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Visions Seminar

1934 24January Visions Seminar LECTURE I

Ladies and Gentlemen: We spoke of the triskelos in the last seminar, and Dr. Escher has brought us this morning a reproduction of an old Sicilian coin upon which one is to be seen.

The inscription is Tan Panormos, and panormos means all-defended, in full armor.

But the most interesting thing about this triskelos, in itself a sun symbol, is the center,

which here consists of the Gorgon-headed Medusa with her hair of snakes.

Dr. Escher asks if the inscription might not refer to Tanith,  the Syrian-Phoenician goddess, who was analogous to Artemis of Ephesus, Ishtar, Atargatis, and others.

You know there were Phoenician colonies on all the coasts of the Mediterranean, and in the time of the Greek colonization of Sicily there was constant warfare between those Greek and Phoenician colonies until the Romans finally destroyed the power of Carthage.

He also suggests that this Medusa might represent the devouring mother, the terrible side of the goddess of fertility; it would be a kind of threatening sun, the “black sun.”

Then there is the particular point that the head is winged, which is also an attribute of Somnus, or Hypnos, the god of sleep and of dreams.

It is a face which floats in the darkness surrounded by snakes, flying in the night like a bat.

This expresses the nightmarish character of the Gorgon; it is a monstrous idea, like a vampire nightmare; such ideas or images probably originated in individual nightmares.

Another figure connected with the terrible mother was called Empusa, a sort of hobgoblin sent by Hecate, which was nothing but a bladder filled with blood; in that case the mother was only symbolized in the shape of the uterus.

Negroes have a similar idea: a certain witch is supposed to have the form of a pear.

So instead of the beneficial sun, the center of the triskelos on this coin is the terrible mother; it would be the sun in its own opposition, the midnight sun.

Dr. Escher also brought us this picture of the positive form of the mother, the well-known Artemis of Ephesus, with the many breasts and numbers of animals assembled on her body; usually they are useful animals.

She has a black face like a black Isis, symbolizing the black fertile earth.

Black soil is the best to grow wheat, the black Egyptian soil is exceedingly fertile, and since Artemis is the fertile earth, she is represented as being black, as Mother Isis with the child Horus in her arms was often represented as black.

In early Christianity she was sometimes confused with the Madonna.

In the Lateran museum there is a statue of a black Isis with the child, which was preserved because it was once understood to be a Madonna.

There are a number of such Artemis, or Ishtar, or Isis heads of black basalt, which are supposed to be Christian.

A remarkable example is at Einsiedeln, a Madonna which is said to have been blackened by fire.

But I am not so sure, it looks rather as if it were either black wood originally or as if it had been intentionally blackened; it might even be an imitation in wood of black basalt. Nothing seems to be really known about its history.

Now here is a question by Mrs. Crowley: “You told us last time of the effect of the animus being swallowed by the serpent. Can you say what would be the meaning of a group of shadows committing suicide because life held no further meaning to them?”

Well, that the animus is swallowed by the serpent means that he recedes into the collective unconscious, he is swallowed up in it; it is his business to be connected with the collective unconscious, therefore he is so often represented as jumping into the water or disappearing into a wood.

And that can be either positive or negative, either he runs away or he is on an errand; it can be either a sort of regression, a flight, or an enterprise.

Mrs. Crowley: And if there are women? I mean really shadows?

Dr. Jung: The shadow of a woman would not be represented by a group unless it were a group problem.

Mrs. Crowley: If it were perhaps two or three?

Dr. Jung: Then they might represent functions; the shadow often represents functions. In that case it would probably be negative; that is, through a sort of regression, a part of the function would become unconscious, and we must assume that this is a loss, even if it is only momentary.

Naturally it is due to certain causes, but it is not done for a particular effect because it is such a frequent occurrence that a part of one becomes suddenly unconscious.

It is for no particular purpose when one loses part of oneself, it is an accident which just happens.

