CORONA (COVID)AS SYMBOL AND MYTH*

Last year in April I was getting prepared for writing a symbol paper[1], and that was just after the Corona virus started to be a pandemic situation. Soon, like most living beings in this world, I was affected by the waves of fear, as well as by shock and disorientation. To me, the whole process seemed to be a very important historical event, and I decided to write my paper on the Corona virus, not only to discuss it intellectually, but also in the hope that through feeling and thinking about it, I could bring at least some unconscious parts of its symbolic meaning (and so the archetypal story behind it) to the conscious, and I could find a bit of relief for myself. And so, it did serve well for me, after almost a year, I am sharing this paper publicly, wishing that it may serve also to some others.

My intention in writing this paper was to discuss the symbol of Corona (virus; Covid-19) and our overall attitude as human beings facing with the crisis. Besides the symbolic approach, I also gave space to the possible archetypal stories that I felt were connected with what was happening then, and I believe it still does. And also, in the paper I worked on a few dreams of mine, which I started to have a few months back before the pandemic started. However, I do not feel comfortable about sharing all of them publicly yet, so you will find only the last two, and the rest shall stay in the dark for now.

So, in this paper you will find the following titles:

  1. Corona “the Crown” 
  2. Corona “the Mother”
  3. Corona “the End”
  4. Corona “the Trickster”
  5. My Dreams about Corona (Covid)
  1. Corona: “the Crown” 

The word “corona” in Latin means crown. Crown brings, I think, both power and powerlessness. When a king or a queen wears the crown, s/he gains power but also s/he loses something else. Archetypal power can inflate or individuate the mortal. One can have the crown and can lose himself in this heavenly fascination or one can have the crown and grow out of it through being aware of its power that is not his but gods’. 

Crown is round and associated with King and Queen. However, its roundedness brings us the geometric shape, circle, which has so much to do with “soul”. We see this shape as “halo” in Renaissance paintings, just above saints’ heads. It symbolizes the energy which the soul brings, and the crown worn by a king or a queen is simply a symbol of the soul, thus the psyche. 

Crown is also seen in connection with the feminine archetype:
“The idea of roundness is also found in the crown, symbol of kingship. ‘Corona regis’ is cited as synonymous with ashes, body, sea, salt, mother and Blessed Virgin, and is thus identified with the feminine element.

This peculiar relationship between rotundity and the mother is explained by the fact that the mother, the unconscious, is the place where the symbol of wholeness appears. The fact that the rotundum is, as it were, contained in the anima and is prefigured by her lends her that extraordinary fascination which characterizes the ‘Eternal Feminine’ in the good as well as the bad sense. At a certain level, therefore, woman appears as the true carrier of the longed-for wholeness and redemption.” (C. G. Jung – CW 14, par. 499-500)

Thus, crown does not only bring power, but it also brings something belonging to the soul.

I would like to concentrate on the King archetype and the crown of the King within this part, since I will be focusing on the feminine archetype through the Mother archetype (the myth of Coronis) in the following part.

Naturally, I make associations with a few important astrological constellations of this year: Saturn-Pluto and Saturn-Jupiter conjunctions. And I feel that especially those two happenings indicate critical changes. But why are those changes critical and what are their relations with Corona virus?

Saturn is known as Chronos, Pluto as Hades, and Jupiter as Zeus. Those three kings are also known to be in desire of ruling the whole cosmos. While Chronos is interested in rules, stability and in old fashions, Hades and Zeus are after change and challenges. They are not into stability at all. To them, things need to change, get transformed, die and be born-again. When I think about what they all bring energetically, I cannot help but look at what is occurring in the world especially right now and see a clear connection between those constellations and the crisis the virus has brought into our lives.

On 12th January, Saturn and Pluto conjunction happened. Pluto (Hades) seeks for change. He is the god of the Underworld and he belongs to the dark and the collective unconscious. Besides, he is the embodiment of destruction and decay. In Persephone myth, I find him both as the evil and the guide. He is, like Lucifer, the light bringer, brings consciousness. He is the oldest son of Chronos, and he is all about devastation, decay, death and most importantly, rebirth. I think that he is connected also with the god Anubis in Egypt[2], who welcomes the dead to the Underworld of Egypt, Duat. While Saturn always seeks for structure and rules, Pluto, like his brothers, brings transformation and challenges the system. He is rebellious. Hence, it can be said that this conjunction somehow constellates a challenge to our well-known structures, our world order.

Here I do not only want to mention about the meaning of the symbol, Corona the crown, but also what it can bring into our world, into our consciousness. Through months, we have witnessed many discussions around economic and ecological break down, as well as around our health system and the discrimination in every structure we have built through ages. I think that Corona symbolizes a resilient change in the whole system, everywhere on Earth. And I think that constellation in the sky is a strong synchronicity, also supporting this change archetypally and forcefully.

