“The formula presents a symbol of the self, for the self is not just a stable quantity or constant form, but is also a dynamic process. In the same way, the ancients saw the imago Dei in man not as a mere imprint, as a sort of lifeless, stereotyped impression, but as an active force…. The four transformations represent a process of restoration or rejuvenation taking place, as it were, inside the self….”

“The formula reproduces exactly the essential features of the symbolic process of transformation. It shows the rotation of the mandala, the antithetical play of complementary (or compensatory) processes, then the apocatastasis, i.e., the restoration of an original state of wholeness, which the alchemists expressed through the symbol of the uroboros, and finally the formula repeats the ancient alchemical tetrameria, which is implicit in the fourfold structure of unity.

What the formula can only hint at, however, is the higher plane that is reached through the process of transformation and integration. The ‘sublimation’ or progress or qualitative change consists in an unfolding of totality into four parts four times, which means nothing less than its becoming conscious. When psychic contents are split up into four aspects, it means that they have been subjected to discrimination by the four orienting functions of consciousness. Only the production of these four aspects makes a total description possible. The process depicted by our formula changes the originally unconscious totality into a conscious one.”

— Jung, Collected Works, Vol. 9, Part 2, Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self (1951)

The imago Dei imprinted on the soul, not on the body, is an image of an image, “for my soul is not directly the image of God, but is made after the likeness of the former image. Christ, on the other hand, is the true image of God, after whose likeness our inner man is made, invisible, incorporeal, incorrupt, and immortal. The God-image in us reveals itself through “prudential, iustitia, moderatio, virtus, sapientia et disciplina.” AION 38

St. Augustine (354-430) distinguishes between the God image which is Christ and the image which is implanted in man as a means or possibility of becoming like God. The God image is not in the corporeal man, but in the anima rationalis, the possession of which distinguishes man from animals. “The God-image is within, not in the body … Where the understanding is, where the mind is, where the power of investigating truth is, there God has his image.” Therefore we should remind ourselves, says Augustine, that we are fashioned after the image of God nowhere save in the understanding: “ … but where man knows himself to be made after the image of God, there he knows there is something more in him than is given to the beasts.” From this it is clear that the God-image is, so to speak, identical with the anima rationalis. AION 39

The God-image in man was not destroyed by the Fall but was only damaged and corrupted (“deformed”), and can be restored through God’s grace. The scope of the integration is suggested by the decensus ad inferos, the descent of Christ’s soul to hell, its work of redemption embracing even the dead. The psychological equivalent of this is the integration of the collective unconscious which forms an essential part of the individuation process. St. Augustine says: “Therefore our end must be our perfection, but our perfection is Christ,” since his is the perfect God-image. AION 39

The God-image in man that was damaged by the first sin can be “reformed” with the help of God, in accordance with Romans 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is … the will of God” (RSV). The totality images which the unconscious produces in the course of an individuation process are similar “reformations” of an a priori archetype (the mandala). As I have already emphasized, the spontaneous symbols of the self, or of wholeness, cannot in practice be distinguished from a God-image. AION 40

… the “renewal” (reformatio) of the mind is not meant as an actual alteration of consciousness, but rather as the restoration of an original condition, an apocatastasis. As a result of this “anamnesis” the original state of oneness with the God-image is restored. It brings about an integration, a bridging of the split in the personality caused by the instincts striving apart in different and mutually contradictory directions. AION 40

There can be no doubt that the original Christian conception of the imago Dei embodied in Christ meant an all-embracing totality that even includes the animal side of man. Nevertheless the Christ-symbol lacks wholeness in the modern psychological sense, since it does not include the dark side of things but specifically excludes it in the form of a Luciferian opponent. AION 41

It is the same problem as in Job. As the highest value and supreme dominant in the psychic hierarchy, the God-image is immediately related to, or identical with, the self, and everything that happens to the God-image has an effect on the latter. Any uncertainty about the God-image causes a profound uneasiness in the self, for which reason the question is generally ignored because of its painfulness. But that does not mean that it remains unasked in the unconscious. What is more, it is answered by the views and beliefs like materialism, atheism and similar substitutes, which spread like epidemics. They crop up wherever and whenever one waits in vain for legitimate answer. The ersatz product represses the real question into the unconscious and destroys the continuity if historical tradition which is the hallmark of civilization. The result is bewilderment and confusion. AION 109

… the destruction of the God-image is followed by the annulment of the human personality. Materialistic atheism with its utopian chimeras forms the religion of all those rationalistic movements which delegate the freedom of personality to the masses and thereby extinguish it. The advocates of Christianity squander their energies in the mere preservation of what has come down to them, with no thought of building on to their house and making it roomier. Stagnation in these matters is threatened in the long run with a lethal end. AION 109

(The) theoria and the Arcanum in matter are both called veritas. This truth “shines” in us, but it is not of us: it “is to be sought not in us, but in the image of God which is in us.” Dorn thus equates the transcendent center in man with the God-image. This identification makes it clear why the alchemical symbols for wholeness apply as much to the Arcanum in man as to the Deity. Aion 171

The God-image is not something invented; it is an experience that comes upon man spontaneously – as anyone can see for himself unless he is blinded to the truth by theories and prejudices. The unconscious God-image can therefore alter the state of consciousness, just as the later modify the God-image once it has become conscious. Aion 194

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