Page 60

by a student in a college who, to mock his comrades, drew the figure of the crucified Jesus as a man with a donkey’s head. Obviously the student, for anti-Semitic reasons, wanted to mock his Jewish colleagues with this implication. To worship an ass was an insult to Jews and early Christians, who were at that time in the same common society, the Christians being regarded as a Jewish sect. In this way the ass acquired a different meaning, which then was picked up in the Middle Ages, when it had quite a positive meaning and very often represented a form of the old God, of a patient animal, the carrier animal of Christianity, a symbol of all those spiritual processes described in the Old Testament, which, in a hidden way, led to Christianity. Even that the birth of Christ in Bethlehem was witnessed by an ox and an ass was interpreted to mean that the ass represented the God of the Old Testament and the ox the God of the New Testament. These are later developments, but even at that time the ass was essentially associated with the Jews and Christians, who were thought to be worshippers of the donkey. If we know, for instance, that Christ was identified with Dionysos by many people, we can see the mental connection. The ass is the animal of Dionysos, and so of Christ. The image of Christ was not very precise; many people included him with all the youthful saviors, such as Attis, Tammuz, and Adonis, who dominated the mystery cults at that time. In astrology, the ass was attributed to Saturn and was seen as having the qualities of that planet, in the astrological sense of the word, which meant drivenness, creative depression, despair, heaviness, suffering, imprisonment, helplessness, and dehumanization. These amplifications illustrate the psychological projections on the ass at these times, namely the strange, complex mixture with which we are now so familiar in the treatment of neurosis, of creative depression and drivenness. In some times of depression one finds that behind the constipation, the lameness, the headaches, and the continual low mood, there lies hidden a tremendous desire or drive which the person is intelligent enough to know cannot be lived. The person is convinced that a desire, or a power drive, or sexual drive, or any other strong instinctual drive, cannot be carried out, so that it is repressed through resignation and so constitutes the nucleus of a deep depression in the unconscious. That is why when you get people out of such a state they first turn into a hungry lion which wants to eat up everything, the depression having been only a compensation, or repression mechanism, because they could not cope with the tremendous drive. The

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

Advertisement