This paper represents the substance of a lecture which I delivered on the spur of the moment at the Eranos meeting in 1939. In putting it into written form I have made use of the stenographic notes which were taken at the meeting. Certain portions had to be omitted, chiefly because the requirements of a printed text are different from those of the spoken word. However, so far as possible, I have carried out my original intention of summing up the content of my lecture on the theme of rebirth, and have also endeavoured to reproduce my analysis of the Eighteenth Sura of the Koran as an example of a rebirth mystery. I have added some references to source material, which the reader may welcome. My summary does not purport to be more than a survey of a field of knowledge which can only be treated very superficially in the framework of a lecture.—C. G. J.
1. Forms of Rebirth
The concept of rebirth is not always used in the same sense. Since this concept has various aspects, it may be useful to review its different meanings. The five different forms which I am going to enumerate could probably be added to if one were to go into greater detail, but I venture to think that my definitions cover at least the cardinal meanings. In the first part of my exposition, I give a brief summary of the different forms of rebirth, while the second part presents its various psychological aspects. In the third part, I give an example of a rebirth mystery from the Koran.
1. Metempsychosis. The first of the five aspects of rebirth to which I should like to draw attention is that of metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls. According to this view, one's life is prolonged in time by passing through different bodily existences; or, from another point of view, it is a life-sequence interrupted by different reincarnations. Even in Buddhism, where this doctrine is of particular importance—the Buddha himself experienced a very long sequence of such rebirths—it is by no means certain whether continuity of personality is guaranteed or not: there may be only a continuity of karma. The Buddha's disciples put this question to him during his lifetime, but he never made any definite statement as to whether there is or is not a continuity of personality.
2. Reincarnation. This concept of rebirth necessarily implies the continuity of personality. Here the human personality is regarded as continuous and accessible to memory, so that, when one is incarnated or born, one is able, at least potentially, to remember that one has lived through previous existences and that these existences were one's own, i.e., that they had the same ego-form as the present life. As a rule, reincarnation means rebirth in a human body.
3. Resurrection. This means a re-establishment of human existence after death. A new element enters here: that of the change, transmutation, or transformation of one's being. The change may be either essential, in the sense that the resurrected being is a different one; or nonessential, in the sense that only the general conditions of existence have changed, as when one finds oneself in a different place or in a body which is differently constituted. It may be a carnal body, as in the Christian assumption that this body will be resurrected. On a higher level, the process is no longer understood in a gross material sense; it is assumed that the resurrection of the dead is the raising up of the corpus glorificationis, the "subtle body," in the state of incorruptibility.
4. Rebirth (renovatio). The fourth form concerns rebirth in the strict sense; that is to say, rebirth within the span of individual life. The English word rebirth is the exact equivalent of the German Wiedergeburt, but the French language seems to lack a term having the peculiar meaning of "rebirth." This word has a special flavour; its whole atmosphere suggests the idea of renovatio, renewal, or even of improvement brought about by magical means. Rebirth may be a renewal without any change of being, inasmuch as the personality which is renewed is not changed in its essential nature, but only its functions, or parts of the personality, are subjected to healing, strengthening, or improvement. Thus even bodily ills may be healed through rebirth ceremonies.
Another aspect of this fourth form is essential transformation, i.e., total rebirth of the individual. Here the renewal implies a change of his essential nature, and may be called a transmutation. As examples we may mention the transformation of a mortal into an immortal being, of a corporeal into a spiritual being, and of a human into a divine being. Wellknown prototypes of this change are the transfiguration and ascension of Christ, and the assumption of the Mother of God into heaven after her death, together with her body. Similar conceptions are to be found in Part II of Goethe's Faust; for instance, the transformation of Faust into the boy and then into Doctor Marianus.
5. Participation in the process of transformation. The fifth and last form is indirect rebirth. Here the transformation is brought about not directly, by passing through death and rebirth oneself, but indirectly, by participating in a process of transformation which is conceived of as taking place outside the individual. In other words, one has to witness, or take part in, some rite of transformation. This rite may be a ceremony such as the Mass, where there is a transformation of substances. Through his presence at the rite the individual participates in divine grace. Similar transformations of the Deity are to be found in the pagan mysteries; there too the initiate sharing the experience is vouchsafed the gift of grace, as we know from the Eleusinian mysteries. A case in point is the confession of the initiate in the Eleusinian mysteries, who praises the grace conferred through the certainty of immortality.
2. The Psychology of Rebirth
Rebirth is not a process that we can in any way observe. We can neither measure nor weigh nor photograph it. It is entirely beyond sense perception. We have to do here with a purely psychic reality, which is transmitted to us only indirectly through personal statements. One speaks of rebirth; one professes rebirth; one is filled with rebirth. This we accept as sufficiently real. We are not concerned here with the question: is rebirth a tangible process of some sort? We have to be content with its psychic reality. I hasten to add that I am not alluding to the vulgar notion that anything "psychic" is either nothing at all or at best even more tenuous than a gas. Quite the contrary; I am of the opinion that the psyche is the most tremendous fact of human life. Indeed, it is the mother of all human facts; of civilization and of its destroyer, war. All this is at first psychic and invisible. So long as it is "merely" psychic it cannot be experienced by the senses, but is nonetheless indisputably real. The mere fact that people talk about rebirth, and that there is such a concept at all, means that a store of psychic experiences designated by that term must actually exist. What these experiences are like we can only infer from the statements that have been made about them. So, if we want to find out what rebirth really is, we must turn to history in order to ascertain what "rebirth" has been understood to mean.
Rebirth is an affirmation that must be counted among the primordial affirmations of mankind. These primordial affirmations are based on what I call archetypes. In view of the fact that all affirmations relating to the sphere of the suprasensual are, in the last analysis, invariably determined by archetypes, it is not surprising that a concurrence of affirmations concerning rebirth can be found among the most widely differing peoples. There must be psychic events underlying these affirmations which it is the business of psychology to discuss—without entering into all the metaphysical and philosophical assumptions regarding their significance. In order to obtain a general view of their phenomenology, it is necessary to sketch the whole field of transformation experiences in sharper outline. Two main groups of experience may be distinguished: that of the transcendence of life, and that of one's own transformation.
I. Experience of the Transcendence of Life
a. Experiences induced by ritual. By the "transcendence of life" I mean those aforementioned experiences of the initiate who takes part in a sacred rite which reveals to him the perpetual continuation of life through transformation and renewal. In these mystery-dramas the transcendence of life, as distinct from its momentary concrete manifestations, is usually represented by the fateful transformations—death and rebirth—of a god or a godlike hero. The initiate may either be a mere witness of the divine drama or take part in it or be moved by it, or he may see himself identified through the ritual action with the god. In this case, what really matters is that an objective substance or form of life is ritually transformed through some process going on independently, while the initiate is influenced, impressed, "consecrated," or granted "divine grace" on the mere ground of his presence or participation. The transformation process takes place not within him but outside him, although he may become involved in it. The initiate who ritually enacts the slaying, dismemberment, and scattering of Osiris, and afterwards his resurrection in the green wheat, experiences in this way the permanence and continuity of life, which outlasts all changes of form and, phoenix-like, continually rises anew from its own ashes. This participation in the ritual event gives rise, among other effects, to that hope of immortality which is characteristic of the Eleusinian mysteries.
