Jung worked with a woman patient who said she had been living on the Moon for many years. Investigating her life history, Jung discovered that she had suffered terrible and multiple abuse of the kind that might make any of us want to check out of life on Earth. as a result of terrible abuse.
When Jung spoke of this in a public lecture, he declared matter-of-factly that she really was living on the Moon. The young Marie Louise von Franz , in the lecture audience, was shocked. How could the distinguished Herr Professor Dr. Jung talk in this way? She confronted him at the end of his talk. He couldn’t be serious, surely.
Marie-Louise suggested to Jung that what he meant to say that the patient's situation was “as if” she lived on the Moon.
Jung replied, “No, not ‘as if’. She did live on the Moon.”
By her own account, Marie-Louise thought at the time that the famous psychologist must be crazy. Later she came to understand that Jung recognized that when we suffer intolerable conditions in this world, part of us may part company with us in order to survive. Shamans call this phenomenon soul loss.
Jung did not use that language, but clearly he understood it well. If part of that young woman's soul had left her because the ordinary world seemed too cold and too cruel, why should it not go to the astral realm of Luna, which in ancient and indigenous traditions - as we reviewed - is recognized to be "thickly settled" by spirits who take a close interest in human affairs?
Von Franz tells the story of The Woman Who Lived on the Moon in Animus and Anima in Fairy Tales (Toronto: Inner City Books, 2002). She talks about the same episode in the documentary film "The Wisdom of the Dream".
Illustration from Jung's Red Book