Jung’s dream before discovering alchemy: A library with 16th century manuscripts


Before I discovered alchemy, I had a series of dreams which repeatedly dealt with the same theme. Beside my house stood another, that is to say, another wing or annex, which was strange to me. Each time I would wonder in my dream why I did not know this house, although it had apparently always been there. Finally came a dream in which I reached the other wing. I discovered there a wonderful library, dating largely from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Large, fat folio volumes, bound in pigskin, stood along the walls. Among them were a number of books embellished with copper engravings of a strange character, and illustrations containing curious symbols such as I had never seen before. At the time I did not know to what they referred; only much later did I recognize them as alchemical symbols. In the dream I was conscious only of the fascination exerted by the entire library. It was a collection of medieval incunabula and sixteenth-century prints. The unknown wing of the house was a part of my personality, an aspect of myself; it represented something that belonged to me but of which I was not yet conscious. It, and especially the library, referred to alchemy, of which I was ignorant, but which I was soon to study. Some fifteen years later I had assembled a library very like the one in the dream.

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2 Responses to Jung’s dream before discovering alchemy: A library with 16th century manuscripts

  1. As an avid reader of Jung, your dream reminded me of one I once had.

    It was a dark night and the medieval tower I was residing in was about to collapse and all I knew was that I had to carry the secret scriptures and documents of how to besiege the crumbling tower with me to the second tower, which is right next to me. Just when I fled to the first floor and took a quick exit, the tower I was in collapsed unreservedly. I quickly got to the second tower and went down to the basement and began to manually copy the scriptures. While I was looking at the strange symbols of a single page of the manuscripts I had, I heard a witchery voice that remarked crookedly about how I must preserve the original manuscripts. It was a terrifying voice and I awoke admonished.

    Looking back, it was a period of real psychological transformation for me and I could only speculate that I was advised by the unconscious to maintain the psychological methods by which I have used to initiate my transformation. But of course, there could be more to it.

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