10 June 1931 The Visions Seminar Lecture V
10 June 1931 The Visions Seminar Lecture V
We are now coming to the new series of visions, but continuing the same theme.
You remember the Negro’s head was the most important content.
The head is, of course, only a part of the body.
It means consciousness or vision or idea, but it does not include all the other functions; nor does it include the unconscious without which there is no full realization of a thought.
In itself a thought is like a mere abstract drawing, it lacks substance.
Substance is life, and the idea is fully realized only when it is really contained in life, when it is part of the very tissue of the body.
So in the next vision the whole Negro appears.
She says: “I beheld a Negro lying beneath a tree. In his hands were fruits. He was singing with a full throaty voice.”
You remember the very beautiful picture she made of this.
Now whenever patients produce an especially beautiful picture, one can be sure that the thing they are trying to express represents something of particular value to them, so that all their abilities are brought out and come into action.
Usually my patients have no knowledge of painting or drawing, but when a picture suggests itself that expresses a particularly comprehensive idea, all the faculties of the individual are called forth, and it is as if the body itself were supporting them in their endeavor.
They often begin by making sort of ideographic pictures, using their mind only, with nothing realistic about them, but the moment an especially comprehensive image is constellated in the unconscious, their body suddenly helps them to produce a real picture.
I remember the case of a woman who could not draw at all.
It was absolutely hopeless, she would not even try.
I told her it did not matter if she failed, that everybody found it difficult in the beginning, and she should not hesitate, she should try.
So she brought me several attempts at the human body and they were most ridiculous, like drawings in schoolbooks made by a child of six or seven.
Then one time she had a dream of a naked woman in a transparent veil, and the urge came up in her: if only I could draw, that would be my picture.
Of course, it was a highly symbolical idea, meaning that one should represent oneself as one is, as the naked human being really is.
You may remember, if you have read the fifth chapter of Psychological Types, where I deal with the nature of the reconciling symbol in Spitteler’s Prometheus, that the symbol is a naked human form.
That woman had the same very central idea, and it gripped her to such an extent that she wanted to draw it.
And this time she did not use a pencil.
It was a very bold attempt with a brush and water colors, which, as you know, is a very difficult medium.
Yet it was done with great delicacy, and the anatomy was absolutely perfect; she even succeeded in giving the transparent effect of the veil.
I was amazed, to me it was little short of a miracle. I said: “But you can draw!-this is marvelous.”
Of course, she was pleased and tried to do more, but it only worked that one time.
In the course of about two years, after many painful attempts, she succeeded in producing better things than in the beginning, but never anything like that particular picture, which succeeded simply because her unconscious had helped.
Now I will show you again the picture of the Negro [see plate 17].
What does it suggest to you?
Mr. Schmitz: He looks like a man in a Dionysian rapture.
Dr. Jung: Yes, almost an ecstatic condition.
Mrs. Crowley: It suggests the god Attis to me.
Dr. Jung: A sacrificed god, but did you think of Attis on account of the tree or on account of the blood?
Mrs. Crowley: On account of the blood, and then the flowers and the fruit.
Dr. Jung: Attis is such a god of vegetation, and perhaps you know other parallels.
This figure belongs to a specific category of gods. Frazer has written a whole book about them.
Prof Demos: He seems to be a mixture of pagan and Christian. He is enjoying the fruit, and also he is like a Christ bleeding and suffering.
Dr. Jung: Yes, Christ as a mythological figure belongs to the same category of gods.
Mrs. Sigg: And Mithra?
Dr. Jung: Mithra belongs to the same group, but I want to know how you would characterize them.
Dr. Reichstein: The dying and the resurrecting gods.
Dr. Jung: Exactly. It is a specific category, for usually the gods are thought of as being rather static, something that is beyond becoming and vanishing.
In Egyptian mythology what particular god would be of this nature?
Mrs. Crowley: Osiris. And in Greece Dionysus Zagreus.
Dr. Jung: And Adonis.
Dr. Escher: Odin, pierced by the spear.
Prof Demos: Iacchus.
Mr. Schmitz: He is the same as Dionysus.
Dr. Jung: Dionysus is not the god of the grain and wheat. Iacchus is a specific form, the one born in the winnowing fan.
Then the lamented gods belong to the same category.
In Greece there was Linus, the god who dies young.
And there was the Babylonian god Tammuz who was lamented every year by the women of Babylon.
