24 May 1933 Visions Seminar LECTURE IV
Here is a question by Dr. Adler: “In the last seminar you spoke about the pine tree being a symbol of growth and light. Can there not be still another meaning? I saw in the museum at Berlin a Buddhistic candleholder in the form of a pine tree. In its top was sitting a great Buddha and at the ends of its branches there were many small Buddhas. I thought it to be a vertical mandala instead of the horizontal one that we know ordinarily. Is it not possible that the vision means this vertical mandala? And is not the Christmas tree also an allusion to this symbolism?”
It is quite true that this tree, as we pointed out last time, has a close association with the tree of light, the Christmas tree, and thus also with the so-called vertical mandala.
Even the system of the chakras, which is a sequence of mandalas, forms a tree; therefore it is also likened to the growth of a plant.
Its roots are in muladhara, and the first manifestation there is called the young green leaf, the first shoot of a growth that will develop into a plant.
But in the chakras, it is chiefly animal or warm-blooded symbolism, so to speak; the plant or tree symbolism is not very obvious.
One can see it more clearly in the Lamaistic mandalas which I have shown you, where the central circle is surrounded by the petals of the lotus, and the whole thing is called the padma, or lotus, a term which is also valid for the chakras.
The lotus rises from the bottom of the pond with the flower lifted on its stem above the surface, and that makes a sort of vertical mandala.
Most of the figures of Buddha are either seated or standing upon the lotus; he is the topmost development of the plant, which grows up out of the darkness and produces the light.
There is similar tree symbolism in Egyptian representations of the birth of Ra, who is called the falcon that rises from his nest in the morning; his nest is in the top of the tree and there the sun rises; as Mithra, who is also a sun god, is occasionally represented as rising or being born from the tree.
The tree of life is the same idea.
From a viewpoint above the tree, one would see only a circular arrangement of branches, and in the center is the light, making the mandala form; but looked at from the side, the whole tree looks like a system of layers one above the other that form a spiral.
The tree with the Buddhas which you speak of is well known; there is a most elaborate specimen in Paris.
From above, it would look like a typical Tibetan mandala, where figures of Buddha or Shiva emanate from the main central Buddha, or from Shiva and Shakti; that central
figure is represented many times in its outward emanations that go to the four corners of the world, or into the four functions.
It forms a sort of pyramid, like the roof of the stupa, the sacred place in which the
relics are buried, or like a pagoda, a pyramidal series of roofs rising above the cloister.
Wherever the symbol of the tree appears there is also the idea of the circular arrangement.
So also, when one makes a transversal cut through a tree trunk, one sees all those circular lines indicating the years.
Now we will continue the vision.
The patient is rising out of the darkness to the surface of the earth and comes out into the light of consciousness.
She says: We (meaning herself and the Indian animus) walked to the edge of the bank and looked into the valley. A broad sunlit river ran through the valley. Beside it were mellowed houses, and fat cattle grazed in the fields. The Indian said: “Behold the mansions of your people which have been long deserted.” I said to him: “What will
you do?” He answered: “I will take my canoe and go toward the great water near which I will always remain.” He slipped down the bank in to the valley. I was left alone.
You see it was chiefly the activity of the animus that changed the conditions in the interior of the earth; he broke down the pillars and destroyed the altar, which was the essence of that earth mother, and he lifted up the pine tree so that it could grow and emerge into the daylight.
This is mythological language, but how would you put that in psychological language? This vision is called: “The Belly of the Ancestors.”
Have you seen the ancestors anywhere?
Dr. Reichstein: The Indian himself represents the primitive part of the ancestors.
Dr. Jung: He would represent the primitive element in her, but she is not in the Indian’s belly.
Miss Taylor: Are they the fat cattle?
Dr. Jung: They might become fat cattle but they are not that yet.
What did the Indian demolish first in that cave?
Miss Hannah: The pillars. The ancestors would be the bodies in one of the pillars.
Dr. Jung: Yes, the text says: “Formless bodies of men and women fell out when he broke up the pillar, and heaped up upon the ground.”
Either they are corpses, or they are still unformed, the beginnings of bodies.
