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Mandala by Jung

Visionary painting, c.1915? by Carl Jung

Jung, in his massive Red Book, painted mandalas and images from dreams and (more often) dialogs in a hypnogogic state which he calls "active imagination". This one appears to be nondream.

Iíll include this footnote from The Red Book in full, both to show you the layers of time, myth and sheer erudition in Jung's work--but too, the layered deviousness it reveals. Jung repeatedly pretends the art isn't his!

In 1930, Jung anonymously reproduced this image in "Commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower" as "a mandala painted by a male patient during treatment." He described it as follows:
"In the centre, the white light, shining in the firmament; in the first circle, protoplasmic life-seeds; in the second, rotating cosmic principles which contain the four primary colors; in the third and fourth, creative forces working inward and outward. At the cardinal points, the masculine and feminine souls, both again divided into light and dark" (CW 13. A6).
He reproduced it again in 1952, in 'Concerning Mandala Symbolism" and wrote:
Picture by a middle-aged man. In the center is a star. The blue sky contains golden clouds. At the four cardinal points we see human figures: at the top, an old man in the attitude of contemplation; at the bottom, Loki or Hephaestus with red, flaming hair, holding in his hands a temple. To the right and left are a light and dark female figure. Together they indicate four aspects of the personality, or four archetypal figures belonging, as it were, to the periphery of the self. The two female figures can be recognized without difficulty as the two aspects of the anima. The old man corresponds to the archetype of meaning, or of the spirit, and the dark chthonic figure to the opposite of the Wise Old Man, namely the magical (and sometimes destructive) Luciferian element. In alchemy it is Hermes Trismegistus versus Mercurius, the evasive 'trickster.'

The circle enclosing the sky contains structures or organisms that look like protozoa. The sixteen globes painted in four colors just outside the circle derived originally from an eye motif and therefore stand for the observing and discriminating consciousness. Similarly, the ornaments in the next circle, all opening inward, are rather like vessels pouring out their content toward the center.

Diamond-shaped mandala by Jung, Plate 105 of his 'Red Book'. Click to enlarge.

[Fn: There is a similar conception in alchemy in the Ripley Scrowle and its variants (Psychology and Alchemy, fig 257). There it is the planetary gods who are pouring their qualities into the bath of rebirth.] On the other hand the ornaments along the rim open outward, as if to receive something from outside. That is, in the individuation process what were originally projections stream back 'inside' and are integrated into the personality again. Here, in contrast to Figure 25, 'Above' and 'Below' male and female, are integrated, as in the alchemical hermaphrodite" (CW 9, I. $682).

On March 21, 1950, he wrote to Raymond Piper concerning the same image: "The other picture is by an educated man about 40 years old. He produced this picture also as an at-first unconscious attempt to restore order in the emotional state he was in which had been caused by an invasion of unconscious contents" (Letters I, p. 550).

Jung's not quite lying. But this is more than modesty or privacy. Attributing this art to various anonymous patients strengthens his case that Jungian images spontaneously manifest, that they're universal archetypes as Jung claimed--when it's all him!

Does anyone but Jung dream Jungian dreams? Absolutely. I do, and friends do--too often for chance. Jung isn't a fraud. But did he have a sneaky streak of P.T. Barnum? Absolutely.

--Chris Wayan

SOURCE: Jung's Red Book (2009), plate 105 and footnote 186, p.297.

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