We have ideas about the godlikeness of man and forget about the gods.
LECTURE IX 19 March 1930
Here is a question concerning the archetypes.
We were discussing the possibility of representing dreams by the method of crystallizing the archetypes, and Dr. Schlegel’s question is whether one could enumerate them.
He is of the opinion that it would be o so.
That is one question. There is another to which we shall come presently.
The question as to whether archetypes are limited in number is almost impossible to answer, for it depends upon a more or less arbitrary decision. In trying to extract archetypes from a dream, one sees that there are a number of indubitable archetypes which are more or less analogous to each other.
Take for instance the cauldron.
It is analogous to the baptismal font, the underworld, the volcano, the depths of the sea, and many other things.
Now shall we call them independent or are they describing one and the same thing.
If we assume that all archetypes ascribe on and the same thing we renounce their discrimination and the whole thing becomes perfectly unmanageable; in that case we practically wind up with the fact that there is only one and that is the collective unconscious.
If we do discriminate between them, we find no limitation to their number.
One’s imagination simply would not yield representations and images enough to characterize them or to name all their possible variations.
Theoretically, then, we arrive at the conclusion that every archetype is absolutely unlimited in characterization, but only theoretically, because our language is definitely limited.
There are instances where we can make innumerable variations, yet they refer to practically the same thing. So the question cannot be answered.
We can only say that they are theoretically unlimited, as the numbers that one can count are interminable, but practically they soon come to an end, or are quite unmanageable.
But we can say that there are a reasonable number of archetypes which can be clearly discerned and which are not mere analogies of each other.
For instance, the archetypes of the hero and the cauldron are certainly not identical, in spite of the fact that the hero is in closest connection with the idea of the cauldron.
In primitive myths, the hero always enters a cave, or the underground world, or the belly of a whale, where he makes a fire, etc.
In other words he enters the cauldron, thus bringing about the miracle of renewal or rebirth, which is the most characteristic quality of the cauldron motif.
So despite the close relation between the image of the hero and the image of the cauldron, we can discriminate these two things-even though the cauldron and the hero are really identical in the fact that it is one and the same process.
Entering the cauldron, or a condition expressed by the cauldron, is an involution of energy, and rising again from the cauldron is an evolution of energy.
Therefore one could call it simply a certain movement, a transformation of energy, represented by these archetypal figures; it is always the same energy-two different states of the
But you see that, as soon as the thing is made into a scientific or philosophical reduction, it becomes absolutely abstract and unimaginable and therefore impracticable.
To call a rebirth dream a transformation of energy is so abstract that it means absolutely nothing.
So we need archetypes, we need that picturesque language to express this peculiar kind of transformation.
It is the same with the idea of the anima.
When we speak of her as a function it conveys nothing, but by making it personal, she becomes a personal reality.
If we make an abstraction of it, it is simply a figure in our head, an artificial abbreviation, and not the thing itself.
Even in science, when we make abstractions from facts, we are left with nothing to deal with; we are not dealing with the real animals, only with stuffed animals, or perhaps an ideal construction of an animal, conveying more and more nothing.
And so it is with the archetypes: the more we treat them scientifically, the more they evaporate.
If we restrict them to what we think to be their essence, we arrive at one principle expressed in terms of transformation of energy, which means nothing and which is absolutely lifeless.
Therefore we have to talk of archetypes, and when one begins to discern them, there is no limitation apparently.
How many did you extract from the dreams, Dr. Howells?
Dr. Howells: I got 38 out of 20 dreams, and I did not get half of them.
Dr. Jung: I think you abstracted a number from your own dreams, didn’t you, Miss Flenniken?
Miss Flenniken: I got 62 out of go dreams.
Dr. Jung: I remember that in your case I made the observation that you could have restricted the number because you had several archetypes, the prophet and the magician, for instance, which were
In another case, however, one might be forced to separate them.
The prophet, the magician, the old king, and the priest are all independent figures, yet they are all together.
In a particular problem there might be an important difference between them, and then one would naturally differentiate them, but in most cases it is better to draw them together, to let one contaminate the
There are so many to deal with that one has to restrict their number by applying a sort of contraction, summing them up in one figure.
