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Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East

[The process of Individuation is not “Mysticism,” “Shamanism,” “Alchemy,” or “Gnosticism”. But, in reality, individuation is an expression of that biological process.]

Psychology, like every empirical science, cannot get along without auxiliary concepts, hypotheses, and models. But the theologian as well as the philosopher is apt to make the mistake of taking them for metaphysical postulates. The atom of which the physicist speaks is not an hypostasis, it is a model.

Similarly, my concept of the archetype or of psychic energy is only an auxiliary idea which can be exchanged at any time for a better formula. From a philosophical standpoint my empirical concepts would be logical monsters, and as a philosopher I should cut a very sorry figure.

Looked at theologically, my concept of the anima, for instance, is pure Gnosticism; hence I am often classed among the Gnostics. On top of that, the individuation process develops a symbolism whose nearest affinities are to be found in folklore, in Gnostic, alchemical, and such like “mystical” conceptions, not to mention shamanism.

When material of this kind is adduced for comparison, the exposition fairly swarms with “exotic” and “far-fetched” proofs, and anyone who merely skims through a book instead of reading it can easily succumb to the illusion that he is confronted with a Gnostic system. In reality, however, individuation is an expression of that biological process simple or complicated as the case may be by which every living thing becomes what it was destined to become from the beginning.

This process naturally expresses itself in man as much psychically as somatically. On the psychic side it produces those well-known quaternity symbols, for instance, whose parallels are found in mental asylums as well as in Gnosticism and other exoticisms, and last but not least in Christian allegory.

Hence it is by no means a case of mystical speculations, but of clinical observations and their interpretation through comparison with analogous phenomena in other fields. It is not the daring fantasy of the anatomist that can be held responsible when he discovers the nearest analogies to the human skeleton in certain African anthropoids of which the layman has never heard.

It is certainly remarkable that my critics, with few exceptions, ignore the fact that, as a doctor and scientist, I proceed from facts which everyone is at liberty to verify. Instead, they criticize me as if I were a philosopher, or a Gnostic with pretensions to supernatural knowledge.

As a philosopher and speculating heretic I am, of course, easy prey. That is probably the reason why people prefer to ignore the facts I have discovered, or to deny them without scruple. But it is the facts that are of prime importance to me and not a provisional terminology or attempts at theoretical reflections.

The fact that archetypes exist is not spirited away by saying that there are no inborn ideas. I have never maintained that the archetype “an sich” is an idea, but have expressly pointed out that I regard it as a form without definite content. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Forward to White’s “God and the Unconscious,” Pages 306-307, Paragraphs 460-461.