Left Green Perspectives #35




From Green Messiah to New Age Nazi
by Matthew Kalman and John Murray

Matthew Kalman and John Murray are editors of the eco-political investigative magazine Open Eye, which has been uncovering and exposing David Icke and “New Age Nazism.” Address: BM Open Eye, London WC1N 3XX. Issue 3 is available for £1.70.

It has been hard in recent years to ignore the rising popularity of almost everything that comes under the heading New Age. Yoga, meditation, Kabbalah, Buddhism, alternative medicine, environmentalism, and self-improvement, as well as an array of New Age therapies, have all gained in popularity, as have other fringe interests like UFOs and the paranormal, which often appeal to the same people. Few will have avoided at least some contact.

The movement even has its own stars. In Britain, David Icke, the TV sports commentator turned Green Party national spokesman turned purple-robed “Son of God,” is the best-known leader. [See “British Green Party Cofounder Icke Goes New Age,” Green Perspectives, no. 24, October 1991.] His books sell fast, and he pulls in the crowds as a charismatic speaker on a hectic schedule of speaking engagements and workshops. Though many see him as a figure of fun, his popularity is undimmed.

Icke has led a public life: from goalkeeper for the Coventry City and Hereford United teams, he then moved on to the BBC as a sports commentator. He later became national spokesperson for the Green Party before resigning in 1990, declaring himself to be “a Son of the Godhead,” wearing turquoise, and predicting catastrophic geological upheaval. His latest incarnation is more sinister.

In the summer of 1994 Icke wrote The Robots’ Rebellion: The Story of the Spiritual Renaissance, a book which indicated a convergence of New Age thinking with Nazi philosophy. Casting aside his pat concerns about the environment, Icke enthusiastically embraced the classic Nazi conspiracy theory, alleging that the world is controlled by a secret cadre of “The Elite.” He openly endorsed the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the tsarist anti-Semitic forgery that informed Hitler’s notion of a global Jewish conspiracy.

Icke seems oblivious to the fact that the Protocols were long ago exposed as a crude device to stir up hatred of Jews. Nor is he concerned about their popularity with Nazis from Hitler onwards. “Just because Hitler used knowledge for negative reasons doesn’t reflect on the knowledge,” says Icke.

The Robots’ Rebellion weaves a complex tapestry of extreme right-wing concerns about conspiracies to control the world through such diverse means as banking, the New World Order, freemasons, the FBI, the Waco siege, microchips, extraterrestrials, and gun control.

The anti-Semitism of the book is not concealed. Icke accuses Jewish bankers of funding both Hitler and the Bolsheviks,a classic piece of far-right propaganda. He attacks “Jehovah, the vengeful God of the Jews,” as “quite possibly an extraterrestrial.” He is unabashed in sourcing his material back to leading U.S. right-wing militia figures such as Bill Cooper, who believes in a UFO/world government conspiracy that includes aliens both good and bad: “blond Aryans” and large-nosed “Greys.”

Unfortunately, the publication of The Robots’ Rebellion aroused very little criticism of Icke, although many Green Party members began to realize the danger that their one-time figurehead now represented. Some began to picket meetings, with other antifascists later following their lead.

Now Icke has published a new book, . . . And the Truth Shall Set You Free [Cambridge: Bridge of Love, 1995], which brings his anti-Semitic ideas to a chilling conclusion.

Following an Open Eye investigation and the resulting negative publicity, Icke’s publisher, Gateway, refused to handle the new book. Icke has been forced to produce it himself, with financial backing from a Jewish supporter named David Solomon. The book contains a desperate plea to readers to help sell copies.

Icke’s basic thesis is that “almost every major negative event of global significance has been part of the same long-term plan by the All-Seeing Eye cult to take over the planet via a centralized world government, central bank, currency and army.” Although Icke uses terms like Illuminati and Brotherhood to describe this elite, their true identity soon becomes apparent. “There is a global Jewish clique,” he writes, who “worked with non-Jews to create the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the Second World War. This . . . elite secured the Balfour Declaration and the principle of the Jewish state of Israel in Palestine.”

Icke says that, “given the genetic history of most Jewish people,” the Jews have no claim to Israel. This is a common argument among the far right, some of whom believe that the Anglo-Saxons of northern Europe are the true descendants of the “lost tribes of Israel.” Just in case readers have any doubts, Icke explains that the “Israeli government, its army, and its intelligence arm, Mossad, are neo-Nazi, terrorist organizations.”

Further revelations from Icke include the news that the same Jewish clique “financed Hitler to power in 1933,” and that an “Estonian Jew,” Nazi party ideologue Alfred Rosenberg, gave Hitler a copy of the Protocols, thereby sealing the fate of the Jews by encouraging Hitler to embark on the Holocaust. Rosenberg was not, of course, Jewish but a viciously anti-Semitic Baltic German. In the meantime bankers like Max Warburg had already left Nazi Germany. “All this was coldly calculated by the ‘Jewish’ elite,” says Icke. The elite is “merciless . . . sick and diabolical,” as well as being controlled by the “Luciferic Consciousness.”

