Carl Jung Depth Psychology Facebook Group


162 In addition to the “pisciculi Christianorum,” the shepherd and the lamb play, as we know only too well, an almost greater role in Christian allegory, and Herrnes Kriophoros (the “rambearer”) became the prototype of the “good shepherd/’ the tutelary god of flocks. Another prototype, in his capacity as shepherd, was Orpheus.1 This aspect of the Poimen gave rise to a figure of similar name in the mystery cults, who was popularized in the “Shepherd” of Hermas (snd century). Like the “giant fish” mentioned in the Abercius inscription, 2 the shepherd probably has connections with Attis, both temporally and regionally. Reitzenstein even conjectures that the “Shepherd” of Hermas derives from the Poimandres writings, which are of purely pagan origin. 3 Shepherd, ram, and lamb symbolism coincides with the expiring aeon of Aries. In the first century of our era the two aeons overlap, and the two most important mystery gods of this period, Attis and Christ, are both characterized as shepherds, rams, and fishes. The Poimen symbolism has undergone such thorough elaboration at the hands of Reitzenstein that I am in no position to add anything illuminating in this respect. The case is somewhat different with the fish symbol. Not only are the sources more copious, but the very nature of the symbol, and in particular its dual aspects, give rise to definite psychological questions which I should like to go into more closely.

163 Like every hero, Christ had a childhood that was threatened (massacre of the innocents, flight into Egypt). The astrological “interpretation” of this can be found in Revelation 12 : i: “A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” She is in the pangs of birth and is pursued by a dragon. She will give birth to a man-child who shall “rule the nations with a rod of iron.” This story carries echoes of numerous kindred motifs in East and West, for instance that of Leto and Python, of Aphrodite and her son, who, when pursued, leapt into the Euphrates and were changed into fishes, 4 and of Isis and Horus in Egypt. The Syrian Greeks identified Derceto-Atargatis and her son Ichthys with the constellation of the Fishes. 5

164 The mother-goddess and the star-crowned woman of the Apocalypse counts as oneis usually thought of as a virgin (Trap&Vos, Virgo). The Christmas message, *H TrapOtvos rero/cev, avgel <ws (the virgin has brought forth, the light increases), is pagan. Speaking of the so-called Korion in Alexandria, Epiphanius 6 says that on the night of the Epiphany (January 5/6) the pagans held a great festival: They stay up the whole night singing songs and playing the flute, offering these to the images of the gods; and, when the revelries of the night are over, after cock-crow, they go down with torches into a subterranean sanctuary and bring up a carved wooden image, which is laid naked on a litter. On its forehead it has the sign of the cross, in gold, and on both its hands two other signs of the same shape, and two more on its knees; and the five signs are all fashioned in gold. They carry this carved image seven times round the middle of the temple precincts, to the sound of flutes and tambourines and hymns, and after the procession they carry it down again into the crypt. But if you ask them what this mysterious performance means, they answer: Today, at this hour, the Kore, that is to say the virgin, has given birth to the Aeon.

165 Epiphanius expressly states that he is not telling this of a Christian sect, but of the worshippers of idols, and he does so in order to illustrate the idea that even the pagans bear involuntary witness to the truth of Christianity.

166 Virgo, the zodiacal sign, carries either a wheat-sheaf or a child. Some authorities connect her with the “woman” of the Apocalypse. 7 At any rate, this woman has something to do with the prophecy of the birth of a Messiah at the end of time. Since the author of the Apocalypse was supposed to be a Christian, the question arises: To whom does the woman refer who is interpreted as the mother of the Messiah, or of Christ? And to whom does the son of the woman refer who (translating the Greek literally) shall “pasture the pagans with an iron staff”?