To the primitive it means the loss of the soul; when a primitive complains of having lost his soul, it is because a function-or several-a part of his personality-has fallen back into the unconscious.

Mrs. Crowley: That too might be either positive or negative then?

Dr. Jung: It would then be chiefly negative, it is an accident; for if the shadow takes the form of an enterprise, it would not become entirely unconscious.

It is different with the animus.

You see, the shadow should not be an independent being, the shadow should be so closely associated with the conscious ego that it would never be lost sight of; if the shadow can move by itself, it is lost sight of and that means a dissociation.

One then loses one’s self-control, as it were; it is as if one had suddenly become entirely unconscious of one’s own negative qualities.

That can happen, but it should not happen.

But to lose sight of the animus or anima must happen at times; it is almost normal when they are not in sight because they are meant to be independent figures who live autonomous lives in the collective unconscious.

But one has the chance of being connected with them, as a primitive sorcerer is in connection with the snake that whispers in his ear or speaks to him in the night.

The snake is not around all the time, but under certain conditions, when he needs it, he can conjure it up; that is of course the anima symbolism.

It is generally supposed by the red Indians that in a wood at night they can talk to the ghosts.

And it is assumed that in the initiations people hear voices when they fast and remain alone for a long time.

This general expectation shows that to be a very frequent phenomenon.

As a matter of fact, under certain strained conditions people often do hear or see queer things.

I remember a particularly interesting case which has nothing to do with any of my patients.

It was told to me by a fellow officer during the war.

We were in one of the forts on the St. Gotthard, a somewhat lonely outpost; there were only the two of us and of course we talked a lot in the long nights.

He was a great mountaineer, and he once made an expedition to a certain glacier in the Bernese Oberland, with his wife and his brother-in-law, both of whom were very good at climbing.

Then another man came along whom he knew slightly, a youngish fellow who wanted

to become a member of the Alpine Club; to be eligible one must prove that one has made a number of expeditions, so he wanted to do something a bit conspicuous in preparation for his membership.

They climbed up the glacier, through a cleft in the rock, and halfway up they lost their way, so my friend said they must stop there until he could reconnoiter and find it again, and that young man suggested that my friend should go to the left, while he went to the right.

This they did, and after a while they heard the young man shout that it was possible to get up on his side.

But in the same moment my friend had found the real way, so they continued climbing on their different paths, the young fellow shouting from time to time that he was coming on.

Then they sat down up above and waited till they saw him coming, first one hand and

then the other up over the boulder, and then his face, and then suddenly the boulder gave way and he fell backwards holding onto it.

They saw him disappear; it was about twelve hundred feet down and he was smashed to a pulp, of course.

Naturally they were shocked, his wife was in a terrible state and his brother-in-law was also like a wet rag; they trembled so much that at every step he had to put their feet into the right place before they could move.

It took them about three hours to get down over the glacier to the hut and they were completely exhausted, so he told them to stay there and wait while he went down to the valley and fetched people to look for the body.

After seven or eight hours he returned with them to the hut but nobody was there; he shouted around but there was absolutely no response.

Now usually in those huts there is a sort of common room with a pile of hay to sleep on in case there are many tourists, and in a corner under a heap of hay and a lot of rugs he heard something stirring, and finally he pulled out his brother-in-law by the boots and then his wife.

They were both shaking like leaves and his wife was hysterical.

He asked what the devil was the matter with them, why they did not answer, and his brother-in-law said he was afraid.

Only after a long time, when he had given them brandy and warmed them up, could they tell what had happened.

They had been sitting before the hut in the sunshine, discussing the terrible event,

when both at the same time saw, coming up out of the drift of the glacier where it was broken up by the fall into the valley, a little man with a peaked cap, a little cabir, and he was walking up towards them.

And they saw that it was an absolutely inhuman thing, an elemental, a dwarf.

They thought it must be a ghost because no living human being could come from that place, right out of the ice, so they got into a blue funk and crept in under the hay and the rugs.

