Saturday, December 20, 2008

Good & Evil

"Highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library collections" - by Midwest Book Review

It's the most basic component of story telling the Hero and the Villain. "Enemy Cripple & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path" takes a look at this basic concept and why it is so appealing to readers. Going to the basic psychology of the tale and how ancient stories led the way, and how they evolved through the years with mankind, "Enemy Cripple & Beggar" provides an informed and thoughtful perspective concerning literary good and evil alongside society's norms and mores. An original work by Erel Shalit, "Enemy Cripple & Beggar" is a unique blend as a literary and psychology manual, making it highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library collections.

Erel Shalit's Enemy, Cripple, & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path and his previously published book The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at 1-831-238-7799

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Nixie of the Millpond

Excerpt from Erel Shalit's Enemy, Cripple & Beggar:
Shadows in the Hero's Path

The Nixie of the Millpond

“In the marvelous tale ‘The Nixie of the Pond’,” writes Neumann, the wife “must wait until the moon is full again. Until then she must silently circle about the pond, or she must spin her spindle full. Only when the time is ‘fulfilled’ does knowledge emerge as illumination or enlightenment.”59

The circling about the pond implies a lunar attitude towards the unconscious, just like dreams, “as manifestations of unconscious processes… rotate or circumambulate round the centre.”60 It would be neglectful, I believe, to refrain from retelling this wonderful tale, adapted from the Grimm Brothers:61
Once upon a time there was a miller who lived with his wife in great happiness. They had money and land, and their prosperity increased every year. But ill-luck comes like a thief in the night. As their wealth had increased so did it again decrease, year by year, and at last the miller could hardly call the mill in which he lived his own. He was in great distress, and when he lay down after his day’s work, he found no rest, but tossed about in his bed, full of worry. One morning he rose before daybreak and went out into the open air, thinking that perhaps there his heart might become lighter. As he was stepping over the milldam, the first sunbeam was just breaking forth, and he heard a rippling sound in the pond. He turned round and perceived a beautiful woman, rising slowly out of the water. Her long hair, which she was holding off her shoulders with her soft hands, fell down on both sides, and covered her white body. He soon saw that she was the nixie of the millpond, and in his fright did not know whether he should run away or stay where he was. But the nixie made her sweet voice heard, called him by his name, and asked him why he was so sad? The miller was at first struck dumb, but when he heard her speak so kindly, he took heart, and told her how he had formerly lived in wealth and happiness, but that now he was so poor that he did not know what to do. “Be easy,” answered the nixie, “I will make you richer and happier than you have ever been before, only you must promise to give me the young thing which has just been born in your house.” “What else can that be,” thought the miller, “but a young puppy or kitten?” and he promised her what she desired. The nixie descended into the water again, and he hurried back to his mill, consoled and in good spirits. He had not yet reached it, when the maid-servant came out of the house, and cried to him to rejoice, for his wife had given birth to a little boy. The miller stood as if struck by lightning; he saw very well that the cunning nixie had been aware of it, and had cheated him. Hanging his head, he went up to his wife’s bedside and when she said, “Why do you not rejoice over the fine boy?” he told her what had befallen him, and what kind of a promise he had given to the nixie. “Of what use to me are riches and prosperity?” he added, “if I am to lose my child; but what can I do?” Even the relatives, who had come to wish them joy, did not know what to say. In the meantime prosperity again returned to the miller’s house. All that he undertook succeeded. It was as if presses and coffers filled themselves of their own accord, and as if money multiplied nightly in the cupboards. It was not long before his wealth was greater than it had ever been before. But he could not rejoice over it untroubled, for the bargain which he had made with the nixie tormented his soul. Whenever he passed the millpond, he feared she might ascend and remind him of his debt. He never let the boy himself go near the water. “Beware,” he said to him, “if you do but touch the water, a hand will rise, seize you, and draw you down.” But as year after year went by and the nixie did not show herself again, the miller began to feel at ease. The boy grew up to be a youth and was apprenticed to a huntsman. When he had learnt everything, and had become an excellent huntsman, the lord of the village took him into his service. In the village lived a beautiful and true-hearted maiden, who pleased the huntsman, and when his master perceived that, he gave him a little house, the two were married, lived peacefully and happily, and loved each other with all their hearts.

One day the huntsman was chasing a deer; and when the animal turned aside from the forest into the open country, he pursued it and at last shot it. He did not notice that he was now in the neighborhood of the dangerous millpond, and went, after he had disemboweled the stag, to the water, in order to wash his blood-stained hands. Scarcely, however, had he dipped them in than the nixie ascended, smilingly wound her dripping arms around him, and drew him quickly down under the waves, which closed over him. When it was evening, and the huntsman did not return home, his wife became alarmed. She went out to seek him, and as he had often told her that he had to be on his guard against the snares of the nix, and dared not venture into the neighborhood of the millpond, she already suspected what had happened. She hastened to the water, and when she found his hunting-pouch lying on the shore, she could no longer have any doubt of the misfortune. Lamenting her sorrow, and wringing her hands, she called on her beloved by name, but in vain. She hurried across to the other side of the pond, and called him anew; she reviled the nixie with harsh words, but no answer followed. The surface of the water remained calm, only the crescent moon stared steadily back at her. The poor woman did not leave the pond. With hasty steps, she paced round and round it, without resting a moment, sometimes in silence, sometimes uttering a loud cry, sometimes softly sobbing. At last her strength came to an end, she sank down to the ground and fell into a heavy sleep. Presently a dream took possession of her.

She was anxiously climbing upwards between great masses of rock; thorns and briars caught her feet, the rain beat in her face, and the wind tossed her long hair about. When she had reached the summit, quite a different sight presented itself to her; the sky was blue, the air soft, the ground sloped gently downwards, and on a green meadow, gay with flowers of every color, stood a pretty cottage. She went up to it and opened the door; there sat an old woman with white hair, who beckoned to her kindly. At that very moment, the poor woman awoke, day had already dawned, and she at once resolved to act in accordance with her dream. She laboriously climbed the mountain; everything was exactly as she had seen it in the night. The old woman received her kindly, and pointed out a chair on which she might sit. “You must have met with a misfortune,” she said, “since you have sought out my lonely cottage.” With tears, the woman related what had befallen her. “Be comforted,” said the old woman, “I will help you. Here is a golden comb for you. Tarry till the full moon has risen, then go to the millpond, seat yourself on the shore, and comb your long black hair with this comb. When you have done, lay it down on the bank, and you will see what will happen.” The woman returned home, but the time till the full moon came, passed slowly. At last the shining disc appeared in the heavens, then she went out to the millpond, sat down and combed her long black hair with the golden comb, and when she had finished, she laid it down at the water’s edge. It was not long before there was a movement in the depths, a wave rose, rolled to the shore, and bore the comb away with it. In not more than the time necessary for the comb to sink to the bottom, the surface of the water parted, and the head of the huntsman arose. He did not speak, but looked at his wife with sorrowful glances. At the same instant, a second wave came rushing up, and covered the man’s head. All had vanished, the millpond lay peaceful as before, and nothing but the face of the full moon shone on it.

