Saturday, October 16, 2010


Gloria, a detail from the Layer Monument, Saint John Maddermarket, Norwich.

Carl Jung makes an apt observation upon the symbolism of the moon in religious iconography.

According to the ancient view, the moon stands on the borderline between the eternal, ethereal things and the ephemeral phenomena of the earthly, sublunar realm. Macrobius says: 'The realm of the perishable begins with the moon and goes downward. Souls coming into this region begin to be subject to the numbering of days and to time... there is no doubt that the moon is the author and contriver of mortal bodies.' Because of her moist nature, the moon is also the cause of decay. The loveliness of the new moon, hymned by the poets and Church Fathers, veils her dark side, which however, could not remain hidden from the fact-finding of the empiricist. The moon, as the star nearest to the earth, partakes of the earth and its sufferings, and her analogy with the Church and the Virgin Mary as mediators has the same meaning. She partakes not only of the earth's sufferings but of its daemonic darkness as well.         

CW 14: 173


Jeb said...

The descent of the soul from a superior region (the milky way according to Macrobius) through the planetary spheres and into an inferior one of corruption and decay. The region that stood below the moon and human body.

The decent was guided by Genius sometimes called a natural God or God of nature 'deus naturalis'.
Genius is an effect of the fall rather than it's cause.

As I have just been reading this week.

Hydriotaphia said...

That's interesting. What's the Macrobius text you're quoting and reading Jeb? Is it his commentary on 'The Dream of Scipio?'

Jeb said...

Its from a secondary source.

Jane Chance Nitzsche, The Genius Figure in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, London, 1975

I just bagged a second hand copy from Amazon for a few pounds (they have a few more I think).

Her perspective also appears influenced by Jung.

I had just read the passage before reading youre post, Microbius was an aside in relation to a 12th century text. I can't find the page at the moment but I think it was Bernardus Silvestris, De Mundi Universitate, she was discussing.

Hydriotaphia said...

Thanks for the book-title Jeb. I will look it up on Amazon.