3 March 1931 Visions Seminar Lecture VI
We will continue our discussion of the symbol of the tree.
We spoke about the meaning of the transformation into the tree, but we must also consider the picture of the situation.
You remember our patient is in a wood as one of the trees, and sees that circle of flaming blood encircling
the wood-one could see it through the trees-like a red oscillating ribbon.
Now if you visualize it you arrive at something like this: The tree into which she is transformed would be in the center, with other trees standing around her, and the circle of red all around.
Then you remember that the pool of gold was also right in the middle, so we might assume that the tree
was growing out of that central pool of gold.
Mr. Baumann: The pool of gold could grow out of the tree.
Dr. Jung: No, that is too impossible, it would be a bit too heavy for the tree.
Mr. Baumann: It is the equivalent symbol.
Dr. Jung: That is true. Inasmuch as you take the pool of gold for the equivalent of the sun, you could assume that the sun, being fiery and aerial, could very well grow out of the top of the tree, like the Egyptian symbol of the birth of the god out of the tree.
This would be the tree with the disk of the sun rising out of its branches; or the falcon that rises from its nest on the top of the tree in the old Egyptian formula, the maker of its own nest and its own egg, giving birth to itself in the top of the tree.
Those are attributes of the sun, because the primitive assumption was that the sun died every evening and was reborn or remade; it was not the same sun but a new sun that rose every morning.
But the pool of gold is not the sun, it is its chthonic or earth. like equivalent.
We have seen in this series of images how the conception of the sun gradually changed together, is a sort of concretized symbol for centralization, or the arrangement of one’s psychological material round the greatest value, one’s idea of the greatest strength, the idea that can be designated as God; or, as it was called in antiquity, the individual daemon, which is by no means identical with oneself because it is superior to oneself.
One is subordinate to one’s individual genius or daemon, according to the ideas of antiquity, yet it is as if dwelling in oneself; it was even supposed to die with the individual.
Now we might put the idea of that individual deity in the center, as that element or factor which would exercise a certain attraction on collective contents, and would at the same time create a wall between those contents and the ones that have been picked out as being the property of the individual.
If you analyze the contents of the Self inside the borderline, you will see that they are in no way different
from any other collective contents; it is the particular choice which produces the individual.
It is very difficult to understand or explain the structure of the Self because its contents are of a collective nature, and yet they belong to the individual.
Therefore that mistaken idea that the collective unconscious is inside of one.
Everyone speaks of my unconscious, even of my collective unconscious, which is perfect nonsense; one might as well say my stars, my planets, my continents.
You would never assume that you contained the world because you see it; you see this room but you do not
assume on that account that it is inside of your eye.
No, it is outside of you, naturally; but psychologically, the center is again an eye.
That is the famous eye of Horus, it is what you see in your psychological field of vision of the contents of the collective unconscious.
Naturally, you can say they are yours inasmuch as you see them, but they are not yours to the extent that they form part of yourself.
So you always contain certain unconscious contents which are merely separated by a sort of magic circle from the surrounding collective contents; and that circle might be broken; therefore individuation is such a ticklish and delicate thing.
For if at any time the magic circle is broken, contents begin to move out, or things begin to move in, and you suffer from what is called an eruption of the collective unconscious; that is, your conscious is flooded by the collective contents.
Now, it is a fact that mankind has since time immemorial considered that the process of individuation, the production of the magic circle with that center, is man’s greatest value, the most desirable good.
The aim of all Eastern philosophy is the production of that pool of gold, that center within the magic circle.
It is considered the highest attainment, for instance, in Tantric yoga, in Lamaistic philosophy, and in Chinese philosophy.
Therefore, as an aid in producing such a centralization, they use mandalas-pictures or diagrams such as I have shown you.
You also find them reproduced in The Secret of the Golden Flower.
They are a kind of instrument to help one to attain the concentration necessary for producing the desired condition.
Now from this symbol, we get a new suggestion in the fact that any mandala is a sort of two-dimensional map of the actual psychological condition.
