23 November 1932 Visions Seminar Lecture III
We have two questions here. Dr. Escher says: “I believe that there is some analogy between the vision of the ants and the hallucinations of delirium tremens.”
(Delirium tremens is not just drunkenness but an acute form of chronic intoxication produced by the absorption of alcohol.)
“The patient has visions of moving pictures on the wall, and sees and feels little threads or little animals like mice, beetles, and so on. A historic example in the Middle Ages was Bishop Hatto of Mainz, who took refuge from the persecuting mice in a tower in the middle of the Rhine near Bingen. But the mice swam over the stream. The Mouse-Tower was destroyed by the Swedes in 1635.”
Well, the legend is that Hatto was a very bad man.
During a famine he locked many hungry people into a barn, which he put on fire, and while they were burning to death, he asked the onlookers whether they could hear the mice peeping.
But then the real mice came and attacked him, so he had to take refuge in that tower, and the mice followed him there and ate him alive.
Sure enough, there is a close analogy.
It is very unusual for visions of the kind that we are dealing with here to have that character of alcoholic hallucinations.
This is the neurotic type of vision, which is synthetic and usually lacks the peculiarities of disintegration.
If a vision breaks up into many analogous but smaller objects, it is an indication that a synthetic vision has disintegrated into its elements.
One sees such states in all cases of chronic intoxication, in fever, and also in dementia praecox, though in the latter, it is not just a mass of little things, but lumps of things, fragments of complex things.
But that is only interesting to the analyst in making a diagnosis.
In a case of delirium tremens, the person sees instead, as Dr. Escher points out, quantities of tiny things, the air seems to be full of threads or cobwebs, or little moving things like flies, birds, flying mice, or beetles, and he tries to clear them out of the air; or
he sees the floor covered with coins which he tries to pick up.
Or the objects may be on a larger scale.
I remember the case of a very intelligent fellow-he was a philologist and a very gifted historian really but he had an unfortunate love affair on account of which he got to
He lived on a street bordered by trees on either side, and one morning, when he opened the shutters and looked out of the window, he saw that a sort of market was obviously going on, for there were lots of swine on the street, and not only on the street but winged swine were perched in the trees.
He thought that was very comical, a marvellous show, and he laughed and shouted to the people to look up at them, he made such a row that the police had to be fetched and they brought him to the clinic.
Such a symptom always means a peculiar disintegration, coming from a certain injury to the brain cells; in alcoholism there is no doubt that the brain cells really are injured, and I think that such visions are always disagreeable and uncanny.
In this woman’s case I would not go so far as suggesting that there is a isintegration of the brain cells, but it is bordering on it, and that is
strongly supported by my experience that when a certain stage of psychological
development has been reached, it becomes more and more dangerous to regress.
In building a house, if a man falls off the scaffolding when it is only one yard from the ground, it is not dangerous; but when the building is up and the scaffolding is at a height of ten yards, he might be killed, and the higher one builds, the more dangerous the fall, of course.
So in psychology, if there is a certain achievement, if one has arrived at a certain insight and knowledge, then a relatively small mistake costs more than a very big mistake in the beginning; it may have appalling consequences simply on account of the distance one has reached; while as long as one does not know, even a very big mistake may pass unnoticed with no consequences whatever.
Our patient has arrived at a certain degree of individuation, and if she breaks up the circle that she has created, it is far more dangerous than if it had happened in the
beginning of her way.
Such an outburst as this, burning through into collectivity, would not have meant anything in particular then; you probably remember or have read in the former reports about earlier regressions which were much worse, and they were not accompanied by symbols that would be understood in that way.
But it seems to be dangerous now, and it is a fact, as I said, that in higher stages of development, peculiar disturbances of the brain may arise, as if the structure of the brain were changing, or as if certain cells were destroyed.
Such disturbances might go very deep and this would be an indication of it.
Now I do not say that this has really happened, it is merely a symbol of it.
This is not the real thing, it is merely anticipation, yet it may be leading to realities, to a possible disintegration.
That fire is an emotion which suddenly bursts forth, and she says the flame fell to the earth.
A flame usually burns straight up, but that one regresses to the earth; it falls down and becomes a thread of fire running along the streets, meaning that it runs out into collectivity.
And for it to run along the surface of the earth is absolutely abnormal, it becomes the madjiyamoto, the water of fire, a stream of ants that run over one like burning
It is a fact which I also take from my experience that regressive libido is like a drug, it works like poison, a toxin; people feel terribly sleepy, they can hardly open their eyes and they feel generally unwell; the functioning of the whole body is upset, particularly the stomach, and it may cause a peculiar paralysis of the intestines, it affects the body as if it were a real chemical poison.
