The Red Book

It is difficult and confusing to figure it out. The best initial idea to come to grips with it is hearing and eventually reading the Dialogue between Rabbi David Wolpe and Jungian analyst David Corbett.

The Red Book presents a curious situation. To unsuspecting eyes, such as  Julie Andrijeski to whom I quote from:

“Jung himself embodies this split as seeker, artist, philosopher, thinker, scientist, even seer.”

Which could be one extreme of the spectrum.

On the other end of the spectrum, no one less than R F C Hull, the official translator of the Complete Works, personally selected by Jung to turn his works into English who was personally invited by Jung to read the Red Book while Jung was still alive and perhaps their last encounter, March 1961, after when Hull moved to Palmas, to the property Jung helped him to buy in recognition to his excellent work of translation. This story is told by Deirdre Bair in her Jung’s biography, and I quote, pg 335, vol 2, Portuguese version:

Hull studied the “monkish calligraphy, in black letters”, in which Jung had recorded “his most important dreams since 1913, illustrating them with disturbing, really crazy drawings. It is not surprising that he kept it locked! Speaking of Freud’s self-analysis – Jung was a walking hospice in itself, in addition to being the medical director “. As he had worked on Jung’s texts for the past fifteen years, Hull understood the importance of the Red Book for the canon, and this made him doubly insist that, no matter how much Jung wanted to distance Memories, Dreams, Reflections from the Complete Works, safeguard his “primeval text” and ensure that it would become the published autobiography.

The seed of the engine that Sonu Shamdasani claims to establish the New Complete Works, which has its first act in denying the authenticity of Jung’s biographical book, Memories, Dreams and Reflections, edited by Aniella Jaffé and, followed by the Red Book, which will be followed by the Black Books and with who knows what else, which over time, for future generations, will have projected an image of Jung totally different from the one we have today and we’ll never know who he really was. How this  started, was or is operating, can be better understood in the article: C G Jung Cultural Matrix.  

The Red Book bears similarity with Gutenberg Bibles

Unbiased summary

Reception of the Red Book in France

Reception of the Red Book in Italy

Reception of the Red Book in the USA

Reception of the Red Book in the UK

Reception of the Red Book in Germany

Reception of the Red Book in Brazil

Reception of the Red Book in Argentina

Bernardo Nante translator to Spanish

Jung left no posthumous instructions about the final disposition of what he called the “Red Book”. His family eventually moved it into a bank vault in 1984. Sonu Shamdasani, a historian from London, who finally persuaded Jung’s heirs to have it published, and it was on October 7, 2009, in German with “separate English translation along with shamdasani’s introduction and footnotes” at the back of the book.

You can read it on line

Puedes leerlo en español

During the period which he worked on this book Jung developed his principal theories of archetypes, collective unconscious, and the process of individuation. Two thirds of the pages bear Jung’s illuminations of the text.

The Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

Pantheism according to wikiwand

 “Called or not called, God is present”

House entrance at the Zurich lake in Kusnacht into which they moved in 1908

The most important aspect of the house, however, was an Erasmus adagio that Jung had engraved on the stone above the entrance, which looked like a tower: “Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus Aderit”, (Called or not), God is present . Jung had read it for the first time when he was nineteen, as he had bought a 1563 edition of Desiderius Eramus’s Collectanea Adagiorum (1466-1536), a collection of anthologies by classical authors. He was still skeptical and under the impression of his imagination when he saw God defecating over Basel Cathedral. The adagio grew in importance due to his practice, his readings and experiences with patients where he verified that the true beginning of wisdom is the fear of God. However, it implied the search and the journey to evaluate the final question of “God itself”. Aniela Jaffe says: “It is the answer that the Delphic Oracle gave to the Laacedemons when they were planning a war against Athens” (1979: 136).

Pantheism is the belief that reality is identical with divinity,[1] or that all-things compose an all-encompassing, immanent god.[2] Pantheist belief does not recognize a distinct personal god,[3]anthropomorphic or otherwise, but instead characterizes a broad range of doctrines differing in forms of relationships between reality and divinity.[4] Pantheistic concepts date back thousands of years, and pantheistic elements have been identified in various religious traditions. The term pantheism was coined by mathematician Joseph Raphson in 1697[5][6] and has since been used to describe the beliefs of a variety of people and organizations.

Deirdre Bair, page 377, 3rd. paragraph: “Filemon’s speech created an ‘egypt-gnostic-helenic atmosphere’, with a distinctly gnostic touch, because he was really pagan ‘”

idem, pag 378, 2o. paragraph: Many years later, Jung allowed his translator and trusted friend R.F.C. Hull read the Red Book. Having worked on Jung’s texts for almost two decades, Hul was in a unique position to evaluate the text, which he did with his usual biting insight: “To speak of Freud self-analysis […]Jung was a walking asylum himself, besides also his doctor and its director “. […] (RFC Hull) found that the Red Book gave “the most convincing proof that Jung’s entire system was based on psychotic fantasies – and clearly it was – and therefore was the work of a lunatic”.

