Book Review: The Red Book (Liber Novus) by Carl Jung

Hermetic Library anthology artist David Shoemaker has posted a review of Carl Jung’s The Red Book (Liber Novus), over on the College of Thelema of Northern California site, which may be of interest, at “Book Review: The Red Book (Liber Novus) by Carl Jung“.

“As one might hope, the content of the book is as impressive as its form. The central motifs of the text concern Jung’s attempt to “recover his soul” in a series of visions, journeys to Hell, “lectures” from various entities he encounters, and dialogues with characters as diverse as the prophet Elijah, Salome, and the Holy Guardian Angel-like magician Philemon. (Fans of Gematria will enjoy the fact that Philemon (rendered in Greek) has the same value as “Persephone” and “thrice-great”.) In the course of fleshing out these visions, Jung presents a number of ideas and themes which resonate powerfully with those of Thelemic philosophy, and the Hermetic corpus generally. Among the most prominent of these is the intensifying relationship between Jung and Philemon, essentially Adept and Angel, which resulted not only in visionary experiences, but in Jung’s later attempts to translate these experiences into cogent scientific theory and psychoanalytic practice. Many years after the completion of the Red Book, near the end of his life, he wrote of this process:

“The years, of which I have spoken to you, when I pursued the inner images, were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life. Everything later was merely the outer classification, the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then.” (p. vii)”