Carl Jung Soul Journey

Carl Jung: The Red Book

The Red Book is an exquisite red leather bound folio manuscript crafted by the Swiss psychologist and physician Carl Gustav Jung between 1915 and 1930. It recounts and comments upon the author’s imaginative experiences between 1913 and 1916, based on manuscripts first drafted by Jung in 1914–17. Despite being nominated as the central work in Jung’s oeuvre, it was not published or made otherwise accessible for study until 2009.    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thomas Hannich for The New York Times  Photo: Thomas Hannich for The New York Times

“…the spirit of the depths forced me to speak to my soul, to call upon her as a living and self-existing being. I had to become aware that I had lost my soul.”
Carl Jung, The Red Book

“The years…when I pursued the inner images, were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life. Everything later was merely the outer classification, scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then.”
Carl Jung, 1957  –interview with Aniela Jaffé


My soul, where are you? Do you hear me? I speak, I call you–are you there? I have returned, I am here again. I have shaken the dust of all the lands from my feet, and I have come to you, I am with you. After long years of long wandering, I have come to you again. Should I tell you everything I have seen, experienced, and drunk in? Or do you not want to hear about all the noise of life and the world? But one thing you must know: the one thing I have learned is that one must live this life.

“This life is the way, the long sought-after way to the unfathomable, which we call divine. There is no other way, all other ways are false paths. I found the right way, it led me to you, to my soul. I return, tempered and purified. Do you still know me? How long the separation lasted! Everything has become so different. And how did I find you? How strange my journey was! What words should I use to tell you on what twisted paths a good star has guided me to you? Give me your hand, my almost forgotten soul. How warm the joy at seeing you again, you long disavowed soul. Life has led me back to you. Let us thank the life I have lived for all the happy and all the sad hours, for every joy, for every sadness. My soul, my journey should continue with you. I will wander with you and ascend to my solitude.”

“He whose desire turns away from outer things, reaches the place of the soul…If he possessed his desire, and his desire did not possess him, he would lay a hand on his soul, since his desire is the image and expression of his soul.”
Carl Jung, The Red Book

The spirit of the depths forced me to say this and at the same time to undergo it against myself since I had not expected it then. I still labored misguidedly under the spirit of this time, and thought differently about the human soul. I thought and spoke much of the soul. I knew many learned words for her, I had judged her and turned her into a scientific object. I did not consider that my soul cannot be the object of my judgment and knowledge; much more are my judgment and knowledge the objects of my soul.

Therefore the spirit of the depths forced me to speak to my soul, to call upon her as a living and self-existing being. I had to become aware that I had lost my soul.

I had to recognize and accept that my soul is a child and that my God in my soul is a child.
If you are boys, your God is a woman.
If you are women, your God is a boy.
If you are men, your God is a maiden.
The God is where you are not.
So: it is wise that one has a God; this serves for your perfection.
Carl Jung, The Red Book

From this we learn how the spirit of the depths considers the soul: he sees her as a living and self-existing being, and with this he contradicts the spirit of this time for whom the soul is a thing dependent on man, which lets herself be judged and arranged, and whose circumference we can grasp. I had to accept that what I had previously called my soul was not at all my soul, but a dead system. Hence I had to speak to my soul as to something far off and unknown, which did not exist through me, but through whom I existed.

He whose desire turns away from outer things, reaches the place of the soul. If he does not find the soul, the horror of emptiness will overcome him, and fear will drive him with a whip lashing time and again in a desperate endeavor and a blind desire for the hollow things of the world. He becomes a fool through his endless desire, and forgets the way of his soul, never to find her again. He will run after all things, and will seize hold of them, but he will not find his soul, since he would find her only in himself. Truly his soul lies in things and men, but the blind one seizes things and men, yet not his soul in things and men. He has no knowledge of his soul. How could he tell her apart from things and men? He could find his soul in desire itself, but not in the objects of desire. If he possessed his desire, and his desire did not possess him, he would lay a hand on his soul, since his desire is the image and expression of his soul.

If we possess the image of a thing, we possess half the thing. The image of the world is half the world. He who possesses the world but not its image’ possesses only half the world, since his soul is poor and has nothing. The wealth of the soul exists in images. He who possesses the image of the world, possesses half the world, even if his humanity is poor and owns nothing. But hunger makes the soul into a beast that devours the unbearable and is poisoned by it. My friends, it is wise to nourish the soul, otherwise you will breed dragons and devils in your heart.

–Carl Gustav Jung
LIBER PRIMUS fol. ii(v) / iii(r)


The Red Book is published by W. W. Norton & Company.

This exact facsimile of The Red Book reveals not only an extraordinary mind at work but also the hand of a gifted artist and calligrapher. Interspersed among more than two hundred lovely illuminated pages are paintings whose influences range from Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East to the native art of the new world. The Red Book, much like the handcrafted “Books of Hours” from the Middle Ages, is unique. Both in terms of its place in Jung’s development and as a work of art, its publication is a landmark.


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