I recently injured my ankle and In my search for symbolism of the foot I thought of one of my most favorite fairy tales called the two travelers. As, I like to share my research… I have included this fairy tale as told by Marie Louise Von Franz, The Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales.
THE TWO TRAVELERS
Mountain and valley do not meet, but human beings sometimes do—both good and bad. So it happened that a tailor and a shoemaker met in their wanderings. The tailor was a small, good-looking, amusing, and merry sort of fellow. He saw the shoemaker on the other side of the road and greeted him with a joke. But the shoemaker did not like jokes and made a sour face and looked like fighting the tailor, but the little fellow began to laugh and handed him his bottle, saying, “No harm meant—have a drink and swallow your rage.” The shoemaker took a big draft and suggested that they should walk on together. “All right,” said the tailor, “if you want to go to a big town where there is plenty of work.”
The tailor, always merry and fresh and red-cheeked, had no trouble in getting work, as well as a kiss behind the door from the master’s daughter, and when he met the shoemaker, he always had more money than he. Although the surly shoemaker was not so fortunate, the tailor laughed and shared what he had with his companion. When they had been some time on the road, they came to a big forest through which a way led to the king’s city. But there were two paths—one took seven days and the other only two —and they didn’t know which was which and debated as to the quantity of bread they should take. The shoemaker wanted to take enough for seven days, but the tailor was ready to take a risk and trust in God. It was a long way. By the third day the tailor had finished his bread, but the shoemaker had no pity on him. By the fifth day the tailor was so hungry that he asked the shoemaker for some bread, for he was quite white and exhausted. The shoemaker agreed but said that in exchange the tailor must let him put out one of his eyes. The unhappy tailor, who didn’t want to die, could only agree, and the heartless shoemaker cut out his right eye. The next day the tailor was again hungry and on the seventh day too exhausted to stand. The shoemaker then said that he would have pity on him and give him more bread but that in return he must have the tailor’s other eye.
Then the tailor begged God’s forgiveness for the light-hearted way in which he had lived, and told the shoemaker that he had not deserved such treatment at his hands, for he had always shared everything with him, and without his eyes he would not be able to sew and could only beg, and he asked that he might not be left there to die alone in his blindness. But the shoemaker, who had shut God out of his heart, took his knife and cut out the left eye. Then he gave the tailor a piece of bread, cut him a stick, and led him away. When the sun went down, they came out of the wood by some gallows. The shoemaker led the blind tailor there and left him. Worn out with pain and hunger, the tailor fell asleep and slept through the whole night. When he woke in the morning, he did not know where he was. On the gallows hung two poor sinners and on the head of each sat a crow. The two crows began to talk, and one told the other that the dew which during the night had fallen on them from the gallows would give back sight to anyone who washed with it. When the tailor heard that, he took his handkerchief and soaked it in the dew on the grass, washed his eye sockets with it, and had two healthy eyes.
Soon the sun rose, and in the plain before him was the king’s city, with its beautiful gates and hundreds of towers. He distinguished every leaf on the trees and saw the birds fly by and the midges dance in the air. He got out a needle, and when he saw that he could thread it as well as ever, his heart jumped for joy, and he knelt and thanked God. Then he picked up his bundle and went on, singing and whistling. Soon he met a brown colt running about in the field. He seized it by the mane, meaning to jump on it and ride into town. But the colt begged for its freedom, saying it was too young, that even a light tailor would break its back, and to let it be until it was strong enough, and perhaps someday it would be able to repay him. So the tailor let the colt go.
But the tailor had not eaten since the previous day. He then saw a stork and seized it by one of its legs, meaning to cut its head off so that he could have something to eat. But the stork said that it was a holy bird which never harmed anybody and was of great use to the human race and begged to be allowed to live. It told the tailor that it would make it up to him another time. So the tailor let it fly away. Then the tailor saw on a pond two little ducks. He caught one and wanted to wring its neck to have something to eat. But the old duck swam out of the bushes and implored him to have pity on her dear children. “Think,” she said, “what your mother would say if someone wanted to make an end of you!” So the good-tempered tailor said she should keep her children, and put the duck back in the water. When he turned around, he saw an old, hollow tree where the bees flew in and out. “That will reward me for my good deeds,” he said, but the queen bee came out and said, “If you touch my people and destroy my nest, we will sting you with ten thousand glowing needles. Leave us in peace and go your way, and in return we will one day do you a service.” So the tailor went away and came hungry into the town. As it was midday, he entered an inn and ate, and then he looked for work and found a good job. Since he was a very good tailor, he soon became famous and everybody wanted a coat made by him—and at last he came to be appointed court tailor.
But, as happens in life, on the same day his old comrade was made the court shoemaker, and when the latter saw the tailor with two healthy eyes, his conscience began to trouble him, and he planned to destroy the tailor before he could tell his story. So, in the evening when he had finished his work, he went to the king and told him that the tailor was an insolent fellow who had boasted that he would find the golden crown which had been lost in olden days. So the next morning the king had the tailor brought to him and ordered him to produce the crown or leave the town forever. The unhappy tailor packed his bundle and prepared to leave the city, though he was sorry to leave the place where everything had gone so well. When he came to the pond where he had met the ducks, there was the old duck cleaning her beak at the bank. The tailor told her what had happened to him.
“Is that all?” said the duck. “The crown fell in the water and is lying at the bottom of the pond. Just lay your handkerchief out on the bank!” Then she dived down with her twelve children and after five minutes came up again with the crown lying on her wings and the twelve little ducks around her, holding it up with their beaks. So the tailor wrapped it up in his handkerchief and took it to the king, who gave him a golden chain as a reward.
When the shoemaker saw that his plot had failed, he went again to the king and said that the tailor had boasted that he could produce a model of the royal castle in wax, with everything that was in it. The king ordered the tailor to do this and said that if there was even a nail missing, the tailor should be imprisoned under the earth for the rest of his life. The tailor thought that things got worse and worse and nobody could stand that, and again he went away. But when he came to the hollow tree, the queen bee flew out and asked if he had a stiff neck, since he was hanging his head so low. Then the tailor told the story. All the bees began to hum, and the queen bee said he must go home and come again tomorrow at the same time with a big cloth. When he arrived the next day, the bees had made a perfect model. The king was delighted and gave the tailor a fine stone house.
But the shoemaker went a third time to the king and said that the tailor had boasted that he could make a spring of water well up in the king’s courtyard as high as a man and as clear as crystal. This the tailor was ordered to do under pain of having his head cut off. Once more the tailor prepared to leave with the tears running down his cheeks. But the colt came running to him and said he knew what was the matter, the tailor must just sit on his back, and he galloped to the courtyard and around it three times like lightning and the third time threw himself down, at which time there was a tremendous crash and a great ball of earth flew up into the air and over the castle, and immediately after, water jetted up as high as a man and horse and as clear as crystal. When the king saw it, he embraced the tailor before everybody.
But the good luck again did not last. The king had many daughters, one more beautiful than the other, but no son, and the wicked shoemaker went once more to the king and said that the tailor had boasted that he could bring the king a son through the air. The king called the tailor and told him that if within nine days he could bring him a son, he could marry his eldest daughter. So the tailor went home and wondered what on earth he should do. Again thinking nothing was to be done, he made up his bundle and went, saying, “I will leave this place, for here I cannot live in peace.” But when he came to the meadow, his old friend the stork greeted him. When he had told his story, the stork said he should not grow any gray hairs over that, since he had long brought babies to the town, and for once he could also fetch a little prince out of the well. The tailor should go home and be quiet, and in nine days’ time he should go to the court, where the stork would come. The tailor went home, and to the castle at the right time, and soon the stork came knocking at the window. The tailor opened the window, and in came long-legs walking carefully over the marble floor, carrying in his beak a child like an angel. It stretched its little hands out to the queen. The stork laid it on her lap, she was overjoyed, and the tailor married the eldest daughter.
