Jesus watercolor walking

Harvard Divinity School has a Psychedelic Chaplaincy. John Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research is recruiting faith leaders for its current research on the effects of psylocibin (“magic mushrooms”). 

Is Harvard Divinity School and John Hopkins paving the way for university students to gain wisdom and knowledge during altered states of consciousness as a normal part of college and religious life?

It might surprise Christian college administrators to know that students may already be learning knowledge that was acquired from popular figures like Carl Jung and Napoleon Hill while these men were in altered states of consciousness using a practice called “active imagination,” which we’ll look at in this article. 

Moreover, your students might be using their own active imaginations where they see and communicate with the spirit world through Christian meditation and inner healing exercises.

Allow the information presented here to be a starting point for further investigation, prayer, and discussion with faculty, counsellors, and administrators.

What Is Active Imagination?

Waking vision exercises in which we communicate with other entities during an altered state of consciousness are sometimes called  “active imagination,” as used by the founder of analytical psychology, Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961).

“Active Imagination” here does not refer to immersing ourselves in a novel or imagining a landscape before painting it or mentally role-playing for a theatrical audition. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob gave us imaginations to create anything within his parameters.

“Active imagination” here solely refers to actively imagining and interacting with another entity, whether dead, alive, or resurrected, who appears to take on his/her own personality and imparts knowledge or wisdom to the one imagining.

Carl Jung used active imagination as a bridge between the unconscious and conscious to reveal subpersonalities and universal archetypes deep inside each of us, which he would empirically study for the benefit of psychological treatment worldwide.

In Theosophy and other esoteric religions, active imagination exercises have a specific spiritual purpose. They are meant to “establish a cognitive and visionary relationship with an intermediate world.”[1]

 

Carl Gustave Jung

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), founder of analytical psychology.

Carl Jung: Active Imagination or Spirit Guides?

Carl Jung’s Black Book journals, his Red Book, and his autobiography (Memories, Dreams, Reflections) contain numerous records of his waking fantasies, which he also referred to as his active imagination, many of which included interactions with other entities.

He recorded the first time he allowed one of these entities to use his body’s speech centers to communicate. While writing down his waking fantasies from the year 1912, he asked himself what he was doing exactly: “It’s not science,” he thought.

Then he heard a female voice say, “It’s art.”

He got into several arguments with this voice, who kept saying, “It’s art.” Then Jung thought, “She has not the speech centers that I have, so I told her to use mine, and she did, and came through with a long statement. This is the origin of the technique that I developed for dealing directly with the unconscious contents.”[2]

Discussion Point:

Is it likely that this voice Jung heard was a spirit being whom he channeled? Or was this voice solely a subpersonality or manifestation of his own subconscious?

A kingfisher bird flies

A common European kingfisher

A significant entity in Jung’s fantasies was Philemon, whom Jung called “the father of the prophets,” “host of the Gods,” “eternal one,“ and “the father of all eternal wisdom.” Jung described Philemon as “an old man with the horns of a bull. He held a bunch of four keys, one of which he clutched as if he were about to open a lock. He had the wings of the kingfisher with its characteristic colors.”[3]

Jung explained:

Philemon and other figures of my fantasies brought home to me the crucial insight that there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life. Philemon represented a force which was not myself. In my fantasies, I held conversations with him, and he said things which I had not consciously thought. For I observed clearly that it was he who spoke, not I. … Psychologically, Philemon represented superior insight. He was a mysterious figure to me. At times, he seemed to me quite real, as if he were a living personality.”

Then Jung observes that Philemon would be considered a spirit guide in Eastern religions. He writes:

“More than fifteen years later a highly cultivated elderly Indian visited me, a friend of Gandhi’s, and we talked about Indian education — in particular, about the relationship between guru and chela.

I hesitantly asked him whether he could tell me anything about the person and character of his own guru, whereupon he replied in a matter-of-fact tone, “Oh, yes, he was Shankaracharya.”

“You don’t mean the commentator on the Vedas, who died centuries ago?” I asked.

