Cathie Leavitt to Ronald Huggins on: What Really Happened in Ravenna, Phanês 3 (2020)

Dear Mr Huggins:

I enjoyed reading your well-documented article, “What Really Happened in Ravenna?” in Phanês: Journal for Jung History, Vol 3. Your scholarly and engaging discussion of this puzzling question, and the beautiful photos you took, expanded my understanding of Jung’s and Toni Wolff’s 1932 experience at Ravenna.

Respectfully, if I may offer a comment to your observation on p. 106, “Although none of the Ravenna depictions show the personified Jordan with an urn with water pouring out of it ….”

Unless my eyes deceive me, there are indeed urns with water pouring out of them in both the Baptistery of the Orthodox and the Arian Baptistery mosaics, pictured on p. 107.

This detail is of special interest to me for two reasons. One, because I was unfamiliar with the depiction of the Jordan river god in early Christian iconography, so I was pleased to learn about it and to study the pictures closely. 

And two, because the figure of a man pouring water out of an urn is the astrological symbol of Aquarius, the Water Bearer, the harbinger of the next Platonic month, about which Jung wrote in Aion:

“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…only by the individual human being, via his experience of the living spirit….”

Thus, the importance Jung placed on his numinous experience at Ravenna takes on a deeper significance for me.

Thank you for that!

Cathie Leavitt
Los Osos, CA

Dear Cathie: 

Thank you for your letter. Looking again carefully at the ceiling medallions I see that you are right.  The figure representing the Jordan in the Baptistery of the Orthodox is holding an urn with water pouring from it after all. So obvious, yet I somehow missed it. In the Arian Baptistery the figure is clearly not holding an urn, but there is something that looks like one just behind him that may be intended to depict water coming out of it at the bottom. Thank you for pointing out these important details.

 All best, 

Ron Huggins

copyright Ronald Huggins 2021

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