C. G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time
Marie-Louise von Franz (translated by William H. Kennedy)
The Redemption of the Feminine Erotic Soul
The Goddess in the Garden
Dancing in the Flames:
The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousness
Marion Woodman and Elinor Dickson
The Passion of Perpetua: A Psychological Interpretation of Her Visions
Marie-Louise von Franz, edited by Daryl Sharp
The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light
At the Heart of Matter:
Synchronicity and Jung’s Spiritual Testament
J. Gary Sparks
C. G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time
Marie-Louise von Franz
(translated by William H. Kennedy)
1998: Inner City Books, Toronto, 368 pp.
First published in English in 1975 by the C. G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology of New York, C. G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time, by Marie-Louise von Franz, was re-issued by Inner City Books early in 1998.
The re-issue now appears especially fortunate and timely, for Marie-Louise von Franz died in February of this year, at the age of 83. The intention of this review, therefore, is to commemorate two lives: to honor the life and work of C. G. Jung and the memory of this most accomplished disciple and scholar.
The book could well serve as a companion volume to Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Von Franz fills in the spaces omitted by Jung as only the soror mystica can illuminate the works of the master by adding her own personal reflections.
Von Franz had a long collaboration with Jung, and she obviously admired him and had a great affection for him. She variously describes him as a shaman, a healer, a romantic poet and medieval scholar, and then tempers the lofty descriptions by reminding us that he also possessed a jocular peasant’s soul. There is no mention here of the scandals that some recent books have bruited about Jung concerning his dalliances with Nazism and his extra-marital affairs.
The focus of the biography is the essential substance of Jung’s work: the mysteries of the unconscious. Von Franz gives a detailed study of the broad scope of Jung’s work and the influence it has come to bear in today’s society.
One of the mysteries Jung recognized early in his life was the dual aspects of his character, which he called personalities number one and number two. Later on he would give these two dimensions more sophisticated names, “morning knowledge” and “evening knowledge.” The author’s argument is that we too are subjected to divided loyalties. We are driven on the one hand by a rational hard-minded attitude that can be satisfied only by concrete facts; and on the other, those of us who have ventured into the subterranean world of dreams recognize the impulsive outbursts from the unconscious that attest to the power of complexes and we know that we are not masters in own houses.
We realize that forces greater than our egos are at play, day and night, in the fields of our Psyches and in the collective sphere as well. Thanks to pioneers like Jung and von Franz, we can appreciate the difficulty of entering the shadowy, liminal realms that reside in our personal psyches. Knowing that collective values are also founded upon deep unconscious layers of history and mythology, we are better prepared to confront the tough transitional times we live as we approach the new millennium.
Jung was struck by the immense power of dreams from a very young age. His earliest dreams and visions informed him about the fathomless depths of the unconscious. These numinous images left their lasting impressions on his daytime world. Von Franz shared Jung’s conviction that the objective nature of Psyche was as powerful as that of Nature itself.
The power of his early experiences led Jung to conduct research, both deeply personal and extensively scholarly, covering many fields. He formulated theories about psyche (Shadow, Animus/Anima, Projection, the Collective Unconscious, Extroversion/Introversion, the Transcendent Function, Archetypes, the Mysterium Coniunctionis); he read and wrote esoterically on alchemy; he speculated on difficult theological issues (Answer to Job, Psychology and Religion: West and East); and he even mused on subjects that have been taken up by new-age movements (synchronicity, flying saucers).
The complex nature of Jung’s life and work have been received with both great fascination and dark accusation. Perhaps it was the very nature of the subjects that Jung tackled that have made his accusers uneasy. In a darkly cynical age, one is not surprised that many find his ideas suspicious.
Perhaps von Franz’s “angelic” glorification of the man is no more than an antidote to the demonic way many of us devalue those we cannot understand.
Many readers of Jung may be distressed by his incessant references to God. This is a difficult subject at the end of a troublesome, apparently godless 20th century, a time when materialism and science are in the ascendancy and faith is a fallen currency. Many theologians do not dare enter the treacherous waters as Jung did with his celebrated Answer to Job. But this intensely curious search for a psychologically grounded meaning permeated all his works.