167 As this passage contains an allusion on the one hand to the Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 66 : 7,* and on the other to Yahweh’s wrath (Psalm 2 : 9 9 ), it would seem to refer in some way to the future rebirth of the Messiah. But such an idea is quite impossible in the Christian sphere. Boll 10 says of the description of the “lamb” in Revelation 5 : 6ff.: “This remarkably bizarre figure with seven horns and seven eyes cannot possibly be explained in Christian terms.” Also, the “lamb” develops some very unexpected peculiarities: he is a bellicose lamb, a conqueror (Rev. 17 : 14). The mighty ones of the earth will have to hide from his wrath (Rev, 6 : 156:.). He is likened to the “lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5 : 5). This lamb, who is reminiscent of Psalm 2 : 9 (“You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel”), rather gives one the sinister impression of a daemonic ram,11 and not at all that of a lamb who is led meekly to the slaughter. The lamb of the Apocalypse belongs, without doubt, to the category of horned monsters mentioned in these prophecies. One must therefore consider the question whether the author of the Apocalypse was influenced by an idea that was in some sense antithetical to Christ, perhaps by a psychological shadow-figure, an “umbra Jesu” which was united at the end of time with the triumphant Christ, through an act of rebirth. This hypothesis would explain the repetition of the birth myth and also the curious fact that so important an eschatological expectation as the coming of the Antichrist receives but scant mention in the Apocalypse. The seven-horned ram is just about everything that Jesus appears not to be. 12 He is a real shadow-figure, but he could not be described as the Antichrist, who is a creature of Satan. For although the monstrous, warlike lamb is a shadow figure in the sense that he is the counterpart of the lamb who was sacrificed, he is not nearly so irreconcilable with Christ as the Antichrist would have to be. The duplication of the Christ figure cannot, therefore, be traced back to this split between Christ and Antichrist, but is due rather to the anti-Roman resentment felt by the Jewish Christians, who fell back on their god of vengeance and his warlike Messiah. The author of the Apocalypse may have been acquainted with Jewish speculations known to us through later tradition. We are told in the Bereshith Rabbati of Moses ha-Darshan that Elias found in Bethlehem a young woman sitting before her door with a newborn child lying on the ground beside her, flecked with blood. She explained that her son had been born at an evil hour, just when the temple was destroyed. Elias admonished her to look after the child. When he came back again five weeks later, he asked about her son. “He neither walks, nor sees, nor speaks, nor hears, but lies there like a stone,” said the woman. Suddenly a wind blew from the four corners of the earth, bore the child away, and plunged him into the sea. Elias lamented that it was now all up with the salvation of Israel, but a bath kol (voice) said to him: It is not so. He will remain in the great sea for four hundred years, and eighty years in the rising smoke of the children of Korah,13 eighty years under the gates of Rome, and the rest of the time he will wander round in the great cities until the end of the days comes.14

