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“Lights” is the newest music video from the phenomenally popular South Korean K-pop group, BTS. Its main theme is the question “What is love?” to which there is a response: “your Light lights the way for me . . . no matter how far apart we are.” If you haven’t heard of BTS you are probably over 25. Please scroll to the bottom for more background on who they are. 


L-R: V/Kim Tae-hyung, Suga/Min Joon-gi, Jin/Kim Seok-jin, RM/Kim Nam-joon, JHope/Jung Ho-seok. Bottom: JK/Jungkook/Jeon Jeong-Guk, Jimin/Park Ji-min.

In addition to expressing their extraordinary talents, highly developed skills, and social consciousness, their works are filled with heart-felt messages mixed with complex symbolism that I appreciate based on my over 50 years as a Jungian-based tarot reader and symbol interpreter. 

As others have noted there are so many levels of meaning to the song and video “Lights.” If you can’t see the English subtitles in the video, be sure to turn on CC (closed caption). Please watch.

Whether consciously intended or not, the movie theatre depicts Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Only instead of viewing reflections on the wall we have the modern analogy of viewing a film being projected. UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_5c41This leads to the question: What is Reality? Plato said we are limited to perceiving existence through our senses, which can easily be misled.

The Allegory of the Cave

In Plato’s allegory, prisoners are chained in a cave so they only see images projected on a wall formed by statues moved in front of a fire, and they hear only echos from sounds made by those moving the statues. They think these illusions are reality. One of the prisoners escapes and, coming out of the cave, first perceives reality as shadows, then as reflections in a pool, then stars and moon, and finally the sun. This is the role of the philosopher who must subsequently return to the cave to free the other prisoners. Unfortunately, as his eyes are now accustomed to the sun, the philosopher can’t see in the dim light of the cave, so the other prisoners think his explanation of the true reality is crazy and kill him. This video presents a more hopeful view of humanity connected through sound and light internalized.

In the movie video, the youngest BTS member, JK/Jungkook goes to the theatre where he finds himself alone. Others arrive in the lobby but on the way to the screening room seem caught in a time freeze. Jin (the oldest member of BTS) is the only one who can walk through this frozen timescape. He seems, like Plato, aware of some overriding reality and may be a stand-in for the Philosopher-King, Bang Si-hyuk, head of their management company. V looks for a way into the theatre which he finds only when Jimin shows the way through a wall which opens into a ray of light. In the theatre, JK turns and looks into the light of the projector. He leaves the theatre but outside he is immediately frozen in place—unable, perhaps, to grasp the exterior light of reality. V joins him and is likewise frozen. Cut to JK asleep in the theatre with the other members where Jin wakes him. Outside again, Jimin “walk[s] forward without fear,” knocking both V and JK awake. The boys in the theatre watch this scene on the screen. Later we see all but one of the boys lying in a circle in a parking lot. Only one of the members, Suga/Min Yoongi, is “sleepless,” separate from the others where he realizes that the lights and connections are not lies, “They made me stronger.” As his eyes adjust to a greater reality he sees past the shadows, to the stars. (Are these Plato’s steps to the sun’s “reality”consciousness or are they the ‘light bombs’ waved by fans in concerts?) All the members return to the theatre to watch the film that now shows them running outside in the parking lot lit by street lamps (a new light in the darkness). It seems that even when they close their eyes they can see the light that is the true light connecting them. Jungkook, who initially entered the theatre alone, could represent the ‘personal us’ who must be “woke” to the reality not only of Plato’s starlight and eventually the sun, but, heartened by RM, to the sustaining connection with others.

Other Levels of Meaning

1. What ARMY means to BTS. On its surface this is an uplifting love song by BTS to their millions of fans, known by the initials A.R.M.Y., in deep appreciation for their love and making it all happen. BTS acknowledges, with every award and in their social media commentaries, that their achievements are due primarily to ARMY. “No matter how far apart we are, your light shines on me. . . . We are connected.” Even when the members of BTS are ill or tired, they can continue to grow and perform for the sake of ARMY.

