Zürich-trained Jungian analyst, author, and lecturer J. Gary Sparks discusses Vol. 7 of the Collected Works of Marie-Louise von Franz – Aurora Consurgens – A Document Attributed to Thomas Aquinas on the Problem of Opposites in Alchemy – A Companion Work to C.G. Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctionis with Laura London on Speaking of Jung.
Aurora Consurgens – A Document Attributed to Thomas Aquinas on the Problem of Opposites in Alchemy
A Companion Work to C.G. Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctionis
Aurora Consurgens, the rising sun, is a vision forged in the pseudo-Aristotelean tradition that became a cornerstone of medieval Church doctrine and the centerpiece of the Dominican and Franciscan traditions. While it’s authorship has been shrouded in mystery and controversy, Marie Louise von Franz furnishes ample evidence that this was a final work of Thomas Acquinas, a Doctor of the Church. His vision begins with an anima figure of the Sapentia Dei.
This medieval alchemical text is rich in symbolism and offers a glimpse into how unconscious contents can be understood through their interactions with the material world. Marie Louise von Franz places Aurora Consurgens squarely in the tradition of visionary spiritual writings similar to the visions of Hildegard von Bingen or John of Patmos. Aquinas’s visions and his final commentary on the Song of Songs appear to have been the result of a state of ecstasy into which he fell just before his death. Marie Louise von Franz excavates a psychological treasure from his work.
Niklaus Von Flüe And Saint Perpetua: A Psychological Interpretation of Their Visions
Volume 6 focuses on Saint Niklaus von Flüe, the patron saint of Switzerland, who was held in the highest esteem by both CG Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz. Jung even declared him the Patron Saint of Psychotherapy, due to the Saint’s deep inward reflections and profound experiences. His visions reportedly began while still in his mother’s womb and continued until his death. One of his later visions was a terrifying image of the face of God. Von Franz saw Niklaus as the shadow brother of Christ and wrote of him as the alchemical Anthropos, a universal man. His visions were an evolution of Christian mysticism.
Saint Perpetua was a young Christian woman put to death in 203 AD in the Roman arena at the age of 22. Her profound visions occurred days before her death. Von Franz penetrates these images, suggesting they were revelations of a new, Christian God-image breaking through from the collective unconscious into the animus of young Perpetua.
Marie-Louise von Franz is at her very best as she unravels the mysteries held within the visions of these two saints.
Volume 3 turns to the Maiden’s Quest within fairytales.
The maiden/heroine navigates a complicated maze of inner and outer relationships as she builds a bridge to the unconscious. The heroine contends with the animus in many forms like a devouring and incestuous father, demonic groom, the beautiful prince, an androgenous mother, a cold dark tower, and through conflict with the evil stepmother.
Dangers and pitfalls await her as the conscious feminine strives to make connections with the unconscious masculine. The maiden is the undeveloped feminine and the promised fruit of her struggle with the animus is the coniunctio. Volume 3 is a masterwork of cross-cultural scholarship, penetrating psychological insight, and a strikingly illuminating treatise. With her usual perspicacity and thoroughness, von Franz gathers countless fairytale motifs revealing a myriad of facets to the maiden’s quest.
Volume 2 – The Hero’s Journey is about the great adventure that leads to a cherished and difficult to obtain prize. In these fairytales, the Self is often symbolized as that treasured prize and the hero’s travails symbolize the process of individuation. In its many manifestations, the hero embodies the emerging personality. “In the conscious world, the hero is only one part of the personality—the despised part—and through his attachment to the Self in the unconscious is a symbol of the whole personality.”
Von Franz’s prodigious knowledge of fairytales from around the world demonstrates that the fairytale draws its root moisture from the collective realm. This volume continues where Volume 1 left off as von Franz describes the fairytale, “suspended between the divine and the secular worlds (…) creating a mysterious and pregnant tension that requires extreme power to withstand.” The resistance of the great mother against the hero and his humble origins, as well as the hero freeing the anima figure from the clutches of the unconscious are universal archetypal patterns. The spoils retrieved by the hero symbolize new levels of consciousness wrested from the unconscious.
Volume 1 – Fairytales, like myths, provide a cultural and societal backdrop that helps the human imagination narrate the meaning of life’s events. The remarkable similarities in fairytale motifs across different lands and cultures inspired many scholars to search for the original homeland of fairytales. While peregrinations of fairytale motifs occur, the common root of fairytales is more archetypal than geographic. A striking feature of fairytales is that a sense of space, time, and causality is absent. This situates them in a magical realm, a land of the soul, where the most interesting things happen in the center of places like Heaven, mountains, lakes, and wells.