Photo credit: Leontocephaline, in Musei Vaticani, Wikimedia Commons

Only once did Jung name a book after a god; this god was Aion. Aion-Khronos represents a father-god, Greco-Roman with Persian influences. His cult, Mithraism, (100 – 500 AD) was destroyed by Christianity. (1) Jung said about Aion:

“In the cult of Mithras there is the key god Aion. He is represented with the winged body of a man and the head of a lion, encoiled by a snake which rises up over his head. He is Infinite Time and Long Duration, the supreme god of the Mithraic hierarchy, and creates and destroys all things, a sun-god. As the lion-headed god with the snake around his body, he represents the union of opposites, light and darkness, male and female, creation and destruction. He is represented as having his arms crossed and holding a key in each hand. He is the spiritual father of St. Peter, for he too holds the keys. The keys which Aion is holding are the keys to the past and future. The idea of the key is often associated with the mysteries in the cave.” (2)

In the Mithraic mysteries the serpent and the lion are opposites; to be entwined is to be devoured, to return to the mother’s womb. As a symbol of time, Aion has the zodiac portrayed on his body. Time is expressed through dawning and extinction of consciousness, death and rebirth, to come into being through ‘infinitely long duration,’ through repetitive transformations of the creative force, libido. (3)

As in the ancient moon mysteries, where Dionysus was sacrificed as the bull-god and son-lover of the Great Mother, symbolizing the sacrifice of animal nature, so in the Mithraic mysteries (4) Mithras overcame his immortal brother symbolized as the bull, by killing, eating and integrating him ceremonially. (1)

Jung described Mithraism as a complete solar psychology, aimed at restoring the relationship between the mortal and immortal brothers: Mithras as consciousness and the bull as the instinct or archetype, the Self, similar to St. Peter and Christ. (5)

The slow unfolding of this archetypal process, the cruel immaturity of the god, the cultural manifestation of the process, have to be suffered through by humanity over time. This is how we as humans contribute to the manifestation, the creation, of the god.

The chaotic times that we live in may also be seen against this background.


  1. Ancient History Encyclopedia / Mithraic Mysteries
  2. CW 18 par 266
  3. CW 5 par 425
  4. CW 5 par 659
  5. CW 5 par 288