Catafalque: Carl Jung and the End Of Humanity by Peter Kingsley

Michelangelo's Catafalque, Codex Resta, from 1564.

May 13, 2019 | Gregory Sova

Thanks for this book review of Catafalque.

I read Catafalque a few months ago. Wonderful book that helps put certain things about Jung into a new light and grants him a status that he most certainly was fated to have to carry by the psyche.

The Book of Genesis is said to have been written between the 6th and 5th centuries BC – right around the time of Parmenides. I bring this up for discussion because by the time of Plato a century or two later the Eros aspect of Parmenides cited in Catafalque is overtaken by the Logos or the rational spirit versus the irrational spirit of the depths.

A similar crisis at a similar time occurred in the Hebrew bible story of Cain and Abel. Abel’s sacrifice to Yahweh rose up into the sky (Logos/rational/masculine) while Cain’s smothered the earth (Eros/irrational/feminine). And yet Abel’s sacrifice won Yahweh’s approval – as if to say Logos consciousness will be integrated first – the ability to reason and be reasonable. The proper psychological sequence was chosen by the psyche some 2500 years ago and began in earnest with the Christ event when the Book of Revelation was written – documenting a vast separatio – a splitting apart of the opposites of Logos and Eros.

We are now at the time of the Catafalque as Dr. Johnston properly characterizes Peter Kingsley’s book – it’s a return to the scene of the crime and now Eros ego functioning needs to be integrated and from my experience that means entering the cave, the womb of the feminine, and be still. Be open to any image that may arise in such a mediation and learn from the Wisdom of the goddess.

For some reason I had the impression when reading Catafalque that Kingsley felt the abandonment of the Eros aspect of Parmenides experience of the psyche was a mistake. For the above reason I found I disagreed – not to mention a similar dynamic that later took place between Jacob and Esau; when the hairy man Esau had his birthright stolen by Jacob (a Logos man). Thus the hostile brothers were born and can be seen playing out on the world stage between West and East to this day (China - USA trade war; Russia - USA collusion gate). Back in the day it was the beginning of a necessary psychological sequence required for the eventual integration of the opposites staged by the unconscious. As Jung noted, “The imago-Dei pervades the entire human sphere and makes mankind its involuntary exponent.” CW 11, §660.

