Swans Commentary » swans.com April 8, 2013  



Carl Jung's Selective Consciousness
(Part II of II)


by Michael Barker



(Swans - April 8, 2013)   Jung's eventual ascension to the towering heights of his very own cult can be seen as an exemplar of the type of spiritual leadership required to meet the ruling class's calls for Lebensreform. Another similar spiritual leader in this vein was Count Keyserling, whose esoteric School of Wisdom (which opened in 1920) was formed to enable Keyserling to train "his metaphysically superior elite to lead the spiritual reawakening of the world." Richard Wilhelm, the translator of the I Ching, was "[a]mong the most prominent lecturers" at the School of Wisdom, which is where he first met Jung in the early twenties. Over the following years, the relationship between these three men-in-spiritual-arms grew closer, with personal letters from Keyserling to Jung indicating that he "looked up to Jung as a quasi-guru..." In return, "During the late 1920s and early 1930s Jung wrote three very positive reviews of volumes of metaphysical social criticism published by Keyserling." (Additionally, Jung's letters to Keyserling providing interpretations of the latter's dreams; while "Jung's letters to Wilhelm are warmly collegial and ever-encouraging.") (1)

Notably, Wilhelm's popular translation of the I Ching was published by the "Eugen Diederichs Verlag: Publishing House for Modern Endeavors in Literature, Natural Science, and Theosophy," which "was perhaps the most important disseminator of Lebensphilosophie in Central Europe from 1896 to 1930." The man at the helm of this prolific occult publishing group was the volkisch pantheist Eugen Diederichs, an individual who expressedly aimed to "create a new religion in Germany in which God would be replaced by the irrational, vital life-force of the cosmos" such that his newly emergent "genuine religion" would "be grounded on a subjective, intuitive metaphysics." (2) Monist author of The Christ Myth (1909), Arthur Drews, served as a chief adviser to the Eugen Diederichs Verlag, while Dr. Albert Kalthoff, the founding president of the Monist League, likewise had his books like The Problem of Christ (1903) published under the Diederich imprint. Jung drew upon the writings of both these authors in his promotion of the volkisch mysticism of sun worship, supplementing such nonsense with the more infamous volkisch racial ideology of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. (3)

Eugen Diederichs himself went beyond mere publishing, and was an ardent occult activist who helped form a prominent neopagan cult whose sun-worshipping rituals were first performed by the "Sera Circle" (formed in 1904) and were later enacted by its "German Youth Movement" members. (4) Around this time Diederichs also published the work of Hermann Hesse whose...

... first novel, Peter Camenzind (1903), was of a youth who loves nature and who would "obstinately go his own way," in Hesse's words, "mirroring nature and world in his own soul and experiencing them in new pictures." This young Nietzschean and pantheistic nature-hero was idolized by many in the German Youth Movement of the time, although Hesse himself did not approve of such herd-like nature worship. Yet Peter Camenzind sparked the first Hesse cults among Asconan and volkisch neopagan youths, and by the time he began treatment with [Jungian psychiatrist Josef] Lang in 1916 Hesse -- whether he liked it or not -- was viewed by many as yet another prominent voice of volkisch mysticism." (pp.236-7)

Moving more directly to the powerful individuals who catalysed Jung's propulsion to global fame, one could do no better than turning to Edith Rockefeller McCormick, the daughter of John D. Rockefeller (who was arguably the richest man in the world). Dipping into her family's bottomless coffers she funded the first translations of Jung's work into English, and during the First World War bankrolled Jung's Analytical Psychology Club in Zurich. Other latter-day disciples with cavernous pockets included Mary and Paul Mellon, who helped set up the Bollingen Foundation in 1945, which industriously translated and popularized Jung's work "paving the way for the contemporary explosion of interest" in Jung. (5) Bolstering such lucrative interventions, Noll suggests that Jung's rise to influence in the English-speaking world was aided somewhat by an article published in Harper's Magazine in May 1931 which helped create the "legend of Jung as a Keyserling-type sage or holy man..." (6)

