LECTURE V 6 November 1929
Today, as I promised you, we shall hear the reports on the cross and the crescent. We will begin with the more familiar, the cross, which Dr. Barrett has prepared.
SYMBOLISM OF THE CROSS
That the cross has been of great symbolic significance to mankind for many ages is beyond dispute. We see it everywhere about us today, never thinking to inquire into the origins and significance of this familiar symbol, and it is quite possible that the everyday person of ten thousand years ago may also have seen it in all phases of his life and accepted it just as unquestioningly as we do. In ·this paper we shall attempt briefly to look into the usage and meaning of the cross in various lands and through many centuries, and to draw together, and bring a certain unity to, the opinions of several commentators past and present.
There are many material objects whose contours readily suggest those of the cross, e.g., birds on the wing, man with outstretched arms, trees with limbs on either side, etc. But these familiar objects seem in themselves inadequate sources with which to account for the vast significance of the symbol unless we can find some powerful underlying motive which will
Fig. I Fig. 2
bind together the symbolic object, or the simplified representation of the object, which in itself becomes the symbol, in some deep relationship to mankind. Let us seek for this in a brief review of historical data concerning the cross.
The Assyrians (1) 1 represented their god of the sky, Anu, by the equilateral cross (Fig. 1). They also represented the sun and its eight regions by a circle with eight rays. By coupling these rays in pairs the radiated cross (2) was produced, which the King of Assyria wore suspended about his neck, in the same manner as men of our present day wear orders of knighthood (Fig. 2). This same figure appears on pottery of the period, its solar meaning being further assured by its alternating with the rayed disc. At times the two symbols appear in juxtaposition (Fig. 3). In prehistoric Egypt we find the Tau, T , or gibbet form of the cross. This cross was used in its simple form and is thought to have been representative of the phallus. When the Tau cross is surmounted by a circle,
or oval, we have the crux ansata, the magical key of life (Fig. 4).
The oval is thought (3) to represent the sistrum (the musical instrument used in the worship of Isis, the goddess of the earth) or possibly to be a modification of the delta (those lands on which the gods played and produced all life, thus again connected with Isis, or Woman). The crux ansata becomes in this way the symbol of creation. We find this cross on the most ancient Egyptian monuments, frequently in the hand of a god, priest or king; Amon-Ra, Kneph, Isis, Hathor, and Osiris are some of these. It was also placed on tombs, presumably having the same significance as the phallus, which signified resurrection. In the paintings on tombs it is evidently employed by divinities to awaken the. dead to new life.
We see it thus in a twelfth-century bas-relief, where a goddess is holding the crux ansata to the nostrils of a dead king, the inscription reading, “I give thee life, stability, purity, like Ra, eternally.” It was also held out towards the living as a sign of vital power. Both the Tau, T , and the astronomical cross of Egypt, EB , are conspicuous in the remains of Palenque.2 The Tau was the sign which Moses instructed his people to mark in blood on their door-posts and lintels so that the Chosen People should not be smitten by the Lord.
According to Blavatsky (15), the cross was used in the old Egyptian mys cross and left for three days in the Pyramid of Cheops. On the morning of the third day he was carried “to the entrance of a gallery, where at a certain hour the beams of the rising sun struck full in the face of the entranced Candidate, who awoke to be initiated by Osiris and Thoth, the God of Wisdom.” This author also remarks that an ancient manuscript speaks of these crosses as the “hard couches of those who were in travail, the act of giving birth to themselves.” Fig. 5
Another familiar form of the cross in Egypt is found in conjunction with the solar wheel, giving the wheel four spokes (Fig. 5). The sun is often likened to a charioteer, and in Greece the solar wheel became the emblem of Apollo. It is also found in Assyria and Babylonia, and it is possible that the swastika was derived from it. The solar cross was widely distributed and according to Inman (8) is still popular in Ireland.
It was also found among the American primitives.
The ideogram formed by the crux ansata in hieroglyphic script, I (pronounced ankh), signifies life, living. Its abstract sense is not doubtful, it is a symbol of life, and not only of life but of rebirth, and thus of immortality-not without reason has it been called “The Key of Life.” In spite of this rather obvious symbolism, various archeologists have contented themselves with describing it as the key of a canal lock, as a degenerate form of winged globe, as a phallus, etc., etc.
From Egypt the “Key of Life,” now a magical and propitiatory symbol, spread to the Phoenicians and then to the whole Semitic world. It was everywhere present, from Sardinia to Susiana (that district of Persia occupied by an ancient civilization probably anterior to Babylonian culture), along the shores of Africa, Phrygia, Palestine, and Mesopotamia. It is seen on idols in India. On monuments of Phoenician or Hittite origin it is held in the hands of kings, as with the Egyptians, and is associated with the tree of life and the lotus flower. Some interesting variations of the ankh, as mentioned by Baldwin (13), are as follows (Fig. 6).
It was, furthermore, combined with the emblems of the peoples who adopted it. In Phoenicia we see it combined with the truncated cone of Astarte (Fig. 7). The Greeks changed and amplified this symbol so that it came (2) to represent their goddess of life (Fig. 8). On early Phoenician coins it is seen attached to a rosary. The crux ansata continued to be used (4) as the Christian cross of Egypt before the Roman cross was adopted. It is even today sold in Cairo as a potent charm, according to Carpenter (5), confessedly indicating the conjunction of both sexes in one design.
