Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Carl Jung's The Red Book - The Astrology of the Confrontation with the Unconscious

Today, October 7, 2009, Jung's  The Red Book will be published by W.W. Norton. The book has been eagerly awaited by the Jungian community and contains the musings, visions and active imaginations between 1913 and 1930.   Over the last several weeks there has been lots of conversation around this volume including an exceptional article in the New York Times Magazine  Following Jung's death in 1961,  the Jung family didn't know what to do with it but were relunctant to release it for publication.  The Red Book sat in a safety deposit box in a Zurich bank vault for 23 years. Many are decribing it as the most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology.   

I believe that the origins of the book can be found in 1909 when Jung and Freud's travelled to Clark University in the United States in September 1909.  Freud and Jung were very close up until this trip. Jung was tauted as Freud's heir apparent. As an young up and coming psychiatrist practising at the Burgholzli Psychiatric Hospital in Zürich, Jung was applying Freud's psychoanalytic method.

Freud and Jung were invited separately to Clark University and both were to receive honoray doctorates. They decided to travel together and arrived in New York on August 29, 2009. The  conference was to take place between September 6 and 11.  The expedition is noteworthy for our discussion because the seeds of the ideological differences between Freud and Jung were beginning to be felt. Both men returned to Europe with a deep understanding that, at some level,  their paths would be different.

Over the next three years, Jung's divergence from Freud grew more apparent.  However, the correspondence and the involvement of the two men remained close until about 1912. However, the growing split between the two men in ideology was becoming evident and this difference also had institutional aspect.  Jung was then President of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) and a secret committee was formed in the summer of 1912 to displace him. It was evident to Freud and his inner circle that Jung was unwilling to be the leader of "Freud's movement"and to be under Freud's control.  He had  a direction of his own.  He also brought other interests and orientations to the conversation of psychology including religion, mythology, alchemy and anthropology.  Jung was a spiritual seeker. 

The impact of the split with Freud left Jung profoundly disoriented resulting in a schism in his identity.  Jung held considerable standing at the time as a psychiatrist with published papers, lectures and an active practice.  Yet he resigned a number of these public positions. He describes in Memories, Dreams, Reflections  that he struggled with psychosis. The following years, Jung descended into disorientation and the confrontation with the unconscious. We are now able to experience this journey first hand.

The astrology of this is also very interesting.  Uranus went into Jung's 12th house of the collective unconscious in 1906.  Uranus would stir up both the deeper, darker levels of Jung's unconscious as well as a desire to approach the unconscious in a different way.   At the same time,  Neptune was transiting his 6th house of work. collective consciousness,  and daily routine causing misunderstanding, confusion. The manifestation of this particular transit suggests that his path of advancement mysteriously blocked by someone who will not confront him directly. Jung was not aware of the secret plot against him and experienced it as a great betrayal.

Uranus Neptune was opposed each other 10 times in between 1906 and 1910 highlighting the principle of renewal and revolution of worn out patterns against the principle of spiritual impulse in human beings.  Jung was compelled through the Zeitgeist of these two powerful influences as well as from his own background to revolutionize psychoanalysis to incorporate the spiritual component. It was this direction that Freud could not understand. This time also was the birth of Einstein's Theory of Relativity and the transition into the 20th century world-view. 

In 1912, Uranus crossed his ascendant and oppose his Sun in Leo causing a revolution and disruption to his public persona and sense of identity.  It would be the overriding influence for much of the coming two years and expose all that was false in the way that Jung's identity and presentation in the world. Jung would write later that the journey of individuation required that the individual remove himself or herself from the collective and divest oneself of  the identification with collective norms and values. Individuation is an uniquely individual path towards wholeness and consciousness.

The images in the RED BOOK started as Jung descended in the unconscious beginning in 1913 and continued until 1930. The most intense of the journey lasted until 1916 when he emerged from the disorientation with a new sense of himself. He has written that the content of the book would be the basis for everything that he did since then.

Christina Becker is a Jungian Analyst, Psychological Astrologer and Consultant with a private practice in Toronto, Ontario Canada. She is graduate of the C.G. Institute Zurich. Her practice purpose is to empower individuals, couples, teams and organizations on their path of transformation. Her website is 

1 comment:

  1. The transits to Jung's natal chart today are very interesting. Neptune is conjunct his 1st house Saturn, trine his 8th house Jupiter and square his 3rd house Pluto. The inspirational transiting Jupiter-Chiron-Neptune conjunction has been on his Saturn as the publication was being prepared. It seems to be a release of factual information (Saturn/1st) that shows us a deeper view of who he was (Jupiter/8th), while stirring up controversy (Pluto/3rd).