Marie-Louise von Franz: Niklaus Von Flüe And Saint Perpetua: A Psychological Interpretation of Their Visions

Chapter 20

Interpretation of the Fourth Vision

328 Perpetua’s fourth and last vision begins with her in prison, waiting to appear before the beasts.

At first sight, this is simply a statement of the dreamer’s conscious situation.

By this, the dream implies that the ensuing conflict, depicted in the course of the vision, is actual reality.

Nevertheless, we are bound to look upon this imprisonment,

figuring among the events of the dream, as referring to an inner


329 In the mysteries of Isis and Serapes, there existed a curious

custom, that of the so-called katochoi (prisoners) of the Deity.

Katoche principally means arrest or imprisonment, and consequently, katochos means prisoner.

On the other hand, however, the verb katechesthai ek theou ( used in conjunction with theophoreisthai or korybantian and with the idea of Bacchic ecstasy) denotes a condition of ecstatic raving; katochos then similarly means possessed by a god, and katoche a state of possession. (Compare Perpetua’s state of trance during her martyrdom.)

330 Such katochoi existed as early as the second century before

Christ, for instance in the Serapium of Memphis, a sect in which the state of imprisonment was one of free choice to which laymen voluntarily submitted, as novitiates, prior to their initiation into the priesthood.

The katochoi also called themselves “slaves” or ((servants of God:’ Some of them even wore chains and often did not leave the outer court of the temple for years.

Others went about begging and lived a life of the most rigorous self-imposed asceticism.

Many of them interpreted their own dreams and took them very seriously.

Their period of imprisonment often lasted till such a time as the novice, and an already initiated mystic had the same dream on the same night.

This would admit the novice to initiation.

It might occur suddenly, or after waiting many years, or sometimes never.

The novice also occasionally chose the spiritual father who initiated him.1

Whoever attempted initiation without being “called” was doomed to die.

And only the man whom Isis had appointed in a dream might enter the adyton of the goddess.

331 All these ancient customs may undoubtedly be looked upon as the first steps leading to the Christian institution of monachism, which originated in Egypt.2

It is also noteworthy that St. Paul should speak of himself as ((a prisoner [desmios] of Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:1) or of being “in the bonds of the Gospel:’

332 The psychological meaning of such a confinement is unmistakable.

Imprisonment under whatever circumstances implies restricted

freedom of action and isolation from the surrounding world.

It is a sequestration, a voluntary or involuntary state of introversion, which in certain cases may be brought about by a state of possession-that is, by being fascinated with an unconscious content.

This is how the unconscious images (therefore the dreams) which formed the initiation process of the mysteries were activated.

That is why the prison is often an initial symbol of the process of individuation in contemporary dreams.

333 In the ancient mysteries the initiation took place under the guidance of a spiritual leader.

On parallel lines, in Perpetua’s vision, the deacon Pomponius knocks at the prison door.

He wears a festive garment and manifold shoes.

He takes her by the hand and leads her through dark and devious paths to the arena.

334 At that time, a deacon was an assistant to the bishop in his

diocese, a kind of parochial aide.

Here, we are dealing with a real personality known to Perpetua. By means of bribery, he was able to bring about some alleviation in the conditions of her captivity, and he was also a spiritual support to her.

In the dream, Pomponius has evidently taken upon himself the function of a Christian animus figure (which is natural, seeing that Perpetua, who had been baptized only 20 days before, in all probability projected her Christian attitude onto the deacon of the place).

He is now the leader of her soul (he takes her by the hand) and her spiritual father, a symbol of her Christian faith.

335 The function that Pomponi us fulfills is similar to that of Saturus in the first vision.

Should there be any difference in their roles, it would mainly consist in the fact that Saturus seems rather to embody her temperamentally courageous inner attitude in the face of her martyrdom, whereas Pomponius is more of a teacher-that

is to say, he stands more for the Christian faith as a spiritual doctrine.3

In the dream he is characterized as one who is already initiated (which clearly does not reflect his position in real life and

proves the projection); he wears a festive garment and manifold shoes.

336 In the ancient mysteries, the festive garment plays an important role, as the celestial garment of the glorified celestial body, which the mystic puts on.

Thus, before his third initiation, Apuleius was exhorted in a dream to be initiated anew in order to attain further

enlightenment, as he could no longer wear “the garment of the

Goddess which he had put on in the province and had then laid

aside in the sanctuary there:’4

In Egypt, the resurrected one wore the headdress of the sun-god Ra, a sun-diadem.

The Mithraic mystics received a garment on which animals were embroidered.

It signified the glorified resurrection after death, the state of full enlightenment through the Gnosis and of becoming one with the Deity; at the same time, it meant a metasomatosis, a complete transformation.

337 In the Christian concept of Paradise, the Blessed are robed in white-as a symbol of joy and innocence, according to one of the Fathers of the Church.

Here, the deacon Pomponius is likewise an already fully enlightened mystic, a spirit from the Beyond-that is, a figure arising from the unconscious.

At the same time, he is a symbol of Perpetua’s own coming development.

He says: “Perpetua, we are awaiting thee, come!”

From the World Beyond, Paradise or the land of the dead, he brings her the message that they are expecting her there.

He is also the one whose office it is to usher her into this place.

338 The animus is indeed the figure that transmits the contents of the collective unconscious; he is a psychopomp.

The words he addresses to her in the amphitheater where he leaves her (“Fear not, I am here with thee and shall fight with thee”) show that he stands much less for a concrete figure than for an unconscious, spiritual power.