The somewhat complicated swastika cross appeared very early in the Mediterranean lands. It was found in the lowest stratum of Troy, which would place it at about 3000 B.C., i.e. in the Bronze Age. This was a simple swastika (Fig. 9). Later it becomes more complicated, having1short spirals at the terminations (Fig. 10) and other variations. In the Cretan, or Minoan religion we find the double axe, a potent sign, arranged fourfold into a swastika composition. It appears frequently in Greece, being found on both pottery and coins in the Iron Age. Before the birth of Christ it had travelled practically all over Europe. Later the swastika was borrowed by the Christians, and towards the end of the third century we find it in the catacombs in company with the monogram of Christ (Fig. 11).
In India and China we have no evidence of the swastika before the fifth century B.C., and it seems likely that it was brought there from the Mediterranean lands. We see it in conjunction with various symbols, some of them solar, on the so-called footprints of the Buddha from the Amaravati stupa. It is thought that it was carried to China and Japan by the Buddhists, and it is a notable fact that the swastika enclosed in a circle was a new form of character introduced into Chinese writing by the Empress Wu (c. 704-684 B.C.) as a sign for “sun.”
The swastika has been frequently found associated with sun worship, and through this association has been applied to signify astronomical motion in general. Perhaps it is through this that it has acquired properties as the sign of good omen, life, and luck. It is seen in America before the time of Columbus.
The swastika is most commonly regarded as a solar sign, its form being interpreted as signifying the rotary motion of the sun. In the light of the psychological interpretation it thus appears as a libido symbol. It is interesting to note that when the arms of the swastika are swung clockwise it designates the male principle and stands for sun, light, life. In India, however, the arms are sometimes swung counter-clockwise; it is then called the sauwastika, designates the female principle, and stands for night, destruction.
While speaking of this complicated ·variation of the cross it might be well to mention the fact that in pre-Christian times a simple upright pole was sometimes spoken of as a cross.
Through Mortillet’s (6) archeological investigations we find further verification for the existence of the Cross in antiquity. In the deepest stratum at Terramares, he finds the remnants of a civilization far older than that of the Etruscans. In this layer, which belongs to the Bronze Age, he finds remnants of household utensils and other implements on which the cross appears in the most varied forms. In the burial grounds of Villanova, which belong to a somewhat later date (about the Iron Age) he finds much evidence that the cross was used as a religious symbol in connection with the worship of the dead.
The tombs on Lake Maggiore are even more convincing in this connection. Each tomb contains at least one cross, mostly in the simple form X . It is also interesting that what later became the sacred monogram of Christ, the ~ , is found here. Mortillet concludes from his observations that the worship of the cross was extant long before the coming of Christianity, and because of its development where living objects and idols are lacking, he believes that the cross was the most sacred symbol of a religious sect who rejected idolatry long before the birth of Christ.
In the tombs of Etruria were found crosses composed of four phalli. A similar cross appeared as an old Phoenician emblem and has been seen carved on a rock at Malta. This was the original Maltese Cross, which, however, has since been changed, although the phallic significance remains obvious. A good example (8) of this type of cross was found near Naples and is believed to have been worn by a priest of Priapus. It is composed of four phalli and a circle of female organs at the centre (Fig. 12). Inman (8) gives an interesting comparison with two Christian crosses which appear to be modifications of this (Figs. 13 and 14).
In Greece we find Plato saying (g) that God had divided the world-soul lengthwise into two parts, which he joined together like the letter X (Chi) and stretched between heaven and earth. This was the initial letter of their favourite god’s name and itself one of the names for the cross. We also find that the sceptre of Apollo has at times the form of the cross ( t }. In ancient art Hercules was actually represented carrying the two pillars in such a way under his arms that they form exactly a cross. Here, perhaps (Robertson, g), we have the origin of the myth of Jesus carrying ~ ~ ,J his own cross to the place of execution. A symbol ~ Fig. 15 often seen in Greek churches and apparently of pre-Christian origin, is a cross surmounting a crescent (Fig. 15), the former the male, the latter the female, element.
The cross is also found in Mexico, Peru, and Central America. Its presence on religious monuments stimulated the early explorers to account for this apparent spread of the Christian teaching by assuming that Saint Thomas had once visited this land. It is now believed, however, that the cross rose independently in these regions. In Mexico the deity Inetzokoatl was adored under for the sign of the cross (4), which was called “Tree of Sustenance” and “Tree of Life.”
This deity also wore a robe covered with crosses. The hair of Toze, the Great Mother, was carefully arranged on her forehead in curls made to form crosses. According to Westropp and
Wake (7), the crux ansata also is found in Mexico and called the “Tree of Life.” According to Robertson (10) the Mexican god was represented by a tree stripped of branches and covered with painted paper. He also mentions sacrifices by hanging on a tree instead of on a cross.
