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This Jungian Life

Dec 31, 2020

Mythological Paths to Personal Potential

Myths and fairy tales depict women’s initiation into authority and adulthood. Hades abducted Kore (maiden) into the underworld; Snow White choked on a poisoned apple and lay in stasis; Aphrodite punished forsaken Psyche with arduous tasks. As all were blossoming into the fullness of their beauty and fertility, all were also in thrall to innocence complexes that blinded them to realities of envy, aggression, and power, imaged as rapist, step-mother, and mother-in-law.

Women’s initiation into adulthood and authority involves encountering shadow, finding inner fire, taking action, and wielding power. Kore became queen of the underworld; Snow White metabolized the poison and revived; Psyche reclaimed her mate and ascended to Mt. Olympus. Female initiation involves relational trauma and the sacrifice of a naively romantic and other-oriented stance. This mythological pattern points to the potential for finding clear-eyed selfhood, life direction, and the will to achieve goals.

Here's the dream we analyze:

"I was playing a concert with a famous elder statesman of bluegrass. We play a funny song about a cat that travels with its owner in a semi-tractor trailer, across the USA.  The song begins with me playing the bass and with the cat making some kind of meow. My cat (all grey, yellow eyes, born without a tail) was lying next to me on stage, curled up on top of a stool.v The cat's presence gave me comfort, humor and warmth. At end of song the lights went dark. A spotlight forms above the elder statesman, casting shadows across his features. He turns to me and gets very close to my face. I feel pressure at being the focus of attention. He produces a large stack of cards below his chin and starts showing them to me, one by one. At first the cards and numbers don't make sense. He draws 10 then 13 - maybe he can't guess the numbers my mind is picking. All of a sudden the "trick" begins to work. He picks 24, 48 and 72.  He is drawing the cards I’m thinking of and from a very large stack. These numbers are bigger than a deck of playing cards, yet they are similarly designed, quite intricate. I’m shocked, not afraid, that he knows the numbers. The elder smirks a slight, knowing smile."


Michael Meade. The Water of Life: Initiation and Tempering of the Soul. 

Mary Pipher. Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. 

Carol Gilligan. In a Different Voice. 

Paul Foster Case. Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of Ages.