People who are a bit pathological produce disturbed mandalas instead of normal ones.
I have recently seen a number of them in Vienna.
There would apparently be a proper magic circle, but then it would suddenly come to an end-a break would occur which disturbed the whole thing.
Then it was as if forces were flowing out or flowing in; or perhaps a quarter or even a third of the contents would be cut away and substituted by strange elements.
Such a drawing would picture a state of possession or obsession, where the individual harbored strange
ghosts in his psychology.
That is one of the reasons for the primitive ghost theory: they explain every possible disturbance of body or mind as possession by evil spirits, which simply describes the fact that autonomous contents of the collective unconscious come in and take possession of a part of the self.
One feels these strange contents as if they were unusual or obsessive thoughts.
Sometimes you are unable to get rid of a certain idea or conviction, for instance; you know it is all wrong, yet that thing has got hold of you, you cannot get away from it.
Or a certain melody will not leave your head for days on end; it persecutes you, it is like a little ghost that goes on whispering one tune.
It seems quite absurd, but if you analyze the tune, you will come across a content of a certain autonomy, and it is always something which really explains why it has taken possession of you.
Now the main purpose of the construction of such a mandala is to keep out those possessive forces, those strange collective contents, and you can bring that about only by making the magic circle solid enough.
That cannot be achieved by concentration upon the magic circle, it can be produced only by concentration on the center.
The more you concentrate upon the center, the more the wall is strengthened.
While if your attention wanders outside the center, if you concentrate upon the wall, it becomes a circle of fire, and you increase the fire until the whole thing burns up; no sooner are you occupied with the fire than it consumes you.
Here we have seen the reverse process.
This woman was first in the blood, and through the blood she discovered that little Garden of Eden, that circle of trees and the pool of gold with the tree of knowledge in the center.
So she has escaped the flaming river.
But it may be that her eyes will turn outward again and be fascinated by that wall of fire, and instantly
the fire will consume her once more.
At the present moment, however, she is in the center, and she describes in her vision what the feeling of being in the center is like. It is like a tree; she is growing like a tree, her garments have become green, her arms have become branches, and her feet have become roots.
So we learn from this vision that being in the center is equivalent to the condition of a plant.
Here we have the psychical life of a plant, growing unconsciously, centered upon the self only.
And there is the possibility that, from this center, one might grow into something else, or give birth to something else, which could not otherwise be attained.
You see, the center here is a little circle which corresponds to a transversal cut through the tree trunk, so if one looks down from this circle, one comes to the roots and into the pool of gold which would be underneath.
And if one looks upward one beholds the sun.
You can picture the branches and the disk of the sun above her when she lifts her face to the sun.
This mandala, then, is really a transversal cut through the tree: The tree continues above and below, and what one would realize from her position would be the unfolding tendency of the tree, the feeling of
the opening up of the branches above her.
I will show you such a circle in the simplest, most abstract Lamaistic form: it contains a little circle, in which is the so-called thunderbolt.
This Lamaistic symbol of the thunderbolt is a union of the pair of opposites, and it is the sign of concentrated energy because the function that unites the opposites is energy, the clash of opposites produces energy.
Now this symbol is right in the center and emanating from this center are eight figures like the leaves of a flower, each containing again that thunderbolt symbol, which means the radiation of that concentrated
energy from the center.
The thunderbolt is also called the diamond wedge on account of its hardness, its extraordinary
concentrated energy emanates radiating force and that forms the golden flower.
It is a sort of picture of libido.
This would be a suitable image for the source of the libido or energy in the unconscious.
It is like the pupil of the eye, in that it is not only an organ or a psychological function for the production of energy, it is also a vessel in which to receive energy.
So such a Lamaistic mandala always has gates, and in each of these gates is that same sign of concentrated energy, meaning that this is the way or the gate through which energy can leave the magic circle and go out
into the world or into infinity, or energy can be drawn in by concentration and contemplation, thus producing the treasure in the center symbolized by the diamond wedge or the pool of gold.