The Mexicans connected the sacraments with the symbol of the cross. In the sacrifice of a maiden to the maize goddess, the priests wore the slain victim’s skin and stood with arms outstretched, crosswise. The sacred tree was made into a cross, on which was exposed a baked dough figure of a saviour god.3 This was afterwards eaten. There is no question as to the pre-Christian antiquity of the symbol of the cross in Mexico.
According to d’ Alviella ( 1) the cross in America amalgamates two cognate ideas: 1) As the symbol of the four winds emanating from cardinal points, and 2) as the symbolic world-tree, tree of life, tree of our flesh, analogous to the Scandinavian Yggdrasill, the cosmic tree whose roots surrounded the universe. In Yucatan, Cortez found crosses three feet high, and these are believed to have been connected with sacrifices to the sun and to the winds, a ritual wind belonging to each quarter of the heavens. The Aztec goddess of rains bore a cross in her hands, and in the spring victims were nailed to a cross and shot with arrows.
In North America various Indian rainmakers drew crosses on the ground, with extremities towards the cardinal points. The Blackfeet (1) arranged large boulders in the form of a cross which represented the “Old Man in the Sun, who rules the Winds.” A cross found on shells in mounds in New Mexico is evidently solar or stellar in character (Fig. 16, upper). Other crosses of this type appear among pictographs of the Dakota Indians (Fig. 16, lower).
As the world-tree, the Mexicans and Mayans had it standing in the centre of the universe, its roots in the waste-of-water, its branches in the clouds, as if searching for rain. The Mexicans worship it as “Our Father.” The sacred pole of the Omahas typifies the cosmic tree, “centre of the four winds and dwelling place of the thunder bird.” Tree burial among the western tribes of North American Indians probably bore a mythical (2) relation to the placing of dead in the tree of life, a symbolism which we find so frequently in other lands. Offerings also (10) were elevated into trees. Missionaries (4) to the Hudson Bay region found the tree regarded as a magic talisman and symbol of fertility. The Hurons (4) tattooed themselves
with the cross.
The handled cross was also found in America (Fig. 17 ). An interesting detachment of the symbol of the cross from a concrete figure is found among the Muyscas4 and Bogota Indians, who stretch two ropes crosswise above the surface of a stream or pond and at the point of intersection throw into the water fruits, oil, and precious stones as a sacrifice In Central Africa copper ingots have always been smelted in the form of a cross.
The cross was found among the Bantu Negroes before Christianity was introduced. Present day Nilotic Negroes frequently shave a form of swastika on men’s heads. (Fig.-18). Among (10) natives os southern Nigeria who practised human sacrifice until the beginning of the twentieth century, we find again the use of the cross figure stretched on rude scaffolds in the form of St. Andrew’s cross.
In India the equilateral cross alternates with the rayed disc. On an ancient coin we find a cross the branches of which terminate in arrowheads (Fig. 19). It is interesting to note in connection with this that, according to Carpenter (5), Krishna is said to have been sometimes shot by an arrow and sometimes crucified on a tree. It is also said that the birthplace of Krishna was built in the form of a cross and that he was buried at the meeting point of three rivers, which would, of course, form a cross. Inman tells us of a very interesting old Buddhist emblem in the form of a swastika (copied from the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society), Fig. 20, and embodying the creative idea in a way which recalls the crux ansata, but in a very much more complicated form.
Each limb represents a phallus at right angles to a body and directed towards the barley-corn, a symbol of yoni, the female. Each limb is marked with the same female emblem and
terminates with a triad triangle, beyond which is a conjunction of the sun and moon, as masculine and feminine emblems, respectively. The whole represents the mystic arba, the “Creative four.” Copies of similar crosses have been found in what is thought to be the remains of ancient Troy.
The use of the cross ( 1 o) in India in human sacrifice was practised as late as 1855 by the Khonds, a primitive tribe. The victim was taken to a sacred grove and either fastened to a cross or placed in the cleft of a long branch of a tree, the arms outstretched, the body making the upright of the cross.
The Buddhists of Tibet placed the cross at street corners, in a fashion similar to the Hermaic pillars in Greece and Rome. According to Robertson (10), the Chinese placed the equilateral cross within a square, this design representing the earth (Fig. 21). There is found in China the dictum “God fashioned the earth in the form of a cross.” A Christian Father also writes, “the aspect of the cross, what is it but the form of the world in its four directions? The East on top, the North the right limb (looking from the cross), the South the left, the West the lower portion.”
The cross form is found also in the Chinese mandala in connection with the representation of the universe, the gods being placed above the cross, and the demons of the lower regions below.
The cross appears frequently in pre-Christian northern Europe. We find it among the Gauls. The Druids (11), when an oak-tree died, stripped off the bark and shaped the trunk into the form of a pillar, pyramid, or cross, and continued to worship it. They also sought out oak-trees growing in the form of a cross, and when the configuration was not sufficiently convincing they fastened a cross beam to the tree or adjusted the limbs to form a cross.
Church ward (4) tells of a Druid ankh-cross found in Cornwall and states that it is similar to those found amongst the dolmens of Brittany.
A small Roman cross was later carved on its upper portion (Fig. 22). Further north we find the Laplanders (16) marking their idols in the form of the crux ansata with the blood of the sacrificed. The crux ansata is also found on runic monuments in Sweden and Denmark.
