25 February 1931 Visions Seminars Lecture V
We were talking last time about the question of the violation of the blood. It is rather important to understand that remark of the animus, “you have violated the blood.”
It explains why the Indians ran away.
A crowd of them were celebrating a sacrificial feast, and her appearance interrupted the ceremony and that society of animi ran away.
Do you remember what that meant?
Miss Sergeant: I thought she was identified with the sun and therefore was inflated.
Dr. Jung: Sure enough, she was inflated and on account of that, this sacrifice has taken place.
The animus showed her she should sacrifice the divine lamb, meaning a sort of self-sacrifice-that is, her participation in the divine totem animal-and the animi were performing that ceremony.
But we might assume that if she entered the game, the ceremony would go right on, that the Indians would not run away.
Prof Eaton: It is analogous to an event which happened earlier, where the animus fell in the chasm. The animus now runs off into the unconscious.
Dr. Jung: Yes, again the animus disappears.
Now these Indians are the positive form of the animus; he is here in the right place between her and the collective unconscious, so it would be desirable for them to celebrate the ceremony with her.
But apparently she is in such a condition that they cannot agree to that, and they fall back into the unconscious.
Now the question is, why do they run away? The explanation given in the vision is that she has violated the blood.
That is the reason why she cannot receive the jewel, the red stone.
Don’t you remember what I said about the violation of the blood? Cannot we explain it in that way?
Mrs. Sawyer: She is too pure, too idealistic.
Dr. Jung: Yes, she would be satisfied to have the whole thing up in the air, on the terrace of a skyscraper, very beautiful but not touching the earth immediately.
You see, when a thing has something to do with the blood, it becomes very real and earthlike; therefore to express the seriousness of a thing metaphorically, one says it cost blood, or one sweated blood.
The violation of the blood means a solution of the problem up in the clouds where it is comparatively easy, because there things are very mutable, one can easily change the stage scenery.
But down in the blood, very awkward situations may arise and that is what she is trying to avoid.
The unconscious, however, the animi, felt that this was a disregard of the sacred blood.
This is the other standpoint we have in the unconscious.
In the conscious we think that we can shift our scenery as we want, that we can solve our problems according to our feelings or imagination.
But in doing this we are violating the blood and the voices of the blood rebel, then the primitive in us runs away, our “ape-men” in the lower historical strata are against us.
Since we are no longer sustained by the unconscious, our grip becomes feeble and our voices hollow; moreover, our words do not carry because there is no sap left in them, no blood, they are just an empty sound.
Now you understand why the animus tells her she has violated the blood; her lofty and idealistic conscious point of view is against them, to them she looks like a monster.
And it really is monstrous to assume that we can solve things somewhere in the air as if we were ideal beings. That is quite impossible.
We are not ideal, we are in the flesh; we are not only eternal spirits living on the tops of skyscrapers, we are living on this earth; so if anything is to be solved, it should necessarily be solved on this earth here and now, not somewhere in a future heaven.
She apparently understands that and therefore many animals appear.
In the moment when the Indian, the master of ceremonies the head animus, as it were-gives this explanation that she has violated the blood, he is backed up by the animals that stand behind him.
This means psychologically that the instincts are backing him up.
Then he initiates her to the blood, he spilt some blood upon her head and her robe became scarlet. How do you explain this?
Mrs. Sigg: The animi went away because she wore the white dress of perfect innocence and saintliness.
Dr. Jung: Yes, and now she is stained by the blood; it is a blood bath, the reconciliation to the blood, exactly as it was done in the taurabolia, where the initiate was bathed in the blood of the sacrificed bull.
That was the initiation of man into the life of the earth, the typical Dionysian experience, which was always sought by antiquity.
People must be initiated or baptized into that which they are not, or which they do not possess and which they ought to possess.
So she ought to be baptized by the blood, or reborn, rebirth and baptism being synonymous.
Therefore blood is spilled upon her head as a baptismal ceremony, and her robe, having been the white of perfect innocence, now becomes scarlet.
There is an allusion in that which you Americans probably got.
Prof Eaton: The Scarlet Letter.
