Since all cognition is akin to recognition, it should not come as a surprise to find that what I have described as a gradual process of development had already been anticipated, and more or less prefigured, at the beginning of our era.
We meet these images and ideas in Gnosticism, to which we must now give our attention; for Gnosticism was, in the main, a product of cultural assimilation and is therefore of the greatest interest in elucidating and defining the contents constellated by prophecies about the Redeemer, or by his appearance in history, or by the synchronicity of the archetype.
In the Elenchos of Hippolytus the attraction between the magnet and iron is mentioned, if I am not mistaken, three times.
It first appears in the doctrine of the Naassenes, who taught that the four rivers of Paradise correspond to the eye, the ear, the sense of smell, and the mouth.
The mouth, through which prayers go out and food goes in, corresponds to the fourth river, the Euphrates.
The well-known significance of the “fourth” helps to explain its connection with the “whole” man, for the fourth always makes a triad into a totality.
The text says: “This is the water above the firmament, of which, they say, the Saviour spoke:
If you knew who it is that asks, you would have asked him, and he would have given you a spring of living water to drink.’
To this water comes every nature to choose its own substances, and from this water goes forth to every nature that which is proper to it, more [certainly] than iron to the Heracleian stone,” etc.
As the reference to John 4:10 shows, the wonderful water of the Euphrates has the property of the aqua doctrinae, which perfects every nature in its individuality and thus makes man whole too.
It does this by giving him a kind of magnetic power by which he can attract and integrate that which belongs to him.
The Naassene doctrine is, plainly, a perfect parallel to the alchemical view already discussed: the doctrine is the magnet that makes possible the integration of man as well as the lapis.
In the Peratic doctrine, so many ideas of this kind reappear that Hippolytus even uses the same metaphors, though the meaning is more subtle.
No one, he says, can be saved without the Son:
But this is the serpent.
For it is he who brought the signs of the Father down from above, and it is he who carries them back again after they have been awakened from sleep, transferring them thither from hence as substances proceeding from the Substanceless.
This, they say, is [what is meant by] the saying, “I am the Door.”
But they say he transfers them to those whose eyelids are closed, as naphtha draws everywhere the fire to itself, more than the Heracleian stone draws iron . . .
Thus, they say, the perfect race of men, made in the image [of the Father] and of the same substance [homoonsion], is drawn from the world by the Serpent, even as it was sent down by him; but naught else [is so drawn].
Here the magnetic attraction does not come from the doctrine or the water but from the “Son,” who is symbolized by the serpent, as in John 3:14.
Christ is the magnet that draws to itself those parts or substances in man that are of divine origin, the (signs of the Father), and carries them back to their heavenly birthplace.
The serpent is an equivalent of the fish.
The consensus of opinion interpreted the Redeemer equally as a fish and a serpent; he is a fish because he rose from the unknown depths, and a serpent because he came mysteriously out of the darkness.
Fishes and snakes are favourite symbols for describing psychic happenings or experiences that suddenly dart out of the unconscious and have a frightening or redeeming effect.
That is why they are so often expressed by the motif of helpful animals.
The comparison of Christ with the serpent is more authentic than that with the fish, but, for all that, it was not so popular in primitive Christianity.
The Gnostics favoured it because it was an old-established symbol for the “good” genius loci, the Agathodaimon, and also for their beloved Nous.
Both symbols are of inestimable value when it comes to the natural, instinctive interpretation of the Christ-figure.
Theriomorphic symbols are very common in dreams and other manifestations of the unconscious.
They express the psychic level of the content in question; that is to say, such contents are at a stage of unconsciousness that is as far from human consciousness as the psyche of an animal.
Warm-blooded or cold-blooded vertebrates of all kinds, or even invertebrates, thus indicate the degree of unconsciousness.
It is important for psychopathologists to know this, because these contents can produce, at all levels, symptoms that correspond to the physiological functions and are localized accordingly.
For instance, the symptoms may be distinctly correlated with the cerebrospinal and the sympathetic nervous system.
The Sethians may have guessed something of this sort, for Hippolytus mentions, in connection with the serpent, that they compared the “Father” with the cerebrum and the “Son” with the cerebellum and spinal cord.
The snake does in fact symbolize “cold-blooded,” inhuman contents and tendencies of an abstractly intellectual as well as a concretely animal nature: in a word, the extra-human quality in man.
The third reference to the magnet is to be found in Hippolytus’ account of the Sethian doctrine.
This has remarkable analogies with the alchemical doctrines of the Middle Ages, though no direct transmission can be proved.
It expounds, in Hippolytus’ words, a theory of “composition and mixture”: the ray of light from above mingles with the dark waters below in the form of a minute spark.
At the death of the individual, and also at his figurative death as a mystical experience, the two substances unmix themselves.
This mystical experience is the divisio and separatio of the composite (to Sixdo-ai koL x^p^at ra avyKeKpafxiva).
I purposely give the Latin terms used in medieval alchemy, because they denote essentially the same thing as do the Gnostic concepts.
The separation or unmixing enables the alchemist to extract the anima or spiritus from the prima materia.
During this operation the helpful Mercurius appears with the dividing sword (used also by the adept!), which the Sethians refer to Matthew 10 : 34: “I came not to send peace, but a sword.”
The result of the unmixing is that what was previously mixed up with the “other” is now drawn to “its own place” and to that which is “proper” or “akin” to it, “like iron to the magnet”
In the same way, the spark or ray of light, “having received from the teaching and learning its proper place, hastens to the Logos, which comes from above in the form of a slave . . . more [quickly] than iron [flies] to the magnet.”
Here the magnetic attraction comes from the Logos.
This denotes a thought or idea that has been formulated and articulated, hence a content and a product of consciousness.
Consequently the Logos is very like the aqua doctrinae, but whereas the Logos has the advantage of being an autonomous personality, the latter is merely a passive object of human action.
The Logos is nearer to the historical Christ-figure, just as the “water” is nearer to the magical water used in ritual (ablution, aspersion, baptism). Our three examples of magnetic action suggest three different forms of magnetic agent:
- The agent is an inanimate and in itself passive substance, water.
It is drawn from the depths of the well, handled by human hands, and used according to man’s needs.
It signifies the visible doctrine, the aqua doctrinae or the Logos, communicated to others by word of mouth and by ritual.
- The agent is an animate, autonomous being, the serpent.
It appears spontaneously or comes as a surprise; it fascinates; its glance is staring, fixed, unrelated; its blood cold, and it is a stranger to man: it crawls over the sleeper, he finds it in a shoe or in his pocket.
It expresses his fear of everything inhuman and his awe of the sublime, of what is beyond human ken.
It is the lowest (devil) and the highest (son of God, Logos, Nous, Agathodaimon).
The snake’s presence is frightening, one finds it in unexpected places at unexpected moments.
Like the fish, it represents and personifies the dark and unfathomable, the watery deep, the forest, the night, the cave.
When a primitive says “snake,” he means an experience of something extrahuman.
The snake is not an allegory or metaphor, for its own peculiar form is symbolic in itself, and it is essential to note that the “Son” has the form of a snake and not the other way round: the snake does not signify the “Son.”