In the dream, however, he disappears, and in his place enters

a gigantic lanista, who promises her the bough of the Tree of Life if she wins the battle.

Thus, in the function he fulfills, he evolves, as it were, into this bigger, more archetypal figure which ( as we shall see) is clearly a symbol of both an absolute faith and a positive attitude.


At first, Pomponius leads Perpetua through a rough and pathless country, and it is only with great effort that they reach the amphitheater.

Such straying about on tortuous paths recalls the plight of her little brother Dinocrates in Hades, described in her second vision.

A disorientation has obviously set in at this point, a condition of perplexity and distress resulting from the state of introversion symbolized by the prison.

Perpetua is evidently assailed by doubts and resistances at the thought of her martyrdom.

In the midst of this disorientation of her consciousness, the deacon becomes her guiding Christian animus-that is to say, a symbol of the Christian faith.

340 Pomponius takes her to the amphitheater/arena.

Its shape recalls a magic circle, or mandala.

As a symbol of the Self, which embraces the totality of the conscious and unconscious sides of the psyche, the amphitheater naturally includes both the opposing attitudes and the conscious portion of the personality.

These are personified by the pagan Egyptian and the Christian assistants and by Perpetua herself, with the lanista symbolizing the value of the Self.

341 In the ritual mandala, the circular boundary surrounding the

center always has the purpose of preventing an outburst or a

disintegration, as well as preventing any interference from the outside.

It is inside this enclosure that the final contest now takes place. Inasmuch as the ritual mandala also aims at reconciling the

opposites, the very appearance of this symbol is already an intimation of a possible solution of the conflict.

This doubtless consists in the fact that Perpetua will be ‘<withdrawn” into the suprapersonal meaning of the process to such a degree (compare her trance during her martyrdom) that she will be able to endure the destruction of her individual existence.

342 Historically, the amphitheater was actually a circular building devoted to a cult, and the games that took place there were religious ceremonies in honor of the gods.

Therefore, Tertullian rightly called it ((the temple of all demons It is here that the crowd in the vision now gathers to witness the fight between the Saint and the Egyptian.

One might say that the Christian inner guiding principle leads to a concentration of the conflict in Perpetua herself, around which stand the formerly dissociated forces of the collective unconscious (the people).

All the various parts of the personality collect around a suprapersonal center, where the final conflict between the opposites will be decided.

343 At first, Perpetua expects the wild beasts to be let in. Interpreted on the subjective level, this means that she believes the fight is to be waged against the unconscious in the form of the animal world of the instincts.

These are the same forces she has already encountered in the guise of the dragon.

But the dream shows that, in reality, the conflict is far more complicated:

A gigantic Egyptian of horrible appearance comes toward her with a sword.

344 This Egyptian is a remarkably complex embodiment of her


In late antiquity, Egypt meant the land of ancient wisdom.

It was looked on in much the same way that the modern European looks upon India.

As far back as Herodotus, Egypt and her priests held this meaning. Plato, for example, was wont to give out his most

important ideas and myths as the secret wisdom of the Egyptian priesthood.

According to Hekataios of Miletus, the Egyptians were the oldest and most religious people in the whole world.

The Greeks projected their own unconscious onto Egypt, and, as a result, it became the source of all secret revelation, the land where an archaic religious attitude was still to be found, which their own enlightened consciousness had lost.

Thus, in a satire, Apuleius’s Lucian (whom we know also from Apuleius’s Golden Ass) says:

346 The oldest philosophers were the Hindu Brahmans, or Gymnosophists.

Philosophy went direct from them to the Ethiopians, from thence to the Egyptians.6

347 The Cynics especially saw the realization of their ideals in these Indian and Egyptian sages.

Egypt was therefore the site par excellence of all dark magic, and the cult of the animal that was practiced there made a particularly deep impression upon the Greek philosophers and sophists.

In the “Treatise Asclepius III” of the Corpus Hermeticum, Hermes says:

34s Do you know, Asclepius, that Egypt is an image of heaven,

or, to speak more exactly, in Egypt all the operations and powers which rule and work in heaven have been transferred to earth below?

Nay, it should rather be said that the whole Kosmos dwells in this our land [Egypt] as in its sanctuary.7

349 If the pagans thus looked to Egypt as the land of the great mysteries, the most religious land of ancient wisdom and magic, in the eyes of the Christians it was bound to become the prototype of all that was evil, and especially of the “clouded, obscure, misleading Pagan spirit:’8

350 For the Gnostic Perates, however, Egypt also meant the transitory world, the passage through the Red Sea, the way to immortality.

In their allegorical interpretation of the Bible, the Fathers of the Church very soon explained the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt as an exodus out of spiritual darkness. (Such things can hardly have been unknown to Perpetua, who came from an educated family.)

351 In a certain sense, the Egyptian in Perpetua’s fourth vision also constitutes an analogy to the dragon in the first vision, since both as Hugo Rahner so beautifully demonstrates9-became images of the devil in the patristic symbolic language.

The Fathers of the Church found support for this in the passages in Ezekiel where God causes the Egyptian Pharaoh to be addressed as “the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers” (29:3), and “as a whale [dragon]in the seas” (32:2).

Thus, the Egyptian king (drowned in the Red Sea) also becomes an image of the devil.

352 From the psychological point of view, on the other hand, there is a difference between the image of the devil as dragon and as Egyptian, inasmuch as the latter embodies a more spiritual content which is closer to consciousness.