Now this is a fact.

Those were two perfectly normal people, but under the strain of such a situation extraordinary things do happen.

I myself have observed them.

You hear your name spoken, for instance, and several people hear the same thing at the same time.

Why that is so I don’t know exactly, but I assume that there is so much participation mystique through the shock that they get into the same mood.

The vision of the Crusaders when they first reached Jerusalem is an instance: they saw an angel on the walls of Jerusalem who signed to them that they would take the town, and they actually did take the town on the same day.

That was also a collective vision. Well now, we should continue.

As you have probably noticed, the case is getting more and more complicated, and I am really a bit afraid to continue it because it is bewildering for those who have not followed it from the beginning.

Things are now becoming reversed in a very peculiar way.

The first part of these visions was a clear descent into the collective unconscious, absolutely according to the rules.

Of course, there are always certain peculiarities, but that was perfectly clear, all the things one would expect to discover there were discovered.

But then came the return to the patient’s own country, and that has upset the situation


The course of things takes on the form of an individual reaction.

It would be a general case if people generally reacted as she does, but naturally they do not all react in the same way.

She was more likely to do so because the previous visions had been mere intuitions which did not become sufficiently integrated into her ego consciousness.

Also she was perhaps too young to be able to transform such intuitions into real understanding; one should be of a certain age or a certain maturity in order to realize them.

Many people. are incapable of it; to be unable to hold them is even a general primitive quality, though of course they may retain the memory of them.

There are numerous examples of primitives who have had the most amazing experiences yet they were utterly incapable of holding them; they can remember them, but it is as if they were unable to understand what they have experienced and so unable to put any particular value on them.

That is really very usual.

I have seen plenty of people who had an experience which others would have valued very highly and realized forever, and they would have been changed by it; but these people just saw it and let it pass by without being touched by it; it was of course in their memory, they knew they had seen it, but somehow it did not register.

The same thing occurs in political situations.

We are in such a situation now; we see exactly what the heaping up of weapons and ammunition leads to, yet we cannot prevent it.

We know what it means when a Disarmament Conference fails, we also know that the nations do not want a war, the people are all afraid of it, yet we are drifting, drifting towards it; nobody can stop it because the majority of people are unable to understand.

That is, as I said, a general primitive peculiarity, and therefore the primitive has that peculiar apathy, that sort of fatalism.

He says: “Oh well, the house is burning, yes, it is true.”

But he will not lift a finger to save it, he will not throw one bucket of water onto the fire, the house will burn down and nothing will be done to prevent it, because he has a participation mystique with the fire as well as with the house.

It is very painful to see the house burn down, but nothing is done because he cannot extricate himself from that participation mystique. It is as if such people were lamed.

One says: “But man, can’t you realize what you have seen, what you have heard? How can you go on in such a way?” Easily.

The whole thing passes them by because they themselves scarcely exist, they are one with the event.

In the moment of a religious experience they are a religious experience, and then there is a bottle of brandy and they are the bottle of brandy, and then there is a murder and they are the murder, and so on.

They are always in complete identity with what they are momentarily experiencing.

There is no continuity, there is no center from which to say: I realize this and the consequences, and I realize the inconsistencies of such and such things.

That would be the beginning of a certain reality, but primitives are far from such a realization, and we are far from it too in a way.

That is the peculiarity of this case, and it explains why, when our patient comes into contact with the facts of the world, then they are just the facts of the world, just another experience, and she is that experience as she was the experience before.

So there is no connection, no continuation, it is merely a transition from one condition into another; there is little consciousness, and no center, no focus which would guarantee continuity.

This is of course a very psychological point of view, and it is exceedingly interesting to watch how such a transition is made.

We have a certain resistance against inconsistency and say we cannot understand how it is possible.

But that is only an illusion; at bottom we understand quite well because it happens to us constantly; we are all the time somewhat inconsistent, all the time more or less identical with our experiences and lacking that continuity which alone would help us to understand profoundly.

