Carl Jung: His Life and His Work
The journey to the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico began at latest in the very first days of 1925.
Fowler McCormick could not remember the exact day they gathered in Chicago, but his impression was that it was between Christmas of 1924 and New Year.
At all events, two of the three Americans who made this journey with Jung met him in Chicago.
The first of these was Fowler McCormick himself, the son of the Mr. and Mrs. Harold McCormick who were so active and helpful in founding the Zürich Psychological Club in 1916.
Fowler was a good deal in Switzerland as a boy during his mother’s long stay there, although he actually went to school in America and not, like his sister, in Switzerland.
He knew Jung well and, as he was growing up, also had some analytical hours with him.
He was a young man in his twenties when he went with Jung to New Mexico; he thoroughly realized what an interesting chance this was and
immediately accepted Jung’s invitation, although it was not easy to fit in with his other engagements.
The second member of the party was George Porter who had often been to Zürich and whom Jung valued highly.
When he died some years later, Jung was much distressed and said that if he had only known about George Porter’s difficulties he would have gone to America at once to do all he could to help him.
The third member of the party, whom they met in Santa Fe, was Xaime de Angulo, whom Jung knew much less well, if at all.
It was probably Cary de Angulo, who played such a positive role in Zürich, who suggested that de Angulo accompany them, because he was especially well acquainted with the country and the Indians themselves.
Cary and Xaime de Angulo were divorced by 1924, but they remained good friends.
At all events, Fowler McCormick said that de Angulo was a pleasant fellow and an addition to the party.
He was a Spanish aristocrat, but I believe he had become an American citizen by the time he married Cary.
Jung, McCormick, and Porter traveled by train from Chicago to Santa Fe and after meeting de Angulo went first to the Pueblo Indians.
It was of these that Jung almost always spoke, for they seem to have made by far the strongest impression upon him.
But the trip was more extended than one would gather from the “Extract of an Unpublished MS.” which is all that appears in Memories.
Fowler McCormick said that they also paid a short visit to some more primitive Indians, who lived in caves and small houses in the Canyon de los Frijoles, also in New Mexico.
Unfortunately I have not been able to trace any record of this part of the journey.
After this they all went to see the famous Grand Canyon and rode down into the Canyon on mules.
Jung had learned to ride during military service, and though I never heard of him doing so as a recreation, he had not the slightest difficulty when his journeys required transportation on horses, mules, or camels.
The scenery, both from the edge of the Canyon and inside the huge abyss, made a strong impression upon him.
The party separated after the Grand Canyon, Jung going on to New Orleans with Fowler McCormick, since he also wanted some contact with American Negroes, a great number of whom were working at that time in the forests near New Orleans.
The main reason that took Jung to New Mexico was that he still felt a great need to see the white man from outside, for, as he pointed out, we always need a place to stand outside in order to be able to criticize ourselves at all.
The journey to North Africa had not satisfied him, particularly since he had not been able to talk to the Arabs.
Though he studied their reactions whenever he saw them speaking to a white man, he could not get them to tell him anything about their own impressions.
He also, of course, wanted to know as much as he could about the Indians themselves, especially their religion, but this proved much more difficult than to get them to tell him their opinion of the Americans.
Jung made great friends with a chief of the Taos Pueblos and found himself able to talk to him as he had only rarely talked to a European.
With Europeans, he said one is constantly running onto the sandbank of things long known but never understood, but with this Indian “the vessel floated on deep, alien seas.”
This chief, whose name was Ochwiay Biano, which means Mountain Lake, was highly critical of the white man.
Jung was astonished to hear that the Indians believe the Americans to be mad because they think in their heads!
Jung asked him where the Indians think; he replied, in their hearts.
This made a great impression on Jung; I often heard him say that we make some of our worst mistakes with other races because we assume that, like ourselves, they do their thinking in their heads.
Not only do the Indians think in their hearts but many more primitive, races think still lower down, in their bellies, for instance.
This really lays different races wide open to misunderstanding each other.
After many talks with Mountain Lake and humbly accepting most of his criticism of the white man, Jung realized that he would never reach the mysteries of the Pueblos’ religion by direct questions.
He could win Mountain Lake’s confidence only slowly and by degrees.
He judged his progress in this respect mainly by signs of emotion, which Mountain Lake could not avoid: his eyes filling with tears, for instance, when they were getting close to the religious mysteries, which the Indians still guard as carefully as the mysteries were guarded at Eleusis.
One day, when sitting together in the sun on the roof of a pueblo, they were speaking of the Americans—a subject about which Mountain Lake had no wish to be reticent.
He spoke with particular bitterness of their attitude to the Indian religion.
After a long silence, he said:
“The Americans want to stamp out our religion. Why can they not let us alone? What we do, we do not only for ourselves but for the Americans also. Yes, we do it for the whole world. Everyone benefits by it.”
Jung realized by his growing emotional excitement that they were approaching something of great importance concerning the Pueblo religion, probably the mysteries themselves.
This would be very delicate ground, so he only asked why the whole world benefited. Mountain Lake told him then that the Pueblo Indians were a people who lived on the roof of the world, nearest therefore to God and the sky, and they were thus quite specially
“the sons of Father Sun and with our religion we daily help our father to go across the sky. We do this not only for ourselves but for the whole world. If we were to cease practicing our religion, in ten years the sun would no longer rise. Then it would be night forever.”
This was the most impressive moment of all Jung’s time with the Indians.
He wrote even then that this made him realize
“on what the dignity, the tranquil composure of the individual Indian, was founded. It springs from his being a son of the sun; his life is cosmologically meaningful, for he helps the father and preserver of all life in his daily rise and descent.”
Jung pointed out that, though most white men would smile at this naïveté and feel enlightened and superior, this reaction really comes from a secret, unadmitted envy that the Indian still has so much more meaning in his life, and in order to avoid seeing our own poverty in this respect.
Looked at rationally—thinking in the head—it seems perhaps absurd to believe that man can have any influence on the sun, yet if we remember that the sun for them is God, and that the Christian religion also
“is permeated by the idea that special acts or a special kind of action can influence God—for example, through certain rites or by prayer, or by a morality pleasing to the Divinity,” we can see the matter differently.
It is not primarily the idea that man can influence God (for the Indians, the sun) that is strange to us, but the idea that man can help God.