Accordingly, Perpetua’s fourth vision reveals that the central conflict does not consist solely in overcoming the animal instincts but also implies a fight against the spirit of paganism, against the experience of the spirit projected into nature, against the spirit of the most ancient tradition and against the spirit of the earth from which the Christians endeavored to free themselves.

353 In this connection, the four visions show a gradual development of the pagan counter attitude in the unconscious: At first, it is embodied in a lower, cold-blooded animal (the dragon); then, it appears in human form, as an ill child (Dinocrates); and lastly as a full-grown warrior (the Egyptian). So, the conflict is continuously being brought nearer to consciousness, and at the same time, the menacing factor grows increasingly important, appearing in ever more spiritual terms.

It is in this last form that paganism proved most dangerous to the Christian faith.

Therefore, St. Paul says:

354 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers [ archas kai exousias, i.e., the domination of the spirits of the planets], against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places [pros ta pneumatika tes ponerias en tois epouraniois]. (Eph. 6:11-12)

356 By this, he means the pneuma projected into the cosmos and into nature, the pagan experience of the spirit.

357 The Christian devil is in truth none other than the Agathodaimon of the pagans, once worshipped as lord of the black Egyptian earth and husband of Isis.

Referring to this scene, we also read in a sermon ascribed to St. Augustine: ((How art thou fallen from heaven, 0 Lucifer, son of the morning!” (Isa. 14: 12)

This is clearly an allusion to the bright, spiritual side of this divine opponent of Christ.

358 The fact that the Egyptian in Perpetua’s vision wallows in the dust and that Perpetua, as she conquers him, treads him into the earth stresses precisely the earthly quality, the state of being imprisoned in the earth, which is characteristic of this pneuma. 10 According to Philo of Alexandria, the kingdom of the air, against whose demons St. Paul fights, is black;11 in the Epistle of Barnabas (IV: 10, XX: 1) the devil is already called the black one.

Besides this, the blackness of the Egyptians-and particularly of the priests of Isis who were imported into Rome to celebrate the mysteries and whose dark complexions were singularly striking there-strengthened the conception of the devil as an Egyptian, a symbol of the dark,

chthonic mysteries of departing antiquity.

359 In the event of defeat, Perpetua was to be killed by the sword of the Egyptian.

But it is she who conquers him and then treads on his head, which again points to the mental function of this enemy.

During the fight, he endeavors to lay hold of her feet.

Psychologically, this means that he is seeking to undermine her

standpoint, to make her doubt her convictions, and thus cause  her to waver.

A passage in the writings of Origen, who calls the pagan

attitude a ((spiritual Ethiopian:’ also points to the character of this dark Egyptian, who is at the same time a figure parallel to the serpent:

360 He who partakes of the supernatural bread, and strengthens his heart thereby, will become the son of God.

But he who partakes of the dragon is himself no other than the spiritual Ethiopian, in that by the snares laid for the dragon, he is

himself transformed into the serpent.12

361 (Perpetua treads on the Egyptians head, just as in the first vision she stepped on the head of the dragon.)

362 When the Egyptian throws himself at Perpetua’s feet, the dream seems to suggest a connection with Perpetua’s father.

The latter never ceased to pursue her with entreaties to recant her Christian faith, and his exhortations appear to have affected her deeply, for upon one occasion she said: ((I thank God, and recovered when he had departed:’13

Among the many arguments he used, he once pleaded with her as follows:

363 Daughter … have pity on my grey head-have pity on me your father, if I deserve to be called your father, if I have favoured you above all your brothers, if I have raised you to reach this prime of your life.

Do not abandon me to be the reproach of men.

Think of your brothers, think of your mother and your aunt, think of your child, who will not be able to live once you are gone.

Give up your pride! You will destroy all of us!

364 None of us will ever be able to speak freely again if anything happens to you.14

Perpetua goes on to say:

This was the way my father spoke out of love for me, kissing my hands and throwing himself down before me.

With tears in his eyes he no longer addressed me as his daughter but as a woman [ domina ].

I was sorry for my father’s sake, because he alone of all my kin would be unhappy to see me suffer.15

366 This moving passage sheds a profound light on the way her family affected Perpetua’s fate.

Her relation to her father appears to have been a particularly close one. In the case of a woman, the father stands for the first image of man in general, the first embodiment of the animus, and, as such, he determines her spiritual temperament and her relation to spiritual contents generally.

Therefore, through her relation to her father, Perpetua seems to have been in great measure fated to suffer the conflict and to come to terms with the religious problems of her day.

367 Perpetua’s father, on the other hand, appears to have been just as unusually attached to her. (He addresses her “as a woman:’)

On one occasion, when she turns a deaf ear to his entreaties, he falls upon her, screaming, and moves as if to tear her eyes out. Since Perpetua is very closely bound to him, his arguments against Christianity wound her very deeply.

Once, when he leaves her after a scene such as the one just described, she says that “he departed, vanquished along with his diabolical arguments [cum argumentis diabolis].16

36s So, there is some justification for drawing a certain psychological parallel between the Egyptian who throws himself at Perpetua’s feet and upon whom she looks as the devil, and the figure of her father.

369 St. Augustine likewise recognizes this connection and therefore says that the devil made use of the father, instructing him with deceiving words in order to bring about Perpetua’s downfall by appealing to her feeling of filial piety.

It is the spirit of her father that is, the spirit of tradition-in Perpetua herself which rebels against the new creed.

