Archetype of the Apocalypse
by Edward F. Edinger
Summary by Patricia A. Snell
What does the apocalypse mean psychologically? The apocalypse means the momentous event of the coming of the Self into conscious realization. Now that we know both the question and the answer, how did he arrive at his conclusion? Let’s explore the biblical Revelation.
Apocalypse is often translated as ‘the Messiah is coming’ but the more correct translation is ‘to uncover something that has been hidden’. What is being hidden? Perhaps, that a new consciousness is beginning to form all around us and within us. The existence of the archetype of the apocalypse can be recognized by its intense possession of us as individuals and as collective groups.
When we go through our own individual or collective apocalypse it may be intense, but need not be devastating. If we recognize and understand what is taking place the experience will be less intimidating and more welcome.
John’s apocalyptic visions allowed him to have a greater knowledge of God and to recognize the enormity of the collective unconsciousness. He imparts this knowledge to us through the symbols of his visions.
The seven gifts to be given to the seven churches of Revelation are seven promises to encourage us as we go through the process of bringing the self into conscious realization.
The last letter also states that it is the message of the Amen. The Aramaic word for amen is ameyn. Both John and Jesus spoke Aramaic as their native language. According to Neil Douglas-Klotz, PhD in ‘Original Prayer’ ameyn can be translated as ‘I affirm this with the depth of my being’. Using this translation instead of the standard Latin translation of ‘so be it’, the above promises take on a whole new depth of understanding.
The Son of Man sums it all up in the vision by telling us he is at the door knocking. Are we ready to open that door to a new consciousness? He also tells us he has the key. So, ready or not, the new consciousness is coming. It is our choice whether we want to willingly open that door and follow the guidance being offered or if the new consciousness will be thrust upon us when we least expect it and we have no understanding of what it all means.
A Visit to Heaven
John, in his vision, is called to Heaven. When he enters through the door he sees a Divine Throne in the middle of the room surrounded by the thrones of 24 elders. Sitting on the Divine Throne is “the One who lives forever and ever” (God). There are also seven flaming lamps and four animals with many eyes. Between John and the divine throne was a Sea of Glass. The original earthly temple in Jerusalem had a large basin of water, 7 ½ feet deep, that was used for ritual cleansings. A sea of glass may refer to the invisible wall between consciousness and unconsciousness. It is a separating wall between our earthly ego and our heavenly kingdom of Self. As we go through Revelations we will see other parallels between Heaven and Earth.
Standing by the Divine Throne is the Sacrificed Lamb. The Greek word arnion can be translated as lamb or ram. Rams are fierce, while lambs are gentle. Rams and lambs are opposites. A good psychological interpretation might be to bring the unconscious into conscious realization we must bring forward both the fierce and the gentle; both the light and the dark shadow.
The Lamb has seven eyes. They are the eyes of God. When we bring our unconscious self into conscious realization we are no longer hidden. We are visible for all to see whatever is there. God sees all. Nothing is hidden from God. To prepare for the coming change in consciousness we need to be willing to have nothing hidden. That means all those hidden dreams and dark thoughts must be brought out into the open. Nothing can be hidden from conscious reality.
The lamb is the Sacrificed Lamb. It is important to understand the significance of the Sacrificed Lamb. When we give of ourselves (as we do when sacrificing) we are pulling our unconscious Self into the physical. It can be considered a method of creating physicality (incarnation). This can help to explain why the concept of the sacrificial lamb is so emphasized. It explains why the sacrifice of Jesus was so important. He didn’t just give of himself; He gave his whole conscious self and, as a result, his whole unconscious Self was brought into full conscious realization. He pioneered the way back to pre-existence and we need to follow in his footsteps.
The Recurring Theme of Seven
The number seven (7) is a recurring theme in Revelation. Three indicates the three dimensional world (time and space; past, present, future). Four indicates beyond time and space. Combined together they create seven. Watch for these numbers as we continue going through Revelation.
The Seven Seals of the Scroll
John watched as God gave a scroll to the Sacrificed Lamb. The scroll contained seven seals. When the first seal was broken John saw a white horse appear. The rider was holding a bow and he was given a victor’s crown. The Victor’s Crown refers to the 2nd promise made: We should have no fear of the second death. “He went away to go from victory to victory’. He is going to visit each victor – each person who believed in him and listened to his promises; each person who deserves the victor’s crown.
As the next three seals on the scroll are opened, three more horsemen appear. These three horsemen are following after the rider of the white horse. But it is not their duty to find victors. They are coming to awaken those that have not willingly opened the door and followed the guidance that was offered. They are coming from the unconscious collective self into the collective consciousness, and they are coming at a full gallop. They are making way for the new consciousness. There will be wars, famine, plague, earthquakes, and all manner of upheaval. Many people will die. Each of these three horsemen has his assigned duties.
