Carl Jung’s “America: The Pueblo Indians”
“Another time I stood by the river and looked up at the mountains, which rise almost another six thousand feet above the plateau. I was just thinking that this was the roof of the American continent, and that people lived here in the face of the sun like the Indians who stood wrapped in blankets on the highest roofs of the pueblo, mute and absorbed in the sign of the sun. Suddenly a deep voice, vibrant with suppressed emotion, spoke from behind me into my left ear: ‘Do you not think that all life comes from the mountain?’ An elderly Indian had come up to me, inaudible in his moccasins, and had asked me this heaven knows how far-reaching question. A glance at the river pouring down from the mountain showed me the outward image that had engendered this conclusion. Obviously all life came from the mountain, for where there is water, there is life. Nothing could be more obvious. In his question I felt a swelling emotion connected with the word ‘mountain,’ and thought of the tale of secret rites celebrated on the mountain. I replied, ‘Everyone can see that you speak the truth.'”The groundbreaking Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875-1961) was perhaps the first modern psychiatrist to understand the human psyche as “by nature religious.” In the winter of 1924-25 Jung visited Taos Pueblo, a Native American community at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico. Jung was greatly affected by his encounters with the inhabitants of the thousand-year-old Pueblo, which is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States. For more about the impact of Jung’s encounters with the Puebloans, read Timothy C. Thomason’s article “Lessons of Jung’s Encounters with Native Americans.” The excerpt above is from the Jung anthology “Memories, Dreams, Reflections.” Photograph of Taos Pueblo was taken by Ansel Adams as part of his series documenting U.S. National Parks and Monuments between 1933 and 1942. As a work made for the U.S. federal government, it is in the public domain.