Traveling and Tower-Building
Without stirring abroad
One can know the whole world;
Without looking out of the window
One can see the way of heaven.
The further one goes
The less one knows.
Therefore the sage knows without having to stir,
Identifies without having to see,
Accomplishes without having to act.
These lines from the forty-seventh section of Lao-tse’s Tao Te Ching (as rendered into English by D. C. La11) might come to mind if one wished to characterize the mental attitude of an introverted person-someone who seems to see no need for roaming about in the world, who is horrified at the thought of protracted travel.
But Jung, the confirmed introvert, was living proof that this assumption is wrong, or at least represents an undue oversimplification. In any case, this revision becomes necessary when we see how, inwardly directed and concerned with problems of the psyche as he was, yet he did not hesitate to undertake extended journeys, precisely so that he could return once again, “amplified” and enriched by encounters and impressions of the outer world, to concentrate on the great theme of his life and work.
For here Aniela Jaffe’s statement is relevant:
“Like every true introvert, Jung thoroughly enjoyed the positive aspects of extraversion travel and success-from the very beginning.”
When he traveled to America with Freud, for instance, to present a series of lectures at Clark University on the association experiment he had developed, he wrote to his wife from there in 1909:
“We are the men of the hour here. It is very good to be able to spread oneself in this way one in a while. I can feel that my libido is gulping it in with vast enjoyment …. ”
One who regularly crosses over into the realm of the psyche, whose task is to mediate between consciousness and the unconscious in order to achieve a “psychosynthesis” which will embrace the whole of reality, cannot heedlessly overlook the reality of other peoples and cultures.
On the contrary, it is only by juxtaposing the mentality of European, Western people, ruled by everyday consciousness, with that of the Far East
or Africa, more strongly anchored in the archaic and unconscious, that the unus mundus becomes visible, the reality of oneness which dissolves the oppositions and one-sidednesses of a view that considers only the foreground.
Hence Jung’s almost unrelenting effort to attain an Archimedean point, “an outside point to stand on.”
This applies even to the interpersonal I-Thou relationship.
It is all the more regrettable not only that the analytical psychologist’s special interests were not understood by contemporary dialogue-thinkers of the likes of Martin Buber, but also that Jung himself was in no position to do justice to this concern for the perspective and
the dimensions of the Thou, and thus to arrive at a fruitful synthesis.
Jung was surely aware that such an external standpoint is especially indispensable in psychology, considering the subjective bias which is greater here than in any other scientific discipline.
How, for example, can we become conscious of national peculiarities if we have never had the opportunity to regard our own nation from outside?
Regarding it from outside means regarding it from the standpoint of another nation. To do so, we must acquire sufficient knowledge of the foreign collective psyche, and in the course of this process of assimilation we encounter all those incompatibilities which constitute the national bias and the national peculiarity. Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
But this is not merely a late insight on Jung’s part.
He was an eager traveler his whole life.
Even as a young man he made excursions of all kinds, trips to the mountains and extended bicycling tours, the travels by boat that have already been
mentioned, sailing tours and travels in his own car, and in his later years automobile trips with friends, in which-as Aniela Jaffe once noted-the reconnoitering of good restaurants played an important part.
Jung, himself an avid cook, was well known as a patron of the culinary arts and a connoisseur of noble spirits.
After the manuscript of Psychological Types was completed in 1920, and after having long been preoccupied with himself and restricted by military service during the war years, Jung felt an urge to get out into the open.
The Anglo-Saxon world had held a particular attraction for him throughout his life, and within only a few months after the end of the First World War, in the summer of 1919, he spent several weeks there.
We do not know what the real reason for this trip was, but we do have one letter, written in London on 1 July 1919 and addressed to his nine-year-old daughter Marianne.
Naturally, as a communicative father, he knew what would interest his little daughter and the other children too.
At the same time the reader gets the impression that the traveler himself had become fascinated all over again with the great city on the
Thames, for the citizen of Kusnacht found it really something to be able to report, in 1919, that some five thousand automobiles
drove past his quarters in London.
Every morning at half past ten the cuirassiers ride by in their golden armor with red helmet plumes and black cloaks. They go to the royal palace and guard the king and the princes and princesses. Astonishing sights were everywhere: … the king has his golden throne and his golden scepter in another castle, in a high tower, with thick fences and iron gates. In the daytime the crown is up in the tower and you can see it, but at night it and the scepter sink down into a deep cellar that is shut up with plates of armor, so no one can steal them. There are jewels in the crown as big as dove’s eggs ….
Truly, little Marianne’s country had nothing like this to show for itself.
And the fact that the great river flowed downstream for six hours and then for six hours turned around and flowed upstream-this bordered on the miraculous!
What else might Father have had to tell, when even his letters were filled with such amazing things?
Within a year Jung accepted an invitation from English friends and colleagues to his first seminar in England, which took place in the summer of 1920 at Sennen Cove in Cornwall.
The assembly was a small one.
Esther Harding remembered about twelve participants, among them the later Jungian Eleanor Bertine, a doctor at Bellevue Hospital in New York.
Dr. Helton Godwin Baynes of London, Jung’s assistant intermittently in Zurich for many years, probably made the arrangements.
Barbara Hannah described him as an unusually amiable person, whom Emma Jung and Toni Wolff also especially liked; the circle of friends, including Jung, always called him Peter.
“In many ways he was the best assistant Jung ever had.”
Jung loved gatherings and seminars in small groups, because these afforded the best possibilities for personal exchange.
For the same reason he saw to it that the Psychological Club in Zurich, an informal society of former patients and students which had existed since 1 916, did not grow unnecessarily large.
Despite keeping it small in number, however, Jung was unable to restrain all the unavoidable jealousies that arose in the club, which was composed mainly of women and had been formed at the suggestion of Toni Wolff.
Hence when his friend Hermann Sigg, a Swiss businessman, invited him to go along on a business trip to North Africa, Jung eagerly agreed: at last there was the prospect of being able to meet non-European, noncivilized people at first hand on the spot, and study the primitivity of their psyche!
In early March 1920, and thus before the seminar in England, the two departed for Tunisia via Algiers.
