1 March 1933 Visions Seminar Lecture V
We spoke of the hermaphrodite last time, and I have brought material today which will give you an idea of the part this figure played in alchemy in the Middle Ages.
Alchemistic philosophy was a sort of psychology of the unconscious, one could say, an attempt at understanding the unconscious processes.
In those days the occupation with such subjects was pretty dangerous because it was contrary to the teaching of the church.
One might find oneself in a rather grave situation if one dealt with those abstruse and occult things, one risked being called a heretic, and heresy could be punished by fire.
The church was not particularly lenient in such matters, and so it came about that any attempt to understand those peculiar phenomena had to express itself in a form that was dark and not easily understood by the ordinary people.
Therefore the alchemists chose the most extraordinary language, they used strange
chemical and astrological symbolism.
The subject itself was dark enough but it was made still darker through fear of persecution by the church.
I must say, however, that the more I have tried to understand their peculiar terminology, the more I have got the impression that, despite their fear, they expressed themselves less darkly than one would expect.
The tendency to conceal their attempt was not so great as their desperate efforts to seize and to express the discoveries they made.
I have here a copy, belonging to Dr. Reichstein, of a medieval work of alchemistic philosophy, called The Evolution of the Soul.
In this series of pictures you will see how the symbol of the hermaphrodite originated in the idea of the union of opposites.
That is indicated in the little picture of a lion and a wolf vomiting a liquid into the alchemistic furnace, where the opposing elements are boiled or melted together.
Out of the mixture is born a symbolic being that appears in two forms, a man and a woman; then they also are melted together, thus making the hermaphrodite, which is often represented with both male and female heads.
It is a complete demonstration of the attempt at the union of opposites-a very well known theme to us.
This process of melting male and female together is also demonstrated in another work which I have here, and in a third book which I owe to the kindness of Mr. Allemann.
Another strange field of occult experience in which the hermaphrodite appears is the Tarot.
That is a set of playing cards, such as were originally used by the gypsies.
There are Spanish specimens, if I remember rightly, as old as the fifteenth century.
These cards are really the origin of our pack of cards, in which the red and the black symbolize the opposites, and the division by four-clubs, spades, diamonds, and hearts-also belongs to the individuation symbolism.
They are psychological images, symbols with which one plays, as the unconscious seems
to play with its contents.
They combine in certain ways, and the different combinations correspond to the playful development of events in the life of mankind.
One could really say that the movement of images in the unconscious coincided with the movement of events in the history of mankind.
The original cards of the Tarot consist of the ordinary cards, the king, the queen, the knight, the ace, etc.,-only the figures are somewhat different-and besides, there are twenty-one cards upon which are symbols, or pictures of symbolical situations.
For example, the symbol of the sun, or the symbol of the man hung up by the feet, or the tower struck by lightning, or the wheel of fortune, and so on.
Those are sort of archetypal ideas, of a differentiated nature, which mingle with
the ordinary constituents of the unconscious.
The Tarot in itself is an attempt at representing the constituents of the flow of the unconscious, and therefore it is applicable for an intuitive method that has the purpose
of understanding the flow of life, possibly even predicting future events, at all events lending itself to the reading of the conditions of the present moment.
It is in that way analogous to the I Ching, the Chinese divination method that allows at least a reading of the present conditions.
You see, man always felt the need of finding an access through the unconscious to the meaning of an actual condition, because there is a sort of correspondence or a likeness between the prevailing condition and the condition of the collective unconscious.
Now in the Tarot there is a hermaphroditic figure called the diable.
That would be in alchemy the gold.
In other words, such an attempt as the union of opposites appears to the Christian mentality as devilish, something evil which is not allowed, something belonging to black
I also brought you some contributions to the history of the hermaphrodite.
The Middle Ages did not originate that conception, it came from antiquity where they already knew of Hermaphroditus.
In the later legends he [Hermaphroditus] was the son of Hermes and Aphrodite, as I told you, and that is the form in which the Middle Ages found this concept; the earlier history of Hermaphroditus was not known to them.
Therefore whenever you encounter that figure of the hermaphrodite in the Middle Ages, it is always a union of Hermes or Mercury and Venus, which can also be expressed in alchemy by the corresponding metals.
Each god or each planet was represented by his own particular metal; for instance, Saturn was lead, Mercury was mercury or quicksilver, Venus was copper, and so on.
