Unpopular Things


“Unpopular Things:” Jung’s “Uncanny Attraction” to Unorthodox Topics

“… nothing new from within has happened, as it has done so often before, but… in came the question: what do you think about the Flying Saucers?–This is the thing that carried me away as soon as I had finished the other work,… Ever since I have been busy on this new errand. It is most adventurous and has carried me further than I ever expected. But please keep this news under the hat. Otherwise people get funny ideas about my senility.

            “I don’t know why these unpopular things have this uncanny attraction for me….”

                                                                                    Jung (1957)[1]

            It was not a sign of senility that led Jung to investigate Ufos: He had been looking into arcane, esoteric, and “unpopular” things as far back as his teen years, as he sought confirmation for his numinous personal experiences. Over the course of his nine decades, Jung wrote about parapsychology and extra-sensory perception, numerology, astrology, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, the I Ching, alchemy, cabala, and, lastly, flying saucers. In this essay, we will briefly examine Jung’s foray into each of these “unpopular” fields, noting the approximate time Jung got into the field and the major sources for each in his writing.

Parapsychology and ESP

            Jung was born into a family of psychics: His mother and his cousin both exhibited extra-sensory perception, and Jung did too. While, as a young boy, Jung found his mother’s “number two personality” disconcerting, he did not try to hide his fascination with parapsychology: He wrote about clairvoyance and “second sight” in his Zofinga Lectures in May of 1897,[2] and, in response to a request from his chief, Eugen Bleuler, Jung wrote his doctoral dissertation on “occult phenomena.”[3]

            In the 1890’s (a time when there was widespread interest and activities related to Spiritualism, mediums, clairvoyance and other psychic phenomena),[4] Jung attended séances in which his cousin was the principle medium.[5] He gave a lecture at his alma mater, Basel University, in 1905, “On Spiritualistic Phenomena,”[6] and in a 1907 letter to Sigmund Freud, Jung reported that, “because of his services as an occultist,” he had been elected an Honorary Fellow of the American Society for Psychical Research.[7] Freud was skeptical about Jung’s investigations into “spookery,” and urged him to keep a “cool head.”[8] Undeterred, Jung wrote in a later letter to Freud that “Occultism is another field we shall have to conquer…” and that he was at that time (1911) “looking into astrology,” which he felt was “indispensable for a proper understanding of mythology.” Freud thereupon warned Jung that he would be “accused of mysticism.”[9]

            Freud’s warning was prophetic: Jung lived for decades with the epithet of “mystic” being laid upon him, a label he always despised.[10] But, as he noted in his late-in-life letter to Esther Harding, quoted above, Jung was never put off by others’ “funny ideas” about him, and when he got word of J.B. Rhine’s ESP investigations at Duke University, Jung got into a 14-year-long correspondence with Rhine. Rhine had read Jung’s Modern Man in Search of a Soul in 1933 and he sent Jung his book Extra-Sensory Perception in 1934.[11] He wrote Jung a letter in November of that year describing the ESP experiments he was running at Duke, and he asked Jung to “contribute his personal observations on the subject.”[12] Rhine had heard about Jung’s paranormal experiences from Professor William McDougall, an early associate of Jung. From 1934 to 1948 Jung and Rhine exchanged six letters,[13] and Jung felt that Rhine’s research into “parapsychological matters…


one of the greatest contributions to the knowledge of unconscious processes.”[14] In Jung’s last letter to Rhine, he noted that

“Your experiments have established the fact of the relativity of time, space, and matter with reference to the psyche beyond any doubt. The experimental proof is particularly valuable to me, because I am constantly observing facts that are along the same line.”[15]

Those of us who maintain a regular practice of working with our dreams can say that we too observe such facts: the dreamscape operates outside the limitations of space and time.

            Jung never gave up his interest in parapsychology. He was still writing about it, in connection with his notion of synchronicity, in 1950,[16] and he replied to a questionnaire from the International Journal of Parapsychology in 1960 on the future of parapsychology, urging further research on the psychological significance of psychic phenomena and the “quantification of qualitative research [as] surely the best means of conviction.”[17]


            The significance of numbers came to Jung’s attention during his work at the Burghölzi clinic, where he encountered patients’ dreams containing numbers. He wrote about these number dreams in 1910/11.[18] Decades later, when Valerie Reh sent Jung a diagnosis of his character based on numerology, Jung replied that “it fits very well, even the details.”[19] Six years later, in 1958, Jung wrote that numbers