- The agent is the Logos, a philosophical idea and abstraction of the bodily and personal son of God on the one hand, and on the other the dynamic power of thoughts and words.
It is clear that these three symbols seek to describe the unknowable essence of the incarnate God.
But it is equally clear that they are hypostatized to a high degree: it is real water, and not figurative water, that is used in ritual.
The Logos was in the beginning, and God was the Logos, long before the Incarnation.
The emphasis falls so much on the “serpent” that the Ophites celebrated their eucharistic feast with a live snake, no less realistic than the Aesculapian snake at Epidaurus.
Similarly, the “fish” is not just the secret language of the mystery, but, as the monuments show, it meant something in itself.
Moreover, it acquired its meaning in primitive Christianity without any real support from the written tradition, whereas the serpent can
at least be referred back to an authentic logion.
All three symbols are phenomena of assimilation that are in themselves of a numinous nature and therefore have a certain degree of autonomy.
Indeed, had they never made their appearance, it would have meant that the annunciation of the Christ-figure was ineffective.
These phenomena not only prove the effectiveness of the annunciation, but provide the necessary conditions in which the annunciation can take effect.
In other s words, the symbols represent the prototypes of the Christ-figure that were slumbering in man’s unconscious and were then called awake by his actual appearance in history and, so to speak, magnetically attracted.
That is why Meister Eckhart uses the same symbolism to describe Adam’s relation to the Creator on the one hand and to the lower creatures on the other.
This magnetic process revolutionizes the ego-oriented psyche by setting up, in contradistinction to the ego, another goal or centre which is characterized by all manner of names and symbols: fish, serpent, centre of the sea-hawk, point, monad, cross, paradise, and so on.
The myth of the ignorant demiurge who imagined he was the highest divinity illustrates the perplexity of the ego when it can no longer hide from itself the knowledge that it has been dethroned by a supraordinate authority.
The “thousand names” of the lapis philosophorum correspond to the innumerable Gnostic designations for the Anthropos, which make it quite obvious what is meant: the greater, more comprehensive Man, that indescribable whole consisting of the sum of conscious and unconscious processes.
This objective whole, the antithesis of the subjective ego-psyche, is what I have called the self, and this corresponds exactly to the idea of the Anthropos.
When, in treating a case of neurosis, we try to supplement the inadequate attitude (or adaptedness) of the conscious mind by adding to it contents of the unconscious, our aim is to create a wider personality whose centre of gravity does not necessarily coincide with the ego, but which, on the contrary, as the patient’s insights increase, may even thwart his ego-tendencies.
Like a magnet, the new centre attracts to itself that which is proper to it, the “signs of the Father,” i.e., everything that pertains to the original and unalterable character of the individual ground-plan.
All this is older than the ego and acts towards it as the “blessed, nonexistent God” of the Basilidians acted towards the archon of the Ogdoad, the demiurge, and—paradoxically enough—as the son of the demiurge acted towards his father.
The son proves superior in that he has knowledge of the message from above and can therefore tell his father that he is not the
highest God. This apparent contradiction resolves itself when we consider the underlying psychological experience.
On the one hand, in the products of the unconscious the self appears as it were a priori, that is, in well-known circle and quaternity symbols which may already have occurred in the earliest dreams of childhood, long before there was any possibility of consciousness
On the other hand, only patient and painstaking work on the contents of the unconscious, and the resultant synthesis of conscious and unconscious data, can lead to a “totality,” which once more uses circle and quaternity symbols for purposes of self-description.
In this phase, too, the original dreams of childhood are remembered and understood.
The alchemists, who in their own way knew more about the nature of the individuation process than we moderns do, expressed this paradox through the symbol of the uroboros, the snake that bites its own tail.
The same knowledge, formulated differently to suit the age they lived in, was possessed by the Gnostics.
The idea of an unconscious was not unknown to them.
For instance, Epiphanius quotes an excerpt from one of the Valentinian letters, which says:
“In the beginning the Autopator contained in himself everything that is, in a state of unconsciousness [lit., ‘not-knowing’: dyvwo-ta].”
It was Professor G. Quispel who kindly drew my
attention to this passage. He also points out the passage in Hippolytus:
So the “Father” is not only unconscious and without the quality of being, but also nirdvandva, without opposites, lacking all qualities and therefore unknowable. This describes the state of the unconscious.
The Valentinian text gives the Autopator more positive qualities:
“Some called him the ageless Aeon, eternally young, male and female, who contains everything in himself and is [himself] contained by nothing.”
In him was Iwoia, consciousness, which “conveys the treasures of the greatness to those who come from the greatness.”
But the presence of hvoia does not prove that the Autopator himself is conscious, for the differentiation of consciousness results only from the syzygies and tetrads that follow afterwards, all of them symbolizing processes of conjunction and composition.
“Ewoia must be thought of here as the latent possibility of consciousness. Oehler translates it as mens, Cornarius as intelligentia and notio.
St. Paul’s concept of ayvoia (ignorantia) may not be too far removed from dyiwia, since both mean the initial, unconscious condition of man.
When God “looked down” on the times of ignorance, the Greek word used here, WeptSwv (Vulgate: despiciens) has the connotation ‘to disdain, despise.’
At all events, Gnostic tradition says that when the highest God saw what miserable, unconscious creatures these human beings were
whom the demiurge had created, who were not even able to walk upright, he immediately got the work of redemption under way.
And in the same passage in the Acts, Paul reminds the
Athenians that they were “God’s offspring,” and that God, looking back disapprovingly on “the times of ignorance,” had sent the message to mankind, commanding “all men every-where to repent.”
Because that earlier condition seemed to be altogether too wretched, the fxerdvoia (transformation of mind) took on the moral character of repentance of sins, with the result that the Vulgate could translate it as “poenitentiam agere.”
The sin to be repented, of course, is ayvoia or ayvuma, unconsciousness.
As we have seen, it is not only man who is in this condition, but also, according to the Gnostics, the avewo-qros, the God without consciousness.
This idea is more or less in line with the traditional Christian view that God was transformed during the passage from the Old Testament to the New, and, from being the God of wrath, changed into the God of Love—a thought that is expressed very clearly by Nicolaus Caussin in
the seventeenth century.
In this connection I must mention the results of Riwkah Scharf’s examination of the figure of Satan in the Old Testament.
With the historical transformation of the concept of Satan the image of Yahweh changes too, so that one can well say that there was a differentiation of the God-image even in the Old Testament, not to speak of the New.
The idea that the world-creating Deity is not conscious, but may be dreaming, is found also in Hindu literature:
Who knows how it was, and who shall declare
Whence it was born and whence it came?
The gods are later than this creation;
Who knows, then, whence it has sprung?
Whence this created world came,
And whether he made it or not,
He alone who sees all in the highest heaven
Knows—or does not know.
Meister Eckhart’s theology knows a “Godhead” of which no qualities, except unity and being,2can be predicated; it “is becoming,” it is not yet Lord of itself, and it represents an absolute coincidence of opposites:
“But its simple nature is of forms formless; of becoming becomingless; of beings beingless; of things thingless,” etc.