You see, all these forms represent a specific idea which is of tremendous age (like the idea of Osiris in Egypt), and they were all merged, so to speak, and resuscitated
by a later phase of civilization in the form of Christ.
He is also the grain of wheat that rises from the dead.
Those gods are called the vegetation gods, and their rites were usually performed in the spring.
That miracle of spring is exceedingly impressive in southern countries, particularly in Mesopotamia where those figures probably originated.
After the winter rains, a marvelous vegetation suddenly springs up, the desert is covered with the most wonderful herbs and flowers; and then in a few weeks the whole thing vanishes before the burning rays of the sun.
That is the death of the god. In Egypt, the rise and fall of the Nile is connected with the cult of Osiris.
These so-called vegetation gods are expressed externally by the coming and the vanishing of spring, but they are of psychological origin.
One doesn’t see a god when the flowers spring up, but that is what one’s psyche makes of it.
It is a kind of reverberation in one’s psyche, a psychological phenomenon which originally coincided with the processes of nature-that is, so long as man was like animals, in complete participation mystique with nature.
In the paradisiacal state he was so identical with his surroundings that he experienced all the different phases of nature as they came.
But that has more or less vanished.
We now consider it rather morbid or neurotic to be influenced by the weather-when one blames the weather instead of acknowledging that one is in a dark mood, for instance, or excuses one’s own low condition by a particularly bad winter.
The weather has really nothing to do with it, though there are exceptions, of course.
There is the south wind which comes over the mountains, the Fohn, as we call it here, during which the electricity in the air really accounts for certain psychological and nervous phenomena.
But the clouds and the temperature do not coincide with psychological conditions, so participation mystique with nature to that extent is a neurotic symptom.
Originally there was probably a perfect synchronism, a perfect simultaneousness with the general condition, but through the development of consciousness man deviated and had to defend himself against that participation mystique, which on the one hand was very beautiful, but on the other had obvious drawbacks.
It would be very awkward if one could not travel or go to war because it was raining; one would be in a decidedly inferior position against a foe who did not mind the rain or the cold.
In the symbol of the dying and resurrecting god, man expressed a psychological phenomenon into which he projected himself at a time when, emotionally, he was still identical with nature.
But through development he became aware that it was not the spring outside, it was the spring or the vanishing of spring in himself which concerned him; so the process became detached from external events.
That sort of development has also taken place in the physiological realm.
The monthly period in women, for example, is the same as the phases of the moon, it is a period of twenty-eight days, and most probably it once coincided with the real phases of the moon.
Like those famous biological phenomena which have been observed in a certain animal in the South Seas, it appears at certain phases of the moon with astronomical exactness.
What is the name of that animal?
Mrs. de Laszlo: The palolo worm.
Mrs. Egloff: Also two species of the genus Neries.
Dr. Jung: Yes, that is true.
Those animals still function in synchronism with astronomical data, while the monthly period of woman has completely detached itself.
We are even more psychologically detached from the movements of nature.
It is very probable that in the beginning of such beliefs, the anthropomorphic form, which was later given to the phenomena, did not exist, and therefore one finds relatively few human figures among the very early ideas of gods or demons.
Usually they are monsters or they are amorphous.
Very primitive people do not designate their gods by any form.
Those primitives whom I knew on Mount Elgon, for instance, had no idea that the thing they called god, or something approaching that concept, had a form.
They thought god was a particular moment of the day, like the sunrise, or the rising of the new moon,
something indescribably abstract to us, but to them very concrete.
It is concrete to them because it is an actual emotional condition.
And the same with their idea of evil: because evil produces fear, they call their conception of evil the maker of fear.
It has a name and a color-brown like the earth-but it has no special form.
It might have any form, it might even appear in the form of a man; or it might be a puff of cold wind, or not even that; it is absolutely amorphous.
Such ideas are very primitive, but on a higher level, when emotions like fear and pleasure and hope detach themselves from participation mystique, personifications begin, and then the gods are given human form or characteristics, even a human psychology.
But that comes very much later, when natural events have taken on more of human nature.
Similarly, each part of our psyche can be personified as a particular being, as one observes in spiritualistic seances.
Each thought has a personal form, calling itself “I” and giving itself a name, the name of a relative perhaps, even if the thought is clearly from the personal unconscious of one of the participants in the circle.
It is the same in cases of lunacy.
The voices the insane hear have an absolutely personal character, though they are obviously part of their
That accounts, then, for the personification of the gods or their representation as human figures, but as I said, that belongs to a later period.