“… are not only concepts but something more–autonomous entities which somehow contain more than just quantities. Unlike concepts they are based not on any psychic assumption but on the quality of being themselves, on a ‘so-ness’ that cannot be expressed by an intellectual concept. Under these circumstances they might easily be endowed with qualities that have still to be discovered.”[20]

Jung knew this was an arcane field that needed more investigation. He also knew it was a huge field, one that would require years of exploration, but he was then 83. He told his young colleague, Marie-Louise von Franz, that “he felt too old.”[21] to take on such a large subject. So he turned numerology over to her, and she wrote Number and Time in 1974.[22]


            As I noted above, Jung got into astrology early in his career, c. 1911, when he was still interacting with Freud. In a June 1911 letter to Freud, Jung explained the value astrology had in psychology:

“I make horoscope calculations in order to find a clue to the core of psychological truth. Some remarkable things have turned up which will certainly appear incredible to you… I dare say that we shall one day discover in astrology a good deal of knowledge that has been intuitively projected into the heavens….”[23]

Freud was not enthused, writing back that he would “… believe anything that can be made to look reasonable.” But he would “not do so gladly.”[24]

            Undeterred by Freud’s negativity, Jung continued to carry out experiments in astrology. For example, he examined synastries–comparisons of the charts of 180 married couples and 32,220 unmarried pairs[25]–to investigate the “possible causal basis for astrology,”[26] and came to conclude that “astrology does not follow the principle of causality, but depends, like all intuitive methods, on acausality.”[27] As a result, the usual statistical approach was fallacious, because

“… it is one-sided, inasmuch as it represents only the average aspect of reality and excludes the total picture. The statistical view of the world is a mere abstraction and therefore incomplete and even fallacious, particularly so when it deals with man’s psychology.”[28]

Never one to focus on theory or abstractions, Jung took an empirical approach: Did an analysis of the astrological chart give an individual, or a couple, insights into their personality? life purpose? relationship? The answer was (and is) yes: In the understanding that the chart and its elements (zodiac signs, planets, houses etc.) are symbols with archetypal significance, the Jungian astrologer can extract a multitude of valid insights about an individual or a relationship. Jung said “Astrology is in the process of becoming a science.”[29]

            Jung’s interest in astrology became a family affair: His daughter Gret became a “respected authority and teacher of astrology”[30] who worked with Jung in his astrological researches. She later taught younger generations of Jungian analysts who went on to combine an analytical practice with astrology.[31]


            Jung’s first reference to Hermetic wisdom occurred in his 1912 book Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido,[32] the work that led to the rupture of his relationship with Freud. Jung knew that this break would happen, because, in his interpretation of a series of fantasies by an American woman, he widened the concept of “libido” beyond Freud’s dogma of libido as purely sexual.[33]

            Jung also found copious references to Hermetic philosophy in Goethe’s Faust,[34] and he wrote of “the quintessence of Hermetic philosophy” in a letter to his colleague B. Milt in 1942.[35] This ancient philosophy appealed to Jung for its stress on the lumen naturae,  the enlightenment that Nature can provide us, if we are open to it as a source of knowledge.[36] Jung was open in this way, as was his hero, the 16th century Swiss physician Paracelsus. Jung wrote of Paracelsus’ relation to Hermetic philosophy, and his stress on the lumen naturae, in the lecture he gave in 1941, on the 400th anniversary of Paracelsus’ death.[37]

            Both Paracelsus and Jung were empiricists, basing their hypotheses on their personal experience. So it was natural that they, as students of Hermetic wisdom, would be open to learning from the world around them.

            More than just natural, it was also part of Jung’s destiny to become a “hermetic,” as he explained in a letter to Rudolf Bernoulli in 1944. Bernoulli had written to Jung noting that “the number of conscious hermetics has become very small,” and Jung replied that

“Nowadays, certainly, the number of hermetics has grown increasingly small. But it was never particularly large, because the aurea catena[38] they write about does not run through schools and conscious tradition but through the unconscious. Hermeticism is not something you choose, it is a destiny,…”[39]

Sixteen years later Jung again noted how small was the audience for this type of work: In a letter to Vaun Gillmor, the assistant editor of the Bollingen Series (publishers of Jung’s works), Jung noted that

