Psychology, Astrology & Carl Jung

by Tracey Couto


  The first full-length biography of
  Jung was published in 1996.
Carl Jung, an early 20th-century psychoanalyst and colleague of Sigmund Freud, was very much ahead of his time in his theories of the unconscious mind. He opened the door to a new kind of theory of personality called analytical psychology, which is based on the belief that people’s lives are influenced by occult phenomena. The root of all his eccentric theories can be traced to a childhood colored by the opposing forces of religion and occult phenomenon. The treasures that he excavated from the unconscious mind and shared with the world are still wonders to behold today and in the days to come.

I first became fascinated with Jung when I did a research paper for my English class last year on the topic of astrology, which is a great passion of mine. In my pursuit of information for the project, Jung’s name came up countless times, much to my amazement. I was both intrigued and delighted to discover that Jung was the first psychoanalyst to ever make the connection between astrology and psychology. From that moment on, I vowed to learn as much about Jung as I could, which I will share with you now.

Outlined in this article are some of the enlightening dreams, visions and synchronistic events that Jung experienced throughout his life and how they set the stage for many of his theories and concepts, such as the collective unconscious, archetypes and synchronicity. Jung believed that people are motivated by the experiences repressed in the “personal unconscious” part of the psyche, as well as by the emotionally toned experiences inherited from their ancestors found in a deeper part of the psyche he termed the “collective unconscious.” To understand the man behind the psychoanalytic genius is to obtain access to the key that unlocks the mysteries of the unconscious mind.

Carl Gustav Jung: The Early Years

Carl Gustav Jung was born to Parson Johann Paul Achilles Jung and Emilie Prieswerk Jung on July 26, 1875 in a small village in Kesswil, Switzerland. His father and 10 of his uncles were reverends; his mother was a minister’s daughter. His paternal grandfather, for whom he was named, was a prominent physician in Basel and was extremely well known there. It was rumored that the physician was the illegitimate son of the great German poet, Goethe; thus, the younger Carl’s life began on something of a mythological note. His maternal grandfather was a believer of the occult and often spoke to the dead, including the ghost of his first wife. Carl grew up with stories of spirits, elves, poltergeists, black magic and witches’ Sabbaths.

Before Jung turned 4, his family moved to a suburb of Basel. This is when he had a significant dream, which he kept secret at the time and which haunted him for more than 60 years. He dreamed of what appeared to be a tree trunk about 12-15 feet high and 1 ½ - 2 feet wide, made of human flesh, topped by a rounded head without a face or hair. On the very top of the head was a single eye, gazing motionlessly upward.

It wasn’t until he met Freud about 30 years later and explored ancient writings, religions and cultures that he saw this as a phallus symbol. It was still a number of years after that when he realized that a boy his age couldn’t have produced a universal symbol such as that from his own experiences and unconscious. He concluded that the image had to be the product of the collective unconscious, a very important part of the unconscious mind where the experiences of distant ancestors of the entire species, and universal concepts such as God and mother, reside and get passed down through the generations. Thus, the strange dream he had as a young boy set the stage for one of his most controversial concepts of all.

When Carl was a young boy, he would often witness his mother transform suddenly from a jovial housewife into a pagan prophetess, much like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. She would go into a trace-like state and speak in tongues and oftentimes traffic ghosts as well. He soon came to the realization that his mother was, in actuality, two separate people coexisting in one body. The emotional and sensitive child that he was often associated with the mystical and clairvoyant side of her, whom he called her No. 2 or night personality.

The Pre-Adolescent Jung

Later in his school years, Jung gradually became aware of two separate aspects of himself that he called his No. 1 and No. 2 personalities. The No. 1 personality was extroverted and in tune with the ego and the external and objective world, and No. 2 was introverted and in touch with his feelings and intuitions. In an attempt to reconcile and integrate the two opposing personalities, he carved a wooden mannequin about two inches long, inked it black, made him a wool coat and put him in a pencil box prepared as a bed. To that, he added a smooth, oblong blackish stone that he painted in the manner of a soul stone. He hid the whole collection in the attic, which helped him erase the tormenting sense of being at odds with himself.

When Carl was 12, he experienced an illuminating vision of God befouling his own cathedral, giving him the impression that God could be something terrible. This experience caused him to feel he was a vessel of Divine grace and one of God’s elect. His encounter with this darker side of God reminded him of the experiences of the biblical character Job, and led him to write a book called Answer to Job later in his life where he attempted to cancel the distance between himself and the Divine.

Jung as a Young Adult

Toward the end of his high school years, he had a daydream of a castle where gold coins were made using spiritual substances, and he fancied himself to be the discoverer of an esoteric secret. This experience was the prelude to a study of alchemy that he began in his early 50s. Alchemy involves the uniting of opposites to bring forth
  Eight-petalled lotus blossoms form
  the center of this 14th-century Tibetan
  Mandala in the collection of Rossi &
  Rossi, London.
knowledge, a concept Jung eventually develops into his theory of the process of individuation or self-realization, which is the process of becoming a whole person through the integration of opposites. Alchemy is also understood as the attempt to transform base metals, such as lead, into gold. This process can be equated with Jung’s concepts of the fusion of male and female, good and evil, life and death — whose union eventually creates the perfected and completed, ideal personality called Self. This archetype, or archaic image of the collective unconscious, is symbolized by the mandala, a concentric figure representing unity, balance and wholeness.

