A click-language, Bushman story of individuation with marked parallels to Egyptian myth

!Gaunu-tsaxau, the /Kaggen, and the baboons. A  San Bushman tale interpreted by a Jungian psychoanalyst

Specimens of Bushman Folklore, by W.H.I. Bleek and L.C. Lloyd, [1911], Forgotten Books, 2007

The /Kaggen was the trickster hero (the dominant god) of Bushman culture. !Gaunu-tsaxau was his son.

 The oldest humans

This story, !Gaunu-tsaxau, the baboons and the /Kaggen, was collected from a San Bushman of southern Africa. Genetic evidence shows that the Bushmen are the direct descendants of the earliest branch of anatomically modern humans, who evolved about 200,000 years ago. About 50,000 years ago, behaviorally modern humans first appeared. A 44,000-year-old set of tools and weapons was recently discovered which is identical to the set of tools and weapons used by 19th century Bushmen. This proves that the technology of 19th century Bushmen who told this story was the same as that of early behaviorally modern humans.

several male figures amongst animals.Jungian analysis

Bushman rock paintings. Southern africa

Photo source: unknown


men on hunting expediton.Jungian analysis
San Bushmen, Namibis, on traditional hunt. Southern africa

Photo: www.mynatour.org

The content of this story confirms that it was composed by hunter-gatherers. There is, in addition, some genetic evidence that the click language in which this story is told may be a direct descendant of the earliest languages.

There are marked parallels between this story and myths from ancient Egypt (see below). Because  Bushman culture is much older it is likely that the Bushman story was a source for the Egyptian myths.

None of the above proves the age of this story but it does prove that the story was preserved within – and thus expresses something essential about – a culture as old as humanity itself.

At the same time, as I will show, this story refers repeatedly to the creation of consciousness which is a highly sophisticated attainment. Consciousness here means a conscious relationship with the archetypes of the unconscious, which relationship, Jung showed, constitutes individuation, a potential but difficult-to-realize maturation of the personality. Individuation looks different in different individuals and different cultures but, beneath the differences, it is the product of the same relationship.

Early evidence for individuation

I show elsewhere on this website that there are paleolithic figurines which show strong evidence of individuation.

Ivory sculpture of standing lion-man, 40,000 years old.Jungian analysis

Lion Man statuette.
From cave in Hohlenstein, southern Germany. 40,000 BC. 33 cm; time to carve: at least 400 hours. Ulmer Museum, Germany.

Photo: Thomas Stephan, Copyright Ulmer Museum

As I explain in an ebook on individuation and visual art the plastic form of this figurine (as opposed to what it depicts) provides a visual model of individuation. The figurine depicts a chimera – lion and human in one – which also refers to individuation because it shows the realization of an archetypal, lion-like, dimension of the personality.

The sphinx, also a lion-human chimera, signified Kingship in ancient Egypt. (The marked parallels between bushman and Egyptian stories come later). The King himself was both man and god and thus himself a symbol of individuation. The historian Lewis Mumford argued that individual consciousness began in western history with the Pharaohs (Kings).

Stone carving of sphinx, ancient egypt.Jungian analysis

Great Sphinx of Tanis.
Granite. Tanis, Old Kingdom, c. 2600 BC. Louvre, Paris.

Copyright: 2003, Musee du Louvre, Erich Lessing.

The sphinx was linked to the goddess Sekhmet who was a lioness. Lions and lionesses are top predators. Sekhmet protected pharaohs and led them in war. She was known as ‘Before whom evil trembles,’ and ‘She who mauls.’

tut as lion.jungian psychoanalysis

Rampant Sekhmet (with King Tutankhamun’s head?) crushing enemies of several ethnicities. 
Tomb of King Tutanhhamun, ca 1340 BC

Photo: source unknown

Sekhmet was also a solar diety, daughter of Ra, the Sun God. On one occasion Sekhmet burnt up the people with Ra’s fiery eye.

Stone relief of naked, lion-headed woman.Jungian analysis

Sekhmet with sun-disk and cobra-crown. Temple of Kom Ombo, Ptolemaic dynasty, ca 100 BC

Photo: Gerard Ducher

Here the chimera is reversed: Sekhmet has a lioness’s head and a human body. Her image is fluid because it is symbolic, more like a poem than prose. All of the above shows that the 40,000-year-old Lion Man figurine from Germany was created as a symbol of individuation.

Individuation is also symbolized by other dominant animals. In one man’s dream, for example, it was symbolized by gorillas which dominate by being big and imposing. In another of his dreams  individuation was symbolized by a wolf-hawk  (a hawk with a large wolf’s head) which flew down from high above, landed on the man’s hand and stared at him. Wolf and hawk are both top predators.

In Native American tradition, a person gains individual spiritual wisdom when that person meets his or her totem animal.