Union of opposites is equivalent to unconsciousness, so far as human logic goes, for consciousness presupposes a differentiation into subject and object and a relation between them.
Where there is no “other,” or it does not yet exist, all possibility of consciousness ceases. Only the Father, the God “welling” out of the Godhead, “notices himself,” becomes “beknown to himself,” and “confronts himself as a Person.”
So, from the Father, comes the Son, as the Father’s thought of his own being. In his original unity “he knows nothing” except the
“suprareal” One which he is.
As the Godhead is essentially unconscious, so too is the man who lives in God. In his sermon on “The Poor in Spirit” (Matt. 5 : 3), the Meister says:
“The man who has this poverty has everything he was when he lived not in any wise, neither in himself, nor in truth, nor in God. He is so
quit and empty of all knowing that no knowledge of God is alive in him; for while he stood in the eternal nature of God, there lived in him not another: what lived there was himself. And so we say this man is as empty of his own knowledge as he was when he was not anything; he lets God work what he will, and he stands empty as when he came from God.”
Therefore he should love God in the following way: “Love him as he is: a not-God, a not-spirit, a not-person, a not-image; as a sheer, pure,
clear One, which he is, sundered from all secondness; and in this One let us sink eternally, from nothing to nothing. So help us God. Amen.”
The world-embracing spirit of Meister Eckhart knew, without discursive knowledge, the primordial mystical experience of India as well as of the Gnostics, and was itself the finest flower on the tree of the “Free Spirit” that flourished at the beginning of the eleventh century.
Well might the writings of this Master lie buried for six hundred years, for “his time was not yet come.”
Only in the nineteenth century did he find a public at all capable of appreciating the grandeur of his mind.
These utterances on the nature of the Deity express transformations of the God-image which run parallel with changes in human consciousness, though one would be at a loss to say which is the cause of the other.
The God-image is not something invented, it is an experience that comes upon man spontaneously —as anyone can see for himself unless he is blinded to the truth by theories and prejudices.
The unconscious God-image can therefore alter the state of consciousness, just as the latter can modify the God-image once it has become conscious.
This, obviously, has nothing to do with the “prime truth,” the unknown God—at least, nothing that could be verified.
Psychologically, however, the idea of God’s ayvwaia, or of the avevvo-qros 0eo?, is of the utmost importance, because it identifies the Deity with the numinosity of the unconscious.
The atman /purusha philosophy of the East and, as we have seen, Meister Eckhart in the West both bear witness to this.
Now if psychology is to lay hold of this phenomenon, it can only do so if it expressly refrains from passing metaphysical judgments, and if it does not presume to profess convictions to which it is ostensibly entitled on the ground of scientific experience.
But of this there can be no question whatever.
The one and only thing that psychology can establish is the presence of pictorial symbols, whose interpretation is in no sense fixed beforehand.
It can make out, with some certainty, that these symbols have the character of “wholeness” and therefore presumably mean wholeness.
As a rule they are “uniting” symbols, representing the conjunction of a single or double pair of opposites, the result being either a dyad or a quaternion.
They arise from the collision between the conscious and the unconscious and from the confusion which this causes (known in alchemy as
“chaos” or “nigredo”).
Empirically, this confusion takes the form of restlessness and disorientation.
The circle and quaternity symbolism appears at this point as a compensating principle of order, which depicts the union of warring opposites as already accomplished, and thus eases the way to a healthier and quieter state (“salvation”).
For the present, it is not possible for psychology to establish more than that the symbols of wholeness mean the wholeness of the individual.
On the other hand, it has to admit, most emphatically, that this symbolism uses images or schemata which have always, in all the religions, expressed the universal “Ground,” the Deity itself.
Thus the circle is a well-known symbol for God; and so (in a certain sense) is the cross, the quaternity in all its forms, e.g., Ezekiel’s vision, the Rex gloriae with the four evangelists, the Gnostic Barbelo (“God in four”) and Kolorbas (“all four”); the duality (tao, hermaphrodite, father-mother); and finally, the human form (child, son, anthropos) and the individual personality (Xhrist and Buddha), to name only the most important of the motifs here used.
All these images are found, empirically, to be expressions for the unified wholeness of man.
The fact that this goal goes by the name of “God” proves that it has a numinous character; and indeed, experiences, dreams, and visions of this kind do have a fascinating and impressive quality which can be spontaneously felt even by people who are not prejudiced in their favour by prior psychological knowledge.
So it is no wonder that naive minds make no distinction between God and the image they have experienced.
Wherever, therefore, we find symbols indicative of psychic wholeness, we encounter the naive idea that they stand for God. In the case of those quite common Romanesque pictures of the Son of Man accompanied by three angels with animal heads and one with a human head, for example, it would be simpler to assume that the Son of Man meant the ordinary man and that the problem of one against three referred to the well-known psychological schema of one differentiated and three undifferentiated functions.
But this interpretation would, according to the traditional view, devalue the symbol, for it means the second Person of the Godhead in its universal, fourfold aspect.
Psychology cannot of course adopt this view as its own; it can only establish the existence of such statements and point out, by way of comparison, that essentially the same symbols, in particular the dilemma of one and three, often appear in the spontaneous products of the unconscious, where they demonstrably refer to the psychic totality of the individual.
They indicate the presence of an archetype of like nature, one of whose derivates would seem to be the quaternity of functions that orient consciousness.
But, since this totality exceeds the individual’s consciousness to an indefinite and indeterminable extent, it invariably includes the unconscious in its orbit and hence the totality of all archetypes.
But the archetypes are complementary equivalents of the “outside world” and therefore possess a “cosmic” character.
This explains their numinosity and “godlikeness.”
To make my exposition more complete, I would like to mention some of the Gnostic symbols for the universal “Ground” or arcanum, and especially those synonyms which signify the “Ground.”
Psychology takes this idea as an image of the unconscious background and begetter of consciousness.
The most important of these images is the figure of the demiurge.
The Gnostics have a vast number of symbols for the source or origin, the centre of being, the Creator, and the divine substance hidden in the creature.
Lest the reader be confused by this wealth of images, he should always remember that each new image is simply another aspect of the divine mystery immanent in all creatures.
My list of Gnostic symbols is no more than an amplification of a single transcendental idea, which is so comprehensive and so difficult to visualize in itself that a great many different expressions are required in order to bring out its various aspects.
According to Irenaeus, the Gnostics held that Sophia represents the world of the Ogdoad, which is a double quaternity.
In the form of a dove, she descended into the water and begot
Saturn, who is identical with Yahweh.
Saturn, as we have already mentioned, is the “other sun,” the sol niger of alchemy.
Here he is the “primus Anthropus.”
He created the first man, who could only crawl like a worm.
Am ong the Naassenes, the demiurge Esaldaios, “a fiery god, the fourth by number,” is set up against the Trinity of Father, Mother, and Son.
The highest is the Father, the Archanthropos, who is without qualities and is called the higher Adam.
In various systems Sophia takes the place of the Protanthropos.
mentions the Ebionite teaching that Adam, the original man, is identical with Christ.
In Theodor Bar-Kuni the original man is the five elements (i.e., 4 -|- i).
