LECTURE VI 13 November 1929
We will devote the seminar today to Dr. Harding’s report about the moon.
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE CRESCENT AND ITS PSYCHOLOGICAL MEANlNGS
Before reading this paper on the crescent I should like to make a few remarks on the nature of the problem that the group found themselves confronted with.
In the case of the cross, as we all realized when we listened to Dr. Barrett’s paper, the problem was one of correlating an enormous mass of material.
The cross as a symbol is relatively easy to trace.
It appears everywhere, in almost every age and culture, in art and literature and on monuments.
There was no lack of material, and the task the group had to perform was to go after it and hammer it into shape.
The cross lends itself to this kind of treatment, for it symbolizes energy and is associated with the idea of weapons-the sword, the hammer, the axe.
This is the truly masculine way of dealing with a masculine symbol.
But the problem of the crescent is exceedingly different.
The material about it is relatively scanty.
Nowhere does it appear in art and literature in the obvious and prolific fashion that characterizes the cross material.
We found legends whose meaning was subtle, hidden, just as subtle and evanescent as the light of the moon herself.
We could not go at it hammer and tongs in the masculine, academic fashion.
So I ask for your indulgence if this exceedingly feminine subject is treated in an entirely feminine way.
Let us start with the reason for taking up the crescent symbolism at all.
The dreamer has come to a place where he fully realizes his dual nature.
On the one hand his intellectual and spiritual studies have left him in the air-they have proved quite sterile.
On the other, his pursuit of the sensual side has left him disgusted.
When he goes one way immediately the urge to go the other arises and he is at an impasse.
Then he dreams of the cauldron.
And in it are the symbols of two religious tendencies.
I say tendencies, for although today these symbols stand for two of the most dominant religions of the world, namely Christianity and Islam, yet they predate these manifestations by many centuries, and have held for mankind progressively throughout the ages the secret of a road by which man perchance might solve the problem of his dual nature.
For the problem of our dreamer is the great human problem, and for that reason it is of vital importance for each one of us to find if possible how a solution may be reached.
Man, by the very fact of becoming man and ceasing to be wholly animal, was precipitated into this predicament; he is still animal, but by becoming human he became also a conscious, that is, a spiritual being.
The problem that our dreamer is up against is exactly this problem.
It is the one that has concerned man from time immemorial; animal-spiritual-and somewhere man must find himself.
This is the problem of man throughout the ages.
He has seen in other spheres in nature incompatible forces at work, and there perhaps a solution has been reached which may for a little while give rest from this ever-recurring conflict.
And out of that outer happening he has culled a symbol, whose validity consisted in the fact that by taking the external happening as a picture of the internal psychological conflict, man could, by a sort of identification or mimetic magic, really gain release from his inner conflict, and by virtue of the symbol could reorganize his energies on a different plane, solving the problem as it were hypothetically,
Until bit by bit the energy released dby the solution of the conflict served to create a new self for the man, which contained elements derived both parts of his nature.
So that when our dreamer finds in the cauldron these two symbols which have repeatedly formed the nuclei of a whole series of religions from the earliest antiquity up to the present time, it is as though the dream would say: ”
This is how the best and greatest of men in the past have found release from this conflict, the one group following the cross and the other the crescent.”
But these symbols go opposite ways.
This man has been subjected to the influence of both, but neither holds for him that compelling power which, for other men and in other times, could solve the conflict and release them for life on a new plane.
For him the problem must be carried a step further.
But first he must discover for himself, and in his own terms, psychological, not magical, nor religious, what these symbols mean.
This was the problem that the members of the group put before themselves when they started on the task of studying the crescent and its symbolism.
One member of the group undertook to look up the primitive material; one the Hindu; another the religions of the eastern Mediterranean, with their cults of the Great Mother and moon goddesses; and so
Then the group as a whole came together and attempted to correlate and if possible understand the large mass of material which had been accumulated.
The following notes give a brief summary of their findings only.
For the particulars of the material on which the paper is based I would refer you to the individual members of the group who went through the literature relating to the special field that they each individually took up.
But it seemed to us best, owing to the nature of the crescent symbol itself, not to attempt to give a detailed account of the ethnological material, but instead to approach the subject as it were from within, so that we might reach as true a subjective comprehension of its peculiar character as possible.
I. The Moon as a Man.
In the most ancient cultures, Iranian, Persian, etc., the moon appears as a man.
In the earliest form he is the mythical ancestor of the king. For instance, Genghis Khan traced his ancestry to a king who had been conceived by a moon-ray.
In a later form of the myth the moon is a god.
The typical story is that the moon-man begins his career by fighting the devil who has eaten his father, the old moon.
He overcomes the devil and reigns on earth, where he establishes order and agriculture, and is the judge of men.
In the end, however, he is again pursued by his enemy the devil, and dies by fragmentation.
He then goes to the underworld, where he exercises the function of judge of the souls in the underworld.
The story of the moon-gods follows the same pattern.
In their upper world phase they are beneficent, with the attributes of Truth, Justice, Constructiveness, and Fertility.
In their underworld phase they are destructive, they are also judges of the dead and mediators between man and the gods.
II. The Moon as Woman.
A goddess of the moon appears as the central figure in many of the ancient religions, in Babylonia, Egypt, and Greece.
She also appears in Rome under the guise of Diana, and in mediaeval Europe as the Virgin Mary.
We have taken a typical example the goddess Ishtar of Babylon.
Like the moon-gods, Ishtar had a two-fold character.
She is both the moon that rises in the sky and increases to fullness and the dark moon that creeps upon the full moon and overcomes it utterly.
