As a kind of bonus on the whole Freud/Jung thing, I also treated my self to a read of H. Rider Haggard's She, which Jung refers to several times as an exemplar of the archetype of the anima, the female (for men) figure who represents our souls, our unconscious or our inner life in both dreams and myths.
Haggard was an early exponent of what these days we would think of as pulp fiction. He was a forerunner of such prolific writers as Edgar Rice Burroughs (creator of Tarzan), and such later productions as the Indiana Jones films. The point is not to be believable, and even less to be 'good literature', but to be fun and exciting.
Why, we ask, was an erudite scholar like Jung interested in such things?
The basic story of She centres around Leo Vincey and his foster-father Horace Holly and is narrated for the most part by Horace. Leo is orphaned as a young child, and Horace agrees to take on his care at the request of his dying father. In the process he is entrusted with various objects which he is to reveal to Leo when he comes of age. When the time comes, these objects turn out to be various scrolls and tablets which tell the tale of Leo's ancestry, tracing it back 66 generations to a renegade princess of Egypt and her lover, a priest of Isis, who travel to the heart of Africa and encounter an evil queen who kills the father. Leo is tasked, like each of his ancestors before him, with the mission of travelling to this distant country and avenging himself on the wicked queen who, improbably, is said to still be alive (previous attempts, obviously, having failed).
Although Horace finds the story hard to believe, Leo is keen to at least check it out, so off they go. They journey through storm, swamp and wild animals and find their way to the remote realm, where they discover that the story is indeed true. The land is ruled by a queen who is known as 'She who must be obeyed' or simply 'She', whose real name is Ayesha and who is at least 2,000 years old. She is not only virtually immortal but has amazing powers and is stunningly beautiful, so much so that she goes veiled among her subjects. Both Horace and Leo fall hopelessly in love with her as soon as she reveals herself to them.
Yet for all her great power, beauty and longevity she doesn't seem to have much of a life. She has spent 2,000 years living in a complex of underground tombs mourning the death of the lover she killed out of jealousy, pouring curses on her long-dead love rival and ruling a nation of savage cannibals who don't seem to have gained any benefit from her power and wisdom. It is only when Horace and Leo arrive that she comes alive, recognising Leo as the reincarnation of her dead lover and offering both of them immortality so they can join her in whatever unspecified plans she has for their future life. Together they make a hazardous further journey to the source of immortality, deep in the heart of the mountain, where of course things don't go quite to plan.
In order to see what Jung saw in this tale, need first to get past some potent barriers.
First of all is the story's patent absurdity. It's not so much that it's unbelievable - most great fantasy is unbelievable - as that the story lacks internal logic. Even with the normal suspension of disbelief that comes with reading fantasy, the reader is constantly pulled up by things that make no sense. It doesn't help that the characters themselves are very 'thin', so you don't feel a lot of emotional connection with any of them. Even their dialogue is conducted in kind of clunky pseudo-Elizabethan prose that makes them sound as though they are constantly declaiming from the stage.
All this would be fine, given it's just a bit of fun, but a more difficult barrier is its racism, classism and sexism. I suspect this may not have even occurred to Jung, who seemed to accept implicitly the idea of 'primitive' races, but it is no longer tenable in the 21st century. The story riffs on the idea, popular among the European colonisers of Africa in the 19th and early 20th centuries, of an ancient African empire ruled by white people - because of course such heights of civilisation could not be attained by black people! Here we see the Africans as irredeemable cannibalistic savages, ruled by fear since they are incapable of reason. After 2,000 years among these savages it is only when the British visitors arrive that Ayesha finds kindred spirits and unveils herself. The unreflective sense of racial superiority is nauseating. Haggard also takes class superiority for granted - upper class Horace and Leo are equal to the adventure, but their servant is not and ultimately perishes. Women, even Ayesha herself, appear as objects rather than characters.
So I repeat, what attracted Jung to this clunky, racist piece of writing? He doesn't explain in any detail but picking out what he says about the archetype of the anima/animus I think I can hazard a reasonable approximation.