I don’t know how many experiences or shocks or disappointments are needed until we are able to achieve a certain amount of continuity.

But from a psychological standpoint it is interesting, as I said, to watch such a transition; and we have here a series of visions where this change takes place, where this woman is swallowed by another kind of reality experience, and where the experience over here seems to be vanishing.

Under those conditions, one may expect that all sorts of strange things will happen to the animus, the function that once connected her with the collective unconscious; it is quite impossible to foretell what the animus will do or what will happen to him.

In the last vision we had an example of such an event, and he was particularly bewildered and filled with the most extraordinary and sentimental emotions, all the emotions which she did not realize.

She seems to play a very strong hand now, she is really the strong man, so she is no longer always preceded or anticipated by the animus.

Mrs. Baumann: Does the fact that she goes on having visions at all mean that there is an attempt to bring the two things together? Otherwise I should think she would stop.

Dr.: Jung: But in making a transition, when things are changing naturally, the former condition does not abruptly stop, it just slowly peters out and is supplanted by the next experience, so the two really overlap, they are even in balance for a while.

Her former experience is receding, but it is still present.

It is also true in history that the former conditions go on existing, but without being particularly insisted upon.

The Christian religion is still here, for instance; there are millions of people who are convinced of its truth.

Of course there are many millions who are not and yet persist as if they believed in it, it has become a sort of friendly habit of existence, and things continue to be done as they used to be done centuries ago.

Yet it is no longer the same thing, it is already in the process of involution, and another kind of experience is slowly developing out of it.

But it takes us a long time to realize where we are.

It is amazing, I am always astonished at the amount of time we need in order to realize that au fond the conditions are so-and-so; we are usually dumbfounded when it at last dawns upon us.

So I am quite certain that this woman did not realize where she was.

Mrs. Crowley: Would that have anything to do in analysis with the problem of the inferior functions? Would becoming aware of the inferior functions not have the effect of dimming consciousness?

Dr. Jung: Of course. In any stage of any analysis there are such moments where people don’t realize where they are in reality.

Even if it is quite obvious that they have run into a cul-de-sac, or into a really dangerous

situation, it takes a long time before they are able to make up their minds to it.

After the diagnosis of a fatal disease, for instance, people won’t believe it is possible, they simply cannot grasp it even when it stares them in the face.

No wonder, then, that our patient is continuing as if the whole situation were just the same.

Yet she is probably assimilated by a new experience.

Mrs. Crowley: In relation to the primitive, would not that individual situation differ in analysis, in that some part of the personality would be absorbing it even when at the time it was not absolutely realized at the center of consciousness?

Dr. Jung: There is always an individual continuation, so there is always the hope that at least somebody realizes even if one doesn’t oneself.

But we know that people can live a whole lifetime, and perhaps several lives, without really experiencing in the least-living on, being identical with a series of experiences, but nobody there to experience.

I know plenty of astonishing examples.

The simplest case I can remember was a woman over forty, who had four children and had led the ordinary life of an ordinary woman, but she said: “I experienced nothing, I never lived, I never grew up.”

I pointed out that she had been married for fifteen years and had four children, that was something, but she said: “The children just happened to me.”

Another woman said: “Yes, I have three children, but only with the last child did I realize that this was childbirth, that this was my child.”

Then peculiarly enough she did not want any more children, as if she had children only until she realized what it meant and was then satisfied.

Now these are ordinary examples of people toddling along through life-every day was a day and they were that day-till they come to a place where they suddenly remember that something has once happened.

But they do not know who has experienced it, whose eye has seen it, so they begin to search for such a person and when they find nobody, there is a neurosis, and they come to me.

They need an eyewitness for the things which have happened to them.

The next stage is that they want to tell what they have done, in order to remember it.

Any patient will make an attempt to tell me each slightest detail.

If I have patience enough I listen to it for a while, because they all have the need to remember that someone has lived something-who was it?-do you know? Like that.

