Carl Jung: Yin is female, cool, nocturnal, humid
LECTURE VIII 27 November 1929
Before we discuss further the cross and crescent symbols in their relative aspect, I want to demonstrate to you how symbolic facts leak out in families.
A little girl four or five years old has made a drawing of the things we have been talking about.
The mother is in the seminar.
Obviously she has not discussed symbols with her, yet that the child got it in a very extraordinary way is shown in this drawing.
It represents a mother’s breast, and also a house, and up at the left is a crescent.
Inside is a woman, and here are windows depicted in a strange way though the mother tells me that she knows how to draw proper windows.
Evidently it is a combination of the cross and crescent symbols with the human mother figure crouching here in the centre.
It is not an ordered drawing, it still has the peculiar chaotic disorder of early psychic functioning.
The elements are there, but they are not in a cosmos or state of order, but in a primordial or cosmic chaos.
That expression is contradictory, however; we use the word “cosmos” for the universe, but one could think of the universe not as a cosmos but as a chaos, for this is the chaos in the collective unconscious of a child, the primordial chaotic condition where things are only beginning to take orderly shape.
In the child’s mind this original chaos becomes projected into human figures.
In the adult mind, particularly in the second part of life, the cosmic figures, sun, moon, stars, etc., as well as other archetypes, begin to detach from the human being.
The human being becomes less important, depotentiated.
But the child, at first entirely non-personal, wakes up from the primitive chaos to the condition of relatedness, and this goes on till late in life, as the human being becomes increasingly more important.
Until puberty, the father and mother and family circle mean everything to the child.
The mother has the first place; it is as if all the suns and stars and moons had entered into the mother.
Then at puberty the detachment begins, first the social, and then the spiritual separation the last would only be at the time of the culmination of life.
I thought it quite worth while to demonstrate this case because it···shows-how such-things can leak out far more than personal secrets, for instance, which are unique and are not reinforced by collective figures.
The collective symbols are in the child, so he has the necessary foundation to receive that stimulus.
Personal secrets have less power-today they are most important, but tomorrow they may vanish, because they are not backed up by that terrific force of the collective unconscious.
An unconscious personal secret has a tendency to exteriorize itself; it has a piercing quality because contaminated by the collective unconscious; and as soon as it is conscious, it is likely to get out, for most people with a conscious secret can’t hold their tongues, they babble.
Nature doesn’t like secrets and forces us to talk, everything comes to light sooner or later.
Today our seminar will be devoted to the question of the interrelation of the cross and crescent symbols; we have discussed them separately so we have a certain idea of what they mean.
The sun is the main representation of the cross symbol.
One assumes generally that the cross expresses the sun, but I would put it the other way round, the sun expresses the cross.
The cross is that inexpressible background representation of unrecognizable forces of creativeness, and because that background or source is of an unrecognizable nature and expressed only through manifold representations, man has forever used that abstract symbol.
The moon is the same, it is a symbol, quite apart from its real existence.
For instance, the phallic symbol is a very definite thing, it is a symbol for generative power, but many other things represent that-a river, fruit, a tree, wind, etc.
There is no end to the symbols for generative forces. So the moon is one of the symbols, like the cross, for different psychological factors.
In all its different attributes it points to the collective unconscious, which can be expressed in many different ways-as the ocean, a lake, a jungle, a cloud, mist, the forest-all these symbolize one and the same thing, the unrecognizable collective unconscious.
Here again is the very interesting difference between the two symbols that we have remarked before.
The cross is definitely dynamic, and the moon is not; it is more a form into which one can pour one’s contents.
Hence the definitely female quality of the moon.
It is linked up with the idea of the virgin and the harlot, or it is a receptacle for the souls of the deceased.
It is a passive receptacle and yet not merely passive, for no matter how dead and quiet it is, it always has a definite effect, the effect of forming and giving definite limitations to a thing.
It catches a dynamic element and solidifies it, transforms and crystallizes it, so that it has apparently attained almost a dynamic effect; it is merely that pouring certain contents into it gives it a different quality.
It is like a wine-glass: Pour a noble wine into a crystal glass with a red thread in its stem and you feel that it is in the right form, while to drink that wine from an earthen milk-jug is not right-it is no longer the same.
So the moon seems to be dynamic too because it has that formative effect upon the dynamic quality symbolized by the sun or cross.
