In Jung’s terminology, the soul, that part of the psyche that is directed inwardly and is in touch with the unconscious is contrasted with the persona, which is the outer attitude or outer character. In 1918 Jung wrote a paper entitled “On the Unconscious” where he noted that all of us stand between two worlds: the world of external perception and the world of perception of the unconscious. In folkore and dream non-human animals can symbolize mediators between these two worlds. Marie-Louise von Franz, Jung’s closest collaborator and famous for her work with fairytales, once remarked that in all of the thousands of fairytales she had studied from around the world there was only one dogma that was universally true. If the hero or heroine listens to the helpful animal, they always come out right. If they fundamentally disregard or kill the helpful animal, they always go down the tubes. With this in mind, we will explore fairytales and dreams from around the world that involve the theme of animals and wonder about the symbolic meaning of this imagery from the perspective of Jungian psychology.
Thomas Elsner, J.D., M.A. is a Jungian Analyst, certified Psychoanalyst with the California Medical Board, the C.G. Jung Study Center of Southern California, the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts, and Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has taught courses on Depth Psychology and Folklore for over 10 years at Pacifica as well as internationally. Trained as a Jungian Analyst in Zurich, Switzerland, Thomas has been in practice since 1998. Prior to that he worked as an attorney. His upcoming book to be published by Texas A&M is on Coleridge and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.