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Carl Jung and the Paranormal

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Carl Gustav (CG) Jung (1875-1961) was a famous and influential Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist, and founder of Analytical Psychology. His approach to human psychology emphasized understanding the psyche through exploring the world of dreams, art, mythology, world religion and philosophy. Jung’s pioneering work on psychological types gave rise to the concepts of introversion and extroversion, and the four functions (thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition) evaluated in today’s widely used Myers-Briggs type indicator.

Jung had a deep and long-standing interest in the occult, and his esoteric beliefs had a wide impact on his work. It is the influence of those beliefs which are examined here.

Essentially, Jung's research indicates that reality is more complex than perceived by the physical senses or revealed by science. Psychic functioning is a natural phenomenon, and we all possess psychic faculties, albeit usually in undeveloped form. Real Mind Power Secrets presents a program of simple techniques that allow anyone to begin using their mind to its full potential.

The Collective Unconscious

Jung coined the term “collective unconscious” to refer to that part of a person's unconscious which is common to all human beings, as opposed to personal unconscious, which is unique to each individual. According to Jung the collective unconscious contains archetypes, which are forms or symbols that are manifested by all people in all cultures.

The concept of collective unconscious relates to the Spiritual model of living beings consisting of individuated parts of Spirit encased in physical form. Like island in the sea we appear as distinct individuals, but beneath the surface we are all connected.


According to Jung's interpretation, archetypes are innate prototypes for ideas, which may subsequently become involved in the interpretation of observed phenomena. A group of memories and interpretations closely associated with an archetype is called a complex, and may be named for its central archetype (e.g. "mother complex").

Jung often seemed to view the archetypes as sort of psychological organs, directly analogous to our physical, bodily organs: both being morphological givens for the species; both arising at least partially through evolutionary processes.

There are four famous forms of archetypes numbered by Jung:

  • The Self.
  • The Shadow - every manifest part of ourselves has a repressed and opposite counterpart, represented by the shadow.
  • The Anima - a young lady, represents intuitive wisdom.
  • The Animus - a handsome young man, represents active, assertive energy.

The symbols of the unconscious abound in Jungian psychology, eg The Syzygy (Divine Couple), The Child, The Superman, The Hero, The Great Mother (manifested either as the Good Mother or the Terrible Mother), The Wise Old Man, The Trickster or Ape.

Jung’s archetypes relate to the concept of occult symbols, ie ideas and images that have become charged with significance through aeons of reflection and veneration now standing ready to release their potential upon invocation.

Jung and Astrology

Astrology contains a rich source of ancient symbols and Jung’s esoteric beliefs extended to the human significance of the heavenly bodies. In The Secret of the Golden Flower, Jung writes, “astrology represents the summation of all the psychological knowledge of antiquity”.

Jeff Mayo [Mayo, J; Astrology; Teach Yourself Books, 1964] quotes Jung in a 1948 letter to the editor of the Indian Astrological Magazine. Jung writes, “In [difficult cases] I usually get a horoscope in order to have a further point of view from an entirely different angle. I must say that I very often found that the astrological data elucidated certain points which I otherwise would have been unable to understand.”


Jung created the term synchronicity to describe the alignment of "universal forces" with the life experiences of an individual. Jung believed that many experiences perceived as coincidences were not merely due to chance, but instead reflected the creation of an event or circumstance by the "co-inciding" or alignment of such forces.

The process of becoming intuitively aware and acting in harmony with these forces is what Jung labeled "individuation." Jung said that an individuated person would actually shape events around them through the communication of their consciousness with the collective unconscious.

Jung spoke of synchronicity as being an "acausal connecting principle" (ie. a pattern of connection that is not explained by causality).

The laws of chance dictate that coincidences sometimes occur naturally. However, upon reflection we have probably all had experiences that seem to defy the laws of chance, a classic example being thinking of a friend we have not heard from for some time, only for the phone to ring with our friend as the caller.

Jung relates the following in "Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle" (1960).

  • A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me this dream I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned around and saw a flying insect knocking against the window pane from the outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to a golden scarab that one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose-chafer, which contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt an urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment...

An example which immediately comes to mind from my own experience:

  • My wife and I were in the waiting room of the British Embassy in Tokyo. My wife happened to speak to an American lady with a young child. Eighteen months later, after we moved to England, I was offered an appointment in a small country village. My employer mentioned to me about a family group that my wife might like to join. On attending the first meeting my wife discovered that one of the staff at the group was the American lady from the Embassy in Tokyo.

The idea of hidden connections, which sometimes reveal themselves through unlikely happenings, is exactly in keeping with the model of a Spiritual reality underlying the physical world. Various effects discovered by modern physics, such as the instantaneous action at a distance of quantum theory, may also hint at a deeper existence that lies beyond the grasp of science.

The Meaning of Coincidence What is the Spiritual significance of coincidence, and can we encourage coincidence for our advantage?

Synchronicity, Cause and Effect explores the Spiritual implications of Jung's classic theory

Further Information

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Recommended Reading

Psychology and the Occult CG Jung. Includes Jung's Foreword to Phenomènes Occultes (1939), "On the Psychology and Pathology of So-called Occult Phenomena," "The Psychological Foundations of Belief in Spirits," "The Soul and Death," "Psychology and Spiritualism," "On Spooks: Heresy or Truth?" and Foreword to Jaffé: Apparitions and Precognition.

Synchronicity CG Jung. A parapsychological study of the meaningful coincidence of events, extrasensory perception, and similar phenomena.

The Archetypes and The Collective Unconscious CG Jung, Gerhard Adler, R. F.C. Hull. Essays which state the fundamentals of Jung's psychological system: "On the Psychology of the Unconscious" and "The Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious," with their original versions in an appendix.

Man and His Symbols CG Jung. Illustrated throughout with revealing images, this is the first and only work in which the world-famous Swiss psychologist explains to the layperson his enormously influential theory of symbolism as revealed in dreams.

The Portable Jung CG Jung, Joseph Campbell (Editor).

More books by, or about, Jung

On the Web

The CG Jung Page Articles, reviews, and a wide range of resources in Jungian psychology.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia articles "Carl Jung", "Collective Unconscious", "Archetype", "Synchronicity".