She has many lovers, but is always virgin.
Her son Tammuz is a sun-hero.
He is also the vegetation of the whole earth.
He is the lover of Ishtar and is condemned by her to a yearly death.
There was a religious fast of lamentation when the annual death of Tammuz was celebrated.
Her later lover Gilgamesh reproached Ishtar for her fickleness, for she had loved in turn Tammuz, a bird, a lion, a horse, a shepherd, a gardener, and then himself.
She was early connected with springs, which are the source of life in the Arabian desert.
In her bright or upper-world phase Ishtar is worshipped as the Great Mother, bringing fruitfulness to earth.
She was known as “Queen of the dust, and Mistress of the Field.”
She promoted the fertility of man and beast and was the goddess of wedlock and maternity, and the moral governor of men.
In her underworld phase she destroyed all she had created in her upper-world activity.
She is Goddess of the Terrors of the Night.
She is the Terrible Mother, goddess of storms and war. She plays all possible feminine roles.
She is invoked as “Virgin Mother, Daughter of thy Son.”
Her rites were orgiastic.
She was served by priestesses who were also sacred harlots.
She was known as the “Ship of Life” who bears the seed of all living things.
She is related to the shape of the crescent resting on the water.
There was a Chaldean goddess, Nuah, who carried the seeds of all living things in an ark. (Compare the Hindu word arka, which means crescent.)
This links her to Noah and his ark, in which the animals were preserved, one pair of each species, when the world was destroyed by flood.
These animals carried the seed of life and from them the world was repopulated, as though they were the parents of all life on the regenerate earth.
III. The Moon in its Three Phases.
The moon appears in art and symbols in three forms: a) The crescent or waxing moon, where it is generally associated with a star.
This is the commonest form in art.
It is the symbol of the moon goddesses, is the form used in the Islamic religions, and also forms the national standard of Turkey and Egypt (Figs. 1 and 2),5
It was also found in early Christian catacombs as a symbol of the Land of Heaven (Fig. 3). (b)
The full moon is occasionally seen.
In certain Indian pictures it is on the left hand of the Buddha while the sun is on the right.
There is such a picture in Dr. Jung’s library.
We have here a picture of a Chinese sage from the fifth century B.C.
He is shown as a learned doctor, with his bundle of scientific remedies, minerals, and herbs which he has gathered from all over the earth.
But still men die and his wisdom is not sufficient to save them.
In the picture he is seen struck by the sudden realization that if he could only obtain the wisdom of the moon also, he would be able to cure all disease and bring immortality to mankind. (c) The waning
In its waning the moon symbolizes the fear and inevitability of death.
We have illustrations of this in pictures of Time and Death, who are represented with the inverted crescent of the scythe.
IV. The Moon as Bringer of Ecstasy.
In the Vedantic Upanishad the moon is magical power, the mana which brings ecstasy.
The same idea is shown in the moon-tree, from whose fruit the gods extracted the soma drink which gave them immortality. Here is a picture (Fig. 4) of the Chaldean moon-tree.
The earthly counterpart of the legend is a tree or bush called the moon-tree.
From the fruits of this tree a drink is extracted which is called “soma.”
This drink contains a drug which produces a state of ecstasy, for which purpose it is used in certain religious rites.
We find the same method of producing ecstasy employed in many other religions, for instance, wine in the Dionysian mysteries, and peyote, a drug used for the purpose in a particular cult in North America.
The moon is still said to have this effect. It is recognized today, albeit perhaps unconsciously, in the use of such words as lunacy, and in the superstition that if you sleep in the light of the full moon you may become crazy.
You may even hear lovers give as an excuse for their indiscretions that it was a moonlit night.
V. The Moon as the Dwelling Place of Spirits.
In Persian, Hindu, and Egyptian literature the moon is represented as the place where the soul goes after the death of man.
On the moon the soul is judged, and goes either to the upper world or back to the earth.
On the moon-barge the dead travel to the underworld and await their regeneration.
The moon is thus a place for birth, for death, and for rebirth.
VI. The Moon as Giver of Fertility.
In many primitive religions the moon is held to be the giver of children.
Offerings are made to her on this account by childless women.
Her aid is asked in childbirth. And on the other side it is considered dangerous for a young girl to sleep in the moonlight for fear of becoming pregnant.
The primitive people of Nigeria think that the Great Moon Mother sends the Moon-Bird to bring the babies.
This is perhaps related to our own myth of the stork. In this category belong the moon’s relations to springs and the weather.
The moon is a giver of moisture, and rain charms are generally made in relation to the phase of the moon.
We still have the same idea when we associate the changes in the phase of the moon with changes in the weather.
VII. The Moon as Regulator of Time and Moral Governor of Men.
Moon time preceded sun-time by many centuries.
The religious calendar of the Jews and of Christendom is still reckoned on the basis of the moon.
For instance, Easter falls on the first Sunday following a particular full moon.
The tides were known quite early to be in some way related to the moon.
So that our saying, “Time and tide will wait for no man” is really an assertion of the dominating character of the moon order.
That the moon was thought of as the moral governor is interesting and accords exactly with the place that the Eros order does as a matter of fact take in the regulation of human affairs.
In all these myths and legends we find certain facts standing out.
First, the changing character of the moon struck man’s attention in its contrast to the sun.
The sun either shines or does not shine; it is either here or not here.
But the moon is not like that. The moon may be partly here, she changes continually.
From this come such ideas as that the moon is changeable, the fickle moon.
These are terms that are also applied to woman.
She also is said to be changeable and fickle, and from the man’s point of view it is so.