Keiron Le Grice, Ph.D. highlights the essential points about this conjunction[3]:

In depth psychological terms, with regard to individuation, the Saturn-Pluto complex is especially associated with a number of overlapping themes and challenges:

  • The experience of Saturn-Pluto forges and fortifies us, forcing us to rely on our own inner resources and reserves, thereby effecting a moral strengthening of consciousness against the unconscious.
  • Saturn-Pluto is alchemical through and through, in that it pushes us to deep transformation. It is associated with the “Herculean labor,” as Jung described it, of facing the shadow (the dark half of the personality) and the instinctual unconscious. This archetypal astrological complex often seeks to impel us to develop the capacity to resist, control, and overcome the instincts with the exertion of the moral will and ascetic self-discipline.
  • Together these archetypes are associated with the driving to an extreme of fear and the impulse to self-protection, which can often then make possible the purging, release, and integration of such fears if they can be successfully handled. In the stirring of deep-lying fears and desperate drives for survival, it brings these emotions and drives to consciousness such that we can experience and contain fear rather than unconsciously act on them.

So, to me, our time feels like giving us a potentially charged period in which we can dive deep into our psyche and discover our sources. The constellation upon the sky and the earth brings the unknown and the known together so that the soul can meet with the spirit, as well as the body, which is the material aspect of the trinity of the psyche (spirit-soul-body).

To continue, I would like to go on with another constellation which is happening on 21st December, “the Great conjunction”. Saturn is “the Old King”, and Jupiter is “the New King”. This seems to be a shift or a change in the order as we know it, and this constellation, I think, is already on its move. So far, we have seen a shift in our already existing systems: our working environment changed (online), our social life changed, our education life changed. Almost everything we were familiar with has totally changed, leaving us a very unclear future. And mostly it has brought darkness, unfamiliarity and hopelessness into our lives at the first sight. 

The constellation of Saturn-Jupiter happens on 21st December and that day is the darkest night of the year and is also known as “the night which brings the light”, because from that night on, days become longer. This again reminds me of Lucifer, the light bringer. Before the light rises, dark becomes denser. Then I think myself that maybe the question is this: Is this a time for the crown ritual? Is the old order to be changed -and does it need to change? Then I think myself that maybe “crown” stands for “change”. 

And if I take Saturn as the crown holder, and Pluto or Jupiter as the challengers and the future crown holders, I see another connection with the virus and its effects on our lives: Saturn is all about solid reality, boundaries and limits, as well as skin. When I think about the virus, it goes beyond our boundaries, our skin, and it declares its own kingdom in our body, thus psyche. In a way, it is an invader and wants its crown. So, the virus really acts like a king (crown) and seeks for its own kingdom. And maybe, Corona seeks for a change and transformation, a death-rebirth ritual. And maybe, it is the man-eater, seeking for incarnation.

2. Corona “the Mother”
Greek: Κορωνις
Transliteration: Korônis
Latin Spelling: Coronis
Translation: Curved (korônis)

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 64. 6:
“To Apollo and Koronis (Coronis) was born Asklepios (Asclepius), who learned from his father many matters which pertain to the healing art.”

Ovid, Metamorphoses 15. 624 ff:
“[Rome] has introduced Coronis’ child [Asclepius] among the deities guarding the city,”

In mythology, we see the mother Coronis as the woman who gives birth to Asclepius the healer. In the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology[4] it says:

“CORONIS (Korônis), a daughter of Phlegyas and mother of Asclepius. (Ov. Fast. i. 291; Schol. ad Pind. Pyth. iii. 14, 48, 59.) When Coronis was with child by Apollo, she became enamoured with Ischys, an Arcadian, and Apollo informed of this by a raven, which he had set to watch her, or, according to Pindar, by his own prophetic powers, sent his sister Artemis to kill Coronis. Artemis accordingly destroyed Coronis in her own house at Lacereia in Thessaly, on the shore of lake Baebia. (Comp. Hom. Hymn. 27. 3.) According to Ovid (Met. ii. 605, &c.) and Hyginus (Poet. Astr. ii. 40), it was Apollo himself who killed Coronis and Ischys. When the body of Coronis was to be burnt, Apollo, or, according to others (Paus. ii. 26. § 5), Hermes, saved the child (Aesculapius) from the flames, and carried it to Chiron, who instructed the boy in the art of healing and in hunting.”[5]

In another source it says[6]:

“Asclepius was a demigod born to Apollo and Coronis, a mortal woman from Thessaly, Greece. During her pregnancy, Coronis fell in love with another human named Ischys (Ancient Greek: Ἰσχύς means “strength”; “ischium” means hip bone). Upon learning about their affair, Apollo sent his twin sister Artemis to burn Coronis. However, Apollo decided to save his unborn child, Asclepius, from his mother’s burning womb. This event was said to have been the Caesarion sections in human history, earning Asclepius his name, which translates into ‘to cut open.’ He then gave the infant Asclepius to Chiron, a centaur known for his medicinal skills. Chiron raised Asclepius and taught him how to be a healer.”

