The Archetypal Feminine in Heinrich Von Ofterdingen

by Carol Ann Hawkes

According to the psychological theories of C. G. Jung, psychic health is based upon the principle of balance: balance of opposites. Asserting that there can be no reality without
polarity, he characterizes the self as a “complexio oppositorum,” within which, for proper individuation and orientation within the conscious world, must be maintained a sense of balance among a number of opposites.1 The psyche is predicated upon this principle of opposites, the union of which must be realized in order to bring the whole into a balanced totality.

While enumeration of all the opposites identified by Jung as essential for the proper functioning of the psyche would be neither possible nor appropriate within the scope of this article, the most essential can be seen in the division between consciousness and unconsciousness. Jung divided both of these states into a personal and a collective division, thus resulting in a quaternity: a configuration of two opposing yet intersecting
bi-poles. Within this quaternity, consisting of personal and collective consciousness and personal and collective unconsciousness, can be found the sense of balance, completeness, and integral wholeness essential to psychic health.

The balance among all opposites (within the quaternity) suggested by Jung is not to be achieved as a result of negation, in which one pole cancels out or in some way negates the effect of the other, thus resulting in a state of nothingness. Rather, the balance proposed by Jung implies a union, a fusion of opposites which, rather than denying or negating opposing elements, includes both. The conjunction of the opposites, the point at which all are bound and fused together, is found at the center.

This union of opposites is often achieved through symbols, which Jung felt were the means of expression of the unconscious to the conscious mental contents.2 Symbols act as
bridges between the conscious and unconscious portions of the psyche on both the personal and collective levels. For Jung, a symbol was something in psychic life which expressed meaning and helped to formulate that which was inexpressible. Through
symbols, meaning could be expressed from the unconscious, thus diminishing the imbalance often resulting from too great an emphasis on the conscious alone. Just as balance is essential for psychic health, symbolization is the essential means of
bringing it about. Jung once said that the psyche needs to know just like the body needs food, and not just any food or knowledge, but that which is appropriate and necessary for its existence.3 Symbols are made up of cultural contents, used as metaphors and analogies through which they can express meanings never before stated. As such, they provide
communication between the conscious and unconscious which leads to transcendence from the former state of one-sidedness and transformation into a new state of being with new meaning: a state of equilibrium, a state of Gesundheit, a state of health.

Jung stressed the hermeneutic function of symbolization on both the personal and collective levels, yet is often remembered primarily for his identification of symbols emerging from the collective unconscious. In 1919 he adopted the Platonic-Augustinian term archetype to account for such expressions of the collective psyche. These symbols or archetypes, he felt, were manifest in several ways. Dreaming is one of the ways in which
a symbol is likely to make its first appearance: such dreams sometimes later developed into myth, which Jung characterized as “a series of images that formulate the life of archetypes.”4 Such symbols, dreams, archetypes, mythologies arise from man’s unconscious; they are never made up consciously. 5 They express meaning about all manner of experience in which man finds himself engaged.

Jung expended a great deal of effort in an attempt to recognize these expressions of the collective unconscious. One of the most basic of the archetypes he identified as the mandala, which is Sanskrit for the configuration of the circle.6 He established this as fundamental to all human experience, assuming within the personality the need to symbolize a centering tendency or need. “Circles impel us to consider their centers, as we draw our eyes and attention ‘within’ the circumference, hence ‘inward’ to the heart of the figure very naturally. ” 7

While Jung would undoubtedly suggest the mandala as the single archetype encompassing all of human experience, he also recognized the importance and ubiquity of one of its subsets: the male and female principles, the archetypal masculine and the archetypal feminine. These two symbols, he felt, pervade every aspect of human consciousness, and only through symbolic meaning created within the realm of consciousness can these opposing elements combine into a balanced totality.

Erich Neumann, in his monograph, The Great Mother, has done an extensive study of the archetypal feminine, identifying some of its most common characteristics and associative properties. The Great Mother archetype is the symbol of origin, of all the elements intermingled. Within it is found symbolically the state of things at the time preceding differentiation, the time of wholeness and totality of both physical and psychic existence. In addition to this rather static elementary character of vessel or container, within which all things are held, the archetypal feminine is also seen as the embodiment of the creative principle: not the totality of nature in original unity destined ever to remain so, but the dynamic, vital source from which all life arises and unfolds. The central symbolism of the archetypal feminine carries us back to the wholeness, the totality of the mandala. The central symbolism of the feminine is the Great Round: the earth, the vessel, the woman, the womb.8 The elementary character of the feminine holds, contains, surrounds, sustains, protects, nourishes. The Great Round, the Great Mother, encompasses and is heaven and earth, the primeval darkness and the night sky, the underworld and the primordial ocean. To her belong all waters, streams, mountains, ponds, springs, as well as rain. The Great Mother is over all. Within her are united the elements of earth, water, fire, and air.

Yet in addition to this elementary character can be seen a generative, transformative character: the creative aspect of the Feminine which creates and transforms, giving life and vitality to all around her. She is the mother who gives life and birth. Within her are the mysteries of creation and transformation. She is the mother of all vegetative life and holds the deep secrets of conception and generation upon which all life is based.9 This mystery of creation, of transforming that which is dead into that which has life, is the province of the Great Mother. So also is the higher transformation in which the spirit comes into being. 1 ° Creation, generation, development, transformation, as well as sustenance, protection, and nourishment: all are part of the Great Round, the Great Mother, the archetypal feminine.

“The archetypes of the collective unconscious are manifest, as Jung discovered many years ago, in the mythological motifs that appear among all peoples at all times in identical or analogous manner, and can arise just as spontaneously–i.e., without any conscious knowledge–from the unconscious of modern man.”11 Indeed such archetypes present themselves in every aspect of our existence. Nothing stands outside the range of their influence. Literature bears abundant evidence of this. A rich demonstration can be found through examination of the Great Mother archetype in Heinrich von 0fterdingen, the quest-romance by the late eighteenth-century German romantic writer Novalis.

We are first alerted to the mythic character of the work by the initial exposition, relating Heinrich’s dream of the blue flower, die blaue Blume. According to the story, in his dreams he wanders over all the earth, coming at last to a meadow at the slope of a mountain. Not far distant he finds a passageway cut into the rock which leads into the depths of the mountain into a great cavern or cave. There he bathes in a mysterious fluid which refreshes and strengthens him and which brings “new images never seen before” into view. Here also he first sees the tall, pale, blue flower and first experiences its compelling attraction.

Upon hearing this strange experience related by his son, Heinrich’s father is prompted to relate a similar dream which occurred early in his life. In his dream he, too, was led into a cave within the depths of a mountain where he came under the influence of a similar flower.

It is significant that both experiences occur in dreams, the most frequent and obvious matrix for archetypal manifestation. Both Heinrich and his father seem to be “led” to a path which leads to a mountain, then within, into its cavernous depth. According to Neumann, the archetype of the Way refers to the originally unconscious behavior of man moving toward a sacral goal. The archetype, which seems to have appeared first in the prehistoric men of the ice age, is repeated in the dreams of both Heinrich and his father. In earliest societies, “the way led .. . into mountain caves, in whose hidden and almost inaccessible recesses they established ‘temples.’ ” 12 Only within the depths can the deeper mysteries of creation and transformation be learned. Traditionally the “worshipper is compelled to follow a ritual way from the periphery to the center, the shrine.” 13 In
just such a fashion both Heinrich and his father are led to the center and the flowers of their respective dreams.

The cave itself and the mountain of which it is a part are both manifestations of the archetypal feminine. The mountain is part of the Great Round, and descending into it is equivalent to entering into the womb, the belly, of the earth. The cave, the chasm, and the depths and darkness of the cavern all indicate a return to the origin, the source and primordial center from which all life arose. In the cave the elementary character of the Feminine predominates, yet the transformative character is also strongly evident in the regenerative effect of the fluid which Heinrich drinks and in which he bathes.

The goddess of all vegetative life, the Great Mother receives an even more complete manifestation in the flower. Here again both the elementary and transformative characters are represented. Rooted in the earth, descending into the depths, yet rising from them and transcending beyond, the blue flower represents simultaneously both permanence and change, origin and development. The appearance of the delicate face in the center of the corolla (a mandala symbol) makes the archetype complete.

