In Christianity, the mystery of coming to consciousness irepresented as the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden. Jung described the serpent as a symbol of nature's transformation in a twilight half-human which gradually came into opposition to itself. It didn't happen suddenly.

Myths contain an ambiguous wealth of unconscious information which can't be explained discursively. The psyche is a diffuse organ of perception whose wider perspective is supplemented by the focus and detail of consciousness. Beyond rational science lies an irrational pre-history of sensory, emotional, and intuitive functions that point back to a remote past -- but, also to the future: the psyche is is a mysterious continuum in which past, present, and future co-exist outside our conscious conception of time. 

In its most urgent sense, the function of life is adaption to immediate reality, though the value of memory-images confirms that an orientation to the past is indispensable for it. But, time-awareness implies possibilities as well. As myths also portend collective tendencies, dreams sketch out possibilities for individual development; it's how the unconscious deity of wholeness reflects our fate -- pardon the subjectivity.

Jung demonstrated how the snake symbolizes instinctual wisdom: the winding by-paths of earth-bound existence, the frightening hidden nature of an animal reality which strikes suddenly from unseen places, the forked tongue of a dual nature which deceives as it yet speaks the truth. As we evolved, so did the image -- into a part-human figure as did older animal deities which described the dawn of humanity.

Over the many centuries of evolution depicted in the Old Testament, the serpent reappeared as Satan, much as the Sphinx symbolized the humanization process in Egyptian mythology. It seems crazy to me today that as a youth I was instructed to believe literally in such a mythical figure as had the tail, horns, and hooves of an animal yet to realize its full human potential; though, I see it in myself and the world, still.

For many, it's difficult to identify anything real in it. To the rationalist and the atheist, it's merely silly. To the politician and the preacher, it's more a tool for manipulation. But, even the true believer is coming to doubt its significance in an age of literal material truth. A major shift in consciousness finds it mostly in the museum of outdated fantasy -- diffused back into the unconscious -- waiting to be re-defined. But, historical analogy is essential for a sense of the symbolic blueprint of unconscious functioning.

In the biblical context, snake and devil condense into one idea the opposition required to accept or reject; to choose amid a world of possibilities in a human prototype slowly awakening from a dreaming instinctual awareness. Expulsion from the garden signified that fateful split from unconscious nature, its secret relations eloquently and poetically portrayed as the drama between god and man.

The last collective image describing the dark side of our natures is that figure of the Devil. Whose mind doesn't respond to the leering mythical half-beast's evil grin, the long arrow-headed cat's tail, the beastly horns, the cloven hooves? These attributes demand to be reassembled in a new way to form any meaning in the strange guise they present. He's now the scattered and undefined anxiety of fear, chaos, confusion, and projected hostility in the new dawn of an uncertain technological future.

The horns of this fading fantasy figure equate with the forked tongue, and both point to a dual nature: the fork in the head, a form of awareness, though a primitive one; the tongue, an ancient reminder of an opposed consciousness which would question even a god (a property the snake possessed, too, in the ancient trinity of animal, man and deity) -- and at the same time, the earthly opposite of the Word of humanity's highest aspirations.

Someone once told me of a dream he had of this very picture of the devil, its tail twitching like a cat's tail as it grinned eerily in its sphinx-like repose. It's this cat-like, feminine quality of repressed emotion which the unconscious seized upon to inform him of his dissociation. The arrow-head on the tail was the piercing depth his unconscious nature intended to point out his rational misconceptions of himself.

The Devil's unconsciousness is symboled by his dark nature, though his defining color is red. Erich Neumann described redness as instinctual excitation; and the sensuality of material desire now bids our loftiest scientific minds to uncover all its depth -- in concrete form. The beast would become human -- but it needs the assistance of other psychic functions. Goethe expressed something of the sort in the witch's kitchen when Faust was in need of a magic potion to make him fall in love: "It's true the Devil taught her how to do it. And yet the Devil cannot brew it."

His hooves describe the instinctual foundations of herd-like collective instincts which can easily overpower the freedom of the individual. Jehovah's commands, however, forbade the eating of herd animals with split hooves, reinforcing the idea of dissociation, but also the need for union which the myth of the garden decreed was the central theme of an individual spiritual life.

These ideas lie in the images as symbolic pointers to our division and the need for a spiritual reconciliation. The depth psychology which unearthed this new way of looking at our histories has only recently been established. The science of it is not yet recognized. 

For an example of how this associative process works below the surface of consciousness, continue reading or visit Amazon.

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Comment by Evan Hanks on June 23, 2015 at 5:48am


"Who are you guys, God?"