Here within this story, what makes me feel amazed is the connection between Coronis and Asclepius. Coronis (Corona) gives birth to Asclepius, which is the healer. It is said that disease or illness is a part of the healing or to be healthy[7]. Then I ask myself the question: Could Corona be a part of health, being whole? Could Corona be giving birth to the healer within us? I think the answer is yes. I see people around me giving much more attention to their bodies and the psyche. Since we have been forced to isolate ourselves, we have come to face with our inner attitudes much more because the situation has made it impossible to socialize and to position our libido outside. Instead, a regression has started and thus, we have pushed to become more introverted. Living in an extraordinarily extroverted world, almost all of us were used to live “outside”. We rarely came inside our home, our psyche. And I feel that, Corona, as “Coronis” the Mother, has been forcing us to go inside (the womb, the unconscious, the inner world, the dark) and meet with our inner healer so that we can become whole again, thus, maybe pushing us into individuation.

With Coronis, and Corona, I make another link to the theme “justice”. When I came across with what Marie-Louise von Franz said about justice and the order of nature, I have noticed also that the real crown belongs to Nature (the unconscious, the Queen), not to human. And Nature seeks for the natural order, I think, as the Mother of Justice: 

“Themis (Justice), revengefulness in nature brings us to a very serious situation, one of the greatest present-day problems of our world: namely, that created by the great improvement in medicine due to the rational and technical development of the white man’s civilization. This is basically due to the domination of the white races. Pretty soon the world will be hopelessly overpopulated; in a couple of hundred years the situation will be absolutely hopeless, but the United Nations and other organizations continue to improve hygienic conditions in India and other Eastern countries and to help overpopulate the earth. Possibly nature will invent a new virus—and a virus is capable of fantastic mutations—or bring about such a state of irritation that Russia or the United States or some other country will use the atom bomb, because somehow humanity has to be reduced.”[8]

“Themis (Justice) is the one who is hurt, who curses the child and has the function of the bad fairy godmother. She represents an aspect of the mother goddess which has been very much forgotten in our civilization, but which exists in many primitive civilizations, and in antiquity, that is, a feminine principle which contains a strange kind of severity and revengefulness, and which does not coincide with the parallel male attitude. When we think of revenge or punishment—revenge is an older form of punishment—we think of the law, of its transgression, and of punishment according to established laws, for that is our custom,”, and she continues to say, “According to mythological standards, there is also feminine justice, and a feminine principle of revenge. What would that be, according to the rules of law and justice as we see them? It would be more individual and personal.” …. “But there is another process of revenge and punishment which I would like to define as the revengefulness of nature. If for twenty years a person eats hastily and without even sitting down to do so, eventually he will probably be punished with stomach disorders. It cannot be called a legal punishment; it is the natural consequence—wrong behavior is followed by bad luck or illness.”[9]

When I was diving into those expressions of von Franz, the image of “the star-crowned woman of the Apocalypse” (Revelation 12:1) came in front of my eyes: “A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She is in the pangs of birth and is pursued by a red dragon. She will give birth to a man-child who shall “rule the nations with a rod of iron.”[10]

This passage reminds me again of the myth of Coronis, which I discussed above, and I see another connection between Coronis (Corona) and the star-crowned woman of the Apocalypse. Her giving birth to a man-child who shall rule the nations with a rod of iron looks very similar to Coronis’ giving birth to Asclepius, who has a rod with a snake on it. This brings to my mind the question: What exactly does Asclepius stand for? And is it possible that this new age will be ruled by him? And if it will, then what does that mean? New and more wholistic (bringing body together with psyche) approaches in medicine?

Medicine is not simply drugs and operations. It is far beyond that. Real medicine seeks for “wholeness”, which has so much to do with psyche and body together. Now the medicine world is welcoming integral approaches such as “Functional medicine”, and I think that this is what the humanity needs. Could this virus be pointing the end of an era which was dominated by one-sidedness? And could it be signing the end of dividedness of the human psyche?

Some characteristics of the Corona virus, “coming out of shadows, out of nowhere”, resemble the aspects of Mother archetype, especially “The Devouring Mother”.

Mother is nature, blood, body and flesh. Also, she is the darkness, the unconscious. She stands for the unknown, the obscure, the mysterious, the hidden. She comes out of darkness as a dragon or a witch, wishing for ending lives. She is the world of death, homeland of Hades, and she can devour our bodies and eat our lives up. She can be poisonous like a snake, a scorpion, or a spider. She brings horror and she is inescapable. 

Mother is “matter”. This “matter” might be the food we eat, our possessions, our bodies and so on. Marion Woodman says that food symbolizes the Mother.[11] I believe it is obvious how unconsciously we are consuming “the matter” nowadays. Our relationship with the food is at extremes: either we consume it too much, or we do not have any of it. Either people waste too much food/matter or people die of hunger. So, I will take this as an example for a disbalance. And, from a Jungian point of view, I believe that this can draw a picture of our psychic situation and can be taken as a projection onto our outer world: The consuming/starving aspect in the unconscious meets with the consuming/starving population in the conscious world.

