Welcome to the world of Toni Wolff, Emma Jung, and Carl Jung! OUT OF THE SHADOWS is a play in two acts which dramatizes the relationship between two key women in Jung’s life, while also portraying Jung himself, as seen through their eyes. The entire work is 68 pages, so you may well choose to read it at one sitting. For book club purposes, I suggest at least reading the First Act in the first week (p. 1-31).

How does one approach the art of reading a play? Unlike a novel, the narrative is created in stage directions and dialog only. But this is a golden opportunity for the reader to ignite his/her own imagination.

You can direct your own production, inside the limitless resources of your own mind. For example, the opening scene takes place in a garden. You can draw on every garden you have even tilled, or watered, or imagined. The garden on Jung’s estate can become an archetypal garden, as Toni Wolff steps into it, “in the moist summer of 1910”.

To jump-start your imagination, you may want to view the first seven minutes of the original production on You Tube by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tlfer2gtWI

It can also be fun and rewarding to read the dialog out loud, or, ideally, with another person playing the other part. The original production of OUT OF THE SHADOWS employed classical music in transitions from one scene to another. Imagining the resonant tones of Finzi, Shostakovitch, Ravel, or your own favorite composer, could enhance the reading. Better still, play classical music as you read the play.

You can also simply pour yourself a cup of tea, curl up in your favorite chair, and fire up your mind’s image-making, emotion-making, capacity. Whatever approach you use, be aware of your own responses as you read the play. How do you respond to the characters? Do you identify with them? Do you judge them? You may want to keep a running journal as you read, to record your feelings, thoughts, or questions. Be aware of the following themes, which will open our discussion:

  1. Passion (intellectual, romantic, sexual) versus Convention
  2. Loyalty, to self, to others
  3. Betrayal versus Integrity
  4. Holding the tension of opposites

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Replies to This Discussion

Thank you for the invitation, I look forward to the discussion!

Hi Elizabeth--and everyone! I'm so glad we're in September because it means our chance to discuss this book. I think it's such critical work and we all owe it to ourselves and to the women in Jung's life to pay attention to their stories! Thanks so much for posting the YOUTube video, Elizabeth--and for those of you who haven't watched it yet, I highly recommend it. For me, it evoked so many emotions.

I suppose anyone who have been in a triangular relationship (or even just had feelings for someone who was already "taken") can relate--but I found myself wondering about just how threatened Emma must have felt when she first met Toni. I know the story here may not be entirely factual regarding the actual first meeting when Toni showed up at Emma and C.G.'s home, but Toni clearly had a "je ne sais quoi" about her which you can even see in pictures (I dug a couple up which I'll post below so everyone can get the visual)--and Emma was already entrenched in all the responsibilities of being a "mom"--not to mention probably couldn't help comparing physical looks and and worrying about not being able to be carefree and not tied down. When one feels threatened in such a way, what does one do?

What do you all think was the reason or the qualities Emma possessed so she was able to ultimately integrate her husband's strong emotional ties (not to mention the physical part) of the relationship with Toni?

"When one feels threatened in such a way, what does one do? What do you all think was the reason or the qualities Emma possessed so she was able to ultimately integrate her husband's strong emotional ties (not to mention the physical part) of the relationship with Toni?"