As the fifth seal is broken John sees the souls of the martyrs and hears them crying for justice. They are given white robes and instructed to be patient a little bit longer. The roll call of martyrs is not yet complete. Is there a sequence of events that must be followed? Is there a pattern to what seems like chaos to us? Jung states “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious”. Jung believes there is an order that must be followed.
When the sixth seal is broken John sees a violent earthquake and stars falling from the sky. “Stars falling from Heaven” also indicates a coming forward of the collective self, but it is more of an invasion of consciousness than a gentle awakening.
Before the seventh seal was broken John saw four angels holding back the four winds of the world. They are holding back the four winds to give the rider of the white horse time to mark those who have earned the victor’s crown. These are the people who have chosen, of their own free well, to invite the Master Spirit to guide them through the individuation process. But, the others remaining aren’t all lost. Many of those will also choose the way of Universal Oneness when they are forced to make a choice. They will wash their clothes in the blood of the Lamb. Washing clothes in the blood of the Lamb usually indicates martyrdom. However, speaking psychologically, suffering which is experienced consciously can be a sign of transformation and redemption.
As in Heaven, so it is on Earth
When the seventh seal is broken there is a long period of silence, then seven trumpets are given to seven angels. Another angel, holding a golden censer, comes forward and stands by the altar. He is given a quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of the saints. After doing so, he fills the censer with the fire from the altar and throws it down onto the earth.
The tabernacle (in the Temple) on earth is thought to be a duplicate of the tabernacle of heaven. On earth we burn incense and send the resulting smoke and scent upwards. Jesus said he was sent from Heaven to bring fire to the earth (Gospel of Luke 12:49). By doing so He created the ability for each of us to become a ”sweet savor to the Lord”. We can become a form of burning incense. Here in Revelation fire is being thrown down from Heaven to enflame our physical bodies so that nothing will be left of the physical ego. Only the essence of the ego will remain as the unconscious self is brought into consciousness.
But again, we have a warning. John sees fire and smoke is also coming from the Abyss (Hell). Now we have to ask: When the unconscious self comes fully forward, causing the ego to become enflamed, will it be with the fires of Heaven or of the Abyss? Will our resulting essence be a “sweet savor to the Lord" or, the foul odor of the Abyss? It is our choice. We are each being asked to willing go through this process. We are being asked to curb our passion for the gold and silver of earth for the gold and silver of Heaven. We must have self knowledge in order to protect ourselves against the onslaught of the demons wanting to possess our spirits through our ego need for material wealth and power.
As we go through each of the first six trumpets all manner of crises and calamities are happening on earth. As the time nears for the seventh trumpet to be heard, an angel appears with a small scroll. Seven thunderclaps are heard. As John is about to write down what the thunderclaps say, he is instructed not to record what was said. Instead he is told eat the scroll, which the angel has in his hand. Chapter 10 of Revelation is giving us food for thought. We are being told to eat the scroll. Our unconscious self has been given knowledge that our ego must study and understand in order to bring this knowledge into active consciousness.
Revelation 11 tells us that both the self and the collective unconscious are in the process of building a temple. We are collecting the necessary building blocks and tools, but the ego (our physical self) must actively take part in building the Temple. This will be the Temple of God on earth. Is this to be the center of the New Jerusalem, “that city not made with hands”?
As the seventh trumpet sounds John is told “the time has come to destroy those who are destroying the earth”. Hopefully, by this point in time, anyone reading this summary will have chosen to follow the guidance of the Master Spirit
War in Heaven
John’s next vision is that of “a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head for a crown”. She is about to give birth to a child. Psychologically this is possibly the most important vision. It indicates wholeness and the end of a long labor of love. The pangs of giving birth to a new life is over. The baby is born. Immediately upon birth the child is taken up to heaven for safety and the mother escapes into the desert. A huge red dragon had been waiting for the birth so he could eat the child. This is the beginning of war in heaven.
Satan, in the form of the dragon, is now thrown out of Heaven and down to Earth. Since the collective unconscious is the Realm of Heaven, Satan can now only reach us through the ego. How thought provoking! Up to this point Satan was able to travel at will between heaven and earth. Now he is no longer allowed in Heaven. This signals the big split between Heaven and Hell and between good and evil. The collective Unconscious, as the Realm of Heaven, will no longer permit Satan to enter. Satan is now only allowed in the realm of the ego. And he certainly does seem to enjoy tempting our egos.
When the unconscious self comes forward into the physical it will bring with it both spirit and animal energies. Our individual and collective consciousness (ego) are being bombarded by transpersonal energies. They are coming not only from the heavens above us and from the grounds below us but also from the sea (sea monster) and the land (land monster).
