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Jung & Astrology
The Freud/Jung Letters
excerpts of correspondence between Sigmund Freud and CG Jung are taken
from The Freud/Jung Letters (Abridged Edition) 1979
In May of 1911 the Swiss psychiatrist (and founder of Analytical Psychology),
Dr. Carl G Jung (1875-1961) wrote his (at that time) mentor Dr Sigmund
Freud saying: "Occultism is another field we shall have to conquer -
with the aid of the libido theory, it seems to me. At the moment I am
looking into astrology, which seems indispensable for a proper understanding
of mythology. There are strange and wondrous things in these lands of
then, cautiously added: "Please don't worry about my wanderings in these
infinitudes. I shall return laden with rich booty for our knowledge
of the human psyche.... For a while longer I must intoxicate myself
on magic perfumes in order to fathom the secrets that lie hidden in
the abysses of the unconscious..."
Freud responded: "I am aware that you
are driven by innermost inclination to the study of the occult and I
am sure you will return home richly laden. I cannot argue with that,
it is always right to go where your impulses lead." Freud,
then, added this prophetic caution: "You will be accused of mysticism,
but the reputation you won with the Dementia will hold up for
quite some time against that. Just don't stay in the tropical colonies
too long, you must reign at home."
Clue to the Core
In a subsequent follow-up letter, Jung wrote Freud that his [Jung's]
evenings were currently being taken up largely with astrology and the
calculating of horoscopes: "in order to
find a clue to the core of human psychology." According
to his [Jung's] letter, one thing catching his fascination had
been in the calculation of a woman's chart who was suffering from an
"extraordinary mother complex." It seemed there was a certain configuration
in the chart that accurately described the woman's mother "to a T."
Jung went on to state: "I dare say that we shall one day discover in
astrology a good deal of knowledge that has been intuitively projected
into the heavens. For instance, it appears that the signs of the zodiac
are character pictures, in other words libido symbols which depict the
typical qualities of the libido at a given moment."
this Freud replied (June of 1911) that he had recently grown humbled
and was: "willing to believe anything that can be made to sound reasonable."
But Freud then added that he was concerned for Jung in the "dangerous
step of publication."
A short time later, in a separate letter written to one of Jung's colleagues, Freud
expressed his grave concerns about Jung and stated the field of occultism
was a dangerous expedition that he could not accompany them on.
Freud's and Jung's later famous breakup in 1913, Freud made it unambiguously
clear (in no uncertain terms) that he was highly critical of Jung’s
excursions into these paranormal matters of disrepute. Freud was irremediably
disappointed in Jung and dismayed that his young protégé had chosen
to move off in this troubling direction.
was proven right in his fears that Jung would be accused of being a
mystic... due much in part to Jung's investigation of astrology, his
critics have long charged him with the "crime" of mixing mysticism with
Jung Forged Ahead
Throughout the years of his long-standing professional career, Jung
repeatedly showed great personal courage in his investigation of matters
that no one else in the "respectable" medical/psychiatric academia circles
of his day would touch.
was one of those darkened avenues considered to be "tabooed" and off
limits. But Jung considered himself, first and foremost, a doctor and
healer of the psyche. So when Jung believed it necessary to travel down
and explore a certain tabooed avenue in order to gain a better understanding
of the psyche, then Jung "went for it."
Jung's calculating of horoscopes continued on during
the rest of his long and productive life.
(Born: 1875, Died: 1961) It's
further known that, when challenged by an especially perplexing case,
Jung would arrange to have the patient's birth chart cast in order to
gain more insight into the individual.
a letter written to written to Hindu astrologer, B.V. Raman, September
6th 1947 - Dr. Jung wrote:
you want to know my opinion about astrology I can tell you that I've
been interested in this particular activity of the human mind since
more than 30 years. As I am a psychologist, I am chiefly interested
in the particular light the horoscope sheds on certain complications
in the character. In cases of difficult psychological diagnosis I
usually get a horoscope in order to have a further point of view from
an entirely different angle. I must say that I very often found that
the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise
would have been unable to understand. From such experiences I formed
the opinion that astrology is of particular interest to the psychologist,
since it contains a sort of psychological experience which we call
'projected' - this means that we find the psychological facts as it
were in the constellations."
It might appear to the casual observer that somewhere along the line,
Jung's focus and line of investigation gradually changed over from astrology
to it's lesser known, and more obscure younger sister, "alchemy."
the end, three large volumes of Jung's Collected Works were devoted
to alchemy and alchemical symbols in relation to the development of
the human psyche and individuation.
call alchemy "astrology's younger sister," because:
alchemists of the Renaissance period were invariably as well trained
in the discipline of astrology as they were in alchemy.
the writing of these alchemists were literally jam packed with constant
referrals to astrological images and symbolism.
often gave his public stance and wrote prolifically regarding his rationales
for choosing to engage in his investigation of alchemy and alchemical
symbolism. (See the Unus Mundus Menu section on Alchemy)
Kid on the Block
In the popular imagination of Jung's day, astrology had already been
relegated to (and fallen into) the shadow status of being little more
than a superstitious occult parlor game played by unscrupulous charlatans
in back alleyways. So astrology, alchemy's
older sister, inevitably carried with her a ton load of excess and sullied
baggage. Whereas, the ancient art of alchemy
had been almost totally forgotten by the modern world and was (comparatively
speaking) carrying very little matching luggage.
(the younger sister) was still pretty much 20th Century pristine and
pure. Therefore, one can only speculate as to whether all this weighed
heavily on Jung's mind and factored into his decision to actively pursue
and write about the alchemy rather than astrology...
in His Later Years
Did Jung abandon astrology in his later years? Careful study and reading
of Jung's "Collected Works" (as well as a clearer understanding of alchemy
and alchemical symbolism) shouts out a resounding, deafening NO...
published in 1951, Jung devoted an entire volume of his Collected Works,
Aion, to the deeper meaning behind Christ and then that of
Christ representing the astrological age of Pisces and then discussing
the coming age of Aquarius...
ideas on synchronicity were strongly influenced by his 25 year friendship
with the Austrian born Nobel quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli (1900-58).
According to Deirdre Bair's biography on Jung, it was W. Pauli's 1948
lectures at the Zurich Psychology Club: "The Influence of Archetypal
Ideas on the Scientific Theories of Kepler" that lead Jung to then
writing his paper: Synchronicity An Acausal Connecting Principle"
that included Jung's astrological experiments. The lectures by Pauli
and the essay by Jung were originally published together as a book in
1952 "The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche."
excerpts of correspondence between Freud and Jung were taken from
"The Freud/Jung Letters (Abridged Edition)" 1979
it now at Amazon.com)
much more on Jung & Astrology see the section: Archetypal
Astrology and the Map of the Soul
Books: (These books written by Jung are not recommended for the faint
of heart! Jung's writing can indeed be richly rewarding, but they are
difficult to wade through.)
Chapter Two - An Astrological Experiment written by C.G. Jung
(originally published in 1952 as part of the larger Collected Works
book "The Interpretation of Nature and Psyche.")
it now at Amazon.com)
by C.G. Jung (originally published in 1952)
it now at Amazon.com)
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