The Two Fishes, Shrinkflation and the Future of the Jungian Center

Sue Mehrtens is the author of this and all the other blog essays on this site. The opinions expressed in these essays are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other Jungian Center faculty or Board members.  Honesty, as well as professional courtesy, require that you give proper attribution to the author if you post this essay elsewhere.

The Two Fishes, Shrinkflation and the Future of the Jungian Center

“… the dawning aeon of Pisces… is prefigured in the fish symbol: )-(, showing two fishes, joined by a commissure, moving in opposite  directions…. This applies to the zodion of the Fishes. In the astronomical constellation itself, the fish that corresponds approximately to the first 1,000 years of our era is vertical, but the other fish is horizontal.”[1]

“These thousand years correspond astrologically to the first half of the Pisces aeon. The setting free of Satan after this time must therefore correspond–one cannot imagine any other reason for it–to the enantiodromia of the Christian aeon, that is, to the reign of the Antichrist, whose coming could be predicted on astrological grounds.”[2]

“John… thus outlined the program for the whole aeon of Pisces, with its dramatic enantiodromia, and its dark end which we have still to experience, and before which–without exaggeration–truly apocalyptic possibilities mankind shudders. … Could anyone in his right senses deny that John correctly foresaw at least some of the possible dangers which threaten our world in the final phase of the Christian aeon?”[3]

“Shrinkflation:” “the practice of reducing a product’s amount or volume per unit while continuing to offer it at the same price.”[4]

This essay joins Jung’s insight about the nature of our era, with a trend that reflects his understanding of how the Antichrist manifests, and then relates this trend to our endeavor at the Jungian Center.

The Two Fishes

Pisces is one of the four astrological signs which are dual.[5] In the quote above, Jung depicted the two fish like two parentheses, to represent the fish swimming upstream (the Christian aeon) and the fish swimming downstream (the opposite thousand years of the Antichrist). By “vertical,” Jung recognized how different the orientation of the collective consciousness was in the first thousand years after the birth of Christ: its focus was on the heaven/hell axis, with considerable concern to protect one’s soul from the clutches of the Devil. There was a unity to Christendom,[6] a lack of realism or hubris in art,[7] strictures against usury,[8] and a widespread recognition of the corrosive danger of the seven “deadly” sins (pride, greed, envy, wrath, lust, sloth and gluttony).[9]

A key feature of Jung’s psychology is its stress on the tension of opposites,[10] and we see this tension in Jung’s cosmology: the positivity of Christ is balanced by the negativity of Lucifer. History certainly bears out Jung’s sense of the era of the second fish being worldly and devilish. Since the year 1000 we have seen the unity of Christianity smashed first in the rupture between the western (Roman Pope) and the eastern (Greek Patriarch) in the 1054 schism,[11] then in the Reformation in the 16th century, leading to hundreds of different denominations and sects; hundreds of wars, large and small;[12] a horizontal orientation in art (e.g. the discovery of perspective,[13] realistic depiction of the human body,[14] art works signed by their creator)[15] and in colonization.[16] With the discovery of the “new world” came the extermination of many indigenous peoples and their cultures,[17] and the exploitation and destruction of multiple ecologies, in our lust for gems, coal, oil and other natural resources[18] (never mind that the earth is not ours to destroy).[19] Beginning in the latter half of the Middle Ages, we saw the growth of commerce, banks, and money-lending with interest[20]–a development the Church condemned. But it was no longer a match for the lures of the Devil, and it was not long before interest rates got higher–so high that, in 1914, Jung would regard the rate as usurious: “Five per cent on money lent is fair interest, twenty per cent is despicable usury.”[21]


One of the qualities that make the “deadly” sins deadly is their insatiable nature. The man who succumbs to pride can never get enough adulation from the crowd.[22] The person who falls into gluttony can never satisfy her sweet-tooth or gnawing hunger for more. Lust shows up in the lust-filled men unable to control their libidinous impulses who got called out by the #MeToo women brave enough to speak out. And greed certainly is the driver of some of the high interest rates common in the credit card industry.

More subtle greed is evident in the phenomenon we have seen in recent years in our stores: “shrinkflation” is the neologism for how now we are spending more to get less.[23] Once upon a time, I could buy a 12-ounce can–the exact quantity called for in a favorite recipe–but, to my consternation, that item is no longer available in 12 ounces: now it comes only in 10 ounce cans. Do I have to buy two? I turned to Chat GPT to resize all the ingredients in the proper proportion, only to discover that led to most of the other ingredients being unavailable in the smaller size. Greed has spread from the counting house to the food store–and, as I recently learned from our tech experts who handle our Jungian Center technology–to the world of cyberspace.

The Future of the Jungian Center

When the Jungian Center was founded in 2005, as a result of a series of dreams I had in one week in July, its mission was to disseminate Jung’s work and wisdom, in alignment with his values and concerns. Jung was not focused primarily on money, but on intangibles–soul, psyche, personal growth and psychological well-being. So it was clear to me that our focus at the Jungian Center was to be likewise. We would operate with minimal overhead, stressing smallness, persons and psyches, the inner life, and doing so while keeping fees as low as possible.

