Confrontation with the Unconscious
After the parting of the ways with Freud, a period of inner uncertainty began for me.
It would be no exaggeration to call it a state of disorientation.
I felt totally suspended in mid-air, for I had not yet found my own footing.
Above all, I felt it necessary to develop a new attitude toward my patients.
I resolved for the present not to bring any theoretical premises to bear upon them, but to wait and see what they would tell of their own accord.
My aim became to leave things to chance.
The result was that the patients would spontaneously report their dreams and fantasies to me, and I would merely ask,
“What occurs to you in connection with that?” or, “How do you mean that, where does that come from, what do you think about it?”
The interpretations seemed to follow of their own accord from the patients’ replies and associations.
I avoided all theoretical points of view and simply helped the patients to understand the dream-images by themselves, without application of rules and theories.
Soon I realized that it was right to take the dreams in this way as the basis of interpretation, for that is how dreams are intended.
They are the facts from which we must proceed.
Naturally, the aspects resulting from this method were so multitudinous that the need for a criterion grew more and more
pressing the need, I might almost put it, for some initial orientation.
About this time I experienced a moment of unusual clarity in which I looked back over the way I had traveled so far.
I thought, “Now you possess a key to mythology and are free to unlock all the gates of the unconscious psyche.”
But then something whispered within me, “Why open all gates?”
And promptly the question arose of what, after all, I had accomplished.
I had explained the myths of peoples of the past; I had written a book about the hero, the myth in which man has always lived.
But in what myth does man live nowadays?
In the Christian myth, the answer might be, “Do you live in it?”
I asked myself. To be honest, the answer was no. For me, it is not what I live by.”
“Then do we no longer have any myth?” ”
No, evidently we no longer have any myth.” “But then what is your myth the myth in which you do live?”
At this point the dialogue with myself became uncomfortable, and I stopped thinking.
I had reached a dead end.
Then, around Christmas of 1912, 1 had a dream.
In the dream I found myself in a magnificent Italian loggia with pillars, a marble floor, and a marble balustrade.
I was sitting on a gold Renaissance chair; in front of me was a table of rare beauty.
It was made of green stone, like emerald.
There I sat, looking out into the distance, for the loggia was set high up on the tower of a castle.
My children were sitting at the table too. Suddenly a white bird descended, a small sea gull or a dove.
Gracefully, it came to rest on the table, and I signed to the children to be still so that they would not frighten away the pretty white bird.
Immediately, the dove was transformed into a little girl, about eight years of age, with golden blond hair.
She ran off with the children and played with them among the colonnades of the castle.
I remained lost in thought, musing about what I had just experienced.
The little girl returned and tenderly placed her arms around my neck.
Then she suddenly vanished; the dove was back and spoke slowly in a human voice.
“Only in the first hours of the night can I transform myself into a human being, while the male dove is busy with the twelve dead.”
Then she flew off into the blue air, and I awoke.
I was greatly stirred. What business would a male dove be having with twelve dead people?
In connection with the emerald table the story of the Tabula Smaragdina occurred to me, the emerald table in the alchemical legend of Hermes Trismegistos.
He was said to have left behind him a table upon which the basic tenets of alchemical wisdom were engraved in Greek.
I also thought of the twelve apostles, the twelve months of the year, the signs of the zodiac, etc.
But I could find no solution to the enigma.
Finally I had to give it up.
All I knew with any certainty was that the dream indicated an unusual activation of the unconscious.
But I knew no technique whereby I might get to the bottom of my inner processes, and so there remained nothing for me to do but wait, go on with my life, and pay close attention to my fantasies.
One fantasy kept returning: there was something dead present, but it was also still alive.
For example, corpses were placed in crematory ovens, but were then discovered to be still living.
These fantasies came to a head and were simultaneously resolved in a dream.
I was in a region like the Alyscamps near Aries.
There they have a lane of sarcophagi which go back to Merovingian times.
In the dream I was coming from the city, and saw before me a similar lane with a long row of tombs.
They were pedestals with stone slabs on which the dead lay.
They reminded me of old church burial vaults, where knights in armor lie outstretched.
Thus the dead lay in my dream, in their antique clothes, with hands clasped, die difference being that they were not hewn out of stone, but in a curious fashion mummified.
I stood still in front of the first grave and looked at the dead man, who was a person of the eighteen-thirties, I looked at his clothes with interest, whereupon he suddenly moved and came to life.
He unclasped his hands; but that was only because I was looking at him.
I had an extremely unpleasant feeling, but walked on and came to another body.
He belonged to the eighteenth century.
There exactly the same thing happened: when I looked at him, he came to life and moved his hands.
So I went down the whole row, until I came to the twelfth century that is, to a crusader in chain mail who lay there with clasped hands.
His figure seemed carved out of wood.
For a long time I looked at him and thought he was really dead.
But suddenly I saw that a finger of his left hand was beginning to stir gently.
Of course I had originally held to Freud’s view that vestiges of old experiences exist in the unconscious, but dreams like
this, and my actual experiences of the unconscious, taught me that such contents are not dead, outmoded forms, but belong
to our living being.
My work had confirmed this assumption, and in the course of years there developed from it the theory of archetypes.
The dreams, however, could not help me over my feeling of disorientation.
On the contrary, I lived as if under constant inner pressure.
At times this became so strong that I suspected there was some psychic disturbance in myself.
Therefore I twice went over all the details of my entire life, with particular attention to childhood memories; for I thought there might be something in my past which I could not see and which might possibly be the cause of the disturbance.
But this retrospection led to nothing but a fresh acknowledgment of my own ignorance.
Thereupon I said to myself, “Since I know nothing at all, I shall simply do whatever occurs to me.”
Thus I consciously submitted myself to the impulses of the unconscious.
The first thing that came to the surface was a childhood memory from perhaps my tenth or eleventh year.
At that time I had had a spell of playing passionately with building blocks.
I distinctly recalled how I had built little houses and castles, using bottles to form the sides of gates and vaults.
Somewhat later I had used ordinary stones, with mud for mortar.
These structures had fascinated me for a long time.
To my astonishment, this memory was accompanied by a good deal of emotion.
“Aha,” I said to myself, “there is still life in these things.
The small boy is still around, and possesses a creative life which I lack.