Full of sorrow, the woman went back, but again the dream showed her the cottage of the old woman. Next morning she again set out and complained of her woes to the wise woman. The old woman gave her a golden flute, and said, “Tarry till the full moon comes again, then take this flute; play a beautiful air on it, and when thou hast finished, lay it on the sand; then you will see what will happen.” The wife did as the old woman told her. No sooner was the flute lying on the sand than there was a stirring in the depths, and a wave rushed up and bore the flute away with it. Immediately afterwards the water parted, and not only the head of the man, but half of his body also arose. He stretched out his arms longingly towards her, but a second wave came up, covered him, and drew him down again. “Alas, what does it help me?” said the unhappy woman, “that I should see my beloved, only to lose him again!” Despair filled her heart anew, but the dream led her a third time to the house of the old woman. She set out, and the wise woman gave her a golden spinning-wheel, consoled her and said, “All is not yet fulfilled, tarry until the time of the full moon, then take the spinning-wheel, seat yourself on the shore, and spin the spool full, and when you have done that, place the spinning-wheel near the water, and you will see what will happen.” The woman obeyed all she said exactly; as soon as the full moon showed itself, she carried the golden spinning-wheel to the shore, and span industriously until the flax came to an end, and the spool was quite filled with the threads. No sooner was the wheel standing on the shore than there was a more violent movement than before in the depths of the pond, and a mighty wave rushed up, and bore the wheel away with it. Immediately the head and the whole body of the man rose into the air, in a waterspout. He quickly sprang to the shore, caught his wife by the hand and fled. But they had scarcely gone a very little distance, when the whole pond rose with a frightful roar, and streamed out over the open country. The fugitives already saw death before their eyes, when the woman in her terror implored the help of the old woman, and in an instant they were transformed, she into a toad, he into a frog. The flood which had overtaken them could not destroy them, but it tore them apart and carried them far away.
When the water had dispersed and they both touched dry land again, they regained their human form, but neither knew where the other was; they found themselves among strange people, who did not know their native land. High mountains and deep valleys lay between them. In order to keep themselves alive, they were both obliged to tend sheep. For many long years they drove their flocks through field and forest and were full of sorrow and longing.

When spring had once more broken forth on the earth, they both went out one day with their flocks, and as chance would have it, they drew near each other. They met in a valley, but did not recognize each other; yet they rejoiced that they were no longer so lonely. Henceforth they each day drove their flocks to the same place; they did not speak much, but they felt comforted. One evening when the full moon was shining in the sky, and the sheep were already at rest, the shepherd pulled the flute out of his pocket, and played on it a beautiful but sorrowful air. When he had finished he saw that the shepherdess was weeping bitterly. “Why are you weeping?” he asked. “Alas,” answered she, “thus shone the full moon when I played this air on the flute for the last time, and the head of my beloved rose out of the water.” He looked at her, and it seemed as if a veil fell from his eyes, and he recognized his dear wife, and when she looked at him, and the moon shone in his face she knew him also. They embraced and kissed each other, and no one need ask if they were happy.

We shall not analyze this tale in depth, which has eloquently been done by Verena Kast in The Mermaid in the Pond, but mention certain aspects related to the lunar aspect of the hero’s journey.

The story begins with a turn of the wheel of fortune. The times of prosperity are gone. The miller has lost his happiness and wealth; the sustenance of life is emptying out. The mill of his energy no longer grinds for him; he is depressed and in anxiety. However, as the crisis reaches deep into his night’s insomnia, he searches for a new way. The ray of sun breaks through and he discovers the beautiful woman rising out of the water. He manages to touch and be touched by a “longing to come alive… to integrate the realm of passion into everyday life,”62 i.e., by the libidinal, life-enhancing forces of the unconscious. However, the duality of life’s creative forces is immediately evident; to restore wealth and happiness, she demands the miller sacrifice his newborn son. With her nymphic energies she releases him from depression, but devours hope and intentions for the future, replacing them with anxiety.

The stance vis-à-vis the energies of the unconscious constitutes a constant dilemma for the journeyer through life. The dialogue with the Self and the unconscious, with soul, heart and passion often leads to a conflict between being carried away and a return to old ways. The one may destroy any sense of stability, the other a sense of life; the miller regains his wealth but his soul is tormented.

The son grows up in an illusion of peacefulness and harmony, yet, his huntsman-instinct has not been quenched, and chasing the deer brings him into the danger of life’s energies. Leaving the defenses of his father’s command behind, no longer guarded against the nixie’s snares, his chase comes to an end as he is fully drawn into her embrace.

The tale turns, and the evening calls for the huntsman’s wife to hasten to the pond. The crescent moon stares at her as she is overtaken by the pain of sorrow and the shivers of worry—feelings that make life undeniably present. Without resting, she paces round the pond. The approach to the unconscious now becomes lunar, reflective and circumambulatory.

Circumambulation, according to Jung, is the “exclusive concentration on the centre, the place of creative change,” while “anyone who does not join in the dance, who does not make the circumambulation of the centre .., is smitten with blindness and sees nothing.”63 The huntsman’s wife, the miller’s daughter-in-law, has set out to challenge pre-destined fate. The child-of-future, whom the miller sacrificed in order to regain his wealth, to reestablish his mode of convention, has been drawn into the depths of nature’s danger. The creative change required can be engineered by circling the center. The circumambulation wakes up the inner psychic depths, reached only when away from conscious wakefulness.

Thus, after circling the pond, our heroine is possessed by a dream, leading her to the Wise Old Woman, signifying a more spiritual aspect of the Self’s life-energy than the nixie. The old woman guides her adept on a thorny route through the golden, archetypal stages of the comb, the flute and the spinning wheel. That is, with the comb she conjures up the erotic energies of the nixie, with the flute the feelings of sadness and beauty, and then the sense of meaningful fate.64

The second half of the story takes place in the moonlit night. The erotic, emotional and meaningful energies of life are reconnected with by a feminine, lunar attitude.

While it is the sun-hero’s task to establish and renew an ego distinct from the unconscious, the moon-hero is concerned, rather, with a reflective ego that maintains a living, breathing ego-Self relationship. While the solar aspect of the hero always has to return to consciousness, the lunar hero never fully returns, but will always to some extent remain outside the boundaries of consciousness. The one is characterized by bravery and clarity of mind, linearity of consciousness, the other by reverie and imagination, by the cyclic bending back of reflection, i.e., soul. As Neumann says:
Transformative processes, which is what growth processes are, are subject to the Self and are mirrored in matriarchal consciousness that supports and accompanies them in its particular way. Formative processes, however, in which the initiative and activity rest with the ego, belong to the domain of the masculine, patriarchal spirit.65
There are myths in which both these aspects are echoed, but the cradle of western civilization is based on the dividing characteristic of masculine, solar consciousness, light forcing dark into exile, the Apollonian sun-hero coming to know himself by overcoming the powers of the Great Mother. ‘Know Thyself’ says the insignia at the entrance to Apollo’s temple at Delphi. But the oracle in Delphi originally belonged to Gaia, the Earth. Forcefully, Apollo took hold of the oracle from Gaia’s daughter, Themis, by killing the female dragon-like serpent Python, the guardian of the oracle and the earth-shrine. That is, the oracular powers residing in the generative womb of the Great Mother are captured by the hero who brings them to the constructive use of human ego-identity. In this process of acculturation, however, traces of beheaded serpents are inevitably left behind, bleeding along the roadside, and unheroic traits of character, such as shame, guilt, fear and weakness, are left truncated in the dark. However, as much as knowing is of the ego, there can be no ‘Know Thyself’ without a shadow.

Erel Shalit's
Enemy, Cripple, & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path and his previously published book The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at 1-831-238-7799

59 The Fear of the Feminine, p. 94.
60 CW 12, par. 34.
61 Grimm Brothers, The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales, pp. 736-742.
62 The Mermaid in the Pond, p. 45.
63 CW 12, par. 186; CW 11, par. 425.
64 Cf. The Mermaid in the Pond, p. 91ff.
65 The Fear of the Feminine, p. 102f.