The /Kaggen of our Bushman story sometimes takes the form of a praying mantis which, as a hunter, is king amongst insects: a praying mantis can kill and eat a lizard or a hummingbird. Shapeshifting between /Kaggen and mantis is the equivalent of Lion-man chimerism.

green insect.jungian psychoanalysis

Male praying mantis. 2007, European.

Oliver Koemmerling

Bushmen are slender people who relate modestly to their ecosystem. This is expressed by the modest size of their dominant god, a praying mantis rather than a lioness or a sky god like Yahweh.


Summary of evidence

It has been proven by radioactive dating that the Lion-man figurine was carved 40,000 years ago. It has similarly been proven by archaeological finds that Bushman technology was identical 44,000 years ago to the technology of the Bushman from whom this tale was recorded, word-for-word, around 1873.

We also know, from the study of art history and from more than a century of experience in interpreting patients’ dreams, that the paleolithic Lion-man figurine has the same symbolic meaning as the shapeshifting /Kaggen – mantis. We can be sure that the people who carved the Lion-man figurine 40,000 years ago also told stories about his adventures. Other stone-age cultures, including Melanesian and Polynesian cultures, also have myths which articulate individuation.

Together these facts argue that Bushmen in the paleolith told stories about the /Kaggen-mantis and individuation like the one I interpret here.


Individuation and leadership

All of these chimeras, together with totem animals and the /Kaggen-mantis, show symbolically that when a person undergoes individuation he or she becomes a leader. That person has discovered his or her own unique way to be, has found a new relationship to the inner world and has thereby gained special authority.

It seems clear that individuation is as old as behaviorally modern humans. This is less surprising than it may seem: from the beginning behaviorally modern humans have succeeded – even to excess – because our culture can adapt so swiftly. Quick cultural adaptation is led by individuals who, having themselves become more conscious, are able to defy collective wisdom.

Consciousness means much more than developing new technology. Consciousness supports power and dynamism but, like King David, consciousness integrates dynamism with wisdom, balance, harmony, wholeness, and love. It is not consciousness that leads us to destroy our planet but rather the devouring tendency of the unconscious. I say more about this in my article Rona long-teeth.

The devouring unconscious is symbolized by Kali. Depictions of her help to make conscious the terrible aspect of the mother archetype.

Kali dripping blood stands on lovemaking Parvati and Shiva. Jungian analysis

Kali standing on Parvati and Shiva. Miniature painting on paper. Kailsh Raj, Kangra School.

Photo: Exotic India

A nuclear explosion is the devouring unconscious run amok, without leadership.  Perhaps the same is true of the explosive spread of Facebook and similar technology.

Explosion of hydrogen bomb, dark forboding circular cloud. Jungian analysis

Licorne shot. July 3, 1970, French Polynesia

Photo: French military

  The Bushman tale, interpreted

The collective

The father sent his son to gather sticks to throw at ‘the people who sit on their heels’. The baboons asked the son what he was doing and then, amongst themselves, discussed his answer at length.

band of baboons in forest. Jungian analysis

Baboon (Papio cynocephalus) troop. Lake Manyara, Tanzania

Photo: Louw Photography

Therefore, a baboon who feeding went past him, — he who was an older baboon, — he was the one to whom !Gaunu-tsaxau came. Then he questioned !Gaunu-tsaxau. And !Gaunu-tsaxau told him about it, that he must fetch for his father sticks, that his father might take aim at the people who sit upon their heels.

Therefore, he (the baboon) exclaimed:

[“I must”, the narrator here explained, “speak in my language, because I feel that the speech of the baboons is not easy.”]

“Hie! Come to listen to this child.” And the other one said:

“First going
I listen,
To the child yonder.

First going
I listen,
To the child yonder.”

And he reached them. He said: “What does this child say?” And the child said: “I must fetch for my father sticks, that my father may take aim at the people who sit upon their heels.”

Then the baboon said: “Tell the old man yonder that he must come to hear this child.” Then the baboon called out: “Hie! Come to hear this child.” Then the other one said:

“First going
I listen,
To the child yonder.”

He came up; he exclaimed: “What does this child say?” And the other one answered: “This child, he wishes, he says, to fetch sticks for his father, that his father may take aim at the people who sit upon their heels.”

And this baboon said: “Tell the old man yonder that he must come to hear this child.” Then this other baboon called out: “O person passing across in front! come to listen to this child.” Therefore, the other one said:

“First going
I listen,
To the child yonder.”

And he came up. He said: “What does this child say?” And the other one answered: “This child wants, he says, to fetch sticks [3] for his father, that his father may take aim at the people who sit upon their heels.”

Therefore, this baboon exclaimed “It is ourselves! Thou shalt tell the old man yonder that he shall come to listen to this child.”