The healthy relationship with the matter would be seeing the matter as a part of us (even as ourselves) and act accordingly. Or maybe, we see it as ourselves and that is the reason why we are trying to consume it endlessly -we want to consume/end our bodies! Maybe we want to consume ourselves -to death. And maybe this death is needed because we need to be reduced as von Franz said. The modern human, honestly, is obsessed with the matter: eating without need, buying without need, consuming without need. As we consume and abuse the matter, we consume and abuse the Mother, and thus, ourselves. Or maybe we are trying to end (kill) Her unconsciously. And if I have understood it well, what is unconscious cannot be eliminated or disappear, but it gets stronger and may act aggressively if denied or ignored. The pressure (push) made to keep it unconscious will let it grow bigger, stronger and aggressive, and she will act without control (conscious) because it is unconscious! 

Now, when I think about the virus and its effects, this uncontrollable disaster seems to be rooted in the denial of this aspect of the unconscious: the spirit of matter. I see a deep meaning within the matter, and I would call it as a living being, as alchemists would. And I believe that, once we start acting upon this spirit without respect and care, it will rebel as a prisoner would do. We see our bodies as prisons, we do not feed our bodies properly, and every day. Most of us either underfeed or overfeed their bodies without consciousness. We see our bodies as our personas -that is all: It was best to be very thin a few decades ago and now it is fashionable to have muscles! What I see is that we take our bodies as machines or even outfits to show off, not as our treasured beings. The body is not taken as a part of the psyche, but as an outlander. And thus, I think, we might have ended up unconsciously wishing for an outsider (an enemy, a virus) to fulfill our wish: to die; to get devoured.

I have been working as a professional nutrition and diet therapist for two years now, and I have especially witnessed many cases including eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and also other cases of systemic candidiasis. When I pay attention to these health problems, I do not see a simple structure, but a complex one. It is never only about food but more than that. People may be eating less or more; it does not matter. At the end, they do reject to feed themselves properly. They either eat too much junk food or they do not feed themselves at all. To my opinion, both cases are pointing to the same point: The body is starving anyway. About this, Woodman says, “The bulimic wants Mother so desperately she just gorges her down. But the minute she is in her stomach, she can’t assimilate her, so she vomits. The anorexic refuses and rejects Mother until she wastes away from her lack of inner nourishment.”[12]

Also, as a permaculture designer, for years I worked on the problems of our modern agriculture. I can say that using pesticides and fungicides does not help the well-being of any living creature, and of the soil. We use sprays and other agricultural techniques for the sake of earning more, expanding more and getting power more. However, most of the modern techniques abuse the soil, thus Nature. What is more, this act makes us literally sick. We are poisoning ourselves, every day. It feels like we have forgotten Nature, we turned our backs to Her. 

I believe that we have also forgotten what entropy really meant and our only interest has become expanding endlessly. Nature does not let endless expansion. There needs to be regressive phase after a progressive phase. The expansion needs to stop and regress to find the balance. Through endless consumption, we lead expansion, and we tend to think that we can expand our lives through anti-aging, through finding new planets to live on, through travelling far or through eating more (especially “healthy” food). However, there is a limit to our expansion, and it seems that we are not aware of this. We, as humans, progress without hesitation, without any consideration about in what ways our actions end.  We simply do not know anything about taking responsibility for our actions. The only real thing for most of us seems to be the moment we live in and how much more we can have, consume or gain. What I have understood from studying biology, anatomy and science of nature, is that one needs to stop at some point to give way for “the other”. This “other” would be either following the regressive movement of the psychic energy or acknowledging the shadow aspect of our very being, which we have ignored for so long. Besides, what I have understood so far from the fairy tales and myths, if one cannot stop himself, some kind of a creature, a king, or an old man/woman will stop you. One needs to have boundaries. In Gilgamesh, a young hunter finds a wild man in the forest and he tells his old father. The old man wishes to see the wild man, and when he does, he says that this creature can be a good companion for their king Gilgamesh. The people in Uruk (Gilgamesh’s town) cannot stand the outrageous behaviors of Gilgamesh, such as playing drums and shouting loudly on the streets because he has too much energy. According to the story, Gilgamesh seems to be having too much of psychic energy and he is not able to handle it, so he spends it freely, however he wants. Unfortunately, this attitude of him does not make his people happy. They are tired of his energy. Thus, they decide to find him a “companion” so that he can balance his energy. And this “companion” comes as a wild man, later known as Enkidu (means “who belongs to the woods”), and he seems to be the shadow character of Gilgamesh. Enkidu comesout of dark and out of nowhere and acts as a balancing aspect.