And the shoemaker had to make the shoes in which the tailor danced at the wedding feast, whereafter he was ordered to leave the city forever. His road through the forest led to the gallows. Worn out with anger and the heat of the day, he threw himself down, and when he shut his eyes and wanted to sleep, the two crows flew down with loud cries and pecked out his eyes. He ran around like a crazy man in the wood and must have perished there, for nobody ever heard or saw him again.
At first glance you might say that in “The Two Travelers” the nice, optimistic tailor represents the conscious side and the shoemaker the shadow, compensatory side, and actually this is an interpretation given even by people who work on fairy tales in a Jungian way. They take it as a typical story representing the ego and the shadow. I think this is in a way true, but, in my experience, if you start with such a hypothesis you get stuck; consequently, I would like to warn you against taking Jungian concepts and pinning them onto mythological figures, saying this is the ego, this the shadow, and this the anima, because you will see that this works only for a time and that then there come contradictions—and finally distortions as people try to force the figures in the story into a definite form. It is much better, instead of jumping to conclusions, to look at the two figures and their functional aspects in the story and the way in which they are constellated in regard to the other characters, and to follow the rule not to interpret any archetypal figures before we have also looked at the context. Then we will come to slightly different conclusions than if we just took them arbitrarily as ego and shadow.
The tailor is a well-known figure in fairy tales. In the famous Grimm story of
“The Valiant Little Tailor,”2 there are certain similarities, for the tailor in this other story is also cheerful and light-hearted, of a small, slight build, and not physically very strong, and he defeats a giant and later tricks a furious unicorn. In this story a unicorn is annoyed and attacks the tailor, who jumps behind a tree, and the unicorn runs his horn into the tree and then cannot free himself. From this amplification we can conclude that the tailor has something to do with the archetype of the trickster who overcomes his enemies by his intelligence and quick wit.
According to medieval ideas most crafts were connected with certain planets, and every planet protected certain crafts. The planet Mercurius protected, among others, cooks and tailors. The tailor thus belongs to Hermes, that is, Mercurius, the trickster god, with all his qualities of versatile intelligence, quick wit, and ability to change. In those days the trade of a tailor was a wise choice for small, rather effeminate men who compensate their weaknesses by their wit and skill. Moreover, the tailor makes clothes for other people. Generally, we interpret clothes as having to do with the persona, and to a certain extent this is correct, for we cover up the naked truth of our personality and show to the surrounding world a more decent facade, nicer than we really are. The idea of clothes as the persona is well illustrated by the Hans Andersen fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The emperor offers a large reward to the man who can make the best clothes for him, and a witty little tailor goes to him and says he can make very special, delicate, and beautiful clothes which have the magic quality that only honest and decent people can see them. The emperor orders the clothes. He cannot see them but does not give this fact away, and the rumor spreads in the town that he will appear in his new magic clothes. Everybody admires him until a small child cries out, “But he has nothing on!” And then everybody begins to laugh. Again the tailor is the trickster who shows up the stupidity of the emperor’s persona.
On the other hand, if we think of the mystery cults of late antiquity and of the initiations and rituals of many civilizations, we see that people also put on clothes not to represent the persona, but to express their true attitude. For instance, in the baptismal ceremonies of the early Christian Church, people were totally immersed and then given white garments to manifest their newly acquired innocent attitude, or their candid (candidus: white) attitude. Also in the Mithraic initiations and the Isis mysteries the male initiates wore certain clothes to represent the sun god and to make their inner archetypal transformation manifest to other people. In an alchemical parable, the spirit Mercurius is described as a tailor of men. Since he has scissors and cuts men into their right shape, he therefore shapes the people themselves, not only their clothes, and is thus a kind of transformer of men, a would-be psychotherapist who changes people into their true and right shape.
We can say, then, that the tailor has to do with an archetypal power capable of transforming man and giving him a new attitude, a power which has to do with intelligence and the ability to outwit others. His enemy is the giant. Giants, known for their size and outstanding stupidity, represent, in general, powerful emotions. As soon as you are gripped by an affect, you become stupid. Mythologically, giants are connected with earthquakes. The unicorn, with his aggressive horn, represents the aggressive attitude, and the tailor knows how to contend with this. He also represents the typically human psychological qualities of wit and intelligence by which one can overcome primitive emotion and attain higher consciousness.
The tailor in “The Two Travelers” is moreover a very pious man, for every time he is in any difficulty he prays to God, in whom he has great faith and confidence, for he optimistically believes that the Godhead will help him out of his difficulties. So we may conclude that the human way of overcoming affect by wit and intelligence is here combined with the Christian religious attitude, the Christian Weltanschauung.
The shoemaker also has to do with clothing, but only for the feet, and therefore the difference between clothes in general and shoes has to be specified. If the clothes represent attitudes, then their interpretation must vary in accordance with the part of the body which they cover. You might say that trousers have to do with the sexual attitude and the brassiere with the maternal attitude—a woman often dreams of a brassiere to represent a criticism of this attitude. A German proverb says that a man’s shirt is closer to him than his coat; it is closer to the skin and therefore represents an intimate attitude. It has been contended that the foot is a phallic symbol, for which there is some support, the shoe representing the female organ surrounding the foot.
The sexual aspect is implicitly contained in the symbolism of the shoe, but it is not an outstanding aspect: we can assume that people of the layer of society depicted in this fairy tale would speak more directly and would say sex if that was what they meant, so there is a slightly different meaning. If we start from the hypothesis that the shoe is simply the article of clothing for covering the foot and that with it we stand on the earth, then the shoe is the standpoint, or attitude toward reality. There is much evidence for this. The Germans say when someone becomes adult that he “takes off his childish shoes,” and we say that the son “steps into his father’s shoes” or “follows in his father’s footsteps”—he takes on the same attitude. There is also a connection with the power complex, for one “puts one’s foot down” if one wishes to assert power, as the victorious soldier, illustrating that he now has power, puts his foot on the neck of his conquered foe. In German there is an expression “the slipper hero,” referring to the man who is under his wife’s domination—she puts her foot down, and he is subordinate to her in the house. Therefore you might say that our standpoint toward concrete reality always has to do with the assertion of power because we cannot take the standpoint of reality without, to a certain extent, asserting ourselves; when it comes to reality you have to make a choice, to make one side decisive. So the shoemaker would represent an archetypal figure similar to that of the tailor, but one specially concerned with the standpoint towards reality.