Bonnie, this of course is the ultimate question, well one of them at least! Emma was deeply embedded in culture and traditions of that period in history. She had her work and life pretty much cut out for her and yet there were other parts of her longing to be lived.  Those were the qualities that Toni Wolf was able to live and embody in her work. Eventually Emma, too, reclaimed those parts of her shadow carried by Toni.  Perhaps it was a kind of unfair,fair exchange, We weren't there. But it had to be terribly painful for all involved. Emotional pain is a common denominator that runs through the very  nature of triangles like this.  I must confess, it seems I've had a few living incarnations, two in fact, as part of a triangular relationship. And I wasn't the wife! There are so many ways to look at this arrangement, it's value, it's shame, religious and human to name a few.   What I think Elizabeth has highlighted so beautifully is its archetypal nature. This arrangement, does  after all have  archetypal qualities.   But how the hell does knowing that help anyone at 3 AM when they've awakened alone, steeped in longing for that often elusive,  passionately loved, already partnered other?  And how does the woman, as that wife and significant, partnered other live with the knowing , perhaps conscious, perhaps not, that the man beside her covered in sleepy snores, lives  for those times spent with his perfumed, secret other?   Jungian talk may relegate this exchange to the land of shadow projections.  Or said another way she wants what she has. And I don't necessarily mean HIM. I mean  those literal qualities of character, calling and soul that mark wife/partner and/or mistress/lover. I think Toni Wolf's schema about Four Eternal Women is brilliant, inspiring and contains  eternal truths to strive for. But, and I've come to this in my search for the meaning of this trilogy more often than not of late,setting oedipal conflicts aside, sometimes the solution to these complex alliances is ultimately served up by the hand of fate. As of this moment I believe that  I've been handed the suffering from this complex arrangement by my daimon. It's a piece and a large one at that, of my fate. It's  led and will continue to lead me to the place that I am destined for.  Triangular arrangements seem to be a giant piece of my "Soul's Code."I've gained consciousness through the struggles  along with an awareness of those shadow qualities carried by the other woman, that I need to develop within myself.   Will I ever be an apple pie baking mama..with grandchildren tugging at my dress? No. But can I in time, develop a respect for who she is,  was and possibly will be as an image in my life? Perhaps.  An inevitable psychological exchange took place between Emma Jung and Toni Wolf.  I carry a lot of admiration and envy for what it must have taken to bring that about .  

 A truly fascinating and eternally gripping subject. Thanks to you Bonnie and the author, for highlighting the book and the discussion.

Good morning, discussion participants, and book club members! Welcome, Kathleen Burt and Linda Thompson, and many thanks to Bonnie Bright and Judith Harte for kicking off our discussion (with Bonnie's great pictures to boot!). While I am tempted to speculate about the qualities Emma possessed that ultimately allowed her to integrate the triangular relationship with Toni, I am struck with wondering, first, if in fact she ever did. Especially given the context of her social station, time, and culture, I would ask "Did she EVER integrate it, or, did she simply choose not to divorce, but to live with Toni Wolff upstaging her - for 30 years!" What may have felt like acting on one's integrity for Jung and Toni, may have always felt like a terrible betrayal to Emma. I was moved and invigorated by Judith Harte's personal reflections, evoking her soul's code and destiny. I would toss in an additional question about individuation -- ie, Is part of acceptance, in this case, of Emma accepting the triangle with Jung and Toni, a facet of embracing one's own individual "daimon"? Women in our century are more and more defining themselves as separate in identity from who they are in relation to others (partners, children, coworkers, friends, etc.) What if the 21st century is a new era for Artemis, goddess of the moon, who pursues her own goals and pleasures, enjoys what she can in relationships, but is not DEPENDENT on them? And, in Emma's case, how far along on the individuation path do you think she was, and was there, possibly, an Artemis in her, buried beneath Demeter, who whispered in her dreams and helped her survive the triangle she could not break down, the "femme fatale of the mind" she could not equal?

Hello All! I love reading these responses.  I'm especially drawn to Elizabeth's notion that Artemis is now more clearly defined in terms of a figure of significant, separate, identity. Perhaps Toni carried this Artemis figure with profound magnitude, but it needed to be encased within her role as lover/guide in order to function rather silently at first.  I feel it certainly lived quietly within Emma, who was  primarily connected to the Hera/Demeter/ mother/wife dynamic.  So in a sense, perhaps, they're shared  underground connection to Artemis drove the triangular dynamic, as much as the shadow aspects of each. I suppose in the final analysis it is all of a piece. I lend my appreciationin that thanks should be offered to them both for, silently carrying Artemis, way back when for so long, until such time as she was ready to be lived and appreciated as a very essential and unique option to be lived more fully by women in the here,  now and in the future. I remember as I write this , what James Hillman once said at a lecture about the possible  future roles  that would come about with people in relationship, and that in fact were already here, "Anybody can be with anybody now," he said.  He had a look into the future on that one!  So too, perhaps anybody can, carry,  be and personify anybody now either as an archetypal and/or intrapsychic  mode of being.  Whew! Where did that just come from?  Thank you all for a stimulating discussion of what is my, and perhaps your, favorite subject!  