So the union of Mercury and Venus in alchemy was the union of those metals, and the making of the gold was a philosophical attempt we would now say a psychological attempt-to produce the valuable thing, the jewel, by mixing the opposites, or mixing the gods, under certain conditions.
Through archaeological discoveries, we now know a bit more about the ancient history of the hermaphrodite; we know that this cult came from the Near East, from Asia Minor and adjoining countries.
The earliest traces were found in Cyprus where there is evidence of a cult of a masculine Aphrodite; there are images of a woman with a beard.
This particular deity was called Aphroditos, and sacrifices were performed where the men had to appear in female garments and the women in male garments.
A similar cult existed in Argos in Greece, and the ceremony there was called hybristica, which comes from the Greek word hybris.
We know it in colloquial English as hybrid-the result of the mixture of two different species.
This Aphroditos of Cyprus is identical with the later Hermaphroditus.
The original name is not explained like the later legend, but is derived from the herm of Aphroditos; that particular form of stele, the pillar with the head on top, is supposed to have given the name to this peculiar god.
Only in later legends, as I said, was the hermaphrodite explained as being the son of Hermes and Aphrodite.
It is probable that in the fifth century B.C. the cult of Aphroditos was introduced into Athens with ceremonies similar to those observed in Cyprus, but it was never of any particular importance.
Later on it ceased to be a public ceremony and became a sort of domestic cult in private houses.
Then one Hermaphroditus was no longer spoken of, but Hermaphroditi, the plural; there must have been a multitude of Hermaphroditi, just as there were always a certain number of cabiri; there was never one cabirus apparently, there were always many.
And with that the cult became more or less obscure; it seems to have been a very occult affair, probably something like medieval alchemy.
The idea of the archaeologists is that the double nature of Hermaphroditus should-one cannot say symbolize, that would be the wrong use of the word, but allegorize-a luxuriant nature, luxuriant vegetation; therefore those gods were represented in androgynous form.
But it is surely nonsense to assume that Hermaphroditus would symbolize an especially fertile nature or luxuriant vegetation, because a hermaphrodite is a particularly sterile being.
It is a sort of curse for a human being to be hermaphroditic,. such people are really in a very disagreeable condition.
That was, of course, known then, just as it is known amongst ordinary people today; therefore we have a vulgar name for them.
And the people of those early days knew that such a deficiency was by no means a sign of particular fertility, just the contrary.
It was to them a psychological qualification, it was really the unconscious intuition of a
peculiar condition which was neither male nor female as an attribute of the divine.
The hermaphroditic symbol expressed the fact that this contained both the male and the female, which means that sexuality was felt to be not merely the attraction between the sexes, but a force containing a deity that was male as well as female.
The Eros figure has often been represented as a hermaphrodite.
Also Priapus, who was the god of absolutely unadulterated sexuality; he was the god of the fields and always represented in phallic form.
You can still see his characteristic figure in Egypt as a sort of guardian of the crops,
the fellahs are still producing those images.
I went out to a temple of the war god, near Luxor, which had just been excavated, passing through country where few tourists had been, and there I came upon that remarkable figure, a scarecrow with an enormous phallus.
The same thing existed in old Latin countries, where Priapus was also a god of the
It was always carved out of the wood of the fig tree-the fig was supposed to be very fertile on account of the many seeds-and it was represented with a huge phallus.
It designated the borderline of the fields; instead of putting a stone there as we do, they put a figure of Priapus.
There is a poem by Horatius with an exceedingly funny description of such a Priapus carved from the wood of the fig tree.
Now even that unmistakably phallic god is represented at times in hermaphroditic
form, meaning the intuitive awareness of the fact that in sexuality there is an unconscious element of both the male and the female.
If you have studied the psychology of sexuality, you know that there are really male and female characteristics, which might develop into all sorts of perversities.
Miss de Witt: Is St. Kummernis in Catholic theology, the saint with a beard, a last vestige of this?
Dr. Jung: Where is that saint?
Miss de Witt: I have seen images of her in Bavaria and I have seen them in books.
Dr. Jung: That is extraordinary. I never heard of her. But it is quite possible.
For instance, among the church saints is St. Phalle, who is worshipped in a chapel on the French Riviera; he is simply the old Priapus taken over into the Catholic church.
