“THE OCCULTIC WORLD OF CARL JUNG” and 3 More Dark, True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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IN THIS EPISODE: For years a ghost light haunted a remote Yorkshire Dales village’s road. Was it the ghost of a murdered woman or something stranger? (The Coverdale Ghost) *** A farmer with a large spread and two beautiful daughters seemed to have the world in the palm of his hands… until he hired a farmhand named Edwin Willis Major. (The Wilton Tragedy) *** Slipping on ice and breaking his leg, world-renowned psychologist Carl Jung was rushed to medical care and fell into unconsciousness. What happened while he was passed out would determine the direction of his life there on – including odd dreams, strange spirits, and a passion for the occult. (Carl Jung’s Occultic World) *** In the badlands of Arizona people unexpectedly die, others disappear without a trace… and it might all be connected to a treasure that is rumored to be cursed. (Arizona’s Cursed Treasure)
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“Arizona’s Cursed Treasure” by Brent Swancer for Mysterious Universe: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yv9re23x
“The Coverdale Ghost” by MJ Wayland: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/45sjxk5d
“The Wilton Tragedy” by Robert Wilhelm for Murder By Gaslight: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/4rtnhk3k
“Carl Jung’s Occultic World” by Gary Lachman for New Dawn Magazine: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3p4a5utk
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
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STORY: ARIZONA’S CURSED TREASURE==========
Some places have long been thought to be simply no good. Cursed, blighted, tainted, whatever you want to call it. Out in the remote badlands of the U.S. state of Arizona, just to the east of the Phoenix metropolitan area lies a sun scorched, dried up, arid moonscape of twisted peaks and sprawling expanse of badlands called the Superstition Mountains, at one time called the Sierra de la Espuma by Spanish settlers. Here is a place of sprawling rugged wilderness, encompassing the Superstition Wilderness Area and drawing in hikers, rock climbers, campers, and all manner of those looking to enjoy the natural splendor and outdoor activities on offer. Yet it is also a place of fabled mysteries, talk of dark curses, strange disappearances and deaths, high strangeness, and a secret treasure that it allegedly holds close to it, reluctant to ever give it up.
The Native Apache people of the area had already long held this as a rather sinister scared place even before outsiders came in to settle the land. They believed that the entrance to the underworld itself lay somewhere in among these peaks, and that powerful spirits roamed the withered landscape. There were also strange stories among the Apache of a magnificent, hidden cavern full of gold, said to be a vast treasure long buried within the mountains and protected by spirits, troll-like beasts called Tuar-Tums, and even their Thunder God himself. According to these legends, this treasure was almost never seen by mortal eyes, at least not by anyone who lived to tell about it, but there are some tales of outsiders stumbling across it.
One of the most prominent such tales is that of an affluent mining family from Mexico, the Peraltas, although some versions of the story say they were ranchers. The main thing is that they supposedly accidentally found this ancient Apache treasure somewhere in the mountains, but it was to spell their doom. According to the story, the Apaches quickly descended upon the family to ruthlessly slaughter all of them but one, left alive solely to tell the tale not to mess with the lost mine to anyone who would listen. The Apache warriors who had massacred them are then said to have reburied the entrance to this enormous trove of gold, and to this day the area where this is believed to have happened has been labeled the “Massacre Grounds,” and there are other places names that denote this grim history such as “Massacre Falls” and others.
The Peralta family would go on to be suspected of having left some evidence behind of their discovery in the form of a series of odd stones mysteriously etched with codes, pictograms, and cryptic messages written out in imperfect Latin, which are said to hold the key to finding the treasure and which have been dubbed the “Peralta Stones.” These stones were allegedly written up by the family shortly before their massacre and left behind by Apaches who did not know their true meaning and so left them to rot away in the sun. They would be uncovered in the 1940s, but whether there is any truth to this story is anyone’s guess.
In later years there is the story of the adventurous Spanish born Doctor Abraham Thorne, who was at the time living among the Natives of the region and studying their medical practices. To this end he lived for years among their ranks, learning their ways and tending to their sick and wounded. As a sort of reward for this generosity, he was apparently one day asked to put on a blindfold, after which he was told he would be led to the mythical lost cavern of gold. He was then led along a harsh, meandering route of an estimated 20 miles, after which they removed the blindfold and he was met with the sight of a pile of gold sparkling in the sun near an entrance into the presumed lost mine. The Apaches told him he could grab as much of the gold as he could carry on his person, which he did before being led back out, never knowing the precise location, although he did mention a sharp peak of rock, which is thought to have perhaps been Weaver’s Needle, a popular landmark in the area.
Yet the mountains and their cursed treasure would get their most well-known mystery with the arrival of a German immigrant named Jacob Waltz, who was a gold prospector in the Phoenix valley in the late 1800s. Waltz would claim to have been out prospecting when he had come across an unimaginably vast vein of gold out in the mountains, curiously supposedly near Weaver’s Needle. He had allegedly made many forays to this mine, taking gold as he pleased and boasting of its discovery, but all who tried to follow him or learn his secret were said to get hopelessly lost, or end up vanished or dead.