That is the way her moon-like character appears to him, for it is hard for him to understand its nature.
But to a woman, that her life should flow in cyclic phases is the most natural thing in the world.
For her the life-force ebbs and flows not only like the tides, coming up and going down in a nightly and daily rhythm as it does for a man, but also in moon cycles-quarter phase, half phase, full moon, decline, and so round to dark moon.
During this cycle her energy waxes, shines fully, and then wanes again.
The change affects not only her physical life and her sexual life, but also her psychic life.
To a man this seems very strange. But he experiences the same law in his own inner life of the unconscious through his anima, and if he does not understand it, it irritates him and makes him moody.
Such a feeling may become so obsessive that the man may get completely out of touch with the external reality and present to the world only his moods, which are his reaction to his own subjective
But that is the extreme.
In the ordinary case where a man finds this strange unaccountable thing happening inside himself, he does not realize that he has to wait till the right phase of the moon comes round.
The ancients understood this when they said that certain things must be done at particular phases of the moon.
If a man wanted a love-charm or a rain-charm or an artistic inspiration, and the ritual prescribed that the rites or magic must be performed at the new moon or at the full moon, or perhaps even at the dark of the moon, the man must curb his impatience till that time arrived.
This is a lesson that a woman is compelled to learn.
She has to submit to this law of her nature whether she will or not.
But for a man it is much harder to submit.
It is his nature to fight for a thing he wants and strive to overcome all obstacles by force.
But when he comes to dealing with the moon, whether within himself as his own anima principle, or in the woman he is closely associated with, say his wife, he is compelled to submit to an order that is different.
His nature is like the sun.
In the daytime it shines, and man works and accomplishes.
Then at night the sun is not there and man goes to bed and is not there either.
But with the moon-sometimes when it is in the sky at night it is full moon, in a few days it has waned and gives only an uncertain light, or it may be completely dark.
A man meets a woman.
It is full moon with her, and he says, “Ah! At last a woman who is bright.”
He meets her again a few days later and to his dismay he finds the moon has waned and she gives only a feeble and uncertain light, or it may be that she is completely the dark woman.
This is the bewildering fact.
He tries to extricate himself from the incomprehensible situation by blaming the woman, saying that it is she who is incomprehensible, fickle, unreliable.
But then the next phase of the problem comes and he finds that exactly the same thing happens in regard to his own feeling.
A man under the sun, in a world of reality, would expect his feeling to be stable, accountable, reliable.
He either likes a thing or he dislikes it; he either loves a woman or he does not love her, as the sun shines or it is night.
But he finds his feeling is as erratic and unreliable as a woman.
He finds he loves one day and is indifferent the next.
This is terribly disconcerting, and so he decides to get along without feeling, to disregard it, to base his conduct on those things that can be relied on acts, with no nonsense about them.
This disregard of the moon principle of relatedness through feeling has led to a great deal of conflict and unhappiness between men and women.
For the man disregards it, while it is the woman’s basic principle.
On account of this disregard of feeling a man can live in the most unattractive surroundings.
So long as his furniture is solid and useful, he does not care if it offends the eye.
But for a woman this is exactly the thing that matters most.
If a chair or a table has a feeling value for her she will keep it even if it is most impractical, so that it is always being knocked over or is too delicate to be sat on.
But to her facts are of little importance when it is a question of the atmosphere of a room!
In the more direct matters of relationship between men and women even more havoc has been wrought by this disregard of the moon, or one might say of the Eros side, which is the principle of relatedness through feeling.
In our Western civilization we pay no attention to this.
In other civilizations, however, recognition has been given to this difference between men and women.
There is an old Persian book on the Art of Love, many hundreds of years old.
It contains much of the old lore on the subject of lovemaking, and great attention is paid in it to the correct ways of approaching the lady.
Regulations are laid down for each day of the moon.
Only by following these directions minutely could the lover hope to gain the favour of his beloved.
On one day of the moon a caress with the tips of his fingers on her right cheek was prescribed.
On another she should be kissed this way, on a third that, and so forth.
This old book contains a drop of profound wisdom.
In the ancient Persian ritual it was projected to the outer world, so that these regulations were referred to the moon in the sky.
But we must understand this psychologically.
A man should woo his own feeling with as careful a regard to the particular phase of his own inner moon as this Persian book prescribes.
Further he should observe as strict regulations about his approach to the woman.
For the phase of the moon that she happens to be under is not a matter that she can control, however willing she may be, but nevertheless it dominates the situation.
Closely associated to this aspect of the moon-symbolism is the difference in quality between the sun’s light and the moon’s.
The Sun’s light is bright, warm, glowing and dry, while the moon’s light is soft and cold, giving warmth to no man; further the moon is moist, for on moon-light nights dew falls.
The sun shines by its own light, the moon but by reflected light, just as we hear the constant complaint that woman has no ideas of her own, she only reflects man’s thoughts.
But the moon is and we have to reckon with it.
These characteristics of brightness, heat, and dryness on the one hand and coldness, darkness, and moistness on the other have been gathered up by the Chinese into their great concepts of Yang and
Yin, male and female.
One of the men members of the group writes, “The moon seems to me an especially feminine being.
This impression is produced by its smooth light and the fact that it is to be seen in the night, that is, in mystical circumstances.”
This is a strange remark, for women are to be seen in the day just as much as men are.
Yet we all know what he means.
The thing that is peculiarly feminine does shine only in the night, that is to say when the light of the sun is removed, and man’s work and activity are laid aside.
That is why it is so difficult to talk about the moon-symbolism.