In the Acts of Thomas, the dragon says of itself: “I am the son … of him that hurt and smote the four brethren which stood upright.”
The primordial image of the quaternity coalesces, for the Gnostics, with the figure of the demiurge or Anthropos.
He is, as it were, the victim of his own creative act, for, when he descended into Physis, he was caught in her embrace.
The image of the anima mundi or Original Man latent in the dark of matter expresses the presence of a transconscious centre which,
because of its quaternary character and its roundness, must be regarded as a symbol of wholeness.
We may assume, with due caution, that some kind of psychic wholeness is meant (for instance, conscious -f- unconscious), though the history of the symbol shows that it was always used as a God-image.
Psychology, as I have said, is not in a position to make metaphysical statements.
It can only establish that the symbolism of psychic wholeness coincides with the God-image, but it can never prove that the God-image is God himself, or that the self takes the place of God.
This coincidence comes out very clearly in the ancient Egyptian Heb-Sed festival, of which Colin Campbell gives the following description:
“The king comes out of an apartment called the sanctuary, then he ascends into a pavilion open at the four sides, with four staircases leading up to it. Carrying the emblems of Osiris, he takes his seat on a throne, and turns to the four cardinal points in succession. . . . It is a kind of second enthronement . , . and sometimes the king acts as a priest, making offerings to himself. This last act may be regarded as the
climax of the deification of the king.”
The kingship is rooted in this psychology, and therefore, for the anonymous individual of the populace, every king carries the symbol of the self, All his insignia—crown, mantle, orb, sceptre, starry orders, etc.—show him as the cosmic Anthropos, who not only begets, but himself is, the world. He is the homo maximus, whom we meet again in Swedenborg’s speculations.
The Gnostics, too, constantly endeavoured to give visible form and a suitable conceptual dress to this being, suspecting that he was the matrix and organizing principle of consciousness.
As the “Phrygians” (Naassenes) say in Hippolytus,he is the “undivided point,” the “grain of mustard seed” that grows into the kingdom of God. This point is “present in the body/.”
But this is known only to the trvevfiariKoi, the “spiritual” men as opposed to the \pvxiK-oi and the vXlkoi (“material” men).
He is to pijfxa tov Oeov, the utterance of God (sermo Dei), and the “matrix of the Aeons, Powers, Intelligences, Gods, Angels, and Emissary
Spirits, of Being and Non-Being, of Begotten and Unbegotten, of the Non-Intelligible Intelligible, of the Years, Moons, Days, Hours. . . .”
This point, “being nothing and consisting of nothing,” becomes a “certain magnitude incomprehensible by thought.”
Hippolytus accuses the Naassenes of bundling everything into their thought like the syncretists, for he obviously cannot quite understand how the point, the “utterance of God,” can have a human form.
The Naassenes, he complains, also call him the “polymorphous Attis,” the young dying son of the Great Mother, or, as the hymn cited by Hippolytus says, Kare</>£5 aKova/xa ‘Pea?, the ‘dark rumour of Rhea.’
In the hymn he has the synonyms Adonis, Osiris, Adam, Korybas, Pan, Bacchus, and TroLfxriv XevKw aarpuv^ ‘shepherd of white stars.’
The Naassenes themselves considered Naas, the serpent, to be their central deity, and they explained it as the “moist substance,” in agreement with Thales of Miletus, who said water was the prime substance on which all life depended.
Similarly, all living things depend on the Naas; “it contains within itself, like the horn of the one-horned bull, the beauty of all things.”
It “pervades everything, like the water that flows out of Eden and divides into four sources” (apxas) “This Eden, they say, is the brain.”
Three of the rivers of Paradise are sensory functions (Pison = sight, Gihon = hearing, Tigris = smell), but the fourth, the Euphrates, is the mouth, “the seat of prayer and the entrance of food.”
As the fourth function it has a double significance, denoting on the one hand the purely material activity of bodily nourishment, while on the other hand it “gladdens, feeds, and forms [xapaKT-qpi&i] the spiritual, perfect [tc’Aoov] man.”
The “fourth” is something special, ambivalent—a daimonion.
A good example of this is in Daniel 3 : 24L, where the three men in the burning fiery furnace are joined by a fourth, whose form was “like a son of God.”
The water of the Euphrates is the “water above the firmament,” the “living water of Which the Saviour spoke,” and possessing, as we have seen, magnetic properties. It is that miraculous water from which the olive draws its oil and the grape the wine.
“That man,” continues Hippolytus, as though still speaking of the water of the Euphrates, “is without honour in the world.”
This is an allusion to the i-eAeios avOpuiros.
Indeed, this water is the “perfect man,” the pr/fia Beov, the Word sent by God. “From the living water we spiritual men choose that which is ours,” for every nature, when dipped in this water, “chooses its own substances . . . and from this water goes forth to every nature that which is proper to it.”
The water or, as we could say, this Christ is a sort of panspermia, a matrix of all possibilities, from which the irvevixariKo? chooses “his Osob,” his idiosyncrasy, that “flies to him more [quickly] than iron to the magnet.”
But the “spiritual men” attain their proper nature by entering in through the “true door,” Jesus Makarios (the blessed), and thus obtaining knowledge of their own wholeness, i.e., of the complete man.
This man, unhonoured in the world, is obviously the inner, spiritual man, who becomes conscious for those who enter in through Christ, the door to life, and are illuminated by him.
Two images are blended here: the image of the “strait gate,” M and that of John 14:6: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one
comes to the Father but through me.”
They represent an integration process that is characteristic of psychological individuation.
As formulated, the water symbol continually coalesces with Christ and Christ with the inner man.
This, it seems to me, is not a confusion of thought but a psychologically correct formulation of the facts, since Christ as the “Word” is indeed the “living water” and at the same time the symbol of the inner “complete” man, the self.
For the Naassenes, the universal “Ground” is the Original Man, Adam, and knowledge of him is regarded as the beginning of perfection and the bridge to knowledge of God.
He is male/female; from him come “father and mother”; he consists of three parts: the rational (vocpov), the psychic, and the earthly (Xolk6v).
These three “came down together into one man, Jesus,” and “these three men spoke together, each of them from his own substance to his own,” i.e., from the rational to the rational, etc.
Through this doctrine Jesus is related to the Original Man (Christ as second Adam). His soul is “of three parts and (yet) one”—a Trinity.
As examples of the Original Man the text mentions the Cabiros and Oannes.
The latter had a soul capable of suffering, so that the “figure (wkdo-fjia) of the great, most beautiful and perfect man, humbled to a slave,”
might suffer punishment.
He is the “blessed nature, at once hidden and revealed, of everything that has come to be and will be,” “the kingdom of heaven which is to be sought within man” (lvr6^ avQp&icov), even “in children of seven years.”
For the Naassenes, says Hippolytus, place the “procreative nature of the Whole in the procreative seed.”
On the face of it, this looks like the beginnings of a “sexual theory” concerning the underlying psychic substance, reminiscent of certain modern attempts in the same vein.
But one should not overlook the fact that in reality man’s procreative power is only a special instance of the “procreative nature of the Whole.” ”
This, for them, is the hidden and mystical Logos,” which, in the text that follows, is likened to the phallus of Osiris—”and they say Osiris is water.”
