Lecture 9 23 June 1939
We will now return to our actual topic.
I must give you some literature about the Ignatian exercises.
There is a slim, highly recommended book by Philipp Funk which came out in 1913 and is available in the Zentralbibliothek [Zurich central library]: Ignatius von Loyola.48
In preparation for these talks on the Ignatian exercises, I used a Latin praxis: the Praxis exercitiorum spiritualium by the Spanish Jesuit Sebastián Izquierdo, from 1695.49
It is a very good commentary on the Ignatian practices.
There’s a huge amount of lit er a ture about Ignatius and his exercises written by the Jesuits themselves, as well as by other Catholic scholars.
Many Protestants have also written about them. But it’s pointless for me to swamp you with literature.
Regarding the earlier meditations, I mentioned the Victorines, the writings of Hugh of Saint Victor.
You can also get a good impression of the devotio moderna from the little prayer book by Thomas à Kempis, who
died at the end of the fifteenth century.
A prayer book which is universal: The Imitation of Christ.50 It’s a very nice medieval prayer book, which gives chapter- by- chapter meditations.
A lot of it was carried over into Protestantism.
In the Brethren’s Congregation of Herrnhut there are daily meditation prompts, called watchwords.
They used to issue a little book every year with these meditation guides.51
The brethren received a quotation, a watchword, on which they would meditate.
These sorts of things are still flourishing today.
Last time I mentioned Cisneros’s meditation series to you:
- Via purgativa— Purification
- Via illuminativa— Enlightenment
- Via unitativa— Union, uni-cation
This is a very typical series of stages which also underpins alchemical and hermetic meditations— although these are performed with chemical substances and not the prayer book.
It is a very interesting comparison, because these things were amalgamated into the rituals of the Catholic church, specifically in the Mass.
There is a characteristic counterpart of the via purgativa in alchemy.52
One only has to think of the subjects of the first week of purification: sin, death, hell, the Last Judgment, the Passion of Christ, the sorrows of Mary; and, finnally, eternal glory—to provide a contrast to the impression of darkness and of suffering.
It corresponds to the alchemical state of purgatory, hell, Hades; tenebrositas,53 darkness, or nigredo, blackness;
melancholia; torture. In this state, suffering and darkness prevail.
It also involves a kind of death.
It is the dead, unawakened state in which the mystics’ little spark of the soul (the scintilla) is imprisoned in the darkness,
in a dark state of suffering.
Getting through this stage involves much effort and pain, and culminates in the ablutio, that is, the ablution or washing clean.
This then leads into the next state, the illuminatio, specifically the stage called the albedo, that is, the whitening, the whiteness.54
This is compared in alchemy to the rising of the sun, early morning before dawn, the first light before the sun comes up.
This is the moment when the blackness of sin is washed away, when the new light comes.
It is also referred to as the descensus animae, the moment when the soul, which in this state was separated from the body (having first been hidden in the darkness of the body), descends.
The body is washed and the whiteness enters it. Then the soul reenters the body.
That is the second week in the meditation series.
Here, the beneficence of creation (washing), God’s forgiveness (descent), the calling (ensoulment), the justification (purification), then the gifts received by the grace of God, and finally God’s guidance are meditated on.
All this belongs to the whitening, the blessing of the reanimation (revividatio), but where one last thing is still missing: because now we have the dark, sinful state, and an enlightenment, a lightness, but this process has not actually generated
a new quality yet—it is merely that the necessary insight into one’s own sinfulness has been gained, but there is not yet a new way of being, no reconciliation, no union.
That is why it is followed by the via unitativa, that is, the path of union, the unio mystica.55
It is the creation of a being that is free of all stains of the sins of the past.56
This happens through the union in alchemy, the conjunctio, where two separate and different qualities are combined so
that a complete, incorruptible creature comes about.
In this via unitativa, the time is exclusively given over to meditating on the Godhead in all its aspects: as the creative source, as the beauty of the world, as the power and glory of the earth, then the aspect of love, of the law, the highest guide of the world and the giver of all goods and gifts.
This meditation on the Godhead in its various aspects is the unio, the unification, the becomingone.
Because as a human one always remains imperfect. Man is transferred
into the Godhead in a way.
That is the eternal spotless and incorruptible state.
In alchemy, the conjunctio is de-ned as a union of a (this time alive)
body which is corpus, and anima (soul).
But it still lacks the spirit; that is still to come.
And the spirit joins when the union of a masculine and a feminine principle takes place.
That is exactly what we have seen in Eastern philosophy.
Purusha and prakriti always have to be reunified again and again, because they keep getting separated by the sattvam.57
But in the conscious mind— cittam58— which separates and perceives the differences, we become aware, obtain the knowledge, that this and that is like that or like this.
Our conscious minds continually split things, so that purusha and prakriti are separated.
A curious psychological phenomenon occurs, which must be compensated for. We don’t need to go into that
In any case, in alchemy the conjunctio is the union of a female and a male princi ple, the spiritual and the material, as a result of which the perfect body arises, the corpus glori!cationis of the Last Judgment, where we will all be resurrected with an immortal body.59
The subtle body.60
The lapis philosophorum is therefore also called the lapis aetherius and invisibilis (stone of invisibility).
And the alchemists call this body which emerges from the conjunctio the deus terrestris, the earthly God, God of the earth.
Now, the alchemists themselves draw an analogy between the lapis and Christ.
That is very signi-cant in alchemical philosophy, and led to the representation of the alchemical pro cess as missa, as the Mass.
I have brought a picture to show you how the alchemical pro cess is depicted as a Mass [Fig.&1]. ~Carl Jung, The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, Page 16-20