Make Life a Mythic Journey
Gruss von Schweiz! Greetings from Switzerland, the home of Carl Jung!
Here in the high Alps of the Berner Oberland where there is so much outer world beauty to occupy, even overwhelm, consciousness, one wonders that it was a Swiss psychoanalyst who spent his life exploring the inner world of the unconscious. But when one arrives in the magnificent Lauterbrunnen valley, the mystery is solved. The three majestic peaks that dominate the eastern side—the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau—portray the archetypal drama that attracted both Freud and Jung. There the primal unconscious drama is enacted where the Eiger or ogre is blocked by the Monch or monk from snatching the Jungfrau or virginal young maiden.
For Freud this was a simple sexual wish fulfillment of our ogre id for ravishing the young virgin that is restrained by the superego of the monk. Jung, on the other hand, saw this as a much larger life struggle between the shadow forces of our inner ogre and the spiritual center of the Self represented appropriately by a monk that if brought to consciousness would allow us to live the fulfilled, balanced virginal or creative life that is our true fate.
Today the Swiss are celebrating the centenary of their engineering miracle that allows visitors to take a train up to the Jungfraujoch or saddle between the Monch and Jungfrau. Ironically, it tunnels through the Eiger—into the unconscious shadow. And, on the day when we emerged, we were still enshrouded in the white mists of impenetrable clouds. This was truly a journey up, but inward into our self.
So, here in the Alps one finds the eternal archetypal conflict that, according to Jung, holds man’s future. Will the ogre or the monk prevail? The mountains and these forces are both monstrous and magnificent. Just as we stand in awe and admire the outer mountain can we look unblinkingly inside?
Paul Marshall Wortman
June 6, 2012