Now this earth mother surely symbolizes the original darkness of the earth, and the patient calls that the belly of the ancestors, because according to the Indian legend which I quoted, mankind originated from the darkness of the earth.
That is a sort of poetical or metaphorical expression for the original unconsciousness of our primitive ancestors.
As the womb of the mother, the original darkness from which the child springs, symbolizes the unconsciousness from which our consciousness derives, so this cave is the whole series of generations out of which we have finally emerged, and that consists, naturally, of bodies of men and women.
It is an exceedingly strange idea that the ancestors should form a pillar, I admit, but that Hopi Indian symbolism of the cane pole erected in the cave by the messengers of the god to enable the people to climb to a higher level, corroborates this idea of an ancestral pillar through which we rise into another sphere.
A series of generations is always represented as the family tree, for example.
And there are pictures in old churches, stained-glass windows or paintings, where Adam is depicted lying down with the tree growing out of his belly, and in the branches are
sitting all the old fathers of Israel, the prophets and the kings; Christ’s series of ancestors spring from the royal branch of the house of David, and on top of the tree is Christ himself.
Moreover, there is an old legend that the two trees of Paradise, the tree of knowledge and the tree of life, were removed from Paradise and made in to two pillars which Solomon put in front of his temple, and that later on-the pillars having in the meantime been thrown away and discovered again-the cross of Christ was made out of one of them.
Then there is the Manichaean legend about the pillar of light, an unimaginable cosmic pillar consisting of departed spirits.
The ghosts travel to the moon, and the moon fills its belly with them, it becomes the full moon, after which it approaches the sun and all the souls are poured back into the sun; then from the sun they somehow get into the pillar of light, and from the pillar of light all those ghosts of dead people rise to heaven.
There is a similar idea in Rider Haggard’s She.
A moving pillar of flame passes rhythmically through a cave in the middle of a volcano, a most amazing and grotesque idea.
With a great rumbling it appears from time to time, and whoever penetrates its radiance attains an immensely long duration of life, several thousands or perhaps millions of years, not exactly eternal.
But if anyone gets into it a second time, they just shrivel up, as She did when she wanted to make herself immortal.
I always wondered how Haggard got that idea of the pillar of life and how the thing looked, and later on, in a posthumous edition of Wisdom’s Daughter, I found a description of it, which said that one could see faces of living beings in it, that it was teeming with the life of generations.
Obviously it is the same idea as the Manichaean pillar of life and the family tree.
It is as if it were a current of energy containing all the past lives of a nation, or tribe, or family, or as if it were one tree.
I suppose one would have such a view of life if one could think as brainless nature
Nature would probably understand a family as a mere heaping up of individuals, the individual twig or flower or fruit meaning nothing; the life of the tree, or the family, or the nation would be all that counts, and the individual would not matter, despite the fact that if there were no individuals, no leaves, the tree would not live.
But what is the individual leaf to a tree? The tree is the life.
As, for instance, botanists tell us that certain reeds which die in the autumn are by no means the real plant, that the life is really lived in the rhizoma, a sort of tissue of underground roots.
The plant is apparently dead, but only the leaves have changed, life goes on in the rhizoma for a very long time.
The life of the tribe, of the past as well as of the future, is the current of the river of life
which will last practically forever, and not the individual.
So it looks to me as if such a symbol were chiefly derived from this most detached attitude of nature toward man, the individual meaning precious little.
That pillar in the cave which contains the bodies of the ancestors is really, then, a sort of pillar of life.
Unfortunately, nothing further is said about it except for the one little allusion that the bodies are formless.
Now, as we said, things that are decayed are formless, or they might be not yet formed; so that is an open question, and we cannot answer it, we can only take it as a doubt whether those bodies are decayed or are going to take form.
And that would fit the psychological situation, for inasmuch as these bodies refer to the souls of ancestors, they are never dead.
According to primitive belief they incarnate again and again, which indicates a relatively small number of souls.
Therefore they think that children should never be punished because it might offend
the soul of the venerable ancestor who is incarnated in the child.
So the ancestors are always born, always dead, and always living, for they keep on coming back.