168 This story describes a Messiah who, though born in Bethlehem, is wafted by divine intervention into the Beyond (sea = unconscious). From the very beginning his childhood is so 12 That is, if we disregard passages like Matt. 21 : 19 and 22 : 7 and Luke 19 : 27. 13 threatened that he is scarcely able to live. The legend is symptomatic of an extraordinary weakness of the Messianic element in Judaism and the dangers attending it, which would explain the delay in the Messiah’s appearance. For 560 years he remains latent, and only then does his missionary work begin. This interlude is not so far off the 530 years mentioned in the Talmudic prophecy (cf. par. 133), near enough anyway for us to compare them, if we take this legend as referring to Christ. In the limitless sea of Jewish speculation mutual contacts of this sort are more likely to have occurred than not. Thus the deadly threat to the Messiah and his death by violence is a motif that repeats itself in other stories, too. The later, mainly Cabalistic tradition speaks of two Messiahs, the Messiah ben Joseph (or ben Ephraim) and the Messiah ben David. They were compared to Moses and Aaron, also to two roes, and this on the authority of the Song of Solomon 4:5: “Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.” 15 Messiah ben Joseph is, according to Deuteronomy 32 : 17, the “first-born of his bullock/* and Messiah ben David rides on an ass. 16 Messiah ben Joseph is the first, Messiah ben David the second.17 Messiah ben Joseph must die in order to “atone with his blood for the children of Yahweh.”1S He will fall in the fight against Gog and javascript:;Magog, and Armilus will kill him. Armilus is the Anti-Messiah, whom Satan begot on a block of marble.19 He will be killed by Messiah ben David in his turn. Afterwards, ben David will fetch the new Jerusalem down from heaven and bring ben Joseph back to life.20 This ben Joseph plays a strange role in later tradition. Tabari, the commentator on the Koran, mentions that the Antichrist will be a king of the Jews, 21 and in Abarbanel’s Mashmi’a Yeshu’ah the Messiah ben Joseph actually is the Antichrist. So he is not only characterized as the suffering Messiah in contrast to iSTargum on Canticles 4 : 5 in The Targum to The Song of Songs, p. 50. Wiinsche, p. in. In the Zohar the Messiah is called “Mother.” Schoettgen, Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae, II, p. 10. Cf. also the “Saviour of the twins” in Pistis Sophia (above, par. 133, n. 44). the victorious one, but is ultimately thought of as his antagonist. 22 169 As these traditions show, the above-mentioned weakness of the Messianic element consists in a split which in the end becomes a complete polarity. This development is foreshadowed in Persian religious literature, in the pre-Christian idea of an enantiodromia of the great time-periods, and the deterioration of goodness. The Bahman Yast calls the fourth Iron Age “the evil sovereignty of the demons with dishevelled hair of the race of Wrath.” 23 On the other hand, the splitting of the Messiah into two is an expression of an inner disquiet with regard to the character of Yahweh, whose injustice and unreliability must have shocked every thoughtful believer ever since the time of Job. 24 Job puts the problem in unequivocal terms, and Christianity gave an equally unequivocal answer. Jewish mysticism, on the other hand, went its own way, and its speculations hover over depths which Christian thinkers have done their utmost to cover up. I do not want to elaborate this theme here, but will mention as an example a story told by Ibn Ezra. In Spain, he says, there was a great sage who was reputed to be unable to read the Eighty-ninth Psalm because it saddened him too much.The verses in question are: I will not remove from him my steadfast love, or be false to my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant, or alter the word that went forth from my lips. Once for all I have sworn my holiness: I will not lie to David. His line shall endure for ever, his throne as long as the sun before me. Like the moon it shall be established for ever; the witness in the skies is sure. Selah! But now thou hast cast off and rejected, thou art full of wrath against thy anointed. Thou hast renounced the covenant with thy servant; thou hast trodden his crown in the dust. Thou hast breached all his walls; thou hast laid his strongholds in ruins.25 7 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 views and beliefs like materialism, atheism, and similar substitutes, which spread like epidemics. They crop up wherever and whenever one waits in vain for the legitimate answer. The ersatz product represses the real question into the unconscious and destroys the continuity of historical tradition which is the hallmark of civilization. The result is bewilderment and confusion. Christianity has insisted on God’s goodness as a loving Father and has done its best to rob evil of substance. The early Christian prophecy concerning the Antichrist, and certain ideas in late Jewish theology, could have suggested to us that the Christian answer to the problem of Job omits to mention the corollary, the sinister reality of which is now being demonstrated before our eyes by the splitting of our world: 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. 171 As Bousset has plausibly suggested, the duality of the apocalyptic Christ is the outcome of Jewish-Gnostic speculations whose echoes we hear in the traditions mentioned above. The intensive preoccupation of the Gnostics with the problem of evil stands out in startling contrast to the peremptory nullification of it by the Church fathers, and shows that this question had already become topical at the beginning of the third century. In this connection we may recall the view expressed by Valentinus,26 that Christ was born “not without a kind of shadow” and that he afterwards “cast off the shadow from himself.’ 