The Fish

The fish, living in the darkness of deep water, is often illustrative of a content of the unconscious that lingers below the threshold of consciousness and in which instinctual and spiritual aspects are still merged in an undifferentiated state.  Therefore, the fish is an inspirer, a bringer of wisdom and, at the same time, a helpful animal – at once insight and redemptive, instinctive impulse.  TGL 189

   In Aion, Jung deals extensively with the symbolism of Christ as the fish … In many religions the fish (is) chiefly a symbol of the redeemer, and has therefore also been equated with Christ.  At the same time the extraordinary revival of fish symbolism in early Christianity is certainly not without a synchronistic connection with the beginning of the astrological Age of the Fishes.  The fish emerged at that time as an image out of the depths of the unconscious and became associated with the figure of Christ.  In a special sense, therefore, the fish represents that aspect of Christ which marks him as a content of the unconscious, a manifestation, as it were, of the unconscious Self.  In this connection, its animal nature refers to the instinctual impulses, consisting either of biological urges or of convictions and emotions.  When these emerge from the unconscious, they can either oppress or else “nourish” and enrich consciousness.  In so far as the fish symbol became linked with the figure of Christ, it formed a bridge to the psychic nature of man and enabled him to receive the figure of Jesus into his psychic matrix.  In a Coptic magic papyrus, Christ is depicted as a fisherman angling for himself in the form of a fish.  He is the one who makes his own nature conscious and in this respect points the way to a higher consciousness for others.  At the same time he is also an image of that unconscious  process by which Christ became the archetype of the Self and thus a content which can be subjectively experienced by human beings, and which emerges from the background of the psyche, surprising, terrifying, bringing insight or redemption.  TGL 190