Our prayers are all directed to asking favors of God; the Indian has far more dignity, for he thinks with his heart and wishes to give as well as receive.
His heart tells him that not only does all life need the warmth and light of the sun, but he is also sure that the sun needs man and the Indian ceremonies to assist him in his daily journey.
Essentially, it is the same idea as Jung’s favorite Chinese rainmaker story, for that old Chinese was also sure that if man only had the right attitude, if he was in Tao, as the “rainmaker” would call it, could the weather be favorable to the crops and to the welfare of mankind.
If we take the trouble to try to think in the heart, instead of rationalizing in our heads, we can see at once how near the truth that Indian chief was when he said that the American, who stands for the white man in general, is mad always to think in his head, to rationalize everything, and to live by the intellect and reason alone.
The Indians, who think in their hearts, speak a mythological language, but how much nearer they are to the archetypal world of the unconscious, and how far more meaning and dignity they have in their lives.
In the chapter “On Life After Death” in Memories, which he wrote more than thirty years after his visit to New Mexico, Jung said:
“The decisive question for man is: ‘Is he related to something infinite or not?’ That is the telling question of his life.”
The Indian certainly has this relationship and has all the dignity and repose of soul which it brings.
But it is an individual question for the white man in our days, and one that too many white people never even ask themselves.
Mountain Lake’s scathing criticism of the white man caused Jung to “fall into a long meditation,” for not only did the Indian maintain that Americans are mad because they say they think in their heads, but he pointed out how cruel all white men look.
“Their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them.”
Jung had found what he had been searching for so long: a completely outside standpoint from which to view the white man.
He considered our whole history in the light of what he had learned, for this Indian “struck our vulnerable spot, unveiled a truth to which we are blind.”
In his long meditation on what Mountain Lake had said, Jung involuntarily saw “the Roman legions smashing into the cities of Gaul, and the keenly incised features of Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus and Pompey.”
He saw “the Roman eagle on the North Sea and on the banks of the White Nile . . . and the pillaging and murdering bands of the Crusading armies . . . and the hollowness of that old romanticism about the Crusades.” And then, of a more recent time, he saw all the harm done by our well-meaning missionaries, trying to bring Christianity (the religion of Jove) into “these remote pueblos dreaming peacefully in the Sun, their Father,” and the harm done to the peaceful peoples of the Pacific islands by the importation of “fire water, syphilis and scarlet fever.”
Jung said this meditation was enough.
He saw another face behind all our well-meaning missions and what we call “spreading civilization.”
It was “the face of a bird of prey seeking with cruel intentness for distant quarry—a face worthy of a race of pirates and highway men.”
He realized then that “all the eagles and other predatory creatures that adorn our coats of arms” are “apt psychological representations of our true nature.”
Recent events, all over the world, have proved, even more clearly than in Jung’s lifetime how right Mountain Lake’s judgment was, and nothing could be more foolish and short-sighted than for us to project it all onto the other side of the Iron Curtain.
It was only Jung’s painful investigation of his own shadow that made him so ready to accept the unfavorable light which Mountain Lake threw on the white man in general, for anyone who is still full of illusions about his own well-intentioned side being the only side would have rejected it all out of hand.
But it made a permanent impression on Jung, and he frequently recalled it in later years, as the Second World War and subsequent history showed ever more clearly the justice of the accusations.
At last Jung had found what he had wanted when he undertook his first journey to North Africa; seeing Europe from outside was then no longer the primary motive during the rest of the American trip or on any of his later ones.
One more experience with the Pueblo Indians must be mentioned because Fowler McCormick told me that Jung spoke of it often at the time.
In fact, McCormick thought that the old man mentioned in it made a still greater impression on Jung than had Mountain Lake himself, although he saw him only once very briefly.
This incident is described in detail in Memories.
Jung was by the river looking up at the mountains which rose nearly another six thousand feet above the high plateau on which he stood. Suddenly an old Indian materialized noiselessly beside him and asked him in “a deep voice vibrant with emotion . . . ‘Do you not think that all life comes from the mountain?’”
Jung heard the special emotion in the word “mountain” and remembered being told that the Indians celebrated their secret rites on the mountain.
With that ready and deep understanding with which Jung could meet every sincere human being, he replied: “Everyone can see that you speak the truth.”
It was one of those very short encounters when someone seemed to touch Jung’s life only for a moment in order, as it were, to deliver a message.
Jung was also interested in the Indians for another reason.
When he first went to the Middle West, some years before his journey to the Indians, he stood one day with an American friend, watching a stream of hundreds of workers as they poured out of a factory.
He remarked to his friend that he had never imagined the percentage of Indian blood in Americans to be so high.
His friend laughed and replied that he was willing to bet that there was not one drop of Indian blood in all these hundreds.
This was before Jung had analyzed enough Americans to be aware of the curious “Indianizing” of the American people, which probably is the result of their having settled on soil which had been lived on before only by Indians.
Jung often warned his pupils when they began to analyze that they must be much more careful in talking to the American about his shadow than to the European.
The reason for this, he said, was that the European had been settled on his own soil for many centuries, but there was a big gap for Americans because they had all comparatively recently left their roots in Europe and sailed across the Atlantic.
He used to say:
“The European has a door in the corner of the room of his consciousness with a reasonable flight of stairs which leads down to his shadow. He may refuse ever to open the door, but it is quite safe for him to do so. But when the American opens a similar door in his psychology, there is a dangerous open gap, dropping hundreds of feet, and in those cases where he can negotiate the drop, he will then be faced with an Indian or Negro shadow, whereas the European finds a shadow of his own race.”
There is a great deal about the role played by the Indian and Negro in the psychology of the American in a lecture Jung gave in Darmstadt in 1927 (two years after this journey) called “Seele und Erde.”
When he and Fowler McCormick went on to New Orleans after the Grand Canyon because Jung wanted a chance to contact the Negroes there, it was mainly in order to understand their contribution to the psychology of his American patients.
His visit to the Indians had already been enlightening regarding the Indian look which the very soil seems to have imparted to the “Yankee type of emigrant.”
He was already convinced that the mixture of Indian blood was almost, if not quite, negligible, and he was also intensely interested in the Negro contribution to American psychology, an instance in which there was no mixture of blood at all.