As Deirdre Bair reports in detail, page 43, vol I, portuguese version, second paragraph, Jung had dreams that had obsessed him since childhood all his life and only at 65 he came to reveal them. It is impossible to read the text and not think that he would possibly have been abused. If not sexually, he was somehow at least terrified with something. The Red Book has a strong connection with this episode and an explanation linking everything to Masonic rituals deserves to be read

Answer to Jung: Making Sense of ‘The Red Book’

The Red Book is C.G. Jung’s record of a period of deep penetration into his unconscious mind in a process that he called ‘active imagination’, undertaken during his mid-life period. Answer to Jung: Making Sense of ‘The Red Book’ provides a close reading of this magnificent yet perplexing text and its fascinating images, and demonstrates that the fantasies in The Red Book are not entirely original, but that their plots, characters and symbolism are remarkably similar to some of the higher degree rituals of Continental Freemasonry. It argues that the fantasies may be memories of a series of terrifying initiatory ordeals, possibly undergone in childhood, using altered or spurious versions of these Masonic rites. It then compares these initiatory scenarios with accounts of ritual trauma that have been reported since the 1980s. This is the first full-length study of The Red Book to focus on the fantasies themselves and provide such an external explanation for them.

Sonu Shamdasani describes The Red Book as an incomplete task that Jung left to posterity as a ‘message in a bottle’ that would someday come ashore. Answer to Jung brings its message to shore, providing a coherent, but disturbing, interpretation of each of the fantasies and their accompanying images.

Seven Sermons of the Dead

As you can read at the Wikipedia:

Seven Sermons to the Dead (LatinSeptem Sermones ad Mortuos) is a collection of seven mystical or “Gnostic” texts written and privately published by C. G. Jung in 1916, under the title Seven Sermons to the Dead, written by Basilides of Alexandria, the city where East and West meet. Jung did not identify himself as the author of the publication and instead ascribed it to the early Christian Gnostic religious teacher, BasilidesSeven Sermons is a part of Jung’s The Red Book and can be described as its “summary revelation”.[1]Seven Sermons is the only portion of the material contained in The Red Book manuscripts that Jung shared privately during his lifetime.[2]The Red Book was published posthumously in October 2009 (C. G. Jung, The Red Book: Liber Novus, ed. Sonu Shamdasani, Norton, 2009). Shamdasani’s introduction and notes on the text of The Red Book provide previously unavailable primary documentation on this important period of Jung’s life.

The explanation and the details are at the Gnostic Society Library

“The Seven Sermons to the Dead,” Septem Sermones ad Mortuos, might best be described as the “summary revelation of the Red Book.” It is the only portion of the imaginative material contained in the Red Book manuscripts that C.G. Jung shared more or less publicly during his lifetime. To comprehend the importance of the Septem Sermones, one must understand the events behind the writing of the Red Book itself — a task ultimately facilitated by the epochal publication of Jung’s Red Book in October of 2009 (C. G. Jung, The Red Book: Liber Novus, ed. Sonu Shamdasani, Norton, 2009). Dr. Shamdasani’s extensive introduction and notes on the text of the Red Book provide a wealth of previously unavailable primary documentation on this crucial period of Jung’s life.

Deirdre Bair has an interesting information on her Jung Biography, page 381-384: (Portuguese edition, vol I)


THAT FILEMON, ”Jung recalled years later,“ he was a terribly mysterious figure. At times it seemed almost real. He was fantastic. ” Even so, Jung abandoned the visionary figure that served as the reason for the Red Book, in addition to the Red Book itself, since he stopped writing in it until the last year of his life, he left Filemon’s inner world and surrendered to another more active involvement in the outside world, when he realized that he could never show the world the “raw material” of Seven sermons: “That would be like prophesying, and that goes against my nature”. Jung classified Seven sermons in the category of “raw material that flows, but does not contain the whole person. The unconscious must not be overestimated ”. Jung used Nietzsche as an example of what he meant, declaring that the philosopher had gone mad because he “believed in all his spontaneous creation”, while he (Jung) “always had a critical attitude” when it came to exposing inner visions to the world. “I always said: there is this line, but I am not speaking. I just hear it, and I perceive it as woefully bad. I just got carried away by this chain and felt like I was in it. But during this process I have always preserved my critical point of view. I ground my teeth, so to speak, because I didn’t agree with the speech at all. ”
Jung made a conscious decision not to “reveal any of this to the world with the exception, finally, of Seven sermons. They were a finished thing”                                         
The entire text encompasses a small, neat, well-organized whole, which passed on his most recently defined analytical concepts with internal logic and natural progression. Revealing in technique, the book has a prophetic quality of a clairvoyant who reinforces it at the beginning, with a preface announcing the writer as “Basilides, in Alexandra the city where the East touches the West”. Jung was actually following the rhetorical style of G. R. S. Mead, whose “some sixteen or eighteen” volumes of mystical and Gnostic writing he had been studying. Mead’s guide in his ruminations was Valentinus, whose “fantastically complex speculations” resembled those of Basilides, a second-century Christian who was eventually denounced as an heretic. In many ways, Mead’s style and theme have also become Jung’s. ‘
In Jung’s first sermon, the dead return from Jerusalem without having found the salvation and peace of mind they were looking for, and ask the narrator to instruct them. It starts with the concept of nothing, and expands it to a discussion of “pleroma”, meaning the totality of the qualities found in a supreme being. The essay becomes a meditation on “individuation”, The process by which the individual’s personality becomes integrated and wholesome, which Basilides / Jung describes as “the essence of the creature”. Jung veiled the use of newly defined concepts of psychoanalysis behind an archaic language, but the technique of active imagination is evident, as does the personal and “collective” (or “supra personal”, as he sometimes still called him).