“After cold, heavy weather at sea” they reached Tunis and the city of Sousse with its whitewashed walls and towers, its harbor, and “beyond the harbor wall the· deep blue sea, and in the port lies the sailing ship with two lateen sails which I once painted,” Jung
reported to his wife from the Grand Hotel in Sousse.
The date was 15 March 1920. Jung lamented bitterly that he could not write coherently because the impressions were too numerous and strange, for “This Africa is incredible!”
This was his first step onto the threshold of the dark continent.
And yet its flashes of light let him paint quite a colorful picture:
Bright houses and streets, dark green clumps of trees, tall palms’ crowns rising among them.
White burnooses, red fezzes, and among these the yellow uniforms of the Tirailleurs d’ Afrique, the red of the Spahis, then the Botanical
Gardens, an enchanted tropical forest, an Indian vision, holy acvatta trees with gigantic aerial roots like monsters, fantastic dwellings of the gods, enormous in extent, heavy, dark green foliage rustling in the sea wind.
After a thirty-hour rail journey they reached Tunis, a city where the ancient world blended in a unique way with the Moorish Middle Ages, the Moorish Granada with the fairy tale of Baghdad. And the effect?
You no longer think of yourself; you are dissolved in this potpourri which cannot be evaluated, still less described: a Roman column stands here as part of a wall; an old Jewish woman of unspeakable ugliness goes by in white baggy breeches; a crier with a load of burnooses pushes through the crowd, shouting in gutturals that might have come straight from the canton of Zurich; a patch of deep blue sky, a snow-white mosque dome; a shoemaker busily stitching away at shoes in a small vaulted niche, with a hot, dazzling patch of sunlight on the mat before him; blind musicians with a drum and tiny three-stringed lute; a beggar who consists of nothing but rags; smoke from oil cakes, and swarms of flies; up above, on a white minaret in the blissful ether, a muezzin sings the midday chant; below, a cool, shady, colonnaded yard with horseshoe portal framed in glazed tiles; on the wall a mangy cat lies in the sun; a coming and going of red, white, yellow, blue, brown mantles, white turbans, red fezzes, uniforms, faces ranging from white and light
yellow to deep black; a shuffling of yellow and red slippers, a noiseless scurrying of naked black feet, and so on and so on.
The psychologist became a writer of travelogues, a painter.
He knew that his hurried jottings could be nothing but “miserable stammering,” to say nothing of what Africa was “really” saying to him. But there was no doubt of one thing” It speaks!”
Jung could not avoid the magic of the continent; he had to stand up to it if he did not wish to fall under its spell.
For “going black under the skin”-that is, becoming virtually swamped by the strangeness of an exotic mentality and deeper unconsciousness-represents a danger of which the “white man” is not always sufficiently aware.
Jung was at least strongly moved by this magical aura:
In the morning the great god rises and fills both horizons with his joy and power, and all living things obey him. At night the moon is so silvery and glows with such divine clarity that no one can doubt the existence of Astarte.
While Hermann Sigg went about his business in Sousse as planned, Jung traveled further into the country on his own, southward toward the Sahara.
Finally he had come to where he had so often longed to be:
… in a non-European country where no European language was spoken and no Christian conceptions prevailed, where a different race lived and a different historical tradition and philosophy had set its stamp upon the face of the crowd. I had often wished to be able for once to see the European from outside, his image reflected back at him by an altogether foreign milieu.
The language barrier presented a not inconsiderable obstacle.
Only in the large hotels in the cities was French spoken, and Jung had no command of Arabic, not in spite of the fact that his father, as a certified Arabicist, had mastered the language of the prophet Muhammad, but because of it.
He once told Barbara Hannah that Arabic was the one language he was totally unable to learn.
He attributed this seemingly remarkable circumstance to the fact that his father had had such a good command of that language, hinting at a not yet fully resolved father complex.
So Jung made do by sitting in one of the Arabic cafes along the main street and carefully observing the people, their speech, their sign language and gestures.
Being accustomed to riding from his days in the military, the psychologist mounted a mule to ride to the oasis of Nefta.
A whole new world opened up, even though it lay only some twenty-four kilometers distant from Tozeur, another stop on the journey.
And because this could not be done entirely without an escort, he hired a guide.
It was advisable to go armed.
Lacking a pith helmet, Jung wrapped a white hand towel around his head as a sort of turban, and off they went with an “as-salaam aleikum.”
Again he sent a detailed report to Kusnacht.
Scenes out of a world like that of the Thousand and One Nights came to life, and then the surprising confession:
“There is nothing more magnificent than the desert.”
What moved him most strongly about his journey into the Sahara was the timelessness, the change in the perception of time, and the feeling-oriented directness of the North African people.
The Memories comment on this point:
“The deeper we penetrated into the Sahara, the more time slowed down for me; it even threatened to move backward.”
The sense of an “age-old existence” began to grow, a particularly consciousness altering factor.
And although this North African trip of only a few weeks did not yield the scientifically reportable results that the traveler might have hoped for, Jung did not underestimate the importance of this first experience in itself.
It had affected him much more strongly than he had thought at first.
Accompanied by an infectious enteritis which Europeans have to take in stride in these latitudes, dreams began to appear that indicated how the dark side of his own psyche had been activated by these impressions of Africa.
Thus just as Jacob in the Old Testament had once had to grapple with the angel of Yahweh at the border stream of Jabbok, so now Jung
had to hold a life-and-death combat with a young Arab prince in a dream.
The opponent was forced to give in, but dangerous as he had been to the dreamer, Jung could not deny feeling admiration for him.
Clearly the process of maturation is always a matter of recognizing and accepting the dark side of one’s own self and its inherent potential for resistance.
Hence Jung made clear in his Memories the extent to which his journey to Africa corresponded to his own search for that part of his personality which had become invisible under the influence and the pressure of his Europeanness, but which was waiting-up to a point-to be made conscious.
Or in other words:
Obviously, my encounter with Arab culture had struck me with overwhelming force. The emotional nature of these unreflective people who are so much closer to life than we are exerts a strong suggestive influence upon those historical layers in ourselves which we have just overcome and left behind, or which we think we have overcome. It is like the paradise of childhood from which we imagine we have emerged, but which at the slightest provocation imposes fresh defeats on us.
