Jung's ascent

Jung says that Salome is the erotic element, blind because she does not see the meaning of things. In the second vision, this problem would appear to be corrected: Salome’s vision is restored, which means that now she does see the meaning of things - after all, what good is a blind anima? Common blindness passes from the ordinary into the spiritual domain as the meaning of Salome, previously a projective version of an internal object, is now internalized. The anima is restored as a bridge to the soul, serving as unifier for the above and below. The secret alchemy between Mithras and Salome achieves a synthesis of the Christ numinosum at the heart of nature and psyche. With Salome’s vision restored, or the transformation of the seductive component of the succubus, Salome as anima assumes her rightful place in the operations of the unconscious. The principles of transformation contained in the image of Christ are identifiable with the maternal feminine because her body is the source of incarnation, birth, and rebirth.

Whenever we encounter the symbols of rebirth we have to do with the matriarchal transformation mystery, and this is true even when its symbolism or interpretation bears a patriarchal disguise.

(Neumann/Mannheim, 1974: 60)

It seems that his entrance into the bloody lair of Lilith helped Jung to begin to integrate Salome - a necessary prerequisite to any possibility of emerging from his descent. The mysterious menstrual blood of Lilith becomes the blood of the mysteries of Christ. The restoration of Salome’s vision is a process of coming face to face with the goddess, an idea paralleled in Apuleius’ The Golden Ass, where Lucius is undergoing an initiation (turning into an ass) into the mysteries of Isis.

Thou shalt understand that I approached neere unto Hell, even to the gates of Proserpina, and after that, I was ravished throughout all the Element, I returned to my proper place: About midnight I saw the Sun shine, I saw likewise the gods celestiall and gods infernall, [above and below] before whom I presented my selfe, and worshipped them face to face . . . .

(Apuleius/Adlington, 1639: 277)

In his confrontation with the unconscious, Jung has two visions that he states he spent 20 years trying to realize. After great losses, he is striving to reconcile himself to the world and the world to himself; in this struggle Jung tastes death. The internalization of his human vulnerability deep in the core of his instincts, his human helplessness before an uncontrollable impulse that nearly destroyed psychoanalysis and contributed significantly to his loss of the paternal Freud plunges Jung into the depths of his mother complex - the mother of his infancy and the Oedipal mother - hence, into the dual aspects of the succubus, the child killer and the seductive demon lover.

Jung believed that a man - specifically the heroic ego in man - must make two sacrifices before the transformation of individuation can occur. The first is in the area of childish longing for the past; most especially, longing for the mother and the comfort and security she represents. The second entails an adult pride in one’s accomplishments. The metabolization of the seductive aspects of the succubus and his shame is ritually acknowledged through a vision of sacrifice and sublimation, depicting a process of freeing the anima from the mother archetype: withdrawal of projections, hence the restoration of vision, and a transformation of shame into a realization of his humanity in the Christ principle. This separation is reflected in Jung’s admission of his love for her in a revealing and honest confessional letter written to Spielrein on September 1, 1919 - simultaneous to his realizations on the meaning of mandalas.

The love of S. for J. made the latter aware of something he had previously only vaguely suspected, that is, of a power in the unconscious that shapes one’s destiny, a power which later led him to things of the greatest importance. The relationship had to be “sublimated” because otherwise it would have led him to delusion and madness (the concretization of the unconscious). Occasionally one must be unworthy, simply in order to be able to continue living.

(Carotenuto, 1983: 190)

Jung was never man enough to openly admit what Spielrein meant to him personally or professionally. He did not name her in Memories, at least not beyond her being called the “talented psychopath” that became the voice of his anima. Yet to be sure, Jung is no longer heroically unrepentant. Jung restored his personal connection to the qualities of being that he associated with the feminine and which we as a culture have so badly neglected. A more stable psyche is achieved by illumination from the higher feminine, expressed in Jung’s concept of the anima, a cornerstone of analytical psychology. Some time in the later days of his life, Jung sculpted a last testament to Spielrein. At Bollingen, the simple stone house where Jung spent his time rock carving, is a sculpture on the subject of the anima. The first panel depicts a bear bending down with its nose nudging a ball. The inscription reads “Russia gets the ball rolling” (Kerr, 1993: 507).

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