Although the substance of this seed is the cause of all things, it does not partake of their nature.
They say therefore: “I become what I will, and I am what I am.”
For he who moves everything is himself unmoved. “He, they say, is alone good.” A further synonym is the ithyphallic Hermes Kyllenios.
“For they say Hermes is the Logos, the interpreter and fashioner of what has been, is, and will be.” That is why he is worshipped as the
phallus, because he, like the male organ, “has an urge [6p^?jv] from below upwards.”
The fact that not only the Gnostic Logos but Christ himself was drawn into the orbit of sexual symbolism is corroborated by the fragment from the Interrogationes maiores Mariae, quoted by Epiphanius.
It is related there that Christ took this Mary with him on to a mountain, where he produced a woman from his side and began to have intercourse with her: “. . . seminis sui defluxum assumpsisset, indicasse illi, quod oporteat sic facere, ut vivamus.”
It is understandable that this crude symbolism should offend our modern feelings.
But it also appeared shocking to Christians of the third and fourth centuries; and when, in addition, the symbolism became associated with a concretistic misunderstanding, as appeared to be the case in certain sects, it could only be rejected.
That the author of the Interrogationes was by no means ignorant of some such reaction is evident from the text itself. It says that Mary received such a shock that she fell to the ground.
Christ then said to her: “Wherefore do you doubt me, O you of little faith?”
This was meant as a reference to John 3:12: “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you
heavenly things?” and also to John 6 : 54: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
This symbolism may well have been based, originally, on some visionary experience, such as happens not uncommonly today during psychological treatment.
For the medical psychologist there is nothing very lurid about it.
The context itself points the way to the right interpretation.
The image expresses a psychologem that can hardly be formulated in rational terms and has, therefore, to make use of a concrete symbol, just as a dream must when a more or less “abstract” thought comes up during the abaissement du niveau mental that occurs in sleep.
These “shocking” surprises, of which there is certainly no lack in dreams, should always be taken “as-if,” even though they lothe themselves in sensual imagery that stops at no scurrility and no obscenity.
They are unconcerned with offensiveness, because they do not really mean it. It is as if they were stammering in their efforts to express the elusive meaning that grips the dreamer’s attention.
The context of the vision (John 3:12) makes it clear that the image should be taken not concretistically but symbolically; for Christ speaks not of earthly things but of a heavenly or spiritual mystery—a “mystery” not because he is hiding something or making a secret of it (indeed, nothing could be more blatant than the naked obscenity of the vision!) but because its meaning is still hidden from consciousness.
The modern method of dream-analysis and interpretation follows this heuristic rule.
If we apply it to the vision, we arrive at the following result:
- The mountain means ascent, particularly the mystical, spiritual ascent to the heights, to the place of revelation where the spirit is present. This motif is so well known that there is no need to document it.
The central significance of the Christ-figure for that epoch has been abundantly proved. In Christian Gnosticism it was a visualization of God as the Archanthropos (Original Man = Adam), and therefore the epitome of man as such: “Man nd the Son of Man.” Christ is the inner man who is reached by the path of self-knowledge, “the kingdom of heaven within you.”
As the Anthropos he corresponds to what is empirically the most important archetype and, as judge of the living and the dead and king of glory, to the real organizing principle of the unconscious, the quaternity, or squared circle of the self.
In saying this I have not done violence to anything; my views are based on the experience that mandala structures have the meaning and function of a centre of the unconscious personality.
The quaternity of Christ, which must be borne in mind in this vision, is exemplified by the cross symbol, the rex gloriae, and Christ as the year.
The production of the woman from his side suggests that he is interpreted as the second Adam.
Bringing forth a woman means that he is playing the role of the Creator-god in Genesis.
Just as Adam, before the creation of Eve, was supposed by various traditions to be male /female, so Christ here demonstrates his androgyny in a drastic way.
The Original Man is usually hermaphroditic; in Vedic tradition too he produces his own feminine half and unites with her.
In Christian allegory the woman sprung from Christ’s side signifies the Church as the Bride of the Lamb.
The splitting of the Original Man into husband and wife expresses an act of nascent consciousness; it gives birth to a pair of opposites, thereby making consciousness possible.
For the beholder of the miracle, Mary, the vision was the spontaneous visualization or projection of an unconscious process in herself.
Experience shows that unconscious processes are compensatory to a definite conscious situation.
The splitting in the vision would therefore suggest that it is compensating a conscious condition of unity.
This unity probably refers in the first place to the figure of the Anthropos, the incarnate God, who was then in the forefront of religious interest. He was, in Origen’s words, the “Vir Unus,” 70 the One Man.
It was with this figure that Mary was confronted in her vision.
If we assume that the recipient of the vision was in reality a woman—an assumption that is not altogether without grounds—then what she had been missing in the pure, deified masculinity of Christ was the counterbalancing femininity.
Therefore it was revealed to her: “I am both, man and woman.”
This psychologem is still incorporated today in the Catholic conception of Christ’s androgyny as the “Virgo de Virgine,” though this is more a sententia communis than a conclusio.
Medieval iconography sometimes shows Christ with breasts, in accordance with Song of Solomon 1:1: ‘For thy breasts are better than wine” (DV). In Mechthild of Magdeburg, the soul remarks that when the Lord kissed her, he had, contrary to expectation, no beard.
The tokens of masculinity were lacking. Mechthild had a vision similar to Mary’s, dealing with the same problem from a different angle: she saw herself transported to a “rocky mountain” where the Blessed Virgin sat, awaiting the birth of the divine child.
When it was born, she embraced it and kissed it three times.
As the text points out, the mountain is an allegory of the “spiritualis habitus,” or spiritual attitude.
“Through divine inspiration she knew how the Son is the innermost core [medulla] of the Father’s heart.”
This medulla is “strengthening, healing, and most sweet”; God’s “strength and greatest sweetness” are given to us through the Son, the “Saviour and strongest, sweetest Comforter,” but “the innermost [core] of the soul is that sweetest thing.”
From this it is clear that Mechthild equates the “medulla” with the Father’s heart, the Son, and the inner man.
Psychologically speaking, “that sweetest thing” corresponds to the self, which is indistinguishable from the God-image.
There is a significant difference between the two visions.
The antique revelation depicts the birth of Eve from Adam on the spiritual level of the second Adam (Christ), from whose side the feminine pneuma, or second Eve, i.e., the soul, appears as Christ’s daughter.
As already mentioned, in the Christian view the soul is interpreted as the Church: she is the woman who “embraces the man” and anoints the Lord’s feet.
Mechthild’s vision is a continuation of the sacred myth: the daughter-bride has become a mother and bears the Father in the shape of the Son.
That the Son is closely akin to the self is evident from the emphasis laid on the quaternary nature of Christ: he has a “fourfold voice” (quadruplex vox), his heart has four kinds of pulse, and from his countenance go forth four rays of light.
In this image a new millennium is speaking. Meister Eckhart, using a different formulation, says that “God is born from the soul,” and when we come to the Cherubinic Wanderer of Angelus Silesius, God and the self coincide absolutely.
