Quotes from The Red Book

C. G. Jung is a major figure in western thought and is often looked at as one of the founding fathers of modern psychology. Jung’s work remains controversial, though many international psychologists still practice under his name to this day. Jung is also seen as an instigating force in the development of new age spirituality. Jung published a number of works, but it wasn’t until 2014, forty eight years after his passing, that the Red Book was released to the public. It is said that this book contains many of the seeds of Jung’s theories, and serves as a nutrient rich soil in which many of his greatest ideas emerged from. The Red Book was a documentation of Jung’s own journey into himself, and offers us a look at the rich inner world he often consulted with.

The Red Book comes with a hefty price, and is hard to find, but I have put on my scuba gear and dived in, in attempts to bring back its treasures to share with you. This article is designed to give you a glimpse at the tremendous wisdom of Jung’s introspective endeavors.  Each category will contain a list of quotes that were pulled from the Red Book.

 “To the superficial observer, it will appear like madness” – C.G. Jung

God/ Meaning

“If you are boys, your God is a woman. If you are women, your God is a boy. If you are men, your God is a maiden. The God is where you are not. So: it is wise that one has a God; this serves for your perfection.”

“drink the blood and eat the flesh of him who was mocked and tormented for the sake of our sins, so that you totally become his nature, deny his being-apart-from-you; you should be he himself, not Christians, but Christ, otherwise you will be of no use to the coming God.”

“If God is absolute beauty and goodness, how should he encompass the fullness of life, which is beautiful and hateful, good and evil, laughable and serious, human and inhuman?”

“Gods are unavoidable. The more you flee from the God, the more surely you fall into his hand.”

“The Gods envy the perfection of man, because perfection has no need of the Gods. But since no one is perfect, we need the Gods.”

“The God wants my life. He wants to go with me, sit at the table with me, work with me. Above all he wants to be ever-present. But I am ashamed of my God.”

The Devil

“The devil always seeks to saw off the branch on which you sit. That is useful and protects you from falling asleep and all the vices that go along with it.”

“Don’t you recognize me brother, I am Joy!”

“That strange joy of the world that comes unsuspected like a warm southerly wind with swelling fragrant blossoms and the ease of living. It picks up men like a wave and drives them forth. Whoever tastes this joy forgets himself. And there is nothing sweeter than forgetting oneself.”

“When I saw that the devil is joy, surely I would have wanted to make a pact with him. But you can make no pact with joy, because it immediately disappears.”

“The devil is an evil element. But joy? If you run after it, you see that joy has evil in it, since then you arrive at pleasure and from pleasure go straight to Hell, your own particular Hell, which turns out differently for everyone.”

“Nothing is more valuable to the evil one than his eye, since only through his eye can emptiness seize gleaming fullness. Because the emptiness lacks fullness, it craves fullness and its shining power. And it drinks it in by the means of the eye.”

“The devil knows what is beautiful, and hence he is the shadow of beauty and follows it everywhere, awaiting the moment when the beautiful, seeks to give life to God.”

“If your beauty grows, the dreadful worm will also creep up you, waiting for its prey.”



“Hell is when you know that everything serious that you have planned with yourself is also laughable, that everything fine is also brutal, that everything good is also bad, that everything high is also low, and that everything pleasant is also shameful.”

“The deepest Hell is when you realize that Hell is also no Hell, but a cheerful Heaven, not a Heaven in itself, but in this respect a Heaven, and in that respect a Hell.”

The Soul

“My soul cannot be the object of my judgement and knowledge; much more are my judgement and knowledge the objects of my soul.”

“He whose desire turns away from outer things, reaches the place of the soul. If he does not find the soul, the horror of emptiness will overcome him, and fear will drive him with a whip lashing time and time again in a desperate endeavor and a blind desire for the hollow things of the world.”

“My friends, it is wise to nourish the soul, otherwise you will breed dragons and devils in your heart.”

“Dreams are the guiding words of the soul. Why should I henceforth not love my dreams and not make their riddling images into objects of my daily consideration?”

