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The Spirit Mercurius
by Paul Levy
Paul Levy

Just as we can interpret our dreams symbolically, and we can interpret our life as a dream, we can contemplate the history of the world as we would a dream being dreamed by a deeper, dreaming part of ourselves. When we view the unfoldment of the cosmos in this way, one of the things that comes into focus is how the Self, or God-image, which is the living symbol and doorway into the wholeness of our true nature, is continually differentiating and expressing itself in both inner and outer events.

Outer phenomena, such as the enlightenment of the Buddha and the life of Christ, can be seen symbolically as reflections of a mystical process of awakening. This is occurring in the depths of consciousness itself, which has to do with the birth and the revelation of the true Self in all of us. To quote Jung, "The real history of the world seems to be the progressive incarnation of the deity."

The Self is continually expressing its mystery in symbolic code. These clues may be found in our outer experience, via synchronicities or cosmic passion plays such as the life of Christ, or in our inner experience, hidden in the fabric of our dreams, visions, etc. To quote Jung, "The real mystery does not behave mysteriously or secretively; it speaks a secret language, it adumbrates itself by a variety of images which all indicate its true nature." If their inner resonance is attuned to, these images of God act as living symbols, revealing their inner nature as mystic portals into hyperspace.

In my last article, I talked about how Christ is actually a symbol of the Self. When the Christ event is viewed as a dream of the deeper, dreaming Self and interpreted symbolically like a dream, it reflects the incredible polarization and tension of the opposites in the figures of Christ and Satan. This itself is a reflection of the deep inner split of the collective psyche at the time. To quote Jung, "It looks as if the superabundance of light on one side had produced an all the blacker darkness on the other." Seen as a dream, Satan falling from heaven brings to mind the splitting off of an autonomous complex, which is never destroyed, but goes on to live a seemingly independent life of its own in the dreamfield, disrupting our best intentions.

Christ in himself is a complete mystic emanation of the Self in its radiant light aspect, lacking nothing, being a perfect doorway into our true nature. Seen symbolically, though, which means to interpret the Christ event as a dream, Christ is actually too one-sided a symbol of the archetype of the Self, as Christ himself is too overly light and identified with the good, leaving out the shadow, which Satan is carrying.

When we view the history of the world as the progressive differentiation of the Self, we begin to notice that the Self responds to a one-sided symbol of itself by gradually expressing the part of its totality that is left out and marginalized - just as the unconscious would compensate a one-sided image to a dreamer. This can be clearly seen via the minds of the alchemists, who had a deep inner experience of God, which is not any better or higher than Christ, but is a further differentiation of the archetype of the Self. Seen symbolically, both the Christ event and the alchemists revelation complement and illumine each other, shedding more light on the amazing being that we are.

The wisest of the alchemists knew that what they were experiencing in their retorts was nothing other than a projection, or reflection of their own psyche. They experienced their own image of God via the trickster figure Mercurius, who, unlike the pure figure of Christ, was ambiguous, paradoxical and dark, not to mention utterly pagan. To quote Jung, Mercurius "represents a part of the psyche which was certainly not moulded by Christianity and can on no account be expressed by the symbol 'Christ'. It represents all those things which have been eliminated from the Christian model."

Mercurius was related to Hermes, the Germanic Wotan, the Egyptian Thoth, and the maleficent Saturn. Saturn is the dwelling place of the devil himself, and to quote Jung, "If Mercurius is not exactly the Evil One himself, he at least contains him. ... On the one hand he is undoubtedly akin to the godhead, on the other he is found in sewers. ... It seems, however, that the alchemists did not understand hell, or its fire, as absolutely outside of God or opposed to him, but rather as an internal component of the deity, which must indeed be so if God is held to be a coincidentia oppositorum."

As an image of the Self, Mercurius was a revelation of the Self as a co-incidence of opposites, consisting of and uniting the most extreme opposites. In other words, here, in the figure of Mercurius, is a spontaneous God image arising in the human psyche which itself was a manifestation of, as well as gateway into an inner experience that united the opposites. This paradoxical symbol of the Godhead was not only an expression of a process going on deep inside the human psyche, but deep within the Godhead itself. This is a big discovery, genuinely worthy of our attention. A true conjunction of opposites, the Self is making itself known, and seems to be inviting us to both recognize and partake in its nature. As Jung says, "what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most impudent of all offenders, yea the very fiend himself ­ that these are within me, and that I myself am the enemy who must be loved ­ what then?" Let us find out, for God's sake as well as our own.

An artist and healer, Paul Levy has been a long-time student of the work of C.G. Jung. Paul is in private practice, assisting others who are spiritually awakening. A devoted disciple of the art of dreaming, Paul is also a long-time apprentice in alchemy, shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism. He can be reached at (503) 234-6480. Paul is giving a lecture called "Awakening in the Dream" on Friday, April 21, 7:30 pm at New Renaissance Bookshop. The cost is $8.