The times have undergone a profound change: the procreative power no longer proceeds from God, rather is God born from the soul.
The mythologem of the young dying god has taken on psychological form—a sign of further assimilation and conscious realization.
But to turn back to the first vision: the bringing forth of the woman is followed by copulation.
The hieros gamos on the mountain is a well-known motif, just as, in the old alchemical pictures, the hermaphrodite has a fondness for elevated places.
The alchemists likewise speak of an Adam who always carries his Eve around with him.
Their coniunctio is an incestuous act, performed not by father and daughter but, in accordance with the changed times, by brother and sister or mother and son.
The latter variant corresponds to the ancient Egyptian mythologem of Amen as Ka-mutef, which means ‘husband of his mother,’ or of Mut, who is the “mother of her father and daughter of her son.”
The idea of self-copulation is a recurrent theme in descriptions of the world creator: for instance, God splits into his masculine and feminine halves, or he fertilizes himself in a manner that could easily have served as a model for the Interrogationes vision, if literary antecedents must be conjectured.
Thus the relevant passage in the Heliopolitan story of the Creation runs: “I, even I, had union with my clenched hand, I joined myself in an embrace with my shadow, I poured seed into my mouth, my own, I sent forth issue in the form of Shu, I sent forth moisture in the form of Tefnut.”
Although the idea of self-fertilization is not touched on in our vision, there can be no doubt that there is a close connection between this and the idea of the cosmogonic self-creator.
Here, however, world creation gives place to spiritual renewal.
That is why no visible creature arises from the taking in of seed; it means a nourishing of life, “that we may live.”
And because, as the text itself shows, the vision should be understood on the “heavenly” or spiritual plane, the pouring out (aTroppota) refers to a Ao’yo? o-Trep/xart/co?, which in the language of the gospels means a living water “springing up into eternal life.”
The whole vision reminds one very much of the related alchemical symbolisms.
Its drastic naturalism, unpleasantly obtrusive in comparison with the reticence of ecclesiastical language, points back on the one hand to archaic forms of religion whose ideas and modes of expression had long since been superseded, but forwards, on the other, to a still crude observation of Nature that was just beginning to assimilate the archetype of man.
This attempt continued right up to the seventeenth century, when Johannes Kepler recognized the Trinity as underlying the structure
of the universe—in other words, when he assimilated this archetype into the astronomer’s picture of the world.
After this digression on the phallic synonyms for the Original Man, we will turn back to Hippolytus’ account of the central symbols of the Naassenes and continue with a list of statements about Hermes.
Hermes is a conjurer of spirits (i/^xaywyo’s), a guide of souls (i/a^oTro/xTros), and a begetter of souls (i/or^v atrto?).
But the souls were “brought down from the blessed Man on high, the archman Adamas, . . . into the form of clay, that they might serve
the demiurge of this creation, Esaldaios, a fiery god, the fourth by number.”
Esaldaios corresponds to Ialdabaoth, the highest archon, and also to Saturn.
The “fourth” refers to the fourth Person—the devil—who is opposed to the Trinity. Ialdabaoth means “child of chaos”; hence when Goethe, borrowing from alchemical terminology, calls the devil the “strange son of chaos,” the name is a very apt one.
Hermes is equipped with the golden wand.
With it he “drops sleep on the eyes of the dead and wakes up the sleepers.”
The Naassenes referred this to Ephesians 5:14: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.”
Just as the alchemists took the well-known allegory of Christ, the lapis angularis or cornerstone, for their lapis philosophorum, so the Naassenes took it as symbolizing their Protanthropos Adam, or more precisely, the “inner man,” who is a rock or stone, since he came from the Trlrp-q rov ‘ASd/xavro^, “fallen from Adamas the arch-man on high.”
The alchemists said their stone was “cut from the mountain without hands,” and the Naassenes say the same thing of the inner man, who was brought down “into the form of oblivion.”
In Epiphanius the mountain is the Archanthropos Christ, from whom the stone or inner man was cut.
As Epiphanius interprets it, this means that the inner man is begotten “without human seed,” “a small stone that becomes a great mountain.”
The Archanthropos is the Logos, whom the souls follow “twittering,” as the bats follow Hermes in the nekyia.
He leads them to Oceanus and—in the immortal words of Homer—to “the doors of Helios and the land of dreams.” ”
He [Hermes] is Oceanus, the begetter of gods and men, ever ebbing and flowing, now forth, now back.” Men are born from the ebb, and
gods from the flow.
“It is this, they say, that stands written: ‘I have said, you are gods, and all of you the sons of the most High.'”
Here the affinity or identity of God and man is explicit, in the Holy Scriptures no less than in the Naassene teachings.
The Naassenes, as Hippolytus says, derived all things from a triad, which consists firstly of the “blessed nature of the blessed Man on high, Adamas,” secondly of the mortal nature of the lower man, and thirdly of the “kingless race begotten from above,” to which belong “Mariam the sought-for one, and Jothor the great wise one, and Sephora the seer, and Moses whose generation was not in Egypt.”
Together these four form a marriage quaternio of the classic type:
Their synonyms are:
MOTHER — FATHER
QUEEN — KING
THE UNKNOWN WOMAN — THE DISTANT LOVER
ANIMA — ANIMUS
Moses corresponds to the husband, Sephora to the wife; Mariam (Miriam) is the sister of Moses; Jothor (Jethro) is the archetype of the wise old man and corresponds to the fatheranimus, if the quaternio is that of a woman.
But the fact that Jothor is called “the great wise one” suggests that the quaternio is a man’s. In the case of a woman the accent that falls here on the wise man would fall on Mariam, who would then have the significance of the Great Mother.
At all events our quaternio lacks the incestuous brother-sister relationship, otherwise very common.
Instead, Miriam has something of a mother significance for Moses (cf. Exodus 2 : 4fL).
As a prophetess (Exodus 15 : 20L) she is a “magical” personality.
When Moses took a Moor to wife—the “Ethiopian woman”—this incensed Miriam so much that she was smitten with leprosy and became “as white as snow” (Numbers 12 : 10).
Miriam is therefore not altogether unsuited to play the role of the anima.
The best-known anima figure in the Old Testament, the Shulamite, says: “I am black, but comely” (Song of Songs 1 : 5).
In the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, the royal bride is the concubine of the Moorish king. Negroes, and especially Ethiopians, play a considerable role in alchemy as synonyms of the caput corvi and the nigredo.
They appear in the Passion of St. Perpetua as representatives of the sinful pagan world.
The triad is characterized by various names that may be onomatopoetic: Kaulakau, Saulasau, Zeesar.
Kaulakau means the higher Adam, Saulasau the lower, mortal man, and Zeesar is named the “upwards-flowing Jordan.”
The Jordan was caused by Jesus to flow up-stream; it is the rising flood and this, as already mentioned, is the begetter of gods.
“This, they say, is the human hermaphrodite in all creatures, whom the ignorant call ‘Geryon of the threefold body’ [that is, d>s h yijs frkovra, ‘flowing from the earth’]; but the Greeks name it the celestial horn of the moon.”