But how can I make my way to it?”
For as a grown man it seemed impossible to me that I should be able to bridge the distance from the present back to my eleventh year.
Yet if I wanted to re-establish contact with that period, I had no choice but to return to it and take up once more that child’s life with his childish games.
This moment was a turning point in my fate, but I gave in only after endless resistances and with a sense of resignation.
For it was a painfully humiliating experience to realize that there was nothing to be done except play childish games.
Nevertheless, I began accumulating suitable stones, gathering them partly from the lake shore and partly from the water.
And I started building: cottages, a castle, a whole village.
The church was still missing, so I made a square building with a hexagonal drum on top of it, and a dome.
A church also requires an altar, but I hesitated to build that.
Preoccupied with the question of how I could approach this task, I was walking along the lake as usual one day, picking
stones out of the gravel on the shore.
Suddenly I caught sight of a red stone, a four-sided pyramid about an inch and a half high.
It was a fragment of stone which had been polished into this shape by the action of the water a pure product of chance.
I knew at once: this was the altar! I placed it in the middle under the dome, and as I did so, I recalled the underground phallus of my childhood dream.
This connection gave me a feeling of satisfaction.
I went on with my building game after the noon meal every day, whenever the weather permitted.
As soon as I was through eating, I began playing, and continued to do so until the patients arrived; and if I was finished with my work early enough in the evening, I went back to building.
In the course of this activity my thoughts clarified, and I was able to grasp the fantasies whose presence in myself I dimly felt.
Naturally, I thought about the significance of what I was doing, and asked myself, “Now, really, what are you about? You
are building a small town, and doing it as if it were a rite!”
I had no answer to my question, only the inner certainty that I was on the way to discovering my own myth.
For the building game was only a beginning.
It released a stream of fantasies which I later carefully wrote down.
This sort of thing has been consistent with me, and at any time in my later life when I came up against a blank wall, I
painted a picture or hewed stone.
Each such experience proved to be a rite d’entree for the ideas and works that followed hard upon it.
Everything that I have written this year and last year, “The Undiscovered Self,” “Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth,” “A Psychological View of Conscience,” has grown out of the stone sculptures I did after my wife’s death.
The close of her life, the end, and what it made me realize, wrenched me violently out of myself.
It cost me a great deal to regain my footing, and contact with stone helped me.
Toward the autumn of 1913 the pressure which I had felt was in me seemed to be moving outward, as though there were
something in the air.
The atmosphere actually seemed to me darker than it had been.
It was as though the sense of oppression no longer sprang exclusively from a psychic situation, but from concrete reality.
This feeling grew more and more intense.
In October, while I was alone on a journey, I was suddenly seized by an overpowering vision: I saw a monstrous flood covering all the northern and low-lying lands between the North Sea and the Alps.
When it came up to Switzerland I saw that the mountains grew higher and higher to protect our country.
I realized that a frightful catastrophe was in progress.
I saw the mighty yellow waves, the floating rubble of civilization, and the drowned bodies of uncounted thousands.
Then the whole sea turned to blood.
This vision lasted about one hour.
I was perplexed and nauseated, and ashamed of my weakness.
Two weeks passed; then the vision recurred, under the same conditions, even more vividly than before, and the blood was
An inner voice spoke. “Look at it well; it is wholly real and it will be so. You cannot doubt it.”
That winter someone asked me what I thought were the political prospects of the world in the near future.
I replied that I had no thoughts on the matter, but that I saw rivers of blood.
I asked myself whether these visions pointed to a revolution, but could not really imagine anything of the sort.
And so I drew the conclusion that they had to do with me myself, and decided that I was menaced by a psychosis.
The idea of war did not occur to me at all.
Soon afterward, in the spring and early summer of 1914, I had a thrice-repeated dream that in the middle of summer an
Arctic cold wave descended and froze the land to ice.
I saw, for example, the whole of Lorraine and its canals frozen and the entire region totally deserted by human beings.
All living green things were killed by frost.
This dream came in April and May, and for the last time in June, 1914.
In the third dream frightful cold had again descended from out of the cosmos.
This dream, however, had an unexpected end.
There stood a leaf-bearing tree, but without fruit (my tree of life, I thought), whose leaves had been transformed by the
effects of the frost into sweet grapes full of healing juices.
I plucked the grapes and gave them to a large, waiting crowd.
At the end of July 1914 I was invited by die British Medical Association to deliver a lecture, “On the Importance of the Unconscious in Psychopathology,” at a congress in Aberdeen.
I was prepared for something to happen, for such visions and dreams are fateful.
In my state of mind just then, with the fears that were pursuing me, it seemed fateful to me that I should have to talk on the importance of the unconscious at such a time!
On August i the world war broke out.
Now my task was clear; I had to try to understand what had happened and to what extent my own experience coincided with that of mankind in general.
Therefore my first obligation was to probe the depths of my own psyche.
I made a beginning by writing down the fantasies which had come to me during my building game.
This work took precedence over everything else.
An incessant stream of fantasies had been released, and I did my best not to lose my head but to find some way to understand these strange things.
I stood helpless before an alien world; everything in it seemed difficult and incomprehensible.
I was living in a constant state of tension; often I felt as if gigantic blocks of stone were tumbling down upon me.
One thunderstorm followed another.
My enduring these storms was a question of brute strength.
Others have been shattered by them Nietzsche, and Holderlin, and many others.
But there was a demonic strength in me, and from the beginning there was no doubt in my mind that I must find the meaning of what I was experiencing in these fantasies.
When I endured these assaults of the unconscious I had an unswerving conviction that I was obeying a higher will, and that feeling continued to uphold me until I had mastered the task.
I was frequently so wrought up that I had to do certain yoga exercises in order to hold my emotions in check.
But since it was my purpose to know what was going on within myself, I would do these exercises only until I had calmed myself enough to resume my work with the unconscious.
As soon as I had the feeling that I was myself again, I abandoned this restraint upon the emotions and allowed the images and inner voices to speak afresh.
The Indian, on the other hand, does yoga exercises in order to obliterate completely the multitude of psychic contents and images.
To the extent that I managed to translate the emotions into images that is to say, to find the images which were concealed
in the emotions I was inwardly calmed and reassured.
