A visit paid to Jung by Alwine von Keller

Testimony of Alwine’s close tie with Jung is provided to us by the announcement which the pupil prepared in November 1961 for a meeting to be held in memory of her late master.

We quote it here in its entirety:

November 1961

I am unsure as to how to accept your kind request that I contribute to the meeting commemoration among friends and students of C.G. Jung. Where to begin?

What to choose amongst the very many treasures which he so generously bestowed upon us?

It may be of service, perhaps, to speak to you of my first impressions of his personality and, who knows, relate an interpretation of a dream which still lives in my memory, in this time of ours of looming menace?

Personally, I believe that his capacity for integration was my first, true impression of the greatness of C.G. Jung.

It seemed to me typical of him to praise the Earth for its goodness in sustaining the just and the unjust with equal magnanimity.

I was witness to the charitable attention which he reserved for the smallest just as well as the greatest events and problems of man, and to how this sensibility of his was accompanied by his natural, tough resolve.

I was not therefore surprised when he told me of how, when he was at Caligat – the temple of Kali in Calcutta, he had not run the risk of losing his senses.

The other visitors were in fact terrified at the sight of the sacrifices of live animals to the insatiable many-armed goddess, garlanded with human skulls; the ritual blood was used as a means to placate her ire.

Not Jung, although after the visit to Caligat he did fall seriously ill.

The frenetic dance of Time was for him the supreme challenge to confront the arid darkness of our world and to ponder on both sides of the Divine.

You all know how he integrated this mythological reality into his complex work and how he used to work, in the course of his analysis of dreams, on the acceptance of the dark side, transforming weakness and despair into understanding and courage: that very spiritual courage of which we, today, are so in need.

Dr. Jung, I believe, would not have objected to my use of the word ‘spiritual’ as a synonym of ‘psychological’!  

His training work reached, with us, the furthest depths of the conscious and of the unconscious, of the rational and of the irrational, of the personal structure and of the transpersonal one of our psyche, where Kali stands beside the benign goddess Durga.  

The integration of opposites shone through in his every statement, showed through his sceptical smile, his indulgence tinged with humour, his candid frankness, his mature wisdom and his rigour.

I will now try to illustrate with what subtlety he worked on this integration in the course of the dream analysis, and I will take the liberty of referring, by way of example to my dream.

I had this dream in 1940, after the end of the drole de guerre. Holland and Belgium were occupied by the German troops, who were now marching towards France, where the army and the entire population were in flight; German aggression against England approached inexorably.

All this put in danger our culture and fed our concern for our dearest friends.

I dreamed that I was in a dark room; a man, taller than me, was making me spin holding me in a tight embrace in a dance of death in which, little by little, I was losing consciousness.

The walls of the room exuded blood, which dripped down to the floor. I implored that man to let me go.  

When he did finally loosen his grip, I was able to drag myself from the middle of the room to the wall and, immediately, I tried to wipe up the blood which was dripping down.  

Unable to cope with such a condition of despair alone, I related the dream to Dr. Jung, who listened to my account with that special attention of his, repeating the dream slowly as if it had been his own: objectifying, in this way, my horror and that of the others, with his participation, ‘Yes – he said – we are in this war.

And you yourself are the battlefield. What can we do?

Resisting the Devil transfers to him all the force deriving from our failure to accept, to the point where we fall into unconsciousness!  

Then, indeed, all is lost!

We must remain vigilant, we must be witnesses, we must not risk identification. Interrogate the devil then; ask him what he wants from you, now that he is destroying your values, the sense of what is right and of what is wrong, your plans, your wishes, the whole world of your Ego.

Have compassion for the dark side of God, who so intensely labours on us at this moment!

Resist not Evil! – he repeated several times – Resist not Evil!’.

The words of Christ pronounced by Jung were utterly persuasive: they were firsthand knowledge, supported by the force and suffering of his whole personality, with which he had always fought ignorance and its such fatal consequences for individuals and nations.

Throughout his life he taught how to identify the specific problems of each moment, without ever generalizing.

After leaving Seestrasse 228, I headed towards the station, stopping first, though, for another hour and a half in my little hotel to put down some notes.

With my unconscious alive and vibrant, I understood that my dream had become one of those seminal dreams in which our future is invisibly contained (von Keller 1961).