He would take this secret location practically to his grave, but as he lie dying from a bout of pneumonia in 1891 he allegedly told all, laying out the secret location of the lost and cursed Apache treasure, giving detailed but cryptic instructions on how to navigate the rough terrain to the entrance, as well as scrawling out a crude map to it all as he lay on his deathbed. How he knew all of this no one knows, but one rumor has it that he learned the secret location of this massive stash of gold from the sole surviving Peralta family member. Waltz’s caregiver, a Julia Thomas, apparently listened to all of this but had no idea what to think of any of it. She was oblivious, baffled, and would apparently later sell the map of the now dead treasure hunter to parties unknown. The lost stash of gold, which has gone on to be rather oddly known as the Lost Dutchman’s Mine, has catapulted itself into one of the most intriguing unsolved modern mysteries there is, and the allure of its undiscovered riches has led many people to their deaths, with some estimates saying that over 600 people have mysteriously died or vanished during attempts to try and pry it from its ancient resting place.
The story of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine would go on to become a persistent legend and obsession for many would-be treasure hunters over the years. Indeed, in the decades since Waltz made his mysterious proclamation of the mine public, there have been numerous earnest attempts to try and track it down, and these have the sinister habit of meeting rather gruesome ends. One of these was a veterinarian and treasure hunter named Adolf Ruth, who in 1931 made his way to these wind-swept wilds, armed with what he at the time claimed to be the actual original map to it. The 66-year-old Ruth, who was by all accounts absolutely and hopelessly obsessed with the location of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine, ventured out into those badlands despite warnings against it, and shortly after vanished without a trace.
After an intensive search, Ruth’s skull was was found at the bottom of a remote ravine, sitting out there all alone in the unforgiving desert. A month later the rest of the body was found about three-quarters of a mile away, with severely broken legs, and it was supposed that he had fallen and then after his grievous injuries died of starvation and the elements. As to why his head had been carried off no one knows. Along with the body was found a mysterious note ensconced within a bottle, which said that he had broken his leg and needed help, but which also stated that he had had managed to find the legendary Lost Dutchman’s Mine. There were other weird clues found about the body, such as the presence of two bullet holes to the skull from shots fired at point blank range, and it was speculated that he had perhaps been killed for his secret knowledge or committed suicide (although shooting a second time into your own head seems extremely unlikely), plus there was no weapon found. Who killed him and then separated his head from his body remains unknown.
The curse of the treasure would continue in the 1940s, when a 62-year-old treasure hunter by the name of James A. Carvey journeyed into the Superstition Mountains and also ended up dead and with his head separated from his shoulders. In this case the body was found first, with the rest of the body following a full 6 months later. No suspects or motive were ever found. In later years, in 1945, a would-be treasure hunter named Barry Storm would claim that as he had been out looking for the treasure he had been fired upon by a mysterious sniper who he called “Mr. X.”, who seemed to be guarding the area.
The mysterious deaths and disappearances go on and on. In December of 1949 a man named James Kidd vanished without a trace in the area as well. Interestingly it was found that he had amassed a small fortune in a short amount of time after starting his forays into the mountains, urging suspicions that he had found the lost mine. His body has never been found. In 1952 there was a man named Joseph Kelley, who went out into the mountains to find the treasure and proceeded to vanish from the face of the earth. His body would later be found with a bullet hole to the head. Also in that year was the disappearance of two young boys, Ross Bley and Charles Harshbarger, whose bodies were never found.
Mysterious bodies turned up in the Superstition Mountains all through the 1960s and 70s, with at least five people found dead with bullet holes to the skulls, and with other bodies found minus the heads, which were never found. This would become a common theme in the Superstition Mountains, the presence of decapitated corpses, and indeed this has happened to quite a few people who have dared look for the Lost Dutchman’s mine throughout the decades. There have been other mysterious and ominous disappearances as well, including an abandoned campsite found in the mountains in 1958 complete with blood-soaked blankets, but no bodies and no suspect. There have been countless such deaths and disappearances in the region over the years, many of them with missing heads or gunshot wounds to the head.
Most recently, in 2009 there was a would-be treasure hunter by the name of Jesse Capen, a 35-year old bellhop from Denver who was in his free time by all accounts fascinated and obsessed with the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s mine. At the time he had ventured out into the Tonto National Forest in search of the legendary treasure, having looked for it on several occasions in the past and accumulating hundreds of books and hundreds of pages of research on the matter. He would vanish into thin air for his efforts. In 2012 his vehicle, wallet, cellphone, and backpack were located but there had been no sign of the missing man. Then his body would finally be found wedged into a remote and inaccessible crevice, with the official cause of death a mystery. It was speculated that he had fallen or even jumped, but it is still a mystery, just another casualty of the futile search for the lost treasure. The man’s campsite would be found to hold many books on the lost mine, and this would join a further three more mysterious deaths in 2010 and 2011 in the same area, all of whom had been seeking the legendary Dutchman’s Mine.
The Lost Dutchman’s Mine has gone on to become a pop cultural legend, written of in countless books and appearing on numerous TV shows. There are still those who obsessively search for it and try to decode its secrets, but no one has ever really quite managed to find it, to the point that many skeptics question whether it ever really existed at all. Yet there are still all of these mysterious disappearances and death, these enigmatic decapitated corpses and their bullet-ridden heads. Is someone or something trying to keep this treasure hidden? Is this all just a spooky legend or is there something more to it? No one really knows, but the answers just may lie out there in the desolate reaches of those desert badlands.
