Carl Gustav Jung  (Portrait by F. Szasz)
Carl Gustav Jung


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Septem Sermones, original page

Page from the original printing of the VII Sermones, c. 1917.
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Jung's First Mandela, based on the experience of the Septem Sermones

Jung's first mandala drawing, inspired by the VII Sermones.
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The Gnostic Jung



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The Search for Roots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories Dreams Reflections

 

 

 

 


The Gnostic Society Library

C. G. Jung and Gnostic Tradition:
Gnosis, Gnosticism and Jungian Psychology

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Introduction

Throughout the twentieth century the discipline of depth psychology gained much prominence. Among the depth psychologists who have shown a pronounced and informed interest in Gnosticism, a place of signal distinction belongs to C. G. Jung. Jung was instrumental in calling attention to the Nag Hammadi library of Gnostic writings in the 1950's because he perceived the outstanding psychological relevance of Gnostic insights.

The noted scholar of Gnosticism, G. Filoramo, wrote: "Jung's reflections had long been immersed in the thought of the ancient Gnostics to such an extent that he considered them the virtual discoverers of 'depth psychology' . . . ancient Gnosis, albeit in its form of universal religion, in a certain sense prefigured, and at the same time helped to clarify, the nature of Jungian spiritual therapy." In the light of such recognitions one may ask: "Is Gnosticism a religion or a psychology?" The answer is that it may very-well be both. Most mythologems found in Gnostic scriptures possess psychological relevance and applicability. For instance the blind and arrogant creator-demiurge bears a close resemblance to the alienated human ego that has lost contact with the ontological Self. Also, the myth of Sophia resembles closely the story of the human psyche that loses its connection with the collective unconscious and needs to be rescued by the Self. Analogies of this sort exist in great profusion.

Many esoteric teachings have proclaimed, "As it is above, so it is below." Our psychological nature (the microcosm) mirrors metaphysical nature (the macrocosm), thus Gnosticism may possess both a psychological and a religious authenticity. Gnostic psychology and Gnostic religion need not be exclusive of one another but may complement each other within an implicit order of wholeness. Gnostics have always held that divinity is immanent within the human spirit, although it is not limited to it. The convergence of Gnostic religious teaching with psychological insight is thus quite understandable in terms of time-honored Gnostic principles.

-- Stephan A. Hoeller

 

New Release:

The Search for Roots

The Search for Roots:
C. G. Jung and the Tradition of Gnosis

by Alfred Ribi, Foreword by Lance Owens

Excellent book... Ribi has the feel of Gnosis and knows his sources, both ancient and modern... There is no doubt that it was Jung, and not Hans Jonas, who rediscovered Gnosticism and its importance for modernity.”

- Gilles Quispel, Professor of Early Christian History,
  Utrecht University

For a preview of the book, download the complete Foreword by Lance Owens (pdf format).

The publication in 2009 of C. G. Jung's The Red Book: Liber Novus has initiated a broad reassessment of Jung’s place in cultural history. Among many revelations, the visionary events recorded in the Red Book reveal the foundation of Jung’s complex association with the Western tradition of Gnosis.

In The Search for Roots, Alfred Ribi closely examines Jung’s life-long association with Gnostic tradition. Dr. Ribi knows C. G. Jung and his tradition from the ground up. He began his analytical training with Marie-Louise von Franz in 1963, and continued working closely with Dr. von Franz for the next 30 years. For over four decades he has been an analyst, lecturer and examiner of the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, where he also served as the Director of Studies.

But even more importantly, early in his studies Dr. Ribi noted Jung’s underlying roots in Gnostic tradition, and he carefully followed those roots to their source. Alfred Ribi is unique in the Jungian analytical community for the careful scholarship and intellectual rigor he has brought to the study Gnosticism. In The Search for Roots, Ribi shows how a dialogue between Jungian and Gnostic studies can open new perspectives on the experiential nature of Gnosis, both ancient and modern. Creative engagement with Gnostic tradition broadens the imaginative scope of modern depth psychology and adds an essential context for understanding the voice of the soul emerging in our modern age.

A Foreword by Lance Owens supplements this volume with a discussion of Jung's encounter with Gnostic tradition while composing his Red Book (Liber Novus). Dr. Owens delivers a fascinating and historically well-documented account of how Gnostic mythology entered into Jung's personal mythology in the Red Book. Gnostic mythology thereafter became for Jung a prototypical image of his individuation. Owens offers this conclusion:

“In 1916 Jung had seemingly found the root of his myth and it was the myth of Gnosis. I see no evidence that this ever changed. Over the next forty years, he would proceed to construct an interpretive reading of the Gnostic tradition’s occult course across the Christian aeon: in Hermeticism, alchemy, Kabbalah, and Christian mysticism. In this vast hermeneutic enterprise, Jung was building a bridge across time, leading back to the foundation stone of classical Gnosticism. The bridge that led forward toward a new and coming aeon was footed on the stone rejected by the builders two thousand years ago.”

