Chapter 34

How to Perform a Jungian Analysis of a Myth or Fairy Tale

This chapter represents the beginning of Part 5, "Myths and Dreams." Found just before this chapter, the section introduction can help orient you with respect to what you can learn from the upcoming chapters. This material here represents a shift from the perspective of the group found in the previous part to the point of view of the individual. These perspectives are best seen not as competing explanations of the significance of myth but as complementing each other and showing the broad range of importance attached to mythological material.

For Carl Jung, myths and dreams are the primary pathway to self-realization because they allow human beings to understand and relate to parts of their psyches that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. Through what Jung called the process of individuation, the therapy he developed tries to deepen a person's experiences psychologically.

Responding to dreams requires the interplay of many aspects of the personality, which Jung called archetypes: the shadow, anima, animus, and Self. As you read, consider how the archetypes described by Jung can be identified in the stories you have read and how their interactions result in a resolution that represents the growth of the individual. In particular, think in these terms about the stories of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and Ishtar (Chapter 16); Rama, Sita, Ravana, and Hanuman (Chapter 18); Mwindo, Shemwindo, and Iyangura (Chapter 20), and Demeter, Persephone, and Aidoneus (Chapter 28).

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