Red Book

An 1847 depiction of the Norse Yggdrasil as described in the Icelandic Prose Edda by Oluf Olufsen Bagge.

The following night, the dead came running sooner, filling the place with their mutterings, and said:

“Speak to us about Gods and devils, accursed one.”

And Philemon appeared and began to speak (and this is the fourth sermon to the dead):

“The Sun God is the highest good, the devil the opposite. Thus you have two Gods. But there are many high and good things and many great evils. Among these are two devil Gods; one is the Burning One, the other the Growing One. The burning one is EROS, in the form of a flame. It shines by consuming.

“The growing one is the TREE OF LIFE. It greens by heaping up growing living matter.

“Eros flames up and dies. But the tree of life grows with slow and constant increase through measureless periods of time.

“Good and evil unite in the flame.

“Good and evil unite in the growth of the tree. In their divinity life and love stand opposed.

“The number of Gods and devils is as innumerable as the host of stars.

“Each star is a God, and each space that a star fills is a devil. But the empty fullness of the whole is the Pleroma.

”Abraxas is the effect of the whole, and only the ineffective opposes him.

“Four is the number of the principal Gods, as four is the number of the world’s measurements.

“One is the beginning, the Sun God.

“Two is Eros, for he binds two together and spreads himself out in brightness.

“Three is the Tree of Life, for it fills space with bodies.

“Four is the devil, for he opens all that is closed. He dissolves everything formed and physical; he is the destroyer in whom everything becomes nothing.

“Happy am I who can recognize the multiplicity and diversity of the Gods. But woe unto you, who replace this incompatible multiplicity with a single God. In so doing you produce the torment of incomprehension, and mutilate the creation whose nature and aim is differentiation. How can you be true to your own nature when you try to turn the many into one? What you do unto the Gods is done likewise unto you. You all become equal and thus your nature is maimed.

“Equality prevails not for the sake of God, but only for the sake of man. For the Gods are many, while men are few. The Gods are mighty and endure their manifoldness. Like the stars they abide in solitude, separated by vast distances. Therefore they dwell together and need communion, so that they may bear their separateness. For redemption’s sake I teach you the reprehensible, for whose sake I was rejected.

“The multiplicity of the Gods corresponds to the multiplicity of men. “Numberless Gods await the human state. Numberless Gods have been men. Man shares in the nature of the Gods. He comes from the Gods and goes unto the God.

“Thus, just as it is no use to reflect upon the Pleroma, it is not worthwhile to worship the multiplicity of the Gods. Least of all does it serve to worship the first God, the effective fullness, and the summum bonum. By our prayer we can add nothing to it, and take nothing from it; because effective emptiness gulps down every thing.  The bright Gods form the heavenly world. It is manifold and extends and increases infinitely: The Sun God is the supreme lord of the world.

“The dark Gods form the earthly world. It is simple and diminishes and declines infinitely: The devil is its nethermost lord, the moon spirit, satellite of the earth, smaller, colder, and more dead than the earth.

“There is no difference between the might of the heavenly and earthly Gods. The heavenly Gods magnify; the earthly Gods diminish. Both directions are immeasurable.”

Here the dead interrupted Philemon with angry laughter and mocking shouts, and as they withdrew, heir discord, mockery, and laughter faded into the distance. I turned to Philemon and said to him:

“Oh Philemon, I believe you are mistaken. It seems ‘that you teach a raw superstition which the Fathers had successfully and gloriously overcome, that polytheism which a mind produces only when it cannot free its gaze from the force of compulsive desire chained to sensory things.”

“My son,”  replied, “these dead have rejected the single and highest God. So how can I teach them about the one, only, and not multifarious God? They must of course believe me. But they have rejected their belief So I teach them the God that I know, the multifarious and extended, who is both the thing and its appearance, and they also know him even if they are not conscious of him.

“These dead have given names to all beings, the beings in the air, on the earth and in the water. They have weighed and counted things. They have counted so and so many horses, cows, sheep, trees, segments of land, and springs; they said, this is good for this purpose, and that is good for that one. What did they do with the admirable tree? What happened to the sacred frog? Did they see his golden eye? Where is the atonement for the 7,777 cattle whose blood they spilled, whose flesh they consumed? Did they do penance for the sacred ore that they dug up from the belly of the earth? No, they named, weighed, numbered, and apportioned all things. They did whatever pleased them. And what did they do! You saw the powerful-but this is precisely how they gave power to things unknowingly. Yet the time has come when things speak. The piece of flesh says: how many men? The piece of ore says, how many men? The ship says, how many men? The coal says, how many men? The house says: how many men? And things rise and number and weigh and apportion and devour millions of men.

“Your hand grasped the earth and tore off the halo and weighed and numbered the Bones of things. Is not the one and only, simpleminded God pulled down and thrown onto a heap, the massed seeming of separate things dead and living? Yes, this God taught you to weigh and number bones. But the month of this God is drawing to a close. A new month stands at the door. Therefore everything had to be as it is, and hence everything must become different.

“This is no polytheism that I have made up! But many Gods who powerfully raise their voices and tear humanity to bloody pieces. So and so many men, weighed, numbered, apportioned, hacked, and devoured. Therefore I speak of many Gods as I speak of many things, since I know them. Why do I call them Gods?

For the sake of their superiority. Do you know about this superior strength? Now is the time when you can learn.

“These dead laugh at my foolishness. But would they have raised a murderous hand against their brothers if they had atoned for the ox with the velvet eyes? If they had done penance for the shiny ore? If they had worshiped the holy trees? If they had made peace with the soul of the golden-eyed frog? What say things dead and living? Who is greater, man or the Gods? Truly, this sun has become a moon and no new sun has arisen from the contractions of the last hour of the night.”

And when he had finished these words,Philemon bent down to the earth, kissed it, and said, “Mother, may your son be strong.”

Then he stood, looked up at the heavens, and said, “How dark is your place of the new light.” Then he disappeared.

~Carl Jung, Red Book, Scrutinies, Pages 351-352

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