27 Valentinus lived sometime in the first half of the second century, and the Apocalypse was probably written about A.D. 90, under Domitian. Like other Gnostics, Valentinus carried the gospels a stage further in his thinking, and for this reason it does not seem to me impossible that he understood the “shadow” as the Yahwistic law under which Christ was born. The Apocalypse and other things in the New Testament could easily have prompted him to such a view, quite apart from the more or less contemporaneous ideas about the demiurge and the prime Ogdoad that consists of light and shadow.28 It is not certain whether Origen’s doubt concerning the ultimate fate of the devil was original; 29 at all events, it proves that the possibility of the devil’s reunion with God was an object of discussion in very early times, and indeed had to be if Christian philosophy was not to end in dualism. One should not forget that the theory of the privatio boni does not dispose of the eternity of hell and damnation. God’s humanity is also an expression of dualism, as the controversy of the Monophysites and Dyophysites in the early Church shows. Apart from the religious significance of the decision in favour of a complete union of both natures, I would mention in passing that the Monophysite dogma has a noteworthy psychological aspect: it tells us (in psychological parlance) that since Christ, as a man, corresponds to the ego, and, as God, to the self, he is at once both ego and self, part and whole. Empirically speaking, consciousness can never comprehend the whole, but it is probable that the whole is unconsciously present in the ego. This would be equivalent to the highest possible state of reXetWts (completeness or perfection). I have dwelt at some length on the dualistic aspects of the Christ-figure because, through the fish symbolism, Christ was assimilated into a world of ideas that seems far removed from the gospels a world of pagan origin, saturated with astrological beliefs to an extent that we can scarcely imagine today. Christ was born at the beginning of the aeon of the Fishes. It is by no means ruled out that there were educated Christians who knew of the coniunctio maxima of Jupiter and Saturn in Pisces in the year 7 B.C., just as, according to the gospel reports, there were Chaldaeans who actually found Christ’s birthplace. The Fishes, however, are a double sign. At midnight on Christmas Eve, when (according to the old time-reckoning) the sun enters Capricorn, Virgo is standing on the eastern horizon, and is soon followed by the Serpent held by Ophiuchus, the “Serpent-bearer.” This astrological coincidence seems to worth mentioning, as also the view that the two fishes are mother and son. The latter idea has a quite special significance because this relationship suggests that the two fishes were originally one. In fact, Babylonian and Indian astrology know of only one fish. 30 Later, this mother evidently gave birth to a son, who was a fish like her. The same thing happened to the Phoenician Derceto-Atargatis, who, half fish herself, had a son called Ichthys. It is just possible that “the sign of the prophet Jonah” 31 goes back to an older tradition about an heroic night sea journey and conquest of death, where the hero is swallowed by a fish (“whale-dragon”) and is then reborn.32 The redemptory name Joshua 33 (Yehoshua, Yeshua, Gr. lesous) is connected with the fish: Joshua is the son of Nun, and Nun means ‘fish.’ The Joshua ben Nun of the Khidr legend had dealings with a fish that was meant to be eaten but was revived by a drop of water from the fountain of life.34 174 The mythological Great Mothers are usually a danger to their sons. Jeremias mentions a fish representation on an early Christian lamp, showing one fish devouring the other.35 The name of the largest star in the constellation known as the Southern Fish Fomalhaut, ‘the fish’s mouth’ might be interpreted in this sense, just as in fish symbolism every conceivable form of devouring concupiscentia is attributed to fishes, which are said to be “ambitious, libidinous, voracious, avaricious, lascivious” in short, an emblem of the vanity of the world and of earthly pleasures (“voluptas terrena”). 36 They owe these bad qualities most of all to their relationship with the mother- and love-goddess Ishtar, Astarte, Atargatis, or Aphrodite. As the planet Venus, she has her “exaltatio” in the zodiacal sign of the fishes. Thus, in astrological tradition as well as in the history of symbols, the fishes have always had these opprobrious qualities attached to them,37 while on the other hand laying claim to a special and higher significance. Their claim is based at least in astrology on the fact that anyone born under Pisces may expect to become a fisherman or a sailor, and in that capacity to catch fishes or hold dominion over the sea an echo of the primitive totemistic identity between the hunter and his prey. The Babylonian culture-hero Cannes was himself a fish, and the Christian Ichthys is a fisher of men par excellence. Symbologically, he is actually the hook or bait on God’s fishing-rod with which the Leviathan death or the devilis caught. 38 In Jewish tradition the Leviathan is a sort of eucharistic food stored up for the 38 How closely the negative and the positive meanings are related can be seen from the fish-hook motif, attributed to St. Cyprian: “Like a fish which darts at a baited hook, and not only does not lay hold of the bait along with the hook, but is itself hauled up out of the sea; so he who had the power of death did indeed snatch away the body of Jesus unto death, but did not observe thatthe hook of the Godhead was concealed therein, until he had devoured it; and thereupon remained fixed thereto.” Stephen of Canterbury (Liber allegoricus in Habacuc, unavailable to me) says: “It is the bait of longed-for enjoyment that is displayed in the hook, but the tenacious hidden hook is consumed along with the bait. So in fleshly concupiscence the devil displays the bait of pleasure, but the sting of sin lies hid therein.” In this regard see Picinellus, Lib. VI, cap. i. faithful in Paradise. After death, they clothe themselves in fishrobes. 39 Christ is not only a fisher but the fish that is “eucharistically” eaten.40 Augustine says in his Confessions: “But [the earth] eats the fish that was drawn from the deep, at the table which you have prepared for them that believe; for the fish was drawn from the deep in order to nourish the needy ones of the earth.”