Of course that all comes from the fact that the function of the sympaticus is disturbed, and naturally the glands then produce something-a slight variation of the usual product-which has a poisonous effect.
These things are very little understood, but we know positively that in regressive moods, the viscosity of the blood decreases measurably, and the alteration of the blood must have an effect upon the whole body.
So it is possible that latent diseases may be suddenly released; a lingering infection, for instance, may flare up under such a condition, because the resistance of the body is reduced.
Therefore the extraordinary frequency of angina under psychological conditions.
I had a talk with a German professor of internal medicine recently who had also remarked it; he said that he considered it almost a psychological disease.
We generally hold that one catches a cold, or is infected, and that is a fact too, but people also have angina under certain psychological conditions.
The next question is from Mrs. Sawyer: “I would like to put in a word in favor of the positive value of inflation. Isn’t it true that this patient can learn more through the process of identification than without it? If she had been entirely objective in the present situation, she would have remained lukewarm and untouched, but through the interplay of inflation and deflation, she can not only learn where her ego belongs, but can also learn to understand the inner meaning of what does not belong to her ego.
In other words, she can learn much more about the non-ego if she is identified with it for a time.”
That is perfectly true, but inflation happens with such regularity, and with such overwhelming force, that you really don’t need to say anything in favor of it.
It is as if you wanted to help along the bad weather; it happens so often here, and it is so convincing that it is not necessary to stand up for it, except perhaps in the way of consolation.
You might say that it ought to be, that it also has its values and virtues, that the vegetation doesn’t dry up on account of the rain, etc.
But this is weak consolation to people who are particularly depressed by the gloom.
And so it is with inflation; it is the regular thing, it is far more probable than the contrary.
For as long as you are unconscious of the thing, and inasmuch as it does act upon you, you must certainly have an inflation; you are filled with it and you cannot avoid it, because it happens before you know it.
Of course, it has its particular virtues, like any misfortune, provided that you make the right use of it.
An exceedingly negative experience, an error, may have a very high value because it gives you a chance to see the truth.
But it would be far preferable not to fall into error and to see the truth without it.
Unfortunately it is most probable that we never see the truth without falling first into error.
Mrs. Sawyer: Yes, but we always talk about the negative side and I was putting in one word for it.
Dr. Jung: If you were an analyst, you would not be inclined to say much for inflations.
Talk to a German about inflation for instance, tell him what a useful experience it is, and he will twist your neck.
We will go on now to the second vision.
The result of the first one is negative, so we may expect that our patient will try a second time but under somewhat altered conditions.
The next vision is called: “The Great Wheel.”
What do you conclude from this title?
Dr. Bertine: The circle is forming again.
Dr. Jung: Yes, the wheel is one of the forms of the mandala.
You remember, we are now within the mandala, whatever that means.
It would be this figure.
Our patient continues: “I sat in the land overlooking the valley.”
So she is in the same place again, the famous valley of the factories where she failed.
Two faces appeared on either side of me. One was utterly white, the other red and bloody. With theirteeth they tried to rend my garments.
What is this?
Mrs. Adler: The opposites again.
Mr. Baumann: The white face is the conscious spiritual side, and the red bloody face the chthonic physical side.
Dr. Jung: And how does it come about that she is attacked by the pairs of opposites?
Where does that start in the former vision?
Mrs. Sawyer: In her identification with the figure of Abraxas.
Dr. Jung: Exactly.
That figure of the sun god above, and the black snake underneath is in a way a reconciling symbol, they are together though in a monstrous form.
She succeeded in exteriorizing the pair of opposites in the form of that monstrous deity, in uniting them into one living thing, which is decidedly a great achievement.
She thereby declares that the pair of opposites is a divine matter which does not regard
man; man should exist outside and have it, rather, as an opposition to himself.
But here the pair of opposites have separated again, they have gotten into more or less human shape, they are faces; they left the divine form, they regressed, and now they are gnawing at her-she is attacked by this pair of opposites.
They are no longer opposite her, she is the victim in between.
Mr. Baumann: Can one not explain it by the fact that she is in the mandala now? She is between the two opposites as soon as she enters.
Dr. Jung: But she has broken through the mandala.
You see, the idea of the mandala is to protect, it is the sorcerer’s circle, she should be protected inside with the opposites outside.