We then follow Heinrich on another journey, in some ways a realization of his former dream. He sets out on his own journey to the center, the source, to learn the secrets, the mysteries, which will enable him to transcend his former existence and enter a new realm, that of the poet. The journey illustrates aspects of the Bildungsroman or Erziehungsroman in which the attempt is made to participate in the transformative character of the archetype. The return to the source in order to transcend it is an attempt at rebirth and regeneration . Yet the transformation into a new being necessitates the death of the old. In order to enter the new realm Heinrich must forsake the old. 14 The death, the separation, is painful at first:

Es ward ihm jetzt erst deutlich, was Trennung sei ; die Vorstellungen von der Reise waren nicht von dem sonderbaren Gefohle begleitet gewesen, was er jetzt empfand, als zuerst seine bisherige Welt von ihm gerissen under wie auf ein fremdes Ufer gespiilt ward.. . Eine erste Ankiindigung des Todes, bleibt die erste Trennung unverge,Blich. ”

[Now for the first time it became clear to him what separation means. His preconceptions of the journey had not been accompanied by the strange feelings he now had when first his familiar world was torn from him and he was washed up as it were on a foreign shore …. Like a first premonition of death, the first separation remains unforgettable. ]

Yet in the separation Heinrich is comforted by the presence and sustaining influence of his mother.

The journey takes them from Eisenach to Augsburg, the city of his own mother’s birth, the city where his parents were first brought together-in a very real way, the city of Heinrich’s origins. The journey is an attempt at transformation, an attempt at entering upon a new type of existence. Interesting, then, that the journey should be one from a place of lifeless
iron, Eisenach, to one characterized by vision and life, Augsburg.

During the journey they participate in a discussion about poetry and the poetic art. The poet and poetry itself exist on a level other than that of the external world: “Die Sanger hatte gottliche Gunst noch geehrt, so da/3 sie, begeistert durch unsichtbaren Umgang, himmlische Weisheit auf Erden in lieblichen Tonen verklindigen konnen.” 16 [“Divine favor had highly honored the bards so that, inspired by invisible communion, they could proclaim heavenly wisdom on earth in sweet sounds.”] Through participation in the mysteries of creation and generation, man is transformed into a poet. Then, having been transformed himself, he works a similar effect on others with his words.

Er wei/3 jene geheimen Krafre in uns nach Belieben zu erregen, und gibt uns durch Worre eine unbekannte herrlich Welt zu vernehmen. Wie aus tiefen H ohlen steigen alte und kUnftige Zeiten, unzahlige Menschen , “wunderbare” Gegenden , und die seltsamsten Begebenheiten … eine magische Gewalt Uben die SprU che des Dichters aus. 11

[He knows how to stir those secret powers in us at will, and by means of words he enables us to perceive a glorious unknown world. Within us as out of deep caverns there rise ancient and future rimes, countless people, marvelous regions, and the strangest occurrences …. The sayings of poets exert a magical power.]

By its very nature poetry is bound to the Great Mother, the source of all creation and transformation. According to Neumann, in the inspiration of poetry is summed up “everything mantic, religious, prophetic, and poetic which … is [everywhere] imputed to the … transformative character of the Feminine. ” 18 Heinrich’s encounter with an oriental girl and an account of the crusades introduce the Christian tradition. The Great Mother is symbolized in the Virgin Mary. Veneration of her purity, recognition of her transforming influence, and seeking for the protection of her love are all very much evident. Reference can also be found to the death and rebirth so much a part of the archetypal feminine. The entire Christian tradition is based upon the transformation of man into God. The cross can be viewed as a mandala symbol: it unifies the paradoxical elements of man and God, outer and inner, nature and spirit, human and divine. The transformation takes place only through death, the forsaking of a former type of existence, entry into the sepulcher (re-entry into the womb of the earth) and coming forth in a newness of life. Christ’s way, the way of his destiny, is a way to the center which becomes the way of redemption.

Heinrich next encounters a miner. The association of mining with the Great Round or the Great Mother is clear. Descending into the depths of the mine parallels the descent into the depths of the Great Mother, the womb of the earth, the source of life. A feeling of reverence pervades both attempts to learn the mysteries. In the words of the miner:

Meine ki.infrigen Genossen kamen mir wie unterirdische Heiden vor, die tausend Gefahren zu i.iberwinden hatten, aber auch ein beneidenswertes G li.i ck an ihren wunderbaren Kenntnissen besa,8en, und in dem ersten, stillen Umgange mit den uralten Felsensohnen der N atur, in ih ren dunkeln , wunderbaren Kammern , zum Empfangnis himmlischer Gaben und zur freudigen Erhebung i.iber die Welt und ihre Bedrangnisse ausge ri.istet wi.irden.1•

[My future companions appeared to me like subterranean heroes who had to overcome a thousand dangers, but also possessed an enviably happy lot in their wonderful knowledge. And in their quiet, earnest association with the primeval rocks within nature’s dark and marvelous chambers it seemed they were equipped to receive heavenly gifts and to be joyfully exalted above the earth with its afflictions.]

Within the labyrinth of galleries, in the deep chambers of the earth, are to be found the deepest secrets and mysteries of the Great Mother, the great vessel and container of all. The earth is seen as the source of knowledge, wisdom, and thereby joy, who yields up her secrets to those inspired only with desire for knowledge. Through the noble art of mining, “dieses ernste Sinnbild des menschlichen Lebens” (“this solemn symbol of human life”], concealed ” in dem Scho/3e der Felsen” (“in the womb of the rock”] can be brought to view. 20

That man is lord of earth
Who fathoms well her deeps
And finds his peace and mirth
Where she her treasure keeps.

And who can comprehend
The secret of her hills,
And fearless will descend
Among her working mills.

His bosom friend is she
And near to him allied;
Inflamed by her is he
As though she were his bride.

Here the earth, the mine, is seen as not only mother but wife. Entry into the depths of the mine symbolizes union with the feminine principle, making possible both birth of the creative spirit and rebirth of the hero, Heinrich.

Both aspects of the Great Mother are here evidenced; the depths of the mine illustrate her nurturing and containing aspect, while the waters signify the more active transformative character. The inner secrets and mysteries of life that carry the powers of generation and transformation are to be found only by descending to the depths. The principle of opposites here again reveals itself; one must first die in order to live; one must first go down in order to rise.

Heinrich descends with the miner into the womb of the earth. He is led back in nature “in jene fabelhafte Urzeit zuriick, wo jeder Keim noch for sich schlummerte, und einsam und unberiihrt sich vergefi}ich sehnte, die dunkle Fiille seines unerme/3lichen Daseins zu entfalten …. Es war ihm, als ruhte die Welt aufgeschlossen in ihm, und zeigte ihm, wie einem Gastfreunde, alle ihre Schatze und verborgenen Lieblichkeiten.” 21 [“back to that mythical primeval age when every bud and germ still slept by itself, lonely and untouched, yearning in vain to unfold the obscure wealth of its own immeasurable existence .. .. He felt as though the world lay unlocked within him and was revealing to him as an intimate friend all its treasures and hidden charms.”] As both container and revealer of the secrets of life, in the mountains and caverns of the mines appears the archetypal feminine.

But it is not only the caverns and chasms of the mines that symbolize the Great Mother. According to Neumann, “rock and stone have the same significance as mountain and earth. [Thus] it is not only the mountain that is worshipped as the Great Mother but also rocks representing it-and her.” 12 Fascination with the stones themselves and magical properties is evidenced particularly in the great interest in alchemy. Behind the efforts to tum lead into gold can be seen the greater desire to learn the secrets of transformation, the means by which a natural material could be transformed into a higher state. The “liberation of God from the darkness of matter” was sought in order, then, to apply the secrets to other matter. This constant interest in change, whether applied to animal, vegetable or human life, is ever associated with the transformative character of the archetypal feminine.

In Augsburg, Heinrich’s vision and perception is expanded and transformed through his contact with the poet Klingsohr and his daughter Mathilde. Both play very important roles in his more complete transformation. In the poet is embodied that gift of poesy which is able to generate and transform. In Mathilde can be found the totality of the feminine archetype, reminiscent of Heinrich’s earlier vision of the blue flower.

Indeed in Heinrich’s description of her, we are subtly reminded
of the flower of his dream:

Auf einem lichthimmelblauen Grunde lag der milde Glanz der braunen Sterne. Stirn und Nase senkten sich zierlich um sie her. Eine nach der aufgehenden Sonne geneigte Lilie war ihr Gesicht, und von dem schlanken, wei/3en Halse schlangelten sich blauen Adern in reizenden Windungen um die Zarten Wangen . … und das braune lokkige Kopfchen schien iiber der leichten Gestalt nur zu schweben. ”

[On a light-sky-blue background lay the soft gleam of her dark pupils. Her brow together with her nose formed two elegant curves around her eyes. Her face was a lily leaning toward the rising sun, and from her slender white throat blue veins wound upwards in charming meanders over her tender cheeks . . . and her little head with its brown curls seemed to float above her dainty form .)