A living example of the mystery drama representing the permanence as well as the transformation of life is the Mass. If we observe the congregation during this sacred rite we note all degrees of participation, from mere indifferent attendance to the profoundest emotion. The groups of men standing about near the exit, who are obviously engaged in every sort of worldly conversation, crossing themselves and genuflecting in a purely mechanical way—even they, despite their inattention, participate in the sacral action by their mere presence in this place where grace abounds. The Mass is an extramundane and extratemporal act in which Christ is sacrificed and then resurrected in the transformed substances; and this rite of his sacrificial death is not a repetition of the historical event but the original, unique, and eternal act. The experience of the Mass is therefore a participation in the transcendence of life, which overcomes all bounds of space and time. It is a moment of eternity in time.
b. Immediate Experiences. All that the mystery drama represents and brings about in the spectator may also occur in the form of a spontaneous, ecstatic, or visionary experience, without any ritual. Nietzsche's Noontide Vision is a classic example of this kind. Nietzsche, as we know, substitutes for the Christian mystery the myth of Dionysus-Zagreus, who was dismembered and came to life again. His experience has the character of a Dionysian nature myth: the Deity appears in the garb of Nature, as classical antiquity saw it, and the moment of eternity is the noonday hour, sacred to Pan: "Hath time flown away? Do I not fall? Have I not fallen—hark!—into the well of eternity?" Even the "golden ring," the "ring of return," appears to him as a promise of resurrection and life. It is just as if Nietzsche had been present at a performance of the mysteries.
Many mystic experiences have a similar character: they represent an action in which the spectator becomes involved though his nature is not necessarily changed. In the same way, the most beautiful and impressive dreams often have no lasting or transformative effect on the dreamer. He may be impressed by them, but he does not necessarily see any problem in them. The event then naturally remains "outside," like a ritual action performed by others. These more aesthetic forms of experience must be carefully distinguished from those which indubitably involve a change of one's nature.
II. Subjective Transformation
Transformations of personality are by no means rare occurrences. Indeed, they play a considerable role in psychopathology, although they are rather different from the mystical experiences just discussed, which are not easily accessible to psychological investigation. However, the phenomena we are now about to examine belong to a sphere quite familiar to psychology.
a. Diminution of personality. An example of the alteration of personality in the sense of diminution is furnished by what is known in primitive psychology as "loss of soul" The peculiar condition covered by this term is accounted for in the mind of the primitive by the supposition that a soul has gone off, just like a dog that runs away from his master overnight. It is then the task of the medicine-man to fetch the fugitive back. Often the / loss occurs suddenly and manifests itself in a general malaise. The phenomenon is closely connected with the nature of primitive consciousness, which lacks the firm coherence of our own. We have control of our will power, but the primitive has not. Complicated exercises are needed if he is to pull himself together for any activity that is conscious and intentional and not just emotional and instinctive. Our consciousness is safer and more dependable in this respect; but occasionally something similar can happen to civilized man, only he does not describe it as "loss of soul" but as an "abaissement du niveau mental," Janet's apt term for this phenomenon. It is a slackening of the tensity of consciousness, which might be compared to a low barometric reading, presaging bad weather. The tonus has given way, and this is felt subjectively as listlessness, moroseness, and depression. One no longer has any wish or courage to face the tasks of the day. One feels like lead, because no part of one's body seems willing to move, and this is due to the fact that one no longer has any disposable energy. This well-known phenomenon corresponds to the primitive's loss of soul. The listlessness and paralysis of will can go so far that the whole personality falls apart, so to speak, and consciousness lose its unity; the individual parts of the personality make themselves independent and thus escape from the control of the conscious mind, as in the case of anaesthetic areas or systematic amnesias. The latter are well known as hysterical "loss of function" phenomena. This medical term is analogous to the primitive loss of soul.
Abaissement du niveau mental can be the result of physical and mental fatigue, bodily illness, violent emotions, and shock, of which the last has a particularly deleterious effect on one's self-assurance. The abaissement always has a restrictive influence on the personality as a whole. It reduces one's self-confidence and the spirit of enterprise, and, as a result of increasing egocentricity, narrows the mental horizon. In the end it may lead to the development of an essentially negative personality, which means that a falsification of the original personality has supervened.
b. Enlargement of personality. The personality is seldom, in the beginning, what it will be later on. For this reason the possibility of enlarging it exists, at least during the first half of life. The enlargement may be effected through an accretion from without, by new vital contents finding their way into the personality from outside and being assimilated. In this way a considerable increase of personality may be experienced. We therefore tend to assume that this increase comes only from without, thus justifying the prejudice that one becomes a personality by stuffing into oneself as much as possible from outside. But the more assiduously we follow this recipe, and the more stubbornly we believe that all increase has to come from without, the greater becomes our inner poverty. Therefore, if some great idea takes hold of us from outside, we must understand that it takes hold of us only because something in us responds to it and goes out to meet it. Richness of mind consists in mental receptivity, not in the accumulation of possessions. What comes to us from outside, and, for that matter, everything that rises up from within, can only be made our own if we are capable of an inner amplitude equal to that of the incoming content. Real increase of personality means consciousness of an enlargement that flows from inner sources. Without psychic depth we can never be adequately related to the magnitude of our object. It has therefore been said quite truly that a man grows with the greatness of his task. But he must have within himself the capacity to grow; otherwise even the most difficult task is of no benefit to him. More likely he will be shattered by it.
A classic example of enlargement is Nietzsche's encounter with Zarathustra, which made of the critic and aphorist a tragic poet and prophet. Another example is St. Paul, who, on his way to Damascus, was suddenly confronted by Christ. True though it may be that this Christ of St. Paul's would hardly have been possible without the historical Jesus, the apparition of Christ came to St. Paul not from the historical Jesus but from the depths of his own unconscious.
When a summit of life is reached, when the bud unfolds and from the lesser the greater emerges, then, as Nietzsche says, "One becomes Two," and the greater figure, which one always was but which remained invisible, appears to the lesser personality with the force of a revelation. He who is truly and hopelessly little will always drag the revelation of the greater down to the level of his littleness, and will never understand that the day of judgment for his littleness has dawned. But the man who is inwardly great will know that the long expected friend of his soul, the immortal one, has now really come, "to lead captivity captive"; 8 that is, to seize hold of him by whom this immortal had always been confined and held prisoner, and to make his life flow into that greater life—a moment of deadliest peril! Nietzsche's prophetic vision of the Tightrope Walker 9 reveals the awful danger that lies in having a "tightrope-walking" attitude towards an event to which St. Paul gave the most exalted name he could find.