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When Weird Darkness returns…
A farmer with a large spread and two beautiful daughters seemed to have the world in the palm of his hands… until he hired a farmhand named Edwin Willis Major. (The Wilton Tragedy)
Slipping on ice and breaking his leg, world-renowned psychologist Carl Jung was rushed to medical care and fell into unconsciousness. What happened while he was passed out would determine the direction of his life there on – including odd dreams, strange spirits, and a passion for the occult. (Carl Jung’s Occultic World)
For years a ghost light haunted a remote Yorkshire Dales village’s road. Was it the ghost of a murdered woman or something stranger? (The Coverdale Ghost)
That story is up next.
STORY: THE COVERDALE GHOST==========
In the late 1930s, there were numerous reports of a ghost light annually appearing on the outskirts of Coverdale village in North Yorkshire. Interviewing Mr J. Pickersgill, a Middleham butcher (just a few miles away from Coverdale), a Yorkshire Post journalist was told:
“I have seen it two or three times. You pull up at the side of the road which is narrow, expecting a car to pass you. It doesn’t come and as soon as you start again, the light goes out and there is nothing on the road. Nearly everybody in the dale has seen it. There is a man at West Scrafton who has seen it more than anybody, and he is puzzled. It has been seen for years on this road but not always on the same stretch.”
The road from Coverdale to West Scrafton, between the hamlets of Caldbergh and East Scrafton is where the ghost light was most reported. And although not mentioned at the time, the road has an urban legend, or ghost attached to it.
13th Century Coverham Abbey on the banks of the River Cover was founded by Monks from Northern France, the ‘white canons’, monks who wore white habits. While expecting peace in the area, this was not to be, with Scots attacking the abbey in 1318, and two hundred years later, Henry VIII had the abbey stripped of its treasures, and importantly its roof.
Connected with the Abbey and between Caldbergh and East Scrafton are the ruins of a chapel dedicated to Saints Simon and Jude. Founded by Ranulph Pigot in 1328, it was a chapel of ease for Coverham Abbey. It is believed that at one time it also served as a hermitage and even in 1582 it was described as a ‘ruined chapel’ and used as an alehouse.
It is in this liminal space between the Abbey and St Simon’s that stories linger of a poor, beautiful girl who was murdered by her rich lover when he thought she loved another. A similar trope to my nearest ghost, ‘Sarkless Kitty’, the ghost of a young woman who drowned while meeting her lover, St Simon’s chapel sits next to the River Cover, so again similarities with Kitty.
According to the website Mysterious Britain: “The story had been around in the Dale for a couple of hundred years, how a poor but beautiful girl, who wore a black lace shawl, had fallen in love with the son of the squire and met him on many a dark night while their respective parents slept. One dreadful day, however, a girl who also fancied the job of Mrs Future Squire put a spanner in the works and told the lad that his girlfriend was playing footsie with someone else. Overcome with jealousy and rage he waited for his lover that night, blunt instrument in hand, and did her in, before hauling her still-warm body up to the moor and dumping it in a shallow grave.”
Strangely in the 1950s, local peat diggers found a corpse in a shallow grave – and it was wrapped in a black lace shawl further confirming the local urban legend. Is the murdered girl ghost also responsible for the ‘ghost light’ appearances? There is no doubt if there is a folk memory of over two hundred years that the area is haunted by a girl murdered at night, that somehow when the interaction between the unusual (whether misidentification, hallucination or the otherworld) occurs then this might be the archetypal imagery created. Maybe the ghost girl is a manifestation of the ghost light and vice versa.
During the sightings, a local police officer based in Middleham told the journalist he hadn’t seen anything unusual in the area. He believed that the explanation for the sightings was the escape of marsh gas based on his sightings of the ghost light. According to the officer: “The gas is phosphorescent, at a distance I have seen it, looking exactly like a lantern being carried at knee or hip heights by someone on rough ground. The movement is caused by the wind.”
If the murdered girl was meeting her lover at night, did she carry a lantern that night – as the sceptical policeman described?
Two years later after the first reports, the ghost light was reported again to the Yorkshire Post. “Late of Friday night, a dale contractor, Mr W Brown of West Scrafton was driving a motor-lorry to his home…he noticed a brilliant beam of light on the road in front of him. Mr Brown thought it was an approaching motor-car.”
The road is very narrow at this point and he stopped the lorry to allow the supposed motor car to pass. He waited for some time, but the light came no nearer. Then he went slowly forward, as he got nearer the light suddenly disappeared in the road, leaving no trace.
Interestingly they mention that the light is connected in some way with the ruin of a chapel, known as St Simon’s, which stands in the fields near the point where the light appears.
I found this ghost story captivating; we have several key signposts in the story that follow the typical haunt field theory. Firstly, the ‘ghost’ and ‘ghost light’ are appearing on parish boundaries. If you reference the work of Jeremy Harte, over 80% of road ghosts such as phantom hitchhikers, single road-side hauntings etc are usually seen on the boundaries of a particular parish. This defies explanation because most boundaries are not signposted – therefore the witness would not know if they were passing these areas – but does the ghost?
