Carl Jung Depth Psychology Facebook Group

Darmstadt, 25 November 1929

Strictly confidential

My dear Doctor,

Today I would like to inform you in the strictest confidence about a case which concerns in the first place another person, in the second place me, but in which I see at the same time a possible object of research of the first rank and a possible task for you.

I believe to be entitled to do so in all respects, since the person in question – originally at my instigation – will in all probability get in touch with you in the course of this winter, and if anyone, you can help her.

But she must never know what I have told you.

I am talking about Victoria Ocampo who brought me to South America.

She has long had the reputation in Europe to be the most important woman of that continent (she is now 39 years old) and is undoubtedly one of the strongest and strangest personalities in our era.

In the summer of 1927, she suddenly fell in love with my work and literally leapt on me like a tiger.

She wrote me daily letters of the highest spiritual and emotional beauty.

But more and more they became real love letters, more and more the motive came to the fore that she had finally found the one who would understand her completely, love her completely, just as she is.

And with wonderful perspicacity she immediately recognized the one insertion point at which she could grasp me: my concern for material survival, or in my usual image: my fear of starvation.

She was completely one with me, she would say, my work was her whole task, and she would take away all my worries of an uncertain future.

Thus, I, living predominantly a life of poetry, slowly weaved her into the poetry of my destiny, and even today, when everything is over, I can hardly imagine her as not belonging to me eternally.

She swore to me that she would now do everything for me, and in particular took over the preparation of my entire South American trip.

It was a novel in letters and telegrams, as I have never heard of, more beautiful and intense than any fairy tale.

But I felt uneasy about bursting into such a fairy tale in a foreign country, and so I let her – c’est bien le mot [it’s the correct word] – come to Europe the previous winter so that we could get to know each other before the joint campaign in South America began.

So we spent a month together in France in January/February 1929.

She lived in Paris, I in Versailles, but she was with me at least 12 hours a day.

The personal encounter exceeded all my expectations.

Victoria was not only highly spiritual, she was very beautiful, and in her role of donna umile [humble woman] she developed in me an inspirational power such as I thought impossible.

I was working all the time on America Set Free, which I completed in Versailles, and if the chapters “Predominant Women”, “Culture”, and “Spirituality” are certainly among the best I created, it is to her credit.

I felt as if I was living in a poem back then.

But at the same time, this woman somehow stirred me in the consciousness of an unattainable depth in her, as none before her had ever done.

I was never in love in the usual sense, it was always clear to me that as a “woman” she was not really my type, but her influence shook me so violently that I did not sleep a single night and yet I was fresh and inspired to the highest degree and, above all, most of the hitherto buried or repressed emotional primal energies in me were set free.

Later, all my friends found me rejuvenated by 10 years and completely relaxed inside. But the woman was at the same time in an incomprehensible way unhappy, even close to despair.

She could never tell me what was happening inside her, she only cried uncontrollably, declared that she was living in hell.

She gave me all the signs of love, except the last one, which I could have had at any time.

Today I thank all my guardian spirits that I did not force her.

I saw a terrible conflict in her – the unsolvable conflict between pure spirituality and the wild nature of the tiger or the serpent.

I was well aware that the latter bound me, but that V. 0. At the same time suffered from it and had come to me quite actually to be redeemed from it.

Of course, I believed she wanted to be redeemed and tried to give her clarity.

But her suffering became bigger and bigger only, as / became happier and freer, even if inwardly more agitated, I never took it seriously in the last instance. I left.

We were to meet again in South America, where she wanted to return before me to prepare everything.

As soon as I left, the letters became strangely different from before.

I was very worried and urged her to explain herself, that I was not a good guesser, that I could accept everything if she could only make me understand her.

Always only reassuring letters, I should not worry, it was completely useless, it would only make her sick, and I found such letters at every station until the encounter in Buenos Aires.

But when I arrived, I was suddenly confronted with a different person: no longer a donna umile in the least, but a violent queen, a Semiramis,3 of incredible strength and ruthlessness, sometimes a fury.

Outwardly she did everything for me, I was not allowed to do anything on my part that she did not prepare, but inwardly there was no longer any connection, the past was as if erased.

This was the strongest shock of my life.

It manifested itself, as always with me, above all physically – in one month I had more heart attacks (arhytmia (sic) perpetua) than in the previous 48 years.

For I could not give in.

If I broke away from South America, which everything urged me to do, it would have been an irreparable fiasco of my work.

On the other hand, I could not expose her – for she had affixed herself to me with all the

generosity of a good nature, and in all of South America we were more or less considered one, and all the world, beginning with her family, saw me that way.

So I had to overcome myself as never before.

That irritated her, she began to abuse me publicly (in private she never dared), I put up with it smiling.