On a statuette of a Gallic deity discovered in France, the tunic is covered all over with crosses, recalling the robe of Inetzolcoatl in Mexico. This god holds in one hand a mallet and in the other a jar. Regarding this mallet it is said (2) that with the Gauls the Tau cross came to stand for the hammer of Thor-not only an engine of destruction, but also an instrument of life and fecundity. This same symbol, the double-headed mallet, associated (g) with Osiris in Egypt, and also found among the Hindus (7), is but another form of the cross (Fig. 23).
The significance of the cross. in Christianity is usually accredited to the crucifixion of Christ. In this procedure the Romans followed the example of the Greeks and Eastern peoples of nailing condemned criminals upon the cross until they died. Zockler states that the crucifixion was primarily an insult to those condemned to death, their bodies being exposes as prey to animals and birds. The Tau cross was also used as an instrument of torture and signified the infamy of the condemned. It could not be used upon a Roman citizen. Perhaps the idea of malediction we sometimes find associated with the cross derives from this usage.
Leaving aside the question raised by Robertson (g) as to whether or not the whole Christ episode is a myth, it is certainly true that the world was flooded with the cross in pre-Christian times, and it seems not unlikely that it should early have become the most potent symbol of the new religion; for the cross has always been, and its power was always only the power of the spirit which was poured into it as a symbol.
It is perhaps unnecessary to point out that its use as the symbol of resurrection, the specific modern Christian interpretation, is in no way new. We have already spoken of this, but it might be well to mention here that there is a whole series of hanged gods preceding Christ, and these also were resurrected. We recall the hanging of Attis, Marsyas, and Odin, who were reborn after their ordeal. That these hangings had the significance of crucifixion is proved by the fact that the two words were used interchangeably in ancient and early Christian times.
Robertson (10) tells of an effigy from the island of Philae representing Osiris in the form of a crucified god, wept over by Isis and Nephthys. When we remember that the tree is predominantly a mother symbol (12), the significance of this procedure becomes clear to us: the hero is delivered back to the mother for rebirth, thus becoming immortal. The tree is here clearly the Tree of Life. Bayley (11), in discussing the Odin myth, shows us an interesting reproduction of an old cross where the resemblance to the tree is very clear (Fig. 24). Jung (12) remarks that “it is not astonishing that the Christian legend transformed the tree of death, the cross, into the tree of life, so that Christ was often represented on a living and fruitbearing tree.” Mithras5 is represented as reborn of, or placed within, a tree, as were also Osiris, Dionysos, and Adonis.
Zockler ( 14) tells us that during the first epoch of Christianity the following of the cross was still for the early Christians a very painful reality, and we find as yet no veneration or worship of it. It is a thing to be borne, not revered. The sign of the cross, however, was in popular use, as a method of driving away evil spirits and healing those possessed by the devil. Disguised signs of the cross were placed on ornaments, epitaphs, etc., and it was disseminated in the form of objects which recall its image as the trident; an anchor, or a ship with rigging; and in forms already employed by other cults, such as the crux ansata and the swastika. But the world was still too inimical to Christianity for the cross to be openly shown in a religious connection. According to d’Alviella, at the close of the third century the Christians designated Christ by the monogram of the first two letters of the Greek word XP!l:TOI, thus)~ .
This was in the vision seen by Constantine and brought about changes in the external meaning of the cross. Constantine’s vision showed him a cross along with the above monogram, and the latter he adopted as his sign. It thus became a war flag, a sign of sovereignty over the world.
The addition of a transverse bar to the above monogram is supposed to indicate Christ on the cross, thus* or* or, by a process of simplification -f or + . (We also hear of this monogram being derived from the crux ansata in Egypt and standing for the name of one of their gods.)
Constantine had the cross (2) on coins during his reign as well as, and along with, representations of Mars, Apollo, etc. Later the cross was everywhere. In the fifth century the crux ansata became rare except in Celtic countries. The swastika also appears less frequently in Europe at this time. The Latin and the equilateral cross were at first employed without discrimination.
Only gradually did the former become associated with the West and the latter with the East. The crucifixion, the body on the cross, first appears in the seventh century. It is a somewhat remarkable fact (12) that in early Christian representations Christ appeared not nailed to the cross but standing before it with arms outstretched. It has been suggested that the crucifixion posture may derive from the Perso-Scythian usage of slaying a “messenger” to the god, flaying him and stuffing his skin with arms outstretched. This is analogous to the “ambassador” of the Jews, and in both cases the idea of the cross-form may derive from the fact that in the gesture language and picture writing of savages, that is the recognized attitude of the ambassador, or go-between. In so far as this posture is the least well adapted to self defence, it becomes the sign of complete submission and acceptance, where the individual throws himself upon the mercy of some greater power.
In the Middle Ages the crucifixion became one of the most popular themes for artistic representation. At this time also the cross became the symbol at popular rites, e.g., the market crosses in Germany, etc. Constantine laid the foundation for the mediaeval conception of the cross as the sign of the missionary power of Christianity, the climax of which was reached with the Crusades. The erection of the cross in any district meant the proclamation of missionary work or the fact that the district had been joined to the Church. At last the cross became consecrated and venerated and prominent in worship of the Church. It was a sign of protecting grace.