Later in the evening the association is furthered: “Jenes Gesicht, das aus dem Kelche sich mir entgegenneigte, es war Mathildens himmlisches Gesicht.”24 [“The face which inclined to me out of the flowery calyx, that was Mathilde’s heavenly face.”] here Kelche, a vessel, is a typical manifestation of the nurturing, containing aspect of the feminine. The transformation continues: “Flir Mathilden will ich leben, und ewige Treue soll mein Herz an das ihrige knlipfen. Auch mir bricht der Morgen eines ewigen Tages an.” 25 [“I want to live for Mathilde, and eternal loyalty shall join my heart to hers. For me also there is dawning the morn of an eternal day.”) Through the power of generation and transformation he is reborn; he has entered a new existence.

The association between Mathilde and the mandala symbol of the blue flower continues. In his dreams he is joined with her amid the blue waves. She is his pure and precious sapphire. The blue color of both the waves and the sapphire remind one of the blue flower, the object of his quest. Sapphire is an obvious allusion to treasure, always associated with the quest-romance. The water of the waves is also one of the most characteristic representations of the generative principle.

He is taught the secrets of poesy by Klingsohr and feels them work within. Inspired by his love for Mathilde, he rises above the level of common existence to partake of infinity and eternity.

Following the marriage of Heinrich and Mathilde, the poet Klingsohr tells an elaborate fairy tale which traces the transformative power of poesy. Through the realization of such a transformation, Eros is refined into true love, Fable develops into true poesy, so that Sophie (wisdom) may be wedded with Arcturus (time)-all through the power of the transformative character of that source of all change and generation, the Great Round, the archetypal feminine.

The novel concludes with the manifestation of Mathilde in another representation of the Great Mother, the tree. As in the flower, both aspects of the archetypal feminine are evident in the symbolism of the tree. The center of vegetative symbolism is the tree. It embodies in its roots that extend into the earth the unchanging, stable, conservative aspect of the elementary character. It holds fast to all that springs from it. Yet at the same time, in the branches, leaves, and fruit is evidenced the dynamic, generative, fecund aspect of the transformative character. 26 It is in this blending of opposites, this fusion of forms, this symbol of wholeness and totality, that the archetype makes her final manifestation. She is the mother of all vegetation, the mother of all life, who sustains, holds, nourishes and protects even as she moves, generates and transforms. Through her, Heinrich, the pilgrim, acquires even deeper secrets. Through her his transformation continues to an even higher level of consciousness. As he plumbs the depths of knowledge and experience, his soul climbs higher and his poesy becomes more pure, spontaneous, and divine. The transformation seems near completion ; so does his education, his Ausbildung. His way to the center has led through a variety of experiences, each a part of his enactment of ritual conflict, separation, and death, followed by rebirth, transformation and change.

You have awaked the noble urge in
To gaze into the wide world’s soul
and meaning;
I found a trust while on your kind arm leaning
That bears me safe through every
stormy sea.

Dear Love. I consecrate myself to art
For you, since you will be the Muse
that pours
Her genius on my songs and fills my

The swelling breasts of song my
strength have nourished,
By her I grew to all that I could be;
Through song my face has shone, my
joy has flourished.

With each succeeding manifestation in earth, water, tree, flower, poesy, or song, the archetypal feminine aids in Heinrich’s transcendence and ultimate transformation. The Great Mother is the means through which he gains life. Through her he is nourished, sustained, and protected.

Awareness on one level of existence is attained. It is through her that he is held, yet it is also through her transforming character that he is able to move beyond that static existence. Through descent to the center, entry into the Mother and union with her, he is able, in descent and death, to learn the secrets of transformation and generation, the secrets of life, growth, and ultimate transcendence to the realm of the Ideal. For Heinrich, as for Novalis and many romantics to follow, “Das W eg nach Innen,” the way to the center, is the way to the Divine. The way of myth, the way of paradox, the way of descent is the only way to rise.


The Grace of the Court

by Dian Saderup

The night before, I had felt a sudden need to read the scriptures, something I hadn’t done in nearly three months. I stayed up until 2:30. I was asleep when late the next morning Lynn called from Oakland to tell me that her sister Carol was depressed: a Church court was being held that evening in Provo, and her five-month-old baby girl had a 102 degree temperature (not dangerous, but alarming to Carol, who has a haunting and irrational fear that God will punish her moral transgressions through her infant daughter). Awareness of what Lynn’s words meant in terms of me sifted slowly into my mind: Carol doesn’t have a phone, I will have to find a car to get from my apartment in Ogden to Provo; I’m not supposed to leave the house until my back surgery is completely healed-what if I get rear-ended at a stop sign? Carol’s depressions can be mega, as in huge, enormous, overwhelming- I will have to find energy to face that; Carol will probably be excommunicated from the Church-what do you say to a person who believes that Joseph Smith saw God and angels as much as I believe I’m alive, and who has just been cut off from the Church? I need more energy , the spiritual kind; but except for last night I haven’t prayed in over two months; I’m tired; I need to go back to bed; but Carol is depressed . After Lynn and I hung up I called the Ogden temple and put Carol’s name on the prayer roll-if I couldn’t pray at least someone could. Then I lay down on my bed to figure out a plan of action. I fell asleep.

Two and a half hours later I awoke, my head a great deal clearer, and called my mother in Holladay, an hour’s drive away. After a burst of protest concerning my health, she agreed to come get me and let me use her car. I went into the bathroom to get ready and looked in the mirror. I looked awful. My skin was pasty from lack of sunshine . I scrubbed my face hard with a terry towel, hoping to put some color into it. When that didn’t work I used a little Max Factor “Color Rub. ” Carol is a pretty girl. We ‘d been friends for ten years, had gone together to BYU for a semester, and I’d always felt dumpy around her, so today would be no exception. I hate going out of the house feeling ugly. Big deal. How could I be worried about the way I looked when Carol was mega-depressed and about to be ex-communicated from the Church? Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. That was one of the scriptures I’d read last night as I flipped from book to book in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants. It was strange. Verses or whole sections would jump off the page at me. And I read them.

The drive to Provo took over two hours. I looked at the mountains, all snowy since I’d gone into traction and retreat three months ago. After I dropped my mom off I knew I should pray-please God forgive my neglecting you lately, but could you give me some energy now? Please make me not get overwhelmed? Help me know how to help? Please. But I couldn’t do it. My faith muscles had gone into some kind of cramp a while back and-whether it was apathy or aversion to spiritual exercise-I felt I couldn’t move them. It wasn’t fracturing a bone in my back and getting laid up for six months that started it. The whole year before, I had felt myself sliding. I had been active in my singles ward for three years: social relations teacher, Relief Society education counselor, get-up-at-six-thirty-to-read-the-scriptures-and-pray type of person. All that had been very good at times, generating a faith that felt like warmth in my bones. I think I just started getting worn out from working at it so hard, or maybe the voids in my life were getting bigger than I could handle. Not having an E.P. (as Carol calls eternal partners) and being a nighing-special-interest-age Mormon can be stressful: nobody’s dirty clothes on the floor but my own to get irritated at, nobody’s teething babies but my sister’s to soothe with tummy tickles and Gerber biscuits, no sex. Being a student in English Lit by day and a waitress by night has its freedoms and exhilarations, but sometimes that wanting for a family of my own comes so hard I can hardly breathe. Pope may turn a clever phrase but he doesn’t make the nights any less long. Anyway, slowly, for whatever reasons and without anybody’s noticing, my enthusiasm for the Church and its multitudinous activities began to dwindle. I had grown tired, bored and lonely, and for the first time I began to understand maybe a part of why Carol was so drawn to the lifestyle she’d been immersed in off and on for nearly ten years. She went for laughs and physical (if she couldn’t get emotional) intimacy. I knew I didn’t really want that, that such an attitude would bring its own unbearable voids and conflicts, but I wasn’t sure what I did want. So I went into a sort of spiritual limbo, acting my part of the model LDS woman – on the outside, while remaining increasingly aloof and untouched inwardly, and feeling generally depressed.