Hi Elizabeth - thank you for the invitation.  This is my first book club sojourn.  I have ordered and awaiting to receive my copy of the book.  Regards Linda

Good morning Elizabeth - I find this very interesting as we reflect back to 1910 at some of the relational trianglulation possibilities.  I was struck by the fact that it was Emma who did the meet & greet in the garden of a new referral - Toni, from Sigmund to Jung.  I was struck by Emma's keen sense of 'a woman's way of knowing' picked up on during their first meeting, seeing Toni's youth, the facts she chose to disclose to the Mrs - bereaved, single, from money, intelligence suppressed, fascinated in the prospect of probing one soul and asking for a stimulant - cigarette - that was hilarious.  Young with restlessness, energetic, ready and available - ripe for life so to speak and ready for attention and the picking.  I then found myself flashing forward to my last relational triangulation crisis case work - a couple's agreement after a decade of marriage rearing children, to shift from monogamy into an open marriage plus embrace the practice of a text written on polyamous relations.  Three years later, this couple found themselves in deep shadow material, have stopped all relations and are currently trying to regain some sense of sanity within and between themselves and away from all the others.  Then, I flashed back to Emma and wondered what the sexual appetities and tolerance level was for men and women back then.  I have seen a few movies, had opportunity to speak to a few turn of the centruy couples.  One one hand I thought maybe nothing has changed and then another thought was how one mistress sounded easier at this point.  Then, I went to the place of Toni's payment for analytical services rendered and wondered what that was before and what that became after sex entered the scene and then, I flashed back to a client who attended to a therapist who had several client's with whom he pursued for sexual fullfillment and he lost his right to engage in therapy....and then, I returned to your thoughts about betrayal wounds and individuation and at this point, without reading the text or seeing the rest of the play, I will simply wait for more...........I am not sure if Toni did any upstaging of Emma.  Regards Linda

Good morning, fascinating comments from Judith and Linda. I wonder if the "deep shadow material" that so often comes into play with polyamourous couples could partly stem from an incomplete Artemis development -- in both of them? This is definitely a brave new world of relationships, and I had thought that the triangle relationships simply could not work, even ones as open as Toni/Jung/Emma. But clearly, theirs did "work" on some level, and evolved and changed over the 40 years that Toni and Emma knew each other. This begs the question of what "work" means. I don't know. For women, it simply may be that "sharing" a partner (whether we are talking a gay or straight or bisexual union) is just too painful, for a myriad of complex reasons...what do you all think? As I write this I realize that Toni, as Jung's muse, lover, analyst, and beloved, was more than willing to "share" him with Emma, and never aspired to take her place....what an extraordinary event, in the history of human relations, their connection must have been....? Gratitude to all of you, for your depth of response, your depth of being. Elizabeth

Hello Elizabeth....I think the gratitude in part also goes to you for your courageous presentation and obvious understanding of this complex psychological and personal dynamic between people.  As an astrological aside to others who may be interested, I recently came across a publication by the astrologer/Jungian Analyst Liz Greene, related specifically to the subject of triangles as seen from her astro/jungian perspective. Of course as someone engaged in both modalities I'm dying to get her take on this and as soon as I order by the exact name of the book will make it available to others. Again, Elizabeth you've approached a much aligned subject without criticism and judgment and for this and the participation of others I am grateful.


Good morning Elizabeth - I need to do a refresher course on ancient archytpes in relation to Greek Gods/Mythology for it has been over 20 years for I have been into different phenomena - matrix of trauma, wave theory, elastic waveforms, trauma/healing vortices, etc., so....can you recommend a refresher book I could read, and then, when we get into dialogue concerning Artemis development, I have the gist of this archetype on board.  In the meantime and towards your question concernning the polyamourous couple I am aware of, yes towards incomplete development which they have both acknowledged as rebellion and regressions back to unresolved parent/child conflict for both feel they have regressed to adolescence and revisiting unresolved parent.child conflict.

