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find it particularly interesting to note that fairy tales show an equally contradictory attitude toward the problem of achieving consciousness. The story of “Rumpelstiltskin”24 tells how the heroine will have to surrender her child to a demon (who had previously helped her) unless she can discover his name. A servant overhears the diabolical dwarf as he is singing: Today I bake, tomorrow I brew my beer; The next day I’ll bring the Queen’s child here. Ah, lucky it is that no one can ever know My name is Rumpelstiltskin. Ho ho ho! When the queen utters the dwarf’s name, he is so angry that he “stamped his right foot into the ground so deep that he sank in up to his waist. Then in his fury he seized his left leg in both hands and tore himself apart.” Here—and seldom is this expressed so clearly in a fairy tale—we see how a destructive unconscious content is rendered harmless by being brought to consciousness. To the primitive mind, as we know, to find out the name of a thing is to apprehend its nature—just as in life any number of destructive complexes of the unconscious are cured by being raised to consciousness. This optimistic view is the basis of much of the modern psychotherapy which concerns itself with dreams in order to eliminate the unconscious negative effects of complexes by raising them to consciousness. But even this insight is rejected in certain other fairy tales. In the Russian tale “The Beautiful Vasilissa,”25 a young girl is driven from her home by her wicked stepmother and her stepsisters and comes to the house of Baba Yaga, the forest witch. Here she is put to work like Cinderella, separating grains of wheat and poppy seed. Every time her task is completed, three pairs of hands appear and take the sorted grains away. The witch permits the girl to ask four questions. She asks about the three horsemen she has seen in the witch’s house and learns that they are the night, the day, and the sun. But she does not ask about the three pairs of hands. The witch asks why, but she persists in not asking this question, and that is her salvation. For the witch mutters: “You did well to ask what you saw outside and not what you saw inside. I don’t like people to wash dirty linen in public.” She gives the girl a skull to take home with her, and her enemies are burned by its glowing eyes; later, with the magical help of a doll inherited from her mother, she wins the king’s son as her husband.

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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