30 November 1932 Visions Seminar Lecture IV
I have received certain reactions to the last seminar.
One is from Mrs. Sigg, but I am afraid it is too extensive to deal with now.
She chiefly objects to the white placenta that apparently contains no blood.
This objection is quite justified.
But of course we are in no way capable of changing these visions, they are just what they are; there is no mistake about them, they are facts.
Naturally facts do not always satisfy us, and we wish perhaps in a very natural yet shortsighted way that they were different.
Dreams also are not always what we want them to be; they are sometimes unpleasant, unsatisfactory, yet they are what they are.
So this placenta is unfortunately white; there is nothing to be done about it.
But I understand that Mrs. Sigg misses the blood in that rebirth mystery.
In all these visions there is really not much blood.
As a matter of fact, they are thinner than ether, they are the flimsiest fabric you can imagine; when one reads them without any commentary one gets nothing out of them; it is an almost meaningless succession of images which convey practically nothing.
Yet they contain the skeleton of ideas.
The forms are there, but it takes no end of trouble to make the contents visible.
They are like a book consisting of mathematical formulae which convey nothing to the
layman, but give it to a mathematician and he will tell you a most interesting
story. Or like a musical composition, which to someone who cannot read the notes is just paper printed with black hieroglyphics; but let a man with musical imagination read it and he hears the music.
So if I read these visions with attention, I hear the music, I get the meaning of the whole thing, because they have meaning.
As I told you, I never analyzed these visions with the patient, partially because there were many things in them which I only understood subsequently.
Then it was far too much, one needs years of painstaking work to decipher the whole of that text.
Just as in cases of insanity, where one has a full record of all their funny ideas and hallucinations, one needs years to plough through the material, to fill it with objective meaning.
It is like a phenomenon of nature, say a meadow full of flowers and beetles and so on, which seems to be just an ordinary meadow with nothing special about it.
But a scientist could spend many lives working on that one meadow in order to elucidate all the mysteries contained in it-and then not come to an end.
So the lack of blood here is lamentable, but we have to cope with it.
Mrs. Adler: Is it not dangerous if a patient does not understand his visions? He should have some relation to these unconscious events.
Dr. Jung: It is not necessarily dangerous if the unconscious process contains no blood; it lacks reality in that case and so is not dangerous.
Mrs. Sawyer: The first book seemed to have blood in it.
Dr. Jung: It looked so, that is true, but when you read the visions without commentary they are as remote as these we are dealing with now.
Even if she is bathing in liquid lava and boiling blood, it is just blood that is painted on the surface of the unconscious. It is not reality.
Mrs. Sigg: Such visions would not be amusing to me!
Dr. Jung: It would not amuse you because your attitude is different.
Very different species of human beings populate this earth, and what is most important to us might be most unimportant to other people.
You yourself might have certain experiences which simply wouldn’t touch you.
For instance, if I discover an incest fantasy among other ideas in myself, it is absolutely indifferent to me.
But a person who was just beginning to understand analytical ideas would make a tremendous row over it.
At first one is terribly shocked that one could have the idea of killing one’s father or mother, or sleeping with one’s own sister-until it becomes merely a speech metaphor.
Some people are shocked when they discover that they have a selfish idea.
It is most obvious that people are egotistical and autoerotic and selfish, but they simply don’t know it.
If one says: “Don’t you see that you have a certain tendency to seek your own particular advantage in this case,” it is a most terrible discovery which may produce a volcanic outburst; while other people just accept the fact with a smile-naturally one is seeking one’s own advantage.
And of course it would convey absolutely nothing to a layman to dream of having given birth to a monster, he would say: “And what then?”
Mrs. Sigg: Then is it a fact that there are patients who never get great emotions from their dreams or their visions?
Dr. Jung: A patient might get tremendous emotions from certain dreams or even from certain visions, but there are also visions which have never been accompanied by any particular emotion if the patient was absolutely unable to establish a connection between his fantasy images and his life.
It is as if it had happened in an isolated soundproof room where nothing of the world entered, it is something apart, it is not within life.
That is to a certain extent what you feel when you read such fantasies-they are remote.
Therefore I always insist upon the fact that there is an enormous difference between visions and what people call reality.