It was not any physical resemblance in this case, but the extraordinarily strong influence which the Negro exercised upon white American behavior.
In the 1927 lecture he spoke of their amazing Negroid laugh, also of the curious walk with loose limbs and swinging hips which one so often sees in Americans.
Both these characteristics he found in the Negro foresters near New Orleans in their original, pure form.
Jung also pointed out that both purely American music and dancing have found their chief inspiration in the Negroes.
Many of their most emotional religious revivals come straight from the same source, to say nothing of their naïveté, both in its charming and less acceptable forms.
Jung also compared American newspapers to the endless chattering in the Negro village!
The ever-open American door; the fact—strange to European eyes—that many American gardens, even in the most luxurious estates, are not walled in or even fenced but are wide open to the street; the lack of intimate privacy and the boundless sociability and social life were all, Jung felt at all events in 1927, reminiscent of the primitive life in open huts and the participation mystique, even identity, that one finds in the daily life of the Negroes.
One can well understand why Jung felt that his visit to the Indians would not be complete without including one to the Negroes.
On the way back from New Mexico, Jung spoke in New York at the house of Kristine Mann, who with Eleanor Bertine and Esther Harding founded the Analytical Psychology Club of New York in 1936.
Since this lecture could be given in a private house, the group must have been small, something Jung appreciated.
He used to say that the larger the group the stupider it became, until, at about one hundred, it was just a large Wasserkopf (literally, “head filled with water”)!
He was always anxious for the Psychological Club, and later the C. G. Jung Institute, in Zürich to remain small.
Unfortunately, both have grown enormously since his death.
When Jung returned to Küsnacht in the very early spring of 1925, he started the first long seminar to be given in Zürich in the English language.
This lasted from March 23 to July 6, and since it consisted of sixteen lectures, it must have been given almost every week.
Moreover, a great many people were with him for analysis.
We owe a multigraphed report of this seminar to the members of the class, especially to Cary de Angulo (later Cary Baynes).
By this time Cary de Angulo (who first came to Zürich in 1921) was settled in a house on the other side of the lake with her sister, Henri Zinno, and her little daughter, Ximena de Angulo.
Except for short intervals, Cary and her family remained in Zürich until shortly before the Second World War.
Their house was always a center for the Psychological Group, particularly for Anglo-Saxons, and their warm Southern hospitality was a godsend to many people.
Both Cary and Henri were unusually intelligent women; the conversation at their house was always well worth while and taught many newcomers a great deal of Jungian psychology.
Almost immediately after the end of the English seminar in Zürich, Jung went to England to give another seminar at Swanage in Dorset.
There were about one hundred people in this third seminar in England, which was far more than Jung liked in such a group.
Nevertheless, he gave twelve lectures, from July 25 to August 7, on the subject “Dream Analysis.”
Jung liked the place itself very much, enjoying the sea, as he always did.
The seminar, although of “great historical value” to Jungian analysts, is I think of less interest to the general public, for “Dream Analysis” was also the subject of many later seminars.
It is a subject, moreover, which is often treated in Jung’s books.
While Jung was in England he made up his mind to take his journey to tropical East Africa, and the rest of the summer and early autumn of 1925 was occupied with his preparations for that journey and arrangements to leave his large practice for several months, a longer time than he had as yet been away from Switzerland.
Nevertheless, he found some time for introversion and inward preparation for his journey in his beloved Tower at Bollingen, although necessarily much less than was usual during the summer holidays.
So by 1925, on the eve of his African journey, Jung was already well acquainted with the I Ching and had no doubt of its meaningful answers.
When he consulted it about his proposed journey, he threw hexagram No. 53 with a nine in the third place.
This line included the words “the man goes forth and does not return,” which made him face the fact that, though the whole hexagram “development” (Gradual Progress) evidently meant that the unconscious was in favor of the expedition, it was likely that he would have to pay for the journey with his life.
He said that the impression was particularly strong throughout the voyage to Mombasa.
In East Africa, although it remained at the back of his mind as a possibility, it no longer occupied the foreground.
He accounted for its being so particularly strong during the voyage by the fact that several of his fellow passengers, who were going to Africa to live, died within their first months in the country.
This included the young man who sat opposite him at table in the dining saloon.
The I Ching had obliged him to face the fact that a similar fate might be lying in wait for him, but, he said, he thought it was kept in the foreground of his mind during the voyage by the presence of death in the air, and one could not tell whom it might strike.
Otherwise, Jung enjoyed being on the sea. He used the voyage to teach himself the Swahili language, so that he might speak directly with the natives and he succeeded to a remarkable extent, but he said it had been more difficult to learn than any language he had previously attempted.
He accounted for this by the fact that while one is young, one’s mind is comparatively empty, but every year it fills up more, so that it is much more difficult for the ramifications of a new language to find space for themselves.
Peter Baynes, the English friend who accompanied Jung to Africa, had a still more difficult start to his journey.
When he was packing to go, his second wife died quite suddenly under tragic circumstances.
To make it at all, Peter had to go overland to Marseilles and join the Woerman liner, on which Jung and his young American friend, George Beckwith, had already embarked.
His wife’s death made the African journey difficult for him, although it also meant a great deal to him, especially in retrospect.
Peter once told me—with the endearing self-criticism of which he was capable—that he had been a terrible wet blanket on the trip, because his anima got completely out of hand and he fell from one bad mood into another.
Although his moods were sometimes annoying to Jung, the latter was nevertheless able to understand and to remain objective to the situation; the much younger George Beckwith could not tolerate them at any price however, and became more and more irritated.
George Beckwith also had a tragic destiny. Jung was fond of him and said once it was because of the high courage in the manner in which he met his fate.
He was killed in an automobile accident a few years later; Jung said that his dreams had shown so clearly that he had not been given a trustworthy ship for the journey of life, and that Jung had been obliged to tell him in the course of his analysis that it was likely to sink early.
George Beckwith replied that he had always suspected something of the kind, faced it completely, and lived his short life to the full.
Except for his difficulty with Peter Baynes’s anima he enjoyed himself enormously on the African expedition.
The fourth member of the party was to have been the American, Fowler McCormick.
At the last moment, however, when his equipment was on the way to Africa, he was unavoidably prevented from going.
Jung found himself in a difficult position, for George Beckwith declared that their trio was too difficult a proposition for him, and that unless a fourth member was introduced he could not go through with the program.