When the dream substitutes the more general figure of the Egyptian for that of the father, it expresses the fact that the fight is not only against the individual father, but against that which he means to Perpetua in an inner sense: a fight against a

universal spirit, a pagan animus, which must be overcome.

The Egyptians threat is to pierce her with his sword-that is, to enter her, penetrate her spiritually; and when he throws himself at her feet, it is not with the intention of entreating her, as in the case of her real father, but of bringing about her fall, of destroying her standpoint.

370 Then, in the fourth vision, Perpetua is surrounded by fair youths who befriend her; they unclothe her and massage her body with oil, as for a Greek agon (contest).

And she is transformed into a man.

371 This unveiling of her masculine nature, so to speak, at this particular time, appears to be in some measure connected with personal considerations.

About the year A.D. 200, the persecutions of the Christians in Africa were of a local character and very much encouraged by the aggressive attitude of the Christians themselves.

Perpetua, as a young woman of 22 with a tiny son, would hardly have had to suffer such a fate had she not adopted the strong, masculine spirit of the believer and thrown herself actively into the spiritual battle.

It is also obvious that she sought a martyr’s death to demonstrate her faith, as is shown by her remark at the time of her baptism:

372 I was inspired by the Spirit not to ask for any other favor after the [baptismal] water but simply the perseverance [sufferings] of the flesh. 17

373 Perhaps one may therefore be justified in looking upon her prison (katoche) as a state of possession.

In any case, the dream shows that in the conflict which now breaks out, she adopts a masculine, warlike attitude and identifies completely with the Christian animus figures that had appeared only as unconscious parts of her personality in the earlier dreams.

She becomes a miles Christi, a soldier of Christ, just as also in the pagan world the initiation into the mysteries was frequently interpreted as a sacramentum (military oath).

In the mysteries of Mithras, for instance, the initiates of a

certain degree were called mil it es (soldiers).

Their service was a military service dedicated to the god, and the Pauline conception of the militia Christi likewise grew out of these ideas.

St. Paul describes himself as a stratiotes (soldier) and speaks of the “armor of light” (Rom. 13:12).

374 But the laying off of Perpetua’s garment has a still deeper meaning. In the Corpus Hermeticum, we read:

375  for yourselves one who, holding you by the hand, leads the way [here it is Pomponi us] to the gates of the Gnosis, where the shining light, clear of all darkness, is to be found; where no one is ever drunk, but where all are sober, looking into their hearts toward Him who wishes to be seen.

376 For He cannot be heard, nor read, nor yet is He visible to the eyes, but only to the spirit and the heart.

377 First, however, thou must rend the garment which thou wearest, the web of unconsciousness [ to hyphasma tes agnosias ], the stronghold of wickedness, the bonds which thou hearest, the dark veil, the living death, the visible corpse, the surrounding grave …. [For this is] the hostile garment, which narrows thee down to thyself, so that thou canst not raise thine eyes above to the beauty of truth.18

37s Therefore, in order for the mystic in this initiation to receive the glorified celestial garment of light, he must first remove and tear up his garment of earthly materialness (soma-sema) and the agnosia (unconsciousness).

379 In the apocryphal Odes of Solomon, which were influenced by Gnosticism, we likewise read:

I forsook the folly which is cast over the earth; and I stripped

it off and cast it from me: and the Lord renewed me in His

raiment, and possessed me by His light.19

381 And further: “I put off darkness and clothed myself with light:’20

And again: ”I was clothed with the covering of thy Spirit, and thou didst remove from me my raiment of skins:’21

382 So, this laying aside of the garment means stripping away unconscious animal nature, the state of imprisonment in illusion, and, under certain conditions, even earthly material existence. Thus, Perpetua becomes, so to speak, entirely a spirit (hence her masculinity).

383 In the Excerpta ex Theodoto, quoted by Clement of Alexandria, we likewise read that the masculine always unites directly with Logos, but that the feminine, after a process of becoming masculine, enters the Pleroma together with the angels.

That is why it is said that woman is transformed into man and the earthly Church into angels.22

This means the redemption of the “psychical” through its transformation into the “pneumaticaI:’ The belief that, in the

Beyond, the sexes cease to exist as opposites and are united is also alluded to in a logion transmitted by Clement of Alexandria:

384 When ye shall have trodden underfoot the cloak of shame [ compare the laying aside of Perpetua’s garment] and when the two will have become one, and the outer like the inner, and the masculine like the feminine, neither masculine nor feminine. 23

38s This idea is based on the supposition that the two sexes are united within the human being not only physiologically but also as a psychological totality, seeing that the unconscious invariably contains the opposite qualities of each individual. Hence, in Hermetic philosophy, the hermaphrodite becomes the symbol of totality.

386 In Perpetua’s case, however, it is not a union of opposites that takes place, but an inversion, which corresponds to a complete extinction of the previous ego-consciousness, in place of which, in the state of ecstasy, there appears another spiritual consciousness.

387 The extent to which St. Augustine intuitively grasped these psychological facts and expressed them in the language of his time is almost unbelievable.

Referring to Ephesians 4: 13 (”Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man … and so on), Augustine says that because the devil “felt himself to be in the presence of a woman who behaved to him like a man” (viriliter secum agentem feminam sensit ),24 he

determined to tempt her by means of a man, choosing for this

purpose her father, who besieged her with his arguments.

