[Carl Jung on Aion, Christ, Gnostic, Antichrist]
The theme of this work * Is the idea of the Aeon (Greek, Aion).
My investigation seeks, with the help of Christian, Gnostic, and alchemical symbols of the self, to throw light on the change of psychic situation within the “Christian aeon.” Christian tradition from the outset is not only saturated with Persian and
Jewish ideas about the beginning and end of time, but is filled with intimations of a kind of enantiodromian reversal of dominants.
I mean by this the dilemma of Christ and Antichrist.
Probably most of the historical speculations about time and the limitation of time were influenced, as the Apocalypse shows, by astrological ideas.
It is therefore only natural that my reflections should gravitate mainly round the symbol of the Fishes^ for the Pisces aeon is the synchronistic concomitant of two thousand years of Christian development.
In this time-period not only was the figure of the Anthropos (the “Son of Man”) progressively amplified symbolically, and thus assimilated psychologically, but it brought with it changes in man’s attitude that had already been anticipated by the expectation of the Antichrist in the ancient texts.
Because these texts relegate the appearance of Antichrist to the end of time, we are justified in speaking of a “Christian aeon” which, it was presupposed, would find its end with the Second Coming. It seems as if this expectation coincides with the astrological conception of the “Platonic month” of the Fishes.
The immediate occasion for my proposing to discuss these historical questions is the fact that the archetypal image of wholeness, which appears so frequently in the products of the unconscious, has its forerunners in history.
These were Identified very early with the figure of Christ, as I have shown in my book Psychology and Alchemy (chapter 5). I have been requested so often by my readers to discuss the relations between the traditional Christ-figure and the natural symbols of wholeness that I finally decided to take this task in hand.
Considering the unusual difficulties of such an undertaking, my decision did not come easily to me, for, in order to surmount all the obstacles and possibilities of error, a knowledge and caution would be needed which, unfortunately, are vouchsafed me only in limited degree. I am moderately certain of my observations on the empirical material, but I am fully aware of the risk I am taking in drawing the testimonies of history into the scope of my reflections.
I think I also know the responsibility I am taking upon myself when, as though continuing the historical process of assimilation, I add to the many symbolical amplifications of the Christ-figure yet another, the psychological one, or even, so it might seem, reduce the Christ-symbol to a psychological image of wholeness.
My reader should never forget, however, that I am not making a confession of faith or writing a tendentious tract, but am simply considering how certain things could be understood from the standpoint of our modern consciousness things which I deem it valuable to understand, and which are obviously in danger of being swallowed up in the abyss of incomprehension and oblivion; things, finally, whose understanding would do much to remedy our philosophic disorientation by shedding light on the psychic background and the secret chambers of the soul.
The essence of this book was built up gradually, in the course of many years, in countless conversations with people of all ages and all walks of life; with people who in the confusion and up rootedness of our society were likely to lose all contact with the meaning of European culture and to fall Into that state of suggestibility which Is the occasion and cause of the Utopian mass-psychoses of our time.
I write as a physician, with a physician’s sense of responsibility, and not as a proselyte. Nor do I write as a scholar, otherwise I would wisely barricade myself behind the safe walls or my specialism and not, on account of my inadequate knowledge of history, expose myself to critical attack and damage my scientific reputation.
So far as my capacities allow, restricted as they are by old age and illness, I have made every effort to document my material as reliably as possible and to assist the verification of my conclusions by citing the sources. ~Carl Jung, Aion, Foreword.