The more we talk about the cross and the crescent, that is, the activity and the passivity of the collective unconscious, the more we approach certain concepts of Chinese philosophy expressed in Yang,
5, the male principle, and Yin, S?, the female principle.
The definite interrelation of the two symbols corresponds to the Chinese concept.
Yang is male, dry, active, fiery, creative, and is represented by the south side of the mountain, also by the dragon.
Yin is female, cool, nocturnal, humid, and is represented by the north side of the mountain.
It is the passive side of matter. (The words matter and mother are derived from the same word, materia, mater.)
Our idea of spiritual and material is exactly parallel excepting that Yang is not entirely spiritual nor Yin entirely material.
The Chinese philosophers project these ideas out into the universe and assume that the universe consists of these two agencies, the dynamic and the receptive, and that these constitute heaven and earth and all that is between.
Now, our Western idea would not be that exactly; that is not congenial to us.
We cannot grasp the Tao unless we have psychological understanding, so it is only psychology which opens up the concepts of Chinese philosophy.
But with this knowledge we can admit that there is an active and a passive aspect, a masculine principle which is generative and a female principle which is receptive.
These are understood as psychological factors, but when it comes to the physical universe, we meet great obstacles in our mental make-up.
Psychologically we can understand, and it doesn’t seem entirely strange, so to us these symbols have something to do with the structure of our minds.
Those of you who are drawing and painting know that we are still reproducing those symbols over and over again, showing that they are still expressive and alive.
One discovers in analysis that they function in the same way as in the mystery religions and Chinese philosophy, only we do not as ·sume-thaHhey-are-world·principles; we merely assign psychological importance to them, we say that the crescent refers to one’s feminine nature and the cross to one’s masculine creativeness, without assuming that they are universal symbols at the same time.
But, as I said, we have the testimony of the old mystery cults and Chinese philosophy, which independently hold that they also have to do with the constitution of the world, not only with our subjective
prejudice concerning what the world consists of, and that they are responsible for the operation of the “Heavenly Laws,” as they would say.
We should not consider such a statement as a metaphysical assertion, or as a fact of natural science, but as though it were the program of a party in a democracy.
It is a view and it may be wrong, yet if we want to solidify the state or put up a reasonable government, we must take into account that there are so many fools who hold these opinions.
A considerable number of people think in a foolish way.
That is what man is like, and we are human beings too, and we have to consider the fact that many people, and even our ancestors, also held the belief that man is only one case among many, in which these general laws manifest themselves.
Now we cannot scientifically prove that our functioning is coincidental with the functioning of the sun and the moon.
We observe the similarity between the periodicity of woman and the moon, but they do not coincide, it is merely the same rhythm.
So also, metaphorically, we could say that the active principle in man is like the sun.
In astrology we have another consideration, a bit uncanny and therefore particularly hated by scientists.
You remember my telling you that birthdates of important men tended to accumulate around the three points of the aerial trigon.
If this were confirmed, we might go further and make statistics about suicides, lunacy, epilepsy, etc.
That might lead to tangible results, and then astrology would be a very serious consideration.
I have suggested to astrologers that we should have more scientific statements.
Sometimes people without knowing one’s birthdate can make remarkable guesses as to where one’s signs are.
Twice it has happened to me, once in England and once in America.
I was told that my sun was in Leo and my moon in Taurus, Aquarius rising.
This made a great impression on me.
How the devil did they know? Did they see it in my face?
But when one once knows a little about these things, they do not appear so mysterious, and one can easily discover certain characteristics–anatomical, for instance.
Or sometimes things come out in-a negative way.
For instance, I think a certain man is quite certainly not Scorpio, and then I find that he is just that.
So I have often heard some one say, “Surely I will not marry that onel”-and then he does. Or a patient will say, “All that you say is true, but this is not true,” and then I find it to be the closest truth.
Now that is where astrology is today.
It enables certain people to make verifiable diagnoses; and sometimes certain guesses, intuitive shots, are peculiarly adequate, quite astonishing.
For instance, I was in touch with an astrologer who knew my birth-date but nothing about my personal life, and I got reports from him occasionally-“on such and such a day you must have felt so and
so”-but always in the past, so that I could verify the truth of it.
Upon one of these occasions he wrote that on the 31st of March, let us say, two years ago, I must have had the feeling of being reborn, for such and such a planet passed over such and such a place in my nativity.