And in de Anima he even adds:

388 In a dream, Perpetua saw herself changed into a man, fighting with an Egyptian.

Who, however, can doubt that it was her soul that appeared in this [masculine] bodily form, not her actual body, which latter, having remained completely feminine, lay unconscious, whereas her soul fought in the aforesaid form of a masculine body.25

389 In effect, she becomes identical with the animus.

The Montanist prophetess Maximilla provides another striking parallel when, in her prophecies inspired by the Spirit, she speaks of herself in the masculine form.

390 Inasmuch as the Christian symbols rose to the light of day as a new and creative content coming from the depths of the collective unconscious, the people of that time were drawn into the unconscious by them.

In Perpetua’s case, too, the Christian symbols appear in the unconscious (the shepherd in the Beyond and the fountain of life in the underworld).

The conflict is not one between a consciousness newly converted to Christianity and the still-pagan unconscious; on the contrary, the Christian symbol itself also appears in the unconscious, and it is there that the opposites clash.

The same phenomenon occurs in a reversed form in the case of the author of the Shepherd of Hermas: thanks to a woman, to his meeting with the anima, he is initiated into a new doctrine.

391 This whole period of evolution, when the Christian world was coming into being, is characterized by a powerful influx of the collective unconscious.

Miracles were in the air; and in the catacomb pictures, the people of that time wear a peculiarly eager expression, their glance directed inward, as though they expected something

tremendously fascinating to emerge from that direction.

392 The young men in the dream who anoint Perpetua with oil after her transformation are helpful figures like Pomponius, but they are split up into a plurality-a typical characteristic of an animus figure.

393 Oil, especially in the form of scented ointment unguentum),

plays an important role in all primitive rites. It is a fluid charged with power and is a means of healing, of beautifying, of preserving the dead, and so on.

The ancient images of the gods were also anointed with oil in order to bring them to life.

The Roman Catholic Church likewise uses scented oil (myron), which has been consecrated by the priest, especially in the case of extreme unction, to impart spiritual strength.

Thus, Cyrillus, a Father of the Church, says:

394 The oil which has been consecrated by the priest is no longer mere oil, but in the same way as the bread becomes the body of Christ, the oil becomes the charisma of Christ and of the Holy Ghost in an energized form [energetikon charisma.2.]6

395 In other words, it becomes the archetype of the Holy Ghost, who was frequently thought of as a nourishing, satisfying perfume. Therefore, oil also meant Gnosis.

Honorius of Autun says: “Naked of all vices and anointed with the oil of the charisma, must we fight the deviI:’27

So, here likewise, the laying aside of the garment is a laying aside of vices, of the agnosia or unconsciousness.

396 Moreover, this passage in the vision bears a close  resemblance to a part of the Slavonic Book of Enoch (22:8); before entering into the highest Heaven, Enoch is divested of his earthly garments by the angel Michael, anointed with fine oil, and arrayed in the garment of God’s majesty.28

This ointment ((resembled a great light … and shone like the rays of the sun.”

According to the rules of the Church established by Hippolytus, the catechumens were also anointed by the bishop with the laying on of hands as a transmission of the spirit.

397 So, this anointing with oil means a spiritual strengthening and enlightening by means of these animus figures.

(In the Greek text, they appear as a youth who sends forth flashes of lightning, and other fair youths. To send forth lightning means to enlighten.)

These unite to form the figure of the giant lanista.

He is of such enormous size that he almost towers above the whole amphitheater.

He carries a rod or staff in one hand and, in the other, a green bough bearing golden apples, which he promises to Perpetua as a reward of victory.

Like Pomponius, he has a loose toga with a broad purple stripe across the middle of his chest between two others, and he wears ((manifold shoes made of gold and silver:’

Since Pomponius promised to help Perpetua, we may assume that he has, as it were, been transformed into the lanista, or at least that he was an early form of this figure.

39s The staff is evidently a sign that this daimon is also a guide. The staff is generally associated with Hermes, messenger of the gods and leader of souls; it is a golden rod which is similar to the magic wand of the magician.

The shepherd-deity likewise carries a staff and shares with the lanista the characteristic of supernatural size.

At bottom, it is the same figure.

The staff gives him the quality of a guiding and judging principle. Honorius of Autun, for instance, interpreted the bishop’s staff as auctoritas doctrinae (the authority of the doctrine).29

The staff characterizes the lanista as a personification of the right faith, the pistis-that is, the personification of a guiding

principle which will settle the conflict and be the absolute judge of the life and death of the soul.

399 Judging also plays a remarkable role with St. Paul. According to him, “He that is spiritual [ the pneumatikoi] judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man” (1 Cor. 2:15).

This absolute infallibility of the pneumatikoi is based on the fact that he possesses, so to speak, the mind (Nous) of Christ, and the Nous of God judges absolutely.

In the Magic Papyri, as we saw earlier, the Egyptian Agathodaimon is addressed as “thou who sittest on the head of the cosmos, and judgest everything, surrounded by the circle of truth and faith:’ On the last day Christ will also appear as such a judge of the world.

400 Thus, the lanista carries the symbol of unshakable faith, which definitely settles the conflict.

In this sense, he is truly the “spirit of truth” which “shall be with you.”

In the presence of such an inviolable faith, every human criterion comes to an end: The individual is enabled to suffer even death willingly for its sake.

401 The gold and silver shoes of the lanista point to an analogous psychic factor.

As an aspect of clothing that mirrors one’s attitude to one’s surroundings, one’s standpoint, shoes stand for a component

of our inner attitude which is especially concerned with the earth that is, with reality.

