Toni Wolff met Dr. med. Jung for the first time on September 20, 1910. We know the exact date because she wrote in her diary, years later on September 20, 1925, that she recalls consulting Jung for the first time fifteen years earlier to the day. They would have sat in his library, where he saw his patients, a room Jane Wheelwright recalls as cluttered with “stacked unread letters, notes in his handwriting, all kinds of papers, and books opened to special places.” Toni, no doubt, immediately felt comfortable with Dr. Jung, as Isabelle Hamilton Rey relays, “You at once felt at home. One does not feel the slightest hesitancy in his presence; his words are very simple, and are chosen with fine discrimination.”
When she first met Jung, Toni stood at a personal crossroads. Her life was at a standstill with no apparent opportunity to advance her intellectual aspirations, and her hope for a vibrant future had dimmed. As commentator Maggy Anthony puts it, “She was gifted and intelligent, but had no proper outlet for it.” In her diary entries from the period, Wolff expresses her concern with finding a direction for her life. She knows that she must discover her own way and embark upon a life path that will allow her to be of service to others, a life direction that will spawn innovations out of the fruitfulness of her mind, for she sincerely wishes to apply herself to the benefit of others.
During an analytical session with Jung in 1941, analysand Katy Cabot asked him what Toni Wolff’s psychological issues had been when she initially sought his assistance. Jung replied that Toni’s dreams were those of a “creative person,” a young woman who needed to find a suitable outlet for her creative gifts. Yet despite Jung’s best efforts, she did not respond to treatment at first. He could not reach Toni, nor motivate her to discuss the specific feelings that were driving her solemn spirit. Deirdre Bair reports that “she was glum and recalcitrant in their first sessions.” At last Jung made a connection, but it was not one based upon any astute psychological clarification, rather it was one grounded in their common intellectual interests. In an attempt to draw her out of her disabling emotional state, he offered an interpretative parallel from Greek myth. Toni immediately revived at the mention of a subject with which she was familiar. Over the previous several years, she had developed an abiding interest in myth. She, in fact, knew the Greek stories better than Dr. Jung did and was not afraid to say so: “She chided him for telling the tales with sloppy informality and gave her own precisely detailed version of each myth.”
As a result of their conversations, Toni’s spirit revived. Jung shared with Katy Cabot in 1940 that he learned then how to shake Toni out of her dark moods: simply engage her mind in a topic that interests her and her dismal spirit will vanish.
‘Never mind what mood she is in. Disregard it—for it’s all vapor.’ . . . You only have to get her onto something that interests her, and the whole cloud disappears.
Jung was delighted by Wolff’s knowledgeable responses and by the decided improvement in her attitude. He liked her intellectual confidence, as Irene Champernowne notes: “She had remarkable insight and was articulate.” In her diary in January 1912, Toni notes that she feels more sure of herself now. She showed an immediate interest in Jung’s work, sharing his regard for the study of mythology and etymology. Although the study of myth is an immense field, she acknowledges in her diary on January 19, 1912, she believes, from its study, it will be possible to construct an entirely new theory of the psyche. This prospect excited her greatly. She considered this scholarly work to be a vital project, and her attitude brightened.
In Toni Wolff, Jung had found a young woman who grasped, perhaps even better than he did, the very subject with which he had been enamored for the past year. Throughout 1909, he had been studying myth, avidly devoting most of his free time to reading in the field. In a number of letters to Freud, he communicates his fascination with the ancient stories of myth. On January 8, 1909, one year before Wolff’s arrival, he writes to Freud:
Mythology certainly has me in its grips. I bring to it a great deal of archaeological interest from my early day. I don’t want to say too much now but would rather wait for it to ripen. I have no idea what will come out.
Again, on October 14th of the same year, he writes:
Archaeology or rather mythology has got me in its grip, it’s a mine of marvelous material.
The images found in dreams, Jung believed, parallel the symbols embedded in the ancient stories of myth. Dreams and myth emanate from the same source, the unconscious, a place deep within the psyche that also holds the imagination. Therefore, he considered a familiarity with myth to be an essential tool for the competent psychoanalyst, writing in “The Theory of Psychoanalysis” in 1912:
No one with the faintest glimmering of mythology could possibly fail to see the startling parallels between the unconscious fantasies brought to light by the psychoanalytic school and mythological ideas.
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Jung’s study of myth eventually led him to the concept of the archetypes, those vibrant images that populate the world of the inner psyche and surface in a variety of cultural expressions, but always with the same universal theme—collective themes that reflect the commonality of human experience.
Toni Wolff possessed a natural understanding for the archetypal elements in the psyche, having established, from her earliest years, a strong connection with the imagination. She believed, like Jung, that archetypes are found in what she described as the “psychic life of primitives, in archeology, mythology, and in the comparative symbolism and history of religions.”
