Carl Jung and a brief overview of Satan.


(although in the Zoroastrians belief, Ahuramazda and Ahriman both were respected in the same way.)

Hence very early, in Clement of Rome, we meet with the conception of Christ as the right hand and the devil as the left hand of God, not to speak of the Judaeo-Christian view which recognized two sons of God, Satan the elder and Christ the younger.

[Carl Jung and a brief overview of Satan.]


I do not wish to multiply examples needlessly, but only to make it clear that the figure of Satan, too, has undergone a curious development, from the time of his first undistinguished appearance in the Old Testament texts to his heyday in Christianity.

He achieved notoriety as the personification of the adversary or principle of evil, though by no means for the first time, as we meet him centuries earlier in the ancient Egyptian Set and the Persian Ahriman. Persian influences have been conjectured as mainly responsible for the Christian devil.

But the real reason for the differentiation of this figure lies in the conception of God as the summum bonum, which stands in sharp contrast to the Old Testament view and which, for reasons of psychic balance, inevitably requires the existence of a “lowest evil”. No logical reasons are needed for this, only the natural and unconscious striving for balance and symmetry.

Hence very early, in Clement of Rome, we meet with the conception of Christ as the right hand and the devil as the left hand of God, not to speak of the Judaeo-Christian view which recognized two sons of God, Satan the elder and Christ the younger.

The figure of the devil then rose to such exalted metaphysical heights that he had to be forcibly depotentiated, under the threatening influence of Manichaeism. The depotentiation was effected this time by rationalistic reflection, by a regular tour de force of sophistry which defined evil as a privatio boni.

But that did nothing to stop the belief from arising in many parts of Europe during the eleventh century, mainly under the influence of the Catharists, that it was not God but the devil who had created the world.

In this way, the archetype of the imperfect demiurge, who had enjoyed official recognition in Gnosticism, reappeared in altered guise. (The corresponding archetype is probably to be found in the cosmogonic jester of primitive peoples.)

With the extermination of the heretics that dragged on into the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, an uneasy calm ensued, but the Reformation thrust the figure of Satan once more into the foreground. I would only mention Jakob Bohme, who sketched a picture of evil which leaves the privatio boni pale by comparison.

The same can be said of Milton. He inhabits the same mental climate. As for Bohme, although he was not a direct descendant of alchemical philosophy, whose importance is still grossly underrated today, he certainly took over a number of its leading ideas, among them the specific recognition of Satan, who was exalted to a cosmic figure of first rank in Milton, even emancipating himself from his subordinate role as the left hand of God (the role assigned to him by Clement).

Milton goes even further than Bohme and apostrophizes the devil as the true principium individuation is, a concept which had been anticipated by the alchemists sometime before.

To mention only one example: (He rises from earth to heaven and descends again to earth, and receives into himself the power of above and below. Thus thou wilt have the glory of the whole world.) The quotation comes from the famous alchemical classic, the Tabula Smaragdina, attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, whose authority remained unchallenged for more than thirteen centuries of alchemical thought.

His words refer not to Satan, but to the filius philosophorum, whose symbolism, as I believe I have shown, coincides with that of the psychological “self.”

The “filius” of the alchemists is one of the numerous manifestations of Mercurius, who is called “duplex” and “ambiguous” and is also known outside alchemy as “capable of anything”. His “dark” half has an obvious affinity with Lucifer. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Forward to Werblowsky’s “Lucifer and Prometheus,” Pages 312-314, Paragraph 470.



6 thoughts on “Carl Jung and a brief overview of Satan.

  1. I guess the interest in such topics must remain purely historical. Or perhaps “should remain” is more pertinent. The problem is the mind must filter out what is not useful to it so that it can ficus on what is useful. I earlier days I may have attributed some importance to this historical information other than as a mere record. I n earlier days I may still have been influenced by my judeo christian upbringing. These days I tend to remain focused on what I find useful in my daily life and have abandoned “belief” in deities. I still find such articles of great historical interest but mostly prefer to spend my time on more modern and forward looking endeavors. Hence for instance I find reading about the nature of consciousness and scientific advance in all areas of greater concern and interest and more worthy of my attention than medieval and earlier church doctrine. Changing tastes over the decades perhaps. Or perhaps a sign of age – a need to hurry and concentrate on what I find important.

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      • It has, and I was not meaning to be rude, not at all. It merely prompted me to look at my own rather bizarre behavior in recent years. It suddenly struck home how my interests had changed and how difficult I now find it to spend time on things I do not find strictly in my field of interest. It is a failing on my part and not something I congratulate myself about. As regards religion however I will freely admit it has become something of a bugbear in recent years. So many GOOD thoughts over two thousand years largely wasted. So many nonsensical thoughts also of course but at heart I believe most Christians, Buddhists and so forth mean well. But in many thousands of years we humans have failed to improve and I don’t suppose this will change in the near future. Once again, my apologies if my tone or the content came across badly.

        Liked by 1 person

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