Frog

If a frog says he is a prince…. or if any animal says he was once a human and now has been turned into an animal… this represents a regression to a primitive level. A prince has been bewitched and has regressed into a frog. This means that some belief from the collective conscious has bewitched him and made him regress onto a primitive level.

“A moral prejudice against Eros or a repression of the Eros principle for political or other reasons also may reduce the anima to a frog or a louse or whatever other form and level she may be repressed into. Then a man’s anima becomes as undeveloped as the Eros function of a frog.
A frog, however, is not completely unrelated. It is possible to tame frogs, and you can make them take their food from you; they have a certain capacity for relatedness. Men who have a frog anima would behave in much the same way.”

Frogs are also associated with witches. They are unchaste animals and are often associated with child birth. The male fertilizes the feminine. The frog announces the birth of a child after a period of sterility. The frog often announces the birth of an unborn child. Or the arrival of something… a new consciousness

As an illustration of ego formation we might remember certain processes in a frog’s egg. At a given stage a gray spot is produced on one side of a frog’s egg. Experiments prove that this gray spot later develops into the head. If you cut into this with a thread, a doubleheaded frog will be produced. If you remove it, the frog will have no head. Thus you can prove experimentally that the gray spot in the frog’s egg is that part of the plasma which later develops into the head. If you remove the spot, and then drop a little hydrochloric acid onto the plasma, a grayish spot will grow. The correct plasma will be formed; a new head will grow, and a whole frog will hatch out. This process is similar to ego formation. The ego would be the center of the field of consciousness formed in it, but produced by a total reaction of the whole psychic system, which is a self- regulating system. You can say that the latent impulse to produce the ego is expressed by the image of the mythological hero. He has qualities which do not coincide with the actual ego, but have more to do with the archetype of the total psyche.
Most human difficulties, including neurotic and psychotic dissociation, are linked with an ego that is not functioning in accordance with the total disposition of the psyche. There is a kind of disharmony between it and the makeup of the psyche. In a certain type of schizophrenia there is an enormous fantasy production in the unconscious and an impoverishment in consciousness of either thinking or, as Eugen Bleuler pointed out, of emotion and affect. The conscious personality is in disharmony with the wealth of vitality of the unconscious. The overflow of the unconscious falls into too narrow a vessel. One of the main tasks of therapeutic treatment, therefore, is to try to enrich the range of emotional reactions so that the vessel is larger and more solid and can receive the emotional impulses from the unconscious. But there are various forms of disharmony. Not every neurotic split is due to this cause, though it is a frequent form of dissociation.


Especially the ego complex tends to dissociate from the rest of the psyche and to get out of harmony with it; it tends to act autonomously. Therefore one of the most essential problems of the human race is to build an ego which functions in a healthy manner, that is, in accordance with the instinctive makeup of the total anthropos. On the one hand, we are distinguished from the other animals by having a strong ego complex; and on the other, our greater consciousness presents us with the danger of a split.

The king and queen in our fairy story had no children, but the frog says to the queen, “Your wish shall be fulfilled. Before a year passes you shall have a daughter.” Before the birth of the hero or heroine, there is often such a long period of sterility; and then the child is born supernaturally. Put into psychological language, we know that before a time of outstanding activity in the unconscious, there is a tendency toward a long period of complete passivity. It is, for instance, a normal condition in the creative personality that before some new piece of work in art or a scientific idea breaks through, people usually pass through a period of listlessness and depression and waiting; life is stale. If one analyzes them, one sees that the energy is meanwhile accumulating in the unconscious.


I remember a time when I felt desperate in this way. Then I dreamed that I was looking at a big railway station where shunting was going on, and new trains were being composed. The dream showed that the energy in the unconscious was readjusting itself; energy and instinctive patterns were rearranging. Before the outburst of a psychotic interval, there is also such a time when everything becomes stale. But then comes the explosion. Libido has been accumulating in the unconscious and comes out in a destructive explosion.

So these periods of sterility mean that something specific is in preparation in the unconscious. Here it is foretold by the frog. The frog sits in the Queen’s bath —the Freudians would certainly have something to say about that! In folklore the frog is looked upon as a rather unchaste animal. It was used in olden days in love charms in which its bones had to be worn in a certain form. It appeared at the beginning of many prescriptions having to do with fertility, sexuality, and bisexual love. One thinks of it as the male member fertilizing the queen. But if you read folklore, you find that it is a maternal animal used to help women at childbirth and to bring fertility. In many countries, the croaking of frogs in springtime is said to resemble the cries of unborn children, and therefore represents the soul of the not yet incarnate child.
In many countries the frog is believed to be poisonous and is called a witch’s animal. This is borne out by Hildegarde von Bingen, a medieval mystic and learned writer, who says that especially in spring when everything is so beautiful, the devil likes to put frightful ideas into the heads of human beings; the devil “likes the croaking of frogs.” Here again is a connection with sexuality, sexual desire, a “spring mood,” a mood of exuberance in nature. Naturally, from a Christian standpoint, the frog can only be attributed to the witch and the devil. But it has also to do with the birth of children and the ending of a stage of psychological sterility; it indicates a spirit of nature, or a vital impulse.
Jung has said of the frog that it looks like an attempt by nature to form man on the level of the cold-blooded animal, because of the striking similarity to the human structure with the little feet and hands. This idea that the frog is an imperfect human being is very widespread. People call a child a “little frog.” The frog is a cold-blooded creature, not yet a human being, and therefore represents, especially in dreams, an unconscious impulse that has a definite tendency to become conscious. There are impulses which resist consciousness— you have to push them, so to speak. The complexes themselves, if left alone, would remain unconscious. But sometimes there are complexes which have a strong energetic drive toward consciousness; they force realization of their existence upon people. The frog represents such an impulse—that which imposes itself upon you; so it is only a question of acceptance in consciousness and a realization of the content. If an analysand dreams of a frog, I know that I must only have a receptive attitude, and that then the rest will follow by itself. In many other tales a magic figure says that something must be done, or eaten, and then you will get a child. But here nothing is required; it is a natural process. The queen has only to wait and perhaps knit some little things for it!

