21 June 1933 Visions Seminar LECTURE VIII
Here is a question by Mrs. Rey: “From the viewpoint of the student, it frequently feels as if one’s instincts were divided for and against a given experience; won’t you please explain this?”
I am afraid I cannot explain it; it just is so.
It is as if you asked me to explain why there were elephants. I don’t know.
It is a fact that instincts are divided against each other.
You see, our basic nature is not a oneness; it is, you could almost say, a multitude of the most contradictory instincts or impulses.
The very basis of our nature is the pairs of opposites, and pairs of opposites are instinctive, they are just spontaneous facts.
Of course, we can explain why they must be: there would be no energy, no libido, without the pairs of opposites.
It is indisputable that there must be a potential and that can only be where there are opposites, without high and low it is perfectly obvious that no water can run.
So the idea of the pairs of opposites is simply a philosophic formulation of the fact that the instincts are divided against each other; there is absolutely no biological situation where those opposing instincts are not operating.
One sees it even in the case of the [contraction] of the muscles-it is the basic fact of the so-called antagonistic enervation.
For instance, to extend your arm seems like a simple motion characterized by oneness of purpose, but that is by no means true, because in the same movement by which you extend your arm, you also enervate your flexor muscles.
Or if you bend your arm, you feel at the same time your biceps getting contracted on account of that antagonistic principle.
This principle of antagonistic enervation is valid throughout the whole of our nature; the
structure of the body is built upon it, and the idea of the pairs of opposites is simply another formulation of this fact.
The instincts are also built upon the fact of opposites; there are always the counter instincts, at
the moment of supreme joy one wants to die, and so on.
Therefore the French have that proverb: Les extremes se touchent, for the counter instinct is always right there.
And therefore the law of enantiodromia: when a thing comes to a certain culmination, it won’t stay there; the culmination turns over into its own opposite, like the course of the sun, like day and night.
Now Mrs. Rey asks: “In such a case could it be that automatic oppose instinctive processes?” They are exactly the same, automatic processes are instinctive processes. A certain automatic functioning is characteristic of instinct.
The next question is by Mrs. Crowley: “Do instincts themselves go through a transforming process in relation to the individual? Or was the situation where the lady of our visions sought shelter from the buffalo in the pit characteristic of the relationship between instincts and the emotions, which you emphasized last week? Would you say that the Eastern attitude was an attempt to make consciousness the guide of instincts, and the Western way to use instincts as a sort of fuel for consciousness?”
To the first question I would say that instincts in themselves do not undergo a transformation, they remain what they always were, their basis will be always the same.
People who think that they can sublimate themselves until they become volatile substance commit a great error.
You will remain what you are in that respect, there is simply no ghost of a chance that your body and its forces will ever become different, except through age.
Age is the only factor that really can change the functioning of your instincts or the condition of your body.
Of course you can drug yourself, or poison yourself, but if the body functions normally, it will remain practically the same and its instincts too; there is no such thing as sublimation.
Yet there seems to be a transformation, and all the symbols we have dealt with in this series of visions point to such a transforming process.
But this is something like the transformation of rock that contains gold in very fine distribution.
You don’t see the gold in the rock, you see only the stone, but if you treat the rock with different chemicals, if you destroy it as it is completely, change its form altogether, you are able to extract gold from it, and you call this procedure chemical transformation,
the original stuff having now become gold.
Well, you get several grains of gold out of a big lump of rock, but they are by no means the whole rock, that still exists, though it is now only a heap of ashes or oxide. It has changed its condition, yes, but the matter which once contained the gold is still all there, only you have now separated the gold from the original substance; naturally something has happened yet nothing has really disappeared.
So the original unconscious primitive condition of man is a sort of rock that contains gold, and if you put that body through a chemical-or in this case psychological-treatment, the rock will yield the gold; that is an analogy for the so-called transformation of instincts.
You simply separate certain instincts that were contained in the original unconscious, you lift them up into consciousness, and so you naturally change the original condition of the primitive man-he becomes conscious; consciousness is the gold that has been contained in the unconscious, but so distributed that it was invisible.
There is a lot of gold in the unconscious of primitive man; his unconscious is different from ours, and it shows far more signs of vitality.
