14 June 1933 Visions Seminar LECTURE VII
Here is a question by Miss Hannah: “You said last time that it was very questionable if there was any movement for the better in the world.
What did you mean by better?
I had thought that every platonic year the consciousness gained might be a little beyond the point reached by the era before.
A spiral seems to make more sense than an endlessly repeated circle.
Or does time lose its significance altogether in higher consciousness, so making the circle idea bearable?”
The first question is difficult to answer definitely as you can appreciate.
That was a more or less temperamental remark-that it was rather questionable whether things would be better and better in every way.
For what does one mean by “better”?
If one calls it better when consciousness widens out and civilization increases, then I say we are moving towards an improved state of things, for it is very probable that civilization does increase, with certain relapses from time to time.
There have been cycles when things fell back into relative chaos, but then they picked up again.
As a whole, if one compares the year 10,000 B.C. with the year 2000 A.D. one must say that there is a difference; things seem to be less primitive than they were then.
And if one could compare, say, the year 5000 with the year 150,000 B.C. in central Europe, one would again mark a quite noticeable difference.
So in that sense one could say things have become better.
But in another sense that is most questionable.
I don’t know whether our life is happier than the life of the primitive man, or whether life today is better than life in the Middle Ages.
In looking back into the Middle Ages there is always a sort of foreshortening; war follows war, kings and feudal lords fighting each other, one form of destruction after another, epidemics, revolutions, so it looks as if the whole of the Middle Ages had been a very chaotic hell.
But one entirely forgets that those wars were very small affairs; perhaps five thousand
men were beating up five thousand other men, and then they went home again.
They made war only in summer, in winter people stayed at home; also, it was only in certain parts, in other parts there was an idyllic peace, and people had no idea that there was a war anywhere.
You remember that famous verse in Faust about how nice it is on Sundays to see the ships on the river, and to hear the talk about war in faraway Turkey, as a sort of thrill.
They had in those days what they called a gazette, a very small news-sheet.
(The word gazette was taken from a small Venetian coin, the gazzetta.)
In the German sense it was the Zeitung, which means literally timing, or the news of the time, what time brings; the English “Times” is an equivalent.
In the eighteenth century, both the London Gazette and the Westminster Gazette were such very small sheets.
In that way people heard about a war that had taken place somewhere, the number killed and so on, and it was nice to hear about when it was so remote and did not concern them in the least; it added a certain finish to a good story on a Sunday.
It is quite different now, however; when one hears of shooting somewhere, one knows the next minute it may be right at one’s door because the world has been thrown into a general conflagration.
With our newspapers, the world is by no means as agreeable as before.
Of course when one was right in the center of the fray in those days, it was rather hellish, but I don’t know whether a bomb from the air is less so, or if a cloud of
poison gas is particularly pleasant.
With all our civilization, we are generally in a less peaceful atmosphere.
It is as if our sensitivity had increased by several hundred degrees, as if our whole nervous system were attached to the system of telegraph and telephone wires in the world, so that we jump when something happens in South Africa.
Formerly we jumped when something fell down in our room, but now we jump when a pistol goes off five thousand miles away.
So in those respects it is quite doubtful whether things have become better.
But if one takes the increase of civilization, the widening out of consciousness, for the real goal of mankind, if one says it is bad when things are unconscious and better when they become conscious, then things have become better, and it is a spiral, as far as we can judge of humanity.
But don’t forget that we have very limited knowledge, we don’t know whether these three months of the platonic year are not a mere episode.
Taurus, Aries, and the Fishes are the three spring months, and we don’t know what will happen in two signs from now, in about 2300 years, when we reach the equivalent of the winter solstice, the turning point.
Whether that whole episode of the widening out of consciousness will not be something quite different, whether it will not then be an involution of consciousness, we simply do not know.
This problem is linked up with our attitude to human things in general, namely, the question whether we have to think of the earthly life that we know empirically as the only life possible, or whether there is another form of existence, whether the goal of all things living is fulfilled by their existence here, or whether this is merely a means to an end.
All the great religions are convinced that life cannot be explained by itself, and many philosophers have had the same idea.