They can happen almost anywhere, with people who have not the slightest idea of these matters; let somebody become a little unbalanced and instantly he will have such fantasies, and if he is taken in by them, assimilated by them, he is crazy.
He doesn’t know what it is all about, he gets absolutely bewildered, and then the analyst calls him mentally confused or actually insane.
It is quite obvious that if our patient had dropped into these fantasies altogether, they would not read as we feel they read, they would not be so abstract.
They would have taken on an incredible and incomprehensible life, and would have developed into a system of the kind one finds in cases of paranoid schizophrenia.
As it is, it is merely abstract and potential, and therefore gives us an excellent
opportunity to observe how the unconscious behaves, how it builds up and pulls down.
This is what one calls a Reinkultur of unconscious processes, observed all by themselves, not disturbed by conscious association with the personal life.
Therefore it is rather a unique case.
Mr. Dell: Is it unusual for fantasies to come in such profusion when one is not ready for them?
Dr. Jung: It is very unusual, yet it happens.
Mrs. Sigg: But I thought that it was an absolute law that the unconscious was always compensatory for the conscious.
Dr. Jung: Yes, and so this abstract consciousness is compensatory to a very personal and concrete mind; this is the attempt at compensation.
You see, she has put a lot of work into them, and that kept her in a sort of abstract mood over against a very trying reality.
Many people who develop live in very trying and difficult circumstances, entangled in very problematic personal conditions.
Then they produce such fantasies which give them a certain balance, they thus create a sort of abstract mood which allows them to remove themselves from the too immediate
difficulties of life, to look at them from a more distant point of view.
But the interesting thing to us is not the relation of such fantasies to personal life, the interesting thing is the psychology of the impersonal events in the unconscious, the general structure of such visions.
If they had been more closely connected with the personal life of the patient, too much intermingled with personal events, they would not be so useful; they would then have lost their general value because they would not have contained such general symbolism.
You see, these fantasies often deal with worldwide problems really, which merely comes from the fact that the patient’s personal consciousness has not obliterated the unconscious production.
Now here is another question from Dr. Escher: “I believe that the newborn monstrous child with the four eyes and claws has something to do with the devouring fish in the svadhisthana chakra.
This animal in the semicircle belongs to Varuna, a god that is theogonically identical with
Uranos-Oceanus, the Greek god. Oceanus dwells in the most extreme ocean-circle around the earth, the theneeis potamos.”
I asked Professor Hauer about the identity ofUranos and Varuna, and he said that this hypothesis had been abandoned, there is really not enough proof of the identity-of the etymological relation between them, that is.
But despite that fact the analogy stands. Varuna in the second chakra would be the equivalent of the ancient idea of the waters, or Oceanus, that surround the earth; there is surely the idea of the second chakra as the sea, and Varuna is the makara, the god of the sea.
But it is a question whether this monstrous child of the fantasy is really identical
with the makara, the devouring monster, I am not so certain.
We have that pool of water, and the child is born out of the amniotic fluid, so it is possible that it has something to do with it, the claws and the club hands point to it.
But I think we are perfectly safe in assuming that this child is really a bijii-deva, whatever the chakra is.
We had the fire chakra before and now we are concerned with water, so it is quite possible that this would be the bijii-deva with the four arms of the second chakra, in this case with the four faces and the hands armed, etc.
I would not make that other analogy, however, for the reason that the makara of the second chakra belongs to a more primitive condition: it is the whale-dragon, that old myth from the time when the unconscious was still undifferentiated, when it was just animal unconsciousness; while this child has four eyes already, it sees in four directions, it is more individuated.
Well, we are still concerned with this peculiar birth, and I have brought some very interesting ethnological material which substantiates the idea that the placenta is a sort of brother of the child that is born.
Frazer, for instance, gives us parallels.
He says that among the Maoris the placenta is called fenua, which means land, and it is applied to the placenta on account of their supposing it to be the dwelling-place of the child; that agrees with what we were saying, that the placenta is a sort of mandala, a basis, or one could say the earth, because to primitives the earth always contains the idea of the basis from which the child grows.
Then they assume that the placenta has a spirit, a soul, parallel to the soul of the child, and therefore they pay particular attention to it after the birth; it is buried with particular rites and so on.
In southern Celebes the navel string and the afterbirth are called the two brothers or sisters of the child.