Copyright © 2008 Erel Shalit - For permission to reprint see Fisher King Press

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Sun and the Sword, The Moon and the Mirror

Excerpt from Erel Shalit's Enemy, Cripple & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path

The Sun and the Sword, The Moon and the Mirror

Besides the more commonly accounted for masculine, solar aspect of the hero’s journey, we may refer to a feminine, lunar attribute as well. They represent different attitudes vis-à-vis the unconscious.

The sun-hero has a dual relationship to the Great Mother, as exemplified by Heracles; his name means Glory of Hera, yet the goddess drives him to madness. He sets out on the mission to break free from the bonds of the Great Mother, to face her magnitude, ready to draw his sword in combat with her however awesome she seems to be, and to enhance his ego-consciousness. The sun-hero, while not always able to fulfill the entire mission of his journey, works towards replacing id and the unconscious with ego. He must abandon the comfort and the security of the kingdom of childhood, about which Jung writes:
For him who looks backwards the whole world, even the starry sky, becomes the mother who bends over him and enfolds him on all sides ... As such a condition must be terminated, and as it is at the same time an object of regressive longing, it must be sacrificed in order that discriminated entities - i.e., conscious contents - may come into being.46
On his way to consciousness the hero encounters monstrous and malicious obstacles that, as Jung says, rise in his path and hamper his ascent, wearing “the shadowy features of the Terrible Mother, who saps his strength with the poison of secret doubt and retrospective longing.”47 He risks being devoured by the Earth Mother, destroyed by the gods, to burn in the flames of passion set afire by the nymphs, or die in battle with his competing Martian warriors. His world is patriarchal, goal-directed and lawful, thus he may lose direction and plunge into unconsciousness, teased and tantalized by the feminine seductress intruding from afar, as became the tragic fate of Samson.

It is the sun-hero’s undertaking to break away, to free himself from the archetypal world. Simultaneously, as part of his mission, he must gather the strength required to bring the very same archetypal energy into the ego and human consciousness. Thus, the hero has one foot in divinity, one in the world of mortals. It is the hero’s task to dismember the archetypal energies and transpose them as increasingly human complexes into the personal world and the realm of the ego. This is what Prometheus does when he brings fire to man. His name means forethinker; the Promethean fire is the capacity to plan the use of that natural transformative energy, fire, for the benefit of mankind, to create consciousness and acculturation, heating and cooking, creating new materials and fresh ideas.48 But also when the complex has become autonomous, split-off from consciousness and detracting energy from the ego, the hero is called for. The man who compulsively clung to a job far below his capabilities because of his fear of losing it was constantly threatened by dismissal until he gathered his strength to fight the complex that nearly destroyed him.

The sun-hero may be the obstinate two-year-old who repeatedly says no and no to being dressed, “I dress.” Or the five-year-old who pulls the hero’s phallic sword with which he fights the beasts within—as they are projected upon the little kindergarten-brutes of the real world without. The sun-hero is unmistakably masculine, a He, whether a boy or a girl.

The solar hero brings something new, something formerly unknown into the consciousness of the individual or that of society. By means of the adventures of the sun-hero, man has, for instance, accomplished scientific achievements and expanded geographical boundaries. The solar aspect of the hero pertains to patriarchal consciousness. With his sword, the hero cuts and divides, which is structurally essential for the establishment and expansion of consciousness.

But there is a lunar aspect or phase of the hero’s journey as well, which may likewise unfold when the hero abandons the conventions of the royal throne and the safe rule of ego, when he stands up against and turns away from collective consciousness. This is the case, for instance, with Buddha, whose way is enlightened by reflection rather than by the splendor of the sword. It pertains to conceiving, rather than “deliberate doing,” and, says Neumann, “time must ripen, and with it, like the seeds sown in the earth, knowledge matures.”49

This is the moon-hero. He, or in fact She, because it pertains rather to the feminine, whether in man or woman, ventures into the dangerous paths, the forests and the rivers, the hills and the valleys, the labyrinths and the netherworlds, the pandemonium, the chaos and the torment outside the boundaries of collective consciousness, beyond norms and conventions. She is maybe not the skillful goal-directed archer Apollo, but rather his twin sister Artemis, the hunter goddess roaming in the wilderness and the forest, armed with silver bow and arrows. This may be the sense of drifting around the outskirts of town, sneaking into backyards, to hike around in foreign places in the geography of the world or in the psychography of the soul, learning “how to observe nature, the way it grows and changes.”50 It is dangerous; as happens to Artemis, by mistake, you may kill your loved one, or if you come too close you may be transformed into a stag, because it is an oscillating journey between death and rebirth, waxing and waning, appearance and disappearance, love and disaster, reflection and deflection, healing and wounding. The ground easily quakes, and on winding roads and behind thorny bushes the forces of love and madness, pain and desire, despair and anticipation struggle with savage ferocity. The lunar hero pertains to relationship and unification, but breakup and falling apart, as well.

The hero’s lunar quality refers to the mirror and reflection, rather than the sword and division. As we shall see later, Perseus is equipped with both.

In its lunar aspect, the hero does not attack the unconscious. It entails a conscious turning towards the unconscious, quietly and humbly awaiting what in the course of time arises and unfolds in the hero’s reflective mirror. As Campbell says:
The mirror, reflecting the goddess and drawing her forth from the august repose of her divine non-manifestation, is symbolic of the world, the field of the reflected image. Therein divinity is pleased to regard its own glory, and this pleasure is itself inducement to the act of manifestation or “creation.”51
The following is the dream of a sixty-year-old man, slowly finding his way home to himself after having “been away” for a long time, during an extraverted career:
I feel an urge to return home. I have been away for a long time. As I get home, I see that a man sits on a chair in the attic, watching the dark sky through a telescope—there is a big opening in the roof. He calls me to look, and I try to look carefully through the telescope, but I see nothing. I turn and turn the telescope, yet, I can’t see anything. He shouts and yells at me and I feel very embarrassed, and he tells me angrily to go and sit and wait next to a little girl who sits on a bench. She looks like she is in a dream state, just looking up at the sky. First I look at her, and then I lose the focus, and like her I just look at the dark sky, and then, suddenly, a very bright star shines far far away but very very clearly, and then I see the moon, so close, almost as if I could touch it.
Naturally, the lunar aspect of the hero is closely related to matriarchal consciousness, as elaborated in depth by Erich Neumann.52 Queen Jocasta, Shining Moon, as representative of the feminine side of consciousness, has been discussed elsewhere.53 However, Neumann is mainly concerned with matriarchal or moon-consciousness as something preceding patriarchal consciousness, pertaining to “enchantment and magic, ... inspiration and prophecy” rather than “its recurrence in the psychology of individuation, which is a reappearance at a higher level, as is always the case where, in the course of normal development, we again encounter something already experienced.”54 I believe the lunar and the solar elements constitute complementary aspects of the hero and his/her journey, even if the one may precede or dominate the other.

In fact, as regards the lunar aspect of the hero’s journey, he naturally ventures into darkness only as the sun sets, rather than at dawn. Yet, the hero needs to be equipped with some of the day’s light to withstand the night’s depressive darkness, and with summer’s warmth for the cold loneliness of winter not to overwhelm him.

