Table of Contents
Black Books Summary: Introduction
Carl Jung has undoubtedly introduced us to an immense array of hugely influential theories and concepts, which can help us better understand some of the most mysterious aspects of our own psyche. As Carl Jung himself indicated, all his ideas had their origin within his initial fantasies and dreams, which Jung started to document from 1912 onwards: “All my works, all my creative activity, has come from those initial fantasies and dreams which began in 1912.” (Seven Sermons to the Dead, p. 192) Up until 2020, Carl Jung’s Red Book brought us closest to these initial fantasies and dreams. Now, however, since the publication of Carl Jung’s Black Books at the end of 2020 by the editor Sonu Shamdasani, we can, as illustrated throughout this Black Books Summary, come even closer and, in effect, read these initial fantasies and dreams in its entirety on our own.
Whereas the Red Book only encompasses material written between 1913 and 1916, the Black Books consist of 7 volumes written between 1913 and 1932. In this sense, one can consider the Black Books an extension of the Red Book. As Shamdasani indicated at the back of the book-set, the Black Books were the most important unpublished work written by Carl Jung.
In this summary of Carl Jung’s Black Books I have summarized the most important ideas which can be found throughout the Black Books. Previously I have made summaries and analyses of each separate volume as well, in case you are interested in a more detailed summary or analysis of each separate volume you can find them here: Volume 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Although this is merely a summary of the Black Books, when dealing with the works of Carl Jung, a certain amount of personal interpretation is required, which is also why this summary sometimes includes some of my own interpretations of Jung’s works. Please let me know whether you agree with these interpretations or whether you have come to different conclusions.
Black Books Summary: Why and How the Black Books were Written
The first volume of the Black Books consists of an introduction written by the editor Sonu Shamdasani. It replaces the original first volume, which was written by Carl Jung when he was still a child and is therefore considered to be of less interest. Throughout the introduction it is explained why and how Carl Jung wrote the Black Books.
Shortly prior to World Ware 1, several visions were presented to Carl Jung, visions in which Europe was being flooded by a river of blood. At first Jung believed that he might be going insane. However, when his visions became reality, he believed that he might, in fact, not be going insane and was interested in finding the origin of his visions. Since visions such as Jung’s were widespread throughout Europe at that time and could even be found in art and literature, Jung came to believe that these visions might have their origin in a certain collective unconsciousness: “In Jung’s view, his undertaking pertained not just to himself but to others as well: he had come to view his fantasies as stemming from a general mythopoeic layer of the psyche, which he named the collective unconscious.” (p.12)
Black Books Summary: Individuation – Connecting the Irrational with the Rational
Carl Jung argued that it is extremely important for an individual to become aware of this collective unconscious as well as the individual’s own private unconscious. Jung would later call this process individuation.
Jung even argued that such a process could prevent events similar to World War 1 from happening. According to Jung, even tough wars are fought between nations, there is a strong connection between the nature of the individuals representing the nation and the nation itself: “Only the change in the attitude of the individual is the beginning of the change in the psychology of the nation. The great problems of humanity will never be solved through general laws, but always only through the renewal of the attitude of the individual.” (The Psychology of the Unconscious Processes: An Overview of Modern Theory and Method of Analytical Psychology, p.4)
Shamdasani observed in the introduction that, according to Jung, the origins of the outbreak of World War 1 could be found in repressed ‘irrational’ ideas. After the French Revolution ‘irrational’ religious ideas and other beliefs lost their dominance resulting in this repression: “It was thus a historical necessity to acknowledge the irrational as a psychological factor. The acceptance of the irrational forms one of the central undertakings in the Black Books.” (p.58)
In this sense, one of the main purposes of the Black Books was for Jung to have an outlet for his own irrational dispositions. In the end, these irrational tendencies could be connected to an individual’s rational side, resulting in a more ‘integrated’ individual. Eventually, this would, according to Jung, benefit society as a whole.
Black Books Summary: The Importance of Symbols
Jung believed that symbols were extremely important in this regard. Symbols, according to Jung, were able to serve as a bridge between the rational and irrational; a bridge between the conscious and unconscious worlds: “Symbols, he [Carl Jung] argued, stemmed from the unconscious, and the creation of symbols was the most important function of the unconscious. While the compensatory function of the unconscious was always present, the symbol-creating function was only present when we were willing to recognize it.” (p.73) This ‘symbol-creating function’ was explored by Jung throughout the Red Book and the Black Books.
