As I begin to study and work with The Red Book, further thoughts and dreams spill into Aquariel from my primary blog.
27 December – Part One: Mandala
For nearly four months in 1917, Jung was on military service, commanding English prisoners of war. He wrote, “With us, everything is unchanged and quiet. Everything else is swallowed by the war. The psychosis is still increasing, going on and on.”
But he felt in chaos. He drew in his army notebook, 27 mandalas in pencil. Some of these are reproduced in Appendix A of the Red Book. They were a photograph of each day. At the time, Jung thought fantasies stemming from the unconscious were not art. But a woman wrote to him and said they were. Next day he drew a mandala with a piece missing. Then he realised:
“Only now did I gradually come to what the mandala really is. ‘ Formation, transformation, the eternal mind’s eternal recreation.’ (from Faust) … “Then hold your heart, since the danger is great, and go straight to that tripod, touch it with the Key.”
A living idea of the Self came to him: “like the monad which I am, and which is my world. The mandala represents this monad and corresponds to the microcosmic nature of the soul … Only when I began to paint the mandalas did I see that all the paths I took, all the steps I made, all led back to the one point, that is, to the centre.”
So the first two books of Liber Novus were transcribed 1913-14. The third book – Scrutinies – contained further fantasies April 1913-June 1916, including the Seven Sermons to the Dead and commentaries.
So there are: “The Way of What Is to Come”, “The Images of the Erring”, and the “Scrutinies”. Jung’s guide Philemon supplied commentaries to the Sermones – those conceptions which the dead lacked.
The whole thing brought through the collective unconscious while the world was at war. “Scrutinies” contains Jung’s vision of the reborn God/Abraxas – written after the notebook Mandalas in 1917. As he realised Philemon was not himself, he began to differentiate the I’s which spoke and wrote; he was aware of the dangers of inflation. “The work on the unconscious has to happen first and foremost for us ourselves. Our patients profit from it indirectly. The danger consists in the prophet’s delusion which often is the result of dealing with the unconscious. It is the devil who says Disdain all reason and science …”
From my notebooks:
It is time for me to start to draw new mandalas. The mandala is a Key to the inner and cosmic Self.
I think Jung’s painstaking transcription, calligraphy and painting, put the brake on any inflationary tendency. It is where Virgo comes in handy! He had Sun Leo setting in 7th, with Aquarius rising, and Moon in Taurus: an implied mandala cross of fixed signs.
From a letter: “It is very important that we experience the contents of the unconscious before we form any opinions about it. … I have already been working on (the knowledge content of gnosis and neo-Platonism) myself for a long time, and am very glad that you have discovered all on your own this area of work which is ready to be tackled. Up till now I lacked workers. … Extricate your own material uninfluenced from the unconscious, as carefully as possible.”
The letter is to J B Lang: but note also, these ancient words:
– “Separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, acting with prudence, humility and good judgement. Ascend in your heart with deep wisdom
from Earth to Heaven, then again descend to Earth and unite together
the powers of Above and Below. Let all ignorance and obscurity fly from you.”
The Emerald Table of Hermes
Jung added, that his material is voluminous and worked through; what he lacks is comparative modern material. Nietsche’s Zarathustra and Meyrinck whom he read at the time, were driven by the ego-archetypes of their own period – which obscured the deeper issue.
I begin to feel that … for instance, Abraxas was reborn during Jung’s Great Work, during the Great War. If so, we live in an inevitable Abraxian era, which a blind god rules indeed: the Schopenhaurian Will. It is synchronous with the early Aquarian age, characterized by the collapse of sacred and social infrastructures, and the elementary emphasis on individuals, rather than individuation: a celebrity cult, where the Great Hero failed.
This to ponder! Abraxian is the mite of human agency in climate change – a collective blind; a raw force until it is spent, which rules uppermost in civilization now – it comes and goes. Abraxas is the light and dark god; for the One is yet anterior to and encircling all that. Abraxas is the Unconscious whose parts are made conscious through pain. It has to be. Abraxas rules the market forces and the media.
But Abraxas is much more than that, for it is the play of the light with the dark, which has beauty. We do not adore Abraxas. We have an informed conscience of Abraxas: the Abraxian. Well, this is a new feeling about it all. And maybe Abraam felt this way, when he set out from Ur with his sheep … towards the in-forming breath of H in the desert which re-named him, the unending Life and seed of J H V H.