Christ himself is the perfect symbol of the hidden immortal within the mortal man. Ordinarily this problem is symbolized by a dual motif such as the Dioscuri, one of whom is mortal and the other immortal. An Indian parallel is the parable of the two friends:
Two birds, fast-bound companions, sit.
This one enjoys the ripened fruit,
The other looks, but does not eat.
On such a tree my spirit crouched,
Deluded by its powerlessness,
Till seeing with joy how great its Lord, It
found from sorrow swift release ...
Another notable parallel is the Islamic legend of the meeting of Moses and Khidr, to which I shall return later on. Naturally the transformation of personality in this enlarging sense does not occur only in the form of such highly significant experiences. There is no lack of more trivial instances, a list of which could easily be compiled from the clinical history of neurotic patients. Indeed, any case where the recognition of a greater personality seems to burst an iron ring round the heart must be included in this category.
c. Change of internal structure. We now come to changes of personality which imply neither enlargement nor diminution but a structural alteration. One of the most important forms is the phenomenon of possession: some content, an idea or a part of the personality, obtains mastery of the individual for one reason or another. The contents which thus take possession appear as peculiar convictions, idiosyncrasies, stubborn plans, and so forth. As a rule, they are not open to correction. One has to be an especially good friend of the possessed person and willing to put up with almost anything if one is to attempt to deal with such a condition. I am not prepared to lay down any hard and fast line of demarcation between possession and paranoia. Possession can be formulated as identity of the egopersonality with a complex.
A common instance of this is identity with the persona, which is the individual's system of adaptation to, or the manner he assumes in dealing with, the world. Every calling or profession, for example, has its own characteristic persona. It is easy to study these things nowadays, when the photographs of public personalities so frequently appear in the press. A certain kind of behaviour is forced on them by the world, and professional people endeavour to come up to these expectations. Only, the danger is that they become identical with their personas—the professor with his text-book, the tenor with his voice. Then the damage is done; henceforth he lives exclusively against the background of his own biography. For by that time it is written: " ... then he went to such and such a place and said this or that," etc. The garment of Deianeira has grown fast to his skin, and a desperate decision like that of Heracles is needed if he is to tear this Nessus shirt from his body and step into the consuming fire of the flame of immortality, in order to transform himself into what he really is. One could say, with a little exaggeration, that the persona is that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is In any case the temptation to be what one seems to be is great, because the persona is usually rewarded in cash.
There are still other factors which may take possession of the individual, one of the most important being the so-called "inferior function." This is not the place to enter into a detailed discussion of this problem; I should only like to point out that the inferior function is practically identical with the dark side of the human personality. The darkness which clings to every personality is the door into the unconscious and the gateway of dreams, from which those two twilight figures, the shadow and the anima, step into our nightly visions or, remaining invisible, take possession of our ego-consciousness. A man who is possessed by his shadow is always standing in his own light and falling into his own traps. Whenever possible, he prefers to make an unfavourable impression on others. In the long run luck is always against him, because he is living below his own level and at best only attains what does not suit him. And if there is no doorstep for him to stumble over, he manufactures one for himself and then fondly believes he has done something useful.
Possession caused by the anima or animus presents a different picture. Above all, this transformation of personality gives prominence to those traits which are characteristic of the opposite sex; in man the feminine traits, and in woman the masculine. In the state of possession both figures lose their charm and their values; they retain them only when they are turned away from the world, in the introverted state, when they serve as bridges to the unconscious. Turned towards the world, the anima is fickle, capricious, moody, uncontrolled and emotional, sometimes gifted with daemonic intuitions, ruthless, malicious, untruthful, bitchy, double-faced, and mystical. The animus is obstinate, harping on principles, laying down the law, dogmatic, world-reforming, theoretic, word-mongering, argumentative, and domineering. Both alike have bad taste: the anima surrounds herself with inferior people, and the animus lets himself be taken in by second-rate thinking.
Another form of structural change concerns certain unusual observations about which I speak only with the utmost reserve. I refer to states of possession in which the possession is caused by something that could perhaps most fitly be described as an "ancestral soul," by which I mean the soul of some definite forebear. For all practical purposes, such cases may be regarded as striking instances of identification with deceased persons. (Naturally, the phenomena of identity only occur after the "ancestor's" death.) My attention was first drawn to such possibilities by Leon Daudet's confused but ingenious book L'Heredo. Daudet supposes that, in the structure of the personality, there are ancestral elements which under certain conditions may suddenly come to the fore. The individual is then precipitately thrust into an ancestral role. Now we know that ancestral roles play a very important part in primitive psychology. Not only are ancestral spirits supposed to be reincarnated in children, but an attempt is made to implant them into the child by naming him after an ancestor. So, too, primitives try to change themselves back into their ancestors by means of certain rites. I would mention especially the Australian conception of the alcheringamijina, ancestral souls, half man and half animal, whose reactivation through religious rites is of the greatest functional significance for the life of the tribe. Ideas of this sort, dating back to the Stone Age, were widely diffused, as may be seen from numerous other traces that can be found elsewhere. It is therefore not improbable that these primordial forms of experience may recur even today as cases of identification with ancestral souls, and I believe I have seen such cases.
d. Identification with a group. We shall now discuss another form of transformation experience which I would call identification with a group. More accurately speaking, it is the identification of an individual with a number of people who, as a group, have a collective experience of transformation. This special psychological situation must not be confused with participation in a transformation rite, which, though performed before an audience, does not in any way depend upon group identity or necessarily give rise to it. To experience transformation in a group and to experience it in oneself are two totally different things. If any considerable group of persons are united and identified with one another by a particular frame of mind, the resultant transformation experience bears only a very remote resemblance to the experience of individual transformation. A group experience takes place on a lower level of consciousness than the experience of an individual. This is due to the fact that, when many people gather together to share one common emotion, the total psyche emerging from the group is below the level of the individual psyche. If it is a very large group, the collective psyche will be more like the psyche of an animal, which is the reason why the ethical attitude of large organizations is always doubtful. The psychology of a large crowd inevitably sinks to the level of mob psychology. If, therefore, I have a so-called collective experience as a member of a group, it takes place on a lower level of consciousness than if I had the experience by myself alone. That is why this group experience is very much more frequent than an individual experience of transformation. It is also much easier to achieve, because the presence of so many people together exerts great suggestive force. The individual in a crowd easily becomes the victim of his own suggestibility. It is only necessary for something to happen, for instance a proposal backed by the whole crowd, and we too are all for it, even if the proposal is immoral. In the crowd one feels no responsibility, but also no fear.