Had I left those images hidden in the emotions, I might have been torn to pieces by them.
There is a chance that I might have succeeded in splitting them off; but in that case I would inexorably have fallen into a neurosis and so been ultimately destroyed by them anyhow.
As a result of my experiment I learned how helpful it can be, from the therapeutic point of view, to find the particular images which lie behind emotions.
I wrote down the fantasies as well as I could, and made an earnest effort to analyze the psychic conditions under which they had arisen.
But I was able to do this only in clumsy language.
First I formulated the things as I had observed them, usually in “high-flown language/’ for that corresponds to the style of the archetypes.
Archetypes speak the language of high rhetoric, even of bombast.
It is a style I find embarrassing; it grates on my nerves, as when someone draws his nails down a plaster wall, or scrapes his knife against a plate.
But since I did not know what was going on, I had no choice but to write everything down in the style selected by the unconscious itself.
Sometimes it was as if I were hearing it with my ears, sometimes feeling it with my mouth, as if my tongue were formulating
words; now and then I heard myself whispering aloud.
Below the threshold of consciousness everything was seething with life.
From the beginning I had conceived my voluntary confrontation with the unconscious as a scientific experiment which I
myself was conducting and in whose outcome I was vitally interested.
Today I might equally well say that it was an experiment which was being conducted on me.
One of the greatest difficulties for me lay in dealing with my negative feelings.
I was voluntarily submitting myself to emotions of which I could not really approve, and I was writing down fantasies which
often struck me as nonsense, and toward which I had strong resistances.
For as long as we do not understand their meaning, such fantasies are a diabolical mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous.
It cost me a great deal to undergo them, but I had been challenged by fate.
Only by extreme effort was I finally able to escape from the labyrinth.
In order to grasp the fantasies which were stirring in me “underground,” I knew that I had to let myself plummet down into
them, as it were.
I felt not only violent resistance to this, but a distinct fear.
For I was afraid of losing command of myself and becoming a prey to the fantasies and as a psychiatrist I realized only too well what that meant.
After prolonged hesitation, however, I saw that there was no other way out.
I had to take the chance, had to try to gain power over them; for I realized that if I did not do so, I ran the risk of their gaining power over me.
A cogent motive for my making the attempt was the conviction that I could not expect of my patients something I did not
dare to do myself.
The excuse that a helper stood at their side would not pass muster, for I was well aware that the so-called helper that is, myself could not help them unless he knew their fantasy material from his own direct experience, and that at present all he possessed were a few theoretical prejudices of dubious value.
This idea that I was committing myself to a dangerous enterprise not for myself alone, but also for the sake of my patients helped me over several critical phases.
It was during Advent of the year 1913 December 12, to be exact that I resolved upon the decisive step.
I was sitting at my desk once more, thinking over my fears.
Then I let myself drop.
Suddenly it was as though the ground literally gave way beneath my feet, and I plunged down into dark depths.
I could not fend off a feeling of panic.
But then, abruptly, at not too great a depth, I landed on my feet in a soft, sticky mass.
I felt great relief, although I was apparently in complete darkness.
After a while my eyes grew accustomed to the gloom, which was rather like a deep twilight.
Before me was the entrance to a dark cave, in which stood a dwarf with a leathery skin, as if he were mummified.
I squeezed past him through the narrow entrance and waded knee deep through icy water to the other end of the cave where, on a projecting rock, I saw a glowing red crystal.
I grasped the stone, lifted it, and discovered a hollow underneath.
At first I could make out nothing, but then I saw that there was running water.
In it a corpse floated by, a youth with blond hair and a wound in the head.
He was followed by a gigantic black scarab and then by a red, newborn sun, rising up out of the depths of the water.
Dazzled by the light, I wanted to replace the stone upon the opening, but then a fluid welled out.
It was blood.
A thick jet of it leaped up, and I felt nauseated.
It seemed to me that the blood continued to spurt for an unendurably long time.
At last it ceased, and the vision came to an end.
I was stunned by this vision.
I realized, of course, that it was a hero and solar myth, a drama of death and renewal, the rebirth symbolized by the Egyptian scarab.
At the end, the dawn of the new day should have followed, but instead came that intolerable outpouring of blood an altogether abnormal phenomenon, so it seemed to me.
But then I recalled the vision of blood that I had had in the autumn of that same year, and I abandoned all further attempt to understand.
Six days later (December 18, 1913), I had the following dream.
I was with an unknown, brown-skinned man, a savage, in a lonely, rocky mountain landscape.
It was before dawn; the eastern sky was already bright, and the stars fading.
Then I heard Siegfried’s horn sounding over the mountains and I knew that we had to kill him.
We were armed with rifles and lay in wait for him on a narrow path over the rocks.
Then Siegfried appeared high up on the crest of the mountain, in the first ray of the rising sun.
On a chariot made of the bones of the dead he drove at furious speed down the precipitous slope.
When he turned a corner, we shot at him, and he plunged down, struck dead.
Filled with disgust and remorse for having destroyed something so great and beautiful, I turned to flee, impelled by the
fear that the murder might be discovered.
But a tremendous downfall of rain began, and I knew that it would wipe out all traces of the dead.
I had escaped the danger of discovery; life could go on, but an unbearable feeling of guilt remained.
When I awoke from the dream, I turned it over in my mind, but was unable to understand it.
I tried therefore to fall asleep again, but a voice within me said, “You must understand the dream, and must do so at once!”
The inner urgency mounted until the terrible moment came when the voice said, “If you do not understand the dream, you must shoot yourself!”
In the drawer of my night table lay a loaded revolver, and I became frightened.
Then I began pondering once again, and suddenly the meaning of the dream dawned on me.
“Why, that is the problem that is being played out in the world?”
Siegfried, I thought, represents what the Germans want to achieve, heroically to impose their will, have their own way.
“Where there is a will there is a way!” I had wanted to do the same.
But now that was no longer possible.
The dream showed that the attitude embodied by Siegfried, the hero, no longer suited me.
Therefore it had to be killed.
After the deed I felt an overpowering compassion, as though I myself had been shot: a sign of my secret identity with Siegfried, as well as of the grief a man feels when he is forced to sacrifice his ideal and his conscious attitudes.
