Marie-Louise von Franz

Marie-Louise von
Franz
1915
1998

Swiss Jungian Psychologist and Scholar

Author Quotes

We always tend to keep within ourselves threshold reactions such as a little doubt, or a little impulse not to do something. If the impulses are not very strong we are inclined to put them aside in a one-sided way and by this we have hurt an animal or a spirit within us.

We could all be mediums, and all have absolute knowledge, if the bright light of our ego consciousness would not dim it? I have myself observed that in states of extreme fatigue, when I am really dangerously physically exhausted, I suddenly get absolute knowledge.

When a person has inwardly struggled with his anima or with her animus for a sufficiently long time and has reached the point where he or she is no longer identified with it in an unconscious fashion, the unconscious once again takes on a new symbolic form in relating with the ego. It then appears in the form of the psychic core, that is, the Self. In the dreams of a woman, the Self, when it personifies itself, manifests as a superior female figure, for example, as a priestess, a sorceress, an earth mother, or a nature or love goddess. In the dreams of a man, it takes the form of some-one who confers initiations (an Indian guru), a wise old man, a nature spirit, a hero, and so forth. An Austrian fairy tale recounts the following: A king posts a soldier to keep watch on the coffin of a cursed black princess who has been bewitched. It is known that every night she comes to life and tears the guard to pieces. In despair, not wanting to die, the soldier runs away into the forest. There he meets an "old zither player who was, however, the Lord God himself," and this old musician advises him how to hide in different places in the church and what to do so that the black princess cannot find him. With the help of this miraculous old man, the soldier succeeds in evading the princess's attack and in this way is able to redeem her. He marries her and becomes the king.

When not used as an instrument, the intellect becomes autonomous and dynamic and one can be sure that a man with such attitude is driven by his anima, otherwise he would discuss in a quiet, detached way.

People who have a creative side and do not live it out are most disagreeable clients. They make a mountain out of a molehill, fuss about unnecessary things, are too passionately in love with somebody who is not worth so much attention, and so on. There is a kind of floating charge of energy in them which is not attached to its right object and therefore tends to apply exaggerated dynamism to the wrong situation.

The embodiment of the unconscious of a woman as a figure of the opposite sex, the animus, also has positive and negative features. The animus, however, does not express itself so often in women as an erotic fantasy or mood, but rather as "sacred" convictions. When these latter are expressed loudly and energetically in a masculine style, this masculine side of a woman is easily recognizable. However, it can also manifest in a woman who appears very feminine externally as a quiet but relentless power that is hard as iron. Suddenly one comes up against something in her that is cold, stubborn, and completely inaccessible.

The favorite themes that the animus of the woman dredges up within her sound like this: "I am seeking nothing but love, but 'he' doesn't love me." Or, "There are only two possibilities in this situation," both of which of course are unpleasant (the negative animus never believes in exceptions). One can seldom contradict the animus, for it/he is always right; the only problem is that his opinion is not based on the actual situation. For the most part he gives utterance to seemingly reasonable views, which, however, are slightly at a tangent to what is under discussion.

The French call such an anima figure a femme fatale. The sirens of the Greeks and the Lorelei of the Germans embody these dangerous aspects of the anima-in a word, destructive illusions. The following Siberian tale gives a particularly apt portrayal of such a destructive anima: A solitary hunter once had the experience of seeing a beautiful woman appear on the opposite bank of a river. She waved to him and sang, "Come, come. I've missed you, missed you. Now I want to put my arms around you, put my arms around you. Come, come, my nest is nearby, my nest. Come, come, lonely hunter, right now in the stillness of twilight." As he threw off his clothes and began swimming across to her, she suddenly flew away in the form of an owl, laughing mockingly. Swimming back, he drowned in the ice-cold river. Here the anima symbolizes an unreal dream of love and happiness, of motherly love and security (the nest), an illusion that holds a man back from life. The hunter freezes to death because of his pursuit of an erotic fantasy.

The old zither player who is really God himself, expressed in psychological language, is a symbol of the Self. He helps the soldier, that is, the ego, to overcome the destructive anima figure and even to redeem it. In a woman, as we have said, the Self takes on a feminine form.

The passionate reactions of people to a painting, the exclamation, 'Oh, this is wonderful,' may, even if meant in a positive way, entirely destroy the chiaroscuro, the mystical hidden weaving of fantasy which the artist needs...

The philosophical system with which we try to interpret contents of the unconscious is open to still more, and that is the way in which an interpretation will not have a destructive effect. One should keep to what is possible and infer at the same time that there is a lot more to it so that there is room for growth.

The way the anima initially manifests in an individual man usually bears the stamp of his mother's character. If he experienced her in a negative way, then his anima often takes the form of depressive moods, irritability, perpetual malcontent, and excessive sensitivity. If the man is able to overcome these, precisely these things can strengthen his manliness. Such a negative mother anima will endlessly whisper within a man: "I'm a nothing," "It doesn't make sense anyhow," "It's different for other people," "Nothing * gives me any pleasure," and so on. Continual fear of disease, impotence, or accidents are her work, and she constellates a general sense of gloom. Troubled moods like these can intensify to the point of temptations to suicide; thus the anima can become a demoness of death. She appears in this role in Cocteau's film Orpheus.