Von Franz notes that Jung was willing to plumb the “depths of God” to find the answers to the most profound mysteries. She compares his struggling with theological questions to Jacob’s wrestling with the angel at the ford in the river. “He held fast to this dark mysterious Other until his grace was revealed.” This image is particularly compelling for this reviewer who is a descendant of the tribe of Israel. The name Israel means “he who wrestles with God.” Jung was never satisfied with dogmatic answers to the mysteries.
Jung’s quest was to wrest external values from his inner psychic turmoil. Some have considered his value limited exactly because his ideas tend to favor the subjective perspective over objective reality. Yet Jung seemed to make the link between inner and outer after a monumentally dark dream he had during the First World War, which led him to this life-altering conclusion:
It was then that I ceased to belong to myself alone ... From then on my life belonged to the generality ... I myself had to undergo the original experience and, moreover, try to plant the results of my experience in the soil of reality ... It was then that I dedicated myself to the service of psyche. I loved it and hated it, but it was my greatest wealth.
Von Franz concludes her study of Jung with a final chapter on the mythic figure of Merlin. Legend has it that Merlin was the son of the Devil and an innocent virgin and was thus a darker and truer personification of modern man than his lighter counterpart Parsifal, who Jung believed possessed too much of a one-sided virtuous Christian spirit.
Merlin’s existence in the world of imagination was no less meaningful for von Franz or Jung than the attraction of so many of today’s youth to the compelling story-telling magic of The X-Files, whose mythic appeal is that science and intelligence agencies are not the only sources of the truth that is out there.
The voice of Merlin, according to legend, continues to cry out to this world from beyond. Von Franz notes that Jung intended to carve le cri de Merlin onto the backside of a cubic stone, which, she parenthetically adds, he never did. Jung wrote:
...the secret of Merlin was carried on by alchemy, primarily in the figure of Mercurius. Then Merlin was taken up again in my psychology of the unconscious and remains uncomprehended to this day.
The unconscious remains a mystery to us and we must thank our lucky stars that we are humble enough to recognize that fact. Let the unknown remain unknown but let us take up von Franz’s challenge: “...to set out upon the great adventure of individuation, the journey into the interior.”
Marie-Louise von Franz first met C. G. Jung in 1933, when she was 18, and she began working with him the following year and did so until his death in 1961.
She became an acknowledged authority on the psychological interpretation of fairy tales, myths, dreams and alchemy, and the author of many books on the application of Jungian psychology. But although she did her utmost to further Jung’s message, she was not just a mindless follower: she put her own inimitable stamp both on Jungian psychology and on those she taught.
Daryl Sharp, the publisher and general editor of Inner City Books, shared his thoughts in an account of the Farewell Service held for Marie-Louise von Franz in an e-mail he sent out in the “wake” of her funeral of February 26, 1998. Sharp reports that von Franz passed away peacefully on the morning of February 17, after a protracted illness but with a crystal-clear mind and a dignified spirit that did not fear Death.
Sharp and a number of his fellow analysts agree about the spirit which came through loud and clear in the works and life of this remarkable woman. Gary Sparks, a Jungian analyst practising in Indianapolis, paid tribute to the grand lady of soul on a web site dedicated to memories of von Franz:
She was saying, “Look at this civilization. Its story must be understood at depth to do the suffering human spirit justice.” ... It was the first time I ever felt authority really serve the essence of life. Above all I recall the intensity and humanity of her creative spirit which burned straight to the center, inspiring in me a re-evaluation of everything. This challenge is something I wanted to be a part of.
And Sharp echoes the sentiment, which I believe may be shared by a large number of readers of this newsletter. “Yes, and me too.”
The Redemption of the Feminine Erotic Soul
1997: Nicholas Hays, Inc., 151 pps.
Rachel Hillel is no stranger to Montreal audiences, having lectured to the C. G. Jung Society of Montreal, as she says in her acknowledgments, five times.
On meeting Rachel on the occasion of her first visit to the Society, what impressed us most was that here was a speaker who was truly present. Although she spoke from a prepared text on The Divinity Within, she began her presentation with a dream she had dreamt in anticipation of her visit.
In the material that followed on this occasion and on later visits, she enjoined us in her exploration of biblical sources for evidence of the feminine. As she uncovered psychological truths in traditional religious texts and in the roots of their Hebrew words, the fact that she had experienced a secular upbringing, devoid of formal religious training, only fuelled her enthusiasm.
