What Jung Was Searching For
As Dr. John Kerr showed in his important book, A Most Dangerous Method:
The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein, Jung's drive to formulate
a new religion was the result of trying to justify his own sins: the
betrayal of his wife and the betrayal and seduction of his patient Sabina
Spielrein. He needed to conceive a "better" religion, wrote Kerr, one that
wouldn't condemn him for his sins.
At bottom, Jung betrayed his father, his wife, his patient, and, of course,
Christ, in trying to ease the rebukes his conscience delivered.
Another early important influence on Jung was the German physician and
psychoanalyst Otto Gross (1877-1920). From him, Jung picked up his ideas on
the "life-enhancing value of eroticism," which, wrote Gross, "is so great
that it must remain free from extraneous considerations in laws, and above
all, from any integration into everyday life.... Husbands and wives should
not begrudge each other whatever erotic stimuli may present themselves.
Jealousy is something mean. Just as one has several people for friends, one
can also have sexual union with several people at any given period and be
'faithful' to each one.... Free love will save the world."
According to scholar Martin Green, quoted by Noll: "Otto Gross was familiar
with every kind of heresy" and "his teachings attacked not just
Christianity but the whole complex of secular faiths that had grown up
around Christianity in the West, and had largely stifled and supplanted
Gross and Jung spent a considerable amount of time together, sometimes
analyzing each other for 12-hour stints, which Gross would have to flee
from to feed his drug habit. But until his suicide, Gross was very much
Jung's mentor, and Jung could write approvingly of Gross' use of sex orgies
to promote pagan spirituality, as he did when he wrote: "The existence of a
phallic or orgiastic cult does not indicate eo ipso a particularly
lascivious life any more than the ascetic symbolism of Christianity means
an especially moral life."
It was Gross, writes Noll, who "unlocked these mysteries for Jung and paved
the way for the formation of Jung's own mystery cult of redemption. "
The New Revolution
With Gross, Jung held that patriarchal family structure was a major cause
of neuroses and "imprisonment of the individual."
"The revolutionary of today," wrote Gross, "with the help of the psychology
of the unconscious fights oppression in its most basic form: the father and
patriarchy. The coming revolution is the revolution for matriarchy."
Jung took up the cause for matriarchy and its symbol, goddess worship and
the cult of mother earth -which glorified the body and the earth-but, as
Noll observed, Jung "reframe[d] the practice to make it seem less occultic
and more scientific by making an analogy to archaeology-a style of
translating or repackaging arcane or occultist ideas to make them congruent
with the psychiatric and scientific terminology of his day."
What Jung was increasingly concerned with was justifying sexual
libertinism, and his efforts extended not merely to reviving the lost gods
of paganism, but in transforming Christ and Christianity.
In a letter to Freud, from whom Jung would eventually be estranged because
of the latter's infatuation with matriarchy and sexual libertinism, Jung
reflected that "the ethical problem of sexual freedom really is enormous
and worth the sweat of all noble souls. But 2,000 years of Christianity can
only be replaced by something equivalent ... an irresistible mass
"I imagine a far finer and more comprehensive task for [psychoanalysis]
than alliance with an ethical fraternity. I think we must give it time to
infiltrate into people from many centers, to revivify among intellectuals a
feeling for symbol and myth, ever so gently to transform Christ back into
the soothsaying god of the vine, which he was, and in this way absorb those
ecstatic instinctual forces of Christianity for the one purpose of making
the cult and the sacred myth what they once were-a drunken feast of joy
where men regained the ethos and holiness of an animal. That was the beauty
and purpose of ancient religion, and from which, God knows what temporary
biological needs have turned into a Misery Institute. Yet what infinite
rapture and wantonness lie dormant in our religion, waiting to be led back
to their true destination. A genuine and proper ethical development cannot
abandon Christianity but must grow up within it, must bring to fruition its
hymn of love, the agony and ecstasy of the dying and resurgent god, the
mystic power of the wine, the awesome anthropophagy of the Last Supper-only
this ethical development can serve the vital forces of religion."
In 1912, Jung published his New Paths in Psychology, which, writes Noll,
was the equivalent of Lenin's What Is To Be Done?
In this work, Jung "calls for an intrapsychic overthrow of custom, a
revolution in the internalized European traditions that enslave the
individual personality." The only way to overthrow the neuroses inducing
Judeo-Christian religion and its sex-fixated ethics, said Jung, was to
establish a new religion-the religion of psychoanalysis.
In 1913, Jung began inducing visionary experiences through his "active
imagination" which led him, ultimately, into revealing that he had become a
god, and was now immortal.
By revealing in detail his religious experiences, writes Noll, Jung "was
modeling the way for his disciples to follow if they, too, wanted to be
redeemed by initiation into mysteries that would give them the 'certainty
of immortality'.... By contacting and merging with the god within, true
personality transformation would then follow. Jung had, then, by this time
very much left the realm of science (even in its 19th-century sense) and
had founded a mystery cult or personal religion. This was a mystery cult
that promised a direct experience of the transcendent and that rivaled the
major occultist (theosophy, anthroposophy) and mystical volkisch
movements of his day in their common search for renovation."
In 1917, Jung authored his Seven Sermons to the Dead in which he counsels
the dead on the true way to find redemption: by looking within.
In the final chapter of The Jung Cult, Noll describes the phenomenal
spread of "the secret church," which Jung established and through which he
transmitted his charismatic authority.
Beginning in 1912, writes Noll, Jung "seems to have deliberately developed
his psychological method and organizational plans along an ancient-
mysteries model," recruiting former patients and Jung-worshipers-primarily
women-to be the high priests of his new religion.
Today, Noll comments, "for literally tens of thousands if not hundreds of
thousands, of individuals in our culture, Jung and his ideas are the basis
of a personal religion that either supplants their participation in
traditional organized Judeo-Christian religion or accompanies it."
Moreover, Jung is fueling the widespread fascination with all areas of
witchcraft and the occult and is a "source of inspiration and affirmation
for the neopagan religious movements ... [which] have adopted Jung as a
Richard Noll's wise and scholarly study of Jung should raise a cry from
Catholics throughout the West: What is Jung doing in our Church?
This article was taken from the December 29, 1994 issue of "The Wanderer,"
201 Ohio Street, St. Paul, MN 55107, 612-224-5733. Subscription Price:
$35.00 per year; six months $20.00.
The electronic form of this document is copyrighted.
Copyright (c) Trinity Communications 1994.
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