I have spoken before about that most primitive idea of the central Australians: they believe that when a man dies, the maiaurli, which are sort of light sparks, jump out of him and go into a rock or a tree where they wait-they are then in the belly of the ancestors-and if a woman happens to come along, those little light sparks, just waiting to come out again and incarnate, enter her and make her pregnant.
Now the continuity of the ancestral generations is interrupted by the Indian. He practically destroys that pillar, and he also destroys the altar which is the very essence of the earth mother-her womb, as it were-so he really is causing tremendous disorder in the whole show, and we don’t know exactly why.
Or do you know a reason?
Dr. Reichstein: Because it is all collective symbolism, and she cannot get even to the beginning of individuation without destroying that.
Dr. Jung: Exactly. If there is nothing but the great river of life, or the tree, there is no chance at all for individuation; as from the standpoint of nature there is no chance whatever for the individual, the individual is utterly negligible.
Individuation makes no sense when looked at from the standpoint of nature, that earth mother; on the contrary, this exceedingly collective layer is against even the attempt, inasmuch as it claims to be more than the mere manifestation of that life which is
mainly contained in the tree.
If there should be an attempt at individuation, it would mean grave disorder, the upsetting of the collective, and the interruption of the family tree.
Thus far the vision is quite logical.
It is also logical that if the animus succeeds in destroying this collective layer, then the patient, as a conscious individual, should emerge into the light; if no longer caught in the darkness of the collective unconscious, she would be conscious of her own Self.
Therefore the blood changes into water here, the top of the cave is lifted up, and the sunlight becomes visible.
So she would come out into the real world, she would become, as it were, a conscious human being.
Now the surface of the earth is represented by a valley, in which there is a river, and there are also mellowed houses and fat cattle grazing in the fields; and she is at a slightly raised standpoint, looking down upon it.
How do you understand this symbolism?
Frau Stutz: She has reached a standpoint from which she can look down on life.
Dr. Jung: Yes, having left the darkness of the cave where she was within nature, she has now reached a standpoint outside of it.
The river is the same as the tree, it resembles the tree in many ways; on a map, for instance, the branches of the river look either like roots or the branches of a tree.
It is also the current of life, so she is looking at life from without, and from a slightly higher level she can look down upon the thing which contained her before.
That happens in the history of the mind: man first finds himself completely enveloped by the data of his own psyche, and unable to grasp the external manifestations of life,
not seeing his own life or his own psychology as objective facts.
It is exceedingly difficult to make people see their own psychology objectively, they always handle it subjectively as something which is merely arbitrary, which can be done and undone according to moods.
In the same breath they make absolutely contradictory statements; for what takes place in their psychology is unaccountable, they have no objectivity about it whatever.
In the newspapers as well as in daily life, one sees how people project in the most ridiculous way, and that shows how little we have advanced on the way to conscious objectivity.
The primitive man is absolutely shut in within his psyche, he is dominated by his emotions and must play the most amazing ceremonials and magic rites in order to liberate himself from the worst of his darkness, his possessions or obsessions.
So it is very apt symbolism for becoming conscious when our patient finds herself in a situation where she can look down upon the thing in which she has hitherto been contained.
But her animus has brought it about, he has helped her to come to such consciousness, and on the one side that is an advantage, and on the other it is the reverse.
What would be the disadvantage?
Mrs. Crowley: She has not realized it herself, it was just a preparation.
Dr. Jung: Yes, it just happened to her.
You see, even consciousness can happen without one’s knowing it.
One may know certain things for ages without being conscious of them because one doesn’t draw conclusions; it is right there under one’s nose, but entirely unrealized.
So as long as this is the achievement of the animus, it is an intuition or an anticipation,
a mere possibility, and it is by no means certain that she herself will be able to hold onto it and really use it.
The Indian now calls her attention to the mansions of her people which have long been deserted.
This woman is a modern American, so what does that mean?
Well, suppose I am in China, working with an old Chinese sage who makes me see all sorts of strange visions, this one among others, and he tells me to look down into the valley and behold the long-deserted mansions of my people.
And I see, let us say, the valley of Grindelwald or some other mountain valley, with nice old wooden houses and cows grazing on the mountains and bells ringing, and some of my people may be yodeling.
