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Gambler,” we are told that once there was a man who was such a passionate gambler that people called him nothing else but Hans the Gambler. At a certain time he was once more on the brink of ruin from all his gambling, when the Lord God and Saint Peter paid him a visit. He received them hospitably and as a result was afterward granted three wishes as a reward. Hans wished for cards and dice that would always win, and for the third thing, he wished that whoever tried to pick fruit from his apple tree would remain spellbound there. God fulfilled his wishes, and He and Peter went away. Then Hans began his gambling afresh, worse than before, and won nearly the whole world with his cards and dice. Thereupon God sent Death to kill him. But Hans sent him up the apple tree on a pretext, and there he got stuck fast. For seven years no one on earth died. So God and Peter descended to earth again to free Death. As soon as he was loose, the first one he killed was Hans. But now Peter didn’t want to let Hans’s soul into heaven, and the people in purgatory were also not well disposed toward gambling. So Hans went to hell and began to gamble with old Lucifer. He won away all Lucifer’s servants, the underdevils, and with these he now began to storm heaven. Peter was so frightened that he let him in. But then in heaven, too, he began his wild gambling, until God and Peter finally caught hold of him and threw him back down to earth. And there “his soul was smashed, and the splinters went into all the no-good gamblers that are living to this day.” Gambling is one of the greatest of human passions. The fascination with it, in my view, comes from the fact that what one ultimately comes in contact with here is one’s own unconscious, the secret of synchronicity, and thus with the creative activity of God or divine destiny. This is surely the reason too that it is God and Peter who visit Hans. Now, Hans does not behave in such a disrespectful and heartless manner as the previously mentioned bad hosts, but still he also behaves improperly. He is seduced himself by the powers of the trickster, which are the proper province only of God or divine beings; thus he becomes inflated. True, he is able to keep death at bay for a time, like the old man in the Estonian fairy tale, but in the end (like the double-natured Mercurius himself ), he is unable to find a dwelling place either in heaven or in hell and is broken into a thousand pieces and scattered. This recalls the well-known motif of the Gnostic Anthropos, the cosmic man of light, who is divided up in a similar manner among all human souls. But the Grimm’s tale describes a negative version of the same archetypal motif, for in contrast to the Gnostic myth, the dismemberment is not followed

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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