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Jung for witches—a primer

No matter how you begin your spiritual journey, the one voice you will inevitably encounter is Carl Jung.

And there is a good reason for this. Carl Jung was one of the fathers of modern psychology, but his theories expanded far beyond psychology as we know it today. He believed in a soul. He believed the earth had a soul. He believed that magic was real. He believed that the world outside of ourselves was just as much a reflection of who we are as the world inside. His thinking, though perhaps a bit “out-there” for traditional science, touches upon the infinite mystery with humility and grace, reverence and wonder, tenderness and a determination for truth.

Unfortunately, Jung is often co-opted by gender-essentialists and middle-aged wannabe white male philosophers, so I understand the hesitance to truly dive in. But the beauty of Jung’s work is that it is so adaptable. The heart of his theory is devotion to the Self, the soul, and understanding all the parts of ourselves in relationship to it. He allows for nature and symbols and transcendent experience. He does not try to solve the mysteries, but prove they exist.

And this is why Jung is essential for the modern witch. At their core, witches are participants with the natural mysteries. They cooperate with nature to find deeper truths in themselves, to align their lives to the cosmic heartbeat. Their spellwork, divination, and worship is all centered around the connection of the soul to the world soul, so that, when united, magic happens.

So here are the six fields of Jungian study that all witches should explore to go deep, expand their knowledge, and perform their workings with intentionality and clarity. If you want to go deeper, or to learn with some guidance so it’s not so overwhelming, I highly recommend you checking out my seminar series Jung for Witches. Let’s get deep, friends.

1. The Collective Unconscious

One of Jung’s most foundational theories is his concept of the collective unconscious. While his mentor Sigmund Freud suggested that everyone’s psyche contained a conscious and an unconscious (or subconscious) mind that held all that we repressed away, Jung took it a step further. Jung described a third tier, the collective unconscious, which did not hold our personal traumas and complexes, but the universal archetypes and ancestral memory. Jung himself writes, “The collective unconscious contains the whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution, born anew in the brain structure of every individual.”

The collective unconscious is foundational to us, because when we are connecting to our essential self, to spirit, to the divine, we are tapping into this unconscious, collective web that unites all humanity. Many take it even further, and believe it unites us to all conscious life. The collective unconscious is our tether to oneness, to nature, and to each other.

2. Archetypes

With this understanding of the collective unconscious, we can now approach the complex and fascinating topic of archetypes. Jung was the first to identify the reality of archetypes, which he originally called “primordial images.” Essentially, archetypes are universal, archaic symbols that exist within the collective unconscious. They are independent of time, culture, or titles. The archetypes of the Mother and Father, for example, are ones that, no matter where or when you’re from, hold the same core resonance.

Archetypes are important for witches, because so much of our work deals in these unconscious images and energies. Our tarot cards and runes and planets are all containers for these archetypal expressions, so when we deepen our understanding of archetypes, we deepen our connections to these tools. Understanding what the core archetype is in the Moon, or Gebo, or Saturn, will allow us to fully embrace its deepest psychospiritual wisdom.

3. Synchronicity

One of Jung’s most fringe theories was his idea of synchronicity, or “meaningful coincidence”. Basically, Jung believed that things could be connected to each other not only through a casual relationship (by direct influence—this leads to that), but also by intuitive meaning. This means that the material or outer world could produce a response to the inner psychic reality, that the world reacts to what’s happening inside of us.

Jung offered this theory of synchronicity to explain divination, paranormal experience, and basically those daily signs we all get that we know can’t be reduced to coincidence. When we dream of a hawk and then one flies overhead the next day, or we find ourselves thinking about a friend a moment before they call, or we pull the Tower the same day we lose our job—these are all manifestations of synchronicity.

But often the “meaning” in the coincidence stops there. By understanding Jung’s theory of coincidence, we’ll be better prepared to absorb the deeper wisdom in these synchronous happenings.

4. Parapsychology

Jung was a true believer in the paranormal, though he was reluctant to speak about it in an academic setting for obvious reasons. As a youth, he had several experiences with mediums and seances, and what he experienced was too real for him to dismiss.

He also believed in intuitive abilities—precognition and ESP—and he even had visions himself, many of which he recorded in The Red Book, the collection of his personal journals from 1913-1916. Jung’s interest in the paranormal is really illuminating, because he approaches everything from the psychological framework, and asks not how these things happen, but why. He provides a lens through which we can probe our visions, our intuitive and psychic abilities, and especially our dreams.

Plus, it’s just fascinating. I highly recommend checking out The Red Book, if only for the entrancing beauty of it!

5. Alchemy & Occult Mysticism

The field of study Jung was perhaps most passionate about was renaissance alchemy. He was not interested in the pseudo-chemistry of the alchemists, but of their ultimate goal, and the rich and abundant symbology they applied to their work. Jung found striking parallels between early modern occultism and his own psychological discoveries, and so he adapted a lot of this symbolism into his explanations of complex psychological ideas. It was through the language of the alchemists and occult mystics that Jung explained his theories of the Self, the anima, and the process of individuation.

This is an essential topic of study for modern witches, because we can lose the pulse of the magical work we do when we focus on the work itself. Bringing in ancient symbolism and hermetic truths will deepen our work, and remind us what it is ultimately for—profound psychospiritual healing and wholeness.

In fact, the tarot as we know it today is the revival of an early modern system enhanced by the alchemical symbolism Jung and others recovered at the turn of the 20th century. Be smart about your symbols, witches.

6. The Missing Fourth

To me, this is one of the most crucial of Jung’s theories to the modern spiritual soul. Jung, a Christian, was particularly interested in the mythological significance of religious symbolism. He spent a long time contemplating the trinity, and realized there was a “missing fourth”—the Feminine, the anima, the goddess.

While Jung’s own understanding of the archetypal Feminine was somewhat limited, and restricted through the male lens, his work was the foundation of contemporary feminist spirituality. By illuminating the reality of archetypes, and the repression of the Feminine in the trinity, following scholars were able to uncover the deep wound of the repressed Feminine in all of human consciousness.

Witchcraft is essentially based in the archetypal Feminine. It is devoted to the earth. It embraces the mysteries. It is founded on intuition and embodied experience. That’s why we must explore the concept of the missing Feminine, to more intentionally and fully recover her in our sacred work.

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