Our unconscious still occasionally behaves in the same way, but only when we are as unconscious as primitive man remains continuously.
Through the process of civilization you slowly bring out all the gold and other precious metals that were contained in the original unconsciousness; the philosopher’s stone, the diamond, the gold, the elixir vitae, the fluid that makes you immortal, etc., all these are symbols for the various substances extracted from that rock of original unconsciousness.
Through that process things surely change, but if you make a solution of the gold and
pour it into the heap of ashes, in time it will again form a rock as before.
So if you allow your conscious to be dissolved, you will create again the original unconsciousness, because everything is there.
In this respect we have not transformed the instincts, we have only taken out of them something which they contained.
For instinct is the unconscious mental functioning of man, in which there are possibilities of extracting the gold of consciousness.
The next question is very involved.
Mrs. Crowley asks about the situation characteristic of the relationship between the instincts and emotions.
Mrs. Crowley: You spoke last week of emotions being only useful when together with the instincts, and I wondered whether being sheltered from them in the pit would be considered a negative aspect towards the instincts.
Dr: Jung: You can never extract the gold if you don’t shelter yourself against the instincts.
To extract a chemical body, you must put it into a retort, sever its connection with nature.
If you leave the rock in its geological strata, in its natural continuity, you will never get at the gold; you must break it out of its continuity, pound it up, and put the pieces into the retort for the chemical procedure to take place.
And so to create consciousness you must create a shelter from the onslaught of the unconscious; otherwise you will be dissolved in unconsciousness.
Therefore the very first thing you learn in analysis is to make a difference between yourself and emotions.
If you cannot make that difference you are their prey, you are all the time a wild animal, simply dissolved in unconsciousness.
You must first seek that place where you are safe from them, so that you can say: I am here and that is my emotion.
Then you are beyond manipura, you are in anahata, the center above the diaphragm in
the Tantric yoga system, and there you have the first glimpse of the Purusha.
You may have an emotion but you are not the emotion; there is an emotion about you, but you are not identical with it.
One of the first results of analysis, as I said, is that one learns this, not mentally but by heart-one tries to carry it out.
That corresponds to what the chemist does in trying to extract the gold from its chemical concatenation.
Mrs. Crowley’s second question is: “Would you say that the Eastern attitude was an attempt to make consciousness the guide of instincts, and the Western to use instincts as a sort of fuel for consciousness?”
I would say that the Eastern attitude was not an attempt to make consciousness the guide of instincts, but the opposite, to make instincts the guide of consciousness.
The great asset of the East is that they are based upon instinct.
We are always trying to make consciousness the guide of instincts, to say what is good for us, what one ought to do for the instincts.
We think the best use one can make of an erotic excitement is to play the piano, or get interested in a charity, to transform one’s sexuality into Christian love.
This is what we do in the West, but it is just what they do not do in the East.
Everything is clearly based upon the instincts there, particularly in China. That is just the difference.
You can say that the Western point of view is to be on top, to use instincts, not only to guide them wisely by consciousness, but also to use them as a sort of fuel for consciousness.
We try to exhaust instincts and instinctual powers for the increase of consciousness.
For instance, we not only play the piano but we also learn to play the piano, and we read books and go to lectures with our sexuality, and by these means we increase
To our Western minds this is very wise counsel as to what to do with the instincts.
But this is all due to our extraordinary hubris; we think consciousness is all, and will power is all.
The proverb: “Where there is a will there’s a way” shows this crazy hubris of our Western attitude; we think we can prescribe a way to nature.
The Eastern point of view is that the way of nature is the only way, what they call in China the ordinances of heaven, or the harmony between heaven and earth.
They are too much on that side as we are too much on the other.
The truth lies between.
The question to which Mrs. Rey alluded, for instance, the fact of the contradiction of instinct, forces us to use consciousness.
For if we are left to the play of instincts we are simply left to the unconscious, to the eternal enantiodromia, the pairs of opposites, clashes and unaccountable changes-that is the way our life would roll on.
We need consciousness in order to create at least a trace of civilization.
We show our knowledge of danger in that respect in our punctilious politeness; we greet each other in order to assure one another that we have quite friendly intentions.
The moment somebody we know does not greet us, we assume that there is a hostile tendency behind it, we are grieved and assume that something must .be wrong; therefore-particularly on the Continent-we are so careful about handshaking.