It is to say that we need a balancing factor if we tend to grow endlessly or spend our energy without care. So, I believe that the Corona virus may also be appearing as this kind of a factor, reminding us how far we have gone. We need something to stop us and a virus can help us to do that. We had to stop working, stop socializing, stop producing and most of all, stop consuming. Now most of the people are living in a smaller world (at home!) with less consumption. Thus, it seems to me like Nature is acting out to balance, thus, to compensate (and bring justice!) the extreme one-sidedness of human’s conscious attitude. And here comes “the Mother as threat”: I imagine the Corona virus as a woman who is holding a sword in her hands, reminding us that it is time be conscious of our consumption of Nature and of our bodies, also telling us to grow up

Dark Mother can be threatening and may create unwanted and unexpected situations -for the ego! This side of the Mother is also known as the “step-mother”, or the forgotten character in a tale, forcing the hero to individuate -like in Cinderella, Vasilissa, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.

Marie-Louise von Franz talks about the mother archetype in her book, “The Feminine in Fairy Tales”, highlighting how the stepmother reacts once she is denied or forgotten:

“…complexes are not harmonious in human beings. They can fight each other and may even push aside other instinctive drives. If a god is forgotten, it means that some aspects of collective consciousness are so much in the foreground that others are ignored to a great extent. The archetype of the mother goddess has suffered that fate in our civilization.

For the development of Western civilization, it was perhaps necessary for the Western mind to have to ignore the mother goddess for a certain length of time and to put the whole emphasis onto male development. But ignored organs of the psyche behave in the same way as ignored organs of the body—if you eat irregularly, your stomach is upset. Our physical organs need a certain amount of attention; we cannot afford to ignore their needs by one-sidedness. And the same is true of the organs of the psyche. If we ignore certain vital nuclei in the psyche, they will cause an illness in the system. Just as stomach trouble can result in complete destruction of health, so can one complex that does not function properly disorganize the whole. Then there is a neurosis, or worse, […]” And she continues: “All the well-meaning charitable enterprises in the world are built up on a Weltanschauung that does not take the dark side of Mother Nature into consideration. They are based on Christian ideas. But if one ignores a goddess, she manifests herself again. At one time nature and her dark side were in harmony, but from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries onward—as can be seen for instance in mythology, in poetry, and in religious movements—natural compensation was no longer on the lines of the one-sided light attitude.”

We know that every archetype has dual nature, and the Mother seems to be playing out her role perfectly. However, I think we can see also her other face (the “light” aspect): No matter what rationality we are from, we are in this “together”, and people are trying to support each other all over the world: going to the groceries for the elder, denoting money for the poor, calling each other more to ask if they need anything, etc. So, I think that this war-like situation has also made us remember our humanity. Positive mother archetype is about caring, sharing and compassion – She brings together! And when a threatening situation comes into the outer world, the Mother archetype is constellated immediately. Thus, we become more willing to help and care more for each other.

To sum up this part, again I have a few questions to reflect upon it: Could this tricky and confusing virus be telling us a tale about the human’s wish for death through facing the Mother? Could this virus be making us face with the fact that we cannot control things, that we will sooner or later have to face the unknown, the dark, the unconscious?

I think, as humanity, we were already in a global crisis, a global neurosis, and this new situation initiated by the Corona virus has just “crowned” what had been successfully established by us for ages.

3. Corona “the End”

coronis (Ancient Greek: κορωνίς, korōnís, pl. κορωνίδες, korōnídes) is a textual and round shaped symbol found in ancient Greek papyri that was used to mark the end of an entire work or of a major section in poetic and prose texts.

The final lines of Hypereides‘ In Philippidem with a coronis (in concert with a forked paragraphos) marking the end of the speech (P.Lit.Lond. 134 col. ix, 2nd century BCE)

I was wondering how this sign was used in Greek language, and I searched for a deeper meaning within its concept. Thus, I decided to consult Hervé M. Abajoli[13], who is a successful writer, and he is deeply interested in Analytical Psychology, and has deep knowledge in various languages, and is partly Greek. When I asked him about what coroniswould mean, he said, “My grandfather used to emphasize the parts which I was expected to read as osti curona, which means until the end of the chapter,”. As we discussed further upon the symbolism of it as a sign (κορωνίς), we have come to the point that this image is like a “stop” or a “break” but not a “full stop” or an “end”. When I further thought about the image and its meaning, I came to the conclusion that “Coronis” or “Corona” might be symbolizing the end of an age (Pisces?), an era, a chapter. Here I would like to quote what Hervé M. Abajoli said about that opinion of mine: “It cannot be a coincidence that a virus, which has a round shape, changes the basic behavioral patterns of human being, who is standing on the threshold of a transition of age.” 

