The Competitiveness of Nations

in a Global Knowledge-Based Economy

Harry Hillman Chartrand

April 2002




Article Index

Neumann, Erich, The Origins and History of Consciousness

Foreward by C.G. Jung



I The Uroboros

p. 1, p. 2

For what the center brings

Must obviously be

That which remains to the end

And was there from eternity.

GOETHE, WestöstUcher Diwan

THE MYTHOLOGICAL STAGES in the evolution of consciousness begin with the stage when the ego is contained in the unconscious, and lead up to a situation in which the ego not only becomes aware of its own position and defends it heroically, but also becomes capable of broadening and relativizing its experiences through the changes effected by its own activity.

The first cycle of myth is the creation myth.  Here the mythological projection of psychic material appears in cosmogonic form, as the mythology of creation.  The world and the unconscious predominate and form the object of myth.  Ego and man are only nascent as yet, and their birth, suffering, and emancipation constitute the phases of the creation myth.

At the stage of the separation of the World Parents, the germ of ego consciousness finally asserts itself.  While yet in the fold of the creation myth it enters upon the second cycle, namely, the hero myth, in which the ego, consciousness, and the human world become conscious of themselves and of their dignity.

In the beginning is perfection, wholeness.  This original perfection can only be “circumscribed,” or described symbolically; its nature defies any description other than a mythical one, because that which describes, the ego, and that which is described, the beginning, which is prior to any ego, prove to be


incommensurable quantities as soon as the ego tries to grasp its object conceptually, as a content of consciousness.

For this reason a symbol always stands at the beginning, the most striking feature of which is its multiplicity of meanings, its indeterminate and indeterminable character.

The beginning can be laid hold of in two “places”: it can be conceived in the life of mankind as the earliest dawn of human history, and in the life of the individual as the earliest dawn of childhood.  The self-representation of the dawn of human history can be seen from its symbolic description in ritual and myth.  The earliest dawn of childhood, like that of mankind, is depicted in the images which rise up from the depths of the unconscious and reveal themselves to the already individualized ego.

The dawn state of the beginning projects itself mythologically in cosmic form, appearing as the beginning of the world, as the mythology of creation.  Mythological accounts of the beginning must invariably begin with the outside world, for world and psyche are still one.  There is as yet no reflecting, self-conscious ego that could refer anything to itself, that is, reflect.  Not only is the psyche open to the world, it is still identical with and undifferentiated from the world; it knows itself as world and in the world and experiences its own becoming as a world-becoming, its own images as the starry heavens, and its own contents as the world-creating gods.

Ernst Cassirer 1 has shown how, in all peoples and in all religions, creation appears as the creation of light.  Thus the coming of consciousness, manifesting itself as light in contrast to the darkness of the unconscious, is the real “object” of creation mythology.  Cassirer has likewise shown that in the different stages of mythological consciousness the first thing to be discovered is subjective reality, the formation of the ego and individuality.  The beginning of this development, mythologically regarded as the beginning of the world, is the coming of light, without which no world process could be seen at all.

1 The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, trans. Manheim, Vol. II, pp. 94 ff.


But the earliest dawn is still prior to this birth of light out of darkness, and a wealth of symbos surrounds it.

The form of representation peculiar to the unconscious is not that of the conscious mind.  It neither attempts nor is able to seize hold of and define its objects in a series of discursive explanations, and reduce them to clarity by logical analysis.  The way of the unconscious is different.  Symbols.gather round the thing to be explained, understood, interpreted.  The act of becoming conscious consists in the concentric grouping of symbols around the object, all circumscribing and describing the unknown from many sides.  Each symbol lays bare another essential side of the object to be grasped, points to another facet of meaning.  Only the canon of these symbols congregating about the center in question, the coherent symbol group, can lead to an understanding of what the symbols point to and of what they are trying to express.  The symbolic story of the beginning, which speaks to us from the mythology of all ages, is the attempt made by man’s childlike, prescientific consciousness to master problems and enigmas which are mostly beyond the grasp of even our developed modern consciousness.  If our consciousness, with epistemological resignation, is constrained to regard the question of the beginning as unanswerable and therefore unscientific, it may be right; but the psyche, which can neither be taught nor led astray by the self-criticism of the conscious mind, always poses this question afresh as one that is essential to it.