In his autobiography Paul Mellon recalled that when his wife, Mary, first "encountered Jung, she became one his most ardent and confirmed disciples. Jungian thought became her inner, deep philosophy, her religion." (7) Here one individual who helped Mary in her tireless efforts to disseminate Jungian mysticism across the world was Olga Froebe-Kapteyn. According to Bollingen historian, William McGuire, Olga had been "deeply influenced" by Ludwig Derleth's "dream of founding a Utopian community based on idealistic Christian and occultist principles" ...so much so that in 1928 she created a purpose-built spiritual sanctuary near Ascona, Switzerland. Olga then travelled to the United States "and sought out" spiritual adept Alice Bailey, "who was "a former Theosophist who led a movement called the Arcane School." Together in 1930 they organized a short-lived project known as the School of Spiritual Research whose early lecturers included the Grand Duke Alexander of Russian, and the founder of the psychosynthesis movement, Roberto Assagioli, a Jungian psychologist who at the time was the Italian representative of Bailey's Arcane School. (8)

By 1932 Olga and Bailey parted way acrimoniously, and Olga, having first met Jung in 1930 at Count Keyserling's School of Wisdom, decided to put all her spiritual energies into organizing what would become known as the Eranos Conferences. These conferences have been held annually from 1933 onwards, and Jung quickly became known as Eranos' "dominant figure." This brings us full circle to the Mellons, as Mary's good friend Nancy Wilson Ross -- who in time would become most famous for introducing Buddhism to Western readers -- had attended the School of Spiritual Research. Subsequently, one afternoon in 1933, after returning from a jaunt to Europe, Nancy had waxed lyrical to Mary and her friends about her new-found interest in Jung. Mary had then turned to one of her friends and said, "I think it's all absolute nonsense, and I just hope that nobody gets caught in it." Yet "it was not long afterward that [Mary] began having analytical interviews with Ann Moyer, a therapist of Jungian orientation" whom Nancy and Maude Oake (another of Mary's close friends) had both already been seeing. Moyer herself had already attended the School of Spiritual Research, and with the blessing of Jung, had thereafter married Erlo van Waveren, a fellow Jungian analyst who had formerly served as Alice Bailey's business manager. (9)

So it was that the year 1934 marked the year that Mary met her soon-to-be immensely rich husband Paul Mellon and embarked on what would become a life-long commitment to the Jungian cult. After hearing Jung lecture in New York in 1937, the Mellons uprooted for a psychological soiree in Ascona, which is where they first met both Olga and Jung. On meeting Jung, Mary reported "that her first words were: 'Dr. Jung, we have too much money. What can we do with it?'" As to be expected this marked the beginning of a long-lasting and fervent relationship between the Mellons and their spiritual saviours. (10)

Old friends nevertheless remained vital to Mary's ensuing Jungian evangelism, and in 1943 Nancy Wilson Ross' husband, Stanley Young, became the editor of the Bollingen Series; a series whose "central core" in the words of Paul Mellon were the Collected Works of Jung, which determined "not only of the [Bollingen] Foundation's general direction but also of the ultimate intellectual temper of Bollingen Series as a whole." Another of Mary's friends who helped spread the Jungian gospel was Maude Oake, who while at a Mellon dinner party, was encouraged by Olga to begin an anthropological study of American Indians. So without any prior experience, but with assurance of the financial backing of the Mellons, Maude set off on her newfound career. Occult inspiration of course remained a steady mainstay of such individuals' colorful lives. Thus for instance, the former Hollywood starlet cum Theosophist Natacha Rambova oversaw Maude's "scholarly" development, "guid[ing] Maude's reading" and encouraging her to document pre-Christian Mayan culture. This study was written up by Maude at her house at Big Sur, and would eventually be published in the Bollingen series as The Two Crosses of Todos Santos (1951). (11)

In more recent years, the cult of Jung has received another boost from the mass media, as...

