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unconscious (the black woman) in order to attain its own potential. But what does “the shadow of the Virgin Mary” mean here? To begin with, hidden within this figure are certain (particularly animal) aspects of preChristian nature and earth goddesses,114which are still preserved in “Mother Holle,” “The Devil’s Grandmother,” and other similar fairy-tale figures. This nature-mother aspect is indicated by the black (earthy) and green (vegetation) variations in the color of the demons and their animal forms of appearance, such as goose,115 lizard, and serpent. A further aspect is represented by the form of the “nodding skeleton,” which moves the figure into the vicinity of death. The feminine principle is equated to such a great extent with the notion of life—because woman is a child-bearing, life-giving being—that the deathrelated aspect of the “great mother”116 was forgotten, which was venerated as “the black woman” in the pagan religions, for example, in the Greek Hecate and Persephone,117 in the Germanic Hel, or in the Latin personification of death (mors is feminine). Also the aspect, described by Karl Kerényi, of the wrathful and mournful mother goddess—who was venerated in Phigalia, for example, as black Demeter and Demeter Erinys—is a parallel to the figure we are now considering.118 The hiddenness and the wrath against those who “reveal” the goddess is also an archetypal motif, for the goddess Neith, who as Plutarch says, “many held to be Isis,”119 proclaims of herself, “I am everything that was and that will be, and still no mortal has ever lifted my robe.” This Neith is a goddess of the underworld, who is depicted with a green face and green hands (!). Later she fused, as mentioned above, with black (!) Isis. Finally, in this “shadow of Mary” also lies the element of the medieval witch as a specific form of evil, who expresses herself, inter alia, in uninhibited lust, jealousy, intrigue, sucking other people dry, and general egocentrism. A part of this witch aspect is destroyed at the end of the fairy tale in the person of the old queen, because at least this form of her human influence is conditioned by time and can therefore be eliminated. The eternal dark root of witchhood, however, though it has ostensibly disappeared—it ceases to be depicted in the tale—cannot in itself be susceptible to elimination. Those dark forces that would have made it possible for the black woman to reduce the girl “to dust and ashes” are, in other words, no longer mentioned, just as the question is also left open about where the redeemed woman who turned white vanished to. Thus in this fairy tale only a part of the

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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