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the influence of an internal process of transformation that gives its mark to a given historical period. Jung outlines this process with the help of Christian, alchemical, and Gnostic symbolism. But before getting into this, we must look still further afield. In the ancient Greek cosmology, not only is the underworld ringed by the River Styx, but also the disk of the earth is surrounded in similar fashion by the “Oceanos” (which is depicted in the form of Ouroboros). And finally the upper cosmos is ringed by a river in the form of a serpent, who bears on his back the signs of the Zodiac. These three encircling serpents or rings of water—the peirata gaies—are fundamentally identical with, that is, they symbolize, three aspects of the same psychic reality; namely, that everywhere—below, above, and on the level of the horizon—where our consciousness comes to an end, the sphere of the unconscious begins. With the sluggish waters of the Styx, however, the quality of inertia and the death aspect of the unconscious come more to the fore; with Oceanos it is more the life-giving and preserving aspects; and with the serpent of the Zodiac, it is a spiritual, temporally conditioned order. This last, as it were, qualitatively colors all the archetypal manifestations of a given historical period. We are presently, as is widely known and much discussed, at the end of the period of the second fish of the Piscine age and are approaching the beginning of the age of Aquarius. Along with this traditional model of the background of the movement of history, in Aion30 Jung outlined a second century-spanning process, a constant internal transformation of the God-man or Self-symbol. Figure 1 shows a chain of four double pyramids, beginning from the top with the Gnostic symbol of the Anthropos, a cosmic God become human, who comes into prominence at the beginning of the Piscine Age. This symbol broadens to a quaternity in order to be received by consciousness, and peaks in the realization of the God-man of light, Christ. Then the same process repeats in the period of the second fish but this time reversed to the negative —a shadow quaternity, which peaks in the image of the serpent, the symbol of the devil. This is followed by the descent of the same symbol into inanimate nature, which culminates in the alchemical “stone” (lapis), and finally, this is followed by the descent into cosmic matter, culminating in the symbol of the rotundum or model of the atom. On the level of the serpent the opposition between good and evil yawns to its widest, whereas elsewhere the symbol of the Self represents more a uniting of the opposites.

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

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