In this connection Jung mentioned the naive faith in progress of the “white man,” who he said is all the more ready to abandon himself to even more childish dreams of the future, the further our consciousness pulls away from the past which has not yet been sufficiently “mastered.”
After his return home by way of Algiers and Marseilles, Jung’s resolve was firmly fixed to continue his exploration on the ground he had trodden, far from civilization, at the next opportunity, be it among the Indians of New Mexico, in East Africa, or, at another point in his life, in India.
There is much to suggest that Jung’s travels represented a kind of continuation, a variation on another level of the confrontation with the
unconscious that had begun with his nekyia.
But some years would pass before his next excursion, for the medical profession was his first duty.
Not every psychotherapeutic case could stand an interruption of several months, and every day eight or ten patients arrived at Dr. Jung’s for analytical discussions lasting as a rule an hour each.
It is appropriate in Jung’s case to speak of conversations, because-unlike Freud-he managed without the classical analyst’s couch.
For whereas the Freudian analyst simply wrote down the analysand’s so-called free associations, or spontaneous ideas, as a seemingly indifferent secretary who remained in the background, the Jungian “analysis” could unfold fully only through a reciprocal dialogue.
Of course here too the patient brought along dream images and ideas, but this took place in a fully personal face-to-face relationship, so that the analysand stepped out of his initially passive role to become a collaborator in a mutual effort.
The individual sessions were like way-stations along a road-the analyst offered his guidance and leadership, but to travel the road, to live what was experienced in the confrontation with his own unconscious in everyday life, remained the task of the analysand.
In this there could be no representation by proxy.
For the same reason the Jungian analyst considered it very important that there should be a sufficiently large ration of this “life” and confrontation with the concrete world of everyday reality between sessions.
The variety of paths which life and the soul may take lay claim on the doctor of the psyche in many respects, for he can be for others only what he is for himself.
Thus the need for a counterpoise to the stresses of his daily work, and even more the necessity of his own mental and spiritual growth, becomes an indispensable requirement for any psychotherapist.
That a teacher must possess more than his students in the way of knowledge and training is indisputable; above all one ought to expect superior experience and maturity of a person from whom one seeks personal leadership and inner guidance.
Early in the twenties, Jung was on the lookout for a place to concentrate on his own self-realization.
What he was seeking was therefore not simply some sort of vacation home in the usual sense.
It dawned on him that such a refuge should be built with his own hands.
In contrast with the house in Kusnacht that his cousin Ernest Fiechter had designed, the new abode should have none of the character of a bourgeois villa, matching the role and the prestige of a much-in-demand physician.
This time too it was certain that he had to build on the water, the symbol of psychic depth and vitality.
The enchanting island in Lake Zurich, where he had so often landed his boat and where aquatic creatures of all sorts, wild ducks, peewits, and crested grebes had found a home among the reeds, seemed to offer an idea location.
But then a parcel of land came up for sale in Bollingen, likewise situated on the upper lake.
Jung seized the chance and acquired it in 1922.
Originally he had in mind a kind of hut such as are known among primitive communities, “a dwelling-place which corresponds to the person’s primitive consciousness.
It should impart the feeling of being born-not only in the physical, but also the psychic sense.”
The building site turned out to be ideal, open to the lake, but screened off from the town on the landward side by trees and shrubbery.
There was no need for an architect, since the owner and later inhabitant would follow his own plans, in both the design and the building.
Two local workmen were sufficient to act as helpers and mason’s assistants.
How to cut stone Dr. Jung learned in the Bollingen quarries.
Anyone who saw the grown man in his late forties working with hammer and trowel in his gray work clothes would have taken him for one of the anonymous country laborers; certainly no one would have thought that this work with stone and building had anything to do with psychology.
And yet for the Bollingen house especially, a tower with a round foundation, the saying is true: the building becomes human.
From the beginning I felt the Tower as in some way a place of maturation-a maternal womb or a maternal figure in which I could become what I was, what I am and will be.
The reference to the maternal principle and to the fundamentality of the circle as an expression of wholeness did not come by chance.
Two months before the building began, Jung’s mother, Emilie Jung-Preiswerk, died, who in the last few years had maintained her own household in Kusnacht, primarily to be close to her grandchildren, whose religious instruction she saw to as an erstwhile parson’s wife.
Jung had always emphasized that no one could relieve him of the trouble of the building, and this was also the reason for his thorough
description of it in the Memories.
Here he reported the various phases and units of the multipartite structure, which had taken its present form in intervals of four years each,
beginning in the year of his mother’s death and concluding, after Emma Jung’s death in 1955, with a tower which was connected
in some secret way with the dead.
The Tower gave its builder a feeling of having been born again in stone, as if the architecture were a realization of his own individuation process.
For this very reason the secluded building, connected to neither the water supply nor the community electric lines, bore no trace of civilized amenities.
For the one who put up here from time to time was not Dr. C.G. Jung, the No. 1, but the timeless No. 2 of his personality, rooted in his psychic past:
At Bollingen I am in the midst of my true life, I am most deeply myself. Here I am, as it were, the “age-old son of the mother.” That is how alchemy puts it, very wisely, for the “old man,” the “ancient,” whom I had already experienced as a child, is personality No. 2, who has always been and always will be. He exists outside time and is the son of the maternal unconscious. In my fantasies he took the form of Philemon, and he comes to life again at Bollingen.
At the very entrance to the Tower one encounters him in an inscription, and as a colorful fresco in Jung’s monastery-like sleeping chamber.
The simple life of Bollingen was no fashionable flight from civilization, but rather a kind of homecoming.
At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and I am myself living in every tree, in the plashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, in the procession of the seasons.
There is nothing in the Tower that has not grown into its own form over the decades, nothing with which I am not linked. Here everything has its history, and mine; here is space for the spaceless kingdom of the world and the psyche’s hinterland.
The house’s simple furnishings, the open hearth in a smoke-smudged kitchen, held the presence not only of life in the present, but the depths of the soul’s past.