... the enormously popular series of televised interviews with mythologist Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) in 1988 was an effective promotion of Jung's transcendental ideas of a collective unconscious and its archetypes working through the lives (and especially the dreams) of contemporary individuals. (p.300)

Popular books like James Hall's The Jungian Experience: Analysis and Individuation (Inner City Books, 1987) further serve as effective marketing devices "for the largest capitalist enterprise of Jungian analysis." Those in search of greater meaning in life and plenty of spare cash are smoothly channelled into transformative experiences, such that the Jungian movement "resembles a twentieth-century version of an ancient Hellenistic mystery cult..." (12)

Today, one must pay for several years of analysis (usually one hundred hours at a cost of perhaps $10,000 to $15,000) before even applying to an approved Jungian training institute, which then requires six to ten more years of training (analysis, readings in the Jungian literature, and, in some institutes, instruction in the occult sciences such as astrology, palmistry, the I Ching, and other 'intuitive' methods), which can cost up to another $100,000 or so. (p.281)

"Not surprisingly," Noll concludes, "Jung's polytheism and extremely uncritical relativism have made him the perfect source of quotations for a new generation of postmodern literary critics and classicists." (13)


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1.  Noll, The Jung Cult, p.94, p.95. Geoffrey Field, Evangelist of Race: The Germanic Vision of Houston Stewart Chamberlain (Columbia University Press, 1982). For more on Count Keyserling, see Walter Struve's, Elites Against Democracy: Leadership Ideas in Bourgeois Political Thought in Germany, 1890-1933 (Princeton University Press, 1973), pp.274-316.  (back)

2.  Noll, The Jung Cult, p.95, p.87, p.68, p.87. See Gary Stark, Entrepreneurs of Ideology: Neoconservative Publishers in Germany, 1890-1933 (University of North Carolina Press, 1982), p.70.  (back)

3.  Noll, The Jung Cult, p.132., p.88. It is hardly surprising given the bourgeois circles Jung moved within that he draws upon the work of various volkisch intellectuals, like Houston Stewart Chamberlain. That said, although Noll notes that Jung was clearly a propagator of "Volk-psychology" he argues that the "claimed evidence of the active, open espousal of anti-Semitism or Nazism by Jung is, in my opinion, less directly compelling..." Noll, The Jung Cult, pp.131-2, p.103. Although not cited by Noll the most convincing case made in this regard is Stanley Grossman's "C G Jung and National Socialism," in Paul Bishop (ed.) Jung in Contexts: A Reader (Routledge, 1999), pp.92-122. (1st published by the Journal of European Studies in 1979.) For a interesting essay reviewing some of the evidence against Jung by a sympathetic writer, see R.H. Langan, "Jung and Nazis (Part I)," Thoughts & Drivel Blog, May 6, 2012.

Noll observes that after 1936 Jung toned down his racial rhetoric considerably. "However, based on his essentially volkisch view of human nature in 1916, it is clear that Jung's proposed path of spiritual redemption could only work for those of Indo-European ancestry, or for those few secular Jews who had lived on European soil and who therefore had souls that were imbued with the combined pagan and Christian influences that literally arose from the blood soaked into the land itself." (p.259) Arising from such racial beliefs, a secret bylaw of Jung's Analytical Psychology Club of Zurich meant that Jewish membership was "limited to ten percent and Jewish 'guest membership' to twenty-five percent of the total. This fact -- which only came to light in 1989 -- is confirmation of Jung's long-standing covert anti-Semitism, as he removed the Jewish quota only in 1950." (p.260)  (back)

