' Reposted with personal permission from Prof. Craig Chalquist. '
A note to the reader:
This inquiry into the Gnostic roots of Jung’s psychology landed on me one day as I reread Jung and the Gnostics back to back. I did not foresee this turn in the roadway, but as a result of it, I have moved from seeing Jung as the inventor of a psychological approach to seeing him instead as a translator of Gnosticism into depth psychology.
This shift has brought forth lively discussion from my students and colleagues, but no Jungian journal I contacted has shown interest in publishing any version of this rather long paper. Although it did not end up as a fully formatted academic paper, I’ve left in the initial citations and references for readers who wish to know more about the source material.
I would like to thank Lance S. Owens for so generously extending to me his immense knowledge of Jung’s relationship with Gnosticism and for providing sources to consult, arguments to ponder, and criticisms of my points to reflect upon. I also thank him, Carol Whitfield, Sean Kelly, and Bonnie Bright for reading a draft of this paper and my students for providing lively conversation about it. This assistance and support has given me a fresh appreciation of how what Jung said about individuation also applies to academic work, even when you’ve done it for a while: No one grows alone.
Whatever we say about the psychical, we always are talking out of an archetype.
—Jung, Childhood Dreams Seminar (2010a, p. 72)
We are real and not symbols.
—Philemon (Simon Magus), from Jung’s Red Book (2009, p. 246)
Origin of the Question
I’ve taught depth psychology to graduate students and undergrads since 2004. To prepare for an upcoming doctoral seminar examining Jung, alchemy, and Gnosticism as facets of a continuing imaginal tradition, I reread everything by Jung that’s been translated into English: Collected Works, seminars, letters, interviews, etc. I then reread the extant Gnostic corpus. This was the first time I had studied Jung and Gnosticism back to back.
Scholars and analysts familiar with these fields often remark on the amazing parallels between the two. In one direction, Jung’s work has been referred to as a psychological Gnosticism (e.g. Hoeller, 1982, p. 40); in the other, Gnostic lore has been described as uncannily Jungian. When I ask experts about this remarkable fact, they nearly always say that Jung tuned into the same layers of psyche that the Gnostics accessed, especially during his celebrated “confrontation with the unconscious” once it had burst forth in 1913. The psychic magma this released congealed into his later work.
As I went through the Gnostic Bruce Codex, nodding in recognition at so many Jungian-seeming motifs and images, I suddenly felt doubtful. Jung too had read this. It’s one thing to explore similar depths, but quite another to come up with uncannily similar concepts to describe those depths.
Bothered by this thought, I reread what Jung had written about Gnosticism and went on to study the Gnostic sources available to him early in his career. (Dr. Lance Owens has made a number of them available online at http://gnosis.org/.) Jung studied the work of GRS Mead, some unimpressive books published in German, the much fuller patristic literature (some of which reviled the Gnostics), and two Gnostic codices: the Bruce and the Askew. The tremendous findings at Nag Hammadi lay hidden until 1945; Jung is not thought to have gone through them.
This is what he wrote in “The Structure and Dynamics of the Self”:
Gnosis is undoubtedly a psychological knowledge whose contents derive from the unconscious. It reached its insights by concentrating on the “subjective factor,” which consists empirically in the demonstrable influence that the collective unconscious exerts on the conscious mind. This would explain the astonishing parallelism between Gnostic symbolism and the findings of the psychology of the unconscious (1979, p. 223).
Would it? From “Tragic Christianity”:
It means nothing less than that the Gnostics in question derived the knowable πεσμα from the unconscious, i.e., that these represented unconscious contents. This discovery results not only in the possibility but also in the necessity of supplementing the historical method of explanation by one that is based on a scientific psychology (1977, p. 653).
Again and again Jung describes Gnosticism as psychological, but from within the framework of a psychology already informed by Gnosticism. “Archetype,” “syzygy,” “shadow,” “projection,” “image,” “wholeness,” “unconsciousness,” and “Anthropos” are Gnostic terms. The spark of divinity within everyone, which Jung calls the Self, is not only Upanishadic: it is a Gnostic image. So is the unconscious god who does not know himself. “Wise Old Man” Philemon as Jung encountered him within identified himself in the Red Book as Simon Magus, the legendary founder of Gnosticism. The four stages of anima development are named after Gnostic figures of the divine feminine who in turn derive from the inner femininity of a masculine god. Three of the four orienting functions of consciousness “discovered” by Jung seem to derive from Valentinian Gnostic typology. Like Jung, Valentinus locates psyche between matter and spirit. The chief Valentinian God is named Bythos, “Depth,” the head of celestial system of self-regulating opposites. Individuation bears a strong resemblance to the quest for gnosis, a quest for wholeness informed by dreams. The Gnostics pursued it via mandalic image maps, active imagination, engagement with imaginal personifications, extensive amplification of mythic tales, work with dreams, and obsession with quaternities.
Imagine stocking your newly minted version of psychology with ideas and themes lifted from an obscure religion, then claiming that religion to be psychological. Was that what Jung did? Was that the real reason he was so sensitive about being known as an empiricist and not as a mystic? Was his unspoken but persistent project one of updating Gnosticism by making it scientific, dreaming the myth onward by giving it a modern dress?
To probe these questions in the absence of a statement by Jung declaring his intention to psychologize Gnosticism, I studied the Gnostic sources available to him, comparing them as I went to key ideas in his psychology. I thought of the task as analogous to that of finding Egyptian roots in Greek mythology: the similarity of Hermes to Thoth, Dionysus to Osiris, and Demeter to Isis is apparent even in the absence of written commentary linking the Greek deities with their pre-existing Egyptian counterparts.
Had Gnosticism served as a guide and inspiration, as Jung had claimed all along, or as extensive source material mostly unacknowledged as such? This paper summarizes what I learned.
Jungian and Gnostic Key Ideas: A Comparison
Below is a table that brings together some of Jung’s basic concepts and ideas with those he encountered in his Gnostic readings from 1915 (possibly earlier) onward. The right column draws only on Gnostic sources Jung was known to have studied; the left includes statements from his work along with some relevant comments from his letters and seminars. Bear in mind that when Jung read what appears in the right column, he did so after being tipped off by Mead that Gnostic material was psychological (2008).
Jungian Concept, Idea, or Practice
Gnostic Concept, Image, or Motif
Abaissement du niveau mental: Pierre Janet’s term for a lowering of the level of consciousness and of vitality; a sense of soul loss. Jung made this term his own:
“The listlessness and paralysis of will can go so far that the whole personality falls apart, so to speak, and consciousness loses its unity…” (1981a, p. 119).
Sophia falls into depressed confusion when separated from Bythos, Adam when first created by Ialdabaoth, and the Demiurge when sucked dry of spiritual vitality by Sophia and by Jesus.
One example of many: “… Sophia became very greatly exhausted, and that lion-faced light-power set to work to take away from Sophia all her light-powers, and all the material powers of Self-willed surrounded Sophia at the same time and pressed her sore” (Mead, 1921a).
Active imagination: fantasizing about something, inner or outer, until the fantasy images take on a life of their own and transport consciousness into their own imaginal realm.
“Take the unconscious in one of its handiest forms, say a spontaneous fantasy, a dream, an irrational mood, and affect, or something of the kind, and operate with it. Give it your special attention, concentrate on it, and observe its alterations objectively. Spare no effort to devote yourself to this task, follow the subsequent transformations of the spontaneous fantasy attentively and carefully. Above all, don’t let anything from outside, that does not belong, get into it, for the fantasy-image has “everything it needs.” In this way one is certain of not interfering by conscious caprice and of giving the unconscious a free hand” (1977b).
“You must carefully avoid impatient jumping from one subject to another. Hold fast to the one image you have chosen and wait until it changes by itself. Note all these changes and eventually step into the picture yourself, and if it is a speaking figure at all then say what you have to say to that figure and listen to what he or she has to say. ….Thus you can not only analyse your unconscious but you also give your unconscious a chance to analyze yourself….” (1973, p. 460).
Gnosis (inner spiritual knowing) relies on imagination to encounter and converse with aeons (see below) and archons; Jesus provides instructions for this in various texts. “Now, therefore, Mary, there is no form in this world, nor any light, nor any shape, which is comparable to the four-and-twenty invisibles, so that I may liken it to them. But yet a little while and I will lead thee and thy brethren and fellow-disciples into all the regions of the Height and will lead you into the three spaces of the First Mystery, save only the regions of the space of the Ineffable, and ye shall see all their shapes in truth without similitude” (Mead, 1921b).
In the Recognitions of Pseudo-Clement, Simon Magus describes a “new sense” for perceiving God: imagination. Peter admits: “When I was at Capernaum, occupied in the taking of fishes, and sat upon a rock, holding in my hand a hook attached to a line, and fitted for deceiving the fishes, I was so absorbed that I did not feel a fish adhering to it while my mind eagerly ran through my beloved Jerusalem, to which I had frequently gone up, waking, for the sake of offerings and prayers. But I was accustomed also to admire this Caesarea, hearing of it from others, and to long to see it…and I thought of it what was suitable to be thought of a great city, its gates, walls, baths, streets, lanes, markets, and the like, in accordance with what I had seen in other cities….” But, he adds, seeing such images is how demonic possession begins (Schaff, 2009).
Aeon/Aion: a Gnostic and Mithraic god; a cosmic interval of time. Jung says little about the Gnostic version as such because he knows aeons are archetypes.
“Aion is the god of the union of opposites, the time when things come together” (1984, p. 430).
“The figure of Aion usually stood at the main altar of the Mithras cult—he is a man with a lion’s head, enveloped by the Zodiacal snake, Zrvan akarana, meaning ‘boundless time’” (2010a, p. 205).
“The Valentinian text gives the Autopator more positive qualities: ‘Some called him the ageless Aeon, eternally young, male and female, who contains everything in himself and is [himself] contained by nothing’” (1979, P. 191).
“Aeon” is an eternal realm, being, or celestial emanation. All aeons have archetypal names: Logos, Life, Hope, Love, First Thought, Insight, Grace, Prudence, Nameless, Unbegotten, Conception, Spirit, etc. Tangible types and images come forth from the invisible aeons inhabiting the pleroma (“fullness”).
The aeon known as the Demiurge consorts with snakes and bears and wears the head of a lion (compare the cover image of Jung’s book Aion). Archangels are emanations of aeons: archetypal images also described as “psychic” and “spiritual.”
In the First Book of Jeu Jesus tells his disciples that only gnosis can save the soul “from the archon of this aeon and his persecutions…You become whole through a freedom in which there is no blemish” (Schmidt & Macdermot, 1997, p. 46).
Alchemy: for Jung, an early psychological system.
“The alchemist’s endeavours to unite the opposites culminate in the ‘chymical marriage,’ the supreme act of union in which the work reaches its consummation. After the hostility of the four elements has been overcome, there still remains the last and most formidable opposition, which the alchemist expressed very aptly as the relationship between male and female” (1977b, p. 89).
“In East and West alike, alchemy contains at its core the Gnostic doctrine of the Anthropos and by its very nature has the character of a peculiar doctrine of redemption” (1983, p. 205).
“The alchemical drama leads from below upwards, from the darkness of the earth to the winged, spiritual filius macrocosmi; and to the lux moderna; the Christian drama, on the other hand, represents the descent of the kingdom of Heaven to earth” (1977b, p. 103). (Compare with the emphasis on ascent and descent found in the Pistis Sophia).
An interesting anticipation of alchemy appears in Origen: “After this, Celsus [an early Greek thinker with Gnostic ties], desiring to exhibit his learning in his treatise against us, quotes also certain Persian mysteries, where he says: ‘These things are obscurely hinted at in the accounts of the Persians, and especially in the mysteries of Mithras, which are celebrated amongst them. For in the latter there is a representation…of the following nature: There is a ladder with lofty gates, and on the top of it an eighth gate. The first gate consists of lead, the second of tin, the third of copper, the fourth of iron, the fifth of a mixture of metals, the sixth of silver, and the seventh of gold. The first gate they assign to Saturn, indicating by the ‘lead’ the slowness of this star; the second to Venus, comparing her to the splendour and softness of tin; the third to Jupiter, being firm and solid; the fourth to Mercury, for both Mercury and iron are fit to endure all things, and are money-making and laborious; the fifth to Mars, because, being composed of a mixture of metals, it is varied and unequal; the sixth, of silver, to the Moon; the seventh, of gold, to the Sun,—thus imitating the different colours of the two latter'” (Robert, 1885a).
Amplification: using associations and historical parallels to establish the non-personal context for an image or symbol.
“It does not, of course, suffice simply to connect a dream about a snake with the mythological occurrence of snakes, for who is to guarantee that the functional meaning of the snake in the dream is the same as in the mythological setting? In order to draw a valid parallel, it is necessary to know the functional meaning of the individual symbol, and then to find out whether the apparently parallel mythological symbol has a similar context and therefore the same functional meaning” (1981a, p. 50).
“Gnostic amplification, as we encounter it in Hippolytus, has a character in part hymn-like, in part dream-like, which one invariably finds where an aroused imagination is trying to clarify an as yet still unconscious content. These are, on the one hand, intellectual, philosophical—or rather, theosophical—speculations, and on the other, analogies, synonyms, and symbols whose psychological nature is immediately convincing” (1977a, p. 827).
Similar to the Gnostic proliferation of names, types, levels, connections, etc., as Jung acknowledges. Gnostic texts refer to sources from many mythico-religious systems and presuppose a wide knowledge of philosophy and history on the part of the reader. In the Pistis Sophia, for example, when Jesus asks which song of praise Sophia sang to redeem herself, Mary Magdalene replies, “My Lord, my indweller of light hath ears, and I hear with my light-power, and thy spirit which is with me, hath sobered me. Hearken then that I may speak concerning the repentance which Pistis Sophia hath uttered…Thy light-power hath prophesied thereof aforetime through the prophet David in the sixty-eighth Psalm…” and she quotes all of it (Mead, 1921c).
Jung would have seen other examples of Gnostic amplification in the work of Wilhelm Bousset, about whom Karen King observes, “…He did not intend genealogy to reduce the New Testament Son of Man merely to an ancient fertility rite; rather, genealogy enriched the motif’s field of meaning by supplying it with a complex of connotations and references vastly beyond its usage in specific New Testament literary contexts. The narrow incomprehensibility of Son of Man was replaced by ‘a great interconnected sphere of speculation of a related kind'” (2003, p. 92).
Anima/Animus: anima is the feminine archetype in a man, animus the masculine archetype in a woman. Jung wrote mostly about the anima.
“Four stages of eroticism were known in the late classical period: Hawwah (Eve), Helen (of Troy), the Virgin Mary, and Sophia. The series is repeated in Geothe’s Faust: in the figures of Gretchen as the personification of a purely instinctual relationship (Eve); Helen as an anima figure; Mary as the personifications of the ‘heavenly,’ i.e., Christian or religious, relationship; and the ‘eternal feminine’ as an expression of the alchemical Sapientia” (1985a, p. 174).
“It is probably Logos and Eros, personal and impersonal, which are the most fundamental differences between man and woman” (1973, p. 48). In the Red Book Jung refers to Elijah (Philemon) and Salome as Logos and Eros.
“Subtler minds in the Middle Ages already knew that every man ‘carries Eve, his wife, hidden in his body.’ It is this feminine element in every man (based on the minority of female genes in his biological make-up) which I have called the anima” (1977a, p. 189). Jung quotes from Dominicus Gnosis.
“In the shape of the goddess the anima is manifestly projected, but in her proper (psychological) shape she is introjected; she is, as Layard says, the ‘anima within.’ She is the natural sponsa….” (1979, p. 229). However, this cannot happen without a suitable female to receive the projection.
