CATAFALQUE: Carl Jung and the end of humanity
by PETER KINGSLEY
CATAFALQUE offers a revolutionary new reading of the great psychologist Carl Jung as mystic, gnostic and prophet for our time.
This book is the first major re-imagining of both Jung and his work since the publication of the Red Book in 2009—and is the only serious assessment of them written by a classical scholar who understands the ancient Gnostic, Hermetic and alchemical foundations of his thought as well as Jung himself did. At the same time it skillfully tells the forgotten story of Jung’s relationship with the great Sufi scholar, Henry Corbin, and with Persian Sufi tradition.
The strange reality of the Red Book, or “New Book” as Carl Jung called it, lies close to the heart of Catafalque. In meticulous detail Peter Kingsley uncovers its great secret, hidden in plain sight and still—as if by magic—unrecognized by all those who have been unable to understand this mysterious, incantatory text.
But the hard truth of who Jung was and what he did is only a small part of what this book uncovers. It also exposes the full extent of that great river of esoteric tradition that stretches all the way back to the beginnings of our civilization. It unveils the surprising realities behind western philosophy, literature, poetry, prophecy—both ancient and modern.
In short, Peter Kingsley shows us not only who Carl Jung was but who we in the West are as well. Much more than a brilliant spiritual biography, Catafalque holds the key to understanding why our western culture is dying. And, an incantatory text in its own right, it shows the way to discovering what we in these times of great crisis must do.
ISBN: 978-1-9996384-0-5. Format: 2-volume hardback. Length: 848 pages. Dimensions: 6 x 9″ (229 x 152 mm). Price: $75.00 + shipping. Publisher: Catafalque Press.
For a uniquely perceptive review of Catafalque by Laura Gemelli Marciano, “Revisiting Jung and Corbin”, published in Dionysius, click here. For a uniquely poetic review of the book, by Keith Hackwood in Marginalia, see here. And here is a further selection of reviews which you can read by clicking on the reviewer’s name:
Thom Cavalli in the Jung Journal
Peter Davison in Caduceus
Lindsey Harris in Library Matters
David Lorimer in The Scientific & Medical Network
Sir Nicholas Pearson in the Temenos Academy Review
Gregory Shaw in Marginalia
Mariusz Wesolowski in Polska Canada
“In this remarkable study, Peter Kingsley engages with a question Carl Jung describes as the most telling of one’s life: ‘Are you related to something infinite or not?’ Written in an ‘ancient style’, ‘the choiceless rhythm of the winds and rain’, Catafalque is an extraordinary achievement—demonstrating an impressively broad cultural knowledge coupled with an impeccable attention to detail. In its focus on Jung as a mystic and as a magician, it not only confirms Spinoza’s thesis that we feel and know we are eternal; it will also provoke and charm the reader by turns.”
Prof. Paul Bishop—author of Carl Jung and On the Blissful Islands with Nietzsche and Jung
“Here at last is the true Jung: the Jung whom those who dare to call themselves Jungians have forgotten and betrayed, a Jung who often is far too frightening to be understood. Nothing could be less comforting than this Jung or less comfortable than this book—pointing as they do to the extraordinary failure of western civilization to return to its roots, pay respect to its ancestors, listen to its dead. Deeply researched, challenging at every turn, I couldn’t put Catafalque down.”
Maggy Anthony—author of Salome’s Embrace and Jung’s Circle of Women
“Peter Kingsley writes with the force of a sorcerer, which is also what he is writing about. He is an author of the impossible. Perhaps some day I will know the place from which he expresses himself. I have sought it my entire life.”
Prof. Jeffrey Kripal—author of Secret Body and Super Natural
“For all its scholarly precision, and artistic sophistication, Catafalque is a dangerous book. But numinous truths are often dangerous even to behold, much more to write about. And if you can summon the courage to open your eyes where Peter’s magic takes you, you might get a glimpse of a long lost part of our collective soul.”
Adyashanti—author of Emptiness Dancing and The End of Your World
“I had known nothing of Jung until this book appeared and I see now that one is indeed in front of unknowns, imponderables, unfathomable mysteries. This compelling book is an absolute eye-opener, a wonderful gift. In Catafalque Peter Kingsley brings together an extraordinary set of credentials: a body of unequalled scholarship, literary skills which are second to none, and a rare grasp of the living nature of things that lies beyond the constructs of our thought. In his unique regard both for the real or transcendent and for the delicate and ephemeral, he is a servant of the Lord indeed.”