41 St. Augustine is referring to the meal of fishes eaten by the disciples at Emmaus (Luke 24 : 43). We come across the “healing fish” in the story of Tobias: the angel Raphael helps Tobias to catch the fish that is about to eat him, and shows him how to make a magic “smoke” against evil spirits from the heart and liver of the fish, and how he can heal his father’s blindness with its gall (Tobit 6 : iff.).

175 St. Peter Damian (d. 1072) describes monks as fishes, because all pious men are little fishes leaping in the net of the Great Fisher.42 In the Pectorios inscription (beginning of the fourth century), believers are called the “divine descendants of the heavenly fish.”

43 !76 The fish of Manu is a saviour,44 identified in legend with Vishnu, who had assumed the form of a small goldfish. He begs Manu to take him home, because he was afraid of being devoured by the water monsters.

45 He then grows mightily, fairytale fashion, and in the end rescues Manu from the great flood.46 On the twelfth day of the first month of the Indian year a golden fish is placed in a bowl of water and invoked as follows: “As thou, O God, in the form of a fish, hast saved the Vedas that were in the underworld, so save me also, O Keshava!”

47 De Gubernatis and other investigators after him tried to derive the Christian fish from India.48 Indian influence is not impossible, since relations with India existed even before Christ and various spiritual currents from the East made themselves felt in early Christianity, as we know from the reports of Hippolytus and Epiphanius. Nevertheless, there is no serious reason to derive the fish from India, for Western fish symbolism is so rich and at the same time so archaic that we may safely regard it as autochthonous. Since the Fishes stand for mother and son, the mythological tragedy of the son’s early death and resurrection is already implicit in them. Being the twelfth sign of the Zodiac, Pisces denotes the end of the astrological year and also a new beginning. This characteristic coincides with the claim of Christianity to be the beginning and end of all things, and with its eschatological expectation of the end of the world and the coming of God’s kingdom.49 Thus the astrological characteristics of the fish contain essential components of the Christian myth; first; the cross; second^ the moral conflict and its splitting into the figures of Christ and Antichrist; third., the motif of the son of a virgin; fourth, the classical mother-son tragedy; fifth, the danger at birth; and siKth, the saviour and bringer of healing. It is therefore not beside the point to relate the designation of Christ as a fish to the new aeon then dawning. If this relationship existed even in antiquity, it must obviously have been a tacit assumption or one that was purposely kept secret; for, to my knowledge, there is no evidence in the old literature that the Christian fish symbolism was derived from the zodiac. Moreover, the astrological evidence up to the second century A.D. is by no means of such a kind that the Christ/Antichrist antithesis could be derived causally from the polarity of the Fishes, since this, as the material we have cited shows, was not stressed as in any way essential. Finally, as Doelger rightly emphasizes, the Ichthys was always thought of as only one fish, though here we must point out that in the astrological interpretation Christ is in fact only one of the fishes, the role of the other fish being allotted to the Antichrist. There are, in short, no grounds whatever for supposing that the zodion of the Fishes could have served as the Ichthys prototype. 178 Pagan fish symbolism plays in comparison a far greater role.