“The inferior Eros in man I designate as anima and the inferior Logos in woman as animus. These concepts, Logos and Eros, correspond roughly with the Christian idea of the soul” (1984, p. 488).
“An animus form appearing under the disguise of a god, as the animus can easily do because of his divine qualities. It is owing to these divine qualities that women are so completely under the spell of the animus, utterly helpless victims of his power, and of course the more they identify with him the more they are done for. The same thing is true of the anima. They are gods in the antique sense of the word” (1997, p. 778).
(For Emma Jung, the evolving animus starts out an animus of power, then deed, then word, then spirit: a very Christian schema.)
In the Two Essays Jung talks about the “conquest” to “convert” the anima into a function of relationship between conscious and unconscious, making it possible for the ego to get free of entanglements with the collective (1972, p. 227).
Feminine, masculine, and hermaphroditic figures as outer and inner pairs are basic to Gnosticism. Bythos (Depth) carries feminine and masculine in himself. All four stages ofthe anima bear the names of key Gnostic characters: Eve, Helen, Mary, and Sophia, “essence of souls” (Hippolytus, 2011). It could be argued that the guiding figure of Soul/Salome in Jung’s Red Book (2009) is actually a fallen Sophia; Jung compared her and Philemon to the Gnostic characters Helena and Simon Magus (Ribi, 2013).
According to Epiphanes, “The Creator and father of all with his own justice appointed this, just as he gave equally the eye to all to enable them to see. He did not make a distinction between female and male, rational and irrational, nor between anything else at all; rather he shared out sight equally and universally” (http://gnosis.org/library/ephip.htm).
“Now the males from this emanation are the ‘election,’ but the females are the ‘calling’ and they call the male beings angelic, and the females themselves, the superior seed. So also, in the case of Adam, the male remained in him but all the female seed was taken from him and became Eve, from whom the females are derived, as the males are from him” (Clement & Casey, 1934). “Now it is held amongst them, that, for the purpose of honouring the celestial marriages, it is necessary to contemplate and celebrate the mystery always by cleaving to a companion, that, is to a woman; otherwise (they account any man) degenerate, and a bastard to the truth, who spends his life in the world without loving a woman or uniting himself to her” (Tertullian, 2011).
“From the things above is discovered Power, and from those below Thought. In the same manner also that which was manifested from them although being one is yet found as two, the male-female having the female in itself. Thus Mind is in Thought—things inseparable from one another—which although being one are yet found as two…The male (Heaven, i.e., the Nous or Christ, or Spiritual Soul) looks down from above and takes thought for its co-partner (or Syzygy); while the Earth (i.e., the Epinoia or Jesus, or Human Soul) from below receives from the Heaven the intellectual (in the spiritual and philosophical sense, of course) fruits that come down to it and are cognate with the Earth (i.e., of the same nature essentially as Epinoia, who is essentially one with Nous)” (Mead, 2006, p. 21).
“But ‘that which has its being in Him is Life’—the syzygy or consort of the Logos. The Æons came into being through Him, but Life was in him. And she who is in Him, is more akin to Him than they who came into being through Him. For she is united to Him and bears fruit through Him” (Mead, 2008, p. 288).
Anthropos: the archetype of Man. “Christ is the Anthropos that seems to be a prefiguration of what the Holy Ghost is going to bring forth in the human being” (1976, p. 157).
Anthropos is a frequently appearing Gnostic term for the primal form from which Adam, Seth, Autogenes, and Jesus as earthly redeemers were copied. See Self.
Apocatastasis: the restoration of psychic wholeness. See Individuation.
“The old master saw the alchemical opus as a kind of apocatastasis, the restoring of an initial state in an ‘eschatological’ one (‘the end looks to the beginning, and contrariwise’). This is exactly what happens in the individuation process, whether it take the form of a Christian transformation (‘Except ye become as little children’), or satori experience in Zen (‘show me your original face’), or a psychological process of development in which the original propensity to wholeness becomes a conscious happening” (1979, p. 169).
The grand cosmic restoration once all light has been regathered by Sophia (and, in some versions, Christ) into the pleroma (wholeness).
In the words of Heracleon, “And the wage of our Lord is the salvation and restoration (apokatastasis) of those who are harvested, brought about by his resting upon them” (Origen, 2014).
“Then he [Marcus the Gnostic] said, that the restoration of the entire ensued when all the (elements), coming down into the one letter, sounded one and the same pronunciation” (Hippolytus, 2011).
Archetype (1919): a universal psychic pattern; a mentally expressed instinct. “Primordial image”: from a letter of Jacob Burckhardt to his student Alberi Brenner (1855) in which Faust and other “genuine myths” were called primoridial images.
“These collective patterns I have called archetypes, using an expression St. Augustine’s. An archetype means a typos[imprint], a definite grouping of archaic character containing, in form as well as in meaning, mythological motifs. Mythological motifs appear in pure form in fairytales, myths, legends, and folklore” (1970a, p. 41). St. Augustine doesn’t mention archetypes, but the Gnostics he attacked do.
“Take for instance the instinct of building a nest with birds. In the way they build the nest there is the beginning, the middle, and the end. It is built just to suffice for a certain number of young. So you see the end is already anticipated. That is the reason why, in the archetype itself, there is no time. It is a timeless condition where beginning, middle, and end are just the same, they are all given in one. This is only a hint of what the archetype can do, you know. But that’s a complicated question” (1987, p. 289).
“The collective unconscious, being the repository of man’s experience and at the same time the prior condition of this experience, is an image of the world which has taken aeons to form. In this image certain features, the archetypes or dominants, have crystallized out in the course of time. They are the ruling powers, the gods, images of the dominant laws and principles, and of typical, regularly occurring events in the soul’s cycle of experience” (1972, p. 95).
“Every morning a divine hero is born from the sea and mounts the chariot of the sun. In the West a Great Mother awaits him, and he is devoured by her in the evening. In the belly of a dragon he traverses the depths of the midnight sea. After frightful combat with the serpent of night he emerges again in the morning” (1970b, p. 153). All these images derive from Jung’s initial readings in Gnosticism.
“It is not storms, not thunder and lightning, not rain and cloud that remain as images in the psyche, but the fantasies caused by the affects they arouse” (1970b, p. 154).
“All ages before us have believed in gods in some form or other. Only an unparalleled impoverishment of symbolism could enable us to rediscover the gods as psychic factors, that is, as archetypes of the unconscious” (1981a, p. 23). Which are also possessed by animals, Jung believed.
“While personal complexes never produce more than a personal bias, archetypes create myths, religions, and philosophies that influence and characterize whole nations and epochs of history” (1968, p. 68).
Archetype: Gnostic technical term for a primordial aeonic manifestation. Gnostic literature is packed with aeons, images, forms, seals, and types, the greatest and first of which is Bythos: “Depth.”
“He opened His mouth, and sent forth similar to Himself a Logos….And the pronunciation of the name was of the following description. He was accustomed to utter the first word of the name itself, which was Arche, and the syllable of this was (composed) of four letters…And each of the elements had its own peculiar letters, and its own peculiar form, and its own peculiar pronunciation, as well as figures and images” (Hippolytus, 2011).
Origen: “After this the Jew remarks, manifestly in accordance with the Jewish belief: ‘We certainly hope that there will be a bodily resurrection, and that we shall enjoy an eternal life; and the example and archetype of this will be He who is sent to us, and who will show that nothing is impossible with God'” (Roberts, 1885b). Many Gnostics believed Jesus to be a copy of a celestial (i.e., archetypal) Christ.
“…Each one of the spiritual beings has its own power and its own sphere of action… And the angels, who are intellectual fire and intellectual spirits, have purified natures, but the greatest advance from intellectual fire, completely purified, is intellectual light” (Clement, 1934).
From the First Book of Jeu: “These are the ranks which he has caused to be emanated. And there are twelve ranks in each treasury, these being their type: six heads on this side and six on that, turned toward each other” (Schmidt & Macdermot, 1997, p. 53).
Origin also mentions “Ialdabaoth, who art the rational ruler of a pure mind, and a perfect work to son and father, bearing the symbol of life in the character of a type” (Robert, 1885a). (Ialdabaoth, “the psychic creator of the world” as a benevolent deity, may have been referred to by Jung as Abraxas (Red Book), whose image was often found on stones bearing an image of Mithras.) “…He is the demiurge and maker of this universe and everything in it; and because he is essentially different from these two and is between them, he is rightly given the name, intermediate“—from Ptolemy’s Letter to Flora, in Epiphanius, Against Heresies (in Mead, 2008).
“For just as a seal, when brought into contact with wax, produces a figure, (and yet the seal) itself remains of itself what it was, so also the powers, by coming into communion (one with the other), form all the infinite kinds of animals” (Hippolytus, 2011).
“All genera and species and individuals, nay the heaven and earth itself, are images of ‘seals’; they are produced according to certain pre-existent types. It was from the first concourse of the three original principles or powers that the first great form was produced, the impression of the great seal, namely, heaven and earth” (Mead, 2008).
Compensation: the self-regulation of the psyche to rebalance its wholeness.
“…In the unconscious is everything that has been rejected by consciousness, and the more Christian one’s consciousness is, the more heathenishly does the unconscious behave, if in the rejected heathenism there are values which are important to life—if, that is to say, the baby has been thrown out with the bath water, as so often happens” (1975, p. 440-41).
“The tempo of the development of consciousness through science and technology was too rapid and left the unconscious, which could no longer keep up with it, far behind, thereby forcing it into a defensive position which expresses itself in a universal will to destruction” (1981a, p. 349).
Self-rebalancing: of the Pleroma after willful Sophia’s creative and disturbing actions. Mead gives an example: when the Demiurge emanates from lower Sophia,”The various phases have been brought about by the light globes acting on the ‘darker’ ones. But now a new change takes place. There is an interaction of ‘dark’ globes; and the result is no longer a perfect sphere innate with motion, but an amorphous mass, in one sense out of the pleroma, as being lower than it, or not of its nature. When this takes place, the whole system endeavours, as it were, to right itself, just as the organs and corpuscles of the human body do when anything goes wrong in it, for the pleroma is the spiritual body of the Heavenly Man. …From every one of the thirty æons, as it were, there shoots forth a ray, and all the rays somehow or other, form a new æon or globe of light, which rounds off the amorphous mass, or ‘abortion,’ burns it into shape, enters into it, and finally carries it back to the rest” (Mead, 2008).
Complexes: splinter psyches: “complexes behave like independent beings” (1970b, p. 121).
“According to our best knowledge about them, complexes are psychic contents which are outside the control of the conscious mind. They have been split off from consciousness and lead a separate existence in the unconscious, being at all times ready to hinder or to reinforce the conscious intentions” (1933, p. 81).
“I hold that our personal unconscious, as well as the collective unconscious, consists of an indefinite, because unknown, number of complexes or fragmentary personalities” (1970a, p. 81).
See Personification. The Gnostics recognized various kinds of conflict and anguish as influences of specific aeonic and archontic beings. Especially splitting: Sophia loses her light and divides into a higher and a lower; the lower splits off the Demiurge, who aligns with archons (shadows of aeons) to create a divided world; a heavenly Christ watches over the earthly Jesus. “The creation itself was formed through the mother by the Demiurge (as it were without his knowledge), after the image of things invisible” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012).
Finding and redeeming figures of light among the faces of confusing darkness and painful rupture is a core Gnostic competency.
Dream interpretation: not just personal but collective and archetypal too.
“All consciousness separates; but in dreams we put on the likeness of that more universal, truer, more eternal man dwelling in the darkness of primordial night. There he is still whole, and the whole is in him, indistinguishable from nature and bare of all egohood” (1970c, p. 144).
Dreams were important guidance for Gnostics, according to patristic sources. For example, Hippolytus (2011) lists the interpretation of dreams as a practice of the followers of Simon Magus. So does Irenaeus (2012), who refers to “Paredri” (familiars) and “Oniropompi” (dream-senders). He also notes that Sige, or Silence, partners with the Father to produce offspring like images in a dreaming.
Ego: “I” and seat of the will.
“Nothing could be more mistaken than to assume that a myth is something ‘thought up.’ It comes into existence of its own accord, as can be observed in all authentic products of fantasy, and particularly in dreams. It is the hybris of consciousness to pretend that everything derives from its primacy, despite the fact that consciousness itself demonstrably comes from an older unconscious psyche” (1970c, p. 443).
“The motto ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’ is not just a Germanic prejudice; it is the superstition of modern man in general. In order to maintain his credo, he cultivates a remarkable lack of introspection. He is blind to the fact that, with all his rationality and efficiency, he is possessed by powers beyond his control. The gods and demons have not disappeared at all, they have merely got new names. They keep him on the run with restlessness, vague apprehensions, psychological complications, an invincible need for pills, alcohol, tobacco, dietary and other hygienic systems—and above, all, with an impressive array of neuroses” (2010b, p. 121).
The ordinary state of consciousness in need of deepening and transformation by gnosis.
In a discussion about the will in Pseudo-Clement’s Recognitions, Simon Magus wonders about the limits to the will’s comprehension of anything at all. “For just as the Demiurge, moved by Wisdom without his knowledge, thinks that he is a free agent, so also do men” (Schaff, 2009).
In Pistis Sophia, Jesus scolds some of the male disciplines for their (ego-bound) confusion and assures them all, “Yet a little while and I will tell you the mystery of the universe and the fulness of the universe… in fulness will I perfect you in all fulness and in all perfection and in all mysteries, which are the perfection of all perfections and the fulness of all fulnesses and the gnosis of all gnoses,—those which are in my Vesture [robe of light]. I will tell you all mysteries from the exteriors of the exteriors to the interiors of the interiors” (Mead, 1921d).
Experience and evidence (“empiricism”) over faith. In MDR and other writings Jung repeatedly describes his incapacity for belief in what his experience cannot verify.
“…When I say as a psychologist that God is an archetype, I mean by that the ‘type’ in the psyche. The word ‘type’ is, as we know, derived from ‘blow’ or ‘imprint’; thus an archetype presupposes an imprinter. Psychology as the science of the soul has to confine itself to its subject and guard against overstepping its proper boundaries by metaphysical assertions or other profession of faith” (1980, p. 14).
“Too few people have experienced the divine image as the innermost possession of their own souls. Christ only meets them from without, never from within the soul; that is why dark paganism still reigns there, a paganism which, now in a form so blatant that is can no longer be denied and now in all too threadbare disguise, is swamping the world of so-called Christian civilization” (1980, p. 12).
“I am now nearly seventy years old, but the charisma of belief has never arisen in me” (1977a, p. 646).
The Faustus depicted in St. Augustine’s In Reply to Faustus the Manichaean offers arguments like Jung’s on behalf of evidence over belief: “For my part, I have read the prophets with the most eager attention, and have found no such prophecies. And surely it shows a weak faith not to believe in Christ without proofs and testimonies” (Augustine & Schaff, 2011). (I have observed elsewhere (2009) that Jung’s personal myth seems to have been Faust.)
“…When Celsus says in express words, ‘If they would answer me, not as if I were asking for information, for I am acquainted with all their opinions, but because I take an equal interest in them all, it would be well. And if they will not, but will keep reiterating, as they generally do, ‘Do not investigate,’ etc., they must, he continues, explain to me at least of what nature these things are of which they speak, and whence they are derived,’ etc.” (Robert, 1885c). “If these (meaning the Christians) bring forward this person, and others, again, a different individual (as the Christ), while the common and ready cry of all parties is, ‘Believe, if thou wilt be saved, or else begone,’ what shall those do who are in earnest about their salvation? Shall they cast the dice, in order to divine whither they may betake themselves, and whom they shall join?” (Robert, 1885a).
Enantiodromia: the alternation and interchange of opposites.
