Visions Seminar

21 May 1931 Visions Seminar  Lecture II

Today Mrs. Fierz is going to read us a resume of the former visions.

Even for those who were here, it will be useful to hear a review of the whole series because one easily loses oneself in this maze of fantasy and thought.

You will probably get a much better feeling for the organic structure of the whole process when you hear it in this form.

It will be, I assume, something like a cinematograph film where you can see the rapid development of things over which we spent so many hours.


The patient whose visions we are dealing with is a woman, thirty years old, who has broken down over a conflict, inward and outward at the same time.

The outward conflict is that she cannot live the life she has been brought up to consider the right one.

And her inner conflict is that she has been using only one small part of her faculties-her conscious intellect, which is especially highly developed.

When in the beginning of analysis she finds out that Dr. Jung is not going to work miracles for her, that she has to look for help within herself, dreams begin to show her a way by pointing out her own neglected qualities.

Figures of men-we call them animus figures-symbolizing a leading spiritual faculty, show her the necessity of developing her inferior function, feeling.

And as soon as she is ready to accept this task a first hypnogogic picture puts the solution of her problem in a glimpse before her eyes.

She sees a man-again, an animus figure-carrying a peacock on his back, which means that her own spiritual

faculties will be led on by a much greater thing, by the very spirit of creation, of sunrise, of rebirth.

At the same time another picture, where she sees herself with a hole in her shoe, warns her that her old standpoint is worn out and has to be replaced by a new one.

As if her unconscious would not let her rest any more, stimulating and warning dreams follow one another, till she has a first big dream, which shows her own problem under a collective light.

The leading animus takes her into a boat and brings her to the place at the end of the lake where the four valleys converge-that is to say, to the very center of individual life.

There he takes a lame sheep into his arms whilst she, imitating him, takes a lamb that is pregnant.

Thus the animus shows himself to be the good shepherd, the poimen-an archetypal figure, the spirit-leader of men.

That all this is an anticipation only, and that in reality the dreamer has not reached her central place yet, is expressed by the fact that something is wrong with both sheep, and they are also shivering with cold.

The sheep being a widespread Christian symbol would mean that the inherited Christian attitude of the dreamer cannot serve her any more, that she cannot solve her problems with her typical Protestant point of view.

Her mind is lame, she is pregnant with the future, but not ripe yet to carry it.

After this she has some short initial visions that anticipate the things to come-a mene-tekel written on the wall for her-understandable only in the light of subsequent events.

I will mention only one: a spear shot at the moon.

Again she is admonished by dreams, and other short visions follow.

Then she sees a flame before her face which suddenly enters her mouth, announcing that, after all this preparatory work, fire, the creative energy, is entering her-either to devour things that must be devoured, or to fill her with divine fire, with inspiration.

The next dreams all emphasize the necessity of giving up her conscious intellectual standpoint and of following the vital psychical function which moves down below-her inferior side.

Then there is a dream which, as far as the content is concerned, seems a counterpart to her first big dream of the good shepherd and the sick lambs.

It again shows the hopelessness of Christian thinking.

But this time the problem is stated in a very general form, as with the picture of a graveyard in France-the

World War-it becomes the problem of the whole Western civilization with its breakdown of religious and moral values.

But this time there is progress-a solution is hinted at: the figure of a bull gnawing at the fingers of a Christian

saint shows a new force opposite to the Christian one.

While the saint lifts himself up above the unconscious, the bull-a Mithraic symbol-is the blind, unconscious

creative force, representing spring and rebirth like the peacock, but nearer to earth-pointing to the way downward again.

Now all the preparatory work seems to be done, the woman is ready to see to let things happen to her-so now follows the first vision which has the character of a drama, a mystery play where things move and people act.

The main actor is again an animus figure, a young American Indian, who in a short fight with a ram-another spring symbol-is charged with its primitive energy and rides off for adventure on a black horse.

He comes to a lake in the middle of high mountains.

There the horse dies, the sun sets-which means that consciousness has set, so the mystery play can begin.

First there is a curious interlude, where the Indian changes into a Chinaman.

Then both Indian and Chinaman walk around the lake-an acted clarification of the woman’s attitude towards Chinese philosophy which cannot serve her now. It is her own spirit that is needed.

The vision says that a white bird is flying down, but it is instantly killed by the Indian.