Thus identification with the group is a simple and easy path to follow, but the group experience goes no deeper than the level of one's own mind in that state. It does work a change in you, but the change does not last. On the contrary, you must have continual recourse to mass intoxication in order to consolidate the experience and your belief in it. But as soon as you are removed from the crowd, you are a different person again and unable to reproduce the previous state of mind. The mass is swayed by participation mystique, which is nothing other than an unconscious identity. Supposing, for example, you go to the theatre: glance meets glance, everybody observes everybody else, so that all those who are present are caught up in an invisible web of mutual unconscious relationship. If this condition increases, one literally feels borne along by the universal wave of identity with others. It may be a pleasant feeling—one sheep among ten thousand! Again, if I feel that this crowd is a great and wonderful unity, I am a hero, exalted along with the group. When I am myself again, I discover that I am Mr. So-and-So, and that I live in such and such a street, on the third floor. I also find that the whole affair was really most delightful, and I hope it will take place again tomorrow so that I may once more feel myself to be a whole nation, which is much better than being just plain Mr. X. Since this is such an easy and convenient way of raising one's personality to a more exalted rank, mankind has always formed groups which made collective experiences of transformation—often of an ecstatic nature—possible. The regressive identification with lower and more primitive states of consciousness is invariably accompanied by a heightened sense of life; hence the quickening effect of regressive identifications with half-animal ancestors in the Stone Age.
The inevitable psychological regression within the group is partially counteracted by ritual, that is to say through a cult ceremony which makes the solemn performance of sacred events the centre of group activity and prevents the crowd from relapsing into unconscious instinctuality. By engaging the individual's interest and attention, the ritual makes it possible for him to have a comparatively individual experience even within the group and so to remain more or less conscious. But if there is no relation to a centre which expresses the unconscious through its symbolism, the mass psyche inevitably becomes the hypnotic focus of fascination, drawing everyone under its spell. That is why masses are always breeding-grounds of psychic epidemics, the events in Germany being a classic example of this.
It will be objected to this essentially negative evaluation of mass psychology that there are also positive experiences, for instance a positive enthusiasm which spurs the individual to noble deeds, or an equally positive feeling of human solidarity. Facts of this kind should not be denied. The group can give the individual a courage, a bearing, and a dignity which may easily get lost in isolation. It can awaken within him the memory of being a man among men. But that does not prevent something else from being added which he would not possess as an individual. Such unearned gifts may seem a special favour of the moment, but in the long run there is a danger of the gift becoming a loss, since human nature has a weak habit of taking gifts for granted; in times of necessity we demand them as a right instead of making the effort to obtain them ourselves. One sees this, unfortunately, only too plainly in the tendency to demand everything from the State, without reflecting that the State consists of those very individuals who make the demands. The logical development of this tendency leads to Communism, where each individual enslaves the community and the latter is represented by a dictator, the slave-owner. All primitive tribes characterized by a communistic order of society also have a chieftain over them with unlimited powers. The Communist State is nothing other than an absolute monarchy in which there are no subjects, but only serfs.
e. Identification with a cult-hero. Another important identification underlying the transformation experience is that with the god or hero who is transformed in the sacred ritual. Many cult ceremonies are expressly intended to bring this identity about, an obvious example being the Metamorphosis of Apuleius. The initiate, an ordinary human being, is elected to be Helios; he is crowned with a crown of palms and clad in the mystic mantle, whereupon the assembled crowd pays homage to him. The suggestion of the crowd brings about his identity with the god. The participation of the community can also take place in the following way: there is no apotheosis of the initiate, but the sacred action is recited, and then, in the course of long periods of time, psychic changes gradually occur in the individual participants. The Osiris cult offers an excellent example of this. At first only Pharaoh participated in the transformation of the god, since he alone "had an Osiris"; but later the nobles of the Empire acquired an Osiris too, and finally this development culminated in the Christian idea that everyone has an immortal soul and shares directly in the Godhead. In Christianity the development was carried still further when the outer God or Christ gradually became the inner Christ of the individual believer, remaining one and the same though dwelling in many. This truth had already been anticipated by the psychology of totemism: many exemplars of the totem animal are killed and consumed during the totem meals, and yet it is only the One who is being eaten, just as there is only one Christ-child and one Santa Claus.
In the mysteries, the individual undergoes an indirect transformation through his participation in the fate of the god. The transformation experience is also an indirect one in the Christian Church, inasmuch as it is brought about by participation in something acted or recited. Here the first form, the dromenon, is characteristic of the richly developed ritual of the Catholic Church; the second form, the recitation, the "Word" or "gospel," is practiced in the "preaching of the Word" in Protestanism.
f. Magical procedures. A further form of transformation is achieved through a rite used directly for this purpose. Instead of the transformation experience coming to one through participation in the rite, the rite is used for the express purpose of effecting the transformation. It thus becomes a sort of technique to which one submits oneself. For instance, a man is ill and consequently needs to be "renewed." The renewal must "happen" to him from outside, and to bring this about, he is pulled through a hole in the wall at the head of his sick-bed, and now he is reborn; or he is given another name and thereby another soul, and then the demons no longer recognize him; or he has to pass through a symbolical death; or, grotesquely enough, he is pulled through a leathern cow, which devours him, so to speak, in front and then expels him behind; or he undergoes an ablution or baptismal bath and miraculously changes into a semi-divine being with a new character and an altered metaphysical destiny.
g. Technical transformation. Besides the use of the rite in the magical sense, there are still other special techniques in which, in addition to the grace inherent in the rite, the personal endeavour of the initiate is needed in order to achieve the intended purpose. It is a transformation experience induced by technical means. The exercises known in the East as yoga and in the West as exercitia spiritualia come into this category. These exercises represent special techniques prescribed in advance and intended to achieve a definite psychic effect, or at least to promote it. This is true both of Eastern yoga and of the methods practiced in the West. They are, therefore, technical procedures in the fullest sense of the word; elaborations of the originally natural processes of transformation. The natural or spontaneous transformations that occurred earlier, before there were any historical examples to follow, were thus replaced by techniques designed to induce the transformation by imitating this same sequence of events. I will try to give an idea of the way such techniques may have originated by relating a fairy story:
There was once a queer old man who lived in a cave, where he had sought refuge from the noise of the villages. He was reputed to be a sorcerer, and therefore he had disciples who hoped to learn the art of sorcery from him. But he himself was not thinking of any such thing. He was only seeking to know what it was that he did not know, but which, he felt certain, was always happening. After meditating for a very long time on that which is beyond meditation, he saw no other way of escape from his predicament than to take a piece of red chalk and draw all kinds of diagrams on the walls of his cave, in order to find out what that which he did not know might look like. After many attempts he hit on the circle. "That's right," he felt, "and now for a quadrangle inside it!"—which made it better still. His disciples were curious; but all they could make out was that the old man was up to something, and they would have given anything to know what he was doing. But when they asked him: "What are you doing there?" he made no reply. Then they discovered the diagrams on the wall and said: "That's it!"—and they all imitated the diagrams. But in so doing they turned the whole process upside down, without noticing it: they anticipated the result in the hope of making the process repeat itself which had led to that result. This is how it happened then and how it still happens today.
