THE RED BOOK CLUB

The Red Book Club is a free online bookclub in which members read and discuss books with a focus on the unconscious. Books include those on Jungian depth psychology, mythology, alchemy, art and the imagination. These might be fiction or non fiction and range from academic texts to fairytales, poetry, and artists with a particular focus on the unconscious.  

 

The usual format is a monthly member vote (via instagram) on a book to read from a choice of three. We then meet for an online zoom discussion about the book. There are also guest authors and academics from time to time invited to speak about a particular book or subject. 

The book club is open to anyone interested in the subject areas and members often dip in and out - no obligation to read every month, just join in when a book grabs your interest!

If you would like to join - message to be added to the email info list 

March/April 2021

Knowledge in a Nutshell - Carl Jung  -   Gary Bobroff

With guest author Gary Bobroff  (zoom discussion April - date TBC)

Gary S. Bobroff is an international speaker, author and workshop leader. His work brings insights from Jungian psychology to our pursuit of modern questions. He is the founder of JUNG Archademy (online courses) and JungianOnline.com (live video therapy referrals) and the developer and facilitator of Archetypal Nature.

Book Summary:

Introduces psychologist Jung's ideas in an engaging and easy-to-understand format. Jungian psychology expert Gary Bobroff breaks down the concepts of the psyche, collective unconscious, archetypes, personality types and more in this concise book. He also explores the influence on Eastern philosophy and religion on Jung's ideas, and how spiritualism enriched his theories.  

With useful diagrams and bullet-point summaries at the end of each chapter, this book provides an essential introduction to this influential figure and explains the relevance of Jung's ideas to the modern world.

Jan/Feb 2021

Jung and the Alchemical Imagination -   Jeffrey Raff

Jung and the Alchemical Imagination illustrates the spiritual nature of Jungian psychology and the debt it owes to the tradition of esoteric religion. Unlike other books on Jung and alchemy which contain a psychological interpretation of alchemical material, this work uses alchemy to understand the three cornerstones of Jungian spirituality--the self, the transcendent function, and active imagination.

 

Through the interpretation of alchemical imagery, Raff explains the nature of these three concepts and illustrates how together they form a new model of contemporary Western spirituality.

 

This book is also unique in selecting alchemical texts for analysis that are relatively unknown and which, for the most part, have never been interpreted. In addition, he presents two new concepts--the ally and the psychoid realm.

 

Through the addition of these ideas, and the new understanding that they offer, it is possible to apply alchemical imagery to transpsychic experience/ that is, to a world of spirits which may not be reduced to psychological concepts. By including this realm in the study of alchemy and Jungian thought, it is possible to gain insights into the nature of visionary and ecstatic experiences that form part of the path of individuation--the road to completion.

December 2020

Christmas Meet Up

Discussion of the symbolism of the Christmas tree and the motif of the cosmic tree 

Material -

1. Interview with Carl Jung on the symbolism of the Christmas Tree. 

2. Video link to the Camden Arts exhibition - The Botanical Mind: Art, Mysticism, and the Cosmic Tree (video of exhibition walkthrough and discussion of works)

Oct/Nov 2020

Ithell Colquhoun - Genius of the Fern Loved Gulley -   Amy Hale

With guest author Amy Hale

Amy Hale is an anthropologist who specializes in contemporary occult and Pagan history, religions, and culture in the United States and the United Kingdom.

 

Book Summary:

The first in-depth biographical study of the British surrealist and occultist Ithell Colquhoun,

This book offers the first in-depth biographical study of the British surrealist and occultist Ithell Colquhoun, situating her art within the magical contexts that shaped her imaginative life and work. After decades of neglect, Colquhoun's unique vision and hermetic life have become an object of great renewed interest, both for artists and for historians of magic. 

Although her paintings are represented in such major collections as Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery, Colquhoun's rejection of both avant-garde and occult orthodoxies resulted in a life of relative obscurity. Her visual and written works have only recently received adequate recognition as a precursor to contemporary experiments in magical autobiography and esoteric feminism.

After rejecting the hectic social expectations and magical orthodoxies of London's art and occult scenes, Colquhoun pursued a life of dedicated spiritual and artistic enquiry embodied in her retreat to Cornwall. Genius of the Fern Loved Gully balances engaging biography with art historical erudition and critical insight into the magical systems that underscored her art and writing.