So such an old androgynous god might also have been smuggled into the church.
Miss de Witt: Then there was the Platonic idea of the two parts of the globe.
Dr. Jung: Exactly. But that idea is not mythological, it is more a sort of ideology.
I don’t know where Plato found it, I think it was perhaps a philosophical intuition.
It is, as you know, the idea of a primordial being that was entirely round, a globe.
The globe was thought to be the most perfect form, so it is simply a symbol, showing that the idea of man originally, the eidos or the eidolon of man, was the most perfect form.
Then God cut this globe into two parts, so there was a female and a male side who were forever seeking each other; and that is Eros, they try to come together again in order to produce the perfect being.
This is like the idea of the development of the soul in the alchemical book which I
just showed you.
That philosophy is based upon the same unconscious intuition that in sexuality there is this divine being that is perfect, all round, male as well as female.
Then there is another myth, also of Asiatic origin as far as I can make out, which is not mentioned among those hermaphroditic traditions.
Agdistis was a hermaphrodite who owed his existence to the fact that once Zeus in his sleep lost his semen; it fell into the earth, and the earth brought forth Agdistis, but the gods did not like that fellow so they chained him and castrated him.
You see, it is again the union of a pair of opposites.
Zeus is the god of the blue sky, and the sky and the earth, or spirit and matter, are united in the hermaphrodite, the son.
It is like the old Negro myth that heaven is a man and earth a woman: for eternities, they were lying upon each other in a calabash and nothing happened.
Then once, in a perfectly unaccountable moment, they felt pushed apart so that the calabash opened, and they found a child in between them, a son.
It was the original man who pushed them apart, and the father above became the sky, and the mother below became the earth.
And the son was supposed to be a hermaphrodite.
So Plato’s philosophic idea was really the result, or later philosophic product, of a most primitive notion that man belonged to both sexes.
According to my theory, that myth came from a time when the unconsciousness of man was so impenetrable that he could not make a difference between himself and his wife.
This condition is still prevailing to a certain extent psychologically, the participation mystique is so marked that the church teaching speaks of one heart and one soul, which would not make a particular impression if it were not true.
In certain marriages there really is such an identity that the husband and wife assume that they have the same psychology; they naively project their own, and assume that what pleases one pleases the other-and damn you if it does not.
So this original idea of a perfect being is still existing in the assumption that marriage is necessarily the ideal condition, that it makes the perfect man.
Therefore all the old novels came to an end when the hero and heroine found each other; the perfect condition was reached, paradise had begun and time had ceased to be.
Again the old myth of the perfect being.
The idea started in a time when people were completely unconscious and were identical with whatever they touched particularly the women.
Miss de Witt: One of Shakespeare’s witches has a beard.
Dr. Jung: Oh yes, witches often have such attributes-one toe, one thumb, one tooth.
The idea of the beard probably comes from the fact that in ordinary biological life, old women often develop masculine traits, even beards.
I saw a lady in Spain who had a real beard marvellous, a grey forest.
Everybody was admiring her, because there is the idea in Spain that such a growth of hair on the face of an old lady denotes that she is of noble birth, so they are very careful not to shave.
But they are just like old monkeys.
That old woman was carrying her beard most proudly along the Rambla, the street in Barcelona where thousands of people promenade from five to seven every evening.
We would think that she should hide herself in a sanatorium.
Now here is a question by Mr. Baumann: “You mentioned in the last seminar that by an aesthetic attitude towards one’s own visions, one gets detached from their contents, and that therefore one is little influenced by the single vision, only later by their great number.
My question is now: If a long series of visions is based on the aesthetic attitude, is not the significance of the single vision only an ‘aesthetic’ one? If a vision has partly such a significance, has it its full value for a psychological study?”
I asked myself that question, whether it is worthwhile to go into all the detail when a vision or a dream does not express as much as one would wish.
Superficial visions are rather boring, as in practical analysis the ordinary every-night dreams often get boring, because they are of a very superficial nature.
Most of our small dreams are very slight in quality, really more or less futile.
But sometimes it is the only thing we get, and if we don’t know the way through them we never get to the big ones.
The small dreams are, as a matter of fact, more easily understood than the
big dreams, which are exceedingly difficult to understand.
Our daily bread in practical analysis consists of such rather futile matter, but from
a practical point of view this material has great advantages.