Now in this vision the Negro is in the place of that archetypal figure of the vegetation god, the god that dies early.
His relationship to vegetation is obvious from the fruits. You have a famous parallel in America.
Mrs. Crowley: Mondamin.
Dr. Jung: Yes, the god of the grain, and that is a close parallel to Iacchus or any of the other vegetation gods, for they are also gods of the harvest.
Therefore this Negro holds fruit in his hands.
Then he is under a tree, which shows that the tree is a sort of attribute.
In that respect these pictures are like the old representations of gods that were always represented with their particular attributes, a weapon perhaps, as the saints in medieval times were given certain attributes: one was given a wheel, for instance, because she was broken on the wheel, and others have other instruments of torture, or any other object significant in their lives.
Such an object has the value of a psychological attribute.
So this tree is an attribute which would mean again green vegetation, fruits and so on.
Also the blood pouring forth would be like a manifestation of the fertility of the earth, like plant life pouring a river of riches over the earth, or like a stream of golden wheat over the fields.
There are many well-known poetical figures.
And in connection with his being a vegetation god, what would be another aspect of the blood?
Mrs. Fierz: Wine.
Dr: Jung: Yes, wine and wheat always typify the fertility of the earth, and they are also symbols in the Christian Communion, so the blood might just as well be a stream of wine.
Therefore this Dionysian gesture of the Negro.
All these attributes and the mythological context confirm an idea that we had about the Negro. What was that?
Mrs. Fierz: The black Messiah.
Dr. Jung: Yes, he is a mediator.
All those gods were mediators because by dying they shared the lot of man.
Gods usually do not die, but those gods did die.
Therefore, in later periods of Egyptian history, Osiris became merely a designation or a technical word for the soul itself, the immortal part of man.
There are texts which speak of the King’s or the Pharaoh’s Osiris, meaning his immortal substance, the thing he had in common with the god who died like man and overcame death by resurrection.
This Negro is really performing the archetypal role of mediator.
He represents the reconciliation between man and the thing which is against him or from which he has become detached, the mediator between God and the world of man, for instance.
In this case we know the Negro is not the mediator between God and the world, he is a sort of psychological mediator.
How would you formulate it?
Dr: Gordon: Between the conscious and the unconscious.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but you could put it more specifically, for this is a formula you could apply in the same way to the early Christians or the old Greeks.
Mr. Schmitz: Between her intellect and her instinctive life.
Dr: Jung: That is true.
One could also say between her modern point of view, with its exclusiveness and one-sidedness, and the instinctive and natural point of view which is compensatory to it.
There is a wide gap between our isolated exclusive consciousness and the natural standpoint of the unconscious, and that gap must be bridged.
We have found the animus of our patient functioning in that way, going ahead, making a bridge to the next point, and here again the animus performs for her; he shows her the reconciling symbol.
What attitude can she learn from that gesture?
Mr. Schmitz: “Stirb und werde. ”
Dr. Jung: Yes, but that is exactly what people don’t understand.
Mr. Schmitz quotes a phrase from a poem by Goethe, “die and become,” but if I were to say that to anybody, it would not be understood.
We must put it into a form that can really be felt.
Prof Eaton: A sacrifice.
Dr. Jung: Does it feel like sacrifice?
Mr. Schmitz: His blood is sacrificed.
Dr. Jung: Very involuntarily, I should say.
Mrs. Crowley: It is the instinctive natural part of the earth.
Dr. Jung: Yes, it is natural, and a sacrifice is within nature’s purpose.
Again I use a phrase of Goethe’s, ”Die Natur verlangt einen Tod,” nature demands a death.
It is natural, nobody has inflicted it.
Like a pod bursting open or fruit falling from the tree, so the wine or the blood pours forth. It is a natural flow, a natural manifestation, not an inflicted death, nor a self-inflicted sacrifice.
And what is the attitude?
Mrs. Sigg: Joy.
Dr. Jung: Yes, therefore the Dionysian atmosphere of this picture. But how do you apply it to man?
Mr. Allemann: It means that he should accept his fate lovingly.
Dr. Jung: Yes, it should be the joy or the love of one’s own fate-amor jati-a sort of enthusiasm.
But the enthusiasm to do or to be what?
Dr. Gordon: It brings one to the middle way.
Dr. Jung: Yes, it does. This figure is the mediator, but to do what?
Mr. Schmitz: To go the way of nature.