September 2020

Demian -   Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse is best-known for Steppenwolf and Siddhartha, but his novella Demian has been re-discovered and become very popular in its own right, exploring an individual's search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality.

 

It's Hesse's brilliant coming-of-age novel about the spiritual and psychological growth of a young boy who detaches from and revolts against this hell of superficial ideals of the world of appearances and eventually awakens into a realization of self.

Hesse underwent psycho analysis with Joseph Lang (a student of Jung's) and later with Jung himself. As a result Hesse became very interested in Jungian analysis and interpretation which is evident in his writing. The title of the book came to Hesse in a dream. 

July/Aug 2020

Egyptian Mythology - a guide to the gods, goddesses and traditions of ancient Egypt-   Gelaldine Pinch

Spanning Ancient Egyptian culture--from 3200 BC to AD 400--Pinch opens a door to this hidden world and casts light on its often misunderstood belief system.

 

She discusses the nature of myths and the history of Egypt, from the predynastic to the postpharaonic period. She explains how Egyptian culture developed around the flooding of the Nile, or the "inundation," a phenomenon on which the whole welfare of the country depended, and how aspects of the inundation were personified as deities.

 

She explains that the usually cloudless skies made for a preoccupation with the stars and planets. Indeed, much early Egyptian mythology may have developed to explain the movement of these celestial bodies. She provides a timeline covering the seven stages in the mythical history of Egypt and outlining the major events of each stage, such as the reign of the sun God.

June 2020

Down Under - Leonora Carrington

A stunning work of memoir and an unforgettable depiction of the brilliance and madness by one of Surrealism's most compelling figures

In 1937 Leonora Carrington--later to become one of the twentieth century's great painters of the weird, the alarming, and the wild--was a nineteen-year-old art student in London, beautiful and unapologetically rebellious. At a dinner party, she met the artist Max Ernst. The two fell in love and soon departed to live and paint together in a farmhouse in Provence. 

In 1940, the invading German army arrested Ernst and sent him to a concentration camp. Carrington suffered a psychotic break. She wept for hours. Her stomach became "the mirror of the earth"--of all worlds in a hostile universe--and she tried to purify the evil by compulsively vomiting. As the Germans neared the south of France, a friend persuaded Carrington to flee to Spain. Facing the approach "of robots, of thoughtless, fleshless beings," she packed a suitcase that bore on a brass plate the word Revelation. 

This was only the beginning of a journey into madness that was to end with Carrington confined in a mental institution, overwhelmed not only by her own terrible imaginings but by her doctor's sadistic course of treatment. In Down Below she describes her ordeal--in which the agonizing and the marvelous were equally combined--with a startling, almost impersonal precision and without a trace of self-pity. Like Daniel Paul Schreber's Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, Down Below brings the hallucinatory logic of madness home.

May 2020

The Interpretation of Fairy Tales - Marie Louise Von Franz

Of the various types of mythological literature, fairy tales are the simplest and purest expressions of the collective unconscious and thus offer the clearest understanding of the basic patterns of the human psyche. Every people or nation has its own way of experiencing this psychic reality, and so a study of the world's fairy tales yields a wealth of insights into the archetypal experiences of humankind.

 

Perhaps the foremost authority on the psychological interpretation of fairy tales is Marie-Louise vonFranz. In this book-originally published as An Introduction to the Interpretation of Fairy Tales - she describes the steps involved in analyzing and illustrates them with a variety of European tales, from "Beauty and the Beast" to "The Robber Bridegroom." Dr. von Franz begins with a history of the study of fairy tales and the various theories of interpretation. By way of illustration she presents a detailed examination of a simple Grimm's tale, "The Three Feathers," followed by a comprehensive discussion of motifs related to Jung's concept of the shadow, the anima, and the animus.

April 2020

Man and his Symbols - Carl. G. Jung 

Man and His Symbols owes its existence to one of Jung's own dreams. The great psychologist dreamed that his work was understood by a wide public, rather than just by psychiatrists, and therefore he agreed to write and edit this fascinating book.

 

Here, Jung examines the full world of the unconscious, whose language he believed to be the symbols constantly revealed in dreams. Convinced that dreams offer practical advice, sent from the unconscious to the conscious self, Jung felt that self-understanding would lead to a full and productive life. Thus, the reader will gain new insights into himself from this thoughtful volume, which also illustrates symbols throughout history. Completed just before his death by Jung and his associates, it is clearly addressed to the general reader.

© 2020  Chantal Powell.