The woman’s natural mind-the Indian-is hostile to the spirit, the bird of the Holy Ghost.

But the spirit cannot be killed, it changes into a swan on the water, indicating that in another form it dwells also in the depth which has to be explored.

So the Indian dives into the lake, and the first fruit of his investigation is a vision of his own; he sees three crosses in the sky.

This is information given by the animus to the conscious mind that Christian symbolism is still full of mana, that the Christian problem is not solved.

The next vision begins again with the white bird, but here it changes into a black hawk immediately, indicating to the woman that the white bird can be black just as well, that the spirit is above and below.

And this hawk brings her an egg he found in the earth.

The picture of this vision shows that here the woman has painted herself in a very peculiar way: in a blue cloak, without mouth and nose, like an ancient statue.

What she has painted, really, is the unconscious under its maternal aspect, the Magna Mater of ancient cults.

The egg-the germ of the future-is deposited in her own womanhood, in her womb or the stream of her blood.

In the beginning of the next vision we see a horse changing into a ram and then into a bull-symbolism for the renewal of energy.

Then the Indian comes in again and leads the bull onto a hill, where they both stand surrounded by many people in supplication.

The Indian is put into the position of a Mithraic savior, for what is expected of him is a spring miracle, a rebirth.

He then crosses a bridge with the bull and descends into a dark wood-again a symbol for the unconscious-where he drinks water at a spring.

This drinking at a magic spring has magic effect: it attracts the woman herself into the mystery play. From now on she is acting in it.

She enters veiled like an initiate, she drinks from the water too, and in this way becomes closely associated with the leading principle embodied in the Indian.

With her entrance, the play begins, a procession through the ages into the past-for the way downward can just as well be regarded as a way backwards in time-with the Indian as the leader.

Christian symbols turn up in medieval surroundings.

First, a mother offers her child to the cross, but when the Indian won’t stop, the mother in anger throws her baby at him and instantly the child is transformed into two goats which also follow the Indian.

Then a figure of Christ is passed by in spite of the woman’s wish to stop and pray.

Then the animus with the animals and the woman also pass a medieval castle, where one could live the

medieval life, entrenched and safe, but that is just what the woman cannot do any more.

So the cortege goes on, far back into antiquity, passing by Roman and Greek temples.

The transformation of the baby into two little goats means that the child, the future in the woman which is still unconscious, takes a new aspect; it is transformed.

Bull and goat belong to Dionysian mythology, and what the woman is going to experience now is an initiation into the Dionysian mysteries-very much in the antique way known to us from pictures excavated in Pompeii.

Finally the procession seems to stop.

The next vision is nothing but a face with eyes closed.

With something like a prayer the woman beseeches the face to open its eyes.

And now she sees what no man is meant to see-eyes full of beauty and woe and light-and she cannot bear it.

She has looked into the eyes of the animal, she has met the animal within herself and knows now about her close connection with nature.

She has found her own deep ground and, at the same time, she is standing at the beginning of man’s history. So now she can proceedon her way back into the present.

It is again the animus taking the lead, first into a primitive town of sun-worshipping people.

Here he is subjected to torture, burnt by fire and wounded by arrows.

This shows the conflict of opposites in the woman, who has realized herself to be animal and civilized conscious human being at the same time.

And as if to console her for the hardship of this conflict, she sees all the animals coming from the woods and all the fishes from the sea-a feast of nature, where everything is reconciled again.

But the visions continue. The woman sees herself as a child being carried to a Dionysian temple, then a youth standing in a grove, and in comes a satyr asking: ‘Why are you here?”

The appearance of the satyr seems to upset the woman’s whole system.

The vision does not go on; she is unable yet to stand the sight of the goat-god. Her animus has to step in again.

In the next vision his acting shows that it is an outrage to fight against fate.

The helpful interference of the wise old man makes him find the right attitude-submission-so he willingly offers himself for sacrifice and is consumed by fire.

A white bird, the immortal soul, issues from his body and rises to heaven.

The sacrifice of the animus enables the woman to face the satyr.

In the next vision she looks into his green eyes, she sees the flames of her emotion dancing around him, and quite unexpectedly he now puts the blue mantle of Mary around her and gives her the pearl necklace of her tears.