“The public which is capable of understanding this research is exceedingly small. … The reason for this attitude is that there are very few capable of following up the problems of the collective unconscious on the one hand and the problems of Hermetic philosophy on the other…. The physical side of the problem is a well-known matter, whereas the psychological and Hermetic side of this problem is accessible only to a very few, on account of the fact that the subject of unconscious phenomena is studied only by a very few…”[40]

Jung not only studied this abstruse subject, but did so in depth: A 1952 letter to Upton Sinclair makes clear that Jung was familiar with all the libelli that made up the Corpus Hermeticum.[41]


            Jung got into Gnosticism through his search “for the historical prefiguration of [his] inner experiences,” knowing that he had to “substantiate” his ideas,[42] and avoid “the personal bias of the observer.”[43] As part of this search, he encountered Gnosticism in 1916, and gave this topic “serious study” between 1916 and 1926. Why Gnosticism? Because, Jung realized, the Gnostic writers “had been confronted with the primal world of the unconscious,” just as he had, and they had “dealt with its contents”[44] in ways that Jung found supported his experiences.  

            Jung wrote 35 letters that mention Gnosticism,[45] devoted chapter 13 in Aion to an investigation of “Gnostic symbols of the Self,”[46] and wrote a series of poems with a Gnostic orientation, “Septem Sermones ad Mortuos,” a work he later described as a “sin of his youth.”[47] The appeal of this esoteric subject was similar to that of Hermeticism: The Gnostics stressed gnosis, knowledge based not on dogma or theories but on personal experience, and their ideas were

“not mere symptoms of  certain historical development, but creative new configurations which were of the utmost significance for the further development of Western consciousness. One only has to think of the Jewish-Gnostic presuppositions in Paul’s writings and of the immense influence of the ‘gnostic’ gospel of John.”[48]

Jung recognized how Gnosticism was “persecuted, branded as heresy, and pronounced dead within the realm of the Church,”[49] but it did not die out: “Its philosophical and psychological aspects went on developing in alchemy… and in the Jewish syncretism of the age of Philo” and it continued “within orthodox Judaism in the Kabbala.”[50]

            Jung thought so highly of Gnosticism that, when the Nag Hammadi codices were discovered in 1945, he arranged to have the Jung Institute purchase one, translate it and publish it, before returning it to the Egyptian government. At the time of the presentation of this codex (which became known as the “Jung Codex”), Jung spoke about the “psychological significance of Gnostic texts.”[51] Jung explained that the Jung Institute was interested in acquiring and translating the texts for the insights they provided on the phenomena of assimilation, e.g. how “the figure and message of Christ” came to be assimilated into the 1st-century Hellenistic-Egyptian world of thought.[52] Jung recognized similar processes of assimilation in the Kabbala and Hermetic philosophy.[53] 


            The earliest reference Jung makes to the cabala is in the June 26th, 1929 session of his seminar on dream analysis.[55] The term appeared again in a February 1930 session of the same seminar. A year later, cabala references appeared in paragraphs added in 1931 to a lecture Jung gave “Analytical Psychology and ‘Weltanschauung‘”[56] in 1927.

            Jung continued to refer to the cabala and its components (e.g. the sefira, the Tree, and Adam Kadmon) over the next decades.[57] In a December 1944 letter to Pastor Ernst Fischer, Jung wrote of the pardes rimmonim,[58] as a cabalistic symbol for the “cure for psychic dissociation.”[59] It is interesting that just two months later, following his heart attack on February 21st,[60] he had a series of visions in a near-death experience, in one of which he was living in the “garden of pomegranates:”

“I myself was, so it seemed, in the Pardes Rimmonim, the garden of pomegranates, and the wedding of Tifereth with Malchuth was taking place. Or else I was Rabbi Simon ben Jochai, whose wedding in the afterlife was being celebrated. It was the mystic marriage as it appears in the Cabbalistic tradition. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was…. I do not know exactly what part I played in it. At bottom it was I myself: I was the marriage. And my beatitude was that of a blissful wedding.”[61]

Clearly, Jung experienced in his NDE that “cure for psychic dissociation” that he had written about. 

            By far the majority of Jung’s references to the cabala are found in his alchemical studies, e.g. CW 9ii (Aion),[62] CW 12 (Psychology and Alchemy),[63] CW 13 (Alchemical Studies)[64] and Jung’s masterwork, CW 14 (Mysterium Coniunctionis), which he worked on for fourteen years, 1941 to 1954.[65] This brings us to consider the “unpopular thing” that Jung delved into most intensely.