They repeat their life history in order to associate it with themselves.

And mind you, in each stage in analysis where they come to some realization, that same process happens again, they think over the whole life and associate it with the new insight; for they feel that it must be renewed in the light of it.

You see, the fact that this talking about one’s own life happens so frequently proves how many people there are who are unaware of what they have lived.

Otherwise they would not need to repeat that story.

It is also true that they are sometimes hardly conscious of the fact that someone is listening.

I once had a patient who talked like a clock, running on endlessly, till I was so bored

that I fell asleep, and then I woke with a start when she paused to light a cigarette, like the miller who wakes up when the water gives out and the wheel stops running.

I said: “Did you notice that I fell asleep?” and she said: “No, really?-but I wanted to tell you about the year 1900.”

It didn’t even matter whether I listened. Her past possessed her completely, she was identical with her own story, and again she did not realize it.

For a thing is only realized when you are in the present moment, when you know where you are and who you are now.

As long as you are identical with your own story, you do not realize it and you have to repeat it.

Now we come to the next vision which is a continuation of the one before.

Our patient says: “The man caught up with me. He had become black.”

You remember the animus said: “If I remain here with you I will become black.”

He has appeared several times before as a Negro, and that he reappears in that form means a sort of regression.

So the animus wants to be swallowed by the unconscious to avoid appearing as a colored man, and to appear coupled with a colored man would be equally disturbing to her.

She would show a considerable amount of colored substance if she should remain associated with him in the daytime, in the open, before the eyes of the public.

Therefore he should disappear into the unconscious.

But “the man caught up with her,” she is with the primitive unconscious, and she shows it, mind you; she is like a primitive who is not afraid of showing his unconscious because he can’t help it.

Now under what conditions could you say that you were showing your unconscious?

Mrs. Fierz: By being overemotional, too emotional for the occasion.

Dr.: Jung: Yes, one always expects people to have a certain control.

There are situations in which a certain amount of emotion is natural and reasonable and if lacking one would feel the want of something, but to be just swayed, swept off one’s feet by the emotions, is one of the symptoms of primitivity, or even a morbid symptom.

Then there are other things that show unconsciousness.

Mrs. Briner: When people tell their dreams without realizing what they are telling.

Dr. Jung: It is true that primitives are much interested in dreams and talk freely about them, and for us to tell our dreams in an ordinary gathering, quite naively, would be a sign of primitivity.

But in a gathering of analytical people, with a certain measure of precaution, one can tell one’s dreams.

Mrs. Fierz: One shows one’s unconscious also by being possessed by something, by an idea or a Vorstellungs or something.

Dr.: Jung: Well, one would call those people primitive who are so posssessed by desire, or by an idea or a fantasy, that they don’t realize where they are and go on with no regard to the circumstances.

There are plenty of such people, typical bores, who talk shop, stick to their own hobby, or only talk about things nobody is interested in.

Any lack of realization or consideration of the conditions or circumstances is primitive.

Now what would you assume that our patient would do in her condition? Something most typical.

Mrs. Fierz: Preach.

Dr: Jung: Of course, she would play the missionary.

This is the most usual thing to do, worldwide, at a certain stage of analysis.

You feel that you ought to tell the truth to everybody, as if it were your business to heal the wounds of the world.

Also you make yourself very important with your extraordinary psychological difficulties, and try to entangle people in long talks about psychological complications.

That is the colored man who blurts out everything which is on his mind, who cannot contain himself.

It is interesting that in dreams, such an attitude is often described by a very infantile symbol, the dream of passing urine in a drawing room, for instance, or of something awkward happening with the excrements; in that way the dream points to the awkwardness of the conscious attitude.

One cannot behave like an animal who just lets go; those people who let go psychologically behave like a most uneducated dog.

Well now, the animus has become black and he said: “I have decided.”

Obviously he has decided to accompany her, which is not advantageous.

He walked ahead of me.

