Archangel Michael: triumph of consciousness over the unconscious

Nicholas Roerich fight-with the dragon- 1912. US Public Domain
Nicholas Roerich fight-with the dragon- 1912. US Public Domain

This above image is a picture of a fresco painted at San Pietro al Monte. The fresco illustrates the  Apocalypse, Chapter 12. In the middle we see Christ in Majesty, surrounded by a halo of light.  Underneath Christ we see a rather large dragon. The fight against the monster is led by the Archangel Michael.[1]

Apocalypse, Chapter 12

12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”[a] And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have come the salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
    who accuses them before our God day and night,
    has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
    and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
    because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
    because he knows that his time is short.”

13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.

In this depiction, Archangel Michael may be seen as an image of the spiritual Hero. The dragon may be seen as a shadow figure, as the ‘the monster of darkness’. On this topic, Carl Jung says:

“The hero’s main feat is to overcome the monster of darkness: it is the long-hoped-for and expected triumph of consciousness over the unconscious. Day and light are synonyms for consciousness, night and dark for the unconscious. The coming of consciousness was probably the most tremendous experience of primeval times, for with it a world came into being whose existence no one had suspected before. “And God said: ‘Let there be light!’ ” is the projection of that immemorial experience of the separation of the conscious from the unconscious.” (Carl Jung, CW 9i, para. 283)

In terms of enlightenment, consciousness, as awareness and spiritual knowledge must win the battle over darkness and ignorance.



  1.  Alchemical Studies (CW 13) by Carl Jung
  2. The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C.G. Jung Vol.9 Part 1)




  1.  The Fight with the Dragon at the The Web Art Gallery

4 thoughts on “Archangel Michael: triumph of consciousness over the unconscious

  1. It seems like there’s a point of union in the body, in the parasympathetic nervous system. We don’t have to will ourselves to breathe, but we can take control of breath when we need to. What was unconscious becomes conscious. I can see why breathing is such a major point of meditation throughout various disciplines.

    So I think that hero’s triumph probably can’t lead to the banishment of the unconscious, but re-union/re-integration. Or the hero becomes the force the next generation has to liberate the truth from…

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You have offered a good insight. Everything in Carl Jung’s work is a dialectic. We look at something from one perspective and then from another, until we discover the coincidentia oppositorum (unity of opposites). So from one perspective humanity is seeking the “triumph of consciousness over the unconscious.” From another perspective we are seeking integration of the conscious and unconscious. This is ‘the Self’: the unity of opposites within. If you follow the blog we will get there eventually. We have to fully understand one perspective before we can integrate the other perspective. Happy to have you with me on this dialectical journey of the soul.

  2. Self – Know(er) or Consciousness or ‘I’ness is always present and the Subject that really exists.All objects (intellect, mind, body, reality) resonate in and out of existence over the foundation offered by Subject. The process of ones own identification with objects creates this separateness. The moment discovery the real I within, the identification directly leads to union with foundation of reality : Consciousness. Ancients have separation / union called this as play of Divine consciousness. Though it always exists very very very few really know its existence and live with it, rest gets entangled in various objects Glad to know this blog as it points to immanence. Good work, please keep it up 🙂 AUM!

    1. Aum ghanesh! Thank you for writing. I enjoyed your thoughts, and particularly your thought on the “play of Divine consciousness.” I have been contemplating your words with the hopes of writing something about “Lila- divine play”. But I have not yet found a way to express my thoughts in Jungian terms. I am thinking that ‘the divine play of consciousness’ is represented in syzygy images, such as the yab yum. And indeed, it is one of the rarest of archetypal gems! Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

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