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But the tales given above point to a still deeper problem, which I have thus far left aside. The prince in the story of Kari Woodenskirt discovers Kari on the way to church, and the evil princess of the riddles in “The Companion” secretly serves a mountain spirit, who represents nothing other than an archaic God image. The bull, too, is really an old pagan deity. Here the confrontation of the sexes touches upon the sphere of the problem of religion, for the “interrupted state of enmity” between man and woman goes so deep that the healing of it touches the deepest layers of the psyche. Jung tried to prove in his life’s work that behind the animus and anima in the unconscious of man and woman, a still mightier content dwells hidden, the true “atomic nucleus” of the psyche, which he called the Self to distinguish it from the ordinary everyday ego. The Self is the personality’s inmost and most powerfully influential center of meaning, and when it appears in myths and sagas and in people’s dreams, it manifests as an image of the divine. Expressed in religious language, it is the “divine spark” residing in the depths of the psyche of every human being. From this center also emanate the ultimate resolves of conscience, when a person seeks to be guided not by conventional morality but really by his “inner conscience”; and it is with this center, too, that the problem of self-affirmation is ultimately connected. For as long as it is only a matter of superficial things—whether to take a little outing together or not, whether the living room should have red or blue drapes—no human ego is injured by generously giving in or making a compromise. Those are not serious problems of self-affirmation. But when matters are involved in relation to which one’s most authentic “being oneself” is threatened by another person or persons, when, in other words, individuation or self-realization is at stake, then the problem becomes acute. Out of love, generosity, or desire for peace, a person can give way in many matters without suffering injury to honor or psychic health, but when another person is trying to prevent one from being obedient to one’s inner divine voice, that is when the problem of self-affirmation really is posed. It is at this point that, if one does not assert oneself, one can become psychically ill or deformed. And there is the further issue that, even if one has an understanding of psychology, it is very difficult to know in actual practice whether or not one is actually confronted with a challenge to the Self. Women, for example, often confuse the rigid opinion of their own animus with the much softer divine inner voice, which is why the French are wont to remark sardonically, “Ce que femme veut, Dieu veut!” And men have often

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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