The Jungian o’euvre is vast. First to consider is the biography of the man and the historical context in which he lived. Then there is the study of the ideas that have made his work so influential, including the nature of dreams, the ‘royal road’ to the unconscious. Then there is the task of situating his work into the larger history of ideas. And, of course, there are all of the artists, clinicians and authors who have been influenced by Jung’s work. On this webpage we will offer some ideas for entering into the Jungian worldview and list some recommendations from board members for a deeper dive into the Jungian literature. When exploring the Jungian o’euvre, let serendipity be your guide!
Here are suggestions by some of our board and volunteer members of their favorite books and/or current reading:
When I first began reading Jungian material, I was very impressed by Thomas Moore’s books, Care of the Soul and The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life. I found Moore’s introduction to ‘soul-based spirituality’ to be very liberating. These two books offer many practical suggestions for viewing my ‘lived world’ as a source of beauty and wonder.
I love the book by Ann Baring, The Dream of the Cosmos: A Quest for the Soul, because it situates Jungian Psychology in the historical context of the resurgence of the Feminine and the awakening of the Soul, both of which are needed to meet the extreme political and environmental conditions that confront us.
A little known book that made a big impression on me is by Jungian Analyst C. Michael Smith, Jung and Shamanism: A Dialogue. It describes the shaman as a ‘technician of the soul’, characterizes shamanism as a precursor to Jung’s analytical psychology, and discusses the nature of dissociative states and shamanic healing. He concludes with a description of the power of ritual, image and archetypes to bring about psychological and spiritual transformation.
I am always drawn to Jung’s assertion that a new God-image is being born in the human psyche. It is an idea that has momentous consequences. One book that does a great job of explaining this idea and describing Jung’s many contributions to the religious imagination is by Edward Edinger, The Creation of Consciousness: Jung’s Myth For Modern Man.
And finally, a broad view of the underlying ethos of the Jungian project can be found in Russell Lockhart’s amazing book, Psyche Speaks: A Jungian Approach to Self and World.
I have found Edward Edinger’s Ego and Archetype to be a highly advanced yet accessible text that effectively gets to the core of Depth Psychological thought and the individuation process primarily through symbols in dreams, religion, mythology, literature, art. The ‘Encounter with the Self’ is an encounter with nothing less than God or the Source itself, instilling meaning and purpose to the human journey and the vicissitudes of life.
My psyche has been permanently imprinted by Marie-Louise von Franz and her text titled: Alchemy: An Introduction to the Symbolism and the Psychology. Franz made it her life’s work to extend Jung’s work on alchemy after his passing. She does so in profound and compelling ways. For those who wish to take a deep dive into the alchemical dimension and learn about how it relates to the individual and the collective individuation process, this is a journey you will not forget!
While Jung’s Answer to Job is not for the faint of heart, it is a truly rewarding text to experience. Jung explores some of the deepest existential questions while raising his fist to the Judeo-Christian God. What is the meaning of human suffering? What kind of a God would inflict such suffering and why? What emerges from this questioning is an engagement with co-creation, or the living dynamic between God and creation. This book highlights the extent of human responsibility in the evolution of consciousness, and provides a context of meaning to the dark night of the soul.
As a lover of books and reading, but discovering Jung relatively recently, tending to the Nancy Alvord Library fills me with gratitude. I feel deeply connected to the other-than-human world—revealed by my previous profession as a veterinarian—and depth psychologist and nature guide Bill Plotkin’s (2008) Nature and the Human Soul: Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World was my gateway into depth psychology. Later, I discovered Vine Deloria’s (2016) C. G. Jung and the Sioux Traditions and Meredith Sabini’s (2002) edited The Earth Has a Soul, C. G. Jung on Nature, Technology & Modern Life to be excellent introductions to Jung’s prescient commentary on Western culture’s destructive split between human psychology and the natural world.
I never tire of exploring Jung’s ideas through a female perspective and the remarkable women in his immediate circle did this first. Two favorites include Marie-Louise von Franz’s (1972) The Feminine in Fairytales and Barbara Hannah’s (2000) engaging collection of lectures in the 1950s and 60s published as The Inner Journey: Lectures and Essays on Jungian Psychology. For more contemporary evaluation of feminism and Jung, I recommend Susan Rowland’s (2002) thoughtful Jung: A Feminist Revision.
Archetypal psychology—a branch of depth psychology focused on the imagination and affiliated with James Hillman—has also contributed significantly to my exploration of Jungian ideas. My most treasured books in this area include Hillman’s (1979) difficult The Dream and the Underworld, his co-edited book with Sonu Shamdasani (2013) Lament of the Dead: Psychology after Jung’s Red Book, and perhaps my favorite Jungian book of all, Patricia Berry’s (1982) timeless Echo’s Subtle Body.