Significantly, Rachel Hillel was not asking that we replace an exclusively masculine frame of reference with a feminine, but that we restore the feminine values that had been rejected by our western patriarchal culture and by individual consciousness.
The findings of The Redemption of the Feminine Erotic Soul are not inconsistent with her earlier work, but its starting point is not biblical heroines, who are to be the subject of a later book, but the dream material of a number of her women analysands. Many of the dreams, in Hillel’s view, have a collective significance.
One in particular holds interest for students of Jungian Psychology. The dreamer was in fact in the final stages of her training as a Jungian analyst.
Jung is an old man and obviously dying when he implores the dreamer to allow him to place his hand in her vagina so that he may be restored. Although shocked by his request, the dreamer reluctantly complies. Shortly after, not only is Jung alive, but “completely healed”.
After commenting on the choice of the vagina image to shock the dreamer into awareness, Hillel identifies it with the Goddess’s vulva - “the seat of life’s affirmation, an abode of desirousness and ecstatic passions.” She concludes her interpretation:
The dream’s telos, its purposeful meaning, is a statement. It is a containment within transpersonal feminine powers that can restore sacredness to an impoverished spirit which had shriveled into an intellect. Erotic-sensuality, divine passion, the mystery and vigor or the vulva carry the hope of transformative restoration for the “ailing king”.
Another dream which Hillel interprets from an indi-vidual perspective, also involves a vagina or sacred vulva. The dreamer, a successful psychotherapist, receives a professional visit from Mary, a healer, whose treatment consists of “applying a syringe to (the dreamer’s) vagina.” She injected, the dreamer recalls, “a gentle substance four times at evenly spaced points, thus forming the shape of a cross. Her touch felt cozy and wonderfully soothing. As I woke up I felt a sense of comfort and great peace.”
Mary, in the dreamer’s view, has remarkable healing talents which she protects by nurturing and taking care of herself to balance the demands made on her by others. She refuses to depart from a routine she has established of early bed time, prayer and meditation before dawn and restful noon hours devoted to walking, gardening, writing, dancing, singing and playing music.
The dreamer, like many women of her generation, has allowed her vocation to become all-consuming. There is little room in her world for family, friends and “life’s sponta-neous flow.” With this dream, Hillel concludes:
Nora’s psyche compensated for her alienated attitude by clearly indicating that she must cure her neglected femininity. In a present-day efficient ego like Nora’s, a feminine earthy centre--a vessel of sanctified sensuality is absent. The sacred vulva, the place where sensuality and sacredness are reconciled, needs to be healed. Mary enacted the arche-typal role of sacred priestess and applied a balm to Nora’s wounded vulva through the injections.
In contrast to the dreamer who is possessed uncon-sciously by the masculine onesidedness of contemporary feminism, father’s daughters are governed by the “shoulds” and “oughts” of masculine monotheism. Their individuality is marked by a polite, cooperative persona. Namely, ego and persona are one. Without access to their female instinctuality, they are unable to discriminate whom they should trust or suspect. Because they deny their shadows, their aggression tends to be projected on others who more often than not introject it and meet the expectations of these daughters of the Father.
Rachel Hillel’s position on the significance of dreams, “big” and small, is consistent with Jungian theory. Where she does differ from many practitioners, however, is on her insistence that if the analysand is reluctant to discuss a dream, that right must be respected. Moreover, experience has taught her that some “big dreams” touch on the per-sonal dilemmas of the analyst of which the analysand has no knowledge. Should the meaningful insights these offer be ignored, the consequences for the analyst’s process may be destructive.
Dreams of this nature are experienced by the analyst as synchronistic. A fourfold experience of synchronistic happenings which occurred a number of years ago, are described by Rachel Hillel at some length. It was Epiphany week. Epiphany, we are reminded, comes from the Greek and Latin word epiphanis meaning “the showing forth”.
These “light bringers”, or manifestations of the divine, occur at the darkest time of the year. Yet it was not the birth of a masculine deity that was being celebrated by the Magi bearing gifts, but “a female deity in all her glorious sensual features” who, unheralded and unplanned, chose to make her appearance.
