SYMBOLS — Bridging the Conscious and Unconscious
In The Red Book Jung (2009) said that “One can certainly gain outer freedom through powerful actions, but one creates inner freedom only through the symbol” (p.), and he used symbols and symbolic imagery throughout this creative work, referring to this symbolic art as “visionary art” (Jung, 1933, p. 155). The two primary symbols of The Red Book and this website are the serpent and the tree, symbols that bridge between the tension of opposites that Jung labeled the transcendent function, reconciling opposites of above and below. Bridging the thesis and antithesis of the conscious and unconscious, ego and self, symbols are a third thing that synthesizes or transcends the other two.
Jung (2009) explained: “I found the serpent as the third principle. It is a stranger to both principles although it is associated with both. The serpent taught me the unconditional difference in essence between the two principles in me . . . The serpent is the earthly essence of man of which he is not conscious. Its character changes according to peoples and lands, since it is the mystery that flows to him from the nourishing earth-mother” (p. 180) Continuing his theme of nature, Jung also used a sprout, germ, and tree as symbols that performed the transcendent function. In The Red Book advised not to imitate Christ but grow as a tree, as Jung himself demonstrated, repeatedly becoming a tree: “I ate the earth and I drank the sun, and I became a greening tree that stands alone and grows” (p. 262).
“You see, man is in need of a symbolic life--badly in need." C. G. Jung