And wherever there is concentrated energy there is a possibility of release, and then you have emanation again.
So this symbol of the golden flower represents the drawing in of the libido and the possibility of emanating libido.
That same thing is represented by the transversal cut through the trunk of the tree, which means that it can move up or down.
If it goes down, the energy will be heavy, earthlike, it will form the pool of gold.
If it moves up, it will become the disk of the sun, the energy will be manifested in the form of radiation, light, and warmth.
This is typical Lamaistic philosophy,
a modern form of the Tantric yoga one could say, and it is difficult because it is utterly irrational.
Mrs. Baynes: Did you apply the idea of a mandala to the tree, or is that also contained in the Eastern concept?
Dr. Jung: In the Eastern concept the tree does not play that role, I got that out of this vision and other fantasies of my patients.
In the East you would see the symbol of the transversal cut more in this form: Here is a stem and the transversal cut is represented by the lotus.
And out of the lotus appears the god.
The peculiarity of the lotus is that it rises out of the water, and the flower does not lie on the surface of the water, it is up above it.
So it is like a thing that emerges and unfolds out of the depths of the unconscious, and in the golden center
of the flower, the god is supposed to appear.
On the third day after his birth the Buddha stepped into the lotus cup to announce the law to the world.
Or the sun rises, for this is sun magic.
As the lotus rises from the dark depths in the slime below and comes to the surface of the water, so the sun rises.
Because the lotus is an image of the rising sun, it has become the most current symbol in the East for the
birth vessel of the god.
And if you look down upon the lotus, you see the mandala.
The thing which is lacking is the idea of continuity; this idea of the transversal cut through continuity is not Eastern.
In the East the mandala represents a perfect condition, the end of everything; whereas for us, who are far from perfect, in fact absolutely unfinished, our mandala is a transversal cut somewhere and we don’t
know how far up it may be.
Probably not very far.
We do not assume that the mandala which we perceive is the most perfect, like the Lotus of
Absolute Knowledge that dwells in the center.
I assume that our mandala is lower down, and certainly in this stage of the vision, it would be impossible for this woman to perceive anything like a perfect mandala.
I have evidence for that in the fact that later on, when she began to draw mandalas, she produced several irregular ones; one was like an inflammation, as if the mandala had been half eaten by fire, which shows that
her perception of a mandala was very troubled.
The Eastern philosophy is absolutely finished, as finished as it can be in that form, but here we are only beginning to divine the psychology of these things.
The difference between our attempts and the finished product of the East is like the difference between the old cart drawn by oxen in the plains of India and a modern Rolls Royce.
Prof Eaton: I should think that in a mandala the opposites were completely separated in order to symbolize repose, and the togetherness of opposites would represent a state of unrest, a rather chaotic condition.
So for the peace represented by the mandala, the opposites should be apart. At least, I don’t understand why they should be together.
Dr. Jung: As long as the opposites are apart there is desire, the longing of the separated heart, but when they are together there is rest, there is perfection.
Therefore the East always represents the perfect condition by the union of opposites.
That is nirvana, the void, absolute peace.
Prof Demos: The first stage in the union of opposites might be disorder, but the later union, which is higher on the spiral, might be peace?
Dr. Jung: Well, the union of opposites in the unconscious means a state of peace, but it is a peace which cannot be realized because there is no consciousness.
So it does not really exist, it is existent nonexistence; no one has the benefit of it because no one perceives it.
Prof Eaton: I remember in a private conversation I had with you, you pointed out that the opposites being together represented a state of original chaos.
Dr. Jung: You are quite right.
I showed you a mandala that represented the primordial chaos.
That was a medieval mandala from a book which contains the secret psychology of the Cinquecento.
In the frontispiece there is a peculiar design, a pool at the bottom containing fragments of different metals, and the interesting thing is the development through the tree above, which is like our mandala.
That symbol must have originated in the Middle Ages; I cannot remember having seen anything in Eastern iconography which would substantiate this idea of the tree; it is evidently a thoroughly Western idea.