It shows one and the same thought in a thousand different aspects, till it finally
comes out in a very clear way.
While if all this matter were concentrated into a series of five visions, say, we could hardly make head or tail of it; it would be too deep, too complicated, too remote.
The advantage of the surface character of these visions is that the same thought is developed in any number of pictures, and that allows us to see all sides of these
For each time the same thought, relatively, is presented under a new aspect, so we discover new symbolism, which we would have no chance to do if a series of visions, say twelve, were concentrated into one. Therefore I prefer this material, just for the sake of demonstration.
You would find such a condensed vision exceedingly difficult to understand.
That is illustrated in this book which Mr. Allemann brought.
Those pictures are very difficult, I have analyzed about nineteen of them, but they are tremendously concentrated.
For instance, the title “A dragon that bites its tail” can mean God knows what, but if you have a series of superficial visions about the same thing, you can see pretty well what it means.
Our discussion of the aesthetic attitude seems to have aroused all sorts of difficulties in understanding.
Here is a question by Mrs. Baynes: “Are the visions themselves necessarily superficial because a patient’s attitude to them has been an aesthetic one?”
Well, one can see that a thing is important, but if one sees that superficially, one would naturally not present it-when talking about it later on-in a way that conveyed its whole importance, or any sense that one had really experienced it.
For instance, suppose you are watching the Holy Mass.
You glance at it and see that people are walking about with little bells, swinging smoke out of a censer and kneeling and standing, and muttering prayers, and you don’t know what it is all about.
Yet the account you give contains enough detail for one who knows to recognize a particular part in the performance of the Mass; but only one who knows already can conclude from such a report what you have seen.
So, as I said, the aesthetic attitude provides a certain perception, but the
necessary realization is lacking because it is not really experienced; it has entered through the eyes, it causes a certain vision in the occipital region of the brain, and the feeling tones are added, as well as the color or other aesthetic details, you can perhaps make a work of art of it if you happen to be an artist.
But that does not mean that you have realized the thing au fond, that you have really penetrated its meaning; it all remains on the surface.
When I speak of a superficial vision, that has nothing to do with the object of the vision, it is the way in which one has perceived the thing.
The aesthetic attitude never allows one to penetrate much below the surface, therefore it never becomes one’s own experience; it is simply seen, it reaches one only in the aesthetic sphere, it does not reach one as a human being.
That is the reason why so many people use the aesthetic attitude-just to make life supportable.
Nietzsche once said that the world was merely an aesthetic problem, and that was because, if he had not assumed such an attitude, he would have suffered so much from his world that the problem would have become insupportable.
So he covered up the abyss, he was quite satisfied apparently with the polished surface of things.
Now our patient sees the great thing again and again.
Take any vision and you will always find that she sees a great thing, and she never tires in characterizing it.
Nevertheless, if you study the vision itself without my commentary, you don’t get much.
If I should read you a couple of these visions right through like a chapter from a book, and then ask what you had heard, I am sure that you would have heard words, seen images, but almost no meaning would have been conveyed.
Did you notice, for instance, the archetypal image of the hermaphrodite when I read about it?
“It had the head of a woman-the hands of a man reaching up. The
lower part was a formless mass of gold.” That is much too brief.
It shows that she does not realize it, she never even stops to be astonished.
And in that dream of the white bull which I mentioned, the dreamer was perfectly
satisfied with the fact that it was a beautiful white bull on a pedestal, without asking herself what it meant when her god was in the form of a bull.
If I should dream of a divine being raised on a platform and worshipped like the sun-whether the animal was a lion, or a crab, or an amoeba-I surely would ask myself what that meant to me, why I should see such a thing.
But the artist is hurt when one asks what his picture means.
For instance, take that bright-colored embroidered picture at the end of the room.
One sees that it is a modern fantasy, full of stars and lights and warm yellow and red colors-quite nice-and then passes it by without the faintest notion of what it really means.
That is the superficial vision.
But that thing has contents, it points to a tremendous background; if you look at it long enough and try to analyze it, you reach certain conclusions, you get something from it.
But everybody is indulgent to artists, knowing that they wish to impress them with color and lights and so on, and we gladly echo that opinion because we don’t want
to see the disagreeable background.
We want to be cheap, to glide over the surface. But then nothing has happened at all.