The week began for the author when she drove to her local New England town with a lengthy shopping list, beginning with the bookbinder. She never made it to the bookbinder. Instead, her attention was caught by the sign of a fancy lingerie store, Gazebo, which she had passed unnoticing many times before. On entering Gazebo, Hillel recalls:
Spellbound, I was instantly transported to an earthly paradise. A great variety of refined textures bewitched me, a feast to the tactile and visual senses. The radiant beauty and the luxury everywhere were stunning, luring me into touching and trying on an abundance of the finest linen, silk and lace for hours. A daring color profusion, an entire array of shades and hues, unfolded before my eyes: the regal glow of gold and silver, voluptuous iridescent brilliance, pale, soothing tones ... Bewitched, enthralled by the discovery of the Gazebo, a name that connotes great vistas, I alternated between looking, touching, trying on garments, and buying.
The Gazebo experience was followed later in Epiphany week by a visit to a New York skincare salon operated by Miriam who, it soon became apparent, was a priestess in the service of the Goddess. Seized by feminine archetypal contents, she compulsively lived them out in her practice as a cosmetician.
The third event happened on the evening following Miriam’s ministrations when Hillel attended a performance of Richard Wagner’s opera, Tannhauser. Although Wagner as a product of his time condemned the erotic-sensual realm in the libretto of his opera, his music compensates. There, erotic-sensuality is portrayed “as sublime, fascinating and elating.” The opposites in Tannhauser are spirit and flesh, or virgin and whore, represented by the chaste Elisabeth and the Goddess Venus. Yet there is no reconciliation, but a one-dimensional split on the side of nineteenth century Christian values.
Two thoughts in particular remained with Hillel as she left the performance. Because Venus as a goddess is unmediated by a human container, it is impossible for Tannhauser to relate to her. Elisabeth, in contrast, is a mortal woman with whom a love relationship is possible. “Thus, in principle, the two realms, erotic-sensuality versus Christian ethics, as pre-sented in the opera, do not offer equal partnership.”
The other thought concerns the Pope’s staff. If Tannhauser’s repentance is accepted, it is to sprout green leaves. Miraculously, this happens, thus affirming Wagner’s faith in the vigour of instinctual life.
The fourth event of Epiphany week, revolving around that same theme of erotic-sensuality, involved a patient who had been in analysis with Hillel for over a year. She brought three consecutive dreams.
In the first dream, Sally notices a small statue of Aphodite in her garden. It is her duty to recover it. Although she suffers from severe allergies which make the garden out of bounds to her, without hesitation, she picks up the statue and brings it to her living quarters.
In the second dream, Sally is in bed with her husband, when she notices a photograph of Aphrodite on the wall. She suddenly becomes aware that it is her birthright to ini-tiate sex. Having acted on her desires, she realizes that she is being true to herself and is “no longer shy about (her) animal lust.”
The last dream, which Sally later denied having dreamt, was brief: “I teach prostitution at the college.” In commenting on the dream and its denial, Hillel states that Sally had not yet learnt to take dreams symbolically, rather than literally, and that “her shame at admitting sexual lust (was) too great.” Because this was early in Sally’s analysis, she decided to collude with her patient’s denial and await the return of this theme at a later stage. In support of her decision, Hillel writes:
The unconscious tends to repeat significant themes: thus with no pressure, no coercing of premature interpretations, inner maturation processes allow the transformation required to accept “shadowy”, until now, matters. They lose their tremendum, their terrifying hold, their “devilish” numinous qualities.
The Goddess in the Garden
Ekstasis Editions, 2002, 87 pages
Dancing in the Flames:
The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousness
Marion Woodman and Elinor Dickson
Vintage Canada ed. 1997, 240 pages
The cover of The Goddess in the Garden, chosen by the author, shows a naked goddess, sleeping quietly, in a garden. Zonailo is from British Columbia and of Russian Doukhobor heritage, and, while she is not of the minority Sons of Freedom Doukhobors, I was reminded of their practice, at times, of undressing as a sign of protest against being required by the Canadian Government to get involved in battles they believed could be resolved more creatively. What is poetry but a creative and stark stripping to the bare essentials of a matter—to expose and reveal that which is most important to the unhooded eye?
Carolyn Zonailo, M.A., poet, practising astrologer, lecturer and lifelong student of Jungian thought, now lives in Montreal, Quebec and is the author of nine published books of poetry.