The question of the beginning is also the question “Whence?”  It is the original and fateful question to which cosmology and the creation myths have ever tried to give new and different answers.  This original question about the origin of the world is at the same time the question about the origin of man, the origin of consciousness and of the ego; it is the fateful question “Where did I come from?” that faces every human being as soon as he arrives upon the threshold of self-consciousness.

The mythological answers to these questions are symbolical, like all answers that come from the depths of the psyche, the unconscious.  The metaphorical nature of the symbol says: this



is this, that is that.  The statement of identity and the logic of consciousness erected upon it have no value for the psyche and the unconscious.  The psyche blends, as does the dream; it spins and weaves together, combining each with each.  The symbol is therefore an analogy, more an equivalence than an equation, and therein lies its wealth of meanings, but also its elusiveness.  Only the symbol group, compact of partly contradictory analogies, can make something unknown, and beyond the grasp of consciousness, more intelligible and more capable of becoming conscious.

One symbol of original perfection is the circle.  Allied to it are the sphere, the egg, and the’ rotund urn - the “round” 2 of alchemy.  It is Plato’s round that was there in the beginning: 

Therefore the demiurge made the world in the shape of a sphere, giving it that figure which of all is the most perfect and the most equal to itself. 3

Circle, sphere, and round are all aspects of the Self-contained, which is without beginning and end; in its prewordly perfection it is prior to any process, eternal, for in its roundness there is no before and no after, no time; and there is no above and no below, no space.  All this can only come with the coming of light, of consciousness, which is not yet present; now all is under sway of the unmanifest godhead, whose symbol is therefore the circle.

The round is the egg, the philosophical World Egg, the nucleus of the beginning, and the germ from which, as humanity teaches everywhere, the world arises.4  It is also the perfect state in which the opposites are united – the perfect beginning because the opposites have not yet flown apart and the world has not yet begun, the perfect end because in it the opposites have come together again in a synthesis and the world is once more at rest.

The container of opposites is the Chinese t’ai chi, a round con­

2. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, index, s.v. “rotundum.”

3. Plato, Timaeus (based on the Cornford trans.).

4. Frobenius, Vom Kulturreich des Festlandes, p. 69; Shatapatha Brahmana 6. 1. 1.8; Geidner, Vedismus und Brahmanismus, pp. 92 f.


taming black and white, day and night, heaven and earth, male and female. Lao-tzu says of it:

There was something formless yet complete,

That existed before heaven and earth;

Without sound, without substance,

Dependent on nothing, unchanging,

All pervading, unfailing.

One may think of it as the mother or all things under heaven.5

Each of these pairs of opposites forms the nucleus of a group of symbols which cannot be described here in any great detail; a few examples must suffice.

The round is the calabash containing the World Parents.6  In Egypt as in New Zealand, in Greece as in Africa and India, the World Parents, heaven and earth, lie one on top of the other in the round, spacelessly and timelessly united, for as yet nothing has come between them to create duality out of the original unity.  The container of the masculine and feminine opposites is the great hermaphrodite, the primal creative element, the Hindu purusha who combines the poles in himself:

In the beginning this world was Soul (Atman) alone in the form of a person.  Looking around, he saw nothing else than himself.  He said first:  “I am.”. . . He was, indeed, as large as a woman and a man closely embraced.  He caused that self to fall (pat) into two pieces.  Therefrom arose a husband (pati) and a wife (patni)?

What is said here of the deity recalls Plato’s Original Man; there too the hermaphroditic round stands at the beginning.

This perfect state of being, in which the opposites are contained, is perfect because it is autarchic.  Its self-sufficiency, self-contentment, and independence of any “you” and any “other” are signs of its self-contained eternality.  We read in Plato:

5. Tao Teh Ching, No. XXV; trans. by Arthur Waley in The Way and its Power.

6. Frobenius, op. cit., p.’ 112.

7. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1. 4. 1.-3, trans. by Hutne, The Thirteen Principal Upanishads.