In the island of Timor the placenta is supposed to be the child’s companion and is treated accordingly.
The natives of Bali believe firmly that the afterbirth is the child’s brother or sister, and they bury it in their courtyard in the half of a coconut from which the fruit has not been removed; for forty days afterwards a light is kept burning, and food, water, and betel are deposited on the spot, doubtless in order to feed the baby’s little brother or sister, and to guard him or her from evil spirits.
In Java also the placenta is called the brother or sister of the infant and is wrapped in white cotton, put in a new pot or coconut shell, and the father buries it beside the door.
In East Africa, the Baganda believe that every person is born with a double, and they identify it with the afterbirth, which they regard as the second child. Furthermore, they think that the ghost of the afterbirth is in that portion of the navel string which remains attached to the child after birth; this must be preserved if the child is to be healthy.
Therefore when the navel string drops off after the birth, it is rubbed with butter, swathed in bark cloth, and kept through life under the name of “the twin.”
In Iceland, it is an ancient belief that the child’s guardian spirit, or a part of its soul, has its seat in the chorion or fetal membrane, generally known as the caul, which as a rule forms part of the afterbirth; so the caul is designated as the fylgja or guardian spirit.
Frazer also says that in many parts of the world the navel string, or more commonly the afterbirth, is regarded as a living being, the brother or sister of the infant, or as the material object in which the guardian spirit of the child or a part of its soul resides.
This belief is found among the Aborigines of Queensland, the Bataks of Sumatra, and the Norsemen of Iceland.
In a book by A. E. Crawley, called The Idea of the Soul, it is stated that among the Toba-Bataks, the afterbirth is regarded as the younger brother of the child.
Then Levy-Bruhl says that the Koeboes of the Palembang in Sumatra believe that the amniotic fluid, the placenta, and the blood are the companions of the newborn child; to the navel string and the placenta especially are attributed great vital force, or mana, and they are thought to be the two brothers or sisters of the newly born.
They believe that the bodies of these doubles have not succeeded in as complete a development as the child’s, but that their souls are normal, exactly like the soul of the newly born, and that they occasionally even attain to a much higher degree of development than the soul of the real child.
The navel string and the placenta are highly venerated-they are often considered as one and the same being, and one never pronounces the name of one without that of the other.
And until the death of the man born at the same time as they, those spirits of the navel string and the placenta come to visit him three times every day and three times every night.
They are the esprits tutelaires, his guardian angels; so as long as he is living in this world, they must protect him against all dangers and evil influences.
Therefore a native of the Koeboe tribe should always think of his buried navel string and placenta spirit before he goes to sleep, or begins his work, or starts on a journey.
It is only necessary to think of these spirits; it is not necessary to invoke them, or to pray or offer sacrifices to them; but if he should forget to think of them, he would be deprived of certain positive influences.
Also, Levy-Bruhl says that this idea of the placenta being the double applies to the people of western Africa, where they call it the Kra, and there too they understand the spirit of the placenta as a sort of guardian angel.
Then in Sumatra, the Karo-Bataks think that every man has his individual tondi, meaning his individual mana which is sometimes a sort of power spirit; and besides that he has the agi, the spirit of the placenta and of the amniotic fluid, which never leaves him.
Their idea is that the amniotic fluid always accompanies him, having an existence of its own; it is as if he were eternally in the amniotic fluid as a sort of river running before and after him as he goes through life.
He calls to these waters and to the spirit of his placenta to protect him during his sleep; the waters watch over him at his head and at his feet.
Then on the island of Flores they hold that the placenta has a soul exactly like the child, having the same sex as the child.
Miss de Witt: In Java they send the placenta out on the water as a sacrifice with flowers and burning candles, a very pretty sight-they don’t bury it.
Dr. Jung: That is interesting.
And on the island of Soemba, to the south of Java, they call the spirit of the placenta the older brother, and instead of burying it, they place it in a basket and hang it on a tree.
Apparently in that East Indian archipelago they usually have the idea that the placenta
is a double that is born with the child, but that it soon decays and migrates over into the world of the dead and continues to live there.
That is, the placenta at once becomes a spirit, and in that form it accompanies and protects the child until the end of his days.
