Carl Jung&#39s deck?


Would any of you happen to know which deck Carl Jung was partial to using? My therapist friend asked me and I told her, "Sorry, don't know, BUT I know some very knowledgeable people about tarot on a cool website that probably do know the answer." So, how about it?


Hi --

I certainly haven't read everything there is to read about Jung and the Tarot, but from what I have read, I don't get the impression that Jung specifically studied or used the Tarot; I believe he only addressed it in very general terms. I don't think there's any information out there about a specific deck he may have owned. But I would be happy to be proved wrong! :)

-- Lee


in all my readings on jung i've never heard of him using a tarot deck. i've heard of him drawing mandalas and using the i-ching. my perception has been that his connection to the tarot is the impact his work into archtypes, symbolism and the collective unconsious had on others using symbolism and archtypes w/ the cards. one thing that would help me is if anyone has any idea if jung was influenced by the golden dawn or he influenced them when waite and coleman-smith(rws deck)crowley and harris(thoth deck) during the period they did their decks? since they all lived somewhere in europe during the period from 1900 to 1962, i would think there's possibility of idea exchange somehow if not in person thru reading each others works.


A fascinating question! I've not run across any mention of a Tarot, although Jung could have created one himself, had he been so inclined. He was interested in the I Ching, and his mandalas show his eastern leanings. It seems to me that his dance with archetypes was more primal. I'll have to keep my eyes open for any evidence of him using a deck. He had such experiences with visions that a deck may have seemed irrelevant.



truthsayer (06 Jan, 2002 17:02):
one thing that would help me is if anyone has any idea if jung was influenced by the golden dawn or he influenced them when waite and coleman-smith(rws deck)crowley and harris(thoth deck) during the period they did their decks? since they all lived somewhere in europe during the period from 1900 to 1962, i would think there's possibility of idea exchange somehow if not in person thru reading each others works.

Truthsayer, I've not found anything on this but Jung's family had a history of interest in the occult and his maternal mother and grandmother were known as "ghost seers", so it seems likely to me that they would have at least been familiar with spiritualist ideas of the day. In 1898, Jung took serious interest in occult phenomena and when he learned that his cousin had become a practicing medium, he invited her to perform spiritualistic experiments for his study. These things are probably under-reported, but you've asked some good questions.



I mentioned in an earlier post (30/11/2001) that "there are, apparently, a series of unpublished lectures which Jung made on the Tarot, recorded by Hanni Binder.

This is mentioned in the Jungian-oriented The Tarot: a Myth of Male Initiation, p125 (published by CG Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology, 1983)."

Unfortunately, no mention is made in that book as to which deck Jung possibly used. Given his other interests, I strongly suspect he would have used either (in order of probability) the Marseilles, the Schaffhouse (Classic), or the 1jj (Jung may also have had access to both the Wirth and the Waite, which, for him, would have been contemporary). I will stand corrected by anyone having more definite information, rather than this guesswork, however reasonable it may be.

I would certainly like to hear from anyone who has access to these lectures.


Wow, thanks for all the great insights. My friend will be very excited to get these new threads of inquiry.


Hi, Like the rest of you, I am bit hestitant about the unpublished lectures. I thought one of the other posts said that they were a record of lectures given by someone else (not C.G. Jung) applying his ideas to the Tarot.
Here is the only reference I can find: from "The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious".
"If one wants to form a picture of the symbolic process, the series of pictures found in alchemy are good examples, though the symbols they contain are for the most part traditional despite their obscure origin and significance. An excellent Eastern example is the Tantric chakra system, or the mystical nerve system of Chinese yoga. 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 Bernoulli. The symbolic process is an experience in images and of images. Its development usually shows and enantiodromian structure like the text of the I Ching, and so presents a rhythm of negative and positive, loss and gain, dark and light."
Anyway, that is the sole reference in his enitire published works, including letters and he certainly wasn't shy about discussing areas in which he had an interest, including a good many that brought him ridicule at the time. He did clearly know they existed, but then his knowledge of esoteric imagery was staggering.
There are several refernecs to AE Waite, none about the Golden Dawn or Waite's tarot studies though. They refer to Waite's studies on the Kabbalah, alchemy and the Rosicrucians. Don't know if this helps, but I think that most links between Jung and the Tarot are from others applying his ideas to the Tarot.
I did notice in the quote above though that he says *the* set of pictures in *the* tarot cards so he is referring to a specific set. Since he knew the work of Waite... I suppose it is not unreasonable that he could have been referring to the deck Waite commissioned.


Thanks for that reply...

I have not been able to track where the comment was made that the unpublished lectures were given by someone other than Jung... and the book this is mentioned in certainly led me to think that they were correctly attributed to him... but I am not a Jungian, nor do I consider his views as highly as many others do.

With regards to Jung's own quotes on the subject of Tarot, and in addition to the one you mention above (his best known, and found in para. 81 of vol. 9.1 of the CW), here are a couple of others (which can be found in C. G. Jung Letters, selected and edited by G. Adler in two volumes, and published by Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1976):

(letter to Mrs Eckstein, in English, 16/09/30 ... ie, over 30 years prior to his death):
Yes, I know of the Tarot. It is, as far as I know, the pack of cards origininally used by the Spanish gypsies, the oldest cards historically known. They are still used for divinatory purposes.
In a letter to Prof. Rhine (of English Psychical Research Society fame), written some 23 years after the above quoted one (18/02/1953), Jung mentions that the institute has begun to try out methods to investigate 'intuitive methods'. These included the I Ching, geomancy, Tarot, numerology and astrology.

As he only mentions astrology and the I Ching in the publication which followed these experiments, many people have assumed that Tarot was not included... rather, the results were such as to make their inclusion somehow irrelevent. Here's Jung himself on this, from a letter to Mr A. D. Cornell, dated 09/02/1960:
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.
We can see from this that Jung may at other times have also referred to the Tarot (amongst other tools) when mentioning either the 'mantic', 'intuitive' or 'synchronistic' arts or methods.

It is also not beyond the realm of probability that he did give a series of lectures on the Tarot, given his obvious knowledge of these for over thirty years, but that they may have formed a very 'insignificant' series, and not 'properly' recorded nor incorporated into the body of his work.

I would be just as happy if he, in fact, never gave this series of lectures... I wonder, if that is the case, what these lectures could be referring to!


Hello. I have a book titled "Jung & the Tarot an Archetypal Journey". I have not read it but skimmed thru' to see if I could give you a def. answer. I do not see a recommended deck all tho' it uses the marseilles deck. ~Madonna