Having considered much of the same material as Jung, but from her own perspective, Wolff became an able partner in a reciprocal exploration of mythic symbols. Their early years together quickly became mutually productive. Jung later noted:
The actual discovery of the collective unconscious occurred at this time.
Henceforth, Dr. Jung formulated his analytical sessions with Wolff around their shared intellectual interests. From the start, their minds meshed, and they brought out the best in each other’s conceptual natures. They stimulated each other’s creative imaginations and gave each other hope. Jung’s colleague Marie-Louise von Franz later certified that the deep personal connection Toni and Carl shared grew first out of the “likeness of their minds.”
Toni wrote in her diary on January 18, 1912, in the first entry that is still extant, that she supplies Jung with answers to his psychological questions, and at times, she even lives them out for him until they are resolved. She seems clearly excited about the work she is undertaking with him. As a result of their joint efforts, she considers herself to be at the cutting edge of her time and at last able to live a conscious and full life.
Toni later admitted to Tina Keller that her formal analysis with Jung did not last long. The natural resonance of their minds surfaced almost at once, and their strong connection shifted rapidly from a clinical one to a personal friendship: “She once told me that she had gone for consultation but that very quickly the relationship changed.” In another account, Tina Keller reiterates the same: When Wolff first met Dr. Jung, “they both knew analysis was out of the question.”
Jung’s intense examination of mythology culminated in the publication of Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido, released in 1911 and 1912, then in an English edition in 1916 entitled Psychology of the Unconscious, later re-named Symbols of Transformation in his Collected Works. Filled with mythic references from cultures throughout the world, Jung drew his narrative examples from mythic sources as disparate as the Indian Upanishads, the Germanic song Nibelungenlied, the Native American Hiawatha, the ancient Near Eastern epic Gilgamesh, the Greek story of Demeter and Persephone, and the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. Jung’s book contains a veritable treasure trove of stories and legends, all strung together in support of his contention that the myth of the hero revolves around his necessary separation from the mother.
In her diary on January 13, 1912, Toni observed that she must separate from her mother, at least on the psychological level, even as she continues to live in her mother’s house. She expresses the idea, so common in later Jungian circles, that the inner and the outer dimensions represent two very different spheres. But of the two, the inner realm is the more important.She believes that she must disengage from her mother, but only on the psychological level. There is no contradiction with continuing to live with her mother in the outer realm, while establishing a separate identify for herself in the inner realm. Toni’s diary entries from this period reveal her desire (so common for a young woman in her early twenties) to establish her own feminine identity.
In the public foreword to the 1916 edition of Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido, issued several years after he met her, Jung does not thank Toni for her assistance in preparing the book, but rather he thanks his wife, writing, “I must render thanks to those who have assisted my endeavors with valuable aid, especially my dear wife.” But beyond his wife, he does extend his gratitude to what he calls, “my friends, to whose disinterested assistance I am deeply indebted.” Perhaps this reference to his “friends” is an oblique allusion to Toni Wolff, whose assistance he deeply appreciated during these years as he was researching this book.
In the foreword Jung wrote for a later edition of the work, during a time when he relied much less heavily upon Toni Wolff’s input, he chose to eliminate entirely his earlier acknowledgment of “his friends,” but he left intact his recognition of his wife and, in fact, even expanded upon it, writing:
This book was written in 1911, in my thirty-sixth year [when] I was acutely conscious of the loss of friendly relations with Freud and of the lost comradeship of our work together. The practical and moral support which my wife gave me at that difficult period is something I shall always hold in grateful remembrance.
But, according to Jung’s own account, which he recorded in a letter to Freud dated February 12, 1912, Emma’s assistance with the book consisted of “working consciously at etymology,” while he relied much more heavily upon Toni Wolff for help in formulating the actual content of the book. C. A. Meier recalls that Toni “was a great aid to Jung.”
Toni’s friendship with Jung proved to be the exact tonic that she needed to cure her melancholy.She later wrote that a woman’s mind blossoms when it comes into contact with a man’s: “In contact with an intelligent man it can develop.” Jung offered Toni a rare opportunity to exercise her mental gifts—to fulfill her intellectual vocation—during a time when, according to commentator Maggy Anthony, “few creative men took women seriously at all, still less would they willingly take them on as collaborators.”
Having found a responsive venue for her special talents, Toni Wolff began to do research for Jung: “She came several times a week loaded with books.”She also brought her own wits to her discussions with him, suggesting scholarly directions to C. G. that he had not foreseen:
Most of the time she brought back her own contributions more than the specific sources he asked, and often hers presented strikingly different interpretations from what he first envisioned. From the beginning, she contributed an independent perspective to his work.