In a letter to a colleague in Zurich Jung once explained how important the historical form of this frugal space was to him, smelling of smoke and oatmeal mush, and sometimes of wine and smoked bacon.
Finally the ancestral souls, the lures and penates, tutelary spirits of Roman antiquity, had once lived in the pots and pans of the kitchen.
“The lares and penates are important psychological quantities which whenever possible should not be frightened by too much modernity.”
Indeed, who wants his wood-chopping and fire-making, his water-pumping and cooking, to be disturbed by people who might intrude the
obnoxious, hectic breathlessness of the intellectual and technological world into this realm of retreat and self-discovery!
Probably one would actually have to have lived for many years among people of primitive societies, in remote parts of Africa for instance, to comprehend how the inhabitant of the Bollingen Tower acted.
It was not to be equated with some eccentric wish to be a child of nature, any more than with what we might call “alternative lifestyles.”
What was involved here was making contact with the primeval, a return to the elementary.
The African expert Laurens van der Post, who in later years often met the psychologist from Kusnacht and remarked in him a deep sympathy with the psyche of primitive people, found an expression of this in his dealings with things and elements, for example in his attitude toward fire:
“He never took it as something obvious. It always remained a wonder to him and was sacred to him. He had a way all his own of piling the wood and kindling the flame; indeed there was even something in it of the way in which fire was made with such trouble by primitives, who prepared it with endless patience, as if it were a matter of life of death and must never, once it was kindled, be allowed to die. Jung did this instinctively, as if he were carrying out a religious ritual, and then when the Hindu flame flickered up, in its light his face would take on an expression of godliness like that of an ancient priest.”
Thus Jung’s journeys among the peoples of older (that is, more naturalistic) cultures were closely connected to the building of his Tower, as well as his stays for days or weeks at a time in Bollingen while his family remained behind in Kusnacht.
Because his preoccupation with stones and his ritual and creative activity with wood and fire had held a firm place in his life even in childhood, it need not be particularly stressed that in the Tower at Bollingen he was not imitating the primitive life of someone else, but living his own, impelled by an urgent inner need.
The various works of his stonemasonry, which can still be seen in and around the Tower, bear emphatic witness to this fact, for it was always a matter of expressing in image and form something created out of inner experience.
Hence, although the psychiatrist’s skill in sculpture remains astonishing, it should not be judged primarily on the basis of artistic and aesthetic standards.
Therefore, as Jung set out on two further journeys abroad in order to meet people who lived in harmony with nature and the elements, he already brought with him the necessary sensibility.
Barely four years after the brief North African trip he was ready, and late in 1924 Jung sojourned once again in North America.
In Chicago he met up with Fowler McCormick, with whose parents he had been close friends for a number of years.
The couple had made a name for themselves as promoters of Jungian psychology; suffice it to say that Fowler’s mother, Edith McCormick, had undergone an analysis with Jung.
As the daughter of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., she had used her considerable means to make a strong contribution toward the foundation and endowment of the Psychological Club in 1916.
His father, Harold, one of Jung’s first American patients, had also been active as a supporting charter member.
Early in January 1925, Jung and the young McCormick left Chicago for New Mexico.
Also in the party were George Porter, and, from Santa Fe on, Jaime de Angulo, both men interested in Jungian psychology.
Traveling at first by car and later by mule, the real goal of the trip was the settlements of the Pueblo Indians, though Jung made sure to miss neither the powerful natural impression of the Grand Canyon nor a visit to the Indians living in small huts in the Canon de los Frijoles in New Mexico.
After riding and hiking for several days they reached the Taos plateau, a gently rolling landscape of valleys at an altitude of over seven thousand feet above sea level, with the conical peaks of long-extinct volcanoes towering in the distance to a height of twelve thousand feet.
Here lived the Taos Pueblos.
They were called the “city-building” Indians, for their large villages were built of square houses of air-dried adobe brick layered atop one another in stories like building blocks.
Of this plateau Jung reported:
Behind us a clear stream purled past the houses, and on it: opposite bank stood a second pueblo of reddish adobe houses, built one atop the other toward the center of the settlement, thus strangely anticipating the perspective of an American metropolis with its skyscrapers in the center. Perhaps half an hour’s journey upriver rose a mighty isolated mountain, the mountain, which has no name. The story goes that on days when the mountain is wrapped in
clouds the men vanish in that direction to perform mysterious rites.
An air of secrecy surrounded this mountain and its darkskinned people, huddled-it being winter-in their woolen blankets.
Jung struck up a conversation with one of them, Ochwiay Biano or “Mountain Lake,” whose legal name was Antonio Mirabal, a chief of the Taos Pueblos.
Jung estimated him to be forty or fifty years old, and found the encounter with him especially fortunate, for it was his first opportunity
to speak with a non-European who was still closely in tune with his own religious tradition.
An approach opened up to the “age-old knowledge that has almost been forgotten,” the vantage point at last outside his own culture and civilization.
Ochwiay Biano gained confidence.
He openly criticized the Americans, and with them the white man in general, who struck him as mad because he thought not with his heart but with his head, and therefore was estranged from that dimension of reality which eludes the calculating grasp of human rationalization.
Jung was taken aback:
For the first time in my life, so it seemed to me, someone had drawn for me a picture of the real white man. It was as though until now I had seen nothing but sentimental, prettified color prints. This Indian had struck our vulnerable spot, unveiled a truth to which we are blind. I felt rising within me like a shapeless mist something unknown and yet deeply familiar. And out of this mist, image upon image detached itself …. is
For Ochwiay Biano had noted how the loss of the soul was reflected even in physiognomy, in the expression and facial features.
Now Jung could see the cultural and religious history of two thousand years in a new light: the invasion of the Roman legions into Celtic Gaul, the sharply chiseled features of Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus, and Pompey; he saw Augustinus the monk and how he had imparted the Christian creed to the Britons “on the points of Roman spears.”