Read “Skinhead Riding Bicycle” to hear moments of vulnerability while “getting dressed” prior to showing off the finished image—and hear youth’s fear. See flesh-carved roses, the pale word mother and exhausted mermaids draped over the now frail chest of “The Tattooed Man” as he prepares for the most exciting journey of all, not from the mast of a ship on turbulent seas as a strong, young man but from his quiet hospital bunker as a frail old one—and disrobe to the real adventure.
The cover of Dancing in the Flames by Marion Woodman and Elinor Dickson also features a naked goddess, but this one is quite awake and consuming the hot flames that surround her whilst dancing in their light. The authors warn us that the sleep of the goddess is a special time and not necessarily an unconscious one. When she rises, refreshed, ready, and truly awake now, it is in the trinity of virgin, mother and crone, each with her own job to do, her own aspect that transforms, ultimately, into the whole person. Woodman and Dickson discuss the essence of worship of the great goddess, underlining its primary transfiguring function: “…there must be a death to the ego self; there must be a transformation in which there is a letting go of all false values, of all things that the egotistical nature clings to,” and further that:
In the burial ground of the heart, the goddess’s enlightened devotees see beyond literal death to the death of values rooted in fear. When they come to accept death as a necessary step in their transformation, then Kali can dance her dance of perpetual becoming. Once her cycles are accepted, those who love her are free of fear of death, free of their own vulnerability, free to live her mystery … destroying in order to create, creating in order to destroy, death in the service of life, life in the service of death.
Dovetailing perfectly, Zonailo’s poetry details this transformative, mediating energy of death, loss and perpetual becoming. Two beautifully named sections of The Goddess in the Garden, “Divine Healing” and “Angels at the Door,” both richly reassure that endings are paradox in motion, contracting to birth new beginnings. While a strong spiritual emphasis is present in Zonailo’s work, it is felt, somehow, viscerally, in the tissue, in the body, in the resonance of memory and the tough work of acceptance—and all this wrapped in the subtle, but steady encouragement that all is well, though certainly not easy. Both “Paula” and “Going Into Dark Sleep” feature the desperate contract that letting go requires, that concentrated faith that always results in gain and proves that death is indeed a trusted servant of life. Read “Mother’s Garden” and consider the author sitting in her own mother’s garden, at peace, now, with what was not received and actually nurtured from the painful process of acceptance.
The Goddess in the Garden, is a wonderful, sensitively written volume and while probably not expressly intended to do so, starkly witnesses reality for those who are in grief, who have sustained a loss, who are working hard on healing some torn part of their lives or, perhaps better said, for those working on “growing through” something. It also brings smiles and exercises laugh wrinkles for those who recognize landscapes of former trips.
For those who would like to hear today’s modern day, twenty-first century voices that echo the eternal insight of the virgin, the mother and the crone, consider from a standpoint of twenty-first century reality entries entitled: “The Female Nude as Earth Goddess,” “The Female Nude Lobotomized,” “The Female Nude as Single Mother,” “The Female Nude as Diplomatic Wife,” “The Female Nude as Sex Goddess.”
Woodman and Dickson explain, in Dancing in the Flames, that in ancient times, frightened people tried to appease a goddess they could not understand and so, frantically, they sacrificed, codependently, the blood of their children, their animals and themselves in order to avoid what they considered to be her wrath. As time went on, this primitive perception changed: the literal and concrete moved to the symbolic and instead of the primitive pacifying of that which could not be fathomed, conscious energy became ethical, accepting and understanding of an underlying essence that pervaded and unified all things. With this insight, the authors explain, came the first glimmerings of an awareness of the subtle or archetypal realm. Importantly, the unifying light in nature came to be worshipped as the goddess, the mediator of transformation.
Consider again, the evolutionary maturation, now achieved, now miraculously available to share with others, that Zonailo offers in “The Comfort of Mothers”—that we can “love our mothers for providing our neurosis,” that material of our continued evolution. This high level of conscious articulation is breathtakingly felt in “The Man Who Suffered Loss,” a marvelous, exquisite lyric that recalls Teilhard de Chardin’s idea that one day we will no longer need the “envelope” of the body and shall be pure spirit.
… I took his hand and led him
to the edge of a cliff.
We looked over and our voices
were silenced. Our limbs came apart
at the joints; our ligaments
separated from muscle and bone.