In the East these mandalas are usually embedded half in the earth and half in heaven, the horizon line being in the center.
It is like heaven and hell, the benevolent gods and the great teachers above, and below the infernal demon world, denoting that man is half in the demon world and half in the heavenly world, but protected against the influx of both by the magic circle.
For we have to be protected against the things from above just as much as the things
Why is that so?
Mrs. Sigg: The human form could be dissolved.
Dr. Jung: The real danger lies in the fact that you can be dissolved by the good as well as by the evil.
The figures above are much too big, so when you identify with them you have an inflation and are dissolved just as much as you are dissolved by the devils.
It doesn’t matter whether the effect comes from the good side or the bad side, one is dissolved in either case.
But of course it makes all the difference in the world practically.
It is best to be neither too good nor too bad, and the worst is to be dissolved in an inflation, to lose one’s proportions.
So people say nowadays that it doesn’t matter so much that a thing is bad or indecent, but it matters that it is in bad taste-no sense of proportion.
A hero of virtue may be just as unpleasant as someone who is subject to all sorts of vices, one doesn’t feel well with such people.
In the one case it is distasteful to be with vicious people, and in the other one suffers from feelings of inferiority which is not pleasant either, so one had better avoid the extremes.
That the right measure of things is a superior ethical principle, is an idea which has occurred several times in the history of the world, for one can avoid the bad as little as one can avoid the good; so take the right measure of both and then one will be a more or less complete human being.
Our patient is here again in the old conflict between the pair of opposites.
Perhaps you remember her picture of that in a former seminar [see plate 6].
Mr: Baumann: Was it not the Indian standing between water and fire?
Dr: Jung: Yes, right in the beginning her animus was in such a condition, so she was also.
Arrows were aimed at her from either side, she was between fire and water.
It is a very similar situation here.
And what does it mean that they tried to rend her garments with their teeth?
Mrs. Sigg: It is an attempt at a more natural state.
Dr: Jung: You think that those faces tried to get her into a more natural position en costume d ‘Eve?
Mrs. Sigg: More human.
Dr: Jung: Is it particularly human to have no garments on?
Mr: Baumann: Is it not that the opposites are attacking the persona?
Dr: Jung: One can understand these garments as a persona, but would you think that that pair of opposites were trying to take off her persona?
Mr: Dell: They are trying to tear her.
Dr: Jung: Yes, they are trying to eat through the garments like mice or ants.
Therefore the analogy of the ants which also devour things, they eat their way through all garments or husks. It is simply a sort of speech metaphor.
She is protected by garments, but the pair of opposites are slowly gnawing away like mice, and they may finally get at her flesh.
Then she says: “I stood up-saying as they tore off my outer veils-‘I have many garments.’
She tries to put layers and layers of protective garments between herself and the gnawing pair of opposites.
That she has many garments means that it would take a long time to get at her.
This is the attempt at creating the magic circle again, by which she may be protected against the influences of the world above and the world below.
She must keep in the center in order not to be torn asunder.
Dr: Bertine: Is that not connected also with the myth of Ishtar, who went to the underworld seeking her lover Tammuz and had to shed her seven veils one after another until she stood naked?
Dr. Jung: Yes, it is a very similar motif.
You see, this is not exactly a persona, because it is not a question here of what her relation to the world would be, it is an inner problem, the question of what her relation
to herself would be.
For you can have a sort of persona toward yourself.
You have illusions about yourself, you want to appear to yourself in a certain way, and that can be expressed as garments, sort of illusory veils, behind which you try to hide from your own view.
These veils are between herself and her own eyes or consciousness; it is an unwillingness to face the real truth about herself, for inside she would naturally be
Therefore if people put a figure in the center of a mandala, it is usually a naked figure, because you are there exactly what you are.
For instance, you have seen perhaps a so-called melothesia of the Middle Ages, which means a certain position of the limbs.
There are such figures in the famous Lucca manuscript of Hildegard von Bingen, for instance; an Englishman has published a book about it, but one finds them in other books too.
It is often painted in this form as a five-rayed star, the star of man, the pentagram.
This figure serves the purpose of showing the microcosm within the macrocosm, and therefore it is usually surrounded by the phases of the zodiac, or the phases of the moon, showing how man is placed in the cosmos, his relation to the stars or the
It is always a naked figure because it shows man as he is without any veils, the true man. But our patient still has garments or illusions about herself, as if she had been playing a role before herself.
