Monday, 13 September 2010

Jung on Wotan

A selection of quotations from psychologist Carl Jung, on the subject of the Germanic God Wotan.

"On (...) a still night when i was alone in Bollingen I awoke to the sound of soft footsteps going around the Tower. Distant music sounded, coming closer and closer, and then i heard voices laughing and talking.(...) I became wide awake and went to the window. I opened the shutters - all was still. There was no one in sight, nothing to be heard - no wind - nothing - nothing at all.

Never again did i experience or dream anything similar, and I cannot recall ever having heard a parallel to it. It was only much later that I found an explanation.. This was when I came across the 17th century Lucerne chronicle by Rennward Cysat. He tells the following story: On a high pasture of Mount Pilatus, which is particularly notorious for apparitions - it is said that Wotan to this day practises his magic arts there - Cysat, while climbing the mountain, was disturbed one night by a procession of men who poured past his hut on both sides, playing music and singing - precisely what i had experienced at the Tower.

The next morning Cysat asked the herdsmen with whom he had spent the night what could have been the meaning of it. The man had a ready explanation: those must be the departed folk - Salig lut, in Swiss dialect; the phrase also means blessed folk - namely, Wotan's army of departed souls."

"The Dionysian experience of Nietzsche - which might better be ascribed to the god of ecstasy, Wotan."

"The less we understand of what our fathers and forefathers sought, the less we understand ourselves, and thus we help with all our might to rob the individual of his roots and his guiding instincts, so that he becomes a particle in the mass, ruled only by what Nietzsche called the spirit of gravity."

"The night before (my Mother's) death I had a frightening dream. I was in a dense gloomy forest...Suddenly I heard a piercing whistle that seemed to resound through the whole universe. My knees shook. Then there were crashings in the underbrush, and a gigantic wolfhound with a fearful, gaping maw burst forth. At the sight of it, the blood froze in my veins. It tore past me, and I suddenly knew: the Wild Huntsman had commanded it to carry away a human soul. I awoke in deadly terror, and the next morning I recieved the news of my Mother's passing.

....It was Wotan, the god of my Alemannic forefathers, who had gathered my mother to her ancestors - negatively to the "wild horde," but positively to the "salig lut," the blessed folk. It was the Chrisitan missionaries who made Wotan into a devil. In himself he is an important god - A Mercury of Hermes, as the Romans correctly realised, a nature spirit who returned to life again in the Merlin of the Grail legend and became, as the spiritus Mercurialis, the sought after arcanum of the alchemists."

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