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The Cross and Gnosticism
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Psychology and Religion: West and East (The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Volume 11)

The cross signifies order as opposed to the disorderly chaos of the formless multitude.

It is, in fact, one of the prime symbols of order, as I have shown elsewhere. In the domain of psychological processes it functions as an organizing center, and in states of psychic disorder caused by an invasion of unconscious contents it appears as a mandala divided into four.

No doubt this was a frequent phenomenon in early Christian times, and not only in Gnostic circles.

Gnostic introspection could hardly fail, therefore, to perceive the numinosity of this archetype and be duly impressed by it.

For the Gnostics the cross had exactly the same function that the atman or Self has always had for the East.

This realization is one of the central experiences of Gnosticism.

The definition of the cross or center as the “boundary” of all things, is exceedingly original, for it suggests that the limits of the universe are not to be found in a nonexistent periphery but in its center.

There alone lies the possibility of transcending this world.

All instability culminates in that which is unchanging and quiescent, and in the self all disharmonies are resolved in the “harmony of wisdom.”

As the center symbolizes the idea of totality and finality, it is quite appropriate that the text should suddenly start speaking of the dichotomy of the universe, polarized into right and left, brightness and darkness, heaven and the “nether root,” the omnium genetrix.

This is a clear reminder that everything is contained in the center and that, as a result, the Lord (i.e., the cross) unites and composes all things and is therefore “nirdvanda,” free from the opposites, in conformity with Eastern ideas and also with the psychology of this archetypal symbol.

The Gnostic Christ-figure and the cross are counterparts of the typical mandalas spontaneously produced by the unconscious.

They are natural symbols and they differ fundamentally from the dogmatic figure of Christ, in whom all trace of darkness is expressly lacking. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Paragraphs 435 – 436