This identity and my heroic idealism had to be abandoned, for there are higher things than the ego’s will, and to these one must bow.
These thoughts sufficed for the present, and I fell asleep again.
The small, brown-skinned savage who accompanied me and had actually taken the initiative in the killing was an embodiment of the primitive shadow.
The rain showed that the tension between consciousness and the unconscious was being resolved.
Although at the time I was not able to understand the meaning of the dream beyond these few hints, new forces were released in me which helped me to carry the experiment with ‘the unconscious to a conclusion.
In order to seize hold of the fantasies, I frequently imagined a steep descent. I even made several attempts to get to the very bottom.
The first time I reached, as it were, a depth of about a thousand feet; the next time I found myself at the edge of a cosmic abyss.
It was like a voyage to the moon, or a descent into empty space.
First came the image of a crater, and I had the feeling that I was in the land of the dead.
The atmosphere was that of the other world.
Near the steep slope of a rock I caught sight of two figures, an old man with a white beard and a beautiful young girl.
I summoned up my courage and approached them as though they were real people, and listened attentively to what they told me.
The old man explained that he was Elijah, and that gave me a shock.
But the girl staggered me even more, for she called herself Salome!
She was blind.
What a strange couple: Salome and Elijah.
But Elijah assured me that he and Salome had belonged together from all eternity, which completely astounded me. . . . They had a black serpent living with them which displayed an unmistakable fondness for me.
I stuck close to Elijah because he seemed to be the most reasonable of the three, and to have a clear intelligence.
Of Salome I was distinctly suspicious.
Elijah and I had a long conversation which, however, I did not understand.
Naturally I tried to find a plausible explanation for the appearance of Biblical figures in my fantasy by reminding myself
that my father had been a clergyman.
But that really explained nothing at all.
For what did the old man signify?
What did Salome signify?
Why were they together?
Only many years later, when I knew a great deal more than I knew then, did the connection between the old man and the young girl appear perfectly natural to me.
In such dream wanderings one frequently encounters an old man who is accompanied by a young girl, and examples of such
couples are to be found in many mythic tales.
Thus, according to Gnostic tradition, Simon Magus went about with a young girl whom he had picked up in a brothel.
Her name was Helen, and she was regarded as the reincarnation of the Trojan Helen.
Klingsor and Kundry, Lao-tzu and the dancing girl, likewise belong to this category.
I have mentioned that there was a third figure in my fantasy besides Elijah and Salome: the large black snake. In myths the
snake is a frequent counterpart of the hero.
There are numerous accounts of their affinity.
For example, the hero has eyes like a snake, or after his death he is changed into a snake and revered as such, or the snake is his mother, etc.
In my fantasy, therefore, the presence of the snake was an indication of a hero-myth.
Salome is an anima figure.
She is blind because she does not see the meaning of things.
Elijah is the figure of the wise old prophet and represents the factor of intelligence and knowledge; Salome, the erotic element.
One might say that the two figures are personifications of Logos and Eros.
But such a definition would be excessively intellectual.
It is more meaningful to let the figures be what they were for me at the time namely, events and experiences.
Soon after this fantasy another figure rose out of the unconscious.
He developed out of the Elijah figure.
I called him Philemon.
Philemon was a pagan and brought with him an Egypto-Hellenistic atmosphere with a Gnostic coloration.
His figure first appeared to me in the following dream.
There was a blue sky, like the sea, covered not by clouds but by flat brown clods of earth. It looked as if the clods were breaking apart and the blue water of the sea were becoming visible between them.
But the water was the blue sky.
Suddenly there appeared from the right a winged being sailing across the sky.
I saw that it was an old man with the horns of a bull.
He held a bunch of four keys, one of which he clutched as ‘if he were about to open a lock.
He had the wings of the kingfisher with its characteristic colors.
Since I did not understand this dream-image, I painted it in order to impress it upon my memory.
During the days when I was occupied with the painting, I found in my garden, by the lake shore, 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.
Philemon and other figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which
I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life.
Philemon represented a force which was not myself.
In my fantasies I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought.
For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I.
He said I treated thoughts as if I generated them myself, but in his view thoughts were like animals in the forest, or people in a room, or birds in the air, and added, “If you should see people in a room, you would not think that you had made those people, or that you were responsible for them.”
It was he who taught me psychic objectivity, the reality of the psyche.
Through him the distinction was clarified between myself and the object of my thought.
He confronted me in an objective manner, and I understood that there is something in me which can say things that I do not
know and do not intend, things which may even be directed against me.
Psychologically, Philemon represented superior insight.
He was a mysterious figure to me, At times he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality.
I went walking up and down the garden with him, and to me he was what the Indians call a guru.
Whenever the outlines of a new personification appeared, I felt it almost as a personal defeat.
It meant: “Here is something else you didn’t know until now!”
Fear crept over me that the succession of such figures might be endless, that I might lose myself in bottomless abysses of ignorance.
My ego felt devalued although -the successes I had been having in worldly affairs might have reassured me.
In my darknesses (horridas nostrae mentis purga tenebras “cleanse the horrible darknesses of our mind” the Aurora Consurgens says) I could have wished for nothing better than a real, live guru, someone possessing superior knowledge and ability, who would have disentangled for me the involuntary creations of my imagination.
This task was undertaken by the figure of Philemon, whom in this respect I had willy-nilly to recognize as my psychagogue.
And the fact was that he conveyed to me many an illuminating idea.
More than fifteen years later a highly cultivated elderly Indian visited me, a friend of Gandhi’s, and we talked about Indian
education in particular, about the relationship between guru and chela.
I hesitantly asked him whether he could tell me anything about the person and character of his own guru, whereupon he replied in a matter-of-fact tone, “Oh yes, he was Shankaracharya.”
“You don’t mean the commentator on the Vedas who died centuries ago?” I asked.
“Yes, I mean him,” he said, to my amazement.
“Then you are referring to a spirit?” I asked.
“Of course it was his spirit,” he agreed.
At that moment I thought of Philemon.
“There are ghostly gurus too,” he added. “Most people have living gurus. But there are always some who have a spirit for
This information was both illuminating and reassuring to me.
Evidently, then, I had not plummeted right out of the human world, but had only experienced the sort of thing that could
happen to others who made similar efforts.
