Reviews 0 Description C. That is because fairy tales are powerful stuff when taken seriously and why they continue to resonate for contemporary readers. Their simplicity and directness provide insights into the workings of our emotions that are unadorned and inescapable. Marie-Louise von Franz devoted much of her life to the difficult task of interpreting fair tales, bringing clarity and earthy good humor to the work. In this new book she focuses on what we can learn from fairy tales about the contrasexual complexes- animus and anima -which inform all our fantasies and behavior concerning the opposite sex, both inner and outer.
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Some tales dwell on the experience of the shadow; others emphasize the motif of renewal or the unobtainable treasure and these central experiences. Other tales emphasize the experience of animus and anima and the father and mother images behind them.
In the following we look at the animus in fairy tales; that is, we look at the specific character of the psychic situation that is contained in the animus image. The animus image speaks of the faculty of judgement in a woman. For a woman there is a masculine principle at work within her and within a man there is a feminine. Achieving greater wholeness is the on-going process of individuation that includes the differentiation and integration of earlier unconscious elements. And importantly, we must ask from where did it start, that is, what is the initial constellation?
There are not always happy endings to fairy tales, as we all know, and we can expect that the initial constellation will have much to say about where the action leads. The heroine must and does escape; no more than that can be asked of her. The following is my condensed version.
John B. There is a sorcerer in the guise of a poor man who begs and catches beautiful girls. None of the girls ever return. One day he appeared at the door of a man who had three beautiful daughters. He appeared poor and weak and carried a basket on his back. When the oldest daughter came out to hand him a piece of bread, he had only to touch her, and she was compelled to jump into his basket.
He carried her to his house in the middle of a dark forest. Everything was splendid inside the house and he gave her what ever she desired.
Here are the keys to the house. You may go wherever you want and look at everything except one room, which this small key here opens. If you disobey me, you shall be punished by death. You are to carry it wherever you go.
If you lose it, then something awful will happen. The rooms glistened with silver and gold. Finally, she came to the forbidden door. She wanted to walk past it but curiosity got the better of her, she used the key and opened the room.
Alas what did she see? There was a large bloody basin in the middle of the room; it was filled with dead people who had been chopped to pieces. Next to the basin was a block with an ax. She was horrified and dropped the egg she was holding and it plopped into the basin. She took it out and wiped the blood off, but to no avail: the blood reappeared instantly.
She wiped and scraped, but she could not get rid of the spot. Not long after this, the sorcerer returned and the first things he demanded from her were the keys and the egg. With trembling, she handed them to him and he saw directly from the blood on the egg that she had been in the bloody chamber. This is the end of your life. Then he went and fetched the third daughter, but she was smart and cunning. After he had given her the keys and the egg and had departed, she put the egg away in a safe place.
Then she explored the house and eventually came to the forbidden chamber. There she saw her dear sisters chopped to pieces in the basin. However, she set to work right a way, gathered all the pieces and put them together.
When nothing was missing, the pieces began to move and join together. The maidens opened their eyes, they were alive again and they rejoiced together.
She had him carry the basket to her father and mother. It was full of gold, and under the gold her sisters were hidden. They were to alert her family and send help.
In the mean time she invited all his cronies to the wedding. She dressed up a skull and placed it in the attic window. She dipped herself into a barrel of honey, cut open a bed and rolled in the feathers. She looked like a strange bird. She went out to the road and no one could recognize her. They had been sent to rescue her. They locked all the doors of the house to prevent anyone from escaping and set fire to the house.
Let us look at the initial situation. There is a sorcerer who takes girls away and they never return. There is a father and three daughters. There is no mention of a mother, nor of the brother, who are both mentioned at the end. Without a mother, but with a sorcerer and a father we may think that the initial situation speaks of a father complex in a woman of marriageable age.
This father complex could be seen as having two poles: one being the father image that encourages growth and another father image that entices away from growth.
Just as we see that a witch can be the negative pole of the mother complex. The witch plans to eat them. And there appears on the one hand a sublime deity, and on the other hand the devil, the effects of which are diametrically opposite.
This double aspect of the father imago acts ambivalently on consciousness. Jung gives an example of the ambivalent behavior of the father-imago in the love-episode from the Book of Tobit. Sara, the daughter of Raquel, desires to marry. But her evil fate wills it that seven times, one after the other, she chooses a husband who dies on the wedding night.
It is the evil spirit Asmodeus — by whom she is persecuted — that kills these men. She prays to Yahweh and the eighth bridegroom, her cousin Tobias the son of Tobit, is sent to her by God. In our tale the sorcerer appears with feminine attributes: he carries a basket on his back and later he has a large basin.
In a similar way the witch has masculine characteristics, often a sharp long nose and hairy arms. The lack of differentiation suggests their position in the unconscious. We can also view this situation as expressing animus possession, in which the woman is robbed of her feminine attributes. The beggar asks for food and the girl responded. In the role of a poor man or a beggar, the animus induces the woman to believe that she herself has nothing.
So there is experienced a poverty in conscious life, that results in endless self-criticism. On the one hand there is a laming leading to absent-mindedness, and the woman can appear charmingly feminine. On the other there is aggressiveness and the woman can appear assertive and masculine. The sorcerer also gives the girls an egg. What symbolic meaning does the egg have? Eggs have potential. In some creation myths there is the Cosmic Egg, the origin of the universe. In Coptic churches the egg depicts creation, life and resurrection.
In alchemy the egg is also the sealed hermetic vase in which the Great Work is consummated. In some myths the god is born from an egg. We can wonder how it is that the sorcerer has the egg to give to the girls. Perhaps he has something of the mother; she was missing at the beginning of the tale. I think of how in the symptoms of our neurosis, or the compulsive working of our autonomous complex, there is hidden that which we must realize.
We can feel trapped or in prison when caught in a projection, while if one has a constant alertness to the Self one is no longer caught. We see in the tale that the sorcerer is very repetitive, always out for the next girl.
One can view the activity of the sorcerer and the dismembered bodies as the workings of an addiction, or animus possession of the autonomous complex. We see this in the repetition that brings death and no memory. The heroine breaks the cycle. She puts the egg somewhere safe rather than carrying it with her, and she enters the forbidden room. Mother Trudy is a witch. The girl enters the forbidden chamber house and asks Mother Trudy about what she has seen as she came in, whereupon Trudy changes the girl into a block of wood and throws it into the fire.
In this case, disobedience was not a good idea. We could imagine that the girl is too young, too undeveloped to act on her curiosity successfully. She still needs her parents to make distinctions for her. This is certain death. The girl abdicates her animus functioning to the witch.
Animus and Anima in Fairy Tales