C G Jung and the Age of Pisces



Definition: [Astrological Ages] The psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung [1875 - 1961 AD] drew attention to what he described as a 'synchronicity' between the birth of Christ and the start of the Age of Pisces. In this he had rather a different view from the earlier work of Gerald Massey. Below are excepts - all from Aion - of what he wrote on the subject. [Aeon is Latin for eternal, hence Eon, a very long period of time.] All the footnotes are Jung's.

In a private conversation with Margaret Ostrowski-Sachs concerning Aion, published in Conversations with C.G.Jung, Jung told her: "Before my illness I had often asked myself if I were permitted to publish or even speak of my secret knowledge. I later set it all down in Aion. I realized it was my duty to communicate these thoughts, yet I doubted whether I was allowed to give expression to them. During my illness I received confirmation and I now knew that everything had meaning and that everything was perfect."

C G Jung 1950 AD: Aion [Collected Works, 9, Part II] Introduction, p ix: The theme of this work is the idea of the Aeon (Greek, Aion). My investigation seeks, with the help of Christian, Gnostic and alchemical symbols of the self, to throw light on the change of the psychic situation within the "Christian aeon." Christian tradition from the outset is not only saturated with Persian and Jewish ideas about the beginning of the end time, but is filled with intimates of a kind of enantiodromian reversal of dominants. I mean by this the dilemma of Christ and Antichrist. Probably most of the historical speculations about time and the division of time were influenced, as the Apocalypse shows, by astrological ideas. It is therefore only natural that my reflections should gravitate mainly around the symbol of the Fishes, for the Pisces aeon is the synchronistic concomitant of two thousand years of Christian development. In this time-period not only was the figure of Anthropos (the "Son of Man") progressively amplified symbolically, and thus assimilated psychologically, but it brought with it changes in man's attitude that had already been anticipated by the expectation of the Antichrist in the ancient texts. Because these texts relegate the appearance of the Antichrist to the end of time, we are justified in speaking of a "Christian aeon," which, it was presupposed, would find its end with the second coming. It seems as if this expectation coincides with the astrological conception of the "Platonic month" of the Fishes.

C G Jung 1951 AD [for the German-language Version]: The Archetypes and the Collective Unconsciousness [based on essays written from about 1933 onwards and published in Collected Works, 9, Part I] Chapter VI, A Study in the Process of Individuation:

[551] ... It is obviously the same conception as in our case, and we can call it archetypal in so far as there exist universal ideas of world periods, critical transitions, gods and half-gods who personify the aeons.  The unconscious naturally does not produce its images from conscious reflections, but from the worldwide propensity of the human system to form such conceptions as the world periods of the Parsees, the Yugas and avatars of Hinduism, and the Platonic months of astrology with their bull and ram deities and the "great" Fish of the Christian aeon65.

65 The "giant" fish of the Abercius inscription (c. A.D. 200. )

C G Jung 1951 AD [for the German-language Version]: Aion [published in the Collected Works 9, Part II] Chapter IV, The Sign of the Fishes:

[128] In view of this wide distribution of the fish symbol, its appearance at a particular place or at a particular moment in the history of the world is no cause for wonder. But the sudden activation of the symbol, and its identification with Christ even in the early days of the Church, lead one to conjecture a second source. This source is astrology...

[136] The precession of the equinoxes was a fact well known to the astrologers of antiquity. Origen, helped out by the observations and calculations of Hipparchus48,  uses it as a cogent argument against astrology based on the so-called "morphomata" (the actual constellations)49.  Naturally this does not apply to the distinction already made in ancient astrology between the morphomata and the ζωδιά νοητά (the fictive signs of the zodiac)50.

48 Hipparchus is supposed to have discovered the precession. Cf F. J. Boll, Sphaera, p. 199, n. 1., Leipzig, 1903.

49 Origen, Commentaria In Genesim, tom. III, i, 14, 11 (Migne P.G., vol. 12, col. 79):"There is indeed a theory that the zodiacal circle, just like the planets, is carried back from setting to rising [or: from west to east], within a century by one degree;... since the twelfth part [1 zodion] is one thing when conceived in the mind, another when perceived by the senses; yet from that which is conceived only in the mind, and can scarcely, or not even scarcely be held for certain, the truth of the matter appears." The Platonic year was then reckoned as 36 000 years. Tycho Brahe reckoned it at 24 120 years. The constant for the precession is 50.3708 seconds and the total cycle (360º) takes 25 725.6 years.

50 A. Bouché-Leclercq, L'Astrologie Grecque, p. 591, n. 2, Paris, 1899; J. M. Knapp, Antiskia: Ein Beitrag zum Wissen um die Präzession im Altertum, Basil, 1927; F. J. Boll, Sphaera, Leipzig, 1903.

[147] Above all it is the connections with the age of the Fishes which are attested by the fish symbol. either contemporaneously with the gospels themselves ("fishers of men", fishermen as the first disciples, miracle of loaves and fishes) or immediately afterwards in the post-apostolic era. ...  But to the extent that Christ was regarded as the new aeon, it would be clear to anyone acquainted with astrology that he was born as the first fish of the Pisces era and was doomed to die as the last ram74 (άρνιον lamb) of the declining Aries era75.

