Art from Dreams

Mother by Susan Levin- 2014. In Art from Dreams: My Jungian Journey in Collage, Assemblage and Poetry
Mother by Susan Levin- 2014. In Art from Dreams: My Jungian Journey in Collage, Assemblage and Poetry

“Instincts can malfunction
become defective, deficient, half-baked
There should be a recipe for motherhood
Exact measurement
The precise amount of ingredients
Or else sweets for no one”
~ Susan Levin

The unconscious, like an artist, takes in discards and fragments of experience. The unconscious digests and cooks these fragments and produces dreams from them. In what may be our deepest soul’s instinct, we take in the raw ingredients of experience and we begin to cook them, to symbolize them, dream them, transform them. The uncooked stuff of life may become ‘symbols of transformation’  (Carl Jung, CW5). Our minds and our souls need the raw stuff of real life, we need the as yet undreamed, the fragmented bits of life and truth, to nourish our souls. The fragments may become the very ingredients of the soul’s transformation.

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Theotokos: Paradox of the Tree of Death & Life

 Berthold Furtmeyr, Mediaval miniature by Berthold Furtmeyer: Baum des Todes und des Lebens, Tree of death and life- 1481
Berthold Furtmeyer: Baum des Todes und des Lebens, Tree of Death and Life– c. 1481. US public domain via wikimedia
There is a archetypal relation between the God, Self, and trees.

Jung calls the tree of life a “mother symbol” (CW 5, para 321). In the image above, we see Furtmeyer’s Tree of Death and Life. This image represents the paradox inherent in the tree as mother symbol. Anne Baring describes the scene of the image:

“The faces of the two women are identical, and their heads incline away from the central point of the tree in antithetical relationship: Eve, predictably naked, offering to humanity the apple of death, which she is passing on from the serpent; and Mary, predictably clothed, offering the redeeming apple of life. The position of the serpent arising from the not-to-be seen phallus of Adam is presumably less than coincidental. On Eve’s side of the tree lies the grinning skull, while Death waits for her on the right, and on Mary’s side of the tree – the Life side – the cross with the crucified Christ poised as on a branch, himself the fruit of her miraculously intact womb.”

This image is especially significant in that it is not only a “mother symbol”, but shows the profound paradox within the mother image. We here see a duality in the archetypal Mother. Here is Eve as the mother of our fallen state and here is Mary as the mother of redemption. Eve offers the fruit of death; Mary offers the fruit of redemption.

The fruit of redemption is Christ. Carl Jung understands that Christ is an image of the Self. Christ is an image of a re-birth into symbolic life, into life oriented toward Self. Jung says:

“Christ’s redemptive death on the cross was understood as a “baptism,” that is to say, as rebirth through the second mother, symbolized by the tree of death… The dual-mother motif suggests the idea of a dual birth. One of the mothers is the real, human mother, the other is the symbolical mother” (CW 5 para 494-495, emphasis added).

References:

The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image By Anne Baring, Jules Cashford

Symbols of Transformation (CW5) by Carl G. Jung (in US Pubic Domain, first published 1912)

 

Mother World: splitting, integration & evolution in the mother archetype

Whore of Babylon, Russian engraving, 19th Century, US Public Domain
Whore of Babylon, Russian engraving, 19th Century, US Public Domain

Recently, I have been writing on the aims and instincts of the human soul. Carl Jung speaks of the human soul’s “longing to attain rebirth through a return to the womb, and to become immortal like the sun” (CW5, para. 312). In biblical terms, rebirth is associated with entrance into Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the holy city, an image of the divine mother.

Jung says, “the Old Testament treats the cities of Jerusalem, Babylon, etc. just as if they were women” (para 303). While Jerusalem is an image of the holy mother, Babylon is the unholy mother. In Jung’s words: “Babylon is the symbol of the Terrible Mother” (Jung, para 315). In Revelation 17 it is written:

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Lady of the Sycamore: feeding from a sacred tree

Tomb of Thutmosis III, Scene: The King is fed from the Holy Tree–Lady of the sycamore. circa 1500-1450 bce. US Public Domain, Wikimedia
Tomb of Thutmosis III, Scene: The King is fed from the Holy Tree–Lady of the sycamore. circa 1500-1450 bce. US Public Domain, Wikimedia

The above image is from the Tomb of Thutmosis III, c. 1450-1500 BCE. It is called ‘The King is fed from the Holy Tree’ (US Public Domain via wikimedia).

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Divine Union: creative force & origin

Mural depicting the Shiva lingam in base from the Mehrangarh Fort Palace in Jodhpu. Creative Commons via Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
Shiva lingam in base from a mural at the Mehrangarh Fort Palace in Jodhpu. Creative Commons via Jean-Pierre Dalbéra.
In Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung explores the dynamic relation between the masculine and feminine poles of the psyche. This relation is revealed in images of “sacred cohabitation”. One such image is the Lingam and Yoni. Jung says:

“The motif of continuous cohabitation is expressed in the well-known lingam symbol found everywhere in Indian temples: the base is a female symbol, and within it stands the phallus.”

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