Dr: Jung: Exactly, to follow the way of nature, to follow the law that is in ourselves.
The Negro shows a complete abandon to the laws which are operating in him, and that leads to fertility.
Now is that clear?
Prof Demos: In what way does that coincide with the modern point of view? It seems to lean rather to the pagan side.
Dr: Jung: Decidedly.
The picture is archetypal and rather pagan in aspect, despite the fact that it is a close analogy to the Christian mystery.
But the Christian mystery is specifically an inflicted sacrifice in spite of the fact that the hero himself was seeking it.
He did not avoid it, but it was inflicted.
And it was not brought about entirely by his will because he had to go through a great inner conflict in Gethsemane before he could accept the final event.
So Christianity represents the idea of an inflicted sacrifice, while this is as if nature herself were leading this Negro to a sacrificial death.
Mrs. Crowley: But it seems to contradict what you said a moment ago about the detachment from natural processes.
Dr. Jung: That is an important idea.
Mrs. Crowley calls my attention to the fact that I spoke of the detachment from the processes of nature,
and here it seems as if we were going right down into nature.
But how can you detach from a thing to which you have never been attached?
How rise from the water in which one has never been immersed?
We must give nature a chance to fulfill itself.
Then only can we detach, and then it comes about quite naturally.
One could say: Live your life to the full and then you can die.
This idea was expressed by Cicero, the idea that the fullness of life brings about the fullness of time and the moment which is ripe for death.
That was the antique standpoint and in a way it is true; when nothing remains, it is the end; when everything has been said and done, it is perfectly natural, even logical, that one vanishes.
If one has done one’s duty, fulfilled one’s task, one can then die, one can say goodbye and disappear.
Mr. Schmitz: And it is in straight contradiction to her previous idea of saintliness. This new attitude is shown to her instead of the Protestant saintliness.
Dr. Jung: Yes, it is of course in contradiction to the Protestant bringing up; it is unavoidable that it should be a compensation to the hitherto prevailing Christian point of view of the inflicted sacrifice.
Yet we should not be blindfolded by the apparent pagan aspect of it.
That symbol sums up once more all our ideas about it, but we must give it a new interpretation; we cannot live it in that form, it would be far too incompatible.
A long commentary is needed to interpret such a picture.
To say: “Follow the way of nature,” would not be understood, because we have preconceived ideas about nature.
If I were to say that to a society of philosophers or theosophists, they would reply: “Exactly, naturalism, Rousseau; that is what we would expect.”
But you see, they entirely forget that nature demands a death.
That is what Christ says in the recently discovered Logoi, which the early church fathers were very careful not to admit into the New Testament, despite the fact that they are older than the Gospels and equally authentic.
The disciples asked Christ who would lift them up, because the Kingdom of Heaven was so far above in the sky ( the old Egyptians used to put a little ladder in the tomb for the dead to climb into heaven), and he said: “The fowls of the air and the beasts that are upon the earth or under the earth, and the fishes in the sea, these are they that will draw you into the Kingdom.”
That means the instincts, one could almost say the blind instincts; the way of nature will bring you quite naturally wherever you have to go.
This is the idea of Tertullian, anima naturaliter christiana, the soul is naturally Christian; in other words, a natural process leads one to the Christian formulation.
Here again we see a perfectly natural process of untrammeled imagination leading to the same solution, to the idea that if you follow the way of nature-of the birds in the air, the fishes in the sea, and the animals on the earth-you will come to your own law.
Then comes the question: what is the law of man?
According to preconceived ideas, man is all wrong, sinful, little better than an earthworm.
But that is an absolutely wrong idea. Who created the religions of the world?
Who produced Christ? Who produced the Buddha?
All that is the natural growth of man.
If left to himself, he can bring about his own salvation quite naturally; he has always produced symbols that redeemed him.
So if we follow the laws that are in our own nature, they will lead us to the right end.
You see how things develop here; this woman does not go astray.
One might expect, if someone were given over to his own fantasies, that it would result, as Freud says, only in wish fulfillment, that everything would go to hell completely.
The theologian thinks man is of the devil, that all evil comes out of man himself.
So you cannot trust your own law.
But if you don’t trust your own law, you must content yourself with a neurosis.
You have got to trust yourself with your own experience, because, according to the natural law, it will lead to a state of completeness.
I do not speak of a state of perfection-that is prejudice-but of completeness, which seems to be a kind of growth and which contains all the spiritual values one can wish for.
