Divine Darkness and Divine Light: Alchemical Illumination and the Mystical Play Between Knowing and Unknowing

  • Stanton Marlan
Part of the Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Mysticism book series (INTERMYST)


In both Jung’s work and similarly in mystical theology, the approach to Divine Darkness requires an eclipse or transcendence of the mind—in analytic terms, a going beyond the ego to the Self, an experience that is “always a defeat for the ego.” The Self for Jung is a numinous archetype that plays the role of the God image in the human psyche. What Jung seems to mean is that as we approach the Divine, our ordinary consciousness must be both defeated and transcended. In the mystical reflections of Pseudo-Dionysius, this transcendence is also a Divine Illumination which I imagine as an archetypal core of the bright shadow that can be helpful in understanding and amplifying the mystery to which Jung points. While Dionysius and Jung are saying somewhat different things, there is a significant overlap in insight. Reading the traditions of Mystical theology and Jungian analysis side by side can both deepen our “unknowing,” and through an unwarranted crossing of boundaries and contexts, it can also increase our understanding and appreciation of the mysteries of both fields.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Inter-Regional Society of Jungian AnalystsPittsburghUSA

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