As if the suggestion that Jews orchestrated the Holocaust were not enough, Icke also condemns the Nuremberg trials. “Nuremberg was an insult to natural justice,” he sputters. He condemns the practice whereby free copies of Schindler’s List “are given to schools to indoctrinate children.” This is because Icke, like other neo-Nazis before him, has decided that the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust is a myth.

He urges his readers to take Holocaust revisionism seriously and, without giving his name, describes and praises the French founding father of Holocaust revisionism, Paul Rassinier—a one-time French Resistance fighter who was himself incarcerated in a concentration camp. “You cannot, if you are interested in truth, just dismiss his findings and condemn him as a Nazi apologist,” says Icke. “But that is what happened to him and others too.”

What exactly are the views of Rassinier? He denies the existence of death camps and rubbishes the reports of survivors as “a collection of contradictory pieces of ill-natured gossip.” Rassinier contends that the gas chambers are an invention of the “Zionist establishment.” Why is it that the rest of us, including the Nazi perpetrators themselves, are so sure that the Holocaust did indeed happen? “The Jews have been able to dupe the world by relying on their mythic powers and conspiratorial abilities,” says Rassinier. “World Jewry has once again employed its inordinate powers to harness the world’s financial resources, media and political interests for their own purposes.”

Challenged about his endorsement of these Nazi apologists, Icke’s wife Linda dares to say things that her husband has not yet committed to print. While the book’s discussion of the Holocaust merely asserts tha the Revisionist version should at least be heard, Mrs. Icke denigrates the fact of the Holocaust itself. “We’ve had the figures come down from six million to two,” she claims, citing unnamed “Jewish” sources. “We’ve had a lifetime of one view and one story. Maybe if all things were laid out on the table the truth might come out, whatever it is.”

Icke promises that “much, much more” is yet to be revealed about the Holocaust. A flavor of what might be forthcoming is contained in a striking passage purporting to explain anti-Semitism. Like many neo-Nazis, Icke goes out of his way to deny being anti-Semitic, claiming that he is merely criticizing a “manipulating Jewish clique” who regard the mass of Jews as “cattle to be used and abused as required” in their quest for world domination.

“The Jewish people (who, like the rest of us, are evolving consciousnesses that happen to be working in a Jewish genetics spacesuit at this point), will never be free until they step out of the emotional and mental control of this tiny clique, which uses them in the most merciless ways to advance its own sick and diabolical ambitions.”

Following a common Nazi thread which goes back to Hitler, Icke blames the Jews themselves for anti-Semitism. “Thought patterns in the collective Jewish mind have repeatedly created that physical reality of oppression, prejudice and racism which matches the pattern—the expectation—programmed into their collective psyche. They expect it; they create it.”

For Further Reading . . .

In the light of the book’s content, it will come as little surprise that the further reading recommended in the back pages of . . . And the Truth Shall Set You Free includes neo-Nazi and racist literature. One favorite source is the “excellent” Spotlight, an anti-Semitic tabloid published in the United States that promotes Holocaust denial as a major theme.

Icke also recommends On Target, the magazine of the British League of Rights, a racist group committed to preventing the immigration of “alien peoples” and maintaining a “homogenous” (read: whites only) society. Its editor, Donald Martin, also contributes to Spearhead, the organ of the National Front now controlled by the British National Party. Martin, whom the BNP regards as a “friend and ally,” runs Britain’s leading book-supply service for the extreme right. Among the seven hundred or so titles are Did Six Million Really Die?, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and Henry Ford’s The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem.

Donald Martin now appears to be using Icke and others in the New Age movement as fronts to soft-sell his hard anti-Semitism. As far right-watcher Larry O’Hara points out, “Icke is in many ways a more dangerous figure than Holocaust Revisionist David Irving, for he has the capacity to entice new people onto the anti-Semitic treadmill.”

The neo-Nazis have certainly picked up on Icke. Street-fighting group Combat 18 have mingled with New Agers at Icke’s lectures and favorably reviewed one of his appearances in their bulletin, Putsch.

Though Icke has now largely dropped his New Age and green message, his supporters have yet to desert him. . . . And the Truth Shall Set You Free sold out its initial print run of 4,000 in just two and a half weeks, good going for a book that has—thankfully—been sold mainly by mail order so far. The glossy New Age magazines Kindred Spirit and Vision, widely available at on newsstands, continue to promote Icke’s work.