Eventually the cross came to working miracles by itself, and legend was created around it as if it were a living thing. One of the most interesting of these stories appears in the thirteenth century mystical poem by Giacomo da Varaggio.6 The religious art of this time was intensely symbolic and formalized.
The Reformation brought about a great change in the interpretation of the cross. It came to stand for the suffering and affliction sent by God to call man to repentance so that he might recognize God’s help and increase his faith. It is not the Cross of Christ that man must bear, but his own (Luther). The Reformed Church opposed all figurative representations of the Cross. Through this influence Christian art underwent a pronounced change in representations of the Passion of Christ: it became more realistic, less symbolic.
From the foregoing brief review we see that the cross has stood for many things. The figure of a man with outstretched arms, and all that this posture connotes, is imitated in the cross. We see it as a sign of rain and fecundity. It plays a role in the sun cult. It is an important sign for the keeping away of evil. It is a magic charm of fertility. Again we find it as the Tree of Life-not only the sign of life, but also the symbol of immortality. These manifold meanings of the cross can be brought to a unity only through realizing that the cross is a libido symbol. The Tree of Life and the cross have always been mysteriously identified as phallic emblems, but they need not be so considered necessarily, as a libido analogue may take a specifically phallic meaning, that is, it may be applied in a narrower sexual sense.
Most authorities have questioned whether the cross has any relation to the two pieces of wood formerly used in religious fire production. Under the libido theory this relationship appears not at all unlikely, though it is too complex a relation to discuss here. The cross certainly does express the idea of union (particularly evident in the crux ansata form), for this idea belongs especially to the thought of eternal rebirth, which, as we have seen, is intimately bound up with the cross.
It seems clear that the cross in its fundamental significance, and also in its accessory functions, is unquestionably a libido symbol. We have assumed some understanding of the libido theory on the part of the reader, as it would be beyond the scope of this paper to go into the further psychological aspects of this question.
- Goblet d’Alviella, (Count) Eugene. The Migration of Symbols, 1894.
- The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. Ed. James Hastings. 1910.
- Westropp, Hodder M. Primitive Symbolism as Illustrated in Phallic Worship or the Reproductive Process. 1885.
- Churchward, Albert. Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man. 1913.
- Carpenter, Edward. Pagan and Christian Creeds; Their Origin and Meaning. n.d.
- Mortillet, Gabriel de. Le Signe de la Croix avant le Christianisme. 1866.
- Westropp, Hodder M., and C. S. Wake. Ancient Symbol Worship. Influence of the Phallic Idea in the Religion of Antiquity. 1875.
- Inman, Thomas. Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism. 187 4.
- Robertson, John Mackinnon. Christianity and Mythology. 1900.
- Robertson, John Mackinnon. Pagan Christs. Studies in Comparative Hierology. 2nd edn., 19u.
- Bayley, Harold. The Lost Language of Symbolism. 1912.
- Jung, Carl Gustav, Psychology of the Unconscious. Tr. B. Hinkle. 1916.
- Baldwin, Agnes (Mrs. Brett). Symbolism on Greek Coins. 1916.
- Zockler, Otto. The Cross of Christ. Tr., 1877.
- Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna. The Secret Doctrine. 1888.
- Knight, Richard Payne. The Symbolical Language of Ancient Art and Mythology. 1876.
Dr. Jung: Thank you for your excellent and very complete report in the historical and ethnological field; there is really an overwhelming flood of material.
I only wish that you had gone more into the libido theory of the symbol.
It is such a universal symbol that it covers an enormous area of thought, and it is exceedingly difficult to make out what it means.
As you say, it can be traced back to prehistoric times.
Among the prehistoric remains in the Landesmuseum here in Zurich are sun-wheels, dug up in this vicinity, which would date from the Bronze Age.
They are just ordinary small wheels, about four inches in diameter, circles with four spokes, the most ancient form of the cross.
They were probably worn as a sort of charm.
Much earlier, from the Paleolithic Age, there are those remarkable rock-paintings (in the caves of Altamira in Spain, for example),
naturalistic representations of animals-the horse, the reindeer, the mammoth, etc.
And a wonderful rock-drawing of a rhinoceros with the tick-birds on its back has been discovered in Rhodesia; there is also one of a charging rhino with muscles taut, that is most
amazing from the naturalistic point of view.
Then one occasionally notices in these animal paintings that there are no feet, and one can only assume that that was because they didn’t see them, they were hidden in the grass; so those were the first impressionists, a modern artist could not do better.
They are of an extreme age, dating perhaps from fifty to sixty thousand years ago.
In Rhodesia, also, they have now discovered, besides the naturalistic representations, a circle with a double cross inside.
Now supposing those people were able to naively produce such very naturalistic pictures, where did they see this cross to draw?
The same race has produced this symbol, a most abstract idea.
How do you explain it?
One might say that the first philosopher sat down and began to think about the sun as a wheel rolling over the heavens.
But there were no wheels in existence then because the wagon was invented very much later, in the Bronze Age probably.
Or he might have gone further and thought of the four cardinal points of the horizon.
But one cannot project a late mentality into those primitive men, that is excluded, so we must assume that they have seen that thing, it was a vision.