Therefore, this other baboon called out: “Ho! come to listen to this child.” Then the other one said:

“First going
I listen,
To the child yonder.”

He came up to the other people on account of it. He said: “What does this child say?” And the other one answered: “This child, he wants, he says, to fetch [4] sticks for his father, that his father may take aim at the people who sit upon their heels.”

Therefore, this baboon exclaimed (with a sneering kind of laugh): “O ho! It is ourselves! Thou shalt quietly go to tell the old man yonder, that he may come to listen to this child.”

And the other one called out: “O person passing across in front! come to listen to this child.” And the other said:

“First going
I listen,
To the child yonder.”

And he went up to the other people; he said: “What does this child say?” And the other one answered: “This child, he wants, he says, to fetch sticks for his father, that his father may take aim at the people who sit upon their heels.”

Then that baboon, — he felt that he was an old baboon — therefore, he said, when the other one had said: “This child wanted, he said, to fetch sticks for his father,” therefore the other one (the old baboon) exclaimed: “What? it is we ourselves; ourselves it is! Ye shall strike the child with your fists.”

Bushmen culture is highly conservative. Their stories have been preserved in oral tradition for many centuries, perhaps for tens of millenia. Details are conserved by the teller and by the audience who might protest if something were missed. As in a dream, each detail is preserved because it has symbolic meaning.

In the passage above, the phrase “First going, I listen to the child yonder,” together with the account of what the child says, is reiterated six times. Also the choice to consult an old baboon is reiterated six times. What does this mean?

The reiteration shows unambiguously that the baboons’ action was collective, achieved only after much talk. The collective is not creative: everybody thinks the same and takes comfort from the like-minded crowd around them.

Though the Bushman story was created by apparently simple people, it uses subtle mockery to say that, when they act collectively, people are like baboons. This is a lesson modern humans have still to learn.

While members of a collective may be literally awake, they are unconscious in the sense that each person is not attending to his or her own inner life. At a football game, for example, each fan’s awareness is fused with that of the group.

The above interpretation is confirmed by internal evidence, in the form of  repetitions (not the same as reiteration; by ‘repetition’ I mean that the same point is made by a new image). The story, like a dream, was created by the unconscious which had an important point in mind. A series of different images emerged to make that point:

First the /Kaggen’s son and then the /Kaggen himself each find themselves alone amongst the baboons, each forced to act without the support of any collective. Their solitude is highlighted by the gang of baboons. The ‘author’ of this tale saw that baboons do not individuate and used them to portray the collective.

It is the old baboons – those who have learned from experience – who understand the /Kaggen’s intention. In the collective we learn by repeated experience, or by knowledge handed down from elders more experienced than we.

Individuation is quite different: a new development arises within an individual and may then transform the existing order. This apparently naive story compares the two forms of learning to show that they are radically different.


The eye

Therefore, they were striking !Gaunu-tsaxau with their fists on account of it; they hit with their fists, breaking his head. And another struck with his fist, knocking out !Gaunu-tsaxau’s eye, and the child’s eye in this manner sprang (or rolled) away.

Thus !Gaunu-tsaxau, the son of the Bushmen’s main god, was brutalized and killed by the baboons.

There are many detailed parallels between this Bushman story from southern africa and ancient Egyptian myth from north africa. Parallels might have emerged because these myths are based upon common archetypes but the internal details (see below) indicate that the myths themselves have a common ancestor. If that is the case then the more archaic bushman version is likely to be closer to the common ancestor.

The violent Egyptian god Seth was sometimes identified with Babi, a destructive Baboon god. When Seth and Horus fought, Seth stole Horus’s left eye.

painting eyes.jungian psychoanalysis

Horus’s eyes

Photo: hollywoodsubliminals.wordpress.com

There are also parallels with christian myth. !Gaunu-tsaxau’s death at the hands of the baboons was like the killing of Christ, God’s son, by the will of the people and by Pontius Pilot and his soldiers, all  members of the collective. Edward Edinger (in Ego and Archetype ), showed that the crucifixion symbolizes an  essential stage of individuation.

Crucifixion of Christ with spear. Jungian analysis

Crucifixion and Last Judgement. Jan van Eyck. Detail. Probably a late work, early 1430s, finished after his death.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Then this baboon exclaimed: “My ball! my ball! “Therefore, they began to play a game at ball, [5] while the child died; the child lay still. They said (sang):

“And I want it,
Whose ball is it?
And I want it,
Whose ball is it?
And I want it.”

The other people said:

“My companion’s ball it is,
And I want it,
My companion’s ball it is,
And I want it,”

while they were playing at ball there with the child’s eye.