Now what about it?
Mr. Henley: You have been giving your libido to too many foreign things, you should go back home and join your own people.
Dr. Jung: The place where one is meant to live, that is. And what would I say?
Mrs. Fierz: Good-bye, I am going back to Europe.
Dr. Jung: That is probable, I would say good-bye to my old sage and take a ticket where? To my own home? Or to Grindelwald?
Mrs. Fierz: To your own home.
Dr. Jung: Yes, I would take a ticket to Kusnacht.
Now if you look down on Kusnacht, do you see cows grazing and peasants yodeling?
Mrs. Fierz: It all sounds very lyrical, but that is Sehnsucht.
Dr. Jung: It is a sort of homesickness, sure enough, but I would never dream of settling down in the valley of Grindelwald and taking yodeling lessons; it would be too dreary, too typical.
You see that would mean the ancestors.
Unfortunately I cannot remember any peasant ancestors, but if I did, I would see a sort of ancestral chalet, homesickness would come up in me and I would feel that this was really my place, this beautiful village, houses smelling of stables, cowbells, and all that; an ancestral home is a very pleasant and sentimental thing really.
Yet that is not my consciousness, my conscious world, by a long way not.
What would I do in Grindelwald, for heaven’s sake?
I would be perfectly forlorn, as this woman would be if you put her into a New England meadow.
So that valley is not her own conscious world, it is the conscious world of her ancestors.
She would not be able to tell whether a cow were fat or not, that is a poetical expression, only an expert can say whether a cow is fat.
Fat cattle grazing in lovely valleys is a sort of peasant idea, it is not her own.
And that is what the animus does, he puts you back into a world which is in a way this world, but a more sentimental world in which you find all the values which have been sacred during the ages.
Therefore when the animus succeeds, he brings you back to happy and well-to-do
families where there is no trouble at all.
Probably our forefathers never had any troubles, they went to church on Sundays, everything lovely, church bells ringing, the families all loved one another and said how do you do, there was no trouble.
Look at the consciousness of an animus ridden woman!
She lives in a world of about two hundred years ago, by no means in our actual reality; the animus lands women in a world of antiquated values, often not even that, but in childish values.
Now there seems to be some doubt in our patient’s mind.
She says: “What will you do?”
For having brought about such a change, the animus has become a pretty important person.
And he gives her very correct information, he says he is going to the great water to settle forever, so he goes down to the valley and probably slips into the river.
What does that mean?
Miss Hannah: He goes into the unconscious which is his proper place really.
Dr: Jung: Yes, the animus, being a sort of mediating function between the conscious and the unconscious, is in the right place when he is on the shore of the great ocean, the collective unconscious.
So everything seems to be all right, the animus gets into his proper place, and she is on the surface of the world.
The only little doubt left is that she is living in a somewhat archaic condition, a condition which fatally reminds me of that wonderful country called Purilia, where early spring comes to the hills, and the cows are forever walking along the skyline, and there is a
continuous ringing of bells.
And if she has landed in Purilia, naturally such a thing cannot last. What would you expect next?
Mrs. Fierz: She has not really destroyed the past, the animus has done it, and therefore she would now have to do it herself.
Dr: Jung: Exactly. The animus showed her what to do, but she takes it as if it had been done.
The animus brought about the vision of such a possibility, but the result is that he puts her gently down again into the valley of the ancestors.
In the beginning and the end, she is in the belly of the ancestors, for the valley with the nice fat cattle is just that.
It looks very nice, as it does in reality, but of course it will be a disappointment.
She probably has a husband and children, and when she comes home she will immediately come up against the fact that there is a radio, for instance, or he says: “Now what about next month, we already have an overdraft.”
After living in a world where things are as they ought to be comes great disappointment for which somebody is responsible, and then there is a quarrel.
That is how it works.
Now we may expect that the problem will present itself again, and that it has to do with the underworld, but this time it will be what she can do about it instead of the animus.
The next vision [plate 35] has a most significant title: The Mexican Image. What would you conclude from that in this particular connection?
Mrs. Fierz: The Mexican image is very ugly and rather weird, it is just the contrary of a lovely landscape.