            Jung came to feel that the “nearest analogy” to the Kabbala in the Christian West was alchemy, in terms of contributing “a great deal to the development of consciousness.”[66] His involvement with this arcane subject began with a dream he had around 1926,[67] a very curious dream that had Jung and a little peasant man on the Italian front in World War I, with shells exploding all around them. At one point the little man exclaimed that they were now “caught in the seventeenth century,” which left Jung thinking that “we shall be caught for years,” but that he would eventually get out.

            This was a predictive dream, although Jung didn’t know it at the time. At that point, he had no idea what to make of the dream and to try to make sense of it, he began to read “ponderous tomes” on the history of the world, religion, philosophy–to no avail. It took him a while to realize that the dream referred to alchemy, “that science [which] reached its height in the seventeenth century.”[68]

            Initially Jung “regarded alchemy as something off the beaten track and rather silly.”[69] So did some of Jung’s associates, like Toni Wolff. She worried that Jung would abandon “orthodox medical and clinical psychology”[70] for the “esoteric scholarship she believed alchemy represented.”[71] Jung did exactly that, but not at first.

            Initially Jung could make no sense of the alchemical texts he encountered in Herbert Silberer’s Problems of Mysticism and Its Symbolism, which appeared in 1914. His puzzlement continued for 14 years, until, in 1928, Richard Wilhelm sent him his translation of the Golden Flower, on Chinese alchemy. This gave Jung some “light on the nature of alchemy,”[72] and he began to feel he should become more acquainted with Western texts. Shortly after this, he bought the Artis Auriferae Volumina Duo,[73] a collection of Latin treatises on alchemy.

            For two years this book lay almost untouched. Jung would occasionally look at the pictures in it, each time coming away thinking “Good Lord, what nonsense! This stuff is impossible to understand.”[74] But, to the Thinking type that he was, the text presented an intellectual challenge, and Jung was never one to shrink from an intellectual challenge. His consternation and confusion dissipated when he finally realized that the alchemists were “talking in symbols,”[75] and Jung felt very comfortable dealing with symbols. Then things took off.

            Jung recalled his dream of years before, where he was caught in the 17th century, and he realized that he was “condemned to study alchemy from the very beginning,”[76] a task that was to absorb him for the next quarter century. Why such absorption? It was more than mere intellectual challenge: Jung came to realize that “analytical psychology coincided in a most curious way with alchemy,” that “The experiences of the alchemists were, in a sense, my experiences, and their world was my world.”[77] Ever on the lookout for confirmations of his own experiences, Jung was delighted to find the alchemists shared his reality. More than this, alchemy offered an “uninterrupted intellectual chain back to Gnosticism,” and “gave substance to [Jung’s] psychology.”[78] The alchemists’ “spiritual quest” was analogous to our Western investigation of the unconscious.[79] All of the other “unpopular things” that Jung had explored came together in his alchemical investigations. Jung first presented his ideas on alchemy in public in 1935, at the Eranos Conference, and he gave another paper the following year in the same venue. Over the next 7 years he elaborated on the ideas in these two papers and published the results as Psychology and Alchemy (CW12).[80] He spent the next two decades presenting “thoroughly documented facts” to his colleagues in his letters,[81] and to the world in volumes 9ii, 13 and 14 of his Collected Works.  

I Ching

            The ancient Chinese oracle known as the I Ching is, Jung tells us, “a collection of 64 interpretations in which the meaning of each of the possible Yin-Yang combinations is worked out,”[82] providing the user with “… the intuitive technique for grasping the total situation which is so characteristic of China,…”.[83] Jung found this oracle intriguing. In a 1934 letter to Dr. B. Cohen, Jung noted that he had “been cudgeling my brains over the I Ching ever since 1919.”[84] Given his long-standing regard for and use of this oracle, and his high esteem for the sinologist Richard Wilhelm, it was only logical that Jung would write a Foreword to Wilhelm’s translation of the I Ching,[85] and in this short work he explained how it works and why it became so valuable to him. How does the oracle work? Jung hypothesized that the sixty-four

“… interpretations formulate the inner unconscious knowledge that corresponds to the state of consciousness at the moment, and the psychological situation coincides with the chance results of the method, that is, with the odd and even numbers resulting from the fall of the coins or the division of the yarrow stalks.”[86]

In the “correspondence to the state of consciousness at the moment” Jung saw an example of his notion of synchronicity, another confirmation of his belief in the connection between the psychic and the physical planes.