So in reading these visions, one simply glides along without anything happening, one cannot keep the symbolism in mind.
I have the greatest trouble to keep it in mind, no sooner have I read it than it is gone.
If I read it the morning of the seminar, by the time I get here it has all vanished.
It gets associated with the unconscious and is pulled down, and we don’t want to look
down there; so we always make things as cheap as possible, and for that purpose the aesthetic attitude is most useful.
A vision which could not be called superficial would be one in which the whole experience is expressed, a picture that arrests you so that you cannot fail to see that there is meaning in it.
Of course it may not be aesthetic.
The chakras are aesthetic, for instance, one cannot deny that they are even decorative, but quite apart from that, the symbolism arrests your attention immediately.
You are unable to just glide over it and dismiss it.
You feel that understanding it aesthetically is not enough, enormous trouble has been taken to put certain things into relief, it contains something that wants to speak to you, everything seems to be behind it. It has perhaps a pleasant surface, but behind that it has a profound meaning, and you must pay attention and dig into it.
It says: “I give you the keys to locked doors.”
Those many little forms should be keys which do not cheat you and carry you off to a transitory pleasure, they want to convey a meaning.
Look at that gazelle, for instance, and the little flame, and the gods, and the letters.
But I would not call that art, it is language, it is philosophy.
I quite recognize that the aesthetic attitude is necessary for art, but this is a vision; it is not art, it is symbolism.
Mrs. Sawyer: I should think that these visions must have had some effect on the patient because even though there are so many, the situation does change and develop; even if she does not realize them, they must have an effect.
Dr. Jung: You are mistaken if you assume my idea to be that she is not influenced. She is impressed, now more than in the beginning.
She has reached the mandala symbolism, she is locked into what we might call the mandala psychology; that is, she is confronted with the unconscious, she is within the magic circle, and it has of course an effect.
That cannot be denied, but it does not do away with the general superficial character,
which I think is obvious to anybody.
Mrs. Crowley: But I could not agree that that did not have aesthetic value. Do you mean that both are necessary, only one should not be dominated by the other?-because surely the aesthetic is necessary.
Without an aesthetic sense these symbols are perfectly awful; you would not look at them.
Dr. Jung: Naturally it is far pleasanter when a thing which holds meaning also has an agreeable form.
Mrs. Crowley: Of course, we don’t want to go into the original idea of art, but was art not built up originally out of such symbolical values?
Dr. Jung: Art surely has a tendency to present a thing in an aesthetic way, not laying stress upon the meaning, while thinking lays more stress upon the meaning than on the aesthetic value.
But both contain both in a way.
Mrs. Crowley: Otherwise why are we so struck by some of those ancient symbols? We would not be so struck if they did not contain the two. They have grown out of the attempt to express the idea, but they have basically an aesthetic value.
Dr. Jung: Certain people will be more struck by the aesthetic value though not all symbols are aesthetic, there are very ugly ones-and others will be struck by the symbolism.
In the alchemistic symbolism the aesthetic side is not particularly evident, yet people are sometimes tremendously struck by the grotesqueness, and the possibilities in the
meaning of such symbolism.
But the great symbolism of the Christian church and of Buddhism, for instance, is always beautiful.
Mrs. Crowley: That is what I think, that one should have a dual sense eventually.
Dr. Jung: Yes, this idea corresponds to the fact that man should not beartist or scientist only, but should have both sides.
So the thinker should try to present his thoughts in an agreeable form, and the artist should consent to have a certain meaning in what he is painting, and not consider
it a terrible offense if he is asked for it.
Mr. Baumann: I think this superficial repetition can have a certain importance. In olden times only a few people fully realized the meaning of the rites, the crowd did not. The aesthetic part makes it more impressive. For instance, take modern writers. They try to avoid the aesthetic, but that does not impress us any longer; they try to say things esoterically in the most foolish and naked way, but today it does not mean anything
Mrs. Crowley: Would that not mean that it is not speaking to the unconscious, only to the conscious? So of course it will not impress one because it does not create a corresponding reaction.
Dr: Jung: Well, according to my ideas, these visions are not what one would call beautiful, I don’t know how you feel about them.
The meaning behind them is beautiful or may be expressed in a beautiful way, but
the visions themselves, as they stand, I would not call artistic; they are like telegrams from one art dealer to another, they are pictures that convey but do not contain the mood.