In Jung's understanding of archetypes a woman figure represents the anima, which stands for the soul, the unconscious, our innermost being - for a woman, the same figure is represented by a man, the animus. We are not consciously aware of this figure but we see her/him in dreams and such figures appear in the artworks of patients who are either drawing their dreams or spontaneously drawing what comes into their minds.
The ideas associated with this figure are complex, but at the risk of oversimplification she/he is leading us to greater self-understanding and self-awareness, helping us to become more integrated humans. She/he is not, of course, an actual being but a representation of aspects of our unconscious which, in Jung's understanding, is collective as well as individual.
What attracted Jung to She is that Ayesha is a very vivid representation of this archetype. She is, to all intents and purposes, a goddess - an immortal being of great power and beauty. Yet she is also hidden in a way that is analogous to the hiddenness of our unconscious - living underground in a secret, inaccessible place. She does not, in a sense, have a life of her own, and nor is she perfect or even particularly good - one of the things concealed in the tomb is her capacity for murder. This is true to the psychology of our unconscious, where some of the things we repress are desires for revenge or impulses to cruelty which may express themselves in various ways through our unconscious. So we should not confuse archetypes or the anima/animus with ideal types - they are aspects of our personality and flawed as we are.
It is only by identifying and uncovering this hidden self that we can address the issues she represents, but this is not easy. Simply to find her and verify her existence is difficult and dangerous - Horace and Leo must brave a storm, travel through deadly swamps, come close to being eaten by lions, and battle savage cannibals before finally seeing her face to face. This reflects the psychological risks we need to take in order to reach this level of self-understanding. Often when people undertake counselling or psychotherapy they initially find that things seem worse as the systems of repression they have been using to survive fall away and they have to face the issue they have been avoiding.
Yet it is not enough for them to simply meet Ayesha, or even to fall in love with her. Finding her is the beginning of the journey, not the end. Once they have found her, they must follow her to learn what she can reveal, which is the source and spring of life itself. This involves further hazards, and at the end when they are face to face with both her and the source of life they must make a decision. Interestingly, they opt not to accept immortality, and in the process she herself loses her immortality and shrivels to nothing. Yet there is also the promise that all of them will be reborn in the future, as Leo is apparently the reincarnation of his distant ancestor.
Ultimately, what they are engaged in a search not for eternal life, but for Truth. On their final journey into the heart of the mountain they pass through the ruins of the ancient city of Kor and visit the temple of Truth. In the centre is the statue of a goddess with her face veiled and this inscription:
Is there no man that will draw my veil and look upon my face, for it is very fair? Unto him who draws my veil shall I be, and peace will I give him, and sweet children of knowledge and good works.”
And a voice cried, “Though all those who seek after thee desire thee, behold! Virgin art thou, and Virgin shalt thou go till Time be done. No man is there born of woman who may draw thy veil and live, nor shall be. By Death only can thy veil be drawn, oh Truth!”
And Truth stretched out her arms and wept, because those who sought her might not find her, nor look upon her face to face.
This type of symbolic journey is common in literature around the world and it is this quest which makes She compelling and has ensured it remains in print over a century later, despite is many glaring faults.
Did Haggard intentionally create this picture of the anima and the psychological/spiritual journey? If you follow Jung's line of thinking it hardly matters. Jung's patients did not intentionally place alchemical symbols and significant numbers in their spontaneous artworks, nor did they deliberately conjure these in their dreams. They are expressions of the collective unconscious, something we all have within us as a birthright, a part of our inheritance as much as our 'flight or fight' response and our opposable thumbs. The point is that it is present and, in a sense, the less deliberate it is the closer it comes to the archetype. I suspect this is why Jung drew attention to this work alongside the sophisticated, intentional philosophical systems which form much of his analysis.
You don't need to buy Haggard's racism, classism, sexism or extraordinarily clumsy dialogue. However, it might be worth reading this book as an aid to reflection on your spiritual journey, especially if you are a man. You might get a sense of the importance of such a journey, as well as its difficulties and dangers. You might inspired to begin this journey yourself, or to continue it if you have already begun.
You might also have a little bit of fun along the way.