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Among Carl Jung's works come the "Septem Sermones ad Mortuos" (The Seven Sermons to the Dead), written in 1916. Jung himself characterises this text "the prima materia for a lifetime's work."

According to the cover of the original publication, the work is thought to have been written in Alexandria, "the city where the East toucheth the West". "Alexandria" constitutes a symbolic choice while, actually, the text was written in Jung's birthplace, Basel Switzerland. On the same cover two names are written, Karl Jung's and someone else's called Basilides: that is to say it seems as if Jung wrote the specific text together with a person, otherwise unknown, called Basilides.

What really happened is that Jung experienced a spiritual coverage (the phenomenon of hyper-coverage) by the spirit of Master Basilides, a known Christian from Alexandria of the 2nd century A.D.; one of those who were later named the Gnostics. Basilides returned bodiless to the earthly density, 18 centuries later and, as a Voice, dictated this text to him entitled "VII Sermones ad Mortuos".

In his autobiography, called "Memories, Dreams, Reflections", Jung mentions his spiritual experiences analytically and his communication with the invisible planes. Indeed, a few years before Jung communicated with Basilides, he had quite a few esoteric discussions with another bodiless entity, Philemon, for whom he says:

«Philemon and other figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life. Philemon represented a force which was not myself. In my fantasies I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I. He said I treated thoughts as if I generated them myself, but in his view thoughts were like animals in the forest, or people in a room, or birds in the air, and added, "If you should see people in a room, you would not think that you had made those people, or that you were responsible for them." It was he who taught me psychic objectivity, the reality of the psyche. Through him the distinction was clarified between myself and the object of my thought. He confronted me in an objective manner, and I understood that there is something in me which can say things that I do not know and do not intend, things which may even be directed against me.

Psychologically, Philemon represented superior insight. He was a mysterious figure to me. At times he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality. I went walking up and down the garden with him, and to me he was what the Indians call a guru.

(...) I could have wished for nothing better than a real, live guru someone possessing superior knowledge and ability, who would have disentangled for me the involuntary creations of my imagination. This task was undertaken by the figure of Philemon, whom in this respect I had willy-nilly to recognize as my psychagogue. And the fact was that he conveyed to me many an illuminating idea

And so, at some point we reach the "meeting" with Master Basilides which, as we shall see, proves decisive for Jung's course. Functioning "as a medium that gives the dead the chance to express themselves", he himself describes his experience with the following words:

«Very gradually the outlines of an inner change began making their appearance within me. In 1916 I felt an urge to give shape to something. I was compelled from within, as it were, to formulate and express what might have been said by Philemon. This was how the "Septem Sermones ad Mortuos" with its peculiar language came into being.

It began with a restlessness, but I did not know what it meant or what "they" wanted of me. There was an ominous atmosphere all around me. I had the strange feeling that the air was filled with ghostly entities. Then it was as if my house began to be haunted. My eldest daughter saw a white figure passing through the room. My second daughter, independently of her elder sister, related that twice in the night her blanket had been snatched away; and that same night my nine-year-old son had an anxiety dream. In the morning he asked his mother for crayons, and he, who ordinarily never drew, now made a picture of his dream. He called it "The Picture of the Fisherman". Through the middle of the picture ran a river, and a fisherman with a rod was standing on the shore. He had caught a fish. On the fisherman's head was a chimney from which flames were leaping and smoke rising. From the other side of the river the devil came flying through the air. He was cursing because his fish had been stolen. But above the fisherman hovered an angel who said, "You cannot do anything to him; he only catches the bad fish!" My son drew this picture on a Saturday.

Around five o' clock in the afternoon on Sunday the front door bell began ringing frantically. It was a bright summer day; the two maids were in the kitchen, from which the open square outside the front door could be seen. Everyone immediately looked to see who was there, but there was no one in sight. I was sitting near the doorbell, and not only heard it but saw it moving. We all simply stared at one another. The atmosphere was thick, believe me! Then I knew that something had to happen. The whole house was filled as if there were a crowd present, crammed full of spirits. They were packed deep right up to the door, and the air was so thick it was scarcely possible to breathe. As for myself, I was all a-quiver with the question: "For God's sake, what in the world is this?" Then they cried out in chorus, "We have come back from Jerusalem where we found not what we sought." That is the beginning of the Septem Sermones.

Then it began to flow out of me, and in the course of three evenings the thing was written. As soon as I took up the pen, the whole ghostly assemblage evaporated. The room quieted and the atmosphere cleared. The haunting was over

This experience determined Jung's life and work, as he says himself. Apart from the fact that Basilides delivered him a teaching with an overwhelming content, he also simultaneously revealed to him his destination in the earthly world, he opened the way for him to see his task, which was proven to have become great, creative and new.

