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Carl Jung: Descent into Hell

Carl Jung Depth Psychology Facebook Group

46b04 hell

Red Book

In the following night, the air was filled with many voices.

A loud voice called, ”I am falling.” Others cried out confused and excited during this: ”Where to? What do you want?” Should I entrust myself to this confusion?

I shuddered. It isa dreadful deep. Do you want me to leave myself to chance, to the madness of my own darkness? Wither? Wither?

You fall, and I want to fall with you, whoever you are.

The spirit of the depths opened my eyes and I caught a glimpse of the inner things, the world of my soul, the many-formed and changing.

I see a gray rock face along which I sink into great depths. I stand in black dirt up to my ankles in a dark cave.

Shadows sweep over me.

I am seized by fear, but I know I must go in. I crawl through a narrow crack in the rock and reach an inner cave whose bottom is covered with black water.

But beyond this I catch a glimpse of a luminous red stone which I must reach. I wade through the muddy water.

The cave is full of the frightful noise of shrieking voices. I take the stone, it covers a dark opening in the rock.

I hold the stone in my hand, peering around inquiringly. I do not want to listen to the voices, they keep me away

But I want to know. Here something wants to be uttered.

I place my ear to the opening. I hear the flow of underground waters. I see the bloody head of a man on the dark stream.

Someone wounded, someone slain floats there. I take in this image for a long 􀢢me, shuddering. I see a large black scarab floating past on the dark stream.

In the deepest reach of the stream shines a red sun, radiating through the dark water.

There I see-and a terror seizes me-small serpents on the dark rock walls, striving toward the depths, where the sun shines.

A thousand serpents crowd around, veiling the sun. Deep night falls.

A red stream of blood, thick red blood springs up, surging for a long time, then ebbing. I am seized by fear. What did I see?

Heal the wounds that doubt inflicts on me, my soul.

That too is to be overcome, so that I can recognize your supreme

meaning. How far away everything is, and how I have turned back!

My spirit is a spirit of torment, it tears asunder my contemplation, it would dismantle everything and rip it apart.

I am still a victim of my thinking.

When can I order my thinking to be quiet, so that my thoughts, those unruly hounds, will crawl to my feet?

How can I ever hope to hear your voice louder, to see your face clearer, when all my thoughts howl?

I am stunned, but I want to be stunned, since I have sworn to you, my soul, to trust you even if you lead me through madness.

How shall I ever walk under your sun if I do not drink the bitter draught of slumber to the lees?

Help me so that I do not choke on my own knowledge.

The fullness of my knowledge threatens to fall in on me.

My knowledge has a thousand voices, an army roaring like lions; the air trembles when they speak, and I am their defenseless sacrifice.

Keep it far from me, science that clever knower, that bad prison master who binds the soul and imprisons it in a lightless cell.

But above all protect me from the serpent of judgment, which only appears to be a healing serpent, yet in your depths is infernal prison and agonizing death.

I want to go down cleansed into your depths with white garments and not rush in like some thief seizing whatever I can and fleeing breathlessly.

Let me persist in divine astonishment, so that I am ready to behold your wonders.

Let me lay my head on a stone before your door, so that I am prepared to receive your light.

[2] When the desert begins to bloom, it brings forth strange plants.

You will consider yourself mad, and in a certain sense you will in fact be mad.

To the extent that the Christianity of this time lacks madness, it lacks divine life.

Take note of what the ancients taught us in images: madness is divine.

But because the ancients lived this image concretely in events, it became a deception for us, since we became masters of the reality of the world.

It is unquestionable: if you enter into the world of the soul, you are like a madman, and a doctor would consider you to be sick.

What I say here can be seen as sickness, but no one can see it as sickness more than I do.

This is how I overcame madness.

If you do not know what divine madness is, suspend judgment and wait for the fruits.

But know that there is a divine madness which is nothing other than the overpowering of the spirit of this time through the spirit of the depths.

Speak then of sick delusion when the spirit of the depths can no longer stay down and forces a man to speak in tongues instead of in human speech, and makes him believe that he himself is the spirit of the depths.

