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and this donkey is also described as a gifted lute player, who through his playing wins a royal bride. This fairy tale is derived from a poem of the fourteenth century called “Asinarius.” In medieval woodcuts and miniatures, one often sees depictions of a donkey playing the lyre. A music-playing donkey is one of the many “impossible things.” That is why we have sayings in German like: “The donkey will play the lute” or “What is the donkey doing with the bagpipes?” or “The donkey who cannot play the lute must carry the sack to the mill.” In Czechoslovakia there is the saying “He understands as much about that as a donkey does about a harp or a hen about beer.” In Poland, we find, “It is futile to force a donkey to play the lute.” So what happens in our fairy tale is a real miracle! The next animal to join the donkey is an old dog, whom his master no longer wants to feed. So we have a dog who has gone to the dogs. This animal also is a symbol of rich and subtle symbolic meaning. Probably the dog was the first wild animal ever to join man as a friend and companion.23 Thus for us he has always been a symbol of emotional loyalty and devotion.24 From time immemorial the dog has done us great service with his keen nose; for that reason he also embodies the intuitive element, the “flair” of the intuitive capability of the unconscious, which often seems far superior to our consciousness. Like the donkey, he has a double aspect of good and evil in mythology. On the one hand, he is seen as godless and immoral; hence the word “dog” as an insult. But then again he is seen as the “hunter of souls,” who drives errant sheep back to the divine Shepherd. (One might also think of Francis Thompson’s “Hound of Heaven”!) In very many religions, the dog appears as the guide to the land of the dead, and in Egypt it was the jackal-headed god Anubis who brought about the resurrection of his father Osiris. Therefore, the entire mummification ritual was placed under the protection of this god. Because of the dog’s relationship to the beyond, there are also in many places folktales about ghost hounds, dark wraithlike figures like the “hound of the Baskervilles.” They always either harry to his death some individual who has committed evil, or else protect the offspring of one who has died. Good ghost hounds often bring a cure, and in ancient Greece the dog was also one of the most frequently manifested forms of the god of healing, Asclepius. In many regions today, people still believe that a dog’s lick can cure. Langue de chien sert de médecin (A dog’s tongue serves as medicine), say the French.

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

Marie - Louise Von Franz - Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche -  

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