2. What BTS means to their fans, ARMY. Many of the song’s lyrics seem taken directly from comments by fans, quoted by BTS members as what has touched them most: “I feel sick [of it/reality], helpless right now. . . [Then] I hear your voice.” “When I close my eyes, in the darkness your light lights the way for me.” In the song, JHope seems to speak the words of those deeply affected by BTS: “I want to face my loneliness and color my reality, losing and gaining, pursuing something every day.” Fans are heartened by BTS’s reaction to bullying, mistakes, stress, social inequality: “I believe things will change. No one is perfect. . . . Even this moment has its own meaning . . . we are connected by sound.” One of the founding principles of the group was that the youth of today need “a hero who can lend them a shoulder to lean on.”

3. What each of the boys mean to each other. As the person singing changes (watch the lyrics video to see who is singing what), I hear the words as a conversation in which they voice projected concerns about their future (eventual disbanding as they face required military service) as well as reassurances that they will always be connected to each other no matter how far apart. Will this phase of their life seem like a dream later on? How do their BTS personas fit in relation to both an earlier and later life of each of them? Their leader, RM walks toward the inside light, “I can see there’s light inside that will overcome even the future. . . . Everyday take a step to grow up.” He seems to show the way through future crises (spilled popcorn and movie ticket confetti). 

With these three items we see BTS, ARMY and the members of BTS all connected by sound (matter) transmuted to a psycho-spiritual light for them to follow through the darkness (the unknown, sadness, depression, etc.). These themes apply equally to each of us: what keeps us moving ahead despite social constrictions, mistakes and troubled emotions? What do we gain from our inner journeys and reflections?

The Maknae

4. What the Maknae (youngest members) mean to each other: L-R: Park Jimin, Kim Taehyung, Jeon Jungkook.


In the music video they are presented as a triad with Jimin as a catalytic particle, opening hidden doorways and waking Jungkook back into time/space. In countless fan videos the “skinship” (hugging, touching, etc.) of these three is minutely documented looking for evidence of their real relationship(s). By featuring the puppy-dog playfulness of these three the movie video producers are making the most of these fan-tasies. Jimin may represent compassion as the way past limitations that block or freeze us. But, is this just their public personas—simple fan service or a manufactured entertainment drama—confusing and fulfilling the dreams of fans? The fan service among the three is explicitly apparent in this concert video in Japan, deliberately enticing the crowd to go wild.

In ultra-conservative South Korea it seems unlikely that any LGBTQ pairings in mainstream idol-dom will be able to declare their love, even though BTS is outspoken in its support of the LGBTQ community. Is BTS speaking to this when they say: “Let us walk forward without fear, you and I”?


5. What Carl Jung’s concept of the unconscious—symbolized by the watery film projection at the beginning—says about how we individuate: to live life awake versus asleep. Here we see them exploring the unconscious/dream world or “liminal” [threshold] state via the projections of others onto their public masks/personas. How do we move past the money ATM machine and the theatre of idol-dom to cross a greater threshold to spreading the light of knowing and loving our true Self and being truly open to loving others? Remembering, “It’s okay sometimes to show weakness. It’s okay to be you.” In their last album, Map of the Soul: Persona they began a depiction of the path of individuation and we are invited to share their journey via social media in a way never experienced before. It is believed that there will be more albums based on Jung’s ideas in the future.

6. What the Time/Space continuum of quantum physics and/or multiple/parallel universes of String Theory means to us as individuals. This is depicted by time stopping for some of the group while others move outside of frozen time. They also seem to be jumping back and forth in time (time may be an illusion anyway). We all live in parallel, entangled universes. Just so are sound, song, and music a world-wide entanglement force from whence we may be “woke” to the Light. We are wave AND particle, sound and light, matter and spirit, individual and connected.