Later, Philemon became relativized by the emergence of yet another figure, whom I called Ka.
In ancient Egypt the “king’s ka” was his earthly form, the embodied soul.
In my fantasy the ka-soul came from below, out of the earth as if out of a deep shaft.
I did a painting of him, showing him in his earth-bound form, as a herm with base of stone and upper part of bronze.
High up in the painting appears a kingfisher s wing, and between it and the head of Ka floats a round, glowing nebula of stars.
Ka’s expression has something demonic about it one might also say, Mephistophelian.
In one hand he holds something like a colored pagoda, or a reliquary, and in the other a stylus with which he is working on the reliquary.
He is saying, “I am he who buries the gods in gold and gems.”
Philemon had a lame foot, but was a winged spirit, whereas Ka represented a kind of earth demon or metal demon.
Philemon was the spiritual aspect, or “meaning.” Ka, on the other hand, was a spirit of nature like the Anthroparion of Greek alchemy with which at the time I was still unfamiliar.
Ka was he who made everything real, but who also obscured the halcyon spirit, Meaning, or replaced it by beauty, the “eternal reflection.”
In time I was able to integrate both figures through the study of alchemy.
When I was writing down these fantasies, I once asked myself, ‘What am I really doing? Certainly this has nothing to do with science. But then what is it?”
Whereupon a voice within me said, “It is art.” I was astonished.
It had never entered my head that what I was writing had any connection with art.
Then I thought, “Perhaps my unconscious is forming a personality that is not me, but which is insisting on coming through to expression.”
I knew for a certainty that the voice had come from a woman.
I recognized it as the voice of a patient, a talented psychopath who had a strong transference to me.
She had become a living figure within my mind.
Obviously what I was doing wasn’t science.
What then could it be but art?
It was as though these were the only alternatives in the world.
That is the way a woman’s mind works.
I said very emphatically to this voice that my fantasies had nothing to do with art, and I felt a great inner resistance.
No voice came through, however, and I kept on writing.
Then came the next assault, and again the same assertion: “That is art.”
This time I caught her and said, “No, it is not art! On the contrary, it is nature/* and prepared myself for an argument.
When nothing of the sort occurred, I reflected that the “woman within me” did not have the speech centers I had.
And so I suggested that she use mine.
She did so and came through with a long statement.
I was greatly intrigued by the fact that a woman should interfere with me from within.
My conclusion was that she must be the “soul/ in the primitive sense, and I began to speculate on the reasons why the name “anima” was given to the soul.
Why was it thought of as feminine?
Later I came to see that this inner feminine figure plays a typical, or archetypal, role in the unconscious of a man, and I called her the “anima.”
The corresponding figure in the unconscious of woman I called the “animus.”
At first it was the negative aspect of the anima that most impressed me.
I felt a little awed by her.
It was like the feeling of an invisible presence in the room.
Then a new idea came to me: in putting down all this material for analysis I was in effect writing letters to the anima, that is, to a part of myself with a different viewpoint from my conscious one.
I got remarks of an unusual and unexpected character.
I was like a patient in analysis with a ghost and a woman!
Every evening I wrote very conscientiously, for I thought if I did not write, there would be no way for the anima to get at my fantasies.
Also, by writing them out I gave her no chance to twist them into intrigues.
There is a tremendous difference between intending to tell something and actually telling it.
In order to be as honest as possible with myself, I wrote everything down very carefully, following the old Greek maxim: “Give away all that thou hast, then shalt thou receive.”
Often, as I was writing, I would have peculiar reactions that threw me off.
Slowly I learned to distinguish between myself and the interruption.
When something emotionally vulgar or banal came up, I would say to myself, “It is perfectly true that I have thought and felt this way at some time or other, but I don’t have to think and feel that way now.
I need not accept this banality of mine in perpetuity; that is an unnecessary humiliation/’
The essential thing is to differentiate oneself from these unconscious contents by personifying them, and at the same time
to bring them into relationship with consciousness.
That is the technique for stripping them of their power.
It is not too difficult to personify them, as they always possess a certain degree of autonomy, a separate identity of their own.
Their autonomy is a most uncomfortable thing to reconcile oneself to, and yet the very fact that the unconscious presents itself in that way gives us the best means of handling it.
What the anima said seemed to me full of a deep cunning.
If I had taken these fantasies of the unconscious as art, they would have carried no more conviction than visual perceptions,
as if I were watching a movie.
I would have felt no moral obligation toward them.
The anima might then have easily seduced me into believing that I was a misunderstood artist, and that my so-called artistic nature gave me the right to neglect reality.
If I had followed her voice, she would in all probability have said to me one day, “Do you imagine the nonsense you’re
engaged in is really art? Not a bit.”
Thus the insinuations of the anima, the mouthpiece of the unconscious, can utterly destroy a man.
In the final analysis the decisive factor is always consciousness, which can understand the manifestations of the unconscious
and take up a position toward them.
But the anima has a positive aspect as well.
It is she who communicates the images of the unconscious to the conscious mind, and that is what I chiefly valued her for.
For decades I always turned to the anima when I felt that my emotional behavior was disturbed, and that something had been constellated in the unconscious.
I would then ask the anima: “Now what are you up to? What do you see? I should like to know.”
After some resistance she regularly produced an image.
As soon as the image was there, the unrest or the sense of oppression vanished.
The whole energy of these emotions was transformed into interest in and curiosity about the image.
I would speak with the anima about the images she communicated to me, for I had to try to understand them as best I could, just like a dream.
Today I no longer need these conversations with the anima, for I no longer have such emotions.
But if I did have them, I would deal with them in the same way.
Today I am directly conscious of the anima’s ideas because I have learned to accept the contents of the unconscious and to understand them.
I know how I must behave toward the inner images.
I can read then meaning directly from my dreams, and therefore no longer need a mediator to communicate them.
I wrote these fantasies down first in the Black Book; later, I transferred them to the Red Book, which I also embellished with
It contains most of my mandala drawings.
In the Red Book I tried an esthetic elaboration of my fantasies, but never finished it, I became aware that I had not yet found the right language, that I still had to translate it into something else.
Therefore I gave up this estheticizing tendency in good time, in favor of a rigorous process of understanding.