Jung studied psychiatry in college, but he always remained fascinated with psychic phenomena and read anything he could get his hands on about the subject. This interest led to his investigation of séances, with his cousin Helene Preiswerk as the spirit medium. He did his doctoral thesis on his findings and entitled it On the Psychology and Pathology of So Called Occult Phenomena. His thesis covered the psychological analysis of the changes in Helene’s character during her trances, which he saw as representing an unconscious fulfillment of repressed wishes and polar sides of her personality that she could not integrate into her conscious life. His experience with the séances paved the way to his initial discovery of the existence of the unconscious mind and some of its important aspects. He also found a connection between these hallucinatory personalities and the delusions experienced by mental patients, which shed some light on the concept of multiple personalities.

Freud and the Mid-Life Crisis

While Jung was in his 30s, he began a warm and personal correspondence with the great Sigmund Freud, a correspondence inspired by Jung’s intrigue and resonation with Freud’s book The Interpretation of Dreams. Freud regarded Jung as intellectually worthy to be his successor and appointed him the first president of the International Psychoanalytic Association. Their relationship came to a bitter end after about seven years, when Freud made a derogatory comment about Jung’s interest in matters of the occult. After Freud ended their personal relationship, Jung withdrew deep into the unconscious of his own psyche. It was at this time of loneliness, isolation and self-analysis that he reconnected with his inner child and rediscovered his creative side, which helped to release a stream of fantasy figures, waking visions, and inner voices that rose out of his unconscious mind in the form of dreams.

From this sprang the realization that there are things in the psyche that create themselves and have a life of their own, illustrating the concepts of the archetypes and the collective unconscious. While on this trip through the unconscious mind, described in the archetypical terms of the unconscious, Jung heard his anima speak to him in a clear feminine voice, he discovered his dark and evil shadow, he spoke with the wise old man and great mother, and at the end of his journey he achieved a psychological rebirth he called individuation. Jung recorded all of his visions and dreams throughout his mid-life crisis in The Red Book.

In his process of turning inward, he created a vacuum that soon filled with spirits that spoke to him and answered his questions. As a result, the Jung family experienced a haunting in 1916 by a crowd of spirits from Jerusalem, who proclaimed to “have come back from Jerusalem where we found not what we sought.” Immediately afterward, Jung sat at his desk and began writing. In three days, he had an essay entitled Seven Sermons of the Dead.

The Older and Much Wiser Jung

His study of Gnostic texts and alchemy during his 50s eventually branches off into other studies of divination such as the I Ching, numerology and astrology. The I Ching is an ancient Chinese oracle that involves the division of 49 stalks upon asking a question. The meaning derived from the way the stalks divide requires interpretation, just like dreams do. Astrology consists of the study of the planets, which Jung saw as symbols of the archetypal processes that begin in the collective unconscious. The archetypes serve as a language for understanding the basic psychological drives of human beings.

Jung first became interested in astrology as early as 1911, an interest that continued until his death in 1961. He thought that in astrology, he could find a kind of human knowledge that had been intuitively projected into the heavens. Both methods, I Ching and astrology, relate to his idea of the collective unconscious, validating the existence of his archetypes. They also illustrates his concept of synchronicity, which is the concept of meaningful coincidences that correlate psychic states and events with external, non-psychic events such as the stalks and planets used in these two methods.

Jung in His Golden Years

In 1944, when Jung was 69 years old, he suffered a heart attack that kept him at death’s door for several weeks. During that time, he experienced a series of visions, one of which could be described as a near-death experience. In it, he saw himself floating high up into space, with the Earth far below him and a rock temple that housed all of the answers to the questions of his life nearby. As he approached the rock temple he could feel his earthly existence being painfully stripped away, until an image of his doctor told him he didn’t have the right to leave the Earth, putting an end to the vision. Jung describes this afterlife as unspeakably glorious and ineffably grand and calls it the beginning of one’s truly real life, filled with everything you were meant to be and never reached. Experiences such as this one and the séances led Jung to come to the conclusion that something of the human soul remains after death.

Toward the end of his life, Jung had two dreams that worked to reverse the relationship between ego-consciousness and the unconscious, with the suggestion that it’s the unconscious existence that is the real one. One of the dreams was about people being the projections of UFO’s rather than the UFO being a projection of theirs. The other one focused on a meditating yogi who had Jung’s face and was actually meditating him. It was during this time that he created some of his best and most profound literary works. Of his last works, the book entitled Answer to Job outlines how God incarnates into man through Jesus Christ in search of a conscious, and ties in with his concept of individuation into the Self.

In Conclusion ...

Carl Gustav Jung was a visionary blessed with the insights that took mankind out of the pitches of darkness and into the vast sea of enlightenment. It is extremely fascinating how every single one of his theories and areas of study is preceded by a mystical vision or a dream that eventually leads him to each of his concepts. His encounters with the spirit world along with his own near-death experience gave him plenty of tools with which to unlock the mysteries of the psyche.

Experiences like these put him head and shoulders above other psychoanalysts of his time. His bravery in charting depths unknown enabled him to give the people of his day a gift more precious than gold, and that was the gift of understanding themselves in ways they could have never done had it not been for his religious and medical background, along with his occult experiences. All Jung ever wanted was to successfully combine his two passions, science and spirituality, into one united current. As a result of his work, his name goes down in history as the first New Age psychologist our world has ever known.

I have always had a deep fascination with the occult and spirituality myself, and reading Jung was in a small way like reading a biography of myself. I could relate with many of his experiences, such as feeling “chosen by God” as a pre-adolescent, having very foreboding and meaningful dreams, and consulting with the beings that reside on the other side. My studies in astrology these past six years, and psychology for two, are some other similarities I share with the late Dr. Jung. I resonate with his work 100 percent, and it is my hope that one day I will be able to pick up where he left off and expand upon the thoughts and ideas that Jung gave to the world.