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Sacrifice and Castration


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C.G. Jung Letters, Vol. 1: 1906-1950

[Carl Jung on Sacrifice and Castration.]

To Erich Neumann

Dear Colleague, Bollingen, 19 July 1947

What I can do for your extremely valuable works I will do with pleasure.

Unfortunately everything has been greatly delayed by my illness, which cost me a tidy year.

In old age time presses and the years become ever fewer, i.e., it is plain to behold: Utendum est aetate, cito pede labitur aetas / Nec bona tam sequitur quam bona prima fuit!

I cannot deny the justification for the term “castration complex” and still less its symbolism, but I must dispute that “sacrifice” is not a symbol.

In the Christian sense it is actually one of the most important symbols.

The etymology is obscure: there is as much to be said for offerre [to offer] as for operari [to effect, to be active].

“Sacrifice” is both active and passive: one offers a sacrifice and one is a sacrifice. (Both together in the sacrifice symbolism in the Mass!)

It is the same with incest, for which reason I had to supplement it with the concept of the hierosgamos.

Just as the pair of concepts “incest/hierosgamos” describes the whole situation, so does “castration/sacrifice.”

Couldn’t one, to proceed cautiously, say instead of castration complex castration symbol, or castration motif (like incest motif)?

You have still to go through the experience of being misunderstood.

The possibilities are beyond conception.

Perhaps you had better insert in your text a short explanation of the negative and positive aspects of the symbol, right at the beginning where you speak of the castration complex.

I very much hope it will be possible for you to come to Switzerland.

At the moment I am enjoying my urgently needed holiday in my tower on the Upper Lake.

Our Club wants to found a “C.G. Jung Institute for Complex Psychology.”

Preparations are already in progress.

Frau Jaffe will be secretary.

She has written a magnificent essay on E .T.A. Hoffmann which I shall publish in my Psychologische Abhandlungen.

I am doing pretty well, but feel the burden of my 73 years.

With best regards,

Your devoted C.G. Jung, ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages

Note: “Utendum est aetate, cito pede labitur aetas / Nec bona tam sequitur quam bona prima fuit! in English reads: “Hurry with the time, for time rushes with fleet foot, and that which follows is not as good as the one that was.” Ovid, Ars amatoria, 3, 65 .