Enter the World of Soul and You are Like a Madman: Learnings from Carl Jung’s Red Book

  • Originally Posted by Bonnie Bright on November 29, 2010 at 7:00pm

“If you enter into the world of soul, you are like a madman
– Carl Jung, The Red Book, p. 238.

Jung's Red Book

In his recently released Red Book, a body of work Carl Jung immersed himself in for nearly 17 years, Jung reveals the deep introspective nature of what he ultimately considered an archetypal “descent.” He documented this journey to the Underworld in tremendous detail and accompanied many of the entries and topics with beautifully detailed drawings.

If you haven’t had a chance to view the Red Book, I highly recommend you find a way. It truly has the feel of a sacred book, not unlike many of the ancient alchemical tomes and other holy books that have endured for centuries.

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of attending a teleseminar on the Red Book facilitated by Dr. Michael Conforti of the Assisi Institute. Dr. Conforti, a Jungian analyst who offers ongoing sessions on the Red Book, has a wealth and depth of knowledge about Jung, archetypes, dreams, and the Red Book especially.

During the session, the group focused on Jung’s metaphor of the desert and how the soul seeks to survive the journey, often encountering divine madness. The madman, as Dr. Conforti pointed out, can often say whatever he wants and no one pays attention, but what is madness? What we label madness in our culture is often based on visions and ideas that arise from a certain kind of truth. Madness introduces chaos, but it also removes the barriers that traditionally limit us, allowing something new to emerge. When the floodgates of the psyche let loose and one is taken over by something bigger than the ego self, by the unconscious, or what Jung called in the Red Book “the spirit of the deep,” the levies do not hold.

Sometimes madness is just what we need; it is the moment when we access the energy that allows us superhuman strength, or the capacity to ride a wave and write passionately all through the night. It is the power that drives our dreams, fuels lovemaking, and powers deep meaningful ritual. When we are in the grips of the complex of the madman, the otherworld has broken through and transported us “somewhere else”. And though Jung would never condone not taking responsibility for one’s actions during such a state, he makes it clear how important to embrace madness when it comes, for it is “divine” and it comes of its own accord.

In the end, recognizing and embracing divine madness is part of life. We must be open to engage what is frightening, what is dark, what makes us anxious in order to be balanced and whole. When the rational world no longer makes sense, when images and thoughts are coming from somewhere “else” (from soul), it is then that patterns begin to appear and synchronicity happens. It is then that truth emerges and the way is opened for individuation and growth of the self to occur.

Big thanks on my part to Dr. Michael Conforti, a gifted teacher whose compassion and depth of feeling is  conveyed in stories and everyday situations he uses to illustrate material that might be otherwise hard to grasp. Dr. Conforti has offered an amazing weeklong conference in Italy every summer for that past 20+ years. I attended last year and can’t say enough about how how much value I took away from the event—not to mention the wonderful setting! The theme in 2012 is “The Spiritual Mandates of an Inspired Life”. See the Events section on Depth Psychology Alliance to attend a virtual open house and to get information, or email assisi@together.net. Dr. Conforti also teaches certificate courses on Dreams and on Archetypal Pattern Recognition based on his book, Field, Form and Fate, allowing qualified graduates to make careers in the field.

Book: Field, Form, and Fate: Patternsin Mind, Nature, and Psyche by Dr. Michael Conforti

 

If you’re interested in the Red Book, you may also want to check out these posts:

A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO C.G. JUNG’S RED BOOK By Mathew V. Spano, Ph.D.on the Jung page
Top Ten Images From the Red Book on the blog site of Jungian Stephen Parker Ph.D.

Jung's Red Book Image - Dragon
Jung's Red Book Image - Dragon

Tags: archetypeassisiconfortidescent,individuationjungmadmanred book

About Bonnie Bright


Bonnie Bright, Ph.D., is a transformative, soul-centered coach (via Alef Trust) and a certified Archetypal Pattern Analyst® (via Assisi Institute). She earned M.A. degrees in Psychology at Sonoma State University and in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, where she also received her Ph.D.. She is the founder and Director Emerita of Depth Psychology Alliance™, an online community for everyone interested in Jungian and depth psychologies. Bonnie served as Executive Editor of Depth Insights™, a scholarly journal which she created, for six years, and she regularly produces audio and video interviews on Jungian/transpersonal/depth psychological topics. She completed a 2-year training in Indigenous African Spiritual Technologies with West African elder Malidoma Somé; and she has trained extensively in dreamwork, Holotropic Breathwork™, and in the Enneagram. Her interests in archaeology, ecology, anthropology, shamanism, history, and culture have led her to travels in nearly 40 countries around the world.