Mrs. Sigg: But what is that?
Dr. Jung: Don’t ask.
Some American will blushingly whisper it into your ear. You see it means just that.
And accompanying that revelation, she heard a strange rhythmic beating all about her.
She says: “And a great swirl of blood encompassed me, vibrating with a strange and terrible throbbing.”
It is as if she were hearing the noises of the blood in her ears or the throbbing of her heart.
She feels, evidently, the movement, the specific rhythmic life of the blood [plate 11].
And you may have noticed that here her language changes a little, the style becomes less abstract, she is
obviously describing some purely physical sensation. I remember when we discussed this particular vision, she insisted upon the reality of the experience, it was as if she were in her own arteries or in her own heart.
When people have such a vivid experience, it is as if the unconscious were emphasizing it by the additional quality of sensation in order to make the thing absolutely real.
That it should be real corresponds to the natural tendency of the unconscious to insist upon the reality of the blood.
Then “with a strange and terrible throbbing” means the terror of being submerged in the blood.
For one is then almost like a particle of it, a red corpuscle being carried along, or carried away; one is no longer the master of one’s own fate.
When one gets into a situation where the ground seems to be slipping from under one’s feet, naturally terror seizes one.
You see being in the blood means being in the instincts, being in primitive man, and in the animals that lived before primitive man, being in nature as it always was.
Then only does one realize that appalling fear which we have escaped through civilization.
Civilization has been an enormous attainment just because it has given us security, or at least apparent security.
We are protected by houses against wild animals, against cold and storms, against all the evils outside-the diseases that destroy primitive societies, for instance, those fearful epidemics that sometimes wipe out whole tribes.
Civilization is a thick wall against all the boundless and chaotic things that may happen to man when he is in an uncivilized state, so anything that blasts that wall is a terrible danger.
Then things may happen which one cannot foresee, which one cannot control or do away with.
One suddenly becomes just a helpless part of nature.
It is as if one felt in such a moment, for the first time, what it means when things become real.
I must again remind you of Tartarin de Tarascon when he realized that the chasms and the glaciers
were real and not bought and arranged by the Compagnie Anglo Suisse, that ifhe fell into a crevasse he would really be dead.
The attitude of such people is: you don’t mean to say that I would really be dead!
But it really means that you would be dead, just that discovery.
And that is practically the only moment in life when we discover that things are real.
People sometimes live a whole lifetime, until they die, without having noticed that things were real; they live as if in a world where everything could be changed by shifting the scenery.
I have seen people who went mad or developed a severe neurosis when they encountered a situation
which they could not shift-for instance, when even with the best doctors, the best nurses and hospitals, a child really died.
Sometimes men starting out in the world, quite certain that they will obtain a position, become neurotic or really crazy simply from the shock of finding that it is not true, from the shock of that impact with reality.
You see, it is not so simple for civilized man to reach reality.
For most civilized people reality is a sort of dream, far away.
They live their lives in a certain setting, under certain conditions, and it is as if the discovery of reality were a cause of panic for them.
The interesting thing is that when you tell this to people who are living the provisional life, they nod their heads wisely and know all about it; but then they go right on, they continue their sleep.
Now here is an impression of such absolute reality, a fearful impression of a situation which is superior to this woman’s own forces, and she continues: “I lay back in the swirl which carried me upwards in spirals.”
She surrendered to the movement of the blood, and when one is in a swift current of any kind of liquid, the assumption would be that one would go downhill, that is the fear.
But here she makes the discovery that she is being carried upwards in spirals.
Mrs. Crowley: Is it the swing toward the sun, to a conscious realization?
Dr. Jung: It is possible that a halo might be waiting for her, but we see nothing of it here.
And I want to know about the spiral, not about a possible hopeful goal.
Prof Eaton: Blood is a particular kind of liquid, it is the source of life, and therefore it would not bear you down like water.
Dr. Jung: You have a very effective fact in favor of your theory of the blood. What about the movement of blood?
Dr. Baynes: It flows up.
Dr. Jung: Exactly, it flows up as well as down, so it is quite possible that she would get into the upward movement.