Here came holy wars, the missions of Charlemagne, when plundering, murdering bands, the mantle of the crusader thrown over the martial trappings of the knight, drew their bloody tracks across history for centuries; “to the greater glory of God” they conquered the New World, and with it the habitations of the Indians-Columbus, Cortez, the armies of the Conquistadors; always with the sword and the cross in one hand, and wherever in the world the modern division of labor presented itself, there discovery, colonization, missionizing, exploitation, slavery and degradation of all. kinds could go hand in
In 1925 the problems of the Third World were still far distant from the general consciousness, and to the Reformed parson’s son all this was eye-opening.
There was yet another aspect to which the psychologist’s eyes were opened, a problem which on the whole remains hidden from most people.
To the extent to which the Christian sacraments have ceased to be mysteries, antiquity’s spiritual understanding of the world of mystery has been lost, and with it the ability to perceive that “vital secret” which naturalistic peoples still have, but whose loss robs them of
their identity and inner security.
Jung saw now how emotionally Ochwiay Biano reacted when the conversation touched upon this secret realm.
The sun was a central mystery for the Indians and their race: “The sun is God. Anyone can see that.”
Although no one can help feeling the tremendous impress of the sun, it was a novel and deeply affecting experience for me to see these mature, dignified men in the grip of an overmastering emotion when they spoke of it.
This was also the cause of their strained relationship with the American authorities, who sought to curtail the Pueblos’ ritual life.
Jung’s interlocutor found this least comprehensible of all, since indeed-of this he was thoroughly convinced-it was precisely they, the Indians, who through their worship performed an indispensable service for the Americans and the whole world as well.
The question of how this was so Mountain Lake answered in a manner that revealed something of the incontrovertible secret:
“After all,” he said, “we are a people who live on the roof of the world; we are the sons of Father Sun, and with our religion we daily help our father to go across the sky. We do this not only for ourselves, but for the whole world. If we were to cease practicing our religion, in ten years the sun would no longer rise. Then it would be night forever.”
Here, then, the life of the individual, like that of a whole culture or nature religion, is bound up in the cosmos and therefore meaningful, as expressed in the consciousness:
“All life comes from the mountain” and “We are the sons of Father Sun.”
Certainly Jung could not be suspected of wishing to turn back the wheel of the history of consciousness or to recommend a general psychic regression.
But in his autobiography he called for understanding for this attitude of the soul, which should neither be extinguished forcibly nor even
If for a moment we put away all European rationalism and transport ourselves into the clear mountain air of that solitary plateau, which drops off on one side into the broad continental prairies and on the other into the Pacific Ocean; if we also set aside our intimate knowledge of the world and exchange it for a horizon that seems immeasurable, and an ignorance of what lies beyond it, we will begin to achieve an inner comprehension of the Pueblo Indian’s
point of view …. That man feels capable of formulating valid replies to the overpowering influence of God, and that he can render back something which is essential even to God, induces pride, for it raises the human individual to the dignity of a metaphysical factor. “God and us” …
How strong and lasting an effect his encounter with Ochwiay Biano must have had on Jung is shown by a detailed letter he wrote to the Chilean ambassador, Miguel Serrano, in September 1960, the last year of his life, at age eight-five.
Here he came to speak of the spiritual poverty of contemporary mankind, saying among other things:
We are sorely in need of a truth or a self-understanding similar to that of Ancient Egypt, which I have found still living with the Taos Pueblos.
For several more years Jung kept in touch with Ochwiay Biano, alias Antonio Mirabal, alias Mountain Lake.
They exchanged letters, and Jung inquired whether the young men still worshiped “Father Sun,” whether they sometimes created mandalalike sand paintings such as were common among the Navajo.
Above all he averred his continuing interest in everything to do with the Pueblos’ religious life.
“Times are very hard indeed and unfortunately I can’t travel as far as I used to do,” he wrote on 21 October 1932 to Antonio Mirabal in Taos,
New Mexico. “All you tell me about religion is good news to me. There are no interesting religious things over here, only remnants of old things.”
Indeed, religious originality and vitality were of great consequence to Jung; hence his introversion, the depth of his own soul, and his retreat into his tower, but hence also his extraversion in the form of the journeys that brought him into contact with the “world unconscious.”
The discoveries he made in these travels were put to use in C. G. Jung’s everyday psychotherapeutic practice, where it was always important for modern people, cut off from their spiritual and religious roots, to gain a new “ground” to stand on.
His experiences abroad also made their way into his literary output, as expressed for example in a paper on “Mind and Earth,” presented to the Gesellschaft fur freie Philosophie under the auspices of Count Hermann Keyserling in 1927, and in one on “Archaic Man” in Zurich in 1930.
Also to be mentioned in this context is “The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man,” given in Prague in 1928.
For the often-referred-to modern man, living entirely within his present consciousness, past levels of consciousness and psychic possibilities have faded away, and therefore he is psychically isolated and impoverished, because every step toward higher and wider consciousness further distances him from the original, purely animal mystery participation with the herd, the state of immersion in a universal unconscious. Every step forward means a tearing away from this all-encompassing maternal womb of initial unconsciousness, in which the bulk of humanity, for the most part, persist.
There was also another perspective that had motivated Jung’s travels, especially his trip to the land of the Pueblos, and on account of which he made a side trip to New Orleans.
Acquaintance with his growing number of North American patients had confronted him with the phenomenon that even when no blood relationship was apparent between them, white Americans exhibited a strong psychic influence from Indians and blacks.
In his paper of 1927, for example, he mentioned the amazingly Negroid laugh and the sauntering, hip swaying gait one can often observe in North Americans.
Thus the American presents us with an odd picture: a European with the manner of a Negro and the soul of an Indian.
In this he shares the fate of all usurpers of foreign soil.
Certain Australian primitives claim that one can never possess a foreign land, because in foreign ground there live foreign ancestral spirits, and so those who are born there are incarnations of foreign spirits.
There is a great psychological truth in this; foreign soil assimilates the conqueror …. It is the way of virgin land everywhere that at least the unconscious
of the conqueror sinks down to the level of the autochthonous inhabitants. Thus in the American there is a distance between conscious and unconscious that is not found in the European, a tension between advanced conscious culture and unconscious primitivity ….
For C. G. Jung, now exactly fifty, 1925 was a year of extensive traveling. He began it, as we have seen, in America; he closed it in Africa.