The text defines the above-mentioned quaternio, which is identical with Zeesar, the upwards-flowing Jordan, the hermaphrodite, Geryon of the threefold body, and the horn of the moon, as the cosmogonic Logos (John 1 : iff.), and the “life that was in him” (John 1 : 4) as a “generation of perfect men” (reXeioi avdp&TOL).
This Logos or quaternity is “the cup from which the king, drinking, draws his omens,” 10° or the beaker of Anacreon.
The cup leads Hippolytus on to the wine miracle at Cana, which, he says, “showed forth the kingdom of heaven”; for the kingdom
of heaven lies within us, like the wine in the cup.
Further parallels of the cup are the ithyphallic gods of Samothrace and the Kyllenic Hermes, who signify the Original Man as well as the
spiritual man who is reborn.
This last is “in every respect consubstantial” with the Original Man symbolized by Hermes.
For this reason, says Hippolytus, Christ said that one must eat of his flesh and drink of his blood, for he was conscious of the individual
nature of each of his disciples, and also of the need of each “to come to his own special nature.” 101
Another synonym is Korybas, who was descended from the crown of the head and from the unformed (axapaKTVp’^rov) brain, like the Euphrates from Eden, and permeates all things. His image exists—unrecognized—”in earthly form.”
He is the god who dwells in the flood. I need not describe this symbol here, as I have already discussed it at some length in one of my Paracelsus studies. 102
So far as Korybas is concerned, the parallel between him and the Protanthropos is explained by the ancient view that the corybants were the original men.103
The name “Korybas” does not denote a particular personality, but rather the anonymous member of a collectivity, such as the Curetes,
Cabiri, Dactyls, etc. Etymologically, it has been brought into connection with Kopv<f>ri (crown of the head), though this is not certain.
4orybas seems in our text to be the name of a single personality—the Kyllenian Hermes, who appears here as synonymous with the Cabiri of Samothrace. With reference to this Hermes the text says: “Him the Thracians . . . call Korybas.”
I have suggested in an earlier publication that this unusual single personality may perhaps be a product of contamination with Korybas, known to us from the Dionysus legend, because he too seems to have been a phallic being, as we learn from a scholium to Lucian’s De dea Syria.
From the centre of the “perfect man” flows the ocean (where, as we have said, the god dwells). The “perfect” man is, as Jesus says, the “true door,” through which the “perfect” man must go in order to be reborn.
Here the problem of how to translate “teleios” becomes crucial; for—we must ask—why should anyone who is “perfect” need renewal through rebirth?
One can only conclude that the perfect man was not so perfected that no further improvement was possible. We encounter a similar
difficulty in Philippians 3:12, where Paul says: “Not that I . . . am already perfect” (rereAd’co^ai). But three verses further on he writes: “Let us then, as many as are perfect (re’Aeioi) be of this mind.”
The Gnostic use of rcAeios obviously agrees with Paul’s.
The word has only an approximate meaning and amounts to much the same thing as Tn/o^ariKos, ‘spiritual,’ 109 which is not connected with any conception of a definite degree of perfection or spirituality.
The word “perfect” gives the sense of the Greek reAetos correctly only when it refers to God.
But when it applies to a man, who in addition is in need of rebirth, it can at most mean “whole” or “complete,” especially if, as our text says, the complete man cannot even be saved unless he passes through this door.
The father of the “perfectus” is the higher man or Protanthropos, who is “not clearly formed” and “without qualities.”
Hippolytus goes on to say that he is called Papa (Attis) by the Phrygians.
He is a bringer of peace and quells “the war of the elements” in the human body, a statement we meet again word for word in medieval alchemy, where the filius philosophorum “makes peace between enemies or the elements.”
This “Papa” is also called vIkv? (cadaver), because he is buried in the body like a mummy in a tomb.
A similar idea is found in Paracelsus; his treatise De vita longa opens with the words:
“Life, verily, is naught but a kind of embalmed mummy, which preserves the mortal body from the mortal worms.”
The body lives only from the “Mumia,” through which the “peregrinus microcosmus,” the wandering microcosm (corresponding
to the macrocosm), rules the physical body.
His synonyms are the Adech, Archeus, Protothoma, Ides, Idechtrum, etc.
He is the “Protoplast” (the first-created), and, as Ides, “the door whence all created things have come.” (Cf. the “true door” above!)
The Mumia is born together with the body and sustains it, though not to the degree that the “supercelestial Mumia” does.
The latter would correspond to the higher Adam of the Naassenes. Of the Ideus or Ides Paracelsus says that in it “there is but One Man . . . and he is the Protoplast.”
The Paracelsian Mumia therefore corresponds in every way to the Original Man, who forms the microcosm in the mortal man and, as such, shares all the powers of the macrocosm.
Since it is often a question of cabalistic influences in Paracelsus, it may not be superfluous in this connection to recall the figure of the cabalistic Metatron. In the Zohar the Messiah is described as the “central column” (i.e., of the Sephiroth system), and of this column it is said: “The column of the centre is Metatron, whose name is like that of the Lord.
It is created and constituted to be his image and likeness, and it includes all gradations from Above to Below and from Below to Above, and binds [them] together in the centre.”
The dead man, Hippolytus continues, will rise again by passing through the “door of heaven.” Jacob saw the gate of heaven on his way to Mesopotamia, “but they say Mesopotamia is the stream of the great ocean that flows from the midst of the perfect man.”
This is the gate of heaven of which Jacob said: “How terrible is this place! This is no other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven.”
The stream that flows out of the Original Man (the gate of heaven) is interpreted here as the flood-tide of Oceanus, which, as we have seen, generates the gods. The passage quoted by Hippolytus probably refers to John 7 : 38 or to an apocryphal source common to both.
The passage in John—”He who believes in me, as the scripture has said,
Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”—refers to a nonbiblical source, which, however, seemed scriptural to the author.
Whoever drinks of this water, in him it shall be a fountain of water springing up into eternal life, says Origen.
This water is the “higher” water, the aqua doctrinae, the rivers from the belly of Christ, and the divine life as contrasted with the “lower” water, the aqua abyssi, where the darknesses are, and where dwell the Prince of this world and the deceiving dragon and his angels. 122
The river of water is the “Saviour” himself.
Christ is the river that pours into the world through the four gospels, like the rivers of Paradise.
I have purposely cited the ecclesiastical allegories in greater detail here, so that the reader can see how saturated Gnostic symbolism is in the language of the Church, and how, on the other hand, particularly in Origen, the liveliness of his amplifications and interpretations has much in common with Gnostic views.
Thus, to him as to many of his contemporaries and successors, the idea of the cosmic correspondence of the “spiritual inner man” was something quite familiar: in his first Homily on Genesis he says that God first created heaven, the whole spiritual substance, and that the
counterpart of this is “our mind, which is itself a spirit, that is, it is our spiritual inner man which sees and knows God.”
These examples of Christian parallels to the partly pagan views of the Gnostics may suffice to give the reader a picture of the mentality of the first two centuries of our era, and to show how closely the religious teachings of that age were connected with psychic facts.
Now let us come back to the symbols listed by Hippolytus.