Frank Sinclair—President Emeritus of the Gurdjieff Foundation, New York, and author of Opening to the Real
“Peter Kingsley’s new book is not biographical but historical, in the truest sense of the word. It’s not about an individual or individuals but about the whole: about the impersonal and divine energy that manifests itself, time after time, in human form to allow a culture to be born or to grow. Jung, the alchemists, the Gnostics, Empedocles, Parmenides emerge from history as links in a golden chain through which wisdom, philosophy and science have been given and kept alive in the West. But this book also tells a different story—a story of repeated manipulation and exploitation, of devastation of the sacred, of catastrophic losses caused by egotism and the indiscriminate use of ‘rationality’, which is a story that started long ago in ancient Athens and now is approaching its tragic conclusion. The lament over the death of western culture isn’t Jung’s lament, or Kingsley’s. It’s the howling of nature itself, reminding us of our sacred roots and of our ultimate responsibility as human beings.”
Prof. Laura Gemelli Marciano—author of Parmenide and Die Vorsokratiker
“Peter Kingsley’s new book Catafalque is not only a masterpiece. It is a necessity for all to read; a document that talks to the inner core of one’s very being; a light that exposes our endless hypocrisies, but also a sign that shows us a way to cut through the phoniness of the time we live in. Religion is for those who are scared of hell. Spirituality is for those who have been there.”
Lars Muhl—author of The O Manuscript and The Law of Light
“No review can do justice to this astounding and disconcerting book. There are books, very rare, that can initiate and profoundly transform their unprejudiced reader. Peter Kingsley’s Catafalque is unlike any book I have ever read. The sole thing to do is to read and re-read it many times and then marvel at the change taking place in your consciousness.”
“A meticulous and insightful work of original scholarship, Catafalque is a unique and critically important addition to the study of Jungian psychology.”
Midwest Book Review
“Catafalque is a book that all Jungians, and others, would be wise to read.”
Camilo Gallardo—Jungian analyst, London, UK
“This is the deepest book I have ever read, and it’s straightening out my mind. Take a look and you will see for yourself.”
Это самая глубокая книжка, которую я когда-либо читал, и она выправляет мои мозги. Посмотрите и убедитесь в этом сами.
Misha Gorelkin—Mathematician and specialist in artificial intelligence, Voronezh State University, Russia
“Catafalque moves me beyond expression—literally. I have cried; slipped into an overwhelm of silence; become dumb-founded, which may be the whole point and purpose of such a beautiful piece of literature and the enlightening guidance shared. The book is magical in the sense of timing and message: both for me, personally, and for the world at large.”
Dr. John Grogan—Marriage and family therapist, Loveland, Colorado
“Catafalque is the most unique and the most significant book on Jung I have ever read.”
Dr. David Johnston—Jungian analyst, Victoria, British Columbia
“Catafalque is a magically crafted masterpiece for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.”
Robert Rigby—Psychotherapist, Turnersville, New Jersey
“Reading and rereading Catafalque turns out to be an experience in itself. Although there have been other books that have touched me deeply, this book seems to mean even more. My experience is that deep, inner, unknown and seemingly lost places in my psyche are touched on different levels. There is a kind of coming home that has to do with the deep recognition of finally, finally entering into a sense of belonging: belonging to an ancient tradition of the Sacred. And all of the traditions Kingsley mentions contribute, in their own way, to this ‘coming home’.
Even though I was raised in a Christian tradition, there was no sense of the Sacred. After I had lost that inner place of love and connection, the only way of being able to survive seemed to be through discrimination and forgetfulness—which Kingsley refers to as ‘separation’.
In his inimitable style of writing, Kingsley writes so many sentences that stab me like a dagger in my heart. Most of the time, the meaning of these sentences is not new to me; but it seems to be the overall framework and context of his whole body of knowledge that sets so much in motion inside me. It is confusing, chaotic and very painful to be reminded of things that seemed not only forgotten but also ‘not-for-me-in-this-life’: prophecies, magic, the language of the underworld and the messages of our ancestors, dreams, all of which are alive if we care to give them our attention. Through all this chaos, the book addresses a quality of healing of my capacity to connect.