I saw that so much fantasy needed firm ground underfoot, and that I must first return wholly to reality.
For me, reality meant scientific comprehension.
I had to draw concrete conclusions from the insights the unconscious had given me and that task was to become a Me work.
It is of course ironical that I, a psychiatrist, should at almost every step of my experiment have run into the same psychic
material which is the stuff of psychosis and is found in the insane.
This is the fund of unconscious images which fatally confuse the mental patient.
But it is also the matrix of a mythopoeic imagination which has vanished from our rational age.
Though such imagination is present everywhere, it is both tabooed and dreaded, so that it even appears to be a risky experiment or a questionable adventure to entrust oneself to die uncertain path that leads into the depths of the unconscious.
It is considered the path of error, of equivocation and misunderstanding. I am reminded of Goethe’s words: “Now let me dare to open wide the gate;Past which men’s steps have ever flinching trod.”
The second part of Faust, too, was more than a literary exercise.
It is a link in the Aurea Catena which has existed from the beginnings of philosophical alchemy and Gnosticism down to Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.
Unpopular, ambiguous, and dangerous, it is a voyage of discovery to the other pole of the world.
Particularly at this time, when I was working on the fantasies, I needed a point of support in “this world,” and I may say that my family and my professional work were that to me.
It was most essential for me to have a normal life in the real world as a counterpoise to that strange inner world.
My family and my profession remained the base to which I could always return, assuring me that I was an actually existing, ordinary person.
The unconscious contents could have driven me out of my wits.
But my family, and the knowledge: I have a medical diploma from a Swiss university, I must help my patients, I have a wife
and five children, I live at 228 Seestrasse in Kiisnacht these were actualities which made demands upon me and proved to
me again and again that I really existed, that I was not a blank page whirling about in the winds of the spirit, like Nietzsche.
Nietzsche had lost the ground under his feet because he possessed nothing more than the inner world of his thoughts which incidentally possessed him more than he it.
He was uprooted and hovered above the earth, and therefore he succumbed to exaggeration and irreality.
For me, such irreality was the quintessence of horror, for I aimed, after all, at this world and this Me.
No matter how deeply absorbed or how blown about I was, I always knew that everything I was experiencing was ultimately directed at this real life of mine.
I meant to meet its obligations and fulfill its meanings.
My watchword was: Hie Rhodus, hie salta!
Thus my family and my profession always remained a joyful reality and a guarantee that I also had a normal existence.
Very gradually the outlines of an inner change began making their appearance within me.
In 1916 I felt an urge to give shape to something. I was compelled from within, as it were, to formulate and express what might have been said by Philemon.
This was how the Septem Sermones ad Mortuos with its peculiar language came into being.
It began with a restlessness, but I did not know what it meant or what “they” wanted of me.
There was an ominous atmosphere all around me.
I had the strange feeling that the air was filled with ghostly entities.
Then it was as if my house began to be haunted.
My eldest daughter saw a white figure passing through the room.
My second daughter, independently of her elder sister, related that twice in the night her blanket had been snatched away; and that same night my nine-year-old son had an anxiety dream.
In the morning he asked his mother for crayons, and he, who ordinarily never drew, now made a picture of his dream.
He called it “The Picture of the Fisherman”
Through the middle of the picture ran a river, and a fisherman with a rod was standing on the shore.
He had caught a fish.
On the fisherman’s head was a chimney from which flames were leaping and smoke rising.
From the other side of the river the devil came flying through tie air.
He was cursing because his fish had been stolen.
But above the fisherman hovered an angel who said, *You cannot do anything to him; he only catches the bad fish!’
My son drew this picture on a Saturday.
Around five o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday the front doorbell began ringing frantically.
It was a bright summer day; the two maids were in the kitchen, from which the open square outside the front door could be seen.
Everyone immediately looked to see who was there, but there was no one in sight.
I was sitting near the doorbell, and not only heard it but saw it moving.
We all simply stared at one another.
The atmosphere was thick, believe me! Then I knew that something had to happen.
The whole house was filled as if there were a crowd present, crammed full of spirits.
They were packed deep right up to the door, and the air was so thick it was scarcely possible to breathe.
As for myself, I was all a-quiver with the question: “For God’s sake, what in the world is this?”
Then they cried out in chorus, “We have come back from Jerusalem where we found not what we sought.”
That is the beginning of the Septem Sermones.
Then it began to flow out of me, and in the course of three evenings the thing was written.
As soon as I took up the pen, the whole ghostly assemblage evaporated.
The room quieted and the atmosphere cleared.
The haunting was over.
The experience has to be taken for what it was, or as it seems to have been.
No doubt it was connected with the state of emotion I was in at the time, and which was favorable to parapsychological
It was an unconscious constellation whose peculiar atmosphere I recognized as the numen of an archetype.
“It walks abroad, it’s in the air!”
The intellect, of course, would like to arrogate to itself some scientific, physical knowledge of the affair, or, preferably, to write the whole thing off as a violation of the rules.
But what a dreary world it would be if the rules were not violated sometimes!
Shortly before this experience I had written down a fantasy of my soul having flown away from me.
This was a significant event: the soul, the anima, establishes the relationship to the unconscious.
In a certain sense this is also a relationship to the collectivity of the dead; for the unconscious corresponds to the mythic land of die dead, the land of the ancestors.
If, therefore, one has a fantasy of the soul vanishing, this means that it has withdrawn into the unconscious or into the land of the dead.
There it produces a mysterious animation and gives visible form to the ancestral traces, the collective contents.
Like a medium, it gives the dead a chance to manifest themselves.
Therefore, soon after the disappearance of my soul the “dead” appeared to me, and the result was the Septem Sermones.
This is an example of what is called “loss of soul” a phenomenon encountered quite frequently among primitives.
From that time on, the dead have become ever more distinct for me as the voices of the Unanswered, Unresolved, and Unredeemed; for since the questions and demands which my destiny required me to answer did not come to me from outside, they must have come from the inner world.
These conversations with the dead formed a kind of prelude to what I had to communicate to the world about the unconscious: a kind of pattern of order and interpretation of its general contents.
When I look back upon it all today and consider what happened to me during the period of my work on the fantasies, it
seems as though a message had come to me with overwhelming force.
