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Philemon Third Sermon to the Dead
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Red Book

Colossus of Rhodes

And Philemon stepped forward and began to speak (and this is the third sermon to the dead):

Abraxas  is the God who is difficult to grasp. His power is greatest, because man does not see it. From the sun he draws the summum bonum; from the devil the infinum malum; but from Abraxas LIFE, altogether indefinite, the mother of good and evil. “Life seems to be smaller and weaker than the summum bonum; therefore it is also hard to conceive that Abraxas’s power transcends even the sun’s, which is the radiant source of all vital force.

‘ Abraxas is the sun, and at the same time the eternally sucking gorge of emptiness, of the diminisher and dismemberer, of the devil.

The power of Abraxas is twofold; but you do not see it, because in your eyes the warring opposites of this power are canceled out.

“What the Sun God speaks is life, what the devil speaks is death. “But Abraxas speaks that hallowed and accursed word that is at once life and death.

‘ Abraxas  produces truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness, in the same word and in the same act. Therefore Abraxas is terrible.

“He is as splendid as the lion in the instant he strikes down his
victim. He is as beautiful as a spring day.
“He is the great and the small Pan alike.
“He is Priapos.
“He is the monster of the underworld, a thousand-armed
polyp, a coiled knot of winged serpents, frenzy.
“He is the hermaphrodite of the earliest beginning.
“He is the lord of toads and frogs, which live in the water
and go up on the land, whose chorus ascends at noon and
at midnight.
“He is the fullness that seeks union with emptiness.
“He is holy begetting,
“He is love and its murder,
“He is the saint and his betrayer,
“He is the brightest light of day and the darkest night of madness.
“To look upon him, is blindness.
“To recognize him is sickness.
“To worship him is death.
“To fear him is wisdom.
“Not to resist him is redemption.
“God dwells behind the sun, the devil behind the night. What God brings forth out of the light, the devil sucks into the night.

But Abraxas is the world, its becoming and its passing. Upon every gift that comes from the sun god the devil lays his curse.

“Everything that you request from the Sun God produces a deed from the devil. Everything that you create with the Sun God gives effective power to the devil.

“That is terrible Abraxas.
“He is the mightiest created being and in him creation is
afraid of itself
“He is the manifest opposition of creation to the Pleroma and
its nothingness.
“He is the son’s horror of the mother.
He is the mother’s love for the son.
He is the delight of the earth and the cruelty of the heavens.
At his sight man’s face congeals.
Before him there is no question and no reply.
He is the life of creation.
He is the effect of differentiation.
He is the love of man.
He is the speech of man.
He is the appearance and the shadow of man.
He is deceptive reality.”

Now the dead howled and raged, for they were incomplete.

But when their noisy cries had faded away; I said to Philemon:

“How, Oh my father, should I understand this God?”

Philemon answered and said: “My son, why do you want to understand him? This God is to be known but not understood. If you understand him, then you can say that he is this or that and this and not that. Thus you hold him in the hollow of your hand and therefore your hand must throw him away. The God whom I know is this and that and just as much this other and that other. Therefore no one can understand this God, but it is possible to know him, and therefore I speak and teach him.”

“But,” I retorted, “does this God not bring despairing confusion into the minds of men?”

To this Philemon said, “These dead rejected the order of unity and community since they rejected the belief in the father in Heaven who ruled with just measure. They had to reject him.

Therefore I teach them the chaos that is without measure and utterly boundless, to which justice and injustice, leniency and severity; patience and anger, love and hate, are nothing. For how can I teach anything other than the God whom I know and whom they know, without being conscious of him?”

I replied, “Why; Oh solemn one, do you call the eternally incomprehensible, the cruel contradictoriness of nature, God?”

Philemon said, “How should I name it otherwise? If the overpowering essence of events in the universe and in the hearts of men were law, I would call it law. Yet it is also no law, but chance, irregularity; sin, error, stupidity; carelessness, folly; illegality. Therefore I cannot call it law. You know that this must be so, and at the same time you know that it did not have to be so and that at some other time it will not be so. It is overpowering

Carl Jung, The Red Book, Scrutinies, Pages 350 – 351.

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