We felt like we were falling.
Our souls started to shrink.
Finally they escaped, like butterflies,
into the air as we exhaled.
When our bodies were no longer intact,
our minds disintegrated.
…“We have everything,” we said.
Finding the goddess then, is a conscious process of transformation that comes not from running away but from integrating inherited fire, cooking from it, dancing in it and resting in the garden of peace that ensues—before a final leap. How many of us can actually thank the devastation that reveals to us, over time and tears, our own best essence?
The Passion of Perpetua: A Psychological Interpretation of Her Visions
Marie-Louise von Franz, edited by Daryl Sharp,
Toronto, Inner City Books, 2004
The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light
Toronto, Thomas Allen Publishers, 2004
I am excited by the fact that two books published in Toronto this year, while quite different from one another, both make the same important point.
One is a radical challenge to conventional Christian doctrine by a leading Canadian religion journalist and author. The other is a re-issue of a monograph on the visions a young Christian convert experienced shortly before her grisly death for her faith in Carthage in 203, written by Jung’s associate Marie-Louise von Franz and first published in 1949.
The Pagan Christ helps us to understand why The Passion of Perpetua, modest volume though it is, is really quite an exciting book. The Passion of Perpetua reinforces the message of The Pagan Christ with additional data and with a certain gravitas that The Pagan Christ lacks.
Both books offer the reader a mythical or psychological, rather than literal and dogmatic, approach to Christian material and demonstrate that much of what we regard as Christian existed long before Christianity.
Harpur, a religion columnist for the Toronto Star, Anglican priest and former seminary professor, goes so far as to argue that it is doubtful that a historical Jesus ever existed in the way imagined by most Christians, conservative or liberal. He acknowledges that some scholars have long known about the material he presents, which shows that the ancient sources, in ancient Egypt and elsewhere, of much of what we now call Christianity, including even the notion of a suffering “Christos,” go back many centuries before Christ is said to have lived.
Harpur pleads for a “cosmic Christianity” that would retain the symbols we associate with that faith today—the Cross, the Eucharist and so on—but treat them as the symbols of spiritual truth that he contends they have been for millennia.
[W]hat we need today is not a further rationalizing and de-mythologizing of the Bible accounts, but rather a re-mythologizing of them in order to see their eternal significance as we have never seen it before. The need is not to peel away the myth, as I used to think, but to use it to penetrate into the spiritual heart of what it has always been trying to tell us.
In a passage that contains one of the few references to Jung in the book, Harpur writes that what he has learned of the sources of Christian symbols in pre-Christian times “has made clear to me that the concepts at the heart of Christianity really flow from the deep well of the unconscious, having been planted there by God.” He goes on:
For example, the idea of the Christ within—the fully realized, spiritual human being—is now to me an unmistakable Jungian-style archetype in our human psyche. The same is true of … other religious symbols ... Implanted deeply by the Creator, they belong to us uniquely as human beings, however they are named, and they are full of promise and hope for a meaningful, twenty-first-century faith.
This is a more theological and less psychological formulation than Jung or von Franz would have been likely to offer, but, like them, Harpur directs our attention to some key questions in the area where these disciplines meet.
Perpetua, a young Christian convert, was martyred in the arena in Carthage in 203, first attacked by a mad cow and then killed with a sword. Von Franz is inclined to credit Perpetua’s visions as authentic products of her unconscious, and therefore a valuable glimpse into what was going on in the psyche of a person of her era.
(There is at least one place in the world where Perpetua’s name continues to be associated with human-animal struggle in an arena. Sainte-Perpétue, a community of about 2,225 souls on Highway 259 about 20 kilometres north of Drummondville, is best known today as the home of an annual Festival du Cochon in early August, the highlight of which is the Course Nationale du Cochon Graissé, or National Greased-Pig Race.)
Perpetua’s and Von Franz’s interpretations of Perpetua’s visions are quite different. For example, Perpetua dreamed that she stepped on the head of a dragon while starting to climb a ladder to heaven. For Perpetua the dragon was the devil, but for von Franz the dragon is a more complex figure, standing for the danger of Perpetua’s “slipping back into the old pagan spiritual attitude, out of which the ladder shows the way to higher consciousness,” and also for “Perpetua’s own instinctive soul, her will to live and her feminine reality, which she tramples underfoot and disregards as she steps beyond.”
