Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume 2, 1951-1961

To Hans Seifert

Dear Herr Seifert, 14 October 1960

Best thanks for telling me about your interesting experience.

It is a type of experience that has become very rare nowadays. It may have appeared again because the time was favourable.

Possibly the vision was caused by the sudden appearance of a deer.

There usually is some such cause, but the important thing is what the cause triggers off. Here it is the archetypal motif of two animals fighting.

You often find it in illuminated manuscripts of the 11th and 12th centuries, and also in the capitals and friezes of Romanesque churches, where it can take the form of a man fighting an animal, or of a man between two animals.

It is not difficult to see that the stag of your vision is related to the stag of St.Hubert and St. Eustace, which is an allegory of Christ because it tramples on the serpent. (The Celtic stag-god Kerunnus holds a serpent by the neck.)

Conversely, Christ himself is the serpent hung on a pole-an indication of the identity of opposites.

The dog, or whatever it is that threatens the stag, is its opposite-white stag opposed by black dog, quarry by wolf.

The two together represent a supernatural, unitary being at war with itself.

The animal form shows that the conflict, symbolized by this paradisal being, is largely unconscious.

That is to say, you see your conflict as something personal, whereas in the vision it is produced by an extra- personal pair of opposites.

You do not produce your conflict, you are rather its unconscious victim or exponent.

The vision is more or less collective because it expresses the collective situation and not the individual will.

Your little son, who you say was furthest from the conflict, sees only something light brown, which was proba- bly the real cause of the vision.

Despite their powers of imagination, children often observe things much more accurately than grown-ups. They are naturally and instinctively adapted to reality; their next task is to find their way about in it.

Grown-ups, on the other hand, especially those approaching middle life, get around to feeling that there is still a psychic reality about which our culture knows much too little and cares less.

People would rather hang on to the old dogmas than let experience speak. According to your vision, the stag is rather dejected and worn out.
He also seems to have rubbed his horns down to stumps.

By contrast, the black dog is uncanny but much more alive.

I do not know how far you are acquainted with the psychology of the unconscious.

I won’t go into details, but would only point out that a collective vision is a phenomenon of the time, depict- ing the great problem of our day in individual form.

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 598-599