h. Natural transformation (individuation). As I have pointed out, in addition to the technical processes of transformation there are also natural transformations. All ideas of rebirth are founded on this fact. Nature herself demands a death and a rebirth. As the alchemist Democritus says: "Nature rejoices in nature, nature subdues nature, nature rules over nature." There are natural transformation processes which simply happen to us, whether we like it or not, and whether we know it or not. These processes develop considerable psychic effects, which would be sufficient in themselves to make any thoughtful person ask himself what really happened to him. Like the old man in our fairytale, he, too, will draw mandalas and seek shelter in their protective circle; in the perplexity and anguish of his self-chosen prison, which he had deemed a refuge, he is transformed into a being akin to the gods. Mandalas are birth-places, vessels of birth in the most literal sense, lotus-flowers in which a Buddha comes to life. Sitting in the lotus-seat, the yogi sees himself transfigured into an immortal.
Natural transformation processes announce themselves mainly in dreams. Elsewhere I have presented a series of dream-symbols of the process of individuation. They were dreams which without exception exhibited rebirth symbolism. In this particular case there was a long-drawn-out process of inner transformation and rebirth into another being. This "other being" is the other person in ourselves—that larger and greater personality maturing within us, whom we have already met as the inner friend of the soul. That is why we take comfort whenever we find the friend and companion depicted in a ritual, an example being the friendship between Mithras and the sungod. This relationship is a mystery to the scientific intellect, because the intellect is accustomed to regard these things unsympathetically. But if it made allowance for feeling, we would discover that it is the friend whom the sun-god takes with him on his chariot, as shown in the monuments. It is the representation of a friendship between two men which is simply the outer reflection of an inner fact: it reveals our relationship to that inner friend of the soul into whom Nature herself would like to change us—that other person who we also are and yet can never attain to completely. We are that pair of Dioscuri, one of whom is mortal and the other immortal, and who, though always together, can never be made completely one. The transformation processes strive to approximate them to one another, but our consciousness is aware of resistances, because the other person seems strange and uncanny, and because we cannot get accustomed to the idea that we are not absolute master in our own house. We should prefer to be always "I" and nothing else. But we are confronted with that inner friend or foe, and whether he is our friend or our foe depends on ourselves.
You need not be insane to hear his voice. On the contrary, it is the simplest and most natural thing imaginable. For instance, you can ask yourself a question to which "he" gives answer. The discussion is then carried on as in any other conversation. You can describe it as mere "associating" or "talking to oneself," or as a "meditation" in the sense used by the old alchemists, who referred to their interlocutor as aliquem alium internum, 'a certain other one, within.' This form of colloquy with the friend of the soul was even admitted by Ignatius Loyola into the technique of his Exercitia spiritualia, but with the limiting condition that only the person meditating is allowed to speak, whereas the inner responses are passed over as being merely human and therefore to be repudiated. This state of things has continued down to the present day. It is no longer a moral or metaphysical prejudice, but—what is much worse—an intellectual one. The "voice" is explained as nothing but "associating," pursued in a witless way and running on and on without sense or purpose, like the works of a clock that has no dial. Or we say "It is only my own thoughts!" even if, on closer inspection, it should turn out that they are thoughts which we either reject or had never consciously thought at all—as if everything psychic that is glimpsed by the ego had always formed part of it! Naturally this hybris serves the useful purpose of maintaining the supremacy of ego-consciousness, which must be safeguarded against dissolution into the unconscious. But it breaks down ignominiously if ever the unconscious should choose to let some nonsensical idea become an obsession or to produce other psychogenic symptoms, for which we would not like to accept responsibility on any account.
Our attitude towards this inner voice alternates between two extremes: it is regarded either as undiluted nonsense or as the voice of God. It does not seem to occur to anyone that there might be something valuable in between. The "other" may be just as one-sided in one way as the ego is in another. And yet the conflict between them may give rise to truth and meaning—but only if the ego is willing to grant the other its rightful personality. It has, of course, a personality anyway, just as have the voices of insane people; but a real colloquy becomes possible only when the ego acknowledges the existence of a partner to the discussion. This cannot be expected of everyone, because, after all, not everyone is a fit subject for exercitia spiritualia. Nor can it be called a colloquy if one speaks only to oneself or only addresses the other, as is the case with George Sand in her conversations with a "spiritual friend": for thirty pages she talks exclusively to herself while one waits in vain for the other to reply. The colloquy of the exercitia may be followed by that silent grace in which the modern doubter no longer believes. But what if it were the supplicated Christ himself who gave immediate answer in the words of the sinful human heart? What fearful abysses of doubt would then be opened? What madness should we not then have to fear? From this one can understand that images of the gods are better mute, and that ego-consciousness had better believe in its own supremacy rather than go on "associating." One can also understand why that inner friend so often seems to be our enemy, and why he is so far off and his voice so low. For he who is near to him "is near to the fire."
Something of this sort may have been in the mind of the alchemist who wrote: "Choose for your Stone him through whom kings are honoured in their crowns, and through whom physicians heal their sick, for he is near to the fire." The alchemists projected the inner event into an outer figure, so for them the inner friend appeared in the form of the "Stone," of which the Tractatus aureus says: "Understand, ye sons of the wise, what this exceeding precious Stone crieth out to you: Protect me and I will protect thee. Give me what is mine that I may help thee." To this a scholiast adds: "The seeker after, truth hears both the Stone and the Philosopher speaking as if out of one mouth." The Philosopher is Hermes, and the Stone is identical with Mercurius, the Latin Hermes. From the earliest times, Hermes was the mystagogue and psycho pomp of the alchemists, their friend and counsellor, who leads them to the goal of their work. He is "like a teacher mediating between the stone and the disciple." To others the friend appears in the shape of Christ or Khidr or a visible or invisible guru, or some other personal guide or leader figure. In this case the colloquy is distinctly one-sided: there is no inner dialogue, but instead the response appears as the action of the other, i.e., as an outward event. The alchemists saw it in the transformation of the chemical substance. So if one of them sought transformation, he discovered it outside in matter, whose transformation cried out to him, as it were, "I am the transformation!" But some were clever enough to know, "It is my own transformation—not a personal transformation, but the transformation of what is mortal in me into what is immortal. It shakes off the mortal husk that I am and awakens to a life of its own; it mounts the sun-barge and may take me with it."
