Dr. Deininger – Thank you for your interesting response. As you brought up magic, it is worth considering how magic is discussed in the Black Books. I have worked with this in two contexts: Jung’s runes (shown to him by the figure Ha) and my discussion on the use of negation in depth psychology. When Jung meets Philemon the Magician, Philemon tells Jung the following essential facts about magic:
Above all, you must know that magic is the negative of what you can know. … there is nothing for you to understand. … Magic happens to be precisely everything that eludes comprehension. … Magic is neither to be taught nor learned. It’s foolish that you want to learn magic.
And when Jung receives the magical black rod, he is told by his Soul “You must sacrifice solace for the sake of the black rod, the solace you give and the solace you receive.” All of this pertains to the proper frame of mind with which to consider and approach magic. I have not pursued this line of thinking, but given your bringing together intuition and magic, one wonders if these discussions of magic anticipate certain aspects of intuition in Jung’s Analytical Psychology, recognizing the critical fact that it was Maria Moltzer who had first developed intuition as a psychological function, work which Jung would shape into his own theory.
As your discussion of intuition points out, it is most unfair to intuition to consider it solely in terms of right or wrong. In my note on intuition, I wrote the following:
While it goes without saying that intuition can be wrong despite its accompanying experience of certainty and conviction, a position inherent in Jung’s typology in its recognition of the necessity of the other three psychological functions, such an experience bordering on the numinous can make it exceedingly difficult to critique the intuition. But, it should be remembered that Jung held intuition to be “right” only 50% of the time. In his seminar on Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra, Jung said “It is utterly improbable that more than 50 percent of intuitions are true because we are surrounded by a large percentage of false possibilities.” Jung developed a more nuanced understanding of potentialities recognizing that some potentialities were not necessarily realizable; that some potentialities are false possibilities. This is part of the reason one cannot, without subsequent verification, hold an intuition to represent truth, something which will be explored later in this note in the context of formal mathematics.
But, you are correct that intuitions, even if judged to be wrong (embodying a ‘false’ possibility), can be very helpful to the individual. And I believe your comments embody the critical notion that to benefit from such an intuition, it is the responsibility of the individual to work with it in as critical yet holistic a manner as possible. And returning to your original discussion on Jung and archetypes, one reason he may not have stopped at the directly experienceable (archetypal images, symbols, etc.) was because he had a sort of intuition of something (which is no-thing) which underlay all of that – the archetype. Again, this is a topic worth study.
As your article discusses, the individual path/quest about which Joseph Campbell wrote so passionately and eloquently contains within it unseen aid, one manifestation of which may be the experience of intuitions. But, there, say as a medieval knight on a quest, it is exceedingly difficult to approach intuitions in a critical and holistic manner because the external circumstances may be far too intense to allow it. This reveals one of the advantages of the approach of the ascetic – the time and space to work with such ‘magical’ emanations. On the other hand, what is gained in isolated spiritual practice may be too weak to survive the immense pressures of the real world. Thus, in some ways, the hero in the Arthurian literature might be seen as someone who strikes a balance – a spiritual aspirant who is active in the world – one who seeks their own answers (individual quest) yet at the same time serves the King and Queen.
This sort of balance reminds me of the practice of medieval and early modern Latin alchemy. Here, there is a balance between inner cultivation of mind and the execution of outer alchemical operations. Regarding why Latin alchemy declined by the 18th century, Jung suggested that one reason was that the outer form of alchemy was abandoned in favor of pure imagination. Now, in Chinese alchemy, there is a successful form of internal-only alchemy called Neidan, so the question is why the Western version of internal-only alchemy was not successful. One possibility I considered was that the underlying philosophy of Taoism was better suited than that of Hermetic philosophy, but this is largely conjecture on my part.
Segueing into synchronicity, let me use alchemy to accomplish that. Jung very seldom discusses synchronicity in the context of alchemy, and he is very careful when considering the possibility that synchronicity accounted for part of the art. In Mysterium Coniunctionis, Jung wrote:
While the adept had always looked for the effects of his stone outside, for instance as the panacea or golden tincture or life-prolonging elixir, and only during the sixteenth century pointed with unmistakable clarity to an inner effect, psychological experience emphasizes above all the subjective reaction to the formation of images, and—with a free and open mind—still reserves judgment in regard to possible objective effects. [RJ: “Possible objective effects” being synchronicities]
But, Dr. von Franz says something very interesting in the introduction to a work of Arabic alchemy:
Between the soul of the alchemists and the soul of matter there is a kind of participation mystique and the possibility of magic interaction. That is why the soul of incorruptible gold can impart immortality to the soul of the alchemist, or the soul of the alchemist can transform matter by finding the right creative attitude.
This is a great source for meditation in my opinion. Now, in the last year, I worked on a three-part note entitled Meaning and Jung’s Principle of Synchronicity: Reflections Inspired by Wolfgang Giegerich’s A Serious Misunderstanding: Synchronicity and the Generation of Meaning. This required great rigor on what Jung actually wrote regarding synchronicity and required me, in some parts, to consult the original German version of the paper (I am far from being fluent in German, but with a good dictionary, I can manage). In Giegerich’s paper (and in his Psychology of the Discipline for Interiority more generally), synchronicities have no meaning with respect to the individual who experiences it. It is a very hard view, but one which is largely justified were one to rely solely on the account of synchronicity Jung wrote in 1952. But, when you enlarge the context to different scholars (in the note, I focused solely on those who truly knew what Jung had written and intended – von Franz, Pauli, and Fordham) and their experiences of synchronicity, Giegerich’s view is challenged. Personally, while I love the notion of synchronicities having personal relation to the individual who experiences it, I also respect the rigor and discipline that Giegerich brings to remind us that meaningful in Jung’s paper stands for analogy, equivalence, correspondence, something that has existed for all eternity.
Of late, because I have delved in a bit on quantum entanglement in reading Quantum Nonlocality and Reality: 50 Years of Bell’s Theorem, I wonder if, in addition to anticipating the acausality we see in complexity science, it also anticipates certain aspects of entanglement. As you know, objects are entangled if they together comprise a total physical state which is preserved no matter where the objects are. Now, unlike synchronicity, entanglement can have genesis in time, and the recent science has demonstrated greater and greater control in creating entangled objects. Thus, we see connections among objects which exist independent of distance and which can long precede the observation of such objects.
Finally, let me end with your observation of accountability. Jung is alleged to have said “Beware of unearned wisdom.” Though I like this saying very much, I have never found this in his written works nor have I found evidence that he ever said it publicly. However, it does bring to mind a section within the Red Book where Jung writes “Beware of knowing what lies beyond yourself” and where his Soul gives wise counsel to Jung by saying “Be content and cultivate your garden with modesty.” I often discuss this when I talk about revelations due to the use of psychedelics, not the careful use in psychotherapy of Dr. Stanislav Grof, but its uncontrolled use. Once the veil of illusion is removed, one’s responsibility (because of that awareness) increases exponentially. Jung spent ~50 years shaping the stone from the liquid basalt of the Black Books.