We all do that, and naturally one cannot individuate as long as one is playing a role to oneself; the convictions one has about oneself are the most subtle form of persona and the most subtle obstacle against any true individuation.
One can admit practically anything, yet somewhere one retains the idea that one is nevertheless so-and-so, and this is always a sort of final argument which counts apparently as a plus; yet it functions as an influence against true individuation.
It is a most painful procedure to tear off those veils, but each step forward in psychological development means just that, the tearing off of a new veil.
We are like onions with many skins, and we have to peel ourselves again and again in
order to get at the real core.
The way of the chakras in Tantric yoga is a tearing off of veils.
Even when one seems to have come to the core, there is usually another veil of illusion, which later has also to be torn off, and each time it rends one’s heart, it is a very grave experience, until one at last reaches the state in which one can consider oneself safely inured.
The reason why the first vision failed in its attempt is that there have been such illusory veils, and therefore she should somehow get out of them since she needs to get at the core.
But garments are useful for protection; as the onion needs its skins, so we need the veils of illusion.
Now she says: I stood clothed in black shot through with veins of green.
When the two faces saw this they vanished.
So she discovers that her skin is now black with veins of green.
There is no certainty that this is really her skin, however; most probably it is still a garment. And what kind of garment?
Mrs. Adler: It is the true garment.
Dr. Jung: Yes, it is that veil which for the time being is ultimate; it is the garment that she apparently has to wear until a time comes when even this has to be torn off or changed into another one.
Mrs. Fierz: Could you not also call these garments attitudes?
Dr. Jung: Yes, garments are attitudes.
Mrs. Baynes: But could it not also be taken as a regression? Say that she refused to face the pair of opposites?
Dr. Jung: Well, that remains to be seen. If the further progress of the vision should be hampered, or if she should meet with a new disaster, we could be sure that her attitude has not been a true one, and in that case something else must happen to help her out of the trouble.
But so far we only know that the pair of opposites vanish, so we may assume that,
apparently, this garment is right.
I am absolutely incapable of telling you why it is right, there is probably a very good reason, but I don’t know whether we can find it out.
Does this black shot with green convey anything to you?
Mrs. Sigg: It means that there is some hope in the blackness.
Frau Durler: It is like a snake’s skin.
Mr. Allemann: It is the color of the earth, black, with green for vegetation.
Mr. Dell: There is a kind of black marble shot with green.
Dr. Jung: We now have a number of allusions.
From a moral point of view there is much darkness, but also a ray of hope.
Or we can say it is black soil with shoots of green coming up, meaning the black earth
which begins to be fertile.
Then the black snake with the green pattern would go very well with the earth because all serpents are chthonic.
That she has the chthonic attitude, that she is just earth, say in the very beginning
of spring, would be the best interpretation according to my idea, because we are right at the beginning of the mandala psychology.
Now what is at the beginning-expressed in Indian terminology?
Mr. Allemann: The seed of the yoga tree.
Dr. Jung: And that would be in muladhara, in the blackness where things begin; and the green shoot, or bud, is Shiva.
So that garment is probably highly symbolical. I forgot to mention the marble.
That would suggest the hardness and coldness needed to stand the onslaught of the
pair of opposites.
You cannot be volatile in any way, you must be heavy like stone in order to stand the movement which begins when you are their victim.
Well, under these conditions it is understandable that the opposites can disappear. Then she says: “Once again I tried to descend into the valley.”
With that attitude she can try again. “I walked down between a narrow defile with tall black rocks on either side.”
The way down always signifies going into the unconscious, or towards things unknown,
for the unconscious contains not only the past but also what is hidden in the future.
So her future, or whatever the purpose of her development may be, is unknown, and moving into the unknown is a descent into darkness.
Then the rocks on either side would be the opposites again.
Here are the faces but in a different form and no longer active, they are now rock faces, petrified; they simply mark the way she has to go, and she walks between them.
And the way between the pair of opposites would be the way of Tao, which justifies our idea that her garment for the time being is probably right.
She continues: “I beheld a woman grown into the earth.”
This bears out what we just said, this is the chthonic attitude. What does that symbolize?
Dr. Reichstein: The tree.
Dr. Jung: Yes, that woman half buried in the soil suggests muladhara, of course, and also the Lamaistic mandala that is em bedded in the earth; she is grown into the earth like a tree, indicating growth, which again bears out what we said about the shoot of green. “Her hair was in a half stagnant pool of water and swayed slowly back and forth.”