We also then have a remote area that is rich in both historical and ghostly legends. St Simon’s may be the centre of the hauntings in the area, but the ‘black shawl ghost’ is seen wandering the boundaries of nearby Cotescue Park wherein 1993 one of Britain’s largest coin hoards was discovered. Again, a link between ghosts and treasure.
Can I provide an explanation of what the locals were witnessing? No. It’s interesting that the sceptical policeman inadvertently describes what could be the ghost, and yet believes marsh gas is responsible. There is no doubt that there could be any number of reasons of why or what they saw in Coverdale in the 1930s and since, but if you live in the area, maybe visit and have a ramble to St Simon’s and keep an eye out for a lady in a black shawl.
STORY: THE WILTON TRAGEDY==========
Moses Lovejoy was a respected, well-to-do farmer with a large spread in Wilton, New Hampshire. He had two lovely daughters, Ellen and Ida; both were intelligent and refined. Everything was rosy until 1868 when Moses hired Edwin Willis Major as a farmhand.
22-year-old Edwin Major came from Goffstown, New Hampshire; he was five foot ten, thickset and muscular with a heavy black mustache. When Lovejoy hired him, he already had a reputation as a bully, feared by people in town. Major was soon intimate with both of the Lovejoy girls; at the time, Ellen was 19, Ida was 13.
In July 1869, Ellen returned from picking blueberries, then suddenly collapsed and died. Her death could not be explained and was vaguely attributed to a spasm. Those who laid out her body for burial believed that she was pregnant when she died. The following November, Ida discovered that she was pregnant. Edwin Major was the father; he married Ida, and they lived together in her father’s house.
At first, it appeared that marriage would reform Major. He joined the Baptist Church in the Centre village and, for a time, was a zealous convert who became sexton of the church. But when money disappeared from the church’s charity fund, suspicion fell on Major, and he was expelled from the church. When relations became strained between Major and his father-in-law, he and Ida left the farmhouse and moved to French Village.
Major took a job at a furniture factory but was soon discharged for undisclosed reasons. A short time later, one of the workshops at the factory burned down. Suspicion rested on Major, but no movement was made toward his arrest. People lived in terror, fearing that if they brought charges against him, Major would retaliate and burn down their buildings.
In the five years since the wedding, Ida gave birth to four children, two of which had died suddenly, but no investigation was made. In 1874, Ida was pregnant again. Major started telling people that his wife was ill, suffering from spasms. He said that Ida was a “camphor subject,” meaning she habitually took camphor oil, a cough suppressant that could be addictive or even fatal when taken internally.
On Saturday, December 19, 1874, Major took a train to Nashua, New Hampshire, where he met with several physicians. He asked about procuring abortion, an illegal operation at the time; for his cousin, he said. When Major returned on Sunday, Ida appeared to be in good health. At 6:00, she prepared supper; at 7:00, she was dead. Ida had begun having spasms, and when neighbors were called to help, she was too sick to recognize them. They summoned a doctor, but she was dead before he arrived. This time the doctor was suspicious and sent for Coroner B.B. Whitmore. He did not arrive until after Ida’s funeral the following Tuesday.
Coroner Whitmore ordered Ida’s body disinterred and held Major in custody pending an inquest into her death. He sent Ida’s stomach to Boston for analysis by Dr. Edward S. Wood of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Wood analyzed the stomach contents using Drogendorff’s process, including three tests; 1. Taste, 2. Reaction with sulfuric acid and bichromate of potash, 3.the physiological test—the substance was fed to a frog. The frog died instantly, and Dr. Wood determined that Ida’s stomach contained strychnine. He presented his findings to the coroner’s jury, who concluded that Ida was poisoned by Edwin Major.
As Major awaited trial, Ellen Lovejoy’s body was exhumed. Though she had died five years earlier, her stomach was still intact; it was sent to Dr. Wood for analysis. He performed the same tests, this time administering the substance to a dog, producing death. Ellen had also been poisoned with strychnine. In addition, the exhumation proved conclusively that Ellen was pregnant at the time of her death.
Edwin Major’s trial for murder began on September 13, 1875. Though public sentiment was strongly against Major, the evidence against him was circumstantial. The trial lasted about twelve days, and after deliberating for eighteen hours, the jury was hopelessly split and could not agree on a verdict. The second trial held the following December lasted four days, and after two hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of guilty. He was sentenced to hang on January 5, 1877.
In the year between sentencing and Major’s scheduled execution, his supporters circulated a petition to commute his sentence to life in prison. Major was confident that he would not be executed and was devastated when the governor refused the petition.
Major was hanged in Concord, New Hampshire, on January 5, 1877. At the scaffold, he was pressed to make a confession, but he reiterated his innocence. Major appeared calm on the gallows, but before the trap was sprung, his nerve deserted him, and he fell upon his knees, utterly broken down. He died without a struggle.
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Slipping on ice and breaking his leg, world-renowned psychologist Carl Jung was rushed to medical care and fell into unconsciousness. What happened while he was passed out would determine the direction of his life from then on – including odd dreams, strange spirits, and a passion for the occult. (Carl Jung’s Occultic World)
That story when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: CARL JUNG’S OCCULTIC WORLD==========
On 11 February 1944, the 68-year-old Carl Gustav Jung – then the world’s most renowned living psychologist – slipped on some ice and broke his fibula. Ten days later, in hospital, he suffered a myocardial infarction caused by embolisms from his immobilized leg. Treated with oxygen and camphor, he lost consciousness and had what seems to have been a near-death and out-of-the-body experience – or, depending on your perspective, delirium.
