chapter  Chapter 10
19 Pages

“The Transparency and Transcendence of the Earth” 1

Spiritualising a problematic concept
WithAngelica Löwe

The term earth pervades Neumann’s works. Already in his early “Zur Tiefenpsychologie des jüdischen Menschen” (“On the Depth Psychology of the Jewish Person”), he addresses this topos based on various pairs of opposites. In this work, which draws on the Jewish tradition, earth is assigned to the mentality of Neumann’s biblical ancestors, which is bound to this world, in contrast to the ascetic position of the prophets, which is assigned to heaven. This initially productive tension soon rigidified, which Neumann blamed on the absence of a living female deity and on the division between “male” consciousness and a “female” collective unconscious. In one of his major works, The Origins and History of Consciousness, it is the Great Individual who is able to maintain the tension of opposites. This figure can be a founder of religion, a bringer of culture, an artist—his hallmark is non-adaptation to what is valid. In his Eranos lecture of 1953, Neumann explored the earth archetype one last time. The process of transformation now shifted from heaven to the interior of the earth, the male hero is replaced by the feminine Sophia, earth becomes—as heaven did previously—the sphere of the spirit.