Alfred Ribi's examination of Jung’s relationship with Gnostic tradition comes at an important time. Initially authored prior to the publication of Jung's Red Book, current release of this English edition offers a bridge between the past and the forthcoming understanding of Jung’s Gnostic roots.

Visit our publishing site, Gnosis Archive Books, for more information. Available from Bookstores and Amazon.com. For a preview of the book, download the Foreword by Dr. Lance Owens (pdf format).

On occasion of the publication of this book, Dr. Lance Owens presented an introductory lecture at the Gnostic Society in Los Angeles. This lecture is now available for listening online. (Click here to listen or to download the lecture.)

Buy the book at Amazon.com.

 

Publication of C. G Jung's Red Book - Gnosis and the New Aeon

The Red Book - C.G. JungThis is the extraordinary book awaited for decades, and its importance cannot be overstated.

During WWI, Jung entered an extended visionary experience that he called his “confrontation with the unconscious.” Based on these visions, he subsequently developed his principal theories of the collective unconscious, the archetypes, psychological types and the process of individuation. Jung focused on transforming psychotherapy from a practice concerned with the treatment of pathology into a means for reconnection with the soul and the recovery of meaning in life. At the heart of this endeavor was his legendary Red Book, a large, leather bound, illuminated volume that he created between 1914 and 1930, which contained the substance of his visions. It became the nucleus of his later works. While Jung considered the Red Book, or Liber Novus (New Book) to be the central work in his oeuvre, it has remained unpublished till this day, and unavailable for study and unseen by the public at large.

The Red Book is best described as a visionary and prophetic work, and not simply as an imaginative literary or scientific document. It is possibly the most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology. Its publication is a watershed that inaugurates a new era in the understanding of Jung’s life and work; it fully reveals the experiential, Gnostic roots of Jung's psychology.

The Red Book on the desk of C.G. Jung

The Red Book - Liber Novus
Click to order at Amazon.com

As Jung stated:

"The years … when I pursued the inner images were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life.... Everything later was merely the outer classification,the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then.”

Over a hundred-thousand copies have now been sold. It is available at Amazon.com at a discount price. Buy the Book. The compact "Reader's Edition," which includes the text only, is also now available (see our review for more information on this edition.)

You will also enjoy viewing the video about the digital reproduction of the Red Book (available on YouTube). A complete digital version of the Red Book: Liber Novus, including all images and text, is currently available online at the Internet Archive.

The New York Times Magazine (September 20, 2009 edition) offered a very interesting article about Jung and the Red Book online: The Holy Grail of the Unconscious.

An excellent introductory lecture by Dr. Hoeller on Jung's vision of a coming new aeon of consciousness -- a central theme of the Red Book-- is available free at BC Recordings.

 

C. G. Jung and the Red Book: Eighteen Lectures by Dr. Lance Owens

Two series of introductory lectures presented by Dr. Lance Owens at Westminster College in 2010 and 2012 are now available free online. In these lectures Dr. Owens discusses the historical genesis and content of the Red Book, and explains the central place of Liber Novus in the life and work of C. G. Jung. To download or listen to the lectures, visit the Red Book lectures page.

A catalog of other online presentations by Dr. Owens is available here.

 

C. G. Jung and the Tradition of Gnosis – The Zurich Lectures

These three lectures were delivered by Lance Owens MD at the C. G. Jung Institute, Zurich, on the subject of Jung and the Tradition of Gnosis. Dr. Owens here examines the roots of Jung's interest in Gnostic mythology. The focus of these talks is on Jung's study and use of Gnostic mythology during his work on Liber Novus, and the manner in which these primary Gnostic myths carried into his life work.

 

Septem Sermones ad Mortuos – The Seven Sermons to the Dead

While Jung considered the Red Book to be the central work of his life, there is another independent text from this period of importance: the Septem Sermones ad Mortuos (Seven Sermons to the Dead. Written and privately published around 1916, and originally included within the Red Book, the Septem Sermones are Jung's earliest revealed formulation of his visionary experience. Unlike the Red Book which remained hidden and unpublished, throughout his life Jung shared the Sermones with a select group of his trusted students. When examining the imaginative work of Jung, it is essential to examine the Septem Sermones ad Mortuos in context of, and along with, the great Red Book. These are together the two crucial primary documents of Jung's "confrontation with the unconscious".

In 1982, Stephan A. Hoeller published the first critical study of Jung's Red Book writings, giving a compelling Gnostic hermeneutic to Jung's Septem Sermones ad Mortuos, the only then-published fragment from the Red Book. This ground-breaking study, The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead, still stands as a keynote introduction to Jung's visionary experience; it is highly recommended to those preparing to explore the Red Book. Buy the Book.

