What Carl Jung read after the Red Book

Carl Jung bookplate – click to enlarge

A facsimile library of Carl Jung’s alchemical manuscript collection is available in browsable and downloadable format from


Although most of the material is text, there are some gems of alchemical art, such as the many mandalas throughout the pages of


Several of the works feature Jung’s bookplate, which is  reproduced above. A stylized  angel (a reference to Philemon?), each hand holding a bunch of grapes, presides over the Jung coat of arms, along with the motto that may have been Jung’s summary of his work and his views about the dynamics of the self,

vocatus atque non vocatus deus adverit

“Whether invoked or not, the god is present.” This is a reference, perhaps, to the autonomous unconscious contents and functions, ever present and active, regardless of whether or not the person is aware of them. The motto also appears in stone at Jung’s Bollingen site.

Jung’s coat of arms, “a cross azure in chief dexter and in base sinister a blue bunch of grapes in a field d’or; separating these is an estoile d’or in a fess azure,” was designed by his Freemason grandafther, who intended to display Masonic or Rosicrucian references. These arms, too, decorated Bollingen, painted on a ceiling (Jung and Jaffe, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, “The Tower”)

Jung’s Red Book, a sumptuous and dense work of calligraphy and visual art, transcribes and expands upon Jung’s notebooks written during his crisis of confrontation with the unconscious, after the great break with Sigmund Freud. This magnum opus, great both in physical size and psychological depth, ends abruptly. Its last entry is a scrawled note, made decades after the rest of the book, starkly unornamented in contrast with the book it closes.


I worked on this book for 16 years. My acquaintance with alchemy in 1930 took me away from it. The beginning of the end came in 1928,  when Wilhelm sent me the text of The Golden Flower, an alchemical treatise. There, the contents of  the Red Book  found their way into actuality, and I could no longer continue working on it. To the superficial observer, the Red Book will appear like madness. It would also have developed into one, had I not been able to absorb the overpowering force of the original experiences. With the help of alchemy, I could finally arrange them into a whole.

I always knew that these experiences contained something precious, and therefore I knew of nothing better than to write them in a “precious,” that is to say, costly book and to paint the images that emerged through reliving it all – as best I could. I knew how frightfully inadquate this undertaking was, but despite much work and many distractions, I remained true to it, even if another possibility never

The Red Book ends there, in midsentence, one word onto the last, otherwise blank, page.  The Red Book‘s real next chapter is the alchemical library that Jung began to accumulate after his epiphany with The Golden Flower.


1 Comment

Filed under Psychology

One response to “What Carl Jung read after the Red Book

  1. Lavern Shoemake

    You have brought up a very superb details , regards for the post.

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