He travels at night-time, west to east, in the reflective light of the moon rather than in the unambiguous light of day. “The alchemical work starts with the descent into darkness (nigredo), i.e., the unconscious” says Jung.55 Only thereafter “one arrives at the east and the newborn sun,” says Edinger.56 Ayala, a forty-year-old woman, dreams:
It is midnight, midsummer night. I am barefoot, walking from the sea eastward, on a thorny field. My feet hurt, I am bleeding. Then, suddenly, a path opens up, crossing the field in the centre, dividing it in two, lit up by the light of the moon. As I walk along, still feeling the pain in my feet, a man suddenly appears from the dark and blocks my way. He is religious, completely shrouded in his Tallith [the prayer shawl], even his head is covered. He barely notices me, and he does not move to let me pass. I have to stop and wait, and listen to him reciting a prayer. I look at him as he prays, and very quietly he looks at me, in a warm and kind way. I feel his quiet prayer fills me up within, and he then blows the shofar [the ram’s horn], and I feel a wave of excitement.
While the dream was experienced during an afternoon nap, it takes place during summer’s brief night. The dreamer is guided along her path by the moon. The peripeteia occurs when her road is blocked, but she need not actively struggle with her adversary. Rather, this woman, who had experienced a deep narcissistic wound due to lack of adequate mirroring in early childhood, allows herself in the dream to be mirrored by the religious man’s chanting prayer. Jung says:
Christ, or the self, is a “mirror”: on the one hand it reflects the subjective consciousness of the disciple, making it visible to him, and on the other hand it “knows” Christ, that is to say it does not merely reflect the empirical man, it also shows him as a (transcendental) whole.57
The dream-ego, the I in our dreams, is our recurrent nightly hero, our messenger who ventures into dreamland, and returns home with a letter from the Self.58 In the above dream, Ayala encounters her adversary who emerges from the shadow, not as an enemy to be fought, but as a mirroring or reflecting other. This is the hero’s lunar rather than solar attribute. It may even be that the dream ego will not really bring anything new into consciousness, but her soul becomes inspired and excited, i.e., setting the breath of life in motion. From the lunar perspective, the event, such as in this dream, needs less to be interpreted, but rather be libidinized by the moisture of the Self.

Erel Shalit's
Enemy, Cripple, & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path and his previously published book The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at 1-831-238-7799

46 CW 5, par. 646.
47 “The Dual Mother,” CW 5, par. 611.
48 Cf. The Hero and His Shadow, p. 151.
49 Erich Neumann, The Fear of the Feminine, pp. 92, 94.
50 Verena Kast, The Mermaid in the Pond, p. 55.
51 The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 213.
52 ‘The Moon and Matriarchal Consciousness,’ in The Fear of the Feminine, pp. 64-118.
53 Erel Shalit, The Complex, p. 55.
54 The Fear of the Feminine, pp. 74, 92.
55 CW 9ii., par. 231.
56 Edward Edinger, The Aion Lectures, p. 116.
57 CW 11, par. 427.
58 The Talmudic dictum says: “A dream not interpreted is like a letter not read.”

Copyright © 2008 Erel Shalit - For permission to reprint see Fisher King Press

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hero and Shadow

Excerpt from Erel Shalit's Enemy, Cripple & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path

Hero and Shadow

There is no hero without a shadow. Carl Kerényi says, “The glory of the divine, which falls on the figure of the hero, is strangely combined with the shadow of mortality.”29 Denial of the shadow and identification with the “golden hero” and “godlike heights,” is “certain to be followed by an equally deep plunge into the abyss,” says Jung.30

Consequently, it is the enchanting hero-image of youthful narcissism that pays the heaviest of prices, because it knows no shadow, and there is no survival without a shadow. When “the brave die young” motif is acted out in actual reality, as all too often in all too many wars, the pain is devastating, the agony petrifying.

A hero without a shadow is like an ego without a soul. And it is precisely when the ego experiences a loss of soul, for instance a self-experience of emptiness or meaninglessness, that the hero-function needs to be constellated and venture into the shadow in search for meaning and relatedness.

In a way it seems right to describe the hero as narcissistic. He needs to be ‘full of himself’ in order to move out of the safety and confidence of the couch or the comfort and protection of the armchair. He must dare to trust his own capabilities, in order to oppose the gray and dull routines of common adult life. At the height of narcissism, when the heart pounds triumphantly at the peak of youthful feat, our hero may be seduced into believing that for him there are no obstacles along his road. And unless he manages to survive the transformation assigned to him by fate, he will die, and only if he manages to survive his death, will he be transformed, and only then will he determine his own destiny. Yet, when his mission is fulfilled, the hero dies, taking his position as the new king of consciousness.

If shadowless and inflated by megalomaniac love of self—seemingly the height of supreme beauty and fearless courage—then his premature death by the kiss of Narcissus is sure to ensue, since there can be no life without a shadow. These are the youthful gods of promise and fertility, burned out in summer’s heat, never to reach mature fulfillment. They are Adonis, Attis and Tammuz, the worshipped and adored, beloved and lamented gods of vegetation. Adonis’ death and resurrection were celebrated at midsummer, in the festival called Adonia. As Frazer tells us:
[T]he ceremony of the death and resurrection of Adonis must also have been a representation of the decay and revival of vegetation ... At Byblus the death of Adonis was annually mourned with weeping, wailing, and beating of the breast; but next day he was believed to come to life again and ascend up to heaven in the presence of his worshippers.32
In Ezekiel’s vision of the Temple, the prophet is brought “to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north,” where he found the women of Jerusalem “weeping for Tammuz.”33 The God of words, who in Genesis creates by saying and by naming,34 cannot easily defeat the heart’s yearning for the spirit of fertility, for Tammuz who dwells “in the midst of a great tree at the centre of the earth,”35 and for whose revival the grief-stricken Ishtar was willing to descend into the netherworld to fetch the water of life. At the mourning ceremony, “men and women stood round the funeral pyre of Thammuz lamenting,” and as water was thrown over him, represented in effigy, he came alive.36

These young male gods are needed in springtime for new beginnings, vegetation and creation, but they do not last long; either (self-)castrated like Attis, destroyed by wild animals like Adonis, or they die at summer’s peak—Tammuz lending his name to the Hebrew month at the height of summer’s heat.37

Transformation takes place by the death that the hero experiences when he sheds the known; what was, can be no more. This is the death by which the shadow constellates and life becomes genuine. Can it be better told than in the words of Oscar Wilde’s Happy Prince, who stands as a statue “High above the city, on a tall column,”38 and tells the Swallow who asks him how come he, the Happy Prince, is weeping, that:
When I was alive and had a human heart, … I did not know what tears were, for I lived in the Palace of Sans-Souci, where sorrow is not allowed to enter. In the daytime I played with my companion in the garden, and in the evening I led the dance in the Great Hall. Round the garden ran a very lofty wall, but I never cared to ask what lay beyond it, everything about me was so beautiful. My courtiers called me the Happy Prince, and happy indeed I was, if pleasure be happiness. So I lived, and so I died. And now that I am dead they have set me up here so high that I can see all the ugliness and all the misery of my city, and though my heart is made of lead yet I cannot choose but weep.39
There is no shadow in the Palace of No-Sorrow (Sans-Souci), and there is no heroism when not “caring to ask what lies beyond.” The Happy Prince must die in order to depart from his paradisiacal palace of pleasure and venture into the shadow of misery, to feel the sadness that enables empathy and care for others. “It is the rarest of exceptions,” says Kerényi about the hero, “if he does not fall victim to death; he is always in contact with it, death belongs to his ‘shape’.”40 Death is the essence of the hero’s transformation.