The shoemaker’s trade is regarded as one of the simple professions, even more simple than the tailor’s, though neither is socially on a high level according to the bourgeois level of these fairy tales. There are many legends and stories which have to do with the simple level of the shoemaker. There is a legend that Saint Anthony, who saw an angel of God, got the idea that he had achieved something and become a great saint, but one day an angel told him that there was a still more saintly man in Alexandria. Saint Anthony, feeling jealous, wanted to see the man, and the angel led him to a very poor quarter of Alexandria and to a miserable hovel where an old shoemaker, who had a miserable wife, sat making shoes. Saint Anthony was amazed but began to talk to him and, wanting to find out in what way he was more saintly, asked him about his religious views and attitude toward religion; but the shoemaker just looked up at him and said that he was just making shoes to earn money for his wife and children. Saint Anthony thereupon was enlightened. The story shows how the shoemaker has to do with the standpoint toward reality in contrast to Saint Anthony, who strove only to become more and more holy. The shoemaker had a completely human and humble contact with reality, which is what most saints lack and was what the angel of God told Saint Anthony. There is a proverb which says, “Shoemaker, stick to your tools,” for, if he leaves them, things go very wrong, which has to do with the relation to reality, for we have to be completely realistic and remain within our own limits. The shoemaker does this and, according to the proverb, is right.
After wandering about, at the decisive point shoemaker and tailor become servants of the king, and the shoemaker starts his intrigues, and the tailor in the end marries the princess but does not become king, which is unusual. In other fairy tales where the simple man marries the princess, it is implied that through marriage he becomes the new king, but here the stork brings the king a son who will probably be his heir (not the tailor) unless the child dies, which is not likely according to fairy-tale atmosphere. Perhaps we should ask ourselves what it means in general if a simple man like a peasant or a half-wit, or a tailor or a shoemaker, or the only child of a widow, marries the princess and thereby becomes the future king; so we must go into the symbolism of the king.
For the symbolism of the king I refer you to Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctionis,3 where there is a whole chapter on this subject. The king represents on a primitive level a personification, or is a carrier of the mystical life power of the nation or tribe, which is why in many primitive civilizations, as you can read in Frazer’s
“The Dying God,”4 the health and physical and spiritual power of the king guarantees the power of the tribe, and he has to be killed if he becomes impotent or ill. He is deposed after a certain number of years because the carrier of this power has always to be young. He is an incarnated Godhead, the living strength of the tribe. Among the Shilluks in the Upper White Nile this is clearly expressed by the fact that the old king, when he is to be killed, is shut up in a hut with an untouched virgin and starved to death with the girl; the so-called throne (a primitive little chair) is put in front of the hut, and his successor sits there: at the moment of death the life spirit of the old king enters the body of the new king. From then on he is the king and carrier of this principle.
Again jumping to conclusions, you might say that the king has all the aspects of a symbol of the Self, but this is too general and inaccurate in fact, though the king is the life principle and image of God and the center of physical and spiritual organization and in that way carries the projection of the Self, the regulating dominating center of the aspect of totality. But that is not right, insofar as the archetype of the Self is, according to our experience, not so much bound to time as that. Also we have the image of the dying king, or the sick or old king who has to be deposed, which does not fit with the idea of the Self as regulating center of the psyche, which does not have to be deposed. Therefore, in what way is he and is he not the Self? The answer is given in the ritual of the Shilluks which I described to you. The king is not the Self, but a consciously formulated symbol of that archetype. The king of our civilization is Christ, he is a symbol of the Self, he is the specific formulated aspect of the Self which dominates our civilization, the King of Kings, the dominating content. I would say that Buddha is the formulated aspect of the symbol of the Self in the Buddhist civilizations. Thus the king is not the archetype of the Self but a symbol of the Self, which has become a central dominating representation in a civilization.
It seems an archetypal law of general validity that every symbolism which has taken shape and form in collective human consciousness wears out after a certain time and resists renewal owing to a certain inertia of consciousness. Most inner experiences after ten or twenty years lose some of their strength and, especially in collectivity, most religious symbols tend to wear out. Think of all the children who should relate to the symbol of Christ and be Christian and who by the time they are six years old are already bored and shut their inner ear because to them it has already become a kind of slogan and makes no more sense, it has lost its numinous qualities and its value. I have also been told by parsons and priests that it is practically impossible always to write a sermon into which they can put themselves, for there will inevitably be days when the man is tired, or has quarreled with his wife, when this “wearing out” effect will be visible. If Christ were completely numinous to him, that would not happen. It seems a tragic fact that human consciousness tends to be unilateral and single-track, not always adapted to inner processes, so that certain truths are formulated and adhered to for too long.
The same thing applies to the inner evolution of an individual—someone has an inner experience and lives it for a while, but then life changes, and the attitude should change, but this is not noticed until dreams show that a readaptation must be made. In midlife, consciousness tends to persist in certain attitudes and does not notice quickly enough that now that the inner direction of life has changed, consciousness should also change for approaching death. Religious contents also, as soon as they become conscious and spoken of, lose their immediate freshness and their numinosity, for which reason the great religious systems undergo movements of renewal, or there is a complete change and renewal or reinterpretation so that the system regains its immediacy and original meaning. The aging king who has to be replaced by a new king expresses this general psychological law. Whatever has reached general recognition is, in a way, already doomed; it would only be wisdom to know that and always be ready for a change of attitude. But just as the individual generally perseveres in his old attitude, so does the collective, and to a much greater extent. Then you have to face the inertia which can be dangerous to the content. The mystery of the renewal of the king refers to this.
The king has another aspect: he is not only the profound hope of a civilization, but at the same time the religious representative. An effort was made to evade the unavoidable tragedy of the king having to die from time to time by doubling the power, that is, by having a medicine man and a king. The medicine man is not so much involved in the earthly activities of organization, for his task is to cope with the immediacy of the religious experience. Therefore, in many primitive tribes there is discord between king and medicine man, who is the “gray eminence” behind the king, or who is kept down by the absolute rule of the chief. This is a squabble which was carried on in our own history when the Catholic Church tried to be the power over the king, or certain kings tried to replace the pope, or to govern him and rule the religious life of the Catholic Church. The idea behind the division of power was to keep the two separate, so that the religious aspect should have the possibility of renewal, and organization should keep to its own duties. In this way it might be possible to keep balance in the opposites, the tendency toward the continuity of consciousness and the necessity for constant inner renewal. The drawback is the danger of a quarrel and split between the two powers, which really belong together in the psyche.
In fairy tales it is often the simple person who becomes the next king, after many processes and peripeteias. We must investigate what this means. If the prince becomes king, he is the right person by inheritance, and we could call that a renewal within the same dominant, like for instance that of the Order of Saint Francis of Assisi within the Catholic Church. There was a moment of danger for the Catholic Church when the Order of Saint Francis might have formed a movement of its own, but remaining within the Catholic Church, it became a rejuvenating movement of spiritual life. This would be analogous to the prince becoming king. On the other hand, if the fairy tale says that a very anonymous and unexpected person becomes king, then the renewal of the dominant of collective consciousness comes from an angle, both sociological and archetypal, from which it was least expected. The dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary provides such an example, for in some circles of theology this new dogma was rather looked down upon, but the pope emphasized that it was the general popular wish that it should take place. He met with great opposition and referred to the visions of Fatima in Portugal; thus the assumption of the Virgin Mary is based more on a feeling movement among the simple people than on theological thought. The pope himself is said to have had visions (though this is not officially stated). From an unexpected corner such as the pope’s unconscious, such a new symbol came to light: the renewal comes from the unexpected place.