“Modern man does not understand how much his ‘rationalism’ (which has destroyed his capacity to respond to numinous symbols and ideas) has put him at the mercy of the psychic ‘underworld’” (1968, p. 84).
“Just as materialism led to empirical science and thus to a new understanding of the psyche, so the totalitarian psychosis with its frightful consequences and the intolerable disturbance of human relationships are forcing us to pay attention to the psyche and our abysmal unconsciousness of it” (1985a, p. 231).
“…Just as the intellect subjugated the psyche, so also it subjugated Nature and begat on her an age of scientific technology that left less and less room for the natural and irrational man. Thus the foundations were laid for an inner opposition which today threatens the world with chaos. To make the reversal complete, all the powers of the underworld now hide behind reason and intellect, and under the mask of rationalistic ideology a stubborn faith seeks to impose itself by fire and sword, vying with the darkest aspects of a church militant” (1975, p. 291-92).
Found in Heraclitus rather than the Gnostics (where it is implied, however) as mentioned and quoted in Hippolytus, who attacks the Gnostics for being Heraclitean: “‘Contrariety is the progenitor of all,'” and day and night, good and bad, twisted and straight, are one: “‘The way up and the way down are the same'” (2011).
“It came to pass then, when they [tyrannical archons] fought against the light, that they were weakened all together one with another, were dashed down in the æons and became as the inhabitants of the earth, dead and without breath of life” (Mead, 1921e).
In the Recognitions of Pseudo-Clement, Simon Magus advises, “Wherefore, do not invoke peace, but rather battle, which is the mother of peace” (Schaff, 2009).
“Now, in their system, Love forms the world incorruptible (and) eternal, as they suppose. For substance and the world are one. Discord, however, separates and puts asunder, and evinces numerous attempts by subdividing to form the world…And the fabricator of the generation of all things produced is, according to them, Discord; whereas Love, on the other hand, manages and provides for the universe in such a manner that it enjoys permanence” (Hippolytus, 2011).
Evil, reality of, relativity of. Jung’s attacks on the privatio boni doctrine were directed largely at St. Augustine’s position as laid out in his own attacks on Manichaeus: evil as the absence of good (Augustine & Schaff, 2011).
“I would like to ask: If God is so powerful and so good that he can make good out of evil, what does he make evil out of?” (1976, p 614).
“St. Thomas himself recalls the saying of Aristotle that ‘the thing is the whiter, the less it is mixes with black,’ without mentioning, however, that the reverse proposition: ‘the thing is the blacker, the less it is mixed with white,’ n
ot only has the same validity as the first but is also its logical equivalent” (1979, p. 51).
“I am indeed convinced that evil is as positive a factor as good. Quite apart from everyday experience it would be extremely illogical to assume that one can state a quality without its opposite. If something is good, then there must needs be something that is evil or bad”(1977a, p. 708).
The Gnostics believed evil started long before humans arrived. Many of their gods (“archons”) are evil. The Gnostic heroine Norea recognizes this, thus her assertive discrimination: when an angel comes down to see her, Norea does not bow or marvel but asks, “Who are you?”
Origen: “I do not understand how Celsus, while admitting the existence of Providence, at least so far as appears from the language of this book, can say that there never existed (at any time) either more or fewer evils, but, as it were, a fixed number; thus annihilating the beautiful doctrine regarding the indefinite s nature of evil, and asserting that evil, even in its own nature, is infinite” (Robert, 1885d).
On evil’s relativity: “Celsus has made a statement regarding evils of the following nature, viz., that ‘although a thing may seem to you to be evil, it is by no means certain that it is so; for you do not know what is of advantage to yourself, or to another, or to the whole world'” (Robert, 1885d).
Identification / Participation mystique: an unconscious psychic merger with a group or its leader; loss of individuality; mass unconsciousness.
“As a rule, when the collective unconscious becomes really constellated in larger social groups, the result is a public craze, a mental epidemic that may lead to revolution or war or something of sort. These movements are exceedingly contagious – almost overwhelmingly contagious because, when the collective unconscious is activated, you are no longer the same person. You are not only in the movement – you are it” (1970, p. 50).
Most people forget their divine origins, succumbing to common and materialistic worldly concerns (“the flesh of ignorance”). Also, many Gnostic texts describe immense transformations of consciousness undergone by circles of participants in a variety of rituals.
However, these circles were sharply distinguished from the psychikoi and hylikoi masses who knew nothing of gnosis and never would. “And Jesus, the compassionate, answered and said unto Mary: “Mary, thou blessed one, whom I will perfect in all mysteries of those of the height, discourse in openness, thou, whose heart is raised to the kingdom of heaven more than all thy brethren” (Mead, 1921f).
Image: a representation at the very foundations of the psyche (“imago” introduced 1911).
“We live immediately only in the world of images” (1970b, p. 327-28).
“Here I use the word ‘image’ simply in the sense of representation. A psychic entity can be a conscious content, that is, it can be represented, only if it has the quality of an image and is thus representable. I therefore call all conscious contents images, since they are reflections of processes in the brain” (1970b, p. 322).
“…In the case of our ‘forms,’ we are not dealing with categories of reason but with categories of the imagination. As the products of imagination are always in essence visual, their forms must, from the outset, have the character of images and moreover of typical images” (1975, p. 518).
“Eternal truth needs a human language that alters with the spirit of the times. The primordial images undergo ceaseless transformation and yet remain ever the same, but only in a new form can they be understood anew” (1985a, p. 196).
“An archetype—so far as we can establish it empirically—is an image. An image, as the very term denotes, is a picture of something. An archetypal image is like the portrait of an unknown man in a gallery. His name, his biography, his existence in general are unknown, but we assume nevertheless that the picture portrays a once living subject, a man who was real. We find numberless images of God, but we cannot produce the original. There is no doubt in my mind that there is an original behind our images, but it is inaccessible. We could not even be aware of the original since its translation into psychic terms is necessary in order to make it perceptible at all” (1977a, p. 706).
“You evidently did not know that epistemologically I take my stand on Kant, which means that an assertion doesn’t posit its object. So when I say ‘God’ I am speaking exclusively of assertions that don’t posit their object. About God himself I have asserted nothing, because according to my premise nothing whatever can be asserted about God himself. All such assertions refer to the psychology of the God-image” (1973, p. 294).
Image is key to Gnostic cosmology, in which all beings, powers, and worlds emanate as copies (living images) of originals in the pleroma.
“…Valentinus writes: ‘As far removed as is the [dead image] from the living face, so far is the [phenomenal] world removed from the living æon [the noumenal]. What then is the cause of the image? The majesty of the [living] face, [or person,] which exhibits the type [of the universe] to the painter, and in order that it [the universe] may be honoured by its name [—the name or real being of the majesty of the godhead]….The ‘image’ is the work of Sophia or Wisdom, who is the ‘painter’ who transfers the types from the noumenal spaces on to the canvas of the phenomenal world, and the ‘true God'” or the ‘God of truth’ is the creator of the noumenal world, which contains the types of all things” (Mead, 2008)
Origen, from ContraCelsum, quoting the “heretic” Celsus: “‘For who, unless he be utterly childish in his simplicity, can take these for gods, and not for offerings consecrated to the service of the gods, or images representing them? But if we are not to regard these as representing the Divine Being, seeing that God has a different form, as the Persians concur with them in saying, then let them take care that they do not contradict themselves; for they say that God made man His own image, and that He gave him a form like to Himself'” (Robert, 1885e).
Also: “‘If these idols are nothing, what harm will there be in taking part in the feast? On the other hand, if they are demons, it is certain that they too are God’s creatures, and that we must believe in them, sacrifice to them according to the laws, and pray to them that they may be propitious.'” (“Demon” here may be a deliberate distortion of daimon.)
“They style themselves Gnostics. They also possess images, some of them painted, and others formed from different kinds of material; while they maintain that a likeness of Christ was made by Pilate at that time when Jesus lived among them. They crown these images, and set them up along with the images of the philosophers of the world that is to say, with the images of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Aristotle, and the rest. They have also other modes of honouring these images, after the same manner of the Gentiles” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012).
Individuation: becoming a consciously whole individual.
“….Always the inner experience of individuation is what the mystics called “the experience of God.” That is a psychological fact and it is why the process of individuation has always been appreciated as the most valuable and important thing in life” (1984, p. 289).
“For conflict is absolutely indispensable for individuation. You cannot individuate as long as you are identical with your aims and activities because they are always only one aspect, and if you identify with only one aspect of yourself you are merely an autonomous function, an autonomous aspect of yourself. But if you accept the conflict between two or several aspects of personality, you have a chance to individuate, because you then need a center between the conflicting tendencies; then individuation makes sense” (1988, p 562).
“Individuation is ultimately a religious process which requires a corresponding religious attitude = the ego-will submits to God’s will. To avoid unnecessary misunderstandings, I say ‘self’ instead of God. It is also more correct empirically” (1976, p. 265).
“The difference between the ‘natural’ individuation process, which runs its course unconsciously, and the one which is consciously realized, is tremendous. In the first case consciousness nowhere intervenes; the end remains as dark as the beginning. In the second case so much darkness comes to light that the personality is permeated with light, and consciousness necessarily gains in scope and insight” (1975, p. 468).
“There is no possibility of individuation on the top of Mount Everest where you are sure that nobody will ever bother you. Individuation always means relationship (1997, p. 1367).
“Individuation cuts one off from personal conformity and hence from collectivity. That is the guilt which the individual leaves behind him for the world, that is the guilt he must endeavour to redeem. He must offer a ransom in place of himself, that is, he must bring forth values which are an equivalent substitute for his absence in the collective personal sphere… Only to the extent that a man creates objective values can he and may he individuate” (1977a, p. 451).
“…One goal we can attain, and that is to develop and bring to maturity individual personalities. And inasmuch as we are convinced that the individual is the carrier of life, we have served life’s purpose if one tree at least succeeds in bearing fruit, though a thousand others remain barren” (1985a, p. 110).
“…There is no point in promoting individual development beyond the needs of the patient. If he can find the meaning of his life and the cure for his disquiet and disunity within the framework of an existing credo—including a political credo—that should be enough for the doctor. After all, the doctor’s main concern is the sick, not the cured” (1985a, pp. 16-17).
“If we cannot deny the archetypes or otherwise neutralize them, we are confronted, at every new stage in the differentiation of consciousness to which civilization attains, with the task of finding a new interpretation appropriate to this stage, in order to connect the life of the past that still exists in us with the life of the present, which threatens to slip away from it. If this link-up does not take place, a kind of rootless consciousness comes into being no longer oriented to the past, a consciousness which succumbs helplessly to all manner of suggestions and, in practice, is susceptible to psychic epidemics” (1981a, p. 157).
Gnosis: realization of completion, perfection, and wholeness through inner contemplation of divine powers, beings, and planes of existence.
Pursuit of Gnosis through conscious encounters with imaginal beings stationed at various levels. “Man (teaches the Gnosis we are endeavouring to recover from Hippolytus) is subject to generation and suffering so long as he remains in potentiality; but, once that his ‘imaging forth’ is accomplished, he becomes like unto God, and, freed from the bonds of suffering and birth, he attains perfection” —from Mead, 2008, where he also writes, “This ‘robe of power’ is presumably the highest spiritual body, or principium individuitatis, which participates of the divine and human natures, that is to say, opens up the realms of the divine world to the man, and makes him a partaker of eternal being.” (“Principium individuitatis” also shows up in Jung’s Gnostic Seven Sermons, attributed to Basilides but spoken imaginally by Philemon. The Sermons contain in storied form the germ of the bulk of Jung’s later theorizing.)
“…Knowledge of the unspeakable Greatness is itself perfect redemption. For since both defect and passion flowed from ignorance, the whole substance of what was thus formed is destroyed by knowledge; and therefore knowledge is the redemption of the inner man” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012). As Faustus tells St. Augustine in Reply to Faustus, “‘For you think that it is the old or outer or earthy man that is said to have been made by God; while we apply this to the heavenly man, giving the superiority to the inner or new man'” (Augustine & Schaff, 2011).
From the Naassene Psalm: “I, bearing the seal, shall descend and wander all Aeons through, all mysteries reveal. I shall manifest the forms of the gods and teach them the secrets of the holy way which I call Gnosis” (Hippolytus, 2011).
“According to Simon, therefore, there exists that which is blessed and incorruptible in a latent condition in every one—(that is, potentially, not actually; and that this is He who stood, stands, and is to stand. He has stood above in unbegotten power. He stands below, when in the stream of waters He was begotten in a likeness. He is to stand above, beside the blessed indefinite power, if He be fashioned into an image” (Hippolytus, 2011).
The Gnostics seem not to have believed that gnosis was for everyone: “Animal men [psychikoi], again, are instructed in animal things; such men, namely, as are established by their works, and by a mere faith, while they have not perfect knowledge. We of the Church, they say, are these persons. Wherefore also they maintain that good works are necessary to us, for that otherwise it is impossible we should be saved. But as to themselves, they hold that they shall be entirely and undoubtedly saved, not by means of conduct, but because they are spiritual by nature” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012).
Many texts describe gnosis with the symbol of a tree, which is also a key symbol for Jung.
The Gnostics thought that gnosis proceeded via differentiation: “Now since we existed in separation, Jesus was baptised that the undivided should be divided until he should unite us with them in the Pleroma that we ‘the many’ having become ‘one,’ might all be mingled in in the One which was divided for our sakes” (Clement & Casey, 1934).
Some Gnostics believed that gnosis could even influence the pleroma: “…The Father, being unknown, wished to be known to the Aeons, and through his own thought, as if he had known himself, he put forth the Only-Begotten, the spirit of Knowledge which is in Knowledge…Yet that which sees and is seen cannot be formless or incorporeal. But they see not with an eye of sense, but with the eye of mind, such as the Father provided” (Clement & Casey, 1934). The alternative was to fall unconscious under the sway of the archons and their “deep sleep.”
Inflation: identification with an archetype.
“…The constellation of archetypal images and fantasies is not in itself pathological. The pathological element only reveals itself in the way the individual reacts to them and how he interprets them. The characteristic feature of a pathological reaction is, above all, identification with the archetype. This produces a sort of inflation and possession by the emergent contents, so that they pour out in a torrent which no therapy can stop” (1981a, p. 351).
“You see, the great ego of the world was God and were nothing but thoughts of God, and now we find that God is a thought of man. Therefore, man in all his modesty becomes a cosmic factor of the very first order, because he is the maker even of gods” (1988, p. 348).
“It is a psychological rule that when an archetype has lost its metaphysical hypostasis, it becomes identified with the conscious mind of the individual, which it influences and refashions in its own form. And since an archetype always possesses a certain numinosity, the integration of the numen generally produces an inflation of the subject. It is therefore entirely in accord with psychological expectations that Goethe should dub his Faust a Superman. In recent times this type has extended beyond Nietzsche into the field of political psychology, and its incarnation in man has had all the consequences that might have been expected to follow from such a misappropriation of power” (1975, p. 315).
The arrogance and unconsciousness that overtook the light-filled Demiurge, who forgot about the pleroma, and his followers, who believed themselves children of the true God. The heresiologists also criticize Basilides and others for taking themselves for the Messiah or for the highest God.
According to Mead, Simon Magus referred to a daemon that could take possession of a person by pretending to be the soul (2006).
According to Origen, Celsus warns against identification with and inflation by the magic powers of nature: “‘Care, however, must be taken lest any one, by familiarizing his mind with these matters, should become too much engrossed with them, and lest, through an excessive regard for the body, he should have his mind turned away from higher things, and allow them to pass into oblivion. For perhaps we ought not to despise the opinion of those wise men who say that most of the earth-demons are taken up with carnal indulgence, blood, odours, sweet sounds, and other such sensual things; and therefore they are unable to do more than heal the body, or foretell the fortunes of men and cities, and do other such things as relate to this mortal life'” (Robert, 1885e).