Even rather primitive religions contain the belief that life as we know it is not the real thing, but only a means of reaching a blissful condition in the eternal hunting ground, a sort of preparation for the life of duration.
There are also primitive beliefs, however, which hold that the only decent and interesting and happy life is on this earth and that Hades is a very gloomy place, not enjoyable at all.
But it is a fact that every great religion considers life as something which cannot be explained by itself; it is always looked at from an extra-mundane point of view and understood to be a means to an end.
You see, it makes all the difference in the world from which standpoint we judge.
Naturally, our rationalistic modern point of view is to take life for what it seems to be, and therefore we all dream of improving social conditions, educating people, making things better as we understand them, with the result that more and more dangerous weapons are given to people who cannot use them.
For instance, a great deal of absolutely sound naivete is destroyed by education, the means of the intellect are given to people who are not mature enough to use those dangerous instruments.
A chemist may invent most dangerous chemical bodies which are quite safe in the hands of a responsible man, but destructive if they get into the hands of irresponsible politicians.
They will begin to play with them and to dream how many people they can kill with them, and then an infernal catastrophe is created with things that are not dangerous at all if they remain in the proper hands.
So with the belief that this is the world where everything comes to its own fulfillment and that it should therefore be a paradise, a hell is created.
It would be very much better not to have such strong convictions.
Then you will acknowledge that the great religions-say Christianity, Buddhism, and Mohammedanism-all have their very great value because they teach that it does not matter so much what happens here, conditions don’t need to be improved, but man
needs a great deal of improvement, because he lives this life as a sort of preparation for another kind of life, a state of duration which is not to be found here.
Of course one cannot prove that, but it should remain at least an open question, as all things ought to remain open questions of which we are not sure.
And we are honestly not sure of anything, nothing is absolutely certain.
We are not certain whether these great religions tell us the truth, as we are not certain whether our scientific Weltanschauung is the truth.
We only know that “nothing is quite true and even that is not quite true,” as a Dutch philosopher said.
It is very healthy to think like that, it keeps all doors open for other experiences.
We began a new series of visions last time about the pit of onyx, which penetrated into the earth in the form of a cone, and at the bottom our patient beheld an old Indian woman with a Mexican image in her arms that seemed alive.
The Mexican image appeared before as an unknown Indian god, the reason for that being the patient’s background; she belongs to the American soil, so it is quite natural that her unconscious produces an American deity.
The Christian deity is a matter for her consciousness and would be carried over from that peninsula of Asia which is called Europe; mentally we are a peninsula of Asia, and therefore the main body of our religious ideas come from Asia.
But America is decidedly not Asia, and since our patient lives there, her unconscious production will not come out of the Asiatic earth, but out of the earth of America.
Therefore the image, the idol, is always made of earth, metal, wood-of some material taken from the earth one lives upon.
What does the pit of onyx mean?
Dr. Gordon: Onyx is a very hard substance which would preserve whatever was in it.
Dr. Jung: Yes, a vessel of onyx, for instance, is extremely hard and durable, it will remain the same for thousands of years, and whatever is inside will be well preserved there.
Now how do you explain this sudden apparition after the last vision?
You remember she stepped upon the old man, and so got upon the sole of her foot the mark of the cross, with the dragon twined around it, and the lion’s head above.
Mrs. Baumann: You spoke of the amphora last time in connection with those other symbols, so you might perhaps expect the vessel to appear in the next vision. The lion was trying to get into the vessel.
Dr. Jung: Exactly. The movement and the causation, or the logic of sequence in such visions, is exactly the same as in the I Ching.
For instance, after an accumulation, the tendency to dispersion increases; it is an enantiodromia.
The logic of the I Ching and the logic of events is the logic of such visions.
So if a picture suggesting duration appears, it means that a chaotic condition has prevailed before.
You see, if by intention, or even by mistake, you slip into that pit, you are caught and well protected; also it is practically indestructible so you are well preserved at the same
Now if you get into such a place by intention, you are obviously avoiding a danger, a situation in which you would have been torn to pieces perhaps.