In general, we might conclude that if the fairy tale tells us of a simple man becoming king, it describes a process of renewal of collective consciousness which comes from the unexpected and officially despised part of the psyche, and from the simple people, for in a population, in a confused way, the simple suffer more than the learned people from the undercurrents of archetypal development. For example, in universities and all educated circles it is argued that there is too much technique and not enough relation to nature in the life of modern man. The more dominant classes are aware of this, but a simple peasant boy who leaves his village to work in a factory is not, yet he suffers from it much more immediately and may become desperate and perhaps hate his fellow men and not know that he is suffering from the disease of the time. In his psyche a longing for a change of attitude may be constellated and expressed symbolically. He may try to overcome his trouble by going to a renewal meeting, for he sees things on a very primitive level, and he may try to cure his sickness in this way. Such vague suffering may be solved in a symbolically demonstrated form, or he may feel that his life is meaningless and drink himself to death. One could say, therefore, that the moods, secret longings, and needs of the simple people within the population express in a clear form the needs of our time. When analyzing people of that level, I am always amazed at the archetypal material in their dreams, which seem much more concerned with the problem of our time than those of educated people. A poor girl who is full of fears and anxieties, and whose horizon is clouded, does not see that she may be a victim of the time and may dream of our present problem in a most clear and amazing way. You could call such dreams visions of the time working within the dreamers’ souls. What one can learn through analyzing an uneducated or simple person!
I would like to give an illustration: A schoolteacher had the following vision. She went to the neighboring town and attended an Anthroposophic meeting in a world-famous cathedral. She went out of the meeting house where the parson was holding a conference and saw dark clouds and an earthquake, as if it were the end of the world. At the top of the tower of the cathedral, on the uppermost point, she saw a bronze figure of Death on a horse, and a voice said, “Death is coming down and is beginning to ride into the world.” The tower began to writhe like a woman in childbirth, and the figure of Death shook. The woman rushed back to the meeting and said, “Come and see, Death is getting loose.” The implication was that there would be many deaths by disease and war, but when she looked back, she saw that the tower was restored after Death had jumped down, and now uppermost was a beautiful female in stone, which gave her more confidence.
You can understand the vision from the personal angle: she had a very Christian attitude with ideas of self-mortification; she never allowed herself anything and had a secret wish to die. Since she thought that she herself did not matter, she made up her mind to help others and gave up her own life completely, building it up again on the principle of death, with the result that she ruined herself psychologically and physically with a Christian attitude of self- mortification. That was the personal aspect of the vision, the uppermost principle being the Christian attitude which served death rather than life. She was living the life of the imitatio Christi, which means that you have to die at about thirty or thirty-two, and lived it with bitter consequences to herself. Also she was animus-possessed and completely excluded the feminine side of life, which lack also corresponds to the Christian principle.
In her vision the death principle was replaced by a female Goddess. So the vision had a personal implication. Moreover, at that time she thought she had the beginnings of cancer. On the other hand, it shows the problem of our time in all its implications, even with the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The woman had a collective fate and the collective unconscious appears completely naked in her unconscious. The same person dreamed that once when sitting out of doors she heard a humming noise and saw a huge round disk flying in the sky—a metal spider full of human beings. Within the spider a hymn or prayer was repeated which said, “Keep us down on earth, guide us up to heaven”; and the thing went on hovering over a parliament building, something like a UFO, and the people inside were so frightened that they quickly signed the treaty of peace, and then the dreamer discovered that she was not dressed. She had a schizoid disposition, but on top of that is the illustration of the time situation. These would be examples of naive dreams or visions.
I also analyzed a charwoman of a rather suicidal type who was absolutely convinced that her visions were religious revelations meant to be told in our time. She made up her mind to write a libretto and send it to Walt Disney, and from the sketches she made, it was not at all stupid. For the visions which she had and wanted to use are distinctly meant to cure our present-day difficulties. The problem here was that the woman hasn’t the education to bring the idea out properly, and therefore it gets stuck and becomes morbid. Such people have to be helped in a concrete way, but the great question is whether there is sufficient vitality. Had the charwoman been a very vital person, which she was not, I would have told her to attend Migros classes and study and then to serve and be loyal to her vision, and that would have kept her occupied and living for a goal. Unfortunately a schizoid type often does not have sufficient vitality, so you can only help with your own vitality or find someone else, but often such people are in a physically miserable state and for that reason cannot bring the inner content into shape. There are such types in history who succeeded, like Jakob Boehme, who was a shoemaker and who wrote religious revelations based on his visions, though you can see that he was not learned enough to put them in quite the proper form. But he had a great effect on his time, and his inner experiences became meaningful for others. Such latent “Jakob Boehmes” exist more frequently than we know.
If, therefore, such constellations in a society are strong enough, things can happen, as, for instance, in the Christian religion when overnight, as it were, and through the lower layers of the population, a completely new religious attitude arose. Christianity did not at first reach the upper layers of Roman society; it began among the slaves. People had visions of Christ at that time and a very personal revelation which spread like a fire among the simple people and expressed their need to be saved from slavery and given a new goal: that would be renewal from below. The king was replaced by a workman or a slave, and that became the dominant symbol. It is even literally expressed in the description of Christ as the King of Kings and at the same time the servant of man.
In our story the king is not yet deposed. The tailor does not become a prince but marries into the royal family, and both tailor and shoemaker are at one time servants at the court. So, if we look at the whole structure, we have a king, neither good nor bad, but rather on the decline—which may be concluded from the fact that he has to have help in getting a son and the fact that his crown is lost. He is therefore already approaching the state of the decaying king, but is still potent enough to keep his position and his court; in the realm of collective consciousness and its dominant representations, two opposite factors turn up and play the king against each other. First the shoemaker and then the tailor win the king’s confidence. The former plays the devilish or Luciferian role, like Satan in the Book of Job, who complains of Job by saying that he is rich and therefore pious, but take away his goods and then see what happens! The shoemaker, on a smaller scale, functions in exactly the same way in this story: he wins the king’s confidence and the tailor is put under tremendous pressure from above.
It would be jumping to conclusions to say that the tailor represents the conscious part and the shoemaker the shadow; you coud just as well say both were the shadow of the king. Everybody is everybody’s shadow in fairy tales, the whole cluster of figures is compared one with another, and all the figures have a compensatory function. One must, therefore, use the word shadow cum grano salis.
We can assume that the king represents the dominant collective symbol of our era, that is, of Christianity, though I could not say exactly of what age, whether in the sixteenth, seventeenth, or eighteenth century. The period is difficult to guess in fairy tales, even if you have the outer indications. If pistols are mentioned, that gives an indication, but no definite proof. The fact that we have a type of fairy tale similar to that of “Amor and Psyche” shows that the basic structure might be two thousand years old or more, so the date can perhaps be proved from inner if not from outer evidence, by the archetypal situation. We could say that the king would represent the dominant Christian attitude which has not reached the state of having to be completely deposed or renewed, but where it is no longer strong. In the shape of two wanderers, two archetypal factors turn up, two gods, Mercurius and Saturn; they have constellated at court, and it is a question as to which will win out. In fairy tales, where there is no such thing as the shadow, there is the doubling of an archetypal figure, one half being the shadow of the other. All the complexes and general structures—that is, collective complexes which we call archetypes—have a light and a dark side and a polarized system. A model of an archetype can be said to be composed of two parts, one light and the other dark. With the archetype of the Great Mother you have the witch, the devilish mother, the beautiful wise old woman, and the goddess who represents fertility. In the archetype of the spirit there is the wise old man and the destructive or demonic magician represented in many myths. The archetype of the king can indicate the fertility and strength of the tribe or nation, or the old man who suffocates new life and should be deposed. The hero can be the renewal of life or the great destroyer, or both. Every archetypal figure has its own shadow. We do not know what an archetype looks like in the unconscious, but when it enters the fringe of consciousness, as in a dream, which is a half-conscious phenomenon, it manifests the double aspect. Only when light falls on an object does it throw a shadow.