Jung observed that the unconscious/irrational and the conscious/rational exist in two separate dimensions. In the Red Book these are defined as ‘the spirit of the times’ and the ‘spirit of the depths’. The spirit of the times is the rational dimension in which we live our day to day lives. Throughout the Black Books Jung attempted to explore the irrational and unconscious spirit of the depths and attempted to translate what he learned from his exploration into the language of the spirit of the times. For this translation symbols are essential.
Black Books Summary: How the Black Books were Written
Jung argued that the ultimate goal of this process of individuation was the development and exploration of the self. The self, according to Jung, is the entirety of an individual’s personality; the combination of the conscious personality (the ego) and the unconscious personality.
In order to reach this goal, a certain communication between the conscious and unconscious would be necessary. For this purpose, Jung proposed the engagement of certain inner dialogues through active imagination “Everyone, he [Carl Jung] claimed, had this ability to hold dialogues with him- or herself. Active imagination would thus be one form of inner dialogue, a type of dramatized thinking.” (p.101) This is also how Jung wrote the Black Books, which represent, in essence, a dialogue between Jung’s conscious and unconscious.
Black Books Summary: ‘My soul, my soul, where are you?’
This exploration was not an easy endeavour, even for Carl Jung. At the beginning of the second volume of the Black Books Jung wrote the following: “A huge task lay before me – I saw its enormous size – and its value and meaning escaped me. I got into the dark, and I groped along my path. That path led inward and downward.” (p.149) I believe that for Carl Jung this ‘huge task’ was not just the exploration of his own unconscious, but also a correct documentation of this exploration which he could share with the world.
Jung attempted to communicate with his soul. At the beginning, however, this was rather difficult. Jung believed that he might have ignored his soul for too long because he was focused too much on the external world: “I wandered for eleven years, so long that I forgot that I possessed a soul that I could call my own. I belonged to men and things. I did not belong to myself.” (p.151)
A main theme represented at the beginning of the Black Books is the idea that, in order to discover one’s soul, one must focus on the internal world. The exploration of the depths of this internal world even terrified Jung at first: “What torture! I must return to myself, to my smallest things. I want to be careful and say: I had learned to see other things as large and had compared those with the things of my soul and had discovered that they were small […] You force me to see them as large, to make them large. Is that your aim? I follow, but it terrifies me.” (p.154)
Jung struggled to trust his soul as well, which he personally considered strange because he easily trusted other people. Then why could he not trust his own soul? “Do I not trust every valiant man, every honorable woman, and not you, my soul?” (p.155) As a result Jung decided that the only way forward was for him to lay all his trust with his soul: “Your hand lies heavy on me – but I am willing – I am willing. Have I not rendered my best to love men and trust them, and should I not render this to you, my own soul, or rather the soul, by which I am owned? Yes, I see how you guide me. I recognize your wise schooling. You convince me and I follow.” (p.155)
Black Books Summary: Challenges of the Exploration of the Soul
After this decision Jung’s adventure into the depths of his unconscious commences. Despite the personal nature of this journey, it seems strangely relatable, which makes the existence of some form of a collective unconscious even more convincing.
The initial stages of Jung’s journey do not go as smoothly as Jung had hoped. For example, Carl Jung came to the realization that his soul is a desert: “My soul leads me into the desert – into the desert of my own self. I did not think that my soul is a desert and yet it seems to be the case – […] The journey leads through hot sand, slowly wading without a visible goal to hope for.” (p.163) However, as Jung observed in the Red Book, this is only normal, and it is up to us to fertilize the desert of our soul. “If your creative force now turns to the place of the soul, you will see how your soul becomes green and how its field bears wonderful fruit.” (The Red Book, p.142)
Furthermore, as I mentioned in in a previous article as well, Jung became convinced that his own thoughts formed some sort of limitation: “You are hard, my soul, but you are right. How little adapt we are at living! We should grow like a tree that likewise does not know its law. […] We tie ourselves up with intentions, not mindful of the fact that intention is the limitation, yes the exclusion of life.” (p.166) Therefore, throughout the second volume of the Black Books, Jung became increasingly convinced that one should prevent to limit the scope of one’s journey through any sort of intentions: “We believe that we can illuminate the darkness with an intention, and in that way aim pas the light. How can we presume to want to know in advance from where the light will come to us?” (p.167)
We can clearly observe how Carl Jung was taking a step away from knowledge and reason towards the unknown and perhaps irrational. Jung decided to forego any intentions and even any knowledge which he believed he had about the unconscious world: “But our knowledge! Does our knowledge also not hold good for you? What is it going to be, if not knowledge? Where is security? Where is ground? Where is firm land? Where is light?” (p.172)
Despite his conviction to go forward with his investigation, Jung was worried that his ‘un-scientific’ research would benefit no-one because his observations would be merely valid for himself: “I find the thought that this must occur only for me agonizing, and that perhaps no one will gain insight from my work. But my soul demands this achievement.” (p.99) Luckily this was not the case and, as Jung himself would later indicate as well, all of Jung’s most important and influential ideas had their origin in the Black Books.