At the same time I tried for a long time in vain to achieve a clarification.

Finally she explained to me that she had never really loved me, that she had only played in Versailles for fear of losing me, that we were incompatible, except spiritually, accusing herself that her basic trait was nothing but moral cowardice.

I immediately addressed the situation, took all the blame, tried to re-found our friendship in vain.

The more I tried, the more unpleasant she became, albeit with constant relapses into tenderness and continued possessiveness.

One thing was clear to me: the turnaround meant the violent incursion of reality into 2 years of a dreamed-up life.

In particular, it was the revolt of the born and accustomed ruthless ruler to two years of donna umile, which was not acted, because it corresponded to the real need for admiration of her nature, but nevertheless constituted only a small part.

Above all, I was really physically unsympathetic to her – no matter what had been the case earlier.

I found in her, who had hardly been denied a wish from her second year of life, the desire of a woman to subjugate a man.

My ever-growing serenity irritated her more and more.

Whatever the outward appearance may have been (in fact, no one, even Victoria only to a small extent, noticed what was really going on inside me)- I have never suffered anything even remotely similar.

The continuing bond routed through the unconsciousness, the necessity to hang on for the sake of my work, at the same time to overcome myself again and again for there were moments when I would have loved to knock this woman down publicly – created for the two months I spent in Buenos Aires a state of inner torment such as I wish only for a few of my enemies.

But I held out, and also forced – as I must admit, often with statesmanlike harshness – Victoria, who constantly, as a spoiled woman, wanted to break out, to keep her commitments once made.

But when I was finally able to travel to other countries and there gained the opportunity to reflect on my feelings, I realized that I had been so deeply hurt that I had to break with her for a time, precisely in order not to think badly of her all the time.

I did this from Chile and asked her to allow me not to see her again on the return trip. This was unexpected for the poor woman who had always lived her caprice.

She is said to have suffered terribly and admitted it to me in her farewell letter.

This letter was, by the way, the first explanation of what had really happened inside her no matter what the original truth was – this woman has little imagination, and only a few women can ever imagine that they ever felt differently than they did at a given point in time.

She declared in the bitterest, most hurting words possible, that I had always been as repugnant to her from the standpoint of sensibility as I was to her spiritually; that she had prostituted herself at the time out of love for my spirit and work, but that I had poisoned all her devotion, her admiration, her enthusiasm, etc., by my attitude toward her (which was simply that of the uncomplicated lover, on the one hand, and of the poet, on the other, who sees his muse primarily as such).

She told me, she was guilty only of one thing: to have been too cowardly to show me the truth from the beginning.

I understand the complicated nature of women too poorly to be able to overlook what the ultimate truth may be.

But one thing is for sure: I am deeply in this woman’s debt and therefore I want to do everything that could help her.

In her debt not because of the many external things she did for me she made up for that abundantly by moral torment.

But because, in the final effect, she has done only good to me, and at her moral expense. It is one of the strangest coincidences that could really make me believe in Christian providence, that the difficulty in South America has done me more good than all expected luck could ever have done.

By some process of mysterious soul chemistry, which you will understand better than I do, the adversity has not embittered me, but, as far as I can see, has finally freed me.

This is not imagination, but proven fact.

Not only did I talk better than ever before – that is natural with a fighter nature like mine. But the energies rejected by the meant object became “universal”, objectless, free.

For the first time in my life I not only felt almost only positive myself – I triggered love in all others, indeed in whole peoples, to an overwhelming degree.

I was carried by an ever higher and wider wave of sympathy.

I was praised as a human being, as el gran enamorado de la vida [the great lover of life], as a person of pure and rich humanity, as the “eternal child” of ultimate simplicity.

And this love, in turn, triggered in me a love for the entire South American continent such as I feel for no other soil.

Towards Victoria I have today no shadow of a negative feeling.

The moment I cut the thread, all bitterness in me ceased, I only think of her with deepest affection and have only one wish: to help her, which unfortunately I cannot do anymore.

This is the point for the sake of which I am writing to you.

I have to thank the woman regardless of whatever I have gone through at times.

But !fear that I have only harmed her. And the thought that it will remain so is unbearable to me.

Since she is now sure to come to you, and you are the only person who in my opinion can help her, I would like to inform you in advance as to how I think her case lies.

She is really quite a good nature.

But she is completely torn between heaven and hell – it is not for nothing that she has written the most convincing text, to my knowledge, about hell in her book De Francesca a Beatrice.

She is essentially good and generous – but her soul is completely unintegrated – there is no possibility of unification between the femme fatale, which she is to the highest degree, the refined sexual being, the ruler, and the servant of pure spirituality, with which alone she identifies.

