Jungian Active Imagination & Hypnagogia

"the royal road to the unconscious"
-C.G. Jung

Jung on the Active Imagination Experience

Memories, Dreams, Reflections pulled together Jung's autobiographical recollections from his lectures, letters, and conversations. Published after his death, this book provides an inside view of Jung's own experience with Active Imagination. In Chapter 6, "Confrontation With The Unconscious," we learn how Jung is thrown into his inner world when he finds himself out of his mentors world. In his mid-thirties, he has a falling out with Freud and finds himself out on his own without the professional connections he enjoyed through Freud's connections. With time on his hands and with enough understanding of the inner world, Jung decides to go as deeply as possible. Here, in very summary format, is what he experiences (to get the long version of Jung's experience, see his easily obtainable, Memories, Dreams, Reflections).

First Recorded Active Imagination Experience - December 12, 1913
Jung sits at his desk and decides to "just let himself drop." He finds having the sensation that the ground has literally given out under his feet. He plunges into the dark depths. Not too long in his fall he lands on soft ground, actually a "sticky mass." Once his eyes adjusts he begins to see some details in the near darkness. Before him is an entrance to a cave, in which stood a dwarf with leathery skin. Jung squeezes past this person and soon begins to wade through icy water which is knee deep. At the other end of the cave he sees, on a projecting rock, a glowing red crystal.
Lifting the crystal he sees that that there is a hole in the ground allowing him to see down to a river. He soon sees a corpse floating by (a boy with blonde hair). He is followed by a gigantic black scarab and then by a red, newborn sun, rising up out of the depths of the water. Blinded by the sun, Jung wants to replace the crystal in the hole to block the sun's rays but a fluid starts to pour out of the whole. It is blood. Blood pours out and Jung feels nauseated. On it pours until finally, it comes to an end. Jung's Active Imagination ends.
(p. 179, Vintage edition of Memories, Dreams, Reflections)

Second Recorded Active Imagination Experience - No Date Given
Jung uses a visual technique that he has found helps him go deeper into Active Imagination. This technique is a realistic visualization of descending a great distance. In this experience he figures that he has descended about a 1000 feet. There he discovers a "cosmic abyss." Next he sees something like a moon crater and then he has the feeling that he is in the land of the dead. Near the steep slope of a rock he catches the sight of two people, one an old man and the other, a beautiful young girl. He summons up his courage and approaches them. He listens carefully to what they say. The old man turns out to be the biblical figure Elijah and the girl, Salome. "What a strange couple," he muses. But Elijah tells Jung that he and Salome belong together for all eternity. Along with the two is a third, a large black snake. Jung sticks close to Elijah and keeps his distance from Salome.
(p. 181-182, Vintage edition of Memories, Dreams, Reflections)

Over time, Jung holds conversation with Elijah who eventually changes into another figure, Philemon. Philemon teaches Jung about the nature of human consciousness. Jung begins to see how autonomous inner figures can act. It is the inner figure that seems to hold this knowledge, not Jung. (p.183). Again, Jung's inner figure changes. This time it alters to take on the form of the Egyptian notion of spirit, Ka. (p.184-185)




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