Dr: Jung: Yes, but the particular character of the Mexican image is the exaggerated cruelty.
You see, the old Mexicans were exceedingly agreeable people, according to the reports, and they had those lovely qualities on account of the fact that their cult was so bloodthirsty and cruel; there they let out steam, all their cruelty appeared in their bloody rites.
They could afford to be very charming and amiable, because their religious images breathed that most inhuman cruelty; being a gentle people, they embodied it in the gods.
As we, for instance, are by no means gentle or nice, and therefore our gods have those qualities.
The new vision begins: “I sat looking out on the valley.”
Apparently she is again on that slightly raised standpoint from which she can look down.
We may assume that she has not gone down to those lovely mansions, or perhaps she went in order to see where she really came from and then came up again because it was not all she expected.
That remains in the dark.
At all events she is now at the same standpoint, which means that she is on a more or less objective level.
“Suddenly I beheld in the sky a great Mexican image.”
Why does she see that Mexican image in the sky, and not down in the valley?
Dr. Reichstein: It is far away so it might be something spiritual.
Dr. Jung: That is it. You see, in such visions and dreams things have their old values.
To us the sky is just air which after so many kilometers comes to an end, and then cosmic space begins.
But that is no place for such visions, and formerly the air was not what it is to us, it was a psychical factor at the same time, it was the living, moving, invisible world of
ghosts, the breath beings.
Things could be seen in the sky because that was the abode of the spirits, and the air itself was spirit-like.
She is now looking into the ghost world, where she sees a spiritual shape.
But why does it not appear upon the earth?
It could appear upon the earth just as well, and usually Mexican images are of exceedingly hard stone-very much of the earth.
Miss de Witt: It is no longer a reality of the earth, it is a spiritual reality.
Dr. Jung: Well, as long as the contents of the image are not realized, they are in the earth, which is the equivalent of the body.
So it is quite possible that these contents can be summed up as the qualities of that Mexican image in her body.
Therefore certain mythological fantasies form the basis of apparently physiological symptoms, say a neurotic affection of the muscles, or of the heart, or the breathing; these may be partial symptoms of the most amazing mythological ideas.
For instance, a Mexican image in the body might cause spasms of certain muscles, imitating the hardness or the cruelty of such an image.
Also the neurotic symptomatology might be expressed in a person’s moral character.
Or a blind mythological figure might cause an infection of the eyesight, because whatever is not realized psychologically is performed in a kind of mimicry.
We are then simply the impersonators of such images, they work throughout our whole psychology whether on the physiological plane, or in our functions, or moral character; these lived unconscious images may be found anywhere.
The moment you are conscious of them, the neurosis disappears because it becomes assimilated to consciousness, and they cannot work in the dark.
So the Mexican image has left the body; seeing it in the sky means that it is no longer a physiological factor, it is now seen as a spiritual or mental content, as a psychological image.
And now: The river turned to blood, the houses vanished and great black mountains arose where the valley had been, and towered about me.
What is this change in lovely nature? What has happened?
Mrs. Baumann: It is the spirit of the Mexican image that casts a shadow.
Dr. Jung: Yes, it casts a very lurid shadow over that valley, the landscape takes on an ominous character, its loveliness suddenly vanishes and the human habitations vanish too-all due to the apparition of the Mexican spirit or god.
Now that is a change of mood which often takes place.
First one feels relief in understanding that a certain fantasy has influenced the body, not realizing that it is an entity, on account of our prejudice that psychical things are nonexistent, unreal, and that they can be dealt with by arbitrary opinions.
This leads us to believe the thing is settled when we are conscious of it.
That prejudice is very marked in Freudian psychology.
If an incest fantasy becomes conscious, for instance, they think it is settled.
But that same image appears in the sky a while after, and then one is confronted with it as a conscious problem to be worked out; the incest problem is not settled by simply being conscious of it.
That is like expecting to be cured of a physical illness when the doctor informs you it is typhoid fever.
But then the conflict begins, if you assume that such knowledge has a therapeutic effect for any length of time.