You see, this vision is not leading into anything destructive, it leads to a natural fertility.
Prof Demos: Would you say that self-judgment and self-criticism are parts of human nature also?
Dr. Jung: Of course they are and we know it.
Prof Demos: Not only accepting your nature but judging it, modifying it, that is also part of you?
Dr. Jung: Yes, and we do it with more or less success.
The question is: have we the right criteria?
If we have the good fortune to live in a time when these are good and sufficient, we can rely on them; but if we live in a time when there is no point of view, how can we judge?
Mr. Schmitz: There is a law of self-regulation.
Dr. Jung: Yes. If there were none, we might be led anywhere.
An exclusive one-sided attitude may lead us astray, but as soon as we allow every part of the human psyche to really apply itself, then a self-regulating system will be revealed to us.
Mr. Schmitz: Like the English Parliament.
Dr.Jung: Yes, I hope it will continue! Now we will go on with the vision.
She says to the Negro: “Must I know you?”
He answered: “Whether you know me or not, I am here.” I asked him: ”What do you sing, oh Negro?”
He answered me: “Little white child, I sing to darkness, to flaming fields, to the children within your womb.”
While he sang blood poured from his heart in slow and rhythmic beats. It flowed along in a stream covering
my feet. I followed the stream of blood.
Here she engages in conversation with that black Messiah, which shows that she was not fully aware of the meaning of the fantasy, she only saw it.
But she was seized by it and engages in conversation with the purpose of finding out what it meant.
She felt that she had to enter into some sort of close connection with the Negro, and therefore she asked
him, “Must I know you,” and he makes the cryptic remark: “Whether you know me or not, I am here.”
Mr. Schmitz: Would that mean that the law of nature exists whether we know it or not? Whether we abide by it or not is our free choice.
Dr. Escher: “Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit. ”
Dr. Jung: Yes, whether we know it or not the thing happens; whether we call it the law of nature or that particular thought, it always exists.
The question is only: do we contact it or not? Or can we become conscious of it?
This figure of the Negro is, in a way, completely detached, not particularly interested in her. He exists for himself, like nature.
Nature is not especially interested in man, not in such a way that we feel it; yet since nature is also in man, we must admit that she is interested in his existence, otherwise she would not have produced him.
But the nature outside seems to be absolutely indifferent, so that Nietzsche, in reference to the aspect of high mountains, said: “Crimen laesae majestatis humanae, ” this is a crime against human majesty.
That the Negro does, however, take a certain interest in her is shown by his answer, when he explains that he is singing the darkness, singing the flaming fields, and singing the children in her womb.
She writes it: singing to, but the proper term would be without the preposition-as the Scottish fishermen, when they set out for the oyster fishing, sing the oysters; or as the Australian bushmen sing the water, or the grass seed, or the kangaroo.
It is a sort of incantation to produce plenty, a magic procedure by which fertility is secured.
They sing the grass seed to produce plenty of grass, as the fishermen sing the oysters in order to make them
multiply or to secure a rich catch.
The incantation fills the living object, whatever it is-the kangaroo, the fishes, the hippo-with an additional
life, human life; the primitive assumes that a greater fertility is insured by adding his own libido, as it were, his own magic power.
So in that sense the Negro is singing the children in her womb, or the fields to be fertile, or the darkness to protect; it is for an apotropaic purpose, for one can sing for or against a thing.
He is obviously performing a magic incantation, giving additional power, a productive or fertilizing value, to
One should be aware of such symbols, for otherwise their effect remains either invisible or almost nil.
It is as if somewhere in a pocket one had a bank note; but if one doesn’t know it, it has no value, it is as if it
did not exist.
And so it is in nature.
Of course even without knowing it, it will produce certain effects, but they will be peculiar, they will interfere with one.
For not knowing about the unconscious means that one has deviated, one is not in harmony with it, and therefore it works against one.
So it is quite possible that if this woman were not conscious of that figure, it would simply form a complex which would work against her.
As a matter of fact, it has always worked against her, and she can be aware of the positive power of such figures only by becoming conscious of them.
The value of these visions is that they help her to become aware of the unconscious contents, since they cannot work properly unless admitted to consciousness.
If one can at least perceive unconscious contents, that in itself is already an asset because it is close to nature, and the next step is to admit them.
Otherwise the conscious is not supported, it has no roots; nature assumes a contrasting attitude and even becomes an opponent.
Then the unconscious simply rolls on in its own cycles, and man is left somewhere high and dry, stranded.