For, as the Chinese sage Lao-tse said about Tao, “The Tao that is talked about is not the true Tao,”6so one might just as well say, “The feminine essence, when it is talked about, is no longer the true feminine essence.”
As Dr. Jung once put it: “Yin is like a mother-of-pearl image hidden in the deepest recesses of the house.”
The moon’s light is cold.
But we are not accustomed to think of a woman as being cold and a man hot.
We generally think of a man as being relatively without feeling, that is, cold, and a woman warm.
But we have to remember that while a man can be cold and calculating on the thinking or business side, there is also a type of woman who can be terribly cold and calculating while apparently living on the feeling side.
It is relatively rare to find a man who is not touched to warmth on the erotic side, but there are whole classes of women who are as cold as icebergs and as calculating as stockbrokers even while they are living on the erotic side.
The moon symbolizes this aspect of woman which, in spite of its lack of warmth, is so terribly attractive to men.
The more the woman is outside the game oflove, playing it as a game, the more effectively does she play her role of siren, and the more likely is it that the man will get hopelessly enmeshed.
It was, of course, known from the most remote times that woman in her actual physical makeup is in some way related to the moon, with her mooncycles of menstruation.
Thus we find menstrual taboos that have been put upon woman throughout the ages.
Primitive man felt that at such times the woman was peculiarly under the influence of the moon and was therefore especially dangerous.
At that time even her shadow falling on a man’s path could lure him away from his business.
So that it was said among the North American Indians that the shadow of a menstruating woman would destroy the efficacy of the war bundle, or cause food to go bad, or frustrate the object of a journey.
The taboo on women is carried to its greatest extreme under Islam, where the crescent moon stands as the symbol of the whole religious culture.
Here women are not only secluded during menstruation, but must live their whole lives behind the veil.
It is as though in the Islamic system woman is only known in her moon aspect and is therefore dangerous at all times.
In accordance with this we find that Islam teaches that woman has no soul of her own.
The Prophet says: “The woman is a man’s garment.”
That is, she is recognized only as the personification of the man’s anima, and is accorded a place in heaven only as the spouse of her husband.
It is interesting to note further that, whether as cause or effect, women in seclusion in harems and zenanas do as a matter of fact live only for the erotic side of life.
The next quality of the moon that we notice is her ability to give men strange ideas.
She insinuates ideas, intuitions, and fantasies which are not at all in accordance with intellectual standards, but are strange, bizarre, and are filled with a peculiar emotion and intoxicating delight.
This is seen in the soma drink, which came from the moon-tree and caused intoxication, ecstasy, and fantasies of a compelling charm.
This is the Indian and Iranian form of the legend, but we have the same thing in our own language, where we speak familiarly of lunacy, or of being moon-struck, or of a thing being moonshine when it is the wildest fantasy.
In slang speech we even speak of moonshine liquor, a spirit which generally contains wood alcohol, whose chief characteristic is that it produces a crazy drunkenness which may even go on to actual madness.
So that besides standing for woman in her harlot aspect, the moon must stand also for that other strange kind of thinking, which is not to be controlled by man’s rational laws.
For the moon, even as the sun, is high in the heaven and is not amenable to our commands.
This kind of thinking which goes of itself, which is not under the sway of logic, does not originate in a man’s head.
Rather it rises from the lower depths of his being and befuddles his head, like the intoxicating drink, soma.
Such thinking comes from those centres in the abdomen which Dr. Jung was talking about in connection with the cauldron.
A man would say that such thinking is a sort of womanish thinking, and that that is the confused way a woman thinks most of the time.
But a woman would say that when she thinks this way she is likely to be right, while when she thinks in her head, the way a man thinks she is likely to be wrong or at all events unproductive.
But a man feels that when he thinks this way there is something awfully inferior about it, something uncanny and somehow not quite clean.
But these ideas, formed under the moon, have a power and compelling quality that ideas originating in the head rarely have.
They are like the moon, they grow of themselves, they demand an outlet, and if you do not give them a suitable one they may well produce moon-madness.
For the children of the moon must come to birth just as surely as physical children.
The next aspect of the moon that we must consider is her dual quality, which has already been brought out in the myths of the dark moon which replaces the light moon, and even more clearly in the stories of the moon goddesses, who on the one hand are the mothers of vegetation and all
living things, and on the other hand destroy their own productions with unfailing regularity and callousness.
This aspect is most clearly depicted in the many stories of the virgin mothers whose sons are their lovers and are condemned to die each year, often by the mother’s own edict.
This dual quality is shown in certain old pictures, where we have the crescent moon, or a moon-goddess flanked by two animals, a pair of opposites, who are either worshipping her or fighting for her.
I will pass round a sketch of a Phoenician sacred moon-tree with its animal worshippers and its legend, “There is the home of the mighty mother who passes across the sky.”
And to compare with it a reproduction of one of the Cluny tapestries.
There we see the Virgin or Diana with her animals all around and the two animals who attend her with their crescent standards.
The tapestries represent the senses, hearing, seeing, tasting, feeling, and smelling, and this one of which I show you the picture.
It is called “Mon seul desir” and obviously refers to the sixth sense, sexuality.
We get the same idea of the dual quality of the moon in a more metaphysical form in the various legends that the dead go to the moon when they die.
From there, in one form of the legend, the redeemed are carried on to the sun, from whence they pass in the eternal flame to the highest heaven, while those who are not accounted worthy are returned to earth for another incarnation.
In this legend the idea is expressed that man’s judge will not be a reasonable logical Being, whom a man could trust.
On the contrary man will be judged by just this irrational, unaccountable factor that he strives so hard to ignore.
For man is not complete without that other side that is represented by the moon.