A letter from the governor of Uganda asking the expedition to take charge of Ruth Bailey was therefore really a godsend to Jung.
George Beckwith immediately declared himself completely satisfied if she should come to make their fourth.
They knew her already from their stopover in Nairobi and knew that she was the sort of girl who could take difficulties in her stride.
She had four brothers to whom she was devoted and with whose exploits she had always tried to keep up.
Jung used to say later her brothers were a great blessing to him, for if she made any trouble at all, they would say: “Ruth, snap out of it,” and unlike most women she really did “snap out of it.”
Ruth Bailey found herself in a difficult position when she got to East Africa.
Her youngest sister was engaged to an Englishman who had a good post in East Africa.
The young pair were eager to get married as soon as possible, but he was unable to return to England to fetch his bride. Mrs. Bailey would consent to her daughter’s being married in East Africa only on condition that her elder sister, Ruth, go out with her.
They had come out on the same ship as Jung’s party, but, as was true of almost everyone on board, they did not get to know them on the voyage.
They were naturally in the bright, young, game-playing, dancing set who called Jung and his two friends “the three Obadiahs.”
Jung for the most part read, studied Swahili, or walked silently about the deck.
But in Nairobi Ruth found herself in a tense situation, for she felt de trop with the young couple, who were nevertheless determined to look after her and tried to keep her constantly with them.
At a dance on Armistice night (November 11) at the hotel in Nairobi things reached a climax when Ruth found that her brother-in-law intended to dance half the dances with her!
She saw Dr. Jung sitting alone writing at a table.
In desperation she walked up to him and asked if she might sit beside him as long as it did not disturb him, and thus free the young couple.
From then on, until they left Nairobi, Ruth saw a certain amount of Jung and his friends, who all liked her and appreciated her keen sense of humor and thoroughly sporting attitude.
Before leaving, Jung told her she should find a way to live her own life and not that of the young couple during the months she was still to be in Africa.
I do not think any of the party really expected to meet Ruth again.
It would have been hardly possible to find a girl anywhere more suited to the expedition than Ruth Bailey, so the governor of Uganda’s request fell on well-prepared soil.
Ruth was over twenty years younger than Jung, strong and healthy, and more or less the age of and with the same tastes as George Beckwith.
She herself always says that she provided the “comic relief” for the party.
Nevertheless, Jung was taking no risks.
They were already on Mount Elgon, right at the back of Beyond, when the governor’s letter arrived.
Jung wrote to Ruth saying they would take her under their protection, as requested, provided she could join them in their camp.
He invited her to come to stay with them on the mountain.
A native would be sent to show her the last part of the way, a climb that could be done only on foot, but he left her to find her way to the rendezvous, Kimilili, as best she could.
One need only read Jung’s account of their own journey to Mount Elgon, after the railroad carne to an end, to realize how remote their camp was and the enormous difficulties it would present to a girl of her age.
Ruth was not yet thirty when she undertook the journey to Mount Elgon.
This was typical of Jung. He usually made people show their mettle before he invested in them. Ruth, therefore, found herself faced with the most difficult task of her life.
Her very conventional and most conscientious brother-in-law was all against the plan and put every obstacle he could in the way, and the difficulties of finding transportation to such out-of-the-way places would have daunted most girls.
But since everyone recognized her at sight as a good companion, she always got people to help her, to give her lifts in her almost impossible journey.
She finally arrived at Kimilili, where the boy sent by Dr. Jung was awaiting her.
However, to the young Englishman who gave her her last lift, Kimilili did not recommend itself as the right place to leave an English girl. Fortunately, at that moment, she caught sight of a native who had a water carrier on his back marked “C. G. Jung,” so she was able to prove to her escort that she really had been met as arranged!
The man did not speak a word of English.
Carrying her things, he led the way silently along a lion path through the bush in the stifling heat for two hours.
Ruth could not help wondering what would happen if they met the lion, but, intrepid girl that she was, she followed him without protest.
When at last they reached the camp, she naturally felt a considerable sense of achievement and announced proudly to Jung: “I have arrived!” “So I see,” he returned calmly as if she had dropped in from the neighboring house.
Once she had won her spurs, however, and proved her mettle, she found herself most genuinely taken under the group’s protection.
She was always ready for any exploit, and did her full share of work in the camp.
It cannot have been long before Jung definitely decided to take her with them on their arduous journey to Egypt.
In fact, George Beckwith declared he would not go unless she made one of the party.
I have just given the outer reasons that led to this decision, but Jung himself gave the deeper reason that set this rather surprising chain of events in motion.
He pointed out that owing to Fowler’s being prevented from joining the party “an unconscious or fated constellation: the archetype of the triad” had been called into being, and that that archetype is always calling for a fourth to complete it, “as we see again and again in history.”
Jung mentioned the episode in order “to suggest the subtle modes by which an archetype influences our actions.”
In terms of the diagram on page 17, this was a case of an archetypal image from below coming up and influencing outer events.
Jung gave a wonderful account of this entire African journey in Memories.
By summarizing what I believe to be the chief gains of this journey, I hope to show what it was that the fruitful years 1919–26 added to what Jung already had achieved after his “confrontation with the unconscious.”
The African journey was probably also one of the happiest times in his life, particularly the stay on Mount Elgon.
My companions and I had the good fortune to taste the world of Africa, with its incredible beauty and its equally incredible suffering, before the end came.
Our camp life proved to be one of the loveliest interludes in my life. I enjoyed the “divine peace” of a still primeval country. Never had I seen so clearly “man and the other animals” (Herodotus). Thousands of miles lay between me and Europe, mother of all demons. The demons could not reach me here—there were no telegrams, no telephone calls, no letters, no visitors. My liberated psychic forces poured blissfully back to the primeval expanses.
Before the journey started—with his I Ching hexagram, 53, 9 in the third place—Jung had faced the fact that his life might end on this African trip.
This was not an easy accomplishment at that time: Jung was only fifty—at the height of his strength—and he knew that a great many people were dependent on him.
This was not in a financial sense, for if he had died his family would have suffered no material hardship, but in a spiritual sense.
He was at the height of his practice and he knew well that many of his patients and pupils were not yet ready to stand alone.
