Mrs. Crowley: The ancestors really. Would it not be a more complete participation mystique?
Dr: Jung: Yes, ghosts are remnants of former lives, what one calls ancestral spirits, which means the units which constitute the psyche.
As you know, the psyche may be split up into its original inherited components.
These are called Mendelian units; one part of the psyche comes from the grandfather, another from the great-grandmother, and so on, the
individual is a sort of conglomeration of ancestral lives.
This leads to the idea of reincarnation, the migration of souls, etc.; all those apparently vivid recollections of former lives occur when one is in the condition in which an ancestral life is constellated.
This is such a natural event that a very imaginative Frenchman, Leon Daudet, though he knew very little about psychology, could not help
observing it; he speaks of it in his book L’Heredo. “1 He is a very fantastic creature, yet that book contains a considerable kernel of truth.
His theory is that at certain moments of the individual human life, something which he calls autofecondation anterieure takes place, meaning the fertilizing of oneself, and that generates an ancestral life.
In other words, it is as if an ancestral spirit were reawakened, and from that moment on the individual does not live his own life exactly but the life of his great-great aunt, let us say; he becomes peculiarly depersonalized.
That accounts for the strange changes of character one sometimes sees in people. For instance, a very nice young man, quite reasonable and amiable and generally admirable, from a certain time in his life displays very inferior traits, and people say:
“Oh well, that is in the family, he is exactly like his grandfather who was such an awful beast.”
There it comes to the fore. You see, that man was meant to be a quite different being, but by an act of autofecondation anterieure he regenerated his grandfather, and now he lives his grandfather-he becomes more or less neurotic and represses his true individuality which showed itself when he was very young; he lives really the ancestral life.
Mrs. Crowley: Would you say that about St. Francis of Assisi?
Dr: Jung: No, that was a positive change. You see, it is possible that one sets out to live the ancestral life right in the beginning, as most people do who develop in a reasonable and positive way-they grow out of several ancestral lives into all-round individuals. Look at Mussolini, for example.
There was a picture of him as a boy in our illustrated paper, and he looked like any Italian workman, absolutely commonplace and
foolish-he was one sort of ancestral fool they had in the family.
A genius never grows out of a perfectly balanced family, there must have been fools; a fool is always the first sign of the genius and the last, as foolishness and wisdom are sisters.
And then he developed beyond the ancestral level, becoming more than his ancestors; he has become in a way completely individuated, an all-round personality, transcending himself, transcending his ancestral lives.
Then there are people who bloom early, like gifted children, and one expects them to have marvellous personalities later on, but no, they wither, an ancestral life breaks through, and they become sort of withered mummies.
That is a regressive development which is very frequent.
All neuroses have to do with such things: a successful development is blighted and an ancestral life steps into the place of the individual life.
Or one can put it also that the individual development is repressed by the ancestral life.
Later on in life, or even in the beginning, one sees that such a person is living a sort of collective life, not being himself really; he is most probably an ancestral spirit. ~Carl Jung, The Visions Seminar, Page 1266-1267