But the intervening months too saw him only intermittently at home and with his patients.
For his many, mostly anglophone patients and students abroad, Jung held a seminar in Zurich from 23 March to 6 July, consisting of sixteen lectures in which he allowed autobiographical material to enter for the first time in such a forum.
Thereafter he traveled to England for a few weeks, to give another seminar of twelve lectures at Swanage in Dorset, this time with special attention to his practice of dream analysis.
From Swanage he visited the Wembley Exhibition in London, where he gained a lasting impression of life in the colonies under the British flag, and he resolved to undertake a journey to tropical Africa as soon as possible.
And so it came about. Jung was quite clear that such a journey, in contrast to the short North Africa trip organized by Hermann Sigg, would be
of the nature of an expedition into a completely unknown land.
Thorough preparation was therefore indispensable, particularly as neither he nor his two traveling companions had any experience in the tropics.
The party this time consisted of his young American friend George Beckwith, an excellent hunter, and “Peter,” his English colleague Helton Godwin
Baynes. Fowler McCormick, who would also have liked to join them, was unable to go.
Jung made use of the weeks between the return to Kusnacht and the Bollingen tower and his departure for Africa to prepare, in particular by learning Swahili, in order to be able to speak with at least some of the natives.
Apart from the outfitting and provisioning, the necessary entrance papers for Kenya and Uganda had to be obtained from the mandate administration in Britain.
On his life’s important decisions Jung customarily consulted the I Ching, having known and used this ancient Chinese book of oracular wisdom since the early twenties.
Richard Wilhlem’s often-used translation from 1923 showed him the way, particularly as he had known the famed sinologist from Frankfurt personally since they had met under the auspices of Count Keyserling’ s “School of Wisdom.”
Because the consultation of the I Ching-traditionally done with yarrow stalks or coins-is only meaningful in an environment that provides the requisite quiet and composure, the retreat at Bollingen was obviously the most suitable place for it.
In place of the Chinese yarrow stalks, Jung had carefully cut a corresponding number (fifty minus one) of small reeds, and sitting under a hundred-year-old pear tree he had in years past acquainted himself with the art of taking the oracle.
This involves the production of a hexagram, a sign made up of six horizontal lines, some solid, some broken.
In all, sixty-four variations are possible.
These are further “changed” and converted into their opposites, according to the polarity principle of the masculine/positive/light/creative Yang and the feminine/negative/dark/receptive Yin.
In consulting the oracle one or two specific hexagrams are formed, for which there are corresponding prophetic texts in the I Ching or “Book of Changes.”
Of course the interpretation and individual application of these dicta, couched in mythical imagery, pose a problem in themselves.
For Jung it was above all a matter of illuminating the parallelism that existed between the “coincidental” result of the hexagram he obtained, on one side, and the psychic or physical and factual situation on the other.
Thus it involved a phenomenon that Jung later customarily termed “synchronicity,” referring to the simultaneity of two meaningfully but not causally connected events or situations.
It comes into play, for example, when dreams, premonitions, or visions point “coincidentally” to definite external occurrences in the future.
When Jung consulted the I Ching shortly before beginning his journey, hexagram number 53 fell to him.
It is called “Chien-Development” and stands for “gradual progress.”
Psychologically speaking, this meant that the unconscious was basically in agreement with his plans.
But the third line seemed troublesome, for the I Ching’s commentary read:
“The wild goose gradually draws near the plateau. The man goes forth and does not return … ,” posing a problem of interpretation, for in what literal or somehow metaphorical sense was this nonreturn of the man meant?
Hence Jung prepared himself for dangers.
He felt called upon to take the utmost precautions, indeed considering, if worst came to worse, the possibility of his own death.
He did not let this stop him, however, and the Woerman steamer put to sea from England on October.
The next ports of call were Lisbon, Malaga, Marseille, and Genoa, and on 7 November they reached Port Said in Egypt.
They traversed the Suez Canal and the Red Sea in temperatures of up to 32° C. in early November.
Numerous young Englishmen were aboard, on their way to take up service in various African colonies of the United Kingdom.
It was evident from the atmosphere aboard ship that these passengers were not traveling for pleasure, but were entering upon their destiny.
To be sure, there was a good deal of gay exuberance, but the serious undertone was also evident.
As a matter of fact, I heard of the fate of several of my fellow voyagers even before my own return trip.
Several met death in the tropics in the course of the next two months.
Thus the oracle’s warning of the nearness of the threat of death was borne out by events.
A few years later the young George Beckwith became the victim of a traffic accident.
On 12 November they reached Mombasa on the east coast of Africa.
Here Jung went ashore with his two companions.
“The whole city consist of huts roofed with grass, nothing but Negroes and Indians,” he wrote in a letter to his youthful assistant in Bollingen, the sixteen-year-old Hans Kuhn.
Such was the “skyline” of Mombasa in 1925.
What remained in the traveler’s memory was the humid, hot climate of this city on the Indian Ocean, overshadowed by an old Portuguese
After a two-day layover the journey continued by narrow gauge railroad on into the interior for twenty-four hours.
“The soil there is quite red,” he wrote to Hans Kuhn, “and red dust swirled around the train until our white clothes became completely red. We saw wild Masai Negroes with long spears and shields. They were completely naked and had only hung an ox-skin over themselves.”
Skirting a region of virgin forest, they went on into the east African plains, where herds of antelope and zebra rushed past and ostriches followed the
In the distance Nairobi emerged, the capital of Kenya.
Here they were to replenish their supplies, among other things with two firearms, a shotgun for hunting and a ninemm.
rifle with a few hundred rounds of ammunition.
The rail journey continued to the end of the line, where three natives and a cook were engaged.
Two tropic-worthy trucks picked up their tents, provisions, and other equipment, and they continued inland toward Mount Elgon.
Francis Daniel Hislop, a British government official of the Nandi district in Kenya, who long afterward recorded his recollections 32 of his meeting with the Jung expedition (officially known as the Bugishu Psychological Expedition), gave the members of the safari,
who seemed to him peculiar and hence were viewed with skepticism, what information he could.
Characteristically, Hislop recalled C. G. Jung’s roaring laughter.