This deeply bothered him in making his decision to go, but he told me he felt strangely unconcerned in Africa itself.
He once described the effect the heat had on him: an extraordinary detachment which nothing could touch.
Lying in his deck chair one hot afternoon, he actually tried to break this detachment by thinking of all his worst European worries, such as the patients who gave him most cause for anxiety, but it all seemed remote and unimportant.
When he got back to Europe it was different, but the time in Africa itself was a period of complete detachment.
As far as I know, this was the first time Jung had to put into concrete reality a conviction which grew on him from the time he had passed from the first to the second half of life.
He felt that in the second half of life one can live completely only if one has fully faced the fact that one is no longer going out into life but ultimately facing inward, with the goal of inevitable death.
He often said, after he had been ill, in the last decade of his life: “I thought it was the end and I think that is why I have so unexpectedly been granted a new lease of life.”
Perhaps it was because he had fully faced the possibility that he might have to pay for his journey to Africa with his life that such abundant and meaningful life was granted him in Africa.
At all events, from all I ever heard him say about his time in Africa—and he often spoke of it—it was indeed “one of the loveliest interludes” of his whole life and also perhaps the most productive.
Even at the risk of repeating material that is in his own account, I should like to give my own impression of the enlightenment that came to Jung in Africa, in the sequence it seems to me to have taken.
Perhaps the moment when he woke up on the railroad journey from Mombasa to Nairobi and saw the “slim, brownish-black figure . . . motionless, leaning on a long spear, looking down at the train” was the first enlightenment. Jung was enchanted.
He knew it was something he had never seen, entirely outside his experience in this life, and yet at the same time he had the “most intense sentiment du déjà vu,” accompanied by the feeling that he “had always known this world which was separated from me only by distance in time. It was as if I were this moment returning to the land of my youth, and as if I knew that dark-skinned man who had been waiting for me for five thousand years.”
This happened to him after he had been in Africa (at Mombasa) only two days and seems to me the exposition of his whole stay there.
Both his No. 1 and No. 2 personalities were constellated and active at one and the same time.
No. 1 felt the dark-skinned man as alien, for he had never in his fifty years of life seen or experienced anything like him; but the timeless No. 2 reached right down through the layers of the unconscious to the primeval ancestors and naturally felt as if he already knew the man who was separated from him only by time.
Such a complete constellation of Self and ego seems to me the necessary prologue to the tremendous impression that Africa was to be to Jung.
Indeed, he reported that the “feeling tone of this curious experience accompanied me throughout my whole journey through savage Africa.”
Both personalities were indeed absolutely necessary for his next overwhelming experience, which was no less than the discovery of our own myth. Early in his “confrontation with the unconscious,” he had realized painfully that he no longer lived by the Christian myth, that it had lost its meaning for him.
The longing to find his own myth began then, but it had been particularly intense since early that year (1925) when the Indian Mountain Lake, told him that the raison d’ être of his Pueblo was to help their father the sun to cross the sky each day.
Jung said: “I had envied him for the fullness of meaning in that belief and had been looking about without hope for a myth of our own.”
Now, suddenly and completely unexpectedly, he found it, alone on the Athi Plains near Nairobi, among the gigantic herds of grazing animals, gradually moving forward like slow rivers.
I often heard Jung describe this moment, and I also heard a great many people say that they are unable to follow him here.
Indeed, without some experience of the Self and the ego, it is hard, if not impossible, to grasp.
Before speaking of this experience of Jung’s on the Athi Plains, I would like to refer to a later passage in Memories, in which he mentioned that the eternal Self needs the limited ego in order to experience itself in outer reality.
It can thus, in earthly form, “pass through the experiences of the three-dimensional world, and by greater awareness take a further step toward realization.”
In other words, No. 2 personality needs No. 1 as much as vice versa.
Perhaps the first time Jung fully realized this truth was as he stood there, that day on the Athi Plains, out of sight and hearing of his friends, in “the stillness of the eternal beginning,” of “the world as it has always been.”
Of course those animals have existed there on the plains for untold ages, but it suddenly dawned on Jung that this was only potential existence until someone gave them “objective existence” by creatively knowing they were there.
This, he wrote, is what the alchemists meant when they said: “What nature leaves imperfect, the [alchemistic] art perfects.”
Thus “the cosmic meaning of consciousness became overwhelmingly clear” to him, and he knew that man could continue creation, in fact he was even “indispensable for the completion of creation.” If man does not accept this task, the world is bound to go on “in the profoundest night of non-being down to its unknown end.”
But if people can only realize this vital myth of man, that he is “indispensable for the completion of creation,” then our troubled age may yet rediscover as much, or even more, meaning in life than it has lost.
The next incident to make a deep impression on Jung was at the provisional terminus of the Uganda railroad, where the party was waiting for two automobiles, in which they were to complete the next stage of their journey, to be loaded with their equipment.
Jung was sitting, smoking his pipe on a “chop box,” when he was joined by an elderly Englishman who sat down beside him, also smoking a pipe.
He asked if Jung had just arrived and wanted to know where he was going. Then he asked if he might give Jung a piece of advice, since he had been there forty years.
“You know, Mister, this here country is not man’s country, it’s God’s country. So if anything should happen, just sit down and don’t worry.”
Then he got up without another word and disappeared into the horde of Africans swarming around them.
Never has a piece of advice made a stronger impression on its recipient.
Jung was profoundly grateful to that unknown Englishman, and whenever things went wrong in Africa, he remembered to “sit down and not worry,” always with the best results.
So impressed was Jung with this advice and with how it helped him in Africa, that he passed it on to all his pupils who were fated to go through the “confrontation with the unconscious,” for what applies in the jungle or bush also applies to the unconscious.
Although it may seem strange to those not familiar with Jungian psychology, it is a fact that the same conditions prevail in very primitive countries and in the collective unconscious.
If we think again for a moment of the diagram on page 17, there is nothing surprising in this.
Africa, when Jung was there in 1925–26, was a very primitive country, “the dark continent” as it was always called in those days; therefore you were in the lowest layers of the collective unconscious when you were in Africa, among the primeval ancestors, even the animal ancestors in general.
Of course, in Africa you are in a way meeting those layers outside, and in the “confrontation with the unconscious” you are meeting with the inside, but both aspects are, as that wise old Englishman told Jung, God’s country and not man’s country.