That arbitrary decrease cannot be considered theoretically but is dependent upon one’s particular purpose; for instance, in making a statistical statement of the frequency of the flow of the archetypes, only a limited number can be chosen.
Otherwise one simply cannot represent them, one’s colours wouldn’t last out, and the whole picture would become too confused.
It would be possible to differentiate them into such an infinite number that practically every word would become an archetype, because every word has its history.
Every work goes back to something which has been repeated millions of times before and therefore acquires an archetypal quality.
So in how far one has to limit the limitless archetypes is entirely a matter of the particular end in view.
The other question that Dr. Schlegel asks is whether archetypes would be created in our day.
For instance, what formerly was expressed by fiery chariots rising up to heaven would nowadays be aeroplanes.
When railways were new in France, Victor Hugo said: why not make engines and trains that look like something?-and he suggested the form of a huge snake and the engine was a dragon’s head with fire glowing out of its nostrils and spitting smoke.
He was assimilating a new collective phenomenon to an archetypal idea. Dragons are in our day great machines, cars, big guns, these are archetypes now, simply new terms for old things.
These new things are just as valid as the old ones; as the new things are merely words for images, so the old things were words for images.
The mythological idea of the dragon is probably derived from the idea of huge saurians; it is really quite possible that the dragon myths are the last vestiges of ancestral memories of the saurians-the
terrifying thing of which man in the dim past was afraid.
Of course, to be afraid of dragons, even in historical times, was futile because there were no dragons.
They have become a psychological fear because those beasts don’t exist in reality; as a father or mother complex can keep on being operative in psychology even if the father or mother are long since dead.
They can be still alive in the form of symbolic images, as the dragon is still alive in the form of an image, although it is in reality nothing but a name.
So when we express an archetypal idea by a machine it is as though we were talking of a time when machines did not exist, as though there were still saurians.
There may be a time when we no longer talk of machines, but the ideas and fears will persist long after the actual machines are obsolete, and so it becomes obvious that these images are simply names for the things we are afraid of, names for fears quite simply.
Even in the days when there really were saurians, they were a name for that fear.
So the operation of archetypes is naturally going on, only today we don’t talk about dragons but about cars and machinery and big organizations.
Sure enough, all the little merchants in America and Europe who have been crushed by the Standard Oil Trust must feel that to be a great crushing monster.
Mr. Holdsworth: Were there any men in the world in the time of the great saurians?
Dr. Jung: The mammoth was hunted by man, and those huge lizards on the island of Cocos1 are saurians, so they are still alive in the tropics.
And one reads in Caesar, in the Bellum Gallicum, about a unicorn in the Black Forest that could not lie down because its joints were stiff, so it slept while standing, leaning against trees; and the people cut the trees down so that it would fall and they could kill it!
That unicorn was undoubtedly a rhinoceros.
There have been no rhinoceroses in Europe for a long time, but just recently they discovered the remains of one again somewhere in the petroleum fields of Silesia, where the whole body was preserved.
Dr. Schlegel: Do you identify the idea of archetypes with the idea of symbols, so that everything which has a symbolical value can be considered as an archetype?
Dr. Jung: No, the symbol is an entirely different conception.
I would call an archetype a symbol when it was functioning as a symbol, but it doesn’t necessarily function in that way.
The word symbol has been very much misused.
Freud calls things symbolical when they are only semiotic.
If he had had a philosophical education, he could not mix up those terms.
For instance, railroad employees have a design of a little winged wheel on their caps, and Freud would call that a symbol of the railway, but it is a sign of the railway.
If it were a symbol, it would mean that the men who wear it had been initiated into a secret cult symbolized by a winged wheel, and the devil knows what that might mean, perhaps something divine.
One uses the word symbol for something which one can only vaguely characterize.
A symbol expresses something which one cannot designate otherwise; one can only approach the meaning a little by using certain designs.
For instance, the Christian faith is symbolized by the cross, which means that the cross expresses something which cannot be expressed in any other terms.
The Greek word symbolum meand creed and the word symbol in its original use also meant the creed.
The original idea of the creed was not that now God is caught and we know exactly what he means.
