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The Red Book

In the 1925 seminar, Jung recounted that after Salome’s declaration that he was Christ:

“In spite of my objections she maintained this.

I said, ‘this is madness,’ and became filled with skeptical resistance” (Analytical Psychology, p. 96).

He interpreted this event as follows:

“Salome’s approach and her worshiping of me is obviously that side of the inferior function which is surrounded by an aura of evil.

One is assailed by the fear that perhaps this is madness.

This is how madness begins, this is madness … You cannot get conscious of these unconscious facts without giving yourself to them.

If you can overcome your fear of the unconscious and can let yourself go down, then these facts take on a life of their own.

You can be gripped by these ideas so much that you really go mad, or nearly so.

These images have so much reality that they recommend themselves, and such extraordinary meaning that one is caught.

They form part of the ancient mysteries; in fact it is such fantasies that made the mysteries. Compare the mysteries of Isis as told in Apuleius, with the initiation and deification of the initiate …

One gets a peculiar feeling from being put through such an initiation. The important part that led up to the deification was the snake’s encoiling of me.

Salome’s performance was deification.

The animal face which I felt mine transformed into was the famous [Deus] Leontocephalus of the Mithraic mysteries, the figure which is represented with a snake coiled around the man, the snake’s head resting on the man’s head, and the face of the man that of a lion …

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In this deification mystery you make yourself into the vessel, and are a vessel of creation in which the opposites reconcile.”

He added: “All this is Mithraic symbolism from beginning to end” (ibid., pp. 98-99).

In The Golden Ass, Lucian undergoes an initiation into the mysteries of Isis.

The significance of this episode is that it is the only direct description of such an initiation that has survived.

Of the event itself, Lucian states: “I approached the very gates of death and set foot on Proserpine’s threshold, yet was permitted to return, rapt through all the elements.

At midnight I saw the sun shining as if it were noon; I entered the presence of the gods of the under-world and the gods of the upper-world, stood near and worshiped them.”

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After this, he was presented on a pulpit in the temple in front of a crowd.

He wore garments which included designs of serpents and winged lions, held a torch, and wore “a palm tree chaplet with its leaves sticking all out like rays of light” (The Golden Ass, tr. R. Graves [Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984], p. 241).

Jung’s copy of a German translation of this work has a line in the margin by this passage. ~Liber Novus, Page 253. Footnote 211.

20 deification