Or in psychological language, it is the country [Africa] of Self, not of the ego.
We have already seen how this works practically when the Self, or Jung’s No. 2 personality, had the “most intense sentiment du déjà vu” when he saw the dark-skinned man leaning on his spear and looking down on the train, as if he had been waiting for him for five thousand years.
The ego, the No. 1 personality, on the contrary, could register only a completely new experience, one which even seemed alien.
But we can also see here just how important the ego is to the Self, for it was the former that became conscious of the impression, that gave it three-dimensional existence, definite existence, whereas five thousand years are as yesterday to the Self, whose knowledge may indeed even be absolute, without ever registering in the here and now, in this moment, and thus giving it definite or objective existence.
When Jung set forth from what was then the terminus of the Uganda railroad, he left civilization, as he had always known it, behind him, and had only the trails that stretched all over Africa before him.
As he thought over the old Englishman’s advice, he realized it was the quintessence of his forty years’ “experience; not man but God was in command here—in other words—not will and intention, but inscrutable design.”
It was really much the same experience as he had had himself in his “confrontation with the unconscious”: accepting the inscrutable design that reveals itself and never trying to push through his own way.
In fact: “Sit down and don’t worry” until the “inscrutable design” reveals itself, instead of trying to control the uncontrollable.
When at last they got to Mount Elgon, that “loveliest interlude,” freed from the usual plagues of civilization, such as telegrams, telephones, letters, and visitors, which he characterized as demons bred by Europe, he was able to let his “liberated psychic forces pour blissfully back to the primeval expanses,” and there was able for a time to enjoy the “world as it has always been,” the “stillness of the eternal beginning.”
But his consciousness was always alert to learn all he could about that beginning.
For that purpose, he arranged a palaver every morning with the natives, who stood around the camp all day long watching their “doings with never-fading interest.”
It was very difficult, however, to extract any information about their dreams or religion or what was really vital to them.
Although the Elgonyi were then still unspoiled, later, gold was discovered close to their territory and then the Mau-Mau movement arose “among those innocent and friendly natives.”
Even then, however, at the happy moment Jung and his friends were among them, there were signs that they were losing the connection with their deep religious roots that are so essential to the well-being of a tribe.
For instance, after much rather fruitless inquiry about their dreams, Jung discovered that they were no longer guided by the dreams of their medicine men, as is usually the case with unspoiled tribes and had been formerly with the Elgonyi.
This was because the medicine men themselves labored under the delusion that their dreams were no longer necessary, on account of the presence of the district commissioner and the fact that the English knew everything.
In the palavers, which always took place with the sun high in the sky, Jung was at first tremendously impressed by their optimism: animals, even the large beasts of prey such as the lion, were “good and beautiful,” and diseases had no power to arouse fear for, while they could lie in the sun, they found everything good.
But he soon discovered that at sunset this optimism suddenly disappeared and they became the helpless victims of fear.
The god that ruled the dark was as sinister and dangerous as the god that ruled the day was good and benevolent.
This fear was mainly fear of ghosts.
Indeed, one day when they were passing through a wood on Mount Elgon in the middle of the day, Jung suddenly perceived that this fear of ghosts was not confined to the night, but was also connected with certain places.
I once heard Jung describe this incident more or less as follows:
The usually willing natives complained that they were tired and the corporal made every kind of excuse. By using the simple and effective method of walking behind them, Jung forced them into the wood. But they showed such signs of anguish that at last he said to the corporal: “You are usually so efficient, what is the matter with you?” He would not say anything, but when Jung whispered in his ear the taboo word “Ghosts?” the corporal, greatly relieved, replied: “Yes, ten thousand.”
Jung then saw how fear works on these people and how real it is to them.
It seems to be exceedingly uncanny to walk in a bamboo forest on the trail of a rhinoceros; you are never sure you will not meet it, and you have to stoop as you walk because the rhinoceros is shorter than man.
These are the only paths and they are unpleasant enough, even for a European, but the green twilight, with its impression of being under water, where all is still and damp and dead, overcomes the native completely.
He is much closer to the collective unconscious than we are; we have a comparatively thick layer of consciousness on the top, which is only occasionally broken through, but the native spends nearly all his time in the unconscious.
Very soon Jung discovered what perhaps impressed him most during all of his stay on Mount Elgon.
At dawn, when the sun first comes up over the horizon, the natives emerged from their huts, spat into their hands, then turned the palms upward toward the sun.
They could not explain this action to Jung; it was just what they had always done.
But then, as he pointed out, how many Europeans can explain the candles on the Christmas tree or why we hide colored Easter eggs?
But he did find out that only at the moment of rising is the sun mungu, God.
At the same time he discovered that the new moon, as the first delicate golden crescent, is also God.
But at other times, the Elgonyi never worship either sun or moon, or regard either as God. Spittle is soul substance to the primitives, so in effect they were saying: “I offer to God my living soul,” a “wordless acted-out prayer which might equally well be rendered: Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit!”
That it was just the moment of the coming of the first light which they worshipped made a tremendous impression on Jung, and all the while he was in the camp, he formed the habit of taking his camp stool out in order to watch every morning the extremely impressive spectacle of sunrise in those latitudes.
Even the usually noisy baboons, who inhabited a high cliff near their camp sat almost motionless, as if they also were waiting for the sunrise.
It was the archetypal image in nature, foreshadowing Jung’s discovery of man’s myth: it is the birth of consciousness —the light of the sun has always symbolized consciousness—that is the meaning of life, what the ego can do for the Self.
In nature it is repeated endlessly, dawn after dawn and it is left to man to continue this act of creation, to capture the moment in time, to hold it and find its meaning.
The fact that the Elgonyi acted out this ceremony, dedicating their souls to it every morning, as the unconscious acting out of the myth of man, must have made a tremendous impression on Jung.
This was particularly so because he was fresh from the experience of discovering that becoming conscious of such things is the task of modern man and the myth that can restore the lost meaning of his life.
As they later worked their way slowly from the sources of the Nile to Egypt, Jung was increasingly struck by the enormous Hamitic contribution to the ancient and differentiated culture of Egypt.
We have just seen how impressed he had been by the cloudless optimism of the Elgonyi during the day, which gave way, without inner contradiction, to terror and pessimism during the night.