While we often are stunned by the hero(-ideal)’s radiant charisma, the transformation pertains to the death of Narcissus. To grow up and become an adult means, in painful sadness to the very marrow of one’s bones, to let go of youth, giving up some of the breathtaking libido of sweet sixteen. When asked by pregnant Leiriope, Teresias the Seer tells her that her son Narcissus will “live to a ripe old age, provided that he never knows himself.”41 ‘To know oneself’ entails the painful confrontation, encounter with and recognition of one’s shadow, which is essential to maturity; not only the maturity which forms the basis of Western Apollonian civilization and goal-directed consciousness, but also reflective consciousness, in which the ego is acutely aware that it is not the grand-all. And if not before, then at that very moment of self-awareness, the elevating spirit of Narcissus escapes the embrace and abandons us to the pain of our wounds; (secondary) narcissism must die. Narcissism is an indispensable driving force, but it entails denial of one’s shadow.

Let me in this context briefly mention Oscar Wilde’s wonderful doppelganger novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which the painted portrait magically relieves handsome Dorian, ‘gift of the goddess,’ from the grayness of aging. As long as Dorian Gray remains the handsome youngster himself, while projecting his shadow onto the canvas, letting the painting on the wall carry the afflictions of aging, he causes damage and death to others. Terrified by old age, Dorian strikes a Faustian deal, trading his soul for the beauty of eternal youth. His double, the painted portrait, carries the painful shadow of getting old. But only that which remains connected to the instinctual roots of the shadow owns its life. Having externalized his shadow, harm and hell, death and destruction inevitably ensue. As Rank says, the double reflects the soul as duality, the person and his shadow, simultaneously representing “both the living and the dead person.”42

Dorian falls in love with the performing skills of the actress Sibyl, but when she is touched by the reality of love, she can no longer perform. Dorian’s love for her thus comes to an end, and he turns away from her, leaving her to suicide. And when Dorian after several years shows the portrait to its painter, Basil, the latter begs him to repent his sin. Rather than expressing remorse, Dorian kills his creator.

Any archetypal identification, for instance with eternal youth and supreme beauty, entails projection of the shadow, which leads to loss of soul, which in turn causes the very uprising of the shadow—beauty turns into ugliness, the charms of youth into the agony of old age, euphoria into despair.

Only as godlike beauty ultimately is returned to its proper place, to the painting on the wall, Dorian is forced to reclaim the yoke of old age, and dies. His old and ugly dead body is found in front of the picture of young Dorian. The image of the hero as carrier of youth and glamour must die. Likewise, every psychological hero, that is, that inner function which enables us to depart from the ego, to venture into the shadow and retrieve what has been lost, and to bring it home into conscious living and our conscious identity, he as well must die when the mission has been fulfilled. When successful, the hero dies by being transformed into the king, the dominant principle of consciousness, who, as mentioned, eventually stiffens into collective norms, rules and regulations, into the adamant truths that replace the many thoughts; truths that when embraced become false, making people grotesque.43 And then, as is inevitable in the cycle of the psyche, he as well must abdicate the throne—if need be, defeated by the new hero.

The dreamer of the following dream experienced the pain of relinquishing an outdated identity. He had to accept the new features that initially were brought to him by the transformative capacity of the trickster:
I am at the seashore. It is as if in the Middle Ages. From the sea a big ship, like a frigate, with strong silent strength, approaches the coast. I stand on the beach facing the sea, throw a spear, but it falls in front of the ship into the sea. I am weak, the ship invincible. Behind me, a group of archers with bow and arrow. They hit me from behind, and I fall to the ground, I think I died. I am caught between those behind me and the ship in front of me. Someone, dressed like a court jester comes ashore from the ship. Surprisingly, he helps me up and we escape through a playground carousel. We get to a hiding place, a cave, and then head towards [the ancient ruins of] Apollonia, where I take off the feathers with which I have been covered, and I wake up.

At middle age, this man had been stiffened by a well-adjusted persona for far too long, causing him both the comfort and the weakness of convention. Only when he experienced the conflict between the spears that from behind straightened his back for a perfect social performance, and the appearance of silent strength moving towards him from the sea, could the heretofore dormant playfulness and latent dynamics of transformation wake up, and guide him toward a more truthful, featherless sense of self, as revealed at Apollonia.

At Apollonia, north of Tel Aviv, one finds the remains of a crusader city and fortress. Originally called Arshuf, the settlement was established during the Persian period, sixth-fifth centuries BCE. It prospered during the Roman and Byzantine periods, eventually falling to the Crusaders in 1101. In 1197 it was the scene of battle between the Crusader army under the command of Richard the Lion-Heart and the Muslim army under Salah-ed-Din (Saladin). Eventually, the Mamluks defeated the Crusaders after a forty-day-siege in 1265, following which the wall and the fortress were destroyed. The site has since not been resettled.

Arshuf was named after the Canaanite-Phoenician fertility god Reshef, who during the Hellenistic period was identified with Apollo, master archer, god of prophecy and knowledge, protector of young men. Identified with fever and fire his name is translated in the Bible as ‘hot thunderbolts,’ and ‘sparks that fly upwards.’44 But Reshef was also a demon, a god of plague and burning coal.45

Erel Shalit's Enemy, Cripple, & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path and his previously published book The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at 1-831-238-7799

29 The Heroes of the Greeks, p. 3.
30 “Two Essays on Analytical Psychology,” CW 7 (2nd Ed.), par. 41.
31 Adonis, from Adon, Lord. Tammuz, from Babylonian Dumu-zi, ‘the son who rises’ (Ernest Klein, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language for Readers of English, p. 705), ‘son of the blood’ (Barbara Walker The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, p. 971), ‘sprout’ (Joan Comay & Ronald Brownrigg, Who’s Who in the Bible, p. 372).
32 James Frazer, The Golden Bough, p. 280f.
33 A hapax legomenon, occurring only in Ezek. 8:14.
34 Gen. 1:1-31
35 The Golden Bough, p. 288.
36 Ibid., p. 287.
37 The Hebrew calendar is lunar. The month of Tammuz coincides with June-July.
38 Oscar Wilde, Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, p. 9.
39 Ibid., p. 12.
40 The Heroes of the Greeks, p. 14.
41 Robert Graves, The Greek Myths: Vol. 1, p. 286.
42 Otto Rank, Beyond Psychology, p. 71.
43 Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio, p. 6.
44 Psalms 78:48; Job 5:7.
45 In Habakkuk 3:5 Reshef appears as burning coal together with Dever, pestilence, before God as he is about to execute judgment on earth (cf. Geoffrey Wigoder, Illustrated Dictionary & Concordance of the Bible, p. 276).

Copyright © 2008 Erel Shalit - For permission to reprint see Fisher King Press

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Hero Ideal

Excerpt from Erel Shalit's Enemy, Cripple & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path

The Hero Ideal

We often confuse hero with hero-ideal. The hero-ideal is a persona-representation, an outer shell, the knight’s armor parading on the stage of collective consciousness, a public image in the world of customs, values and ideals. The hero-ideal is an idea or image that an individual, a society or a sub-group may place at the center of its admiration. When a hero becomes a hero-ideal, the process of aging has begun, and, as von Franz says, “myths lose their spirit, and just like aging kings, they must die.”25 The same is true for the hero: returning home, the mission is fulfilled, and at the peak of vitality, triumph and idealization, the process of stiffening has begun, possibly coming to an end in the form of the old, worn and dying ruler who refuses to step down.