Gnosis heals inflation: “Those, then, who know these things have been freed from the principalities who formed the world” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012).
Libido: canalization and regression of.
“I never allow myself to make statements about the divine entity, since such would be a transgression beyond the limit of science. It would therefore be unfair to criticize my opinions as if they were a philosophical system. My personal view in this matter is, that Man’s vital energy or libido is the divine pneuma alright and it was this conviction which it was my secret purpose to bring into the vicinity of my colleagues’ understanding. When you want to talk to scientists you cannot start with a religious creed” (Jung et al, 2007, p. 7).
An energy of divine light flows back and forth between Sophia, the Demiurge, and human beings. One can be filled with or emptied of it.
Hippolytus: “According to Simon, therefore, there exists that which is blessed and incorruptible in a latent condition in every one—that is, potentially, not actually; and that this is He who stood, stands, and is to stand…. He is to stand above, beside the blessed indefinite power, if He be fashioned into an image. The originating principle of the generation of things begotten is from fire, the beginning of the desire of the generation is from fire. Wherefore the desire after mutable generation is denominated ‘to be inflamed'” (2011).
Mandalas: for Jung, Tibetan name for symbols or diagrams of wholeness. He drew his first ones at the end of WW I just before unpacking them in the Seven Sermons. He might have first seen them while on military service at the end of WW I (Ribi, 2013).
“The enclosure, as we have seen, has also the meaning of what is called in Greek a temenos, the precincts of a temple or any isolated sacred place. The circle in this case protects or isolates an inner content or process that should not get mixed up with things outside. Thus the mandala repeats in symbolic form archaic procedures which were once concrete realities” (1975, p. 95).
“…Mandala means ‘circle.’ There are innumerable variants of the motif shown here, but they are all based on the squaring of a circle. Their basic motif is the premonition of a centre of personality, a kind of central point within the psyche, to which everything is related, by which everything is arranged, and which is itself a source of energy….This centre is not felt or thought of as the ego but, if one may so express it, as the self. Although the centre is represented by an innermost point, it is surrounded by a periphery containing everything that belongs to the self—the paired opposites that make up the total personality” (1981a, p. 357).
“If a mandala may be described as a symbol of the self seen in cross section, then the tree would represent a profile view of it: the self depicted as a process of growth” (1983, p. 253).
“The symbols of the self are as a rule symbols of totality, but this is only occasionally true of God-images. In the former the circle and the quaternity predominate, in the latter the circle and the trinity—and this, moreover, only in the case of abstract representations, which are not the only ones to occur” (1977b, p. 207).
In the Bruce Codex are elaborate Gnostic circles and diagrams Jung would have thought of as psychic in nature (see below this table for some examples). For the Gnostics they depicted the various gates and interior structures of Treasuries of Light in the pleroma.
Origen, who complains of elaborate Gnostic diagrams with “circles upon circles”: “Celsus next relates other fables, to the effect that ‘certain persons return to the shapes of the archontics, so that some are called lions, others bulls, others dragons, or eagles, or bears, or dogs.’ We found also in the diagram which we possessed, and which Celsus called the ‘square pattern,’ the statements made by these unhappy beings concerning the gates of Paradise. The flaming sword was depicted as the diameter of a flaming circle, and as if mounting guard over the tree of knowledge and of life” (Robert, 1885a).
From Chapter XXXVIII comes a description of a Gnostic mandala: “Now, in the diagram referred to, we found the greater and the lesser circle, upon the diameter of which was inscribed ‘Father and Son;’ and between the greater circle (in which the lesser was contained) and another composed of two circles,—the outer one of which was yellow, and the inner blue,—a barrier inscribed in the shape of a hatchet. And above it, a short circle, close to the greater of the two former, having the inscription ‘Love;’ and lower down, one touching the same circle, with the word ‘Life.’ And on the second circle, which was intertwined with and included two other circles, another figure, like a rhomboid, (entitled) ‘The foresight of wisdom.’ And within their point of common section was ‘The nature of wisdom.’ And above their point of common section was a circle, on which was inscribed ‘Knowledge;’ and lower down another, on which was the inscription, ‘Understanding.'”
Mead refers to “the Proasteioi up to the Æther; that is to say, the hierarchies of powers as far as the æther, which were probably represented diagramatically by a series of concentric circles, a ‘proasteion’ being the space round a city’s walls” (2008).
Myths: storied frameworks for archetypes; the structural foundations and organizing narratives of the psyche.
“Our consciousness only imagines that it has lost its gods; in reality they are still there and it only needs a certain general condition in order to bring them back in full force. This condition is a situation in which a new orientation and adaptation are needed” (1976, p. 594).
“God always speaks mythologically. If he didn’t, he would reveal reason and science” (1976, p. 9).
“It was not the man Jesus who created the myth of the God-man; it had existed many centuries before. He himself was seized by this symbolic idea, which, as St. Mark tells us, lifted him out of the carpenter’s shop and the mental narrowness of his surroundings” (1977a, p. 247).
“…Like a snake changing its skin, the old myth needs to be clothed anew in every renewed age if it is not to lose its therapeutic effect” (1979, p. 181).
Dreaming myth onward: what the Gnostics did with Genesis and other biblical stories, updating them, adapting them (as Irenaeus puts it), and subjectivizing their relevance.
“Those instructed in the Mysteries were practised in the science of mythology, and thus the learned Gnostics at once perceived the mythological nature of the Exodus and its adaptability to a mystical interpretation…The difference between Gnostic exegesis and that of the subsequent Orthodox, is that the former tried to discover soul-processes in the myths and parables of scripture, whereas the Orthodox regarded a theological and dogmatic interpretation as alone legitimate” (Mead, 2008).
Also from Mead: “For whether we interpret their allegories from the macrocosmic or microcosmic standpoint, it is ever the evolution of the mind that the initiates of old have sought to teach us. The emanation and evolution of the world-mind in cosmogenesis, and of the human mind in anthropogenesis, is ever the main interest of the secret science” (2008).
Nekyia: a descent into the unconscious.
“The descent into the unconscious is always dangerous. It can be visualized as being devoured by the whale-dragon, as going down into a dark cave or into the castle of the evil magician. We go there to get something. As a rule, it is a valuable treasure or a marvelous precious stone. Or it is a virgin who must be saved. In each case, this is about bringing up an archetypal value. At first, this is done in a certain degree of unconsciousness. We do not know exactly what we caught fishing in the depths. Subsequently, however, we again come up into the world of light, and there the brought-up content mixes with the conscious contents. It is compared with them, or it can be realized—undoubtedly an acme, a climax. Or there follows a frightening insight into a certain situation, or also a positive insight. And then there follows the lysis, leading us back to the point from which we started” (2010a, p. 162).
Not only the descent of Odysseus as related by Homer, but that of Sophia, Nous, and Jesus into matter, flesh, and darkness in service to ultimate restoration and renewal (see Apocatastasis above). For the Gnostics the entire manifest Creation is a kind of universal descent.
The Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex states, “And he brought them forth from the darkness of the matter which was mother to them, and he said to them that light existed because they did not yet know light, whether it existed or not” (Schmidt & Macdermot, 1997, p. 277).
It goes on: “…And the mother of all things, who is hidden in every place, who is the thought of every aeon. And she is the concept of every god and every lord. And she is the gnosis of every invisible one. And thy image is the mother of every incomprehensible one. And it is the power of every infinite one.”
Numbers, psychic qualities of. Jung thought numbers possess archetypal qualities, a line of thought pursued by Marie-Louse von Franz.
“The fact is that the numbers pre-existing in nature are presumably the most fundamental archetypes, being the very matrix of all others” (1976, p. 327).
“…The unconscious somehow avails itself of the properties of whole numbers. In order to see my way more clearly, I tried to compile a list of the properties of whole numbers, beginning with the known, unquestionable mathematical properties” (1976, p. 328).
Elaborate Pythagorean-style calculations appear in Gnostic texts. “But the first monad became a principle, according to substance, of the numbers, which (principle) is a male monad, pro-creating paternally all the rest of the numbers. Secondly, the duad is a female number, which by the arithmeticians is also itself denominated even. Thirdly, the triad is a male number; this also it has been the usual custom of arithmeticians to style odd. In addition to all these, the tetrad is a female number; and this same, because it is feminine, is likewise denominated even” (Hippolytus, 2011). The First Book of Jeu gives number code combinations for use when encountering archons to bypass.
Numinosity: from Latin numinosum, referring to a dynamic agency or effect independent of the conscious will. Jung got the term from Rudolf Otto.
“…What counts in religious experience is not how explicitly an archetype can be formulated but how much I am gripped by it. The least important thing is what I think about it” (1977b, p. 524).
“The ‘living idea’ is always perfect and always numinous. Human formulation adds nothing and takes away nothing, for the archetype is autonomous and the only question is whether a man is gripped by it or not. If he can formulate it more or less, then he can more easily integrate it with consciousness, talk about it more reasonably and explain its meaning a bit more rationally. But he does not possess it more or in a more perfect way than the man who cannot formulate his ‘possession’” (1977b, p. 524).
Many Gnostic texts describe states of joy and awe uttered by those who are spiritually transformed by the gnosis. “And when Jesus had finished sealing them with this seal, in that moment the archons took away all their evil from the disciples. And they rejoiced with very great joy….and became immortal, and they followed Jesus to all the places to which they were to go” (Schmidt & Macdermot, 1977, p. 116).
“And the disciples had not seen Jesus because of the great light in which he was, or which was about him; for their eyes were darkened because of the great light in which he was. But they saw only the light, which shot forth many light-rays. And the light-rays were not like one another, but the light was of divers kind, and it was of divers type, from below upwards, one [ray] more excellent than the other, . . ., in one great immeasurable glory of light; it stretched from under the earth right up to heaven.—And when the disciples saw that light, they fell into great fear and great agitation” (Maed, 1921g).
Objectivation: stepping back from an identification.
“…This unconscious factor can be invoked, provided you give it the right name. We ought therefore to have symbols in order to control the unconscious factors. Otherwise they are absolutely beyond our control and we are their victims, and whether their influence is beneficial or disastrous remains in their hands” (1984, p. 581).
Naming and disidentifying with archons as one passes them on the way heavenward. “When you come to this place, seals yourselves with this seal: [missing]. This is its name: [ missing ] while the cipher 70331 is in your hand. Furthermore say this name [missing ] three times, and the watchers and the veils are drawn back, until you go to the place of their Father and he gives you his seal and his name and you cross over the gate into his treasury” Schmidt & Macdermot, 1997, p. 83).
Opposites: the ultimate source of energy for the psyche. Oppositions to be reconciled or bridged (see Transcendent Function below) pervade Jung’s thought.
“Intending to transform Yahweh into a moral God of goodness, Christ had torn apart the united (in God) but unharmonious and unreflected opposites (Satan falls out of heaven, Luke 10:18), thus the suspension between the opposites in the crucifixion. …This moral differentiation is a necessary step on the path of individuation. Without through knowledge of ‘good and evil,’ of the ego and the shadow, there is no recognition of the Self, but at most an involuntary and therefore dangerous identification with it” (1976, p 195).
“The only statements that have psychological validity concerning the God-image are either paradoxes or antinomies” (1980, p. 11).
“All opposites are of God, therefore man must bend to this burden; and in so doing he finds that God in his ‘oppositeness’ has taken possession of him, incarnated himself in him. He becomes a vessel filled with divine conflict” (1975, p. 416).
Pervasive throughout Gnostic myth as higher and lower, inner and outer, left and right, feminine and masculine, spiritual and material, etc. Charles William King writes that Gnosticism attempted to found a science of faith founded on antitheses. “Faustus has displayed his ingenuity, in the remarks to which I am now replying, by making for himself a long list of opposites—health and sickness, riches and poverty, white and black, cold and hot, sweet and bitter” (St. Augustine & Schaff, 2011).
From St. Augustine’s “Concerning Two Souls”: “They say that there are two kinds of souls, the one good, which is in such a way from God, that it is said not to have been made by Him out of any material or out of nothing, but to have proceeded as a certain part from the very substance itself of God; the other evil, which they believe and strive to get others to believe pertains to God in no way whatever; and so they maintain that the one is the perfection of good, but the other the perfection of evil, and that these two classes were at one time distinct but are now commingled” (Augustine & Schaff, 2014).
“Fate is a union of many opposing forces and they are invisible and unseen, guiding the course of the stars and governing through them” (Clement & Casey, 1934).
Persona (1916): the “mask” we wear in public to conceal our private self.
“One could say, with a little exaggeration, that the persona is that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is” (1981a, p. 123).
“You feel like hell inside, and you put on a friendly mien and are very nice outside, and you think it is a great accomplishment to be able to conceal yourself. Sure enough, I am very grateful to anybody who conceals himself like that; you are less bother when you don’t show your entrails all over the place… But that does not mean that there is nothing behind, that there is nothing but the persona. You must understand the persona as a mediator” (1997, p. 125).
“…People who are identified with their persona are forced to do amazing things behind the screen as a compensation, to pay tribute to the lower gods” (1984, p. 75).
“…The more you indulge in the conviction that you appear as you really are, that your appearance expresses your own being, the more you are identical with the persona, in other words, then the more you are identical on the other side with the animus. Just as much as you are possessed by the persona, are you, unconsciously, an animus-possessed being(1997, p. 125).
“Sure, if society consisted of valuable individuals only, adaptation would be worthwhile; but in reality it is composed mainly of nincompoops and moral weaklings, and its level is far below that of its better representatives, in addition to which the mass as such stifles all individual values. When a hundred intelligent heads are united in a group the result is one big fathead” (1976, p. 220).
“…There are other bodies, vestures, or vehicles of consciousness, besides the gross physical ‘coat of skin,’ for the use of the spiritual man, each being an ‘appearance’ in comparison to the higher vehicle, which is in its turn an ‘appearance’ to that which is more subtle and less material or substantial than itself” (Mead, 2006).
St. Augustine describes the Gnostic idea of a spiritual man who puts on an earthly body and disguises his true nature (Augustine & Schaff, 2011). After descending, Jesus takes on the form and aspect of an ordinary man in order to fool the archons and the humans under their sway. Basilideans believed Jesus to be a material form (“garment”) assumed by the true heavenly Christ, who abandoned it just before the crucifixion. “Remember thy Glorious Robe,” cautions the Gnostic Hymn of the Pearl, “Thy Splendid Mantle Remember / To put on and wear as adornment… Their filthy and unclean garments / I stripped off and left in their country” (http://gnosis.org/library/hymnpearl.htm).
In Pseudo-Clement’s Recognitions, Simon Magus boasts, “I can render statues animated, so that those who see suppose that they are men….I can change my countenance, so that I cannot be recognised; but I can show people that I have two faces” (Ch. IX). He tells his followers, “Therefore I have pretended to be a man, that I might more clearly ascertain if you cherish entire affection towards me” (Schaff, 2009).
Evidently Gnostic practitioners placed a certain value on persona: “And as the son was unknown to all, so must they also be known by no one; but while they know all, and pass through all, they themselves remain invisible and unknown to all; for, “Do thou,” they say, “know all, but let nobody know thee” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012). “And all their bonds with which they were bound, were unloosed and every one left his order, and they all fell down before me, adored and said: ‘How hath the lord of the universe passed through us without our knowing?'” (Mead, 1885h).
Personification: the tendency of psychic material to appear in dreams and fantasies as interactive characters.
“Gods are personifications of unconscious contents, for they reveal themselves to us through the unconscious activity of the psyche” (1975, p. 163).