New Age Magazines

Nexus, an Australia-based New Age/conspiracy magazine that Icke commends as “excellent,” has carried extracts of Holocaust Revisionism articles from Spotlight. It recently published a four-part history of banking that identified Hitler and Mussolini as the last two people who could have stopped the usurious bankers.

The magazine, which is hoping to build on its current 130,000-plus circulation with a special British edition due out this month, carries regular advertisements for catalogues of neo-Nazi publications and videos.

Closer to home, David Icke is not alone in pushing extreme right-wing and racist ideas within the New Age movement. The London-based magazine Rainbow Ark has a New Age appearance but has long been closely associated with both David Icke and Donald Martin, who has written articles under a pseudonym as well as lecturing at meetings organized by the magazine. Articles in Rainbow Ark attack Jewish bankers, the “Illuminati,” and Zionism. The magazine also has a strange theory about modern Israel:

“When a person has a strong hatred of another race, their higher self often (karmically) makes sure they incarnate in that race to balance them out. Thus many of the worst kind of Nazis have already incarnated in Jewish bodies, explaining therefore some of the fireworks which are going on and will go on in Israel.”

Investigations by Open Eye have revealed that Rainbow Ark has been funded by people with a long history of extreme right and racist activity and was initially based in the apartment of Mary Stanton, a prominent racist campaigner who had previously lent it out to the National Front for an election campaign. When Rainbow Ark held a public meeting at the Battlebridge New Age center in Kings Cross on September 13, a Jewish researcher who attended was physically assaulted by a Rainbow Ark editor. The researcher was mistakenly accused of helping with an exposé by Open Eye of “New Age Nazism. [See Matthew Kalman and John Murray, “New Age Nazism,” New Statesman and Society, June 23, 1995.]

Despite the assault, Rainbow Ark continues to hold public meetings at the Battlebridge Center, which was originally set up to help homeless people. When the center’s organizer Julie Lowe was asked about Rainbow Ark, she explained that she believed that the Jewish conspiracy described in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is true and ought to be investigated. “I met two old Jewish men at Hyde Park Corner one evening who told me they were true,” says Lowe. “They were saying that if they didn’t get their way in the things they wanted, they were able through Philadelphia in America to pull the money out of every city in the world.

“I’ve seen it happen in Sheffield, so I believe it. It depends who’s actually doing the controlling and who’s go the money. The connection between freemasonry and Jewry is very important.”

Nor are the deluded management of the Battlebridge Center the only people to welcome Icke and give him a platform. During a twenty-minute interview on BBC Greater London Radio on October 15, 1995, publicizing his new book, Icke was given free rein to describe the global conspiracy and how he was now addressing audiences of up to three hundred a night who no longer come to laugh at him but to really listen. ¤

This article originally appeared in New Moon: The Jewish Alternative (November 1995).


Jungian Mysteries

The Jung Cult: Origins of a Charismatic Movement
by Richard Noll (Princeton University Press, 1994), $24.95

reviewed by Janet Biehl

In a period of economic and social decomposition, as many people turn to religion with the intention of experiencing connectedness with something beyond themselves, the ideas of Carl Jung are surging in popularity as never before. As Jung-inspired books, like Women Who Run with the Wolves, become best sellers, ideas of “archetypes” and a “collective unconscious” become common coin. Jung’s ideas, according to a recent article in U.S. News & World Report, are “becoming a cultural touchstone, a lens for processing experience.” Indeed, Jungianism is passing out of the realm of psychotherapy as such: not only are Jungian notions heard coming from pulpits in various established churches, but they are being used to form a spiritual system in their own right.

To be sure, Jungianism is an intensely individualistic religion; acolytes partake of the mysteries less in congregations than in one-on-one psychotherapy sessions or in solitude, while reading books or watching Bill Moyers television programs. Yet it is a religion nonetheless, perhaps eminently befitting an atomized society, and as Richard Noll’s fascinating study The Jung Cult makes clear, the day may come when conventional wisdom considers the founder’s days at the Burghölzli hospital in Zurich and then in private practice as the days of a prophet. Already the events of Jung’s own life are veiled in a degree of mystery becoming for a prophet, thanks to the care with which he and his associates cultivated a legendary aura to his writings and autobiography, enshrouding them with a quasi-numinous quality. Even Jung’s collected works, as Noll points out, were assembled not in chronological order, which would have revealed the development of his ideas, but according to subject matter, as if they existed in some timeless oracular realm.