This looks exceedingly cryptic.
The irregular fragments are polygons, pieces of rock or of ore, on which are the signs of metals, like lead and silver and gold; they are planetary signs-Saturn, Venus, Mercury, the moon, the sun, etc.
These fragments represent constituents of the self; they are rather usual symbols, to be found everywhere.
Now the whole thing is in a wild turmoil, everywhere flames and drops of water meaning tears, the flames of passion and the tears of repentance.
But in the center is one little magic circle which is the Happy Island, this is nirvana; here the flame and the tear are held together exactly as in the Lamaistic mandala, the union of the opposites in the center.
That tube or root starts from the tear in the center and leads past the flames, on up to the tree above. Thus the tree takes root.
And through that vegetative growth, further development follows.
Mind you, that picture was drawn at the end of the sixteenth century and there was no possibility of any direct influence from the East.
Dr. Reichstein: In alchemy they always take the prima materia, which they call chaos, and extract the pair of opposites, a red and a white; it is considered a very difficult task to produce them and afterwards they
have to be united again.
Dr. Jung: That idea is repeated here. In the center is the individual where the opposites are united, the one peaceful spot in man, the space where nothing moves embedded in a world of chaos.
The task is now to bring about order, the alchemistic process must begin, namely, the production of the valuable substance, the transformation into the light.
You see this mandala does not represent a normal condition of the collective unconscious; this is a turmoil caused by the appearance of the disturbing element in the center.
For we may assume that the collective unconscious is in absolute peace until the individual appears.
Therefore individuation is a sin; it is an assertion of one particle against the gods, and when that happens even the world of the gods is upset, then there is turmoil.
But in that abstraction, or that union-the coming together of the pair of opposites-there is absolute peace.
Otherwise there is only the peace of God in a world in which there is no individual, in other words, no consciousness.
Yes, perhaps it exists to metaphysical consciousness, but not to any mortal consciousness because there is none.
You see, this chaos is due to the appearance of that center, but that is a center of peace because the pairs of opposites are united.
As it is said in the prophesies of Isaiah, the leopard shall lie down with the kid and the wolf shall dwell with the lamb.
Or that very impressive symbolism that the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, or put its hand into the cockatrice’s den.
Prof Demos: Would you now say that there was something lacking in the Eastern idea? That it is too peaceful? Whereas perfection entails movement. Why did the unconscious produce this disturbing element?
Apparently it wanted to have some trouble.
Dr. Jung: I am quite convinced of it. And the East is always trying to settle that thing.
Prof Demos: The mandala goes against the principle of life with the idea of stopping this turmoil.
Dr. Jung: Absolutely, that is perfectly true.
Prof Demos: What is the turmoil? How do you symbolize it?
Dr. Jung: By the separation of the pairs of opposites.
Prof Demos: How did it start?
Dr. Jung: I am afraid I don’t know what started that hell of trouble.
Prof Demos: The union of opposites is a state of rest and yet there is all this trouble.
Dr. Jung: Naturally, we must assume that there is something that could produce the trouble.
Prof Demos: Well, give it a name.
Dr. Jung: The name I have chosen is the individual.
The individual is the manifestation of the trouble, and an individual consciousness appears from nowhere.
You don’t know where that thing came from, you just find it.
You can call it the individual and assume that the individual is the instigator of all that trouble.
Prof Demos: He is the result, the symptom, not the source.
Dr. Jung: Why not the source of it?
Mrs. Baynes: Because you have the trouble before there are individuals.
Dr. Jung: But it is not trouble then.
Prof Demos: Before the conscious world there was the evolution from the inorganic to the organic, from the plant to consciousness.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but I would not count the existence of the individual from the beginning of human consciousness.
I would speak of the principle of individuation, which was obviously in the world long before the appearance of any kind of organic life.
For instance, I would say a stone or the plant was an individuation.
Prof Demos: Even so. Don’t you think it seems to be a kind of principle of restlessness?
