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Dr Jung & Astrology
The Freud/Jung Letters

*Short excerpts of correspondence between Sigmund Freud and CG Jung are taken from The Freud/Jung Letters (Abridged Edition) 1979

In May of 1911 the Swiss psychiatrist (and founder of Analytical Psychology), Dr. Carl G Jung (1875-1961) wrote his (at that time) mentor Dr Sigmund Freud saying: "Occultism is another field we shall have to conquer - with the aid of the libido theory, it seems to me. At the moment I am looking into astrology, which seems indispensable for a proper understanding of mythology. There are strange and wondrous things in these lands of darkness."

Jung, then, cautiously added: "Please don't worry about my wanderings in these infinitudes. I shall return laden with rich booty for our knowledge of the human psyche.... For a while longer I must intoxicate myself on magic perfumes in order to fathom the secrets that lie hidden in the abysses of the unconscious..."

Prophetic Warning
Freud responded:
"I am aware that you are driven by innermost inclination to the study of the occult and I am sure you will return home richly laden. I cannot argue with that, it is always right to go where your impulses lead."
Freud, then, added this prophetic caution: "You will be accused of mysticism, but the reputation you won with the Dementia will hold up for quite some time against that. Just don't stay in the tropical colonies too long, you must reign at home."

A Clue to the Core
In a subsequent follow-up letter, Jung wrote Freud that his [Jung's] evenings were currently being taken up largely with astrology and the calculating of horoscopes:
"in order to find a clue to the core of human psychology."
According to his [Jung's]  letter, one thing catching his fascination had been in the calculation of a woman's chart who was suffering from an "extraordinary mother complex." It seemed there was a certain configuration in the chart that accurately described the woman's mother "to a T."

Jung went on to state: "I dare say that we shall one day discover in astrology a good deal of knowledge that has been intuitively projected into the heavens. For instance, it appears that the signs of the zodiac are character pictures, in other words libido symbols which depict the typical qualities of the libido at a given moment."

To this Freud replied (June of 1911) that he had recently grown humbled and was: "willing to believe anything that can be made to sound reasonable." But Freud then added that he was concerned for Jung in the "dangerous step of publication."

Freud's Caution
A short time later, in a separate letter written to one of Jung's colleagues, Freud expressed his grave concerns about Jung and stated the field of occultism was a dangerous expedition that he could not accompany them on.

After Freud's and Jung's later famous breakup in 1913, Freud made it unambiguously clear (in no uncertain terms) that he was highly critical of Jung’s excursions into these paranormal matters of disrepute. Freud was irremediably disappointed in Jung and dismayed that his young protégé had chosen to move off in this troubling direction.

Freud was proven right in his fears that Jung would be accused of being a mystic... due much in part to Jung's investigation of astrology, his critics have long charged him with the "crime" of mixing mysticism with science.

But Jung Forged Ahead
Throughout the years of his long-standing professional career, Jung repeatedly showed great personal courage in his investigation of matters that no one else in the "respectable" medical/psychiatric academia circles of his day would touch.

Astrology was one of those darkened avenues considered to be "tabooed" and off limits. But Jung considered himself, first and foremost, a doctor and healer of the psyche. So when Jung believed it necessary to travel down and explore a certain tabooed avenue in order to gain a better understanding of the psyche, then Jung "went for it."

Jung's calculating of horoscopes continued on during the rest of his long and productive life. (Born: 1875, Died: 1961) It's further known that, when challenged by an especially perplexing case, Jung would arrange to have the patient's birth chart cast in order to gain more insight into the individual.

In a letter written to written to Hindu astrologer, B.V. Raman, September 6th 1947 - Dr. Jung wrote:

"Since you want to know my opinion about astrology I can tell you that I've been interested in this particular activity of the human mind since more than 30 years. As I am a psychologist, I am chiefly interested in the particular light the horoscope sheds on certain complications in the character. In cases of difficult psychological diagnosis I usually get a horoscope in order to have a further point of view from an entirely different angle. I must say that I very often found that the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise would have been unable to understand. From such experiences I formed the opinion that astrology is of particular interest to the psychologist, since it contains a sort of psychological experience which we call 'projected' - this means that we find the psychological facts as it were in the constellations."

It might appear to the casual observer that somewhere along the line, Jung's focus and line of investigation gradually changed over from astrology to it's lesser known, and more obscure younger sister, "alchemy."

In the end, three large volumes of Jung's Collected Works were devoted to alchemy and alchemical symbols in relation to the development of the human psyche and individuation.

I call alchemy "astrology's younger sister," because:

  • The alchemists of the Renaissance period were invariably as well trained in the discipline of astrology as they were in alchemy.
  • And the writing of these alchemists were literally jam packed with constant referrals to astrological images and symbolism.

Jung often gave his public stance and wrote prolifically regarding his rationales for choosing to engage in his investigation of alchemy and alchemical symbolism. (See the Unus Mundus Menu section on Alchemy)

Bad Kid on the Block
In the popular imagination of Jung's day, astrology had already been relegated to (and fallen into) the shadow status of being little more than a superstitious occult parlor game played by unscrupulous charlatans in back alleyways.
So astrology, alchemy's older sister, inevitably carried with her a ton load of excess and sullied baggage. Whereas, the ancient art of alchemy had been almost totally forgotten by the modern world and was (comparatively speaking) carrying very little matching luggage.

Alchemy (the younger sister) was still pretty much 20th Century pristine and pure. Therefore, one can only speculate as to whether all this weighed heavily on Jung's mind and factored into his decision to actively pursue and write about the alchemy rather than astrology...

Astrology in His Later Years
Did Jung abandon astrology in his later years? Careful study and reading of Jung's "Collected Works" (as well as a clearer understanding of alchemy and alchemical symbolism) shouts out a resounding, deafening NO...

Originally published in 1951, Jung devoted an entire volume of his Collected Works, Aion, to the deeper meaning behind Christ and then that of Christ representing the astrological age of Pisces and then discussing the coming age of Aquarius...

Jung's ideas on synchronicity were strongly influenced by his 25 year friendship with the Austrian born Nobel quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli (1900-58).

According to Deirdre Bair's biography on Jung, it was W. Pauli's 1948 lectures at the Zurich Psychology Club: "The Influence of Archetypal Ideas on the Scientific Theories of Kepler" that lead Jung to then writing his paper: Synchronicity An Acausal Connecting Principle" that included Jung's astrological experiments. The lectures by Pauli and the essay by Jung were originally published together as a book in 1952 "The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche."

*Short excerpts of correspondence between Freud and Jung were taken from "The Freud/Jung Letters (Abridged Edition)" 1979
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For much more on Jung & Astrology see the section: Archetypal Astrology and the Map of the Soul

Recommended Books: (These books written by Jung are not recommended for the faint of heart! Jung's writing can indeed be richly rewarding, but they are difficult to wade through.)

"Synchronicity" Chapter Two - An Astrological Experiment written by C.G. Jung (originally published in 1952 as part of the larger Collected Works book "The Interpretation of Nature and Psyche.")
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"Aion" by C.G. Jung (originally published in 1952)
(Buy it now at Amazon.com)

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