Miss Rogers: It suggests the crater of a volcano.
Dr. Jung: But nothing is said of a fire here, so it seems to be something artificial, a thing one would not encounter in nature, it is a vessel quite simply.
The interesting point here is the contrast with the situation that went before, the chaotic condition against which it would be well to have safe walls around one.
She was in danger of being dismembered because that situation was under the sign of the lion, a devourer; the lion is the domicilium solis, the sign of the greatest heat of the year.
And under that devouring sign the best protection would be to hide underground in a pit of onyx, where she would be absolutely safe.
But also caught. What does that mean?
You see onyx is a semiprecious stone, it is not merely a place in the ground.
Mrs. Schlegel: It is a form.
Dr. Jung: Yes, therefore I spoke of a vessel.
The antique amphoras have that conical shape because they were made to be put into the sand as a support, as you can still see in Pompeii; and onyx has a beautiful polish
which is not mentioned here.
So it is the idea of form in contrast to the idea of chaos.
Against the wild lion, a sort of absolutely heedless emanation, a form is needed in which she can be held and protected.
Then at the bottom of that form she discovers the old Indian woman with the Mexican image, which has the value of an ancestral figure.
An old Indian squaw means here the essence of the American character, the thing most adapted to the peculiarity of the American soil.
And that figure holds the idol which seems to be alive. What about that?
An idol is usually dead.
Mr. Allemann: It is a form of an old religion which is still alive in her, to which she has to come back in order to be protected against chaos.
Dr. Jung: Exactly.
An exceedingly earthly being, an old Indian squaw, holds the germ of the spiritual life which is peculiar to that soil.
This whole thing is a symbol that shows her a certain attitude which is now needed.
She continues: “Every now and then she would hold it in a fire”
(the old woman holds the idol in the fire, that is) “and take it out unharmed.”
How do you explain this?
Question: Has it something to do with witchcraft?
Dr. Jung: Yes, you remember we have had this symbolism before.
Question: Is it to harden it?
Mrs. Sigg: To purify it?
Mr. Allemann: To give it energy?
Dr. Jung: It is to impart the nature or the magic quality of the fire.
The image is thus slowly imbued with fire, it is made strong.
As primitives make their fetish strong by sprinkling it with blood, or they fill it with energy by dancing round it.
Or they charge it up like an accumulator from another fetish.
If they use the fetish very often it grows weak, so when they hear of a particularly strong fetish somewhere else-necessarily a long way off because things at a distance are always better-they travel to it and put the weak fetish in the custody of the strong one for several weeks, side by side with it, and when they come to fetch it, it is strong again.
That is like the churinga cult in Australia.
The churinga is a flat disk of wood or stone, a soul stone, as it is sometimes called.
This is hidden in a hollow tree or in the cleft of a rock, say, where it stays for a
long time, and then, if the owner of the churinga feels rotten, if his libido has left him or his attitude is wrong, he goes to that place in the wilderness where he has hidden it, and takes his churinga upon his knees and rubs it.
By this rubbing he imparts his bad health, his libido gone wrong, to the stone, and the good medicine power that has been breathing freely into it out in nature somewhere is taken into his body; so he exchanges libido, and then he goes home and is all right.
And the rotten libido that remains in the churinga is cured again during a prolonged rest cure in the country, its natural powers are restored, so when the good medicine power taken from the stone goes bad after a while, the owner has only to go back and rub the churinga again, and the process is repeated. So he is quite safe.
Therefore I always say such primitive conditions are by no means bad.
And now that Indian woman is making the Mexican fetish strong by imparting to it the nature of fire.
Miss Hannah: Is not that Mexican image the horrible thing she refuses?
I mean, it was first the woman inside the image.
Dr. Jung: But that woman is in no connection with the Mexican image, the earth mother is not identical with this idol; the earth mother is changed here and appears as the Indian woman.
The Mexican image is something quite apart from the earth mother.
Mrs. Baynes: When we first met it, it was up in the sky and you said it belonged to the Logos principle and was in direct contrast to the earth mother.