Dr. Jung: Yes, and I should say that was linked up with individuation.
That is not only my personal conviction, it is generally thought that individuation is of Luciferic quality.
Prof Demos: There is change as such, of which individuation is the outcome?
Dr. Jung: That is of course our modern point of view, but I say it is just as possible that the thing which appears is also that which was at the root of it.
This problem of the mandala is a very central one and could easily lead us to all sorts of outlying questions, but we must confine ourselves to our series of visions.
I can only give you glimpses of the extraordinary ideas which are connected with the mandala philosophy-as one should call it-but we cannot go into all the ramifications of the problem.
I much prefer to go on with the visions now, unless there are still particular questions concerning the mandala.
Mr. Baumann: You just showed us the magic circle that Eastern people had made a gate through. But on the other hand you say it is forbidden to break the sheltering wall.
Dr. Jung: The center is absolute.
The point is that one draws in the forces from outside, depotentiates the factors of external life, and for
that one must have gates for things to enter by.
These gates are identical with the four functions and they are always characterized by four different colors, the particular colors usually representing particular functions.
This is not my explanation, it is in the Bardo Thodol, the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
So the four functions are really the four gates through which libido may come in or go out.
Such a mandala does not mean that libido is forever drawn in, or that it is forever spent; the mandala is
simply a picture of the fundamental facts of our mind.
Therefore the idea of the mandala with the particular quality of the Tetraktys, the number four, is found in practically all civilizations.
There is a most marvelous mandala in the Mayan temple of Chichen Itias that might almost have been drawn by one of my more gifted patients.
Then the sand paintings from the Pueblos are remarkable mandalas.
One finds mandalas in China, in India, in modern and medieval Europe-everywhere-and since it is such a very general idea, it must mean more than one thing, more than that it is a magic circle of an apotropaic nature, for instance.
It represents protection, togetherness, or oneness, but at the same time it requires action.
One cannot stay in the mandala forever, one has to go out of it, or something must function out of it.
The idea is that one should not leave the center, yet one should function like the governor of a city who dwells in the innermost temple in the forbidden city.
His employees, his subordinates, go out and in through the gates, but not he; he remains in the center and is well protected.
Therefore there are gates and walls, and therefore the aspiration of the East is not to be dead and buried in the mandala, but to function through the mandala.
It is the quite naive attempt of the Western man to form the mandala but not to function through it.
If he is identical with one function, say intuition, it is as if he were in a balloon, carried away by the winds; he becomes a gas bag because he loses touch with reality.
Or if he is identical with sensation, he is buried in the earth and unable to move. We are too one-sided.
One of the reasons for our disorientation these days is that we are more or less identical with one function.
The Eastern idea is to be in harmony with the functions, to be central, to disidentify with the functions and feel apart from them.
One sees this phrase repeated in sacred texts again and again: “to be free from the opposites.”
So the mandala does not necessarily signify withdrawal from life, it acts also as an inducement toward life.
There are certain mandalas, of course, where the gates are locked or where there are no gates, and they are meant to produce a standstill, since a standstill is sometimes quite necessary.
For instance, there are certain civilizations that advance too rapidly-as we do-and if we cannot produce a standstill within, it will be enforced by circumstances.
It is quite possible that a nation which progresses too rapidly, like a man going downhill, will be stopped by fate if it cannot stop itself.
Nowadays a very successful man has such enormous possibilities of applying himself that he is driven to death; he spends himself completely and therefore everything falls flat after a while.
One sees that in America all the time.
Such a man would need a mandala to stop himself, to confine himself.
It would be a sort of magic gate through which he could withdraw, to be protected against that terrible waste.
For the more one applies oneself, the less one’s productions are valuable; it becomes a sort of mass manufacture.
So certain mandalas really have the purpose of producing death.
For instance, the Lamaistic mandala I have been describing has that purpose.
It is a mandala of complete withdrawal, and therefore the symbolism is quite abstract.