This has already been illustrated in the Chinese picture of the sage that I passed round at the beginning of the paper.
But to go back to the moon’s dual quality.
She is dark and she is light; she is good and she is evil; she is source of all the earth and she is destruction of all; she brings health and she causes sickness.
As was said of Ishtar, “She is the divine Astarte, the strength, the life, the health of men and gods; and at the same time she is Evil, Death, and Destruction.”
When we seek a modern interpretation of this material we recognize that the upper world ruled over by the white moon belongs to our conscious life, while the underworld where the black moon is queen is the unconscious.
The moon-gods and goddesses who move between the two worlds function as mediators.
Their two-faced qualities of fruitfulness and destruction, of justice and truth offset by fickleness and deceit, reappear today in the personifications of anima and animus described by Dr. Jung as functions of relatedness between the conscious and unconscious world of man.
But this is one aspect of the problem only.
For while to the man the moon may be considered as a symbol of his anima, who so often carries his Eros values, to the woman the moon represents her very inmost being.
So that we need to go a stage further in our attempt to interpret the meaning of the symbol.
For we should fall into the same error as the Mohammedans if we consider woman only as a personification of man’s anima.
The majority of you will, I am sure, agree with me when I maintain that a woman has a life in her own right, and that, to herself at any rate, she is by no means only the reflection of man’s unconscious qualities.
The Great Mother-Moon-Goddesses were all considered as the givers of sexual love. They were served in their temples by sacred harlots.
Their rites were dark and unspeakable, and were generally celebrated at midnight with orgies of intoxication and sexuality, and sometimes with infant sacrifices. To us this sounds anything but religious.
What were the ancients after? What did they mean by all this?
We catch a glimpse of its inner meaning when we turn to the mystics of Islam.
They took love in its various stages of Rida, Satisfaction; Shavq, Longing; and Uns, Fellowship or Intimacy, as the outwardly lived dramatic representation of Union with Godjust as we in our Christian ritual have sacraments of Baptism, Communion, yes, and even marriage, which are outwardly lived dramatic representations of the stages of initiation, whose goal is Union with God.
There was a great woman mystic of Islam, Rabi’a, who lived about the eighth century A.D.
She said in regard to the third stage of love, namely Intimacy:
“I have made Thee (God) the Companion of my heart,
But my body is available for those who desire its company,
And my body is friendly towards its guests,
But the Beloved of my heart is the guest of my soul.”
This is the attempt to obtain transformation from the concrete, the material, into the unseen, the spiritual.
As the sacred book of the Chinese says in the homily on the Cauldron: “All that is visible must grow beyond itself, extend into the realm of the invisible.
Thereby it receives its true consecration and clarity and takes firm root in the cosmic order.
Here we see as it reaches its culmination in religion.
But this attempt to obtain transformation is made by the approach of the downward-going road, while the cross leads us by the upward-going road.
As Christ said: “If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto me.” But this road of the crescent leads downwards.
Yet it also leads to transformation.
As has been said by the Gnostics: “To go up or to go down, it is all the same.”
Or as William Blake said: “It matters little whether a man takes the right road or the wrong one, provided only that he follows it sincerely and devotedly
to the end, for either road may lead him to his goal.”
So we see that the moon stands for the great principle of transformation through the things that are lowest.
Things that are dark and cold and moist, things that hide from the light of day and from man’s enlightened thinking, hold also the secret of life, that renews itself again and again, until at last, when man understands, he may grasp the inner meaning which has been till then hidden within the very texture of the concrete happening.
In the past when a transformation of this kind was sought, the mystery religions prescribed a ritual of initiation.
In Egypt the initiate was ritually put to death and was reborn through the power of Osiris and proclaimed “Son of the Sun.”
A similar transformation may take place under the moon, only here the rebirth is on the Eros side, not on the Logos side, and the initiate will be called “Daughter of the Moon.”
I can give you two modern instances of this type of initiation, both cases of young men.
The first was a young man who dreamed that there was a crescent-shaped piece of land which belonged to his father and which had fallen back into a condition of wilderness.
The task was laid on him, in his dream, to redeem this piece of property.
He knew it would be an exceedingly difficult task as it was marshy land and the haunt of dangerous snakes.
He awoke with the sense of a weighty task ahead.
Before the end of the week he was suddenly stricken with a serious illness.
During his delirium he was continually concerned with the reclaiming of the piece of land.
He was also most anxious to be told about the phases of the moon during the three or four weeks that he lay at death’s door.
There was as a matter of fact a new moon on the night he was taken ill.
When he finally recovered he had gained an entirely new attitude to life both on the erotic and creative side. This was his initiation under the moon.
The second example is illustrated by a picture. (On account of the difficulty of reproducing this picture,
Dr. Harding supplies this description.)
Above is a temple.
In the middle is the Holy Stone of the Highest, represented by a greenish square. Around it are the inscriptions of ancient priests, who formerly sacrificed in the temple.
A sacrifice has just taken place there, and the blood-stained fleece of the sacrificed animal is stretched on the ground before the altar.
Below is a dark cavern. “That is the place where no one goes.”
On the floor is the blood-stained dagger with which the sacrifice was accomplished.
Below this is a river which leads to a deeper, unknown underworld.
The picture was drawn by a young man of who was in bed after a painful operation performed without an an aesthetic, which had caused a good deal of both physical and emotional shock.
In the days immediately after the operation his relation to his mother was quite peculiar.
It was almost as if he had become a little boy again.
He could not get on without her and clung to her for support in this rather terrible experience.
Then one day he asked for pencils and paper and made the drawing which I have just described.
