In Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung recounted the dream in which Philemon first appeared to him. Jung saw a sea blue sky, covered by brown clods of earth that appeared to be breaking apart.
Out of the blue, he saw an old man with kingfisher wings and the horns of a bull flying across the sky, carrying a bunch of keys.
After the dream, Jung painted the image, as he did not understand it.
During this intense period, Jung was struck by the synchronicity of finding a dead kingfisher, a bird rarely seen around Zurich, in his garden by the lakeshore.
Thereafter, Philemon played an important role in Jung’s fantasies.
To Jung, he represented superior insight and was like a guru to him.
From Memories, Dreams and Reflections, page 189:
During the days when I was occupied with the painting, I found in my garden, by the lakeshore, a dead kingfisher! I was thunderstruck, for kingfishers are quite rare in the vicinity of Zurich and I have never since found a dead one. The body was recently dead – at the most, two or three days – and showed no external injuries.