“He didn’t even shake hands with me” means that he didn’t show his hand, he held it behind his back and might have a gun or a knife in it.
Or if he kept his hand in his pocket it would mean: “Go to hell, you don’t know whether I have a gun in my pocket.”
Both hands must be shown.
In America you are by no means so polite as we are because you are far more optimistic about your neighbor’s intentions.
The Eastern greeting is to bow and raise both hands, meaning: “I have no weapons,” it is quite clear.
The primitive man is terribly afraid that a sudden emotion might burst out and sweep him off his feet.
He is far more violent than we are, so he is more polite; he is exceedingly particular in that respect.
When two armed men of different tribes meet in the wilderness, they have absolutely no hostile intentions because they are profoundly afraid of each other, they stand still at a great distance.
As you are very wise to do when you see a wild animal of whose intentions you are not aware; every animal stands still and observes, and then decides.
So if those armed men stand still, they show their hand, they are not going to attack-it is always a kind of assurance that they have friendly intentions.
Then they slowly approach each other and put down their weapons, which takes a long time, and then they move away from their weapons and sit down at a distance of about six yards, and begin to speak in a soft low voice, because raising the voice means that there is fire in the roof, danger.
In the palavers they always talk in a low voice and in a sitting position.
If you are sitting down quietly you are supposed to be reasonable, while if you
stand up one never knows when you are going to jump.
The moment you get up and raise your voice, slaves come along with their whips and
beat you down; otherwise there would be bloodshed.
There is always the danger that they will lose their heads and fall into an emotion; they are still so close to the unconscious that their contradictory and paradoxical instincts might get hold of them; they themselves are terribly afraid of it and try by every means to liberate themselves from their emotions.
That is why we need and are grateful for consciousness, why consciousness is gold.
A person having no consciousness, who is only emotional, is a public danger, one never knows what next; but if he can inform people that he is in a bad mood and not to come anywhere near him, they are grateful for the warning and can stay away.
In the man who can say: “I am angry and dangerous,” you know there is a superior being who realizes what that other fellow is up to, and might interfere; he might say, “Now don’t do that.”
Otherwise people are simply left to the fear of dealing with something utterly unaccountable.
We should not undervalue consciousness.
We have to be critical of it only because we make too much of this power, and so we deviate from nature and have to pay for it.
For the moment we think we can make use of instincts, that we can guide them, tell them what they ought to do, we commit the crime of idiocy.
Now Miss de Witt asks: “You said the animal part is necessary as a completion of the spiritual. Is that why the black poodle appears to Faust when he calls the devil? And is that why there are lizards, snakes, toads, etc., in the witch’s cauldron in Macbeth?”
Well, it is just an opposition, a pair of opposites; inasmuch as something spiritual exists there is something animal.
Miss de Witt really answers her own question when she mentions the black poodle in Faust, you remember the devil disguised himself in that form.
She also suggests the lizards and snakes and toads in the witch’s cauldron in Macbeth as an example.
But where is the spirit there? You only have the animal counterpart.
Miss de Witt: In the spirit of prophecy. Dr. Jung: That is perfectly true, that is the spirit in the animal kingdom, animals can prophesy.
Miss de Witt: The witches also prophesy, they know the future.
Dr: Jung: Ah, yes, to that extent they are spiritual, they also can prophesy.
Have you ever seen animals that could prophesy the future?
Miss de Witt: They prophesy the weather.
Mrs. Fierz: They know death beforehand.
Remark: And fire and shipwrecks.
Dr. Jung: Yes, and earthquakes and storms they know ahead in a miraculous way.
Mr. Allemann: And the seasons.
Dr. Jung: Well, the seasons would be more habit, but they can foresee events that are not in the regular order of things.
That is the spiritual in the animal, as Faust would represent something like the spirit and the poodle would be the corresponding animal part.
One sees the Western attitude to instinct in that famous verse when the poodle appears to Faust, and he says: Dem Hunde wenn er gut gezogen, Wird selbst ein weisen IVIann gewogen.
This means that a wise man feels friendly to a dog that is well bred, that has manners.
That is the attitude of our Western consciousness: we are always above, we think we must educate nature and give it manners; we condescend to nature.