“When one studies the archetypal personalities and their behavior with the help of the dreams, fantasies, and delusions of patients, one is profoundly impressed by their manifold and unmistakable connections with mythological ideas completely unknown to the layman. They form a species of singular beings whom one would like to endow with ego-consciousness; indeed, they almost seem capable of it. And yet this idea is not borne out by the facts. There is nothing in their behavior to suggest that they have an ego-consciousness as we know it. They show, on the contrary, all the marks of fragmentary personalities. They are masklike, wraithlike, without problems, lacking self-reflection, with no conflicts, no doubts, no sufferings; like gods, perhaps, who have no philosophy…” (1981a, p. 286).
Nearly all basic Gnostic processes and forces are personified as characters (sometimes called “hypostases,” “copies,” or “images”) who have long lists of esoteric names.
To name a few of the most common personifications: Bythos, Logos, Nous, Sige, Barbelo, Forethought, Eleleth, Aleitheia, Sophia, Autogenes, Seth / Setheus, Christ, Eve, Adam, the Serpent (also known as the Instructor), Norea, Zoe, Ialdabaoth, Sabaoth, and the various ranks of aeons and archons, including Abraxas. Some Greek gods show up as well: Ouranos, Gaia, Kronos, Chaos, Dionysus, Metis… Simon Magus shows up as a personification in Jung’s Red Book.
In Charles William King, Jung found a remark by Epiphanius about the Gnostic preference for “their personified Principalities; in a word, at their fondness for images” (2008, p. 232).
Psyche as situated between matter and spirit.
“The self includes the somatic as well as the spiritual unconscious, being neither the one nor the other, but in between, in the psyche” (1988, p. 449).
“The realization might by this time be dawning that when we talk of God or gods we are speaking of debatable images from the psychoid realm. The existence of a transcendental reality is indeed evident in itself, but it is uncommonly difficult for our consciousness to construct intellectual models which would give a graphic description of the reality we have perceived” (1977b, p. 551).
A Valentinian Gnostic idea. St. Augustine also touches on it: “But while the body occupies a small material space, the mind revolves images of vast extent, of heaven and earth, with no want of room, though they come and go in crowds; so that clearly, the mind is not diffused through space: for instead of being contained in images of the largest spaces, it rather contains them; not, however, in any material receptacle, but by a mysterious faculty or power, by which it can increase or diminish them, can contract them within narrow limits, or expand them indefinitely, can arrange or disarrange them at pleasure, can multiply them or reduce them to a few or to one” (Augustine & Schaff, 2014).
Psyche, reality of: “The recognition that the psyche is a self-moving thing, something genuine and not yourself, is exceedingly difficult to see and to admit. For it means that the consciousness which you call yourself is at an end. In your consciousness everything is as you have put it, but then you discover that you are not master in your own house, you are not living alone in your own room, and there are spooks about that play havoc with your realities, and that is the end of your monarchy” (1999, p. 54).
Implied in all Gnostic texts, each of which treats its treasuries, gods, realms, spirits, daemons, rulers, and shining structures as more real than “earthly” reality and immediately accessible to consciousness via gnosis. See the quote above under Active Imagination in which Jesus offers to show the disciples the celestial realms.
Projection: experiencing aspects of oneself as outside.
“…A projection is a very tangible thing, a sort of semisubstantial thing which forms a load as if it had real weight. It is exactly as the primitives understand it, a subtle body” (1988, p. 1495).
“You recognize the existence of impersonal projections by the peculiar impersonal nature of their contents; as for instance the savior complex or an archaic God-image” (1970a, p. 174).
Gnostic term for the emanation of aeons and other beings from above: the Father projecting Nous and Aleithia (Mind and Truth), who project the other aeons of the pleroma, starting with Nous projecting Logos and Zoe, who projects Anthropos, etc. (Hippolytus, 2011).
In the Books of Jeu, Christ projects and emanates not only earthly Jesus, but the Treasuries of Light in the pleroma (Schmidt & Macdermot, 1997).
Puer aeternus: archetype of the Divine Child.
“The dogmatization of the Assumptio Mariaepoints to the hieros gamos in the pleroma, and this in turn implies, as we have said, the future birth of the divine child, who, in accordance with the divine trend towards incarnation, will choose as his birthplace the empirical man. The metaphysical process is known to the psychology of the unconscious as the individuation process” (1975, p. 467).
The Divine Child is a key character in Gnostic creation stories, especially the Sethian. Basilides mentions a Threefold Sonship. Christ describes Mary as the motherly bearer of the boy Jesus.
Simon Magus claims to have formed a child out of the air and made it vanish: a forerunner of the homunculus of Faust and Paracelsus.
Quaternity: a primary fourfold structure of consciousness.
“As a Swiss, my situation is such that by nature my heart is divided into four, and because of the smallness of our country I can count on coming into contact at least with the four surrounding nations or cultural complexes. Corresponding to the four components of the Swiss population: German, French, Italian, Romansch” (1976, p. 430).
“The recognition of the anima gives rise, in a man, to a triad, one theirs of which is transcendent: the masculine subject, the opposing feminine subject, and the transcendent anima. With a woman the situation is reversed. The missing fourth element that would make the triad a quaternity is, in a man, the archetype of the Wise Old Man, which I have not discussed here, and in a woman the Chthonic Mother. These four constitute a half immanent and half transcendent quaternity, an archetype which I have called the marriage quaternio.” (1981b, p. 22).
The quaternity is basic to Gnostic thought: four Luminaries, the name Barbelo (“God is Four”), the sun forming on the fourth day, the Tetragrammaton, a fourth level of Paradise in which humans were created, four senses, four rivers flowing from Eden, the First Tetrad forming the Ogdoad and projecting the four elements, etc. Irenaus remarks that the Gnostics sought to squeeze a lot of their thought into fours (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012).
“By the conjunction of Logos and Zoe were brought forth Anthropos and Ecclesia; and thus was formed the first-begotten Ogdoad, the root and substance of all things, called among them by four names, viz., Bythus, and Nous, and Logos, and Anthropos. For each of these is masculo-feminine… And if there are any other things in the Scriptures which can possibly be dragged into the number four, they declare that these had their being with a view to the Tetrad” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012).
The same Moses Miriam etc. Quaternio as Jung’s in Aion also appears in Hippolytus.
Self / God-image: archetype of wholeness appearing as various divine figures depending on time and place.
“‘The self’ is a concept of totality which contains all the archetypes and individual consciousness at the same time” (1988, p. 153).
“Strictly speaking, the God-image does not coincide with with the unconscious as such, but with a special content of it, namely the archetype of the self. It is this archetype from which we can no longer distinguish the God-image empirically” (1975, p. 469).
“The ‘other being’ is the other person in ourselves—that larger and greater personality maturing within us, whom we have already met as the inner friend of the soul” (1981a, p. 131).
“…The idea of the arcane substance is itself an archetype, expressed most simply in the idea of the soul-spark (scintilla, Spinther) and the Monad” (1980, p. 386).
“Like a magnet, the new centre attracts to itself that which is proper to it, the “signs of the Father,” i.e., everything that pertains to the original and unalterable character of the individual ground-plan. All this is older than the ego and acts towards it as the “blessed, nonexistent God” of the Basilidians…” (1979, p. 190).
“Coming now to the Gnostic symbols of the self, we find that the Nassenes of Hippolytus lay most emphasis on the human images: of the geometrical and arithmetical symbols the most important are the quaternity, the ogdoad, the trinity, and unity. Here we shall give our attention mainly to the totality symbol of the quaternity,…” (1979, p. 226).
“Finally the self, on account of its empirical peculiarities, proves to be the eidos behind the supreme ideas of unity and totality that are inherent in all monotheistic and monistic systems” (1979, p. 34)
“Here, just for once, and as an exception, I shall indulge in transcendental speculation and even in ‘poetry’: God has indeed made an inconceivably sublime and mysteriously contradictory image of himself, without the help of man, and implanted it in man’s unconscious as an archetype….not in order that theologians of all times and places should be at one another’s throats, but in order that the unpresumptuous man might glimpse an image, in the stillness of his soul, that is akin to him and is wrought of his own psychic substance. This image contains everything he will ever imagine concerning his gods or concerning the ground of his psyche” (1977a, p. 667).
“Christ is the Anthropos that seems to be a prefiguration of what the Holy Ghost is going to bring forth in the human being” (1976, p. 157).
“Since Christ never meant more to me than what I could understand of him, and since this understanding coincides with my empirical knowledge of the self, I have to admit that I mean the self in dealing with the idea of Christ. As a matter of fact I have no other access to Christ but the self, and since I do not know anything beyond the self I cling to this archetype” (1977a, p. 737).
The Autopator, Autogenes, hermaphroditic Adamas, “image of the Perfect Man” (Hippolytus, 2011), and other such primal, celestial figures were copied to make redeemers. Valentinian sources mention our angels being baptized before us. Mead uses the word “Self” in the Fragments:“It is the old teaching of macrocosm and microcosm, and the Self hidden in the heart of all”; “The Self within the heart, the seed of the divine, the pneumatic light-spark, the dweller in light, the inner man, was the eternal pilgrim incarnated in matter; those who had this alive and conscious within them were the spiritual or pneumatic”; “As in the consummation of the universe the World-soul was reunited with the World-mind, so in the perfectioning of the individual the soul was made one with the Self within” (2008).
According to Hippolytus, Marcion links the monad or letter Iota with the primal man and all the beings and groups produced from him (2011). Zosimos the Gnostic alchemist wrote of how the divine Adam or cosmic Anthropos sank into everyone (Umail & Von Franz, p. 63). “You learned men, forsooth, dress up for our benefit some wonderful First Man, who came down from the race of light to war with the race of darkness…” (Augustine & Schaff, 2011).”The Glory looked like my own self. / I saw it in all of me, / And saw me in all of it / That we were twain in distinction, / And yet again one in one likeness” (Hymn of the Pearl). From the 13th Ode to Solomon: “Behold, the Lord is our mirror. Open your eyes and see them in Him. / And learn the manner of your face, then declare praises to His Spirit” (Charlesworth, 2009).
About Celsus Origen complains, “It makes no difference whether the God who is over all things be called by the name of Zeus, which is current among the Greeks, or by that, e.g., which is in use among the Indians or Egyptians” (Robert, 1885c).
“The followers of Valentinus defined the Angel as a Logos having a message from Him who is. And, using the same terminology, they call the Aeons Logoi” (Clement & Charles, 1934).
Jung eventually wrote about Mercurius as a Self figure; likewise Hippolytus reports among the Naassene (snake-worshiping) Gnostics “images of naked men, having both hands stretched aloft towards heaven, and their pudenda erecta, as with the statue of Mercury on Mount Cyllene. And the aforesaid images are figures of the primal man, and of that spiritual one that is born again, in every respect of the same substance with that man…This, he says, is the many-named, thousand-eyed Incomprehensible One, of whom every nature—each, however, differently—is desirous. This, he says, is the word of God, which, he says, is a word of revelation of the Great Power. Wherefore it will be sealed, and hid, and concealed, lying in the habitation where lies the basis of the root of the universe… That which is he says, nothing, and which consists of nothing, inasmuch as it is indivisible—(I mean) a point—will become through its own reflective power a certain incomprehensible magnitude. This, he says, is the kingdom of heaven, the grain of mustard seed, the point which is indivisible in the body; and, he says, no one knows this (point) save the spiritual only (2011).
The Nasseenes seem also to have kept the image of the serpent in their temple. “The Son is the Serpent.”
Shadow, as the inferior and, usually, repressed side of ego or Self.
“How can I be substantial if I fail to cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also if I am to be whole; and inasmuch as I become conscious of my shadow I also remember that I am a human being like any other” (1933, p. 35).
“In the Christian concept, on the other hand, the archetype is hopelessly split into two irreconcilable halves, leading ultimately to a metaphysical dualism—the final separation of the kingdom of heaven from the fiery world of the damned” (1979, p. 42).
“In the case of the individual, the problem constellated by the shadow is answered on the plane of the anima, that is, through relatedness” (1981a, p. 271).
“To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light. Once one has experienced a few times what it is like to stand judgingly between the opposites, one begins to understand what is meant by the self. Anyone who perceives his shadow and his light simultaneously sees himself from two sides and thus gets in the middle” (1970c, p. 872).
“If we see the traditional figure of Christ as a parallel to the psychic manifestation of the self, then the Antichrist would correspond to the shadow of the self, namely the dark half of human totality, which ought not to be judged too optimistically…In the empirical self, light and shadow form a paradoxical unity. In the Christian concept, on the other hand, the archetype is hopelessly split into two irreconcilable halves, leading ultimately to a metaphysical dualism: the final separation of the kingdom of heaven from the fiery world of the damned” (1979, p. 42).
Shadow: a Gnostic term for the darkness cast by Sophia and Christ: “Christ also was not produced from the Æons within the Pleroma, but was brought forth by the mother who had been excluded from it, in virtue of her remembrance of better things, but not without a kind of shadow. He, indeed, as being masculine, having severed the shadow from himself, returned to the Pleroma; but his mother being left with the shadow, and deprived of her spiritual substance, brought forth another son, namely, the Demiurge, whom he also styles the supreme ruler of all those things which are subject to him” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012).
“Moreover through the persuasion of the twelfth Aeon the whole was instructed, as they say, and shared in his Passion….But the Aeon which wished to grasp that which is beyond knowledge fell into ignorance and formlessness. Whence it effected an abstraction of knowledge which is a shadow of the Name, that is the Son, the form of the Aeons. Thus the distribution of the Name among the Aeons is the loss of the Name” (Clement & Casey, 1934).
The dialogue between St. Augustine and Faustus in the Reply to Faustus resembles that of the devil and the anchorite in Jung’s Red Book. Faustus: “It is true, we believe in two principles; but one we call God, and the other Hyle [matter], or, to use common popular language, the devil” (2011). “As to the Duodecad [a twelve-aeon part of the Pleroma], it is indicated by the zodiacal circle, as it is called; for they affirm that the twelve signs do most manifestly shadow forth the Duodecad, the daughter of Anthropos and Ecclesia” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012). Some texts describe a protective Veil or Limit or Boundary named Staurus or Horos that hangs between the Pleroma and the Kenoma or Hysterema (everything else outside).
In the Pistis Sophia: “Whoso then dwelleth under the help of the Most High, will abide under the shadow of the God of heaven” (Mead, 1921i).
Symbol vs. sign.
“The archetype is absolutely indestructible because it is the instinctive store in energy in man. By the contact with an archetype, one is reinforced, one gets the feeling of tremendous energy. People pray to symbolical figures because they are the expressions of archetypes and therefore stores of energy. So in every cult that ever existed on earth, there is a psychological system of myths through which the contact with archetypes is produced” (1997, p. 65).
“It is funny that the Christians are still so pagan that they understand spiritual existence only as a body and as a physical event” (1977a, p. 706). This was a frequent Gnostic criticism.
“….The symbol belongs to a different sphere from the sphere of instinct. The latter sphere is the mother, the former the son (or God). For my private use I call the sphere of paradoxical existence, i.e., the instinctive unconscious, the Pleroma, a term borrowed from Gnosticism. The reflection and formation of the Pleroma in the individual consciousness produce an image of it (of like nature in a certain sense), and that is the symbol” (1973, p. 61).
Symbolism is the standard mythic currency of Gnosticism. It deployed signs too, but with a distinction between them (as pointing to the known and to amusingly reified beliefs like a physical Resurrection) and true symbols that were fully animated “images” and “copies” of mysterious divine beings.
“Of this I speak to you in a paradigm, a correspondence, and a similitude, but not in the reality of its configuration; I have not revealed the [whole] word in truth” (Mead, 2008, p. 378).