The actual creed is the nearest approach in a human way to certain intuitions and beliefs-the belief that God is the Father and in the same person the Son and the Holy Ghost, for instance.
The great mysteries of life and eternity could be expressed only by symbols, and therefore they were always sacred.
The archetype when functioning can be expressive of a situation, and one can call it symbolic inasmuch as the situation is more or less unknown, but the archetype can also function in a situation which is entirely known to you.
For instance, we say a woman suffering from bad temper is like a fire-dragon.
That is an archetype, but one wouldn’t call it a symbol; it is simply an exaggerated metaphor.
But when someone makes a peculiar design in order to express something which he cannot express otherwise, and in so, doing uses an archetype, you would then call it a symbol.
If a person makes a drawing of a snake, and above that a cross, and above that a moon, and you ask what that may be, you will probably see him begin to stammer, ajumble of words and vague conceptions; there is nothing to do but guess, and then he informs you that it is the only way in which he could characterize his thoughts and visions.
Now that is a symbol, and he has used the archetypes of the cross, of the snake, and of the moon, but in this case it is not semiotic, it is symbolic.
That difference was always known in philosophy but Freud mixes up the two, his use of the word symbol is really meaningless.
Dr. Baynes: This question of making new archetypes seems to me problematical because, in relation to the dragon, no one could believe that he had any part in making a dragon nowadays, whereas the modern man knows that, with engines, we are on top. We can make them.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but suppose an age when the machine gets on top of us.
Then it would become a dragon, the equivalent of the old saurians, and really, when you look at New York, it really is on top of man; he knows that he has done all that and yet it pulls him down.
Dr. Baynes: Hasn’t it something to do with the attitude of a man towards it? Wouldn’t it be like the churinga, which he knows he makes, yet it has a kind of power over him? It is both above and below him.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but that would prove that he could make archetypes because we have that ability to make something into a dragon.
I should say that we could transform that power which is embodied in the image of the dragon into something else, yet that something else is equipped with the power of creation too.
The old rabbi was capable of making a living thing, the Golem, from a clod of earth by black magic, but that thing had a tendency to grow and grow and finally it fell on him and killed him. So the churinga is made by man, yet because it is a symbol, it is also the abode of divine power.
All idol-worshippers know that the image has been made by man, yet it is chosen as an abode of the god because it is his symbol, and inasmuch as it is inhabited by a god, it is sacred, it is taboo.
In building a machine we are so intent upon our purpose that we forget that we are investing that machine with creative power.
It looks as if it were a mechanical thing, but it can overgrow us in an invisible way, as, time and again in the history of the world, institutions and laws have overwhelmed man.
Despite the fact that they were created by man, they are the dwelling-places of divine powers that may destroy us.
Dr. Baynes: The point I tried to make was that in making machines we are transforming irrational into rational power. It therefore seems to me that the shaping of the archetype should be according to this function of rationalizing-like harnessing the Nile, which would be rather different from the dragon.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but when we speak of the transformation of the dragon into a machine, we are in a certain stage of that development only.
We are actually in the stage of inventing the machine, we are just about to transform that primitive energy into the machine.
We have ideas about the godlikeness of man and forget about the gods.
After a while, when we have invested all our energy in rational forms, they will strangle us.
They are the dragons now, they became a sort of nightmare. Slowly and secretly we become their slaves and are devoured. New York has· grown t~overwhelming~proportions and it is due to the machine.
And it is such a devouring monster that Dr. Drapers tells me that the average life expectancy of people in New York is forty years.
In Switzerland it is sixty years.
Why do we have psychology? Because we are already strangled by our rational devices.
One can see that also in enormous machine-like bodies of men, armies or other organizations, which all lead to destruction.
Think of the tremendous power of Napoleon I and how completely his army was wiped out.
And Alexander the Great, whose army was crushed in India.
Think of the history of Babylon and Assyria.
It took two thousand years to reach the climax of their glory, and in the next thirty years the whole thing was destroyed.
It is always so. Great organizations eat themselves up.
Mr. Holdsworth: Would you say that, when the farm labourers started to break up the machinery in the industrial riots, they were working under the fear of the dragon?