Moreover, the child has a peculiar identity with that spirit, but sans se confondre-the
child or man identifies with the double, yet he knows that they are not one and the same.
The Dayaks call the placenta the young brother and wait until it is born before detaching the child from the navel string; then they put the placenta with the child upon the leaf of a banana tree, and only then does the midwife cut the navel string.
Also, they consider that the autonomous soul of the placenta is part of the soul of the
mother; you see, that is a sort of anima theory of the double.
They think too that when a woman has given birth, if the spirit of the placenta does not join its sister soul in the mother, the mother will be unable to conceive again.
That is a very interesting psychological concept.
They also say, when a little child laughs to itself or makes grimaces, that it is to his
little brother, the placenta; and when it cries it is quarreling with that spirit.
They even go as far as to blame the placenta spirit that he is not gentle with the child when he is ill, or quarreling or howling too much.
Now here is something from Northern mythology.
I told you that the amniotic membrane, which is part of the afterbirth, was called fylgja.
This Nordic fylgja is the same word as the German folgen, to follow; the Greek word is synopad6s, meaning the one that follows after, the double of man, the second ego.
It is supposed that the fylgja separates from man and becomes visible shortly before death-that would be the soul leaving the body-and in that case, the soul would get into the skin of an animal and accompany the man everywhere; therefore the soul was
called hamingja, which means the one that changes her shape.
So they thought that jylgja and hamingja were the same.
This is a very primitive concept, and it shows how the soul, which in other parts of the world is called the bush soul, is derived from the idea of the double.
That bush soul can be explained as a peculiar identity of part of a person’s own soul with a certain animal, so that if anybody should kill that animal, the person would also be injured.
In West Africa, if a hunter shoots such an animal-a crocodile or a snake or a leopard-they say that the particular man or woman whose bush soul is identical with that particular animal, will be hit by the same bullet.
This superstition is so strong, that Talbot, in his book, In the Shadow of the Bush, tells as an actual fact of a woman who was hit too, when a farmer shot her bush soul, a leopard that was after his cattle.
It seems to be a particularly infectious idea.
The interesting thing is that there are still people who are partially identical with certain animals, there is a peculiar attraction between them.
So this bush soul idea is not only a superstition, it is also a psychological fact.
If people have that tendency, they are likely to behave to animals in a very interesting way, and animals behave very strangely in their presence; they are either much attracted or they become unreasonably hostile.
Also it is possible that animals do things which belong to human psychology, it is sometimes as if they were formulating replies to human psychological conditions, they act as if they knew about them.
It is often quite difficult to explain these facts.
You see, in all these cases it is a matter of that bush soul phenomenon, namely, that people occasionally have detachable psychological complexes which project themselves to such an extent that even an animal feels influenced by them.
Now the hamingja is one who is capable of taking on an animal’s body, becoming a sort of were-animal.
That word derives from hamr, which in German would be Haube, a hood, and Haube refers to the fact that children are often born with what one calls in German a Gliickshaube, a cap or a hood of good luck; it is a sign of great good fortune when a child is born with the amniotic membrane still over the face or head.
So the hamingja would be the soul that is outside of the body, a good protecting spirit, deriving that quality from the fact that it also surrounds the child’s body in the womb and is born with the child as a protective cloak.
Also, the idea that the hamingja is the soul that can take on the body of an animal corresponds with an abnormality of childbirth: in certain cases the placenta is peculiarly distributed over the amnion, or the amnion and the placenta are pushed out together, and then it looks as if it were a sort of fur; part of the placenta might be like a hood, for instance, as if the child were covered with a fur cap.
That strange furry amnion accounts for the occasionally recurring legend that a woman has given birth to an animal, or to a child that was completely covered with fur, and then ordinary people hold that this either comes from the fact that the woman was frightened by a furry animal during pregnancy, or that she had intercourse with an animal and in consequence brought forth a furry animal in human shape.
Also this animal idea may come from the fact that children are sometimes born with long fleecy hair, which is probably a trace left over from old gorilla days when we were living on trees, clad in silky brown fur.
Well now, we have talked so much about this strange birth that we could almost assume that it had a particular importance.
Why do we naively spend so much time on the peculiarities of real child birth?
Mrs. Sigg: Because it is the central problem that a new man is born.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but why is it so particularly emphasized?
