Source: Edinger On Mortificatio

“Mortificatio is experienced as defeat and failure. Needless to say, one rarely chooses such an experience. It is usually imposed by life, either from within or from without. To some extent it can be experienced vicariously through that great cultural instrument of mortificatio, the tragic drama. In some cases the drama can provide even more than a vicarious experience. If the time is right, it can have an inductive effect and initiate an authentic transformation process in the individual.” (p. 172)

King, sun, and lion refer to the ruling principle of the conscious ego and to the power instinct. At a certain point these must be mortified in order for a new center to emerge. As Jung says, “Egocentricity is a necessary attribute of consciousness and is also its specific sin.” (CW 14, par. 364.) On the archetypal level the mortificatio of the king or the sun will refer to the death and transformation of a collective dominant or ruling principle. (p. 151)

Poetic expression of the mortificatio experience from “East Coker” by T.S. Elliot:

‘I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love

For love would be love for the wrong thing; there is yet faith

But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

In order to arrive at what you do not know

You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.

In order to possess what you do not possess

You must go by the way of dispossession.

In order to arrive at what you are not

You must go through the way in which you are not.

And what you do not know is the only thing you know

And what you own is what you do not own

And where you are is where you are not.’

Out of the experience of darkness and emptiness can come the encounter with the inner companion.”(p.174)

Edinger, Edward F., Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy, 1991.

One Comment on “Source: Edinger On Mortificatio”


  1. […] It strikes me there is a parallel with the midlife shift in dynamics from ego-Self axis separation to ego-Self axis reunion. For ego consciousness, encounters with the Self are experienced as a dying to one’s self, a symbolic death. This is the 110 wired ego plugging into the 220+ wired Self scenario. Edinger on Mortificatio […]


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