Dr. Jung: It is difficult to discuss that question because it is too near to us, but perhaps those riots in England arose from the fear of the dragon in machines.
Well, now we must get back to our dream.
We got as far as the mouse, which we really must tackle seriously.
You have heard the dreamer’s associations about it, and we decided that it must be an instinctive thing. In what way would it be characterized?
We must be as specific as possible in dream interpretation; we must bring theory down to reality.
Mrs. Sigg: A mouse comes up unexpectedly very often. It seems to be a symbolic representation of man’s sexuality, and this man’s sexuality is not so connected with the whole of his being.
Dr. Jung: But why think of sexuality at all?
Mr. Holdsworth: He is a child in his crib. When it breaks he has outgrown it. Then naturally his sexuality appears.
Dr. Jung: It is often the case that when a man comes of age his sexuality does not work.
Mrs. Sigg: Women sometimes say of sexuality that it is only the animal part of their nature.
Dr. Jung: It is the word only that points the way.
That is really an important point because the mouse has always been “only.”
You remember perhaps about the mountain being in labour pains and then appears a ridiculously small mouse.
That is the “only.” It is tiny and not important, a nuisance but not dangerous in any way.
One has to take care that it doesn’t eat the cheese and the bread, soil the food, make holes in things, but it is not very considerable.
We have to take that point of view.
Where have we evidence of that in the dream?
Mrs. Sawyer: Where it runs away and he thinks it is of no importance.
Dr. Jung: Yes, the evidence is in his associations.
But his wife has a different view. She gets very much excited and goes after it with a stick, assuming that it might be dangerous to the boys. Now, what is that mouse?
There seems to be a general suspicion that it means sexuality.
And the mouse is instinctive; instinct, like sexuality, is under a strong taboo. Let us discuss that possibility.
In that marriage the difficulty, as we were saying, is the fundamental difference that exists between the viewpoints of husband and wife concerning the importance of what we call Eros-sex or relatedness.
He is confronted with the sex problem, that is the point in ligitation.
There have been discussions about it, and his wife holds entirely different convictions from the dreamer.
He thinks of sexuality as something very important and indispensable, and she thinks it is futile and can be dispensed with except for the purpose of producing children; she has the puritanical idea that sexuality only serves that purpose and has otherwise no justification whatever.
That is a hint for us.
He would say, “Oh, let that little thing go, it is not so important,” and she would say, “No, it is terrible. It should not be.”
Well, we guess that the mouse is sex, but there is another consideration.
It is surely an instance of a secret nocturnal instinct, because mice show themselves in the night.
They live in dark holes, parasites, outcasts, outlaws, and we trap them or poison them whenever we can.
So it must be a form of instinct under a strong taboo. What is that instinct? Will only sexuality cover it? There is another conclusion.:
Dr. Draper: To be quite irrational, it might be that the first part of this lecture about archetypes and dragons had the occult purpose of preparing us for the interpretation of the mouse symbol.
Thus the mouse might be a diminutive dragon which in the dreamer’s life is actually significant, really a dragon.
We can look at the mouse as an inverted dragon. It may refer not only to the physical but to very much broader concerns in life.
Dr. Jung: That is true.
Sexuality is not only a little mouse, it is a very big thing, a most upsetting problem; but the dream speaks of a mouse, and we assume that it has a purpose in so doing.
We would expect far more powerful symbolism, but instead of a dragon we find only a little mouse.
That would be no argument against the idea that the mouse really means sexuality, but I should say it was definitely the purpose of the unconscious in this case to belittle it, to make it quite small so that it appears as nothing.
It is like a sort of deceit.
The wife makes a fuss about it as if it were a much bigger thing than it is in reality, because she would represent the figure in the dream that knows more about the importance of that
mouse or sexuality than the dreamer himself does.
One might say that he relegates realization into his wife, as if he said, “You would make a fuss about it but to me it is nothing.”
The question is, why is it belittled? Why is it not represented at its full value? It is really the fundamental problem in the dream for the time being.
Mrs. Sigg: To encourage him.
Dr. Jung: Yes, that is really the idea.
Often we see that certain things which in reality seem unimportant are tremendously emphasized in dreams; something is given an extraordinary size to impress the dreamer when he undervalues it.