In this sense, shoes might be looked upon as representing how one relates to earthly things.

The German saying “to lay aside children’s shoes:’ for instance, means to outgrow an infantile attitude toward reality.

In folklore, shoes often have an erotic meaning, particularly as the feminine, receptive principle.

That they are also a symbol of power is perhaps most clearly

expressed in the expression “to be completely under someone’s heel:’ 402 The shoes of the lanista thus symbolize a psychic attitude which is receptive to reality, and at the same time, they express unshakable steadfastness.

They show that he not only embodies a directing principle but also bestows a standpoint both incorruptible and secure.

403 In addition, the lanista wears a white garment with three purple stripes across the chest.

According to Shewring, this means that a purple undergarment was visible between the two end stripes of the toga.30

White and red are the colors of the priests of the African

Saturn and of the Egyptian mysteries in general, and in alchemy, they represent the two highest stages-the albedo and rubedo. (Here, the equivalent of the alchemical nigredo appears separately in the form of the Egyptian.)

White indicates the first transfiguration in alchemy and also the dominance of the feminine principle; red implies the dominance of the masculine principle and is the color of the new Sun King. According to Mithraic texts also, the god Helios wears a white garment and a scarlet mantle.

404 Therefore, the garment of the lanista contains an allusion to the highest stages of initiation into the mysteries and also to the reconciliation of the opposites in the unconscious.

The presence of the three red stripes might point to the fact that here an upper triad has detached itself from a lower fourth element.

A higher triad has appeared in opposition to the dark power represented by the Egyptian, which in alchemy, for instance, was looked upon as the fourth factor and the foundation of a uniform development.31

The dark prima materia was frequently described in alchemy as caput draconis (dragon’s head), or as draco, whose head represented man as the vita gloriosa to which the angels minister.

The prima materia was also occasionally portrayed as an Ethiopian.

4os The vision of one of the martyrs in the “Passio Mariani et Jacobi” provides a strikingly close parallel to the lanista:

406 I saw a youth of incredibly gigantic stature, whose loose garment shone with such a bright light, that our eyes could not dwell on it.

His feet did not touch the ground and his countenance was above the clouds.

407 As he hastened past us, he threw us each-into thy lap, Marianus, and into mine-a purple girdle, and spake; “Follow me!”

The martyrs interpret this apparition as Christ.

According to the ‘Apocalypse of Peter:’ also, the bodies of the righteous “were whiter than snow and redder than any rose, and the red thereof was mingled with the white:’32

409 Thus, the conflict in the middle of the magic circle which Perpetua has reached reveals itself as a clash between two suprapersonal, spiritual powers: the Egyptian as the spirit of paganism, of the pneuma projected into the cosmos, and a new spiritual power which confronts him, tending entirely in the opposite direction, toward the Beyond, and laying claim to the absolute truth.

But this spirit is nevertheless also a kosmokrator and pneuma which reaches from heaven to earth.

Like the lord of the Egyptian earth, it is also an Agathodaimon and a shepherd of men.

410 Indeed, perhaps the most singular feature in Perpetua’s fourth vision is that, when one probes deeply into the conflicting, opposite principles, one is confronted with their peculiar similarity.

This comes from the fact that they are both in the unconscious.

411 It is really astounding that the spiritual power which has the casting vote in this conflict should be personified by a figure belonging most unmistakably to the pagan world, the trainer of gladiators, and not by a Christian figure such as Saturus or Pomponius, for instance, or Christ himself.

This can only be explained by the fact that the unconscious as a whole, in its still pagan aspect, was actually working to build up a Christian consciousness.

Hence, to be a Christian in those days meant unconditional obedience to the inner voice.

412 We might also say that had Christ appeared as the lanista, he would have been taking sides in the fight, so to speak.

But the decisive factor which desired Perpetua’s victory was the Self in a form which showed itself to be beyond the opposites, Christus et eius umbra.

The non-Christian nature of the lanista is again expressed in a significant detail-in his garment.

His garment, with the peculiarly broad purple stripes on the toga and the scarlet undergarment, is very similar to that worn by the African priests of Saturn, who was especially honored as a god of vegetation and of the underworld.

Thus, it represented the very Deity against whom the Christians had to fight the hardest battle. Saturn was looked upon as the special tutelary god of animal fights33-so that he was also a lanista and umpire par excellence-the spirit of the amphitheater.

One could almost fancy that it was this spirit which appeared to Perpetua as the lanista.

413 It is remarkable how similar the images and texts of budding Christianity were to those of the Gnostic and pagan mysteries which it fought against with such ardor.

Indeed, the Fathers of the Church themselves who inveighed against paganism were not blind to this fact and could only explain it as a subtle diabolica fraus.

The then widespread conception of a Daimort Antimimos (hostile and mimicking) who stands in the Redeemer’s way was doubtlessly founded on such facts.

For instance, Zosimos says:

414 [Christ] appeared to the very feeble as a man capable of suffering and like one scourged.

And after he had privily stolen away the Men of Light that were his own, he made known that in truth he did not suffer, and that death was trampled down and cast out. … Thus they [ the men of light] kill their Adam.

And these things are so until the coming of the daemon  Antimimos, the jealous one, who seeks to lead them astray as before, declaring that he is the Son of God, although he is formless [ amorphos] in both body and soul. 34

41s Curiously enough, the Poimandres of the Corpus Hermeticum is opposed by a similar ”fire-breathing” daimon of vengeance and punishment, a similar power of destiny.35

We meet the same idea when St. Paul draws a comparison between the first “earthy” ( choikos) Adam and the second Adam, who is “a quickening spirit” (pneuma zoopoion).

