Everyday Animism: Did Jung speak to his pots and pans?

Apr 1, 2024


Art Credit: Jano Tantongco, jano.tantongco@gmail.com


How do our interactions with the seemingly mundane objects around us reflect and influence our deeper psychological processes and connections with the broader universe?

Jung held a fascinating belief in the soulful essence of inanimate objects. He engaged in daily greetings with his kitchenware at Bollingen Tower, expressing a unique form of animism that extended deeply into his personal and professional life. His collection of beer steins, each with its name, served not only as vessels for drink but as partners in dialogue, reflecting his practice of active imagination. This relationship with objects underscores Jung’s broader theories on the collective unconscious and synchronicity, suggesting that everything is interconnected and ensouled. His approach, echoing through the practices of figures like Marie Kondo, invites us to reconsider our relationships with the material world, hinting at a deeper, more mystical interaction with the everyday items that populate our lives.

Prepare to discover…who Jung truly was beyond the textbooks: a visionary who conversed with the soul of the world, from the kitchenware in his hands to the beer steins that whispered archetypal secrets; when the curtain between the animate and inanimate thinned for Jung, revealing itself in the quiet dawn at Bollingen Tower and in the sacred routine of morning toast preparation; how Jung transformed mundane interactions with objects into profound dialogues with the unconscious; what depths of meaning Jung found in the ordinary, where beer steins became the custodians of myth and a toaster named “Gemütlich” embodied the alchemical transformation; where Jung’s theoretical explorations took physical shape; whether Jung’s practices were mere quirks of genius or essential keys to unlocking the mysteries of the psyche; which of Jung’s possessions were not just objects but talismans, each named beer stein and the cherished toaster “Gemütlich,” serving as conduits to deeper understanding and self-realization; why Jung embraced such a mystical relationship with the material world, illuminating his belief in a universe where every particle, every object, speaks the language of the soul, urging us to listen and learn from the symphony of the seemingly silent.


“I am the newest addition to a historic preservation crew, ‘improving’ temples and schools of a bygone people and culture in the Sierra Nevada mountains. These spaces are empty to the naked eye. Each night, spirits and creatures come to haunt us, to harass and molest us. We are not welcome here. I am not directly bothered; however, as we make our way deeper into the Sierra, the nights grow more dangerous as we sleep at the job site. Some members of the outfit, more senior than me, abandon the job. They face ridicule from the other bosses who choose to continue onward. As time passes, I am scared and question my allegiance to the Company and why I’m even here. A result of the nightly hauntings is the breakouts of severe acne on my colleagues’ faces. They are bruised, irritated, and increasingly unrecognizable as each day passes. I ask why this is happening. I only receive cryptic responses. No one tells me exactly what is upsetting us, exactly what it is we appear to be disturbing at a profound level. I feel increasingly trapped—a hostage of this Company’s mission. No one will come clean about what we are doing here. Frustration and fear grow over the life of the dream, to no resolve.”


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  1. Emily Bell

    Please tell me that you are familiar with the toaster that was supposedly possessed by the devil? This got even stranger with this new information about Jung.

  2. Megan

    You guys got me. I was going to email you to suggest maybe tone down the Jung fangirling and ask you what archetypes I might be able to find in my dryer lint. I figured it out toward the end after the over the top delighted comments about Joseph’s bizarre toaster relationship. Thanks for the laugh, your descriptions were so creative I’m not even mad that it was a 40 minute long ruse.

  3. Mary

    Oh you rascals! You are pretty damn good actors I must say. You had me fooled longer than I would like to admit but the whole toaster schtick got me suspicious. Very fun.

  4. Mamie Allegretti

    Hello Joseph, Lisa and Deb,
    A funny episode! You can actually keep straight faces! But seriously….I actually think the objects that Jung kept were fascinating starting with the manikin he kept as a boy. But I think about the objects with which he surrounded himself – his books, his work in stone and wood sculptures and his building the tower at Bollingen – all objects that meant a great deal to him. And then the objects that heralded a kind of supernatural – or natural experience such as the knife that broke in 4 pieces or the bang on the wall that frightened Freud or the bells that announced writing The Seven Sermons to the Dead. Jung also had a tobacco box named Habbakuk and always wore his gnostic ring. In Letter, Vol. 1, Jung writes to Dr. Farner, “As you know, in olden times the ancestral souls lived in pots in the kitchen. Lares and penates (the household Gods) are important psychological personages who should not be frightened away by too much modernity.” (p. 168) So, I actually think you can make the case that objects were important to Jung on a symbolic level and had numinous qualities. Maybe a good podcast topic! Thanks again for your work!


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