Divine Child: symbol of the soul’s fulfillment

German nativity scene with depiction of Trinity (God the Father and dove of Holy Spirit accompanying the Christ child and Madonna- C. 15th Century. guenther-rarebooks.com. US public domain via wikimedia.
German nativity scene with depiction of Trinity (God the Father and dove of Holy Spirit accompanying the Christ child and Madonna- C. 15th Century. guenther-rarebooks.com. US public domain via wikimedia.

We are in deep winter: days short, nights long. Father sun seems so far away, mother earth lonely. All the creatures mourn in winter. They burrow in their little holes and mourn the lost days of sun. Mother nature proffers so little in winter. The animals seem to know that. They go within and await her spring, her bosom, her blossom. All the world will rejoice when light and earth rejoin in their holy union. It is then, that life will burst forth in divine celebration. The animals frolic, make love, build their little nests, hatch their eggs– life is born of union.

But we, us human souls, are on another cycle. While our bodies may follow such creaturely cycles, seeking union in bodily form, our souls follow a different cycle entirely. In the depths of winter the divine child is born. On the darkest of days we celebrate the birth of the divine child.

What is the divine? How might we know it? Carl Jung provides a unique perspective. The divine is a divine couple: mother and father of souls.  In Symbols of Transformation, Jung speaks to the soul, leading us on a path of soul. This is not your normal everyday path. God is not some distant icon, some idealized figure in the sky. This is a phenomenological path: the soul comes into form insofar as it lives and knows. This is Gnosis. And what are we to know? Many things, but first we shall start with our divine parents.

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The Quaternity in 14th Century French Art

Jean Fouquet, Book of Hours of Étienne Chevalier - 1452-60 Currently at the Musée Condé in Château de Chantilly in France. US Public Domain via wikimedia
Jean Fouquet, Book of Hours of Étienne Chevalier – 1452-60
Currently at the Musée Condé in Château de Chantilly in France. US Public Domain via wikimedia

This image is from the Hours of Étienne Chevalier by Jean Fouquet.  It is one image from Fouquet’s paintings of the book of hours. It was commissioned by king Charles VII of France in the 14 Century.

In this image we see the Quaternity. The three white robbed men share a throne and to the left we see the Virgin on a thrown by herself.  The three white-robed men may be seen as representing the Trinity, and the inclusion of the Virgin (divine mother) creates a Quaternity. Notice also that the painting forms a mandala.

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The Mother Mary and the Moon

Michael Sittow, Assumption of Mary-1500. National Gallery of Art. US Public Domain via wikimedia

This 15th Century painting of the assumption of Mary into heaven is quite lovely. Notice that Mary rises from her tomb on a crescent moon. The moon image is also associated with the earth mother.  Carl Jung says, “The Earth Mother is always chthonic and is occasionally related to the moon.” (Carl Jung, CW 9i, para. 312) This relationship between the moon and the mother is preserved in this image of the Virgin.

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Queen of Heaven

Isis depicted with outstretched wings, wall painting, c. 1360 BCE. US public domain via wikimedia
Isis depicted with outstretched wings, wall painting, c. 1360 BCE. US public domain via wikimedia

In the Hebrew Bible, the ‘profit’ Jeremiah condemns the worship of the “Queen of Heaven”:

“The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger. “(Jeremiah 7:18)

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