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Olga Froebe

Olga Froebe initially met Jung in 1930 at Hermann Keyserling’s School of Wisdom in Darmstadt. Following her conversation with Otto, she invited Jung to speak at the first Eranos Conference in August 1933. Jung accepted her invitation and lectured the first year on “The Psychological Process of Individuation.” Froebe and Jung are standing outside of Casa Eranos in this 1933 photograph.

Born in London to a feminist/social activist mother and engineer father, Olga attended the North London Collegiate School, where she was a close friend of Marie Stopes.[1] She studied art history in Zürich, Switzerland, and in 1909 married musician and conductor Iwan Fröbe who died a few years later in a plane crash.

At the outbreak of World War I she relocated from Berlin to Zurich, where she had a literary salon known as the “Table Ronde” or round table.

In 1920 she moved to Casa Gabriella in Ascona, Switzerland where she began to study Indian philosophy and meditation and to take an interest in theosophy. Among her friends and influences were German poet Ludwig Derleth, psychologist Carl Jung, and Richard Wilhelm, whose translation of the I Ching made it accessible to her. She also knew many members of the School of Wisdom (Schule der Weisheit), run by Count Hermann Graf Keyserling in Darmstadt, whose members were engrossed in investigating the common root of all religions, as well as members of the Ecumenical Circle in Marburg.

In 1928, with as yet no clear purpose in mind, she built a conference room near her home. Carl Jung suggested that she use the conference room as a “meeting place between East and West” This gave birth to the annual meeting of intellectual minds known as Eranos, which today continues to provide an opportunity for scholars of many different fields to meet and share their research and ideas on human spirituality. The name “Eranos” was suggested to her by religious historian Rudolf Otto, whose human-centered concept of religion had a deep impact on the origins and evolution of E
ranos. Carl Jung also remained a significant participant in the organisation of the Eranos conferences. Although the symposia were not specifically Jungian in focus or concept, they did employ the idea of archetypes.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Olga’s ongoing research in archetypes took her to major libraries in Europe and America, including the Vatican Library, the British Museum, the Morgan Library in New York City, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Her diverse and intensive studies provided her with material for her Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism which contains more than six thousand images and assisted the research of many Eranos lecturers and other scholars over the years.

Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn died at her home in Casa Gabriella in 1962.