A Roman coin depicting Janus, the god with two heads (looking forward and backward at the same time). He was the deity in charge of "good beginnings" that would lead to "good endings." Thus, the Romans (and we) celebrate the 1st of Janu-ary. See the discussion and psychology in the "Head and Hair" chapter of my Body book.
This is an early "Phallic" sculpture of the Hindu god Shiva, dating from the first century BCE at Gudimullam, India. It shows us the "sacred" nature of human creativity that stands on the shoulders of mere fertility (symbolized by the "nature deity" at the Lord's feet). From my book, The Snake and the Rope: A Jungian View of Hinduism.
This is an early image of the Buddha, from Mathura, India, 2nd century CE. It anticipates the classic image of the Buddha in serene meditation. This one, however, is active, showing the "No Fear" gesture with his right hand while giving the impression with his left arm that he has the power to back it up. See the discussion in my forthcoming book, The Self and the Lotus: A Jungian View of Indian Buddhism.
In 1673, as the Thirty Years War between Catholic and Protestant Christians ceased, a nun named Margaret Mary began to have visions of the "Sacred Heart of Jesus." This is what it looked like: no longer Jesus on the Cross but a "Heart" wrapped in thorns, wounded, and bleeding. It was a message from deep within the European psyche saying, "This is what you've been doing to the sacred life of feeling for the last thirty years.Take a look at it!" It's grisly. The Cross is on fire: and that's an abomination. This is what it "really" looks like when we go to war--for reasons that are always "righteous." From the "Heart" chapter of my Body book.
Here is the "Hand" of the Roman god Sabazios. It is raised in "blessing" and offers us "immortality," as symbolized by the tiny pine cone held on the god's extended thumb and two fingers. The other fingers are folded into the palm. Have you seen this gesture at church, as the priest blesses the congregation with the sign of the Trinity? Religions blend, grow out of each other--although they seldom admit that fact. Notice that the earlier religion admits frogs, lizards, and snakes as sacred creatures. These represent "earthier" parts of ourselves that need redemption. From the "Hand" chapter of my Body book.
This is an ancient Greek gorgoneion or “Gorgon face.” Surrounded by snakes about to strike, and with the fangs and lolling tongue of a ferocious animal, it is actually the “evil eyes” that turn plants, animals, and human beings to stone. We know that someone’s glare or criticism can be psychologically petrifying. In the ancient world, an “evil eye” was hung up or worn to ward off the Evil Eye. We can do the same thing by glaring back and being a little bit frightening ourselves. From the “Eye” chapter of my Body book.
This is a Tibetan Buddhist phur-bu or ritual dagger. Lamas use it—with its four-headed “ferocious deity” at the top and entwined serpents adorning a sharp three-sided point—to pin down demons. We, too, must “pin down” evil lest it spread uncontrollably in our midst. We can begin with our own shadow side. But it probably means we will have to be a bit “ferocious” to get the job done.