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Psyche’s Tasks

The next task for Psyche is to get water in a carved crystal bottle from the ice-cold waterfall of the Styx, something which again surpasses her capacities. At this point again a typical fairy tale motif appears: the eagle of Zeus takes the bottle, fetches the water, and brings it back to her. Merkelbach quite rightly connects the Styx with the water of the Nile. At the end of the novel we will return again to the question of the mystical vessel which contains the water of the Nile; that is the unspeakable mystery of Osiris. It is the water of death and at the same time of rebirth, but here it is represented in a Greek context. Styx is a female goddess, the oldest of all, who rules over all the other gods. Her deadly water destroys any human being as well as every animal and cannot be put into any normal vessel, whether of glass, or lead, not even of gold, for it is even more destructive than the “water” of alchemy, which can be kept only in a golden vessel. Even the gods are terrified of this element, and their most solemn oath is pronounced in the name of Styx. If a god breaks this oath, he will lie dead for an entire year and be banished from Olympus for nine more years. The Styx symbolizes the frightening aspect of the mother archetype and in a certain sense also of the collective unconscious. The fact that we cannot “hold” it in a vessel seems to me to be very meaningful. We cannot indeed entirely grasp or manipulate the collective unconscious. It resembles a wild river of psychic energy which we cannot regulate and which we cannot make use of. The collective unconscious is like a powerful stream of images upon which man has no influence.

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius