Search for the Gods

From Thoughts of Alchemy, by Boris Margo

Science tells us that, at least in quantum mechanics, the observer must take into account the observed. This is evident in the double-slit experiment, where matter and light exhibit characteristics of both waves and particles. This tells us that observer and observed are in no way independent of each other. Or, as Werner Heisenberg said, “separation of the observer from the phenomenon to be observed is no longer possible” (Heisenberg 231).

The old alchemists used various ores in their work. They considered “metals as seeds” (Hillman 2522), lead being a seed of Saturn, copper a seed of Venus, silver a seed of the Moon, etc. These ores were not understood as objects separate from the imaginative minds of the observers. Just like seeds, they visualized them as possessing “encoded intentionality” (Hillman 2527), the innate tendency to fulfill their destinies, metamorphosing into what they were intended to become. These metals were viewed as ensouled entities, or what I would refer to as animaterial entities.

The root meaning of the word, metal, comes from the Greek word, metallao, which means, “to search.” The alchemists were searching, albeit sometimes unconsciously, for the gods in the metals they used in their operations. Hillman says, the “metals act as seeds forcing the mind to bestir itself with inquiry” (Hillman 2538-2539). Just as there is a god for every planet, there is also a god for each metal used in alchemy.

So, the gods, having been banished from our minds millennia ago, exist in our lives, nevertheless. They took various forms, one being subterranean substances that mankind considered valuable, such as gold and silver. Most assuredly, the gods are powerful forces in the collective unconscious of humanity. When they were repressed, they were driven into the nether regions, and because of projections, down into the depths of the earth. The alchemists sought them in the various metals they worked their processes upon. They saw each “seed” as being the perfection of the thing. For example, the seed of an oak tree contains its perfect state, a fully mature oak. Just so, the seed of Saturn within lead contains its perfection: coldness and heaviness. The seed of the Moon within silver contains whiteness, swiftness, and lunification. But, furthermore, according to the ancient teachings, all things contain the seeds of all other things, so lead also contains the seed of gold, which it can become if worked upon and nourished properly. All metals, according to the alchemists, are in a constant state of evolution, ever progressing toward becoming gold.

The gods are in our midst, if we seek them, but they remain in the depths of earthly affairs if we don’t. The seeds of the gods are within us. If we have understanding of these things and hearken to them, we will evolve and transform into golden vessels of the gods. Their seeds are our perfection.

Works Cited

Heisenberg, Werner. The Representation of Nature in Contemporary Physics’, Symbolism in Religion and Literature (1960), 231. Cited in John J. Stuhr, Philosophy and the Reconstruction of Culture (1993), 139

Hillman, James. Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman
Volume 5: Alchemical Psychology, Kindle edition. Dallas: Spring, 2013.

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The Blue Soul



Transformations of the soul, according to alchemy, pass through several different colors. Originally, there were four colors that were described by alchemists as indicating the four primary phases of the process that result in the lapis philosophorum.These are nigredo (black), albedo (white), citrinitas (yellow), and rubedo (red). Other transitional colors were also mentioned, with various meanings.

In this article, I’d like to discuss the color blue. I’ve just read James Hillman’s essay entitled, Alchemical Blue and the Unio Mentalis, and I was amazed. Hillman put into words what I’ve felt about the color blue for years, but could not verbalize it. Blue has always been my favorite color. As a boy, I wore a blue baseball cap. I wear blue clothing more than any other color. I’ve listened to the blues all my life, and have always loved the genre above all others. I even play blues guitar.  The front door of my house is a deep, dark blue that looks almost purple. Unconsciously, I suppose, I’ve always chosen blue over all others.

Hillman writes,

The blue transit between black and white is like that sadness that emerges from despair as it proceeds towards reflection. Reflection here comes from or takes one into a blue distance, less a concentrated act that we do than something insinuating itself upon us as a quiet removal. This vertical withdrawal is also like an emptying out, the creation of a negative capability, a profound listening – already an intimation of silver (Hillman 1836-1838).

Even though blue means the dissolution of the nigredo,  there is still an element of darkness contained therein. Yes, blue brings sadness, but there are deeper elements, as well. Think of the darkness associated with the phrases, “blue murder,” or the black-and-blueness of David Lynch’s film, Blue Velvet. Hillman also mentions “cursing a blue streak,” and the “blue ruin of gin.” Bluebeard is a French folktale where he kills several of his wives. There is more to blue than just sadness. It can be quite dark in its own right. But, even though blue still contains darkness, it is a mellower darkness than the nigredo.

Jungian analyst, Stanton Marlan relates a dream told to him by psychologist, Robert Romanyshyn:

V. and I awaken in a hotel room. It is dark outside, and I am surprised because it feels as if it should be morning. It feels that we have slept and the night has passed. I call the hotel desk to ask the time and someone tells me it is 9 A.M. Then the person says, “Haven’t you heard? Scientists are saying there’s something wrong with the sun.”

In a half waking state, a kind of reverie, the dream seems to continue: I have a sense that the world will be lit by a dark light. I also have the sense that these scientists have determined that there is much less hydrogen (fuel) and/or much less mass to the sun that they had previously expected. The world is going to become increasingly dark and cold.

But then the dark, nearly black light becomes blue/violet/purple. A blue sun, a beautiful aura of blue color bathes the world. I think of the color of the tail of the Peacock in alchemy (qtd. in Marlan 202-203).

The blackest black depression, if endured, transforms into a melancholy blue, signalling the decay of the nigredo, and heralding the appearance of the cauda pavonis, the  Peacock’s Tail, with its many eyes of Argus Panoptes.  Argus was an all-seeing giant who had multiple eyes, some of which stayed awake, and some of which slept. After being slain by Hermes, Hera preserved the eyes of Argus in the peacock’s tail. The colors in the peacock’s tail are many shades of blue. The peacock’s tail suggests reflection upon the world and existence. It also suggests the hypnagogic dreaminess of reality.

Blue as a state of soul is a sigh of despair when one becomes aware of the deep sadness of the world. This bluing signals the subordination of the Ego to other archetypal forces that allow one to see through many eyes.

Works Cited

Hillman, James. Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman
Volume 5: Alchemical Psychology, Kindle edition. Dallas: Spring, 2013.

Marlan, Stanton. The Black Sun. Texas A&M University Press. College Station, 2005.

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Alchemy: Raven’s Head

Nigredo – dal manoscritto Viatorium spagyricum, Herbrandt Jamsthaler, (1625)

In the “furnace of the cross” and in the fire, says the “Aquarium sapientum,” “man, like the earthly gold, attains to the true black Raven’s Head; that is, he is utterly disfigured and is held in derision by the world (Jung 353)…

There is much more to be said about black than what has been said. The blacker the black, the whiter the white will be. The blackest black provides the most fertile incubator for transmutation. It is said by the alchemists to be as a raven’s head (caput corvi). It is not that black is to be identified with literally, as we see in suicides; it is symbol, image. Remember, all is image.

The raven is a harbinger of death, the dying of the common, the old ways, the old paradigm. From this thickest of blackness, a diamond will be born. Many people believe that diamonds are formed from coal. This, however, is a popular misconception. Geologist, Hobart King, says the majority of the world’s “diamonds…were formed in the mantle and delivered to the surface by deep-source volcanic eruptions” (Hobart King, How Do Diamonds Form?). Creation takes place deep within the earth’s mantle, where black is absolutely black, where carbon material is pulverized beneath the continental plates, some ninety miles below the earth’s surface. The temperatures there reach at least 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. After being ground to the blackest powder, the earth creates these wondrous stones and thrusts them back up to the surface. As above, so below. This is a powerful image of how the Nigredo works within the human psyche. At times, our lives are thrust deep into the unfathomable depths of the Underworld, where we are crushed, pulverized, and annihilated until we are black as the raven’s head.

 The Nigredo is the ultimate process of deconstruction. Where health once was, now there is only sickness; where happiness and meaningfulness once were, now there is only intense melancholia and nihilism. The Latin word, nihil, literally means “nothing.” One becomes as nothing when one encounters the raven. Where life once was, now there is only death. James Hillman writes, “Like a black hole, it sucks into it and makes vanish the fundamental security structures of Western consciousness” (Hillman 1626). Furthermore,

Black breaks the paradigm; it dissolves whatever we rely upon as real and dear. Its negative force deprives consciousness of its dependable and comforting notions of goodness. If knowledge be the good, then black confuses it with clouds of unknowing…(ibid.).

The purpose of the Nigredo is to plant us firmly in the darkness and in the depths of the Underworld. This prepares us for the next stage of transmutation.

Works Cited

Hillman, James. Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman
Volume 5: Alchemical Psychology, Kindle edition. Dallas: Spring, 2013.

Jung, C.G. Mysterium Coniunctionis: An Inquiry Into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy. trans, R.F.C. Hull. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 14. Princeton: Princeton, 1963.

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Alchemy: Nigredo

Only in a physically reduced worldview, a worldview reduced to and by physics, can black be called a non-color, an absence of color, a deprivation of light (Hillman 1553).

What is it in the human psyche that views the color black as somehow evil? We associate black with evil, with death, with the morbid and the macabre. Think of how many examples there are in our culture, our language, our phrases, and our art of black representing the negative, the corrupt, the hideous, and the malevolent. We contrast it with the purity and holiness of the color white since white represent the white light of God and all his holiness. The properties we ascribe to white are absent in black. Black ends up being the privation of white, as the Church Fathers believed evil to be the privation of good.

In his book, Alchemical Psychology, James Hillman says the distinction between the two colors arose in the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries, the so-called Age of Light, where Reason was also coupled with the color white (ibid.). Hillman makes a stunning statement concerning European and American racism that, I must admit, had never really registered with me before:

Northern European and American racism may have begun in the moralization of color terms. Long before any English-speaking adventurer touched the shores of West Africa, fifteenth-century meanings of “black” included: “deeply stained with dirt; soiled; foul; malignant, atrocious, horrible, wicked; disastrous, baneful, sinister … ” When the first English-speaking sailors spied natives on West African shores, they called these people “black” (ibid.).

Why else would this have occurred, if not for the moralization of a color that appears many times in Nature? But why would the disdain for the color black ever arise in the first place? Apparently, the first time the word, “white,” was used to describe an ethnic group was in 1604, according to Hillman (ibid.). By this time, sailors had already traveled to what they later called  the “dark continent” and had attached all the stigma that had been linked with black to the inhabitants they met there.

 But this phenomenon was not unique to Western culture.

Disdain for black is not only contemporary, Western, and English. The color black in the Greek world, and in African languages also, carried meanings contrasting with white and red, and included not only the fertility of the earth and the mystery of the underworld, but also disease, suffering, labor, sorcery, and bad luck (ibid.).

Colors have always had symbolic significance in human cultures, but when white became associated with Caucasian Christianity, then those that didn’t fit into this group became laden with assumptions of evil, dishonesty, and disgust.

This is the working of a a very ancient archetype. Undoubtedly, unconsciousness is associated with black and consciousness with white, at least for the civilization of the past six to eight thousand years. It is indelibly etched in the human psyche. It is deeply connected to Nature, to the rising and setting of the Sun, day and night. We wake, we sleep. And sometimes we sleep the blackest of sleep, death. Death is the ultimate unconsciousness. 

In alchemy, black (nigredo) is the first stage in the magnum opus. The nigredo state is accomplished by work; it is not the original state of the soul, the prima materia. It is something that one has come to, and is a signal that one is ready to begin the journey. Just as coal has been worked upon by Nature to produce its black state, so is the nigredo soul a metamorphosis in progress. To get to this black condition, the soul has been working. It is in this condition that the real process begins.

How does one get to the nigredo state? In the language of alchemy, it is brought on by putrefactio and mortificatio, putrefaction and mortification. The original alchemical substances are subjected to these two processes to produce a blackened mass lacking all cohesion. Putrefaction is falling apart, decomposing. Mortification is a grinding down into smaller and smaller particles, to overwhelmingly punish and destroy. These two processes speak to the total breakdown of anything that is solid in one’s life. This is the soul pathologizing. It is a necessary step, even initiatory, that will eventually bring the gleam of gold to the soul. Hillman writes,

We can begin to see – through a glass darkly – why the color black is condemned to be a “non-color.” It carries the meanings of the random and the formless. Like a black hole, it sucks into it and makes vanish the fundamental security structures of Western consciousness. By absenting color, black prevents phenomena from presenting their virtues. Black’s deconstruction of any positivity – experienced as doubt, negative thinking, suspicion, undoing, valuelessness – explains why the nigredo is necessary to every paradigm shift (Hillman 1626).

Moreover, the nigredo state corresponds to Nietzsche’s assertion that nihilism is a necessary state one must arrive at before transformation is possible. I wrote about this recently in Nihilism as a Precursor to Transformation. The breakdown of all meaning is without a doubt one of the best examples of the nigredo. The soul brings one to this place of brokenness for a very good reason. In the blackest depths of the earth are where diamonds are born.


Works Cited

Hillman, James. Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman
Volume 5: Alchemical Psychology, Kindle edition. Dallas: Spring, 2013.

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Alchemy: The Soul of Metals

…perhaps the metals take pleasure in their alterations and enjoy the discipline imposed upon them by extracting their ore-bodies and the smelting (Hillman 491).

The soul spelunker is always searching for treasure beneath the surfaces of things. In the alchemical inquiry, one is richly rewarded in this endeavor. The metals of alchemy, because they are animaterial substances, correspond to the gods, just as their associated planets do. In fact, all things can be imagined back to a specific god. In the previous article, I touched upon the planetary associations of the seven noble metals:

Moon    Mercury   Venus    Sun    Mars    Jupiter    Saturn

silver      mercury    copper  gold   iron      tin           lead
As far as we know, these correspondences have been in use since circa 2000 B.C.E. Needless to say, they are deeply rooted in the human soul. Ancient mankind formed these associations because they keenly intuited the interconnectedness of all things. So, for example, it was perfectly natural to link the Moon with the shiny metal, silver. It reminded the ancient mind of the silvery moon. Gold, as well, glistens like the Sun. It would be very surprising if the ancients had not constructed these correspondences.

Others are not so obvious. For instance, why did the ancients associate lead with Saturn? Saturn is known as the Greater Malefic, meaning that it can cause a great deal of damage to the soul. But, yet, as Ficino believed, “within Saturn’s heaviness lay the treasures of deep religious contemplation and artistic genius” (Moore 165). To the ancients, it was the farthest planet away from the earth, thus it took the longest time to make its journey through the zodiac, about 30 years. Part of Saturn’s malevolence lies in its association with melancholy. Lead is a very poisonous metal. It it heavy and dense. It has been used in the making of bullets and caskets. These are a few reasons why it has been associated with Saturn. The souls of Saturn and lead are connected at a very deep level. As with all things of the soul, however, even malefic gods have their positive aspects. If one can successfully bear the saturnine weight of melancholy, gloom, and dread through to the other side, there are great rewards to be had.

Metals have souls, thus they possess an entelechy. Soul is the entelechy of all animaterial things. It is the telos, an innate urge in animatter to become what it truly is meant to become. The telos of an entelechy is not to be understood as a static endpoint. The notion here is that the entelechy is a “continuous being-at-work.” An animaterial entity does not suddenly arrive at full completion and then remains static. The process is endless. This applies to the alchemical metals, as well as all things. Hillman writes,

The inherent perfectibility of the substances urges all things away from the literal, undifferentiated, and only natural as given or found. The “only natural” may be necessary, but it is insufficient, since the metals themselves ask to be sophisticated. The given soul asks to be worked. In its natural found state the soul is innocent, ignorant, and therefore dangerous. That the material itself asks to be refined, the raw wanting to be cooked, suggests an archetypal basis for the ideas of perfectibility, progress, and as well, evolution (Hillman 503).

The alchemist knows there is inherent value in the lead or the iron. Her opus is to uncover the essential nature of the metal that has been concealed by its mundane material state.  Whether it be slag or seemingly worthless ore, the soul of the metal is sought by the adept who sees the treasure beneath the surface.

The practitioner seeks not only to free the metal from its dross but to free the meanings of the metal, their linkages with the intelligibility of the cosmos (ibid.).

Assisting the metals, or any other animaterial substance, in becoming what they are meant to be by nature means the alchemist is furthering the making of the Anima Mundi. This is soul-making on a cosmic scale. As each thing is revealed for what it truly is, the world, little by little, becomes more intelligible and understandable. The vision of the alchemist is not to produce gold and silver for personal gain, but to bring the world into a sort of golden age. Nature has always worked toward an epoch of soul. The labor is commonly referred to as the opus contra naturam, a work against nature, but it is actually “a following of nature, guided by nature” (Hillman 516). The gods in all things are ever laboring to bring it about.

Works Cited

Hillman, James. Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman
Volume 5: Alchemical Psychology, Kindle edition. Dallas: Spring, 2013.

Moore, Thomas. The Planets Within. Hudson: Lindisfarne, 1990.

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Alchemy: In the Service of Nature



The Promethean archetype, the desire to steal that which was meant to serve Nature and use it exclusively for human purposes, should not be the blueprint for the practitioner of alchemy. Even individual soul-making, if focused solely on the human, does not assist the Anima Mundi in her transmutation. The primary task of the alchemist, his passion, is to further the improvement of the World Soul. The alchemical practice is not to carry out the Promethean aim of what is best for humanity. Rather, it is more akin to a religious devotion to Nature.

Certainly, this is a dichotomizing of humanity and Nature. In reality, they are one and the same. Humanity is certainly a natural phenomenon. It is just as natural as any natural thing can be. The problem arises when the Promethean attitude is venerated to the exclusion of the cherishing and nourishing of Nature. A good example would be a large oil company assuming they are improving the world for mankind by drilling oil anywhere they can find it. What they’re doing has more to do with profit than it does with a supposedly altruistic aim. Of course, this is not serving Nature, but only selfish human ends. This is the Promethean archetype in a nutshell. It has nothing to do with the true practice of alchemy. If you want to understand Prometheus, read Ayn Rand. Her lead characters are almost always Promethean in nature.

Jung recognized what is, in essence, the Promethean spirit in Christianity, and how it differs from the Magnum Opus:

Here we come to a parting of the ways. The Christian receives the fruits of the Mass for himself personally and for the circumstances of his own life in the widest sense. The alchemist, on the other hand, receives the fructis arboris immortalis [the fruit of the tree of immortality] not merely for himself but first and foremost for the King or the King’s Son, for the perfecting of the coveted substance. He may play a part in the perfectio, which brings him health, riches, illumination, and salvation; but since he is the redeemer of God and not the one to be redeemed, he is more concerned to perfect the substance than himself (Jung 352, brackets mine).

So, alchemy has to do with the redemption of God rather than with the redemption of humanity. Humanity certainly benefits from the transformation and transmutation of Nature simply for being part of Nature. (No, this is not an avowal of pantheism on my part, although I do believe in a form of panentheism). The alchemical vocation can certainly bring one “health, riches, illumination, and salvation”, but these are not the primary goals. Where Christianity misses it is in placing man at the center of the universe, and thinking that if man is redeemed, then Nature would be also. This, however, is backwards. The Work is for the sake of the Work, not for the sake of personal enrichment. The Work is to transmute the Anima Mundi.

So, how can alchemy assist in the transmutation and transformation of the World Soul? James Hillman offers these suggestions:

By treating the materials as ensouled, by invoking the spirits of the metals and speaking of their emotional qualities, alchemy found gods in nature, and soul, or animation, in the physical world (Hillman 409).

J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of my favorite stories. I discovered Tolkien as a teenager, after I heard Robert Plant say once he was reading Tolkien’s books. Straightaway, I went out and bought them. My favorite thing about the story is that it is an animistic tale, for all things are ensouled and all of Nature is reverenced. There are many, many examples of this throughout the story. For instance, the manner in which the hobbits smoke their pipes is fascinating. It’s as if the tobacco has soul, having the ability to take various shapes. And, remember how the swords and daggers had names, and sort of possessed their own personalities? This is ensoulment of natural materials. Nature is not a cold, lifeless place. It is filled with soul, with life.

James Hillman claims that “alchemy is animism” (Hillman 408). This is because the materials of alchemy are reverenced as possessing spirits, motives, emotions, even the ability to cooperate with the alchemist in his various endeavors; not literally, but mythologically. Our modern world has lost this precious attitude in this day of reductionist materialism. There is a dire need to recover this worldview before it is too late.

Works Cited

Hillman, James. Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman Volume 5: Alchemical Psychology, Kindle edition. Dallas: Spring, 2013.

Jung, C.G. Psychology and Alchemy. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 12. Princeton: Princeton, 1953.

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Jung’s Coniunctio: The Chymical Wedding and Heraclitus











In the workings of alchemy, the reconciliation of Sol and Luna is often referred to as The Chymical Wedding. Carl Jung’s theory of the conjunction of polarities in the psyche borrows heavily from this teaching.

The ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, tells us that “the way up and the way down are one and the same” (qtd. in Wheelwright 78). The idea that opposites complement each other and are actually the same is still alive today in Jungian psychology. As we will see, Jung relied heavily on the interrelatedness of opposites to explain his entire psychological theory. This article will attempt to show the Heraclitan influence in Jungian thought.

The philosophy of Heraclitus is one of the most fascinating examples of thinking in the ancient world. He may have been influenced by Eastern philosophies seeping into the Mediterranean region. He was certainly inspired by the Pythagorean and Milesian thinkers. He was rumored to be a pupil of Xenophanes.

Heraclitus understood the world to be a place where nothing remains fixed; everything is in flux and is constantly being transformed.

One of the main aspects of his teaching is that “opposition brings concord,” and “out of discord comes the fairest harmony” (qtd. in Wheelwright 77). What he means by this apparent contradiction is that both positive and negative realities are required in order for harmony to exist. Justice is exhibited by the striving of one thing against another, for in this striving there is agreement or harmonia. He points to the bow and the lyre to illustrate his point. The strings of a bow and lyre require tension in order to operate harmoniously. If the bowstring were not tightened, an arrow could not be shot. Similarly, if the lyre strings were not tightened there would be no beautiful music. There is harmony in the shooting of an arrow with a bow, and in the music of a lyre, just as there is a certain harmony in the world. The discord which we experience is merely the process whereby unanimity arises. Heraclitus teaches that the consensus is not obvious, but concealed, for “hidden harmony is better than the obvious” (qtd. in Wheelwright 79).

Heraclitus believed that fire, which he seems to identify with God, or the world process, is the source of all becoming. “It throws apart and then brings together again; it advances and retires. Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed” (qtd. in Wheelwright 70-71). To him, fire was the perfect symbol to describe reality.

Regarding the human soul, Heraclitus believed it is impossible to ascertain its limits, in the sense of our understanding the depths of the soul. He said, “You could not discover the limits of the soul, even if you traveled by every path in order to do so; such is the depth of its meaning” (qtd. in Wheelwright 72). Here, we have an indication of a similarity arising with what we in the modern world call depth psychology, of which Jung’s Analytical Psychology is an example. Depth psychology is based on the theory of the unconscious mind, i.e., that there are things in the mind which we are not consciously aware of. Sometimes our conscious minds will thrust something which is too painful to bear into the unconscious. These things can then fester in the unconscious, affecting our conscious attitude. For example, certain emotions can be repressed and can influence behavior, many times causing mental distress. The main point here is that Heraclitus recognized the boundless depth of the human psyche some twenty-five hundred years before Freud and Jung.

As in the Heraclitan doctrine, Jungian psychology stresses the existence of a conflict of opposites, or enantiodromia. This is a term which Heraclitus used to describe the endless to and fro process of the eternal flux. The opposites are at war with each other, but in this conflict there is harmony, for both positive and negative need one another. Jung based his theory of compensation on this principle, claiming that the conscious attitude, at times, must be balanced by gaining awareness of certain unconscious processes. According to Jung,

Just as all energy proceeds from opposition, so the psyche too possesses its inner polarity, this being the indispensable prerequisite for its aliveness, as Heraclitus realized long ago” (Jung 346).

A good example of what Jung means lies in an explanation of his doctrine of the anima and animus.

For Jung, all human beings have both male and female characteristics. For instance, all men have a female element abiding in their unconscious minds. Similarly, all women have an unconscious male element. One’s conscious attitude is usually dominated by those characteristics belonging to whatever sex one happens to be. The opposing characteristics, if not recognized by the conscious mind, can bring about many problems in the conscious attitude. For instance, a man who is not aware of his anima may experience irrational moods, peevishness, and bad temper. (Bennet 122). A woman who represses her animus may, for example, not respect the feelings of others because she is overly rational (Bennet 130). For men, Jung called the female image anima. For women, the male image is the animus. These are Latin words which both mean “soul.” Anima is feminine; animus is masculine. If one set of characteristics is dominant, the opposite will manifest itself in dreams, possibly hinting at how the conscious attitude should be adjusted so that balance can be restored to the psyche.

Another area where Jung was influenced by Heraclitus is in his personality typology. Again, he utilizes the Heraclitan principle of enantiodromia to explain why people have different personalities. He begins with the distinction between what he terms introverts and extroverts. Basically, the introvert is characterized by a flow of energy inward; the concentration is on the subject. The extrovert’s energy flows outward, into the world; the concentration is on objects and other people. Every person has both characteristics within them, just as in the anima/animus doctrine. One of the two, however, will dominate the conscious attitude.

Each of these basic attitude types consists of four functions: thinking, feeling, sensation, and intuition. As in the introvert/extrovert distinction, one of the opposites will be dominant. For instance, someone may be an extrovert who is thinking-oriented instead of feeling-oriented. This person might also be guided more by his intuition than his senses. Another may be an introvert who is feeling oriented, and who relates more to sensation. Using this procedure, Jung was able to study human beings in a more precise manner. The Myers-Briggs Personality Test, used by psychologists today, is based on Jung’s typology.


Bennet, E.A. What Jung Really Said. New York: Schocken, 1966.

Jung, C.G. Memories, Dreams, and Reflections. New York: Vintage, 1965.

Wheelwright, Philip. The Presocratics. Indianapolis: ITT, 1966.

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