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Memories, Dreams, Reflections - 3

The Jesuit's "disguise" cast its shadow over the Christian docrine I had been taught. Often to me it seemed a solemn masquerade, a kind of funeral at which the mourners put on serious or mournful faces but the next moment were secretly laughing and not really sad at all. Lord Jesus seemed to me in some ways a god of death, helpful, it is true, in that he scared away the terrors of the night, by himself uncanny, a crucified and bloody corpse. Secretly, his love and kindness, which I always heard praised, appeared doubtful to me, chiefly because the people who talked most about "dear Lord Jesus" wore black frock coats and shiny black boots which reminded me of burials.

They were my father's colleagues as well as eight of my uncle's-all parsons. For many years they inspired fear in me-not to speak of occasional Catholic priests who reminded me of the terrifying Jesuit who had irritated and even alarmed my father. In later years and until my confirmation, I made every effort to force myself to take the required positive attitude to Christ. But I could never succeed in overcoming my secret distrust.

The fear of the "black man", which is felt by every child, was not the essential thing in that experience; it was, rather, the recognition that stabbed through my childish brain. "That is a Jesuit." so the important thing in the dream was its remarkable symbolic setting and the astounding interpretation; "That is the man-eater." Not the child's ogre of a man-eater, but the fact that this was the man-eater, and that it was sitting on a golden throne beneath the earth.

For my childish imagination it wa first of all it was the King who sat on the golden throne; then, on a much more beautiful and much higher and much more golden throne far, far away in the blue sky, sat God and Lord Jesus, with golden crowns and white robes.

Yet from this same Lord Jesus came the "Jesuit," in black women's garb, with a broad black hat, down from the wooded hill. I had to glance up there every so often so see whether another danger  might not be approaching. In the dream I went down into the hole in the earth and found something very different  on a golden throne, something non-human and underworldly, which gazed fixedly upward and fed on human flesh. It was only fifty years later that a passage in a study of religious ritual burned into my eyes, concerning the motif of cannibalism that underlies the symbolism of the mass.

Only then did it become clear to me how exceedingly unchildlike, how sophisticated and oversophisticated was the thought that had begun to break through into consciousness in those two experiences.Who was it speaking inme? Whose mind had devised them. What kind of superior intelligence was at work? I know every numbskull will babble on about "black Man," "maneater," "chance," and "retrospective interpretation," in order to banish something terribly inconvenient that might sully  the familiar picture of childhood innocence.

 

Ah, these good, efficient, healthy-minded people, they always remind me of those optimistic tadpoles who bask in a puddle in the sun, in the shallowest of waters, crowding together and amiably wriggling their tails, totally unaware that the next morning the puddle will have dried up and left them stranded. Who spoke to me then? Who talked of problems far beyond my knowledge? Who brought the above and Below together, and laid the foundation for everything that was to fill the second half of my life, with stormiest passion? Who but that alien guest who came both from above and from below?

Through this childhood dream I was initiated into the secrets of the earth. What happened then was a kind of burial in the earth, and many years were to pass before I came out again.Today I know that it happened in order to bringthe greatest possible amount of light inbto the darkness. My intellectual life had its unconscious beginnings at that time.

I no longer remember our move to Klein-Huningen, near Basel, in 1879. But I do have a memory of something that happened several years later. One evening my father took me out of bed  and carried me in his arms to our porch, which faced west. He showed me the evening sky, shimmering in the most glorious green. That was after the eruption of Krakaton, in 1883.

Another time my father took me outside and showed me a large comet on the eastern horizon. And once there was a great flood. The river Wiese, which flowed through the village, had broken its dam, and inits upper reaches a bridge had collapsed. Fourteen people were drowned and were carried down by the yellow flood water to the Rhine.

When the water retreated, some of the corpses got stuck in the sand. When I was told about it, there was no holding me. I actually found the body of a middle-aged man, in a black frock coat, apparently he had just come from church. He lay half covered by sand, his arm over his eyes. Similarly, I was fascinated to watch a pig being slaughtered. To the horror of my mother, I watched the whole procedure. She thought it terrible,but the slaughtering and the dead man were simply matters of interest to me.

My earliest memories of art go back to those years at Klein Huningen. The house where my parents lived was the eighteeth-century parsonage, and in it there was a dark room. Here the furniture was good, and old paintings hung on the walls. I particularly remember an Italian painting of David and Goliath. It was a mirror copy from the workshop of Guido Reni; the original hangs in the Louvre. How it came into our family I do not know. There was another old painting in that room which now hangs in my son's house; a landscape of Basel dating from the early nineteenth century, Often I would steal into that dark, sequestered room and sit for hours in front of the pictures, gazing at all this beauty. I was the only beautiful thing I knew.

About that time-I must still have been a very little fellow, no more than six years old-an aunt took me to Basel and showed me the stuffed animals in the museum. We stayed a long time, because I wanted to look at everything very carefully. At four o'clock the bell rang, a sign that the museum was about to close. My aunt nagged at me, but I could not tear myself away from the showcases.In the meantime the room had been locked, and we had to go by another way to the staircase, through the gallery of antiques.

Suddenly I was standing before these marvelous figures! Utterly overwhelmed , I opened my eyes wide, for I had never seen anything so beautiful. I could not loook at them long enough. My aunt pulled me by the hand to the exit-I trailing always a step behind her-crying out, "Disgusting boy, shut your eyes; disgusting boy, shut your eyes!" Only then did I see that the figures were naked and wore fig leaves. I hadn't noticed it at all before. Such was my first encounter with the fine arts. My aunt was simmering with indignation, as though she had been dragged through a pornographic institute.

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

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