As I turned into the 45th South I-15 on-ramp I tried not to think about all of that. I soaked in the mountains through my eyes. I hadn’t seen the beautiful Salt Lake valley in almost four months. It was an “everlasting burnings day” (another Carol phrase) with everything blinding white, clear, clean, the air charged with sunlight reflected off the snow. As I had pulled out of my mom’s driveway a gust of wind had shaken the brittle leaves of the apricot tree in our yard; the dry snow had clouded off the tree’s limbs like glitter into the immaculate air. As I looked at it all, the beauty felt like strength, like increments of energy nudging their way into me. I began to feel strong enough to think about Carol.

You hear all your life how good it is to have compassion for others. It’s Christian. What nobody tells you is that compassion isn’t easy and sweet to feel: it hurts. My mother tells me I have the ” gift of comfort,” which means that when people are feeling bad I can somehow make them feel better. I guess I know how to empathize and that’s why people sometimes like to come to me when they have troubles- when you’ re suffering you don’t need philosophical tidbits on the blessings of adversity; you just want someone to feel with you. My patriarchal blessing says that I will find “the greatest of joy in serving others.” That used to be true ; but as my spiritual energy (the scriptures call it charity) had decreased, my capacity to bear the pain of compassion had too. I was tired. Sometimes I avoided my friends who had problems, feeling at once guilty and relieved in doing so. How do you endure the grief of a friend with two children who has just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis? Or the loneliness of a mildly retarded teenage cousin? Or the anger of a recently divorced neighbor whose husband has won custody of their children on fraudulent grounds? I decided the only way I could do it was by steeling myself: I would try to turn my feelings and will to rock. People who are rocks refuse feeling (this sounds like something out of Simon and Garfunkle’s “I am a Rock” song which I’ve always thought was trite), but rocks are at least able to do what a situation requires. Through sheer will they go through the motions of responsible and compassionate action. As I headed toward Provo and began to think more deeply about Carol, the beauty of the day began to recede from my vision, almost as quickly as I had opened myself to it; the increments of energy dissipated. I felt myself reflexedly locking both head and heart into rock-position, and I stared straight ahead at the freeway.

Carol and I had been friends since high school. We had gone to the same ward . My parents didn’t dislike her, but they worried about our friendship. They said her “sexy clothes” didn’t reflect the standards of the Church, and that people would judge me by who I went around with. Carol’s dad was weird. He used to hit her a lot, hit her if she came home late from a date, or if she’d been wearing lipstick. He’d check for signs of makeup (which she always carefully removed before going home) by rubbing her eyes and lips with a Kleenex. One time when I came home with her after seeing an evening movie he grabbed her by the hair and rubbed her mascara so hard I almost yelled “Stop it! You’re going to wreck her eyes!” But I didn’t. He’s a big man. Once Carol cried when we were talking about him. She said he’d always hated her, not Lynn or their younger sister, just her, and that she hated him too. He has mellowed substantially since then, but that’s now.

Carol was sixteen when she went bonkers with sex. The first time she slept with a guy she said to me the next day, “I did it. I don’t know why . I just did. I feel terrible, like I really am ugly inside. But I want to do it again.” And she did, again and again with many different boys. I didn’t understand promiscuity, but I accepted it in her; the ability to accept people, no matter what, seems to be part of the gift of comfort. I tried to help when she would have periods of self-hatred, but when she started hanging around with a night-club crowd, we drifted apart. I still liked her-her peculiar blend of frankness and sentimentality, and her clever humor-but we weren’t interested in the same things. My parents breathed a sigh of relief that probably rocked the Oakland bridge.

I hadn’t seen Carol in two years and had only talked to her twice on the phone during that time when she called again and said she wanted to get back into the Church, that she couldn’t stand “doing all these sins” anymore. Carol (whose family, except for Lynn , was only borderline active) had always had the kind of “I know the Church is true” testimony that I envied. It had baffled me in high school when we went to parties together and she’d get loaded on pot, then start telling people about Joseph Smith and the gold plates. She was an enigma, a bizarrely exaggerated example of the spirit being willing but the flesh weak. We decided to start doing stuff together and get her introduced to some of my straight friends. She confessed to the Bishop, who said that even though her sins were scarlet they would become like snow. The repentance program lasted four and a half months. She would call me many times after midnight in tears, saying she was so lonely she couldn’t stand it, Mormon guys didn’t like her, she didn’t think she could live righteously, she was bad to the bone. She would ask me if I hated her and if I thought she was a slut. I said no, and no, and that she could do it. I didn’t know what else to do. I told her maybe a psychiatrist could help. The intensity of her confusion and suffering frightened and saddened me; only a stone could be unmoved by such pain. I wasn’t surprised when she went back to the old crowd.

When I got to Provo on the afternoon of the court and knocked on the door of her basement apartment, I had steeled myself for the encounter. When Carol didn’t answer I knocked again and called her name through a ground-level window. She finally opened the door and, seeing me, smiled and cried at the same time. We went downstairs. The baby, who was cross from fever, was plump and beautiful. She had Carol’s slanted blue eyes and her full mouth: even the baby was going to make me feel dumpy-there went my vanity again. Holding Jennie, Carol looked radiant, as I’ve heard (but rarely seen) new mothers do. The baby had gotten Carol’s bishop onto her sexual morality situation. Carol hadn’t been attending Church and the visiting teachers, who had come once in thirteen months, had reported Jennie’s arrival. For most women who are unmarried, pregnancy is a calamity. Carol, however, had been scared but extremely happy. She had been told by two doctors that semester we were at BYU that she would never be able to have children. Her tubes had been damaged by the V.D. she’d had when she was nineteen. BYU had been her second attempt at repentance. Her parents had wanted her out of the house, she wanted to turn her life around, and they said they’d support her if she went away to school. The doctor’s report had come the first month of the semester. She was blackly depressed by it. She was fighting the old lifestyle, but hope for fulfillment in the new seemed impossible: what Mormon man would want a wife who couldn’t have children? And Carol, right or wrong, could not live without a man.

During that period was the first time I ever consciously felt the “gift of comfort” in me. It happened one night when Carol came home late. She had been to a bar in American Fork, had gotten drunk (the first time in four months) and had had sex with some cowboy in the cab of his pickup truck. She was hysterical, crying again and again that she was filth, that God would have to punish her forever and ever and still she would be filthy. I had been fasting that day, but I was not able to handle this. I was afraid-she was talking suicide. And then, as I desperately tried to calm her-all the while inwardly pleading, God help-I felt enfolded, as if a soft mantle had fallen about my shoulders. I took hold of Carol’s hands on my lap and touched her forehead, and I started to pray out loud, my words a quiet rising and falling wave of sound. I can’t remember anything of what I said, but as my voice flowed over the darkness of the room her sobbing gradually stopped. She laid her head against my chest and I rocked her in my arms. When I had stopped praying a moment, I said, “Let’s go into your room and I’ll help you get ready for bed. When you lie down I’ll brush your hair. Do you think that would feel good?” She nodded. I helped her undress that night and carefully sponged her face with a warm, wet towel. I gave her some lotion for her face. Then she lay down beneath the covers on her bed and I brushed her hair. She fell asleep as I brushed it.

My patriarchal blessing says I will find greatest joy in serving others. My mother says I have the gift of comfort. All I know is that that night, through all the pain, I felt a kind of joy. I learned something about love. I felt a soft shock of awareness, like I was beginning to understand what Christ and the Gospel and the Church were all about. Over the past five years that awareness had ebbed and flowed. The day of Carol’s court I was at the lowest tide in a long, long time.

We took the baby over to a friend who had volunteered to sit, then went to Burger King for dinner. After the four months at the “Y,” Carol had slipped back to her former ways but continued living in Provo. We stayed in touch. I was her Lamaze coach when she was pregnant, though she ended up having a caesarean section. Now, she talked matter-of-factly: the baby was a miracle; God had given her the one thing that could possibly motivate her strongly enough to change her life, a child. She had to repent. Then Carol’s control cracked a little. She wondered if it was possible to repent of the same things more than once or twice. One of the scriptures that had popped out at me the night before came immediately to my mind . I still don’t remember what book it is in: “As oft as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.” I repeated it to her and said I thought most people genuinely repent of some things many times in their lives. It’s just that circumstances can sometimes blur a person’s vision, weaken resolves, make you forget what at one time you saw and determined so clearly. I know that from personal experience. It seemed a person often had to live from rebirth to rebirth, and the moments of high spiritual awareness usually were interspersed with darker times. It was easy to stumble during the dim periods.