These last two items form a modern psychomyth based on Plato’s tale – a cinematic drama for our time. We also see an evolution in BTS since 2013 with their focus on the stresses of youth and the all-too-real generational barriers, then moving on to a broader themes of mental health and “Love Yourself,” and then to the “Mikrokosmos” of Map of the Soul, and now are standing at a threshold where we are all part of a connected universe—lights in an infinite web. “Mikrokosmos” is one of the most uplifting songs you can possibly imagine, featuring an early hymn to the same Lights and sung at the closing of all their concerts this year (watch it also on fancam from the Los Angeles Rose Bowl, see especially 8:35 where the crowd goes wild as Jungkook comforts a crying Jimin). Here are the lyrics and who sings them:

Additional Symbolism

Much of the symbolism appears in earlier videos and enlarges on those themes (search youtube and twitter for more), but here are a few things to note:

  • The story connects with the AU (alternate reality storyline(s) found in the many other music videos they’ve produced) – not covered here.
  • The theatre is the same as the one in “Boy With Love” – but they are now inside (psychological interior). Direct image references to Wings and Love Yourself albums (among others).
  • Outside the theatre: Stars = ARMY light bombs = guidance systems. Lines on ground in parking lot = directions in space/time.
  • Projector = projections. Being underwater = in the unconscious.
  • Sound & Light –
    • Video and performance require both. “To create sound waves, light must interact with a medium. This medium must be large enough to propagate the waves over any great distance.” George Talon on Quora.
    • “The relationship between sound and light is like sea and earth. Sound is the various waves of sine wave signals, and it arrives to human ears like the wave of ocean hit the shore. Light is also a form of wave that is visible on human eyes, and brings life on every creatures on the earth.” Syd Crimston on Quora.
    • “Sound and light are similar in that both are forms of energy that travel in waves. They both have properties of wavelength, freqency and amplitude. Here are some differences:
      • Sound can only travel through a medium (substance) while light can travel through empty space.
      • Sound is a form of mechanical energy caused by vibrations of matter. Light is electromagnetic energy caused by interacting electric and magnetic fields. 
      • A light wave is a transverse wave, meaning that its displacement is perpendicular to its direction of travel. (Picture a sine wave or an ocean wave.) A sound wave is a longitudinal wave, meaning that its displacement is the direction it travels. It’s also called a compression wave. Picture a Slinky toy (spring) being stretched and compressed longitudinally.
      • Light travels much faster than sound. It travels at a speed of about 300 million meters per second, while sound travels at about 340 meters per second depending on altitude and air temperature.”

About BTS

Something special happened when Bang Si-hyuk handed the keys to their own future to the six youths who formed a group around the genius 16 year old rapper, RM/Kim Namjoon. Bang looked for talented boys who were self-motivated and gave them an unheard of amount of independence and creative input, plus a lot of his criticism. Their singing, rapping and dancing as well as staging are all outstanding. Winning awards around the world, while singing in Korean, their songs are upbeat, inspiring and socially conscious.

I first became interested as they based their last album, Maps of the Soul: Persona, on the concepts of Carl Jung and an earlier album referencing Herman Hesse’s Demian. The use of symbolism and social commentary in their videos is matched by their deep compassion and love for self, each other and fans (known as ARMY). Currently ranging in age from 21-26, these seven young men have lived together 24-7 for seven or more years. They write most of their own lyrics, produce solo material, and share their lives through social media to an extent never seen before. They’ve spoken before the U.N. and were featured on the cover of Time magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” (with twice the number of votes as any other person). They just completed a world tour of the U.S., London, Paris, Sao Paulo, and Japan, performing to 15 sold-out audiences in the world’s largest stadiums. You might have seen them perform on scores of TV shows this year in the US. If you want to know more, I recommend the “CBS report on BTS’s phenomenal rise to fame “, and Vox’s “The key to BTS’s success: emotional resonance, sincerity, and an ARMY of fans”.