            This was one reason for his esteem for this ancient Chinese mantic art. In the Foreword he gives other reasons:

“For more than 30 years I have interested myself in this Oracle technique, for it seemed to me of uncommon significance as a method of exploring the unconscious.”[87]

“The method of the I Ching does indeed take into account the hidden individual quality in things in men, and in one’s own unconscious self as well.”[88]

“… you see how useful the I Ching is in making you project your hitherto unrealized thoughts into its abstruse symbolism.”[89]

“… meaningful answers are the rule. Western sinologues and distinguished Chinese scholars have been at pains to inform me that the I Ching is a collection of obsolete “magic spells.” In the course of these conversations my informant has sometimes admitted having consulted the oracle through a fortuneteller, usually a Taoist priest. This could be “only nonsense” of course. But oddly enough, the answer received apparently coincided with the questioner’s psychological blind spot remarkably well.”[90]

From his personal experience–using the I Ching to gain clarity about obscure dreams or situations–Jung came to know how useful it is in giving us insights and pointing up our “blind spots” (which, of course, few people relish knowing about, hence the tendency to deny or denigrate its answers). Marie-Louise von Franz, Jung’s long-time collaborator and student, reported that Jung used the I Ching “to obtain responses to questions about doubtful situations,”[91] including his own and others’ dreams.

            While Jung valued the I Ching, he cautioned that it was not suitable for use by just anybody, because

“The I Ching insists upon self-knowledge throughout. The method by which this is to be achieved is open to every kind of misuse, and is therefore not for the frivolous minded and immature; nor is it for intellectualists and rationalists. It is appropriate only for thoughtful and reflective people who like to think about what they do and what happens to them…”[92]

The “Western sinologists and distinguished Chinese scholars” were “intellectualists and rationalists;” the I Ching is not for them. Nor it is to be taken lightly. Jung reminds us that we are not to treat this oracle as some form of parlor game or trivial pursuit. It is the “right book” for “lovers of self-knowledge, of wisdom…”.[93]

Flying Saucers[94]

            In his 1957 letter to Esther Harding, quoted at the beginning of this essay, Jung makes it seem as if his interest in Ufos began around that time. But in reality he had gotten interested in the reports of “flying saucers” over a decade earlier,[95] and had had friends and family collecting any materials they could find on the phenomenon.[96]

            Initially Jung had heard about lights in the sky over Sweden in 1943,[97] during World War II, but the war made an investigation impossible. Likewise with the reports of “Foo fighters” over Germany in 1945.[98] It would only be after the war that Jung was able to take up focused study on Ufos and his letters over the years, e.g. to Beatrice Hinkel, a New York analyst and former analysand,[99] and to Fowler McCormick, a friend, traveling companion and source for Ufo-related books and reports,[100] describe the development of his ideas.

            Why did Jung spend the last decade of his life pursuing the phenomenon of Ufos? It was not just because of his “uncanny attraction” to “unpopular” subjects. Once again, as was the case with so many of his intellectual interests, Jung was seeking confirmation for his intuitions. In this research, Jung found support for his notion of the shift from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius.

            Jung sensed that humanity is now living in this transitional time, and that such transitions are marked by “spiritual distress,”[101] “eschatological conceptions,”[102] like the coming of the Apocalypse,[103] fears of the destruction of the world, claims of the appearance of the world redeemer,[104] prophets of doom and prophets of new religions[105]—not at all a time of fun and games! But exactly the sort of time when one might expect to hear about wonders in the sky, miraculous apparitions, and visions of archetypal images of “gods”[106]—simple, round, oval or cylindrical forms that are mandalas,[107] archetypes or symbols of totality,[108] deliverance, and wholeness,[109] symbols of the Self[110]—all of this compensatory[111] to the unconscious anxiety and dis-ease that goes along with the transition between aeons.