He found himself floating 1,000 miles above the Earth. Seas and continents shimmered in blue light and Jung could make out the Arabian desert and snow-tipped Himalayas. He felt he was about to leave orbit, but then, turning to the south, a huge black monolith came into view. It was a kind of temple, and at the entrance Jung saw a Hindu sitting in a lotus position. Within, innumerable candles flickered, and he felt that the “whole phantasmagoria of earthly existence” was being stripped away. It wasn’t pleasant, and what remained was an “essential Jung,” the core of his experiences.
He knew that inside the temple the mystery of his existence, of his purpose in life, would be answered. He was about to cross the threshold when he saw, rising up from Europe far below, the image of his doctor in the archetypal form of the King of Kos, the island site of the temple of Asclepius, Greek god of medicine. He told Jung that his departure was premature; many were demanding his return and he, the King, was there to ferry him back. When Jung heard this, he was immensely disappointed, and almost immediately the vision ended.
He experienced the reluctance to live that many who have been ‘brought back’ encounter, but what troubled him most was seeing his doctor in his archetypal form. He knew this meant that the physician had sacrificed his own life to save Jung’s. On 4 April 1944 – a date numerologists can delight in – Jung sat up in bed for the first time since his heart attack. On the same day, his doctor came down with septicæmia and took to his bed. He never left it, and died a few days later.
Jung was convinced that he hadn’t simply hallucinated, but that he had been granted a vision of reality. He had passed outside time, and the experience had had a palpable effect on him. For one thing, the depression and pessimism that overcame him during WWII vanished. But there was something more. For most of his long career, he had impressed upon his colleagues, friends, and reading public that he was, above all else, a scientist. He was not, he repeated almost like a mantra, a mystic, occultist, or visionary, terms of abuse his critics, who rejected his claims to science, had used against him. Now, having returned from the brink of death, he seemed content to let the scientist in him take a back seat for the remaining 17 years of his life.
Although Jung had always believed in the reality of the ‘other’ world, he had taken care not to speak too openly about this belief. Now, after his visions, he seemed less reticent. He’d had, it seems, a kind of conversion experience, and the interests the world-famous psychologist had hitherto kept to himself now became common knowledge. Flying saucers, astrology, parapsychology, alchemy, even predictions of a coming “new Age of Aquarius”: pronouncements on all of these dubious subjects – dubious at least from the viewpoint of modern science – flowed from his pen. If he had spent his career fending off charges of mysticism and occultism – initially triggered by his break with Freud in 1912 – by the late 1940s he seems to have decided to stop fighting. The “sage of Küsnacht” and “Hexenmeister of Zürich,” as Jung was known in the last decade of his life, had arrived.
Yet Jung’s involvement with the occult was with him from the start – literally, it was in his DNA. His maternal grandfather, Rev. Samuel Preiswerk, who learned Hebrew because he believed it was spoken in heaven, accepted the reality of spirits, and kept a chair in his study for the ghost of his deceased first wife, who often came to visit him. Jung’s mother Emilie was employed by Samuel to shoo away the dead who distracted him while he was working on his sermons.
She herself developed mediumistic powers in her late teens. At the age of 20, she fell into a coma for 36 hours; when her forehead was touched with a red-hot poker she awoke, speaking in tongues and prophesying. Emilie continued to enter trance states throughout her life, in which she would communicate with the dead. She also seems to have been a ‘split personality’. Jung occasionally heard her speaking to herself in a voice he soon recognised was not her own, making profound remarks expressed with an uncharacteristic authority. This ‘other’ voice had inklings of a world far stranger than the one the young Carl knew.
This ‘split’ that Jung had seen in his mother would later appear in himself. At around the age of 12, he literally became two people. There was his ordinary boyhood self, and someone else. The ‘Other’, as Carl called him, was a figure from the 18th century, a masterful character who wore a white wig and buckled shoes, drove an impressive carriage, and held the young boy in contempt. It’s difficult to escape the impression that in some ways Jung felt he had been this character in a past life. Seeing an ancient green carriage, Jung felt that it came from his time.
His later notion of the collective unconscious, that psychic reservoir of symbols and images that he believed we inherit at birth, is in a sense a form of reincarnation, and Jung himself believed in some form of an afterlife. Soon after the death of his father, in 1896 when Jung was 21, he had two dreams in which his father appeared so vividly that he considered the possibility of life after death. In another, later dream, Jung’s father asked him for marital advice, as he wanted to prepare for his wife’s arrival. Jung took this as a premonition, and his mother died soon after. And years later, when his sister Gertrude died – a decade before his own near-death experience – Jung wrote that, “What happens after death is so unspeakably glorious that our imagination and feelings do not suffice to form even an approximate conception of it.”
Jung’s mother was involved in at least two well-known paranormal experiences that are recounted in practically every book about him. Sitting in his room studying, Carl suddenly heard a loud bang coming from the dining room. He rushed in and found his mother startled. The round walnut table had cracked from the edge past the centre. The split didn’t follow any joint but had passed through solid wood. Drying wood couldn’t account for it; the table was 70 years old and it was a humid day. Jung thought: “There certainly are curious accidents.” As if she was reading his mind Emilie replied in her ‘other’ voice: “Yes, yes, that means something.”