But when Faust touched the poodle, he only just escaped; it was a very close call, the devil almost caught hold of him.
In the original legend he did catch him.
That animals have the gift of prophecy is by no means just a mystical belief, it is a fact.
This is the recognition of the spirit in the animal, and you can carry that hypothesis
further; Miss de Witt asks whether animals can be parts of our own psychology, so I will tell you the case of a man I knew years ago.
He was not my patient, but a colleague who had had the misfortune to go stark mad, he had been in a lunatic asylum with an attack of schizophrenia.
I met him quite accidentally, not knowing his past, and he told me that he had had such an attack but was now entirely cured.
I was a bit suspicious and asked him about all the details of his disease in order to see whether he was really cured, whether he had insight enough to know if a thing were true or not.
He told me that the thing that had troubled him particularly during his illness was that he had been constantly visited by mice.
I thought this was quite possible, because in lunatic asylums there are always a lot of mice; the lunatics leave bread crumbs and other things about which attract them, so we always kept cats in our clinic.
But he said he noticed that these mice did not behave naturally.
He described them as doing all sorts of impossible things, so he thought they were sort of experimental mice that had been trained by the director in his laboratory to make tests on the patients, to see how they would react; he said he himself had been observed by the doctors who used invisible rays to see his reactions.
I said: “But you do not really believe that?” “Oh no, I know now that the mice only did what ordinary mice would do, but I must say that there was one mouse who really behaved in a most extraordinary way.”
I asked if he was absolutely certain that this one mouse was not a doctor mouse, and in that sense of the word he was really certain that one mouse behaved in an uncanny way.
Of course that was a remnant of his disease.
And now suppose you were in an ordinary frame of mind and were just thinking of a certain book, when a mouse entered your room and ran up and settled on that very book.
Would you assume that it behaved as if it were part of your psychology? Would that be possible?
Dr. Jung: Now who is for and who is against this idea?
Well, the majority of so-called educated people believe that this lunatic was quite right in his assumption, and I must confess I am with the majority.
I think that under certain conditions, animals behave as if they were parts of human
Miss Hannah: Dogs do.
Dr. Jung: Ah yes, because they are always in the atmosphere of man, so it is more possible that they should be affected by them, particularly when they have a good rapport with the master or with a situation.
But I do know other cases where dogs have behaved in a very inexplicable way, that is true; also creatures that are not domesticated, a beetle or a bird or a fox, for example.
Primitives are absolutely convinced of the fact that animals do things which only human beings are supposed to do, and I have met a number of educated people who were deeply convinced of this fact that animals act at times as if they were parts of our psychology.
Professor Wilhelm told me of a case that made a tremendous impression on him when he was in China.
He heard of a girl who was possessed by a fox spirit.
Now a fox spirit is a sort of witchlike spirit, it is a traditional idea that such fox spirits were the equivalent of witches; they are able to revive the dead body of a woman, for instance, to bring her back into life.
There is a Chinese love story where a man falls in love with a fox woman.
And Garnett’s Lady into Fox contains the same idea, that woman was a fox spirit.
Now that a Chinese girl was supposed to be possessed by a fox spirit would not in itself have been an occasion for Wilhelm to investigate the case, because he knew that the attacks of any hysterical individual would have been explained in the same way, but the curious fact was that in this case the fox spirit was visible, it came almost every day and one could see it, so everybody told him.
So finally he went to that village and as he approached, he really saw a fox upon the wall of the courtyard near the house.
He went up and waved his stick at it, but the fox stayed quietly on the wall, and only when he came quite near did it walk slowly along the wall and disappear.
It was a real fox, and whenever it approached, the girl in the house had hysterical attacks.
This is an almost unbelievable story, but Professor Wilhelm was quite firm in saying
that he himself had seen it.
It confirms absolutely what primitives say, that certain individuals have a connection with certain animals, either a friendly or a hostile connection.
Such experiences are really the basis for the totemic beliefs.
Mr. Henley: The nervous cat fear, the actual psychological reaction to an unseen cat by certain women, is a very good example of that.
Dr: Jung: It is characteristic of women that they are afraid of cats.
Mr. Henley: I mean where the two are invisible to each other. I have actually seen such cases.