Probably complexes in the unconscious are neutral things—a complexio oppositorum—and then they tend to double into a yes and no, a plus and minus, which is due to the light of consciousness falling on the object. The twin motif in mythology shows that there is always a double, one more introverted and the other extraverted, one male and the other female, one more spirit and the other more animal—but one is not morally better than the other; and then you have myths where one is good and the other evil. Where there is an ethical attitude in consciousness, then the attitude of the twins is ethically discerned, but if there is no ethical consciousness, this is not so. In our story there is a difference between good and evil. The Judeo-Christian attitude sharpened the ethical conflict, and therefore in our civilization there is a tendency to judge in a moral way and not to leave things blurred. If an archetypal figure doubles, then it doubles also morally; it appears not only as good and evil, but as lighter and less light; that is the sharpening of ethical response through our religious system.
The contrast of extravert and introvert is also represented by the tailor and shoemaker. The latter gets bread for seven days because they might be hungry, and the tailor has the extraverted, rather light attitude which goes from one situation to the other without too much forethought: they are opposed to each other in this specific way. If we refer this to the symbolism of the king as the Christian dominant, two figures are constellated, one tending toward disagreeable introversion and the other to light extraversion. Are we fantasizing, or has Christianity presented such a problem? I think it has. Christian symbolism, especially if you look at its American ramifications (which are characterized by a certain amount of extraverted drive), has an optimistic outlook on life, a great confidence in God, the basic Christian optimism; and that is one kind of Christian attitude because Christianity judges God as good, and evil only as the nonexistence of good, which creates an attitude of confidence in oneself and God, a tendency to ignore and not overemphasize the reality of evil in oneself and others. You have the counterdevelopment in Calvinism and other pessimistic sections of Christianity with a completely un-Christian, uncharitable severity of ethical attitudes, a dark, melancholy temperament to be found in certain ramifications of Christian thinking. That would correspond to the shoemaker type, which has one eye on the hardships of reality. If you study such austere movements within the Christian religion, you see that there is no joy of life: people must be sad, must repent their sins, must not enjoy good food because that would be displeasing to Jesus Christ. Such people are wealthy, they have “put their foot down,” they are skeptical, realistic, and distrustful, and are more rooted in the darkness of this world than the others because their warnings against evil and the dark side of life make them so. The optimistic people tend not to see difficulties and get shot from behind, for either they are shot at by others, or their own destructive shadow pops out.
We can say, therefore, that the tailor also represents a simple kind of naive attitude within the Christian world, with a hopeful outlook and trust in God, and that the shoemaker is the opposite, the shadow of that attitude. Both are tendencies within the Christian civilization of a certain time.
Every powerful symbol of the Self unites the opposites, but if it loses its strength, it can no longer function in this way, and the opposites begin to fall apart. If the king were completely powerful, which he is not, he could reconcile the shoemaker and the tailor and would rule so that they could not afford to quarrel but would have to cooperate; the fact that they get into opposition evinces his weakness. Here he gives his confidence to the shoemaker and listens to the evil insinuations which precipitate the tailor into difficulties. The king is not just and no longer rules as he should but listens to whatever anybody says. In the end it works out well, but not exactly as expected. We could say that represented here is still a powerful dominant of collective consciousness, but that it has lost its power to unite the opposites properly, since they begin to separate and play against each other. This weakening would refer to a situation in our civilization where the opposites begin to fight each other. You could illustrate it with the following diagram:
If the king begins to lose power, then the axis of opposition increases, the tension consolidates, and the king wavers between the two, first placing his confidence in one and then in the other: the unifying symbol begins to weaken. One should not refer this to personal psychology, but there is an analogy to individual development: that is, as long as the attitude of the ego is powerfully engaged in life and is in tune with the instincts, it can hold the opposites together. There are always phases where one is filled with life and the problem of the opposites is not so acute; one knows one has a shadow and that there is always a plus and a minus, but somehow the opposites do not bother one much. Then, for some reason, the ego gets stuck, loses its possibilities and its creative ability, and the opposites fall apart and all sorts of conflicts arise. Then the ego, wavering between the two like the king, strives to identify with one side or the other. It cannot hold a middle place but listens to insinuations and takes sides.
That is typical of an analytical situation, but it is a normal process in life too when the ego is not in union with the deeper layers of the instinctive personality, for then it gets torn between the opposites. If the ego could relate directly to the Self, which is a unifying symbol, the conflict would fade and the ego would function again in wholeness. That is the normal way in which the opposites function, and the main impulse is again the flow of life, the ego serving or moving along the flow of life which comes from the totality. A conflict is never really solved, but the emotion invested in it diminishes, one outgrows it by suffering, and it becomes absorbed in a new form of life, with the result that one looks back dispassionately on it from a different angle.
THE TAILOR and the shoemaker go along together, the tailor happy, and the shoemaker lonely and envious, with the result that when they go through the woods the tragedy begins and the shoemaker wreaks his revenge on the tailor. The shoemaker has saturnine, introverted qualities, like Prometheus; he looks ahead and takes more bread with him than the tailor, who, as the Epimethean man, learns only by experience. That is the difference between introvert and extravert: the introvert worries through life, always looking ahead, with the danger of becoming pessimistic, and the extravert jumps first into every situation and looks afterward, when he discovers that he has fallen into a hole, whence he struggles out, saying that he never saw it. Naturally both attitudes, if they become too one-sided, are destructive. Here the two get lost in the woods and are hungry, and the shoemaker has the bread, which he sells to the tailor at the price of his eyes; that is, he tries to destroy the tailor’s health and connection with life, of which he is jealous.
You might say that the countertendency of the unconscious, the melancholic, suspicious, introverted attitude, blinds the other side and takes away his capacity to see things. As an example, a successful businssman with a strong extraverted drive slowly acquires a suspicious nature brought on through the neglect of his introverted side. If he does not turn to the shadow figure and endeavor to see where his moods originate, he will be blinded and make one mistake after another, for the shadow will force him to change his attitude—if not voluntarily, then involuntarily. He will have failures in his business, or he will fall ill and so be forced to develop the other side. I remember a very extraverted lawyer who had been successful with his extraverted attitude, but he began to have fits of unhappiness and negative moods. When talking to him once, I said that it might be a good idea to go for a holiday alone and look at the other side. But he turned the suggestion down, saying that if he was alone he got melancholic and overwhelmed with depression. Then he had a bad accident: he broke his hip and was in the hospital for eight months, so that he had his lonely holidays inescapably forced on him—the other side imposed itself upon him. This would be the mechanism which plays between the opposites, as with the shoemaker and the tailor, and which ends in the former leaving the tailor blind under the gallows.
The gallows with the two poor devils hanged on them form an interesting motif which we should follow up. The habit of killing bad criminals by hanging them on trees is a very archaic one. It was originally practiced as a sacrifice: Germans in olden days, for instance, hanged prisoners as sacrifices to the god Wotan. They hanged not only criminals but also enemies captured in battle. The victor would say to his prisoner, “Now I will dedicate you to Wotan.” Wotan himself is the god who hangs on the tree, for he hung on the oak Yggdrasil for nine days and nights and then found the runes and acquired secret wisdom. It is an old Germanic idea that suspension on a tree is a sacrifice to that God. In Christianity you meet this archetypal idea in the form of the crucifixion of Christ, and in the area of Asia Minor, Attis was suspended on the fir tree. He was killed and his picture was hung on a fir tree, and in the spring festivals the image of the suspended Attis was carried about.