Prof Eaton: Would not the association of wine with blood come in here? Wine carries you up too.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but that would not apply in this case, it is blood for the time being.
Sometimes one is allowed by the gods to substitute wine for blood but that will come later.
Now I want to know the secret of the spiral.
Mrs. Sigg: It is a symbol for development because one always comes around to the same place but on a higher level.
Dr. Jung: You do come to the same place again, but why is that a symbol for development.
Dr. Barker: The spiral expresses the functioning of the opposites.
Dr. Jung: Yes, and moreover the very symbol of unfolding and the beginning of development follows the law of the spiral: a plant grows in a spiral, and the buds or the beginnings of leaves are arranged in a spiral.
It is, as Dr. Barker points out, the functioning of opposites, the reconciliation of opposites.
The man who discovered the mathematical law of the spiral is buried in my native town, Basel, and on his tombstone a spiral is carved with this very significant and beautiful inscription: “eiidem mutiitii resurgo,” which means, literally translated: in an identical way, changed, I lift myself up.
It is a circular movement with a slight lift which produces the spiral.
Dr. Baynes: Is it the reconciliation between the idea of change and the idea of sameness?
Dr. Jung: Exactly. The spiral moves away from the original place to another, yet it always returns to the same place but just a fraction above; always moving away and always coming to the same.
So the spiral is really a very apt symbol to express development.
You see, this vision says: if you surrender to the terror of the blood, you will discover that it leads to development; instead of leading down into hell, it leads upwards.
And while she is in that swirl of blood she has a rapid succession of visions.
She says: “I passed the white face of God, I saw the sun, and I saw a pool of gold. Then I was in a great dark forest.”
Here the vision changes; these are sort of secondary visions, like visualized thoughts. Now what about “the white face of God?”
These things are very difficult, but I ought to be able to explain to you that every word of these visions has meaning, like dreams.
She writes God with a capital here, as she always does when writing of a modern Christian conception of God in contradistinction to the old pagan gods.
Prof Eaton: It seems to me that the face is white in contrast to the blood which is red, and also it is significant that she passes this white ghostlike god, the blood carries her beyond.
Dr. Jung: Exactly. Her idea of God has been a very pale, ghostlike conception, that late Christian bloodless figure.
But she is carried past that, which is very significant, as you say. And then she sees the sun.
Prof Eaton: The sun is a deeper, more primitive god.
Dr. Jung: Yes, and also more real, more concrete.
Moreover, she has made that way.
She passed out of Christianity in the former visions and went deep down to the animal; then she came up again through antique cults, and we have just left the area where she realized the deification of the sun, Helios.
The inner meaning of the antique gods was the second phase, and now comes a pool of gold.
This is enigmatical.
Dr. Barker: She has found value.
Dr. Jung: Yes, gold would mean value.
But first try to visualize that face of God.
In old pictures God was often depicted with a very pale halo round his head, a very pale sun apparently; then came the real sun which is also a golden disk; and now a pool or a disk of gold.
It is always the same idea, but the quality changes considerably.
Dr. Barker’s idea of value is too high up-in the fifteenth story.
Miss Sergeant: Libido.
Dr. Jung: No, that is the twentieth story.
Mr. Baumann: It is the return to the earth.
Dr. Jung: Yes. Gold is a very heavy metal and must naturally be at the lowest point.
God is far away; the sun is nearer, more favorable; but a pool of gold is embedded in the earth, at her feet even, and very concrete.
A person having this vision might stick there quite unconsciously and develop a tremendous desire for gold.
That would not mean money necessarily.
Alchemistic philosophy was filled with the idea of making gold, and there it was the symbol for the precious substance that should be produced out of the valueless substance.
Miss Wolff: Sun and gold are identical in alchemy. So gold is the terrestrial sun perhaps.
Dr. Jung: Yes. In alchemy the sun is the astrological equivalent of gold.
That is contained in this vision too.
Now what do you think of this development?
You see, we have historical evidence that the sun could be a substitute for God, so we can easily understand such a transformation.