P.S. My dream is to someday do a Jungian Tarot reading with Kim Namjoon.

Added: Besides Bangtan Boy Scouts, BTS also stands for Beyond the Scene. Here’s the ‘behind the scene’ video for Lights through which you can get a little sense of their individual personalities.

As an update to my earlier post on Carl Jung and Tarot, I just received a paper from the Jung Institute library in New York. It contains brief notes Hanni Binder took of Jung’s descriptions, in German, when he spoke to her about the Tarot cards. A friend of hers made a literal translation into English, typing it onto large file cards. What follows is Jung’s verbal description of the Major Arcana. They are based on cards from the Grimaud Tarot de Marseille, which he felt most closely contained properties he recognized from his reading of alchemical texts. I have corrected obvious errors in language, but kept these changes to a minimum. My own comments are in brackets [ ].

If you are familiar with Jung’s core concepts you’ll find several of them referred to directly or indirectly: Self, Shadow, extraversion, intraversion, conscious, unconscious, fate, center, inflation, compensation, sacrifice, etc. Notice also his interest in what’s held in the right and left hands as indications of masculine/active or feminine/passive (I prefer ‘receptive’) energies. These notes are simplistic but were obviously only meant to be a starting place for further exploration.

ADDED: Japanese tarotist, Kenji, discovered that Jung’s descriptive text comes almost directly from Papus’ Tarot of the Bohemians (thank you, Kenji). However, Jung seems to have added several keywords from his own psychological lexicon as I noted above. Comparing these two texts will clarify what ideas Jung added.

1 The Magician

The Magician has, in the right hand, a golden ball, in the left a stick [wand]. The hat makes an eight [infinity sign]. The bearing of the hand shows right activity, left passivity. Sign of force, stability, self. He has all the symbols before him.

2 The High Priestess

Sitting Priestess. She wears a veil. On her knees is a book. This book is open. She stands in connection with the moon. Occult wisdom. Passive, eternal woman.

3 The Empress

Empress with wings. In the right hand she has an eagle, in the left a scepter. She has a crown with 12 stones. Eagle as a symbol of soul and life. Feminine activity. Fruitfulness, goddess.

4 The Emperor

Emperor sitting in profile. In the right hand he is holding the scepter. He wears a helmet with 12 stones. The legs are crossed. Will, force, reality, duty, brightness.

5 The Hierophant

The Hierophant leans on a three fax[sic – triple?] cross. The two columns are standing on the right as law, on the left liberty. Two men are kneeling before him: one is red, the other black. Will, religion, fate [faith?], Self, center.

6 The Lovers

The young man stands in a corner where two streets come together. The woman on the right has a golden garland on her head. The woman on the left is wreathed with a vine. Beauty, cross-road, way inward or outward.

7 The Chariot

Conqueror with coronet. He has three angle [right angles on his cuirass]. In his hand is a scepter. Arrow and weapon arm [right hand?]. Actively going toward his fate. He has a goal, achieving victory. Activity, extraversion. Inflation.

8 Justice

Sitting woman with a coronet. In the right hand she has a sword, in the left, a balance [scales]. Compensation between nature and the force of a man. Justice, compensation. Conflict with the law.

9 The Hermit

An old man walks with a stick [staff]. Wisdom as symbolized by the lamp. Protection with the overcoat. Cleverness, love, introversion. Wisdom.

10 Wheel of Fortune

Sphinx holding a sword. Wheel symbolizing endlessness. Finger as a sign of command. Human being as ball [circumference?] of the wheel of fortune. Luck/misfortune.

11 Strength

A young girl opens the mouth of a lion. The girl has the sign of vitality on her hat. Liberty, strength.

12 The Hanged Man

The hands of this man on in back. The eyes are open. The right leg is crossed. On the right and left a trunk of a tree. Turning back [enantiodromia?], powerless, sacrifice, test, proof. Face against the sky.