Dr: Jung: That is like animals’ premonitions; they behave very queerly when an earthquake or a thunderstorm is coming.
I could tell you a lot of recognized facts.
Now Miss de Witt asks me how animals, that usually cannot be domesticated, can nevertheless occasionally live with man; she mentions the case of a man in Java who had a poisonous snake and a grown-up tiger as domestic pets.
That is very unusual, but I know another case of a rather big boa constrictor that was kept in a private house in England.
Once in the night it escaped and disappeared, but after about a fortnight it came back and the man took a snapshot of it as it was crawling up the steps; the snake apparently had a rapport with him like a dog or cat.
Also tigers and bears can establish a positive relation to man.
I think it is quite possible, on account of that peculiar participation mystique which may
exist between a man and an animal.
Don’t forget that the animal is living in the same unconsciousness as we, to a certain extent we are in the same psychical world as animals.
Herodotus speaks of “man and the other animals.”
And primitive man never assumes that he is the highest form of animal; the elephant and the boa constrictor-or the python and the lion are all higher, and then comes man, and then the apes, and so on, which simply expresses the fact that in relatively primitive circumstances man is still aware of his participation mystique with animals.
Inasmuch as participation mystique is possible among human beings, it is also quite possible among animals.
So when two people have a certain thought at the same moment it is participation mystique, or parallelism, synchronicity; and, likewise, you may think a certain thing and then the dog does it, as if he had been aware of your thoughts.
Such things happen not only with animals, they can also happen with inanimate objects; facts or events occur in accordance with your fantasy.
For example, a certain thought comes into your head quite suddenly and when the newspaper appears, there it is printed.
Or you come across a very rare word or name, and the same day you see it in a book which you have had in your library all the time.
These things happen constantly.
There is a book by a very learned zoologist named Kammerer, a professor in Vienna, which is called Das Gesetz der Serie,’the law of the series.
He gives numerous very striking examples of the parallelism of events, synchronicity.
He is inclined to believe that things even prefer to happen in a series, an idea that is quite beyond the law of causality, and he substantiates his point of view by a number of most remarkable examples.
You see that is simply the expression of the fact that the collective unconscious is one; there is no such thing as my collective unconscious, it is all inclusive.
And moreover it is, one could say, the psychic counterpart of the outside world; what you see outside in your surroundings is also the collective unconscious seen from without.
You may see the collective unconscious within, as if it were in yourself, but you may also see it outside-in outer happenings.
So in what you call your own unconscious you know something of the general condition, and that explains why man has at times so-called supernormal perception or knowledge.
No wonder that animals have the same.
We must now go on with our text, where the problem of the instincts was represented by the symbol of the herd of buffalo rushing over the pit.
This describes a condition in which a certain place of safety is reached, a defense against the emotional forces, which are of course practically the same as instinctual forces-a chaotic multitude of impulses, emotions, and fears.
Now after reaching such a place of safety, it is inevitable by the law of enantiodromia that there must be a change, for it makes no sense to hide in a protected place when there is no danger.
To have reached safety is almost a provocation, as if you had left the field free for the onslaught; having retired within your walls, the attack can take place.
That theme is the beginning of the next vision.
It is called “The Market Place.” What would you expect that to be in a general way?
Mr. Baumann: It is a symbol of extreme collectivity.
Dr. Jung: Exactly. The market place is the symbol of the crowd par excellence.
Our patient says: The herd of buffalo thundered by leaving a great cloud of dust. In
the dust were many small snakes with the tails of fishes. In their mouths they held germs. A great mist arose, I could find no way to go beyond. The onrush of the instincts leaves a cloud of dust, which is like a great mist.
What does a mist or a cloud of dust mean psychologically?
Mrs. Baumann,· Things are not clear, there is confusion.
Dr: Jung: Yes, blurred, no clear outlines, therefore it is characteristic of a state of semiconsciousness.
You know when you have undergone the onslaught of a powerful emotion, you are left dazed or only half conscious.
Why is that so?
Mrs. Fierz: It is a lack of energy.
Dr: Jung: Partially that, because a great deal of energy has been wasted, but even in a state of great weakness one can be fully conscious.