How is the ego being subjected to such bombardment? The Holocaust is used as an example, but we have also had ‘racial cleansing’ in Croatia and it is still on-going in Africa and other locations. Earthquakes deep in the ocean floor have triggered Tsunamis that have killed not just 100 people, but 100,000 and more. Floods from hurricanes have ruined entire cities. The catastrophic events happening around us boggle the mind. We need to become more aware of what is happening all around us. As we train ourselves to become more aware we will strengthen the unconscious as it moves forward into conscious reality.
As our ego becomes more knowledgeable about the unconscious self and brings it closer into realization we become anxious and on edge. What is happening? Is there something to fear? When angels appear to someone in the physical world for the 1st time why do they so often begin speaking by saying, “fear not”? Is it the appearance of the angel that is so fearsome? Jung says, “One can love God but must fear him”. Do we subconsciously fear God and therefore we also fear His messenger? Are we running from the message of Revelation?
When we follow the Beast we crave power and pleasure. These are passions of the flesh. They are of the world and belong to Satan. When we allow our passions to burn with the desire for power and pleasure we are condemning ourselves to eternal torture. But all this must change. We can no longer have a split between Heaven and Earth. There can no longer be a split between the conscious and unconscious. The unconscious is coming into the conscious realization. There will be no more split between Heaven and Earth. There will be the Universal Oneness of Sacred Unity.
The Son of Man is told that the harvest of earth is ripe. He goes and reaps the harvest. Jesus has told us “I am the Vine. You are the branches”. It is now time for Jesus to harvest the fruits of those who are a part of His Vine. The Son of Man reaped his harvest.
Then an angel was told to harvest the bunches from the Vine of the Earth. This angel is not harvesting from the Vine of Jesus. That Vine has already been harvested. This angel is harvesting the fruits of the vine of the earth, - those individual egos whose passions were for power and pleasure. The ego will be trampled down into the wine press and will be forced into a Universal Oneness. By so doing, the experience of the collective unconsciousness can be assimilated and understood by consciousness.
We have allowed our shadow side to build up in our collective unconscious to the extent that it is now ‘overflowing’. We are now out of balance. Just as the earth has night and day, so too does the unconscious have lightness and darkness. Psychologically we have been neglecting our unconscious for a long time. For centuries we have been swallowing dark thoughts and emotions. Our ego has been repressing ‘problematic libido’ by keeping it all inside and allowing our unconscious to feed upon it. Now our unconscious is coming forward. Collectively we have an over abundance of darkness coming to the surface. Physically this overabundance of darkness is affecting our immune systems. More and more we are hearing of viruses and other ailments caused by a weakening of our immune system.
Babylon, the Mother of All Prostitutes
Revelation refers to Babylon the Great as “the mother of all the prostitutes and all the filthy practices on the earth”. Babylon is Venus at her lowest. The Goddess of Beauty and Love is here depicted as a prostitute. For centuries women have been repressed. Logic tells us there must have been a reason for this. Why has this symbol of Love been repressed for so long? This repression of all things feminine has caused the collective psyche to eat the “disgusting filth of her fornication”. We have once again fed our repression to the dark side of our collective unconscious. There has been a major split between masculine and feminine, but with the coming of the unconscious this split must cease to exist. There must be unity. We must value both our feminine and our masculine sides. They must become one.
The Book of Revelation refers to Babylon as the Wicked City. It is questionable whether Babylon really is the wicked city. Some scholars believe that it could have been a veiled reference to Rome, or even to Jerusalem. Babylon, as the wicked city, represents the ego while the Heavenly city represents the Self. When an individual becomes part of a group it takes on that group’s identity whether that be local or national, or a particular religious group or race. This group identity is at all levels of society. It can be friendly like the rivalry between two local schools, or it can be hostile like the conflicts between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The self learns to project itself into these group identities as a condition of acceptance (ego) or as a conditioned behavior. At its worst this can result in wars between the various groups while the individual is caught in either one group or the other.
The Last Judgment
This is the riveting belief that each one of us, in our turn, will be judged by our actions. All major religions have this common belief.
The earliest record of a belief in being judged by a Supreme Being is in Ancient Egypt. At that time, when a person died their soul would cross over into the land of the dead. There they would be judged by having their heart placed on one side of a measuring scale. On the other side of the scale was the feather of Truth. Forty-two judges would be in attendance. Each judge examined a particular aspect of the conscience. The results were placed on the scale with the heart. If the heart was found to be in balance with the Truth that person (soul) would be allowed into the kingdom of Osirus. If not, the heart (and soul) was fed to the Devourer, a monster (a form of hell).
The New Jerusalem
What is the psychological meaning of apocalypse? The self is coming into conscious realization.