Carol told me that her Bishop had said she would probably be excommunicated from the Church, and to be prepared for that. As long as I had known her, and despite her extreme feelings of unworthiness, Carol had dreaded excommunication. When she’d gone to confess to our BYU bishop after first arriving in Provo (she hadn’t had the courage to go to the Oakland bishop again), she hadn’t been able to eat or sleep for almost two days. As unloved and unloveable as she felt, it was as though the Church were her one tie to the possibility of finding the merciful Christ she so passionately believed in but could not seem to reach. I don’t think a human being can live for very long without some kind of hope. Church membership for Carol was, I think, like the substance, the symbol of a hope, however faint, that someday, somehow she could be redeemed.

I looked at her over my french fries and Whopper and wondered how such church action would affect her now. As if she’d read my thoughts, she blurted out, ”Being ex-ed will probably be the best thing. Who knows, maybe the loss will feel so big it will give me even more motivation to change.” Her tone reminded me of the time she cried when telling me her father hated her and then insisted that she hated him: to think or feel differently hurt too much. But in some ways she had changed over the past few years, had grown more accepting of herself. As an afterthought she said without bitterness or self-reproach, but frankly and sadly, “Or maybe I just can’t be a Mormon. Right now, I just don’t have it in me. Maybe that ‘s the bottom line .” She looked at me, then ate another french fry and quickly ducked her head, covering her eyes with her hand. Her eyes glittered with tears when she looked up again: “But what about Jennie?”

He greeted us warmly. Carol introduced me, explaining I was to be the one witness the letter informing her of the court had said she could bring. He asked us both to wait outside the office for a few moments, then he would ask Carol to come in alone. Afterward, I could come in to testify. I was startled. When, earlier, Carol had asked me to be her witness, she’d said I’d just have to watch and confirm that she was treated fairly. I said, “You mean I’m supposed to say something?” The Bishop replied without sarcasm, “That’s what witnesses usually do.” ”I’m here mostly to offer Carol moral support. I don’t think I have anything to say.” He said that was all right. Then he went back into his office . We walked around the foyer hearing the murmur of voices through the cloudy glass window in the Bishop’s door. There was a map of the world drawn on a blue posterboard that hung on the wall. At the edges were photographs of five young men , an older couple, and a young woman: missionaries. Each picture had a piece of colored yarn taped on it that stretched to a country on a map where the yarn was held in place by a matching colored thumbtack. ”Go YE UNTO EVERY NATION, KINDRED , TONGUE, AND PEOPLE” was printed over the map. One missionary smiled out at me-all teeth and bright startled eyes-from beneath his awkwardly cropped thatch of hair. Carol said, “I wonder what they’re talking about in there,” jerking her shoulder toward the office. I said I thought they were praying; you could tell because, although we couldn’t hear specific words, it was only one voice and it had a certain prayer cadence. I’d heard that rhythm a thousand, thousand times. Then the Bishop came out to get Carol. He said I might as well find a comfortable place to sit down to wait, and pray. He emphasized the “and pray.” I sat on an old pew that served as a bench in the foyer. I thought he should have asked Carol if she wanted me to come in. For some girls, confessing sins to a roomful of only men could be a harrowing experience.

Pray. I knew Lynn, and her mother too, had been fasting and praying for Carol since yesterday. I looked around the empty foyer. Down one hallway there was a drinking fountain with a step chair for children in front of it. The foyer was paneled with new-looking imitation wood. The banister leading to the basement was good, golden hardwood, warmly polished by the army of hands that had gripped it over the years. I remembered my own childhood and the stairs I had clattered down in my chapel in Oakland. That banister was oak like this one and so were the moldings around the floors and doors. I looked at the painting print of Jesus directly across from my pew, the one I’ve always thought made the Lord look too mild, even effeminate. His hair was wavy and golden brown. The colors in the print were of the same tones as the banister. It was the only picture of Jesus I’d seen in three months. “Come Follow Me” was inscribed in brass on the bottom of the frame.

My prayer was silent and short, no mention of unworthiness on my part, no promises to repent. I prayed for the Bishop to be inspired, for Carol to bear well and grow with whatever decision was reached, for myself to know what I could do to help and to be able to do it. I looked at a florescent yellow poster on a bulletin board to my left: ” If not you, who? If not now, when? ” Next to it was a picture of Joseph Smith receiving the gold plates from a glistening Angel Moroni, and a pamphlet entitled ”Which Church is Right?” There was also a display by the Primary on reverence. A large crayon drawing showed two children, their arms folded like jointed pretzels, receiving the Sacrament from a leggy deacon with a solemn pink face. The murmur of voices from behind the door broke upon my consciousness and suddenly, like a tremor through my body, the thought came: What if that were me in there? What if I were being tried for my membership in the Church? What if I were ex-communicated? I had drifted far enough to make that a startlingly and frighteningly imaginable possibility. Carol was using her matter-of-fact tone, probably saying something like “I’ve done this and this and this; it sounds like I should be excommunicated, so let’s do it and get it over with, okay?” She was her own accuser and, I knew, would make no defense. What if it were me behind that door? Being ex-communicated would be like being a single feather from off a seagull or pigeon’s wing, having fallen from bird-in-flight to a disinterested earth; like being a button, snagged and torn from the breast of a worn, warm woolen coat; like being an ivory queen in a mystical game of chess wherein the pieces move themselves-a queen taken by the opposing team because of her own willfully foolish plays.

I knew I had to be more than a silent witness for Carol: the metal letters, the drinking fountain, the banister, the Jesus picture, the displays were tiny electric generators, first throwing out sparks, then sustaining a current of reawakening emotion and spirit-sense and sensation. Oddly, I heard Carol’s voice clearly for an instant through the door: “Well, I don’t think she really has anything to say.” But I did. They were talking about me. I stood up and crossed the room. But what? Another scripture from the previous night came to mind: The Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what you ought to say. I didn’t know whether to knock, or wait to see if they came out to get me. When Carol opened the door I was standing right there. I was momentarily embarrassed: they probably thought I’d been standing there the whole time, spying.

I sat next to Carol in a big shiny dark wood chair-the kind I remember seeing on TV’s Divorce Court as a child. The Bishop was there, and so were his two counselors and the ward clerk. The clerk asked my name, then asked me to spell it so he ‘d get it right on the official record. He was a small, dark-complexioned man with a harelip. He didn’t say anything else the whole time, but sat like a silent mole burrowed into the corner, his head bowed over the endless notes he scratched on his paper. The first counselor sat across the large conference table from me. He looked about thirty-two, had deep acne scars on his face, and wore a plaid, imitation-Pendleton jacket over his broad thin shoulders and spider arms. His smile was wide and spread slowly across his face when the Bishop introduced him to me: unlike both Carol and me, he hadn’t had braces on his teeth as a teenager. His eyes were the gems of his body-glittering, translucent stones set in an ill-cut length of pitted hardwood. They were the color of Bear Lake. They were intelligent and kind eyes. I don’t remember the second counselor very well. He sat directly to my right, three seats down, out of my immediate line of vision. He smiled whenever I glanced his way, and as I talked, marched the fingers of his left hand, which was stretched in front of him, silently upon the table from index to pinkie, forward and back, like a four note scale repeated again and again on the piano. The Bishop asked me to tell a little about myself, then with a question mark in his voice said, “Carol tells us you are an active, committed member of the Church.” The past year was my business, and God’s. I said, “Yes, I am.”

Then I started talking, explaining what I knew of Carol and her problems over the years. Much like the night I prayed with Carol when she was so upset long ago at BYU, the words flowed and I can’t remember now what exactly I said: things, I think, about her father, her deep-if not apparent-feelings for the Lord and the Gospel, and her terrible frustration at her failures to live faithfully. At some point she reached over and took hold of my hand. Then a strange thing happened, strange for me at least: I started crying, so hard that I couldn’t talk for several minutes. I rarely cry in private (especially had not of late) and almost never in public, but the steel in me that had been so mysteriously softening over the past hour suddenly melted completely, like ice in fire. I remember a symposium on world religions I attended several years ago at BYU. A holy man from India spoke on the Buddhist (or was it Hindu?) belief system. Using a fable, he explained that the ultimate transcendence of the world and its cares for his people lay in experiencing what he could only describe as an ”unutterable gush of compassion,” whether for an individual or the whole of humanity. Sitting in the Divorce Court chair in this Mormon Bishop’s office, I experienced a pure and purifying “gush of compassion” for Carol, a giant surge of the gift of comfort. Carol began to cry and her mascara ran in black streams down her cheeks. The Bishop lowered his head. The first counselor rubbed his scarred face with three flat fingers, his Bear-lake eyes all the more bright from unspilled tears. The second counselor’s fingers marched silently. The clerk’s pencil stopped. When I could finally talk again I said, “I guess that’s all I have to say.”