Now this is difficult, a series of motifs. What does the hair symbolize?
Miss Hannah: Thoughts.
Dr. Jung: Yes.
Hair is mana in primitive psychology, the mana irradiation or emanation from the head, so it often means thoughts.
Therefore to cut the hair was supposed to deprive a man of his strength, as Samson
lost his strength when his hair was cut by Delilah.
The analyst is often expressed as a barber in dreams because he washes peoples’ heads. That is a proverbial expression in this country; when one scolds somebody, one says: ”!ch habe ihm den Kopf gewaschen. ”
Then combing the hair means straightening out the thoughts, cleaning or putting the hair in order means putting the mind in order.
In primitive psychology hair has a magic effect.
When primitives cut their hair they guard it carefully, they hide it away or put it into the fire in order that no sorcerer can get hold of it to work evil.
Also, when they cut their nails, they are very careful not to lose a single particle.
Mr. Dell: What about the loss of hair in the night sea journey? Is that mana?
Dr. Jung: That is a comparison with the sun.
You see, babies are born without hair, and old people lose their hair; so when the sun is setting the rays get shorter and it is buried in the underworld, and when it comes up it also has no rays, it has no power yet.
Now the next thing is the stagnant pool.
Mrs. Sawyer: Her thoughts are apparently in a stagnant place where they do not move; there is no life, there is something wrong.
Dr. Jung: Yes, the stagnant pool simply means standstill.
And her thoughts are moving idly to and fro in that stagnation, meaning that they are occupied with nothing in particular, they are aimless, without direction or purpose.
Dr. Reichstein: The second center is svadhisthana.
Dr. Jung: Yes, we must place that pool of water.
We were in muladhara, and now comes an entirely new motif; suddenly there is a pool of water which must refer to svadhisthana, another form of the unconscious.
Hitherto we have only had the earth, but now comes a new element; her thoughts are already moving aimlessly to and fro in svadhisthana.
Now what does that symbol denote as to the importance of her thoughts?
Mrs. Sawyer: A standstill.
Dr. Jung: So we must assume that her thought activity is not the real thing, that her activity must be somewhere else.
Getting into such an idle to and fro movement usually means a very typical psychological condition:perhaps you are busy with something and then suddenly notice
that your thoughts are always returning to the same spot, leaving it and returning again a thousand times, merely passing to and fro.
Frau Durer: One is waiting.
Dr. Jung. Just waiting, as when you are walking to and fro in the street,
it is probable that you are waiting for somebody.
So it is just to pass the
time, apparently her thoughts at the actual moment are absolutely purposeless.
And you remember she is an intellectual type, she has made constant use of her keen mind, and she has an active animus, so it is quite an achievement when she can leave her thoughts alone.
In such a case, as I said, the real activity is elsewhere.
You usually find that you are unaware of something moving in the unconscious-an important unconscious content which you cannot get at.
You try in vain, your thoughts move to and fro on the surface, but nothing happens because you cannot get at the thing within, the real activity is inside.
Like the famous problem of Buridan’s ass that stood between two haystacks and didn’t know which to eat first, and finally he died of starvation.
I often use that example with my patients and you can very well imagine why.
For what was the real reason of that queer behavior?
Mrs. Baynes: He wanted to have both at once.
Dr. Jung: That was exactly the trouble. But when does that happen?
Mrs. Sigg: He wanted something else more important.
Dr. Jung: Yes, he really did not want either, there was something much more important.
Dr. Escher: To die.
Dr. Jung: Exactly, so he died, he committed suicide.
Question: The patient speaks in the first person, but here she speaks of that woman. Why is that? Is it not herself or is it something strange to her?
Dr. Jung: It is strange to her, but of course it must be a projection of herself.
One’s own face in the mirror often seems strange because one sees it under a new aspect, and so she sees herself there under a new
aspect, rooted in the earth. It is a new thing that comes to her which she has apparently not foreseen.
You will now understand the next sentence: She was in travail and I stood while she gave birth.
From a white placenta emerged a creature in the shape of a child.
You see that is the activity.
The thoughts are idle because it is a matter now of an entirely different thing, it is a matter of childbirth. Now what is the difference?
Remark: The real movement is going on below.
Dr. Jung: Quite so, but what is the difference between the two things?
Dr. Bertine: Giving birth to the child is automatic, and the other is purposeful.
Dr. Jung: That is true, but we could find perhaps a more suitable formulation for it. There are certain experiences in analysis that clearly show the difference.