He was quite naive about it. He did not know that it had any psychological meaning.
At first he would not talk about it, but later he gave the following explanation.
He said: “It is all inside a mountain. Above is a temple. A sacrifice has taken place there, and the fleece of the sacrificed animal is stretched on the ground before the altar. Below is a dark cavern, that is the place where no one goes.”
After he had drawn this picture his relation to his mother underwent a complete change.
He came out of his regression and was himself again.
That was all he said about it.
But clearly the operation has appeared in the unconscious as a sacrifice.
While he himself is the victim.
He has been slain as a lamb and his skin is stretched out on the ground.
Psychologically that means he, as his mother’s little lamb, has been slain.
This is his initiation into manhood.
From now on he can no longer take refuge behind her skirts, he is a man, she can no longer make excuses for him.
During the period when he was dead as it were, he went again into his mother’s womb to be born.
This shows in consciousness as his regression to childlike dependence on her.
But what will be born out of this ritual death?
That we see in the depths of the mountain-the place where no one goes-the deepest levels of the unconscious.
Here we see a crescent moon arising, with the star between its horns.
That means that out of this initiation experience he will gain a new light in his sky, the light of Eros.
No longer will his mother carry all his Eros values and his anima-these he must seek for himself, individually, in his relations to women outside the family.
It is as though for him woman was born out of this experience.
And to himself there comes a single star, unity, the star that is between the sun and the moon.
The promise of the solution for him of the problem of man’s duality with which we started this paper.
In the woman’s psychology the moon plays a somewhat different role.
Here the problem is not one of grasping by conscious effort and strife the Eros values projected in the outer world, but rather of accepting the moon principle within herself, and of being accepted as Daughter of the Moon.
It is a question of getting her own Eros principle into its rightful place as the ruler of life.
For in our Western civilization women are brought up under masculine laws and ways of functioning, while the moon and all she symbolizes has fallen into disrepute.
So that, with women, to be brought under the moon by initiation (or analysis) resembles a sort of re-crystallization of her whole being.
In this picture drawn by a woman you get the idea that her whole structure is changing into the direction of the moon rays,
which are passed through her almost like lines of force, so that for the future she will function as a moon-woman.
She will not try to solve her problems as a man does, after the pattern of the sun with its hours of conscious effort followed by hours of sleep and oblivion, but will accept the fact that even while the moon is there in the sky it may be only partly there, or even entirely dark.
So that her solution will always have something equivocal about it. It will be both dark and light.
She will solve the problem of duality in a fashion that differs from the man’s solution, for she must make manifest in her own being the dual character of the dark-light moon.
Dr. Jung: Now that you have heard Dr. Harding’s most interesting report, you can realize what an extraordinarily difficult chapter in our psychology the moon represents.
The last time, we dealt with the sun and reduced it to a positive principle.
Outwardly this symbol is embodied by the visible sun and inwardly by the cross, the most ancient vision of man.
Today in discussing the moon, we approach a sphere infinitely dark, not only figuratively, but really.
The moon is the ever-changing light of the night, the nocturnal sphere of human experience.
You remember that I told you last week of the African Negroes greeting the rising sun.
In the same way they salute the waxing moon, that first silver hemicycle in the evening sky.
They offer their souls to the waxing moon because that is also a hopeful sign, while the waning moon is the reverse.
Primitive man has a marked day-psychology and a night-psychology, as well as a religion of the day and a religion of the night.
Day is benign while the night is fraught with evil. In the majority of primitive religions, there is a pale deity of a beneficent kind, perhaps even a trinity, but that is a bit far away and usually there are minor gods, more humanized and closer to them.
Then, besides, there is always a nocturnal cult to which magic belongs.
The nocturnal element has sometimes been taken up into a very severe ritual form, as in the Catholic Church, where the “dark” magic is transformed into “white” magic.
Night is felt as dangerous and full or fears.
One sees nothing and cannot defend oneself.
The night is peculiarly animated by things that one only vaguely senses and that one would not feel in the daytime.
There are ghosts and witches and sorcerers about-nocturnal uncanny influences.
That fear of the dubious things in the darkness is to a certain extent banished by the waxing moon, which rises as the sun sets.
The night is illumined by the benevolent moon, milder and less impressive than the sun, but beneficent.
On the other hand, the waning moon is felt as unfavourable.
It predicts evil and destruction.
It is the time of ghosts, when all is dark, it is an opportunity for ghosts and fear.
It rises later and later, and the night sets in without light, so that everything undertaken under the waning moon is appointed to decay, it is sterile from the beginning.
One finds this feeling everywhere in the customs of the people.
The Swiss peasants won’t plant their crops in the time of the waning moon because the seeds won’t grow; seeds
must be put in under the waxing moon.
Even my mother never washed the mother of vinegar in the time of the waning moon, for then it would die: there must be a waxing moon for it to be favourable.
Rationally, all of this hangs together with the millions of years-old impression of primitive man that fear is banished by the rising moon.
While on the wane, it means extinction and death, a time when ghosts have power, and man is perfectly defenseless.
So, from the very beginning of time, the moon has had a double meaning, it is exceedingly ambiguous in character, while the sun has only the one meaning.
The moon has, then, both a beneficent and a malevolent aspect, as Dr. Harding has mentioned. It produces illness and healing, and it produces madness and healing of the mind.
And not only has it a good and a bad influence on the health, but it has a double sex character.
You see this duality in languages, it would be quite a study in philology to classify the moon as to sex.
In the majority of cases it is felt to be feminine, but there are a good many exceptions.