Just like the term ego-ideal refers to the ego’s attachment to the persona, its desired appearance, the hero-ideal refers not to the heroic process, but the hero’s appearance.

We find the hero in myth and tale, bidding farewell as he leaves home, traveling on rough roads and sailing stormy seas, as he encounters hardships and struggles with dragons and monsters, and finally finds and releases the treasure from its imprisonment in the shadow—be it the princess in captivity, the grail, the fire of the gods or the diamond in the cave, the new idea or the new dispensation.

That is, the hero has taken upon himself an undertaking, and returns home with something new or hitherto dormant, thereby rejuvenating the individual psyche or society. Accordingly, Greek hero-myths “are concerned with the origins of cities, families, and tribes,” as Kerényi points out.26 In the psyche, new tracks, new paths of thinking replace old patterns. For example, a woman in her early fifties, who strictly followed her parents’ advice to “keep your job whatever, be sure to get a pension,” had remained in her secretarial position, in spite of feeling that she “dies every day of boredom.”

After many years of hesitant attempts and painstaking deliberations, she had the following dream: “I live in a fortress with a high, decaying wall around. I dig beneath the wall in order to clean up things. Surprisingly, the wall doesn’t fall, but its shape changes; it becomes more open and green, with birds.” Following the dream she resigned from her job, and found a way to earn a modest living and a rich life from her awakening creativity.

In society, the hero may be the messenger of hope who lights the torch of democracy. Sometimes it is amazing how, at the right moment in history, the heroism of a nation, spurting forth through layers of oppression, creates dramatic changes and overthrows worn-out regimes.

We may wonder if the Bolsheviks of 1917 and the militants of Islamic Jihad are heroes in this sense. In some places they have overthrown dubious regimes and brought issues that resided at some depth in the shadow to the foreground. Was there anything heroic about the Nazis, unleashing the violent animal forces of paganism and anti-Semitism from the lion’s den in the shadow, letting them loose at the city center, at the center of concourse? We know that, initially, it attracted Jung’s fascination.

The mere process of bringing material from the shadow to the surface and taking power does not anoint the hero or crown a king. Destruction of morality and humanity does not turn the rebel or the militant in the world into a hero. Psychologically, there is no rejuvenating heroism in projecting the shadow onto the Other—as does the fanatic, the fundamentalist and the terrorist. Neither suicide or homicide, nor genocide or sociocide—the destruction of the “evil other’s” vulnerable social fabric by spreading terror at crossroads and city squares, on buses and ice-cream parlors—imply renewal of the ego, but merely make use of ego functions to concretize destructive projections onto the other.

The simple hero-ideal that we often adhere to and refer to as ‘hero,’ is usually two-dimensional and shadow-less. In the early days of Zionism, for instance, the hero was personified by the pioneer who redeemed a barren myth, recovering the archetype of Mother by digging into her harsh and unfruitful earth in the Land of the Fathers. I have elsewhere elaborated how in this process the mythical was brought into the realm of concrete ego-reality—which is the task of the hero. The common ground shared by psyche and matter, soul and the desert landscape, is evident in Israel’s Proclamation of Independence: The night before independence, the paragraph saying pioneers “made deserts bloom” (lehafriach schmamot), was changed by a single letter, so that the text came to read lehafriach neshamot, that is, “make souls [or spirits] blossom.” Redemption of the soul was as much part of the Zionist hero-myth as the revivification of the harsh earth.27

But as soon as the hero began to appear as a poster-image, a persona-hero, his head raised from the ground, looking up and ahead with a visionary gaze, then the reality of hardships and despair was disposed of in the shadow. And so the shadow raised its voice in the so-called Theatre of Doubt, which spoke about the loneliness, despair and estrangement.28

Erel Shalit's
Enemy, Cripple, & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path and his previously published book The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at 1-831-238-7799

25 Marie-Louise von Franz, Interpretation of Fairy Tales.
26 Carl Kerényi, The Heroes of the Greeks, p. 12.
27 Erel Shalit, The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel, p. 45ff.
28 Ibid., p. 35f.

Copyright © 2008 Erel Shalit - For permission to reprint see Fisher King Press

Friday, September 12, 2008

Who is He, or She, the Hero?

Excerpt from Erel Shalit's Enemy, Cripple & Beggar:
Shadows in the Hero's Path

Who is He, or She, the Hero?

The Hero is often portrayed as the golden image of youth, radiant in libidinal vitality and charisma; courageous and rebellious, “young, comely, with glowing locks and fiery crown,” as the sun-hero has been described.17 But he may likewise be the mature leader, guiding the nation through crisis, a Winston Churchill pronouncing he has “nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat”18 in order to move nations out of their slumber to combat evil, tyranny and madness.

The hero may be the male Prometheus stealing the fire from the gods for the benefit of mankind, but no less, the hero may be female. As Joseph Campbell says, “The hero, therefore, is the man or woman who has been able to battle past his personal and local historical limitations…”19

In the story of Hero and Leander, the latter is the hero who every night swims from his hometown Abydos across the strait that separates Asia and Europe, to Hero, a maiden in Sestos who serves the goddess of Love. She, no less a hero, is the one who by the light of her torch guides her lover on his journey across the sea.

Lord Byron, who in 1810 at age twenty-two, repeated Leander’s feat, makes us aware of how pain and love belong together. Remembering how finally Leander drowned in the rough sea, and Hero threw herself into the waves, he writes:
The winds are high on Helle’s wave,
As on that night of stormiest water,
When Love, who sent, forgot to save
The young, the beautiful, the brave,
The lonely hope of Sestos’ daughter.
O, when alone along the sky
The turret-torch was blazing high,
Though rising gale and breaking foam,
And shrieking sea-birds warned him home;
And clouds aloft and tides below,
With signs and sounds forbade to go,
He could not see, he would not hear
Or sound or sight foreboding fear.
His eye but saw that light of love,
The only star it hailed above;
His ear but rang with Hero’s song,
‘Ye waves, divide not lovers long.’
That tale is old, but love anew
May nerve young hearts to prove as true.20
Upon her return to Canaan, Ruth the Moabite, widow of Mahlon (‘the sickly’), unites with Boaz, (‘the strong’). From this union the House of David is eventually established, reflecting the hero’s grand return from the shadow into consciousness. Has she not brought with her a blossoming femininity and loyalty, as her name reveals, to the patriarchal but previously barren, sickly and inflated, Land of Canaan?21

And Artemis, roaming freely in the forests and the fields, is she not heroically protecting virgin nature against men’s ravenous forays, remaining chaste of the male projections of pure, naked femininity that she attracts? Even if some of us men may identify with the pain and tragic fate of Actaeon, Artemis (Diana) leaves us speechless, as does Charles Boer’s exceptional translation of the Metamorphoses:
Bath Time As Usual For Diana: & here comes
Cadmus’s grandson! tired, straying, unsteady,
woods unknown; but he finds the grove! fate brings him;
enters cave: splashing fountains, naked nymphs!
they beat their breasts: “Man!” loud outcry
fills entire woods: they surround Diana, covering
her body with theirs
but the tall goddess towers over others
by a neck! seen undressed, Diana’s face
goes scarlet dawn, sky color when
clouds deflect sun; her troops crowd round:
she, sideways, looks back, wishing
she had arrows ready: instead throws water,
soaks virile face, wets his hair, adds
to water-vengeance words promising disaster:
“Now say you saw me undressed!
if you can!”
no more threats: she sprouts old stag
antlers on his wet head, expands neck, points
his ears, lengthens arms & legs, spots on body;
& adds fear: hero flees surprised at his own speed
he sees in water, head antlered & starts to say,
“Oh dear!” but no word comes; groans
only; tears streak cheeks not his own;
his mind alone unchanged22
In the male psyche, Diana may serve as a fascinating and fearsome anima, defying capture, making him plunge deep into his own shadow. She heroically defies the fate spoken by the gods by turning poor Actaeon, brought by fate to find her in the grove, into a stag, then setting his own hounds upon him, tearing him to death.