This is a very ancient idea. In Upper Egypt, near Aswan, I once saw an ancient Egyptian tomb that had just been opened. Just behind the entrance-door was a little basket made of reeds, containing the withered body of a new-born infant, wrapped in rags. Evidently the wife of one of the workmen had hastily laid the body of her dead child in the nobleman's tomb at the last moment, hoping that, when he entered the sun-barge in order to rise anew, it might share in his salvation, because it had been buried in the holy precinct within reach of divine grace.
3. A Typical Set of Symbols Illustrating The Process of Transformation
I have chosen as an example a figure which plays a great role in Islamic mysticism, namely Khidr, "the Verdant One." He appears in the Eighteenth Sura of the Koran, entitled "The Cave." This entire Sura is taken up with a rebirth mystery. The cave is the place of rebirth, that secret cavity in which one is shut up in order to be incubated and renewed. The Koran says of it: "You might have seen the rising sun decline to the right of their cavern, and as it set, go past them on the left, while they [the Seven Sleepers] stayed in the middle." The "middle" is the centre where the jewel reposes, where the incubation or the sacrificial rite or the transformation takes place. The most beautiful development of this symbolism is to be found on Mithraic altarpieces and in alchemical pictures of the transformative substance, which is always shown between sun and moon. Representations of the crucifixion frequently follow the same type, and a similar symbolical arrangement is also found in the transformation or healing ceremonies of the Navahos. Just such a place of the centre or of transformation is the cave in which those seven had gone to sleep, little thinking that they would experience there a prolongation of life verging on immortality. When they awoke, they had slept 309 years.
The legend has the following meaning: Anyone who gets into that cave, that is to say into the cave which everyone has in himself, or into the darkness that lies behind consciousness, will find himself involved in an—at first—unconscious process of transformation. By penetrating into the unconscious he makes a connection with his unconscious contents. This may result in a momentous change of personality in the positive or negative sense. The transformation is often interpreted as a prolongation of the natural span of life or as an earnest of immortality. The former is the case with many alchemists, notably Paracelsus (in his treatise De vita longa), and the latter is exemplified in the Eleusinian mysteries
Those seven sleepers indicate by their sacred number that they are gods, who are transformed during sleep and thereby enjoy eternal youth. This helps us to understand at the outset that we are dealing with a mystery legend. The fate of the numinous figures recorded in it grips the hearer, because the story gives expression to parallel processes in his own unconscious which in that way are integrated with consciousness again. The repristination of the original state is tantamount to attaining once more the freshness of youth.
The story of the sleepers is followed by some moral observations which appear to have no connection with it. But this apparent irrelevance is deceptive. In reality, these edifying comments are just what are needed by those who cannot be reborn themselves and have to be content with moral conduct, that is to say with adherence to the law. Very often behaviour prescribed by rule is a substitute for spiritual transformation. These edifying observations are then followed by the story of Moses and his servant Joshua ben Nun:
And Moses said to his servant: "I will not cease from my wanderings
until I have reached the place where the two seas meet, even though I
journey for eighty years."
But when they had reached the place where the two seas meet, they
forgot their fish, and it took its way through a stream to the sea.
And when they had journeyed past this place, Moses said to his servant:
"Bring us our breakfast, for we are weary from this journey."
But the other replied: "See what has befallen me! When we were resting
there by the rock, I forgot the fish. Only Satan can have put it out of my
mind, and in wondrous fashion it took its way to the sea."
Then Moses said: "That is the place we seek." And they went back the
way they had come. And they found one of Our servants, whom We had
endowed with Our grace and Our wisdom. Moses said to him: "Shall I
follow you, that you may teach me for my guidance some of the wisdom
you have learnt?"
But he answered: "You will not bear with me, for how should you bear
patiently with things you cannot comprehend?"
Moses said: "If Allah wills, you shall find me patient; I shall not in
anything disobey you."
He said: "If you are bent on following me, you must ask no question
about anything till I myself speak to you concerning it."
The two set forth, but as soon as they embarked, Moses' companion
bored a hole in the bottom of the ship.
"A strange thing you have done!" exclaimed Moses. "Is it to drown her
passengers that you have bored a hole in her?"
"Did I not tell you," he replied, "that you would not bear with me?"
"Pardon my forgetfulness," said Moses. "Do not be angry with me on
They journeyed on until they fell in with a certain youth. Moses'
companion slew him, and Moses said: "You have killed an innocent
man who has done no harm. Surely you have committed a wicked
"Did I not tell you," he replied, "that you would not bear with me?"
Moses said: "If ever I question you again, abandon me; for then I
should deserve it."
They travelled on until they came to a certain city. They asked the
people for some food, but the people declined to receive them as their
guests. There they found a wall on the point of falling down. The other
raised it up, and Moses said: "Had you wished, you could have
demanded payment for your labours."
"Now the time has arrived when we must part," said the other.
"But first I will explain to you those acts of mine which you could not
bear with in patience.
"Know that the ship belonged to some poor fishermen. I damaged it
because in their rear was a king who was taking every ship by force.
"As for the youth, his parents both are true believers, and we feared
lest he should plague them with his wickedness and unbelieL It was our
wish that their Lord should grant them another in his place, a son more
righteous and more filial.
"As for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city whose
father was an honest man. Beneath it their treasure is buried. Your Lord
decreed in His mercy that they should dig out their treasure when they
grew to manhood. What I did was not done by caprice. That is the
meaning of the things you could not bear with in patience."
This story is an amplification and elucidation of the legend of the seven sleepers and the problem of rebirth. Moses is the man who seeks, the man on the "quest." On this pilgrimage he is accompanied by his "shadow," the "servant" or "lower" man (Pneumatikos and sarkikos in two individuals). Joshua is the son of Nun, which is a name for "fish," suggesting that Joshua had his origin in the depths of the waters, in the darkness of the shadow-world. The critical place is reached "where the two seas meet," which is interpreted as the isthmus of Suez, where the Western and the Eastern seas come close together. In other words, it is that "place of the middle" which we have already met in the symbolic preamble, but whose significance was not recognized at first by the man and his shadow. They had "forgotten their fish," the humble source of nourishment. The fish refers to Nun, the father of the shadow, of the carnal man, who comes from the dark world of the Creator. For the fish came alive again and leapt out of the basket in order to find its way back to its homeland, the sea. In other words, the animal ancestor and creator of life separates himself from the conscious man, an event which amounts to loss of the instinctive psyche. This process is a symptom of dissociation well known in the psychopathology of the neuroses; it is always connected with one-sidedness of the conscious attitude. In view of the fact, however, that neurotic phenomena are nothing but exaggerations of normal processes, it is not to be wondered at that very similar phenomena can also be found within the scope of the normal. It is a question of that well-known "loss of soul" among primitives, as described above in the section on diminution of the personality; in scientific language, an abaissement du niveau mental.