Even as late as the early history of the Christian church, we have seen how the conception of God as the sun changed into a spiritual God.
You remember St. Augustine still had to teach his community that God was not the sun itself, but that he had made the sun, that he was the creative spirit behind the sun.
And St. Hippolytus wrote of having seen Christians throw themselves down on their faces before the rising sun, shouting: “eleeson hemiis,” have pity upon us.
The early Christians in Asia Minor were still sun-worshippers, and that was true in certain places in Italy.
Christ was supposed to be the newly risen sun.
Therefore his birthday was on 25 December when the old sun rises from its coma during the winter solstice. So we can easily imagine that the conception of the God might change back into the sun, but how can the sun change into gold?
What does this descent mean? Dr. Barker had the right idea when he spoke of value. Can you solve that riddle through the hypothesis of value? If gold is value, then what about the sun, what about God?
Mr: Richstein: It refers to the mystical process that the alchemists used in preparing the gold on earth.
Dr: Jung: But where does the idea of value come in?
Mr: Baumann: It is the most valuable thing because it is the most concrete thing.
Dr. Jung: But what about the value of the sun?
Mr: Baumann: That is more concrete than God, because of the warmth it gives.
Miss Hannah: She has rather despised gold-of course it is the financial value of gold.
Dr: Jung: Yes, awkwardly enough. That is perfectly clear.
Well, the definition of God would be the summum bonum, the greatest value of all is
God. Then the greatest value to life is the sun because it is the source of energy and warmth.
And now in this vision it would seem that the greatest value was gold.
First God, then the sun, and then gold. But that is shocking, don’t you think so?
Mrs. Crowley: No, it is the same thing.
Dr. Jung: If I should tell our patient that her god was the money bag she would hate the idea.
You know how the idea that the highest value is the pocketbook is ostracized by decent people.
Mrs. Sawyer: ls it that having had this experience of reality in the blood, she therefore realized that spirituality by itself is not the whole thing?
Dr: Jung: That would be so if the whole thing should remain in the unconscious.
You see, the fact that she is idealistic and actually up in the clouds means that she has not followed the law of the earth.
Therefore her highest idealistic values are all flowing out into gold.
That is the reason why very pious people, like Quakers, are so well-to-do.
Protestants also make a lot of money, and Jews of course, and in all three cases the spiritual valuation has been undermined just because it was too much proclaimed, because they believed exclusively in the spirit.
It is a fact that Protestant nations are usually much better off than Roman Catholic countries, you know how thrifty Anglo-Saxon Protestants are.
You see, there is a deep connection.
The spiritual values are depreciated by too frequent use, they are worn out, and then all the value is in the gold.
Prof Eaton: That seems to me to be a very good thing for this particular woman. Gold is materialistic, so now she realizes the great value of materialism.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but only if she is conscious of it is it a good thing.
If it is unconscious, it acts as an unconscious resistance against every conscious value.
She has believed that her God was a spirit in heaven, while as a matter of fact it was secretly in the safe or the bank.
Her God lived in the earth, and this is a horrible discovery.
People are far more afraid to lose their money than to lose God. He is not their highest value.
For instance, if I should put the problem before any man or woman: “Hand me out your bank account or you will lose God,” they would not hesitate very long.
They would say: “After all, I cannot lose God, I am in his hands, he is everywhere.” You see they don’t quite believe it, it is air, so why should they bother?
If I should put the question, “God or your money,” before any respectable banker, he would think I was not in sound mind.
If I should say to Rockefeller, “God or your money”-not blood or your money-he would have no doubts, he would say I was mad.
The fact is that the idea of God has really become very abstract and unreal, it does not work as an actual determinant; yet there is always a highest value, a center of gravity which decides ultimately.
So this woman, as long as she is unconscious that her God is in her safe, is a materialist and is really hindering herself from living, she is more or less sacrificing her life ideals to her money.
Now here she discovers that her god is a pool of gold, and this is a mighty good thing, for now the thing becomes conscious, she knows that her fear of God is connected with money.
That is the yellow god of which people are usually afraid, and it is a powerful god, one must admit.