The unavoidable consequence of an onslaught of emotion is that one is swept under by the unconscious, a wave of emotion is always a wave of the collective unconscious.
One is first submerged and afterwards one is left standing with half one’s body in the water.
Our patient then discovers that in that cloud of dust, which represents the dazed feeling, are many small snakes with the tails of fishes. What does that mean?
Mrs. Baumann: You spoke of the snakes last time as meaning fear, and the fishes would mean that her fears are half in the unconscious too.
Dr: Jung: Yes, in the vision before there was a wall of snakes above her, and now apparently these small snakes are in the air, in that cloud of dust.
That they are not ordinary snakes is shown by the fact that they have fishes’ tails, which, as Mrs. Baumann says, would mean half-unconscious fears.
A fishes’ tails belong to the water, that would refer to the wave of the collective unconscious which has brought up its contents, consisting of animals that are half terrestrial and half fishes; they are half-conscious fears, indistinct.
In their mouths they hold germs, and it is obvious from the later text that these are germs of plants.
What about that?
Mr. Henley: There is a possibility of life.
Dr: Jung: Besides the fact of fear, there is the possibility of new life arising from these unconscious contents.
So we have three attributes, the fishes’ tails, the snake’s body, and the germs they bring.
Holding the germs in their mouths is like the little olive branch brought by the dove that Noah sent out from his ark.
After the great flood comes the animal that brings the symbol of hope or expectation, the hope of land where plants will grow.
She continues: “I walked around the circle of rock feeling for a way of escape. There was none.”
There is apparently no way out of the locality in which she finds herself.
That refers to the pit of onyx, and a little later in the vision it becomes obvious that that is in the center of the circle of rocks.
So it is really a mandala in which she is enclosed, almost as if she were a prisoner in it; that place of safety seems to be at the same time a prison from which she cannot escape.
As long as she is in that prison she is safe from the buffalo, but as soon as she tries to get out of it the danger begins.
At last I came to an iron gate which was shut. It would not open.
The mist cleared away and I saw that the rocks had become green.
Green denotes life, hope again, the plants begin to grow.
It is only an allusion, but the mist has cleared away and the situation looks more hopeful because she has discovered a way out, an iron gate.
That means that she can leave this condition provided she has the key to the gate.
“In the center of the circle where the pit of onyx had been grew a palm tree.”
So we were right in the assumption that those germs were not destructive, but germs of life by which the rocks had become green.
And what about the palm tree growing in the center?
Mrs. Fierz: It is a movement upward.
Dr. Jung: She has somehow gotten out of the pit.
The pit, the depression, vanishes and instead of that hole there is now a tree.
But how can the pit transform into a tree?
Mr. Henley: The pit and its contents have gone over to their opposite, the spiritual side.
Dr. Jung: Yes, the tree would be in every respect the opposite of the pit of onyx.
Onyx is as dead as any inanimate thing can be; moreover the pit is hollow, while the tree branches out and fills space, it rises in the air, it is alive.
So this is an enantiodromia again: instead of the dead hole, like a grave, there is life; it is as if something had been in that pit just in order to make roots and to grow.
How do you explain this change?
Mrs. Baumann: The yoga tree has grown up.
Dr. Jung: Oh yes, but how do you explain that this tree grows at all?
Something must have happened.
Dr. Schlegel: Is it the effect of the buffalo perhaps?
Dr. Jung: I should say that that was not in vain.
Dr. Reichstein: There has been a union between matter and spirit, one could say etween a living person and the dead matter of the pit.
One could call it a tomb. And out of this union comes new life, it is like a child coming out of her.
Dr. Jung: Exactly, that onyx pit is the crater of rebirth.
She performed a magic ceremonial in it-holding the figure in the fire-and in that way
she herself, or something in her, is transformed; it is no longer a pit or a grave, it now lives.
Yet it is not the life of the warm-blooded animal, it is not a human life, it is plant life.
That is an irrational compromise, one could call it, between the absolutely alive warm-blooded animal and the absolutely dead thing, the onyx; between the two is the plant, the spirit, the result of this strange union.
But the herd of buffalo thundering over the pit must also be a part of the transformation mystery.
What would be the effect of that?
Mrs. Schlegel: It is an afflux of new power, and she did not identify with it.
