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psychic wholeness.38 The eerie quality of the woman in the coach is further underlined by her color, which places her in the realm of the chthonic gods, in a transcendental realm, and even, from a Christian point of view, in the realm of evil. All the same, this last-mentioned aspect does not seem to me to be a prominent one. Rather the black color is connected with the motif of not wanting to be seen, which is one of the dominant themes in the story. We must also remember that in non-Christian contexts even “good” gods can be black. For example, the Egyptian deities Isis and Osiris are black,39 and here this color indicates their affinity with the beyond, not with evil. Nonetheless, in our tale the black color is connected with the curse that weighs on the woman, and her unredeemed state and her ambivalence are also expressed by the fact that, on one hand, she wants human help but, on the other, does not want to be seen getting it. In this connection the question arises why this woman who is capable of sorcery and can effortlessly run her household by magical means would seek a young human child as a maidservant. To begin with, we are dealing here with a very widespread archetypal motif40 in which a demonic figure carries off a human being to assist either in housework or in bodily care (washing, combing, lousing).41 It is as though the dark demonic world itself longed for the ordering function of the human consciousness and could not exist without it. The archetypal powers have need of the human element, for as long as they are not lived on the human level—and, what is more, are not consciously acknowledged—they seem to lack a dimension of reality. In the present example, it is not so much the light of knowledge, of human consciousness, that is sought after, but rather the opus, the effort of cleaning and sweeping. As a result, this work has a double meaning. In the foreground and to all appearances, the girl only has to clean the castle; in the background and on a hidden level, in the “forbidden chamber” the black woman herself is also cleansed through this process and brought from blackness to whiteness.42 The parallel is obvious with the alchemical opus, in which the materia prima is brought from the nigredo to the albedo through human work43(with the work of washing often particularly emphasized).44 In this phase of the individuation process what is of primary importance is the work on the shadow and bringing to consciousness projections and other unconscious material of an ambiguous nature.45 The curious thing in the present tale is that the black woman only demands that her castle be cleaned and keeps

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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