Like Harpur, von Franz sees early Christianity, paganism and gnosticism as far less distinct than is commonly supposed and drawing on a common stock of symbols. While Perpetua exemplifies how Christianity represented a break from the past, von Franz writes that Perpetua’s visions “contain not a single purely Christian motif; rather, they contain only archetypal images common to the pagan, Gnostic and Christian.”
Perhaps von Franz goes a little farther than Harpur in acknowledging new and creative elements in what welled up from the collective unconscious a couple of millennia ago, even if the results were by no means all positive. She sees Perpetua and other martyrs as “tragic, unconscious victims of the transformation which was being fulfilled deep down in the collective stratum of the human soul. This was the transformation of the image of God, whose new form was to rule over the aeons to come.”
In her quiet way, von Franz seems to suggest, as Harpur does forthrightly, that the time may have come for a further transformation.
J. Gary Sparks
Toronto, Inner City Books, 2007, 187 pp.
Pauli was an Austrian who worked in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and the United States, and is best known for the Pauli exclusion principle, which he formulated in 1925. In layman’s terms, this states that in a complex atom (all atoms other than hydrogen) each quantum level or valence shell can be occupied by at most two electrons, and that these electrons are of opposite spin.
Pauli was in the first ranks of science, collaborating with Niels Bohr and receiving an invitation to work on the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb during World War II. During his time in Zürich, Pauli consulted Jung for help with marital problems. The scientist cultivated a deep interest in his dreams and began a long correspondence with Jung, who himself had a strong inclination toward science.
This is such a rich book that it is difficult to summarize. One of the most interesting parts of it concerns the dreams Pauli had of a character he called “The Persian.” Sparks associates The Persian with the pre-Christian religious figure of Zoroaster, as this figure was delineated in Nietszche’s book Thus Spake Zarathustra. In this book Nietzsche propounded a theory of the death of a God who was associated only with spirituality and was not involved in the world. Nietzsche proclaimed that “to blaspheme the earth is now the dreadfulest sin, and to rate the heart of the unknowable higher than the meaning of the earth.” (p. 104)
Although this book was published in 1883, it now seems very timely in light of the present preoccupation with the possible disappearance of humans and inevitable disappearance of many species of animals on account of global pollution and warming. The recent selection of environmental activist and former Vice-President Al Gore for the Nobel Peace Prize underscores the importance of the environment issue.
According to Sparks:
The spirit and matter issue is something we are all being called to face. The task of our time is to make life in time and space, the relationship to the physical events of life, the sacred altar of being. Zarathustra is a personification of what moves us as lust for the world eclipses the self-righteous and sky-oriented excesses of Christianity. (p. 105)
Pauli suffered great anguish because of the use to which science was being put, particularly the development of the atomic bomb. He refused to participate in the Manhattan Project, although some of his students did, and he felt that he was living in a criminal atmosphere in the United States after atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in 1945. He returned to Switzerland the next year and lived there until his early death from cancer in 1958.
Sparks believes, with Jung, that a synchronistic event points in the direction where the psyche wishes to go, where helpful developments can occur. An example of synchronicity Sparks examines at length occurred in his own life while he was close to terminating his studies in Zürich. An older Swiss couple made him feel distinctly unwelcome in their country, although he himself believed he spoke Swiss German quite well. He took this as a sign that it was time for him to pack up and return to North America to pursue his analytic practice, rather than staying in the cocoon of Europe, and particularly Switzerland, as he might have preferred.
Synchronicity, according to Sparks, must involve both coincidence and meaning.
Apparently the purpose of a synchronicity is to educate us into a deeper layer of our own genuine self. In order to understand a synchronistic experience we must ask, ‘What does my psyche want me to do between now and some future time?’ The point of view is teleological ... Synchronistic experiences occur in moments of disorientation and have the effect of providing orientation as they convey the information necessary to bring the future into being. (p. 50)
Sparks thinks that Jung’s work on the relationship of matter to spirit is his spiritual testament. “Matter is now asking us to make the material world, the events of physical life, our locus for discerning the guidance of the spirit,” he says. Jung’s contribution to us is that matter with its storms and the complications that life throws at us can be just as much a vehicle for spirit as the older idea that spirit descends from above, according to Sparks.