I told you about the insane person who dreamt the most gorgeous myths of death and resurrection, but nothing happened to her conscious, it was unaffected.
Had she been able to understand them, the unconscious would have been attracted; it would have welled up and become part of her consciousness.
People often point out that the Freudian school regards the unconscious as something alien, wild, barbarous, opposing, criminal in every respect.
But if one accepts such a conception of the unconscious, it must come from the fact that the conscious
has a hostile attitude to the unconscious.
It must be that the conscious goes a very different way, and therefore it brings out the negative aspect of the unconscious.
While if one approaches the unconscious, it loses its dangerous aspect, and what has been entirely negative becomes positive.
One sees that from dreams.
One often has dreams which seem destructive and evil, the thing one cannot accept, but it is merely due to
the fact that one’s conscious attitude is wrong.
If one says: “It seems quite black but perhaps I must accept it,” instantly the thing changes color, it becomes compatible with consciousness.
This Negro’s interest in our patient’s welfare, or her fertility, is due to her willingness to contact the unconscious and to accept it, so while he sings and while she engages in conversation with him, she notices the stream of blood that pours from his heart.
You remember that we encountered that stream of blood in a former vision, and by following it, she came to the central place, or the center of her own self.
Here she has to follow the stream of blood again, and she says: “It led down and down.
At last I found myself in a rocky cavern beneath the earth.
It was very dark.” Now what is this cavern to which she is led by the stream of blood?
Mr. Schmitz: The unconscious.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but we must have a more specific designation this time because the stream of blood is almost a physiological fact.
As we decided in our former discussion, it is the blood with all its implications, almost a physiological law. If she follows that way, at what condition of consciousness does she arrive?
Mr. Schmitz: Heart consciousness.
Dr. Jung: The heart would be the symbol for the center, but this is not exactly the center, it is deep down; she insists upon the fact that it leads down, down.
And what organ is lower than the heart?
Dr. Gordon: The abdomen.
Dr. Jung: Yes. And there she sees a glowing fire. Have you a parallel to that?
Mrs. Heyer: Gilgamesh.
Dr. Jung: There is nothing about a cave there.
However, you are quite right, this is a piece of the hero myth and Gilgamesh is one of the best
But in the hero myth it is somewhat different.
The hero is swallowed by the so-called whale-dragon, and he doesn’t find a fire in the abdominal cave, he makes a fire in order to kill the monster from within.
The difference is that she is not swallowed, she goes intentionally into the darkness of the abdominal cave, which is a psychical localization; and the plexus solaris is the center or the sun of the abdominal cave.
She is reaching down, as it were, through her intuition into the region below consciousness; and she doesn’t have to make the fire, she finds one already there.
She says: “I saw a glowing fire.” Now a glowing fire does not burn with a bright flame; it is slow and dormant, smoldering under the ashes. Have you anything to compare with this symbol?
Dr. Gordon: There could be such a fire under the witches’ pot in the cave.
Dr. Jung: A fire and the cave and the pot all belong to this idea, but we must have a specific parallel here, because you will see presently that we are getting into an unaccustomed line of thought.
What does this fire suggest?
Mrs. Baynes: The Kundalini yoga.
Dr. Jung: Yes, the serpent fire.
There are peculiar philosophical ideas in the Hindu Tantric system; by descending into the cave of the unconscious they discovered a so-called fire center down in the abdomen.
Practically all the symbolism of the Tantric system can be found in these visions.
The lowest region is muladhara, which is down in the perineum.
That is the root center where the whole system starts, where everything takes its origin.
The next region above is physiological, that is the water region, the region of the bladder; we cannot call it psychical because we have no evidence that psychical values were at any time attached to it.
But we know that the bladder is often affected in cases of neurosis, when a certain expression is wanted of which people are not aware.
I remember a man who never expressed himself, who always tried to get away from it despite the fact that everybody pushed him into analysis, and he developed a most unpleasant continuous pressure of the bladder; he had to empty it about twenty times a day.
Next comes the fire region, which would be the center of the abdominal region, corresponding to the solar plexus, and that seems to be clearly a psychical center.
There are still Negro tribes that assure you that their thoughts are in the stomach.
And one can actually feel certain emotions there.
Therefore one says it is difficult to digest an idea; or one’s stomach is upset when one cannot digest certain emotions or anxieties.
