Cave Art: An Intuition of Eternity

Dr. Ilse Vickers
Dr. Ilse Vickers
This archive is dedicated to psychology and Palaeolithic cave art, based on the research by Dr. Ilse Vickers. It is an introductory exploration of the direct and dynamic relationship between Palaeolithic cave art and the psyche.
The experience of observing works of art that were created during the Ice Age in the depths of an extensive cave system is immense, sometimes overwhelming. Questions flood the mind: who painted them, when, and why? Why were the images painted in the depths of a cave? Knowing that our ancestors did not live in the caves, did they come underground to observe the paintings in the flickering torch light, or were there other reasons to be there? How long could one be in the cave, with limited oxygen and disorientated senses? What effect would this have had on our prehistoric ancestors' perception of the cave paintings, not to mention their inspiration and creation in the first place?
The Archive introduces this field of research with two papers: The Descent into the Cave - The Dynamic Relationship Between Palaeolithic Cave Art and Depth Psychology and Palaeolithic Cave Art & Depth Psychology: Mercy in the Cave of Niaux. The papers discuss the psychology of rock art not only from the famous caves of France and Spain such as Chauvet, Lascaux, Niaux and Altamira, to name a few, but also from around the world, as Dr. Vickers explores the intricate relationship between prehistoric art and the mind.

About the Author

Dr Ilse Vickers has for many years pursued a professional European career with the European Commission and with University College London. Her academic career began in the field of C17th and C18th history of ideas and resulted in Daniel Defoe and the New Science (Cambridge University Press, 1997). More recently, Dr Vickers has been engaged in exploring the links between mythology/religion and the psyche, and in this connection she is working on the dynamic relationship between depth psychology and Palaeolithic cave art. Her publications include:
• 'The Tragic Human Condition, Carl Gustav Jung and Miguel de Unamuno' (Harvest 2012, C.G.Jung Analytical Psychology Club London)
• 'Dr. Johnson and Dr Jung: Two Physicians of the Soul' (The New Rambler 2011, Journal of the Johnson Society of London)
• 'Dr Johnson and Dr Jung, pt II: Psychology and Religion' (The New Rambler, forthcoming)
• 'Mercy in the Cave of Niaux - Palaeolithic Cave Art and Depth Psychology' (A Short Story), Bradshaw Foundation

Further Reading

• Bishop, P., (ed.), 'The Archaic: The Past in the Present', London: Routledge, 2012.
• Clottes, J., 'Les Cavernes de Niaux: Art prehistorique en Ariege', Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1995.
• Clottes, J., (ed.), 'La Grotte Chauvet: l'art des origins', Paris: Editions du Seuil, 2001.
• Clottes, J. and Lewis-Williams, J.D., 'The Shamans of Prehistory: Trance and Magic in the Painted Caves', New York: Harry Abrams, 1998.
• Eliade, M., 'Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy', New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972.
• Jung, C.G., 'Memories, Dreams, Reflections: Recorded and edited by Anelia Jaffe', tr. R. and C. Winston, London: Collins/Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963.
• Jung, C.G., 'Analytical Psychology: Notes of the Seminar given in 1925', ed. W. McGuire, London: Routledge, 1990.
• Jung, C.G., 'Archaic Man', in vol. 10 of 'Collected Works', ed. Sir H. Read, M. Fordham, G. Adler and W. McGuire, 20 vols, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1953 -83.
• Jung, C.G., 'On the Nature of the Psyche', in vol. 8 of 'Collected Works'.
• Leroi-Gourhan, A., 'The Dawn of European Art: An Introduction to Palaeolithic Cave Painting'. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
• Levy-Bruhl, L., 'Primitive Mentality', Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1966.
• Lewis-Williams, J.D., 'The Mind in the Cave', London: Thames & Hudson, 2002.
• Vickers, I., 'Mercy in the Cave of Niaux - Palaeolithic Cave Art and Depth Psychology' - a short story, Bradshaw Foundation website, 2012.
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