The spirit of the animal is crowning her in the mysteries.

In the next vision she sees a man and a woman emerging out of a scarab-a symbol for the chthonic form of the sun-god.

The man dives into a pond, brings a ring up and presses it into the forehead of the woman.

Right after the vision of the goat-god there follows a revelation about the real relationship between man

and woman as a part of her mystery experience.

With the symbol of the ring this vision also contains the moment of complete initiation; the woman is definitely touched and marked, one might say, for individuation.

Then again the animus takes the lead.

She sees a black-haired youth leaping and dancing with cymbals, performing for her the exalted joy, the self-forgetfulness of the Dionysian attitude.

But suddenly the youth falls down before an old man who gazes at the earth with blind eyes, flowers springing up around his feet.

It is as if the Dionysian movement had called forth the opposite principle, as the old man symbolizes the Apollonian attitude.

The woman’s unconscious reasoning is changing into a new kind of thought, quiet contemplation, which can produce flowers to unfold and grow.

As the vision expresses it, the youth buries his face in the flowers.

He is nearing the earth, and then he falls still lower-into the lap of an ancient mother, the earth mother.

The earth psychologically means the body, the corporeal sphere of our psyche.

Therefore a bathing ceremony that the youth now performs, right by the knees of the earth mother, which makes his hair golden (his mind bright), looks like a means to make the woman conscious of her own body and its psychological importance.

But that the animus enters into the corporeal sphere also expresses that he is again blending with her, so

when he comes up from the depth, she sees herself running on with him, until they come to a chasm, which stops their Dionysian movement.

Now the animus fulfills his true function, which is to be a bridge between the conscious and the unconscious.

He sets foot on either side of the chasm and tells the woman to walk over him to the other aide. This she does.

But then something goes wrong.

When she urges the animus to come on with her on the other side he cannot do so, and after a struggle falls down into the water at the bottom of the chasm.

The woman is left alone, she lies down frightened, and now animals come and lick her face.

This means that when she is without the animus, in unconsciousness, she is together with her instincts.

This is a moment of complete existence, of fulfillment-the collective unconscious is with her.

The vision goes on to tell what this feels like:

She sees herself as a laughing woman rising from the water and wearing the high-peaked Mithraic cap.

She steps into a golden boat pulled by a white sea horse, and rainbows are all over the sky.

She has become the sun-god and laughs a divine laughter.

It is a complete deification in the sense of the antique mysteries.

This shows that on her way back from the animal through the ages the woman has reached the time when the antique culture came to an end, as in the way of spiritual development the antique cults could not give more to humanity than such a unique moment of deification to remember for a lifetime.

The next step in development is Christian.

Therefore something happens now to the woman to make her discover the inner meaning and structure of early Christianity-real Christianity as opposed to the modern church.

So the next vision she has is of a sacrificed sheep on an altar.

This means that in order to become a real well-working human being again, the woman, who has been united to the animal and the god, must sacrifice on both sides.

The sheep is animal and god in one.

The next step in development is the sacrifice of the participation mystique with the powers above and below.

Curiously enough in the case of this particular woman, it is not she who performs the sacrifice, but, as the vision says, a crowd of Indians (animus split into parts).

They perform the ceremony, tear the entrails out of the bleeding body, and hang them around their necks.

And the entrails change into red jewels.

Here the woman sees, in the symbol of the entrails made visible, that if her crude and primitive inferior side be made conscious, she will find the priceless jewel of life force.

Now she appears in the vision and asks for the jewel, but the Indians run away, and the single one who stays only tells her that she has violated the blood.

As a matter of fact this woman has until now only looked at her own visions without much feeling and in a very abstracted way.

She has never let them come anywhere near her.

This is the violation of the blood, and therefore she cannot get the jewel.

The vision continues, showing the Indian spilling blood on her head and robe, which becomes scarlet, indicating thus the necessity of reconciliation to the blood and acceptance of her reality, such as it is.

Then she hears a strange rhythmic beating around her, and a great swirl of blood carries her upwards in

spirals. She has submitted.

The spiral indicates that the blood carries her according to the law which characterizes the growth of plants: a circular movement that can unite opposites by going and always returning, but always a little higher up.

In this way she is carried, as she says, past the white face of God, past the sun and a pool of gold; that is, from the old pale vision of a faraway god, from the sun down to the gold of the depth of the earth, to the treasure below her feet.