“…The Lord contrived all things symbolically and by a dispensation toward men, for their conversion and salvation” (“The Mystic Cross,” from the Acts of John: http://gnosis.org/library/hymnjesu.html). “Since all these things are images and symbols, when the truth was made manifest they were translated to another meaning. In their phenomenal appearance and their literal application they were destroyed, but in their spiritual meaning they were restored; the names remained the same but the content was changed” (Ptolemy’s Letter to Flora, in Mead, 2008).
Hippolytes ascribes to Simon Magus the distinction between “secret” (symbolic) and “manifest” (sensory) and criticizes him for finding “allegorical” meanings in sacred stories (2011). Gnostics also referred to symbolic seals and emblems as passes into the pleroma.
Symptoms, meaning of: signals of a breach of psychic wholeness.
“If every there were an illness that cannot be localized, because it springs from the whole of a man, that illness is a psychoneurosis” (1985a, p. 85).
“More than one patient has admitted to me that he has learned to accept his neurotic symptoms with gratitude, because, like a barometer, they invariably told when and where he was straying from his individual path, and also whether he had let important things remain unconscious” (1985a, p. 10).
“If the archetypal situation underlying the illness can be expressed in the right way the patient is cured. If no adequate expression is found, the individual is thrown back upon himself, into the isolation of being ill; he is alone and has no connection with the world” (1970a, p. 116).
Sufferings as voices of repressed and even divine aspects of ourselves: Sophia suffers redemptively when Horos keeps her from being absorbed into the ultimate light; Eve suffers at the hands of archons, as does Norea; Adam and Eve suffer knowledge brought by the Serpent; etc. All are breaches of wholeness, with further sufferings caused by attempts to heal the original wholeness and put the Creation back into harmony and balance.
In the Gnostic cosmos everything and everyone, no matter how unpleasant, dark, or evil, serves a purpose in the whole. Clement attributes this remark to Basilides: “I believe that all who experience the so-called tribulations must have committed sins other than what they realize, and so have been brought to this good end” (Clement & Chadwick, 2002).
Synchronicity: “meaningful coincidence”: contemporary term for an oracle, but described in scientific terms thanks in part to the influence of physicist Wolfgang Pauli.
“This is where the theory of correspondentiacomes in, which was propounded by the natural philosophers of the Middle Ages, and particularly the classical idea of the sympathy of all things. ….Similarly in Plotinus the individual souls born of the one World Soul are related to one another by sympathy or antipathy, regardless of distance” (1970b, p. 489-90).
“Our psyche is set up in accord with the structure of the universe, and what happens in the macrocosm likewise happens in the infinitesimal and most subjective reaches of the psyche” (1989, p. 335).
“As experience shows, the archetypes possess the quality of ‘transgressivity’; they can sometimes manifest themselves in such a way that they seem tobelong as much to society as to the individual; they are therefore numinous and contagious in their effects. (It is the emotional person who emotionalizes others.) In certain cases this transgressiveness also produces meaningful coincidences, i.e., acausal, synchronistic phenomena….” (1970c, p. 349).
“…Two things happen together in a miraculous way, and we had better leave it at that, because we cannot think of them together. For my own use I have coined a term to illustrate this being together; I say there is a peculiar principle of synchronicity active in the world so that things happen together somehow and behave as if they were the same, and yet for us they are not (1970a, p. 36).
“Since the archetypes usually have a certain numinosity, they can arouse just that fascination which is accompanied by synchronistic phenomena (1979, p. 184).
“Meaningful coincidences—which are to be distinguished from meaningless chance groupings—therefore seem to rest on an archetypal foundation” (1970b, p. 440).
“This principle [i.e., synchronicity] suggests that there is an inter-connection or unity of causally unrelated events, and thus postulates a unitary aspect of being which can very well be described as the unus mundus” (1977b, p.465).
“If mandala symbolism is the psychological equivalent of the unus mundus, then synchronicity is its para-psychological equivalent” (1977b, p. 464).
A key Gnostic teaching is that “the likeness of that which is below is that which is above” (34th Ode to Solomon, in Charlesworth, 2009). Origen records the criticism by Celsus that Christians ignore oracles: “‘They set no value on the oracles of the Pythian priestess, of the priests of Dodona, of Clarus, of Branchidae, of Jupiter Ammon, and of a multitude of others; although under their guidance we may say that colonies were sent forth, and the whole world peopled. But those sayings which were uttered or not uttered in Judea, after the manner of that country, as indeed they are still delivered among the people of Phoenicia and Palestine—these they look upon as marvellous sayings, and unchangeably true'” (Robert, 1885e).
Additionally: “‘To some the gods have appeared in visible forms. The world is full of such instances. How many cities have been built in obedience to commands received from oracles; how often, in the same way, delivered from disease and famine! Or again, how many cities, from disregard or forgetfulness of these oracles, have perished miserably! How many colonies have been established and made to flourish by following their orders! How many princes and private persons have, from this cause, had prosperity or adversity! How many who mourned over their childlessness, have obtained the blessing they asked for! How many have turned away from themselves the anger of demons! How many who were maimed in their limbs, have had them restored! And again, how many have met with summary punishment for showing want of reverence to the temples—some being instantly seized with madness, others openly confessing their crimes, others having put an end to their lives, and others having become the victims of incurable maladies!'”
“The stars, spiritual bodies, that have communications with the angels set over them, and are governed by them, are not the cause of the production of things, but are signs of what is taking place, and will take place, and have taken place in the case of atmospheric changes, of fruitfulness and barrenness, of pestilence and fevers, and in the case of men. The stars do not in the least degree exert influences, but indicate what is, and will be, and has been” (Clement & Casey, 1934).
“Evidently Simon taught the ancient, immemorial doctrine that the Microcosm Man was the Mirror and Potentiality of the Cosmos, the Macrocosm… Whatever was true of the emanation of the Universe, was also true of Man, whatever was true of the Macrocosmic Aeons was true of the Microcosmic Aeons in Man, which are potentially the same as those of the Cosmos, and will develop into the power and grandeur of the latter, if they can find suitable expression, or a fit vehicle” (Mead, 2006).
Synthetic (integrative) vs. analytic (reductive) methodologies.
“…It is advisable to bear in mind at least one of the classical distinctinos, namely that between causa efficiens and causa finalis. In psychological matters, the question ‘Why does it happen?’ is not necessarily more productive of results than the other question ‘To what purpose does it happen?'”1970b, p 281).
“If reason is not to be outraged on the one hand and the creative play of images not violently suppress on the other, a circumspect and farsighted synthetic procedure is required in order to accomplish the paradoxical union of irreconcilables” (1980, p. 146).
Origen quoting Celsus: “‘…As wise men have found it for the express purpose of being able to convey to us some notion of Him who is the first, the unspeakable Being,—a notion, namely; which may represent Him to us through the medium of other objects,—they endeavour either by synthesis, which is the combining of various qualities, or by analysis, which is the separation and setting aside of some qualities, or finally by analogy;—in these ways, I say, they endeavour to set before us that which it is impossible to express in words.’ … Celsus supposes that we may arrive at a knowledge of God either by combining or separating certain things after the methods which mathematicians call synthesis and analysis, or again by analogy, which is employed by them also, and that in this way we may as it were gain admission to the chief good” (Robert, 1885e).
Syzygy: anima-animus pair. Also known as the Coniunctio and the Sacred Marriage.
“The mysterium coniunctionis is the business of man. He is the nymphagogos of the heavenly marriage. How can a man hold aloof from this drama? He would then be a philosopher, talking about God but not with him. The first would be easy and would give man a false sense of security, the second is difficult and therefore extremely unpopular. Just that was my lamented lot, wherefore I needed an energetic illness to break down my resistance. I have to be everywhere beneath and not above. How could Job have looked had he been able to keep his distance” – letters 2 p 34 (illness: heart attach, coma)
“The coniunctio oppositorum in the guise of Sol and Luna, the royal brother-sister or mother-son pair, occupies such an important place in alchemy that sometimes the entire process takes the form of the hierosgamos and its mystic consequences” (1985a, p. 200).
“At the beginning, when I was having the vision of the garden of pomegranates, I asked the nurse to forgive me if she were harmed. There was such sanctity in the room, I said, that it might be harmful to her. Of course she did not understand me. For me the presence of sanctity had a magical atmosphere; I feared it might be unendurable to others. I understood then why one speaks of the odor of sanctity, of the ‘sweet smell’ of the Holy Ghost. This was it. There was a pneuma of inexpressible sanctity in the room, whose manifestation was the mysterium coniunctionis. I would never have imagined that any such experience was possible. It was not a product of imagination. The visions and experiences were utterly real; there was nothing subjective about them; they all had a quality of absolute objectivity” (1989, p. 295).
“Possession by the unconscious means being torn apart into many people and things, as disiunctio. That is why, according to Origen, the aim of the Christian is to become an inwardly united human being. The blind insistence on the outward community of the Church naturally fails to fulfill this aim; on the contrary, it inadvertently provides the inner disunity with an outward vessel without really changing the disiunctio into a coniunctio” (1985a, p. 197).
Coniunctio: an alchemical stage, but, long before that, a Gnostic term for the mating of feminine and masculine aeons. “Conjunction” appears often in Hippolytus and Irenaeus. Valentinian Gnosticism is thought to have celebrated it ceremonially by staging a symbolic wedding. “For they declare that we simply receive grace for use, wherefore also it will again be taken away from us; but that they themselves have grace as their own special possession, which has descended from above by means of an unspeakable and indescribable conjunction; and on this account more will be given them. They maintain, therefore, that in every way it is always necessary for them to practise the mystery of conjunction…When all the seed shall have come to perfection, they state that then their mother Achamoth shall pass from the intermediate place, and enter in within the Pleroma, and shall receive as her spouse the Saviour, who sprang from all the Æons, that thus a conjunction may be formed between the Saviour and Sophia, that is, Achamoth. These, then, are the bridegroom and bride, while the nuptial chamber is the full extent of the Pleroma” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012).
Syzygy refers to female/male aeonic pairs; also known as the “marriage feast.” “…Though there is unity in the Pleroma, each of the Aeons has its own complement, the syzygia. Therefore, whatever come out of a syzygia are complete in themselves (pleromas) and whatever come out of one are images” (Clement & Casey, 1934). From the same work: “Henceforth the spiritual elements having put off their souls, together with the Mother who leads the bridegroom, also lead bridegrooms, their angels, and pass into the bride chamber within the Limit and attain to the vision of the Father, – having become intellectual Aeons, – in the intellectual and eternal marriages of the Syzyge.”
“And hence it is that they are ranged in pairs, one opposite the other; for power is in no wise different from intelligence, inasmuch as they are one. For from those things that are above is discovered power; and from those below, intelligence. So it is, therefore, that likewise what is manifested from these, being unity, is discovered (to be) duality, an hermaphrodite having the female in itself. This, (therefore,) is Mind (subsisting) in Intelligence; and these are separable one from the other, (though both taken together) are one, (and) are discovered in a state of duality” (Hippolytus paraphrasing Simon Magus, 2011). In some accounts the feminine aeon emanates (projects) essence and the male aeon form.
Therapy as reconnection of ego to Self. In Mead Jung learned about the original Therapeuts who worked not only with bodies but with souls.
“For the sake of mental stability and even physiological health, the unconscious and the conscious must be integrally connected and thus move on parallel lines. If they are split apart or ‘dissociated,’ psychological disturbance follows” (1968, p. 37).
“Analysis is merely a means of making us more conscious of our perplexity: we are all on the Quest.” (1977a, p. 289).
“My aim is to bring about a psychic state in which my patient begins to experiment with his own nature—a state of fluidity, change and growth, in which there is no longer anything eternally fixed and hopelessly petrified” (1933, p. 67).
“In therapy the problem is always the whole person, never the symptom alone. We must ask questions which challenge the whole personality” (1998, p. 117).
“It may happen, besides, that a patient, who till then had shut his eyes to religious questions, will develop an unexpected interest in these matters. He may, for instance, find himself getting converted from modern paganism to Christianity or from one creed to another, or even getting involved in fundamental theological questions which are incomprehensible to a layman” (1977b, p. 366).
“And the soul leaps continually,” states the Second Book of Jeu, “from place to place, until it reaches the Treasury of Light” (Schmidt & Macdermot, 1997). When Sophia falls she splits into a higher and lower (achamoth) being. Sophia Achamoth suffers panic, terror, despair, sadness, and depression until Christ brings healing to her passions, “separating her from them” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012), after which she reconnects with Bythos, the light above her.
Gnostics suffer similar states before achieving gnosis, whose chief goal is reconnection with the divine. “And they affirm that the soul is very difficult to discover, and hard to understand; for it does not remain in the same figure or the same form invariably, or in one passive condition, that either one could express it by a sign, or comprehend it substantially” (Hippolytus, 2011). From the same work: “Monoïmus himself, accordingly, in his letter to Theophrastus, expressly makes the following statement: ‘Omitting to seek after God, and creation, and things similar to these, seek for Him from (out of) thyself, and learn who it is that absolutely appropriates (unto Himself) all things in thee, and says, My God (is) my mind, my understanding, my soul, my body. And learn from whence are sorrow, and joy, and love, and hatred, and involuntary wakefulness, and involuntary drowsiness, and involuntary anger, and involuntary affection; and if,’ he says, ‘you accurately investigate these (points), you will discover (God) Himself, unity and plurality, in thyself, according to that tittle, and that He finds the outlet (for Deity) to be from thyself.'”
In Against Heresies, Irenaeus comments: “They have good reason, as seems to me, why they should not feel inclined to teach these things to all in public, but only to such as are able to pay a high price for an acquaintance with such profound mysteries” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012). Evidently, billing was an issue even back then.
Transcendent function: the generation of psychic wholeness out of opposites.
“As a rule they are ‘uniting’ symbols, representing the conjunction of a single or double pair of opposites, the result being either a dyad or a quaternion. They arise from the collision between the conscious and the unconscious and from the confusion which this causes (known in alchemy as ‘chaos’ or ‘nigredo’). Empirically, this confusion takes the form of restlessness and disorientation. The circle and quaternity symbolism appears at this point as a compensating principle of order, which depicts the union of warring opposites as already accomplished, and thus eases the way to a healthier and quieter state (‘salvation’). For the present, it is not possible for psychology to establish more than that the symbols of wholeness mean the wholeness of the individual” (1979, p. 195).
“As opposites never unite at their own level (tertium non datur!), a supraordinate ‘third’ is always required, in which the two parts can come together. And since the symbol derives as much from the conscious as from the unconscious, it is able to unite them both, reconciling their conceptual polarity through its form and their emotional polarity through its numinosity” (1979, p. 180).
“Once the unconscious content has been given form and the meaning of the formulation is understood, the question arises as to how the ego will relate to this position, and how the ego and the unconscious are to come to terms. This is the second and more important stage of the procedure, the bringing together of opposites for the production of a third: the transcendent function. At this stage it is no longer the unconscious that takes the lead, but the ego” (1970b, p. 87).
Aeonic pairings produce new beings, realms, orders of reality, including the intermediate realm called the Midst; see Aeon, Projection. “And the essences of the principles, the Sethians say, are light and darkness. And in the midst of these is pure spirit; and the spirit, they say, is that which is placed intermediate between darkness, which is below, and light, which is above” (Hippolytus,2011).
Because Ialdabaoth / Abraxas holds a mediating position between the realms while creating the world, the transcendent function could also be called the demiurgic function. In Against HeresiesIrenaeus refers to him as “the Framer (Demiurge) of things material and animal, of those on the right and those on the left, of the light and of the heavy, and of those tending upwards as well as of those tending downwards” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012). Tertullian writes, “Afterwards broke out the heretic Basilides. He affirms that there is a supreme Deity, by name Abraxas, by whom was created Mind, which in Greek he calls Nous; that thence sprang the Word; that of Him issued Providence, Virtue, and Wisdom; that out of these subsequently were made Principalities, powers, and Angels; that there ensued infinite issues and processions of angels” (2011).
