Painting Jung

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The Slaying of the Mother (panel five)

For the faltering ego at this stage, the feminine is similar to the unconscious challenging the tentative embyronic consciousness. The ego senses danger and remembers the shadows, the oblivion, the abyss, of the primordial womb of the Great Mother.

"....it should be remarked that emptiness is a great feminine secret. It is something absolutely alien to man; the chasm, the unplumbed depths, the yin." (8)

She intimidates the ego with the potential risk of castration and death. In psychological terms this means the ego's extinction by the unconscious.

In its defense, the ego (masculinity) of the hero, metaphorically, establishes two higher symbols of consciousness, the head and the eye. These two higher principles are symbolically used throughout ancient myths as images of the masculine and spiritual aspects of consciousness. This contrasts with the phallus symbol as the lower masculinity of the hero's development.


"The hero is ready to face the dragon like a hero and not like the lower, normal man." (9)

The hero's struggle is the defense of the spiritual masculine essence from the "big bad wolf" of the feminine unconscious.

An example of the hero's fight with the dragon is the sun myth. Every night the hero (ego) is devoured by a sea creature who lives in the west. Throughout the night the sun hero journeys through the underworld fighting the darkness of the unconscious. Victorious, the hero rises in the east as the light.

" The hero is always a light-bringer and emissary of light." (10)