Moses and his servant soon notice what has happened. Moses had sat down, "worn out" and hungry. Evidently he had a feeling of insufficiency, for which a physiological explanation is given. Fatigue is one of the most regular symptoms of loss of energy or libido. The entire process represents something very typical, namely the failure to recognize a moment of crucial importance, a motif which we encounter in a great variety of mythical forms. Moses realizes that he has unconsciously found the source of life and then lost it again, which we might well regard as a remarkable intuition. The fish they had intended to eat is a content of the unconscious, by which the connection with the origin is re-established. He is the reborn one, who has awakened to new life. This came to pass, as the commentaries say, through the contact with the water of life: by slipping back into the sea, the fish once more becomes a content of the unconscious, and its offspring are distinguished by having only one eye and half a head.
The alchemists, too, speak of a strange fish in the sea, the "round fish lacking bones and skin," which symbolizes the "round element," the germ of the "animate stone," of the filius philosophorum. The water of life has its parallel in the aqua permanens of alchemy. This water is extolled as "vivifying," besides which it has the property of dissolving all solids and coagulating all liquids. The Koran commentaries state that, on the spot where the fish disappeared, the sea was turned to solid ground, whereon the tracks of the fish could still be seen. On the island thus formed Khidr was sitting, in the place of the middle. A mystical interpretation says that he was sitting "on a throne consisting of light, between the upper and the lower sea," again in the middle position. The appearance of Khidr seems to be mysteriously connected with the disappearance of the fish. It looks almost as if he himself had been the fish. This conjecture is supported by the fact that the commentaries relegate the source of life to the "place of darkness." The depths of the sea are dark (mare tenebrositatis). The darkness has its parallel in the alchemical nigredo, which occurs after the coniunctio, when the female takes the male into herself. From the nigredo issues the Stone, the symbol of the immortal self; moreover, its first appearance is likened to "fish eyes."
Khidr may well be a symbol of the self. His qualities signalize him as such: he is said to have been born in a cave, Le., in darkness. He is the "Long-lived One," who continually renews himself, like Elijah. Like Osiris, he is dismembered at the end of time, by Antichrist, but is able to restore himself to life. He is analogous to the Second Adam, with whom the reanimated fish is identified; 17 he is a counsellor, a Paraclete, "Brother Khidr." Anyway Moses accepts him as a higher consciousness and looks up to him for instruction. Then follow those incomprehensible deeds which show how ego-consciousness reacts to the superior guidance of the self through the twists and turns of fate. To the initiate who is capable of transformation it is a comforting tale; to the obedient believer, an exhortation not to murmur against Allah's incomprehensible omnipotence. Khidr symbolizes not only the higher wisdom but also a way of acting which is in accord with this wisdom and transcends reason.
Anyone hearing such a mystery tale will recognize himself in the questing Moses and the forgetful Joshua, and the tale shows him how the immortality-bringing rebirth comes about. Characteristically, it is neither Moses nor Joshua who is transformed, but the forgotten fish. Where the fish disappears, there is the birthplace of Khidr. The immortal being issues from something humble and forgotten, indeed, from a wholly improbable source. This is the familiar motif of the hero's birth and need not be documented here. Anyone who knows the Bible will think of Isaiah 53:2ff., where the "servant of God" is described, and of the gospel stories of the Nativity. The nourishing character of the transformative substance or deity is borne out by numerous cult-legends: Christ is the bread, Os iris the wheat, Mondamin the maize, etc. These symbols coincide with a psychic fact which obviously, from the point of view of consciousness, has the significance merely of something to be assimilated, but whose real nature is overlooked. The fish symbol shows immediately what this is: it is the "nourishing" influence of unconscious contents, which maintain the vitality of consciousness by a continual influx of energy; for consciousness does not produce its energy by itself. What is capable of transformation is just this root of consciousness, which—inconspicuous and almost invisible (i.e., unconscious) though it is—provides consciousness with all its energy. Since the unconscious gives us the feeling that it is something alien, a non-ego, it is quite natural that it should be symbolized by an alien figure. Thus, on the one hand, it is the most insignificant of things, while on the other, so far as it potentially contains that "round" wholeness which consciousness lacks, it is the most significant of all. This "round" thing is the great treasure that lies hidden in the cave of the unconscious, and its personification is this personal being who represents the higher unity of conscious and unconscious. It is a figure comparable to Hiranyagarbha, Purusha, Atman, and the mystic Buddha. For this reason I have elected to call it the "self," by which I understand a psychic totality and at the same time a centre, neither of which coincides with the ego but includes it, just as a larger circle encloses a smaller one.
The intuition of immortality which makes itself felt during the transformation is connected with the peculiar nature of the unconscious. It is, in a sense, non-spatial and non-temporal. The empirical proof of this is the occurrence of so-called telepathic phenomena, which are still denied by hypersceptical critics, although in reality they are much more common than is generally supposed. The feeling of immortality, it seems to me, has its origin in a peculiar feeling of extension in space and time, and I am inclined to regard the deification rites in the mysteries as a projection of this same psychic phenomenon.
The character of the self as a personality comes out very plainly in the Khidr legend. This feature is most strikingly expressed in the non-Koranic stories about Khidr, of which Vollers gives some telling examples. During my trip through Kenya, the headman of our safari was a Somali who had been brought up in the Sufi faith. To him Khidr was in every way a living person, and he assured me that I,might at any time meet Khidr, because I was, as he put it, a M'tu-ya-kitabu, a 'man of the Book,' meaning the Koran. He had gathered from our talks that I knew the Koran better than he did himself (which was, by the way, not saying a great deal). For this reason he regarded me as "islamu." He told me I might meet Khidr in the street in the shape of a man, or he might appear to me during the night as a pure white light, or—he smilingly picked a blade of grass—the Verdant One might even look like that. He said he himself had once been comforted and helped by Khidr, when he could not find a job after the war and was suffering want. One 'night, while he slept, he dreamt he saw a bright white light near the door and he knew it was Khidr. Quickly leaping to his feet (in the dream), he reverentially saluted him with the words salem aleikum, 'peace be with you,' and then he knew that his wish would be fulfilled. He added that a few days later he was offered the post as headman of a safari by a firm of outfitters in Nairobi.
This shows that, even in our own day, Khidr still lives on in the religion of the people, as friend, adviser, comforter, and teacher of revealed wisdom. The position assigned to him by dogma was, according to my Somali, that of maleika kwanza-yamungu, 'First Angel of God'—a sort of "Angel of the Face," an angelos in the true sense of the word, a messenger. Khidr's character as a friend explains the subsequent part of the Eighteenth Sura, which reads as follows: They will ask you about Dhulqarnein. Say: "I will give you an account of him. "We made him mighty in the land and gave him means to achieve all things. He journeyed on a certain road until he reached the West and saw the sun setting in a pool of black mud. Hard by he found a certain people.