The spleen has also been regarded as a place in which the soul lived, and in old English that word designated a mood; it was thought that when the spleen went wrong, one was affected by particular moods, just as the liver, which is also an abdominal organ, is supposed to be connected with the emotions.
Fire always symbolizes emotion, passion, and the liver is the passion center, so when people get very angry they have jaundice.
And when they are depressed one assumes that it has something to do with the bile; the word melancholy is from a Greek word meaning black bile.
So originally the abdomen seems to have been a very primitive psychical center, which prevailed against every higher center, against the heart as well as the head.
The next center above is about in the region of the diaphragm.
The word diaphragm comes from the Greek phren, meaning mind.
This center is identical with the heart, which is of course a sort of feeling center; it is also an emotional center, but of a different nature, for above the diaphragm consciousness, the possibility of reflection seems to begin.
You see, when man developed out of that lowest center, muladhara, he got into the pre-psychological region, the condition which is characterized by the psychology of the emotions.
On the pre-psychological level, where psychology is under the law of emotion, there is no real reflective consciousness; there is simply a series of emotions, which are quite visible.
And as there is no reflection, there is also no moral continuity.
The heart center is the beginning of a sort of moral continuity where a certain point of view is assumed with regard to things.
Then above that comes another center in the larynx region, and still another in the head-six in all.
We shall discuss that later on.
Now we come here to the fire center, in the center of the abdomen, and the fire is living but dormant.
This is the fire which the hero makes.
Even the most primitive hero myths contain the motif of making the fire in the whale-dragon’s belly.
You see, those myths date from a very early stage of the development of the human mind, when consciousness had to be produced by magic, just as any other conscious activity was brought about.
Any tribe on a higher level would have rites d’entrees for hunting and for war in order to make themselves conscious of what they were going to do.
But those very primitive men had not even that; it is as if they had not arrived at a level where consciousness was needed; they belong to a pre-psychological condition.
For instance, when I tell a native to take a letter to so-and-so, he hears the order but it conveys nothing;
he stares at me as if I were a blank wall, and only when I perform the rite of getting him into the mood of being a messenger, showing him the dignity and the advantages of being a messenger to the great white lord, only then will he do it.
This is the rite of making the fire, kindling a light in his unconsciousness, which will allow him to bring it into effect.
The fire is already kindled in us, we don’t need to do that any longer; for us the time of the primitive myth is over.
So this woman finds a fire there already and she says: “Above the fire I saw a phoenix bird which continually
flew up and beat its head against the top of the cavern.” What does that convey to you?
Mr. Schmitz: The phoenix means rebirth but this one is still in prison.
Dr. Jung: Yes, the phoenix is a symbol of rebirth, like the eagle in alchemy that rises from the fire.
That means that out of this glowing center of passions, from down in the solar plexus, something can rise
into the kingdom of the air, into consciousness.
A germ of higher consciousness contained originally in the fire below can become air-like and rise to the head, or perhaps to a great height above the head.
That is the idea which gave rise to the Tantric system and to the alchemist system of philosophy in the Middle Ages.
But here the bird is shut in.
He is beating his wings against the roof of the cave and cannot get out, which obviously means that the germ, that form of higher consciousness, cannot break through and develop.
It is kept below the diaphragm, the diaphragm being the roof of the cave.
There it remains, and there it may cause symptoms.
That is the reason why certain emotions, particularly hysteria, are generally characterized by disturbances in the stomach.
Almost all neurotic people have disturbances there, because such a bird is always caught in the abdomen, a bird that cannot rise because there is no opening.
Now what would that bird be?
I called it a germ of higher consciousness that is really meant to rise to a great height.
Dr. Gordon: Spirit.
Dr. Jung: But what does that phoenix myth really mean?
Well, in psychological language, this fire center is the center of passion and enthusiasm, and that is exactly the Negro center; and it is down in the belly, it is pre-psychological.
Anything that could be called spirit or soul takes its origin in a sort of fire on that pre-psychological level.
Consciousness takes its origin in passion.
I can give you an excellent proof: the English word ghost, the equivalent of the German word Geist, or spirit, comes from an old word which means the welling up of emotion.
We have a Swiss word which contains the root geist, and it means when somebody gets beyond himself or beside himself, when he really almost gives up the ghost, as you say in English; he gives up his mind or his life, in other words, on account of a certain emotion.
And in alchemy Geist or spiritus is the volatile essence which escapes when a certain substance is boiled.
Mr. Schmitz: What is the Swiss word?