Or it is as if somebody should find out that the cause of a typhoid epidemic in a town is that the water pipes are leaking and dirty water coming in; then people say, “How fortunate that we know where that epidemic comes from,” but nobody lifts a hand to stop the leak, so the problem remains.
We have just seen the terrible earth mother, and the patient should liberate her consciousness from that darkness.
And it is possible, I have seen that we can liberate consciousness from that original darkness.
But what about the original black mother, what about that horrible idol then?
For it does not cease to exist.
So instead of an unconscious obstacle it is now a conscious and visible problem.
Therefore it appears in the sky, and it spoils the whole beautiful landscape-her beautiful mood.
Now she continues: I saw before me a narrow path descending between black rocks. I began the descent.
What is beginning here?
Mrs. Baumann: She is getting into it.
Mrs. Crowley: She is going alone.
Dr. Jung: And that is, naturally, what she ought to do.
When you are overcome by such a mood it is no use to repress it; for a time you can run
away from it but that will not work in the long run, because you will encounter such moods very frequently, and in the end you cannot avoid them.
So you must go down into it.
And the important thing is that one does not go down involuntarily, but with decision, conscious that this is now the black valley, this is the descent.
She must go down to find what is at the bottom of it.
Here the black mood comes from the apparition of the Mexican image, and this she ought to investigate.
She now says: “I saw that the steps on which I must walk down were made by the backs of old men chained to the rock.” Who are these old men?
Dr. Barker: Her ancestors.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but there are no women mentioned, she walks on the backs of men, not of women.
Mrs. Crowley: The animi.
Dr. Jung: It is a whole series of animi, ancestral beliefs and convictions which are stepping stones down to the valley whence they have come up.
You see, they were once part of the pillar, and now she is going down the pillar, step by step, on the backs of the ancestors.
They are as if supporting each other or supporting a weight, like caryatides, like those figures that hold up the entablature of the Erechtheum, for instance.
That is, she is going down the whole ladder of traditional ideas, the opinions of the past, so the descent, which is very abbreviated here, can be compared to the far more detailed descent in the earlier visions.
She went back through our time and through the Middle Ages into antiquity, and
then into primitivity, and then right down to the animal; and then she came up again.
Now here is an abbreviated descent but on the backs of the old men.
I spoke to an old man, asking him why he was chained. He answered: “Your world has refused us. Therefore are we chained. But by our wisdom you shall descend.” I walked down these strange steps.
What do you think about this intermezzo? Rather cryptic, is it not?
Mrs. Sigg: There seems to be a hint of Prometheus who was chained to the rock.
Frau Stutz: The old man’s time is past. It is necessary for modern people to realize that we must be chained for a short time, but we should remember that that time is over and that we must face a new period and find release.
Dr. Jung: So they ought to be released from their chains?
Well, something like that seems to be suggested. But what about Prometheus?
Could that be a parallel? Do you know why he was chained to the rock?
Mrs. Sigg: He brought the fire of consciousness from heaven.
Dr. Jung: Yes, he brought the light.
Also the arts and crafts, so he was like the gods in that he became a creator too; he had enough consciousness to have a will and a direction.
Then the gods took their revenge by chaining him to the rocks. Why just that?
They could have crucified him, burned him, or done anything else to him.
Mr. Henley: They were holding him down to the earth.
Dr. Jung: Well, as he was human, an earthly being, he went too far, he climbed to the heights and stole the fire from the gods.
But it was hubris, and therefore he had to be reminded of the fact that he consisted of earth; it was as if the earth gods had taken a revenge.
That is reflected in another aspect of the punishment; he was not only chained to the rocks but an eagle was constantly eating his liver, tearing out his life.
(The liver was supposed to be the seat of life, the thing that lives in one, therefore the German word Leber.)
So the seat of life was torn out by the eagle, an air-being inhabiting the highest mountains, the abode of the gods; he was the messenger of the gods, the eagle of Zeus himself, who personifies the sky.
And Prometheus could not defend himself because he was fastened to the earth.
It is a very poetical picture of the divine desire of the creative man to do as the gods do.
Prometheus is an eternal image of the tragedy of the creative spirit who cannot follow the ascent of the spirit, because he is also like the rock that could not follow Mohammed to heaven.