And he established the universe a sphere revolving in a circle, one and solitary, yet by reason of its excellence able to bear itself company, and needing no other friendship or acquaintance.8

The perfection of that which rests in itself in no way contradicts the perfection of that which circles in itself.  Although absolute rest is something static and eternal, unchanging and therefore without history, it is at the same time the place of origin and the germ cell of creativity.  Living the cycle of its own life, it is the circular snake, the primal dragon of the beginning that bites its own tail, the self –begetting [Editor: replaced Greek letters with: uroboros} 8a

This is the ancient Egyptian symbol 9 of which it is said: “Draco interfecit se ipsum, maritat se ipsum, impraegnat se ipsum.” 10  It slays, weds, and impregnates itself.  It is man and woman, begetting and conceiving, devouring and giving birth, active and passive, above and below, at once.

As the Heavenly Serpent, the uroboros was known in ancient Babylon; 11 in later times, in the same area, it was often depicted by the Mandaeans (illus. 2); its origin is ascribed by Macrobius to the Phoenicians.12  It is the archetype of the [Editor unscanable Greek letters], the All One, appearing as Leviathan and as Aion, as Oceanus (illus. 3 and 5) and also as the Primal Being that says: “I am Alpha and Omega.”  As the Kneph of antiquity it is the Primal Snake, the “most ancient deity of the prehistoric world.” 13  The uroboros can be traced in the Revelation of St. John and among the Gnostics 14 as well as among the Roman syncretists; 15 there are pictures of it in the sand paintings of the Navajo Indians 16 and in

8. Plato, Timaeus, 34 (based on the Cornford trans.).

8a. Hereinafter transcribed as “uroboros.”

9. Goldschmidt, “Aichemie der Aegypter.”

10. Cf. Jung, “The Visions of Zosimos.” Cited from the Artis auriferae (Basel, 1593), Vol. I, “Tractatulus Avicennae,” p. 406.

11. Leisegang, “The Mystery of the Serpent.”

12. Numerous examples of representations were collected in the Eranos Archives, Ascona, Switzerland; a duplicate of the Archives is in the possession of the Bollingen Foundation, New York, and the Warburg Institute, London.

13.Kees, Der Gotterglaube im alten Aegypten, p. 347.

14. Pistis Sophia, trans. by Horner, pp. 160—84 and 166—68.

15 Kerényi, “Die Göttin Natur.”

16 Cf. Newcomb and Reichard, Sandpaintings of the Navajo Shooting Chant, especially P1. XIII.



Giotto; 17 it is found in Egypt (illus. 4), Africa (illus. 6), Mexico (illus. 7), and India (illus. 8), among the gypsies as an amulet,18 and in the aichemical texts (illus. 9) 19

The symbolic thinking portrayed in these images of the round endeavors to grasp contents which even our present-day consciousness can only understand as paradoxes, precisely because it cannot grasp them.  If we give the name of “all” or “nothing” to the beginning, and speak in this connection of wholeness, unity, nondifferentiation, and the absence of opposites, all these “concepts,” if we look at them more closely and try to “conceive” them instead of just going on thinking them, are found to be images derived and abstracted from these basic symbols.  Images and symbols have this advantage over the paradoxical philosophical formulations of infinite unity and unimaged wholeness, that their unity can be seen and grasped as a unity at one glance.

More: all these symbols with which men have sought to grasp the beginning in mythological terms are as alive today as they ever were; they have their place not only in art and religion, but in the living processes of the individual psyche, in dreams and in fantasies. so long as man shall exist, perfection will continue to appear as the circle; the sphere and the round; the Primal Deity who is sufficient unto himself, and the self who has gone beyond the opposites, will reappear in the image of the round, the mandala.20

This round and this existence in the round, existence in the uroboros, is the symbolic self-representation of the dawn state, showing the infancy both of mankind and of the child.  The validity and reality of the uroboros symbol rest on a collective basis.  It corresponds to an evolutionary stage which can be “recollected” in the psychic structure of every human being.

17. See his “Envy,” one of the Vices in the frescoes (c. 1305) of the Arena Chapel, Padua: the figure is of a horned, bat-eared witch, from whose mouth a serpent issues, circling back to bite her face.

18. Ciba-Zeitschrift, No. 31, illustration, “Heil-Aberglaube der Zigeuner.”

19. See also illustrations in Jung, Psychology and Alchemy and “Paracelsus

as a Spiritual Phenomenon.”