The three-man company was unexpectedly supplemented by a fourth person, a woman.
This was the young Englishwoman Ruth Bailey, who had served as a nurse in the war and whom the English governor provided as a guide.
Before them stood five days’ trek on foot through pathless country.
Forty-eight bearers had to be hired to carry all the freight from the trucks on their shoulders, but they reached the Elgon region:
We drew up to the mountain some twelve kilometers away, until we came to the great, impassable primeval forests. There we set up camp. Almost every night we heard lions; often leopards and hyenas crept around the camp. We stayed there three weeks and climbed the mountain and looked at the wild Negroes there …. The camp was 6900 feet high. I went up to 9600 feet. Up there the bamboo forests are full of black buffalo and rhinoceros.
Here in his letter to Hans Kuhn as well as in the Memories, Jung described in detail the adventures and perils of life on safari.
He enjoyed it.
At last he had arrived in the interior of the continent as he had longed to.
He felt enchanted at being for the first time among people some of whom had never come in contact with a white man before.
So strong was this confrontation that he felt, at least once, that truly he had been here ages ago, no longer within the reach of individual memory.
It was as if I were this moment returning to the land of my youth, and as if l knew that dark-skinned man who had been waiting for me for five thousand years. The feeling-tone of this curious experience accompanied me throughout my whole journey through savage Africa.
As soon as he saw the great game preserve of the Athi Plains outside Nairobi, Jung became conscious of the uniqueness of this experience of nature, and the “cosmic meaning of consciousness” became clear to him.
Just as the Pueblo chief had spoken of the Indian peoples’ indispensable task of helping their solar Father in heaven by their actions, so the insight
arose in Jung that only through human beings was the seemingly unceasing creation completed in all its enormity.
In this way man actually becomes a second creator.
It is human consciousness that creates meaning and grants man a firm place in the great process of cosmic evolution.
A particularly interesting experience for the psychologist was conversing with the black people, still undisturbed by any civilization, who squatted around the whites’ camp day after day and watched them curiously.
The campsite lay at some distance from a waterfall, whose basin served as a bath.
Nearby-that is, about fifteen minutes’ walk away-was a native kraal which consisted of a few huts and a boma-a yard surrounded by a hedge of wait-a-bit thorn. This kraal provided us with our water bearers, a woman and her two half-grown daughters, who were naked except for a belt of cowries. They were chocolate-brown and strikingly pretty, with fine slim figures and an aristocratic leisureliness about their movements. It was a pleasure for me each morning to hear the soft cling-clang of their iron ankle rings as they came up from the brook, and soon afterward to see their swaying gait as they emerged from the tall yellow elephant grass, balancing the amphorae of water on their heads. They were adorned with ankle rings, brass bracelets and
necklaces, earrings of copper or wood in the shape of small spools. Their lower lips were pierced with either a bone or iron nail. They had very good manners, and always greeted us with shy, charming smiles.
Jung consciously avoided speaking with native women, in order to avoid disastrous misunderstandings.
This made all the more intensive his conversations with the chief, the medicine man, and a young prince of a Elgonyi tribe who made Jung acquainted with his sister’s family, and so introduced him to the social life of the Elgonyi.
While it fell to the women to care for the huts, the children, and the animals, it was exclusively men who contested the daily palaver.
Jung’s knowledge of Swahili and theirs was just enough for them to strike up a conversation, above all on the subject of their religious
rituals and the inhabitants’ dream life.
But on this topic his normally talkative companions became quite reticent.
Jung found out one of the reasons for this when an old laibon, a medicine man, explained to him with tears in his eyes, “In old days the laibons had dreams, and knew whether there is war or sickness or whether rain comes and where the herds should be driven.”
His grandfather had still had dreams of this sort, but since the whites had come to the country these dreams had stopped.
They were no longer needed anyway, for the Englishmen always knew what to do.
The twilight of the gods had already begun.
Jung did manage to learn something of sun and moon worship among the Elgonyi.
“The sun was sacred, but only at the moment when it began to rise above the horizon with its glowing light.
At this numinous instant the men would hurry out of their huts, spit into their hands, and hold their palms up to the sun with great emotion. Why they did this they could not say. For them it was enough to perform the rite of worship. The act of worship evidently no longer required any theological
explanation. And just as the rising dawn represented the divine presence, so too did the first, equally golden, shimmering crescent of the new moon. Jung translated the wordless prayer thus: “I offer to God my living soul.”
On the other hand, the visitor to Africa found it informative that the power of darkness and the demonic abyss also held a firm place in
Elgonyi religious life, and that the fear of demons had nonetheless left the inhabitants of Mount Elgon capable of an optimistic
outlook on life.
But Jung had not gone to Africa only as a collector or recorder of facts about the psychology of religion.
His notes and oral reports repeatedly show his ability to open himself up to the numinous and the extraordinary experience of nature, from the overwhelming event of sunrise in these latitudes to the manifold adventures that every day in Africa holds in store for the European.
Jung spoke of the “profoundly moving experience” of being at the sources of the Nile and discovering anew the wisdom of the ancient Egyptian concepts, referring to the knowledge of the mystery god Osiris, with the solar falcon or sky-god Horus and his dangerous
In the great dualism of day and dark, of glittering sunlight and deep black night, Jung recognized the primal yearning of the soul to free itself from the darkness and enter the light, an “inexpressible longing for light.”
He could perceive it in the glance of the primitive, indeed even in the eyes of animals.
That sadness also reflects the mood of Africa, the experience of its solitudes. It is a maternal mystery, this primordial darkness. That is why the sun’s birth in the morning strikes the natives as so overwhelmingly meaningful. The moment in which light comes is God. That moment brings redemption, release. To say that the sun is God is to blur and forget the archetypal experience of that moment.
For this meant already to rationalize or theologize the numinosum, to turn it into an expressible, conceptually graspable object.
In late December 1925 the time had come to strike their tents on the slopes of Mount Elgon and begin their return home.
This occasioned sorrow, though it was eased by the promise that they must not fail to make another journey to the Elgonyi.
In the Memories Jung still remarked that at the time he could not imagine that he would never return to this undreamt-of splendor.