The moment this becomes conscious, she must admit that, according to her ideas, it is quite wrong that gold should really be her highest value, and she might feel very aggrieved over it.
She will naturally have a tremendous conflict with her idealism.
But she cannot get away from the fact that gold is mana, whether one despises it or not; and just the fact that one despises it shows that it is mana, it is value.
Those economical theories of replacing the value of the metal by merchandise are all bunk.
As long as women love it, gold will have value.
They can buy precious stones with gold, and of course they want to have them, so you can never base your money’s value upon any theoretical gas bags.
You can only base it upon things which are actually valuable.
Only in a country where there was nothing but gold would gold lose its value; there iron would be the thing.
But iron is not as beautiful as gold.
Gold is superb, marvelous, it is most insinuating; like the sun, it is a wealth of light; it is desirable and one must admit that it is desirable.
There is a mana that is peculiar to gold, as there is a mana that is peculiar to silver, and a mana peculiar to precious stones.
They have an intrinsic value which people cannot deny.
It is a general convention now to say that gold is only beautiful because people say it is beautiful.
But people can be lured by precious stones and gold because it has a real effect upon human beings.
Also on animals: magpies steal golden rings and stones to decorate their nests because they find them beautiful; they don’t believe in the exchange theory of merchandise, they believe in the obvious.
So this woman will realize the money value of the gold, and thereby she will discover that gold is more than so many pounds or dollars worth, there is always a mystical value; just through the conflict she will discover that in the mana of gold, there is a value beyond that.
Do you know what this pool of gold symbolizes?
This is a very unexpected turn of the story.
Dr. Reichstein: This is the first indication of the Self.
Dr. Jung: How would one arrive at such a conclusion?
Mrs. Crowley: In the connection between the sun and the earth. This is the reverse side, the reflection of it really on the earth, and of her Self as a particle of the sun.
Dr. Jung: Well, one can arrive at the interpretation by the theory of the highest value: the highest value is first God, then the sun, and then the pool of gold.
And then the question arises: is that pool of gold perhaps her Self-a value deep down below her feet, a tremendous treasure in the earth?
Blood is the life of the earth, and when one lives in the earth one might discover the treasure that is embedded there; the next step might be that one discovers the highest value to lie in oneself.
Now these three visions which we have just dealt with are only fleeting impressions, glimpses, and naturally, the patient herself is absolutely unaware of the meanings involved in them.
It is difficult to assume that such things can have a meaning.
But when one meditates upon those impressions, one sees how they sink in and enrich themselves with all
sorts of associations, and then one discovers that they are really most important links in the whole procedure, that they are like a surrounding text that explains what is happening when the patient enters the stream of blood.
It is always very worthwhile to pay attention to the smallest details in both dreams and visions, and I should say it was particularly important in visions.
The details in dreams often lead to certain implications, subtleties, which we are unable to understand; limitations enter into them which it is impossible to discern.
But in visions there are, relatively, more simple conditions: on the one side we have the very complex fact of the unconscious, but on the other side we have the conscious, and the impact of the two-the clash of the two-brings about the fantasy.
So the vision is always clearer, more accessible to interpretation than the dream.
Now after these visions which she saw whilst being moved up in the blood spiral, she arrived right in the middle of a forest, and she says: “The swirl of a flaming red surrounded the forest. I could perceive it through the trees.”
The situation is now completely changed. From the moment when she received the blood baptism she was in a sort of trance, transplanted into the blood, swirled up by the blood in a spiral to a new condition symbolized by a forest.
This seems to be, as she describes it, more like a grove of trees. What would that flaming red be?
Dr. Baynes: Fire.
Dr. Jung: That would be true usually, but in this case the red derives from the blood, so it is a sort of fiery blood circling round her, like a magic circle, which would indicate that she was in a sort of enchanted
My robe changed to green and my feet sank into the soft earth. I lifted up my hands and leaves grew from them. Then I knew that I had become a tree and lifted my face to the sun.
This is a classical metamorphosis.
She has become one of the trees of the forest, and so she behaves like a tree; her feet become roots and her
hands become branches and she is growing as a tree grows.