The Bishop asked Carol a few more questions, and then she and I stood up to leave the office while he and his counselors deliberated. He rose and came to her, taking her hand. He spoke quietly, and said, as nearly as I can remember, “The Lord is full of grace, Carol. Let yourself accept that and take joy in his gifts. In my life I’ve had moments of peace and inspiration and encouragement from our Heavenly Father. Sometimes they even come when I know I’m not really worthy and I think he’s furthest away. Just remembering those moments helps me get through the dark times in the way I know I should. He loves us. You’re a precious girl.” It was the first time I’d ever heard a Bishop say the word grace.

Carol and I crossed the foyer arm in arm. I said, “Let’s wait outside for a minute.” I opened the double glass doors. We passed beneath the silver letters: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a moonless night with more stars in the black sky than I had seen since right after the week of windstorms five months ago in Ogden. I like to look at the stars. I got a small telescope for Christmas two years ago. The night of the court the stars seemed full of motion and shapes, invisible lines connecting them into fleeting images of horses running, ladies dancing, or mere arcs of light slicing the dark sky. We looked up at them for a long moment. If I focused on one corner of the night I could, like in a child’s dot-to-dot picture, draw a line from star to star to form whatever configuration might be suggested by the pinpoints of light and spaces of shadow. I traced what looked like the trunk of a tree. Carol said she was cold. I glanced at her. She’d pulled two handfulls of her long hair tightly over her ears, twisting the ends together under her chin. I smiled and said, “Okay.” We turned to go inside, where, after a thirty-five minute deliberation period, the decision for Carol would be disfellowshipment–and hope–rather than excommunication. I looked back before opening the first glass door. My eyes had stopped on the star that is Orion’s right shoulder. Tomorrow night if it were clear and I stayed up past midnight for maximum darkness I could go up on the roof of my apartment and draw the branches of the tree. I would perch for a while on Orion’s shoulder, getting my bearings, careful–I had a brand new constellation in the making. Then–stars connected behind and scattered before me–I’d draw a straight path into the blackness of the shadows.

Proceedings of the November meeting of the Society for Mythopoeic Psychoanalysis and Monday Night Football

by Nancy Bernbrock

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have for you today two erudite papers related to Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound. Our first speaker, the noted Jungian analyst, Dr. Dan Brainbank, has a case history of interest, and our leading anthropological researcher, Dr. Maude H. Mead, has what she calls a “note” on a new discovery that is relevant to our topic. And now,
without further ado, Dr. Brainbank. You’ll introduce your own title?

Yes. Thank you , Dr. Floyd. My presentation is entitled ‘ ‘Prometheus: The Reconnecting of an Unbound Ego.”

Ladies and gentlemen , I have here (waving a large, over-stuffed manila folder) the case history of a patient who exhibits classic symptoms of the alienated ego neurosis, as well
as paranoia and projection. He calls himself Prometheus, and also alludes to himself as Christ, but I have reason to believe he may actually be Percy Bysshe Shelley. (Gasps of astonishment from the audience .)

This patient first came to my attention a year or so ago when he chained himself to a ledge of the Hyatt Regency-you may have seen the incident on the news. I was called to the scene to attempt to “talk him down,” and I found him in a very unstable mental condition, totally disoriented and in considerable, but unexplainable, pain. He was initially very
uncommunicative, and it took me several interviews to learn his ”story.”

It seems this Prometheus believed himself to be a god who had been chained to a precipice of ” icy Rocks in the Indian Caucasus” -the Hyatt Regency-by another, more powerful and vengeful god called Jupiter. Of course, I don’t need to tell you that neither the Indian Caucasus nor Jupiter exists except in the imagination of this tormented man. Prometheus maintained that he was being punished by Jupiter for his theft of fire and attempts to save mankind from ignorance and destruction.

Now there are three significant points in this delusion which I would like to discuss briefly before I get into the actual transcript of one of our early interviews: ( 1) Jupiter, to whom Prometheus admittedly gave power, is clearly Prometheus’s own Self, or for you Freudians, Super-ego. (2) The theft of fire is an unmistakable symbol of the ego’s (Prometheus’s) assertion, or grasping for consciousness. This assertion, as one would expect, resulted in alienation from Self, which Prometheus projected as the figure of Jupiter. (3) The Savior complex, rare but not unknown in these classic alienation cases, reflects the patient’s somewhat biased view of traditional Christianity.

We will consider these points in more detail after I read you the transcript of one of our most successful early conversations. Notice how spatially and temporally disoriented Prometheus appears, and yet how clear and distinct his illusions of pain and torture are. You’ 11 find his language strange, but eloquent. He’s obviously an intelligent, well educated man. I might add that although this interview took place in my office, the subject believed himself to be hanging from the ledge. I quote from the transcript:

Analyst: Good morning. I’m Dr. Brainbank, and you’re

Prometheus: … Know ye not me,
The Titan? He who made his agony
The barrier to your else all-conquering foe? (1.117- 19).

Analyst: Ah yes, Prometheus. How are you feeling today?

Prometheus: No change , no pause, no hope! Yet I endure
The crawling glaciers pierce me with the spears
Of their moon-freezing crystals, the bright chains
Eat with their burning cold into my bones.
Heaven’s winged hound, polluting from thy lips
His beak in poison not his own, tears up
My heart; and shapeless sights come wandering by ,
The ghastly people of the realm of dream,
Mocking me: and the Earthquake-fiends are charged
To wrench the rivets from my quivering wounds
When the rocks split and close again behind:
While from their loud abysses howling throng
The genii of the storm, urging the rage
Of whirlwind, and afflict me with keen hail (I. 31-43 ).

Analyst: I see. Well … do you know where you are?

Prometheus: . .. hung . . . here
Nailed to this wall of eagle-baffling mountain,
Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured; without herb,
Insect, or beast, or shape or sound of life (l.19- 22).

Analyst: How long have you been here?

Prometheus: Three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered
And moments aye divided by keen pangs
Till they seemed years … (1.12- 14).

Analyst: Who did this to you?

Prometheus: Jupiter
Monarch of Gods and Daemons, and all Spirits
But One . . . (1.1- 2).

Analyst: How do you feel about Jupiter?

Prometheus: (Glaring heavenward) [One] wingless, crawling
hour …
Shall drag thee, cruel King, to kiss the blood
From these pale feet, which then might trample thee
If they disdained not such a prostrate slave (1.48-52).

I interrupt the transcript here to point out some interesting symbolism in Prometheus’s replies and to discuss for a moment our patient’s Savior complex.

Prometheus’s suffering, as I mentioned before, is characteristic of the alienated ego, as is his impression of being in the wilderness. His frequent use of words like ”wrench,” “split,” and “tear,” and his images of gulfs, ravines, and abysses or of dividing or being torn apart are unconscious acknowledgments of his alienated state, as is his hostility for Jupiter-his separated Self. As we discovered later, the patient’s anima, shadow, and parent figures had split off as well, and appeared to him as separate personages attempting either to help or torment him. Prometheus calls the anima Projection Asia, and she seems most benign and helpful to him. The shadow projection sometimes takes the form of Jupiter and at other times becomes Mercury, or the Furies, or various and sundry “spirits” and “voices” Prometheus hears from time to time .

The “crime” for which Prometheus believes he is being punished is, according to him, the theft of fire. Actually, there was no theft-Prometheus asserted his ego in grasping for knowledge and consciousness, symbolized by the fire. It is very common in such cases for the patient to perceive his assertion as a “crime” and to suffer psychological punishment
as a result. Jung compares the act of assertion to Adam and Eve ‘s eating of the forbidden fruit-the source of their consciousness and knowledge, as well as the cause of their expulsion from paradise into a world of suffering, toil , and death .

It seems reasonable to assume that Prometheus’s suffering, though largely psychosomatic, was real enough to him to be a factor in his identification with Christ. You’ll notice that,
at least to this point, Prometheus has not named Christ or called himself by that name, but the identification is undeniably there . His illusion of being chained to the cliff is analogous to Christ’s position on the cross. When I first saw Prometheus, he was in that attitude. The patient himself says he is hung, nailed, to the ledge . Further, he speaks of
being pierced with spears, of having “quivering wounds, ” and bloody feet-clearly identifications with the wounds of Christ.