Marie Louise Von Franz. Feminine in Fairy Takes

In general, the frog in mythology is often a masculine element, whereas the toad is feminine. In Europe there is the frog prince, and in African and Malayan stories the frog is also a male being, while in practically all other civilizations the toad is feminine. In China a threelegged toad lives in the moon and together with a hare produces the elixir of life. According to a Taoist tradition she has been fished up from the “well of truth” and as a kind of protecting spirit works with the hare to make the elixir pills which heal and prolong life. In our civilization, the toad has always been associated with the Earth Mother, especially in her function of helping at childbirth. She was looked on, and is even now regarded, as being a representation of the uterus. In Catholic countries, after a leg or a hand or some other part has been cured by a saint, a wax image is made of the injured part and suspended as an ex voto (a token of the fulfillment of one’s vow) at the church where healing was requested. Now if a woman has a disease of the uterus or some trouble connected with childbirth, she will not make a wax image of her uterus but will suspend a wax toad in the church, for the toad represents the uterus. In many churches and chapels in Bavaria, the statue of the Virgin is surrounded by such toads made out of wax. There the Virgin Mary has taken over the function of the Greek goddess Artemis Eileithyia, the helper in birth, the positive mother who helps the woman carry the child and give birth to it without harm. This analogy of toad and uterus shows how much the toad in this connection actually represents the maternal womb, the mother—just that which is lacking in the royal family.


The big toad in the middle could be looked upon as the mother of all the little toads sitting around her. Our Dummling does not marry the big toad; he takes one of the little ones out of the ring and she turns into the beautiful princess, which shows even more clearly that the big toad is the mother figure from whose circle he gets his anima. For, as we know, the anima is a derivative of the mother image in a man’s psychology. Here the Mother Earth goddess is really in the center. The word shrivel is rather more difficult to understand. Certainly in the German language hutzel, the original word, is always associated with old age ancientness, something which has lasted for a long time. It could allude to the fact that the Mother Goddess has been excluded from the realm of consciousness and neglected and has thus shriveled up in the cellar like an old apple.
Now we come to the leg (Bein), which I am inclined to interpret rather as a bone (also Bein in German) than as a leg because of a widespread ritual for a love charm in German, Swiss, and Austrian countries, according to which a man must take a toad or a frog and throw it alive into an ant heap. Then he must run away and not listen because the toad or frog might cry and that would mean that he was cursed by it. The ants will then eat the toad or frog until only the bones are left; then the man must take one of the leg bones and keep it, and if he secretly touches a woman’s back with it without her noticing it, she will fall hopelessly in love with him. Thus toads and frogs are very much used in witchcraft and magic for love charms and aphrodisiac potions. Also in folklore the poisonous nature of the toad is very much emphasized. Actually a toad, if touched, exudes a liquid which, though not dangerous to humans, can cause an eczema, a slight inflammation of the skin. Smaller animals can be killed by this exudation. Since in folklore this fact is much exaggerated, the toad is looked upon as a witch animal, and its pulverized skin and legs are used as one of the basic ingredients of practically all witch potions.
To sum up, we see that the toad is an earth goddess which has power over life and death: it can poison or it can bring life, and it has to do with the love principle. Thus the toad really contains all the elements lacking in the conscious setup of our story. It is green, the color of vegetation and nature, and a third line in the verse speaks of Hutzelbeins Hündchen—Shrivel leg’s little dog. So there is a strange kind of association with a little dog, which is not quite clear but becomes clearer if you look up Bolte and Polivka’s collection of parallels, where you will find that in many other versions, particularly in many French parallels, the redeemed princess is not a toad but a little dog. Obviously there is a shifting or intermingling of motifs, for sometimes it is a little white dog and sometimes either a cat, a mouse, or a toad. Should the bewitched or unredeemed princess be a little dog, she would naturally be much closer to the human realm than a frog; she would have been neglected and have regressed to an unconscious level, but she would be less low and less far away than if she had regressed to the level of a toad or a frog. So we could say that Dummling finds the lacking feminine element in a nonhuman form, as a cold-blooded animal or, if a dog, in the form of a warm-blooded animal.
The formation of this big toad with a ring of little toads at the entrance, in that other parallel, also shows that together with the feminine, the symbol of totality is constellated.

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