But others show Shiva and Shakti embracing, and it is marvellous to see how that embrace of Shiva and Shakti is repeated, how the reverberations radiate themselves into the world.
Those figures repeat themselves in eights again and again, which means that all the embraces in the world are reverberations from the one central embrace.
That would be a mandala of life, not a mandala of death.
Now we will go on to the next vision.
You remember our patient became a tree, and at the end there was the vision of the sun, and the question is, of course, how she will continue.
I prepared the next step when I told you about the mandala being a transversal cut through the tree, so there is· the possibility of going above, or of going below.
Since this series of visions is a process of individuation, we must expect a continuous movement until she arrives at a certain definite experience that stops the process of becoming; after a while something must happen in her that checks that movement.
You see, there is movement as long as there is matter to fall down; as long as there is water upon the mountains it must rush down.
But finally there is an end, there is peace, or at least a standstill, until enough libido is stored up for a new energy process to take place.
There is no rest now.
She is moving through a world of visions that show her how things should go or where they might be going. It is a sort of spiral movement in which she sees the central problem from all sides, from below as well
as from above, from all sides at all times.
Now comes the next vision: “I beheld a laughing goat which led me down many steps into a black cavern.” Here we have the goat again.
Do you remember where it appeared before?
Mr. Baumann: The child changed into two goats.
Dr. Jung: Yes, they appeared in the Dionysian phase when her progress through the antique cults began. What does it signify?
Mrs. Crowley: Again the Dionysian principle.
Dr. Jung: Yes. Instead of the animus who usually appears, it is this time not a human figure, it is not an opinion that is leading her, it is a goat.
Miss Sergeant: It is instinct.
Dr. Jung: Yes, she is following her animal instincts here and they lead her down many steps into a black cavern.
She is obviously moving down into the trunk of the tree, or the stem of the lotus.
What do you conclude from that symbolism?
Mrs. Crowley: She is going into the earth.
Dr. Jung: And why should she go down into the earth?
Mrs. Crowley: It is part of the energy process.
Dr. Jung: But we want the psychological motivation.
Dr. Reichstein: The force that caused the tree to grow is perhaps what she is seeking.
Miss Sergeant: The pool of gold.
Dr. Jung: She is going where she would probably meet the pool of gold, but for the time being it is a dark cavern.
This descent is merely because at the end of the former vision she had lifted her face to the sun.
That is dangerous for her.
She naturally clings to the things above and does not trust the things of the earth, so the danger is that she remains with the sun, that she remains up in the conscious without discovering the unconscious.
That is her eternal trouble, and her need is to come down to the earth, to be real, and becoming a tree is a step into the earth.
As a tree, she is unable to move away, she is delivered over to anything that may happen to her; the wind may blow her down; water, or fire, or animals can reach her and she cannot run away, she cannot hide.
She is absolutely rooted to the spot, helplessly delivered over to anything that may happen.
She still sees the sun and naturally she clings to it, but it is meant that she should descend still further into the earth.
The goat apparently leads her down to a very dark place.
And now we see why she hesitated to go down.
The vision says: “There I saw two large white snakes and a small black snake with green eyes.”
They were waiting for her, which is, of course, very disagreeable.
Now why are there snakes down below? What would that mean?
Prof Eaton: That she is going to get a knowledge of life.
Dr. Jung: That is a very positive idea of snakes-a sort of snake farm to produce wisdom.
But it is a very anxious moment. Naturally she is afraid.
Dr. Barker: Snakes signify very primitive libido.
Mr. Baumann: They are cold-blooded.
Dr. Jung: Yes, and they have no brain, they have only a tremendous spinal cord.
They are utterly strange to man and therefore they always represent that part of life which is inhumanly cold, where there is no warm blood.
There is something of the snake in everybody.
That is the reason why extraordinary people-like heroes-are supposed to be descendants of snakes, or to transform into snakes after death.
Cecrops, the founder of the Acropolis in Athens, was supposed to be transformed into a snake that lived under the Acropolis.