There were things in the images which concerned not only myself but many others also.
It was then that I ceased to belong to myself alone, ceased to have the right to do so.
From then on, my life belonged to the generality.
The knowledge I was concerned with, or was seeking, still could not be found in the science of those days.
I myself had to undergo the original experience, and, moreover, try to plant the results of my experience in the soil of reality; otherwise they would have remained subjective assumptions without validity.
It was then that I dedicated myself to service of the psyche.
I loved it and hated it, but it was my greatest wealth.
My delivering myself over to it, as it were, was the only way by which I could endure my existence and live it as fully as possible.
Today I can say that I have never lost touch with my initial experiences.
All my works, all my creative activity, has come from those initial fantasies and dreams which began in 1912, almost fifty years ago.
Everything that I accomplished in later life was already contained in them, although at first only in the form of emotions and images.
My science was the only way I had of extricating myself from that chaos.
Otherwise the material would have trapped me in its thicket, strangled me like jungle creepers.
I took great care to try to understand every single image, every item of my psychic inventory, and to classify them scientifically so far as this was possible and, above all, to realize them in actual life.
That is what we usually neglect to do.
We allow the images to rise up, and maybe we wonder about them, but that is all.
We do not take the trouble to understand them, let alone draw ethical conclusions from them.
This stopping-short conjures up the negative effects of the unconscious.
It is equally a grave mistake to think that it is enough to gain some understanding of the images and that knowledge can here
make a halt.
Insight into them must be converted into an ethical obligation.
Not to do so is to fall prey to the power principle, and this produces dangerous effects which are destructive not only to others but even to the knower.
The images of the unconscious place a great responsibility upon a man.
Failure to understand diem, or a shirking of ethical responsibility, deprives him of his wholeness and imposes a painful fragmentariness on his life.
In the midst of this period when I was so preoccupied with the images of the unconscious, I came to the decision to withdraw
from the university, where I had lectured for eight years as Privatdozent (since 1905).
My experience and experiments with the unconscious had brought my intellectual activity to a standstill.
After the completion of The Psychology of the Unconscious I found myself utterly incapable of reading a scientific book.
This went on for three years.
I felt I could no longer keep up with the world of the intellect, nor would I have been able to talk about what really preoccupied me.
The material brought to light from the unconscious had, almost literally, struck me dumb.
I could neither understand it nor give it form.
At the university I was in an exposed position, and felt that in order to go on giving courses there I would first have to find an entirely new and different orientation.
It would be unfair to continue teaching young students when my own intellectual situation was nothing but a mass of doubts.
I therefore felt that I was confronted with the choice of either continuing my academic career, whose road lay smooth before
me, or following the laws of my inner personality, of a higher reason, and forging ahead with this curious task of mine, this
experiment in confrontation with the unconscious.
But until it was completed I could not appear before the public.
Consciously, deliberately, then, I abandoned my academic career.
For I felt that something great was happening to me, and I put my trust in the thing which I felt to be more important
sub specie aeternitatis.
I knew that it would fill my life, and for the sake of that goal I was ready to take any kind of risk.
What, after all, did it matter whether or not I became a professor?
Of course it bothered me to have to give this up; in many respects I regretted that I could not confine myself to generally understandable material.
I even had moments when I stormed against destiny.
But emotions of this kind are transitory, and do not count.
The other thing, on the contrary, is important, and if we pay heed to what the inner personality desires and says, the sting vanishes.
That is something I have experienced again and again, not only when I gave up my academic career.
Indeed, I had my first experiences of this sort as a child.
In my youth I was hot-tempered; but whenever the emotion had reached its climax, suddenly it swung around and there followed a cosmic stillness.
At such times I was remote from everything, and what had only a moment before excited me seemed to belong to a distant past.
The consequence of my resolve, and my involvement with things which neither I nor anyone else could understand, was
an extreme loneliness.
I was going about laden with thoughts of which I could speak to no one: they would only have been misunderstood I felt the gulf between the external world and the interior world of images in its most painful form.
I could not yet see that interaction of both worlds which I now understand.
I saw only an irreconcilable contradiction between ‘inner” and “outer.”
However, it was clear to me from the start that I could find contact with the outer world and with people only if I succeeded
in showing and this would demand the most intensive effort that the contents of psychic experience are real, and real not
only as my own personal experiences, but as collective experiences which others also have.
Later I tried to demonstrate this in my scientific work, and I did all in my power to convey to my intimates a new way of seeing things.
I knew that if I did not succeed, I would be condemned to absolute isolation.
It was only toward the end of the First World War that I gradually began to emerge from the darkness.
Two events contributed to this.
The first was that I broke with the woman who was determined to convince me that my fantasies had artistic value; the second and principal event was that I began to understand mandala drawings.
This happened in 1918-19. I had painted the first mandala 1S in 1916 after writing the Septem Sermones; naturally I had not, then, understood it.
In 1918-19 I was in CMteau d’Oex as Commandant de la Region Anglaise des Internes de Guerre.
While I was there I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing, a mandala, which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time.
With the help of these drawings I could observe my psychic transformations from day to day.
One day, for example, I received a letter from that esthetic lady in which she again stubbornly maintained that the fantasies arising from my unconscious had artistic value and should be considered art.
The letter got on my nerves. It was far from stupid, and therefore dangerously persuasive.
The modern artist, after all, seeks to create art out of the unconscious.
The utilitarianism and selfimportance concealed behind this thesis touched a doubt in myself, namely, my uncertainty as to whether the fantasies I was producing were really spontaneous and natural, and not ultimately my own arbitrary inventions.
I was by no means free from the bigotry and hubris of consciousness which wants to believe that any halfway decent inspiration is due to one’s own merit, whereas inferior reactions come merely by chance, or even derive from alien sources.
Out of this irritation and disharmony within myself there proceeded, the following day, a changed mandala: part of the periphery had burst open and the symmetry was destroyed.
Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is: “Formation, Transformation, Eternal Mind’s eternal recreation.’*
And that is the self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious, but which cannot tolerate self-deceptions.
My mandalas were cryptograms concerning the state of the self which were presented to me anew each day.
In them I saw the self that is, my whole being actively at work.
To be sure, at first I could only dimly understand them; but they seemed to me highly significant, and I guarded them like precious pearls.