Here the movement stops completely.

The next vision shows her in a wood encircled by the flaming red of the blood, she herself being a tree and lifting her face to the sun.

Plant life, being directly opposed to animal life, stands as a symbol for the spiritual development of the individual, which she begins to experience now, being also for the first time rooted to the soil, with the blood withdrawing from her and encircling her.

As long as she stays within the circle, she will not be consumed by the fire of passions around her.

Over her is the sun, under her feet probably the pool of gold.

The next vision shows her what this means; instead of an animus, a laughing goat takes her down into a cave, probably under the tree.

As her eternal trouble is always to stay with her superior intellect, she must come down to the reality of the earth again and again.

This time what she finds in the cave are two white snakes and a black one.

The white snakes are friendly, they tell her themselves what they mean: they are the opposites at peace.

The black snake is dangerous, it coils around her left leg.

The snake is a symbol for a new and unknown element from below which she has to swallow, dark as it is, and without understanding.

She actually does so in her vision; she swallows the black snake, the underground soul, and then she emerges from the cave.

By swallowing the black snake she has finally made the connection with the earth that she needed, and that means at the same time the connection with the past.

It is a dangerous moment, as the snake-the life that is left in the earth-is also the devil, the black Yin power.

The swallowing of the snake is the old chthonic mystery.

When the woman comes up from the cave, the snake leaps from her body, falls upon a golden disk, which seems to be the pool of gold again, and is burnt to ashes.

This means the ascent of the ignoble chthonic element into the spiritual-a real sublimation.

The snake has vanished, but its spirit forces the woman to go on, o become transformed herself, or to seek her goal, consciousness.

So now the woman leaves the white snakes and the goat beside the disk and goes on alone until she comes to a black wall, on which she sees nothing but an eye and a star.

This situation seems to show that the woman on her journey has come up from the past into her own present, and is standing before the unknown future as if before a wall, an obstacle, seeking a way to penetrate it.

Here it was only after a most bewildering discussion between Dr. Jung and some fiery philosophers that the members of our last seminar learned that the star is to be understood as the symbol for the eye which emanates the light, while the eye is that which receives it.

A symbolism for the receptive and the creative faculty of the human mind, working together-a figurative expression for the idea that the conception of the world is as much a creation of man as is his outward


Furthermore, the eye-that is, living consciousness-seems to be the place at which to pass through the black wall.

The eye is a mandala, so to get into it means to find the center of one’s being.

The next vision seems to demonstrate just this, as it shows the woman in the liquid of the eye on the head of a giant.

The vision says giant, but it could just as well say dwarf, because the man is the figure in the eye-the Purusha, smaller than small and greater than great.

He brings her into the presence of a woman who seems to be a personification of the essence of all womanhood.

This means that here she must become conscious of what womanhood really is; and a quite brutal vision of sacrificial prostitution does not leave her in blindness about its fearful nature.

This woman-goddess also shows her what there is lying at the bottom of female nature by taking her down into a new depth, where she sees only seething inchoate chaos.

Here everything is dissolved, but here also things are formed; the vision continues, saying that a man of crystal is created from the formless mass.

The goddess breathes life into him and disappears.

This vision means that in the same way as she receives strength, form and definite substance through consciousness of her own nature, so also her objects receive form.

The man of the vision is of crystal: it is the diamond body, the individual center and treasure of life.

That she sees it outside herself in a man shows that she is still not ripe for it.

She projects it into a real man who represents the individuated human being for her.

She has to accept this fact and to wait for her natural growth.

Therefore in the next vision she again sees herself before the same black wall with the eye on it.

The eye teaches her how to look into herself where she sees a tree growing again the symbol of plant life.

Finally the tree is outside her and lifts her over the wall, where she finds an old man of legendary age, a personification of the collective unconscious.

She is allowed to look into his eyes of eternal wisdom, where she sees the stream of life full of struggling souls.

Only a few men are standing on the shore to look at the sun and a star in the sky.

Like a counterpart to the memento mori of the Middle Ages, this is a memento vivere: a teaching given

to her that out of the stream of unconscious life, few are chosen for consciousness of individual life ( the star) and of the deity ( the sun). ~The Visions Seminar, Page 344-350