“If your creative force now turns to the place of the soul, you will see how your soul becomes green and how its field bears wonderful fruit.”


Masculinity/ Femininity

“If you pay close attention, you will see that the most masculine man has a feminine soul, and the most feminine woman has a masculine soul.”

“You, man, should not seek the feminine in women, but seek and recognize it in yourself, as you / possess it from the beginning.”

“It is bitter for the most masculine man to accept his femininity, since it appears ridiculous to him, powerless and tawdry.”

“The more manly you are, the more remote from you is what woman really is, since the feminine in yourself is alien and contemptuous”

“The acceptance of femininity leads to completion. The same is valid for the woman who accepts her masculinity.”


“Man and woman become devils to each other if they do not separate their spiritual ways. For the essence of creation is differentiation.”

“The sexuality of man goes towards the earthly, the sexuality of woman goes toward the spiritual. Man and woman become devils to each other if they do not distinguish their sexuality.”


The Self/ Wholeness

“Is it solitude, to be with oneself? Solitude is only true when the self is a desert.”

“He whose soul is a garden, needs things, men, and thoughts, but he is their friend and not their slave and fool.”

“You need your bottommost, since there you are. But therefore you also need your heights, since there you become.”

“To be that which you are is the bath of rebirth.”

“When we strive for the good or the beautiful, we forget our essence, which is differentiation, and we fall subject to the spell of the qualities of the Pleroma, which are the pairs of opposites.”

“We endeavor to attain the good and the beautiful, yet at the same time we also seize the evil and the ugly, since in the Pleroma these are one with the good and the beautiful.”

“If we remain true to our essence, which is differentiation, we differentiate ourselves from the good and the beautiful, and hence from the evil and the ugly. And thus we do not fall under the spell of the Pleroma, namely into nothingness and dissolution.”

Imaginal Characters

“Take seriously every unknown wanderer who personally inhabits the inner world, since they are real because they are effectual.”

“We are real and not symbols.”

“We are just as real as your fellow men. You invalidate nothing and solve nothing by calling us symbols.”

Picture 2


“The words that oscillate between nonsense and supreme meaning are the oldest and truest.”

“The highest truth is one and the same with the absurd.”

“Day does not exist through itself, night does not exist through itself. The reality that exists through itself is day and night. So the reality is meaning and absurdity.”

“There are not many truths, there are only a few. Their meaning is too deep to grasp other than in symbols.”

“What thinking cannot solve, life solves, and what action never decides is reserved for thinking.”


“Joy at the smallest things comes to you only when you have accepted death. But if you look out greedily for all that you could still live, then nothing is great enough for your pleasure, and the smallest things that continue to surround you are no longer joy.”

“To be, and to enjoy your being, you need death, and limitation enables you to fulfill your being.”

“I behold death, since it teaches me how to live.”


“The knowledge of the heart is in no book and is not to be found in the mouth of any teacher, but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth.”

“So that your understanding becomes perfect, consider that your heart is both good and evil.”

“Wisdom is simpleminded, not just simple. Because of this, the clever person mocks wisdom, since mockery is his weapon. He uses the pointed, poisonous weapon, because he is struck by naive wisdom. If he were not struck, he would not need the weapon.”

“Cleverness couples itself with intention. Simplemindedness knows no intention. Cleverness conquers the world, but simplemindedness, the soul. So take on the vow of poverty of spirit in order to partake of the soul.”



Shamdasani, S. (Ed.). (2009). The Red Book: Liber Novus. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.

Thanks for reading!

If you would like to pick up a Red Book of your own, you should be able to find one here.  But as a forewarning, this book is difficult to digest and can be quite maddening at times, so take it in small doses.

Also, if you have found any quotes that you believe should be added to this collection, post them below in the comments section!

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4 thoughts on “Quotes from The Red Book

  1. “It is a shame everything has to go to the devil, but human beings are such fools that they obviously deserve no better fate.” ~Carl Jung

    (Comment by Forrest W)

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