To Father Victor White

Dear Victor, 24 November 1953

Forget for once dogmatics and listen to what psychology has to say concerning your problem: Christ as a symbol is far from being invalid although he is one side of the self and the devil the other.

This pair of opposites is contained in the creator as his right and left hand, as Clemens Romanus says.

From the psychological standpoint the experience of God the creator is the perception of an overpowering impulse issuing from the sphere of the unconscious.

We don’t know whether this influence or compulsion deserves to be called good or evil, although we cannot prevent ourselves from welcoming or cursing it, giving it a bad or a good name, according to our subjective condition.

Thus Yahweh has either aspect because he is essentially the creator (primus motor) and because he is yet unreflected in his whole nature.

With the incarnation the picture changes completely, as it means that God becomes manifest in the form of Man who is conscious and therefore cannot avoid judgment.

He simply has to call the one good and the other evil.

It is a historical fact that the real devil only came into existence together with Christ.

Though Christ was God, as Man he was detached from God and he watched the devil falling out of heaven, removed from God as he (Christ) was separated from God inasmuch as he was human.

In his utter helplessness on the cross, he even confessed that God had forsaken him.

The Deus Pater would leave him to his fate as he always “strafes” those whom he has filled before with this abundance by breaking his promise.

This is exactly what S. Joannes a cruce describes as the “dark night of the soul.”

It is the reign of darkness, which is also God, but an ordeal for Man.

The Godhead has a double aspect, and as Master Eckhart says: God is not blissful in his mere Godhead, and that is the reason for his incarnation.

But becoming Man, he becomes at the same time a definite being, which is this and not that.

Thus the very first thing Christ must do is to sever himself from his shadow and call it the devil (sorry, but the Gnostics of Irenaeus already knew it!).

When a patient in our days is about to emerge from an unconscious condition, he is instantly confronted with his shadow and he has to decide for the good, otherwise he goes down the drain.

Nolens volens he “imitates” Christ and follows his example.

The first step on the way to individuation consists in the discrimination between himself
and the shadow.

In this stage the Good is the goal of individuation, and consequently Christ represents the self.

The next step is the problem of the shadow: in dealing with darkness, you have got to cling to the Good, otherwise the devil devours you.

You need every bit of your goodness in dealing with Evil and just there.

To keep the light alive in the darkness, that’s the point, and only there your candle makes sense.

Now tell me how many people you know who can say with any verisimilitude that they have finished their dealings with the devil and consequently can chuck the Christian symbol overboard?

As a matter of fact, our society has not even begun to face its shadow or to develop those Christian virtues so badly
needed in dealing with the powers of darkness.

Our society cannot afford the luxury of cutting itself loose from the imitatio Christi, even if it should know that the conflict with the shadow, i.e., Christ versus Satan, is only the first step on the way to the far-away goal of the unity of the self in God.

It is true however that the imitatio Christi leads you into your own very real and Christ-like conflict with darkness, and the more you are engaged in this war and in these attempts at peacemaking helped by the anima, the more you begin to look forward beyond the Christian aeon to the Oneness of the Holy Spirit.

He is the pneumatic state the creator attains to through the phase of incarnation.

He is the experience of every individual that has undergone the complete abolition of his ego through the absolute opposition expressed by the symbol Christ versus Satan.

The state of the Holy Spirit means a restitution of the original oneness of the unconscious on the level of consciousness.

That is alluded to, as I see it, by Christ’s logion: “Ye are gods.”

This state is not quite understandable yet.

It is a mere anticipation.

The later development from the Christian aeon to the one of the S. spiritus has been called the evangelium aeternum by Gioacchino da Fiori in a time when the great tearing apart had just begun.

Such vision seems to be granted by divine grace as a sort of consolamentum, so that man is not left in a completely hopeless state during the time of darkness.

We are actually in the state of darkness viewed from the standpoint of history.

We are still within the Christian aeon and just beginning to realize the age of darkness where we shall need Christian virtues to the utmost.