The primitive has an unsophisticated immediate perception, not only of things without but also of things within, the subjective part
of the process of apperception.
One calls the external end of the process the real object, and then there is the subjective part which is within.
You would be astonished if you could see yourselves as I see you, for instance, as I would be if you told me how I look to you.
These primitive people had such a vivid perception that they were able to reproduce what they saw in an amazing way.
Thousands of years had to elapse-it was only very late in the development of art that drawings of an equally naturalistic character
could be produced again.
With such a perception of the object, we must assume a keen faculty of seeing in general, things from within just as well.
There is a well-known theory about the cave drawings, that they represent magic images, really the ghosts of animals that were assembled in the cave for magic purposes, probably to secure abundance of game, which was naturally of vital need to the primitive man.
One observes the same sort of thing in the primitives living today.
A missionary had a Negro boy who had recently lost his mother, and in the evening as they sat around the fire eating, the boy always put aside food for her and also talked to her.
The missionary said, “Your mother is not here,” and the boy answered, “But she is here, because she talks to me.”
He heard her voice and told the missionary what she said.
That boy had a subjective perception.
Now, if the man had told him to make a drawing of his mother, he would naturally have produced a human woman, and how would we know that it represented a ghost?
So when pictures date from such an age, where they have put no signs on them to indicate what they represented, we don’t know whether those pictures in the Dordogne are real animals or ghost animals.
It might be that they thought that the animals would gather where the ghosts were; by keeping the ghosts together, they assumed that the animals would also be in that region.
Primitives do the same thing now; they do not dare leave their dwellings, inhabited by their own ancestral ghosts, and go to foreign countries where the ghosts would be hostile.
So those men perhaps assumed that by guarding the ghosts, they would obtain all the mana, health, fertility, linked up with the idea of the ancestral spirits.
We have no means to differentiate, to have a really valid opinion of the pictures of that age, as to whether they are of real animals or ghost animals seen from within.
There are two sorts of images seen from within: mirror or memory images of things to be things to be met with in objective reality which cannot be differentiated from pictures of real images; and besides those, we can see abstract pictures or designs from the unconscious directly, as triangles or circles or any other geometric sort of design.
So we find the two perceptions also in primitive man—concretistic pictures and abstract ornaments.
One often wonders where they found such complicated geometric figures, triangles and squares and circles, nowhere to be met with in nature, except perhaps in crystals.
We derive them from the thinking process.
Therefore I assume that this cross is really a ghost-a psychic reality in the Paleolithic Age.
We can’t say that it was merely a wheel; one would rather assume that the wheel was discovered through the abstract vision.
This is a guess only, but there are certain evidences that things have probably gone that way.
So the Paleolithic man saw the absolutely abstract, a true ghost, and it made a tremendous impression on him, exactly as· it did on the Christian mystic in his vision of the cross or of Christ with his arms extended; or as it did on St. Hubert when he saw the cross between the antlers of the stag.
The question is, what does that thing represent?
It is surely the oldest symbol known to us, and so abstract that one would be completely at a loss to explain it, if there were no context, no surrounding material.
But follow it up through the ages to modern times and then one gets, not only a full history of this particular psychological entity, but an almost complete insight into its tremendous importance.
Mrs. Sawyer: They might have gotten it from the rays of the sun.
Dr. Jung: It might be the sun, or a star. In Babylonia, such forms were used as decorations of kings.
But if the natural man of those earliest days had represented just the sun, he would have made a naturalistic picture of it, like a globe or circle with an infinite number of rays.
He would not see the cross in it.
That would come thousands of years later, probably from the wheel.
The interesting thing is that in just that naturalistic time such a very abstract symbol could be produced, with just those divisions.
There are other abstract symbols which can be explained as one can explain how the picture-writing of Egypt became the hieratic
script and finally the modern Arabic, where hieroglyphs have degenerated into ordinary writing.
Such symbols are sort of worn out abbreviations; it is within our reach to see how certain things degenerate into the usual or the abbreviated forms.
There is then a certain depotentiation of the symbol, it loses its original value.
Formerly, in China, only holy men and priests could write, and so all scraps of paper were collected because writing was sacred.
And it had a beautiful and venerable character, as one can still see.
But there is nothing venerable about our present writing, it has lost its symbolic importance.
But this symbol, the cross, has not lost its value; it has increased in importance through the ages. It is not worn out, one cannot explain it by the degenerative process.
On the contrary, it is an eternally living symbol.
Those of you who are actually drawing your unconscious material know how often it plays a tremendous role in our analysis, even with people who thought themselves a long way beyond traditional Christianity; it is quite astonishing to see them begin to draw its symbol, the cross.
It started, as we have seen, in the remote past, and it has never lost its enormous importance.
It can be found in all the four corners of the earth, even in Mexico before Christianity reached there.
When the Spanish conquistadores and the padres arrived, they thought the devil must have preceded them, teaching men to worship the cross, as he was supposed to have done seven hundred years before Christ.
The Christian fathers said that in Greece the devil anticipated the coming of Christ by the myth of Dionysos, so that when the real Saviour came, they could say, “Oh, the devil has taught us that already.”