“Yes, I mean him,” he said to my amazement. “Then you are referring to a spirit?” I asked. “Of course it was his spirit,” he agreed.

At that moment I thought of Philemon.

“There are ghostly gurus too,” he added. “Most people have living gurus. But there are always some who have a spirit for teacher.” [4]

Jung referred to the place where his imaginary entities resided as the “Land of the Dead.” The book, Seven Sermons to the Dead, the city where East and West meet was told by Philemon and written out by Jung. It contains many teachings from Philemon to Jung and to the beings in the Land of the Dead about life, death, and more.

Discussion Points:

Might Philemon have been merely a subconscious archetype born solely in Jung’s imagination? Or might he have been a “familiar spirit,” a supernatural entity that assists folk healers and magic workers (witches, diviners, sorcerers, etc.). 

If Philemon was a spirit entity, would Seven Sermons to the Dead and other teachings from Jung’s fantasies be what the Bible refers to as “doctrines of demons” . . . 

“The Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,” (1 Timothy 4:1)

 

Psychedelics Not Required

To enter the realm of active imagination, Jung learned how to turn off consciousness and enter an altered state, similar to the experience of taking a psychedelic drug like psilocybin, DMT, LSD, or mescaline.

Other methods for entering an altered state include self-calming techniques (deep breathing) or Eastern meditation practices, such as practiced in yoga, which are specifically designed from ancient times to open channels of communication with the intermediary world.

Discussion Points:

Have your faculty or students been practicing meditation techniques that place them in an altered state of consciousness?

Have they been learning from teachings passed down through their own or other’s interactions with “imagined” beings?

Let’s take another example of someone’s active imagination influencing millions of people in Christianity, academia, and the marketplace.

 

Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hill (1883-1970)

Active Imagination in Business:
Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill

Possibly the single most influential book of this century for business students, coaches, positive-thinking Christian preachers, and millions of entrepreneurs has been Think and Grow Rich, selling 120 million copies since 1937.[5]

In Chapter 14: “The Sixth Sense: The Door to the Temple of Wisdom (The Thirteenth Step to Riches),” Hill detailed the imaginary council meeting he held each night with the following “imaginary counsellors”: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Paine, Thomas Edison, Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, Luther Burbank, Napoleon Bonaparte, Henry Ford, and Andrew Carnegie.

His interactions with these dead and alive men are astonishing. A portion of his text follows:

After some months of this nightly procedure, I was astounded by the discovery that these imaginary figures became, apparently, real.

Each of these nine men developed individual characteristics, which surprised me.

These meetings became so realistic that I started to be fearful of their consequences and discontinued them for several months. The experiences were so uncanny, I was afraid if I continued them I would lose sight of the fact that the meetings were purely experiences of my imagination.”

Then, Hill received a prophecy about his destiny from one of his imaginary counsellors:

Some six months after I had discontinued the practice, I was awakened one night, or thought I was, and saw Lincoln standing at my bedside.

He said, “The world will soon need your services. It is about to undergo a period of chaos that will cause men and women to lose faith and become panic stricken. Go ahead with your work and complete your philosophy. That is your mission in life. If you neglect it, for any cause whatsoever, you will be reduced to a primal state, and be compelled to retrace the cycles through which you have passed during thousands of years.”

The following morning, I was unable to tell whether I had dreamed this or had actually been awake. I have never since found out which it was, but I do know that the dream, if it were a dream, was so vivid in my mind the next day that I resumed my meetings that night.

At our next meeting, the members of my cabinet all filed into the room together and stood at their accustomed places at the council table. Lincoln raised a glass and said, “Gentlemen, let us drink a toast to a friend who has returned to the fold.”[6]

Discussion Points:

Do you think Lincoln was an imaginary counsellor devised solely from Hill’s subconscious or a demonic spirit taking the form of Lincoln?

From a spiritual perspective, what do you think the Lincoln being was referring to exactly when he told the other counselors that Hill had “returned to the fold”? 