Black Books Summary: Figures of the Unconscious
After the initial darkness Jung began to discover that there were certain characters living within the depths of his unconscious. The Black Books are full of interactions with these figures. These include, for example: Philemon (old wise man), Elijah (an old prophet), Salome (an anima figure), and Izdubar (Gilgamesh). In this summary of the Black Books I will not discuss these figures in too much detail.
These figures form an important part in Jung’s discovery of his own unconscious. At the same time, they also illustrate the distance between the conscious and the unconscious world. Throughout the third volume of the Black Books, for example, Jung had a long interaction with one of these characters called Izdubar. Izdubar is struck by the scientific truths which Jung shared with him. Izdubar even considered these truths poisonous: “Oh, Izdubar, most powerful one, what you call poison is science. In our country we are nurtured on it from youth, and that may be one reason why we haven’t properly flourished and remain so dwarfish. When I see you, however, it seems to me as if we are all somewhat poisoned.” (p.122)
After a long discussion, Izdubar and Jung conclude that there must exist two kinds of truth, one truth stemming from the inner world, and one from the outer world: “Our truth is that which comes to us from the knowledge of outer things. The truth of your priests is that which comes to you from inner things of the human spirit.” (p.122)
The scientific truths of Jung are so poisonous to Izdubar that they eventually lame him. This brings Jung to the conclusion that we humans have no other choice but to accept the truths of the external world, for they might otherwise lame us as well: “Now you perhaps see that we had no choice. We have to swallow the poison of science. Otherwise, we meet the same fate as you have – we will be completely lamed, if we encounter it unsuspecting and unprepared. This poison is so insurmountably strong that everyone, even the strongest, and even the eternal Gods, perish because of it.” (p.124)
Black Books Summary: The Limitations of Limitlessness
I believe that Carl Jung made an extremely interesting argument in relation to this discussion. Jung argued that these scientific truths, poisonous to the figure of Izdubar, can become problematic to us as well. This is the case because the possibilities within our conscious world have become almost limitless, creating the risk that we are swallowed up by too many possibilities: “Just as the concrete world has expanded from the limitedness of the ancient outlook to the immeasurable diversity of our modern outlook, the world of intellectual possibilities has developed to unfathomable diversity.” (p.130)
As a result, according to Jung, no-one will be able to understand the entirety of life on his or her own: “Infinitely long paths, paved with thousands of thick volumes, lead from one specialization to another. Soon no one will be able to walk down these paths anymore. And then only specialists will remain.” (p.131) Therefore Jung indicated that an overarching principle which can provide some sort of guidance might be a necessity: “Our time requires something capable of regulating the mind […] More than ever we require the living truth of the life of the mind, of something capable of providing firm guidance.” (p.131)
Black Books Summary: The World of Evil
According to Jung, the existence of evil is one such aspect of life for which our conscious mind requires a certain guidance. Science has, so far, not proven a match against the existence of evil; it can even be argued that science, in some ways, results in more evil. Close to the end of the third volume of the Black Books, Jung observed that he had been paying too little attention to the existence of evil: “Evil? I thought too little about evil. Evil exists, too. Evil, the abysmal evil is not to be forgotten. There is no scientific cover-up for it. Even the wold “evil” is commonplace, but not the thing per se.” (p.133)
This discussion on evil can, in my opinion, also be considered the source of one of Jung’s most famous ideas; finding that which one needs the most by looking in the place where one least wants to look: “Here lies an inner reluctance – what is it I do not want to see?” (p.133)
Two decisions of Jung gave him the opportunity to have the interactions with his unconscious which he was seeking: (1) foregoing his reliance on scientific truths and (2) looking at the places where he least wanted to look.
