The following six paragraphs were replaced in LN by
“Then Philemon lifted his voice and taught them, saying (and this is the first sermon to the dead)” (p. 508).
Jung’s calligraphic and printed versions of the Sermones bear the subheading “The seven instructions of the dead. Written by Basilides in Alexandria, where the East touches the West.
Translated from the original Greek text into the German language.”
Basilides was a Christian philosopher in Alexandria in the first part of the second century.
Little is known about his life.
His teachings present a cosmogonic myth.
Only fragments of them have survived, and none in his own hand.
For the extant fragments and commentary, see Layton, The Gnostic Scriptures, pp. 417- 44.
According to Charles King, Basilides was by birth an Egyptian.
Before his conversion to Christianity, he “followed the doctrines of Oriental Gnosis, and endeavoured to combine the tenets of the Christian religion with the Gnostic philosophy . . ..
For this purpose he chose expressions of his own invention, and ingenious symbols” (D. King, The Gnostics and their Remains , pp. 33- 34).
According to Layton, the classical Gnostic myth has the following structure:
“Act 1The expansion of a solitary first principle (god) into a full nonphysical (spiritual) universe.
Act II. Creation of the material universe, including stars, planets, earth, and hell.
Act III. Creation of Adam, Eve, and their children.
Act IV. Subsequent history of the human race” (Layton, The Gnostic Scriptures, 13).
Thus in its broadest outlines, Jung’s Sermones is presented in a form analogous to a Gnostic myth.
Jung discusses Basilides in Aion.
He credits the Gnostics for having found suitable symbolic expressions of the self and notes that Basilides and Valentinus “allowed themselves to be influenced in a large measure by natural inner experience.
They therefore provide, like the alchemists, a veritable mine of information concerning all those symbols arising out of the repercussions of the Christian message.
At the same time, their ideas compensate the aysmmetry of God postulated by the doctrine of the privatio boni, exactly like those well-known modern tendencies of the unconscious to produce symbols of totality for bridging the gap between consciousness and the unconscious” (CW 9, pt. 2, § 428).
In 1915 , he ·wrote a letter to a friend from his student days, Rudolf Lichtenhan, who had written a book, Die Ojfenbarnng im Gnosticis ju(1901).
From Lichtenhan’s reply, dated November II, it appears that Jung had asked for information concerning the conception of different human characters in Gnosticism and their possible correlation with William James’s distinction between tough- and tender-minded characters (JA).
In Memories , Jung said: “Between 1918 and 1926 I had seriously studied the Gnostics, for they too had been confronted with the primal world of the unconscious.
They had dealt with its contents and images, which were obviously contaminated with the ·world of drives” (p. 226) .
He was already reading Gnostic literature in the course of his preparatory reading for Transformations and Symbols of the Libido.
While on military service on October 12, 1915, he was reading about Simon Magus and Basilides and was struck by the parallels with his own material.
There has been an extensive body of commentary concerning the Septem Sermones.
These studies provide some valuable points of discussion.
However, these should be treated cautiously, because (with the exception of the revised edition of the first, and the second) they consider the Sermones without the benefit of Liber Novus and the Black Books and, not least, Philemon’s commentaries, which together provide critical contextual clarification.
Scholars have discussed Jung’s relation to Gnosticism and the historical Basilides, other possible sources and parallels for Sermones, and the relation of the Sermones to his later works.
See especially Maillard, Au coeur d11 Livre Rouge. Les Sept Sermones aux Morts. Aux sources de la pense de C. G. Jung, and Liz Greene, ng’s Studies in Astrology: Prophecy, Magic, and the Cycles of Time (London: Routledge, 2018) .
And see Ribi, The Search for the Roots of C.G. Jung and the Tradition of Gnosis; Robert Segal, The Gnostic Jung (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992); Gilles Quispel, “C.G. Jung und die Gnosis,” Eranos Jahrbuch 37 (1968), reprinted in Segal; M. Brenner, “Gnosticism and Psychology: Jung’s Septem Sermones ad Mortuos,” Journal of Analtytical Psychology (1990); Judith Hub back, “VI I Sermones ad mortuous,” Journal of Analytical Psychology II (1966); James Heisig, “The VII Sermones: Play and Theory,” Spring: AJ011rnal of Archetype and Culture (1972); James Olney, The Rhizome and the Flower: The Perennial Philosophy, Yeats andj Jung (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980 ); and Stephen Hoeller, The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead (Wheaton, IL: ~est, 1982). ~The Red Books, Vol. V, Page 283-284, fn 422