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are deeply steeped in magic, believing in it one hundred percent, believing in ghosts and seeing and talking to them, and who also have the same split attitude. In my family we had a maid who came from a very primitive Bavarian peasant family, and who was psychic and could talk to ghosts. Three weeks of the month she talked to ghosts and exorcised them, and did all sorts of things with them. But then, suddenly, she would feel that this was going too far and she would actually say, “You know, ghosts do not exist; that’s all junk.” The next day she would talk to them again. I was amazed when I discovered this in my childhood, until I learned that the Siberian shamans who have to cope in particular with parapsychological phenomena and have the living experience of such occult matters, and therefore know more of the subject than anyone else, do the same thing among their colleagues. When they meet together they make fun of it all as though it were nothing but trickery and cheating. There are therefore two reactions: the one of the shaman is fear, because such material is dangerous and uncanny, and there is a kind of effort to push it away so that the ego may be preserved to keep one’s head above water; the other attitude is specifically that of the civilized man and is a split reaction of curiosity, attraction, and fascination. It will be shown that Apuleius had the same problem. He was completely fascinated by the occult parapsychological phenomena on the one side, and on the other he had a scornful reaction which we can either interpret as intellectual distance-keeping or as some understandable fear. If we go deeper into what is happening behind the screen of the time in which Apuleius had the bad luck to be born, we can see that it was an age which in many ways resembled our own. The Roman Empire was outwardly, politically, still at the height of its power, but the original religious impulse, the whole moral setup of the Empire, was already completely decayed.5 To use drastic language, Apuleius was really born into the decaying corpse of a dying civilization, as far as spiritual values are concerned. Within the decaying form, in the most unexpected corner, the process of renewal had already taken place and somewhere where nobody had ever expected it— Nazareth—and it was already slowly spreading surreptitiously and subterraneanly among the simple people, mainly in the circles of the slaves. If you want to get an impression of what the cultured layers, the privileged, educated people in the Roman Empire, thought about Christianity at the time, one must read the letter which Pliny wrote to the Emperor Trajanus in A.D.

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

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