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The tale ends with an astonishingly optimistic and promising image: Not only is a man who finds shelter solely and absolutely in the innermost center of his soul and who casts not another look outward, saved; he also encompasses the downfall of the Devil. For the Devil becomes a goose, the bird of witches, in antiquity the bird of the goddess Nemesis and other nature goddesses, and in the form of a goose he drinks up pond and duck. Actually he is following the example of the hero in becoming an aquatic bird—we foresee the hero’s victory, for he has imposed his own “choice of weapons” on the adversary. And last but not least, the goose is a goose, that is, a model of stupidity. Like those heroes of myth who cut out the heart of the whale that has swallowed them, thus forcing the whale to vomit them up,83 so the Devil’s daughter defeats her father from within. She becomes the “seething fury” that makes him burst, for those whose unnatural one-sidedness puts them at the mercy of their emotional outbursts are defeated in advance. There is a large group of fairy tales in which the hero and the villain engage in a contest to see who will get angry first;84 the winner is entitled to kill the loser. They do everything possible to infuriate each other. In the end the villain loses his temper and with it, the game, his possessions, or even his life. The hero marries the villain’s daughter. These tales embody a profound psychological truth: Often in life much depends on who “blurts out” an intrigue first. For if one sees such an intrigue in another, outside of oneself, and tries to “unmask” it, one invariably takes on the appearance of a scoundrel in the eyes of the world. Accordingly, it is wiser to look within at one’s own shadow; then the other is compelled to “show his colors” and burst with his own malice. The same situation often prevails in political life: one need only think of the many allegedly preventive wars in history. Milk boiling over is a familiar image for an attack of rage. Those who lose their temper “rise” like the hot milk in the pot, comme une soupe au lait, as they put it in French. When the Devil swallows his human-hearted daughter in the form of milk, he has her inside him. The function of feeling becomes dominant, and that is his downfall: “Festinatio ex parte diaboli est” (“Haste comes from the Devil”) say the alchemists, a truth from which fortunately the Devil himself is not exempt. He falls victim to his own haste. The rescued couple symbolize a new principle of consciousness in which the opposites are united; now masculine and feminine, spirit and nature are in balance and the coniunctio oppositorum makes possible a new psychic life.

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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