This shows us vividly how close the opposites are in primitive people, entirely without the wide and painful gap which civilization has opened up between them.
Jung learned that the Elgonyi believe implicitly that a wholly benevolent god, whom they call adhista and greet as the rising sun, rules the day, yet at sunset gives way naturally to ayik, the principle of darkness, the breeder of fear.
When Jung got to Egypt he found with surprise that these two gods flow down with the Nile and appear again as the two acolytes of Osiris: Horus, the principle of light (adhista renamed), and Seth, the principle of darkness (ayik renamed).
Of all he learned while he was with the Elgonyi, this seems to have impressed him the most; and he spoke of it frequently in seminars and conversations.
As he floated down the Nile he was struck by the great role played by the sun myth in the Egyptian religion and by how purely African this myth is.
He had seen its beginning when the Elgonyi spat into their hands and offered their spittle (soul substance) to the rising sun.
In Egypt it could be called the central myth of the Egyptians’ religion.
The sun god Ra moves over the sky, with a new symbol for every hour, then sinks as a crocodile in the west and takes his sun boat through all the dangers of the underworld, to rise again as a scarab in the east the next morning. Jung often pointed out that the Christian sun (light of consciousness) motif came from Egypt, not vice versa, as is often maintained.
This theme has been most interestingly worked out by Dr. Helmuth Jacobsohn in his lecture at the 1968 Eranos conference.
Since it was definitely settled that Ruth Bailey should return with the three men through Egypt, she was obliged to leave Mount Elgon before they did in order to go back to her sister and brother-in-law, where she had left her luggage, to settle all her affairs.
She would now have to leave the young couple at once, instead of staying for six months as had originally been planned.
She found her brother-in-law as averse to her accepting the protection of the “three Obadiahs” to Egypt as he had been to her visit to the mountain.
But her sister took a different view, telling her she would be a fool to miss such a chance.
Ruth left them before Christmas, which she spent in Nairobi, sent her big luggage back by boat, then applied herself to the problem of getting to Jinja on Lake Victoria, the place where she was to meet the three men.
As usual she landed on her feet, actually arriving at Jinja some days before Jung’s party.
Here she was met by a man she had known on the ship who, when he heard her plan, first hailed her as a fourth Obadiah!
Then, he persuaded her to help him in the meantime to run the hotel, understaffed through illness, which she did with her usual efficiency.
In the meantime Jung’s blissful stay on Mount Elgon had come to an end, as all such interludes in life too quickly do.
With heavy hearts the group struck camp and trekked along the southern slope of Mount Elgon into the territory of the Bugishu, the tribe which had given its name to the whole expedition when it started from London.
They stayed for some days in the resthouse of Bunambale, with its magnificent view of the broad Nile valley.
Then they made their way to Jinja on Lake Victoria, where, to their great surprise, they found themselves being officially shown their rooms by Ruth Bailey.
She detached herself rapidly from her duties at the hotel, and they all four then traveled by the narrow-gauge railroad to Lake Kioga.
There they found a paddle-wheel steamer to take them on the next stage of their journey, which they began at the New Year, 1926.
Wherever it was possible, they traveled by any means they could get, but there was one long stretch where there was no transportation at all.j
About the middle of their exhausting walk they had the adventure which Jung describes vividly in Memories.
I often heard Peter Baynes, Ruth Bailey, and Jung himself talk about that night of the native dance, which might have had a very different end had Jung not been able to control the wild excitement that seized the dancers.
Later he heard that this tribe was reckoned a dangerous one, that they had actually speared two Europeans at a similar dance a fortnight before.
On the night, however, that Jung and his party were present, Jung as yet knew nothing of all this, but he was not exactly reassured by the sight of this tribe, which consisted of the blackest and wildest natives they had yet encountered.
However, he accepted their offer of a dance gladly, hoping it would “bring their better nature to the fore.”
But it was formidable, to say the least, when, after dark had fallen and the tired party were “longing for sleep,” they began to hear the drums.
Then some “sixty men appeared, martially equipped with flashing lances, clubs, and swords.”
All the women and children of the tribe followed them and settled around a huge fire, kindled in spite of the heat, which was well up in the nineties.
Then the dancing and singing began, the natives forming a protective ring around the women and children, then advancing toward the four Europeans, dancing more and more wildly around them and toward the four whites seated at a short distance in deck chairs. Jung said:
It was a wild and stirring scene, bathed in the glow of the fire and magical moonlight. My English friend [Peter Baynes] and I sprang to our feet and mingled with the dancers. I swung my rhinoceros whip, the only weapon I had, and danced with them. By their beaming faces I could see they approved of our taking part. Their zeal redoubled; the whole company stamped, sang, shouted, sweating profusely. Gradually the rhythm of the dance and the drumming accelerated.In dances such as these, accompanied by such music, the natives easily fall into a virtual state of possession. That was the case now. As eleven o’clock approached, their excitement began to get out of bounds, and suddenly the whole affair took on a highly curious aspect. The dancers were being transformed into a wild horde, and I became worried about how it would end. I signed to the chief that it was time to stop, and that he and his people ought to go to sleep. But he kept wanting “just another one.”
I have more than once seen Jung in somewhat similar though much milder situations in Europe, when the excitement at masked carnival balls, for example, threatened to get out of bounds.
I always had the impression on such occasions that the Self—Jung’s No. 2 personality—took over and restored order calmly and entirely without effort so I was very interested when Ruth Bailey told us one evening that on that occasion in Africa Jung seemed to grow in stature before their eyes until he apparently towered over the natives.
Evidently a deep level of the unconscious had been reached, a level common to European and African, for although lung knew no word of this tribe’s language, the people seem to have understood him at once, as he cracked his whip and swore at them genially in Swiss German!
They capered off, scattering into the night, leaving Jung and his friends to sink exhausted into bed.
They could still hear “jovial howls and drumming in the distance,” but the tension was dissolved, the danger banished.
This was really a moment—similar to the moment when lung saw the native who seemed to have “been waiting for me for five thousand years”—when we can easily see how both lung’s personalities were constellated at one and the same time.
The No. 1 personality had never experienced such a scene and was even rather frightened, but No. 2 was completely at home and could deal with the situation with effortless ease.
Very soon after this memorable evening, the group’s trek came to an end at Rejâf in the Sudan.
