Thursday, February 25, 2016

The soul is only partly confined to the body

One of Jung's great finds in his study of alchemy was a passage from de Sulphure, a tract by Michael Sendivogius, that Jung paraphrased as follows:

The soul is only partly confined to the body, just as God is only partly enclosed in the body of the world. [1]

In this conception the soul is "the vice-regent of God" and dwells in the life spirit of the blood. It rules the mind and this rules the body. Soul operates within the body, but the greater part of its function is outside the body. The power of the soul is that of imaginatio. Through its "imaginative faculty", the soul can operate in the deepest regions (profundissima) outside the body. It has absolute and independent power to do things beyond what the body can grasp.

When it so desires, it has the greatest power over the body, for otherwise our philosophy would be in vain. Thou cans conceive no greater, for we have opened the gate unto thee. [2]

The picture that emerges is of a lively, ever-shifting engagement between soul and the world of the body, an engagement that generates physical events from a deeper matrix. By implication, we see that individuals may be less separate than they supposed, joined in realms where soul is at home in overlapping fields of energy that may approximate group souls. It goes without saying that in this vision of reality, soul must survive the death of the body, since it exists and operates outside the body, as well as in it, during earthly life.


1. C.G.Jung, Psychology and Alchemy trans. R.F.C. Hull.  Collected Works volume 12 (Princeton University Press, 1968) 282
2. ibid, 279-80.

Illustration from the Splendor Solis, 16th century illuminated Hermetic text.

1 comment:

kala said...

Have you studied AJ Miller's explanation of the three selves? He uses the illustration of an egg. The soul is made up of the true self (yolk, God-created and pristine) and the damaged self (egg white, created by parents, environment and our own unloving choices) and the facade self encases the soul (eggshell, created by ourselves to avoid feeling the damaged self, which must be emoted to be released. Mental insights do not release these denied feelings)