And the reverse occurs where a thing which is enormously important is belittled.
It is like the instances we were recently talking about, where the analyst is decreased, depotentiated, in order to give a chance to the dreamer to assert himself.
Otherwise he is obsessed by the figure of the analyst. In this case, the man is consciously quite aware of the importance of sex, and the purpose of the figure of the tiny mouse might be to encourage him.
Now, to encourage him to what?
Mrs. Sigg: To try to find a way to manage the problem with his wife; he might ask the reason why his wife was afraid, for instance.
Dr. Jung: But he often asked her that and it led nowhere.
All women have that fear of mice, and it is always ridiculous to a man.
So it is even ridiculed, obviously the unconscious wants him to think of it as a small matter which his wife makes a fuss over as if it could injure the children, which is nonsense.
The tendency of the dream, then, is to decrease the importance of the problem in order to encourage him. But encourage him to what?
Dr. Baynes: To follow the libido which he is so scared about.
Dr. Jung: When the bed breaks apart, away runs his libido.
He is not afniid of running after it because he delegates the fear to his wife, but what would he do with it?
He tries to kill the mouse with the wall of his crib and fails to hit it-a case of turning big guns on sparrows.
Now to what is the dream trying to encourage him?
Mr. Holdsworth: To get to it with his wife. He should take a stick according to the old proverb about a woman:-“The more you beat her, the better she’ll be.”
Dr. Jung: No, he would never do that. There would be no attraction to him in beating her up, he is too refined.
Naturally, if he were deeply in love with her and lived several degrees nearer to the East he would take a stick, but for an educated Western man it is not attractive to beat a woman down and then have intercourse with her.
Mrs. Sigg: But I think it would be an important thing for them both, for the benefit of their children, if they got all right again.
They could discuss the question and what effect it might have on the children.
Dr. Jung: Obviously the wife is of the opinion that the mouse might injure the children somehow, but that is all bunk.
We are concerned now with the fact that the dream encourages him.
But to what? I want you to continue.
Dr. Baynes: He is in a crib, in a kind of corner fighting the bogey in the mouse, and he has to come out in the open.
Mr. Holdsworth: Isn’t it that there isn’t so much in all this copulation business?-it is only a mouse.
Dr. Jung: I want to force a lady to say what he ought to do.
It is a sweet sadistical question. I want to see how they continue their sentences. Now please betray a secret.
You see that we have to discuss things a fond.
Where are the ladies who can tell us something enlightening about it?
We men are poor judges of human feelings.
It would be a splendid opportunity for the ladies to have a word in this discussion which concerns them.
Mrs. Sigg is perfectly right to assume that he is to be encouraged. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be so fussy. What would that mean?
Mrs. Baynes: Perhaps he is becoming discouraged by his wife’s repudiation of him and that is why his libido is on such a small scale.
Dr. Jung: Yes, in his conscious.
The situation between this man and his wife has become terribly uninteresting in a way.
His wife was petering out. He would have wished that she had been more interested, but since she was not, he occasionally stepped aside and had foolish adventures with very ordinary women.
Then he tried theosophical studies, but he could not settle his problem in such a futile way, and so he came to analysis and is making a serious attempt at it.
He now tries to hold himself together and to be superior to this problem; he avoids trips to Poland and tries to be reasonable.
But there is the mouse, that nocturnal nuisance, and naturally in his conscious he thinks this is terribly important and something must be done about it.
Mrs. Deady: Hasn’t he built up a tremendous mountain of fears in himself?
Dr. Jung: That is what she has built up, not he.
Mrs. Sigg: I understand quite well Mrs. Deady’s meaning, and I think it is true that if there had been such a long separation, there might be an invisible wall in the man too.
Dr. Jung: Sure enough, there is an invisible wall, but we cannot make it visible.
What we see in this dream is only the tendency of the unconscious to decrease the importance of the problem.
We might even say that he kept himself within four walls as if he were a baby, behaving like a baby, fulfilling his functions as a baby, doing what he was told to do, and in the course of his exercises the bed breaks apart and the mouse runs out.