We may compare her with Dora, eighteen-year-old Ida Bauer, victim of abuse, manipulation and psychoanalytic projection: She fought heroically against the fate of seduction, betrayal and deception imposed upon her by her father’s authority, as well as Freud’s fatherly authority, abandoning the latter after merely three months; leaving him with, as he admits, only a fragment of an analysis.23

The Hero may be the Heroic Healer, the brilliant brain surgeon who with his laser-sharp sword, the scalpel, cuts through human flesh and bone and nerve to determine in the operating theater’s war between life and death. Or, he may be the Wounded Healer, whose cure to heal broken souls is brewed in the pain of his own untreatable wound. Or, the hero may be the Wounding Healer, whose tool is the dirty needle, which Freud put at centre court by means of psychoanalysis’ initial dream, the Dream of Irma’s Injection, with which he introduces the Interpretation of Dreams24—like a Churchill in the battlefield of mind and psyche, promising nothing but dirt, mud, guilt and shame, in the struggle to uncover the autonomous complexes in the shadow, which threaten to undermine free will and psychic balance.

Erel Shalit's Enemy, Cripple, & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path and his previously published book The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at 1-831-238-7799

17 “The Song of the Moth,” CW 5, par. 164.
18 Winston Churchill, May 13, 1940, in his first speech as newly appointed Prime Minister.
19 The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 19.
20 The Works of Lord Byron, Vol. III, The Bride of Abydos, Canto the Second, p. 178.
21 The land of Moab and the Moabites trace their feminine ancestry to the mother of Moab (whose name means ‘from my father’), the daughter of Lot. As a heroic act of renewal, when she believed no men were alive but her father, she lay with him and Moab was born. As Robert Graves writes, “Lot’s daughters are not here reproached for their breach of the incest taboo, since they acted innocently; a midrash even suggests that God aided them” (Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis, p. 185). For an extensive analysis of the story, see Yehezkel Kluger, A Psychological Interpretation of Ruth.
22 Ovid’s Metamorphoses, translated by Charles Boer, p. 53.
23 Fragment of an analysis of a case of hysteria, SE 7, pp. 3-124.
24 The Interpretation of Dreams, SE 4, p. 106ff; Robert Bosnak, “The Dirty
Needle: Images of the Inferior Analyst,” Spring, 44, pp. 105-115.

Copyright © 2008 Erel Shalit - For permission to reprint see Fisher King Press

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Hero

Excerpt from Erel Shalit's Enemy, Cripple & Beggar:
Shadows in the Hero's Path

The Hero

“Where id was, there ego shall be,” proclaims Freud.7 By interpretation, the unconscious is made conscious. Interpretation is the sword of psychoanalysis, splitting the enigmas of the unconscious into intelligible slices of consciousness. A symbol’s multitude of meanings becomes the unitary signs and banners of consciousness. The ego, which in Jungian thought stands at the center of consciousness and conscious identity, may be stiffly bound to the totem of collective consciousness, to norms and conventions. Alternatively, the ego may bravely turn around to face what lies in the unconscious.

For this purpose, the ego needs the hero. The notion of the hero in Jung’s analytical psychology represents that particular aspect of the ego that ventures into the darkness of the shadow, searches for “the treasure, the princess, the ring, the golden egg, elixir of life, etc.,” which, as Daryl Sharp says, all are “metaphors for one’s true feelings and unique potential.”8 By means of its hero-function, the ego turns toward the Self and a vital and dynamic relationship between them is made possible. As Joseph Campbell succinctly says, “The effect of the successful adventure of the hero is the unlocking and release again of the flow of life into the body of the world.”9

While on the one hand “the hero symbolizes a man’s unconscious self,”10 he also brings victory to consciousness; “The hero’s main feat is to overcome the monster of darkness: it is the long-hoped-for and expected triumph of consciousness over the unconscious,” says Jung.11 The hero must defeat the dragon, escape being devoured by it, and then return safely, even if marked by bitter strife, to the kingdom of the ego. As Jung says:
In myths the hero is the one who conquers the dragon, not the one who is devoured by it. And yet both have to deal with the same dragon. Also, he is no hero who never met the dragon, or who, if he once saw it, declared afterwards that he saw nothing. Equally, only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the “treasure hard to attain.”12
And there, upon his return, the hero himself risks being devoured by consciousness, losing his heroic stamina, establishing the new rule with its new norms and conventions, yielding to his own uncompromising kingship.

Freud’s myth circles around psychosexual development and genital maturity, attaining the capacity for love and work. Jung’s myth is the myth of meaning, and the meaning that is to be found in the mythical, as it has so pertinently been expressed.

Jung said that the problem of modern man is mythlessness. Without a guiding myth and a sense for the mythical, when exclusively relying on the ego and concrete reality, and by being disconnected from the archetypal energies of the gods, man experiences meaninglessness. “The loss of a central myth brings about a truly apocalyptic condition,” says Edinger.13

The central, nuclear myth of Jungian psychoanalysis is the Hero-myth, because the psychological essence of the hero is to abandon the kingdom of the ego, to challenge the norms and obsessions of collective consciousness and the persona—the face of social adaptation—and to search for meaning. The absence of meaning is the essence of neurosis, which, Jung says, “must be understood, ultimately, as the suffering of a soul which has not discovered its meaning.”14 When Sartre says that man is “the incontestable author” who, condemned to freedom, “is responsible for the world and for himself as a way of being,”15 he speaks of heroic man. For Freud, “heroism involves relations with parents and instincts,” says Robert Segal,16 while for Jung the hero’s grand opus concerns the relation with the unconscious. The hero goes forth into the netherworld of the shadow, in spite of being threatened by the monsters that lurk in the darkness of the unconscious, to save an endangered soul, an anima in captivity, or to redeem a dormant myth or mythical motif, which he has to bring into consciousness. The hero thereby creates a new sense of meaning and relatedness.

That is, the Jungian myth of meaning is consciousness, not in the sense of an ego-consciousness that replaces the unconscious (“Where id was, there ego shall be”), but in the sense of the hero who awakens the soul that otherwise lies dormant and barren in the unconscious. We might call this the ensouled ego—an ego-consciousness that turns toward the unknown, the gods, the world soul, and the self. Yes, toward sexuality as well, making the blood pulsate, streaming through the soul. It is Prometheus not just stealing the fire from the gods, but a human consciousness that keeps the fire of eros and logos, of heart and spirit, burning.

Erel Shalit's Enemy, Cripple, & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path and his previously published book The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at 1-831-238-7799

7 Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, SE 22, p. 80. (SE refers throughout to The Standard Edition of the Works of Sigmund Freud)
8 Daryl Sharp, Jung Lexicon, p. 59.
9 The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 40
10 “The Dual Mother,” CW 5, par. 516.
11 “The Psychology of the Child Archetype,” CW 9i, par. 284.
12 “The Conjunction,” CW 14, par. 756.
13 Edward Edinger, The Creation of Consciousness, p. 10.
14 “Psychotherapists or the Clergy,” CW 11, par. 497.
15 Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, p. 707.
16 Robert A. Segal, Introduction, In Quest of the Hero, p. xvi.

