A memoir of Toni Wolff

At the time of Toni Wolff’s death I was staying in Kusnacht on the lake a few hundred yards from Jung’s home.

No one else in Zurich or Kusnacht had any warning of her rapidly approaching death.

It is strange that I in England quite unconsciously must have intuited it and my sudden irrational urge to put forward my May visit to March was connected with this inner “knowledge.”

I had found it difficult to explain to Gilbert but in his wonderful accepting way he had put no barrier in my path.

On the Saturday morning I rang I:IP Toni’s flat to ask the little maid Lene how Miss Wolff was.

She was weeping, “Frl. Wolff ist gestorben, ” she replied.

Elizabeth Welch, one of the women who contributed a great deal to the translating of Jung’s lectures and who lived in the Sonne, was the first person I told , and we went round at once to Barbara Hannah who lived near .

The fact Toni Wolff had said “I wonder if it” (meaning her sickness) “has anything to do with your material,” naturally worried me.

Although she had told me not to take that personally I could not help but wonder and I decided to ask Dr.  Jung straight away if l could go to see him.

I rang him and he invited me to go that very afternoon.

So Barbara Hannah and I went straight to Toni’s flat that morning to pay our homage.

I also wanted to recover my manuscript and pictures to take to Dr. Jung so that we could discuss the connection, if any, of my material with Toni and her death.

He was obviously shocked himself by the sudden death of a student and colleague who had been as close to him as Toni had been over so many years.

That afternoon we sat in the garden of his house by the lake.

Dr. Jung did not feel there was anything sinister or threatening in my material.

Later he saw in the first picture painted two years before what I also realized , that it foretold her death.

Jung also felt that I too had been near to the realm of death at that time for it was also my vision and had a subjective content.

Mrs. Jung joined us and we had tea and for part of the time the three of us talked together.

It was comforting to sit at tea in Jung’s lakeside garden with him and Mrs. Jung.

With him I could fully unburden myself about the whole matter.

I discussed the suddenness of my appearance in Zurich and the last hours spent with Toni, in fact the whole relationship , and my work with her over the years.

Of course Jung already knew a great deal about this for I had seen him very frequently as well , although I had not shown him the full material till now.

Mrs. Jung emphasized the fact , as she had already done in her letter to me, that there was something important to do with woman in general in these visionary pictures, and that Toni had understood a good deal of it, as her letters showed.

Toni had not been well of late and somehow my psychological work, with which she had been very involved, had touched her life.

I was like a daughter, carrying on the work, but first I had to support her to her journey’s end.

The picture of my first vision Jung used as a frontispiece for Flying Saucers.

This is what he writes about it:

Dream 5

This dream comes from a woman with an academic education. It was dreamt several years ago without reference to UFOS [unidentified flying objects] : . . . After this extremely impressive dream the dreamer immediately seized a paint brush in order to fix the vision, as shown in Pl. I. The dream describes a typical UFO phenomenon which contains the motif of “manning,” i. e., the presence of human beings. It obviously represents a borderline situation, as the expression “on the edge of the world” shows. Our beyond is cosmic space with its planets and suns; or the beyond may be the land of the dead or the

unconscious. The first possibility suggests a space-ship, the technical achievement of more highly developed planetary beings; the second, angels of some kind or departed spirits, who come to earth in order to fetch a soul. This would refer to [Toni Wolff], who was already in need of “support” as she was ill. Her health really did give grounds for anxiety, and in fact she died about two years after the dream. Accordingly the dreamer took it as a premonition [though nor until after Toni Wolff’s death]. The third possibility, that the beyond is the unconscious unconscious, points to a personification of the latter, namely the animus in his characteristic plurality; the festive white robes of the crew suggest the idea of a marital union of opposites. This symbolism, as we know, also applies to death as a final realization of wholeness. The dreamer’s view that the dream gave warning of the death of her friend may therefore be right . . .

In a borderline situation such as our dream depicts, we may expect something extraordinary, or rather, what seems extraordinary to us, though in reality it has always been inherent in such situations: The ship of death approaches with a corona of departed spirits, the deceased joins their company, and the multitudinous dead take the soul with them.

When archetypal ideas of this kind appear they invariably signify something unusual. It is not our interpretation that is far-fetched; it is merely that the dreamer’s attention, caught by many superficial aspects of the dream, has missed the main point, namely the nearness of death, which in a sense concerns her as much as her friend.

With all respect to Jung, I had felt the death pull and threat in the dream-vision but I had no understanding at that time as to what it might mean.

Only slowly did I come to it.

Nevertheless the full meaning of the whole series still eludes me.

That it has to do with woman, mother-daughter, teacher-pupil, the present and the future, and the stamp of archetypal power or mana in the individual life is pretty clear.

Toni, the only one who had followed with me and who read the document the night before she died , was not able to comment.

She only said on the phone, “Your material is impersonal, it is a hexagram and we will discuss it tomorrow.”

She died a few hours later.

There is something in the material also which suggests another kind of relationship of the male to the female backed by the trinity of man and the trinity of woman respectively.

Even if it is not understood, it did some of its work at least in me on my life’ s journey, especially the part travelled with Toni Wolff.  ~Toni Wolff, A Memoir of Toni Wolff, Pages 51-53

 

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