There is more here than a standard persecution complex. The patient’s identification with Christ indicates that he sees Jupiter and God as parallels. The traditional Christian dogma has been inverted here-God is seen as an oppressor of Christ and of mankind. I found this very puzzling until, in our later conversations, I became convinced that these associations grew out of Prometheus’s disenchantment with the institution, not the precepts, of Christianity. He has come to view the powerful, dogmatic church organization as
oppressive and tyrannical, an institution that does not exist for the people, as it should, but for which the people exist.

I’ve been working with Prometheus for almost a year now, and his is a very interesting case. I haven’t time today to give you a complete case history, but I’d like to briefly outline our progress.

Although Prometheus expressed a change of heart toward Jupiter early in the course of his therapy-he said he no longer hated Jupiter-he was still haunted and tormented by hallucinations of Furies and spirits, and visions of revolution and bloodshed and the crucifixion. At one point, the patient had a vision of Mercury, who , he said, was sent by Jupiter to bargain for some secret Prometheus was supposed to have . Because he couldn’t remember the secret, Prometheus agreed to undergo hypnosis to see if he could recall it. While he was in a hypnotic trance, however, he experienced a phantasm of Jupiter who repeated a horrific curse Prometheus had much earlier pronounced against him.

Once the curse had been recalled consciously, Prometheus began to progress more rapidly. He came to recognize reality more frequently, and I sensed a genuine change in his feelings about Jupiter-signs, I feel, of real metanoia, which is prerequisite for achieving a healthy ego-Self balance. I’d like to clarify here that metanoia does not necessarily mean repentance, as some members of our society have maintained, but it can also mean “a change of mind.” In this sense the term applies to Prometheus.

And there you have, in a severely condensed form, the case history of Prometheus, the classic case of an alienated ego on its way to wholeness. I feel very encouraged now. It’s
only a matter of time until Prometheus’s projection of Jupiter will vanish. Of course , that can only come about with the help of Asia. You’ll pardon me, I hope, for personalizing
Prometheus’s anima; he speaks of her so often I’m afraid I have begun to think her real myself at times. I’d hardly be surprised if she should drop into my office some day.

There is one more puzzling development in the Prometheus case, and since I have no explanation for it, I throw it open to you ladies and gentlemen for solution . The problem is this: Lately, Prometheus has begun to call me Demogorgon . . . .

(Applause from the audience . The society president, Dr. Floyd, rises to introduce the next speaker.)

Ladies and gentlemen , our distinguished colleague
Dr. Maude H . Mead will present her paper entitled “The
Knee Beyond Reason.”

(Dr. Meade rises.)

For many years I have read the lines
. . . regard this Earth
Made multitudinous with thy slaves, whom thou
Requitest for knee-worship, prayer, and praise .

in Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound without paying any particular attention to the term “knee-worship. ” Imagine my surprise when, working with an ancient Greek manuscript
fragment, I discovered a reference to a previously-unknown religious cult called the Gonuproskunontes, or knee worshippers. My discovery set me off on a long, arduous, and often fruitless investigation that has, however, had some amazing and far-reaching results.

I have not been able to learn much about the ceremonies and beliefs of this cult; they seem always to have been shrouded in mystery, and are likely to remain so. But I have
found indications that the group dates back to pre-Mycenaean times. New explorations at Parnassus have uncovered remnants of a small temple, dated about 600 B.C., that I feel sure was a major shrine of the mysterious cult of knee worshippers. The site is at about mid-slope of Parnassus, some twenty yards below and slightly to one side of the great stone Omphalos (World Navel). It seems very likely to me that further exploration will uncover an identical shrine-or the site of one-parallel to the first, but slightly to the other side of the Omphalos.

Judging from the evidence at the site, and what we know of the rituals of other ancient Greek “mysteries,” I would guess that the initiates of the Gonuproskunontes were required at certain times to bring sacrifices to the shrines and prostrate themselves before the polished stone ” Great Knee.” The offerings seem to have consisted mainly of jars of ointments and aromatic oils, small linen pillows stuffed with wool or straw, and bright strips of fabric-probably once tied around the statues on feast days.

We may never have more specific information about just what the Gonuproskunontes believed or what their religious practices were, but the influence of this obscure cult was once so widespread and so powerful that it has left its mark on the ancient Greek civilization, and still exists, though usually in drastically altered forms, in modern civilizations throughout the world.

Mircea Eliade, in Myth and Reality, cites an example bearing evidence of the widespread influence of the knee worshippers. According to Scandinavian mythology, Eliade says, the parents of iron were born when one of the gods clapped his left knee four times with both hands. This, no doubt, is the aition for the origin of knee worship in the Scandinavian
cultures, but, although there was, no doubt, a similar myth in Greek, there is no mention of it nor have any fragments of such a myth been found.

One of the earliest and most widespread evidences of the Gonuproskunontes’ influence on the ancient Greek culture is the appearance of Gonukruptoi or ceremonial knee coverings in both black- and red-figure vase paintings. For centuries experts have considered these to be pictures of hoplite warriors in their customary battle-greaves. A closer look, however, has revealed two types of “greaves” in the paintings: plain, unadorned battle-greaves and elaborately carved and decorated “greaves,” probably made of gold and/or silver. The elaborate type are obviously unsuited for battle and, therefore, are not greaves at all, but the ceremonial and religiously symbolic knee coverings-Gonukruptoi-of the initiates and priests of the Gonuproskunontes. Studies are underway at the present time to determine what the relationship is, if one exists, between the practice of knee worship and the custom of shielding the knees in battle . Remnants of the knee worshippers are evident in the Greek folk costumes worn today (those of the men, of course; the women apparently were excluded from the cult). The costumes include white knickers, tied at the knees with bright blue ribbons like the colorful strips of fabric pictured on a crumbling wall at

The modern western version of the Gonukruptoi has no conscious religious significance , as I see it, but has become attached to the world of sports. Plain , padded , fabric versions of the ceremonial knee coverings are common at nearly every basketball or volleyball game, most soccer matches, and many tennis tournaments. Although it is rather sad to see a once-sacred object be so profaned, at the same time it is exciting to note the far-reaching influence of this obscure religious cult.

Another modern corruption of the practice of knee worship still retains a religious significance . That is the custom of kneeling to worship, common in many large western and eastern religions. This custom is an obvious inversion-or perversion-of the ancient practice.

Of course, this new information about knee worship doesn’t significantly change the meaning of Shelley’s poem, but it does raise some intriguing questions about how Shelley
knew of this interesting cult. The most surprising aspect of this discovery is that, despite the wide influence of the Gonuproskunontes and the numerous modern vestiges of the
cult, the knee worshippers remained undiscovered for so long.


by Curtis Wade Bentley

Because we once had children around , we mostly called him Grandpa. Grandpa Leavitt. But he was really my dad, of course . He had a glass eye that could only stare straight
ahead. It was sometimes difficult to tell when he was talking to you, until you got comfortable with him. Grandpa and I were sitting comfortably on the porch , watching the wind ruffle the long, green lawn and turn the white of aspen leaves toward us. It was a day to breathe deeply, and over again, deeply .

Then it all broke at once and he started about how things had changed since Grandma died and how he was tired and forgetful and always tired . When he mentioned the damned rest home I laughed and shrugged it off and tried to shrug it off for him too .
” Dad, this is all yours here . As long as you want to stay -and Marian would say so too-you’re welcome . You can stay.”

But Grandpa just stared crookedly up at the gleaming, tall house and at me with my cheap smile and said no, he’d thought about it and would leave tomorrow.

As we lay in bed, Marian read, while I stared at the canopy, mired in the lull before sleep . She spoke through flowery paperback pages, but her voice carried; her voice certainly carried.

“So, Robert, it’s what we said , right? What we said we wanted? So it’s OK, Robert. Grandpa Leavitt finally agreed, that’s all. What’s sensual mean, Robert? ”


“Sensual. What’s it mean? Is that like sexual, maybe , or what? ‘ ‘

“No. No, it’s not at all the same. I’ll take him in tomorrow if they’re ready for him. I can hear him in there packing right now. Look, put the book on the table , and turn off the

“Of course, dear. Tomorrow would be good . So bring home some eggrolls or something from Li’s while you ‘re out that way, OK, Robert? If it’s not sexual, what is it?”

I rolled to face the other wall and heard the old man there unhanging his pictures.