And in a Northern saga, it is said that the hero has snake’s eyes, which means that he has the cold eyes of the snake.
This simply expresses the fact that the remarkable individual is chiefly remarkable for a certain strangeness and inhumanity, which impresses people like the inhumanity of a snake.
Also the fact that they can live under conditions where other people cannot live, that they receive their nourishment, or their warmth of life, from sources where other men cannot get it, like snakes that live out of the sun.
Mr. Baumann: Aesculapius had a snake.
Dr. Jung: Yes, the doctor’s staff, the snake wound round the wand or staff, like the caduceus of Hermes.
That was originally the symbol of the sorcerer, the staff which transforms into a snake, or the snake which
changes into a wand.
The uncanny, inhuman quality of the snake symbolizes the poison that a doctor can handle-it means his secret knowledge, or his hypnotic power.
Therefore the sorcerer was usually accompanied by snakes who were supposed to be ghosts-ghostly servants.
Mr. Baumann: Athena was represented with a snake.
Dr. Jung: It is a very frequent symbol, and it has many different meanings.
The figure of a snake is like an exclamation mark on a road when you drive a car and come to a place on the road where is written Achtung!
That means, be careful, look out, there is danger.
The ancients made a very comical use of it-to designate a certain place.
On one of the walls of the Palatine was an inscription on a marble plate, with two snakes on top of it, saying that anybody who soiled that place would be cursed in the name of the twelve gods.
You find such inscriptions in Italy very often, in corners of churches for instance.
We should say, “Verbot,” but there they put two snakes which simply means that it is a dangerous place, very bad for you, evil omen.
Mrs. Egloff What about the snake in the Garden of Eden?
Dr. Jung: That is the same thing, that is the soul which is chiefly in the spinal cord, creeping up from below.
It is the Kundalini serpent.
Well, the statement in our vision is that there are snakes down in the cavern.
Now a cavern always means the abdomen, within the walls of the abdomen is the snake cellar, and that black snake seems to be a particularly poisonous reptile, it has green eyes.
Where have we encountered the green eyes before?
Dr. Reichstein: In the satyr.
Dr. Jung: Yes, another deity, Pan with the green eyes.
Green is the color of life, so the green eyes would indicate that life was concentrated in the black snake rather than in those two white snakes.
White has an innocent character, while a black snake is supposed to be particularly evil and poisonous.
And the black snake is attacking her, she says:
The black snake coiled about my left leg. I sought to tear it off but I could not.
Then the two white snakes approached me and put their heads close to my face.
“Who are you?” I asked them.
They answered, “We are night and day, we are good and evil, we are your two eyes, your two hands, your two feet.”
Then I lay back in the darkness and ceased to struggle.
You remember the animus is not interfering here, she is following her instincts, and that has very much to do with the fact that she cannot escape, that she is rooted.
Things are just happening to her, and she has to undergo the trial because she cannot get away.
So the black snake creeps up on her and coils around her left leg. What does that mean?
Dr. Barker: It means that she has to accept the dark side of herself, there is no getting away.
Dr. Jung: And what does it mean that the snake is on the left side?
Remark: It is the unconscious side.
Dr. Jung: Yes, the unconscious or the unfavorable side.
And then the two white snakes approach and put their heads close to her face.
You might say they were a pair of opposites but they are both white.
Dr. Barker: They are of equal value.
Dr. Jung: Therefore good as well as evil.
So we are not concerned with the problem of the pair of opposites here, because whether it is good or
evil makes no difference.
It is like your two hands, your two feet, your two eyes.
Your left foot is not a particular enemy of your right foot, they are simply two parts of the same organism, we are built that way.
We could be called self-ruling in that sense; we have a compensatory system, the left hand is the equivalent of the right hand.
It simply means that the pair of opposites are indifferent, they have equal value, and she is apparently no longer concerned with them.
Also the approach of the snakes is apparently no more alarming than if they had said they were her two
feet, or her two eyes; they seem to have only to do with the fact that we are built symmetrically.