Dr. Jung: Yes, and the image here is in contrast to that Indian woman; those are two entirely different principles.
The Indian squaw is the female principle, and ,being chthonic, she is obviously a personification of the earth mother.
And inasmuch as the Mexican image is made of earth or gold or whatever it is, its stuff derives from the earth mother; but its meaning, its spirit, is the spiritual or Logos principle, the opposite of the woman’s principle, Eros.
But those particular terms are really not appropriate · in this case; here one would say, rather, that the Mexican image is a spiritual principle in contrast to the chthonic principle of the earth mother.
The special point, however, is that the image or idol which is naturally supposed to be something dead, seems to be alive; that is, the spiritual principle which was supposed to be a dead set of concepts, say, is shown as alive.
That is already a great progress because usually the mental principle, the Logos, or the spirit itself, seems dead in comparison with life.
The life of the ordinary biological woman, for example, is little troubled by the Logos or by spirit; anything that matters is surely not spirit, it is anything else, it is earth all over.
So when this woman discovers that the spirit is alive, it means considerable progress, and that realization must be supported.
Therefore the old witch strengthens the image, she fills it with living fire, which gives it radiation, sun quality, energy.
This is exceedingly important.
The condition has been chaotic, and to protect her against that she needs concentration, form, which is almost identical with Logos, for Logos is form, idea.
The word idea comes from the Greek word eidos which means image, and at the same time it means a formed spiritual content.
Mr. Baumann: Does she not put it into the fire to make it last forever, to ensure its never being lost again?
Dr. Jung: Yes, whatever can stand the test of fire is stronger than fire, which is the worst form of destruction.
That is the process by which Heracles became immortal; he built his own funeral pyre, and in that fire he became immortal.
The same motif is in Rider Haggard’s She in the pillar of fire in which She attains an enormously long life.
So there is also the idea that the idol could attain to immortal life within that onyx
vessel; it is a sort of alchemistic procedure.
The aspiration of the alchemists was to produce the medicine of immortality, the tinctura magna that changes everything into gold-an imperishable metal because it is not subject to oxidization-or the philosopher’s stone of perfect wisdom, or immortality in the form of the elixir of life.
We get here into very difficult ideas, difficult because it is almost impossible to show how such a thing happens psychologically.
Or have you any idea how to demonstrate what happens when a person is undergoing such a process?
When a person is undergoing the process of creating unconscious contents, for instance, it can be demonstrated, there are many outward signs of it, the symptomatology of such a condition is manifold.
Mrs. Sigg: It might be that one has no libido in the conscious at one’s disposition.
Dr. Jung: That does not prove that there is libido in the unconscious, that is a postulate; but how could you prove that something was working in the unconscious?
Mrs. Crowley: It comes out in the form of fantasies.
Dr. Jung: That would be afterwards, but when the process is going on?
Question: In dreams?
Dr. Jung: Dreams can give a hint of it, though one can always say they are merely interpretative. But there are other things which show that things are underway.
Mr. Baumann: Sometimes people do things that they are not conscious of.
Dr. Jung: Yes, or they develop local symptoms.
For instance, they may develop all the signs of a pregnancy; in women that is quite frequent.
Men develop all sorts of disturbances of digestion, constipation perhaps, or the function of the bladder or the intestinal organs may be upset; the strangest things can happen, and then one knows something is the matter with their sympathetic system.
Just lately I had such a case: a man dreamed that his anima was pregnant in the ninth month with a child which did not belong there at all; it was not her own child, which showed very clearly that those were strange contents which did not belong to the anima, they belonged in consciousness.
After a while the unconscious will begin to work and bring them out.
You see, those are all signs by which you can demonstrate that something is going on in the way of unconscious contents.
But this process here, this onyx pit, this alchemistic kitchen in which an idol is hardened in the fire, is different; through heat working upon the idol, it attains to immortality, an imperishable radiant condition, because it now contains the quality of fire.
Now could you demonstrate this?
In other words would you be able to define such a condition from contents of consciousness or symbols in dreams?
