is the way it happens in individuation.
For example fire is one of the images of the Pentecostal event and of the Holy Spirit. I recall a patient whose initial dream on coming to see me was that his parents house was on fire and he had to flee from it. This man didn’t live literally at home, but he lived psychologically at home. He was still living in the state of “participation mystique” with the family psyche. This dream told him that that house was on fire and he had to vacate that psychological dwelling place. He had to separate from his parents psychologically in order to go on his own way. That would be an example of the “Tower of Babel” manifestation of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit as a separating dynamism. At a later stage of development it can than have its uniting aspect.
You know we’ve heard of the Holy Ghost before. We heard of him starting with the annunciation. He was the impregnating agent Mary. He again makes his appearance at the baptism and really manifest himself concretely in Christ at that point. When Christ ascends, he takes the Holy Ghost with Him, so to speak. He’s been carrying Him during His life and He leaves the Earth deprived of that transcendent factor when he ascends. However we have these very interesting statements in John in which Christ informed his apostles that he’d send the Holy Ghost back after He left. He said “don’t be distressed that I have to go, because after I go I’m going to send the Holy Ghost back”. The word used here is the “Paraclete” – “παράκλητος”. I can’t read all these but the relevant passages are in John 14 and 16. I’m going to read just a few verses from it to give you a feeling of the instruction that Christ gave his apostles about why He had to go and what He would send back after He left:
16:7 Still, I must tell you the truth: it is for your own good that I am going because unless I go, the Advocate [παράκλητος] will not come to you; but if I do go, I will send him to you.The Jerusalem Bible, Saint John, Chapter 16
16:8 And when he comes, he will show the world how wrong it was, about sin, and about who was in the right, and about judgement:
14:16 I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate [παράκλητος] to be with you for ever,The Jerusalem Bible, Saint John, Chapter 14
14:17 that Spirit of truth whom the world can never receive since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you.
14:18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you.
So that can’t be more explicit than that. What these passages mean as I understand them psychologically is that a particular concrete manifestation of the Holy Ghost, namely Christ in this case, must be lost, must die, must disappear in order for one to develop an individual relation to the Holy Ghost directly. In other words a projection must be withdrawn. The imagery is so clear-cut especially in these passages of John that what one would expect psychologically then is that the death of Christ would be followed with the return of the Holy Ghost and the beginning of individual relation to the Holy Ghost. In other words one would expect that the process of individuation would have been discovered then. But it didn’t happen that way. The collective psyche wasn’t ready for such an individual experience. What happened instead was that a new collective vessel was built to contain the Holy Ghost, namely the Church. You know Pentecost is considered as the birthday of the Church. Pope Leo said:
"The Church which already conceived came forth from the very side of the second Adam when He was as it were sleeping upon the cross. First showed herself in a marvelous manner before men on the great day of Pentecost."
See, that why the Virgin Mary had to be put in there, because she represented the Church. That just means the the Anima function had to be carried by the Church at that level of the collective psyche. As another Churchman says:
"The Holy Ghost's mission to the Church is to ensure the safe custody of an unchanging revelation for after the death of the apostles no new economy or new revelation was to be expected and further there never has been nor will be any objective increase in revealed truth."
In other words the Holy Ghost may not manifest Himself to an individual. He or she is contained in the Church. That means then that Pentecost is a repeat of the annunciation on a second collective level. The first annunciation was to the Virgin Mary the second annunciation is to the Church. The Church then gives birth to the body of Christ – the body of believers.
The Church has now gone through the same incarnation cycle that is pictured in the life of Christ and now we are ready for another Pentecost, another annunciation. Once again my thought is this time it’s going to be directed to the individuals. But maybe I’m wrong. We’ll see.
The whole notion of the Holy Ghost was built into an elaborate doctrine of the Trinity in the early centuries of the Church. I would draw your attention to Jung’s fine essay on the subject of the Trinity in Volume 11 of the “Collected Works”. There’s one aspect of that doctrine that I think is particularly fascinating psychologically. First of all on the side, we modern people depreciate the ancients for devoting such passionate intensity in doctrinal disputes or we scorn the medieval scholastics because they spent so much libido concerning themselves what seemed like outlandish images, how many angels can stand on the head of a pin? Things like that. We just demonstrate of our ignorance of the reality of the psyche by such scorn. The fact is that is a particular image has the power to grip multitudes of people and engage them in intense controversy or intense endeavor of any kind that’s an evidence of the power of that image, that’s an evidence of its archetypal dimension and such is the case in this profound controversy that wracked the early Church concerning the nature of the Holy Ghost. As the creed was being hammered out the particularly relevant phrase concerning the Holy Ghost read as follows:
"We believe in the Holy Ghost, the lord and giver of life who proceedeth from the Father"
A contrary party said that will not do that is not an adequate description of the Holy Ghost, because the Holy Ghost proceedeth not only from the Father but also from the Son, therefore this other part said we must include in the creed the “Holy Ghost who proceedeth from the Father and from the Son”, the Latin is filioque – “and the Son”. That’s the “Filioque Controversy”. Now, from the standpoint of our modern rationalistic position that may not seem very important but the fact that such a profound controversy could emerge is a pointer to the fact that it is important. See, if you take the standpoint of empirical psychology you don’t impose a theory as to how things ought to be, you look at them and see the way they are. It was important and therefore it’s up to us to understand what that importance means. The way it was finally resolved was that the western Church, Roman Catholicism, incorporated the filioque into the creed so that in the western Church the Holy Ghost is defined as proceeding from the Father and from the Son. The eastern Church, the Orthodox Branch, took the opposite road and maintained the position that in their creed the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone. Now I think that’s of great importance psychologically and I think it explains a basic psychological difference between the collective psyche of the East and the West. Because what it means psychologically is that the western psyche has built into its root myth the fact that God needs man because, from one standpoint anyway, to have the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Son as well as from the Father alludes to the idea that the Ego contributes to the reality of the Holy Spirit and is not just a passive recipient of it and it’s then an indication of the profound importance of Ego development in the West. The Eastern part of Christendom has a lesser emphasis on that aspect.