“Of the universal Aeons there are two shoots, without beginning or end, springing from one Root, which is the Power invisible, inapprehensible Silence. Of these shoots one is manifested from above, which is the Great Power, the Universal Mind ordering all things, male, and the other, (is manifested) from below, the Great Thought, female, producing all things. Hence pairing with each other, they unite and manifest the Middle Distance, incomprehensible Air, without beginning or end” (Mead, 2006).
“Sophia was the Mediatrix between the upper and lower spaces, and at the same time projected the Types or Ideas of the pleroma into the cosmos” (Mead, 2008, where he also equates Sophia with “Soul” in a general sense).
Types, psychological: sensation, thinking, feeling, and intuition combined with introversion and extroversion to make eight types: in Gnostic terminology an ogdoad, the structure that emanated forth the rest of the cosmos.
“The four always expresses the coming into being of what is essentially human, the emergence of human consciousness (2010a, p. 367).
“…Like the devil who delights in disguising himself as an angel of light, the inferior function secretly and mischievously influences the superior function most of all, just as the latter represses the former most strongly” (1981a, p. 238).
Valentinian typology recognizes three kinds of people: hylikoi (materialists), psychikoi (or “animal” per Heracleon: believers), and pneumatikoi (spiritual, intuitive). In one system Christ changes the grief of lost Sophia into hylic life, fear into psychic life, and perplexity into Hystera (passion) (Hippolytus, 2011).
Introvert/extravert echoes the Gnostic delineation of “inner, outer, and outermost.” “…The followers of Valentinus maintain that the three places mean those on the left, while the ‘fourth generation’ is their own seed” (Clement & Casey, 1934). “For, say they, of this man one part is rational, another psychical, another earthly. And they suppose that the knowledge of him is the originating principle of the capacity for a knowledge of God” (Hippolytus, 2011).
Unconscious, the: what falls beyond the conscious mind.
“In the opinion of the ‘other side,’ our unconscious existence is the real one and our conscious world a kind of illusion, an apparent reality constructed for a specific purpose, like a dream which seems a reality as long as we are in it” (1998, p. 324).
“We may call consciousness the daylight realm of the human psyche, and contrast it with the nocturnal realm of unconscious psychic activity which we apprehend as dreamlike fantasy. …It is highly probable that the unconscious psyche contains a wealth of contents and living forms equal to or even greater than does consciousness, which is characterized by concentration, limitation and exclusion” (1933, p. 11).
Gnostic myths portray a realm of darkness outside the pleroma and separated from it by a boundary penetrable only by those who possess gnosis.
St. Augustine described and criticized the Gnostic idea of a realm of darkness adjacent to a realm of the sacred (2014). “On one side the border of the shining and sacred region was the region of darkness, deep and boundless in extent” (Ch. 25). “First of all, he [Manichaeus] makes darkness productive, which is impossible. But, he replies, this darkness was unlike what you are familiar with” (Ch. 32).
“…How does the Darkness, which is beneath everything, support everything so as to be the foundation of all?” (Ephraim & Mitchell, 1912).
Unconscious, collective: “…Contains the sphere of personal psychology and its characteristic contents portray themselves in the personal Subconscious in the form of relatively autonomous (fragmentary) personalities, which correspond to angels and demons. That’s the reason, why angels are occasionally objectionable. The impersonal character of the Coll U. however has been aptly expressed by the gods i.e. planets and constellations which Paracelsus has called the ‘firmament within’ or the ‘Olympus.'” (2007, p. 70).
“The idea of an unconscious was not unknown to them [Gnostics]. For instance, Epiphanius quotes an excerpt from one of the Valentinian letters, which says: ‘In the beginning the Autopator contained in himself everything that is, in a state of unconsciousness [lit., ‘not-knowing]’:…” (1979, p. 190).
“Just as, in its lower reaches, the psyche loses itself in the organic-material substrate, so in its upper reaches it resolves itself into a ‘spiritual’ form about which we know as little as we do about the functional basis of instinct.” (1970b, p. 183).
“It is very probable that only what we call consciousness is contained in space and time, and that the rest of the psyche, the unconscious, exists in a state of relative spacelessness and timelessness. For the psyche this means a relative eternality and a relative non-separation from other psyches, or a oneness with them” (1973, p. 256).
“My consciousness is like an eye that penetrates to the most distant spaces, yet it is the psychic non-ego that fills them with non-spatial images. And these images are not pale shadows, but tremendously powerful psychic factors. The most we may be able to do is misunderstand them, but we can never rob them of their power by denying them. Beside this picture I would like to place the spectacle of the starry heavens at night, for the only equivalent of the universe within is the universe without; and just as I reach this world through the medium of the body, so I reach that would through the medium of the psyche” (1985b, p. 332).
The aeon-filled Pleroma of forms and types; its center is the Treasury of Light where God abides. “And all those who will receive that mystery will surpass all gods and all rulerships of all these aeons, which are the twelve aeons of the invisible God, for this is the great mystery of the unapproachable one which is in the treasury of the innermost of the innermost” (Second Book of Jeu, in Schmidt & Macdermot, 1997).
“And each ennead has a monad within it. And in each monad there is a place which is called imperishable, which is the holy land. In the land of each of these monads there is a source. And there are myriads upon myriads of powers receiving crowns upon their heads from the crown of the triple-powered one. And in the midst of the enneads and in the midst of the monads is the immeasurable deep. And the All, those within and those without, looks forth upon it. And twelve fatherhoods are above it, thirty powers surrounding each” (Schmidt & Macdermot, 1997).
“Basilides again, that he may appear to have discovered something more sublime and plausible, gives an immense development to his doctrines. He sets forth that Nous was first born of the unborn father, that from him, again, was born Logos, from Logos Phronesis, from Phronesis Sophia and Dynamis, and from Dynamis and Sophia the powers, and principalities, and angels, whom he also calls the first; and that by them the first heaven was made. Then other powers, being formed by emanation from these, created another heaven similar to the first” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012). Irenaeus again: “…The Saviour conferred honour upon the Pleroma by the creation [which he summoned into existence] through means of his Mother, inasmuch as he produced similitudes and images of those things which are above.”
“Since they [our angelic counterparts] may almost be said to need us in order to enter, for without us they are not permitted (therefore not even the Mother has entered with them without us, they say), they are obviously bound for our sake” (Clement & Casey, 1934). Jung was also influenced by Mead’s linking up of various stages of consciousness with the brain and spinal chord.
Unconscious / transformable God: the idea set out in Answer to Job that the God-image is not conscious of itself until Job or a Job-like consciousness makes it so. Only then can it face its own inner opposites of good and evil.
“The counter with the creature changes the Creator” (1975, p. 428).
“The famous historical case is Yahweh’s discussing with the devil what particularly bad trick they could play on that poor fellow Job—like bad boys planning what they could do to pester and tease a dog. That it was exceedingly immoral, people were then too naive to see. Another case was the meeting between God and the devil, when they agreed what should be done to that miserable creature Faust” (1997, p. 796).
“Yahweh fails to notice that he is being humored, just as little as he understands why he has continually to be praised as just. He makes pressing demands on his people to be praised and propitiated in every possible way, for the obvious pyrpose of keeping him in a good temper at any price” (1975, p. 372).
“Job realizes God’s inner antinomy, and in the light of this realization his knowledge attains a divine numinosity” (1975, p. 377).
“God had to become man. Man’s suffering does not derive from his sins but from the maker of his imperfections, the paradoxical God. The righteous man is the instrument into which God enters in order to attain self-reflection and thus consciousness and rebirth as a divine child trusted to the care of adult man” (1977a, p. 741).
“Job’s superiority cannot be shrugged off. Hence a situation arises in which real reflection is needed. That is why Sophia steps in. She reinforces the much needed self-reflection and thus makes possible Yahweh’s decision to become man. It is a decision fraught with consequences: he raises himself above his earlier primitive level of consciousness by indirectly acknowledging that the man Job is morally superior to him and that therefore he has to catch up and become human himself” (1975, p. 405).
“The unavoidable internal contradictions in the image of a Creator-god can be reconciled in the unity and wholeness of the self as the coniunctio oppositorum of the alchemists or as a unio mystica. In the experience of the self it is no longer the opposites ‘God’ and ‘man’ that are reconciled, as it was before, but rather the opposites within the God-image itself. That is the meaning of divine service, of the service which man can render to God, that light may emerge from the darkness, that the Creator may become conscious of His creation, and man conscious of himself” (1998, p. 338).
Ialdabaoth is the Demiurge, who does not know his origins and who behaves with blind recklessness until confronted and corrected by Sophia and/or Jesus. “For the Demiurge, they say, knows nothing at all, but is, according to them, devoid of understanding, and silly, and is not conscious of what he is doing or working at” (Hippolytus, 2011). “He formed the heavens, yet was ignorant of the heavens; he fashioned man, yet knew not man; he brought to light the earth, yet had no acquaintance with the earth; and, in like manner, they declare that he was ignorant of the forms of all that he made, and knew not even of the existence of his own mother, but imagined that he himself was all things” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012).
“Every one who has even a slender knowledge of Greek knows that gospel means good news. But where is your good news, when your God himself is said to weep as under eclipse till the darkness and defilement are removed from his members?” (St. Augustine & Schaff, 2011). Additionally, “…The good things done by a good God you call bad, and ascribe to an evil god, because you feel a childish horror of whatever shocks the frailty of fallen humanity, and a childish pleasure in the opposite. So you think snakes are made by an evil being; while you consider the sun so great a good, that you believe it to be not the creature of God, but an emission from His substance” (Book XXI). (Snakes and the divinity of the Sun figure prominently in Jung’s Red Book.)
“Faustus blames God in the Old Testament for slaughtering thousands of human beings for slight offenses, as Faustus calls them, or for nothing” (Augustus & Schaff, 2011). In Pseudo-Clemeent’s Recognitions, Simon Magus claims, “My opinion is, that there is a certain power of immense and ineffable light, whose greatness may be held to be incomprehensible, of which power even the maker of the world is ignorant” (Schaff, 2009). He also calls the creator God “weak” and chastises him for expelling Eve and Adam from Paradise after tempting them with the Tree of Knowledge. “And as a sequel to his non-understanding of the statements regarding the ‘wrath’ of God,” writes Origen about his opponent Celsus, “he continues: ‘Is it not ridiculous to suppose that, whereas a man, who became angry with the Jews, slew them all from the youth upwards, and burned their city (so powerless were they to resist him), the mighty God, as they say, being angry, and indignant, and uttering threats, should, (instead of punishing them,) send His own Son, who endured the sufferings which He did?'” (Robert, 1885f). “There is next to be answered the following query: ‘And how is it that he repents when men become ungrateful and wicked; and finds fault with his own handwork, and hates, and threatens, and destroys his own offspring?'” (Robert, 1885a).
According to Irenaeus, Marcion “advanced the most daring blasphemy against Him who is proclaimed as God by the law and the prophets, declaring Him to be the author of evils, to take delight in war, to be infirm of purpose, and even to be contrary to Himself” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2012).
Unconsciousness: as in, lack of self-awareness.
“One of the toughest roots of all evil is unconsciousness, and I could wish that the saying of Jesus, ‘Man, if thou knowest what thou doest, thou art blessed, but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed, and a transgressor of the law,’ were still in the gospels, even though it has only one authentic source. It might well be
the motto for a new morality” (1975, p. 197). Jung spotted this saying in Mead’s Fragments.
“Naturally, society has an indisputable right to protect itself against arrant subjectivis
ms, but, in so far as society is itself composed of de-individualized human beings, it is completely at the mercy of ruthless individualists” (2010b, p. 31).
Referred to by Gnostics as the “deep sleep,” the internal fuzziness in which most people spend their lives.
From Pseudo-Clement: “Do you so far err, Peter, as not to know that our souls were made by that good God, the most excellent of all, but they have been brought down as captives into this world?” (Schaff, 2009).
“For as those that are most asleep think they are most awake, being under the power of dream-visions very vivid and fixed; so those that are most ignorant think that they know most. But blessed are they who rouse themselves from this sleep and derangement, and raise their eyes to the light and the truth” (Clement & Casey, 1934).
Unus Mundus (“One World”): a theoretical total joining of conscious and unconscious.
An alchemical term from Gerhard Dorn but also descriptive of “the completion of the pleroma” once redeemed souls merge with it.
Wholeness: conscious integration of the complexity of personality via individuation, which reconnects ego and Self.
“As civilization develops, the bisexual primordial being turns into a symbol of the unity of personality, a symbol of the self, where the war of opposites finds peace. In this way the primordial being becomes the distant goal of man’s self-development, having been from the very beginning a projection of his unconscious wholeness. Wholeness consists in the union of the conscious and the unconscious personality” (1981a, p. 175).
“All these images are found, empirically, to be expressions for the unified wholeness of man. The fact that this goal goes by the name of ‘god’ proves that it has a numinous character;…” (1979, p. 195).
“Nobody who finds himself on the road to wholeness can escape that characteristic suspension which is the meaning of crucifixion. For he will infallibly run into things that thwart and ‘cross’ him: first, the thing he has no wish to be (the shadow); second, the thing he is not (the ‘other,’ the individual reality of the “You”); and third, his psychic non-ego (the collective unconscious)” (1985a, p. 262).
“Wholeness” is the literal meaning of “pleroma.” Restoring it was the ultimate goal of Gnosticism: “Blessed are we before all men who are on the earth, because the Saviour hath revealed this unto us, and we have received the Fulness [wholeness] and the total completion” (Mead, 1921j).
“This, then, is the kind of man whom they conceive of: he has his animal soul from the Demiurge, his body from the earth, his fleshy part from matter, and his spiritual man from the mother Achamoth” (Irenaeus & Schaff, 2011).
“In addition to all that he has already said,” complains Origen, “Celsus subjoins the following: ‘All things, accordingly, were not made for man, any more than they were made for lions, or eagles, or dolphins, but that this world, as being God’s work, might be perfect and entire in all respects. For this reason all things have been adjusted, not with reference to each other, but with regard to their bearing upon the whole. And God takes care of the whole, and (His) providence will never forsake it…'” (Robert, 1885f). (This entire document attacking Celsus offers a fascinating if inadvertent anticipation of both ecopsychology and of spiritual ecology.)
Wise Old Man; Philemon, for example, who lectures the dead in Jung’s Red Book.
“…The anima will bring in the figure of the old man” (1970c, p. 164).
“Only when all props and crutches are broken, and no cover from the rear offers even the slightest hope of security, does it become possible for us to experience an archetype that up till then had lain hidden behind the meaningful nonsense played out by the anima. This is the archetype of meaning, just as the anima is the archetype of life itself” (1981a, p. 32).
“…Aspects of the wise old man, the superior master and teacher, the archetype of the spirit, who symbolizes the pre-existent meaning hidden in the chaos of life. He is the father of the soul, and yet the soul, in some miraculous manner, is also his virgin mother, for which reason he was called by the alchemists the ‘first son of the mother.’” (1981a, p. 35).
“The archetype of spirit in the shape of a man, hobgoblin, or animal always appears in a situation where insight, understanding, good advice, determinations, planning, etc., are needed but cannot be mustered on one’s own resources” (1981a, p. 216).
Jung painted Philemon as an old winged man with arms crossed over his breast. To his left coils a snake, and above him hover Gnostic-style circles bisected by crosses.