50 The most important is the Jewish material collected by Scheftelowitz. The Jewish “chalice of benediction” 51 was sometimes decorated with pictures of fishes, for fishes were the food of the blessed in Paradise. The chalice was placed in the dead man’s grave as a funerary gift.

52 Fishes have a wide distribution as sepulchral symbols. The Christian fish occurs mainly in this connection. Devout Israelites who live “in the water of the doctrine” are likened to fishes. This analogy was self-evidentaround A.D. ioo.

53 The fish also has a Messianic significance.

54 According to the Syrian Apocalypse of Baruch, Leviathan shall rise from the sea with the advent of the Messiah.55 This is probably the “very great fish” of the Abercius inscription, corresponding to the “fish from the fountain” mentioned in a religious debate at the court of the Sassanids (5th century). The fountain refers to the Babylonian Hera, but in Christian language it means Mary, who in orthodox as well as in Gnostic circles (Acts of Thomas) was addressed as ^-p}, ‘fountain/ Thus we read in a hymn of Synesius (c. 350): Ilaya Trayw, dpxw apxd, pifwv pi’fa, fjiova* d ^ovaScov, /crA. (Fountain of fountains, source of sources, root of roots, monad of monads art thou.)

56 The fountain of Hera was said to contain the one fish (povov l\0vv} that is caught by the “hook of divinity” and “feeds the whole world with its flesh.”

57 In a Boeotian vase-painting the “lady of the beasts” 58 is shown with a fish between her legs, or in her body,

59 presumably indicating that the fish is her son. Although, in the Sassanid debate, the legend of Mary was transferred to Hera, the “fish from the fountain” does not correspond to the Christian symbol, for in Christian symbology the crucifix is the hook or bait with which God catches Leviathan,60 who is either death or the devil (“that ancient serpent”) but not the Messiah. In Jewish tradition, on the other hand, the pharmakon athanasias is the flesh of Leviathan, the “Messianic fish,” as Scheftelowitz says. The Talmud Sanhedrin says that the Messiah “will not come until a fish is sought for an invalid and cannot be procured.”

61 According to the Apocalypse of Baruch, Behemoth as well as Leviathan 62 is a eucharistic food. This is assiduously overlooked. As I have explained elsewhere,63 Yahweh’s two prehistoric monsters seem to represent a pair of opposites, the one being unquestionably a land animal, and the other aquatic.

179 Since olden times, not only among the Jews but all over the Near East, the birth of an outstanding human being has been identified with the rising of a star. Thus Balaam prophesies (Num. 24 : 17): I shall see him, but not now, I shall behold him, but not nigh; a star shall come forth out of Jacob. . . . 180 Always the hope of a Messiah is connected with the appearance of a star. According to the Zohar, the fish that swallowed Jonah died, but revived after three days and then spewed him out again. “Through the fish we shall find a medicament for the whole world.” 64 This text is medieval but comes from a trustworthy source. The ‘Very great 65 and pure fish from the fountain” mentioned in the Abercius inscription is, in the opinion of Scheftelowitz,66 none other than Leviathan, which is not only the biggest fish but is held to be pure, as Scheftelowitz shows by iting the relevant passages from Talmudic literature. In this connection we might also mention the “one and only fish” (els Ovs) recorded in the “Happenings in Persia.” ~Carl Jung, The Historical Significance of the Fish, Aion, Psychology and Religion.