Now each animus is really a different attempt at consciousness.
No matter how small an attempt, those old opinions, old convictions, are the stepping stones in the development of consciousness.
And they are all contained, as it were, in the structure of the nervous system; the brain
cells contain the traces of those former developments.
These steps were once convictions or philosophies, a way of understanding nature, a way of consciousness, and if you try to descend into the unconscious you naturally have to go down by the way you originally came up; to go down into the original cave, you must go through the hole from which you once emerged.
The old man says: “Your world has refused us,” which means that your actual world of consciousness is not aware of all these pre-stages and refuses to acknowledge their validity.
Man makes that mistake again and again; he comes to a certain insight which is valid for a certain time, and then he abandons it, he creates a new point of view, and thinks the old one is nothing at all; it is either forgotten or declared to be a foolish error, and he does not see that it has a certain justification.
That happens very often in science.
There was first, for example, the theory that light consisted of corpuscles emanating from the sun, and then that was abandoned for the oscillatory theory of light.
When I was a student we thought that old fools had once thought it was corpuscles, but we knew it was oscillation.
But the most recent opinions have gone back to the corpuscular theory.
That was a case of forgetting the old men, the steps upon which we came up to the surface.
The moment we are uncertain and cannot cope with the difficulties, we should remember that mankind has made thousands of attempts to answer certain problems and perhaps, forgotten among them, there is an answer to our own.
You see, people did not go back to the corpuscular theory because things were satisfactorily explained by oscillation; they were not explained satisfactorily by that theory, so they had to return to the earlier idea.
It is the same in psychology.
When we have reached a level where our psychological problems cannot be handled in the old way, we feel uncertain, and then the mind begins to wander back quite instinctively, to seek something in the past.
Of course people are quite convinced in their minds that the past is all nonsense, primitive superstitions, old-fashioned religious ideas.
But they don’t know what they are talking about, they don’t know that those old-fashioned ideas, the church dogma, for instance, contains the most finished theory of the unconscious, a thing which has never been understood.
But we shall understand it in time.
We shall understand it when we are aware that we have no point of view which gives us a satisfactory explanation of our lives.
We need that explanation, and there has been no time before us that did not have that need.
So we shall be forced to look back and to recognize that we have absolutely no right to
refuse the mind of the past as mere nonsense, as if only idiots had lived before us.
These old men say: “Your world has refused us, therefore are we chained.” They are suppressed, caught and chained in our unconscious.
“But by our wisdom you shall descend” means that we can go back to the original connection with the unconscious but only because they have built up steps of wisdom; if they had not we would be eternally separated from the unconscious. The vision continues: At the bottom was a black man lying with his face to the sky. He was blind.
Upon his forehead was a cross of blood. His robe was yellow embroidered with Chinese dragons. At his feet was a lion carved in stone. I stopped. He said: “In me have the ages come together.”
What is this figure?
His blindness and the fact that he says: “In me have the ages come together,” seems to mean that he is immensely old.
Remark: He might represent her own unconscious.
Dr: Jung: Well, he would represent the sum total of the collective unconscious, because in him all the ages come together, all the past lives are summed up in him.
So how can we formulate him?
Mrs. Crowley: We have spoken of him often as the wise old man.
Dr: Jung: Yes, but a bit more psychologically.
Miss Hannah: The psychopompos, the Poimen?
Dr: Jung: That would be the positive aspect but this is the negative aspect, because the leader is supposed to have vision, while this man is blind so he could not be a leader.
Mr: Allemann: He is the great ancestor.
Dr: Jung: But the mental or spiritual ancestor, mind you.
He is the two million-year-old man in us.
And that fellow is by no means a legend, he is a fact which you can see in every detail of your anatomical structure even.
Study your hands, your nose, your ears, your brain; in each case it is the result of long differentiation, and traces of all the stages are still there, though of course somewhat transformed.
Our nervous system is a marvellous picture of the past, it contains all the stages through which we have come, layer after layer of differentiation has been added.
And that is true of our psyche.
We don’t know whether our psyche is material or immaterial, because we don’t know what matter is, so we cannot say that there is any difference between the psyche and the body, or whether they are the same historically.