            It made perfect sense to Jung that our time would hear of reports of signs in the skies, of people being carried off in wondrous crafts,[112] dealings with angels,[113] and numinous experiences that leave people feeling hopeful.[114] Having experienced disappointment or despair from human institutions rooted in the old aeon and its faltering ways, it is only natural that people would hope to find solace from heaven. Jung told the Basel Psychology Club

“… In our world miracles do not happen anymore, and we feel that something simply must happen which will provide an answer or show a way out. So now these Ufos are appearing in the skies…. Now, suddenly, they seem to portend something because that something has been projected on them—a hope, an expectation… the expectation of a savior.”[115]

So Jung understood why there might be so many reports of unidentified flying objects. But are they real? That was the question many people posed to Jung. His answer satisfied few people, because very few people understand what Jung meant when he said “the psyche is real.”[116]

            Given the materialism of modern culture, something “real” is what we can touch, taste, count, weigh, quantify. Our materialistic bias makes us tend to discount or dismiss the intangible. Jung inveighed against this tendency repeatedly, because his work as a psychiatrist was all about dealing with the effects of intangibles–dreams, complexes, neuroses. He knew the psyche was real from his own experience and from the experiences of the hundreds of patients he dealt with: He witnessed just how powerfully their psychic life impacted their daily physical existence.

            In response to the numerous questions he got from journalists and others, Jung responded as the empiricist he was: He had never seen a Ufo himself; therefore, he had no personal experience on which to base an answer. That is, he felt he was “… not qualified to contribute anything useful to the question of the physical reality of Ufos.”[117] He was “only competent to advise on the psychic side.”[118] Lacking personal experience, Jung admitted to being very skeptical of the idea that Ufos had any physical reality. He repeatedly said as much: in 1954, in his written interview with Georg Gerster;[119] in 1958, in his statement to UPI,[120] in his essay on Ufos,[121] and in his presentation to the Basel Psychology Club.[122]

            So Jung was not willing to state Ufos were physically real, but what to make of all the reports, from hundreds of people all over the world? Some of these eye-witnesses were people known to Jung,[123] people he had analyzed and trained in analytical psychology, people who were at that time practicing analysts– people he could not dismiss as psychologically naïve or unaware of when they might be projecting. So what were these trusted friends and colleagues actually seeing?

            This question Jung could not answer and he was left to conclude that “I am utterly unable to explain the Ufos’ physical nature. … [but] I would not dare to contradict statements as to their physical reality.”[124] After more than 10 years of research, all Jung could conclude was that “something is seen, but one doesn’t know what.”[125] Jung recognized the “what” could be something material, or something psychic. In his statement to UPI, he added that “Both are realities, but of different kinds.”[126]

            That Ufos might be physically real and that they might be psychically real are two hypotheses Jung entertained when he began his Ufo investigation. He also had a third hypothesis that he considered briefly in the last few paragraphs of the essay he wrote on Ufos.[127] This hypothesis stated that Ufos were both psychically and physically real, and therefore were an example of a synchronous event, i.e. an event in which an outer reality coincides in a meaningful way with an inner reality. The outer reality would be the Ufo and the inner, the unconscious content that got projected out in the form of symbols of wholeness, taking the form of mandala shapes, which the flying saucers seemed to have.[128]


            What might we learn from Jung’s wide-ranging interest in “unpopular things”? First, Jung models intellectual courage and independence of mind: Just because something is outré, unfashionable, or disparaged by the rationalist does not mean it is to be dismissed. Jung knew there might be merit in activities or subjects that the “mass man” ignores. We need to be willing to defy trends and ignore mass movements, not only in physical terms, but in our thinking and in pursuing things that interest us.

            Second, Jung had great respect for ancient wisdom, and the fact that many “unpopular things” have a long pedigree in human history is something to recommend them. That the cabalists still find spiritual sustenance in the cabala, astrologers see insights in astrological charts and numerologists in number symbolism are indicators that such subjects hold potential value for us that we dismiss at our peril. The I Ching can still reveal our psychological blind spots and help us interpret our dreams, and Hermetic wisdom still has helpful perspectives to offer us as we grope our way through the transition from the age of Pisces to the age of Aquarius.

Sue Mehrtens is the author of this and all the other blog essays on this site. The opinions expressed in these essays are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other Jungian Center faculty or Board members.  Honesty, as well as professional courtesy, require that you give proper attribution to the author if you post this essay elsewhere.


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[1] “Letter to Esther Harding,” 30 May 1957, Letters, II, 362-3.

[2] Jung (1983), 25, 41-43.

[3] Bair (2003), 61.

[4] This is reflected in the establishment of the Society for Psychic Research in London in 1892, and the American Society for Psychical Research in New York in 1893).

[5] Jung (1977), vii.

[6] Ibid., viii.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid., ix.

[10] For more on the labels that Jung was given, see the blog essay “All the Labels: Jung’s Frustration at Being Misunderstood,” archived on this Web site.