Two weeks later came a second incident. Returning home in the evening, Jung found an excited household. An hour earlier there had been another loud crack, this time coming from a large sideboard. No one had any idea what had produced it. Jung inspected the sideboard. Inside, where they kept the bread, he found a loaf and the bread knife. The knife had shattered into several pieces, all neatly arranged in the breadbasket. The knife had been used earlier for tea, but no one had touched it nor opened the cupboard since. When he took the knife to a cutler, he was told that there was no fault in the steel and that someone must have broken it on purpose. He kept the shattered knife for the rest of his life, and years later sent a photograph of it to psychical researcher JB Rhine.
By this time Jung, like many others, was interested in spiritualism, and was reading through the literature – books by Zöllner, Crooks, Carl du Prel, Swedenborg, and Justinus Kerner’s classic The Seeress of Prevorst. At the Zofingia debating society at the University of Basel, he gave lectures on “The Value of Speculative Research” and “On the Limits of Exact Science,” in which he questioned the dominant materialist paradigm that reigned then, as today. Jung led fellow students in various occult experiments, yet when he spoke to them about his ideas, or lectured about the need to take them seriously, he met with resistance. Apparently, he had greater luck with his dachshund, whom he felt understood him better and could feel supernatural presences himself.
Another who seemed to feel supernatural presences was his cousin, from his mother’s side of the family, Helene Preiswerk. In a letter to JB Rhine about the shattered bread knife, Jung refers to Helly – as she was known – as a “young woman with marked mediumistic faculties” whom he had met around the time of the incident, and in his “so-called’ autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections he remarks that he became involved in a series of séances with his relatives after the incidents of the bread knife and table. Yet the séances had been going on for some time before the two events, and at their centre was Helly, whom Jung already knew well and who, by all accounts, was in love with him. This is an early sign of his somewhat ambiguous relationship with the occult.
Helly would enter a trance and fall to the floor, breathing deeply, and speaking in old Samuel Preiswerk’s voice – although she had never heard him. She told the others that they should pray for her elder sister Bertha, who, she said, had just given birth to a black child. Bertha, who was living in Brazil, had already had one child with her mixed-race husband, and gave birth to another on the same day as the séance. Further séances proved equally startling. At one point, Samuel Preiswerk and Carl Jung Sr – Jung’s paternal grandfather – who had disliked each other while alive, reached a new accord. A warning came for another sister who was also expecting a child that she would lose it; in August the baby was born premature and dead.
Helly produced further voices, but the most interesting was a spirit named Ivenes, who called herself the real Helene Preiswerk. This character was much more mature, confident, and intelligent than Helly, who Jung described as absent-minded, and not particularly bright, talented, or educated. It was as if buried beneath the unremarkable teenager was a fuller, more commanding personality, like Jung’s ‘Other’. This was an insight into the psyche that would inform his later theory of “individuation,” the process of “becoming who you are.” Helly did blossom later, becoming a successful dressmaker in France, although she died young, at only 30.
In Jung’s dissertation on the séances, On the Psychology and Pathology of So-called Occult Phenomena, he describes Helly unflatteringly as “exhibiting slightly rachitic skull formation,” and “somewhat pale facial colour,” and fails to mention that she is his cousin. He also omits his own participation in the séances, and dates them from 1899 to 1900, whereas they had started years before. Gerhard Wehr politely suggests that, “[T]he doctoral candidate was obviously at pains to conceal his own role, and especially his close kinship relationship, thus forestalling from the start any further critical inquiry that might have thrown the scientific validity of the entire work into question.”
In other words, Jung the scientist thought it a good career move to obscure Jung the occultist’s personal involvement in the business.
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We’ll continue to look into the life of the mysterious and strange Carl Jung when Weird Darkness returns.
STORY: THE OCCULTIC WORLD OF CARL JUNG, CONTINUES==========
In 1900, the 25-year-old Jung joined the prestigious Burghölzli Mental Clinic in Zürich. Here, he did solid work in word-association tests, developed his theory of ‘complexes’, and initiated a successful ‘patient-friendly’ approach to working with psychotics and schizophrenics. It was during his tenure that he also became involved with Freud. From 1906, when they started corresponding, to 1912, when the friendship ruptured, Jung was a staunch supporter of Freud’s work and promoted it unstintingly.
There were, however, some rocky patches. One centred on the famous poltergeist in Freud’s bookcase. Visiting Freud in Vienna in 1909, Jung asked him about his attitude toward parapsychology. Freud was sceptical and dismissed the subject as nonsense. Jung disagreed, and sitting across from the master, he began to feel his diaphragm glow, as if it was becoming red-hot. Suddenly a loud bang came from a bookcase. Both jumped up, and Jung said to Freud: “There, that is an example of a so-called catalytic exteriorisation phenomenon!”, Jung’s long-winded circumlocution for a poltergeist, or “noisy spirit.” When Freud said “Bosh!”, Jung predicted that another bang would immediately happen. It did. Jung said that, from that moment on, Freud grew mistrustful of him. From Freud’s letter to Jung about the incident, one gets the feeling that he felt Jung himself was responsible for it.