For over 18 years now, we have abided by these commitments I made to myself, to our Board of Directors, and to our students. We have been able to provide courses at low cost because everything I do in relation to the Center I do as a volunteer. I take no salary or cut of the tuitions, book sales, and other income. I charge nothing for the use of my home, and I support the production costs of the books we sell via subventions. Each month for the last 17 years I have written and posted a blog essay gratis, balancing the research and writing of the essays with tending to email, creating new courses (often in response to students’ requests), and working with our tech team to maintain and upgrade our web site. Check out our beautiful, user-friendly new web site!

Now, I am told, the technology that is so essential in this modern world of cyberspace, Zoom “rooms,” pdfs and “artificial intelligence” (which would surely drive Jung crazy, were he alive today!) is going to cost us more. Sigh.

Greed knows no bounds. What once was free is now going to cost. What once was a minimal expense is now going up. Why? Because–as the old adage says–“Nothing fails like success.”[24] “Success” in this context means “getting bigger,” something Jung would not appreciate: he put a premium on small–small groups, small organizations, small towns, small countries–knowing how the individual gets lost in the big. We are growing in numbers as an enterprise, and the technology companies base their rates on numbers–number of subscribers, size of site–quantifications that mean costs are going up.

So, for the first time, I am finding myself in something of a situation similar to what Jung had when the Extraverts in his midst pushed him to create a Psychology Club and a training institute: Just as Jung went along reluctantly with these ideas, so I am venturing with hesitancy into developing a financial plan.

The idea here is to make all the valuable resources on our web site–the books, distance-learning courses, the Zoom courses, the free access to all Jung’s works, and yet-to-be-created items–provide income so the site pays for itself. Our Zoom course tuitions pay for the technology expertise and our insurance coverage (required of a non-profit organization by the State of Vermont). As the various tech outfits–email, mail poet, web hosting–increase their fees, we hope the income will cover these additional expenses. I am very reluctant to raise the fees we charge for our courses. As a 501c3 non-profit we have received donations over the years from generous donors, and the new site will have a “donation” button prominently placed, for those who value the work we do and wish to support it. Many, many thanks to those of you who have given us donations.

You have my promise that greed will NOT destroy the Jungian Center!!!


Bainton, Roland (1941), The Church of  Our Fathers. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

Braudel, Fernand (1967), Capitalism and Material Life,1400-1800. New York: Harper & Row.

Brinton, Crane, John Christophers & Robert Wolff (1960), A History of  Civilization, 2nd ed., 2 vols. Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc.

Browning, Robert (1864), Rabbi ben Ezra, cited in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

Ehrenfeld, David (1981), The Arrogance of Humanism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Jung, C.G., (1961), “Freud and Psychoanalysis,” Collected Works, 4. Princeton: Princeton: Princeton University Press.

________ (1969), “Psychology and Religion: West and East,” CW 11. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Thomas, David, Jay Miller, Richard White, Peter Nabokov & Philip Deloria (1993). The Native Americans. Atlanta: Turner Publishing Inc.

[1] Collected Works, 11 ¶257 & note 22.

[2] Ibid. ¶725.

[3] Ibid. ¶733.

[4] Merriam-Webster Dictionary;

[5] The other three are Gemini, Cancer, and Aquarius.

[6] Until 1054, when a schism developed between the western  (Latin) and the eastern (Greek-speaking) communions. Brinton et al. (1960), I, 231.

[7] We see this in medieval art, in the flat landscapes and unsigned frescoes and paintings.

[8] Brinton et al. (1960), I, 323.

[9] Bainton (1941), 105.

[10] There are 34 citations in his Collected Works on the tension of opposites.

[11]Brinton et al. (1960), I, 231.

[12] E.g. the Crusades, the Hundred Years’ War, the War of the Schmaldkaldic League, the Thirty Years’ War, the English Civil War, the French & Indian War, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, to name only a few.

[13] E.g. in Botticelli and Leonardo; Brinton et al. (1960), I, 455.

[14] E.g. in the works of Massaccio; ibid., 454.

[15] Rarely do we see medieval creations signed. A chalice in the Cloisters has an example: at the base of the cup are the words “Frater Bertinus me fecit” (Brother Bertine made me).

[16] This followed hard on the heels of the discovery of the New World, a clear example of the horizontal orientation.

[17] Extermination was the official policy of the U.S. government; the scalp of an Apache earned the killer $250; Thomas et al. (1993), 329/

[18] This is an inevitable result of our regarding the Earth as a “gigantic toolshed.” The term is Clarence Glacken’s, quoted in Ehrenfeld (1981), 177.

[19] Medieval people regarded the Earth belonging to the Creator, i.e. God; in our more secular world, we should treat the Earth gently, as belonging to our children and grandchildren.

[20] For an excellent account of the rise of capitalism and its features, see Braudel (1967).

[21] CW 4¶667.

[22] E.g. one of our former presidents who still draws energy from the adulation of his followers.

[23] Merriam-Webster Dictionary;

[24] Browning,  “Rabbi ben Ezra,” vii.