20. Cf. the work of Jung and his school on the mandala in normal and pathological people, children (illus. 5), etc.


It functions as a transpersonal factor that was there as a psychic stage of being before the formation of an ego.  Moreover, its reality is re-experienced in every early childhood, and the child’s personal experience of this pre-ego stage retraces the old track trodden by humanity.

An embryonic and still undeveloped germ of ego consciousness slumbers in the perfect round and awakens.  It is immaterial whether we are dealing with a self-representation of this psychic stage, manifesting itself in a symbol, or whether a later ego describes this preliminary stage as its own past.  Since the ego has and can have no experiences of its own in the embryonic state, not even psychic experiences - for its experiencing consciousness still slumbers in the germ - the later ego will describe this earlier state, of which it has indefinite but symbolically graspable knowledge, as a “prenatal” time.  It is the time of existence in paradise where the psyche has her preworldly abode, the time before the birth of the ego, the time of unconscious envelopment, of swimming in the ocean of the unborn.

The time of the beginning, before the coming of the opposites, must be understood as the self-description of that great epoch when there was still no consciousness.  It is the wu chi of Chinese philosophy, whose symbol is the empty circle. 21  Everything is still in the “now and for ever” of eternal being; sun, moon, and stars, these symbols of time and therefore of mortality, have not yet been created; and day and night, yesterday and tomorrow, genesis and decay, the flux of life and birth and death, have not yet entered into the world.  This prehistoric state of being is not time, but eternity, just as the time before the coming of man and before birth and begetting is eternity.  And just as there is no time before the birth of man and ego, only eternity, so there is no space, only infinity.

The question “Whence?” - which is both the original question and the question about the origin - has but one answer, and of

21. Richard Wilhelm, in Das Bach des Alten vom Sinn und Leben (his German edn. of the Tao Teh Ching), p. 90.


Article Index

this there are two interpretations.  The answer is: the round, and the two interpretations: the womb and the parents.

It is crucial for every psychology, and especially for every psychology of childhood, to understand this problem and its symbolism.

The uroboros appears as the round “container,” i.e., the maternal womb, but also as the union of masculine and feminine opposites, the World Parents joined in perpetual cohabitation.  Although it seems quite natural that the original question should be connected with the problem of the World Parents, we must realize at once that we are dealing with symbols of origination and not with sexuality or a “genital theory.”  The problem around which mythological statements revolve and which was from the very beginning the crucial question for man is really concerned with the origins of life, of the spirit and the soul.

This is not to say that early man was something of a philosopher; abstract questions of this kind were wholly alien to his consciousness.  Mythology, however, is the product of the collective unconscious, and anyone acquainted with primitive psychology must stand amazed at the unconscious wisdom which rises up from the depths of the human psyche in answer to these unconscious questions.  The unconscious knowledge of the background of life and of man’s dealings with it is laid down in ritual and myth; these are the answers of what he calls the human soul and the human mind to questions which were very much alive for him, even though no ego consciousness had consciously asked them.

Many primitive peoples do not recognize the connection between sexual intercourse and birth.  Where, as among primitives, sexual intercourse often begins in childhood but does not lead to the begetting of children, it is natural to conclude that the birth of the child has nothing to do with impregnation by a man in the sexual act.

The question about the origin, however, must always be answered by “womb,” for it is the immemorial experience of mankind that every newborn creature comes from a womb . Hence


the “round” of mythology is also called the womb and uterus, though this place of origin should not be taken concretely.  In fact, all mythology says over and over again that this womb is an image, the woman’s womb being only a partial aspect of the primordial symbol of the place of origin from whence we come.  This primordial symbol means many things at once: it is not just one content or part of the body, but a plurality, a world or cosmic region where many contents hide and have their essential abode.  “The Mothers” are not a mother.

Anything deep - abyss, valley, ground, also the sea and the bottom of the sea, fountains, lakes and pools, the earth (illus. 10), the underworld, the cave, the house, and the city - all are parts of this archetype.  Anything big and embracing which contains, surrounds, enwraps, shelters, preserves, and nourishes anything small belongs to the primordial matriarchal realm.22  When Freud saw that everything hollow was feminine, he would have been right if only he had grasped it as a symbol.  By interpreting it as the “female genitalia” he profoundly misunderstood it, because female genitalia are only a tiny part of the archetype of the Primordial Mother.