Simon Magus, legendary founder of Gnosticism, was accompanied by Helena (Sophia, Luna), one of Jung’s anima figures. From Pseudo-Clement’s Recognitions: “…Simon took Luna to himself; and with her he still goes about, as you see, deceiving multitudes, and asserting that he himself is a certain power which is above God the Creator, while Luna, who is with him, has been brought down from the higher heavens, and that she is Wisdom, the mother of all things, for whom, says he, the Greeks and barbarians contending, were able in some measure to see an image of her; but of herself, as she is, as the dweller with the first and only God, they were wholly ignorant…Once, when this Luna of his was in a certain tower, a great multitude had assembled to see her, and were standing around the tower on all sides; but she was seen by all the people to lean forward, and to look out through all the windows of that tower. Many other wonderful things he did and does” (Schaff, 2009).
Simon also had a reputation as a necromancer and as the creator of a homunculus out of air. “And in the greater number of these books is also drawn the representation of a certain aged man, grey-haired, winged, having his pudendum erectum, pursuing a retreating woman of azure colour. And over the aged man is the inscription ‘phaos ruentes,’ and over the woman ‘pereëphicola.’ But ‘phaos ruentes’ appears to be the light (which exists), according to the doctrine of the Sethians, and ‘phicola’ the darkish water; while the space in the midst of these seems to be a harmony constituted from the spirit that is placed between'” (Hippolytus, 2011): Philemon and Salome? According to Charles King, some depictions show the old man’s arms crossed over his breast.
Contrary to Jung’s claim in MDR that he studied Gnosticism in earnest from 1918 until 1926 (1989, p. 200), he stared earlier and went back to the Gnostics through much of his career (Ribi, p. 2013).
We can see the influence of these studies in the plethora of Gnostic imagery gleaming and roiling right from the start of Jung’s Red Book-recorded confrontations with the unconscious. “Salome” and “Soul,” who surfaced in November 1912-13, acts like Gnostic Sophia, and Philemon eventually (1916) admits he is Simon Magus. The symbol of the helpful serpent so prominent in Jung’s “confrontation with the unconscious” points back to the Gnostics, as St. Augustine notes in Book XXII of his Reply to Faustus: “The Manichaeans are so fond of this serpent, that they assert that he did more good than harm” (2011). So were the Ophites, said to worship the serpent as the instructor to Eve and humanity. The argument between the anchorite and the devil echoes in many respects that between St. Augustine and Faustus the Manichean (2011); the critical questions posed by Faustus, a religious skeptic, sound like those posed by Jung in the Red Book and in his letters. The crown that comes to Jung falls from heaven in the 9th Ode to Solomon and is thematic in many other Gnostic texts (e.g., the Second Book of Jeu). The crown settles on the head of Jung’s “son,” who, like the son of the Demiurge, is wiser and more powerful than his father. (For more observations about Gnostic material in Jung’s Red Book see the Foreword by Lance Owens in Ribi, 2013).
Because incoming archetypes and mythic impulses need imagistic material to wear, I suspect that Jung started reading up Gnosticism before 1913. “I naturally examined occultistic literature pertinent to the subject,” Jung writes as early as 1902, “and discovered a store of parallels from different centuries with our gnostic system [referring to that of the mediumistic cousin Jung had interviewed for his dissertation], but scattered through all kinds of work mostly quite inaccessible to the patient” (1916). What was this work, and how thoroughly had Jung gone through it? Did it include Wilhelm Bousset, who published Hauptprobleme Der Gnosis in 1907 but wasn’t quoted by Jung until the 1920s? As with alchemy, which he read, put aside as meaningless, and went back to, did he study and then bypass Gnosticism before his psychic eruption in 1913?
Be that as it may, let us return in speculation to Jung in the midst of the eruption. When it clothes his inner visions and promptings in numinous Gnostic images and ideas, Jung is astounded by the close parallels between the patterns in his psychic magma and the motifs in the ancient writings. Reading Mead tells him that this Gnostic material signals a symbolically rich Christian interiority he had not grown up with, having been raised only in the soulless exoteric traditions sufficed no more for Jung than they had for his troubled parents.
Furthermore, the coniunctio of Jung’s seething interiority with the images of Gnosis cures his fear of going mad, for he suffers, he now knows, from the madness of the time: a time of world war, mechanistic extermination, and the poisoning (to borrow a Red Book image) of the gods as failing expressions of the accessible sacred.
As Gnostic amplifications and insights begin to heal a deep split in Jung—a split between inner and outer, science and psychology, experience and dogma, fantastic and pragmatic—he wonders how he can bring this living treasure to other sufferers who strive for wholeness. He is clear that Gnosis is powerfully redemptive but incomplete without its exoteric sibling; that this sibling, the Church, has repudiated it as heresy; that Jung would have no credibility simply teaching it, for he is not a pastor; that it was not meant for the masses in any case; that it is intensely psychological (as Mead remarks); and that it must be updated somehow (Mead again) in order to speak in a contemporary voice (2008).
Jung decides to translate Gnosticism into depth psychology, to the benefit, he hopes, of both. He will then use this psychology to heal the split within Christianity.
He fears, however, that for doing this he will be branded a mystic and metaphysician (which he was anyway, starting with Freud). To fend off this accusation must be careful to emphasize the empirical and the scientific aspects of Analytical Psychology while occasionally and incompletely citing Gnosticism to avoid seeming historically and religiously ignorant. However, he will make those acknowledgements by reversing the chronology, emphasizing the psychological nature of Gnostic thought and image instead of dwelling at any length on the Gnostic roots of depth psychology. He will then teach psychologized Gnosis to his patients, colleagues, and followers, quietly but deliberately stepping into the ancient legacy of Basilides, Simon, and Faust.
Meanwhile, he continues to study Mead for ideas about how to proceed:
…We must consider that an interpretation that fits only one system and is found entirely unsuitable to the rest, is no part of universal religion, and is due rather to the ingenuity of the interpreter than to a discovery of any law of subjective nature. The method of comparative religion alone can give us any certainty of correct interpretation, and a refusal to institute such a comparison should invalidate the reliability of all such enquiries (2006).
This sounds familiar. Jung: “We teach comparative anatomy, why not comparative psychology? The psyche is not of today, it reaches right back to prehistoric ages” (1977a, p. 539).
How Jung must have resonated with this, which he read in Mead in 1915:
Who are all these people—not fishermen and slaves and the poor and destitute, though those are striving too—but these men of learning and ascetic life, saints and sages as much as many others to whom the name has been given with far less reason? They are all heretics, say later Church writers, very pestilent folk and enemies of the True Faith which we have now established by our decrees and councils….It may well be even that many of the identical souls who were embodied in the early centuries of Christianity are continuing their experience among ourselves to-day. ….So far from finding the sharp divorcement between science (or philosophy) and religion (or theology) which has characterised all later periods of the Christian era up to our own day, it was just the boast of many of these communities that religion was a science; they boldly claimed that it was possible to know the things of the soul as definitely as the things of the body; so far from limiting the illumination which they had received to the comprehension of the poorest intellect, or confining it to the region of blind faith, they claimed that it had supplied them with the means of formulating a world-philosophy capable of satisfying the most exacting intellect. Never perhaps has the world witnessed more daring efforts to reach a solution of the world-problem than were attempted by some of these mystic philosophers and religio-scientists (2008).
An ambitious scholar, Mead. In his quest for the “one religion” he clearly intended something larger than writing books on Gnosticism:
Our present task will be to attempt, however imperfectly, to point to certain considerations which may tend to restore the grand figure of the Great Teacher to its natural environment in history and tradition, and disclose the intimate points of contact which the true ideal of the Christian religion has with the one world-faith of the most advanced souls of our common humanity—in brief, to restore the teaching of the Christ to its true spirit of universality… (2008).
He adds: “It is this endeavour to universalize Christianity which is the grand inspiration underlying the best of the Gnostic efforts we have to review.” If the Gnostics actually cared very little for this kind of “universalizing,” Mead certainly did.
In light of these influential remarks by Mead, whom Jung obviously admired, consider some of Jung’s about his own relationship to Christianity:
If I have to make the meaning of the Christian message intelligible to a patient, I must translate it with a commentary. In fact this is one practical aim of my psychology, or rather psychotherapy (1976, p. 226).
It may happen…that a patient, who till then had shut his eyes to religious questions, will develop an unexpected interest in these matters. He may, for instance, find himself getting converted from modern paganism to Christianity or from one creed to another, or even getting involved in fundamental theological questions which are incomprehensible to a layman (1977b, p. 366).
Jung never contemplates a conversion from Christian to pagan; for him this would represent a psychic regression. The Christian-themed interpretations in the Visions seminars bear this out.
In the course of the centuries the West will produce its own yoga, and it will be on the basis laid down by Christianity (1975, p. 537).
Elsewhere he writes:
…I cannot experience the miracle of the Mass; I know too much about it. I know it is the truth, but it is the truth in a form in which I cannot accept it anymore. I cannot say “This is the sacrifice of Christ,” and see him any more. It is no more true to me; it does not express my psychological condition….I need a new form (1977a, p. 276).
This is not to say that Christianity is finished. I am, on the contrary, convinced that it is not Christianity, but our conception and interpretation of it, that has become antiquated in face of the present world situation. The Christian symbol is a living thing that carries in itself the seeds of further development. It can go on developing; it depends only on us, whether we can make up our minds to meditate again, and more thoroughly, on the Christian premises (2010b, p. 44).
How is it to develop? By being updated via psychological translation:
Today Christianity is devitalized by its remoteness from the spirit of the times. It stands in need of a new union with, or relation to, the atomic age, which is a unique novelty in history. The myth needs to be retold in a new spiritual language, for the new wine can no more be poured into the old bottles than it could be in the Hellenistic age….It is my practical experience that psychological understanding immediately revivifies the essential Christian ideas and fills them with the breath of life. This is because our worldly light, i.e., scientific knowledge and understanding, coincides with the symbolic statement of the myth, whereas previously we were unable to bridge the gulf between knowing and believing (1977a, p. 736).
For the rest of his career Jung is fairly open about his ambivalent affiliation with Christianity, but he never discloses the full scope of his debt to Gnosticism. At most he gives the ancient symbols and stories a nod now and then.
Of course, keeping a secret isn’t much fun unless one occasionally hints at it, thumbing one’s nose at those who make secrecy necessary. Jung wears a Gnostic signet ring on his finger, writes the Seven Sermons, touches on Gnosticism in his books and seminars as he builds on his work. Look at how much those Gnostics anticipated, he slyly tells the public. Look at how psychological they were.
As he proceeds he lets slip here and there about his wider agenda: the rejuvenation of Christianity as a true yoga of the West. But he dies believing that he did not accomplish it.
—And so we reach the limits of this inquiry. I have not been able to read Bousset, Schultz’s Documente der Gnosis—evidently a repeat of Mead (Owens, 2014)—or Richard Reitzenstein’s work. I don’t know what Jung found in his father’s library or read in college, nor have I the time or the resources to trace specific Gnostic readings he made to the dates he first wrote out his own key ideas. However, such a study would not necessarily account for the lengths of time Jung might have needed to ponder the Gnostic originals before fully grasping their psychological relevance. “Synchronicity,” for instance, is a coinage relatively late in Jung’s career even though he had read about antique correspondence theory fairly early on.
To what extent can we say that Jung’s key ideas are Gnostic? While vetting this paper I have received the reply that it spends too much time on the origin of Jung’s conceptual psychology (more accurately, metapsychology) and not enough on the nature of the originary imaginal encounters that made the (meta)psychology necessary (Owens, 2014). But it is exactly the indebtedness of Jung’s conceptual system to Gnosticism that this paper means to focus on.
Another critique emphasizes Jung’s firm situation within German Romantic and Idealist traditions that emphasized ego, unconscious, Self, individuation, polarity, development/evolution, and archetype (via Kant and Goethe, C.G. Carus, Von Hartmann, Nietzsche, and indirectly from Schelling and Hegel) long before Jung came along. These categories are themselves part of a continuous evolution of thought back through Wolff, Leibniz, Spinoza, Descartes, the medieval theologians, Augustine, Plato, and the pre-Socratics. Furthermore, Jung moved beyond the Gnostics in favor of alchemy because of their devaluation of body, matter, history, and cosmos (Kelly, 2015). However, Jung situates himself in these traditions after he borrows from Gnosticism. The key “Jungian” concepts and ideas in the table above are specifically Gnostic in origin, and no earlier Romantic or medieval thinker made such extensive use of Gnostic source material. Furthermore, Ribi’s work shows that Jung never turned away from Gnosticism (2013), however literally he interpreted its supposed rejection of life in the flesh. (For literal versus metaphoric interpretations of Gnostic myths, see Chalquist, 2010.)
What seems clear is that Gnosticism as Jung first met it gave him a desperately needed vocabulary of interiority, a sparkling set of therapeutic tools, and a means to heal and interiorize Christianity, a religion that had so wounded him, his family, and generations of believers deprived of inner guidance. In return Jung’s founding of a depth psychology with spiritual roots reinvigorated Gnosticism by providing its living myths and motifs with new conceptual expressions and practices at precisely the time of its reemergence from repression and obscurity.
Suggestions for Further Inquiry
I do not know why this side of earliest Christianity has been allowed to be forgotten. Doubtless there was a purpose served by its withdrawal; but to-day, at the beginning of the twentieth century, in the greater freedom and wider tolerance we now enjoy, may not the veil again be lifted? The old forms need not return—though surely some of them have enough of beauty! But the old power is there, waiting and watching, ready to clothe itself in new forms… (Mead, 2008).
Seemingly dead for centuries, Gnosticism rose from buried jars and rubbish heaps to find a new voice in Jung, who participated in its revival and evolution. It is striking that as Gnostic texts emerged from the sands of Nag Hammadi and other such desolate places, Jung was busy helping his patients and readers reclaim their own buried psychic treasure, in part with lost tools he had brought forth from the shadows of antiquity, dusted off, unlimbered, and modernized.
Nor did Jung stop with Gnosticism. As time went on he brought much more into Analytical (and Complex) Psychology as he read and traveled, worked the magma of his raw experience from the depths, incorporated what he learned into what he thought and wrote, and stopped writing the Gnostically themed Red Book when alchemy utterly overtook him.
He was quite right to see alchemy (which he cited extensively) as an extension or elaboration of Gnosticism, although I would argue, not for a literal, perennial Aurea Catena (Jung, 1980) or Golden Chain of unbroken teacher-student relationships preserving esoteric knowledge and practice down the centuries, but for a less direct and more intuitive Argentum Catena linking Gnosticism, alchemy, depth psychology, terrapsychology, and ecospirituality in a gradual, lunar, and “silvery” incarnation of gnosis into worldly life (Chalquist, 2015). More work is needed to understand and support what seems to be a quietly surfacing tradition of esoteric psychospiritual animism, a gnosis not only of the interior but of interdependencies of nature, place, element, Earth, and cosmos. Of inner, outer, and outermost.
Further inquiries into the question of the Gnostic roots of Jung’s psychology might start with these questions:
Exactly when did Jung begin reading about Gnosticism?
Can any of Jung’s surviving family or friends shed light on Jung’s relationship to Gnostic thought?
What is the psychological impact of this relationship on religious patterns and roles playing out within Jungian psychology?
Have all the Gnostic images or motifs in the Black Books being translated and published by the Philemon Foundation made it into the Red Book? For example, is there more in the Black Booksabout Abraxas?
How has Gnosticism been enriched and updated by Jung’s work?
What did Jung’s psychologizings of Gnosticism lose in translation? For example, how is the Gnostic conception of an archetype different from Jung’s? (I am writing a paper to address this.)
What might be the results of Jungian psychology more openly welcoming its spiritual roots?
Whatever its ultimate origins, Jung’s psychology gave us a serviceable Gnosticism we can apply directly to how we live and how we view ourselves and the world in which we evolved. Perhaps a closer look at those origins will renew our appreciation of their disparaged depths while letting us hear where Gnosis would like to go next.
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