This image is from the Aurora Consurgens. The Aurora Consurgens is an alchemical manuscript from the 15th century. The work has been attributed to Thomas Aquinas, although the true author is yet unknown. Aurora Consurgens is a Latin name which translates to “rising dawn.”
According to Carl Jung the hermaphrodite represents the union of opposites. Jung says that the hermaphrodite “has become a symbol of the creative union of opposites, a ‘uniting symbol’ in the literal sense.” (CW 9i, para. 292-4)
In this image, the female half of the hermaphrodite holds a bat and the male half holds a rabbit. in Jungian terms, the bat can be seen as emerging from the shadow and could represent shadow or spectral elements. The hare can be interpreted as an image of the helpful mother. (see Carl Jung, 9i, para. 157) The bat and hare oppose and contrast each other as the male and female halves do, even as they unite.
Notice also the eagle in the image. Jung speaks of the eagle as representing “the liberated soul.”(CW 12, para, 306). A union of opposites in the form of the Hermaphrodite is held and lifted by or transumed into an image of the “liberated soul” as Great Bird– an image of the Self.
Notice at the bottom of the image, in blue you will see what seems to be blue birds or, possibly, fish. Jung says that fish often symbolize the creative energy of the unconscious (CW 9I, para 248).
Footnote: I first published this post as “Breaking Dawn: the soul in the Aurora Consurgens.” Shortly after, I realized that Aurora Consurgens might best be translated as “Rising Dawn.” The Latin word Aurora translates to dawn, from the Roman goddess of dawn. The Latin word Consurgens is from cōnsurgēns meaning: ‘standing or rising up’, or even ‘ambushing.’ In this post we see the soul rising up through the coincidence of opposites.
- Carl G.Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Collected Works volume 9i.
- Carl G.Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, Collected Works volume 9i.
- Thomas Aquinas; Marie-Louise von Franz, Aurora Consurgens; A Document Attributed to Thomas Aquinas on the Problem of Opposites in Alchemy -1966