The traingles did not work for this couple either, however, I do see that having descended into shadow for the past four years into polyamorous relations quickened their steps out-of-the-shadow as they emerged in a crisis state.  So, it worked for them too, but at a different level.  Perhaps each year of this couples polyamorous multi-complex triangulations:

  • how complex, demanding, intense would that be - all those others from all sides of the relational equations - blows my mind away similar to a yellow dandelion transformed into whiteness holding seeds, ready to go with the wind and land elsewhere
  • the other image that comes to mind is two octopuses in the depths of the ocean with their tentacles with their suction cups, holding onto all kinds of stuff

is equivalent to a decade of being a tryad suspended over decades of time, like Emma/Jung/Toni's decades for they had time to accomdate, adapt and accept the other's other not only within themselves but also for the others.

So, what works relationally these days, I also do not know and am glad we have this forum.  I did advise this couple to support each other through all they are going through, without divorcing, and they are doing so for this next year.  They are no longer 'sharing' that began when one announded to the other that they were bisexual....the female and the male accepted same, however, her use of drugs/alcohol complicated the depth of it all...and it was so crazy making something had to go...she chose to let go of her others (males and females) but kept the substances...so who knows what to think at this point.  This couple also speak of attracting 'muse's and they do know they are in their shadow material, they are more versed on the Greek Gods & mythology than I and right now......the marital crisis is stabilized, they have separate sleep space, fall is here and they are working on individuation and divorce is on hold.....

Toni must have been a quantum woman to be Jung's muse, lover, analyst, and beloved and I also find their relationship extraordinary and will be brave and try to imagine this type of connection which must have been ..... agreeable and consentual by all parties.  Perhaps, this triangle was mutually polyamorous and there is more to Emma & Toni than I am aware of for I am still in the garden with Emma first meeting Toni.....Regards Linda 


Hello everyone,

 I have not read the book, and by accident click on to this fascinating discussion. One of my favorite  books or papers that I read early on was,(Animus and Anima by Emma Jung) The Concise and clear manner in which Emma describes what creates the perfect projection material in both men and women was clearly observed from on the battlefield and in the line of fire! so to speak. I can't imagine anyone describing the projection process any clear. A great book! and very short!

 I am pretty sure this is completely off the mark, but it's almost as if by entering in to a triangular relationship that the participants are inviting a shadow situation that forces the transcendent function to kick in and elevate them to a new psychological plateau of perception, since there is no solution in their current psychic state. (like a drug!) or a good whack from a Zen masters stick.

 I always found it strange that Jung who warned against and new full well the pitfalls of falling into a unrestrained full throttle Animus or Anima projection would fall so headlong and fast and seemed completely helpless. (It's fascinating)!

 I will say after living in Zürich for a few years next door to the Jung Institute, two observation come to mind. First the Swiss mentality. Remember in some cantons of Switzerland women only received the right to vote in 1982! having a mistress for a Swiss man is virtually expected! Zürich  in particular where the Jung Institute is nestled up against Lake Zürich is it's own little fairyland. A very rarefied controlled environment, where formality and custom are the strangest bedfellows in relationships. Virtually every European couple that my wife and I met over are 20 years there entered into a crisis situation with "the other woman". as difficult and complex as the situation was in a strange way it's quite common in that part of the world. Unlike puritanical underpinnings of America it's not considered as a complete taboo.

 I know this is off topic, I just thought I would toss in a little Swiss fondue.


Doggone it!,

I had it on edit went to get coffee and it printed! (to conclude).....

  This is such a riveting story because it's a inevitable journey for everyone to some degree or another. In this particular case it was undertaken by three extraordinary human beings, that's why I am so reserved and careful about what I might take from it. It's amazing that it's so well documented by three exceptional scholars what a phenomena.

 I can't help but think that these bigger than life actors, fully conscious of outside observational scrutiny that would occur in hindsight, knew full well that they were writing a particular kind of history threaded with the conscious ethics of their fundamental structural beliefs, that they had so carefully cultivated for so long at such an incredible expense.

 It must be the fourth untold actor in the play?



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