We have to ask what lies behind the idea of killing an enemy not as social revenge or in judgment, but by the more archaic form of a sacrifice to the gods. I think that there is a much deeper and more meaningful idea than that of just punishment. If one has to fight against demonic evil in a human being, what strikes one most is that if people are outstandingly destructive, not just through the small mistakes of laziness and cheating, etc., which take place with every human being, but if they are seriously destructive, one’s immediate reaction is that it is inhuman, especially in psychosis or psychotic states where one sometimes meets destructiveness so cold and inhuman and demonic, and concomitantly so “divine,” that one is overwhelmed. It sends a grim cold shiver down one’s spine that one cannot deal with—it is too horrible, too shocking; and this shocking, horrible thing in people enables them to commit cold-blooded murder.
I have never dealt with anybody who committed an actual murder, but I have met people who could have, and that makes one shudder, and one thinks, “Hands off,” yet, at the same time, one has the feeling that it is something godlike, no longer human. We use the word “inhuman,” but one could equally well say “demonic” or “divine.” The primitive idea that somebody who commits a murder or an outstanding crime is really not himself but performs something which only a god could do expresses the situation very well. In the moment when someone commits a murder he is identical with the Godhead and is not human. People become the instruments of God’s darkness. At such a time, they are possessed. The very fact that somebody imagines that he can kill a fellow being, someone of the same substance as himself, which is not normal, transcends human nature, and in that way the deed has a demonic or divine quality. That is why, for instance, in the ritual executions in primitive tribes, you see that though they kill the criminals, there is no element of moral judgment about it; the criminal simply bears the consequences of his deeds. The primitive says that if a human being acts as though divine, then he suffers the fate of a god, is treated as a god and hanged, killed, or dismembered, and so on. One cannot be in human society and behave like a divine being who can kill ad libitum.
I read a paper about the execution of a member of a North American Indian tribe. A medicine man made the mistake of asking too high fees of people and made such an abuse of this habit that he became inhuman. From a widow he took everything and left her ruined—he went beyond human limits. These acts aroused suspicion in the tribe, but it did not mature for a long time; instead, the suspicion went beneath the surface. The medicine man continued in this way and, feeling the criticism in his surroundings, became more and more demanding, probably to compensate the uncertainty in himself. He claimed to be the best medicine man, etc., until the whisperings in the tribe that he must be possessed by an evil spirit became louder and louder.
One day the elders of the tribe told him that the tribe believed him to be possessed by evil. As the medicine man did not deny it, they took him into the desert for trial by ordeal to find out if it was true. They made sand paintings and drawings, and all the medicine men invoked the spirits, saying that the medicine man was possessed by evil demons and did they wish to save him. The accused medicine man prayed with the others. Since no answer came, he was executed— quartered by four horses. He agreed with the sentence himself. To him it was not a question of being morally condemned but simply of having fallen inextricably for the gods of evil, of losing his humanness. He was absolutely at peace with his execution. This is the natural behavior toward the evil forces in man, which seems impressive and close to the psychological truth of these things. This closeness probably reveals why criminals in the past were often executed in a way by which they were identified with a god; one recognized that they had fallen into the hands of the dark Godhead and therefore had to suffer their bitter fate.
The symbolism of the suspended god on the tree, the gallows, and the cross is very profound. Such a fate normally overtakes that part of the Divinity most interested in man; the philanthropic part of the Godhead falls into the tragedy of suspension and has to do with the bringing of civilization—as in the Wotan myth, where after suspension on the tree Wotan discovers the runes, an implication of a progress in human consciousness. We have first to go into the
symbolism of the tree. In “The Philosophical Tree” in Alchemical Studies,5 Jung shows that the tree symbolizes human life and development and the inner process of becoming conscious. One could say that it symbolizes in the psyche that something which grows and develops undisturbed within us, irrrespective of what the ego does; it is the urge toward individuation which unfolds and continues, independent of our consciousness. In European countries when a child is born a tree is planted at the same time and will die when the human dies. This expresses the idea that the tree provides an analogy to human life, that the tree carries life, like the lights on the Christmas tree, and that the sun rising at the top of the tree implies growth toward higher consciousness. There are many mythological stories which liken the tree to the human being, or in which the tree appears as a man-tree. The Self is the tree—that which is greater than the ego in man.
Part of our life passes like a drama written by a novelist biographer, but behind that there is a mysterious process of growth which follows its own laws and takes place behind the biographical peripeteias of life and goes from childhood to old age. Viewed in a mythological context, the greater human being, the anthropos, is likened to a tree. The motif of the human-shaped Godhead being suspended on a tree mirrors the tragedy of human existence: the conscious man constantly pulls away, trying to free himself and to act freely and consciously, and he is then painfully pulled back to the inner process. The struggle reveals a tragic constellation if it is represented in this painful form. That is why the whole philosophy of the Christian religion has a tragic view of life: to follow Christ we have to accept mortification and repress certain impulses toward growth. The basic idea is that human life is based on conflict and strives toward spiritualization, which does not come of itself but is brought forth with suffering. The same idea is represented in a more archaic form in the Wotan myth—Wotan hanging on the tree. He is the eternal wanderer who roams all over the earth, the god of impulsiveness, of rage, of poetic inspiration, that element in the human being which lives in constant restlessness, bursting out into affects, and if this god was suspended on the tree for nine days and nine nights, he consequently discovered the runes of writing by which civilization based on the written word was founded.
Whenever the conscious and animal personality is in conflict with the inner process of growth, it suffers crucifixion; it is in the situation of the god suspended on the tree and is involuntarily nailed to an unconscious development from which it would like to break away but cannot. We are nailed down to something greater than ourselves which does not allow us to move and which outreaches us.
The Attis myth, which is older than the myth of the crucified God in Christianity, represents this in specific form. Attis, the beloved son of the Great Mother and himself the type of divine youth that does not grow old and decay, represents the pattern of the puer aeternus, the perenially young God, eternally beautiful, the figure which cannot suffer sadness, human restriction, disease, ugliness, and death. Like this god, most young men who have a decided mother complex feel, at some moment in their lives, that the process of life does not allow for such a state of being eternal; it has to die. In the plenitude of life, life lies ahead with its meaningfulness and splendor; but we know that this never lasts—it is always destroyed by the dark side of life. Therefore this young god always dies early, nailed to the tree, which is again the mother; the maternal principle which gave birth to him swallows him back in the negative form, and he is reached by ugliness and death.
You see this sometimes in the case of a young man who should marry or choose a profession, or who discovers that the fullness of youth is leaving him and that he has to accept the ordinary human fate. Many at that moment prefer to die either by an accident or in war, rather than become old. At the critical time, between thirty and forty, the tree is growing against them, their inner development is no longer in tune with the conscious attitude, but grows against it, and in that moment they have to suffer a kind of death; it should mean a change of attitude, but may mean actual physical death, a kind of disguised suicide, because the ego cannot give up its attitude—that is the crucial moment where they are sacrificed by a process of inner development which has turned against them. When the inner growth is the enemy of consciousness, this means that something within the man wants to outgrow him that he cannot follow, and therefore he has to die; for the self-will of the conscious personality has to die and surrender to the process of inner growth.