In such a state we could not possibly dismiss Christ as an invalid symbol although we clearly foresee the approach of his opposite.

Yet we don’t see and feel the latter as the preliminary step toward the future union of the divine opposites, but rather as a menace against everything that is good, beautiful, and holy to us.

The adventus diabolic does not invalidate the Christian symbol of the self, on the contrary: it complements it.

It is a mysterious transmutation of both.

Since we are living in a society that is unconscious of this development and far from understanding the importance of the Christian symbol, we are called upon to hinder its invalidation, although some of us are granted the vision of a future development.

But none of us could safely say that he has accomplished the assimilation and integration of the shadow.

Since the Christian church is the community of all those having surrendered to the principle of the imitatio Christi, this institution (i.e., such a mental attitude) is to be maintained until it is clearly understood what the assimilation of the shadow means.

Those that foresee, must-as it were-stay behind their vision in order to help and to teach, particularly so if they belong to the church as her appointed servants.

You should not mind if some of your analysands are helped out of the church.

It is their destiny and adventure.

Others will stay in it anyhow.

It does not matter whether the ecclesiastical powers-that-be approve of your vision or not.

When the time is fulfilled a new orientation will irresistibly break through, as one has seen in the case of the Conceptio lmmaculata and the Assumptio which both deviate from the time-hallowed principle of apostolic authority a thing unheard of before.

It would be a lack of responsibility and a rather autoerotic attitude if we were to deprive our fellow beings of a vitally necessary symbol before they had a reasonable chance to understand it thoroughly, and all this because it is not complete if envisaged from an anticipated stage we ourselves in our individual lives have not yet made real.

Anybody going ahead is alone or thinks he is lonely at times, no matter whether he is in the church
or in the world.

Your practical work as directeur de conscience brings to you individuals having something in their character that corresponds with certain aspects of your personality (like the many men fitting themselves as stones into the edifice of the tower in the Shepherd of Hermas).

Whatever your ultimate decision will be, you ought to realize beforehand that staying in the church makes sense as it is important to make people understand what the symbol of Christ means, and such understanding is indispensable to any further development.

There is no way round it, as little as we can eliminate from our life old age, illness, and death, or Buddha’s Nidana-chain
of evils.

The vast majority of people are still in such an unconscious state that one should almost protect them from the full shock of the real imitatio Christi.

Moreover we are still in the Christian aeon, threatened with a complete annihilation of our world.

As there are not only the many but also the few, somebody is entrusted with the task of looking ahead and talking of the things to be.

That is partially my job, but I have to be very careful not to destroy the things that are.

Nobody will be so foolish as to destroy the foundations when he is adding a n upper storey to his house, and how can he build it really if the foundations are not yet properly laid?

Thus, making the statement that Christ is not a complete symbol of the self, I cannot make it complete by abolishing it.

I must keep it therefore in order to build up the symbol of the perfect contradiction in God by adding this darkness to the lumen de lumine.

Thus I am approaching the end of the Christian aeon and I am to take up Gioacchino’s anticipation and Christ’s prediction of the coming of the Paraclete.

This archetypal drama is at the same time exquisitely psychological and historical.

We are actually living in the time of the splitting of the world and of the invalidation of Christ.

But an anticipation of a faraway future is no way out of the actual situation.

It is a mere consolamentum for those despairing at the atrocious possibilities of the present time.

Christ is still the valid symbol.

Only God himself can “invalidate” him through the Paraclete.

Now that is all I can say.

It is a long letter and I am tired.

If it is not helpful to you, it shows at least what I think.

I have seen X.

She is as right as she can be and as she usually is, and just as wrong as her nature permits, altogether as hopeful as a
hysterical temperament ever can be.

You have probably heard of the little celebration we had here round the Nag-Hamadi Gnostic Codex given to the Institute by a generous donor.

There was even a note in the Times.

It was a disproportionate affair and neither my doing, nor liking.

But I was manoeuvred into saying in the end a few words about the relation between Gnosticism and psychology.

My best wishes!

Yours cordially,

C.G. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 133-138