But the black substance is there in the other snake, that is decidedly evil, all the blackness is in that snake with green eyes; and it is on the left side, it is really threatening her, she is really afraid of it. It should be part of a pair of opposites but evidently it is not.
Dr. Barker: That is the lack of balance or symmetry in herself, the side she has to become acquainted with.
Dr. Jung: You are quite right.
It is a new thing which is not contained in the opposites because it is unknown.
That is what Professor Demos wanted to squeeze out of me.
The thing with no name is the snake with green eyes, the black thing that comes in and stirs up an adverse wind.
The opposites seem to be beautifully united and quite symmetrical, so she could be entirely at peace, but up comes something from the wrong side which threatens evil.
It is a new disturbing element.
It is just as if there had been a tension and she were between:
She handles these two white snakes as if they were part of her body and thinks
the whole thing is settled, but something new comes up from below.
The pair of opposites that were known to her were almost horizontal, they were like parts of the body, but then something comes out of the soil.
And if there is fear of attack from below, we must assume that something might happen from above, a new pair of opposites but of a very different nature from the horizontal pair.
Dr. Baynes: It is the irrational pair of opposites rather than the rational pair.
Dr.Jung:Yes, ifwe assume that the horizontal opposites would be rational.
Her unconscious is now at rest; she has been living in her unconscious for a long time; she has reconciled the pairs of opposites there.
But there still remains the conflict between her consciousness and her unconscious.
Prof Eaton: Now comes the urge, why consciousness at all? Why any sun or any light at all? Why not just unconsciousness? Something like that?
Dr. Jung: Yes, but how would you characterize these opposites that have settled here?
Prof Eaton: She wants to remain unconscious, she wants to be in peace.
Dr. Jung: But that is not in her unconscious, she seems to be quite conscious of it.
Prof Demos: The new set of opposites might perhaps furnish the new problem, the principle of peace and the principle of change requiring a reconciliation.
Dr. Jung: Well, the idea of the reconciliation of opposites would convey the idea of a final settlement between, say, moral values, or between good and evil.
That would cover it more or less.
Dr. Shaw: Is it the transcendent function when these two opposites come together?
Dr. Jung: The function that unites, that results from the union and produces the union, is the transcendent function, but this new thing that happens is a fact of which she is not aware.
As long as she was in the conflict of the opposites-for that is chiefly a matter of moral opposition-she was not aware of that snake that comes from below.
In the moment when one settles this conflict between the yea and nay, or good and evil, one has the feeling, now one can rest, now one is rid of that eternal trouble which always blocked the way.
And then instantly comes up the tendency to move, a power from behind or from below.
You see if the pairs of opposites don’t exist any longer, if they are in beautiful companionship and harmony, one assumes: well, step out into life and be yourself.
But then up comes a new conflict, the conflict between the past and the future, what has been and what is to be.
It is really a conflict now in time.
Before it was in the momentary situation due to moral convictions and such things, but as soon as that is settled one will naturally move forward, because a door has been opened.
It means a tremendous release of energy when one can bring those opposites together, therefore all the more one will move.
And then comes the new conflict, of which one has not thought before, between the future and all the things that are past in one, represented by the snake.
The snake might be a symbol for the psychical tail of man reaching down into history.
I once used that as an example: I said if we could represent man in a world of four dimensions, he would be something like a sixty- or seventy-year-long worm, because his lifetime would be an extension, a continuity like the snake’s tail; when one moves forward, one instantly constellates the tail.
So whenever humanity has tried to take a step forward, up came the snake’s tail in the form of a tremendous inner revolt, a panic, for instance, because the future was new.
The reason why primitives are so hellishly afraid of anything new is because it contains unknown powers, indefinite dangers. Of course we think we like new ideas but it is not true.
Everybody is afraid, nobody likes new ideas; they always throw people into a panic, and where there is panic, there is bloodshed.
So the snake is really a new danger, it is the embodiment of the past of man that begins to stir. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 255-272