You see in the text it is not emphasized at all, but we instinctively, naively, dwell a long
time upon it.
The new development begins practically with a childbirth, but the birth of a very monstrous creature.
And the patient doesn’t assume that it has anything to do with her.
She walks down the path fenced in by the rocks and comes to the pool of water where she sees that woman grown fast in the earth, giving birth to a child; and then she just passes on through the narrow path again, only looking at the scene without participating in it, as if she were not concerned in the least.
Mrs. Sawyer: I thought she was in travail.
Dr. Jung: No, she says: “She was in travail and I stood while she gave birth.”
She was just standing there looking at it while the other woman gave birth, meaning that she is only watching the proceeding, so the whole thing is as if painted on the wall, there is no blood in it.
Then another point is that the white placenta is most unusual, though it seems to be a more or less normal birth.
Of course the child is monstrous, but under all ordinary circumstances the placenta would contain blood.
Now what do we know further about this white placenta?
Mrs. Sigg: Do you think, then, that it was an error to believe that water was the basis of the placenta?
Dr. Jung: I assume that the vision would show it if there were water in the placenta instead of blood, but no liquid is mentioned at all.
And the child has grown upon that white placenta as a basis.
Dr. Bertine: I should think it might refer to the spirit over against instinct.
Dr. Jung: The placenta is the ghost center, but why should it be white?
Dr. Bertine: Red would correspond more to instinct and reality, and white to spirit.
Dr. Jung: Like the two faces in the beginning of this vision, the one white, and the other red like blood.
You remember, we said they were opposites.
Mrs. Adler: I think we said white was the color of consciousness.
Dr. Jung: Yes, consciousness versus the blood.
Blood is usually warm, it is the liquid of real physiological life, the life of the body, while whiter most decidedly is not the life of the body; it is abstract, cool, and it is shining, it has the quality of light.
So when this woman finds herself between the red and the white, she finds herself between the truth of the blood, the body, and that abstract whiteness, which we can call spirit, because our idea of spirit derives from human consciousness; the nature
of the psyche has nothing to do with the blood.
Thought has no extension, it fills no space, it has no weight, it is an absolutely incomparable thing, it is incomprehensible in every way.
And that a thing which fills no space should have consciousness of itself, insight, is miraculous; therefore it is expressed by many metaphors, the light of consciousness in man, for instance, as if he were lit up from the inside, like a lighted house in the midst of darkness.
So there must be a conflict between the world of the white things and the world of the red things.
The white placenta is that white face, it is a round surface, a disk, a mandala, and the child born from it is a very peculiar child; it has four eyes looking into each direction of space, it is a spirit, a bijii-deva.
Very obviously it is a child of the psyche and not of the blood, and such a monstrous being cannot be born in a natural way out of a placenta consisting of blood and flesh; it consists of soul stuff, of that peculiar white spirit stuff.
Can you think of a parallel to this?
Mrs. Dick: The Host.
Dr. Jung: That is it, the Host is a white disk, which at the same time has cosmic significance; it is imprinted with the cross, it is sun bread, it consists of light, of sun.
Therefore in the Mithraic cult the bread, the pharmakon athanasias, the medicine of immortality, is also imprinted with the sign of the cross, meaning that it is sun, it is a sun-wheel, a mandala.
And so in the Christian communion, when one eats that white body which produces the spiritual life within, one eats the sun; it is of course the reverse process, but out of it grows spiritual renewal, the spiritual birth.
And a similar idea occurs in Manichaeism, only in that case it is the yellow body of the melon which is understood to be the nearest analogy to the sun.
The melon is to them the most sacred fruit because it contains the most particles of light, and in eating the melon, man increases his own light body.
It is as if he had eaten the Host, as if he had that white sun-body within, the white placenta, from which the child of immortality grows.
I don’t know whether the idea of that white disk starts from eating the light, or whether the idea of eating the light starts from the fact of the disk; that is quite an interesting question.
Then the mandala in the Chinese yoga is called the birthplace of the diamond body
and is understood to be a sort of placenta, the place where the immortal body is generated; therefore it is also called the terrace of life, a level place upon which the diamond body grows.
