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First Years - C.G Jung - Memories - Dreams - Reflections

When I was six monthsold, my parents moved from Kesswil on Lake Constance to Laufen, the castle and vicarage above the Falls of the Rhine. This was in 1875. My memories begin with my second or third year. I recall the vicarage, the garden, the laundry house, the church, the castle, the Falls, the small castle of Worth, and the sexton's farm. These are nothing but islands of memory afloat in the sea of vagueness, each by itself, apparently with no connection between them.

One memory comes up which is perhaps the earliest of my life, and indeed only a rather hazy impression. I am lying in a pram, in the shadows of a tree. It is a fine, warm sunny day, the sky blue, and golden sunlight darting through the green leaves. The hood of the pram has been left up. I have just awakened to the glorious beauty of the day, and have a sense of indescribable well-being. I see the sun glittering through the leaves and blossoms of the bushes. Everything is wholly wonderful, colorful, and splendid.Another memory: I am sitting in our dining room, on the west of the house, perched in a high chair and spooning up warm milk with bits of broken bread in it. The milk has a pleasant taste and characteristic smell. This was the first time I became aware of the smell of milk. It was the moment so to speak, I became conscious of smelling . This memory, too, goes very far back.Still another: a lovely summer evening. An aunt said to me, "Now I am going to show you something." She took me out in front of the house, on the road to Dachsen. On the far horizion the chain of the Alps lay bathed in glowing sunset reds.

The Alps could seen very clearly that evening. "Now look over there" - I can hear her saying to me in Swiss dialect- "the mountains are all red."For the first time I consciously saw the Alps. Then I was told that the next day the village children would be going on a school outing to the Uetliberg, near Zurich. I wanted so much to go too. To my sorrow I was informed that children as small as I could not go along, there was nothing to be done about it. From then on the Uetliberg and Zurich became an unattainable land of dreams, near the glowing, snow covered mountains.

From a somewhat later period comes another memory. My mother tooke me to Thurgau to visit friends, who had a castle on the Lake Constance. I could not be dragged away from the water. The waves from the steamer washed up to the shore, the sun glistened on the water, and the sand under the water had been curled into little ridges by the waves. The lake stretched away and away  into the distance. This expanse of waterwas an invonceivable pleasure to me, an incomparable splendor. At that time the idea became fixed in my mind that I must live near a lake, without water, I thought nobody could live at all. 

Still another memory comes up: strangers, bustle, excitment. The maid comes running and exclaimes, "The fisherman have found a corpse-came down the Falls- they want to put it in the washhouse!" My father says, "yes, yes." I want to see the dead body at once. My mother holds me back and sternly forbids me to go into the garden. When all the men had left, I quickly stole into the garden to the washhouse. But the door was locked. I went around the house; at the back there was an open drain running down the slope, and I saw blood and water trickling out. I found this extraordinarily interesting. At that time I was not even four years old. 

Yet another image: I am restive, feverish, unable to sleep. My father carries me in his arms, pace up and down, singing his old student songs. I particularly remember one I was espically fond of and which always used to soothe me, "Alles schweige, feder neige...." The beginning went something like that. To this day I can remember my father's voice, singing over me in the stillness of the night. I was suffering, so my mother told me afterward, from general eczema. Dim intimations of trouble in my parent's marriage hovered around me. My illness in 1878, must have been connected with the temporay seperation of my parents. My mother spent several months in a hospital in Basel, and presumably her illness had something to do with the difficulty in the marriage.

An aunt of mine, who was a spinster and some twenty years older than my mother, took care of me. I was deeply troubled by my mother being away. From then on. I always felt mistrustful when the word "love" was spoken. The feeling I associated with "woman" was for a long time that of innate unreliability. "Father," on the other hand meant reliability and - powerlessness. That is the handicap I started off with. Later, these early impressions were revised; I have trusted men friends and been disappointed by them, and I have mistrusted women and was not disappointed.

While my mother was away, our maid, too, looked after me. I still remember her picking me up and laying my head against her shoulder. She had black hair and olive complexion, and was quite different from my mother. I can see, even now, her hairline, her throat, with its darkly pigmented skin, and her ear. All this seemed to me very strange and yet strangely familiar. It was a though she belonged not to my family but only to me, as though she were connected in some way with other mysterious things I could not understand. This type of girl later became a component of my anima. The feeling of strangeness which she conveyed, and yet of having her always, was a characteristic of that figure which later came to symbolize for me the whole essence of womanhood. 

From the period of my parents' separation I have another memory image: a young very pretty and charming girl with blue eyes and fair hair is leading me, on ablue autumn day, under golden maple and chestnut trees along the Rhine below the Falls, near Worth castle. The sun is shining through the foliage, and yellow leaves lie on the ground. This girl later became my mother-in-law. She admired my father. I did not see her again until I was twenty-one years old. These are my outward memories. What follow now are more powerful, indeed overwhelming images, some of which I recall only dimly. Ther was a fall downstairs, for example, and another fall against the angle of a stove leg. I remember pain and blood, a doctor sewing a wound in my head-the scar remained visible until my senior year at the Gymnasium. My mother told me, too of the time when I was crossing the brifge ove the Rhine Falls of Neuhausen. The maid caught me just in time-I already had one leg under the railing and was about to slip through. These things point to an unconscious suicidal urge or, it may be, to a fatal resistance to life in the world.

At this time I also had vague fears at night. I would hear things walking about the house. The muted roar of the Rhine Falls was always audible, and all around lay a danger zone. Peole drowned, bodies were swept over the rocks. In the cemetery nearby, the sexton would dig a hole-heaps of brown, upturned earth. Black solemn men in long frock coats with unusually tall hats and shiny black boots would bring a black box. My father would be there in his clerical gown, speaking in a resounding voice. Women wept. I was told that someone was being buried in this hole in the ground. Certain person who had been around previously  would suddenly no longer be there.Then I wouyld hear that they had been buried, and that the Lord Jesus had taken them to himself.

My mother had taught me a prayer which I had to say every evening. I gladly did so because it gave me a sense of comfort in face of the vague uncertainties of the night: 

Spread out thy wings, Lord Jesus mild, And take to thee thy chick, thy child.

"If Satan would devour it, no harm shall overpower it," So let the angels sing.

Reference: Memories-Dreams-Reflections: C.G.Jung:  

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