[11] “Letter to J.B. Rhine,” 27 November 1934, Letters, I, 180, note 1.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Jung’s were written on 27 November 1934, 20 May 1935, 5 November 1942, 18 September 1945, November 1945, 1 April 1948; Letters, I, 180, 190, 321, 378, 393, 495 respectively.

[14] “Letter to J.B. Rhine,” 1 April 1948, Letters, I, 495.

[15] Ibid.

[16] CW 18 ¶s1197-1199.

[17] Ibid. ¶s 1213-1222.

[18] CW 4 ¶s129-153.

[19] “Letter to Valerie Reh,” 28 July 1952, Letters II, 78.

[20] CW 18 ¶1182.

[21] Quoted in Sparks (2010), 14.

[22] Ibid., 180.

[23] Jung (1977), ix.

[24] Ibid.

[25] CW 8 ¶882.

[26] Ibid. ¶876.

[27] “Letter to Robert L. Kroon,” 15 November 1958; Letters, II, 464.

[28] CW 8 ¶884.

[29] Ibid. ¶988.

[30] Bair (2003), 549.

[31] E.g. Liz Greene, founder of the Center for Psychological Astrology in London, who combines certification as a Jungian analyst with a thorough command of astrology. Cf. Greene (1976) (1978) (1983) (1984a) (1984b) (1987) (1988) (1992) (1993) (1996) (2003).

[32] Translated into English in 1916 as Symbols of Transformation, CW 5 ¶65 & note.

[33] For more on the differences Jung had with Freud, see the essay “Jung on Freud” archived on this Web site.

[34] “Letter to Herr N.,” 22 March 1939; Letters, I, 265.

[35] Dated 8 June 1942; ibid., 317.

[36] Ibid., 318.

[37] “Letter to Elisabeth Herbrich,” 30 May 1960; Letters, II, 559.

[38] “Golden chain,” referring to the alchemical concept of “a continuous chain of great wise men, who from antiquity had undertaken the unpopular… dangerous voyage of discovery  of… the psychic hinterland,” seeking to “bridge the gulf between the conscious and the unconscious.” Jaffé (1984), 48.

[39] Dated 5 October 1944; Letters, II., 351.

[40] Dated 3 February 1960; ibid., 535.

[41] Dated 3 November 1952; ibid., 88.

[42] Jung (1965), 200.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Cf. Letters, I, 61, 65, 265, 317, 417, 501, 502, 541, 552, 553, 574; II, 8, 33, 43, 53, 54, 61, 64-5, 97, 132, 135, 147, 152, 245, 254, 255, 268, 283, 422, 451, 564, 570, 583, 602.

[46] CW 9ii, ¶287-346.

[47] Posthumously published as Appendix V in Jung (1965), 378-390; Jung had privately published the work decades earlier, and gave copies to a few selected friends.

[48] CW 18 ¶1480.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid. ¶1827.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid. ¶1831.

[54] This term is Hebrew, hence the transliteration can be spelled “cabala,” “Kabbala,” or “Kabbalah.” The editors of Jung’s letters use “Kabbalah,” while the creators of the Index to Jung’s Collected Works use “cabala/Kabbala.”

[55] Jung (1984), 294.

[56] CW 8 ¶735.

[57] Cf. CW 9i ¶s 576, 579, 588; CW 9ii ¶s 105, 111,191, 267, 340; CW 10 ¶779; CW 11 ¶s 595, 727; CW 12 ¶s 313, 427; CW 13 ¶s 152, 167-8, 173, 401, 411, 420, 460; CW 14 ¶s 2, 6, 14, 18-19, 25, 266, 548, 572, 589, 592; CW 18 ¶s 1480, 1516-7, 1666, 1830-1.

[58] “Garden of Pomegranates;” dated 21 December 1944; Letters, I, 356

[59] Dated 21 December 1944; Letters, I, 355-6.

[60] Bair (2003), 496.

[61] Jung (1965), 294.

[62] Appearing in 1950; cf. ¶s 105, 111, 191, 267, 340.

[63] Appearing in 1944; cf. ¶s 313, 427.

[64] Consisting of four essays, which he wrote in 1942, 1948, 1951 and 1954; cf. ¶s 152, 167-8, 173, 401, 411, 420, 460.

[65] Cf. ¶s 2, 6, 14, 18-19, 25, 266, 548, 572, 581, 592.

[66] CW 18 ¶1516.