I saw that his back was white and upon his back I saw the face of a man looking up into the sky at a white bird.

Now that is funny; the animus is not simple, he is double-faced; the front fapde is black, but behind he has a second face which is white and looks up at the sky.

What does that mean?

This is disagreeable symbolism, and it has a rather aggressive character.

Mrs. Baumann: It means a split.

Dr: Jung: Obviously. It is a split in the character when one shows another face to the world than one shows to the unconscious.

You see if you could analyze the animus himself, you would say: “You believe you are a colored man; by no means, you simply repress the white man; turn round and you are white.”

So this going black of the animus means concealing or repressing the white man, which obviously should not be, it is against nature.

Therefore the result is a sort of Janus-faced monster.

“Looking up into the sky at a white bird” is ordinary symbolism, it means lifting up one’s eyes to the higher things, and the white bird is the dove, the Holy Ghost, the pure white thought, etc.

And now a dark motif which has occurred before turns up again. “A red and mangled bird tore at his chest but he did not see it.”

This is one of those birds that infested the skyscrapers, and we said they were thoughts or desires, or just hopes that were injured by the clash with her New York world.

They return and worry the heart of the white animus, which means that the clash with

New York is still worrying our patient, it wounds her expectations and hopes.

It is repressed into the animus because she does not realize it; if she could realize it that bird would be tearing at her.

You see how the symbolism works: she conceals her realization in the animus, where the white man is repressed, covered up by the Negro, so the animus becomes monstrous.

It is interesting that she continues in the following way: (“This is what I saw upon his back as he walked ahead of me.”)

We have never before met such a passage; she repeats what she has seen in parenthesis as if her eyes did not believe it; she becomes uncertain, therefore she repeats it.

And later on she does the same thing again, as if to confirm that she really has seen it.

She is now showing the uncertainty of her perception.

You see the perception of the unconscious becomes uncertain the moment you begin to repress things, it is repression which produces the veil of the personal unconscious, that layer between the conscious and the collective unconscious.

As long as your consciousness is directly opposite, or confronted by, the collective unconscious pure and simple, there is no uncertainty, no confirmation is necessary.

But as soon as the personal unconscious comes in between with repressions, motives, personal preferences, moods, reservations, and so on, then you are quite uncertain of what you have seen, perhaps you have made it up.

There is a tendency to mold things, to change the vision according to fears or expectations, or according to ideas of how things ought to be.

This occurs in the moment when you lose the absolute perception.

It is always the case when you lose sight of your shadow; if you have illusions, the vision always becomes uncertain.

Now she continues: “We heard sounds of strange moaning and sighing.”

Here again is a memory of that former vision, the uncanny sounds in the air when she reached New York.

“The man said: ‘I am afraid.’ I said: ‘Must I also be afraid?’ He said: ‘Yes, you also.'”

This conversation shows something typical.

One of the emotions which she does not realize is fear, she is repressing it and so projects it into the animus.

In the end of the last vision he was already afraid, and she was quite astonishingly courageous and played the role of the heroine.

But here he says he is afraid, he realizes the emotion first, and she is doubtful, showing just that uncertainty.

She says: “Must I also be afraid?”

That he says yes means that she too really should be afraid.

Her tendency was to repress her fear and leave it to him but it comes back to her.

“A black wall blocked our path. The man fell down upon his face and wept.”

Here we have the emotional animus again, he is most theatrical; she projects all her emotions into him and he has to dramatize and perform them.

He said: “I cannot do it. You are strange and terrible. You ask me to go with you to fearful places. You have made me black.”

He complains of the fact that she is taking him into a terrible world where he must appear as a black man.

For when you take your animus out to air him in civilized society, well, he smells; he is a colored man, he can’t help it, just as the anima smells of a menagerie.

I looked down upon him. I saw the living picture on his white back change. The red mangled bird gnawed at the throat of the man until his head fell off. A new head grew. This time the head looked down and saw the red bird. The man seized the bird and killed it. (This was the picture that I saw.)