Well, it is exceedingly difficult, I would not trust myself in that case, I only know of certain conditions under which I could make a diagnosis of the process.
As you know, fire always symbolizes emotion, but of course emotions can have all sorts of meanings and all sorts of causes.
Therefore it must be a particular condition, which would show in this way: a patient in such a condition precipitates herself into emotions, she seeks them repeatedly, she
may be afraid of them yet she needs them.
You see, nearly everybody likes to avoid emotion, but certain people seek it even when consciously they don’t want to at all, they make use of the slightest provocation in order to have an emotion.
Sometimes they even admit that, and then one knows that they need the fire as one needs it in the kitchen stove, and for a certain purpose.
The purpose may be absolutely invisible, but sometimes it becomes visible in an unreasonable conviction that the emotion has to be.
If the patient says to you: “I know it looks foolish, but I have the feeling that these emotions serve a certain purpose,” then you know it is this process; it means that something should be produced in the fire.
Now in the fire two things are produced: destruction-everything that can burn will burn out-and then, if there should be in all that stuff something that can stand the fire, it will be precipitated.
Perhaps a heap of rubbish is burned up, and in the ashes a molten drop of gold will appear.
One may even feel it necessary to burn up all the rubbish, and that is not possible without fire.
Therefore emotions are needed for the precipitation of the precious substance in the end.
And not only the transient emotions, the fire of passion is necessary.
People are afraid of the fire of passion and then passion seizes them.
They think it is a mistake, but they need and are really looking for it; and the more they
know, the less they will deny passion.
They will accept it because they know it is the purifying fire that is needed for the production of the pure gold.
So to get into a purified condition one must pass through the zone of fire in which every desire is burned out, the result being worthless ashes blown away by the wind, and the pure gold that stands the fire forever.
There is a beautiful expression of that symbolism in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
In the last circle of purgatory, when approaching the celestial sphere, Virgil leads Dante to the flame of purification; he himself steps back-because he is a heathen, he cannot pass through that flame-but Dante, baptized a Christian, can enter the fire of pure love where everything earthly is burned out of him, and then ascend to heaven.
You see, this symbol is a psychological experience, and it shows itself in the form of a continuous machine-gun fire of emotions which in the end die down, and one would say the fire had burnt out, that it was a burnt-out crater; and externally, or if one looks at it superficially, one might see it as complete destruction, with nothing left.
But if one goes down into the crater, at the bottom one finds the gold, the valuable
substance which is no longer touched by fire, and this is the meaning of all the nonsense that went before.
Mrs. Baynes: Did you mean to say that in this last vision of the onyx crater, she brings to a sort of climax all the preceding visions?
Dr. Jung: In what way?
Mrs. Baynes: In the finding of the gold.
Dr. Jung: There is no mention in the vision of the gold.
I simply used that simile in order to explain the symbolism here as a sort of alchemistic
procedure, but nothing is said about the possible outcome of it.
The only hint we get is that the idol remains unharmed, but from that we can conclude practically nothing.
The symbolism is expressed in such a telegraphic style, so short and thin, that we have to fill in a lot of gaps in order to make it digestible at all.
These visions are in that respect like dreams that need a great deal of elaboration before their meaning becomes clear; you get nothing by just reading them, it is a mere outline of things caught in a flash.
You might have a hypnagogic vision, for example, just one, and you would not know where to put it, what it possibly could mean, but I might be able by my experience to place it in such and such a connection; then you look back into your dreams or you have subsequent dreams and can understand it.
But you would not be able to make it out from one vision.
Mrs. Crowley: It seems to be the antithesis of the magic circle.
Dr. Jung: It is not the antithesis, for it takes place within the circle; therefore the gold can be produced.
If you undergo emotions outside the circle, you may be destroyed, devoured in the flames; you need the magic circle.
The alchemistic procedure is always understood to be happening within the circle, and you often see in pictures of sorcerers that they are within a· magic circle while practicing their magic or witchcraft.
Mrs. Crowley: But this onyx cone is so different, it doesn’t suggest anything protective, it is so hard and cold.