The second sermon continues with the theme of personal individuation, beginning with the question of whether God is dead. this allows the narrator to introduce comments that prefigure Jung’s concepts of privatio boni, which would appear later: the deprivation of good and the possibility of evil in God. Here he speaks of the Gnostic god Abraxas; “described in the third sermon as” difficult to know. “In fact, the qualities that Jung attributes to him are many and varied, and at the end of sermon III,” the dead howled and were enraged, because they had remained undone. “Sermons IV and V take a turn from the introduction of Eros” to multiple gods, the Tree of Life and the single god, which fosters union through communion. They all contain aspects of “anima” and “animus”, which Jung was trying to define elsewhere in empirical terms. But in sermon VI, the “demon of sexuality has approached” the underlying shadows, where he had been lurking in the previous three sermons, because the real issue here is the revealed “animus” and “anima”.

In the final sermon, “man”, or all of humanity, is merged into an entity united in its search for salvation (in all the many forms and meanings of that concept). A “star” of light, which is magnified by “prayer”. The final image and humanity’s rejection of the “flaming spectacle of Abraxas”, and the embrace of a single god who will lead the supreme redemption. In the Protocols, Jung uses the examples of pagan Pompeii and Rome to give a partial explanation of his intentions. Writing Symbols of Transformation had given him a “relationship with the spirit of antiquity, the primeval beginning”, but he had not “understood it yet. the transition to Christianity. He still needed to “bring it to the conscious” When the seven sermons are considered as a whole, they become much more than a simplistic monotheistic rejection of multiple gods. The Seven Sermons, on the whole, means a carefully designed, high-style guide, a kind of self-help book (albeit in archaic language) for successful individuation and peaceful acceptance of the collective unconscious – like Jung until that time saw him. Seen retrospectively, the evidence is there to show how Gnosticism would turn out to be deficient, and how research on other belief systems, from mythology to alchemy, would provide more meaningful answers.

Even so, Jung questioned himself when, how and even if the book should be presented to his audience, members of the Psychological Club and those people in the rest of the world who were interested in his work. He thought about what to do until the end of 1917, when he decided not to divulge it, at least for a future still undefined. But he always felt that the text had value, and at some point, in the mid-1920s, when his interest in Gnosticism was becoming more focused on alchemy, he realized that this curious work had served as a precursor to themes with which he was now dealing. debating.

Even so, it remained a secret pamphlet, a very special gift made only to the most trusted associates.
On one of the last occasions when he discussed the Seven Sermons in the Protocols, he identified it with the unfinished Red Book and compared the two with a metaphorical house, wondering what it would mean if that house were in a dream. “A house describes a situation in life,” he concluded. “You are in it as if you are in a situation.”
Jung observed that when patients talked about their dreams about houses, or even when he dreamed of them himself, the houses were always unfinished, always needing another room, or there was a mysterious corridor connected to the person’s real house, which led to rooms that didn’t really exist. And when the dreamer woke up, he or she always had the conscious feeling that “I should resolve the issue of the house, do something with it.
The analogy with the Red Book “clicked!” Jung realized. Just as he had done with the unpublished Seven sermons, he decided to leave the Red Book “unfinished”: “I immediately saw that the things I am saying in it would still have to be put in a form in which it could be brought to the world.”
Writing the Red Book and the Seven sermons served two purposes in Jung’s life. First, it dispersed the domestic ghosts and gave harmony and stability to the family, since their children and Emma accepted, although reluctantly the presence of Toni Wolff in their lives. However, and probably more importantly, these two writings led to Jung’s decision to end years of focusing on his unconscious and to get involved in the world at large. Switzerland’s borders were now open, after the war ended, and Jung’s self-imposed creative isolation was also coming to its natural end. His personal and public life took a turn when his main project became how to give his theories a form that would make them accessible to the world.

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