Another aspect of hanging as a means of killing someone is that in most mythological systems the air is the place in which ghosts and spirits roam about, like Wotan and his army of ghosts of the dead that fly through the air, especially on stormy nights. Therefore, if you hang someone, you turn him into a ghost and he must now ride with the other dead, with Wotan in the air. In the cult of Dionysus gifts were put on swings on the tree with the idea that Dionysus was a spirit and would see them; the gifts could thus be lifted up into the air and given to the spiritual beings who lived there. An expression illustrates this situation from a certain angle: we speak of suspension. When an inner psychological conflict gets too bad, life gets suspended; the two opposites are equal, the yes and the no are equally strong, and life cannot go on. You wish to move with the right leg and the left refuses, and vice versa, and you have the situation of suspension, which means a complete stoppage in the flow of life and intolerable suffering. Being stuck in conflict, nothing happening, is the most painful form of suffering.
When the shoemaker has blinded the tailor where the two criminals are hung, we might say that that symbolizes a suspension of conflict where the process of life has stopped. The opposites have clashed and life became stuck. The two dead people on the gallows mirror the shoemaker and tailor now in a state of sterile suspension. Naturally, as we have referred the whole story to the situation of the collective Christian era, we have to ask who these two are. If it were one suspended man, the idea would be close at hand as a hidden form of the symbol of Christ, the basic symbol of the Christian religion, the god hanging on the cross, but there are two sinners and therefore we have to ask who the second could be?
There are several, especially German, fairy tales which represent the evil spirit nailed to a tree or wall. Or the two people might in the same way allude to Christ suspended on the cross and Wotan on the tree, the good god suspended on the cross and the other god on the tree. This is not too far-fetched, because the motif of the two divine beings nailed to the tree or the cross occurs in many Christian legends and in the legends of the Arthurian circles and the circle of the Holy Grail, where Perceval has to find not only the Grail containing Christ’s blood but also the stag, or stag’s head, nailed to an oak tree, from which he has to take it down. In the main legend he does not forget and he finds the Grail before finding the stag’s head and brings it to a divine female figure; or the stag is represented as an evildoer, a destroyer of the woods and Christ’s shadow. The stag with its beautiful antlers, an unnecessary decoration which hampers its movements and whose object is to impress the female deer, suggests the idea of an arrogant creature and therefore represents the shadow of the Christian principle, an incredible arrogance and superciliousness which we have acquired and which seems one of the worst shadow attitudes spread with the Christian teaching.
A concrete illustration of what this arrogant shadow means often crops up in analysis: under the cloak of being Christian and kind to our fellow men we do not speak of our resistances, but instead produce a lot of negative assertions and judgments with a sweet Christian attitude, until a dream shows what has happened. The analysand has not spoken of resistances because that might lead to difficulties, and anyway the analyst has “already been forgiven.” That is arrogance! It would be much simpler to say, “I blame you for this and that; what have you to say about it?” That would be being human, modest, and normally related. But instead, negative reactions hide under the cloak of “forgiveness” and a virtuous and superior attitude and the knowledge that “the analyst is a human being and has negative sides.” That is the poison of a wrong Christian attitude. I have often met with this and resent this forgiveness and sweetness of people and would prefer that they were more naturally related and would say straight out what they thought so that one could get to a human understanding. This shadow of the Christian attitude is symbolized by the stag hung up in the tree in the medieval legends. If someone just pardons a fellow human being, then nothing happens; the negative assumptions remain for the next ten years! Such people will keep their negative judgments of the analyst for three or four years of analysis and have neither the courage nor decency to discuss the matter, for they are sure the other could not take it and that it would be un-Christian to bring it up. The negative assumption then gets stuck and the positive attitude of “politeness and forgiveness” remains. If an analysis gets stuck, you may be sure that something like this has happened. You cannot always catch it but it is there, and neither the good nor the evil side can evolve. Through an open dialogue, relationship could reestablish itself and the whole thing would flow again. That is a place where one generally has to interfere and perhaps suggest that the analysand go to a colleague, and generally then there is a big outburst that gives material on which to proceed. Usually there is a false attitude in the conscious personality and the idea that “this is something with which I can deal myself,” and so the person’s own inner development is hindered through narrowness and prejudice.
While the tailor sits under the gallows, on the head of each of the men hanging above him alights a crow, and the two begin to talk. The first crow says that the dew which this night has fallen over them from the gallows will restore the eyesight of anyone who washes in it. If the blind knew that, many who do not think it possible could have their sight restored. Here is a general and archetypal representation found in many civilizations and religious creeds; the remains of an executed criminal are potent medicine. It confirms the idea that execution is a deification, that the criminal had the arrogance to assume the role of the Gods and so is given back to them; and what was negative in the living human becomes positive in the Beyond, what was destructive in the human state is again constructive when back in its proper place. The right balance between the divine and the human is reestablished and through that a potent medicine is produced, so that the rope on which the human being was hung was used for healing purposes. “Take a piece of the rope on which a man has been hung, or nail parings, etc., and you will find a potent medicine.” The healing power in the relics of the saints has the same idea. The fact that executed criminals are treated like saints shows what the common idea is.
The crows, which in Germanic mythology belong to Wotan, and in the Mediterranean to Apollo, represent the capacity for divination. Apollo is the owner of the Delphic oracle and the revealer of truth, and the same applies to Wotan. Black birds, ravens and crows, are believed capable of knowing the future and of telling the hidden truth. In part this evolved since ravens and crows often assemble in places where a battle takes place, or on a house where someone is dying. When many crows or ravens frequently assemble in a place, people say that someone will die and that the crows know it. From that hook came the projection that they knew the truth and the future. Wotan had two ravens, Hugin and Munin, his sources of secret information. Birds in general represent intuitive hunches: creatures which fly in the air, in the medium of the spiritual world, and have therefore to do with involuntary thoughts which are revealed to be true. These two birds are the spirits of truthfulness. In the end the shoemaker finishes up under the gallows and the crows pick out his eyes. The birds represent that invisible truth of the unconscious which fulfills itself; the shoemaker does not come to his end by human power but by the unconscious truth.
If we observe unconscious processes, we see that wrong deeds do not have to be avenged by other human beings, for they are punished from within. The murderer ultimately kills himself. This is a terrible truth again and again confirmed. Frequently one is shocked by the injustice of human life, when the evil man prospers and the good man does not, but, psychologically, this is not true and it sometimes makes one shudder to realize what people risk. They may succeed in the outer world, but they incur terrible psychological punishment.
Jung once told of a woman who had committed murder. She put poison in the soup of another woman who was in love with her lover, and she was not found out. She came to confession absolutely destroyed. She felt cut off, for people had begun to avoid her without knowing why. She lost all her maids and servants and nobody wanted to live near her. She lived quite alone. She rode every day, but then the horse would bolt and would not carry her, and then one morning she called her dog and the dog put its tail between its legs and slunk away. She was slowly and cruelly ruined from within. This secret truth, the law of inner truth, is here expressed by the crows who are the spirit of truth and also have to do with healing power. In the tale of Apollo and Coronis, from whose union resulted the birth of Asklepios, the crow too gave valuable information. It is the crows who call the tailor’s attention to the cure for his eyes.