4.  Noll, The Jung Cult, p.89.  (back)

5.  Noll, The Jung Cult, p.279. "Perhaps the most ironic -- and potentially the most disturbing -- link between Jungism and neopaganism is the prominent inspirational role Jung's writings play in the revival of 'Germanic Religion' or Norse paganism in contemporary continental Europe, England, and North America." (p.295) This trend has been documented by Stephen Flowers, "Revival of Germanic Religion in Contemporary Anglo-American Culture," Mankind Quarterly 21, No. 3 (Spring 1981), pp.279-94. For a critical reading of this connection, see Mattias Gardell, Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism (Duke University Press, 2003), pp.210-2.  (back)

6.  Noll, The Jung Cult, p.282. The article in question was written by an ex-patient of Jung's and was titled "Dr. Jung: A Portrait." Although there was much friendly media coverage of Jung, critical accounts regularly hinted at connections with Nazism. "Jungians then and now have generally perceived the New York Times in particular as overly sympathetic to Freud and quite dismissive of Jung." (p.288)  (back)

7.  Paul Mellon, Reflections in a Silver Spoon: A Memoir (John Murray, 1992), p.222. In addition to being a long-serving patron of Jung's mysticism Paul maintained numerous other philanthropic interests most notably serving on the executive committee of the Ford Foundations Fund for the Advancement of Education's (from 1951 to 1957), and on the board of the Conservation Foundation (a Rockefeller, Ford and Mellon Foundation-financed project) during its early years from 1949 to 1956. Paul also recalls how Ernie Brooks served as a trustee of the Old Dominion Foundation (the forerunner of the Mellon Foundation) between 1948 until 1969 before becoming the vice president of the Audubon Society and later the chairman of the Conservation Foundation. During Brooks's time at Old Dominion he simultaneously acted in senior roles at the Bollingen Foundation further highlighting the overlapping nature of environmental and mystical causes within ruling class circles. Mellon, Reflections in a Silver Spoon, p.345, p.358.  (back)

8.  William McGuire, Bollingen: An Adventure in Collecting the Past (Princeton University Press, 1989), p.22, p.23.  (back)

9.  McGuire, Bollingen, p.24, p.6, p.8, p.23. The Eranos Conferences continue to this day. A recent president of the Eranos Conference was the popular psychic James Van Praagh, a best-selling author who has helped produce numerous programs for the CBS network. Indeed in the year he took up the Eranos presidency he had just finished acting as co-executive producer for the CBS primetime series Ghost Whisperer, which starred Jennifer Love Hewitt. According to his Web Site: "This show premiered in September 2005 and became the #1 Friday night drama for CBS. It ran for five seasons and is currently seen in syndication over 200 markets worldwide." Current institutional partners of Eranos include the Fetzer Institute, a New Age organization whose board of trustees includes Lynne Twist, author of the award-winning book, The Soul of Money, and original staff member of Werner Erhard's controversial Hunger Project.  (back)

10.  McGuire, Bollingen, p.20.  (back)

11.  For a useful exposition on the relationship between the Bollingen Foundation and Shamanism, see Jeroen Boekhoven, Genealogies of Shamanism: Struggles for Power, Charisma and Authority (Barkhuis, 2011), Chapter 5, "The Bollingen Connection, 1930s-1960s," pp.129-62.

McGuire, Bollingen, p.58, p.64, p.90, p.166. In late 1946 John Barrett was appointed editor of the Bollingen Series, and soon, Abraham Flexner, who had spent many years administering Carnegie and Rockefeller benefactions, asked if he could become involved with the Series. "Thereafter, for several years, he and Barrett had the custom of lunching together once a month. Flexner, Barrett later observed, helped him to establish a 'Bollingen approach and attitude." (p.122)  (back)

12.  Noll, The Jung Cult, p.293, p.292. "In 1991, based on an official list of approximately five hundred certified analysts, I found that Jungian analysis was indeed a major capitalist enterprise that had a total market size of almost $80 million. This is not including the countless workshops, publications, etc., that also go on in Jung's name." (p.374)  (back)

13.  Noll, The Aryan Christ, p.xv.  (back)


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Published April 8, 2013