My companions and I had the good fortune to taste the world of Africa, with its incredible beauty and its equally incredible suffering, before the end came. Our camp life proved to be one of the loveliest interludes in my life. I enjoyed the “divine peace” of a still primeval country ….My liberated psychic forces poured blissfully back to the primeval expanses.
The South African-born travel writer and noted African expert Laurens van der Post, who had traveled large portions of the continent on foot, remarked in his memoirs of C. G. Jung:
“I thought that if there was anything at all which I knew and could understand, it was Africa and its people. But when we talked about Africa, I had to realize that Jung knew the archaic pattern of African life even better than I did, and revered it if possible even more deeply. There were a few moments when I felt a little disconcerted that a Swiss-and so of course he still was-seemed to understand the deepest nature of iny native continent better than l.”
Now, rather than retrace their steps southeast via Nairobi to the port of Mombasa, the trek set out westward toward Lake Victoria.
Gradually the landscape and its people changed.
They reached the province of Bugishu, where a stirring view opened out over the valley of the upper Nile.
Partly by truck and partly by means of a wood-fired stern-wheeled steamer, the journey continued onto Lake Kioga toward Lake Albert.
Further adventures lay in store. Jung reported one “unforgettable experience” when they stopped in a village in route from Lake Albert to Rejaf in the Sudan:
A young chief appeared with his warlike and not altogether confidence inspiring retinue, and a kind of war dance began.
Jung was so thrilled by this that he sprang up and joined in with the dancers, who brandished their spears, swords, and clubs with an
The situation became threatening, not only because no one could foresee what spontaneous actions the ecstatically raving natives might be capable of, but because Jung suddenly became aware of the inner danger of an identification, the danger of “going native” or “going black,” which can cause the European to lose himself in the archaic psyche. Sobered, Jung tried to calm the warriors.
When handing out tobacco failed to do the trick, he began, half in earnest and half jokingly, to crack his rhinoceros whip menacingly,
cursing loudly in Swiss German.
Laurens van der Post, who could imagine himself in this situation only too well, remarked on this account of Jung’s:
“His eyes flashed as he told me of the tension of that moment. This was also the turning point in his relationship to Africa …. ”
Jung was forced to realize that he had reached the limit of his ability to assimilate such new and strange impressions, and that there was also an inner necessity that compelled him to continue his return without delay.
He also received a corresponding signal from the unconscious, for whereas until now he had dreamed only of people and motifs from his homeland, now a dream appeared in which a black man played a part.
It concerned an American Negro; it was Jung’s barber in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And indeed he was about to make Jung’s hair kinky, like a black man’s, with a huge red-hot curling iron. I could already feel the painful heat, and awoke with a sense of terror. I took this dream as a warning from the unconscious; it was saying that the primitive was a danger to me. At that time I was obviously all too close to “going black.”
Little by little it occurred to him not only that his months-long expedition might have served as an encounter with the psyche of the African people, but that this excursion also represented an important stage on the path of his own self-examination and self-discovery.
What would happen to C.G. Jung the psychologist when confronted with the wildness of Africa?
It was a question he might rather have avoided, despite his intention to investigate the reaction to the European to primitive conditions.
It became clear to me that this study had been not so much an objective scientific project as an intensely personal one, and that any attempt to go deeper into it touched every possible sore spot in my own psychology. I had to admit to myself that it was scarcely the Wembley Exhibition which had begotten my decision to travel, but rather the fact that the atmosphere had become too highly charged for me in Europe. Amid such thoughts I glided on the peaceful waters of the Nile toward the north-toward Europe, toward the future.
As Jung felt he had found the origin of the Egyptian Horus concept on the flanks of Mount Elgon, it was very important to him to come to Egypt down the Nile from this geographical starting point, and not upriver from the Mediterranean as was usual.
He was less interested in the Asiatic influence on the great kingdoms of the upper and lower Nile than in the Hamitic contribution to Egyptian culture.
And the Horus myth was the story of the newly risen light that the Elgonyi worshiped in their peculiar way as a divine phenomenon.
Thus the journey from the heart of Africa to Egypt became, for me, a kind of drama of the birth of light. That drama was intimately connected with me, with my own psychology. I realized this, but felt incapable of formulating it in words.
What were all the other little curios, hunting trophies, weapons, or exotic jewelry, compared with such experiences!
No wonder that even months after his return, Jung declared-to the American analyst Frances G. Wickes from Sils-Maria in August-that he was still far from having “entirely worked through” all this.
Africa itself, he said, affected one. “The realizations which Jung made in Africa still took him some years to digest and work out,” commented
Barbara Hannah, to whom-she met Jung in 1929-he repeatedly recounted these events.
Among these, finally, there was also his encounter with Islamic Egypt.
Jung who had discovered for himself the importance of the mandala for psychic wholeness some seven years earlier, witnessed a mosque in Cairo.
Barbara Hannah followed Jung’s description:
.. .it was a perfect square with very beautiful broad pillared corridors on each side. The House of Ablution, where the ritual washings take place, was in the center. A spring of water welled forth there and formed the bath of rejuvenation, of spiritual rebirth. Jung described the dusty, crowded streets outside, and said that this vast hall seemed like entering the Court of Heaven, as if it were heaven itself. He had the impression of perfected concentration and of being accepted in the immense void of heaven, and this religion, where God is really a call, at last became comprehensible to him …. He spoke of hearing the call-“Allah!”-echoing through this vast hall, and of feeling that the call itself penetrated to heaven. Such impressions and those of the far more ancient culture were so enthralling to Jung ….
Thus over and over it was immediate experiences that had to be assimilated and integrated over the course of many years before the psychologist, in his empirical work, felt justified in making the results of his research public.
Several more years passed before he could speak comprehensively about the nature and significance of the mandala as a primary religious
But the same was true in an even more drastic sense for the theory of the collective unconscious which seemed to be represented by “black Africa.”
To this extent Jung’s African journey represented an essential episode in his life and work, and an important biographical element which was to bejoined by many others. ~Gerhard Wehr, “Jung” by Gerhard Wehr, Pages 215-244