Obviously, to live and work in Switzerland’s neutral snows, in the middle of the swirling carnage soup of Europe, brought forth Abraxas into the light, for Jung. The fallout continues its course. Evolved humanity is greater than Abraxas, it is no servant to that power; yet the lighthouses of evolved humanity are few and far between. Abraxas is not evil. Abraxas is the worshipped chaos of the will. Abraxas is the wind in the tree: the isobars of the storm, the surge of the living sea.
28 December – Part Two: Inclosed Garden
Worship in the Indian way, of deities, weathers and archetypes, is to ACKNOWLEDGE them. So – yesterday’s last paragraph makes me sit up ! – we don’t WORSHIP Abraxas, we acknowledge his reality … that force of the Will in nature, which is incomplete. We give respect and consciousness to what we know and see, phenomenologically. Then we have clarity. Then we begin to live with integrity, and without waste.
I had at least 3 interesting dreams this morning (again late starting) – but only recall a bit of one of them: a medieval Queen defied her King-husband’s right to rape her. She had a secret room in the house, which no one knew of; she kept the key. I think she had had her head shaved in disgrace, but when I saw her, her hair was blonde and just page-boy long – about my length – and she wore medieval dress and jewellery, and she was going upstairs in my house, followed by the King and the Priest. It was the Church’s job in those days, to give the King his brute rights over the Queen, and to supervise their mating. The secret room in which she would defy them, was in the corner of my upstairs room – the cupboard where I keep some of my archive.
So the procession going upstairs was: the woman who refuses to be violated any more; her lord and master who violates her, and the celibate priest who thinks sex is bad, and woman must be punished. Their legacy lurks in us women, whenever we cannot say No, and when we believe that Mr Prick is boss, Holy Church says so!
So hello, you three. What are you doing here? How clearly your figures going up my stairs, spell the word. But I can find no priest figures in my archive when I was eight: just the perennial war of queens and kings.
Where was I reading the other day, that monasteries and nunneries were where real Love was practiced and beloved? I mean, they had a refined and joyous love, and women had great power as abbesses and sisters in their garden. They had holy brothers. They celebrated a spiritual sexual eros, for they had meditation and work and sanctuary for a while.
Contra this was the Christian-fundamentalist power-base, which became the Inquisition, and filled the people with primitive fears. So you had the high art-gothique, and you had the Christian taleban – the ban on faerytale: by auto da fe – the burnings.
The blood on the Church’s hands is the same as today’s taleban – slaughter of the innocents, and the perversion of God to a fearsome spectre. The battle is dragged between a fossilized past and a progressive future. On the threshold of history, the grain is threshed.
Blood self-cleanses yet. The mainstream Church is no longer fundamentalist, and it houses hosts of good souls and good works, and it struggles with its human limitations, it seeks to understand. The spilled blood yet reincarnates through religious armouries which cannot move with the times. Those processes (in the soul) wear the beards!
Royal medieval dress for Queens was – well, perhaps my early drawings remind me – it was a bit like armour in its design – the borders and embroidery are like bonds which confine her, outline her, crisscross her, and inside these are the soft silken drapes of her dress. Everyone of substance was armoured, framed and castled, for the astro-geosphere was filled with demons and devas, physical and metaphysical – as ours is, by computer-games and “what’s news?” !
In that time of civil war, brutality and plague, many sanctuaries thrived and kept the Word illumined in their eternal spaces which were inclosed gardens. “An inclosed Garden is my Sister.” Where was this – I wrote of it years ago! And those gardens were in due course ravaged and laid waste, and their libraries lost; but enough always survived, to carry the seed, with its vast spiritual and literary wealth and memory and power of transmutation.
The thought addresses my books of Prospero which I anxiously guard against the current myth of termination. As I have had this feeling about them all my adult life, and helplessly watched them expand and expand along the shelves – until the laptop came along, to store the story inside – it is inherited from the time of the Inclosed Gardens.
Hear this: there is no stopping the Seed. There is no stopping what I honour and give space with. There is no stopping the beauty of the tree (I was typing “true”). Here and now, no matter how many trees are cut down, the Beauty of the tree of life – its living, glowing sap and branches through our body – prevails.
Jesus is translated as saying frequently “only believe.” Belief is an abused word. The original Aramaic will have meant something more dynamic – like putting all my devotion into Reality, the Transfiguration I have been and seen; and not forgetting it, or taking someone else’s word for it.
For we are all co-creators in the evolving mud which is Life. And in and of the Abraxas Will are oases, vibrant, pulsing, where the daffodils and snowdrops grow. Everything co-exists – the hands are held and grasped, the darkness with the light, the Agony with the Garden.
It is the balance.
Aquariel – an angel of the waters and of the air through the woods of life.
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