Beyond their discussions on the topic of mythology, Jung and Wolff also discussed other subjects, topics considered at the time to be of an arcane nature and on the margins of intellectual exploration. Toni likely shared her knowledge of Eastern perspectives with Jung, a knowledge inspired by her father’s experience in the Far East, but also augmented by her own extensive reading. Baroness van der Haydt insists that it was Toni Wolff who gave Jung his first taste of the intellectual wealth of the East. Indeed, it was during these years that Jung first turned to the East for insights. Wolff considered the eastern attitude to be better suited to the natural rhythms of the psyche than the more materialistic attitudes of the West, as she later indicated in a lecture in London in 1934:
The Eastern mind is far ahead of us in the knowledge of the basic psychological facts. I will only remind you of the fundamental law of the opposites, which ancient Chinese philosophy has formulated under the symbols of the Yang and the Yin. Yang and Yin are cosmic principles as well as psychical ones.
During a German seminar that Peter Baynes attended, Jung directly credits his interest in the philosophies of the East to a young unnamed female analysand with whom, he admits, he became quite captivated. She was “a beautiful aristocratic girl.” During the course of their work together, he continues, he had a dream in which he saw her “enthroned on an Eastern temple, high above him.” Jung interpreted the dream to mean that she possessed far more knowledge about Eastern philosophies than he did—a fact, he says, that was symbolized in the dream by her elevated position above him. Baynes relays:
And this he explained was how all his knowledge and interest in Oriental ideas and feeling had developed out of his transference to the girl. He had, as he said, to cut off his head and learn to submit his ignorance to his patient.
Whether this patient, to whom Jung credits his subsequent interest in Eastern perspectives, was indeed Toni Wolff is not clear, but the tone of the dream has shades of her influence. If it were Wolff who first exposed C. G. to the outlook of the East, then he was highly receptive to it. Evincing a strong curiosity from an early age in non-rational realms, Jung had based his medical dissertation upon the then-popular phenomenon of Spiritualism, which, like Eastern religions, had surfaced as a cutting-edge field of inquiry in the late nineteenth century.
As he had with mythology, Jung recognized a parallel between psychoanalysis and esoteric matters, contending in his 1912 essay, “New Paths in Psychology,” that
the reader must now calmly accept the idea that in this psychology he is dealing with something quite unique, if not indeed some altogether irrational, sectarian, or occult wisdom.
Toni Wolff also understood esoteric and arcane subjects. She had, for example, read the works of Edouard Schuré, a French author who specialized in ancient philosophies and in the mystery religions of Greece, Egypt, and ancient civilizations in the Far East.
Jung’s attention now turned to the study of astrology, as German texts on the subject were readily available through the Theosophical Publishing House in Leipzig. Other educated scholars were beginning to investigate the subject, as it had become a fashionable upper class pastime. An Englishman stated in the British journal, The Theosophist, in September 1880, that he is studying astrology, and he is conducting his examination, he says, as a matter of science. Indeed, he asserts, he is acquainted with a number of other cultured gentlemen who are researching the same subject, including a “German baron.”
It was only after Jung met Toni Wolff that his interest in astrology emerged. A year after they met, he informs Freud that he is engaged in studying the new topic: “At the moment I am looking into astrology.” This revelation is followed four weeks later by another letter to Freud, dated June 12, 1911, in which he expands:
My evenings are taken up very largely with astrology. I make horoscopic calculations in order to find a clue to the core of psychological truth.
In a 1916 lecture, Jung further notes that the cultural climate of the day encourages such study: “There is a regular library of astrological books and magazines that sell far better than the best scientific works.”
Jung was thoroughly familiar with Toni Wolff’s astrological horoscope, and he even kept a copy of it in his files. Gräfin Elizabeth Klinkowstroem recalls that, during one of her later analytical sessions with him, Jung told her that her astrological chart resembled Toni Wolff’s. Indeed, he shared with her they are almost “the same.” According to Jungian analyst and astrologer Liz Greene, Jung did not draw up, or “erect,” Toni Wolff’s chart. The copy in his files was drawn up by an “unknown hand,” not Jung’s, most likely a professional astrologer employed at the time. Jung’s copy of Toni Wolff’s chart is currently held privately.
Interestingly, during her only two analytical visits with Jung in the late 1920s, Gräfin Elizabeth Klinkowstroem remembers that he referred to a book similar to The Horoscope Hours in which one could look up one’s planets: “Like a watch, one could turn from the hour of one’s birth . . . and it gave you at once what horoscope you had, and very quickly. And then you can very quickly find it in the book.” It is not clear whether Jung ever learned the intricate mathematical formulas necessary to erect a full natal chart. As he was not inclined toward math by nature, it is likely that he relied upon books such as The Horoscope Hours, referred to by Klinkowstroem, to provide him with a close approximation of a natal chart. However, the copy he kept of Toni Wolff’s birth chart was an exact one.