74 Origen, In Genesim homiliae. VIII, 9 (Migne P.G., vol. 12, col. 208): "We said... that Isaac bore the form of Christ, but that the ram also seems no less to bear the form of Christ."  Augustine, (City of God, XVI, 32, I) asks: "Who was that Ram by the offering whereof was made a complete sacrifice in the typical blood... who was prefigured thereby but Jesus...?"  For the Lamb as Aries in the Apocalypse see Johannis Boll, Aus der Offenbarung, Leipzig and Berlin, 1914.

75 R. Eisler, Orpehus - the Fisher, pp. 51ff, London, 1921.  There is also a wealth of material in Eisler's paper "Der Fisch als Sexualsymbol," though it contains little that would help to interpret the fish symbol, since the question puts the cart before the horse.  It has long been known that all the instinctual forces of the psyche are involved in the formulation of symbolic images, hence sexuality as well.  Sex is not "symbolized in these images, but leaps to the eye, as Eisler's material clearly shows.  The indubitably correct statement that St Peter is made of stone, wood and metal hardly helps us to interpret its meaning, and the same is true of the fish symbol if one continues to be astonished that this image, like all others, has its manifest sexual components.  With regard to the terminology, it should be noted that something known is never "symbolized" but can only appear allegorically or semiotically.

[148] Though no connection of any kind can be proved between the figure of Christ and the inception of the age of the fishes, the simultaneity of the fish symbol of the new aeon seems to me important enough to warrant the emphasis we place upon it.  If we try to follow up the complicated mythological ramifications of this parallel, we do so with the intent to throw light on the multifarious aspects of an archetype that manifests itself on the one hand in personality, and on the other hand synchronistically, in a moment in time determined in advance before Christ's birth.  Indeed, long before that, the archetype had been written in the heavens by projection, so as then "when the time was fulfilled," to coincide with the symbols produced by the new era.  The fish, appropriately enough, belongs to the winter rainy season, like Aquarius and Capricornus (αίγόκερως the goat-fish81).  As a zodiacal sign, therefore, it is not in the least remarkable.  It becomes a matter for astonishment only when, through the precession of the equinoxes, the spring-point moves into this sign and thus inaugurates an age in which the "fish" was used as a name for the God who became a man, who was born as a fish and was sacrificed as a ram, who had fishermen for disciples and wanted to make them fishers of men, who fed the multitude with miraculously multiplying fishes, who was himself eaten as a fish, the "holier food," and whose followers are little fishes, the "pisciculi." Assume if you like that a fairly widespread knowledge of astrology would account for at least some of this symbolism in certain Gnostic Christian circles82. But this assumption does not apply when it comes to eye witness accounts in the synoptic gospels.  There is no evidence of any such thing.  We have no reason whatever to suppose that those stories are disguised astrological myths.  On the contrary, one gets the impression that the fish episodes are entirely natural happenings and that there is nothing further to be looked for behind them.  They are "Just So" stories, quite simple and natural, and one wonders whether the whole Christian fish symbolism may not have come about equally fortuitously and without premeditation.  Hence one could speak just as well of the seemingly fortuitous  coincidence of this symbolism with the name of the new age, the more so as the age of the fishes sees to have left no very clear traces in the cultures of the East.  I could not maintain with any certainty that this is correct, because I know far too little about Indian and Chinese astrology.  As against this, the fact that the traditional fish symbolism makes possible a verifiable prediction that had already been made in the New testament is a somewhat uncomfortable position to follow.

81 Capricornus: two symbols.

82 A clear reference to astrology can be found in Pistis Sophia, [Anonymous] where Jesus converses with the "ordainers of the nativity": But Jesus answered and said to Mary: If the ordainers of the nativity find Heimarmene and the Sphere turned to the left in accordance with the first calculation, then their words will be true and they will say what must come to pass.  But if the find Heimarmene or the Sphere turned to the right, then they will not say anything true, because I have changed their influences and their squares and their triangles and their octants." (Cf. G. R. S. Mead trans., p. 29., London, 1896.)

Searching For a New Age in the 20th Century...

5:  Searching for a New Age in the 20th Century... 
5a:  Gerald Massey & the Sign of the Waterman [c 1880 AD] 
5b:  Helena Blavatsky and the Hindu Epoch [1887 AD] 
5c:  Aleister Crowley and the Age of Horus [1904 AD] 
5d:  Edward Carpenter and the Age of Aquarius [1929 AD] 
5e:  Paul Le Cour and the Age of Aquarius [1937 AD] 
5f:  Carl Gustav Jung and the Age of Aquarius [1940 AD] 
5g:  Alice Bailey and the 'Ageless Wisdom' [1944 AD] 
5h:  Carl Gustav Jung and the Age of Pisces [1950] 
5i:  Jung's 'Platonic' Month [1950 AD] 
5j:  Jung's 'Platonic' Year [1950 AD] 
5k:  Carl Gustav Jung and the Age of Capricornus [1961 AD] 

© Dr Shepherd Simpson, Astrological Historian


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