I would like to discuss more about this new age, aion:

Dr. Alfred Ribi outlines Jung’s approach:

“Jung composed the first page of his Red Book in 1915. On that introductory leaf he graphically intertwined a prophecy of the future, and the coming of a new age: an epochal turning point in human consciousness. It was, as he announced with the first words of Liber Novus, “The Way of What is to Come.” This was the keynote of his visionary journey, and it continued to be reflected throughout the text of Liber Novus. The two millennia long Christian age—coincident with the astrological aeon of Pisces—was coming to an end. A new God-image was seeking constellation in human consciousness.”[14]

To me, that new God-image is Anthropos, the whole human. I absolutely agree with Hervé M. Abajoli’s approach, and besides, I also feel that the “Curved One”, Corona, is trying to tell us that it is the time for change, and it is time to go back to basics, our instincts. Also, it is time to catch and eat our own tail, like ouroboros (round again!), which I think symbolizes eating our own shadow, integrating unconscious material, and thus, regaining our whole psyche.

Here I would like to sum up what I have put into words so far through Jung’s own words: 

“It is a spirit of light that descends from the sun, a living spirit that lives in all creatures as the spirit of wisdom and teaches man the art whereby the ‘soul enchained in the elements’ may be freed. From Mercurius comes the illumination of the adept, and it is through his work that Mercurius is freed from his chains. This Mercurius duplex, who ascends and descends, is the uroboros, by definition an ‘increatum.’ It is the snake that begets itself from itself. Although the poem takes Mercurius chiefly as a spirit of light, the uroboros is a (subterranean Hermes). Mercurius is a compound of opposites, and the alchemists were primarily concerned with his dark side, the serpent.”  (CW 14, par. 480)

“The ‘serpent rejoicing in itself’ (luxurians in se ipso) is the Democritean physis (natura) “which embraces itself” and is symbolized by the uroboros of Greek alchemy, a well-known emblem of Mercurius. It is the symbol of the union of opposites par excellence and an alchemical version of the proverb: les extrêmes se touchent. The uroboros symbolizes the goal of the process but not the beginning, the massa confusa or chaos, for this is characterized not by the union of the elements but by their conflict. The expression ‘giving birth in a single day’ (in uno die parturiens) likewise refers to Mercurius, since he (in the form of the lapis) was named the ‘son of one day.’ This name refers to the creation of light in Genesis 1: 5: ‘And there was evening and morning, one day.’ As the ‘son of one day,’ therefore, Mercurius is light. Hence, he is praised as the lux moderna and a light above all lights. He is thus Sunday’s child (born on the day of the sun), just as the planet Mercury is the nearest to the sun and was accounted its child.” (CW 14, par. 718)

Here within these two paragraphs, I wanted to bring together the round shape, the ouroboros, the dual face of the archetype and the confusing mess we are now in, as well as the tricky nature of the virus, which I will be talking about in the next part. But for now, I would like to underline the outstanding aspect of the “serpent rejoicing in itself” and say that Corona might be symbolizing an end of an era (aion), and thus, the rebirth of humanity

4. Corona “the Trickster”

Corona virus can surely be seen as an “outsider”, and an “enemy”. And ironically, it is not even a living thing! Viruses are in fact non-living microorganisms, which need a living being to survive. They act like a living organism but in fact they are not, and thus, act like a “trickster”, a shapeshifter.

Trickster is recognized by Jung as:

“…an archetypal psychic structure of extreme antiquity. In his clearest manifestations, he is a faithful reflection of an absolutely undifferentiated human consciousness, corresponding to a psyche that has hardly left the animal level.” (CW 9i, par. 465)

Trickster, in mythology, is Hermes, Mercury. He is known for its ambiguity and obscurity, as well as his fast movement (“quicksilver”). His energy is not easy to be differentiated or recognized. He might emerge one second and suddenly he might disappear. It is not easy to catch it physically, as well as mentally. But certainly, the emotional effect he brings in is very strongly felt panic, anxiety, fear, uneasiness, agitation and so on. 

The Corona virus, like Mercury, is confusing and blurring. We are not able to see it physically; we don’t see where it comes from. It was so rapidly moving (like Hermes) that we couldn’t see it spreading all over the world. Like Mercury (quicksilver) the metal, it is quick, and apparently has good ways of hiding itself: You might be carrying the virus, but still, you might not show any kind of symptoms. Like a chameleon, it hides itself under your skin, making it possible for itself to expand its own “kingdom”. 

Also, I make a link between the circular shape of crown, the feminine (the Mother) and the Mercurial nature, and I will give some further examples especially when I discuss about my dreams later. However, I find it necessary here to put forward what Jung said about the nature of Mercurius and its connection with the “crowned”:

“The circular representation of the elements was well known in medieval alchemy. The Maid is ‘crowned’ (redimita), and in her we recognize the crowned Virgin, the Queen of Heaven, who recalls the old pictures of the anima media natura or anima mundi. She is the divine life indwelling in the world, or the pneuma that moved over the waters, implanted its seed in them, and so was held captive in the body of Creation. The anima mundi is the feminine half of Mercurius.” (CW 14, par. 450)

Is it really possible that the Corona virus is the symbol and incarnation of the crowned Virgin, which is the feminine half of Mercurius? To find an answer to this question, I will be discussing more about Mercurius-Hermes-Trickster archetype and the virus through my dreams:

5. My Dreams About Corona (COVID)

Although these dreams (and the ones I do not share here) made me get worried that something not so good was on its way, I didn’t notice the pattern and the connection between my dreams until the mid-March 2020. I remember that after especially the dream of 8th January, I thought that I was going into a kind of a depression or a serious neurosis or worse. Just before I travelled to Zürich at the end of January, for the February semester in C. G. Jung Institut, my anxiety attacks had already started, and during the semester I couldn’t take a break from them. Just after I had two analysis sessions with Dr. Ribi on my dreams and process that I felt a deep connection with myself and I started to feel more balanced -somehow, I could see a bit of the whole picture I guess.

