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Carl Jung on his Stone

Letters Volume II

To Maud Oakes

Dear Miss Oakes, 11 February 1956

I have read your meditation about the stone with much interest.

Your method of reading its message is adequate and in this case the only one yielding positive results.

You understand the stone as a statement about a more or less limitless world of thought-images.

I quite agree with your view.

One can read the symbols like that.

When I hewed the stone I did not think, however.

I just brought into shape what I saw on its face.

Sometimes you express yourself (in the MS) as if my symbols and my text were a sort of confession or a belief.

Thus it looks as if I were moving in the vicinity of theosophy.

In America especially one blames me for my so-called mysticism.

Since I don’t claim at all to be the happy proprietor of metaphysical truths, I should much prefer that you attribute to my symbols the same tentativeness which characterizes your explanatory attempt.

You see, I have no religious or other convictions about my symbols.

They can change tomorrow.

They are mere allusions, they hint at something, they stammer and often they lose their way.

They try only to point in a certain direction, viz. to those dim horizons beyond which lies the secret of existence.

They [Dr. Jung’s Symbols] are just no Gnosis, no metaphysical assertions.

They are partly even futile or dubious attempts at pronouncing the ineffable.

Their number therefore is infinite and the validity of each is to be doubted.

They are nothing but humble attempts to formulate, to define, to shape the inexpressible. “Wo fass ich Dich, unendliche Natur?” (Faust).

It is not a doctrine but a mere expression of and a reaction to the experience of an ineffable mystery.

There is one point more I want to mention: the stone is not a product only of thought-images, but just as much of feeling and local atmosphere, i.e., of the specific ambiente of the place.

The stone belongs to its secluded place between lake and hill, where it expresses the beata solitudo and the genius loci, the spell of the chosen and walled-in spot.

It could be nowhere else and cannot be thought of or properly understood without the secret web of threads that relate it to its surroundings .

Only there in its solitude it can say: Orphanus sum, and only there it makes sense.

It is there for its own sake and only seen by a few.

Under such conditions only the stone will whisper its misty lore of ancient roots and ancestral lives.

Thank you for letting me see your typescript.

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung

P.S. When I saw you [Maud Oakes] in Bollingen I did not realize that you are the author of Todos Santos a book which I have read with greatest interest and sympathy, otherwise I would have expressed my admiration of your careful study.

I am doing it now with some delay. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 291-292.