The masculine moon-god has a particular geographical distribution, he is found chiefly in Asia Minor, from the Black Sea down to Egypt, and also on the Greek islands.
There is evidence of one in Green in the third century B.C. but be had also feminine attributes he meant water, dew, rain, and moisture; he was the god of oracles, of ripening fruit, and also he was helpful in war, a healing god, ruling over health and disease.
There was a temple in Karon where the moon-god was worshipped and, connected with that, a medical academy under his patronage.
One of his functions was to gather souls after death.
He was termed “the gate of the soul after death.”
These qualities are not only characteristic of the masculine moon-god but of all moon ideas, and it is interesting that, even in the etymology of the word “moon,” some of these peculiarities come out in different languages.
The word is derived from three different roots:
euchten, to light; Latin luna, Iranian Zou, luan. men, as name for the moon-in Iranian mi; North Breton miz; Sanskrit mas, Greek mene.
- men, a different root meaning “measure”-Gothic mena; Assyrian mano; Anglo-Saxon mono.
The German word for “month,” Monat, comes from this root, as also the French le mois.
Here one sees something very characteristic of the moon, namely, we must assume that such root-words date from time immemorial, from primordial man, who connected the changes of the moon
with the idea of measure.
Primitive man connected the moon with mental activity also, and so he thought of the mind as coming from the moon.
The first notion of measuring time comes from the phases of the moon.
The solar measure came later.
We must think about this first connection between the moon and mind, which Dr. Harding has pointed out.
I would like to give you other instances.
Some light is to be found in Hindu and Sanskrit literature, where the old philosophers obviously found out about this peculiar connection.
There is a Sanskrit text: “Then in the centre, with ‘This one, above, the mind’; above, doubtless, is the moon; and as to why he speaks of him as ‘above,’ the moon is indeed above, and as to why he says: ‘the mind,’ the mind doubtless is speech, for by means of speech everything thinks here. The moon, having become speech, remained above.”
This is an example of the peculiarity of the ancient Hindu mind, which was always in doubt whether things were, or whether it thought they were.
They said: if you think a thing, it is.
The moonmind, in other words, creates; or, as Dr. Harding has put it very poetically, moon children are as real as real children. Man’s mind today is not that at all.
We could say that our minds formulate, but we couldn’t say that the products of the mind are facts, nor that something definite has been created because someone thinks something.
To a primitive, when he thinks a thing, then it is, or becomes.
His mind is not abstract, it is not yet differentiated.
Here is another Sanskrit text: “Now when that fire goes out, it is wafted up in the wind, whence people say of it, ‘it has expired,’ for it is wafted up in the wind. And when the sun sets it enters the wind, and so does the moon, and the quarters are established in the wind, and from out of the wind they issue again. And when he who knows this passes away from this world, he passes into the fire by his speech, into the sun by his eyes, into the moon by his mind, into the quarters by his ear, and into the wind by his breath, and being composed thereof, he becomes whichever of these deities he chooses and is at rest.”
From these examples you can see that we are not just making a conscious analogy, even these early philosophers realized it.
Mrs. Fierz: What is “mind” in German?
Dr. Jung: Ah, there is a great difficulty. We have no word in German to express the equivalent of the English word “mind.”
I often use “mind” when talking German.
The word Verstand does not render the meaning, that is not really Germanic, it is half a Latin word, it is the intellect.
There is no such word in the German language; to translate this word “mind,” you must give a whole definition.
Our only help is the Latin mens, from which is derived the French mentalite.
Miss Wolff’ The word Vernunft from Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason?
Dr. Jung: That means reason, not mind.
Dr. Harding: One might say mind or consciousness on the ideational side.
Dr. Baynes: In mind there is a connotation of purposive activity.
Dr. Jung: Yes, that is perhaps the best suggestion-the intellectual process, consciousness with purposive contents.
It is not emotional, nor mere imagery.
When you take the German word “Sinn” in its poetical form “Du hist im Herzen, du hist im Sinn,” It gives the concept of the mind.
In dealing with psychological subjects, one gets into tough places with the meanings of words.
So in that connection of the moon with mind, one mustn’t understand mind in the modern philosophical sense.
It is the mind purely in its original meaning.
We can use that hint of purposive content that Dr. Baynes has given us, Primordial man projected this upon the moon.
Now, this most important conception comes from the fact that man had the best opportunity to discover mind in the night when impressions of external reality vanished and when his own subjective
functions could manifest themselves unaffected by objective stimuli.
So the moon is naturally connected with fantasies, with lunacy.
Hence the old superstition that the poisonous rays of the moon pierce the brain, and one wakes up with a mad dream, or one is mad.
In the Middle Ages, the witches used a magic mirror.
They put it out in the moonshine for a certain number of nights that it might be impregnated by the moon’s rays.
Then they gave it to some one whom they wanted to harm and the reflected evil rays drove him mad.
This connection of the mind with the moon is very puzzling and of extraordinary importance for our psychology.
I don’t want to enter into it now, it is pretty complicated, but we can speak of other aspects, namely, the peculiar changes of the moon, which were most impressive to primitive man.
He attempted an explanation for the changes in the heavenly light, and sometimes these stories are quite interesting psychologically, though usually they have no value for us.
He was so impressed by the moon changes that he projected into the moon something in himself which is analogous, the anima.
But of course the concept of the anima is a very late and a highly abstract one, so we must try to go more to the primitive roots of these things.
I have here a picture of a woman standing in the moon’s rays.
There is a tell-tale line of red reaching from the genitals to the head. It shows very well the connection of the moon’s rays with blood, linking up the genital to the mental region.