However, since she is 98% a powerful earth-spirit, she is constantly disappointed by the fact that no one believes in the supremacy of the spiritual in her.

Since she is also completely undisciplined and ultimately inferior to her own nature, despite a very strong will, everything in her life goes badly for her so far she has lost every significant person, her marriage was a disaster (she is separated, they have not agreed on a divorce), and the only permanent thing in her life is a very insignificant but tolerating amant serieux [serious lover].

Her condition only got worse, since she suffers like all South Americans from an “inflation of the ego in its passive modality” in an almost improbable way.

In her mind everything is related to herself and the way it affects her.

This results in a hopeless permanent sadness, a real state of hell – for how is one to become free if one’s consciousness is always held in shackles?

Since she has been pampered and spoiled throughout her life, since the most unbelievable things have been let through and forgiven her, she cannot bear the slightest contradiction.

She holds a grudge for every bad word spoken against her, which she takes as “misunderstanding of her being”.

Finally, she is still ultimately shy, even to the point of cowardice; her regal demeanour is in part overcompensation.

The case is thus pathological in the deepest sense of the word.

Surely, she came to me to be redeemed – and I disappointed her.

She always claimed that she and I are the same, because she can’t stand to love someone she doesn’t identify with – in truth I am her exact opposite.

And when I now hear that she wants to visit you – I think you are likely to become her exclusive interest (she is only interested in one person or one thing at a time, other things meanwhile no longer exist for her), this is probably the same instinct.

Only this time it seems to me to be directed correctly. You can really help her.

That’s why I’m informing you here in advance, as best as I can.

I beg you from the bottom of my heart to help her. It is worth it. She is really quite a good nature.

Only she must not know how much you have learned through me, indeed anything at all through me.

That is my basic conditfon. Surely she will blame me for everything. May she let off some steam.

But perhaps after a while you can contribute to a conclusion where she does not remain my enemy and her – certainly justified – personal resentment no longer stands as her last word.

For somehow she remains just as attached to me as I remain to her.

And one should probably hold dear troubling memories, but never ugly ones.

Another very important thing: a dream accompanies Victoria throughout her life: she sees someone she loves, who makes her completely happy, she rushes to him joyfully, and all of a sudden he changes, becomes indifferent or even a complete stranger.

This is what she has experienced in everyone so far, probably most strongly in me.

It would be nice if she did not experience the same in you – surely this can be achieved by psychosocial techniques.

V.O. will probably come to Europe in December and I suppose she will write to you then. But perhaps she is already corresponding with you.

If you wish to write to me about possible outcomes concerning me, which have aroused your interest, I would be very glad to hear from you.

By the way, we will probably see each other in January, since I have finally accepted the urgent invitation of the Zurich Schauspielhaus, which has already been repeated five times.

With best regards.

Yours faithfully,

Hermann Keyserling ~ The Correspondence of Victoria Ocampo, Count Keyserling and C G Jung Page 82-88


20 December 1929

Dear Count,

I still haven’t heard anything from V. O.

It goes without saying that I will treat your letter as non-existent.

Your excellent description of the fateful intermezzo with her clearly shows that it is an encounter with an “earth woman”, fraught with meaning.

Concealed and revealed in it is one of the most beautiful animus-anima stories I have ever heard.

Unfortunately recognizes it but confuses it with the poor human creature who has functioned unconsciously as a symbol carrier. poetic stories usually end in disappointment because, when one meets one’s soul, one never

V. O.’s longing for identification actually refers to the animus which she would like to possess in you, but she mixes it up with you personally and then of course is deeply disappointed.

This disappointment will be repeated, always and everywhere, until man has learnt to distinguish his soul from the other person.

Then his soul can return to him.

This lesson is a hellish torture for both, but extremely useful, the experience one would have wished for you, and assuredly the most fitting torture of all for V.O., who is still possessed by her earth demons.

Perhaps she prefers to be torn to pieces by the titans, as happens to many such anima figures.

Hence you should always remember, with reverence and devotion, what has been revealed to you in the human shell of V.O., so that your soul may remain inalienably with you, and your access to the earth may never be blocked.

Let us hope the same for her, that besides tigers and serpents and eternal spirit there is still a human being in her who can remember with gratitude the revelation of her own spirit in you.

But it is only too easy to make a personal tragedy out of what was ultimately a “Divine Commedia,” and then a spark of the eternal fire hisses out in a puddle.

With best regards,

Ever sincerely yours,

C. G. Jung

P.S. Please excuse the spot of paraffin on the paper. My lamp suddenly seems to have got symptoms of incontinence. ~ The Correspondence of Victoria Ocampo, Count Keyserling and C G Jung Page Page 88-89