13 Death

A skeleton in a field with heads and fingers. Death and regeneration. The Ego should not take [the] place, the Self has to take [the] place. New standpoint, liberation, end.

14 Temperance

Young girl pours water from one jug in the other. The sun gives the liquid of life from a golden in[to] a silver jug. Movement, consciousness, natural growth.

15 The Devil

The right hand of the Devil is raised to the sky, the left points to the earth. Two persons are under him. He holds the torch as a sign of black magic. Fate, Shadow, emotion.

16 The Tower

Burning tower. Hospital, prison, struck by lightning. Sacrifice.

17 The Star

A naked woman spills water from two jugs. Around the girl are seven stars. The Self shines, stars of fate, night, dreams. Hope. The Self is born in the stars. Union with the eternal.

18 The Moon

In the middle of a field is a dog and a wolf. A crayfish comes out of the water. It is night. The door to the unconscious is open. The crayfish likes to go the shore. The light is indirect.

19 The Sun

Two naked girls. The sun shines on the children. Drops of gold fall on the earth. The Self is ruling the situation. Consciousness. Enlightenment.

20 Judgement

An angel with fiery wings, an open grave in the earth. Birth of the Self. Inspiration, liberation.

21 The World

Naked woman, her legs are crossed. In the four corners we have the angel, the lion, the bull and the eagle. Completion, finishing. In the world but not from the world.

0 The Fool

A man who doesn’t take care on his way. Beginning and end. The fool has no home in this world; the home is in heaven. Dreamer, mystic side.

Masculine cards:

Wands = Libido [sexual drive]
Swords = Spiritual force

Feminine cards:

Pentacles = Material
Cups = Feeling

Added note on the Four Suits: Jung obviously failed to link the four suits to his four psychological types or functions, based on the quaternity of elements and humors. However, with the “Feminine” suits he came close, calling Cups Feeling, while Pentacles as Material is close to Sensation. Most people link Intuition with Wands and Thinking with Swords.  Jung’s most succinct explanation of his psychological types can be found in Man and His Symbols (highly recommended reading for anyone interested in a Jungian approach to tarot):

  • Sensation tells you that something exists (through the senses).
  • Thinking tells you what it is (its definition).
  • Feeling tells you whether it is agreeable or not (its value).
  • Intuition tells you whence it comes and where it is going (its possibilities).

Although many tarot practitioners apply a Jungian psychological approach to their tarot work, there’s been a question as to whether Jung himself knew anything about tarot. In fact he did, and he would have liked to explore it more deeply but for a lack of hours in the day. Here are some of his references to the cards, although his tarot knowledge, especially of its history, was sorely lacking. Update: I’ve added brief notes by Jung on the Major Arcana here, and on “clouds of cognition” at the end of this article. carljung1.jpg

On 16 September 1930, Jung wrote to a Mrs. Eckstein:

“Yes, I know of the Tarot. It is, as far as I know, the pack of cards originally used by the Spanish gypsies, the oldest cards historically known. They are still used for divinatory purposes.”

[Jung was not always right: Current historical research does not support an original use of the cards by gypsies, nor were tarot cards the oldest known. The ordinary playing card deck (with many variations) preceded tarot by approximately 50 to 75 years. Tarot appeared first in Northern Italy roughly around 1440.]