Dr: Jung: Well yes, but one could not call it just an afflux of power, because no additional power is given by it.
It is more a test to see whether the pit is really a safe place.
The fact that these emotions can assail the place of safety without destroying it is an asset, it makes the thing real.
So it has a sort of magic effect, as if a primitive said: “Let the buffalo walk over it to try out its strength.”
If a herd of buffalo can go over a bridge without breaking it down, one knows that it is safe, it will hold.
There are many primitive fertility rites where walking over a thing is supposed to make it strong or to fertilize it.
Dancing is part of the fertility rites and in some of them they belabor the earth, they work it with their heels; it is a sort of impregnation of the earth with human libido, the earth is beaten or trodden upon in order to put themselves into it.
The same idea is expressed in the old Germanic custom of cohabitating in the field; in the spring the peasant goes out into the field at night with his wife, and by that cohabitation the fields are fertilized.
So the herd of buffalo had a sort of magic effect in that they test the safety of the place;
it has gained prestige, medicine power, by virtue of the ability to withstand the instincts.
As the sword that has killed has thereby secured prestige; it is a man-killer, it is now different from any other sword, it has beaten or stabbed an enemy to death and has become a mana sword; one can be sure it will kill again.
Therefore this is a magic pit-the onslaught of the buffalo has given it a particular prestige, and what seemed to be a grave or a prison transforms into a tree.
The movement, the mood, is no longer depressive, a sinking condition, becoming slowly black; it is now rising.
These movements are also expressed in the dance, the collapsing and then the coming up and unfolding.
The original roots of all language were expressions of such movements.
Language is also a sort of motor phenomenon, speech is a dance; you imitate the movements of nature as you imitate the noises of nature.
So the primordial roots for such concepts as shining, or rising, or welling up, are very similar; if you want to inform yourself about this, you can find a lot of examples of the etymology of words in my Psychology of the Unconscious.
For instance, the root word ba, which has just that meaning, is the positive word that describes a movement like the unfolding of the peacock’s tail.
When the visions of our patient began to unfold, in the very beginning, there was one of the peacock unfolding his tail.
It is just that hopeful movement, extension, expansion, as when your lungs fill with air, when your heart breathes freely, when you can move, when you embrace space.
And the other mood is the collapse, the dragon, coldness, darkness, sinking down into
That expresses itself also in many speech metaphors.
One says in a painful situation: “I could have sunk into the ground.” Or when one is ashamed of something: “I wanted to hide in a mouse hole.”
The collapsing movement is also expressed by typical root words.
Now the palm tree stands in the center of that rock wall, so it reminds one at once of the tree growing in the center of the mandala, and that always symbolizes the development which takes place in stages, moving up in a sort of spiral.
It is the yoga tree, whose first shoot is the green leaf or the bud in muladhara, or Shiva in the dormant condition.
This is an entirely different psychological experience.
We are used to the psychology of the warm-blooded animals but we are not used to the psychology of the plant.
Yet it is a strange fact that spiritual development, the impersonal life of man, the life beyond his personal psychology, is symbolized by plant life.
And this kind of life must follow other laws, or it has its own particular laws, which are quite different from the mentality of the personal warm-blooded life.
Mrs. Baumann: I was just wondering why specially a palm tree? Would that emphasize peace in contrast to the stampede?
Dr. Jung: Yes, but that is not so important as the fact that the palm tree is a very perfect symbol of the root ba; the leaves have a movement like a fountain, and like the peacock’s tail.
Therefore the palm tree is often chosen to symbolize the expansion of life.
She goes on: I went toward it and found at the foot of the tree a small image. I took it and hurled it against the gate. The gate swung open.
Now what has she found?
Dr. Reichstein: The Mexican image.
Dr. Jung: It is probably again some such primitive image, but we should know what it means and whether we have any parallels.
Mr. Baumann: Roots are a means of opening doors.
Mr. Allemann: That is the Alraun.
Dr. Jung: Yes. In English it is the mandrake or the mandragora, and the root often has a forked shape like a badly drawn little man, it is quite irregular.
There are still old specimens in museums which were used for magic purposes.
There is a particular legend about that.
The mandrake is supposed to be the connection of dead matter with the living man, without the intermediary of a woman.