Compared with this maternal uroboros, human consciousness feels itself embryonic, for the ego feels fully contained in this primordial symbol.  It is only a tiny helpless newcomer.  In the pleromatic phase of life, when the ego swims about in the round like a tadpole, there is nothing but the uroboros in existence.  Humanity does not yet exist, there is only divinity; only the world has being.  Naturally, then, the first phases of man’s evolving ego consciousness are under the dominance of the uroboros.  They are the phases of an infantile ego consciousness which, although no longer entirely embryonic and already possessing an existence of its own, still lives in the round, not yet detached from it and only just beginning to differentiate itself. from it.  This initial stage when ego consciousness is still on the infantile level is marked by the predominance of the maternal side of the uroboros.

22. Jung, “Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype.”


The world is experienced as all-embracing, and in it man experiences himself, as a self, sporadically and momentarily only.  Just as the infantile ego, living this phase over again, feebly developed, easily tired, emerges like an island out of the ocean of the unconscious for occasional moments only, and then sinks back again, so early man experiences the world.  Small feeble, and much given to sleep, i.e., for the most part unconscious, he swims about in his instincts like an animal.  Enfolded and upborne by great Mother Nature, rocked in her arms, he is delivered over to her for good or ill.  Nothing is himself; everything is world.  The world shelters and nourishes him, while he scarcely wills and acts at all.  Doing nothing, lying inert in the unconscious, merely being there in the inexhaustible twilit world, all needs effortlessly supplied by the great nourisher - such is that early, beatific state.  All the positive maternal traits are in evidence at this stage, when the ego is still embryonic and has no activity of its own.  The uroboros of the maternal world is life and psyche in one; it gives nourishment and pleasure, protects and warms, comforts and forgives.  It is the refuge for all suffering, the goal of all desire.  For always this mother is she who fulfills, the bestower and helper.  This living  image of the Great and Good Mother has at all times of distress been the refuge of humanity and ever shall be; for the state of being contained in the who1e, without responsibility or effort, with no doubts and no division of the world into two, is paradisal. and can never again be realized in its pristine happy-go-luckiness in adult life.

The positive side of the Great Mother seems to be embodied in this stage of the uroboros.  Only at a very much higher level will the “good” Mother appear again.  Then, when she no longer has to do with an embryonic ego, but with an adult personality matured by rich experience of the world, she reveals herself anew as Sophia, the “gracious” Mother, or, pouring forth her riches in the creative fullness of true productivity, as the Mother of All Living

The dawn state of perfect containment and contentment was never an historical state (Rousseau was still projecting this



psychic phase into the historical past, as the “natural state” of the savage.)  It is rather the image of a psychic stage of humanity, just discernible as borderline image.  However much the world forced early man to face reality, it was with the greatest reluctance that he consciously entered into this reality.  Even today we can see from primitives that the law of gravity, the inertia of the psyche, the desire to remain unconscious, is a fundamental human trait.  Yet even this is a false formulation, since it starts from consciousness as though that were the natural and self-evident thing.  But fixation in unconsciousness, the downward drag of its specific gravity, cannot be called a desire to remain unconscious; on the contrary, that is the natural thing.  There is, as a counteracting force, the desire to become conscious, a veritable instinct impelling man in this direction.  One has no need to desire to remain unconscious; one is primarily unconscious and can at most conquer the original situation in which man drowses in the world, drowses in the unconscious, contained in the infinite like a fish in the environing sea.  The ascent toward consciousness is the “unnatural” thing in nature; it is specific of the species Man, who on that account has justly styled himself Homo sapiens.  The struggle between the specifically human and the universally natural constitutes the history of man’s conscious development.

So long as the infantile ego consciousness is weak and feels the strain of its own existence as heavy and oppressive, while drowsiness and sleep are felt as delicious pleasure, it has not yet discovered its own reality and differentness.  So long as this continues, the uroboros reigns on as the great whirling wheel of life, where everything not yet individual is submerged in the union of opposites, passing away and willing to pass away.

