This post is a partner to yesterday’s Liverpool sketchbooks (for my archive) – Jung’s dream in 1927 of Liverpool.
His pioneering journey into the unconscious was extraordinary and illumined the way for generations to come. As I and many others travel on his shoulders, the places he visited keep joining up with mine, and feel startlingly familiar. I had similar dreams of a dark city, mountainous in scale, with a glowing centre and even a pool or inlet from the sea. It was the city of the mind – a many towered labyrinth. In one of these dreams I was a fish in the pool, and someone threw a line, hooked my nose and flipped me onto dry land. Ouch!
Here are extracts from the chapter Confrontation with the Unconscious in Jung’s “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”. The chapter first describes the creation of the Red Book. Then:
“I began to understand that the goal of psychic development is the self. There is no linear evolution; there is only a circumambulation of the self. Uniform development exists at most, only at the beginning; later everything points towards the centre . This insight gave me stability, and gradually my inner peace returned. I knew that in finding the mandala as an expression of the self, I had attained what was for me the ultimate. Perhaps someone else knows more, but not I.
“In 1927 I obtained confirmation of my ideas about the centre and the self by way of a dream. I represented its essence in a picture which I called ‘Window on Eternity’. The picture is reproduced in ‘The Secret of the Golden Flower’. A year later I painted a second mandala, with a golden castle in the centre. When it was finished, I asked myself, ‘Why is this so Chinese?’
“… Shortly afterwards I received a letter from Richard Wilhelm enclosing the manuscript of a Taoist-alchemical treatise entitled ‘The Secret of the Golden Flower‘, with a request that I write a commentary on it. I devoured the manuscript at once, for the text gave me an undreamed of confirmation of my ideas about the mandala and the circumambulation of the centre. That was the first event which broke through my isolation. I became aware of an affinity; I could establish ties with someone and someone.
“In remembrance of this coincidence, this synchronicity, I wrote underneath the picture which had made so Chinese an impression on me: ‘In 1928, when I was painting this picture showing the golden, well fortified castle, Richard Wilhelm in Frankfurt sent me the thousand year old Chinese text on the yellow castle, the germ of the immortal body.’
“This is the dream I mentioned earlier. I found myself in a dirty, sooty city. It was night, and winter, and dark, and raining. I was in Liverpool.
With a number of Swiss – say, half a dozen – I walked through the dark streets. I had the feeling that there we were coming from the harbour, and that the real city was actually up above, on the cliffs. We climbed up there.
It reminded me of Basel, where the market is down below and then you go up through the Alley of the Dead, which leads to a plateau above, and so to the Petersplatze and Peterskirche.
“When we reached the plateau, we found a broad square dimly illumined by street lights, into which many streets converged. The various quarters of the city were arranged radially around the square. In the centre was a round pool, and in the middle of it a small island.
While everything round about was obscured by rain, fog, smoke and dimly lit darkness, the little island blazed with sunlight. On it stood a single tree, a magnolia, in a shower of reddish blossoms. It was as though the tree stood in the sunlight and was at the same time the source of light.
“My companions commented on the abominable weather, and obviously did not see the tree. They spoke of another Swiss who was living in Liverpool, and expressed surprise that he should have settled here. I was carried away by the beauty of the flowering tree and the sunlit island, and thought, ‘I know very well why he has settled here.’ Then I awoke.
“On one detail of the dream I must add a supplementary comment: the individual quarters of the city were themselves arranged radially around a central point. This point formed a small open square illuminated by a larger street lamp, and constituted a small replica of the island. I knew that the ‘other Swiss’ lived in the vicinity of one of these secondary centres.
“This dream represented my situation at the time. I can still see the greyish-yellow raincoats, glistening with the wetness of the rain. Everything was extremely unpleasant, black and opaque – just as I felt then. But I had had a vision of unearthly beauty, and that is why I was able to live at all. Liverpool is the ‘pool of life’. The ‘liver’ according to an old view, is the seat of life – that which ‘makes to live’.”
(The Liver of Life! His Window of Eternity mandala shows – like a grid – the city districts as holograms. Each is as the whole, with its illumining centre and radii: our human connectivity, beyond the box of space and time: macrocosm of the microcosm. When we awake we discover our imagined isolation was a fantasy.)
“This dream brought with it a sense of finality. I saw that here the goal had been revealed. One could not go beyond the centre. The centre is the goal, and everything is directed towards that centre. Through this dream I understood that the self is the principle and archetype of orientation and meaning. Therein lies its healing function … Out of it emerged a first inkling of my personal myth.
“After this dream I gave up painting mandalas …”
The Liverpool dream looks to me like a four-dimensional snapshot of Jung’s whole working life. The lamp which the Red Book kept alight during World War One, glowed very deep, hidden inside the dark, but it passed from soul to soul.
During the following decades, Jung worked with clients – high achievers – who were deeply depressed and searching for a reason to live at all. European society, collectively shattered by the carnage in the trenches, and with Nazism on the rise, endured dense clouds of scepticism and banality – the mind’s dark glamour.
He discovered that if he encouraged his patients to paint what they felt and saw, something in them took charge of the process and led them to an unexpected interior contact. As the healing awoke, it took charge of the patient who began to open doors.
Dr Jung found it had little to do with himself as therapist. His job was to lead his patients to the underground stream, on which they floated paper boats. Art therapy was born. It is for ourselves, each one, to contact the unique inner mystery which unites us.
Jung himself had pioneered the way, through the Red Book; he told very few people about it, (though he showed some of his paintings to those whom he trusted) – but it rekindled by morphic resonance, as in “Window of Eternity”.
In his book Modern Man in Search of a Soul, he describes the new discoveries with his clients.
My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.
This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.
All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/