Dr. Jung: The quality of the magic circle is that one cannot just walk through it, it is hard like stone on the outside; one is arrested by it and will be destroyed if one steps over it, also it is made to keep out ghosts.
So it is like a thick wall, nothing can come out of it and nothing can go in.
Mr. Baumann: If a patient is seeking emotions, are you always sure that there will be some gold left?
Dr. Jung: You should not conclude from my remark that a series of emotions necessarily mean gold, it may be the burning up of mere rubbish; and that may burn for a whole lifetime, with nothing coming out of it because it is not done within the magic circle.
You see, the magic circle is really a circle of consciousness.
It means: I know what I am doing.
But there are emotions where people do not know what they are doing, and those are perfectly useless, simply waste; sure enough, there are any number of emotions that never produce a grain of gold.
Mrs. Crowley: But in the vision she does not know she is in a magic circle.
Dr. Jung: Ah well, this is only a vision, this is not actual life, we should not mix it up.
In her actual life this woman probably underwent a series of emotions and it is by no means sure that they were within the magic circle.
This vision has the purpose of teaching her that it is a sort of magic procedure, as you might have a dream telling you that what you were experiencing was not that you were losing your mind, but that you were undergoing an initiation.
Such dreams are frequent, and when you know that it is not mere madness but an initiation, you know you are within the circle, and then it has value.
As soon as an insane person has enough consciousness to learn what these things mean, he is saved, then he gets at the pure gold; for he then has an indestructible center which
cannot be touched, he is aloof from the destructive scenes which happen round him.
I have treated such cases, people who had already been in the lunatic asylum and who were threatened with utter destruction, and I just happened to save them by making them conscious of what they had gone through and were still going through.
In that way I made a sort of magic circle of consciousness round them which held them together, they could then look at the things they experienced as objects.
That expressed itself in the fact that they could make drawings of certain hallucinations or moods.
And then they could say: “Ah, that is the thing which is against me, but I am different from it, I am not dissolved in it; I have that thing here on this paper and I myself have done it.”
To put it on paper helps them to grasp it, to form a sort of protective circle round themselves, and then they are no longer identical with it.
This is the saving process which makes them able to rescue the indestructible substance from the waste of mere conflagration.
They hold themselves as if in a magic circle against the destructive influences of emotional fire.
You see, the danger of emotions is that they tear you limb from limb, and then they are just waste, but if you can hold yourself steady during the storm, if you know what is happening, even if you only know you are not in your sound senses, you have already won because you have a standpoint over against the senseless destruction.
Mrs. Sigg: Are people who seek emotions trying thus to overcome inertia?
Dr. Jung: It might have that purpose also, but that alone is not a sufficient reason, because if one is inert, one just indulges in it and is inert; one does not seek an emotion just to get rid of the inertia.
Miss Rogers: When a patient feels very emotional and cannot find the cause in outside circumstances, does that have anything to do with this refining process?
Dr. Jung: Whether the emotion is connected with things outside makes no difference.
There are emotions which start entirely from within, and others which start apparently from outside causes; sometimes the cause seems to be projected and sometimes it is clearly within, and in the unconscious it makes no difference at all.
Miss de Witt: Is the real sense of all burnt offerings that the impure things should be destroyed and the pure things go up to the gods?
Dr: Jung: Yes, that is the same idea, the burning up of the flesh, or of the vegetable, so that the living spirit shall escape-that which is supposed to be the living substance that causes the flesh to be.
The custom of burning the corpse is for that purpose; the man’s soul ascends in the smoke to the city of the gods.
And is it not a custom with the Bataks to destroy the vessels and implements of the dead, in order that they may ascend with them?
Miss de Witt: I am not quite sure.
Dr: Jung: In certain African tribes, they break up the implements of a dead man for that purpose.
Miss de Witt: They put them on his grave?
Dr: Jung: No, they put them in the open market place, because the corpses are carried into the Bush for the hyenas to take care of.
And I think it is in Java, or Sumatra, that they break up the vessels to send after the ghosts.