Black Books Summary: Nietzsche’s Truth
At the start of the fourth volume of the Black Books, Carl Jung has an interesting interaction with a librarian about the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche. According to the librarian, although religions may have lost their importance to a certain degree, authors such as Nietzsche have been writing their own ‘books of prayer’, which have been able to fill the void to some degree. In this case Nietzsche’s book of prayer was Thus Spoke Zarathustra.
Carl Jung agrees with the librarian; however, Jung argues that the philosophy of Nietzsche can only fill the void for a certain group of people. According to Jung, Nietzsche’s philosophy is only interesting for those that live a life which is too constraint and require more freedom and independence: “Nietzsche’s truth strikes me as too agitated and provocative –; it’s good for those who are yet to be set free.” (p.204)
According to Jung, another group of people, those that might be too ‘free’, need a different philosophy, a philosophy that provides a form of resignation and sets certain boundaries: “I’ve recently discovered that we also need a truth for those who need constraint. It’s possible that instead they need a depressive truth, which makes man smaller and more inward.” (p.204)
Although it is not that important for this summary of Carl Jung’s Black Books, I believe it is interesting to mention that Jung explored such a philosophy for those for whom the ideas of Nietzsche are less relevant. Whereas Nietzsche’s philosophy is directed at making man feel more worthy and motivating man to remove their shackles imposed upon them by religion and society, Jung was, in several ways, developing a philosophy which made man feel humbler; a philosophy which addresses their imperfections. However, as soon as those belonging to this group acknowledged their inferiorities and imperfections in relation to the overwhelming power of their own unconscious and their own soul, this humbling factor could turn out to be empowering as well.
For example, in the fourth volume of the Black Books, Jung invited men to recognize and embrace madness: “Let the light of your madness shine, and it will suddenly dawn on you. Madness is not to be despised and not to be feared, but instead you should give it life.” (p.211) Jung believed that everyone was filled with a certain form of madness; the sooner this is recognized by the individual, the better it is: “Man strives toward reason only so that he can make rules for himself. Life itself has no rules. That is its mystery. What you call knowledge is your attempt to impose something comprehensible on life.” (p.212)
In this sense, I believe it is possible to argued that Jung managed to explore a philosophy which is a great addition to the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Whereas Nietzsche’s philosophy is great at empowering the individual by indicating how he or she can become more powerful and independent, which is of great significance to some, Jung’s philosophy is, to a large extend, aimed at indicating how powerless and insignificant an individual can be.
Black Books Summary: Life becomes Truth
In line with this discussion, Jung invited everyone to embrace all aspects of life, also those which our present society might not be eager to accept: “Life should proceed, from birth to death and from death to birth – from sense to madness and from madness to sense – unbroken like the path of the sun – Everything should proceed on this path.” (p.216) At heart, this is also what the Black Books are all about; the interactions which Jung was having with figures of his own unconscious, will, in our society, be considered a form of madness. Jung recognized this as well and indicated that, despite the form of madness which he was exploring, he tried his best to live a normal life outwardly: “Thereafter I walk on like a man who is tense, and who expects something new that he has never suspected before. I listen to the depths – warned, instructed, and undaunted – outwardly striving to lead a full human life.” (p.220)
Resulting from these thoughts and convictions, Jung, as he delved deeper into the writing of the Black Books, became ever more willing to accept the ‘way of his soul: “I will gratefully accept what you give, my soul. I do not have the right to judge or reject. Fate will separate the wheat from the chaff. We have to subjugate ourselves also to the judgment of valuelessness and destruction in majorem vitae gloriam [to the greater glory of life].” (p.220) This forms a strong contrast compared to the reluctance which Jung showed at the beginning of the Black Books to trust his soul. However, despite the progress Jung considered he was making, his soul indicated that this was only the beginning.
