[Carl Jung and a brief overview of Satan.]
I do not wish to multiply examples needlessly, but only to make it clear that the figure of Satan, too, has undergone a curious development, from the time of his first undistinguished appearance in the Old Testament texts to his heyday in Christianity.
He achieved notoriety as the personification of the adversary or principle of evil, though by no means for the first time, as we meet him centuries earlier in the ancient Egyptian Set and the Persian Ahriman. Persian influences have been conjectured as mainly responsible for the Christian devil.
But the real reason for the differentiation of this figure lies in the conception of God as the summum bonum, which stands in sharp contrast to the Old Testament view and which, for reasons of psychic balance, inevitably requires the existence of a “lowest evil”. No logical reasons are needed for this, only the natural and unconscious striving for balance and symmetry.
Hence very early, in Clement of Rome, we meet with the conception of Christ as the right hand and the devil as the left hand of God, not to speak of the Judaeo-Christian view which recognized two sons of God, Satan the elder and Christ the younger.
The figure of the devil then rose to such exalted metaphysical heights that he had to be forcibly depotentiated, under the threatening influence of Manichaeism. The depotentiation was effected this time by rationalistic reflection, by a regular tour de force of sophistry which defined evil as a privatio boni.
But that did nothing to stop the belief from arising in many parts of Europe during the eleventh century, mainly under the influence of the Catharists, that it was not God but the devil who had created the world.
In this way the archetype of the imperfect demiurge, who had enjoyed official recognition in Gnosticism, reappeared in altered guise. (The corresponding archetype is probably to be found in the cosmogonic jester of primitive peoples.)
With the extermination of the heretics that dragged on into the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, an uneasy calm ensued, but the Reformation thrust the figure of Satan once more into the foreground. I would only mention Jakob Bohme, who sketched a picture of evil which leaves the privatio boni pale by comparison.
The same can be said of Milton. He inhabits the same mental climate. As for Bohme, although he was not a direct descendant of alchemical philosophy, whose importance is still grossly underrated today, he certainly took over a number of its leading ideas, among them the specific recognition of Satan, who was exalted to a cosmic figure of first rank in Milton, even emancipating himself from his subordinate role as the left hand of God (the role assigned to him by Clement).
Milton goes even further than Bohme and apostrophizes the devil as the true principium individuationis, a concept which had been anticipated by the alchemists some time before.
To mention only one example: (He rises from earth to heaven and descends again to earth, and receives into himself the power of above and below. Thus thou wilt have the glory of the whole world.) The quotation comes from the famous alchemical classic, the Tabula Smaragdina, attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, whose authority remained unchallenged for more than thirteen centuries of alchemical thought.
His words refer not to Satan, but to the filius philosophorum, whose symbolism, as I believe I have shown, coincides with that of the psychological “self.”
The “filius” of the alchemists is one of the numerous manifestations of Mercurius, who is called “duplex” and “ambiguous” and is also known outside alchemy as “capable of anything”. His “dark” half has an obvious affinity with Lucifer. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Forward to Werblowsky’s “Lucifer and Prometheus,” Pages 312-314, Paragraph 470.