From then on they could follow the Nile, under more or less civilized conditions.
All the time Jung had been in Africa, his dreams, disappointingly enough, had been of home and personal problems; now, as the really strenuous part of the journey came to an end and they were safely on the Nile, he had his first dream of a dark-skinned man.
This man was not, however, anyone he had seen in Africa, but dated from a stay in America twelve years before.
He was a Negro barber who, ominously enough, was preparing in the dream to crimp lung’s hair—in other words, to give him Negro hair!
He realized immediately that he had been long enough in the blissful peace of the beginning and that he was in danger of “going black,” a danger that threatens Europeans who settle in Africa.
It was clearly time to draw some conclusions from the numerous notes he had taken of all that happened while he had been in Africa.
After long consideration, he came to the painful conclusion that his real motive in undertaking the journey was not primarily a scientific investigation into primitive psychology but rather to seek an answer to the embarrassing question: “What is going to happen to lung the psychologist in the wilds of Africa?”
He even had to own—very painfully—that he was largely impelled to his venture by the atmosphere in Europe, which was becoming too highly charged for him.
It may be difficult for younger readers to realize how highly charged and uncertain the years between the two world wars were.
On Armistice Day, 1918, for instance, when we all felt we should be rejoicing that at last the 1914 war was over,
I for one was happy about it only on the surface; below I had an even more ominous premonition of disaster than at any time during the war.
That this was not a purely personal feeling was soon borne in on me by the fact that many other people had shared my apprehension.
The Spanish flu, which actually killed more people than the war itself, may have accounted for some of it, as it broke out all over the world just as the first war ended. Even when that epidemic was over, however, the tension remained.
Of course we all tried to get back to a normal life, but the feeling of uncertainty and doom—mainly a terrific tension—continued just under the surface.
One could, of course, say with complete truth that things are even more ominous now, but now the dangers are more visible and, though probably even worse, they are at least not hidden from any thoughtful person, as they largely were between the two wars, particularly in the twenties.
As we can see, Jung had to go to East Africa to see Europe from an entirely different world, to realize that the atmosphere in Europe had become “too highly charged” for him.
In his journeys to North Africa and to the Indians in New Mexico, Jung’s avowed purpose was to see how the white race looked from a totally different standpoint, but his conscious purpose in undertaking his journey to tropical Africa had been more as a scientific investigation of primitive peoples.
Then when he came to draw conclusions from his notes of the trip, as they floated down the Nile toward Egypt, after the dream that showed the danger of “going black,” he found to his astonishment that his unconscious took no interest whatever in this project.
It was, however, vitally interested in what the journey was doing to Jung’s own psychology and had encouraged it because it forced Jung to go deeper than ever before, “until it touched every sore spot in his own psychology.”
Jung took two months going through the Sudan and Egypt, feeling that he understood its marvelous old culture far better for having entered it from Africa instead of by the usual route from Europe.
After all, Egypt is Africa, and it has really been influenced almost entirely by what has flowed into it down the Nile, and comparatively not at all by anything it may have gained from early contact with Greece and the rest of Europe.
The Nile is the life stream of Egypt; all its cultivation depends on the waters of this river and this has been so since its earliest beginnings.
Only at Khartoum, as far as I know, was Jung obliged to function as the famous psychologist.
Gordon College there managed to get him to give some lectures.
But this had its advantages for at least one of his party, for Ruth Bailey had her only attack of malaria and was thankful to have it when they were staying at a hotel for a week, where she need be no impediment to the expedition.
It was naturally important to her to “carry her weight” on the trip, and in this aim she succeeded admirably.
They proceeded slowly down the Nile to Cairo, with long stays at Aswân and Luxor.
Jung was not only deeply impressed by the monuments of the ancient culture of Egypt, but was also greatly struck, as he had been in North Africa, by the Islamic religion.
Eight years later I heard him describe the vivid impression that one mosque in Old Cairo made on him.
Seven years before he was in Cairo, at the end of the “confrontation with the unconscious,” Jung had discovered the mandala, which was for him the ultimate culmination of all he had discovered.
But during all those years he had neither written nor spoken publicly of the mandala, for he was not yet sure if it was a subjective discovery or whether it was an objective symbol belonging to all mankind.
It was still three years before he would break his silence.
In the meantime, one can imagine how he welcomed this experience in Cairo.
By 1933, when he publicly spoke of it, he was already speaking and writing freely on mandalas.
He described this mosque in considerable detail, saying it was a perfect square with very beautiful broad pillared corridors on each side.
The House of Ablution, where the ritual washings take place, was in the center.
A spring of water welled forth there and formed the bath of rejuvenation, of spiritual rebirth.
Jung described the dusty, crowded streets outside, and said that this vast hall seemed like entering the Court of Heaven, as if it were heaven itself.
He had the impression of perfected concentration and of being accepted in the immense void of heaven, and this religion, where God is really a call, at last became comprehensible to him. (We must remember that it was six years since he had first come in contact with it in Tunisia.)
He spoke of hearing the call—“Allah”—echoing through this vast hall, and of feeling that the call itself penetrated to heaven.
Such impressions and those of the far more ancient culture were so enthralling to Jung that he was utterly astonished when the two young members of the party, Beckwith and Ruth Bailey, thought perhaps they had had enough of pyramids in Gaza and suggested that they might bathe that afternoon in the Mena House Hotel swimming pool, instead of going to see the pyramids of Seqquara.
Such a choice was really incomprehensible to Jung, so profoundly was he enjoying everything he saw in Egypt. Seeing how shocked he was, the young people decided after all for the farther pyramids.
It was also in Cairo that the only serious case of illness they had on the whole trip overtook them.
George Beckwith came down with a very serious attack of tropical malaria, which may even have been blackwater fever.
Jung spoke in Memories of how thankful they were during this illness to have the nursing experience of Ruth, who had been a V.A.D. in France for most of the First World War.
They were very much afraid that it would be impossible for Beckwith to catch their ship at Port Said, but he just made it.
He showed his usual courage, during the time that it seemed doubtful he would recover, and murmured, with what they were afraid might be his dying breath: “It was a good trip!”
Actually the sea air seemed to aid his return to good health.
The realizations which Jung made in Africa still took him some years to digest and work out. ~Barbara Hannah, Jung: His Life and His Work, Pages 120-131