Man is not yet thrown back upon himself, against nature, nor the ego against the unconscious; being oneself is still a wearisome and painful experience, still the exception that has to be overcome.  It is in this sense that we speak of “uroboric incest.”  It goes without saying that the term “incest” is to be understood symbolically, not concretistically and sexually.


Wherever the incest motive appears, it is always a prefiguration of the hieros gamos, of the sacred marriage which its true form only with the hero.

Uroboric incest is a form of entry into the mother, of union with her, and it stands in sharp contrast to other and later forms of incest.  In uroboric incest, the emphasis upon pleasure and love is in no sense active, it is more a desire to be dissolved and absorbed; passively one lets oneself be taken, sinks into the pleroma, melts away in the ocean of pleasure - a Liebestod.  The Great Mother takes the little child back into herself, and always over uroboric incest there stand the insignia of death, signifying final dissolution in union with the Mother.  Cave, earth, tomb, sarcophagus, and coffin are symbols of this ritual recombination, which begins with burial in the posture of the embryo in the barrows of the Stone Age and ends with the cinerary urns of the moderns.

Many forms of nostalgia and longing signify no more than a return to uroboric incest and self-dissolution, from the unio mystica of the saint to the drunkard’s craving for unconsciousness and the “death-romanticism” of the Germanic races.  The incest we term “uroboric” is self-surrender and regression.  It is the form of incest taken by the infantile ego, which is still close to the mother and has not yet come to itself; but the sick ego of the neurotic can also take this form and so can a later, exhausted ego that creeps back to the mother after having found fulfillment.

Notwithstanding its own dissolution and the deadly aspect of the uroboros, the embryonic ego does not experience uroboric incest as anything hostile, even though it be annihilated.  The return to the great round is a happening full of passive, childlike confidence; for the infantile ego consciousness always feels its reawakening, after having been immersed in death as a rebirth.  It feels protected by the maternal depths even when the ego has disappeared and there is no consciousness of itself.  Man’s consciousness rightly feels itself to be the child of these primordial depths; for not only in the history of mankind is


consciousness a late product of the womb of the unconscious, but in every individual life, consciousness re-experiences its emergence from the unconscious in the growth of childhood, and every night in sleep, dying with the sun, it sinks back into the depths of the unconscious, to be reborn in the morning and to begin the day anew.

The uroboros, the great round, is not only the womb, but the World Parents.  The World Father is joined to the World Mother in uroboric union, and they are not to be divided. They are still under the rule of the primordial law: above and below, father and mother, heaven and earth, God and world, reflect one another and cannot be put apart.  How could the conjunction of opposites, as the initial state of existence, ever be represented mythologically except by the symbol of the conjoined World Parents!

Thus the World Parents, who are the answer to the question about the origin, are themselves the universe and the prime symbol of everlasting life.  They are the perfection from whence everything springs; the eternal being that begets, conceives, and brings itself to birth, that kills and revivifies.  Their unity is a state of existence transcendent and divine, independent of the opposites - the inchoate “En-Soph” of the cabala, which means “unending plenitude” and “nothingness.”  The tremendous force of this primordial symbol of the psyche does not lie only in the fact that it contains in itself the non-differentiated state of union beyond the opposites.  The uroboros also symbolizes the creative impulse of the new beginning it is the “wheel that rolls itself,” the initial, rotary movement in the upward spiral of evolution. 23

This initial movement, the procreative thrust , naturally has an affinity with the paternal side of the uroboros and with the beginning of evolution in time, and is far harder to visualize than the maternal side.

23. Schoch-Bodmer, “Die Spirale als Symbol und als Strukturelement des Lebendigen”; Leisegang, ‘~Das Mysterium der Scliange.”



For instance, when we read in Egyptian theology such passages as:

Atum, who indulged himself in Heliopolis, took his phallus in his hand in order to arouse pleasure. A brother and sister were produced, Shu and Tefnut. 24


I copulated in my hand, I joined myself to my shadow and spurted out of my own mouth.  I spewed forth as Shu and spat forth as Tefnut. 25

this clearly expresses the difficulty of grasping the creative beginning in a symbol.  What js meant would nowadays be called spontaneous generation or the self-manifestation of god.  The original force of the images still shines through our rather more abstract terms.  The uroboric mode of propagation, where begetter and conceiver are one, results in the image of immediate genesis from the semen, without partner and without duality.

