In: CW v. 9.2: Aion: researches into the phenomenology of the self (p. 126-137 ).
The associations of the fish in alchemical, Christian and psychological symbolism are discussed. The fish in alchemical texts prior to the 11th century is found to be identified with the lapis philosophorum, considered psychologically as a complex symbol of the self. Numerous references appear to the fish glowing from an inner fire of a dual nature represented both as the light of divine grace and as the fires of hell. This type of dualism is noted to have occurred frequently in medieval symbolism, but without any apparent awareness of the unity of opposing forces such a dual nature implies. An investigation of the complex network of archetypal symbols in alchemy reveals its close correspondence with the structure of the psyche; in particular, the unity of hell and God as the source of the world is seen to be parallel to the unified source of all disparate psychic operations, whether they are creative or destructive.
Collected Works of C.G. Jung
Taijitu, the traditional symbol representing the forces of Yin and Yang
The concepts of yin and yang originate in ancient Chinese philosophy and metaphysics, which describes two primal opposing but complementary forces found in all things in the universe. Yin, is sad, the darker element, is passive, dark, feminine, downward-seeking, and corresponds to the night; Yang, is happy, the brighter element, is active, light, masculine, upward-seeking and corresponds to the day; yin is often symbolized by water, while yang is symbolized by fire.
The pair probably goes back to ancient agrarian religion; it exists in Confucianism, and it is prominent in Taoism. Though the words yin and yang only appear once in the Tao Te Ching, the book is laden with examples and clarifications of the concept of mutual arising. The concept is a fundamental principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Yin and yang are descriptions of complementary opposites rather than absolutes. Any yin/yang dichotomy can be seen as its opposite when viewed from another perspective. The categorisation is seen as one of convenience. Most forces in nature can be seen as having yin and yang states, and the two are usually in movement rather than held in absolute stasis.
Now go read Hesioid, the Eros myth. And this...
"Hades and Hephaestus: on the surface they are two very different gods with nothing to connect them. But the apparent gulf between them rapidly disappears as soon as we look a little more closely at what the second of these gods will have meant, not for us but for Empedocles. The mythology and cult of Hephaestus spread to the rest of the Greek world from the north-east Mediterranean, where he appeared to have associations with the subterranean—specifically volcanic—fire. His transference westwards to Sicily was evidently not via the Greek mainland, but direct. There, in Sicily, he took over the cult and attributes of an indigenous non-Greek god, Adranus: Adranus had his temple on the edge of Mt. Etna, with a sacred grove and a fire ‘that was never extinguished and never died down.’ It was here in the West—in Sicily and the surrounding islands—that Hephaestus’ connections with fire expressed themselves most overtly in the form of direct connection with volcanic fire. On Lipara he was the chief god of the island, and personification of the volcano; Themessa, between Limpara and Sicily, was known as Hiera because—at least in historical times—it was considered sacred to Hephaestus. On Sicily itself, and in the immediate vicinity of Empedocles’ town of Acragas, the was the ‘hill of Hephaestus’: a local cult center where the god was believed to make his presence under the hill known by extraordinary feats of spontaneous combustion. But above all Hephaestus was connected with Mount Etna, not just in Sicilian cult and myth, but in classical tradition right down to the end of antiquity. There, underneath the earth, was his home—and especially his workplace. The common reluctance to give this fact its due significance is a result of failing to appreciate that, in spite of Hephaestus’ formal inclusion in the Olympian pantheon, he essentially never lost his role as a god of the inner depths of the earth. In short, any seeming inconsistency in Empedocles’ referring to fire now as Hades, now as Hephaestus is itself just one more pointer in the direction of that underworld.
"Hades and Hephaestus, the destructive and creative: to place these two aspects of Empedocles’ fire in their true perspective we need finally to set them against the background of the idea so common in antiquity, that the underworld is a place of paradox and inversion. In particular it is a place where polar opposites coexist and merge, and especially the place where the paradox of destructive force being converted into creative power is realized as its greatest intensity. Two thousand years of classical tradition relating to volcanoes—primarily Etna—and the underworld are summed up by Milton’s Lucifer: ‘Here in the heart of Hell to work in Fire.’ This is not to quote Milton as direct evidence for ideas held by Empedocles but, once again, simply to emphasize the resilience and endurance of a tradition which classicists who treat Empedocles as a ‘philosopher’ ignore at their peril. Milton himself equated Lucifer with Hephaestus, and there was no shortage of descriptions in ancient literature of the extraordinary effects produced by Hephaestus as he works with the volcanic fire inside the earth. That this particular association of ideas was known to Empedocles is undeniable: to gain some impression of how important it was in shaping his cosmology, we have only to look at how he described the creation of the ancestors of men and women. On the one hand, the way in which he words his account of their formation inside the earth is plainly meant to invoke Hesiod’s famous description of Hephaestus creating Pandora. On the other hand, his image of humanity being spewed up by fire shooting into the sky is an obvious example of volcanic imagery. In Sicily, Hades and Hephaestus are two sides of one and the same coin: two aspects of the volcanic fire just inside the earth."
~from Peter Kingsley,
Ancient Philosophy Mystery, and Magic Empedocles and the Pythagorean Tradition
book at amazon