 

Johanna Michaelsen

Johanna Michaelsen

 Active Imagination in Healing:
The Beautiful Side of Evil, by Johanna Michaelsen

Johanna Michaelsen in her book, The Beautiful Side of Evil describes taking a 48-hour Silva Mind Control class. Near the end of the course, each student was instructed to design a laboratory that they would enter upon reaching Alpha brainwave state and to choose two counsellors whom they would meet there.

Johanna sincerely desired to serve the Lord, so she appointed Jesus to be her first counsellor. She describes one of her lab experiences this way:

One morning as I went into my laboratory, I immediately felt myself strangely light—almost weightless. My counselor Jesus was standing there—waiting for me. I saw myself floating towards him—drawn by him. The intense golden glow emanating from him was almost blinding. It filled the entire room, absorbing into the crystal walls which then gave back the golden rays. He was smiling at me. It had been almost a week since I had last seen the werewolf faces, and I was beginning to conquer my fear. His right hand was filled with a liquid fire; the flames flickered and danced as he cupped it in his hand. As I stood before him, he poured the fire over my head. It grew and flowed over my body until I was engulfed by it. It was cold yet burned and a strange sweet odor filled the room. Soft voices surrounded me with wonderful sounds of music.

Then, a beautiful woman came toward her and said.

“You are to call me Mamacita. (Little Mother). I have come to remind you of your coming role as servant. I will teach you humility and lead you into true wisdom.”

Johanna became a servant to a psychic surgeon (a medium who performed operations under the possession of a spirit) for over a year. She even became a medium in her own right, and she sincerely believed she was doing it all for the glory of God. After all, the surgeon often asked people to pray during an operation. There was even a crucifix on the altar.

Discussion Point: Are there examples in the Bible when Jesus appeared because someone imagined him to appear? Can we know if it is really Jesus when we ask for him to appear and there he is? 

Woman is looking over valley with open Bible.

Test the Spirits

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in his infinite wisdom and concern for our spiritual and physical well-being has told us to “test the spirits” to discern their source. Here are just a few of the ways we are to test spirits:

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:2-3)

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21)

And God gave very clear instructions on which activities are not from Him:

When you enter the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, practices divination or conjury, interprets omens, practices sorcery, casts spells, consults a medium or spiritist, or inquires of the dead.  For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD. And because of these detestable things, the LORD your God is driving out the nations before you. (Deuteronomy 18:9-12; see also Leviticus 19:31, 20:6, 20:27; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Isaiah 8:19; 29:4; 1 Samuel 28:8, Acts 16:16 )

If you or someone in your spiritual care has been involved in these occult activities, it is critical to renounce them.

man praying

Renounce all occult activity in your personal life and in your family history.

Carl Jung DID NOT renounce his occult activity.

Jung’s father was a Lutheran minister, but Carl didn’t follow his dad’s spiritual footsteps. He followed other ancestors into various psychic and mystical practices:

His paternal grandfather was Grand Master of the Swiss order of Freemasons, and his maternal grandfather was an occultist and spiritualist. His maternal grandmother was a seer who fell into a three-day trance at age twenty, during which she communicated with spirits of the dead and gave prophecies. Carl’s mother was a medium who spent long periods “enthralled by the spirits that visited her at night.” For many years, Jung attended séances with his mother and two cousins.[7]

Jung wrote his dissertation “On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena” In it, he says he tried to convince his cousin that her spirit-encounters were mental illness and/or a double personality within her. Whether or not he believed in a spirit world, he spent vast amounts of time deeply entrenched in it.

Jung also redesigned the family coat of arms with esoteric symbols, explaining:

The symbolism of these arms is Masonic, or Rosicrucian. Just as cross and rose represent the Rosicrucian problem of opposites (‘per crucem ad rosam’), that is, the Christian and Dionysian elements, so cross and grapes are symbols of the heavenly and chthonic [underworld] spirit. The uniting symbol is the gold star, the aurum philosophorum [“gold of the philosophers,” an alchemy term, which Jung extensively studied].”[8]

Discussion Point:

What implications does it have for you professionally and spiritually that Jung’s widespread psychological theories are fundamentally founded in knowledge from other entities speaking through him and from his esoteric/mystical studies?