When it held together in infantilism the mouse didn’t appear.
But now the problem appears.
He is inefficient and does not succeed in killing it, it escapes, and his wife rages because she thinks, if his sexuality comes out it will injure the children, which of course is always an argument with
wives-they say it injures children.
Miss Hannah: Is it that he should, like the Buddha, try living as a monkey?
Dr. Jung: Try living as a mouse?-imitate the ways of the mouse and escape?
The appearance of animals in dreams often means to imitate the ways of animals. In fairy tales there are helpful animals.
Now what would that mean practically?
I wish particularly that the ladies would use their wits on such a question.
Mrs. Baynes: I think that one ·very important point is that he has got to get out of the crib before he can manage anything.
Dr. Jung: He is out of the crib.
He is behind infantile walls. Something is now en route, just leaving the precincts, but we should know what it is.
Mrs. Deady: He should not think about it so much. He should have the suddenness of the mouse-just one leap.
Dr. Jung: Just one leap-like lightning, silently?
Yes, that would be imitating the mouse, but we are too metaphorical, we should be more specific.
We have the consideration here that this mouse means a separate autonomous factor, something instinctive that has left its hiding-place and appears on the scene.
No use trying to kill that thing, the mouse is quicker; no use trying to kill it even if his wife holds that it might injure the children.
Something in the mechanism is loose now.
We speak of a screw loose when one does things one didn’t intend to do, says things one didn’t intend to say.
An autonomous factor has appeared on the scene that takes on a very small form but that asserts itself just as a mouse asserts itself.
It will be a nuisance in the night and in the day, and it will make holes b~cause nothing will hold it for ever; it will creep through walls and doors, it cannot be locked in; whether he wants it or not
it will work.
That is the obvious meaning of the dream, but naturally the man will ask me, “What is it?” and I will say that it is his sexual problem, which neither he nor his wife can control, it will find its way through.
“But why just a mouse for a big problem?”-to which I would say that obviously the importance is greatly decreased and that it literally means that the dreamer should not make such a fuss about
He can leave it alone because that mouse will take care of itself.
He worries all the time about what one should do, not what he should do; he seeks a formula or something that is generally acknowledged to deal with the situation.
But he should completely dismiss it, he should simply say that he can’t manage it and doesn’t know what the solution is.
If that thing wants to live it will live, and he should let it go.
If left alone takes care of itself, it works out according to its own laws.
The cat is out of the bag, and if the problem is working like that it will keep on working, making ways.
Provided it is real it will produce certain effects and naturally one is more or less at its mercy; it goes on even if one does not know when or where.
It is most important that we assume nothing.
There are many problems with which our rational mind is quite incapable of dealing, apparently impossible situations, and I am very careful not to mix in.
There are people who at thirty five go into a monastery, for instance.
People sometimes choose strange lives which the average opinion would say were wrong, but it may be right for them, how do I know?
If his unconscious should say that this man’s sexuality had disappeared completely, that it was absolutely unimportant and did not exist, it would be unexpected, but I would say, well, perhaps this is true.
Here, then, I would say to the dreamer, the mouse has escaped, and now it can do something if it really is alive, if it has strength.
It will take care of itself and something is going to happen.
Do you understand?
I mean that I really believe in autonomous complexes. I really believe that autonomous factors can produce something and help settle an unmanageable problem in a way that is not repressing it nor neglecting it.
It is as if you sent your servant with a letter of credit to cash: you cannot go so you delegate your powers, you send that pr
I cannot tell how to solve it, but if you dismiss a problem it will work out along the lines of general law.
You see, I can talk very definitely about this case because I know by what peripeties he went and how it has developed since, and I know that here things began to move.
You remember that the former dream said that the machine was ready to work, and you know what the difficulty was-that he came up against church prejudices and moral laws.
Then he recoiled and found himself in the crib.
Now the crib breaks apart. The machine becomes the mouse.
He recognizes that it is a living mechanism able to work out its own salvation.
It is the first time he has discovered that it can take care of itself. I don’t know how.
It is left to the grace of God, but I can tell you that it was very alive. It worked itself out. ~Carl Jung, Dream Analysis Seminar, Pages 536-549