Seen in this context, Jung’s early adherence to Freud’s theory and practice of psychoanalysis, in the first decade of this century, seems something of an aberration. As has often been recounted, the two men met in 1907 and formed a close connection; they traveled to the United States together in 1909 and interpreted each other’s dreams. They soon became estranged, as Jung’s growing interest in ancient religions unsettled the atheist Freud; by 1912, Jung already realized he was a pagan in both spiritual roots and identity. And where Freud had defined the libido in strictly sexual terms, Jung went on to reconceptualize it as a generalized life-force of psychic energy. Indeed, in 1912 the man whom Freud had hoped would be his heir explicitly made the libido into a religious force: “the gods are libido. It is that part of us which is immortal, since it represents that bond through which we feel that in the race we are never extinguished. . . . Its springs, which well up from the depths of the unconscious, come, as does our life in general, from the root of the whole of humanity, since we are indeed only a twig broken off from the mother and transplanted.” The Viennese rationalist and the Swiss mystic broke decisively in 1913.

Jung’s Intellectual Context

In his search for the origins of what has since become the Jungian religion, Noll removes Jung’s life from the realm of the eternal and brings it back down to earth, placing both the man and his ideas in their highly distinctive historical context—nineteenth-century German culture. He identifies a variety of intellectual trends that fed into Jung’s thinking, most obviously Romantic natural philosophy. Natur-philosophie, a school of comparative anatomy or morphology that prevailed in German scientific circles from 1790 to 1830 and that sought “Urtypen,” or primordial biological forms, has obvious parallels with Jung’s archetypes. Comparative religion and mythology (which had emerged as a new field study in Germany in the mid-1800s) had an obvious impact on Jung. Nineteenth-century biblical criticism, which cleared away much belief in Judeo-Christianity, allowed for the emergence of neopaganism such as Jung’s. Interest in ancient Iranian (“Aryan”) religion and culture, in which Jung was particularly interested, heightened. The evolutionary biology of Darwin, with its historical approach to biological phenomena, provided intellectual underpinnings for Jung. The Dionysian iconoclasm of Nietzsche, which became popular in the 1890s, reemerged in Jung, while similarities can be found “between Nietzsche’s purely theoretical idea of the übermensch and Jung’s concept of an individual or an individuated person who is brought into being through the practice of analysis.” Finally, Lebensphilosophie, the vitalistic appeal to experience and intuition over reason that became influential after 1870, allowed “intuitive” specialists of all kinds, like Jung, to offer themselves to a German nation eager to be led to spiritual awakening.

Another important fin de siècle context for Jung was the fashionle occultism that then prevailed, and the burgeoning interest in forms of spirituality that were patently elitist. Spiritualism, or the attempt to commune with the dead, had originated half a century before, in New York State, where the Fox sisters first heard preternatural rappings and rose to fame replicating them as messages from the dead. Their celebrity gave rise to a movement of mediums and seances that had spread throughout New England and then to the parlors and salons of Europe by the 1860s. In the 1870s Helena Blavatsky, a spiritualist medium who claimed to commune with long-dead “ascended” masters called “mahatmas,” was supposedly apprised by these masters of an arcane “secret doctrine” that underlies all the world’s religions. Based on these supposed revelations, she constructed an occult doctrine, called Theosophy, in the mid-1870s; and to go with it, she founded a hierarchical secret society, the Theosophical Society, whose members were trained in clairvoyance and telepathy and other psychic practices and finally became initiated into the society through participation in mystery rites that revealed to them the “secret doctrine.” By 1900 its chapters had spread throughout North America and to Europe and India. In 1913 Rudolf Steiner founded a variation of Theosophy, Anthroposophy, which shared its predecessor’s occultism, its elitism and hierarchy, and its spiritual initiations. Nor was this phenomenon limited to Germany; elitist-occultist groups appeared elsewhere in Europe and North America, like the Order of the Golden Dawn in England. As Noll points out, we may even regard the Wagner cult as having a spiritualistic dimension: The Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, dedicated to the performance of Richard Wagner’s operas, can be seen as, among other things, a temple for the nineteenth-century German equivalent of the Eleusinian mysteries, where a self-appointed spiritual elite could receive revitalization in the nationalistic ferment following Bismarck’s unification of Germany in 1871.

Many of these same intellectual trends, occult and nonoccult, subsequently shed their progressive dimensions and as such were able to feed into völkism, the antirational, anti-Enlightenment, antimodern ethnocentrism of the early twentieth century that contributed so heavily to the rise of National Socialism in the 1930s. Indeed, much of nineteenth-century German thinking had been given nationalist and racial if not racist underpinnings. Comparative religion and mythology, for example, had accustomed most Europeans to think in terms of Aryan and Semitic categories as early as 1860 and envisioned a prehistorical Aryan “mythopoetic age.” Ernst Haeckel cast Darwin’s evolutionary biology into pseudoscientific racial terms, with a version of social Darwinism that justified competition and “the survival of the fittest” not between individuals, as it was conceived in England and the United States, but among races. Anthro-posophy and Theosophy alike described a natural history of human development in terms of “root races,” including the advanced “Aryan race.’ And in Vienna a magician named Guido von List made use of the techniques of spiritualism to claim contact with the ancient “Armanen,” or Teutonic ancestors who, like Blavatsky’s “mahatmas,” imparted secret Aryan” wisdom to him, in what became known as Ariosophy. In 1911 List founded a hierarchical secret society to revive alleged ancient Teutonic religion through occult wisdom.