Mrs. Crowley: You have injected that into them.
Dr: Jung: One must, in order to give them a certain body.
To me it was the body that was lacking.
Mrs. Schlegel: Do they not express the aesthetic attitude of the intellectual? To an intuitive it would be different. She might express certain different values if her attitude were not intellectual.
Dr: Jung: I think that is perfectly true.
These visions are just clear-cut statements about certain facts, there is no feeling in them, no fringe around them, there is just the object with no reaction to it.
It is like a report done in a most detached way about something that has happened.
I remember a detective story in which the police report was made by a writer who had a romantic notion of being a private detective, so he wrote reports to Scotland Yard in a literary style.
The effect was the funniest thing you can imagine.
He described the feelings he and the other people had about a situation-just the opposite of our visions.
But one misses the human word here, she doesn’t even express astonishment.
Or if anything of the kind appears it is only a sort of intellectual statement.
Miss de Witt: In Shakespeare this tendency is very marked. He drops the aesthetic side in his sonnets, and condenses his subject so much that you have to read it four or five times before you know what he means.
Dr: Jung: Therefore they are so dry.
Perhaps I have not understood them, but they bored me to tears.
Mr. Baumann: Is it just the familiarization with the rites which impresses people?
Dr. Jung: That and the repetition.
Many rituals are characterized by repetition because it has an effect; certain mantras, certain hypnotizing formulas, or certain actions, are repeated again and again.
That idea is suggested in this vision.
Our patient goes on to say: “About it (the idol) knelt a circle of people swaying from side to side.”
This has a peculiar suggestive effect; in this movement, which causes a sort of abaissement du niveau mental, certain suggestions are more apt to sink in.
So the use we make of these visions may have the effect that their contents sink into us.
In each vision we find more or less the same thing, but it is always seen from a new side, and so we have a new chance to realize the fundamental vision or idea.
Surely the extraordinary fertility of visions in this case serves the purpose of forcing their meaning upon this woman, it helps them to penetrate.
But it would have been unnecessary to give so much time to the commentary if they had really penetrated her to the extent that one would like.
They sink into us more because we give them more time, we ponder over them.
This vision is dated November 23rd, and then comes another on the 24th, and so on, they simply pour on, and one cannot see in the new vision that much has happened in between, for it usually returns to the point where we left off in the vision before,
Now before we continue, I should mention a modern contribution to the hermaphrodite symbolism in Meyrink’s Golem; there is an interesting chapter about the hermaphrodite, as a result of Meyrink’s occult studies, in which he was very much involved.
Naturally he came upon the medieval symbol of the hermaphrodite, and in that story it plays a typical alchemistic role.
And I should mention that the mass of gold which forms the lower part or the basis of the hermaphroditic figure is not without meaning, for the hermaphrodite figures in the art of making the gold.
It symbolizes a certain stage of the secret work of alchemy, the attempt to produce the valuable substance.
Expressed in psychological terms the precious substance would be what we call a reconciling symbol, the pearl, the jewel, the child, etc.
The hermaphrodite is only on the way to that precious substance, it is the stage where the pair of opposites, first represented as animals, are united in a human form, which means that the opposites of our own nature have come together within us in a human form, so that the male and the female are together.
This is an important symbol in the Christian tradition also.
Of course, it is not canonical, but it was in the Evangel of the Egyptians which still
existed and was seen by Origen, the old Greek father.
In that Evangel is a conversation between Christ and a certain woman called Salome of
whom we know nothing-she is not the daughter of Herod.
She asks him when the things she was asking about would come true.
And he says: “When ye tread underfoot the husks of shame. When the two become one, and the male with the female. Neither male nor female.”
It is the same symbolism you see, meaning a condition above or beyond the mere sex condition.
Then the millenium, the Kingdom of Heaven, the perfect all-round condition, the most precious form of existence, the gold state, will be fulfilled.
Above, it appears like a hermaphrodite, and below it is gold, and the gold comes afterwards, it is as if it were growing out of the earth, like the Agdistis myth-out comes the hermaphrodite and the gold follows.
So we can say that the hermaphrodite is usually the symbol that precedes individuation, that precedes the creation of the valuable center, or the precious diamond.