'Dhulqarnein,' We said, 'you must either punish them or show them
"He replied: 'The wicked We shall surely punish. Then they shall return
to their Lord and be sternly punished by Him. As for those that have faith
and do good works, we shall bestow on them a rich reward and deal
indulgently with them.'
"He then journeyed along another road until he reached the East and saw
the sun rising upon a people whom We had utterly exposed to its flaming
rays. So he did; and We had full knowledge of all the forces at his
"Then he followed yet another route until he came between the Two
Mountains and found a people who could barely understand a word.
'Dhulqarnein: they said, 'Gag and Magog are ravaging this land. Build us a
rampart against them and we will pay you tribute.'
"He replied: 'The power which my Lord has given me is better than any
tribute. Lend me a force of labourers, and I will raise a rampart between
you and them. Come, bring me blocks of iron.' "He dammed up the valley
between the Two Mountains, and said: 'Ply your bellows.' And when the
iron blocks were red with heat, he said: 'Bring me molten brass to pour on
"Gag and Magog could not scale it, nor could they dig their way through
it. He said: 'This is a blessing from my Lord. But when my Lord's promise
is fulfilled, He will level it to dust. The promise of my Lord is true.' "
On that day We will let them come in tumultuous throngs. The Trumpet
shall be sounded and We will gather them all together.
On that day Hell shall be laid bare before the unbelievers, who
have .turned a blind eye to My admonition and a deaf ear to My warning.
We see here another instance of that lack of coherence which is not uncommon in the Koran. How are we to account for this apparently abrupt transition to Dhulqarnein, the Two-horned One, that is to say, Alexander the Great? Apart from the unheard-of anachronism (Mohammed's chronology in general leaves much to be desired), one does not quite understand why Alexander is brought in here at all. But it has to be borne in mind that Khidr and Dhulqarnein are the great pair of friends, altogether comparable to the Dioscuri, as Vollers rightly emphasizes. The psychological connection may therefore be presumed to be as follows: Moses has had a profoundly moving experience of the self, which brought unconscious processes before his eyes with overwhelming clarity. Afterwards, when he comes to his people, the Jews, who are counted among the infidels, and wants to tell them about his experience, he prefers to use the form of a mystery legend. Instead of speaking about himself, he speaks about the Two-horned One. Since Moses himself is also "horned," the substitution of Dhulqarnein appears plausible. Then he has to relate the history of this friendship and describe how Khidr helped his friend. Dhulqarnein makes his way to the setting of the sun and then to its rising. That is, he describes the way of the renewal of the sun, through death and darkness to a new resurrection. All this again indicates that it is Khidr who not only stands by man in his bodily needs but also helps him to attain rebirth. The Koran, it is true, makes no distinction in this narrative between Allah, who is speaking in the first person plural, and Khidr. But it is clear that this section is simply a continuation of the helpful actions described previously, from which it is evident that Khidr is a symbolization or "incarnation" of Allah. The friendship between Khidr and Alexander plays an especially prominent part in the commentaries, as does also the connection with the prophet Eli jah. Vollers does not hesitate to extend the comparison to that other pair of friends, Gilgamesh and Enkidu.
To sum up, then: Moses has to recount the deeds of the two friends to his people in the manner of an impersonal mystery legend. Psychologically this means that the transformation has to be described or felt as happening to the "other." Although it is Moses himself who, in his experience with Khidr, stands in Dhulqarnein's place, he has to name the latter instead of himself in telling the story. This can hardly be accidental, for the great psychic danger which is always connected with individuation, or the development of the self, lies in the identification of ego-consciousness with the self. This produces an inflation which threatens consciousness with dissolution. All the more primitive or older cultures show a fine sense for the "perils of the soul" and for the dangerousness and general unreliability of the gods. That is, they have not yet lost their psychic instinct for the barely perceptible and yet vital processes going on in the background, which can hardly be said of our modern culture. To be sure, we have before our eyes as a warning just such a pair of friends distorted by inflation—Nietzsche and Zarathustra—but the warning has not been heeded. And what are we to make of Faust and Mephistopheles? The Faustian hybris is already the first step towards madness. The fact that the unimpressive beginning of the transformation in Faust is a dog and not an edible fish, and that the transformed figure is the devil and not a wise friend, "endowed with Our grace and Our wisdom," might, I am inclined to think, offer a key to our understanding of the highly enigmatic Germanic soul.
Without entering into other details of the text, I would like to draw attention to one more point: the building of the rampart against Gog and Magog (also known as Yajuj and Majuj). This motif is a repetition of Khidr's last deed in the previous episode, the rebuilding of the town wall. But this time the wall is to be a strong defence against Gog and Magog. The passage may possibly refer to Revelation 20:7f. (AV):
Here Dhulqarnein takes over the role of Khidr and builds an unscalable rampart for an unscalable rampart for the people living "between Two Mountains." This is obviously the same place in the middle which is to be protected against Gog and Magog, the featureless, hostile masses. Psychologically, it is again a question of the self, enthroned in the place of the middle, and referred to in Revelation as the beloved city (Jerusalem, the centre of the earth). The self is the hero, threatened already at birth by envious collective forces; the jewel that is coveted by all and arouses jealous strife; and finally the god who is dismembered by the old, evil power of darkness. In its psychological meaning, individuation is an opus contra naturam, which creates a horror vacui in the collective layer and is only too likely to collapse under the impact of the collective forces of the psyche. The mystery legend of the two helpful friends promises protection to him who has found the jewel on his quest. But there will come a time when, in accordance with Allah's providence, even the iron rampart will fall to pieces, namely, on the day when the world comes to an end, or psychologically speaking, when individual consciousness is extinguished in the waters of darkness, that is to say when a subjective end of the world is experienced. By this is meant the moment when consciousness sinks back into the darkness from which it originally emerged, like Khidr's island: the moment of death.
The legend then continues along eschatological lines: on that day (the day of the Last Judgment) the light returns to eternallight and the darkness to eternal darkness. The opposites are separated and a timeless state of permanence sets in, which, because of the absolute separation of opposites, is nevertheless one 'of supreme tension and therefore corresponds to the improbable initial state. This is in contrast to the view which sees the end as a complexio oppositorum.
With this prospect of eternity, Paradise, and Hell the Eighteenth Sura comes to an end. In spite of its apparently disconnected and allusive character, it gives an almost perfect picture of a psychic transformation or rebirth which today, with our greater psychological insight, we would recognize as an individuation process. Because of the great age of the legend and the Islamic prophet's primitive cast of mind, the process takes place entirely outside the sphere of consciousness and is projected in the form of a mystery legend of a friend or a pair of friends and the deeds they perform. That is why it is all so allusive and lacking in logical sequence. Nevertheless, the legend expresses the obscure archetype of transformation so admirably that the passionate religious eros of the Arab finds it completely satisfying. It is for this reason that the figure of Khidr plays such an important part in Islamic mysticism.