The Symbolism of the Colors: Gray, Blue, Red.
[Carl Jung on the Symbolism of the Colors: Gray, Blue, Red.]
As we have heard, different colors correspond to the four stages.
We mentioned already that the color gray is the color of ghosts.
Gray is a combination color; it is semidarkness, in which light just starts to emerge from complete blackness.
In alchemy, nigredo is the initial state, in which death reigns, absolute unconsciousness.
Then follows the albedo, that is, whitening.
The alchemists call it the rising sun that brings the morning and the crack of dawn.
In this respect there is a certain analogy to the stage of the gray mouse.
In alchemy, red comes after white: after dawn comes sunrise, and after sunrise the full sun.
In Greek alchemy, the complete constellation is called the “midday position of the sun.”
When the sun reaches its zenith, the meaning of the day is fulfilled.
What has been prepared during the night has now reached its highest perfection.
In other contexts, too, the finished body is called rubinus or carbunculus in alchemy.
It is a more intense state than albedo.
Red, as it is, is an emotional color and stands for blood, passion, and fire.
The blue color is assigned to the following stage.
Blue stands in stark contrast to red and indicates a cool and calming state.
Blue is the color of Mary’s mantle in heaven.
She is the womb in which Christ was born, and has always represented the symbol of a spiritual vessel.
Blue is also the color of water and can thus represent the unconscious: just as we see the fish in the clear blue of the water, the spiritual contents contrast with the darkness of the unconscious.
The color blue cannot be found in alchemy, but it is found in the East, where it takes the place of black and actually represents a color of the underworld.
In Egypt, too, Osiris in the underworld is portrayed in black or blue.
It is more a bluish-green color that characterizes not only the underworld (Osiris as the “Master of Green”), but also the water world.
This world corresponds to the “lower waters,” in which the animals live as disembodied spirits.
Thus blue is also the bluish-green sea that houses the spirits of the dead.
The fourth stage is man, to whom no color is assigned.
So the development occurs in four stages, and this is no coincidence.
This is the most frequently found structure, as, for instance, in a basic law of alchemy, according to which the process of transformation occurs in four stages.
This gives expression to the idea that everything human develops out of something divided into four.
In the legend of paradise, the river that flows out of the Garden of Eden parts and becomes four riverheads.
This image has been taken up by the Gnostics to illustrate the development of the inner human being.
According to Simon Magus, paradise is the uterus, and the Garden of Eden the navel.
Four flows emanate from the navel, two air- and two blood-vessels, so to speak, through which the growing child receives its food, the blood, and the pneuma.
In antiquity, the world was classified into four elements, to which also four temperaments corresponded.
Four reemerges in the work of Schopenhauer in the theorem of the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason.
In Christianity, the division into four is expressed by the symbol of the cross.
Where else does the division into four appear in Christianity?
Participant: In the benedictio fontis.
Professor Jung: Yes, in it the priest divides the water in the form of the cross, he seemingly divides it into four parts.
In this way he repeats the beginning of creation.
By this act the water becomes the mysterious, eternal, and divine water, by which man is cleansed of all sinfulness and impurity.
The ablution, as it were, puts him back into the primordial state of innocence.
Apart from the four there are, of course, still other sacred numbers, but in each case of totality quaternity plays an important role, be it about the most primitive or the most elaborate ideas.
The four always expresses the coming into being of what is essentially human, the emergence of human consciousness.
Thus, the alchemical process also begins with such a division into the four elements, by which the body is put back into its primordial state and so can undergo transformation. ~Carl Jung, Children’s Dreams Seminar, Pages 365-367.