Christ and sacrifice

When dealing with the image of Christ, we are dealing with a Mediterranean culture in which the supremacy of the male had been established for millennia. It is intriguing that Salome, the succubus figure responsible for the murder of the man who revealed the identity of Christ to the world, appears in Jung’s vision as the instrument of his realization that he is Christ. Something has been turned around. It is as though the serpent, the succubus aspect of Salome, has transformed the meaning of John the Baptist’s beheading and her actions in the bible. By his own hand at having to grant Salome’s wish, Herod develops a conscience and later cannot sentence Jesus to death; instead, he sends him on to Pontius Pilate. Through his sacrifice, Jesus becomes the human form of the Christ principle, the unity of the above and below, the victim expressing compassionate love for the perpetrator to facilitate an integration of shame and the development of conscience.

The link between Jung’s Christ transformation and the restoration of Salome’s vision brings an often overlooked detail in the story of John the Baptist’s beheading clearly into view. Salome is herself a victim of child abuse at the hands of her mother, Herodias. Burning with the sting of shame over John’s finger pointing at her incestuous marriage to Herod, it is she who seizes the moment with her own wish, and instructs her daughter to request the head of John the Baptist. Salome accedes to her mother’s evil request blindly and without question. The restoration of Salome’s vision, in this respect, means no longer being blind to the victimizing, succubus mother.

The meaning of sacrifice was in contention between Spielrein and Jung, and this remained true to the end of their (at least external) relationship. For Jung, sacrifice was an act of moral repression, a “phylogenetically acquired moral imperative, a symbolic archway through which one can gain access to the ‘total energy of countless generations’ ’’ (Kerr, 1993: 334). This makes sense, and appears to be rooted in his polygamous nature (which, in fact, was enacted throughout his life). In Destruction as a Cause of Coming Into Being, Spielrein argued that all sexual attraction involved destruction. The feeling of dread, ultimately a fear of dissolution and death, was surely not an obstacle for love; it was merely the price demanded by the destructive component of the libido. Selfdestruction is replaced by sacrificial destruction. “Death in the service of sexual instinct, which includes a destructive component, is a salutary blessing since it leads to a coming into being” (1994: 183). New creation somehow requires in turn the death of the creator, and surrender to destruction leads to transformation. Spielrein had clarified the essential interconnection between death and rebirth - “transformation” in her language, and its relation to incestuous sexuality. The symmetry of Christ and Salome reflects the same symmetry between Jung and Spielrein’s ideas on the nature of sacrifice.

In short, while Jung was describing an inner confrontation with a maternal

image felt to be “destructive,” Spielrein was explicitly arguing for “destruction” as a necessary part of love. The two texts, his and hers, adjoin each other like severed halves of a forgotten conversation.

(Kerr, 1993: 3)

More particularly for a man, sacrifice is the necessary prerequisite for a restoration of vision of the maternal feminine and the completion of the hero’s journey (more on this in Chapter 8). In order to include his love for Spielrein and the meaning of her ideas - hence, in order to become whole - Jung needed to look deep into his heart and face the shame which had been projected onto her. Spielrein, the woman who dared Jung to be Siegfried, was right: transformation, in her system, was accomplished through the surrender of the hero.

Herein lays the meaning of sacrifice and submission, to give into the annihilation of oneself and become nothing. “No creature,” writes Ananda Coomaraswamy, “can attain a higher grade of nature without ceasing to exist” (1973: 92), and ceasing to exist is the very essence of a plunge into absolute feminine shame (Ayers, 2003). Even God, with his own descent and incarnation into man, had to become nothing:

Christ Jesus,

who, being in the form of God

did not count equality with God

a thing to be clung to,

but emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

being born as men are born

And being in every way like a man

he humbled himself further and was obedient unto death,

even death on a cross.

(Phil. 2:5-8)

The image depicts Jung needing to place his own destruction into creation’s service, imaged as “coming into being” through the realization that he “is Christ,” and healing Salome’s blindness through a unification of Mithras and Salome’s succubus nature - restoring sight was just one of the many miracles Jesus could perform. Restoration of vision is also a secret of the matriarchal mysteries, the secret of the immortality of the divine luminous son of the Great Mother who is resurrected physically in death. In early Christian art Christ is not nailed to the cross, but is shown standing before the cross with open arms, just as Jung imagines himself coming to stand as the serpent penetrates his heart. The body posture speaks of its reconciliation with death. By becoming the victim, through sacrifice, man resolves his shame and wins through to the all-transfiguring vision of human death becoming a whole and eternal self. The fountainhead of all the pairs of opposites, the unification of male and female, Mary and Jesus, mother and son, creates the bringing and receiving of redemption.

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