Meanwhile, interest in alternative religion burgeoned, much as it does today. Haeckel proposed a new pantheistic “natural religion” called Monism, that would unify spirit and matter; giving it its most complete form in Riddle of the Universe (Welträtsel), published in 1899; by 1904, the Monistic Alliance, based on his ideas, had groups all over central Europe. Biblical criticism, having delivered an intellectual assault to Judaism and Christianity, cleared the way for a surge of interest in the worship of ancient Teutons. By the 1890s, utopian nature worship was popular in Central Europe, especially a solar religion, and among the spiritually disaffected it was commonplace to regard the sun as the true deity of the Germans. Groups practicing sun-worshipping rituals dotted the German counterculture at the turn of the century, and after 1905 the youth movement adopted many such notions, often including racialist and anti-Semitic ones.

Jung would likely have been familiar with these unconventional religions since, despite his own bourgeois conventionality, the Zurich hospital where he worked was located near the epicenters of a fin de siècle counterculture that thrived from about 1900 to 1920. From Schwabing, the bohemian district of Munich, to Ascona, a Swiss town that hosted a number of alternative communes, this counterculture reached at least proportions as the 1960s in California—and it was equally fascinated with spiritual and spiritualistic phenomena. Jung would certainly have known about the variety of spiritual elites, occult groups, and neopagans that abounded so close by.

Although this völkisch culture later fed into Nazism, Noll is at pains to emphasize that völkism was not unitarily proto-Nazi. Indeed, Noll locates Jung specifically in the völkisch movement not with the aim of tying him to Nazism (after a flirtation with National Socialism in the 1930s, Jung later denounced the Third Reich); nor does he give much attention to Jung’s own anti-Semitism and racism, except to locate their roots in nineteenth-century “Aryan” scholarship. Rather, Noll’s purpose is to show that during a time of obsessive cult-founding, Jung was the founder of a cult. Far from designing a clinical method, as Freud had tried to do, Jung, like so many others in this milieu, designed instead a mystical cult of redemption, even embracing the use of mediums to commune with the dead—and insofar as these dead were “Aryan” ancestors, Jung’s approach is “directly akin to the völkisch visionary initiations into the Teutonic mysteries by List, his Armanen, and other Ariosophist groups who were doing exactly the same sort of procedure at exactly the same time as Jung.” In this respect, as Noll points out, “from 1916 onwards . . . Jung probably had far more in common with figures such as Blavatsky, List, and Steiner than he did with Freud [and] Adler.” Jung even had a being whom he too supposedly channeled—Philemon, his spiritual guru— “the counterpart to List’s [Teutonic] Armanen Brotherhood or Blavatsky’s mahatmas.” Perhaps his greatest distinction was that “the Jungian movement became the most successful of all the fin-de-siècle occult traditions.”

Jung’s Development

How did the secular approach of Freudian psychoanalysis so quickly lose its rationalist bearings in Jung? Noll’s study uncovers the most likely course of Jung’s intellectual development at the crucial fin de siècle period. Among his most important influences was the evolutionary biologist Haeckel, who in 1868 had offered the precept that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” By this “Biogenetic Law” he meant to say that the fetal development of individual members of a species replicates the evolution of the species itself. As Noll puts it, “the stages of individual development (ontogeny) could be shown to replicate, in order, the states of the development of the human race (phylogeny). . . . Each adult human being, then, in both development and structure, was a living museum of the entire history of a species.”

In 1899 Haeckel proposed suggested that one could go beyond this strictly biological approach. A “phylogenetic psychology” should be developed, he proposed, a branch of psychology that would study the “phylogeny of the soul.” Just as in biology, species history is recapitulated in the individual, so in psychology, Haeckel advised, cultural history is recapitulated in the psyche of each individual. This “phylogenetic psychology” would be take its place as a science, alongside embryology and paleontology. Jung, who read Haeckel’s Welträtsel in 1899, seems to have taken very seriously the author’s suggestion. Indeed, as Noll points out, Jung probably “based his own later phylogenetic theories of the unconscious on Haeckel’s recommendations for a ‘phylogeny of the soul.’”

Jung seems to have picked up on Haeckel’s suggestion and directed his own work accordingly. “All this experience suggests to us,” he wrote in 1912,

that we draw a parallel between he phantastical, mythological thinking of antiquity and the similar thinking of children, between the lower [sic] races and the dreams. This train of thought is not a strange one for us, but quite familiar through our knowledge of comparative anatomy and the history of development, which show us how the structure and function of the human body are the result of a series of embryonic changes which correspond to similar changes in the history of the race. . . . Consequently . . . the state of infantile thinking in the child’s psychic life, as well as in dreams, is nothing but a re-echo of the prehistoric and the ancient.