Mrs. Sigg: I think it must somehow be a birth from the water, because the placenta is generally red and this is white.
Dr. Jung: But why should it be from water?
Mrs. Sigg: Because it is white.
Dr. Jung: Well, if you say the water center, svadhisthana, you are probably right, and that is white.
Now what is the difference between these two activities?
Mrs. Adler: It might be that the activity of the thoughts-the hair-is from the ego mind, and the activity of that other woman is more the activity of the Self.
Dr. Jung: Yes, there you are on the right track.
You see, it is just the difference between muladhara and svadhisthana.
One might imagine that this whole thing was mental, something one could think, and that one makes thoughts as one pleases just as one can arrange one’s hair as one
pleases-one can wear it in this fashion or another.
The mind seems to be that region in which one can do what one likes, one can invent any kind of fantasy.
That is why people take so little stock in it, they play with it.
So the assumption is that our concern with these visions is entirely a mental job, and therefore in the sphere of arbitrary dealings.
People have not discovered yet that a thought can be, also, something like a child, that thought production is like real childbirth.
They often assume that any thought production which appears to be fluent and easy is just shaken out of the sack, as we say, like a conjurer’s trick.
For instance, I once wrote a theme in school which read quite fluently, as a matter of
fact, it was quite good, but I got a bad mark because the teacher said I had not taken any trouble over it.
As a matter of fact, I had taken the greatest trouble over it, far more than ever before.
But then the teacher said that would be like the dictum of Horace in the Ars Poetica, that the finished poem is one which reads so easily that the poet would seem to
have had no trouble with it at all-“and that is not the case with you. ”
You see, there are indeed symbolic thoughts, which have exactly the value of facts, as much value, for instance, as childbirth, and only these thoughts are really convincing.
Mental thoughts are not convincing, they are just a passing breath.
But the symbolic heavy thought is hard like stone, it is eternal.
There are certain thoughts which last forever, which started their existence in the dawn of humanity and are still going strong; there are certain convictions which are millions of years old, and they are like granite, they still hold good, they are absolutely unshakable.
But they are never produced by mental activity, one can almost say they are never produced by a brain; they come from the stomach or anywhere else, they are hard facts born out of the body.
One sees that difference very much in analysis.
As long as analysis moves on the mental plane nothing happens, you can discuss whatever you please, it makes no difference; but once you strike against something that is below the surface, and up comes a thought in the form of an experience, the thought stands against you so that it becomes your object.
The word object comes from the Latin objectum, which is something that is thrown
against you, thrown from opposite you.
When you experience that, you instantly know that it is a fact and you don’t doubt it any longer, it is there as if it were part of yourself, of your body even.
That is a fact which is particularly noticeable in female psychology, one sees most striking instances.
For months, for years sometimes, women suffer from certain physical symptoms which apparently belong to the physiology of the body, and then it slowly turns out that they arise from a thought which is painfully coming to the surface; then the symptom
disappears, and there is the thought.
Such a thought is as if extracted out of the veins, the bones, and the muscles of the body, and it has body; it is essentially a fact.
You cannot see it so clearly in men, because their thought has very much more to do with the brain.
Eros is rooted in man’s body as thought is in woman’s body.
You see, a man also has a set of feelings which he plays with, he applies feelings, but he usually does not know the feeling that is rooted in the body; when he experiences that he just capsizes.
And so with the thought of the woman; it can upset her completely, but it must be the kind of symbolic thought which grows out of the body.
That is what our patient experiences here.
You see this has to do with the first part of the analysis where there had to be a good
deal of hair washing, and she probably thinks still more or less in that way, that it is a mental job.
But now she experiences the birth of symbolic thought.
Mrs. Sigg: In the conversation between Christ and Nicodemus, Christ says man must be reborn from water and the spirit. Would it not be the same situation?
Dr. Jung: It obviously refers to that kind of experience, that it must be a real rebirth, and that is connected with the body; the justification, for the baptismal rites, the eating and drinking, the washing, etc., is that they suggest the bodily quality of the symbol; the symbol always needs body, it always wants physical expression.
Therefore those periods in history, which are characterized by a positive religion, are also periods of the most living and most beautiful art.
Now she says about the birth of that creature that it emerges from a white placenta.
This is most unusual, the child would not come from a placenta.
What is the matter here?
Mr. Dell: Is placenta the afterbirth of a child that comes too late, out of time?