Black Books Summary: Carl Jung’s Uncertainty
This observation of Jung’s soul made Jung uncertain. Jung’s unconsciousness pointed out to him that everyone could go on a similar endeavour as Jung, but that the price might be too high for some to pay: “Everyone has the ability to find out what is taking place, but not everyone can afford to pay the price. It is quite exhausting.” (p.262)
Jung became uncertain about whether the price that he was paying – a form of madness – was worth it: “The uncertainty and unpredictability are difficult to bear. “Naturally, but who says it is an easy load to carry, if one wants to create the future and not just live it?” (p.262) This uncertainty, is, however, inevitable: “Even the value of what you do is doubtful, inevitably so, because you have no means to judge the value of present things in any way; that only manifests itself later if things are of value at all. One needs to live with uncertainty.” (p.263)
Black Books Summary: The Shepherd
This uncertainty is addressed by Jung through a conversation which he had with a shepherd at the end of the fourth volume of the Black Books. Jung asked the shepherd, who was living a life far removed from civilization, whether he did not mind that, living the life as he does, he is missing out on living life to the fullest of his potential. The shepherd responded by indicating that it is through the primitiveness and sometimes harshness of the life that he is living that he acquires more than enough meaning: “You might be right. But this wonderful free life – one can’t let it go. Life in the cities means deformity. One more or less in civilization – what difference does the individual make?” (p.266)
Moreover, according to the shepherd, if people were true to themselves, more people would live their life as he does: “How many cowards and weaklings do you have among your cultural laborers, who participate only because of their cowardice and weakness, but at heart would like to do something else, if their anxiety would permit them?” (p.266) The shepherd enjoys the simplicity of his life and the possibility for him – which he would not have in the city – to actually complete something and be fulfilled, as opposed to the unlimited possibilities in the city: “I returned back to the finite, back to limited human life, where the task and the life burn out together […] I threw off the impossible and came back to the possible.” (p.267)
I believe that this interaction convinced Jung that he was not wasting his time by partly withdrawing from society and living his inner life as a shepherd: “If you are simply a man, creating is over. For the sake of your work you must be a child and leave him the crown.” (p.271)
Black Books Summary: The Shadow
A main theme present throughout the fifth volume of the Black Books is Carl Jung’s confrontation with the darker side of his own personality. For example, Jung’s unconscious confronted him with the following: “You gloatingly leave others in the lurch, if they only get caught in your snares. You exploit their naivety in order to present yourself wiser and superior. You play at modesty and do not mention your merit, in the certain hope that someone else will do it for you: you are disappointed and withdraw hurt if this doesn’t happen.” (p.220)
Such an observation is quite confrontational, however, it convinced Jung of the existence of a shadow existing within one’s unconscious. A shadow which existed of all the darker sides of one’s personality, which one desperately attempts to hide from him or herself and from society. According to Jung, while exploring one’s unconscious, one will inevitably be confronted by one’s shadow. Later, in the Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, Jung would define this idea of the shadow more clearly: “Whoever looks into the mirror of the water will see first of all his own image. Whoever goes to himself risks a confrontation with himself. The mirror does not flatter, it faithfully shows whatever looks into it; namely the face we never show to the world because we cover it with the persona, the mask of the actor. But the mirror lies behind the mask and shows the true face.” (, p.43) I believe, however, that the source of this idea can be found in the Black Books.
Jung argued that the confrontation with the shadow is a true test which is an inevitable part of the exploration of the unconscious. It might be too confrontational for some, however, the only alternative is to continue to project one’s shadow upon one’s environment: “For the meeting with ourselves belongs to the more unpleasant things that can be avoided as long as one can project everything negative into the environment.” (Ibid)
Several years later, in his book Aion, Jung would argue that such unresolved conflicts within the individual would end up negatively impacting society as a whole: “The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be born into opposing halves.” (p.71)
Black Books Summary: The Pleroma
Until the beginning of the sixth volume of the Black Books, most discussions can be characterized by an exploration of opposites: good and evil, consciousness and unconsciousness, shadow and light etc… At the beginning of the sixth volume, Jung started to attempt to find a way to unite these opposites; to find an overarching principle.
