CARL GUSTAV JUNG
Explorer of the hidden realms of self. Freuds' apprentice and eventual rebel against what he saw in Sigmunds' work as limiting, restrictive and overly patriarchal. Jung wanted more. Immersing himself in mythology, mysticism and ancient systems of magic, he dreamed strange dreams from boyhood and beyond. A sensitive boy who thought much and spent lots of time alone, thinking, imagining.
The man who gave us Anima and Animus, the collective unconscious, synchronicity and much more besides had to break free from the mental chains of Freuds' own authority, striding across the landscape of a newly mapped inner reality like a colossus and casting a massive shadow.
On meeting, these two great men talked for thirteen hours and Freud knew he had found an apprentice worthy of the name. The development of psycho analysis and associated areas of research and writing were going through an exciting phase of early growth. International conferences and talks were well attended. Freud began to refer to Jung in letters as "my son." He assumed that, one day, Jung would inherit and take on Sigmunds' own body of ideas and work.
As their relationship developed and tensions grew on a tour of the USA, simmering differences began to surface. Freud warned Jung of the risks of identifying too closely with his patients' subjective experiences.
"The therapist who looks too closely into the subconscious of his client is in danger of revealing and exposing his own subconscious neurosis. Take care."
Freud insisted on the importance for self protection of professional boundaries. Jung wanted to delve deeper, into consciousness and into the very deepest aspects of the self.
Carl Jung had an extremely difficult time. His relationship with Freud was irreparably damaged and his mother had died. He entered an intense period of extreme self doubt and prolonged existential unease. He felt great despair. He had reached his own crossroads and was beginning the journey of slowly revealing himself to himself.
In response he took himself to the family home and became physically unwell. Fevers, hallucinatory visual and auditory experiences. Strange recurring lucid dreams and replete with symbolic motifs and archaic themes.
He built many stone mounds beside the lake close to his home and drew hundreds of beautiful mandalas. He immersed himself in philosophical and spiritual studies, Anthropology and Hermetic magic systems. He painted and wrote papers, kept journals.
Jung knew that he was passing through an intense personal state of existential crisis and worried at times that he was becoming permanently psychotic. One evening he found a dead Kingfisher beside the lake close to home, a very unusual experience. Add to this a series of strange events in the Jung family household: doors opening and closing, bangs and loud noises, ghostly spectral presences.
And this was when Philemon first appeared.
Having read much and conversed with shamanic and other spiritual practitioners, the appearance of Philemon was to play a fundamental role in Jungs' inner intellectual and philosophical development. Philemon was seen by Carl as an old sage, wise in his ways and who wore beautiful Kingfisher wings.
He became a muse and learned guide for Carl, who was often to be seen walking up and down the garden in animated discussions and debates with this "invisible" deity. So much so that many visitors became convinced that he was now exhibiting signs of madness and undergoing a complete nervous breakdown.
Was he cracking up, isolated from the network of professionals that surrounded Freud and the burgeoning psychotherapy movement and uncertain as to his own future path?
Did his circumstances contain within themselves all the necessary ingredients for a full midlife crisis?
By delving deep within himself and writing and researching his lived experiences, Carl Gustav Jung explored the very systems of spiritual, metaphysical and alchemical philosophies that led to the famous "Red Book" and more besides. To him, Philemon was a sort of "Solomon", a sage, a scholar, a wise advisor!
By breaking down and exploring his experiences he was able to perceive and understand that breakthroughs are sometimes possible for those of us seemingly in crisis.
That it is often worth paying attention to the voices and visions that may visit with us at specific moments in our lives for they may contain much by way of symbolic and very real meaning for our personal growth!
Activist/ Health worker/ 20 years. Specific interests : wellness/ voice hearing/ coping/ exploring/ sharing/ stigma reduction.