There was the same idea in Egypt; they put those little clay figures of workmen into the grave of the pharaoh in order that their ghosts should continue to work for him in the fields of the next world; and they broke up the tools and implements, so that the ghosts of the tools could be used there.
Miss Hannah: Do you suppose that everybody has this indestructible quality if they could only see it?
Dr: Jung: Oh, I don’t know, I am convinced that nature is accustomed to the greatest waste.
It is quite possible that certain lives are just nothing, no good, and they have to be tried out again. You must ask God.
But as long as we have to deal with human beings, we must assume that everybody has that flame within for which it is worthwhile to live.
We are in no way competent to judge about such a matter.
Dr: Schlegel: That is the Christian belief.
Dr: Jung: Yes, but it is not a Buddhist belief, they are much more hesitant, they believe in that long series of incarnations.
Buddha himself had about five hundred and seventy incarnations before he became the Buddha.
He went through all sorts of existences, because each time the existence was not quite valid.
He had to go through the animal state, the state of the grasshopper, and the monkey, for instance, in order to try all varieties of life, until he reached Buddhahood, which is the only form worth living. In the East the idea prevails that life is only relatively valuable, and if destroyed not much has been lost; so they lose their lives more easily than we do.
Now during that sort of alchemistic process, or witchcraft, our patient sees that beside the Indian woman stood a buffalo.
It is very curious that a buffalo should attend this alchemistic procedure.
Mr. Baumann: That is also an animal from the American soil.
Dr.Jung: Yes, it is a typically American animal, so it would represent the instinctual form oflibido, a totem animal, as it were.
It is as if the idea of the American soil were not sufficiently expressed by the human being, but needed also the typical American instinct as a sort of complement as if it ought to be there for the sake of completeness.
Do you remember any real magical procedure where the animal is present?
Mrs. Fierz: The birth of Christ.
Dr. Jung: That was not supposed to be exactly a magical procedure.
Mrs. Fierz: But without the father!
Dr. Jung: I wouldn’t call that just magical.
Mr. Henley: Nearly all the primitive tribes use animals, or skins of animals, in their magical rites. The Indians use snakes.
Dr. Jung: Yes, in many magic rites animals appear, often a black hen or a black dog, black animals denoting the chthonic character of the procedure; and animals are burned in order to feed the gods.
So there should be an animal and particularly a totem animal, the representative of the instincts really should be present.
You see, in practical psychology, there is always the great and important question for the analyst whether a series of emotions is really correct, whether it is in accordance with the instincts, that is.
If it is against the instincts it is all morbid waste, but if the instincts are with it, you know it is all right.
Whatever it is, it is along the line, those emotions belong, they are the right food, the correct magic procedure.
And instinct is usually represented by an animal-a dog, a horse, an elephant, for instance. In this case a buffalo is there as a sort of exponent indicating that it is correct, the emotion is backed up by the instinct.
A very peculiar symbol follows now.
She says: “Above them was a wall of snakes.”
Above that scene where the witchcraft takes place in the presence of the buffalo, that is.
Unfortunately, I don’t know how that looked exactly, we must just take the words.
Dr. Reichstein: The snake is a great contrast to the lion’s head in the vision before. The symbols are now turned round, the snake is above and the fire is below; the fire, which is the energy of the lion’s head, is now getting into the idol, everything is reversed.
Dr. Jung: That is right.
The snake is always supposed to be underneath; symbolic serpents are representatives of the night, or of the interior of the earth, or the darkness of the deep waters, so they are always down below.
And above is the fire, the sun, the radiant substance symbolized by the lion. Now through fire the sun is brought down to earth.
The original fire was the prerogative of the gods.
Then Prometheus stole that radiance, the sun fire, and gave it to human beings, therefore they could cheat the gods and make light in the darkness.
It must have been a marvellous discovery for them.
But they paid for it with the fear of the gods.
Now a snake is always a symbol of fear as well as of darkness, and if the lion’s head is brought down, the fear is above; that is, when the wall of snakes is above them, the fire or sun must be underneath.
So a new sun is made, a radiant idol, and above it are the snakes.