She made a picture of it [plate 1 2].
The red in the background is really the color of blood, so I hesitate to call it just fire.
This is very peculiar symbolism. What is your opinion of it?
Mrs. Crowley: Perhaps at the end she is rooted to the earth after this long spiral development on high, perhaps the power of all the religions of the world has now taken root as her own tree.
She is no longer a background to the rest of the historical world but history is coming to her.
Dr. Jung: That is grand-that history comes to her.
Mrs. Crowley: I mean she becomes unhistorical.
Dr. Jung: Yes, that is true.
Dr. Reichstein: She has found a point where she can stop. She is rooted, she is not moved about any longer.
Dr. Adler: The tree is a link between the earth and the sun.
Dr. Jung: Yes, and now she is lifting her face to the sun again.
Dr. Adler: Before, she was swept along by the stream of blood, and therefore could not influence her own fate and development.
But now she becomes a tree; on the one hand, plant life is the lowest state of life, but on the other, plants are the only form of life that can nourish themselves; they are autonomous in that sense, and that she must learn.
Dr. Jung: Exactly, that is very good.
D1: Barker: She is no longer identified with the sun although she is lifting her face to it.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but I want to know how you explain this tree symbolism.
Mrs. Sigg: Perhaps it means that she gets her nourishment from nature, in nature’s way.
Prof Eaton: Would it not also be the logical development of the spiral?
Before, there was the idea of the spiral, but now you have the plant actually growing, the spiral represented organically as a tree.
Dr. Jung: It is as if she got into something here that was absolutely strange to the animal world.
The spiral is practically unknown to the animal world, but to the plant world it is all-important for development or growth.
While in the blood, in the animal substance of her body, that is, she discovers an entirely different principle, which is also a life principle, yet it is not a life principle of the blood.
You know, we have already had several visions where there was a downward plunge: in the beginning the Indian and the Chinaman were gazing into the black pool, and the Chinaman made the Indian plunge into it; and then that Dionysian figure was always leaping down from one level to another.
Now here we find that all that downward movement, that attempt to get to the bottom, was the anticipation of this final plunge into the blood, where she will discover the great treasure.
And the great treasure in its first aspect-the gold is only a fleeting impression-is that feeling of the spiral, which we must take as very immediate and real, an almost sensational experience.
It is as if she had actually felt the spiral movement, and that is the first indication of the entirely different life principle of the plant.
As you know, life develops mainly in either the animal form or the plant form, and since we all belong to the same life, plants and animals belong together.
Moreover we live on plants, we are parasites on the forests of the earth.
The life of man and plant is a sort of symbiosis, so we cannot avoid becoming partners.
We take on the life of the biological partner; our whole system is adapted to the system of the partner.
In other words, the life of the plant is also within us, and it becomes the symbol for a sort of nonbiological quality, for the thing we call spirituality.
Plant life becomes the symbol for spiritual life. The unfolding of the spirit is based upon the analogies of plant life.
The first indication
of this here is that sensation of the spiral, and according to the point of view of the vision-the unconscious-it is the highest value.
The development leads up to a higher level, to that forest in which she is taking root among the other trees.
Remark: In order to go on, she must begin on the lowest stair of life. That is the plant, the only life that is autonomous; plants are the only living things that can exist by themselves.
Dr. Jung: Yes, they get their nourishment directly from the elements, while animals are always parasites, they feed on plants.
So the primary form of life is plant life because it is based upon the existence of the elements only.
Mr. Baumann: The plant would be a symbol of spirituality because it is nearer to the earth.
Dr. Jung: That is right.
The animal in man always symbolizes physiological and biological life, because in that he is nothing but an animal, and from that point of view he quite naturally denies the reality of the spirit.
It takes a particular kind of experience to make people believe in anything like a spiritual law.
It is exactly this kind of experience which proves the existence of an entirely different type of living, though in itself it is not necessarily spiritual.
One could say this meant simply the concrete plant, but since we are not plants and are unable to live like
plants, it cannot mean the actual plant.