And so, he believed, are the dreams of adults. Thus, “the products arising from the unconscious are related to the mythical. . . . The soul possesses in some degree historical strata, the oldest stratum of which would correspond to the unconscious.” The phylogenetic layer of the unconscious mind, as hypothesized by Jung, thus contains the mythological images and thinking of pagan antiquity, which has since been covered over by a millennia-old Judeo-Christian layer. In 1909 Jung and his staff at the Burghölzli set to work diligently studying mythological works of pagan antiquity, then looking for evidence of mythological content in the dreams and fantasies of their patients.

The other pivotal intellectual influence on Jung in the crucial period of 1912-1913 was J. J. Bachofen, a scholar of ancient mythology who was very popular within the booming counterculture. Back in the mid-1800s, Bachofen had examined artifacts from ancient Greece and Rome, particularly their archaic periods, and thought he saw in them previously hidden evidence for several polygamous and matriarchal historical stages that preceded patriarchal society and that, indeed, corresponded to three general stages of prepatriarchal human social development. He laid these stages out in his 1861 book Mother-Right (Das Mutterrecht). The first stage, called Hetairism, was the stage of complete sexual freedom for both sexes; it was pre-agricultural, worshipping the deity Aphrodite. The second stage was that of Mother-Right, or matriarchy, an agricultural society whose members worshipped Mother Earth. Symbolized by the moon, this stage prized things dark and subterranean or “chthonic,” and intuition over intellect. The third stage was transitional between this lunar matriarchy and the later solar patriarchies of Greece and Rome: Embodied by Dionysos, intellect and rule by men rather than women were on the ascendant. Patriarchy, represented by Apollo and the sun, finally overthrew this third stage and wiped out almost all traces of all the previous stages, especially the old matriarchies. But evidence that they existed and were vanquished lives on in myths in which heroic males do battle with and defeat strong, “terrifying” females, replacing the worship of goddesses and Dionysos with worship of Apollo and elevating reason over “chthonic” intuition.

Jung “was very much attracted to a philosophy of pagan regeneration based on Bachofen’s ideal image of a prehistorical period of polygamous hetairism,” Noll argues. In 1912 Jung used Bachofen’s stages of human development “as his basis for identifying the strata of transformations of the libido that he had excavated in his study of the phylogenetic unconscious.” The Bachofenian stages, that is, formed the content of the “phylogenetic unconscious layer” that Jung was constellating for his “phylogenetic psychology,” as advised by Haeckel. The Bachofenian stages made up not only the social and cultural history of Europe, as Bachofen had written, but, by Haeckelian extension, the phylogenetic unconscious of individuals. Hetairism, matriarchy, and Dionysianism lie deep within the unconscious of each European. Insofar as psychoanalysis intends to uncover the contents of the unconscious, it would come upon these various psycho-cultural layers. (Non-Europeans, such as Jews, would possess different contents in their phylogenetic layers and hence the Bachofenian content would not be present in their unconscious.)


Bachofen’s ideas gained still more significance for Jung’s emerging spiritual system, insofar as it probably influenced his ideas on gaining access to this unconscious content what to do once one did. In many myths, Bachofen had shown, heroes journey to the “underworld,” encounter terrifying maternal forces, do battle against them, then prevail over them; once the hero has vanquished them, his victory revitalizes him or even allows him to be reborn in some way. At Eleusis, for example, site of the famous ancient mystery cult, such a myth was probably reenacted, Bachofen thought; the mysteries, which he dates back to the stage of Mother-Right, brought the initiate toward an encounter with the goddess Persephone that revitalized and redeemed the initiate in some unknown way. In Jung’s hands, yet another Haeckelian ontogentic-phylogenetic analogy came into play here: In effect, Jung seems to have decided that a person undergoing psychoanalysis was comparable to an initiate at Eleusis, for his patients would wrestle with the maternal forces of their Bachofenian unconscious, much as Eleusinian initiates journeyed to the underworld, struggled, and returned; upon prevailing over those forces, Jung’s patients could experience a comparable revitalization and even a redemption. Jungian analysis thus became essentially a process of journeying to the underworld (the unconscious), making contact with divinity allegedly there (ancient gods or ancestors), and then returning to the upper world (daily life). Haeckel and Bachofen had given Jung the tools with which to refashion Eleusinian mysteries into Jungian mysteries.