The padres thought it was the same old trick, that Satan had again come and taught them to make crosses.
That is one of the reasons that they destroyed that wonderful old Mayan civilization; only two letters of their alphabet now remain, for instance.
There is an extraordinary universality in the cross symbol, a never-failing mystical power, one may call it psychic, which again and again expresses a primordial psychic fact in man.
To know what that fact might be, we have taken the trouble to follow it through history, through its ethnological distribution.
From all these quarters you have had information from Dr. Barrett today.
From this material, you know that it symbolizes the sun when it is surrounded by a circle; it is a symbol of life; it is a tree; it it is the earth, and more abstractly, fecundity; also the wheel, the hammer, the axe, and much besides.
This is a collection of disparate objects. How can they belong together?
It is like the famous series that Lumholtz made out in his book Unknown Mexico, where certain Indian tribes have a peculiar idea of the identity of three entirely different things-the hikuli, the corn, and the stag are identical, for instance.
The same thing exists among the Brazilian Indians who call themselves red parrots.
They are not birds and they don’t sit in trees, but that makes no difference.
They say, “Yes, we have human form but we are red parrots.”
They must sense an internal identity, something beyond the form.
We are of course dumbfounded by the suggestion that obviously different things can be identical.
It was the same puzzle with my primitive Negroes on Mount Elgon.
I had assumed that they were sun-worshippers, and they laughed at me as if I had said some obscene nonsense.
I was confused.
God is called the sun, adhista, and not mungu, which in Swahili I had supposed meant God. To designate adhista as God, they said adhista mungu.
But since they called it mungu in the east, why not in the zenith?
I finally discovered that it was the sunrise, not the sun, it was the particular moment, and they themselves were in it, it is their particular subjective emotion connected with the sunrise.
So the key is that the most disparate objects can be brought together if they are compared from a certain subjective angle, such as their worth or value, for instance.
You see, one can say that things that cost the same amount of money are the same, interchangeable.
But take a primitive who knows only coins, tell him that one hundred gold francs an
d a one-hundred-franc note are the same, and he laughs at you. People had to get used to the idea.
Coins and paper are absolutely different things, but we get the same subjective feeling whether it is in gold coin or a banknote.
And so to the primitive whom the subjective is of immediate and the greatest importance, it doesn’t matter that things are concretely different, it only matters that he gets the same emotion from them-the most different things would all range in the same field, so to speak.
Mana may be the voice of the chief, or his breath is mana, the wife of the chief is mana, his chair, his hut, all are mana.
A spear, a canoe, lightning, a certain tree-all are mana. If they hear the gramophone, they say mulungu.
These different things are identical under the aspect of mana, they have the same attitude to them all.
They bow to them, they are careful not to touch them, or they observe other ceremonies, because they are mana.
When that is concerned, it doesn’t matter what the objects are, it is only the subjective emotion that matters.
Sometimes it is mana today and tomorrow no longer.
It may again be merely a concrete object.
For example, suppose a native comes across an old petrol tin and kicks it away and a fortnight later falls ill.
Then he begins to think that tin was mana, and he shouldn’t have offended it.
So he sends his boy out to that thing in the bush with an offering of fruit and oil, in order to propitiate it, and now he is very reverential as he passes it.
Then there is the story of the old anchor cast up on the shore.
A Negro broke off one of the pointed ends to use for a plow, and soon after, he became ill.
Then he knew that the anchor had mana, so he took the broken end back, most respectfully, and after that, he always greeted it, bowing very deeply whenever he had occasion to pass by.
As soon as they are mana, the most heterogeneous things are the same, all parts of the divine process.
We can see the same thing in our own psychology.
For instance, a man with a mother complex sees his mother in almost any older woman, or a woman of a certain kind, even in his own daughter.
All are identical, there is the whole row, all alike, just the same.
We are unaware of these things, yet they occur daily.
My Pueblo chief tried a long time to find a convincing simile to express his feeling about the sun.
He finally said, “A man up in the mountains is not even able to build his fire without sun,”
Wood wouldn’t burn, no trees would grow without the sun, so naturally sun and life are identical.
And sex is life, it produces children, so the sun is sometimes credited with a phallus as the symbol of generative power.
Life, human form, man, the living thing, the product of fertility, even the gods have human form.
Also, the tree symbolizes life.
It is alive like a human being, with head, feet, etc., and it lives longer than man, so it is impressive, there is mana in a tree.
The cottonwood trees in the African bush reach a fabulous height, and as a rule they are regarded with awe.
Trees talk, in any number of tribes men go out and talk with trees, they are identified with them.
Formerly a tree was planted when a child was born, and as long as the tree lived the child lived another case of identity.
Trees through their fruits are nourishing, so they acquire a mother quality.
There is a Germanic legend that the ash and the alder were the first two human beings, and there is the same story about a male and female tree in Persian mythology-they were the original human beings.
Then there is the world-tree, Yggdrasill, with its roots in the earth and its branches in Heaven; the first life came from that tree, and at the end of the world the last couple will be buried in Y ggdrasill; human life begins and ends in the tree.
And so with the earth. It is productive, fertile, obviously a maternal life-giver, as the sun is life and sex.
They are identical through the function.