As soon as I was back on February 24th, I came face to face with what was happening. After a few days, an inner kick made me start drawing, and thanks to that, I could make the connections and could recall a few dreams which I had long before. Although I was not able to see the whole picture, something in me was saying that all those dreams had already been getting me prepared for the crisis ahead. However, I was not able to totally hold it, but I think I did my best.

I also thought that writing my paper on this subject could help me get into it more deeply so that maybe, I could feel it and integrate it more fully. And to do that, I gave way to what I had been sensing and feeling, also intuitively, about the symbols and the narratives within my dreams. So I tried, in this part, to talk about each dream separately, and I hope that I could put it into words accordingly to my inner calling. Just to put it here: These dreams seem to be what we call “archetypal dreams”, and this is the reason I am also bringing them in.

8th January 2020 – “COVIAD and THE FAKE MOON”

“I am in the house in Istanbul, on the second floor. My mother is with me. Outside, I can see the sea -maybe 15 meters away from the house and there is a long beach lying along the sea. It is dark outside, and the sky is cloudless. There is a young man, and he is reprogramming or helping for my mother’s computer. He is structuring a website. Then suddenly, the full moon on the sky falls onto the horizon and the sky gets cloudy. But then I notice that the real moon is on the back, standing on the horizon and it is big as in the tropical photos. The new (fake) moon makes us surprised and alarmed. I look at the sky -something strange is in the air. There is a movement in the sea. There are people doing night work. They are wearing protective cloths. Then I understand that there is a war-like happening. We look at the screen and it is changed. Another source/country has invaded the sources and, on the screen, says, “Coviad”. I think to myself that moment: “The country is invaded, with all of its sources. The falling moon, the cloudy sky… all of these are their doing. They want us to see things differently – different than real. They create an illusion.”

This dream was a shocking experience for me. I couldn’t get away from the feeling of fear and worry for days. To me, this was the dream saying that a disaster was nearby.

First of all, there are two full moons, one is the real one and the other is fake. My first impression was that we were falsified. There is a “tricky” situation going on in the dream. However, it was a relief that the real moon was still on the horizon. Somehow, the government tried to fake us, but it did not work. And a game was being played, but at last people knew it. We were “invaded” by another force rather than our own government. At that time, I thought that “Coviad” had something to do with Soviet Russia. Turkey was having some issues with Russia then and it made sense. However, after months I recalled this dream, finding out that the name “Covid” was given in the dream with an additional letter, “a”. The whole scene became meaningful: the men with protective outfits, the fallen/fake moon, and the invasion by “Coviad”.

To continue, I would like to first focus on the moon symbol. Moon is known as the symbol of the feminine:

“…the prima materia in its feminine aspect: it is the moon, the mother of all things, the vessel, it consists of opposites, has a thousand names, is an old woman and a whore, as Mater Alchimia it is wisdom and teaches wisdom, it contains the elixir of life in potentia and is the mother of the Saviour and of the filius Macrocosmi, it is the earth and the serpent hidden in the earth, the blackness and the dew and the miraculous water which brings together all that is divided. The water is therefore called “mother,” “my mother who is my enemy,” but who also “gathers together all my divided and scattered limbs.” (CW 14, par. 15)

And the two moons rise upon the sea, the water, and those expressions by Jung has made me capture a deeper connection with the dream and I think that it is linked to prima materia, about what Jung says:

“…the names given to the prima materia show that it was not a definite substance at all, but rather an intuitive concept for an initial psychic situation, symbolized by such terms as water of life, cloud, heaven, shadow, sea, mother, moon, dragon, Venus, chaos, massa confusa, Microcosmos, etc.” (CW 9, ii, par. 240)

And two moons bring a trickster-like meaning into the dream, as well as some shadow aspect and unclear narrative. Jung mentions about moon’s double-faced nature, and makes a connection between Mercurius and moon:

“…because the moon, standing on the borders of the sublunary world ruled by evil, has a share not only in the world of light but also in the daemonic world of darkness, … That is why her changefulness is so significant symbolically: she is duplex and mutable like Mercurius and is like him a mediator; hence their identification in alchemy. Though Mercurius has a bright side concerning whose spirituality alchemy leaves us in no doubt, he also has a dark side, and its roots go deep.” (CW 14, par. 19)

I already did a connection between the virus and its Mercurial nature. Here, again, I see a deep meaning within this dream. The virus is tricky and has two sides: while it is killing and sickening people, putting the whole human culture at a risk, it is also making people go inward and face with their very truths. The virus has been forcing us to come closer to our prima materia, I think. Staying home, staying with our feelings, we are forced to walk on the path of individuation and get in connection with the Self.

