Kingsley, Peter. Catafalque: Carl Jung and the End of Humanity. London: Catafalque Press, 2018.
Catafalque is a stunning book. There is beauty in uncovering deep truths. Surely, this much beauty, however, will send a veritable shock wave through the Jungian community. Prepare to be disturbed—this is a challenging and provocative body of work. At the same time, there may be relief, a sense of liberation. For here is the real Carl Jung, freed from the misinterpretations, distortions, and cover-ups perpetuated by respected disciples and analysts within his close circle—those invested in defining and confining him to the role of scientist, a voice of reason aligned with the spirit of the time.
Here at last, Catafalque is attuned to the deeper pulse and spirit of Jung’s Red Book. Supported by exhaustive research and laser-sharp scholarship, Kingsley reveals the lost and tattered thread that inextricably links Jung to mystical and prophetic traditions that wind back to the sacred roots of western civilization.
I’ve had profound respect for Kingsley’s past works that have penetrated into the depths of our culture’s true, yet obscured and desecrated origins. Now with Catafalque I stand in awe at the sheer magnitude of this achievement, a culmination of all that has come before. Kingsley’s unique skill in combining historical scholarship with personal story, poignant dream imagery, and prophetic revelation, makes Catafalque a riveting read—but much more than that. Kingsley’s incantatory style draws you in, cleverly undermines the intellect and works its magic at subterranean depths. Altering and transforming, the book reflects the workings of a mystic and prophet itself!
What happens when a civilization has silenced its prophets? That’s the question, since Catafalque, that haunts me day and night. And I venture to say it may you as well. For Catafalque pulls you down into the deep anatomy of that question, fleshing out first of all the true meaning of the word prophet and the prophet’s vital role at the heart and soul of a civilization. For at the very core the prophet is the voice of nature. If the prophet has been silenced, the voice of nature is silenced, deadened. The sacred purpose of the civilization does not get passed on, the original instructions are lost or distorted. The language of the birds, the winds, the deep plaintive cries and howls in the night are muted; the howls we feel arising deep in our bowels, the cries in response to the insanity of a world that has lost touch with its very nature, with the living earth, with the ancestors buried and forgotten in the inanimate ground below us.
Catafalque. The title was revealed to Kingsley in a dream. This old Italian word refers to an ornamental box or platform designed as a base to hold a revered person’s coffin. But here Kingsley’s vision and greater purpose of his work is to provide a catafalque for western civilization.
For it is time to howl, to grieve, to lament…to be in touch with what we all know right below the surface of our lives: Western civilization has come to an end. And as with any loss, we need to grieve, to honor its life, before any new life can take place. Our work now is to turn to the deep past, to re- connect with that sacred ground—the ground where the seed, the original instructions can once again be nurtured and carried along into the future, a future beyond our concern. With this, Kingsley and Jung are aligned. In Jung’s words from The Red Book: “our task is to give birth to the old in a new time”.
Maine Jung Center, Board Member
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