«From that time on, the dead have become ever more distinct for me as the voices of the Unanswered, Unresolved, and Unredeemed; for since the questions and demands which my destiny required me to answer did not come to me from outside, they must have come from the inner world. These conversations with the dead formed a kind of prelude to what I had to communicate to the world about the unconscious: a kind of pattern of order and interpretation of its general contents.

(...) It was then that I dedicated myself to service of the psyche. I loved it and hated it, but it was my greatest wealth. My delivering myself over to it, as it were, was the only way by which I could endure my existence and live it as fully as possible.

Today I can say that I have never lost touch with my initial experiences. All my works, all my creative activity, has come from those initial fantasies and dreams which began in 1912, almost fifty years ago. Everything that I accomplished in later life was already contained in them, although at first only in the form of emotions and images

Therefore, it is of particular value for us to study the content of this dictation by Basilides, for which Jung says :

«For I felt that something great was happening to me, and I put my trust in the thing which I felt to be more important sub specie aeternitatis. I knew that it would fill my life, and for the sake of that goal I was ready to take any kind of risk.

(...) As a young man my goal had been to accomplish something in my science. But then, I hit upon this stream of lava, and the heat of its fires reshaped my life. That was the primal stuff which compelled me to work upon it, and my works are a more or less successful endeavour to incorporate this incandescent matter into the contemporary picture of the world.

The years when I was pursuing my inner images were the most important in my life - in them everything essential was decided. It all began then; the later details are only supplements and clarifications of the material that burst forth from the unconscious and at first swamped me. It was the prima materia for a lifetime's work

Now, a few words about Basilides and the Gnostic Christians:

After the "death" of Jesus, there were many who studied but, mainly, lived according to the truth and wisdom of the Word.

Among them there was a group of enlightened souls that lived in Alexandria in the 2nd century A.D. and founded the known Gnostics' School of Alexandria. They were named the "Gnostics", because they believed that the development of the human soul is achieved only by experience and experiential knowledge.

In their teaching, Basilides, Valentinus, Carpocrates, Serenicus Sammonius, Apelles, etc. named the universe as "Pleroma" and the creation "Creatura". God, the One that really exists, who is found outside and beyond the limits of the "Pleroma", was named "Abraxas", a word that has been composed by letters, whose combination contains the entire secret structure and geometry of the universe.

Searching the origin of the name "Abraxas", we find that Basilides used it in order to describe the superior deity among the seven principles, which was gifted with 365 virtues, symbolically and according to the Greek numeration (look left).

The sum of the numerical values that are attributed to each letter of the word Abraxas shapes a total 365 that corresponds in the 365 days of the solar year, or with what amounts to a circle of "divine action", the total of 365 successive events that is attributed to God in a year.

Certain writers consider the word Abraxas similar to the Jewish holy word "Shemahamphorasch" emanating from the wider name of God, and others connect the name of Abraxas with that of Abraham.

In the East the name of Abraxas also appears and it is appreciated that it emanates from the combination of the Indian words "Abhimanin" (the older son of Brahma) and "Brahma".

On the other hand, Abraxas is identified with Mithra. He is mentioned as the mediator between humanity and the only God, the irresistible sun that was worshipped in the antiquity, during the 3rd and 4th centuries. This Abraxas-Mithras, in his Persian origin, is the mediator between Ahuramazda and Ariman, that is to say between the Good and the Evil.

The ABRAXAS of the Gnostics is the INRI of the Christians, the TAO of the Chinese, the ZEN of the Buddhists.

Moreover we cannot omit the presence of Abraxas in theurgy: The vibration of the sound caused by speaking this word was considered holy and used for therapeutic purposes.

From the word Abraxas also emanates "Abracadabra", which derives from the Jewish phrase: "Abreq ad Habra" which means: "Send your beam up till death" and has remained in the children's "magic" language up until now.

In the minimal historical evidence that was preserved, small square pieces of scroll have been found, that are speculated to have functioned also as amulets and were written in a specific way (look left).

The Catechetical School of Alexandria moved against the Gnostics, their independent thinking and way of life mainly when the official establishment of the Christian Church was decided. The Gnostics suffered persecution, were hunted, discredited, tortured and massacred. Their writings were delivered to the fire and minimal data concerning them was preserved up till now where the Church continues to consider them as heretics. That is why Basilides mentions in the following text: "In the cause of redemption, I teach you the truth that has been rejected, due to which I, myself was rejected".

So, there you are, nothing is lost in the universe and Basilides returned in order to offer his teaching again, the one for which some other people were at one time exterminated off the face of the earth. And naturally he selected, by no means accidentally, the soul of Carl Jung to be his channel and earthy collaborator.

Jung offered this text to his friends on occasion but did not permit them to publish it. Finally, he gave his permission for its publication in his memoirs book, after doubts and only "for the sake of integrity", but did not permit the publication of the key of the anagram found in the end of Sermon VII .


Tilda Negri