Therefore it must be her real plant life, which is the unconscious way of the spirit.
Mr. Baumann: Would it not mean that the animal expresses movement, while the tree is self-contained, poised? It possesses perfection. In that sense perhaps it expresses spirituality more than the animal which
moves through space.
Dr. Jung: Yes, though spiritus means wind, animus is breath, and that moves too.
A storm could be compared to horses galloping, for instance; we have animal symbols for spiritual things, sure enough.
But the spirit
to which we are alluding is not a reconception of the spirit in general, but a conception of a particular kind of spirit.
As you have described it, it is a self-contained, autonomous spirit that feeds upon the elements and is quite independent of animal life.
So it denotes a kind of independent spirit which is not a manifestation of animal life.
It is as if this woman had known as spirit only the manifestation of the life of the animal, the breath of the living creature.
But that is not the true spirit.
Mr. Baumann: For an American especially, one could define spirit as a form of doing.
Dr. Jung: Exactly. While the spirit is also a form of not doing. One form of spirit is a sense of excitement.
For example, the German word for spirit is Geist, which comes from a Gothic root word iis-gaisyan, meaning
to get excited.
The Swiss word ufgaista means to get very excited.
Geist was originally related to the word ghost, so one could say a ghost meant an excitement.
And the excited, irritable nervousness of high-spirited horses is geistig in our conception.
The roots of words indicate the images which underlie our conception, so we conclude that spirit, Geist,
soul, is the breath that comes out of our mouths.
But in contradistinction to what one could call that animal misconstruction, the unconscious holds that the true spiritual life is like the growth of the plant.
This is the conception of the East-of China and India-but it is not our Western conception.
In the West we have identified with what we call Geist.
Simple people still designate great minds as grosse Geister.
Your English word mind is much better than the German Geist, but it is more significant in German.
In French it would be grand esprit; they think that human beings, being animal, could be great spirits.
That conception originated in the assumption that those people who draw mighty breaths, who produce a mighty wind, must therefore be spiritual because they produce something of an invisible nature, like
breath bodies, which cannot be seen, but which come out of the mouth.
The soul is always supposed to come out of the mouth, the spirit comes out of words.
Words are air-bodies, invisible sounds, so they are assumed to be spirit.
But those are all animal misconstructions, for the true spiritual things are absolutely invisible to us, they are the antipodal principle to us, the principle of plant life which is entirely contrary, a different form of life.
The life of the spirit is an absolute contrast, and therefore one sees that wherever spirit manifests itself, it is hostile to many of the forms of our animal life, to our customs or conventions.
Any new manifestation of the spirit has always meant a hell of trouble.
Think of the manifestation of the spirit of Islam, of Christianity-many rivers of blood spilled-because the life of the plant has a different growth from that of the animal.
You see, animal life is a growth something like this: A is the beginning and B is the end of life, it is an ascent and a descent.
It is not a regular growth on account of the different seasons of life, the mating seasons in animals, periods of heat, for instance, or the changes having to do with seasonal migrations.
And it is the same with man, the animal growth is ever increasing and decreasing, elevations et abaissements.
Now the plant
growth has also a seasonal oscillation but in the main it is growth like this: (AC) until in the end the tree abruptly dies.
But up to its last year it blossoms and brings forth fruit as it has done since the beginning.
In this type of life also, the seasonal oscillations are far less violent.
Naturally they would be less violent in a thing that is rooted in the earth; a tree cannot pull its feet out of the ground.
The animal can jump about, it can afford to be excited, and therefore it takes advantage of it and indulges in its excitement-as we do, most people indulge in their excitement, they like to be excited and to jump about.
Whereas those people who have a notion of that life of the tree feel that excitement is no good at all.
Therefore in Chinese or Indian yoga, the very first principle is that one foregoes one’s emotions, that one retreats; it is as if one withdrew from that curve of the animal body which jerks about in such a foolish way.
Mrs. Sawyer: Plants depend upon animal life to a certain extent.
Dr. Jung: Well, yes, in the symbiosis between animal and plant.
Dr. Barker: There seems to be an association with this idea in the cult of vegetarianism. Vegetarians consider themselves much more spiritual than meat eaters.
