Dream Symbols of the Individuation Process

Question: What is the meaning of these gold coins? Gold means precious substance, but its form is questionable.

It appears in the form of separate elements, coins which have a banal aspect.

It is money, something every man has and knows and sees everywhere.

Moreover, in our days, it is very precious because it is not in evidence but is all hidden away in banks.

Yet it is the basis of our currency; everybody talks of it; you read about it in every newspaper; but there is something hateful about it.

That is accounted for by the fact that it is just money, a banal thing, which everybody wants and nobody has. So the dreamer rejects it.

Then, obviously, he becomes suddenly aware of the fact that it is a symbol, that all that money means something. Now what does money mean?

ANSWER: Libido.

JUNG: Again libido, coined energy, a form of energy.

You see, you can buy an automobile; you can buy gasoline; and you have energy in the form of movement. Money is coined energy.

As gold it means the highest value.

It is only because it is in the questionable form of money that he rejects it.

This is exactly what the old alchemists say about the material out of which the precious substance is to be made.

They called the gold, the lapis, the philosopher’s stone, substantia materia prima, the first material.

“It is most inconspicuous, and you find it everywhere. Everybody handles it, and nobody knows what it is worth. You find it on mountains and in valleys; you find it thrown out into the street. Nobody knows what it is worth. If the merchant in the market knew what that thing is worth which they sell so cheaply, they wouldn’t even sell it.”

They call this material lapis excilis, the inconspicuous stone.

In any kind of obvious material which you find everywhere there is something exceedingly banal.

The alchemists had a nice hexameter verse about it, which translated means, “Here you find it, a cheap inconspicuous material, a stone, and concerning the price, very cheap. It is despised by all stupid people, but all the more appreciated by those who know.”

The same idea, that the most precious material appears in a despicable or cheap form, is expressed in Spitteler’s Prometheus. I have dealt with this in the fifth chapter of my Types.

There the jewel was ejected into the road, stepped upon, and thrown into the fire.

Nobody saw the value of that jewel.

If you go back to the Christian symbols regarding Christ, it is said in the prophecy of Isaiah that he has no beauty and is of an ugly appearance.

The Servant of God is inconspicuous, and his value is not obvious, yet he contains the greatest value and is, indeed, the greatest of values.

The next unconscious product, the nineteenth, is a visual impression of a depressing nature.

He sees a skull, and that skull is uncannily near him, as if it wanted to approach him.

He tries to kick it away, but he doesn’t succeed.

As he kicks, the skull begins to glow with an inner light and is transformed into a red, glowing ball.

The ball is transformed into the head of a woman, and suddenly the face of the woman begins to radiate like the sun.

We have here the same vision as before, the head of the anima transformed into the sun.

What has happened in this vision?

You see he has reached the treasure, and this treasure was the secret of life; it is energy.

If he rejects the energy of life, the living water, he would die—something would die in him.

So death in the form of that skull is approaching him, a sort of spiritual death.

He tries to get rid of it, but he can’t.

By a violent struggle with it he gets more and more energy into it so that it is transformed into a glowing sun.

The sun, transformed through the anima, makes its appearance.

That means he was able through that struggle to carry over the source of energy into the unconscious, and now he is able to accept it.

This same situation occurred in Hamlet as well as in Faust.

In these plays both Hamlet and Faust talk to the skull; both talk about the meaning of life, which means nothing and therefore is worth nothing. It is transitory; it has no value.

This is a sort of intellectual depression, intellect despairing about the ultimate meaning of life.

Now through that struggle an enantiodromia takes place.

That is perhaps a difficult word.

It is a philosophical term from the sixth century before Christ, meaning “a transformation into the opposite,” transformed from yea to nay, for example, the transformation of pleasure into pain or of pain into pleasure.

You see through this most negative symbol a change takes place so that death becomes something positive, provided he can accept the fact that his unconscious is really the source of life.

Now the relationship between the anima and that ball is very curious.

One would not assume that the anima would be a ball, but there is an antique idea that the anima, anima mundi, the soul of the world, is round, like a layer or stratum.

The ultimate stratum of the universe is fire, and around the fire is another stratum, and that is the anima; it is a perfect globe.

The philosopher Empedocles so described the perfect man, whom he called the sphairos.

The anima appears round, not on account of her own characteristics, but because she contains something that is round; and that is the mandala, the Self, which is round because it is complete.

The circle, like the globe, is therefore the most perfect figure.

All finished things, all perfect things symbolically are round.

The old alchemist also assumed that that substance out of which you make the philosophical gold or the precious stone must be round.

They said: “Take it from the round substance.”

This idea of the globe comes up in the next unconscious product, the twentieth, a dream.

There is a globe. Upon this globe stands the figure of a woman, an unknown woman, the anima, in adoration of the sun.

Now this dream states that the anima is not round in herself, which explains exactly what we have said before, that the roundness comes from something else, namely, from two cosmic bodies.

Obviously the globe upon which the anima stands must be the earth, as opposed to the sun. The anima is in adoration of the sun, the other globe, the shining globe, the source of life.

Consciousness makes a difference here.

It is not that the anima is round or complete, but that completeness is in the earth and the sun, in those two things.

Now we say in alchemistic language, the earth is prima materia or the material of which the sun is made, for the sun is the gold, the seventh step.

The earth is dark and cold; that is the beginning; and the sun is the other opposite.

In between is the anima, the bridge of life, the anima worshipping the sun.

Now this worshipping of the sun is an antique idea, which no longer exists in our day.

We have no sun worshippers any more in our midst.

It is in a way a regression to an antique belief.

Such a regression always takes place before one comes to a decisive realization, before one understands a new formulation.

It is what the French mean when they say, “reculer pour mieux sauter,” meaning, “one withdraws in order to take the leap.”  ~Carl Jung, Dreams Symbols of Individuation, Page 109-111