In the morning, the tall, fine white house let the old man out the door. He carried a bulging satchel decorated with fading purple flowers, Grandma’s. He had the look of a boy
scout leaving for his first camp. He folded his legs awkwardly into the car and sat there like a wary spider.

“Dad, look- ”

“Drive the damn car and shut up, Robbie.”

The car backed sleekly out the long drive as we watched the white house, the green lawn , and the pink-smiling-waving wife dwindle into pastels.

Dad watched the mailbox by the road until it was gone , replaced by a green-blue blur of countryside and sky . His eyes reflected in flickering grey all that passed. The glass eye
seemed somehow intent, staring holes through the smear of grain fields, halting pheasants in a single frame of sight, while the other eye worked feverishly back and forth to fill
the gaps.

I watched the road. We didn’t speak. I knew he’d see it all again. He could come home every weekend if he wanted, and holidays and birthdays, and we’d come to visit him too.
He looked almost comical and I tried to smile. Then that old man, who was my old man, connected to me by some unfathomable genetic link, died for the first of a thousand times. He looked old enough to die. All at once, he looked like he could die. He laid his head on the leather head rest and closed his eyes until I couldn’t stand the view.

Golden Willows. The name was nice. Marian said it sounded comfortable. And all was arranged. The lady on the phone said that just that day they’d had a vacancy open
up-a nice room with a view on the farm side of town.

“What do you think, Dad?”

“Certainly a nice looking place,” he said. “Very comfort-
able looking.”

“Well, we hope so. Marian said it seemed just right. ”

“Yes, I’m sure it will be. Let’s get to it.”

Don’t be noble, old man. You hate it like hell but you have to turn the screws. Well it won’t work. Because you can come back. He could come home every weekend if he wanted, and holidays and birthdays, and we’d visit him too.

We walked into a smell like wet dog or old newspapers that hit me with a rustle of nausea. Grandpa seemed not to notice and walked up to the front desk.

“My name’s Leavitt. Robert Leavitt. I’d like my room, please .”

A fat black lady moved monstrously toward us, reeking of lilac and sweat; she checked her clipboard.

” Why, Mr. Leavitt, certainly. To go to 203 . Let’s see-

Margaret! Have they got to 203 yet, Margaret?”

Margaret sat in the next room, sipping beer by a big-screen TV.

”First thing this morning they did, Helen,” Margaret yelled back. “Except the sheets. He don ‘t got sheets yet. Milly in 413 wouldn’t get up that early to put them on. Not even for soda pop. I’ll put them on after the show.”

“Fine, then . Mr. Leavitt and-”

“His son,” I said .

“-his son, this way please. To go to room two-oh-three. ”

We shooed down the hall after the rolling white hips. I wanted to look back at something.
We sat in the comfortable room with the sheetless bed. The nursing home noises wandered in the open door, a drone like fifty priests moving their lips in a cathedral. I opened the manilla folder which advertised “Welcome, Announcements and General Information.” Grandpa put his few things into plastic wood drawers and looked for nails to
hang his pictures on. The only nail in the room was over the nightstand by the bed, next to a red knob with a chain. The nail was occupied by a small plaque which had ”Emergency
Help-Pull Here,” written in fine calligraphy. The red knob and the chain were down so I pushed them back up .

”I’ll ask the lady about nails, Dad.” He sat down and then stood up to inspect the anteroom bathroom. I heard him removing the sanitized strip from the toilet and unwrapping his plastic cups.

“I’ve opened the first roll of paper,” he said when he came out. ”The bathroom is open.” He was grinning so I laughed as long as I dared.

The green announcement sheet said ” Mixed-Doubles Backgammon” on it in bold black. Anyway, Dad liked backgammon well enough . Who knows, maybe he’d find a lady friend to take his mind off things. I mentioned it to him and laughed again .

“OK,” he said. “Come on. Let’s look around before you go.”

We stepped into the TV room with the big-screen TV. Three old ladies were knitting effortlessly at the front of the room. Their needles must have clacked out scarf after shawl
after rug. Perhaps a bootie to dangle from a lamp . Their mouths were half open , their faces placid. Their eyes stared out over wire rims to the big TV, pupils disappearing.
Others were scattered over Naugahyde couches like familiar pillows or hunched in wheelchairs covered with scarf after shawl after rug.

Grandpa and I moved, unnoticed, to a long couch against a cinder block wall. The wall was lime green and in its center was a huge bulletin board, edged in fading crepe paper. Two three-by-five notices were thumbtacked to the bottom left-hand corner. At the end of the couch was a bony woman in a stocking cap. She held her chin forward and heaved great
heaves with her drooping breast as she sucked air to spend in a flurry of speech about her hammer toe on the right foot that the doctor would certainly want to look at. Next to her
was a man with a hairless head. His nose nearly met his huge chin, but was stopped by the constant movement of a thin, sunken mouth. He matched the old lady’s hammer toe with
his brother’s foot which “got to swollen up so big they had to ampatate. ” And of course, he had bunions to be shaved and boils to be lanced. On the whole they were rather evenly
matched . They were accompanied by a round lump of a woman in a wheelchair at the end of the couch. She had hanging flaps of jowls that shimmied when she chuckled .
And she chuckled often. She was pointing at the old lady’s hammer toe, her folds of neck jangling furiously .

“Hello,” I said. “May I introduce my father, Mr. Robert Leavitt? He’ll be your neighbor in 203.” The round lady shook uncontrollably now. She was wonderfully amused . The
other two smiled vacuously and began talking again.

Grandpa settled back on the couch. He took a deep breath, looked around the room, then looked at me, to the back of my skull, until I remembered dusty things like trains and fish and whistling.

“Are you sure about this, Dad, if-”

” I’ll be fine, Robbie . Take off now. I’ve got to find a backgammer for tonight.’ ‘

Then he waved me away so I went to the door and looked back. Well that was good; Dad had made some friends already, it seemed . He was pointing at his eyes, popping the
glass one in and out while the others stared. He began to blur and died again . I wondered when we’d see him.

I let the air of Golden Willows close behind me, took off my coat and breathed and checked my watch and breathed again. Then, I hurried to the car and out to Li’s and Marian and lunch on the porch.


by Bryce Rytting

O the totter of

thinking-men minds
crawl down life’s boardwalk,

lest they
from a too reckless run.

(Deep grass is on one side,
all golden green warm,

and the other?

the sea shooting
day stars

backlit by Sun.

Solicitous Sights

by Martha Dee Chappell

Sometimes searing scenes
invade my consciousness,
my surrogate sight,
splintering my spine
with a sinister spirit.
Visions screaming
and seething
in forced speculation;
such squalor confiscates
and slows the senses,
seducing the soul to
sensual suspicion of self.
And it scares me.

Before Spring

by Roger Terry

Night. The mountains stab cold shadows
White and dark against the stars.
I turn, survey my wandering footprints–
Blind and broken stitches
In the melting snow. Below them streetlights,
Much like stars, shine blurred and warm
Through this winter breeze
And all around the headless stalks
of last year’s wild grain shiver,
I pull my coat tighter, guard
Against the night, the restive breeze,
The shifting seasons of the heart.

Father and the Sea

by Jill Christensen

The sea whispers
on travailing winds–
When life claps
like the roar of thunder,
when it settles
like a gray rain mist,
And I do, and beckon
to his call,
and listen
for his stories in seashells
to ear.
For here at the
I am overwhelmed
with waves of what I am.
granule of sand
in the collection
of all,
an intricate
in his gathering.

Queen Anne’s Maiden

by Jill Christensen

Call gently when you come,
for the maiden there lives
deeply in forest wooded to
keep the mountain laurel.
Call, for they have longed
to whisp of the place where
she really goes, to the meadow
to gather you flower,
to the meadow to gather
you lace. Call gently,
and she’ll follow.
Call gently when you come.

Opulent White

by Jill Christensen

Amidst the ruins
of ancient Greece
there are women cut
in stone:
Persephone, Aphrodite,
Athena and Artemis,
what is it I draw
from your maker’s
pagan belief?
That all men have searched
for the classical?
That all men have sought
to embody perfect love?
That you though mystic
and I
so mortal
might one day be akin?
For at the final
(so rich and deep in new ritual)
having wrapped
my braids in
shining ivy,
having sought
the eternal crown,
I shall stand
and softly sculptured,
as noble as all the ancient
polished to opulent white,
having drawn from them
all their breathless
having given the
idyllic dream, eternal life.