So the two-million-year-old man is in our psyche too if we count that as the age of man-as long as the tree of life has existed.
Traces of this existence are still a part of our reality, contained in the darkness of the collective unconscious; our unconscious is just a thin layer on top of the ocean depths of history.
Down in those depths we discover that man who has lived forever, who is practically immortal, containing or summing up the life of the ages.
But why should he be blind?
Mr. Henley: He has inner vision.
Dr: Jung: He might have inner vision but to the outside world he is blind. What does that mean?
Mrs. Fierz: He is unadapted.
Dr. Jung: Yes, he cannot see our world, which means that we are the eyes of that man who lives forever, because our consciousness is an eye that sees.
When one understands, one says, “I see.”
A field of vision means a field of consciousness; consciousness is essentially an eye, an
organ of perception of the present instant which lasts a fraction of a second.
We have, as it were, a momentary consciousness, lasting between sixty and eighty years, let us say, which is of course no time at all.
Moreover we live only from moment to moment, we always forget the past and
do not see the future, whereas the age-old man is that which is past as well as the future.
Therefore he is blind, while we have eyes.
Perhaps he has an inner consciousness, and we may be inside of him, that is possible.
There are philosophies about this man-the idea that there is an inner consciousness-but we cannot prove it.
We don’t know whether the collective unconscious is conscious of its images, but it might be.
Now upon his forehead is a cross of blood. Who would be marked like that?
Mrs. Fierz: A criminal.
Mrs. Baumann: Would it be the American Negro who has been christianized? There might be a cross of blood because Christianity has been rammed down the throats of the primitives.
Dr. Jung: It might refer to Christianity but not exactly to the Negro.
The blackness of this fellow comes more from the fact that he is an inhabitant of the dark depths, the dark ocean or the darkness of the earth; he is black with earth or from the blackness in which he lives, because blindness also means darkness.
Now the cross of blood surely has to do with Christianity, and he is marked by it, but, as Mrs. Fierz remarks, a criminal might be branded with that, so it is by no means a sign of life or of particular spiritual kindness, it looks more like the brand of intense suffering, a cross of blood. It has been either cut or burned into his skin, and it is a bleeding wound. He is suffering really.
Mrs. Baumann: If it has to do with the natural mind, is it not connected with the primitive who was sacrificed on the altar? And therefore this cross is an attempt to do away with him.
Dr. Jung: Well, this cross is more the symbol, or brand, of sacrifice.
Mr. Henley: He is a marked man.
Dr. Jung: Yes, a man marked for sacrifice, one who has undergone sacrifice or is being sacrificed.
This cross simply expresses the fact that the old man has to be sacrificed for the sake of consciousness; you cannot be conscious if that man is all over you.
And that is his eternal suffering, because naturally he would prefer to live in the conscious.
You see, the collective unconscious should have a form in which to live in the conscious, so that he shall not be marked as if he were a criminal, morally unacceptable.
But that we mark him as a criminal is true for our time; therefore he is excluded and we are singularly unconscious of these things.
“His robe was yellow embroidered with Chinese dragons.” What does that mean?
Mrs. Fierz: He is also a mandarin, very noble.
Dr. Jung: Yellow is the correct color in the East, and it must be a very precious robe since it is embroidered with the imperial dragons.
So evidently he is not only a Western man, he is also an Eastern man, he is universal, and particularly appreciated in China.
Therefore he is wearing such a precious robe.
Now what would be particularly appreciated in China?
Mrs. Rey: The ancestors.
Dr. Jung: Yes, they are a national cult and moreover the Chinese recognize a national sage; they are the only nation which has been governed by sages.
Then at his feet was a lion carved in stone, and the lion has forever been a symbol of royal power, especially of Roman power.
That is the reason for the stone lions at the foot of the pillars or under the pulpit in old churches in northern Italy, for instance, where it symbolizes the church triumphant over the Roman empire or over the power of heathendom.
This old man is practically standing upon the lion; he is like one of those figures of dead knights or kings who have a royal animal at their feet.
The idea is that he is standing upright upon the animal, he is the power over power, he is the ruler. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 1002-1017