The coniunctio

An engraving from Michael Maier's Symbola Aureae Mensae (1617) we see Albertus Magnus pointing to an alchemical androgyne holding the letter Y. Zola (42) explains, "The Y is, as Philo taught, the symbol of the Word which pierces the essence of being. The Nassine Gnostics taught that it represented the intimate nature of being, which is male and female and, as such, eternal." from wikimedia. US Public Domian.
An engraving from Michael Maier’s Symbola Aureae Mensae (1617) we see Albertus Magnus pointing to an alchemical androgyne holding the letter Y. Zola (42) from wikimedia. US Public Domian.

The archetypal themes of the coniunctio appear in Gnostic engravings. The image above is from Michael Maier’s Symbola Aureae Mensae (1617). Here we see a representation of the coniunctio as the alchemical androgyne holding a letter ‘Y’. Zola (42) explains:

“The Y is, as Philo taught, the symbol of the Word which pierces the essence of being. The Nassine Gnostics taught that it represented the intimate nature of being, which is male and female and, as such, eternal.”

Carl Jung’s focused on understanding the archetypes in relation to psychical processes. For him, the coniunctio represented the dynamic poles of ‘conscious and unconscious processes.’ Jung understood the Self to be a synthesis of these dynamic poles. Jung was quite clear that the archetypes predate psychology, and that psychology makes use of these ancient motifs. Jung says:

“the Church severed the coniunctio from the physical realm altogether, and natural philosophy turned it into an abstract theoria. These developments meant the gradual transformation of the archetype into a psychological process which, in theory, we can call a combination of conscious and unconscious processes. (Carl Jung, CW 9i, para. 295, emphasis added)

In a discussing of the coniunctio in relationship to hermaphrodite images, Carl Jung speaks of an obscure quotation from the Gospel of the second Clement. It is quite similar to the passage from the Gospel of Thomas. It reads:

“When the two shall be one, the outside as the inside, and the male with the female neither male nor female.” (cited by Carl Jung, CW 9i, para. 295)

A passage from the Gospel of Thomas in the Nag Hammadi Library reads:

Jesus said to them, “When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female.”

Self-realization entails the process of making ‘the two one.’ The Self is a synthesis of the inside and the outside, the above and below, the male and the female, the conscious and unconscious. In Self-realization, all dualities are over come through the unification of the individual and supreme Self.

 

 

Reference:

The Gnostic Society Library, The Nag Hammadi Library, The Gospel of Thomas

Jung, C. G., The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious – CW 9i  (1934–1954) (1981 2nd ed. Collected Works Vol.9 Part 1), Princeton, N.J.: Bollingen.

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