At that time I had in my psychological diary accurate records of everything that happened.
So I looked up that date and I had written, “To day I have a most unaccountable feeling of being reborn.”
I could tell you other irrational facts, certain evidences. -But if one once takes it for granted that these things are true, one is confronted with the terribly serious question, what have we to do with the stars?
Is there any connection between our miserable little everyday condition and these stars, great Jupiter and Saturn travelling through incredible cosmic distances?
Moreover, the moment of birth is so accidental, the doctor is late, the midwife is clumsy, the mother is a little too impetuous.
How could one assume such a connection?
If you put it like that, it remains unanswerable.
Astrologers are influenced by theosophy, so they say, “That is very simple, it is just vibration!”
One astrologer after reading Psychology of the Unconscious wrote me, “Why do you bother about developing a libido concept? It is only vibration.” But what is vibration?
They say it is light energy, perhaps electricity, they are not quite informed.
At all events the vibrations that could influence us have never been seen, so it remains just a word.
Now I will give you another wrinkle which is quite horrible.
I hope you will be able to follow.
You see, the astrologer says one was born when the sun was in such and such a degree of Libra, and the moon in such and such a degree of Scorpio, etc., and he bases the reading of one’s horoscope entirely upon that position of the planets.
For instance, he says, “Today Jupiter is passing over its-own-place-in-your-nativity, therefore it is in the same degree in which it was at the moment of your birth.”
You take your telescope and you find the zodiacal constellation and Jupiter is not there at all!
Then again the astrologer will inform you that the spring equinox is in zero degree Aries and you naturally expect the sun to be rising at six o’clock in the morning, precisely at zero degrees Aries.
But you find something entirely different, it is perhaps at 28 degrees Pisces.
In the spring equinox the sun doesn’t rise in Aries.
You look it up in history and find that in 100 B.C. the sun left the constellation of Aries and went into Pisces.
Then the astrologer royal of Ptolemy said, “Now, we can’t let that happen, we will fix that fact for always as it was in 2000 B.C. when the sun did the same thing-left Taurus and crossed over into Aries.”
You see, the spring-point moves back, there is a regression.
That is the so-called precession of the equinoxes, moving 55 seconds each year, going back from the spring signs into the winter signs.
Now this astronomer stopped that. He simply made it consistent.
Otherwise the clocks would all go wrong each year by 55 seconds.
So since· 100 B.C. (Academy of Alexandria) we call the spring-point zero degrees Aries.
We have kept our astronomical faith, but the heavens have moved on and we are simply out of time with the universe.
If a man in 2000 B.C. said one was born in 25 degrees Sagittarius, it was true, but a hundred years later it was not quite true for it has already moved on 100 X 55 seconds and the horoscope is no longer
An astrologer perhaps says, “No wonder you have such a temperament, or such a royal gesture, because your sun is in the beginning of Leo; when the sun looked at you out of its own house at the moment of your nativity, naturally you were made into a little lion.”
But it didn’t look out at you from its own house, for in reality it was in Gemini.
Nevertheless you can prove that the man whose sun is said to be in Taurus gets the bull neck, or the woman in Libra gets the qualities of the sun from the heights of Libra, or the one whose sun is in Sagittarius has intuition, and you are quite right.
Yet the sun was not in those positions.
So that destroys any hope of vibration!
I told you of the statistics connected with the aerial trigon, and yet those men of superior mentality were not born when the sun was in those signs.
It is an extraordinary puzzle, and there are astrologers who don’t even know it; they are theosophists and they say, “It is quite easy, it is just vibrations.”
But, you see, when it comes to our Western mind, we must think.
How then do we account for the fact that our peculiar characteristics can be explained by our planets?
One says, “Venus is very clearly your sign.”
How do you explain that as if when it is not?
Here is another paradox.
In order to solve that puzzle, we should say, the thing that matters is not the position of the stars, the thing that matters is time.
You can call time what you like.
It is quite indifferent whether you say the spring-point is zero degrees Aries or 28 Pisces; that is a convention; it is nevertheless the spring-point.
So you see, these old designations of time were not taken from the heavens, but given to the heavens.
Spring and winter, for example, were projected to the heavens. Man has created the constellations.
So obviously the constellations were not intended by the creator of the world to be an astrological text-book to us.
In different systems of astrology the constellations are differently arranged.