To call such images “obscene” is to be guilty of a profound misunderstanding.  Actually, life in those times was far more disciplined sexually, far purer, than in most of the later cultures; the sexual symbolism that appears in primitive cult and ritual has a sacral and transpersonal import, as everywhere in mythology.  It symbolizes the creative element, not personal genitality.  It is only personalistic misunderstanding that makes these sacral contents “obscene.”  Judaism and Christianity between them - and this includes Freud - have had a heavy and disastrous hand in this misunderstanding.  The desecration of pagan values in the struggle for monotheism and for a conscious ethic was necessary, and historically an advance; but it resulted in a complete distortion of the primordial world of those times.  The effect of secondary personalization in the struggle against paganism was to reduce the transpersonal to the personal.  Sanctity became sodomy, worship became fornication,

24. Pyramid Texts, spell 1248, in Sethe, Pyramidentexte.

25. Book of Apopis, in Roeder, Urkunden zur Religion des alten Aegypten, p.108.


and so on.  An age whose eyes are once more open to the transpersonal must reverse this process.

Later creation symbols show how these matters came to be better formulated.  Not that any repression had crept in.  What was to be expressed had from the very outset no sexual connotations, it was meant symbolically; but the efforts with which early man wrestled for words give us some indication of what it was all about.

The image of the sef-fecundating primal god undergoes new variations in Egypt and India, and in both cases there is a move in the direction of spiritualization.  But this spiritualization is the same as the endeavor to apprehend the nature of the creative force that was there in the beginning:

It is the heart which makes all that results, to come out, and it is the tongue which repeats (expresses) the thought of the heart. . .  That is what causes all the gods to be born.  Atum with his Ennead, and every divine utterance manifests itself in the thought of the heart and speech of the tongue. 26


The Demiurge who created all the gods and their Kas is in his heart and in his tongue. 27

And finally we come to the most abstract and spiritual symbolism of all, where God is the “breath of life”:

He did not bring me forth from his mouth, nor conceive me in his hand, but he breathed me forth from his nostrils.28

The transition from image to idea in this formulation of the creative principle becomes doubly clear when one knows that in the hieroglyphs “thought” is written with the image for “heart” and “speech” with that for “tongue.”

At this point in Egyptian mythology and its wrestlings with the problem of creation, we have the first beginnings of what was to be expressed several thousand years later as the “Word of God” in the Bibles story of the creation and in the doctrine of

26. Moret, The Nile and Egyptian Civilization, p. 876.

27. Kees, Aegypten, p. ii.

28. Kees, Gotterglaube, p. 312 n.


the Logos - an expression that was never able to break away altogether from the primordial image of the “self-manifesting” and “self-expressing” god.

Understandably enough, the creative principle that brings the world into being is derived from the creative nature of man himself.  Just as a man - our figures of speech say the same thing today - brings forth his creations from his own depths and “expresses” himself, so do the gods.  In like manner Vishnu the Boar scoops the earth out of the sea, and the god ponders the world in his heart and expresses it in the creative word.  The word, speech, is a higher product, the utterance of one sunk in himself, in his own depths.  When we talk of “introversion” we say the same thing.  In India, tapas. “inward heat” and “brooding,” is the creative force with whose help everything is made.  The self-incubating effect of introversion, a fundamental experience of the self-generating spirit, is clearly expressed in the following text::

He, Prajapati, took to praying and fasting, because he desired offspring, and he made himself fruitful. 29

An Egyptian text says:

My name was “he who created himself, first god of first  30

The same principle of “heating” is described in another Brahmana as the way of creation:

In the beginning this world was nothing at all. Heaven was not, nor earth, nor space. Because it was not, it bethought itself: I will be.  It emitted heat.

After describing a long series of cosmogonic heatings and the production of elements, the text goes on:

He found foothold on the earth.  When he had found a firm foothold there, he thought: I will propagate myself.  He emitted heat and became pregnant. 31

29. Shatapatha Brahmana 11. 1. 6. 7, trans. from Geldner, Vedismus und Brahmanisnus.

30. Book of Apopis, in Roeder, op. cit.

31. Taittfriya Brahmana 2. 2. 9. 5, trans. from Geldner, op. cit., p. 90.


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