Carl Jung mandalas

Famous Red Book by Carl Jung on Exhibit at Pacifica University

I went with two girlfriends yesterday to see the artwork from Carl Jung’s famed work published posthumously and titled “The Red Book.” Everyone kept saying I needed to go see it, that Jung was as interested in mandalas as I am and that his artwork reminded them of mine. Hmmm, quite an enticing invitation and high praise. And while I am not sure my artwork can hold a candle to these stunning works, you can definitely find a common love in our sense of color and the use of mandalas (see my logo in my header).

I loved Jung’s definition of mandalas and appreciate why he was drawn to them. I also find myself inexplicably drawn to the concept, meaning and use of mandalas. Jung writes, “My mandala images were cryptograms of the state of my self, which were delivered to me each day.”

Carl Jung red book drawing depticing a drago

Who knew that Jung was such a fabulous artist?

Almost no one outside his family and closest circle of friends.

Our local magazine in Santa Barbara, the Independent, published a fabulous article about the seminal work in the life of Jung and how it came to be published almost 100 years later.  Here’s part of the article and the link to the rest if you are interesting in learning more. I took a bunch of pictures of the art itself, which has been beautifully printed in large scale format and allows you to see the details and intricacies of the symbolism and Jung’s influence by illuminated manuscripts, aboriginal art and others.

Enjoy the information and the pictures. If you get a chance to see an actual copy of the Red Book, available on Amazon or perhaps your local library, or if you the exhibit comes to a city near you, enjoy, be surprised and approach with a sense of wonder. I believe that this approach to his own inner life holds a message for all of us – to explore, to dream and to create in order to get to know and better understand our own personal journey.

“What did you see in your dreams last night? Have you ever written them down in a journal?

Most people know that Carl Gustav Jung, the visionary Swiss psychoanalyst who founded the field of depth psychology and viewed a person’s inner life as a source of enlightenment and healing, spent a lifetime studying dreams and their meanings. Fewer people realize that the master of dream therapy himself surreptitiously authored a secret book filled with his own ruminations, dreams, and hallucinogenic drawings ​— ​The Red Book.

Carl Jung mandala red book exhibit

After a long, furtive, and mysterious journey that began almost 100 years ago, Jung’s Red Book, hidden for generations, can be viewed in a rare showing at Pacifica Graduate Institute in a six-week free exhibit. This unusual viewing of the remarkable masterpiece is made possible through a series of high-definition, digitally enhanced, and enlarged limited-edition fine-art prints from DigitalFusion, the premier specialist in archival digital capture, and brought to Santa Barbara by the Jung Foundation and Pacifica Graduate Institute.

During a crisis in Jung’s career, when he was in opposition to almost everyone in the nascent field of psychiatry, including his onetime mentor, Sigmund Freud; at a point when his marriage was threatened by an intoxicating affair with a younger analysand and professional collaborator; and when, in his own words, he was “menaced by a psychosis” by a “confrontation with the unconscious” and an “incessant stream” of visions, Jung began to secretly record not just his dreams but his hallucinations, his doubts, his demons, and his vanity. He first detailed them in a series of six black journals that came to be known as the “black books” and later transferred, refined, and illustrated his writings in a handmade, red leather-bound book, filled with thick cream-vellum paper, weighing nearly 10 pounds that Jung called simply, The Red Book.

carl jung

The Book

In total, 77 large-scale digital prints were developed from the original pages of The Red Book, and upon viewing the suite of 23 individual 25” × 38.5” curated images on display at Pacifica, the vividness of Jung’s meticulous handiwork is evident.

“You are able to see Jung’s personal painting,” said Willow Young, a Jungian analyst at Pacifica Graduate Institute who is chair of the program in counseling psychology. “Jung’s visions, inner experience, and confrontation with the unconscious have come back to life.’ ” Excerpt from the Santa Barbara Independent. Read the rest of the article here.

In the meanwhile, enjoy the beautiful artwork and consider how creating mandalas might be a fun, creative and surprising way to learn more about yourself.