Copyright © 2008 Erel Shalit - For permission to reprint see Fisher King Press

Friday, August 29, 2008

An Introduction to Erel Shalit's 'Enemy, Cripple & Beggar'

From the Author

In his “Commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower,” Jung writes, “Everything of which we are conscious is an image, and that image is psyche.” He then continues, “the psyche is a world in which the ego is contained.”

This statement reflects Jung’s cyclic perspective, as well as the centrality of the image in Analytical Psychology. It is not an ego-psychology; the world of the psyche does not reside in the ego; rather, what we call ego is contained in a world we call psyche. The Jungian approach to man’s psyche is situated at the edge between consciousness and the unconscious—never fully established on the empirical ground of ego-reality, its natural habitat is on mountainous myths, or wandering off into fairy tale forests.

For the same reason, Jungian psychoanalysis has many names, reflecting Hermetic movement rather than Apollonian authority, and the elusive images of the soul take the place of the well-defined mechanisms of the mind.

The hero serves as an image of that aspect of our ego that ventures into the unknown land of shadows, for instance in our dreams at night, to trace its treasures and bring them home to consciousness.

I have chosen the images of enemy, cripple and beggar to convey three essential layers of the shadow–the image that Jung chose to describe the unconscious, repressed or unrecognized aspects of the personality, or, as he distinctly defined the shadow, “the thing a person has no wish to be.”

These images are primarily intended to reflect the matter and fluidity of soul, rather than providing empirical structures and systematic definitions; I hope they facilitate weaving the story of the hero’s journey into the soul and the shadow.


We shall follow in the footsteps of the hero on his (or her) path or way, and face the shadows that the hero (whether in masculine or feminine dress) necessarily encounters.1

Were the hero to believe he already knows all there is to know, and if he would insist on standing on the firm ground of principles and conventions, he would seldom bother to respond to the call to adventure.2 Our hero would remain at home, seated like Archie Bunker in the confined and drowsy embrace of the armchair-ego. He would stay away from the unknown, unaware of moonlit nights, and intolerant of the shadow-carrying Other. “The usual person is more than content, he is even proud, to remain within the indicated bounds…,” says Campbell.3 “The hero,” says Jung beautifully, “is the symbolical exponent of the movement of libido.”4

The hero who searches for new paths in his heart and soul often lets hints and hunches guide him forward. Yet, he also needs to be equipped with courage to search beyond the boundaries of common ground and with humbleness towards the unknown that lies ahead of him. He must also carry a bagful of questions and concerns, curiosity and conflict, doubt and fear; “Every man hath the right to doubt his task, and to forsake it from time to time; but what he must not do is forget it.”5

The hero ventures into the shadow-land, far away from home, beyond the familiar security of ego-boundaries. Or perhaps the shadow is not a land, but an entire continent, with many different landscapes—fields and valleys, seas and forests, some quite recognizable, others remote and mysterious, some seemingly friendly and embracing, others hostile and intimidating. The forests may become increasingly dense and dark, the sea so wild and stormy that it carries one away, “far from native lands,” to the point where one may contemplate “whether to cast myself out of the ship into the sea and perish there, or ... to endure and bide among the living.”6

Some of those in shadow-land are easily recognized as foes we loathe. Yet, often envy, pride, greed, anger, and lust are found in friends whom we’d never believe could possess such qualities—or even more, we discover these universal patterns, those “deadly sins” within ourselves. There are also warriors and cripples, the homeless and vagabonds, and some of awe inspiring stature.

The land of shadows holds both the chains and the treasure house of our ancestors, as well as the prospects and the promises, the fears, anxieties and uncertainty about our offspring. It pertains to the shadows we cast onto our enemy so that we may fight him—yes, usually him—in order to gain a sense of a free and secure personal identity. And it is the crippling sense of complexes that we may try to dump on the dunghill, outside and away from the central city square and the walls of our ‘ego-state,’ only to be terrified as they stare back at us when we try to gain a moment’s rest. And there, further down the murky path, stands the beggar as if faceless, without the social mask of the persona, lurking in the misty shadow at the gateway to the Self.

Erel Shalit's Enemy, Cripple, & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path and his previously published book The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at 1-831-238-7799

1. As Patricia Berry writes, “there is not a shadow but many (as there is not one conscious standpoint but many…” (Echo’s Subtle Body, p. 187f.).
2. Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 49ff.
3. Ibid., p. 78.
4. “On Psychic Energy,” The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, CW 8, par. 68. [CW refers throughout to C. G. Jung, The Collected Works]
5. Paulo Coelho, The Fifth Mountain, p. 53.
6. Homer, The Odyssey, p. 92.

Copyright © 2008 Erel Shalit - For permission to reprint see Fisher King Press

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Press Release: Enemy, Cripple & Beggar by Erel Shalit

Press Release

Fisher King Press announced:

Available July 15th, 2008

Enemy, Cripple & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path
By Erel Shalit

In Enemy, Cripple, & Beggar, Erel Shalit provides new thoughts and views on the concepts of Hero and Shadow. From a Jungian perspective, this Fisher King Press publication elaborates on mythological and psychological images. Myths and fairy tales explored include Perseus and Andersen’s ‘The Cripple.’ You’ll also enjoy the psychological deciphering of Biblical stories such as Amalek—The Wicked Warrior, Samson—The Impoverished Sun, and Jacob & the Divine Adversary. With the recent discovery of The Gospel of Judas, Dr. Shalit also delves into the symbolic relationship between Jesus and Judas Iscariot to illustrate the hero-function’s inevitable need of a shadow. Clinical material concerning a case of a powerful erotic counter-transference is also an integral part of this deeply insightful body of work.

The Hero is that aspect of our psyche, or in society, who dares to venture into the unknown, into the shadow of the unconscious, bringing us in touch with the darker aspects in our soul and in the world. In fact, it is the hero whom we send each night into the land of dreams to bring home the treasures of the unconscious. He, or no less she, will have to struggle with the Enemy that so often is mis-projected onto the detested Other, learn to care and attend to the Cripple who carries our crippling complexes and weaknesses, and develop respect for the shabby Beggar to whom we so often turn our backs—for it is the ‘beggar in need’ who holds the key to our inner Self.

In Enemy, Cripple & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path, as with Erel Shalit’s previous book, The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego, alternative comprehensive views of the Shadow and the Hero images are provided and theory further explored. In addition to analysts and Jungian oriented psychotherapists and clinicians, Enemy, Cripple & Beggar can be comfortably read by an informed lay public interested in Analytical Psychology and by those interested in the interface between psychology and mythology, and psychology and religion.

Erel Shalit is a Jungian psychoanalyst in Ra’anana, Israel. He is a training and supervising analyst, and past president of the Israel Society of Analytical Psychology. He is the author of several publications, including The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel and The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego. Articles of his have appeared in journals such as Quadrant, The Jung Journal, Spring Journal, Political Psychology, Clinical Supervisor, Round Table Review, Jung Page, Midstream and he has entries in The Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion. Dr. Shalit lectures at professional institutes, universities and cultural forums in Israel, Europe and the United States.

Enemy, Cripple & Beggar —isbn 978-0-9776076-7-9, Order directly from Fisher King Press Price: $19.95 First Edition

To learn more about Erel Shalit and his many publications visit