But also speak of sick delusion when the spirit of this time does not leave a man and forces him to see only the surface, to deny the spirit of the depths and to take himself for the spirit of the times.

The spirit of this time is ungodly; the spirit of the depths is ungodly; balance is godly.

Because I was caught up in the spirit of this time, precisely what happened to me on this night had to happen to me,

namely that the spirit of the depths erupted with force, and swept away the spirit of this time with a powerful wave.

But the spirit of the depths had gained this power, because I had spoken to my soul during nights in the desert and I had given her all my love and submission.

But during the 25 days, I gave all my love and submission to things, to men, and to the thoughts of this time.

I went into the desert only at night. Thus can you differentiate sick and divine delusion.

Whoever does the one and does without the other you may call sick since he is out of balance.

But who can withstand fear when the divine intoxication and madness comes to him? Love, soul, and God are beautiful and terrible.

The ancients brought over some of the beauty of God into this world, and this world became so beautiful that it appeared to the spirit of the time to be fulfillment, and better than the bosom of the Godhead.

The frightfulness and cruelty of the world lay under wraps and in the depths of our hearts.

If the spirit of the depths seizes you, you will feel the cruelty

and cry out in torment. The spirit of the depths is pregnant with ice, fire, and death.

You are right to fear the spirit of the depths, as he is full of horror.

You see in these days what the spirit of the depths bore. You did not believe it, but you would have known it if you had taken counsel with your fear.

Blood shone at me from the red light of the crystal, and when I picked it up to discover its mystery; there lay the horror uncovered before me: in the depths of what is to come lay murder.

The blond hero lay slain.

The black beetle is the death that is necessary for renewal; and so thereafter, a new sun glowed, the sun of the depths, full of riddles, a sun of the night.

And as the rising sun of spring quickens the dead earth, so the sun of the depths quickened the dead, and thus began the terrible struggle between light and darkness.

Out of that burst the powerful and ever unvanquished source of blood.

This was what was to come, which you now experience in your life, and it is even more than that. (I had this vision on the night of 12 December 1913.)

Depths and surface should mix so that new life can develop.

Yet the new life does not develop outside of us, but within us.

What happens outside us in these days is the image that the peoples live in events, to bequeath this image immemorially to far-off times so that they might learn from it for their own way; just as we learned from the images that the ancients had lived before us in events.

Life does not come from events, but from us.

Everything that happens outside has already been.

Therefore whoever considers the event from outside always sees only that it already was, and that it is always the same.

But whoever

looks from inside, knows that everything is new.

The events that happen are always the same.

But the creative depths of man are not always the same. Events signify nothing, they signify only in us.

We create the meaning of events.

The meaning is and always was artificial. We make it.

Because of this we seek in ourselves the meaning of events, so that the way of  what is to come becomes apparent and our life can pow again.

That which you need comes from yourself, namely the meaning of the event.

The meaning of events is not their particular meaning. This meaning exists in learned books. Events have no meaning.

The meaning of events is the way of salvation that you create.

The meaning of events comes from the possibility of life in this world that you create.

It is the mastery of this world and the assertion of your soul in this world.

This meaning of events is the supreme meaning, that is not in events, and not in the soul, but is the God standing between events and the soul, the mediator of life, the way, the bridge and the going across.

I would not have been able to see what was to come if I could not have seen it in myself Therefore I take part in that murder; the sun of the depths also shines in me after the murder has been accomplished; the thousand serpents that want to devour the sun are also in me.

I myself am a murderer and murdered, sacrificer and sacrificed. The upwelling blood streams out of me.

You all have a share in the murder.

In you the reborn one will come to be, and the sun of the depths will rise, and a thousand serpents will develop from your dead matter and fall on the sun to choke it. Your blood will stream

forth. The peoples demonstrate this at the present time in unforgettable acts, that will be written with blood in unforgettable books for eternal memory:

But I ask you, when do men fall on their brothers with mighty weapons and bloody acts?