There are people who cannot risk loneliness with the experience. They always have to be in a flock and have human contact.

There existed long ago in Tibetan, Indian, and partly also in Chinese Buddhism the idea that the religious practice of meditation serves the goal of producing within the still-living and mortal body the diamond body into which you move, so to speak. Already in this lifetime you use your diamond body more and more as a dwelling place, so that at the moment of death, like a skin which falls off from a fruit, this mortal body falls away and the glorified body -or in Eastern language, the diamond body- is already there. The glorified body, a sort of immortal substance as carrier of the individual personality, is already produced by religious practice during one's lifetime. This same idea, which is strange to official Christian teaching, does come up vigorously in alchemical philosophy. The alchemists, too, strove from the beginning to produce such a glorified or diamond body, and Christian alchemists from the beginning identified it with the glorified body. In order to build up this glorified body, called the philosopher's stone, you must repeat the whole process of creation.

There is a beautiful tale among the Australian aborigines which says that the bow and arrow were not man's invention, but an ancestor God turned himself into a bow and his wife became the bowstring, for she constantly has her hands around his neck, as the bowstring embraces the bow. So the couple came down to earth and appeared to a man, revealing themselves as bow and bowstring, and from that the man understood how to construct a bow. The bow ancestor and his wife then disappeared again into a hole in the earth. So man, like an ape, only copied, but did not invent, the bow and arrow. And so the smiths originally, or so it seems from Eliade's rather plausible argument, did not feel that they had invented metallurgy; rather, they learned how to transform metals on the basis of understanding how God made the world.

To sum up: numbers appear to represent both an attribute of matter and the unconscious foundation of our mental process. For this reason, number forms, according to Jung, that particular element that unites the realms of matter and psyche. It is ?real? in a double sense, as an archetypal image and as a qualitative manifestation in the realm of outer-world experience.

Especially in times of collective neurosis, the existence of . . . mature people is of crucial importance.

Number is therefore the most primitive instrument of bringing an unconscious awareness of order into consciousness; from it you can best tap the unconscious constellation. This probably why it is used in most mantic methods.

If you observe a content which then disappears for a short time into the unconscious, it is not altered when it comes up again, but if you forget something for a long time, it does not return in the same form; it autonomously evolves or regresses in the other sphere, and therefore one can speak of unconscious as being a sphere, or entity in itself.

On the fourth level, he embodies the mind and becomes a mediator of creative and religious inner experiences, through which life acquires an individual meaning. At this stage he confers on a woman a spiritual and intellectual solidity that counterbalances her essentially soft nature. He can then act as a liaison connecting her with the spiritual life of the time. When this occurs, women are often more open to new, creative ideas than men. That is why in the past women were often used as mediums able to make knowledge of the future available to the world of the spirit. The creative courage in the truth conferred by the animus gives a woman the daring to enunciate new ideas that can inspire men to new enterprises. Often in history women have recognized the value of new creative ideas earlier than men, who are more emotionally conservative. The nature of woman is more closely related to the irrational, and this makes a woman better able to open to new inspirations from the unconscious. The very fact that women normally participate less in public life than men do makes it possible for their animus to act as a "hidden prince" in the darkness of private life and bring about beneficial results.

If you think the anima as being nothing but what you know about her, you have not the receptiveness of a listening attitude, and so she becomes nothing but a load of brutal emotions; you have never given her a chance of expressing herself, and therefore she has become inhuman and brutal.

One has to consider what effect it would have on one to have to accept the fact that God was not the friendly guardian of kindergarten!

In one African myth the word for God is even identical with skill and capacity. The Godhead is defined as that thing which appears in man as the mystery of an unusual skill or capacity. It is something divine, a spark of the divinity in him, not his own possession or achievement, but a miracle.

Our whole tradition has trained us to think always of God as being outside the world and shaping its dead material in some form. But upon making a general survey of creation myths, we see that this type of God mirrors a rare and specific situation; it mirrors a state where consciousness has already markedly withdrawn, as an independent entity, out of the unconscious and therefore can turn toward the rest of the material as if it were its dead object. It also already shows a definite separation between subject and object; God is the subject of the creation and the world, and its material is the dead objects with which he deals. Naturally we must correct this viewpoint by putting it into its right context, namely, that the craftsman in primitive societies never imagined himself to be doing the work himself. Nowadays if you watch a carpenter or a smith, he is in a position to feel himself as a human being with independent consciousness, who has acquired from his teacher a traditional skill with which he handles dead material. He feels that his skill is a man-made possession, which he owns. If we look at the folklore and mythology of the different crafts in more primitive societies, we see that they have a much more adequate view of it. They all still have tales which show that; man never invented any craft or skill, but that it was revealed to him, that it is the Gods who produced the knowledge which man now uses if he does anything practical.

In other words, the idea of the philosopher's stone of the alchemists is identical with the idea of the glorified body. This offers an archetypal approach to some Eastern ideas, because in different Eastern yoga practices and meditation the goal is to produce within oneself the so-called diamond body which is an immortal nucleus of the personality.

Author Picture
First Name
Marie-Louise von
Last Name
Franz
Birth Date
1915
Death Date
1998
Bio

Swiss Jungian Psychologist and Scholar