The story is that when a man is hanged, his semen drops down under the gallows and impregnates the earth, and in that place grows the mandrake, which is half plant and half human.
Now if anyone pulls up that mandrake in the night of the new moon, it gives such a hellish shriek that the person dies of sheer terror, so nobody dares to pull that root out of the ground.
Instead, they take a black dog, fasten its tail to the root, and then offer it a piece of bread, having first stopped up their ears with cotton wool.
Of course the dog leaps at the bread and out comes the mandrake with a terrific shriek,
and the dog dies.
But they have not heard it so they can take it. It is also called the Springwurzel, the root that makes all doors and locks spring open.
It grows under the gallows tree, and is the child of the magic intercourse between the dying man and the earth, inanimate matter.
Now this image is also found under the tree, and here is a very peculiar analogy.
What I have described to you of the Alraun-that it opens locked doors-is the negative aspect of a very positive thing, for at the root of the tree is found the hero child, the savior child, the great treasure, or at least the snake or dragon that guards the treasure.
In the legend of the Buddha it is the sacred boddhi tree that bends its branches down over Maya when she brings forth the Buddha.
The same image is in Spitteler’s Prometheus, where the shepherd boy hides his jewel under the nut tree and its branches bend down to guard it.
All these are parallels for this image at the foot of the tree.
Now what is it? Either in its negative or its positive aspect? What is this Springwurzel? What is the jewel that opens gates, that helps this woman to leave the magic circle, showing her that it is by no means a prison?
Mrs. Sigg: The symbol.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but that is too vague.
Perhaps you can find some other analogy in Tantrism, which always gives us a chance to formulate such things.
Mrs. Crowley: Would it not be a sort of anahata attitude?
Dr. Jung: One thinks of the anahata attitude as being free from emotions, but would one be free from emotions in that circle?
You see it is not freedom in the emotions, it is away from the emotions; you gain your freedom by incarcerating yourself in a pit.
But this little magic figure is the way to unconditioned freedom.
Mrs. Baumann: The jewel and the child are symbols for the Self.
Dr. Jung: Yes, they symbolize the Self or the Purusha.
Now to what extent would that mean freedom?
Mrs. Baumann: It is detachment from collectivity in a certain way.
Dr. Jung: The point is not to be detached from collectivity or from emotions.
It means being in collectivity, having emotions, and yet being free.
Mrs. Baumann: It is an indestructible center, and that gives freedom.
Dr. Jung: Yes, but how is it psychologically possible that the Self can give freedom?
Mr. Allemann: Because one is no longer identical with the emotions.
Dr. Jung: Ah yes, but that is freedom from emotions; we want to know how you can live with emotions.
Mr. Allemann: Freedom to live emotions without identifying with them.
Dr. Jung: But how is that possible for the Self?
Dr. Bahadurji: Because the Self is freedom, and freedom is the Self.
Dr. Jung: Well, the inherent idea of the Self being freedom is that the Self comes to life in the detachment from the emotions, and shows its freedom by being undisturbed by emotions.
So the Self means a sort of impersonal condition which enables you to be not only detached from emotions but to be emotional, to be unaffected within the turmoil.
It means that you are always conscious of your own identity and know that you can never be other than yourself.
You can never lose yourself, you can never be alienated from yourself, because you know that the Self is indestructible; it is always one and the same, it cannot be dissolved nor can it be exchanged for anything else, and thus it enables you to remain the same through all conditions of life.
Now this does not mean that, by simply knowing of the idea of the Self, that will all be true, that things really happen like that; this is merely the idea of it, what one says of it.
It is perfectly logical and it is quite certain that if things behave accordingly, they will be like that, but it takes a long time and a long education before it comes about.
In India it takes the whole yoga training to bring out that identity with oneself which never allows one to exchange oneself for anything else.
This interpretation is substantiated by the subsequent text.
The next development is that she is leaving the magic circle, and she discovers that beyond the magic circle is New York.
She walks into Wall Street and is at once in a most uncomfortable situation, because
the skyscrapers are all wobbling about and clashing against each other like the great clashing rocks in the legend, and she has to dodge through that turmoil. ~Carl Jung, The Visions Seminar, Page 1063-1078
David Garnett (1892-1976), English author of Lady Into Fox (London, 1923).