[Carl Jung on Saint Hildegard of Bingen.]

Hildegarde von Bingen, a significant personality quite apart from her mysticism, expresses herself about her central vision in a quite similar way.

“Since my childhood,” she says, “I always see a light in my soul, but not with the outer eyes, nor through the thoughts of my heart; neither do the five outer senses take part in this vision. . . . The light I perceive is not of a local kind, but is much brighter than the cloud which bears the sun. I cannot distinguish in it height, breadth, or length. . . . What I see or learn in such a vision stays long in my memory.

I see, hear, and know at the same time, and learn what I know in the same moment. … I cannot recognize any sort of form in this light, although I sometimes see in it another light that is known to me as the living light. . . . While I am enjoying the spectacle of this light, all sadness and sorrow disappear from my memory …”

I know a few individuals who are familiar with this phenomenon from personal experience.

As far as I have ever been able to understand it, the phenomenon seems to have to do with an acute condition of consciousness as intensive as it is abstract, a ” detached ” consciousness (see below), which, as Hildegarde pertinently remarks, brings up to consciousness regions of psychic events ordinarily covered with darkness.

The fact that, in connection with this, the general bodily sensations disappear, shows that their specific energy has been withdrawn from them, and has apparently gone toward heightening the clearness of consciousness.

As a rule, the phenomenon is spontaneous, coming and going at its own initiative.

Its effect is astonishing in that it almost always brings about a solution of psychic complications, and thereby frees the inner personality from emotional and imaginary entanglements, creating thus a unity of being, which is universally felt as a ” release
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The achievement of such a symbolic unity is beyond the power of the conscious will because, in this case, the conscious is partisan.

Its opponent is the collective unconscious which does not understand the language of the conscious.

Therefore it is necessary to have the “magically” effective symbol which contains those primitive analogies that speak to the unconscious.

The unconscious can only be reached and expressed by the symbol, which is the reason why the process of individuation can never do without the symbol.

The symbol is, on the one hand, the primitive expression of the unconscious, while, on the other hand, it is an idea corresponding to the highest intuition produced by consciousness.

The oldest mandala known to me, is a Paleolithic so-called ” sun-wheel recently discovered in Rhodesia.

It is likewise founded on the principle of four.

Things reaching so far back in human history naturally touch upon the deepest layers of the unconscious and make it possible to grasp the latter where conscious speech shows itself to be quite impotent.

Such things cannot be thought out but must grow again from the forgotten depths, if they are to express the supreme presentiments of consciousness and the loftiest intuitions of the spirit.

Coming from these depths they can unite the uniqueness of present-day consciousness with the age-old past of life. ~Carl Jung, The Secret of the Golden Flower.

Image: St. Hildegard of Bingen