Dr. Jung’s childhood manikin
[What if Dr. Jung’s childhood manikin and writings remain hidden up in the attic where he hid thme?]
Thirty years later I again stood on that slope. I was a married man, had children, a house, a place in the world, and a head full of ideas and plans, and suddenly I was again the child who had kindled a fire full of secret significance and sat down on a stone without knowing whether it was I or I was it. I thought suddenly of my life in Zurich, and it seemed alien to me, like news from some remote world and time.
This was frightening, for the world of my childhood in which I had just become absorbed was eternal, and I had been wrenched away from it and had fallen into a time that continued to roll onward, moving farther and farther away. The pull of that other world was so strong that I had to tear myself violently from the spot in order not to lose hold of my future.
I have never forgotten that moment, for it illuminated in a flash of lightning the quality of eternity in my childhood. What this meant was revealed soon afterward, in my tenth year.
My disunion with myself and uncertainty in the world at large led me to an action which at the time was quite incomprehensible to me. I had in those days a yellow, varnished pencil case of the kind commonly used by primary-school pupils, with a little lock and the customary ruler. At the end of this ruler I now carved a little manikin, about two inches long, with frock coat, top hat, and shiny black boots.
I colored him black with ink, sawed him off the ruler, and put him in the pencil case, where I made him a little bed. I even made a coat for him out of a bit of wool. In the case I also placed a smooth, oblong blackish stone from the Rhine, which I had painted with water colors to look as though it were divided into an upper and lower half, and had long carried around in my trouser pocket. This was his stone.
All this was a great secret. Secretly I took the case to the forbidden attic at the top of the house (forbidden because the floorboards were worm eaten and rotten) and hid it with great satisfaction on one of the beams under the roof–for no one must ever see it! I knew that not a soul would ever find it there.
No one could discover my secret and destroy it. I felt safe, and the tormenting sense of being at odds with myself was gone. In all difficult situations, whenever I had done something wrong or my feelings had been hurt, or when my father’s irritability or my mother’s invalidism oppressed me, I thought of my carefully bedded-down and wrapped-up manikin and his smooth, prettily colored stone. From time to time–often at intervals of weeks–I secretly stole up to the attic when I could be certain that no one would see me. Then I clambered up on the beam, opened the case, and looked at my manikin and his stone.
Each time I did this I placed in the case a little scroll of paper on which I had previously written something during school hours in a secret language of my own invention. The addition of a new scroll always had the character of a solemn ceremonial act. Unfortunately I cannot remember what I wanted to communicate to the manikin. I only know that my “letters” constituted a kind of library for him. I fancy, though I cannot be certain, that they may have consisted of sayings that particularly pleased me. ~Carl Jung, Memories Dreams and Reflections.
From time to time–often at intervals of weeks–I secretly stole up to the attic when I could be certain that no one would see me. Then I clambered up on the beam, opened the
case, and looked at my manikin and his stone. Each time I did this I placed in the case a little scroll of paper on which I had previously written something during school hours in a secret language of my own invention. The addition of a new scroll always had the character of a solemn ceremonial act. Unfortunately I cannot remember what I wanted to communicate to the manikin. I only know that my “letters” constituted a kind of library for him. I fancy, though I cannot be certain, that they may have consisted of sayings that particularly pleased me. ~Carl Jung; Memories Dreams and Reflections.
The episode with the carved manikin formed the climax and the conclusion of my childhood. It lasted about a year. Thereafter I completely forgot the whole affair until I was thirty-five. Then this fragment of memory rose up again from the mists of childhood with pristine clarity. While I was engaged on the preliminary studies for my book Wandlungen und Symbole der Libido. I read about the cache of soul–stones near Arlesheim, and the Australian churingas.
I suddenly discovered that I had a quite definite image of such a stone, though I had never seen any reproductions. It was oblong, blackish, and painted into an upper and lower half. This image was joined by that of the pencil box and the manikin. The manikin was a little cloaked god of the ancient world, a Telesphoros such as stands on the monuments of Asklepios and reads to him from a scroll. Along with this recollection there came to me, for the first time, the conviction that there are archaic psychic components which have entered the individual psyche without any direct line of tradition.
My father’s library–which I examined only very much later–contained not a single book which might have transmitted any such information. Moreover, my father demonstrably knew nothing about these things. When I was in England in 1920, I carved out of wood two similar figures without having the slightest recollection of that childhood experience. One of them I had reproduced on a larger scale in stone, and this figure now stands in my garden in Kusnacht. Only while I was doing this work did the unconscious supply me with a name. It called the figure Atmavictu–the “breath of life.”
It was a further development of that fearful tree of my childhood dream, which was now revealed as the “breath of life,” the creative impulse. Ultimately, the manikin was a kabir, wrapped in his little cloak, hidden in the kista, and provided with a supply of life-force, the oblong black stone. But these are connections which became clear to me only much later in life. When I was a child I performed the ritual just as I have seen it done by the natives of Africa; they act first and do not know what they are doing. Only long afterward do they reflect on what they have done. ~Carl Jung, Memories Dreams and Reflections
I cannot recall in my boyhood ever having thought of the possibility of a connection between Lord Jesus–or the Jesuit in the black robe–the men in frock coats and top hats standing by the grave, the grave-like hole in the meadow, the underground temple of the phallus, and my little man in the pencil case. The dream of the ithyphallic god was my first great secret; the manikin was the second. It does seem to me, however, that I had a vague sense of relationship between the “soul-stone” and the stone which was also
myself. ~Carl Jung, Memories Dreams and Reflections.
It would never have occurred to me to speak of my experience openly, nor of my dream of the phallus in the underground temple, nor of my carved manikin. As a matter of fact, I did not say anything about the phallus dream until I was sixty-five. I may have spoken about the other experiences to my wife, but only in later years. A strict taboo hung over all these matters, inherited from my childhood.
I could never have talked about them with friends. My entire youth can be understood in terms of this secret. It induced in me an almost unendurable loneliness. My one great achievement during those years was that I resisted the temptation to talk about it with anyone.
Thus the pattern of my relationship to the world was already prefigured: today as then I am a solitary, because I know things and must hint at things which other people do not know, and usually do not; even want to know.~Carl Jung, Memories Dreams and Reflections.
Image: Atmavictu “Breath of Life” sculpted by Dr. Jung.
Image: Gallo-Roman limestone statue of Telesphorus discovered in 1884 in Moulézan (southern France), now exhibited in the Archeological Museum of Nîmes. The god is dressed in the hooded cape typical of the depiction of Celts in Roman Gaul.
Image: Sculpted by Dr. Jung at his Bollingen Tower.
“Soon something else emerged. I began to see on the front face, in the natural structure of the stone, a small circle, a sort of eye, which looked at me. I chiseled it into the stone, and in the center made a tiny homunculus. This corresponds to the “little doll” (pupilla) yourself which you see in the pupil of another’s eye; a kind of Kabir, or the Telesphoros of Asklepios. Ancient statues show him wearing a hooded cloak and carrying a lantern. At the same time he is a pointer of the way. I dedicated a few words to him which came into my mind while I was working. The inscription is in Greek; the translation goes:
Time is a child playing like a child playing a board game the kingdom of the child. This is Telesphoros, who roams through the dark regions of this cosmos and glows like a star out of the depths. He points the way to the gates of the sun and to the land of dreams. ~Carl Jung; Memories Dreams and Reflections