One further influence contributed greatly to Jung’s cult of redemption. In 1909-1910 Jung became fascinated with Zoroastrianism and Mithraism, which were based on ancient Persian solar worship. As interpreted by fin de siecle scholarship, these ancient Persian religions involved mystery rites much like those at Eleusis (although later scholarship has shown that the evidence for such a supposition is nonexistent). The ancient Iranians were regarded by nineteenth-century German scholarship as Aryans. Rejecting (Semitic) Christianity in favor of (Aryan) Mithraism, Jung essentially grafted onto his mystery cult imagery of Aryan heroes who, after vanquishing the “terrible” forces in their ordeal, became identified with the “divine” sun.

Having developed the notions (or better, intuitions), Jung’s task as a presumptive clinician was to try to document the existence of the phylogenetic unconscious (he did not use the term collective unconscious until after World War I) by finding clinical evidence for it in his patients at the Burghölzli. As we have seen, his staff was hard at work reading up on ancient mythology. But fortunately for him if not for psychoanalysis, some of his Zurich patients likely came from the Schwabing-Ascona counterculture and would thus likely be already familiar with sun worship and Eleusinian encounters, with Mithraism and Bachofen. They would have provided Jung with just the kind of the evidence he was looking for in their “unconscious.” Oddly, Jung himself seemed rather careless in screening his patients for previous knowledge of the mythology that was supposed to lie embedded in their psyches and surface only for the first time through analysis. Of course, any previous knowledge of mythological material on the part of patients would have negated the legitimacy of the data as evidence of a phylogenetic unconscious. Yet Jung often just simply asserts that patients knew nothing in advance about the mythological evidence he excavated from their unconscious—even when they very well could have known.

One notoriously questionable case is that of the Solar Phallus Man, a Burghölzli patient around 1906-1910. The Solar Phallus Man claimed to see visions of a sun with a phallus hanging down from it—an image that accords with ancient Mithraism. But this patient, according to Jung, could not have known about Mithraic solar imagery, since the Mithraic Liturgy was not published until 1910. Such a possibility, he said repeatedly, even as late as 1959, was “quite out of the question, because that thing was not known. It was in a magic papyrus in Paris, and it wasn’t even published. It was only published four years later, after I had observed it with my patient.” But in fact the 1910 edition of the Mithraic Liturgy was the second; the first edition was published in 1903, before the patient arrived at the hospital, meaning that he could very well have read it. Nonetheless, throughout his life Jung described the case of the Solar Phallus man as definitive evidence for the collective unconscious.


In 1909 Jung left the Burghölzli hospital and went into private practice nearby, in Küsnacht-Zurich; and once he left his last official teaching position in 1914, he was free to set up and maintain his mystery cult without accountability to the academic and medical worlds. The private Jung, Noll shows, developed along lines quite different from the public Jung. “The public Jung was, perhaps an eccentric psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in the eyes of the academic and scientific community in 1916. The private Jung, however, within the supportive enclave of Küsnacht-Zurich and his circle of disciples, was very much the völkisch prophet.”

According to Noll, Jung “set out to design a mystery cult that promised its initiates revitalization through contact with the pagan, pre-Christian layer of the unconscious mind.” His intention to do so is clear from his 1912 Dionysian cultural manifesto, “New Paths in Psychology,” which called for redemption through psychoanalysis and sexual liberation. In the same year he founded the Society for Psychoanalytic Endeavors (Gesellschaft für psychoanalytische Bestrebungen), which Noll calls “the first foundation of a charismatic cult centered on the Lebensphilosophie of psychoanalysis and on the person of Jung.” With a membership consisting of those who had undergone Jungian analysis, the group attempted to make psychoanalysis into an encompassing worldview that could explain much of world, through “lectures applying psychoanalytic theory to the aesthetics of art, music and other nonclinical cultural areas.” Küsnacht-Zurich was becoming the Bayreuth of the Jungian mysteries.

And in 1913, the same year that Jung formally broke with Freud, Jung experienced, so he believed, the ultimate mystery experience: self-deification. As he himself revealed in a seminar he gave twelve years later, a vision Jung had induced him to believe that he had become one with the ancient Mithraic god Aion, in the form of an Aryanized Christ. In his 1913 descent to the “underworld,” visions of Druidic altars, a white snake, and a battle between light and darkness, Jung said, he encountered Salome:

Salome became very interested in me, and she assumed I could cure her blindness. She began to worship me. I said, “Why do you worship me?” She replied, “You are Christ.” In spite of my objections she maintained this. I said, “This is madness,” and became filled with skeptical resistance. Then I saw the snake approach me. She came close and began to circle me and press me in her coils. The coils reached up to my heart. I realized as I struggled that I had assumed the attitude of the Crucifixion. While the snake was pressing me, I felt that my face had taken on the face of an animal of prey, a lion or a tiger.

Interpreting this strange vision for his sympathetic listeners at the 1925 seminar, Jung explains:

Salome’s performance was deification. The animal face which I felt mine transformed into was the famous [Deus] Leontocephalus of the Mithraic mysteries, the figure which is represented with a snake coiled around the man, the snake’s head resting on the man’s head, and the face of the man that of a lion.