I had the distinct feeling that they were something central, and in time I acquired through them a living conception of the
The self, I thought, was like the monad which I am, and which is my world.
The mandala represents this monad, and corresponds to the microcosmic nature of the psyche.
I no longer know how many mandalas I drew at this time.
There were a great many.
While I was working on them, the question arose repeatedly: What is this process leading to? Where is its goal?
From my own experience, I knew by now that I could not presume to choose a goal which would seem trustworthy to me.
It had been proved to me that I had to abandon the idea of the superordinate position of the ego.
After all, I had been brought up short when I had attempted to maintain it.
I had wanted to go on with the scientific analysis of myths which I had begun in Wandlungen und Symbole.
That was still my goalbut I must not think of that!
I was being compelled to go through this process of the unconscious.
I had to let myself be carried along by the current, without a notion of where it would lead me.
When I began drawing the mandalas, however, I saw that everything, all the paths I had been following, all the steps I had taken, were leading back to a single point namely, to the mid-point.
It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the center.
It is the exponent of all paths.
It is the path to the center, to individuation.
During those years, between 1918 and 1920, 1 began to understand that the goal of psychic development is the self.
There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the self.
Uniform development exists, at most, only at the beginning; later, everything points toward the center.
This insight gave me stability, and gradually my inner peace returned.
I knew that in finding the mandala as an expression of the self I had attained what was for me the ultimate.
Perhaps someone else knows more, but not I.
Some years later (in 1927) I obtained confirmation of my ideas about the center and the self by way of a dream.
I represented its essence in a mandala which I called “Window on Eternity.”
The picture is reproduced in The Secret of the Golden Flower (Fig. s).
A year later I painted a second picture, like wise a mandala, with a golden castle in the center.
When it was finished, I asked myself, “Why is this so Chinese?’
I was impressed by the form and choice of colors, which seemed to me Chinese, although there was nothing outwardly Chinese about it.
Yet that was how it affected me.
It was a strange coincidence that shortly afterward I received a letter from Richard Wilhelm enclosing the manuscript of a Taoist-alchemical treatise entitled The Secret of the Golden Flower, with a request that I write a commentary on it.
I devoured the manuscript at once, for the text gave me undreamed-of confirmation of my ideas about the mandala and the circumambulation of the center.
That was the first event which broke through my isolation.
I became aware of an affinity; I could establish ties with something and someone.
In remembrance of this coincidence, this “synchronicity,” I wrote underneath the picture which had made so Chinese an
impression upon me: “In 1928, when I was painting this picture, showing the golden, well-fortified castle, Richard Wilhelm in Frankfurt sent me the thousand-year-old Chinese text on the yellow castle, the germ of the immortal body.”
This is the dteam I mentioned earlier:
I found myself in a dirty, sooty city.
It was night, and winter, and dark, and raining.
I was in Liverpool.
With a number of Swiss say, half a dozen I walked through the dark streets.
I had the feeling that there we were coming from the harbor, and that the real city was actually up above, on the cliffs.
We climbed up there.
It reminded me of Basel, where the market is down below and then you go up through the Totengasschen (“Alley of the Dead”), which leads to a plateau above and so to the Petersplatz and the Peterskirche.
When we reached the plateau, we found a broad square dimly illuminated by street lights, into which many streets converged.
The various quarters of the city were arranged radially around the square.
In the center was a round pool, and in the middle of it a small island.
While everything round about was obscured by rain, fog, smoke, and dimly lit darkness, the little island bkzed with sunlight.
On it stood a single tree, a magnolia, in a shower of reddish blossoms.
It was as though the tree stood in the sunlight and were at the same time the source of light.
My companions commented on the abominable weather, and obviously did not see the tree.
They spoke of another Swiss who was living in Liverpool, and expressed surprise that he should have settled here.
I was carried away by die beauty of the flowering tree and the sunlit island, and thought, “I know very well why he has settled here.”
Then I awoke.
On one detail of the dream I must add a supplementary comment: the individual quarters of the city were themselves arranged radially around a central point.
This point formed a small open square illuminated by a larger street lamp, and constituted a small replica of the island.
I knew that the “other Swiss” lived in the vicinity of one of these secondary centers.
This dream represented my situation at the time, I can still see the grayish-yellow raincoats, glistening with the wetness of
Everything was extremely unpleasant, black and opaque just as I felt then.
But I had had a vision of unearthly beauty, and that was why I was able to live at all.
Liverpool is the “pool of life.” The “liver,” according to an old view, is the seat of life that which “makes to live/*
This dream brought with it a sense of finality.
I saw that here the goal had been revealed.
One could not go beyond the center.
The center is the goal, and everything is directed toward that center.
Through this dream I understood that the self is the principle and archetype of orientation and meaning.
Therein lies its healing function.
For me, this insight signified an approach to the center and therefore to the goal.
Out of it emerged a first inkling of my personal myth.
After this dream I gave up drawing or painting mandalas,
The dream depicted the climax of the whole process of development of consciousness.
It satisfied me completely, for it gave a total picture of my situation,
I had known, to be sure, that I was occupied with something important, but I still lacked understanding, and there had been no one among my associates who could have understood.
The clarification brought about by the dream made it possible for me to take an objective view of the things that filled my being.
Without such a vision I might perhaps have lost my orientation and been compelled to abandon my undertaking.
But here the meaning had been made clear.
When I parted from Freud, I knew that I was plunging into the unknown.
Beyond Freud, after all, I knew nothing; but I had taken the step into darkness.
When that happens, and then such a dream comes, one feels it as an act of grace.
It has taken me virtually forty-five years to distill within the vessel of my scientific workythe things I experienced and wrote down at that time.
As a young man my goal had been to accomplish something in my science.
But then, I hit upon this stream of lava, and the heat of its fires reshaped my life.
That was the primal stuff which compelled me to work upon it, and my works are a more or less successful endeavor to incorporate this incandescent matter into the contemporary picture of the world.
The years when I was pursuing my inner images were the most important in my life in them everything essential was decided.
It all began then; the later details are only supplements and clarifications of the material that burst forth from the unconscious, and at first swamped me.
It was the prima materia for a lifetime’s work. ~Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections, Pages 170-199