Dr. Jung: Ufgeiste.
Mr. Allemann: Is it related to Geysir?
Dr. Jung: Geysir might have something to do with it; that is an Icelandic word for a welling up of hot water from the earth.
You have the same phenomenon in Yellowstone Park and you call it a geyser.
Geysir and the Swiss iifgeiste come from the Gothic root usgeisyan.
Now the product of that fire, or the product of passion in this case, cannot escape into consciousness,
it is caught in the unconscious.
Why can’t it get up into the air, into visibility?
Obviously consciousness is not ready to accept it, but why not?
A phoenix bird would seem to be rather nice.
Prof Eaton: Because it comes from the abdominal region.
Dr. Jung: Exactly, it comes from the Negro head, so it is apparently inadmissible.
There is still something in the consciousness of our patient which does not allow that peculiar kind of mind or spirit to appear.
Prof Demos: The wall is the wall of the cavern, it is not anything else?
Dr. Jung: Oh no, it is just a cavern.
Prof Demos: It is the unconscious itself which prevents the bird from flying out then.
Dr. Jung: That is perfectly true.
The unconscious has no chance of coming into the conscious unless the conscious makes a hole for it to
Prof Demos: Well, how does consciousness first appear?
Dr. Jung: By an explosion-that is the only thing I can imagine.
Insanity is such an explosion, for instance.
The walls of the cave burst and one is overcome by the unconscious.
I assume that through pressure, cracks are made in the walls of the cave through which volcanic vapors from the unconscious well up; that was probably the origin of consciousness.
But that is not the condition here.
Therefore the bird is shut in and cannot escape, although one might have expected her to be far enough advanced to allow the bird to escape.
Here her vision is centered upon the fire and she says: “I saw the fire create small snakes which disappeared.”
Now that is why the Hindus call that coiled-up Kundalini snake the serpent fire; it is because of such facts, they have observed such visions.
And that woman, not knowing of Tantric philosophy at all, produces exactly the same mythology.
It is interesting that the phoenix comes out of the fire as well as the snakes, for snakes are decidedly lower, they belong to the earth, they are the opposite of the phoenix.
But we have evidence of that in the Persian version of the phoenix myth.
The bird Semenda was said to burn itself up, but out of the ashes a worm came forth which transformed itself into a bird again.
It is a sort of enantiodromia.
The bird and the snake are natural enemies, but out of the creature which is most unlike a bird, a bird develops.
That the bird cannot come up into consciousness is perhaps due to the fact that her conscious assumes that only snakes are down there, and snakes are supposed to be dangerous and venomous.
But you see the fire produces both; the snakes would be a counterbalance to the harmless bird.
Then she says about the fire: “It also created men and women.”
It is an extraordinarily creative fire, it seems to be the creator of the world.
And that agrees exactly with the idea in Tantric philosophy that fire is the creator; out of the first living germ of fire came man and woman.
She continues: I asked the bird: “Where do they go?” The bird answered: “Away, away.”
The bird said: “Stand in the fire, woman.” I said: “I cannot, it will burn me.”
Again the bird commanded me. I did so and the flames leapt up, burning my robe.
At last I stood naked.
This explains why she stays below with that living fire; it is the fire of purification.
It is like the fire at the end of the first part of She, where they enter the womb of the earth, the cave where the fire passes which gives eternal youth but which also destroys.
Also this woman is now the phoenix itself, she apparently goes into the fire in order to burn up.
But what happens?
Only her robes burn and she stands naked, which again signifies that she is to become herself.
This passage simply means that through the fire of passion, in the pre-psychological condition when you
cannot and do not reason, when you surrender completely and allow your pain or emotion to have full sway, you then become purified, then you become yourself.
This is the test of the gold; the true gold will show its quality in the fire.
And this is again the alchemistic idea; she becomes the true substance.
Then the fire dies and the bird disappears, because she is now the bird herself.
That higher consciousness is the consciousness of the Self.
And she has been made aware of the fire by talking with the black Negro.
Dr. Reichstein: If she was led to the fire by talking to the Negro, it would be a communication between the speech center and the fire center.
Dr. Jung: That would be communication between speech and emotion.
It probably means that by communicating with the Negro’s head, tongues of fire leap up, fiery words; in other words, passion is forced into the form of concept.
She has followed her passion into the cave, the center of passion, where she becomes transformed.
Not through suppression, but through acceptance of this fire, can purification takeplace.
That is the important idea here. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 395-411