But looked at from the outside one sees only a heap of snakes and not the thing that is
One encounters this idea in that typical myth, the night sea journey, where the sun hero is swallowed by the whale dragon, or the great sea serpent, and becomes invisible.
And there is the Egyptian myth of the ship of Ra that is encoiled by the serpent Apophisthe ship is caught in the coils of darkness.
It begins in the seventh hour of the night and the priests get up and sing hymns to support the hero in his struggle with the dark powers.
Finally at sunrise, the hero breaks through the darkness and appears again.
You see that is this situation with the snake above and the light below.
The same symbolism might be expressed in a different way.
You know, to work down in the pit with that chthonic primitive woman, inducing
the fire of emotions, looking for emotions, is a sin against ideals.
You think you should not get emotional, for you are then unjust, immoral in a way, particularly when you know that you sought the emotion, made it yourself.
You hardly admit it, but you know in the corner of your heart that you brought it about, and then you have a bad conscience and the whole magic procedure seems immoral, as witchcraft is immoral, and you feel rotten.
you have fear above you, you are afraid that the revenge of the gods may strike you, as the sorcerer is always afraid that God can peep in somewhere and disturb his work or
Therefore the many legends like the story of Faust, who eventually is caught in his own magic-his treaty with the devil finally costs him his soul; in the original version-not the one by Goethe-his soul is seized by the devil when the treaty has expired.
So even if the philosopher’s stone, or the elixir vitae, or the gold, is the result of the magic procedure, you feel that it has been gained by an illegal procedure, by immorality; and so that whole process is always under the fear of God, the snake is always above.
It is nocturnal, it is the immorality of the night in opposition to the morality of the day. Therefore people are usually afraid of the unconscious because it brings up emotions, and they don’t want emotions; it is immoral, one should not have them.
Sure enough it is immoral if you consider other people, and you ought to consider other people.
Yet if you repress· your emotions, you can never get at them to purify them.
But the flame is eternal and emotions are hellfire, so that going through a long period of bad conscience is unavoidable.
If you can cope with it, you can cope with yourself; if you cannot cope with it, you avoid yourself, and the gold can never be produced.
So much for the snakes.
Now she continues: I heard a distant sound of thunder and saw a great herd of buffalo.
As they approached, the onyx pit closed over and the buffalo rushed over the ground where the pit had been and disappeared. I felt afraid and sat down to rest.
What is happening here? That is the end of the vision.
Mr. Baumann: I think it is just a proof that she needs to be in the pit because the instincts come rushing like a herd of buffalo.
Dr. Jung: Yes, it is all to the good that she is in the pit, otherwise she would be trampled to death; here the pit shows its protective quality.
And what does the rushing herd of buffalo mean?
One buffalo was there before, proving that the whole situation was all right as regards the instincts, but now instinct is rushing over her.
Mr. Baumann: I think instinct came from the outside as a sort of inflation.
Dr. Jung: Well, the point here is that instinct is never individual, it is always legion; whenever you are living according to the instincts you get into the collective, you cannot help it because instinct is collective.
Yet if you don’t live that instinct, your life is wasted; so when you live with instinct you are all right, yet you are collective.
That she is taking a stand against instinct is, in a way, the reason why the buffalo are rushing over her.
One can say it is a sin against instinct when you assume a position that is conscious and cultural, and therefore she is attacked; the attempt at individuation brings about the onslaught of instinct.
That magic rite provokes the buffalo, and where there was one buffalo there is now a herd of them.
If you live with instinct you have instinct all over you; it is characteristic that it has the quality of spontaneous reaction, that it either works and goes the whole hog, or it does not work at all.
So if you touch upon instinct you are in the devil’s claws; it easily runs away with you, and then you are just a piece of the collective and are under the collective law.
And woe unto you, because you are then dismembered by Titanic forces and your attempt at individuation means nothing.
But if you succeed in hiding in that magic pit, the onrush of the collective can pass you by, you are protected.
The symbolism is very clear, but the question is, how do you bring it down to practical psychology?
Mrs. Fierz: Does not the difference lie in being inside or outside the magic circle? One buffalo is inside the magic circle. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 1047-1062