And lastly, this opposition appears also in the idea of the Antichrist.

416 Perpetua herself does not use the designation Antimimos but simply calls the Egyptian diabolus; yet, he possesses this peculiar quality of an antigod in matter, a nature-spirit which, while aping the Christian spirit, is nevertheless its opponent.

If we ask ourselves what is actually taking place autonomously in the collective unconscious, we can perceive a splitting-up, as it were, of the archetype into a light and a dark aspect.

This happened first of all to the image of God, inasmuch as the ambivalent, primordial father, Yahweh, approached the human sphere in the form of the two sons,

Satan and Christ.36

This tearing apart of the light and dark aspects of the image of God, as it is described by Jung, is true of all the other symbolic images. In Rhabanus Maurus’s list of flgurae, for instance, nearly all the typi (allegorical images), such as fire, eyes and lion, have one aspect which alludes to Christ and another which alludes to the devil. 37

417 The split into two aspects of the image of God, and at the same time of all other archetypal images, appears to be connected-as Jung states in his Eranos article on the mother archetype38-with the differentiation of feeling and, consequently, with moral judgment in Western culture.

This subsequently made it impossible to endure the paradoxical character and moral ambivalence still retained by, for instance, the Indian gods.

41s However, this moral reaction was preceded and induced by the constellation of the new archetypal situation itself, first revealed in the form of a transcendent psychic presence, as Perpetua’s visions show so clearly.

Splitting the image of God into Christus-Diabolus constellated a problem of the opposites which was to lead to a schism in times to come.

The one-sided belief in the light side which characterized the exponents of early Christianity-such as Perpetua-was bound, in obedience to the law of enantiodromia,39 to be followed by the problem of the Antichrist, “Lord of This

World:’ This question, however, was only to arise in the second era of the astrological age of Pisces.

419 It is particularly interesting in the visions of St. Perpetua to be able to observe this splitting-up process in the unconscious psyche itself.

An equally remarkable fact is that the lanista still incorporates

a remnant of the pagan spirit in which the opposites are united, but whose aim is unmistakably to urge humanity to be partisan of the light side.

420 The daimon who guides Perpetua in the person of the lanista carries yet a third attribute, the green bough with the golden fruit.

This is a bough from the Tree of Life, a general archetypal image which is to be found all over the world.

It is the tree of the Hesperides, whose fruit signifies eternal life. It is also important in alchemy as arbor solis et lunae.

It is no accident that Perpetua receives this bough at the hands of the leader of souls, for the tree grows in the west, the way of the night sea journey.

In the Aeneid, before the hero can enter the land of the dead, he must break the “golden bough:’40

So the bough is at the same time the promise of eternal life and a means of passing over into the kingdom of the dead, of descending into the unconscious.

This vision is particularly impressive when one considers that Perpetua had the dream on the eve of her actual death.

421 In the Passio Mariam et Jacobi, a boy who had been put to death three days before appeared to one of the martyrs, wearing a wreath of roses around his neck and carrying the greenest branch of a palm tree (palma viridissima) in his right hand.

He tells them that he is feasting merrily and that they will soon eat with him.

The bough of the Tree of Life with the golden apples corresponds to the milk in the first vision and to the water of life in the Dinocrates dream.

Gold is a symbol for the highest value (Dinocrates also drank out of a golden phial).

The green bough points to the fact that this highest value is a living element which has grown naturally.

422 Accordingly, the new spirit which towers above humanity fills Perpetua with absolute and unshakable conviction, and at the same time, it transmits to her from the unconscious the highest living value, which one may surely look upon as the Deity.

This spirit gives her the inner conviction of God’s existence, which makes it easy for her to die.

But again, for this very reason, her actual death becomes simply one more step in the inner development which is implied.

423 It is the Saint herself who now wins victory as “lifted up in the air;’ she tramples her foe, singing hymns as she does so.

She is thrown into a state of enthusiasm, an ecstatic condition in which she sings hymns as a means of banishing her doubts-which are embodied in the Egyptian.

Praising God meant at the same time making a mental sacrifice (thysia logike) for the purpose of receiving the divine help.

It was really a means of fighting.

In this connection, Clement of Alexandria says:

424 Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem, the heavenly word, a true fighter crowned in the theater of the whole cosmos.41

42s Ecstatic prophesying played a particularly important role among the Montanists.

Montanus even once said of himself:

426 Behold, man is like a lyre and I myself play on it as the

plectron [being himself the Paraclete], Man is asleep, but I

am awake.42

427 It is interesting that the Montanist prophetess Maximilla should also have said of herself: “I am the word, pneuma and dynamis. 43

Thus, Perpetua also becomes the pure Logos (hence her masculinity). In this way, she overcomes the spirit of doubt and attains the living, unquestionable faith, symbolized in the bough which the lanista presents to her with a kiss.

This is the kiss of peace,

which was a custom in the early Church; the kiss of life, of which the 28th ode in Odes of Solomon says: “Immortal life has come forth and has kissed me, and from that life is the Spirit within me, and it cannot die, for it lives.”44

429 As the outer destruction draws nearer, the comforting images in Perpetua’s dreams increase.

It is also doubtless owing to the general compensatory function of the unconscious that it was particularly the martyrs in prison and the monks who gave themselves up to a life of asceticism in the desert who enjoyed frequent dreams of wonderful banquets and beautiful heavenly gardens.