[67] Jung (1965), 202-203. He had had a series of dreams before this dream in which he owned a house with a wing; in one of the later dreams in this series he got into the wing and discovered a room full of books with copper engravings and curious illustrations. At the time Jung did not know what to make of these dreams with their repeated images, but in the intervening c. 15 years, the dream came true as he pursued his interest in alchemy: Jung did own a room and books very like this. Jung (1965), 202. I too had a similar series of dreams between 2002 and 2005: in the initial dreams I had a new room in my house which I didn’t know I possessed; then the dreams had a new wing; in the last few of this series, I owned a whole other house, and, knowing of Jung’s experience, I began to wonder just how this dream series would materialize. I found out over the course of one week in July, 2005, when the entire plan, mission, values, and curriculum of the Jungian Center poured out in a series of the “voice-over” dreams I get periodically.

[68] Ibid., 204.

[69] Ibid.

[70] Bair (2003), 368

[71] Ibid. Ironically, as an attempt to dissuade Jung from pursuing alchemy, Toni arranged for him to meet some young college students in 1933, thinking that their interests might stimulate Jung to investigate some of the more trendy topics. But instead her scheme backfired: One of these students was Marie-Louise von France, who wound up replacing Toni as Jung’s major research assistant.

[72] Jung (1965), 204.

[73] “Two Volumes on the Art of Making Gold.”

[74] Jung (1965), 204.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Ibid., 205.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Ibid.

[79] “Letter to B. Milt,” 8 June 1942; Letters, I, 318.

[80] Jaffé (1984), 56.

[81] E.g. he wrote of alchemy in letters to Erich Neumann, Karl Kerenyi, H.G. Baynes, and Jolande Jacobi, among others; cf. Letters, I, 280-281, 295-296, 300, and 443, respectively.

[82] CW 8 ¶865.

[83] Ibid. ¶863.

[84] Dated 26 March 1934; Letters, I, 155.

[85] CW 11 ¶s 964-1018.

[86] CW 8 ¶865.

[87] CW 11 ¶966.

[88] Ibid. ¶983.

[89] Ibid. ¶1016.

[90] Ibid. ¶984.

[91] von Franz (1998), 117.

[92] CW 11 ¶1000.

[93] Ibid. ¶1018.

[94] For more on Jung and Ufos, see the essay “Signs in the Skies,” archived on this Web site.

[95] CW 10, ¶731; cf. Bair (2003), 568-9 and 830, note 50.

[96] Aniela Jaffé, Jung’s last secretary, described Jung’s collection on Ufos as consisting of books, technical writings, photographs, news clips, letters, reports of dreams, and Jung’s own notes; altogether the material “filled several bookshelves and 5 or 6 large files;” quoted in Bair (2003), 830, note 50.

[97] CW 10, ¶599.

[98] Ibid.

[99] Written on 6 February 1951; Letters, II, 3-4.

[100] Written on 22 February 1951; Letters, II, 5-6.

[101] CW 18, ¶1442.

[102] “Letter to H.A.F.,” 16 January 1959; Letters, II, 477.

[103] Ibid.

[104] Ibid.

[105] CW 10, ¶589. Jung cites the rise of Christianity as an example of a new religion developing at the beginning of the age of Pisces.

[106] CW 10, ¶622.

[107] Ibid., ¶618.

[108] Ibid; ¶618 & 622.

[109] Ibid., ¶624.

[110] Ibid., ¶s 621 & 693

[111] Ibid., ¶622 and CW 18, ¶1442

[112] CW 10, ¶603; cf. “Letter to H.A.F.,” 16 January 1959; Letters, II, 477.

[113] “Letter to H.A.F.,” 16 January 1959; Letters, II, 477.

[114] Basel Psychology Club (1977), 391.

[115] Ibid.

[116] CW 11 ¶757.

[117] CW 10, ¶594

[118] “Letter to Charles Harnett,” 12 December 1957; Letters, II,  p. 403.

[119] Ibid., ¶s 1431, 1434, & 1444.

[120] Ibid., ¶1445.

[121] CW 10, ¶625.

[122] Basel Psychology Club (1977), 390.

[123] E.g. James Kirsch, former analysand and student of Jung, who reported to Jung his sighting of a Ufo in Guatemala; “Letter to James Kirsch,” 29 April 1958; Letters, II, 433.

[124] “Letter to Charles Harnett,” 12 December 1957; Letters, II, 403.

[125] CW 10, ¶591.

[126] CW 18, ¶1445.

[127] CW 10, ¶789.

[128] Ibid.