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It has become palpable at various points in our interpretation that this fairy tale about the “black woman” could compensate for a collective attitude of consciousness connected with Christianity.106 Let us now briefly go over its most important features. In the lower strata of the people the lack of a mother image makes itself felt,107 and unfavorably against the feminine in this situation stands a masculine, habitual attitude. In the upper layers of society, behind the scenes, an image of woman gone negative is dominant. In the collective unconscious itself at the same time there is a dark mother imago, encapsulated and cut off from all its vital functions. The castle hidden in the forest indicates, for the dating of the fairy tale, a period following the Middle Ages, for although magic and witchcraft were condemned during the Middle Ages, they were not forgotten. Here, however, a content is reflected of which nothing whatever is known any longer. The past “curse” under which the black woman labors could well refer to the medieval witch hunts. Thus we are justified in dating the tale between 1500 and 1800 and placing it in Christian Europe. Since it deals with the reign of a still young king, we might narrow the time down more precisely to the beginning of the era of rationalism, which represents a masculine spiritual heritage of the Middle Ages, in the beginning period of which the forgetting of the dark mother takes place. The beginning of rationalism was not consciously anti-Christian in orientation,108 and as a result there was no crisis in the succession of the king’s lineage, but there was a transformation in the realm of the feminine, both of the anima and the real woman.109 There, the archetypal background was forgotten, and at the same time a crisis began to take shape that was only later to reach the threshold of consciousness. In the action of the tale, not only is this problem of a past time reflected, but at the same time a development is anticipated, which we are only beginning to realize consciously today. We are speaking of a transformation in the attitude toward the feminine, which first became visible in the field of the collective consciousness in phenomena like women’s emancipation, in other words, not until around 1900.110 Therefore it seems of essential significance that this tale was diffused in Christianity-tinged variants and is even more well known in those forms than in the one presently under consideration, and that in them the “black woman” is for the most part equated with the Virgin Mary. This must express a perception on the part of the people, who sensed that this black or green

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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