On 1 March 1933, Carl Jung spoke about the Tarot during a seminar he was conducting on active imagination, demonstrating that he was a little more familiar with these images than we would have thought from just the preceding letter. This is a transcript of his actual spoken words:

“Another strange field of occult experience in which the hermaphrodite appears is the Tarot. That is a set of playing cards, such as were originally used by the gypsies. There are Spanish specimens, if I remember rightly, as old as the fifteenth century. These cards are really the origin of our pack of cards, in which the red and the black symbolize the opposites, and the division of four—clubs, spades, diamonds, and hearts—also belongs to the individuation symbolism. They are psychological images, symbols with which one plays, as the unconscious seems to play with its contents. They combine in certain ways, and the different combinations correspond to the playful development of events in the history of mankind. The original cards of the Tarot consist of the ordinary cards, the king, the queen, the knight, the ace, etc.,—only the figures are somewhat different—and besides, there are twenty-one cards upon which are symbols, or pictures of symbolical situations. For example, the symbol of the sun, or the symbol of the man hung up by the feet, or the tower struck by lightning, or the wheel of fortune, and so on. Those are sort of archetypal ideas, of a differentiated nature, which mingle with the ordinary constituents of the flow of the unconscious, and therefore it is applicable for an intuitive method that has the purpose of understanding the flow of life, possibly even predicting future events, at all events lending itself to the reading of the conditions of the present moment. It is in that way analogous to the I Ching, the Chinese divination method that allows at least a reading of the present condition. You see, man always felt the need of finding an access through the unconscious to the meaning of an actual condition, because there is a sort of correspondence or a likeness between the prevailing condition and15-xv-diable.jpg the condition of the collective unconscious.
“Now in the Tarot there is a hermaphroditic figure called the diable [the Devil card]. That would be in alchemy the gold. In other words, such an attempt as the union of opposites appears to the Christian mentality as devilish, something evil which is not allowed, something belonging to black magic.”

[from Visions: Notes of the Seminar given in 1930-1934 by C. G. Jung, edited by Claire Douglas. Vol. 2. (Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press, Bollingen Series XCIX, 1997), p. 923.]

In The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious (CW, Vol. 9:1, para 81), Jung wrote:

“If one wants to form a picture of the symbolic process, the series of pictures found in alchemy are good examples. . . . It also seems as if the set of pictures in the Tarot cards were distantly descended from the archetypes of transformation, a view that has been confirmed for me in a very enlightening lecture by professor [Rudolph] Bernoulli. The symbolic process is an experience in images and of images. Its development usually shows an enantiodromian* structure like the text of the I Ching, and so presents a rhythm of negative and positive, loss and gain, dark and light.” [*a Greek term used by Jung to mean ‘things turning over into their own opposite.’]

Dierdre Bair recounts in Jung: A Biography (Little, Brown, 2003, p. 549) that in 1950 Jung assigned to each of the four members of his Psychology Club an ‘intuitive, synchronistic method’ to explore. Hanni Binder was to research the Tarot and teach him how to read the cards. They determined that Grimaud’s Ancien Tarot de Marseille “was the only deck that possessed the properties and fulfilled the requirements of metaphor that he gleaned from within the alchemical texts.” Hanni Binder’s work amounted to very little as can be seen from her report preserved at the Jung Institute in New York. The group disbanded around 1954.

What was behind Jung’s attempt to gather all this material? Marie-Louise von Franz recounts in Psyche and Matter (1988) that toward the end of his life:

vonfranz.jpg“Jung suggested investigating cases where it could be supposed that the archetypal layer of the unconscious is constellated*—following a serious accident, for instance, or in the midst of a conflict or divorce situation—by having people engage in a divinatory procedure: throwing the I Ching, laying the Tarot cards, consulting the Mexican divination calendar, having a transit horoscope or a geomantic reading done. If Jung’s hypothesis is accurate, the results of all these procedures should converge. . . . [*a Jungian term meaning ‘the coming together of elements in the unconscious so that they form a consciously recognizable pattern of relationships.’ Christine Houde adds, “The constellated material is activated in the psyche of the individual where it attempts to erupt into the field of experience.”]

“[This investigation would consist of] studying an incident (accident) by the convergence . . . of a multitude of methods, with the help of which we could try to find out what the Self “thought” of this particular accident. . . . The generally rather vague formulations of divinatory techniques resemble these “clouds of cognition” that, according to Jung, constitute “absolute knowledge.”