The Original Man in his latent state—so we could interpret the term axapaKrqpi<TT6s—is named Aipolos, “not because he feeds hegoats
and she-goats,” but because he is ocittoAo?, the Pole that turns the cosmos round.126
This recalls the parallel ideas of the alchemists, previously mentioned, about Mercurius, who is found at the North Pole. Similarly the Naassenes named Aipolos —in the language of the Odyssey—Proteus. Hippolytus quotes Homer as follows: “This place is frequented by the Old Man of the Sea, immortal Proteus the Egyptian . . . who always tells the truth . ..”
Homer then continues: “. . . who owes allegiance to Poseidon and knows the sea in all its depths.”
Proteus is evidently a personification of the unconscious: it is difficult to “catch this mysterious old being … he might see me first, or know I am there and keep away.”
One must seize him quickly and hold him fast, in order to force him to speak.
Though he lives in the sea, he comes to the lonely shore at the sacred noon-tide hour, like an amphibian, and lies down to sleep among his seals.
These, it must be remembered, are warm-blooded—that is to say, they can be thought of as contents of the unconscious that are capable of becoming conscious, and at certain times they appear spontaneously in the light and airy world of consciousness.
From Proteus the wandering hero learns how he may make his way homewards “over the fish-giving sea,” and thus the Old Man proves to be a psychopomp.
Hippolytus says of him, which can best be translated by the French colloquialism “il ne se laisse pas rouler.” “But,” the text goes on, “he spins round himself and changes his shape.”
He behaves, therefore, like a revolving image that cannot be grasped.
What he says is vrjfiepTrjs, ‘in sooth,’ infallible; he is a “soothsayer.”
So it is not for nothing that the Naassenes say that “knowledge of the complete man is deep indeed and hard to comprehend.”
Subsequently, Proteus is likened to the green ear of corn in the Eleusinian mysteries.
To him is addressed the cry of the celebrants: “The Mistress has borne the divine boy, Brimo has borne Brimos!”
A “lower” correspondence to the high Eleusinian initiations, says Hippolytus, is the dark path of Persephone, who was abducted by the god of the underworld; it leads “to the grove of adored Aphrodite, who rouses the sickness of love.”
Men should keep to this lower path in order to be initiated “into the great and heavenly” mysteries.
For this mystery is “the gate of heaven” and the “house of God,” where alone the good God dwells, who is destined only for the spiritual
They should put off their garments and all become w^ioi, ‘bridegrooms,’ “robbed of their virility by the virgin spirit.”
This is an allusion to Revelation 14:4:”. . . for they are virgins. These . . . follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”
Among the objective symbols of the self I have already mentioned the Naassene conception of the d^epi “™5 any^, the indivisible point. This conception fully accords with that of the “Monad” and “Son of Man” in Monoimos. Hippolytus says:
Monoimos . . . thinks that there is some such Man as Oceanus, of whom the poet speaks somewhat as follows: Oceanus, the origin
of gods and of men.
Putting this into other words, he says that the Man is All, the source of the universe, unbegotten, incorruptible, everlasting; and that there is a Son of the aforesaid Man, who is begotten and capable of suffering, and whose birth is outside time, neither willed nor predetermined . . . This Man is a single Monad, uncompounded [and] indivisible, [yet] compounded [and] divisible; loving and at peace with all things [yet] warring with all things and at war with itself in all things; unlike and like [itself], as it were a musical harmony containing all things . . . showing forth all things and giving birth to all things. It is its own mother, its own father, the two immortal names.
The emblem of the perfect Man, says Monoimos, is the jot or tittle.
This one tittle is the uncompounded, simple, unmixed Monad, having its composition from nothing whatsoever, yet composed of many forms, of many parts.
That single, indivisible jot is the many-faced, thousandeyed and thousand-named, the jot of the iota.
This is the emblem of that perfect and indivisible Man. . . . The Son of the Man is the one iota, the one jot flowing from on high, full and filling all things, containing in himself everything that is in the Man, the Father of the Son of Man.
This paradoxical idea of the Monad in Monoi’mos describes the psychological nature of the self as conceived by a thinker of the second century under the influence of the Christian message.
A parallel conception is to be found in Plotinus, who lived a little later (c. 205-70).
He says in the Enneads: “Self-knowledge reveals the fact that the soul’s natural movement is not in a straight line, unless indeed it have undergone some deviation.
On the contrary, it circles around something interior, around a centre. Now the centre is that from which proceeds the circle, that is, the soul.
The soul will therefore move around the centre, that is, around the principle from which she proceeds; and, trending towards it, she will attach herself to it, as indeed all souls should do.
The souls of the divinities ever direct themselves towards it, and that is the secret of their divinity; for divinity consists in being attached to the centre. . . . Anyone who withdraws from it is a man who has remained un-unified, or who is a brute.”
Here the point is the centre of a circle that is created, so tospeak, by the circumambulation of the soul.
But this point is the “centre of all things,” a God-image. This is an idea that still underlies the mandala-symbols in modern dreams.
Of equal significance is the idea, also common among the Gnostics, of the ainvB^p or spark.
It corresponds to the scintilla vitae, the “little spark of the soul” in Meister Eckhart which we meet with rather early in the teachings of Saturninus.
Similarly Heraclitus, “the physicist,” is said to have conceived the soul as a “spark of stellar essence.” 1Hippolytus says that
in the doctrine of the Sethians the darkness held “the bright-
ness and the spark of light in thrall,” and that this “very small spark” was finely mingled in the dark waters below.
Simon Magus likewise teaches that in semen and milk there is a very small spark which “increases and becomes a power boundless and immutable.”
The symbol of the point is found also in alchemy, where it stands for the arcane substance; in Michael Maier it signifies “the purity or homogeneity of the essence.” It is the “punctum solis” in the egg-yolk, which grows into a chick. In Khunrath it represents Sapientia in the form of the “salt-point”; in Maier it symbolizes gold.
To the scholiast of the “Tractatus aureus” it is the midpoint, the “circulus exiguus” and “mediator” which reconciles the hostile elements and “by persistent rotation changes the angular form of the square into a circular one like itself.”
For Dorn the “punctum vix intelligibile” is the starting point of creation.
Similarly John Dee says that all things originated from the point and the monad.
Indeed, God himself is simultaneously both the centre and the circumference.
In Mylius the point is called the bird of Hermes.
In the “Novum lumen” it is spirit and fire, the life of the arcane substance, similar to the spark.
This conception of the point is more or less the same as that of the Gnostics.
From these citations we can see how Christ was assimilated to symbols that also meant the kingdom of God, for instance the grain of mustard-seed, the hidden treasure, and the pearl of great price.
He and his kingdom have the same meaning. Objections have always been made to this dissolution of Christ’s personality, but what has not been realized is that it represents at the same time an assimilation and integration of Christ into the human psyche.
The result is seen in the growth of the human personality and in the development of consciousness.
These specific attainments are now gravely threatened in our antichristian age, not only by the sociopolitical delusional systems, but above all by the rationalistic hybris which is tearing our consciousness from its transcendent roots and holding before it immanent goals. ~Carl Jung, CW 9ii, Para 287-346