For our purpose it is quite sufficient to understand that this white placenta is an unreal spirit placenta, and a child born from it is a spirit child, a psychological child, and so it has that orientation of consciousness-the four directions of consciousness, the four functions, or whatever you like to call it.
Now this spirit child also has dangerous qualities, the hands are clubs and the feet are claws, and one doesn’t know whether these attributes are meant as defensive or aggressive weapons.
One doesn’t know whether that child, if it grows, will become a terrible thing, a sort of
Golem; at all events it looks exceedingly suspicious.
Mrs. Adler: Do you mean it would be dangerous to the patient, or to that woman who has borne him?
Dr. Jung: Well, probably to its surroundings.
I don’t know whether it would be dangerous to its own mother, probably not, but it might become dangerous to the patient, because it is in her psychology.
But why is it so dangerous?
Mrs. Adler: I think the higher ego is always dangerous to the lower ego.
Dr. Jung: Yes, any higher development of consciousness is tremendously dangerous.
We are generally inclined to think that it is a most ideal and desirable thing to develop into a higher condition, quite forgetting that it is dangerous, because the development usually means sacrifice, it costs a lot of blood.
The great changes in consciousness in human history have always been connected with sacrifice.
The Christian revolution in the beginning of our era was an exceedingly destructive phenomenon, and when the Semitic races in the Near East began to develop something like consciousness-the Arabs, for instance, in the seventh century after Christ-that outburst of Islam was a pretty blood-curdling affair. And think of the Reformation.
So there are cases where the psychological development of an individual leads to the destruction of the individual, they cannot stand the extreme tension.
Therefore this child is a dangerous acquisition and particularly in the beginning-one doesn’t know at all how the thing will turn out.
That is the reason why all mystery cults, or the yoga instruction, warn the adept
to be careful; these things are surrounded by extraordinary precautions.
In order to protect oneself, one must obey all sorts of laws, one is encompassed by rules and conditions, without which one would be in terrible danger.
Of course no rationalists would believe that any sort of psychological development could be dangerous, they would deny it, but they are most hellishly afraid of a new thought.
For instance, I once met a rather famous scientist, to whom I explained certain points of primitive psychology, showing how the same things occur in individuals on our level of consciousness, and he was very much interested and he quite agreed.
Afterwards, a pupil whom we had in common told me that his professor had said that my ideas were very interesting but dangerous.
He would naturally deny that there was any danger in psychological development, but when new ideas came to him, they really were too dangerous.
So you can read Nietzsche or any Eastern wisdom as long as you are not serious, but if you read it seriously it is exceedingly dangerous, for then you feel it.
You see this whole thing here happens outside of the patient, she has no relation to the birth of this spirit child. Now the vision continues: The breasts of the woman were dried up so the creature ( meaning the child) crawled to an iron wolf which stood near by and the wolf suckled it. So that spirit child cannot be fed by the mother’s milk.
Now what is the legend of the iron wolf that suckles the child?
Mrs. Sawyer: Romulus and Remus.
Dr. Jung: And so in this case, instead of the human mother there is an animal mother, but it is not a living mother, it consists of iron.
Now how is it possible that this iron statue can feed the child?
It is like the Roman relief of the mother wolf feeding the twins Romulus and Remus.
Mrs. Sawyer: It sounds as if it had something to do with the machine age.
Dr. Jung: Well, you are not far from the truth, but that is a pretty daring idea.
Mrs. Sigg: Or with the Etruscan idea of art.
Dr. Jung: That is a historical origin.
But you must not forget that an iron statue is absolutely incapable of feeding a real child.
Then what will happen to the spirit child?
Mr. Allemann: The spirit child is fed by historical thoughts, by old legends.
Dr. Jung: Exactly, the spirit child could be fed by such a statue, there would be no trouble there.
But iron is a very common and very heavy and very useful metal, it is a sort of essence of the earth, and that spirit child would be nourished by it.
Now Mrs. Sawyer suggests the idea of the machine age.
Mrs. Sawyer: It could be a personified monster of the machine age, if you think of the machine as a devouring monster.
Dr. Jung: Ah, you are thinking of the age when humanity is consumed by the machine monster.
Remark: I think you could understand it as inanimate nature, the child would be sustained by it, matter would feed it.
Dr. Jung: That is true, inanimate nature would feed it.