“The plenilunium (full moon) appears to be especially important: When the moon shines in her fulness the “rabid dog”, the danger that threatens the divine child, is chased away. In Senior the full moon is the arcane substance.” (CW 14, par. 154)

In CW 9, ii, “Aion”, Jung has a footnote about “the arcane substance”: “Mylius calls the tenth grade of the process ‘the exaltation, which is the ingenious ennobling of our whitened magnesia’ (p. 129). Hence the Rosarium philosophorum (Art. aurif., II, p. 231) says: ‘The magnesia is the full moon.”

The full moons in the dream thus have something in common with magnesia, “magnet”. An inner and an outer tension has been built by the Corona virus lately. And I feel that the virus is bringing much pain and insecurity, as well as fear and hopelessness, but at the same time it gives us a chance to take care of our bodies, Nature and our beloved people more, and most preciously, a chance to face with our deepest fears, thus, giving us a chance to get conscious about what we have ignored. It is, like Mercurius, as a symbol of the arcane substance, is maybe giving us a chance to build something new.

9th February 2020 – “SNOWSTORM”

“I am at my grandmother’s. There is a snowstorm outside. A window is open, and I close it. I think myself, ‘I guess the planes cannot fly in this weather.‘”

This was just before I flied to Zurich. I was feeling very worried about my previous dreams already. I thought even about not taking the semester. Because again I started to feel that my dreams were hints of kind of a neurosis. I tried to deal with anxiety attacks for weeks, I could not see what was happening, and soon, it came out to be an “outer threat”. However, the outer threat also became an inner one, bringing out many issues about safety and death. Thus, it became a real “snowstorm”.

CONCLUSION

Here, at last, I can bring what I have put in this paper together:

The virus, named as “Corona” for its appearance is very similar to crown, has brought such unclarity and questioning into our lives so far that it felt like world stopped. This has led to an unusual introversion, as well as massa confusa or chaos everywhere in our daily life. Corona, as the Mother wearing a crown seems to be pushing us into adulthood and taking responsibility, also it is bringing an end (κορωνίς; “coronis”) to whatever we knew as “normal”. Moreover, the virus (or its archetypal energy) is doing this through the ways we had never expected, acting very ambiguously, like a trickster, or like a dragon, threatening our very beings. Nevertheless, it feels to me that this transition has brought and will bring new ways of seeing, feeling and thinking. Like the ouroboros, it is leading us to face with our very truth, and we will face it alone, only ourselves. Who knows, maybe as a very simple unit of life, the Corona symbolizes the cornerstone of what Jung talked about: 

“…the approach of the next Platonic month, namely Aquarius, will constellate the problem of the union of opposites. It will then no longer be possible to write off evil as the mere privation of good; its real existence will have to be recognized. This problem can be solved neither by philosophy, nor by economics, nor by politics, but only by the individual human being, via his experience of the living spirit…” (CW 9, ii, par. 142)

Didem Çivici  – Copyright ©2020 (revised in March 2021)

*IMPORTANT: THIS PAPER WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN AS A SYMBOL PAPER DURING MY TRAINING IN C. G. JUNG INSTITUT, ZURICH.


[1] I am a student of C. G. Jung Institut, Zürich, and we are asked for writing a symbol paper before the intermediate exams.

[2] Interesting that I had a dream about Anubis just before the pandemic broke out. I discuss this dream later in the paper.

[3] https://www.pacificapost.com/archetypal-astrology-and-the-coronavirus

[4] 1849, edited by Edited by William Smith, the dictionary spans three volumes and 3,700 pages. It is a classic work of 19th-century lexicography. 

[5] Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. https://www.theoi.com/Heroine/Koronis.html

[6] https://www.thecollector.com/asclepius/

[7] Healing means “to make whole” – “healt” (Old Eng): wholeness; “hailitho” (Proto Germanic): whole/uninjured. Source: Heinrich-Peter Fischer, Dr. med. – CGJI “Body & Self” lecture notes.

[8] Marie-Louise von Franz, “The Feminine in Fairy Tales”, p.93

[9] Marie-Louise von Franz, “The Feminine in Fairy Tales”, p.87 – 89

[10] Jung, C. G., “Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 9, ii: Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self.” 

[11] Woodman, Marion. “Conscious Femininity”, p. 15.

[12] Woodman, Marion. “Conscious Femininity”, p. 15.

[13] You can find more detail: https://www.herveabajoli.com
[14] Dr. Alfred Ribi, “The Search for Roots: C. G. Jung and the Tradition of Gnosis”, p. 30.

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