Therefore it is still not a satisfactory state, as you see from the alchemistic pictures; that
figure with the two heads is too monstrous, there is no absolute liberation from the pair of opposites.
The reconciling symbol should be something entirely new and detached, and the opposites should be overcome; otherwise it is not a reconciling symbol.
The hermaphrodite shows that man is still torn asunder, he is only on the way to completion, all-roundness.
So in Meyrink’s Golem, the gate to the magic house, or to the land of the hereafter, consists of a representation of Osiris in the form of a hermaphrodite, and one of the two halves of the gate is male and the other is female.
One must first pass through that gate, the stage of the hermaphrodite, to reach the perfect condition.
This thought is behind those few words in the vision.
And now what is the meaning of this hermaphrodite psychologically?
One is never quite satisfied, one has the feeling of being stuck in some symbolism, and it is tempting to remain there, but we must try to bring things down to actual experience.
Do you know what that hermaphroditic experience might be like practically?
Mrs. Sigg: It might be rather a disagreeable stage, so she could draw comfort from the fact that it is a phase only, that it will not last. Otherwise she might have a feeling that she is neither fish nor bird.
Dr. Jung: No, the trouble is that at that stage one is fisch und vogel, one is under the influence of the two.
What condition would that be?
Mr. Allemann: It would be when the war of the opposites goes from them into herself, without her being above it.
Dr. Jung: Exactly. You see, we usually experience the pairs of opposites outside of ourselves.
We hold a certain position, we are right, and the other one is all wrong.
Then after a while we become aware, perhaps through dreams or certain wise words instilled by the analyst, that just possibly the opponent is a symbol for oneself, say one’s own shadow, and that one is so particularly opposed to him because one is so very much like him.
Like the French and German psychology.
They are hostile brothers, very much alike only the one says a thing in French and the
other says the same thing in German.
So when one becomes aware of the fact that one is really one’s own worst enemy and contains just what one is fighting outside, that one has that in oneself, that one is both
the one thing and the other, then finally one must recognize that the last thing one fights if one is a man is a woman, and the last thing a woman fights is a man.
The supreme recognition is that a man is also a woman, and a woman is also a man.
And then one is in a mess, for what can one do?
There is no one to combat any longer, one can only fight with oneself, which is not very interesting.
Then what would be the next symbol after the hermaphroditic condition?
It would not express itself in alchemistic philosophy, which did not incline towards Christianity.
One is simply checked, you see, and one either shuts up or screws oneself up into a
particularly exalted position where one asserts oneself as one thing and somebody else as another.
But that is a sort of ekstasis, an abnormal state, because one really knows that one also contains the opposite.
So what follows after?
Mrs. Schlegel: The cross.
Dr. Jung: Yes. And in the crucifixion symbolism, one becomes aware of something else.
Miss Wolff The two criminals beside Christ?
Dr. Jung: They are very much oneself.
Miss Wolff That is what I mean.
Dr. Jung: No, a new stage follows.
You see this is all leading up to the millennium, to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Mrs. Crowley: That would be the ajna state.
Dr. Jung: No, something far more cruel. Mrs. Sawyer: You mean the hell and resurrection of the Christian symbolism?
Dr. Jung: Hell and resurrection belong to it.
Dr. Reichstein: In the alchemistic symbolism it would be the utter darkness.
Mrs. Fierz: Putrefaction.
Dr. Jung: It is not in the alchemistic symbolism because the crucifixion is lacking there.
The only thing I can find there is that afterwards the lion eats the sun.
That is the darkness, the black substance; the sun sets and darkness follows, death, putrefaction.
Mr. Baumann: It means that god leaves man. “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Dr. Jung: Yes, it is the moment when the god leaves Christ.
According to the old idea, Christ had only a sort of apparent body, and the god had already left his body in the garden, but according to the Docetic tradition the god left him on the cross; therefore he cried: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani. ”
You see, the crucifixion symbol is not only the division into a pair of opposites, say right and left, indicated by the two criminals; it is also above and below.
That means the four, and that is the cross; there is the mandala symbolism.
The four is symbolized by the four streams that
flow out of the Garden of Eden.
Or the four gates-or the multiple of four-of the heavenly Jerusalem, which is built upon the plan of four, like the city of Brahman upon the mountain of Meru.
So that would be the real situation, and the hermaphrodite is a stage that leads up to that suspended condition. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 922-936