Von Franz further explains that Jung’s “clouds of cognition” represents an awareness on the part of our conscious intelligence of a far vaster field of information, an “absolute knowledge,” within the collective unconscious. These images, on the part of a “more or less conscious ego,” lack precise focus and detail. Thus, the realization of meaning has to be “a living experience that touches the heart just as much as the mind.” She continues:

“Archetypal dream images and the images of the great myths and religions still have about them a little of the “cloudy” nature of absolute knowledge in that they always seem to contain more than we can assimilate consciously, even by means of elaborate interpretations. They always retain an ineffable and mysterious quality that seems to reveal to us more than we can really know.”*

On 9 February 1960, about a year before he died, Jung wrote Mr. A. D. Cornell about the disappointing end to his grand experiment:

“Under certain conditions it is possible to experiment with archetypes, as my ‘astrological experiment’ has shown. As a matter of fact we had begun such experiments at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, using the historically known intuitive, i.e., synchronistic methods (astrology, geomancy, Tarot cards, and the I Ching). But we had too few co-workers and too little means, so we could not go on and had to stop.”

The experiment proposed by Jung is discussed in the Journal of Parapsychology (March 1998): in an article titled: “The Rhine-Jung letters: distinguishing parapsychological from synchronistic events – J.B. Rhine; Carl Jung” by Victor Mansfield, Sally Rhine-Feather, James Hall. The authors conclude:

“Such an experiment fits our description of not being forced, controlling, or manipulating, but it presents its own difficulties. How, for example, can we convincingly show that the divinatory procedures in fact converge, that appropriate subjects were chosen when an archetype was actually constellated, that the data was taken without biasing the interpretation, and that other extraneous factors are not distorting the outcome? These problems are not insurmountable, but to do more than “preach to the converted,” this experiment or any other must be done with sufficient rigor that the larger scientific community would be satisfied with all aspects of the data taking, analysis of the data, and so forth.”


In 1984, Art Rosengarten (here shown with Tarot author, Eden Gray), as research for his doctoral dissertation, conducted an experiment very similar to the one described by Jung, in which he compared the tarot, TAT and dream interpretation. You can read about this experiment in his book, Tarot and Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility. I think Jung would have been pleased.

So what are we to make of all this?

Though not a direct focus of his energies, Carl Jung, nevertheless, recognized tarot as depicting archetypes of transformation like those he had found in myths, dreams and alchemy, and as having divinatory characteristics similar to the I-Ching and astrology. Most of all, Jung believed a person could use “an intuitive method” to understand—through tarot’s reflecting the collective unconscious into a “cloud of cognition”—the meaning in a present, prevailing condition.

See Jung’s own comments on the Major Arcana here.

ADDED: Here’s another statement by Jung on “clouds of cognition,” from the chapter, “On Life after Death,” in Memories Dream, Reflections, p 308. He states that in the “space-timelessness” surrounding an archetype there exists a diffuse cloud of cognition that contains “primorial images with many aspects” or “a “diffuse omniscience” but no discrete contents (that is, subjectless). For cognition to happen these potentialities [my word] have to be brought into space-time coordinates. Reading this entire chapter is absolutely essential to getting at what Jung saw as the source material for divinations.

“As I see it the three-dimensional world in time and space is like a system of co-ordinates, what is here separated into ordinates and abscissae may appear “there,” in space-timelessness, as a primordial image with many aspects, perhaps as a diffuse cloud of cognition surrounding an archetype. Yet a system of co-ordinates is necessary if any distinction of discrete contents is to be possible. Any such operation seems to us unthinkable in a state of diffuse omniscience, or, as the case may be, of subjectless consciousness, with no spatio-temporal demarcations. Cognition, like generation, presupposes an opposition, a here and there, an above and below, a before and after.”

For a different take, here is a bit of an interview with Jung on alchemy and predicting the future: “We can predict the future when we know how the present moment has evolved out of the past.”


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