For this purpose, Jung introduces the idea of the Pleroma. In order to avoid a lengthy discussion, I will not go into too much detail, in case you are interested you can read more about the idea of the Pleroma here: Pleroma. For now, I would like to provide you with the following definition which Jung provides us of the Pleroma: “That which is endless and eternal has no qualities, since it has all qualities. We call this nothingness or fullness the Pleroma. Therein both thinking and being cease, since the eternal and endless possess no qualities. No one is in it, for he would then be distinct from the Pleroma, and would possess qualities that would distinguish him as something distinct from the Pleroma.” (p.285)
I believe that the Pleroma can be seen as some kind of supreme essence of everything that has been, will be, and is. However, as soon as anything comes into existence, it will have developed its own identity, consequently separating itself from the Pleroma. In this sense we can compare the idea of the Pleroma to, for example, the idea of God, Mother Nature, or any other kind of supreme authority: “But we are the Pleroma, for we are enclosed in and part of the eternal and the endless. But we have no share therein, as we are infinitely removed from the Pleroma; not spatially or temporally, but essentially, since we are distinguished from the Pleroma in our essence as creation, which is confined within time and space.” (Ibid)
One might wonder what the purpose of such a vague term as the Pleroma is. However, interestingly, Jung observed that it is exactly this vagueness which gives the term its purpose; the fact that we can talk about the Pleroma and therefore differentiate ourselves from it indicates to us that we exist as a separate entity: “When we distinguish the qualities of the Pleroma, we are speaking from the ground of our own differentiated state and about our own differentiation, but have affectively said nothing about the Pleroma. Yet we need to speak about our own differentiation, so that we may sufficiently differentiate ourselves.” (p.208)
This differentiation, according to Jung, is the essence of the individual. The more an individual can differentiate itself from the world around him or her, the more an individual is an individual: “If we do not differentiate, we move beyond our essence, beyond creation, and we fall into nondifferentiation […] We fall into the Pleroma itself and cease to be created being. We lapse into dissolution in eternity and endlessness. This is the death of the creature. Therefore we die to the same extent that we do not differentiate. Hence the creature’s essence strives toward differentiation. This is called the principium indviduationis.” (Ibid)
Whether we, up until this point, understand what the idea of the Pleroma entails or not, the important point for us to take away from this discussion on the Pleroma is that we should be careful not to fall prey to the spell of the Pleroma. As I mentioned, Carl Jung, up until this point in the Black Books, attempted to explore several opposites: good and evil, consciousness and unconsciousness, etc… In light of the idea of the Pleroma, according to Jung, as soon as one attempts to explore one of these opposites, one will fall prey to the spell of the Pleroma, because one cannot be without the other: “When we strive for the good or the beautiful, we forget our essence, which is differentiation, and we fall subject to the spell of the qualities of the Pleroma, which are the pairs of opposites. We endeavour to attain the good and the beautiful, yet at the same time we also seize the evil and the ugly, since in the Pleroma these are one with the good and the beautiful.” (p.209)
The way to remedy this, according to Jung, is to always stay true to our own unique essence and thereby move beyond these pairs of opposites; as Nietzsche did, move beyond good and evil: “But if we do the same in the name and under the sign of our essence, which is differentiation, we differentiate ourselves from the good and the beautiful, and hence from the evil and ugly. And thus we do not fall under the spell of the Pleroma.” (p.209)
I believe that most of Carl Jung’s work was focused on the idea of the principium indviduationis; the pursuit of one’s true essence: “At bottom, therefore, there is only one striving, namely the striving for the essence in you. If you had this striving, you would not need to know anything about the Pleroma and its qualities, and yet you would attain the right goal by virtue of your own essence. Since, however, thought alienates us from our essence, I must teach you that knowledge with which you can bridle your thoughts.” (p.210) The idea of the Pleroma, however complicated it may be, illustrates what happens when one does not pursue one’s essence, one falls prey to the Pleroma, and, in a sense, ceases to be; ceases to be an individual.
Black Books Summary: Self-overcoming
Throughout the last volume of the Black Books (Volume 7) Jung brings all of these ideas to a conclusion. Jung comes to accept all of his deficiencies and concludes that he is not perfect and will never be perfect, which is alright: “This man errs and you exist. That is why you are always present since man always errs. Why must he err? He is a star seed, he errs through the unlimited, he fell down from the unknown. He continues to err. His errancy is his truth. He would do well to know it. Through errancy he lives.” (p.147)
In a sense I believe that this acceptance of oneself, even one’s imperfections (one’s shadow), forms the essence of the journey which was documented in the Black Books by Carl Jung. Initially, one must, through rigorous self-exploration, get to know all the aspects of one’s own identity; most notably the unconscious aspects which have potentially been ignored for a long time. This might be a long, tiresome, and difficult struggle, as we can clearly see from Jung’s journey as well. One might be confronted with some horrendous internal struggles and be faced with the darkness and emptiness of one’s own internal desert. However, eventually, by turning inwards, one might be able to fertilize the desert: “If your creative force now turns to the place of the soul, you will see how your soul becomes green and how its field bears wonderful fruit.” (The Red Book, p.142)
It is important according to Jung, however, that, after one has turned one’s creative force inwards, one eventually accepts all that one encounters, and moves out again into the conscious world with the full acceptance of oneself as a truly unique individual with his or her own unique values, interests, and shortcomings.