Dr. Jung: Yes, like those people who think they are more spiritual when they don’t drink wine. But the contrary is true.
Prof Demos: Could one say perhaps that the emergence of Hellenism upon the scene of Eastern culture would correspond to the evolution of the animal from the plant?
I mean, the Western standpoint is mobility, whereas the plant is self-possessed, like the East.
Dr. Jung: Absolutely, that is what I think.
Mrs. Crowley: I want to ask whether it might be based upon a different thing from the breath because plants breathe?
Dr. Jung: That is perfectly true.
But the breathing of plants is a sort of scientific concept, and we must reckon with the fact that with primitives there are no such things as scientific concepts.
What the plant does is called breathing, but the breath of an animal actually causes the air to move, and that is specifically an animal characteristic.
For instance, one feels the impact of the wind, yet one does not see the wind; so it becomes a simile for things that cannot be seen although their effects are obvious.
We see that a spiritual fact-an invisible fact-has taken place, and we ask how that has been brought about; something invisible has been working, and our only example of an invisible agency is the wind.
It is as if the primitive were awfully embarrassed in his way of describing what we would call psychical effects.
Because the body is warm, he says it must be a flame; or it must be a breath because the body breathes; or it is uncanny because he feels cold.
A cold wind has always been the sign of a ghostly presence.
That really occurs in spiritualistic seances, one feels a breath of cold air before the manifestation as though someone had passed very quickly.
It is supposed to be a ghost, which means: I am excited because a cold wind struck me.
That is the idea of a spiritual effect.
There is nothing to be seen and nothing you could lay hands on-there is nothing there.
But the fact is that the air moves, and it is a very peculiar sensation when for the first time you feel a puff of very cold air which you cannot deny is real.
Naturally, you think it is an hallucination, but people have had that hallucination since the creation of the world.
You find exactly the same phenomenon in every culture, whether you are attending a spiritualistic meeting in China, Tibet, with the Bedouins on an African desert, or in New York.
Dr. Baynes: It is Ayik.
Dr. Jung: Yes, we found a tribe in Africa who had a bad dark god, that they say is nothing but a puff of cold wind.
When you are walking in the night, up it comes from nowhere, and that is Ayik.
He is the maker of fears. You see this is our conception of spirit, yet it simply means that something has done something, something has worked.
As we tell children that a noise we cannot account for is the wind.
The wind is invisible yet there is that effect, obviously it is the wind that slammed the door.
In reality it might have been a spook or a burglar, yet to explain the incredible, to explain an unaccountable effect, we say it is the wind.
Mr. Baumann: I cannot understand why the blood surrounds the wood.
Dr. Jung: That is an interesting question.
Prof Eaton: It is like Brunhilde surrounded by the ring of fire.
Dr. Jung: Yes, or the fire round the earth. What would happen if it reached the earth?
Prof Eaton: It would consume it.
Dr. Jung: Exactly. So this woman cannot develop spiritually as long as she is in the blood.
Therefore she withdraws from the blood, or it .is as if the blood withdrew or exuded from her; she is now living as a tree, and the blood is all round her in a flaming red circle as it is round the earth,or round the sleeping Brunhilde.
It is the flaming circle of cupidity or desirousness that is represented in mandalas.
Mr. Baumann: Does it mean protection?
Dr. Jung: It works in a way as a sort of protection.
In Tibetan mandalas, for instance, inside of that circle of fire is a black circle which is decorated with signs of contained energy, meaning that if you can hold yourself back, if you do not participate in that fire, you are safe.
While if you leap into the flames, you are entangled in the world of desirousness.
But inside you are in the cloister, a garden, with animals and flowers, inside is peace.
So that circle of blood or of fire is a sort of protection inasmuch as you do not identify with it.
But if you are identical, if you put your foot into it, that is, you are consumed by the flames.
Therefore this woman must realize that she can live without the fire or the blood.
Otherwise she would simply be the victim of illusions, the victim of desires and disease and crimes, of the illusion of doing good and of doing evil. 239-254