Read the introductory chapters from The Gnostic Jung by Stephan A. Hoeller: "The Gnosis of C. G. Jung"

 

Jung and Aion: Time, Vision and a Wayfaring Man

This article, first published in Psychological Perspectives (Journal of the C. G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles) is now available online in pdf format. The article abstract reads:

C. G. Jung stated in 1957 that the visionary experiences recorded in The Red Book: Liber Novus were the foundation of his life work: “My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream ... the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then.” Liber Novus is now historically placed in a hermeneutic relationship with Jung’s subsequent writings.

Jung composed the first page of Liber Novus in 1915. On this introductory folio leaf he graphically intertwined a prophecy of the future and the coming of a new aeon: an epochal turning-point in human consciousness. Though this revelation was foundational to his subsequent work, Jung did not initially feel free to publicly disclose its keynote.
After several extraordinary near-death visions in 1944, Jung realized it was his duty to finally and openly communicate the central revelation recorded in Liber Novus. The first manuscript page of Liber Novus penned by Jung in 1915—deeply considered, dense with verbal and pictorial imagery formed in response to the Spirit of the Depths—and the complexly crafted commentary in Aion, composed three decades later, are fundamentally wed. They both declare the dawning of a new aeon. While each work might be studied as an independent text, one can only comprehend Jung and his struggle with Liber Novus in their conjunction.

 

The Hermeneutics of Vision: C. G. Jung and the Red Book

The Gnostic A detailed essay by Lance Owens discussing the visionary experiences and the events that led to creation of the Red Book is now available for download in pdf format: The Hermeneutics of Vision: C. G. Jung and the Red Book. This monograph length article was originally featured in The Gnostic: A Journal of Gnosticism, Western Esotericism and Spirituality; the cover of the issue was dedicated to C. G. Jung's guide, Philemon, as painted by Jung in his Red Book.

The Gnostic: A Journal of Gnosticism, Western Esotericism and Spirituality is the second major effort in recent decades to produce a regularly published journal dedicated to modern Gnostic studies. (The first, Gnosis Magazine, began publication in 1985 and continued successfully with regular quarterly issues for fourteen years – back issues are still available for sale). The journal is available for purchase at Amazon.com


C. G. Jung and the Red Book: Thirteen Lectures by Dr. Stephan Hoeller

Dr. Stephan Hoeller has completing an amazing series of thirteen lectures on The Red Book, Liber Novus, at The Gnostic Society in Los Angeles. In this extended series Dr. Hoeller is reading through the text chapter by chapter, giving background, commentary and insights into the text. This is the definitive commentary on the Red Book. You will find these lectures a perfect companion to your own exploration of the Red Book.

Individual lectures or the complete series of lectures can by purchased for immediate download and listening from BC Recordings, where you will also find an expansive catalog of Dr. Hoeller's many audio lectures on C.G.Jung and Jungian psychology.

An excellent introductory lecture by Dr. Hoeller on Jung's vision of a coming new aeon of consciousness -- a central theme of the Red Book-- is available free at BC Recordings.

 

C. G. Jung: A Biography in Books by Sonu Shamdasani

C.G.Jung: A Biography in BooksC. G. Jung: A Biography in Books is the most important biographical study of Jung published in a generation, and the essential companion to reading and understanding Jung's The Red Book: Liber Novus. And to boot, the book is beautiful - sumptuously illustrated, artfully designed, and exquisitely crafted (it is printed in Italy by Mondadori, the company that produced the Red Book). Whether you are just starting to read about Jung or have been studying his work for decades, an evening with A Biography in Books will open new perspectives.

Why is A Biography in Books essential reading? Here we have the first rendition of Jung's history that integrates an understanding of Liber Novus into the story. By illustrating the centrality of Liber Novus in Jung's life, Sonu Shamdasani radically transforms the way in which Jung's biography will hereafter be rendered and read. This is a landmark accomplishment. Read our complete online review.
Buy the Book

 


The Red Book: Its Meaning in Our Time

The Red Book of C. G. Jung: Its Meaning for Our Age – Video Seminar by Dr. Stephan Hoeller

View the videos of a four hour video seminar presented by Dr. Stephan Hoeller to the Theosophical Society in America: The Red Book of C. G. Jung - Its Meaning for Our Age. This presentation provides an extensive introduction to Jung, the contents of the Red Book (or Liber Novus, as Jung titled it) and its vital message.


C. G. Jung on Film

Several film sources are collected here from YouTube. The links to these long interviews and documentaries sometimes change, but the content seems to persist in other file locations. If you do not find a specific film, try doing a YouTube search. Several short selections appear on YouTube from time to time, but most are extracted from these major film sources. Go the the Jung on Film collection.


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