“I hold the view that the alchemist’s hope of conjuring out of matter the philosophical gold, or the panacea, or the wonderful stone, was only in part an illusion, an effect of projection; for the rest it corresponded to certain psychic facts that are of great importance in the psychology of the unconscious. As is shown by the texts and their symbolism, the alchemist projected what I have called the process of individuation into the phenomena of chemical change.”
Psychology and Alchemy
Bollingen Foundation 1953
Published by Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.
From: C. G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (London 1996) p. 43
Henry Moore, 1942: Crowd looking at a tied-up object.
One would do well to treat every dream as though it were a totally unknown object. Look at it from all sides, take it in your hand, carry it about with you, let your imagination play round it, and talk about it with other people. Primitives tell each other impressive dreams, in a public palaver if possible, and this custom is also attested in late antiquity, for all the ancient peoples attributed great significance to dreams ‘ Treated in this way, the dream suggests all manner of ideas and associations which lead us closer to its meaning. The ascertainment of the meaning is, I need hardly point out, an entirely arbitrary affair, and this is where the hazards begin. Narrower or wider limits will be set to the meaning, according to one’s experience, temperament, and taste. Some people will be satisfied with little, for others much is still not enough. Also the meaning of the dream, or our interpretation of it, is largely dependent on the intentions of the interpreter, on what he expects the meaning to be or requires it to do. In eliciting the meaning he will involuntarily be guided by certain presuppositions, and it depends very much on the scrupulousness and honesty of the investigator whether he gains something by his interpretation or perhaps only becomes still more deeply entangled in his mistakes.
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 320
I have no theory about dreams, I do not know how dreams arise. And I am not at all sure that – my way of handling dreams even deserves the name of a “method.” I share all your prejudices against dream-interpretation as the quintessence of uncertainty and arbitrariness. On the other hand, I know that if we meditate on a dream sufficiently long and thoroughly, if we carry it around with us and turn it over and over, something almost always comes of it. This something is not of course a scientific result to be boasted about or rationalized; but it is an important practical hint which shows the patient what the unconscious is aiming at. Indeed, it ought not to matter to me whether the result of my musings on the dream is scientifically verifiable or tenable, otherwise I am pursuing an ulterior-and therefore autoerotic-aim. I must content myself wholly with the fact that the result means something to the patient and sets his life in motion again. I may allow myself only one criterion for the result of my labours: does it work?
“The Aims of Psychotherapy” (1931). In CW 16: The Practice of Psychotherapy. pg. 86
Painting: Odilon Redon
Marc Chagall, Night Visitor
“Dreams are impartial, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche, outside the control of the will. They are pure nature; they show us the unvarnished, natural truth, and are therefore fitted, as nothing else is, to give us back an attitude that accords with our basic human nature when our consciousness has strayed too far from its foundations and run into an impasse.”
“The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man” (1933). In CW 10: Civilization in Transition. pg. 317
Alchemy has performed for me the great and invaluable service of providing material in which my experience could find sufficient room, and has thereby made it possible for me to describe the individuation process at least in its essential aspects.
I will try to explain the term “individuation” as simply as possible.
By it I mean the psychological process that makes of a human being an “individual”-a unique, indivisible unit or “whole man.“
from a lecture at the Eranos Meeting at Ascona
The Meaning of Individuation
Image from Emblema XXI of Michael Maier’s 1618 Atalanta fugiens. ‘Here followeth the Figure conteyning all the secrets of the Treatise both great & small’.