Here again is uncertainty, therefore she feels that she must confirm that she has really seen it.

It is not so sure now that the visions are accurate or reliable, they may have been tampered with; we must be exceedingly careful since the serpent veil has been drawn across them.

The attention now becomes fixed upon the concealed white man in the black animus,

and this man is worried by the clash with New York, the idea here being that he must seize that bird and kill it; in other words he should free himself from the shock.

Obviously, the shock she has received has a certain etiological importance.

It is in consequence of that, that things are what they are now; it caused a regressive movement, the fact that the animus went black, that the white man was repressed and concealed in the black animus.

But if one could remove the shock, the pain, one could turn the whole situation round.

This is truly an attempt of the unconscious to reestablish the former condition, as if it were possible to say: “Oh nothing has changed, New York has made no impression upon me, we are going on as we have done hitherto.”

She continues: When I saw this I felt great pity. I knelt down beside the man who lay

weeping on the ground. I picked him up in my arms and sat beside the black wall with the man lying upon my knees. I bent down over him and said to him: “Wait, I have seen what is written upon your back. You will be healed. The new thing will grow.” I sat very quietly.

We don’t know exactly for what she felt pity, but presumably with that man lying impotent on the ground, full of feminine emotion; he has the emotions she should have.

One could say that he should feel pity for her, but she anticipates him there and pities him, playing the strong role, not realizing her own weakness, trying to be on top of the situation, very bravely, if it were not an illusion.

A helpful attitude or illusion of strength has no value whatever when you don’t realize your own weakness.

But if you realize that you are afraid, that you are sentimental and doubtful and lacking in daring, yet are still hopeful and know that you must pull yourself together, then that is strength.

As long as you can project weakness into somebody else, there is absolutely no proof that you are strong.  Quite the contrary.

But it is very pleasant, I grant you, if one has a chance to project weakness.

That is why so many people like the weaknesses of their partners, they cultivate them.

Wives of alcoholics, for example, often cultivate the alcoholism of the husband in order to assert and assure their superiority.

If the man were not a perfect beast, it would be by no means sure that the woman was not a beast; therefore she prefers that he should be called a beast for she is then on top of the situation.

If by mistake such a man is cured and sent home, his wife will persuade him to drink just a little glass of wine-“it won’t injure you”-and within a week she has him down again.

Otherwise her belief in herself would be threatened; she would not be able to stand so much virtue and would get an inferiority, for it would become obvious that she was by no means a saint.

People like to die as saints.

So when you see a marvellous character, ask about the husband or the wife, for the partner is probably in a bad plight.

Let us admire all that virtue when the partner is healed; then we will look again later, for only if the saintliness survives the good condition of the partner is it a real saint well, he most probably won’t stand it.

So you see our patient is terribly strong and plays the Pieta with her poor black Messiah.

In one of her early pictures she was lying upon the knees of the Great Mother.

This time she herself is the very grand mother, holding her animus on her knees and promising that he shall be healed.

That is a dangerous situation.

From a gate in the black wall issued many phantoms.

They whirled about us. I said: “Do not disturb him, he sleeps.” They vanished. I saw before me fire springing up from the earth. The fire took the shape of a strange tree. Above it I saw my star. Then I laid the man upon the ground, I bathed his face with water. I turned and went toward the great gate in the black wall. It sprang open for me.

The animus is now in a most depotentiated condition; he is lying unconscious on the ground, and she is treating him like a very sick child.

And she is not afraid of the phantoms that whirl about them.

The next vision is called “The Ghosts,” and they are already appearing here.

But the interesting thing is that while the animus is sleeping, fire is springing up

from the earth in the form of a tree. What about that?

Mrs. Fierz: When the animus is sleeping, he is really not there any longer, he really went into the unconscious; so the unconscious has taken on life again, he has cheated her.