Johanna Michaelsen DID renounce her occult activity.

Because of her sincere desire to serve the God of Israel and no other gods, Johanna eventually found her way, somewhat reluctantly, into the home of the notable apologist Os Guiness, who helped her to understand that Eastern / pagan religions and practices were diametrically opposed to the Gospel message of the Bible, and they could not be mingled together as she had been doing.

But reason alone did not change Johanna’s mind. What converted her spirit into seeing the truth behind the spiritual activity was her “challenge to God once and for all.” She prayed to God . . .

Show me the truth. Was Jesus the greatest avatar, the way-shower; or perhaps the greatest creation of Father God; or was He God uniquely incarnate in human flesh who died to take my sin . . . Was Pachita working in the power of God or was her source Satanic?[9]

Not long after this challenge, a dark mist swirled around her …

filled with the presence of something more monstrous than anything I had ever before encountered. Voices began whispering, hissing incoherent words and laughter in my right ear. An ice-cold breath touched the back of my neck under my hair. . . “We’re going to kill you!” the voices shrieked.[10]

She knew for certain that God was showing her the truth of who these entities were. She understood that she had been sincerely wrong and renounced all the occult activity she had become so fluent in.

But the “gifts” didn’t stop.

After renouncing her occult activities, Johanna said she became “more psychic than ever.”

Perseverance, time, and continual prayer are necessary after renouncing the occult to ensure that any Words of Knowledge, Tongues, Healings, and other apparent gifts of the Holy Spirit are truly from the Lord. Johanna testifies:

My [psychic] abilities would have been acclaimed as the gift of “words of knowledge” and “prophecy.” What it was, was clairvoyance. It was not until I took the offensive in my on-going battle against Satan, making a full list of all my sins . . . confessing them openly before the Lord, again renouncing them and all the works and gifts of Satan, and then totally; refraining from practicing these things, that these psychic powers faded over a period of months.[11]

Conclusion

Actively imagining other entities, communicating with them, and learning from them may begin as an innocent exercise, and it may even bring answers to questions or relieve some life issues. Yet, at some point, we’ve seen that it can convert into an occult activity in which spirits are communicating to us.

Prayerfully discuss this article with your school’s leadership, and may it be known on your campus in all you do that “as for ____________________ College/Seminary/University, we will serve the Lord.”

 

Recommended Resources

Seduction of Christianity, by Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon

The Beautiful Side of Evil, by Johanna Michaelsen

References Cited

[1] ”Active Imagination.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_imagination#cite_note-1

[2] Carl Jung. 1925 Seminar. Lecture 5. 37-45 as quoted on the Carl Jung Depth Psychology Blog. https://carljungdepthpsychologysite.blog/2020/01/07/carl-jung-he-looked-quite-detached-and-aloof-2/#.YrZ5eRrMK39

[3] Jung, Carl. Red Book (Liber Novus). ed. Sonu Shamdasani. trans. Mark Kyburz, John Peck, et al. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 2009. 200, 315, 317.

[4] Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Chapter VI: “Confrontation with the Unconscious.” ed. Aniela Jaffé. trans. Richard and Clara Winston. London: Williams Collins. 2013. Ebook Edition.

[5] According to the Think and Grow Rich website at https://members.thinkandgrowrich.shop/About

[6] Think and Grow Rich, Chapter 14: “The Sixth Sense: The Door to the Temple of Wisdom (The Thirteenth Step to Riches).” Kindle Edition.

[7] Jones, Peter. The Other Worldview: Exposing Christianity’s Greatest Threat. Bellingham, WA: Kirkdale Press. Kindle Edition. 2015. 27-28.

[8] Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 232

[9] Michaelsen, Johanna. The Beautiful Side of Evil. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers. 1982. 146.

[10] Beautiful Side of Evil, 146-147.

[11] Beautiful Side of Evil, 184.

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