Dr. Jung: No, the child emerges from the womb, and after the child comes the placenta, also from the womb; but the child never emerges from the placenta.
There is a primitive superstition about that; they believe that man always has a double, the double being a ghostly brother who was the life of the placenta-the afterbirth is also a birth, but a ghostly one.
Therefore in many primitive tribes the placenta is not simply disposed of as it is with us, but buried decently and with great ceremony because it is the corpse of the shadow brother.
Now what kind of child would arise from a placenta? Does that not suggest something to you? How does the placenta look?
Mrs. Sigg: Is it not the element for nourishment?
Dr. Jung: Yes, it is exactly like roots in the womb of the mother, a sort of plantlike growth where the blood vessels of the child merge immediately with the blood vessels of the mother.
So it is like the roots of the tree reaching in to the crevices of the soil where there is water and food, and the child draws its nourishment by that means out of the mother’s body.
Now the placenta is circular in shape and a child rising out of it suggests a mandala.
This is a bit far-fetched, you will say, but you will presently see that my hypothesis proves to be correct.
You see this is the ghost child, the double, the ghost of the afterbirth.
You probably noticed that she said “a creature in the shape of a child,” and that sounds rather peculiar, you are not just prepared to see a lovely baby.
And she says: “It had four eyes bulging forth from its head.” So it is no lovely sight, it is again a monster. “Its hands were clubs, its feet were claws.”
It is a very monstrous child really.
It cannot be anything normal because the placenta is not a normal human body, it is
a symbolic body that soon disappears because the life of the afterbirth child is not meant to be an ordinary life, but a sort of breath body that lives on. In other words, it is a spirit that accompanies one, it is one’s secret, one’s shadow.
Synopad is the Greek term for it, which means the one that follows after, who is born with one, following one closely; it is the demon that accompanies one throughout life.
Now the umbilical cord is rooted in the circular placenta, and out of the circle as a matrix grows the child, the spirit of the placenta.
The whiteness of the placenta suggests the mental quality here; as a matter of
fact it is blood red, so that the white indicates that it is a child of light.
It must be a spirit that has to do with consciousness, it must contain light.
Miss Hannah: Do you suppose it has anything to do with ectoplasm?
Dr. Jung: A number of cases have been observed where the ectoplasm started from the genitals, and it may be that it is the double; I don’t know, I have not had enough experience in that respect to decide.
At all events it is a symbol.
Now that child is a monster, and that is like what figure we have already spoken of?
Mrs. Sigg: I have noticed that the children of the Greek sea gods and goddesses were monsters.
Dr. Jung: Monsters usually come from the sea, but I don’t know whether that is true of all those monsters in Greek mythology.
But what is that figure?
Mrs. Adler: It is Abraxas.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but now in a different form.
And what is the remarkable feature in this child’s case?
Mr. Baumann: The four eyes, which suggest the mandala symbolism.
Dr. Jung: Again the mandala symbolism; it would be the child that is in the center and it is looking in every direction, on both sides and forward and backward.
That would mean an all-round consciousness seeing on all sides, a complete consciousness.
You see, the field of consciousness extends as far as the field of vision; therefore behind us is the kingdom of the unconscious.
But if one has four eyes, with two of them one can see everything within the one hundred eighty degrees in front, and with the other two whatever is in the one hundred eighty degrees behind.
Dr. Escher: Like Janus.
Dr. Jung: Yes, Janus was such a monster, and what else is suggested?
Dr. Wharton: The four functions.
Dr. Jung: The four functions, or the vision of Ezekiel of the seraphim with the four faces looking in the four directions.
A picture of the Trinity with three heads was interdicted by a papal bull in the early seventeenth century.
To paint the Trinity in that form was not allowed, but there is still one of those forbidden representations in the chapel of the monastery of St. George at Stein on the Rhine.
Then one is reminded of Faust’s question: “There are three and where has remained the fourth?”
That is the devil, of course.
Mrs. Fierz: Could not those two figures of Abraxas be compared with the bija-deva?
Dr. Jung: Yes, the bfja-deva is an invisible, unnamed deity that has four arms-instead of four eyes; it is always inside the letter, as you remember from the Tantric Yoga Seminar.
Shiva usually has four arms reaching to the four corners of the world, it is the same idea.
So this child is also a truly East Indian product, one could say, appearing in an entirely Western mentality-it is as good as a Hindu Vishnu.
When our patient had this vision, we had no idea of those Indian gods, nor did we know anything about the Tantric yoga, but it suggests very clearly the four-faced Brahman that rises from the lotus, or that grows out of the navel of Vishnu.
