White Bird, Black Serpent, Red Book: Exploring the Gnostic Roots of Jungian Psychology through Dreamwork

Author(s) : Stuart Douglas

White Bird, Black Serpent, Red Book: Exploring the Gnostic Roots of Jungian Psychology through Dreamwork

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : October 2016
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 256
  • Category :
    Jung and Analytical Psychology
  • Catalogue No : 38422
  • ISBN 13 : 9781782204282
  • ISBN 10 : 1782204288

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This book examines the influence of Gnostic philosophy on Jungian psychology as indicated by Jung’s essay, 'The Transcendent Function' (1916), and his Gnostic-inspired treatise, The Seven Sermons to the Dead (also written in 1916).

Relevant and timely due to the relatively recent publication of Jung’s The Red Book, the hypothesis of this work is that the Seven Sermons is the mythopoetic, metaphysical twin of 'The Transcendent Function' and that these texts can be considered as two sides of the same coin. The Seven Sermons formed a prelude to everything Jung was to communicate about the unconscious—in other words, an embryonic form of the principal tenets of analytical psychology can be found in a Gnostic-inspired text.

As Gnostic philosophy was the inspiration for both texts, this book also highlights correspondences between both of Jung’s works and the Gnostic texts of the Nag Hammadi Library, paying particular attention to the theme of the opposites—arguably the crucial theme at the very heart of Jung’s psychology. Accompanying an analysis of these texts is an experiential investigation of the influence the topic had on the occurrence of the transcendent function in the author’s dreams, the intention of which is to provide a richer description of the experience of the transcendent function and to facilitate a deeper understanding of the topic.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘This is a rich, remarkable, startling and courageous book connecting Gnosticism with lesser-known aspects of Jung’s work. Because Gnosticism is inherently informed by the direct experience of the spiritual practitioner rather than by scholarship or rational inquiry it can seem a conceptually dense, overly complex and wilfully obscure tradition. Jung, particularly in his later, bolder, more personal work presents similar difficulties to academic analysis. Only a very subtle scholar like Dr Douglas, both deeply rooted in his own rigorous spiritual practice and grounded in this literature, could succeed in the profound, inspiring synthesis presented in this book.’
— The Most Reverend Timothy Mansfield, PhD, Ep. Gn., Bishop of New South Wales, Apostolic Johannite Church, Australia

About the Author(s)

Stuart Douglas has had a life-long interest in the mysterious and the unknown and completed his PhD in transpersonal psychology after an earlier career as a systems analyst. His specialist areas of interest include the intersection of Jungian psychology and Gnosticism and, more generally, ancient wisdom and contemplative traditions. When not pursuing these interests, or rendering unto Caesar, he spends his time hiking in the mountains somewhere or plotting his escape from the matrix. Born in Scotland, he now lives in Australia.

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