This isn’t surprising; Jung did manifest numerous paranormal abilities. While in bed in a hotel room after giving a lecture, he experienced the suicide of a patient who had a strong “transference” on him. The patient had relapsed into depression and shot himself in the head. Jung awoke in his hotel, feeling an odd pain in his forehead. He later discovered that his patient had shot himself precisely where Jung felt the pain, at the same time Jung woke up. More to the point, a visitor to his home once remarked about Jung’s “exteriorised libido,” how “when there was an important idea that was not yet quite conscious, the furniture and woodwork all over the house creaked and snapped.”
It was Jung’s break with Freud that led to his own ‘descent into the unconscious,’ a disturbing trip down the psyche’s rabbit hole from which he gathered the insights about the collective unconscious that would inform his own school of ‘analytical psychology’. He had entered a ‘creative illness’, unsure if he was going mad. In October 1913, not long after the split, Jung had, depending on your perspective, a vision or hallucination. While on a train, he suddenly saw a flood covering Europe, between the North Sea and the Alps. When it reached Switzerland, the mountains rose to protect his homeland, but in the waves he saw floating debris and bodies. Then the water turned to blood. The vision lasted an hour and seems to have been a dream that had invaded his waking consciousness. Having spent more than a decade treating mental patients who suffered from precisely such symptoms, Jung had reason to be concerned. He was ironically rather relieved the next summer when WWI broke out and he deduced that his vision had been a premonition of it.
Yet the psychic tension continued. Eventually there came a point where Jung felt he could no longer fight off the sense of madness. He decided to let go. When he did, he landed in an eerie, subterranean world where he met strange intelligences that ‘lived’ in his mind. The experience was so upsetting that for a time Jung slept with a loaded pistol by his bed, ready to blow his brains out if the stress became too great.
In his Red Book he kept an account, in words and images, of the objective, independent entities he encountered during his “creative illness” – entities that had nothing to do with him personally, but who shared his interior world. There were Elijah and Salome, two figures from the Bible who were accompanied by a snake. There was also a figure whom Jung called Philemon, who became a kind of ‘inner guru’ and who he painted as a bald, white-bearded old man with bull’s horns and the wings of a kingfisher. One morning, after painting the figure, Jung was out taking a walk when he came upon a dead kingfisher. The birds were rare in Zürich and he had never before come upon a dead one. This was one of the many synchronicities – “meaningful coincidences” – that happened at this time.
There were others. In 1916, still in the grip of his crisis, Jung again felt that something within wanted to get out. An eerie restlessness filled his home. He felt the presence of the dead – and so did his children. One daughter saw a strange white figure; another had her blankets snatched from her at night. His son drew a picture of a fisherman he had seen in a dream: a flaming chimney rose from the fisherman’s head, and a devil flew through the air, cursing the fisherman for stealing his fish. Jung had yet to mention Philemon to anyone. Then, one afternoon, the doorbell rang loudly, but no one was there. He asked: “What in the world is this?” The voices of the dead answered: “We have come back from Jerusalem where we found not what we sought,” words that form the beginning of Jung’s strange Seven Sermons to the Dead, a work of “spiritual dictation,” or “channelling,” he attributed to “Basilides in Alexandria, the City where the East toucheth the West.”
By 1919, WWI was over and Jung’s crisis had passed, although he continued to practise what he called “active imagination,” a kind of waking dreaming, the results of which he recorded in the Red Book. But spirits of a more traditional kind were not lacking. He was invited to London to lecture on “The Psychological Foundations of the Belief in Spirits” to the Society for Psychical Research. He told the Society that ghosts and materialisations were “unconscious projections.” “I have repeatedly observed,” he said, “the telepathic effects of unconscious complexes, and also a number of parapsychic phenomena, but in all this I see no proof whatever of the existence of real spirits, and until such proof is forthcoming I must regard this whole territory as an appendix of psychology.”
Scientific enough, no doubt, but a year later, again in England, he encountered a somewhat more real ghost. He spent some weekends in a cottage in Aylesbury rented by Maurice Nicoll (later a student of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky) and while there was serenaded by eerie sounds, while an unpleasant smell filled the bedroom. Locals said the place was haunted and, on one particularly bad night, Jung discovered an old woman’s head on the pillow next to his; half of her face was missing. He leapt out of bed and waited until morning in an armchair. The house was later torn down. One would think that, having already encountered the dead on their return from Jerusalem, Jung wouldn’t be so shaken by a traditional English ghost, but the experience rattled him; his account of it only appeared 30 years later, in 1949, in an obscure anthology of ghost stories.
When his lecture for the SPR was reprinted in the Collected Works in 1947, Jung added a footnote explaining that he no longer felt as certain as he did in 1919 that apparitions were explicable through psychology, and that he doubted “whether an exclusively psychological approach can do justice to the phenomenon.” In a later postscript, he again admitted that his earlier explanation was insufficient, but that he couldn’t agree on the reality of spirits because he had no experience of them – conveniently forgetting the haunting in Aylesbury. But in a letter of 1946 to Fritz Kunkel, a psychotherapist, Jung admitted: “Metapsychic phenomena could be explained better by the hypothesis of spirits than by the qualities and peculiarities of the unconscious.”