Dr. Jung: Exactly. She thinks she has her animus with her in her pocket, even when he goes to sleep she thinks she has him, but he slips away and animates the unconscious, and then up comes the fire.

But the fire takes the shape of a tree.

What is your impression of that, in comparison with the general feeling you received from the vision before?

Miss Hannah: That the energy has gone into the non-ego life.

Dr. Jung: But I want to know what impression you get from the leaping flames in comparison with your impression of the other symbols in this series.

Mrs. Fierz: Relief.

Dr. Jung: Yes, I must say those symbols were hellishly uninteresting.

When that fire leaps up, one thanks heaven that something fairly decent is happening.

Flames that take the form of a tree seems to be a genuine symbol, while there was no certainty that the others had not been tampered with, they were boring and there was something treacherous about them.

But this symbolism is downright and clear.

Now what is that fire in the form of a tree? And the star above, mind you.

Mrs. Briner: It is a living and dangerous emotion, and before she was not in touch with life.

Dr. Jung: Well, that is about true.

This vision consists of three elements: the leaping flames, the tree shape, and the star.

Flames are either destructive or they give warmth and light, so it is clearly an emotional

manifestation, which would be manipura.

Then the next thing is the tree with branches, and that treelike expansion, which is quite the contrary of fire, would be anahata.

Fire consumes wood, but here the wood is living and growing; therefore spiritual development is symbolized by the plant or the tree, the yoga tree for example, or the reversed tree whose roots are in heaven.

And the fruit of this tree is neither organic nor spiritual life, and it is also not fire; it is the light of the star, the remote light far beyond the earth, the immutable eternal light which gives no warmth; it is beyond life, a remote, unchangeable, unattainable existence, therefore the symbol of the state of a human soul after death.

Also, it symbolizes the jewel that is difficult to attain, the eternal substance in man, the center of the mandala; it is the cosmic aspect of existence, and it is the symbol of the essence of individuation.

So this is the whole way of the Kundalini in a nutshell: the fire below, the tree above, and on top the result, the single eye, ajna.

Remark: It reminds one of the vision of Moses when he saw God in the burning bush.

Dr. Jung: But that is not so clear a succession.

You have often seen this symbolism, it is universal.

You yourself may have drawn flames, and out of the flames the branching tree that carries the light on top.

Dr. Strong: It is the Christmas tree.

Dr.: Jung: Of course; and there is usually a star on top which symbolizes the birth of the great individual, the mediator, like the star over the birthplace in Bethlehem.

Here in a flash, then, she sees the whole Kundalini phenomenon. Now for what purpose is that?

Mrs. Crowley: To bring back consciousness again.

Dr.: Jung: Well, the animus falls asleep, slips out into the unconscious, and brings up that true vision which should give back to her the realization she once possessed.

That would be particularly important for her just now.

You see, she is identifying with the Self, she is the Great Motherthe great-grandmother, and holds her animus on her lap.

She is behaving exactly like the mother goddess she painted.

It is obviously an inflation, she feels as if she were the great individual.

And if one feels that, one is a missionary; then one knows the dope about everything and has to hand it out to the world.

That is this woman’s conscious attitude, but now the animus brings up this picture which is eternally true; she could see in one glance that this was a process in itself, that she is not it, and she could thus step out of her inflation.

We shall see if that happens.

She laid the man on the ground, she bathed his face with water, and she then turned away and approached the great gate in the black wall.

And beyond the wall, we find in the next vision, she enters a cavern where the ghosts live.

She is surely in a very enterprising mood, very courageous, so we are by no means sure that she has recovered from her inflation; we really could not expect that, but we shall probably see that the inflation is competing with another power.

That will be the content, then, of the next vision. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 1245-1259


Tanith: Tanit, Carthaginian Great Goddess, queen of the stars and, later, the divine consort of Baal. The Larousse World Mythology (New York, 1981) calls attention to Tanith’s African origin rather than her connection with Greek or Syrian goddesses ( p. 85).