On the calendar stone of Mexico, or the famous Denderah stone in Egypt, the constellations are grouped in a different way.
We are even in doubt about the “Great Bear” or the “Wagon”; the ancients called it the “Shoulder of the Heifer.”
There was a time when there were only four signs in the Zodiac.
The Romans had eleven. Libra originated in the time of the Caesars; because it was invented so late, it is the only one that is an instrument.
They made the scales by cutting off the claws of the Scorpion.
All the other signs are mythological creatures, or human. Man gives the names to the stars.
The lion does not look like a lion, but man called it that because the sun was really. at its culmination in that devastating time of the year when the heat is insupportable and everything is dried up and
It is like a destroying power, so they said the sun was raging like a mad lion. This is the way the signs go:
Five thousand years ago, 3000 B.C. when the sun was in winter, there were floods of rain. Aquarius walked about pouring his water out right and left.
Then the fish swam in the floods.
The little ram, the time of little shoots and buds.
The Bull, the great push of nature.
The fertility of man.
One seldom does better than twins.
A drawback, the summer solstice. The crab walking backward when the sun descends again.
After the first inkling of solstice it dawns on man …. that the sun will really be going, from the 22nd of July till the 21st of August, just when all is most glowing.
When man is roaring like a lion there is nothing better to tame him than a virgin.
She will cut the hair of the lion and make it short, like Samson and Delilah.
It is not nice, the whole symbolism is somewhat obscene.
But at that time of the year, the 15th of September in the Egyptian calendar, the left eye of the goddess is prepared to receive the god Ra, who is to walk into it.
The eye is a womb symbol.
The female element takes the lead. The god enters the womb of darkness,
Yang is under Yin. Woman is on top.
The balance after the virgin has done her job.
The fatal self-sacrifice of the sun.
The sun gets cornered by the virgin and when the forces are equal (Libra), the sun commits suicide, and then comes a clear descent into the mother.
There is a legend that when the scorpion is surrounded by fire it kills itself.
The death of the sun.
Death is a sort of river or gap.
There is a life beyond, but one is here on this bank of the river and cannot get there.
Then comes the legend of the centaur, a good archer, who with his bow can send an arrow across.
It is a means of communication.
The archer Sagittarius with the arrow of intuition foresees new birth out of the unconscious.
This is the advent season, when ghosts begin to walk again, when the unconscious begins to manifest itself.
The goat-fish. (This was the imperial sign on the coat-of-arms of Augustus Caesar.)
After the dead man contained in the sea, the next sign is this goatfish.
He is half fish and half goat, meaning that at first, as the fish, he is deep down in the sea, out of sight in the unconscious.
Then he rises to the surface and climbs to the highest peaks and valleys.
This is the sun, the promise of the new year, so some astrologers call the time after Christmas the “Promise of the Year.”
It is the time of the birth of Mithras, the birth of Christ, the birth of the new light, the whole hope of the coming year.
People born then have strong hearts. They are ambitious, but they have to work hard to achieve their ends.
But the new year has to be generated.
The sun generates the year in Aquarius. Aquarius pours out the waters of fecundity.
He is also shown as a phallic god like Priapus.
After the generating water the Fishes come again, and so on around.
This is how the Zodiac came into existence.
It is really a seasonal cycle with particular qualities of climate-winter, spring, summer, autumn, qualified by the fantasies and metaphorical imagination of the human mind.
And so man has called the stars that are synchronous with the seasons by names expressing the qualities of each particular season.
The active principle is obviously the time and not at all the stars, they are merely incidental.
If, at the time when astrology came into conscious existence, other constellations had been in the heavens, we would have had different groups of stars but they would have been called a lion or a man carrying a water-jug just the same.
They are not at all like their names, even the most striking constellations.
It is a tremendous strain for the imagination.
So, as I said, it is obvious that the active element is time.
People born at a certain time of the year may have certain qualities.
The relative position of the stars is only the means for counting time.
Then here is a new paradox. What is time? How can it be an active principle?
Time is an abstract conception of duration and is perfectly arbitrary at that; one could make an entirely different division.
A second might be half a minute, why is a minute sixty seconds?
It is not at all convincing, it is merely a conventional arbitrary conception.
Then if one tries to boil it down, one comes to the conclusion that time is the flux of things, like the water-dock or the sand-clock, it is the running down, dividing the day into four parts, each part being one quarter of that day, between sunrise and sunset.