The lotus growing up out of the sleeping god is exactly this idea, the flower is the spirit of the placenta.
Now the hands were clubs and the feet claws. Here we must go back to the last vision.
What was it there?
Miss Hannah: It was a bow.
Dr. Jung: Yes, the Abraxas in the last vision was armed, and the Hindu gods always carry certain emblems or implements, usually weapons.
Here is the same idea; claws are an animal’s natural weapons, while the clubs are man-made.
So this is a very warlike creature apparently.
She doesn’t say how many arms there are, but it has to do with the four eyes, and the hands are at all events qualities.
Now what kind of character would you expect such a being to have?
Frau Durer: Aggressive.
Dr: Jung: Yes, warlike, violent. And what do you think about this fact?
Mrs. Adler: She has a child which may be dangerous for her.
Dr: Jung: Yes, and this thought stands in opposition to her former conscious attitude, where thoughts were playthings, inventions of her own, arbitrary wish-fulfillments perhaps.
But this birth shows that thought can be a most aggressive and dangerous thing, such as was suggested by the Abraxas vision before.
Now if you look back into history and ask yourself why such a figure as Abraxas is always represented with a whip or a sword and a shield, you find that the god is really warlike, his weapons are the sign of power, he can use the whip on you.
And have we not something similar in the Bible?
The connoisseurs of the Bible to the fore!
Mr: Dell: Jesus had a scourge in the temple.
Dr: Jung: Yes, he behaved rather aggressively in the temple.
And he said: “I have not come to bring you peace, but a sword.”
He was very warlike too.
And he cursed the sterile fig tree, you remember, and said it should be thrown into the fire.
Then Mithra was the god of the soldiers.
He was a very efficient man, the bullfighter, the toreador really, the typical hero figure of the arena.
In those days they did not stab the bull with a long sword through the neck, they jumped upon its back and killed it with a short sword through the side.
So it is very characteristic that those spiritual, most highly symbolic gods-even the man-made, the consciously built-up concepts of gods-were equipped with all the
paraphernalia of violent warlike demons.
Dr: Escher: In the Book of Job, the leviathan and behemoth are the beginning of the way of God.
Dr: Jung: Yes, but that is more the danger of Yahweh; those terrible monsters on land and sea always symbolized the power of the gods.
But I am laying particular stress upon the artificial man-made gods, the idea that even those gods that were philosophically elaborated were exceedingly dangerous.
That is expressed by the man-made weapons.
All those age-old dangers are animals, crocodiles, snakes, etc., but weapons as the
attributes of gods are more man-made. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 814-830
Ishtar, ancient goddess of fertility, love, and war. The chief goddess in Babylonia, her
worship spread to Assyria and throughout western Asia. In Sumer she was worshipped as Inanna-Lady of Heaven. See S. Perera, Descent to the Goddess (Toronto, 1981), and B.
Meador, especially The Divine Feminine and Modern Women (San Francisco, 1984).
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), German mystic who had religious visions, was
skilled in medicine, and predicted future events; as a consequence of these gifts, she led a public life of service as well as a private one of prayer. Her book is Liber Divinorum Opermn (Codex Luccensis, Lucca, 1942). The Englishman was Charles Singer in Studies in the History and Method of Science (Oxford, 1917).Jung refers to Hildegard of Bingen often; see General Index, CW 20, s.v. He refers to Liber Divinorum Operum in CW 9 i, par. 703n., fig. 48; cw 12, fig. 195.
Horace (Horatius Flaccus; 65 B.c.-8 B.C.), Roman lyric poet and Epicurean whose Ars
Poetica was written to dissuade the son of a friend, who had little talent, from writing
poetry. Jung included a longer and more painful version of this autobiographical story
and his ensuing depression in MDR, pp. 64ff.
Jung, The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga (Princeton, 1996). See also “Psychological Comments on Kundalini Yoga” (excerpts from the seminar) in Spring 1975 and 1976. The seminar
was given in the fall of 1932 just before the start of the autumn series of the Visions
Seminar. See above, 24June 1931, n. 1. The bz?ja-devais the deity of the bija: the seedlike
form or dot that is the essense of a mantra, as form comes into being, springing from the void. The bija symbolizes the mind of Buddha: it is visualized as transforming into a deity and connecting its energy with that in the heart of the visioner. See John Blofeld, The Tantric Mysticism of Tibet (New York, 1979).