Dr. Reichstein: There are other legends about man being fed by quite sterile material. It is perhaps the same situation here; the nourishment comes from just the place where nobody would expect to find food.
Dr. Jung: Well yes, that would be the mythology of such an image, but we are looking for the psychology of it.
Dr. Reichstein: Iron is the metal of Mars. Do you think there might be some connection? Mars is very aggressive, and one could expect that the nourishment she gets out of iron would be very aggressive too.
Dr. Jung: We will keep that in mind.
Mrs. Baynes: Working round to a new Mussolini!
Mrs. Sigg: We feed people with iron in reality when their blood is feeble.
Dr. Jung: Yes, that is right, it also means the chemical iron upon which we feed particularly feeble people.
If the child drinks from an iron mother, it would receive iron food, as, for instance, Achilles is said to have been fed with the marrow of young lions.
That was supposed to be exceedingly strong nourishment which made a powerful man of him.
So the spirit child, in drinking his food from an iron wolf mother, must become uncannily powerful.
Now iron is very material, and therefore it suggests materialism, the machine age; but the iron behaves here as if it were organic matter, so one could say the spirit child was drinking from the living iron, the soul of iron.
A very peculiar idea. How would you explain it?
Mrs. Baynes: It would be in line with the new physics, the breaking up of the chthonic power. This child will have such power, it will be able to do that.
Dr. Jung: Yes, it will have the power of matter equal to the power of iron, the child will be the son of iron, it will be a spirit as strong as iron because it had the iron food.
Mrs. Sigg: It might be that the particular gift of the Roman spirit was really the law, and that the spirit of the law might be feeding the child.
Dr. Jung: That is possible.
There is surely an analogy with Rome, which was a tremendous world power.
All the promise that was in those children fed by the Roman wolf is equally valid for this spirit child.
So looking now at the whole thing, we may draw the conclusion that this child must really be quite miraculous, it must be a hero child; no natural mother has fed it, and the hero child is usually fed in some miraculous way.
There are many such stories, as you know.
The wolf intervenes because the child is a hero, it behaves exactly like the mythological hero child, and the animal is a sort of divine animal.
From the milk of the wolf the child will inherit the fighting qualities of the wolf, it will be a sort of werewolf.
It already has claws like wild animals, weapons instead of hands, it will be a tremendous fighting spirit.
Now this looks very dangerous; it is the birth of a hero, but of a very different character from any that we are accustomed to.
Our last hero birth was the Christ, a very gentle spirit; animals were present, but they were an ox and an ass, exceedingly gentle animals.
Whilst our patient’s unconscious points to the birth of a most dangerous warlike spirit, fed by a wolf with iron milk.
This is a rather disturbing thought.
And you see what our patient does about it, she says: “I wept with pity and passed on through the narrow path.”
Absolutely no realization of that whole background.
Now why did she not realize what she saw?
Mrs. Baynes: It was too much for her to take into herself.
Dr: Jung: She could not understand, just as we did not.
At first you are only shocked by the nonsense of such a story, it makes no sense, but
when you get into the feeling of it, if you take it as if it were a most sacred text written in hieroglyphics, you arrive at the meaning.
Mind you, we have only translated it and are far from realizing it.
One can say just as well that it means nothing-what could it mean?
Well, it is a point de vue, that is all, and you can dismiss it if you like.
Of course we know that such fantasies have a peculiar flavor, and that came out in her probably because it was somewhere in her vicinity.
And that we have taken so much trouble to decipher it might come from the fact that we have something similar in ourselves, that we have strange forebodings in our unconscious, which if translated might yield very similar results.
You see, the world looks strange in our days.
Just emerging from the bloodiest war in human history, we are surely not on a bed of roses, and we don’t know what a new spirit might look like.
When the spirit changes there are usually very disagreeable questions to cope with.
So I must say I am quite interested in this child. ~Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Page 831-844
The Hindu deity who ruled the sky and the oceans, Varuna was believed to be ever
present and thus representative of infinity. See Larousse, World Mythology (New York,
1981), pp. 233-34.
Alfred Ernest Crawley, The Idea of the Soul (London, 1909). Jung refers to Crawley and
this book in CW 8, par. 912; and in notes in CW 9 i, CW 11, CW 13, and CW 14 (see
volume indexes, s.v.).