And this picture has another peculiarity. What is that?
Dr. Draper: The curved rays of light.
Dr. Jung: Yes, also an irrational phenomenon. The sun’s rays are always straight. What is the explanation?
Dr. Harding: Artistically, it carries out the curve of the moon.
Dr. Deady: It conveys force.
Mrs. Fierz: It suggests a wave.
Dr. Jung: That is right.
The moon permeates the being with a wave.
Now, what effect of the moon do we know that has that wavelike character?
Mrs. Baynes: The tides.
Dr. Jung: Yes, a fluctuation like the tides, which are an expression of the changes of the moon, a sort of tidal wave.
Now the woman who made that picture didn’t associate her mystical experience with the waves of the sea, but nevertheless she produced a wave, like the effect of the moon’s rays.
Man has a peculiar perception of waves within himself.
This is illustrated in an English metaphor, “a brain-wave” or “a brainstorm.”
These are alternations of mood that have a wave-like character.
In French they are called les lunes, in German they would be Launen.
Mood is equivalent to mut in German, which means courage but gumut is the exact opposite opposite of what we mean by mind-today.
It is an emotional reacting mechanism, and so, if not etymologically, surely psychologically, it is linked up with the waves or tides of the moon, causing mental or emotional upsets, peculiar moods.
These are among the most original perceptions in man which he could compare to changes of the moon.
To the primitive man it was far more obvious than to us, and also he was more impressionable.
As to the relation of the moon to the menses in woman, we know that they no longer synchronize with the phases of the moon, although the period is a lunar month.
How that came to pass we don’t know, unless we believe in astrology, which says that our structure is connected with the sun and the moon and the planets.
But that is an hypothesis which we cannot prove.
Why should women have a lunar period? An old teacher of mine, a distinguished professor of physiology, made desperate attempts to connect the periodicity of menstruation with the tides and the time
when all life was in the sea.
He went back to the amphibians who lived on the seashore and found very rich food at low tide and very little food in the high spring tide.
The connection was not too clear, and he always got into a bad mood when he was too closely pressed.
The moon was on top of him, he was not on top of the moon.
Science cannot explain this, but that shouldn’t hinder us in following up the peculiar connection.
If we follow the idea a bit further, we find that astrology is the psychology of the ancients projected into the heavens, into the most remote bodies.
There are two main principles in a horoscope, the sun and the moon.
The sun has the psychological quality of man’s active nature, the moon of man’s reacting nature.
In his active nature one would designate his character as willed, voluntary.
In his reacting nature he is passive, merely responding to stimuli.
As a matter of fact, when you meet a man in his lazy hours, as he is at home, for instance, when merely reacting to circumstances, you find that he is quite different from the man in his business hours.
They are two different men; astrology would say that one was his sun character and the other was his moon character.
And the action of the sun and moon are determined by their position in the so-called “houses.”
If the sun is in a warm fiery sign, the man is characterized by warmth, impetuousness, sudden anger-an especially vigorous active nature.
When the moon is in a strong position, it points to the more personal, the intimate and unguarded side of the person, it indicates one who is in a very passive condition.
So people’s character or fate was read in a very literal way through the position of the sun and moon.
Of course, the more ancient the horoscope, the more projected it was.
Where modern astrology would say, “This man is violent, impetuous, heedless of danger, will plunge into all sorts of indiscretions and will regret it afterwards,” the ancients would have said:
“This man will commit murder and his head will be cut off”-or make voyages and be drowned, or he is likely to be assailed by bad people. So what today is taken as a mere psychological factor, in
those days was held to be fate.
I have a collection of old fifteenth-century horoscopes written by the last professor of astrology at a German university, which today would be interpreted quite psychologically.
He made a record of what happened to the men whose horoscopes were drawn.
One was drowned trying to reach England, another was killed by pirates, and others murdered while travelling through a forest, etc.
In those days, a rash word led to manslaughter, but now we gather up our instincts until we have a great bunch of them and then we do something big with them-like a great war!
In former days, they gambled them away in drunken street fights.
We are much worse today as a matter of fact.
So from certain phases of the moon certain fates were derived, and these correspond to reacting attitudes in modern man.
People having such reactive natures are passive, they are parts of nature in mind or mood.
They play parts in which they are surely not the active leaders but more or less the victims, managed by circumstances or by other people, by external and internal stimuli.
They are not quite free.
They are under a dark law.
That is what man feels most in the night, so the moon became the exponent of that side of man’s psychology, quite different from the sun psychology.
And because it is so difficult to deal with, the moon is an appropriate symbol; the contradictions and paradoxes of night.
Psychology fits in well with the moon.
As Dr. Harding has pointed out, it is exceedingly difficult to deal with this psychology in rational language, it seems to be violated by that approach.
It is as treacherous as moonlight in masking forms.
Such a psychology represents an indefinite, peculiar condition of mind where a thing may be so and not so at the same time.
All our attempts to define it refer to a condition that is semiconscious, nocturnal. In the night, when the sun goes down, another principle begins to work, and one’s whole
psychology becomes influenced by factors not active in the daytime.
So when we speak of the unconscious in terms of the moon, we are really talking about the psyche in a semiconscious state, where things are unclear and contradictory, as unclear as objects seen in
the moonlight where a dog may be confused with a cat.
In the unconscious, opposite things are lying close together.
Peculiar tides are coming up and sinking down.
An approaching unconscious condition can be felt; I have known patients to be sea-sick when the unconscious was activated, or to have vertigo, because of what seems to be a strange wavelike motion, a moon-motion. ~Carl Jung, Dream Analysis Seminars, Pages 367-389