Wolff easily assumed the role of scholarly collaborator to Jung, as the ideas she shared with him helped him to define his own. Throughout his life, Jung thrived in the presence of an educated partner who helped him consolidate his own unshaped notions. He thought best when in conversation with an individual who grasped the nature of his intellectual puzzles. According to Jane Wheelwright, from the beginning Toni Wolff was more than capable of this: “I mean she was so exaggeratedly into it and . . . she could go along with all of Jung’s far-out ideas.” Wolff not only served as an intellectual foil for C. G., she also reciprocated with points of view of her own, adding previously unseen dimensions to his emerging theories.
In addition, Toni was thirteen years younger than C. G., and she was a woman. Therefore, she posed no intellectual threat to him. Jung confided in a 1925 seminar that a man can share his ideas freely with a woman, much more freely than he can with a male colleague, because he need not fear that she will compete with him. With her, he can discuss his ideas as they are still forming, not worrying that she will be unduly critical, or that she will prematurely interfere with the rhythm of his thoughts. He need not be concerned that she will initiate a rash or heated debate over the veracity of his conclusions. Unlike a man, she will allow him the time he needs to sympathetically explore his own judgments, as he contends in his later seminar:
A man centers his power in his thinking and proposes to hold it as a solid front against the public, particularly against other men. A man can usually speak freely to a woman, particularly to a certain sort of woman.
Evidently, Toni Wolff was that sort of woman.
Toni Wolff’s capacity, not only to grasp, but also to affirm C. G. Jung’s ideas, while at the same time interjecting her own original impressions, illustrates the essence of what she meant to him during these intellectually productive years. Acting as an able, eager, and energetic collaborator in his early investigations, she spurred him on as he set out to explore the psyche. As Jane Wheelwright relates, “With Toni, you thought of her [sic] as these tremendous ideas.”
In the end, however, it would be Jung who would compose the essays that presented the innovative ideas that emerged from their shared psychological dialogues.
Jung’s daughter Gret Baumann-Jung elucidates the inner clash between her father’s conventional and non-conventional selves in her analysis of his astrological horoscope. Building upon Jung’s early interest in astrology, she gained proficiency as an adult in the interpretation of natal charts. Publishing her insights in a 1975 article in the Jungian journal Spring, she traces her father’s conflict between his traditional and non-traditional sides back to the astrological symbolism in his chart. She considered this conflict to be the singularly deciding factor in his psyche.
In support of her contention, Gret cites the dramatic placement of Uranus and Saturn at divergent ends of her father’s astrological chart. Their opposition suggests that he experienced a contradiction in his basic temperament. In astrological symbolism, Saturn points to tradition, while Uranus points to non-tradition. Standing at polar ends of Jung’s horoscope, the planets reflect the intense contradiction that he experienced in himself. Engaging in a kind of tug-of-war in the heavens, Saturn and Uranus mirror the struggle he experienced in his own nature.(1)
His horoscope has two rulers. Saturn is in the first house, where the conscious ego is formed. Uranus is on the opposite side of the chart. Uranus corresponds more to the unconscious.
Saturn aligns with her father’s personality No. 1, she says, which is his traditional persona, while Uranus, the seeker of mysteries and the unconscious, corresponds to his personality No. 2, the mediator to the underworld. Toni Wolff resonated closely with Jung’s personality No. 2, his unconventional, non-rational, and spiritual side, while [his wife] Emma resonated with his personality No. 1, his traditional, Swiss burgher persona.
Jung’s inner conflict became projected upon two separate and quite distinct women. While Gret Baumann-Jung does not mention Toni Wolff by name, she does indicate that her father’s unconventional nature, symbolized by Uranus, falls squarely “in the seventh house, in the house of partnership,” suggesting that he will opt for a highly unusual marital arrangement. Jung himself wrote two decades later that one may find that “unwished for guests” have entered a marriage, specifically a second woman whom the husband needs as much as his wife.
(1) Astrologer Liz Greene alos points to Jung's Saturn/Uranus opposition. She believes it is the signature aspect in his horoscope, as it is in his daughter's opinion (See Liz Greene, The Art of Stealing Fire, 234ff.). Other astrologers have analyzed Jung's astrological chart as well. Micheal Meyer points to Jung's five-pointed star, an extremely 'rare' configuration, which he believes marks Jung's remarkable individuality, indicating that he was a person "with potentially pronounced createve, synthesizing capabilities". (Michael Meyer, The Astrology of Relationship, 197).
Toni Wolff (1920s): Fair Use License (see Astrodatabank)
Carl and Emma Jung (around time of wedding): Astrodatabank or Astrowiki has received permission to publish this photo on its pages.
C.G. Jung: Public Domain, Creative Commons License
27-May-2018, 10:41 UT/GMT
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