Science born from the mystery of the soul. C.G. Jung’s inner transformation – Part 2

Since the soul is no longer conscious of its origin, a great unconscious space is formed within it in which the Pleroma and all its active forces lie hidden. The opposing pair of God and the devil is an archetype that is latently present in all human souls.

Science born from the mystery of the soul. C.G. Jung’s inner transformation – Part 2

(Return to part 1)

God and Devil (Sermo II)

The dead […] cried out: of God we want to know, where is God ? Is God dead ?

Basilides answered them: God is not dead, he is as alive as ever, and his following explanation may at first astonish us:

God is creature, for he is something definite and therefore distinct from the pleroma. […] He is less distinct than the creature, for the ground of his being is effective fullness, while the being of the devil is effective emptiness. Both God and the devil illustrate the forces living in unity in the Pleroma.

We human beings, in whom the pleroma is torn apart, perceive the pair united in it as two forces working against each other.

Our soul lives in two worlds:

On the one hand, in a spatio-temporal-physical nature whose centre is the ego-consciousness. On the other hand, in a soul-spiritual nature: the soul is the pleroma itself as a part of the eternal and infinite. However, since the soul is no longer conscious of its origin, a great unconscious space is formed within it in which the Pleroma and all its active forces lie hidden. They can communicate themselves to the searching soul in images and symbols, which Jung calls archetypes.

For Jung, archetypes are primordial forms of the active forces of the pleroma, which can generate images, visions, dreams and symbols in the human soul, such as the opposing pair of God and the devil, an image that is latently present in all human souls. Consequently, for Jung, the mysterious figures of the archetypes hold treasures in the collective unconscious. Thus the creature, out of its essence of difference, would always distinguish them out of the pleroma.

Human life takes place in the tension between two opposites. Jung says: “Evil forms the opposite necessary to good, without which there would also be no good. The former, therefore, cannot even be thought away.” [1]

The soul living in two worlds projects into the physical world what it experiences inwardly psychically. Is it itself the creator of these opposites?

This tension-filled life, which takes place in a conscious and an unconscious space, corresponds to “another principle than that of ordinary causality”.

Jung calls this principle synchronicity: it is a temporal coincidence of two or more events not causally related to each other, which are of the same or similar meaning. It is the relative or subjective simultaneity of an experience. The meaning-giving aspect of the experience, the connection, does not lie in the external event, but in its significance, which is given to it by the soul. For example, an archetype can occur simultaneously psychically and in a correlating physical event.

Jung tells of such a synchronistic event. At the exact moment when a patient told him of a dream in which she had received a scarab (an archetypal symbol of rebirth) as a gift, a common rosebug (a similar insect) quietly bumped against the window.[2]

Do the opposites of body and consciousness or matter and spirit have their roots in the same ground?

In this tense conflict between the outer and inner world, the soul makes valuable experiences, light and painfully dark ones. It searches for solutions and enters into a creative dialogue with its own inner, spiritual forces. During this activity, its individuation process unfolds, the path to its ultimate true self, which lies as the centre of its life in the heart.

Abraxas is the highest God (Sermo III)

Basilides teaches the Christians at the end of Sermo II: Abraxas is a God whom men forgot. He is the active factor that unites God and the devil, he is a God above God, for he unites the fullness and the emptiness in their effect. […] If the Pleroma had a being, Abraxas would be its exemplification.

Abraxas, however, who is the active factor itself, has no definite effect. He is effect in general.

He is also creature, since he is distinct from the Pleroma.

At the end of Sermo III it says: Here the dead raised a great tumult, for they were Christians.

Their God is an almighty, sole ruler; he tolerates no god above him.

The dead, however, want to be taught further about Abraxas, for they approached like mists from marshes and cried out: Speak to us further about the supreme God. Basilides explains to them that Abraxas is the eternal infinite effective fullness of life revealing itself in dialectical opposites and at the same time life’s striving for the original union.

For Basilides, Abraxas is the supreme primordial being and the highest Gnostic deity. The seven letters of his name refer to his rule over the seven planets and the seven days of the week, which together numerically (according to the numerical values of the Hebrew alphabet) form the number 365, i.e. the number of days in a year.

Abraxas rules over duration and the eternally turning wheel of birth and death.

He is power, duration, change.

The name Abraxas becomes the archetypal symbol for an all-pervading liberating power of being, whose light leads the seeker upwards in steps as on a ladder to knowledge.

He is also the archetype of wholeness, which symbolises the spiritual power to transform being. It frees the person striving for wholeness from the bondage of space and time and from the fetters that bind the soul to the opposing dual forces of earthly existence.

The soul usually feels powerless at the mercy of these forces and gets into a hopeless inner conflict that consumes its energy.

In the symbol of the wholeness of Abraxas lies the possible connection of opposites: the alchemical Principium Conjunctio Oppositorum.

Intrapsychically, this means that the soul striving for unity and wholeness activates its inner spiritual dynamic, which is released in the point of balance between the dualities.

The conflict thus proves to be healing and creative for the growth of the soul. The individuation process leads it through painfully unconscious spaces. With the help of the released light, the soul can set about transforming and integrating the dark shadows of these spaces and with them the one-sided rationally trained I-consciousness as well as the stubborn ego. Jung says: “The aspiration of the Gnostics […] is directed towards individuation, towards the re-integration of the differentiated and alienated consciousness with the unconscious.” [3]

The symbol of Abraxas points to the fact that in addition to a conflicting dualism, there is also a complementary dualism. In addition to an “either-or”, there is a “both is valid”.

Man stands between two infinities (Sermo VII)

In the seventh speech, the dead ask: … teach us about man, and so Basilides turns to man.

All images and archetypal symbols actually lie in the psyche of man himself and are projected by it onto a screen that appears to be outside. “The evil outside us is the inseparable and identical twin of all that is undesirable and evil within ourselves.” [4]

When the human soul becomes aware of this process, it signifies the birth of its consciousness from the womb of the great inner space called the unconscious.

This becoming conscious happens in parallel with a transformation of the whole human being. On the way to becoming self, the dark parts – the alienated ego and the stubborn ego – experience a transformation. Jung says: “Only when the alchemist has created the opus contra naturam, the great work against nature, the elements really change” … and man becomes the “living philosopher’s stone”. [5]

Basilides explains: Man is a gateway between two spaces, the macrocosm and the microcosm. Small and insignificant is the human being, already you have him at your back, and again you are in the infinite space, in the smaller or inner infinity.

When these two spaces meet in the „gateway of the human being“, the phenomenon of synchronicity discussed above takes place.

While man walks in these two worlds on the way to himself, a single star in the zenith accompanies him at an immeasurable distance […].

This star is the personal image of God (Imago Dei) that has grown in his soul during all the experiences. This is the one God of this One, this is his world, his Pleroma, his divinity.

The flaming spectacle of Abraxas and all outer images lose their power over consciousness and the human being becomes ready to follow his inner divine light. He recognises his unique divine self.



[1] op. cit., p. 90

[2] op. cit., p. 213-215

[3] op. cit., p. 119

[4] op. cit., p. 210

[5] op. cit., p. 211

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Date: November 17, 2021
Author: Sibylle Bath (Germany)
Photo: barcelona-495756 auf Pixabay CCO

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