To observe time, one observes the movement of things lasting a certain time, as the hands of a watch; it is the duration of a certain flux.
This is abstract; but the flux of things is not abstract, it is perfectly concrete and tangible.
That is what we term energy because nothing moves without energy.
One must wind one’s watch or turn the hour-glass.
It takes energy to produce the flux, and what we measure is energy; and this is another abstract conception in so far as it means a changing condition of things.
When one says time is merely an aspect of energy, one makes it more tangible, because everyone can observe it and measure it.
Time and energy are correlated concepts.
If there is no energy nothing moves and there is no longer any time.
They are identical, a certain movement of time is a certain movement of energy.
When we observe energy we really observe time, because it is through energy that we measure time.
So I say, with no time there is no possibility of measurement.
Take a stone just before it rolls down hill.
It is in a particular position of energy, it will crash but it hasn’t. It is latent energy, the energy of position, potential energy.
It may break loose at any time with terrific vigour.
Then it crashes down manifesting mechanical energy.
It lands in the valley, crashes, splinters, and then where is the energy?
It is in the warmth of the stone and the stone against which it hurled itself. It has been transformed.
This is a new movement of energy.
Now, you can describe that whole transformation in terms of time.
If nothing happens, there is no time.
Time begins when that thing gets loose.
There is a certain amount of time until the warmth is dissipated again, and then it becomes unobservable.
The specific warmth has completely vanished, so time is only between the breaking loose of the stone and the last trace of warmth of the splintered rock.
Energy was in three forms, latent energy, mechanical energy, and warmth.
You can translate this into the terms of water falling on a turbine and creating electricity.
As long as the process lasts, there is time, simply different moments expressed through different forms.
Now consider the universal energy of the world, the life energy.
It is unknown to us, but we must understand it under those terms.
It is not observable if nothing happens.
For instance, an egg is latent, nothing moves, but if it develops, time develops, age begins.
Now take the energy of the universe and the solar system.
In winter there is less radiation, in summer there is more.
So someone who was born at a certain moment of the year naturally has a certain quality, because his origin was in those conditions.
Nothing to be done about it, it is just so.
The peculiar thing is that one should be able to trace the age of a thing to the exact time of its origin.
There are certain archaeologists, for instance, who have such a refined sense of the age of an object that they can tell it within ten years, just as an antiquarian knows by the print, quality of the paper, etc.
of a book that it suggests a time between 1460 and 1470, let us say. So an etching can be traced.
The expert will tell you that it is of the French school but influenced by the Dutch.
He judges by the actual qualities of the materials used-the paper, the ink, the objects depicted, etc.
When you see an old man, white-haired and decrepit, you say he was born about 1850.
Often I guess age within two years.
One can do that without any trouble, it is the same as saying that one was born under Aquarius but a bit more accurate.
This is merely a technical method, like looking behind the screen of a clever antiquarian who has certain little helps-for instance, he knows when a certain varnish was introduced into Europe, or that
the first pipe is not older than the discovery of North America.
Astrology consists of all these little tricks that help to make the diagnosis more accurate.
So the astrologer, though he does not know the year or the month of your birth, may guess by your qualities.
Now, the unfortunate thing is that we can designate the condition of energy, universal energy, in no other way than by time.
Instead of saying the time of the falling stone, we say it was ten seconds ago that the stone has fallen.
We call this year 1929, because once upon a time we began counting, assuming that we knew when Christ was born-though there is a controversy about that, Christ may have been born 100 B.C.
Mead has written a very interesting book about that.
In China the years have names.
In Rome they were named for the consuls, reckoned from the beginning of Rome in 750 B.C.
After the French Revolution, they began to count the years as if it were the beginning of a new epoch.
We indicate the conditions of the times by a number.
For instance, 1875 might be called the time of crinolines, the first railways, newspapers twice a week with pages, corsets for ladies, top-hats for men, bad taste generally.
They knew nothing of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer was the most recent news.
Chicago was then the most ridiculous little place, and imagine New York in 1875!
Four years after the Franco-German War, everything was moving in a different way, the way that was characteristic for that year, and nothing before or after will be like it.
So, in 1929, everything has the cast and brand of this year.
And the children born in this year will be recognizable as part of a great process and marked by a particular condition. ~Carl Jung, Dream Analysis Seminar, Pages 401-412