Revisiting the Visions of Christiana Morgan: What was left out of Jung’s ‘Visions Seminars’

Ilona Melker, LCSW, JA

Anima Mundi, a platonic cosmic principle was re-defined for our times by James Hillman when he called archetypal psychology “bringing the platonic vision down to earth.”Christiana Morgan’s visions are bringing our attention down to the body, down to the earth, down to the archetypal feminine. Jung was attuned to the messages in Morgan’s visions and made them a centerpiece of his four-year-long teaching of seminars between 1930-34. In the seminars Jung pointed out that “We have seen how the unconscious of our patient has moved from the Yang principle  (platonic) down into the Yin principle (earthy); from the above to the below, and that the whole series of visions demonstrated the “extraordinary difficulty of the transition from one leading principle to another.”2   We are living through this transition today and feel and experience how extraordinarily difficult it is to find respect for our individual body/soul, and a relationship to, and an awe for the earth and her creatures.  Nietzsche, whose visions Jung also analyzed and taught in his Zarathustra Seminars, broke under the weight of those visions and the extreme difficulty of living them in the body. Yet, he urged us to return to the body, to the earth through the voice of Zarathustra:

Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue! Let your bestowing love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth! Thus I beg and beseech you.

Do not let it fly away from earthly things and beat against the eternal walls with its wings!  Like me, guide the virtue that has flown away back to the earth – yes, back to the body and life: so it may give the earth its meaning, a human meaning!

(Nietzsche, 2006, 57)

Christiana Morgan over the course of nine months recorded some hundred visions and paintings. She began in 1926 at Jung’s encouragement to use active imagination. Her opus grew beyond analysis with Jung and was completed post analysis in 1927. About a third of the visions were considered in the Visions Seminars. Curiously Jung skipped volume two, which was actually part of their analytical discourse and went to volume three which remained marginally explored, incomplete. For a discussion of why volume two was left out please see Melker (2015).3

Morgan’s work is much akin to Jung’s Red Book, although Jung worked on the Red Book longer and with more conscious investment as to its outcome. Nevertheless if Jung’s Liber Novus depicts the rebirth of God by integrating God’s dark side, then Morgan’s visions depict the rebirth of the Goddess to whose numinosity we had collectively lost connection. James Hillman said, “for psychology the issue is not that ‘God is dead’ but in what form this indestructible energy is now appearing in the psyche. What can the psyche tell us about the direction religion might take now? In what images will the major emotional idea of God be reborn. ”

To fully appreciate the difficult journey back to matter and to locate spirit in matter Morgan’s visions provide an excellent path. Although this presentation (from volumes 2 and 3) is very limited in scope I would urge us to study the visions in their entirety, because they are as relevant to us today as they were 100 years ago. Jung himself said to Morgan that her visions “held material for the next two-three hundred years” and that it is a great “document humaine”. It is a rushing forth of all that has been hitherto unconscious”. 4 This presentation is an attempt to awaken interest in unveiling what still remains veiled in the visions. My hope is to publish the manuscripts, make them available for study, discussion and analysis for the insights contained in them.

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