The Deus Leontocephalus, he then explained, is “Aion, the eternal being.” The experience, he said, gave him “certainty of immortality.”

Jung compared this experience of self-deification to the Hellenic mysteries, in which “it is almost certain that the symbolical rite of deification played a part.” “These images,” Jung continued, “have so much reality that they recommend themselves . . . In this deification mystery you make yourself the vessel, and are a vessel of creation in which the opposites reconcile. . . . all this is Mithraic symbolism from beginning to end.” Contemporary scholarship regarded Mithraism as a later version of Zoroastrianism, the religion of the ancient Aryan peoples of Persia; in becoming Aion, Jung was thus participating in an Aryanized version of the Eleusinian mysteries, “an initiation in to the most ancient of Aryan mysteries,” as Noll puts it. Indeed, Noll continues, “This makes Jung’s self-deification and travels in the ancestral lands of the dead directly akin to the völkisch visionary initiations into the Teutonic mysteries by List, his Armanen, and the other Ariosophist groups who were doing exactly the same sort of procedure at exactly the same time as Jung.” After 1916 Jung offered what Noll calls a “Aryans-only path to redemption.” That “Jung deliberately fused the symbol of Christ with potent Germanic cultural symbols” indicated “his intention to redeem those of Aryan heredity. . . . it is clear that Jung’s proposed path of spiritual redemption could only work for those of Indo-European ancestry.”

Self-deification, following Jung’s own experience as the prototype, became the primary goal of the Jungian mysteries. Starting with the founding of the Psychological Club in 1916, Jungian analysis showed patients how to deify themselves, using Jungian techniques, and thereby become part of a secret spiritual elite. In a previously unpublished transcript of the address given at the founding meeting of the Psychological Club, the speaker (unidentified in the informal transcript, but probably Jung) lays out the path to “self-deification”: Using Christ as a symbol of the collective unconscious, the initiate is to undergo a process of identification with the (Aryanized) Christ by identifying with the collective unconscious: “This identification of the personality with the collective unconscious manifests itself always in the phenomenon of self-deification.”

1916 was also the year in which Jung developed his collective unconscious theory. It is “essentially an occult or mystical notion,” Noll says, “—an article of faith that one either believes in uncritically or not.” The psychological processes that Jung was addressing in his patients were actually nothing more than the basic stuff of clinical psychology—complexes based on past experiences, recalled through the filters of the patient’s memory. What Jung did, Noll points out, was to take these processes and elevate them to a cosmic scale. It is not basic psychological drives and forces that underlie the personal complexes, but gods, or racial ancestors, and by contacting them one may gain access to their accumulated wisdom. As Jung himself wrote in 1918 (in “Role of the Unconscious”), “The connection with the suprapersonal of collective unconscious means an extension of man beyond himself; it means death for his personal being and a rebirth in a new dimension, as was literally enacted in certain of the ancient mysteries.” The collective unconscious is by no stretch of the imagination a psychoanalytic concept but rather part of a religion: Along with the archetypes, it constitutes “Jung’s transcendental or occult religious doctrine of an extramundane reality and its forces (the dead, gods, archetypes). It is his creed, his faith. This is Jung’s own version of the secret doctrine, and the metaphysical basis of his Nietzschean religion.”

A Spiritual Elite

Part of the fascination of the Jung cult was its appeal to a spiritual elite, offering initiates membership a privileged membership in an elite group that could, by their common experiences of contact with the primordial divinity within, create a new basic religion, like the “secret doctrine” of Blavatsky. It is a fascination that holds appeal to this very day: The “secret church” that Jung set up, Noll shows, transmitted Jung’s own charismatic authority through a socially cohesive discipleship and thereby gained legitimacy. After reading Noll’s book, we should have little reason to regard Jungian “analysis” as essentially different in nature from Theosophy or Anthroposophy—except for its pretensions to inhabit the universe of psychology rather than religion alone.

It is symptomatic of the social disarray of our time that the Jung cult is finding new adherents today. The notion of self-deification could hold appeal only at a time when people experience their power to effect social change diminishing, be it in 1990s America, in fin de siècle Europe, or during the decadence of the Roman Empire, when mystery cults from the East similarly fascinated the disaffected. Nor is it coincidental that Americans are losing interest in Freudianism, which despite its failings, at least maintained a commitment to secularism and to explaining psychological processes in their own right. By showing the Jungian mysteries for what they are, Noll has not only exposed the pretensions of the Jungian establishment but inadvertently, given the absence of a social context in the book, shown Jungianism to be a symptom of popular feelings of despair and helplessness in the face of an ever more rapacious and frightening social order.¤