They do such if they do not know that their brother is themselves.

They themselves are sacrificers, but they mutually do the service of sacrifice.

They must all sacrifice each other, since the time has not yet come when man puts the bloody knife into himself in order to sacrifice the one he kills in his brother. But whom do people kill?

They kill the noble, the brave, the heroes.

They take aim at these and do not know that with these they mean themselves.

They should sacrifice the hero in themselves, and because they do not know this, they kill their courageous brother.

The time is still not ripe.

But through this blood sacrifice, it should ripen.

So long as it is possible to murder the brother instead of oneself the time is not ripe. Frightful things must happen un􀢢l men grow ripe.

But anything else will not ripen humanity.

Hence all this that takes place in these days must also be, so that the renewal can come.

Since the source of blood that follows the shrouding of the sun is also the source of the new life.

As the fate of the peoples is represented to you in events, so will it happen in your heart.

If the hero in you is slain, then the sun of the depths rises in you, glowing from afar, and from a dreadful place. B

ut all the same, everything that up till now seemed to be dead in you will come to life, and will change into poisonous serpents that will cover the sun, and you will fall into night and confusion.

Your blood also will stream from many wounds in this frightful struggle.

Your shock and doubt will be great, but from such torment the new life will be born.

Birth is blood and torment.

\our darkness, which you did not suspect since it was dead, will come to life and you will feel the crush of total evil and the conflicts of life that still now lie buried in the matter of your body.

But the serpents are dreadful evil thoughts and feelings.

You thought you knew that abyss? Oh you clever people! It is another thing to experience it.

Everything will happen to you.

Think of all the frightful and devilish things that men have inflicted on their brothers.

That should happen to you in your heart.

Suffer it yourself through your own hand, and know that it is your own heinous and devilish hand that inflicts the suffering on you, but not your brother, who wrestles with his own devils.

I would like you to see what the murdered hero means.

Those nameless men who in our day have murdered a prince are blind prophets who demonstrate in events what then is valid only for the soul.

Through the murder of princes we will learn that the prince in us, the hero, is threatened.

Whether this should be seen as a good or a bad sign need not concern us.

What is awful today is good in a hundred years, and in two hundred years is bad again.

But we must recognize what is happening: there are nameless ones in you who threaten your prince, the hereditary ruler.

But our ruler is the spirit of this time, which rules and leads in us all.

It is the general spirit in which we think and act today.

He is of frightful power, since he has brought immeasurable good to this world and fascinated men with unbelievable pleasure.

He is bejewelled with the most beautiful heroic virtue, and wants to drive men up to the brightest solar heights, in everlasting ascent.

The hero wants to open up everything he can.

But the nameless spirit of the depths evokes everything that man cannot. Incapacity prevents further ascent.

Greater height requires greater virtue. We do not possess it.

We must first create it by learning to live with our incapacity.

We must give it life. For how else shall it develop into ability?

We cannot slay our incapacity and rise above it.

But that is precisely what we wanted. Incapacity will overcome us and demand its share of life.

Our ability will desert us, and we will believe, in the sense of the spirit of this time,

that it is a loss. Yet it is no loss but a gain, not for outer trappings, however, but for inner capability.

The one who learns to live with his incapacity has learned a great deal.

This will lead us to the valuation of the smallest things, and to wise limitation, which the greater height demands.

If all heroism is erased, we fall back into the misery of humanity and into ever worse.

Our foundations will be caught up in excitement since our highest tension, which concerns what lies outside us, will stir them up.

We ’will fall into the cesspool of our underworld, among the rubble of all the centuries in us.

The heroic in you is the fact that you are ruled by the thought that this or that is good, that this or that performance is indispensable, this or that cause is objectionable, this or that goal must be attained in headlong striving work, this or that pleasure should be ruthlessly repressed at all costs.

Consequently you sin against incapacity.

But incapacity exists. No one should deny it, find fault with it, or shout it down. ~Carl Jung, The Red Book, Pages 237-240