Interesting side-note to that. I never thought I'd hear a psychological truth from a pro golf analyst, but I did. I don't know if you remember when Annika Sorenstam rolled through the LPGA some years ago and entered the men's tournament. A lot of the male golfers had some very derisive reactions it, and the analyst remarked that these were men who obviously didn't have daughters, because if they did they would be supporting her instead of deriding her. I'm not a golf fan, I just happened to catch that as I was idly flipping through the desolation of cable programming. It seemed as true figuratively as literally.

Comment by Evan Hanks on June 23, 2015 at 5:34am


That's rich. It's the reason I try to maintain a daily exorcise routine.

Comment by klemens swib on June 20, 2015 at 12:40pm


Bible 'clear,' says 'there is demonic side to experience of human existence'

For what is believed to be the first time ever in Mexico, an exorcism has been performed to chase demons from the entire nation.

But several pastors who are versed on the biblical warnings about the devil and his minions say the territory into which leaders of the Catholic Church recently ventured is unstable.

According to a number of reports, the nationwide exorcism against demons blamed for crime and violence in Mexico was performed by Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez and other clergy, including a Spanish exorcist and demonologist, behind the close doors of the cathedral of San Luis Potosí.

Payne said, “There is much about demons and deliverance that I do not understand.” And says he has never met “anyone who owns the block or even the corner on this subject.”

He told WND: “I have never heard of a country-wide exorcism. I do believe that Daniel 10:10-13 indicates that countries can have demonic hosts assigned to undermine the work of God and the people of God doing that work. But I do not see any New Testament teaching on exorcisms being attempted on countries rather than people. This may reflect my lack of understanding on the subject, or someone else’s attempt to extrapolate beyond Scripture.”

Comment by klemens swib on June 15, 2015 at 4:54pm


I appreciate your effort, but Hillman's thoughts are unacceptable to me. My book on Dionysos is antithetical to Hillman's psychology.  For me the archetype/instinct/dionysos are real constituents of our psychic equation. Hillman depotentiated the power of the archetype and made it a ethereal subjective tool of the imagination. This made archetypes and the romantic enchantment they provide acceptable to the mainstream. As Tacey said the established academic community would have it no other way. The ego is now God after all.

Comment by klemens swib on June 15, 2015 at 12:08pm

Well to each his own. I allied myself with the Grecian civilizational mainstream and orthodox christianity a very long time ago. Fanatical monotheism is for the rabid ayatollahs and such. It is not a civilizational advance but a devolutionary fanaticism that has kept the arab world 'for one' in darkness and stasis for well over 1000 years and will keep it hamstrung in perpetuity . There is nothing evolutionary about fanaticism without end. One only rides eternally on a self perpetuating loop. Judaism posited a solution to this problem when it created the doctrine for an imminent arrival of a messiah. Is waiting like Godot for that to happen a solution..

While we're waiting for the return of chrit and the new judaic messiah we can spend some time looking to restore our greek civilizational heritage.

It is highly unfortunate for Jungian psychology that Jung was overwhelmed by some of the aberrational Nietzschean thoughts in regard to  Dionysos. Otherwise he surely would have followed Kerenyi deep into the Greek archetypal realm. Maybe it was the spirit of the age and his strict christian heritage that blinded him. Still his identification of Dionysos with Wotan was beyond the pale. Though alchemy is an interesting and very worthwhile sideshow Jungian psychology might have been better off if Jung had reconnected with his civilizations Grecian root...More particularly the Greek archetypes

[The] Dionysian experience of Nietzsche . . . might better be ascribed to the god of ecstasy, WotanThe hubris of the Wilhelmine era alienated Europe and paved the way for the disaster of 1914. In my youth, I was unconsciously caught up by this spirit of the age (Jung, 1965 [1961], p. 262).

Therefore one can say he [Wotan, RR] is very similar to the Thracian Dionysos, the god of orgiastic enthusiasm(Jung, 1997 [1934], p. 196). -

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Comment by Evan Hanks on June 14, 2015 at 12:39pm


Don't forget that "the psychopathic god of the Old Testament" was also a reflection of a new stage of consciousness which was forced beyond the aesthetic standpoint of Greek projections. There is something very valuable in the idea of a wrathful and jealous god as a symbol of the urge for conscious unity and spiritual devotion -- and as a new perspective on the way men saw the relentless "brutality" (both inside and out) of a natural world inflicted upon a rude understanding of its circumstances. To me, it reflects a transition from a kind of creative conscious "renaissance" state that ran into its opposite, as the darkness then re-emerged in new form. In those same ways, too, the Christian flight into the stratosphere that followed were as much regressions as advancements in the unconscious unfolding of nature's evolutionary demands. To paraphrase Aleksander: religion is the only language we have to express that depth of movement. But, it's symbolic, subjective language is designed to compel us inward to confront our own personal conflicts with that "divine" power on new conscious levels in a continual struggle of progression and regression. From my perspective, it's like Goethe said, "So much of hidden poison lies therein, you scarce can tell it from its medicine." That's a call for personal reflection which no group can penetrate.