430 The terrible events actually connected with the martyrdom of Perpetua and her fellow-sufferers parallel the dream images. They are their outer fulfillment and, at the same, their denial. As Saturus takes the lead in the dream, so he is the first to be put to death; as Perpetua lays aside her garment in the dream, so the mad cow tears her dress to shreds, exposing her nakedness; and just as the Egyptian threatens to pierce her with his sword, so she is actually pierced by the sword of the gladiator (and this contrary to all expectation, thanks to the intercession of the crowd on her behalf).

Therefore, one might even say that in outer reality the Egyptian conquered.

But his triumph was like the victory of Hell and death when Christ was crucified.

Through suffering these, Christ remained victorious.45

Thus, in a certain sense, Perpetua suffers the very fate of Christ; in the words of St. Paul, “Christ” is “formed in” her ( Gal. 4: 19). Because consciously she is entirely on the side of one of the pairs of opposites in the unconscious and becomes identical with it, the other appears as her outer fate.

Yet the very fact of being torn by the conflict (whose truest symbol is the cross of Christ) also offers the possibility of a new life ( alluded to in the vision as the bough with the golden apples).

432 When the deepest layers of the collective unconscious are stirred, as they were at that time, with an emerging new symbol of God, outer events also seem to take part in the process-miracles come to pass.

For instance, when the martyrs were put to death, incidents occurred whose unconscious logical sequence seems hardly credible to rational consciousness:

Not only did the Egyptian apparently conquer with his sword, but also at first, it was even decided by the organizers of the games that the women martyrs should appear in white robes, as priestesses of Ceres, and the men, in scarlet, as priests of Saturn.

433 The martyrs protested on the grounds that they gave their lives precisely to avoid having to do anything of the kind.

The suggestion was finally dropped.

It was, in fact, a widespread custom at that time to make criminals who had been sentenced play such roles in the amphitheater, but the extraordinary thing is the choice of the gods whose priests the martyrs would have to impersonate.

The women were to serve Ceres, the greatest Mother-Deity of antiquity, the Earth Mother and Mother of the Corn, the protectress of young women.

434 It was just this principle, however, that Perpetua and her fellow martyr Felicitas had repudiated.

Perpetua forsook her infant son; Felicitas gave birth to a child in prison only shortly before her martyrdom.

And what is still more amazing is that they were thrown

to a mad cow.

435 The cow itself is a widespread ancient symbol of the feminine and maternal principle.

The author of the “Passio Perpetuae” seems somehow to have sensed the singularity of this coincidence, for he says:

436 As to the young women, the devil had kept a mad cow in store for them-which had been provided quite exceptionally [praetor consuetudi-nem]-in order by means of the animal, to insult their sex still further by aping it [sexui earum etiam de bestia aemuiatus].

An equally astonishing coincidence of outer circumstances is to be found concerning the male martyrs.

They were to appear as priests of Saturn, and two of them bore names which happen to be derivations of Saturn: one was Saturus, the other Satuminus.

438 In Africa, the Roman Saturn was identified with a native Punic-Phoenician deity and played a significant role in the cult of the country.

In the old inscriptions, he is called frugifer (fruit producing) or deus frugum (god of fruit) and is compared to Ceres.

The cult of this god was exceptionally widespread in Africa, as the apologetic writings of Tertullian show.46

In a list of bishops recorded by Cyprian (Epist. 557), no fewer than four bear the name Satuminus.

According to Tertullian, the priests of Saturn had particularly broad purple stripes on their togas, also a loose garment in Galati an red.47

So they wore exactly the same clothing as the gigantic lanista in Perpetua’s vision-evidence yet again of the bewildering similarity of the opposites.

439 Saturday was the day consecrated to Saturn, and it also coincided with the Sabbath of the Jews, so it was believed at the time that Saturn was the highest god of the Jews.

Since no distinction was generally made between Christians and Jews, he was also thought of as the God of the Christians.

So, the idea which occurred to the organizers of the games-to dress up the martyrs specifically as priests of Saturn-undoubtedly had its origin in these connections.

440 Thus, the law of the enantiodromia of all archetypal opposites fulfilled itself in the martyrs up to the bitter end, and the tension of the wrenching apart of those opposites produced a new life-energy with which the Christian culture of the following centuries was to build afresh.

But the unconscious itself sustained the martyrs with images which held the promise of new life, thereby giving them the inner strength to stand unwaveringly by their decision.

441 These visions of the “Passio Perpetuae” therefore reveal in a singularly complete form the whole unconscious situation of humanity at that time, pagan as well as Christian.

They also show the conflict the Christians experienced in endeavoring to tear themselves free from the spirit which was bound up in nature and in matter.

Martyrdom itself had indeed no other meaning than to demonstrate to the pagan world this complete separation and the absolute belief in a world beyond.

But the visions also show what hard battles the believers had to fight within themselves, how deep the inner struggle, which in reality had broken out between two divine, suprapersonal unconscious powers.

442 In truth, viewed psychologically, the martyrs can be seen as tragic, unconscious victims of the transformation which was then being fulfilled deep down in the collective stratum of the human soul.

This was the transformation of the image of God, whose new

form was to rule over the aeons to come. ~Marie Louise von Franz,  Niklaus von Flue and Saint Perpetua, Page 177-209