All these things have the same function, the same value, so they are the same.
It was the application of the symbols to implements which gave the primitive his tools.
The wheel, the hammer, the axe-these were the first tools, and they also are life givers, they contain spirit.
My battle-axe saves my life.
In certain primitive languages a prefix or suffix is added to the name of my tool or weapon, designating it as being alive; my sword is alive, yours is dead.
So all the tools are really living because they help our living.
The wheel is such an important invention-try living without it and see!
Live under primitive circumstances and see what happens when such a simple mother’s tool as the needle is lost.
One would gladly pay an exorbitant price for it.
Weapons are lifegiving protectors against the onslaught of wild animals.
In the Minoan civilization they worshipped the double battle-axe as a most sacred thing.
The Minoans were good at carving wood; the great palace of Minos was a wooden structure in its upper stories.
So we see that the sun, life, sex, the human being, the wheel, the hammer, the axe, all these and many more are identical because
they function in the same way.
And the cross symbolizes all of them, it contains all that, all are reproduced in the form of the cross.
It directly represents the life one is spending, and because it is life, it is all important. Since the primitives were afraid that it was exhaustible, they sacrificed to the very centre where life comes from, and this was the centre of the cross. Indians make a cross of two ropes over a pond and sacrifice right in the middle, because that goes down to the life-giving spring.
They feed it so that the well of life may be flowing again.
And the cross is an apotropaic symbol.
It is used for protection, to ward off evil, which is death-bringing; if one is in possession of the life-giver itself, evil can’t get one.
People still cross themselves in danger or in a thunderstorm.
During the recent upheaval in Jerusalem the Christians put a cross on their doors to protect themselves against the Arabs.
Now we will wind up. Why is the giver of life represented by the cross?
Dr. Barrett: In man’s tendency to anthropomorphize all his conceptions of life, he makes his own figure the form of the cross.
Dr. Jung: So you would say the cross is man as the source of mana? Do you mean something like this?
Man certainly experiences himself as a creator in sexuality.
Sex is the union of two different principles, the sexual act is the meeting of two opposing directions.
The association of the cross and sexuality is shown by the phallic crosses which Dr. Barrett has mentioned, so in as much as life springs from sex, man feels himself a life-giver through sexuality.
Another source of life fertility is the earth.
To early primitive man, the earth was flat, and they saw its horizon as a circle.
In the more advanced civilization of the North American Indians, the earth is represented as a circle, and they put in the four cardinal points.
The observer is naturally always in the center of that circle or cross.
Thus one arrives again at the symbol of the cross within the circle.
If the figure of man represents a cross, the circle around it most probably represents the horizon.
Or it might also be that it is a magic circle drawn around man as a mana figure.
Mana figures are always in a way taboo.
I fancy that in some such way the so-called EB sun-wheel originated.
The mana of man, of the earth, of the tree and so on-life in every form-was represented by the cross and the circle, apparently on account of the similarity of the form of man and the tree with a cross, and concerning the earth, on account of the partition of the horizon. (In astrology, the sign of earth is o and of Venus ~ .)
But that would be explaining the symbol through its objectivation, and my question is, why is the life-giver represented by the cross?
It not only symbolizes the sun, it symbolizes sex, or the points of the horizon, or the human form, but they do not all necessarily suggest the cross.
It is not very clear why it should stand for all these mana objects.
Take peculiar electric phenomena, like lightning, polar lights, and so on, they all have to do with electricity, but what is electricity?
The cross designates the essence of all these objects, as electricity designates the essence, the force or power in all its different manifestations.
Dr. Barrett: Was there an intuitive idea that the cross would be the right symbol for all this?
Mrs. Baynes: Do you not have to go back to the original vision of the primitive man, to intuition?
Dr. Jung: Yes, it seems to have been one of the most original intuitions of man that the right form to express the source of mana would be the cross.
Plato says in the Timaeus that when the Demiourgos created the world, he divided it into four parts, and then he sewed them together again, four seams in the form of the cross.
Here the origin of the world is connected with the sign of the cross, the original act of giving life.
Pythagoras, who was earlier than Plato, X says that the fundamental number is four, the tetraktys, which was considered by the Pythagoreans as a mystical entity.
In Egypt, the Eight / was the most sacred company of the gods, the Ogdoads.
There the origin of the world is watched by the four monkeys and the four toads.
Horus, the rising sun, has four sons. One finds the four in the paradise legend where four rivers flowed out of Eden-the source of life.
So since four is one of the primitive numbers that were first geometrically visualized in a prehistoric age, when abstract counting was not invented, people probably saw the cross in the form of four: · : · or: : : .
This figure suggests the typical crosses: + and x . So the number four and the cross are probably identical.
My idea is that the symbol of the cross does not originate from any external form, but from an endopsychic vision of the primitive man.
The peculiar nature of the vision expresses, as nearly as man can grasp it, the essential quality of life’s energy as it appeared not only in him but also in all his objects.
It is an absolutely irrational fact to me that vital energy should have anything to do with a cross or with the number four.
I don’t know why it is perceived in such a form; I only know that the cross has always meant mana or life power. ~Carl Jung, Dream Analysis Seminar, Pages 340-366