May 23, 2019 | Dr David Johnston

I know Greg Sova quite well, and actually lent him my copy of Catafalque to read. He has been very involved with Jung for many years and a theoretical physicist, keen on Pauli. Just last Saturday we discussed the Jacob and Esau story. Jacob was a herdsman and Esau a farmer, and the accepted sacrifice was of the animal and instinctual from Jacob. God accepted Jacob’s sacrifice but not Cain’s. That means there was a divorce from the earth and the earth goddess tradition. Jung’s general idea is that there needs to have been this separatio in order for more consciousness to develop. This developed further with Christianity, where the split from the animal and instinctual transpired, which you can see in von Franz’s The Passion of Perpetua. Christianity became a religion of Logos divorced from both the earth and the animal psyche. That encourages a kind of consciousness that today allows us to aspire to live on Mars!---although without a healthy relationship to the earth and the animal instincts, i.e. totally without Eros. Now we need to re-connect to Eros, and relatedness to the instincts and the earth. Eros comes with consciousness of a different sort. In Hindu tradition the Goddess represents Consciousness-Force. Psychologically, we could call it Consciousness-Life. Originally, Logos and Eros were united and Logos came with intelligent Life. During the time of Parmenides, Empedocles, Pythagoreans going back to Orpheus, there was no division between Logos and Eros, although no differentiation either. In the West, the division became radical. In India, there was also division but not so radical. One could argue, as Jung and von Franz seem to have argued, that that particular journey of civilization was ordained from on high, even the difference between the East and the West. But the question put to the reader by Greg is whether or not Kingsley saw it as a mistake. In my reading, he didn’t see it as a mistake at all, but he did seem to see it as something that needs to be redressed today. In all my reading of Kingsley’s books, I never get the impression that he sees Western history as a mistake, but he is keen for the reader to understand the true nature of its development and what was lost in the process. When a civilization is dead, there is a need to return to the source to understand what is essential for a healthy living civilization. At the beginning, Logos was joined with Eros and defined through vision. There was a mythico-symbolic world, which, in the West, devolved into intuitive reason still in relationship with the gods, then reason without the gods, in our time, theoretical scientific reason and, finally, applied reason, divorced from any higher principle. Logos, as it is understood today in the West, is rational and intellectual. In India, with its relatively more intuitive and spiritual bias, the primary scriptures are known as the Vedas and the early Upanishads, where life was originally lived according to mythico-symbolic images, norms and values. After the Vedas and early Upanishads, there was a degeneration of culture as people lived more ethically than symbolically, eventually through reason and, finally, today, conventionally. During the time of the Veda’s, several potent symbols were acknowledged that guided people’s lives. Amongst them were the cow and the horse, where the cow symbolizes Light and Consciousness, and the horse, dynamic energy that, by speed, gives form to Light. At the beginning, during the Veda’s and early Upanishads, the cow and the horse were both considered sacred and symbolically conjoined. Eventually, close to the time of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, in the West, the horse disappeared from the sacred field of life and the cow remained. This divorce of the horse from the sacred equation coincided with spiritual and religious life in India that moves toward the Transcendent and the experience of Consciousness and Light. The dynamic energy and spiritual transformation of life, typically, is not considered viable. The major exception to the status quo is the path of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, who encourage a return to the truth of the early scriptures, a symbolic understanding of life, and a conjoined symbolic cow and horse to enhance the psychic and spiritual transformation of life. Whereas the Word (Logos) in the West became increasingly intellectualised, in India, the Word (Shabda) became divided and the sacredness of the earth and the earth goddess, along with the dynamic nature of life became devalued.

May 28, 2019 | Glenn Beauvais

I have not read Kingsley's book yet since I have been on a long reading journey for many months that began with an essay from Dr Johnston's book Prophets in out Midst called J.R.R Tolkien's Prophetic Voice and the Mythical Psyche. This in turn impelled me to delve eagerly into Tolkien, a writer who had remained quite mysterious to me, and this was a very rewarding part of the journey. It included his biography, as well as his letters and a book on his experiences in the First World War. Embarking on the battlefields of France, one of his dear friends from the TCBS (their discussion group called the Tea Club and Barrovian Society) told him to keep reading The Mabinogion and all would be well.

Half way through The Mabinogion was the Welsh version of Perceval - this once more branched into the Grail legend and the very good book by Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz - a subject, like Tolkien, that I have known should be studied, containing many precious nuggets. And inevitably, in a way, this lead right back to Jung and alchemy.

For me, these months have been much as Jung describes in a letter (28 February 1932):

"Faust is the most recent pillar in that bridge of the spirit which spans the morass of world history, beginning with the Gilgamesh epic, the I Ching, the Upanishads, the Tao-te-Ching, the fragments of Heraclitus, and continuing in the Gospel of St. John, the letters of St. Paul, in Meister Eckhart and in Dante."

Before getting into Mysterium Coniunctionis, then, I have been revisiting some key writings of Jung's, one of which is, I think, a key preparatory work: A Psychological Approach to the Trinity.

This is a bit of a long-winded introduction to a bit of a synchronicity for me - the following paragraph, which I think is very fitting for this discussion (par 261):

"The Pythagorean quaternity was a natural phenomenon, an archetypal image, but it was not yet a moral problem, let alone a divine drama. Therefore it "went underground." It was a purely naturalistic, intuitive idea born of the nature-bound mind. The gulf that Christianity opened out between nature and spirit enabled the human mind to think not only beyond nature but in opposition to it, thus demonstrating its divine freedom, so to speak. This flight from the darkness of nature's depths culminates in trinitarian thinking, which moves in a Platonic, "supracelestial" realm. But the question of the fourth. rightly or wrongly, remained. It stayed down "below," and from there threw up the heretical notion of the quaternity and the speculations of Hermetic philosophy."

417 views0 comments