I hope I made clear that, from my brief remarks anyway, that we have now gone through two cycles of this incarnation cycle. The first cycle was expressed in the life of Christ and the imagery that constellated around that life at the beginning of our era. The second cycle is the cycle of the Church that was born at Pentecost and gave birth to the body of Christ the body of collective believers who have lived through the same cycle as did Christ. Now the question comes about the possibility of another Pentecost, anther Annunciation, another Descent of the Holy Spirit and this brings us to the notion of continuing incarnation. This was perhaps Jung’s final and most profound idea that he developed in his last years, the idea of continuing incarnation. With a few quotes from Jung about that possibility I’m going to end my presentation. In “Answer to Job” one finds in paragraph 657 the following statement:
“ God’s Incarnation in Christ requires continuation and completion because Christ, owing to his virgin birth and his sinlessness, was not an empirical human being at all. As stated in the first chapter of St. John, he represented a light which, though it shone in the darkness, was not comprehended by the darkness. He remained outside and above mankind. Job, on the other hand, was an ordinary human being, and therefore the wrong done to him, and through him to mankind, can, according to divine justice, only be repaired by an incarnation of God in an empirical human being. This act of expiation is performed by the Paraclete; for, just as man must suffer from God, so God must suffer from man. Otherwise there can be no reconciliation between the two.Carl Jung – Answer to Job, Paragraphs 657, 658
 The continuing, direct operation of the Holy Ghost on those who are called to be God’s children implies, in fact, a broadening process of incarnation. Christ, the son begotten by God, is the first-born who is succeeded by an ever-increasing number of younger brothers and sisters. These are, however, neither begotten by the Holy Ghost nor born of a virgin. This may be prejudicial to their metaphysical status, but their merely human birth will in no sense endanger their prospects of a future position of honour at the heavenly court, nor will it diminish their capacity to perform miracles. Their lowly origin (possibly from the mammals) does not prevent them from entering into a close kinship with God as their father and Christ as their brother. In a metaphorical sense, indeed, it is actually a “kinship by blood,” since they have received their share of the blood and flesh of Christ, …”
I want to read another passage that’s hidden away, not very well know, I want to draw to attention because those of you that are interested in Jung’s comments about religion. This is found in a letter to Père Lachat, written in 1954 and it’s found in Volume 18 of the “Collected Works”, paragraph 1551. Père Lachat had written a little book on the Holy Ghost and sent a copy to Jung and that inspired Jung to write a quite lengthy reply. It gives us the opportunity to have spelled out very explicitly Jung’s notion about the psychology of the Holy Ghost. I’m only going to read one paragraph, but this letter is many pages long. I urge you to look it up.
“ … There is a continued and progressive divine incarnation. Thus man is received and integrated into the divine drama. He seems destined to play a decisive part in it; that is why he must receive the Holy Spirit. I look upon the receiving of the Holy Spirit as a highly revolutionary fact which cannot take place until the ambivalent nature of the Father is recognized. If God is the Summum Bonum, the incarnation makes no sense, for a good god could never produce such hate and anger that his only son had to be sacrificed to appease it. A Midrash says that the Shofar is still sounded on the Day of Atonement to remind YHWH of his act of injustice towards Abraham (by compelling him to slay Isaac) and to prevent him from repeating it. A conscientious clarification of the idea of God would have consequences as upsetting as they are necessary. They would be indispensable for an interior development of the trinitarian drama and of the role of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is destined to be incarnate in man or to choose him as a transitory dwelling-place. “Non habet nomen proprium,” – “He has no proper name” says St. Thomas; because he will receive the name of man. That is why he must not be identified with Christ. We cannot receive the Holy Spirit unless we have accepted our own individual life as Christ accepted his. Thus we become the “sons of god” fated to experience the conflict of the divine opposites, represented by the crucifixion.”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 18, Paragraph 1551
And finally a couple of paragraphs later he says this:
“ … It seems to me to be the Holy Spirit’s task and charge to reconcile and reunite the opposites in the human individual through a special development of the human soul. …”Carl Jung – Collected Works, Volume 18, Paragraph 1553
And with that I conclude and thank you for you attention.