Comment by klemens swib on June 12, 2015 at 2:20pm

It was surprising and synchronous to read the Pope almost simultaneously taking up the essential core of the issue we have been discussing on this thread.  Taking the old testament literally has led to the emergence of a christian sect that is antithetical to the gospel of christ. Well the Pope saw the mote in the eye of the Christian Right but the catholic church has been similarly infected.  For example, one can bring forward the extreme example of the catholic Inquisition wherein the compassion of christ was submerged by a demonic old testament god of wrath mentality. Christians have their own cross to bear in regards to running demonically amok but the inclusion of an old testament psychopathic god into the christian matrix has caused all kinds of havoc for the christian movement. It has also detached christianity from its grecian civilizational roots. And even the Pope sees the christian right is devolving into a religion where the Old testament god is taken literally and reins supreme, at the expense of the gospel according to christ. well i read this into his statement at any rate

Pope Francis called ideological Christianity "an illness" that doesn't serve Jesus Christ. Instead, it "frightens" people and pushes them away from religion.According to Radio Vatican, the Pope said:

"In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought" For this reason Jesus said to them: 'You have taken away the key of knowledge.' The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?"

Christ can be viewed as the son of god and a savior but he can also be viewed as an archetype. Archetypes are projected from within the human psyche, as Jung put it. Well Christ said the Kingdom of Heaven is within you did he not? So what is the nature of this archetype ..what function does it perform in the human psychic equation. Christ the archetype of X. The archetype which appeared when the end of the civilized world was nigh. The god who died for us so that we could survive even in the face of death itself. This archetype is the foundation stone of our christian civilization. The symbolic/instinctual/ archetypal force that is transforming even those who are unconscious or in denial of his existence.. a very interesting subject to say the least. I for one suspect christ and the new testament god constitute an instinctual response to the problem that brought the Greek patriarchal god and homeric civilization down. Therefore, reconnecting with our mainstream civilizational heritage would then place christ in a more meaningful context. And that would be why i am so enamoured with Marcion's effort to excise the old testament from the gospel according to christ. ....When the ancient world was confronted by dissolution from without and within the christian archetype our saviour emerged. The patriarchal world is long since past. We live in a post patriarchal world. The age of the son. Mustn't we now tame  that aspect of materiality in itself that undermined and eroded and brought down the patriarchal order. To create a spiritual dominion on earth that is rooted in a god of love and compassion and not one of patriarchal force alone... 

Comment by Evan Hanks on June 11, 2015 at 9:52am


Of course, what you say is true and well-stated. Religion is a language from the depth and the reason anyone who is not absolutely cut off from the human condition could not fail to feel the power and influence of an archetypal experience. You Europeans are more connected, I think, than us Americans in that respect. You have a world of history right before your eyes that we don't have here, and that makes it more difficult for us to relate to. In any event, I agree -- one of the reasons I think Jung's historical studies are vital. More accessible, yes, in the sense of Jung's work, but until they can be fitted together with personal experience they exist more and more today as relics of the past.

Comment by Evan Hanks on June 11, 2015 at 9:27am


I should have known you had other motives than supporting the Pope. Why the hell didn't you say so in the first place? Seriously though, my point was that the excision of anything is an amputation in a process of development in which all parts play important roles whether we identify more with some than others. To me, the Old Testament contains as many valuable analogies for our present condition as its Greek foundations. Taken together, they represent one of the most remarkable shifts in human history. Psychological understanding of them, I think, is the vital concern; that requires reflection, but also a subjective sense of what religion may mean for the individual today -- and how subjective is that? I don't see that as a problem of Christianity vs. Judaism vs. Greek as much as a general condition of consciousness in which we do what we've always done until an important shift forces us to consider why (and for what purpose) we've really been doing it. The only argument I have with your position is a fairly minor one: ideas of the material and spiritual (or patriarchal, which is I think what you're talking about) are based on concepts which also contain unconscious psychic elements. An example might be the notion of "genes" today: it has certain god-like qualities included in it which are not just biological; and in a science which has no empirical concept of a spiritual function. I think we have basic agreement on the importance of Jung's work in that respect.

Thanks again for your comments. I know we all use a little different language in expressing our ideas, and that we all have different vantage-points. I can appreciate your spirit of exchange.

Comment by klemens swib on June 10, 2015 at 12:47pm


For the love of money and the love of power ... the materialistic imperative without the moral anchor of the spirit harnessing it degenerates into mass murder and chaos decadence and debauchery. That is its wont. 

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