Cistercians at work
Cistercians at work via Wikipedia

Joachim of Fiore (c. 1135-1202) was an Italian monk and prophet who in his mid-twenties experienced some kind of personal crisis which contributed to a significant mystical illumination.

After leaving his office as Abbot of a Cistercian monastery, he founded his own, more contemplative congregation at Fiore within the Sila Mountains.

Joachim’s view of history as a sequence of three periods is often cited by depth psychologists and theologians.

  • The first period is characterized by Mosaic law where The Father presides and inspires “servile obedience and fear.”
  • The second period is characterized by “grace, filial obedience, and faith,” dominated by the Son. Being an imperfect phase, it ends badly. This necessitates the third period of the reign of the Holy Spirit.
  • The third period of The Holy Spirit was to begin in 1260 and continue to the prophesied end-times, delivering the rule of “Spirit, liberty and love.”

Like the musings of most systematizers and mystical prophets, Fiore’s ideas pretty much fall flat when held up to the light of actual history.

C. G. Jung believed Fiore’s understanding of the Holy Spirit charged the prophet’s life with innovative ideas and numinous purpose. Jung says this was further enhanced by the apparent synchronicity of Fiore living during the onset of the astrological aeon of Pisces “the beginning of the sphere of the ‘antichristian’ fish in Pisces.”¹

The fish is an ancient Christian symbol, dating back to early inscriptions excavated at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Even if the appearance of the ‘antichristian’ fish symbol is somehow synchronistic with Fiore’s understanding of the Holy Spirit, we should recall that synchronicity is an ethically neutral concept. Percevied synchronicities may occur in the context of good or evil.

That’s why madpersons and fanatics often feel guided or chosen. They see “signs” and “connections” but disregard the most important question:

Are their actions ethically good or not?

I actually had a professor like that. His eyes glimmered with a kind of hypnotizing sheen and he often predicted or seemed to know things no ordinary person could know. However, his actual actions proved to be dishonorable, making me wonder if perhaps he was gripped by some strange kind of energy that made him feel important and, indeed, attracted some of his young, gullible students.²

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¹ C. G. Jung, Aion in The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, ed. William McGuire et al., trans. R. F. C. Hull, Bollingen Series XX.  Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1954-79, Vol. 9/2, p. 85.

² I too thought he was impressive until I realized his deeds were unethical.