Who is Phanês?
In ancient Greek, Φάνης (Phanês) means light.
In Classical Greek mythology, Phanês is the primordial deity of procreation, introduced in the Greek world through the Orphic tradition. According to this theogony, Chronos lays a silvery cosmic egg in Aither. Out of the egg Phanês arises, depicted as a hermaphrodite with four eyes entwined with a serpent and wide golden wings.
Phanês, the Shining One, the Father of the Night, is also called Eros (Love), Metis (Thought), Erikepaios (Power) and Protogonos (First-Born). He is considered to be the first manifestation of Dionysus, source of every further generation, and according to Damascius he is the first deity “expressible and acceptable to human ears.” Phanês is a dying and resurrecting God, devoured by Zeus to absorb the divine substance and become Master of the Universe.
Phanês is a central figure in C. G. Jung’s cosmology. The God first appears in Transformations and Symbols of the Libido (1912), in a passage where Jung compares a diversity of cosmogonic conceptions. Phanês plays a central role in Jung’s Liber Novus.
In the autumn of 1916 he appears in Jung’s Black Books as a God of beauty and light. On September 1916, he is described as a golden bird and on February 20, 1917 as the messenger of Abraxas. Still in 1917, Philemon, Jung’s guide in Liber Novus, says that he will become Phanês and offers him a long laudatory description. In 1918, in the Black Books 7, Phanês himself takes the floor, with an extensive digression concluded with words of remarkable Orphic echoes: “ […] He who is perfect knows male and female, but I am the One, his father and son beyond masculine and feminine, beyond child and the aged. / He who is perfect knows rise and fall, but I am the center beyond dawn and dusk. / He who is perfect knows me and hence he is different from me.” In April 1919, Jung painted his portrait in the calligraphic volume of Liber Novus, describing him as the divine child, and as the newly appearing God (Image 113). In other words, Phanes was the God that had been reborn through Jung’s soul. Thus Phanês was a growing symbol and a blessing for Jung, a shining image extending from the visionary experience of Liber Novus to the roots of a new hermeneutics.
Under the light and inspiration of this name, therefore, this Journal comes to life to welcome fresh and critical research into Jung’s work and life.