Dew in general carries the projection of manifesting an act of divine grace. In the Bible we have the story of Gideon’s fleece on which the dew falls, an act by God which showed his grace. This has also been interpreted as a prefiguration of the Holy Ghost descending on the Virgin Mary. In North American civilization, dew and rain are the great blessings on which depend the fertility of the earth. One must perhaps have lived in such a country to know the feeling of dew or rain that is experienced as divine grace, for by it everything comes to life. Now that these sinners have paid for their sins, the grace of God falls on them again: in the Beyond there is a reconciliation of the opposites, and therefore the dew has healing power. Psychologically, dew represents the first beginning of objective psychological insight during such a state of suspension.
Let us return to the conflict as it reaches its climax. There is the state of suspension where everything is stuck, the ego is in the state of yes and no, and there is the torture of arrested life and sterility. In such a moment the ego surrenders, admitting that this is an insoluble conflict—one that it cannot solve —and will submit to something objective, to a sign of God which will become evident. We say we will submit to what the dreams say. Neither analyst nor analysand can say anything further, but does the objective psyche produce any kind of material or signs which lead further? Only the dreams and fantasies are left, and they represent the dew, an objective living manifestation which comes from the depth of the psyche and can be studied, and which restores eyesight. If you can then understand the secret hints which are contained in a dream, your eyes are opened and you rediscover life and find it on a new level. Only the guidance of the unconscious can help at such a moment and provide the healing dew which falls upon us. That is why the tailor uses the dew and is able to go on again with his eyes cured and, thanking God, goes to the king’s city. In alchemy, the “divine” water is also called the healing remedy for blindness.
Afterward come the four tests where the tailor spares the horse by not riding him, the stork and the ducks by not eating them, and the bees by not taking away their nest. He then becomes the tailor at the king’s court, where the shoemaker slanders him so that he is forced to find the golden crown, which the ducks bring up from the bottom of the lake; to make a well, which the horse stamps out of the ground; to build a copy of the royal castle, which the bees make from their wax; and then the stork brings a boy to the king who has only daughters. Four tasks, the typical number of totality. If you know many fairy tales, you will know that this is not normal, for normally there are only three tasks, but then there is always a fourth thing which happens—an event and not a task. Here there are four tasks and no further event; the further event would be that the tailor becomes king.
The horse stamps out the water for the well. The horse symbolizes a kind of domesticated vital libido which can bring forth the well of the unconscious. Only if we invest our whole devotion to the instinctive unconscious does it begin to produce its water of life. There are people who have the task of writing on a theme but say it is dull and does not appeal to them, but after investing some libido in it they discover an inner flow of creativity. Many lazy people wait for inspiration until they are eighty and none comes; however, there are situations where one cannot wait, one has to make the first move and invest one’s own vital strength in the task before it reveals its meaning.
The second task is to bring up the king’s crown from the water. Two ducks fulfill it. In antique Greece the duck belonged to the love goddess and in circumpolar shamanism it is the shaman’s guide to the beyond and back. It can move on earth, in water, and in air, which is why it is the guide to the unconscious. The crown of the king symbolizes his function of representing the ultimate totality, which can hold the opposites together. The two ducks already symbolize a cooperation of the opposites. Good and evil are opposed to each other in the shoemaker and the tailor, but the tailor wins out because he respects the powers which work toward a union of opposites.
The motif of the model castle is a strange one. The castle in itself is a maternal feminine symbol. It encompasses and protects the royal family. It often has the shape of a mandala and therefore has to do with bringing the idea of totality into earthly reality, which is a task of the feminine principle. In our story it is done by the model, which is built by the bees. Bees have always appealed to the human mind because of their organized behavior, as evidenced also by other insects. Bees have an incredible unconscious cooperation of the whole group, though we think of them as completely unconscious and as having only a sympathetic nervous system. The late Karl von Frisch described most astonishing experiments made with bees. They can distinguish colors and can show each other where nectar is. A bee will fly in a big circle and find honey, but does not have to fly back the same way; it can go straight and by certain movements of the back and wings can show and tell the others so that they can go straight to the honey. It has been discovered that their system of orientation has to do with the polarization of sunlight. The unconscious instinct of the bees is amazing, and they therefore often symbolize harmonious functioning without rational organization.
Our communal life is more complicated than that of the bees, but we also have an instinctual basis for it. Our instinctual basis was and still is the performing of instinctual rituals which hark back to the most archaic times. With the development of consciousness, however, these archaic rituals have been amplified and even sometimes superseded by rational organization. Instinctual oneness with one’s task and surroundings is an ideal state, the state where the religious archetype simply holds people together and they cooperate on a natural basis. This is a functioning which man has always lost and sought again—you find it in all youthful communities. In Zen Buddhism there were such groups gripped by the same living symbol; they were strong social bodies which functioned without too many outer regulations. The mystery cults in late antiquity are an example of our civilization. We know a little of the initiation of Apuleius into the Isis mysteries. He was to have been initiated into a higher degree but did not have the money; then Osiris told him in a dream to go to the priest and ask to be initiated, and the priest had also had a dream telling him to reduce the fees. The god therefore organized the group, and both the priest and the organization submitted to archetypal instigation. As long as a community functions in that way, there is real freedom of the human being and cultural life in a group. So we can say that the building of the castle by the bees is a model of the rebuilding instigation in the state.
Then the stork—the most pious bird, as an old Jewish tradition says—brings
the new child. In his book Alchemical Studies,6 Jung quotes a lot about the stork. He discusses the alchemical picture of the tree of life, on a high branch of which is the stork. The mysterious mythological meaning of the stork in Jewish tradition goes back to Jeremiah 8:7: “Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times: and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the Lord.” The stork stands for something which has its divine orientation from above from which it cannot deviate, like the wild geese who carry the same projection in Eastern mythology. The pattern of behavior of this bird gives one the impression that it is obeying a secret order having a divine knowledge. Storks live in North Africa in the winter. There are two types: one flies over Spain and the other over Yugoslavia. They fly as far as possible overland. Experiments have been made and eggs taken and hatched of the Spanish group: such a bird sent off alone at the proper time will instinctively take the Spanish route, and the bird hatched from the Yugoslav type will take that route. They will fly their right route, according to their pattern, even without companions, for they are guided by the urge from within. Such observations have given rise to the idea that they are pious birds that obey their own laws without ego judgment, and they therefore stand for functioning in accordance with the inner truth and inner being. For this, and since it was believed to hate and kill snakes, the stork was taken as a symbol of Christ—as the transcedent function, that manifestation of the unconscious which tends to bring up the reconciling symbol, the divine child. In our story it functions by bringing a renewed form of dominant consciousness: the new king. Rather against the average habit, the tailor does not become king but stays at the court, and the shoemaker is cruelly punished. He is driven out into the woods, where the crows pick out his eyes, and then he gets lost. In most fairy tales the evildoers are cruelly destroyed, a fact which has lately caused much discussion because people thought that to hear that was not good for children. Looking at it from a Jungian standpoint, we must point out that the evildoers who are punished are not real human beings. The children know that instinctively. They are archetypal figures which in a purely destructive way destroy our humanity, and against these forces absolute cruel harshness is needed. We cannot compromise with our alcoholism, drug addiction, or other life-threatening tendencies. We have to stop them absolutely. That is what is expressed in the cruel punishment of mythical evildoers and why we are satisfied when we hear it. The treatment of the human criminal is another story, which I do not want to discuss here.