A similar uncertainty surrounds his experience with the I Ching, the ancient Chinese oracle, with which he began to experiment in the early 1920s and which, like horoscopes, became part of his therapeutic practice. Although he mentioned the I Ching here and there in his writing, it wasn’t until 1949, again nearly 30 years later, in his introduction to the classic Wilhelm/Baynes translation, that he admitted outright to using it himself. And although he tried to explain the I Ching’s efficacy through what would become his paranormal deus ex machina synchronicity, Jung admits that the source of the oracle’s insights are the “spiritual agencies” that form the “living soul of the book,” a remark at odds with his quasi-scientific explanation. Ironically, his major work on “meaningful coincidence,” Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle (1952), written with the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, provides only one unambiguous example of the phenomenon, and readers who accept the reality of synchronicity, come away slightly baffled by Jung’s attempt to account for it via archetypes, quantum physics, statistical analysis, mathematics, JB Rhine’s experiments with ESP, astrology, telepathy, precognition, and other paranormal abilities, all of which read like a recrudescence of Jung’s “I am a scientist” reflex.
In the 1920s, he plunged into a study of the Gnostics – whom he had encountered as early as 1912 – and alchemy. It was Jung, more than anyone else, who salvaged the ancient Hermetic pursuit from intellectual oblivion. Another Hermetic practice he followed was astrology, which he began to study seriously around the time of his break with Freud. Jung informed his inner circle that casting horoscopes was part of his therapeutic practice, but it was during the dark days of WWII that he recognised a wider application. In 1940, in a letter to HG Baynes, Jung speaks of a vision he had in 1918 in which he saw “fire falling like rain from heaven and consuming the cities of Germany.” He felt that 1940 was the crucial year, and he remarks that it’s “when we approach the meridian of the first star in Aquarius.” It was, he said, “the premonitory earthquake of the New Age.”
He was familiar with the precession of the equinoxes, the apparent backward movement of the Sun through the signs of the zodiac. By acting as a backdrop to sunrise at the vernal equinox, each sign gives its name to an ‘age’ – called a ‘Platonic month’ – which lasts roughly 2,150 years. In his strange book Aion (1951), he argues that the ‘individuation’ of Western civilisation as a whole follows the path of the ‘Platonic months’ and presents a kind of “precession of the archetypes.” Fish symbolism surrounds Jesus because He was the central symbol of the Age of Pisces, the astrological sign of the fish. Previous ages – of Taurus and Aries – produced bull and ram symbolism. The coming age is that of Aquarius, the Water Bearer. In conversation with Margaret Ostrowski-Sachs, a friend of Hermann Hesse, Jung admitted that he had kept this “secret knowledge” to himself for years, and only finally made it public in Aion. He wasn’t sure he was “allowed” to, but during his illness he received “confirmation” that he should.
Although the arcane scholar Gerald Massey and the French esotericist Paul Le Cour had earlier spoken of a coming Age of Aquarius, Jung was certainly the most prestigious mainstream figure to do so, and it is through him that the idea became a mainstay of the counterculture of the 1960s and ’70s. This was mostly through his comments about it in his book Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky (1958), in which he argued that UFOs were basically mandalas from outer space. During his crisis, he had come upon the image of the mandala, the Sanskrit ‘magic circle’, as a symbol of psychic wholeness, and he suggested that ‘flying saucers’ were mass archetypal projections, formed by the psychic tension produced by the Cold War that was heating up between Russia and America. The Western world, he argued, was having a nervous breakdown, and UFOs were a way of relieving the stress.
Jung wrote prophetically: “My conscience as a psychiatrist bids me fulfil my duty and prepare those few who will hear me for coming events which are in accord with the end of an era… As we know from ancient Egyptian history, they are symptoms of psychic changes that always appear at the end of one Platonic month and at the beginning of another. They are, it seems, changes in the constellation of the psychic dominants, of the archetypes or ‘Gods’ as they used to be called, which bring about… long-lasting transformations of the collective psyche. This transformation started… in the transition of the Age of Taurus to that of Aries, and then from Aries to Pisces, whose beginning coincides with the rise of Christianity. We are now nearing that great change… when the spring-point enters Aquarius…” Ten years later, The Fifth Dimension (whose very name, appropriated from the title song of The Byrds’ third LP, suggests the cosmic character of the Mystic Sixties) had a hit song from the hippie musical Hair echoing Jung’s ideas, and millions of people all over the world believed they were witnessing “the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”
Jung died in 1961, just on the cusp of the ‘occult revival’ of the 1960s, a renaissance of magical thinking that he did much to bring about. He was also directly responsible for the “journey to the East” that many took then, and continue to take today. Along with the I Ching, Jung gave his imprimatur to such hitherto arcane items as The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Taoism and Zen, and without his intervention it’s debatable if these Eastern imports would have enjoyed their modern popularity. That he was in many ways a founding father of the Love Generation is seen by his inclusion on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, although Jung himself would have thought “flower power” sadly naïve.
Although for all his efforts he has never been accepted by mainstream intellectuals, his effect on popular culture has been immense, and our contemporary grass roots, inner-directed spirituality, unfortunately associated with the New Age, has his name written all over it. Jung himself may have been equivocal about his relationship with mysticism, magic, and the occult, but the millions of people today who pay attention to their dreams, notice strange coincidences and consult the I Ching have the Sage of Küsnacht to thank for it.