In recognizing how much courage is asked of me, to surrender to this process of remembering all that has been lost and suppressed within myself, I can’t even imagine how much courage was demanded of Peter Kingsley himself for the task of writing his lifetime’s work. It seems to me that he needed to use every skill he had at his disposal on every inner level there is: an act which demonstrates not only his erudition and passion but also his willingness to be utterly vulnerable in exposing his most profound beliefs and feelings on a very personal level.
I end with a fragment of poetry from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, written around 1800, which to me is a kind of summary of the book:
Dich im Unendlichen zu finden
Mußt unterscheiden und dann verbinden —
To find yourself in infinity
you must separate and then connect again.”
Addy Korteweg—Psychologist and trauma specialist, Dalfsen, Netherlands
“I had put aside several days to immerse myself in Catafalque. I could not put the book down. It seemed to speak to me of a truth so necessary, and so familiar, that I was greedily eating up every word. Twice I fell asleep. Not out of boredom, but out of a sense of sheer exhaustion and exhilaration that finally here was a book that was taking our ancient past seriously and demonstrating its importance for contemporary times. It was during these periods of sleep that I experienced two horrific nightmares within which I was stripped of everything I owned, and everything I thought I was. I was unrecognised by people, family, friends. I was eaten alive, left with nothing, in the darkness. Indeed, I became no-thing. In this state of no-thing, I felt different. I woke up, unable to understand the world that was forming again around me. The room looked familiar, yet not at the same time. Was I awake or dreaming? Being no-thing felt more real than the world of my waking reality.
I finished the book later that evening—exactly 24 hours after starting it. However, I was and am definitely not the same person.
I can only describe this book as a living being that, if entered into seriously, can take readers on their own journey into the underworld, strip them bare, and show them personally where the author, Jung, and the ancient prophets have been. I sense that the repercussions of this text will remain with me for months and years to come and for that I am eternally grateful.”
Louise Livingstone—Canterbury Christ Church University, UK
“I read Catafalque several months ago, and could not summon up this review any sooner. What can one say about such a book that isn’t irrelevant noise? For a while after finishing it, I felt the only right response was silence as long as it still echoed in my head—as if that would ever stop. To say anything too soon would have been to stop listening, and this requires a deep listening.
On the surface, Catafalque offers new and deeply interesting insights about Jung and his real work, and feels like several lines of inquiry brought together and wrapped into one book. But to focus on that level would be to miss the point completely, like travelling halfway around the world only to never leave one’s hotel. The aspects of the book that stay with me most compellingly are nowhere to be found on the page. Filling the whole silent space behind the words is a sobering message: a power that cuts through all the anxiety, denial, false hopes, optimism, pessimism and other mind tricks that prevent us from being present with this moment in our history. It is so direct, there is no room for making up more fables for ourselves.
Catafalque isn’t for the faint-hearted, and it does something to you—I experienced shocking, and permanent, changes within myself while reading and processing this book. As if the power of the Word, which is far more than a metaphor, is at work here once more, when we have forgotten all such things and are destroying ourselves as a consequence. That this book exists at all is a tremendous gift.”
Joumana Medlej—Artist and calligrapher, London, UK
About Peter Kingsley
PETER KINGSLEY is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking work on the origins of western spirituality, philosophy and culture. Through his writings as well as lectures he speaks straight to the heart and has helped to transform many people’s understanding not only of the past, but of who they are.
He is the author of five books which together have exerted the profoundest and most far-reaching influence outside as well as inside academia. For years he has lectured very widely—speaking to Native American elders and psychologists, professional scholars and followers of different spiritual traditions, healers and medical practitioners as well as people who very simply are aware of the need to wake up to a reality greater than the one we are used to. Peter’s latest book on Carl Jung brings his work full circle, connecting his researches into the distant past with the crisis of the modern world.
After receiving the degree of Master of Letters from King’s College Cambridge in 1977, Peter Kingsley was awarded a PhD by the University of London. He has worked together with many of the most prominent figures in the fields of classics and anthropology, philosophy and religious studies, ancient civilizations and the history of both healing and science. He is the recipient of numerous academic awards and holds honorary professorships or fellowships at universities in Canada, the United Kingdom and United States.
To explore the work of Peter Kingsley, visit www.peterkingsley.org