Here is more repetition, together with paradox and irony. All that survived of the child was his eye which, because it opens when we wake and because it sees, is a symbol of consciousness (repetition). Because they are collective the baboons were unconscious and thus destructive but, through their brutality, they transformed !Gaunu-tsaxau into the essence of consciousness (paradox). Then they played an unconscious ball game with the eye (irony).

glass eye.jungian psychoanalysis

Black glass bead with three blue ‘eyes’. Phoenician, found in Turkmenistan
Photo: Silk Road Heritage

Other myths confirm that the brutality of the unconscious advances consciousness. In the ancient Polynesian myth Rona long-teeth:

A young man was reduced to a beating and seeing heart when a female cannibal ate the rest of his body.

The meaning of the paradox is that the unconscious, which contains and nurtures all potentials, includes the potential for consciousness.


A dream

The /Kaggen was waiting for the child. Therefore, the /Kaggen lay down at noon. Therefore, the /Kaggen was dreaming about the child, that the baboons were those who had killed the child; that they had made a ball of the child’s eye; that he went to the baboons, while the baboons played at ball there with the child’s eye.

The /Kaggen was guided by a dream, another repetition. Individuation is an archetypal possibility, the unfolding of which is guided by an unconscious centering tendency of the personality, which Jung called the Self. Empirical evidence (from analyzing many thousands of dreams in therapy) shows that the Self behaves as if it understood us better than we do. Probably this is because it has access to the whole of the unconscious as well as consciousness. A dream is a message from the Self.

Bow and arrow

Therefore, he arose; he took up the quiver, he slung on the quiver; he said, “Rattling along, [6] rattling along,” while he felt that he used formerly to do so, he used to say, “Rattling along.”

bow arrows quiver.jungian psychoanalysis

Bushman bow, quiver, poison-tipped arrows (with two Maasi arrows). Namibia, Botswana or South africa

Photo: Spaniel man

The /Kaggen’s rattling arrows were the sound of technology, another repetition. He carried phallic tools of penetration and discrimination (yang) which can lead to greater consciousness. The /Kaggen was a trickster and technology is a trick which can increase awareness.


Then, when he came into sight, he perceived the baboons’ dust, while the baboons were playing at ball there with the child’s eye. Then the /Kaggen cried on account of it, because the baboons appeared really to have killed the child. Therefore, they were playing at ball there with the child’s eye. Therefore, when he came into sight, he perceived the baboons’ dust, while the baboons were playing at ball there with the child’s eye. Therefore he cried about it.

To be conscious of his loss, the father had to grieve for his son, another repetition. Consciousness is not just a matter of intellect but equally requires feeling. Thus the father’s tears represent the creation of consciousness.

Here there are remarkable parallels in Egyptian myth, parallels so detailed that they require a common ancestor. Horus’s right eye symbolized the sun and was associated with the sun god Re; it became the Eye of Re. Re was the ‘father of the gods’ and the father of humanity. All human life (that is, all consciousness, see below) grew from his sweat or tears.

Once when the Eye of Re did not return, Re sent  two other gods to get it. The eye resisted, and in the struggle shed tears, from which men and women grew.

The eye of the sun represents the archetypal potential for illumination or consciousness. The image shows that consciousness began to incarnate (humans appeared) when the eye of the sun shed tears of feeling which would have fallen to earth. I have already said that consciousness requires not just intellect but also feeling. Humans represent incarnated consciousness because they are mortals who can worship the gods, that is, they can hold in consciousness their awareness of archetypes.

egyptian eye stone gold. Jungian therapy

Eye of Re

Photo: source unknown

And he quickly shut his mouth; he thoroughly dried the tears from his eyes, while he desired that the baboons should not perceive tears in his eyes; that he appeared to have come crying, hence tears were in his eyes; so that he might go to play at ball with the baboons, while his eyes had no tears in them.

The /Kaggen concealed his consciousness from the collective, another repetition. As consciousness develops the collective tends to attack it because the collective recognizes that consciousness is a threat to existing order. When we are conscious, we can choose with whom to share our thoughts or feelings.

Restoring the eye

Then he, running, came up to the baboons, while the baboons stared at him, because they were startled at him [7]. Then, while the baboons were still staring at him, he came running to a place where he laid down the quiver; he took off his kaross [skin cloak], he put down the kaross, he, grasping, drew out the feather brush which he had put into the bag, he shook out the brush, he played with the ball.

Like his arrows, the /Kaggen’s other tools suggest that his culture supported individuation, another repetition. The baboons’ culture did not.

He called out to the baboons, why was it that the baboons were staring at him, while the baboons did not play with the ball, that the baboons might throw it to him.

Then the baboons looked at one another, because they suspected why he spoke thus. Then he caught hold of the ball, when the ball had merely flown to another baboon, when this [the first] baboon had thrown the ball to the other.

Then the child’s eye, because the child’s eye felt that it was startled, on account of his father’s scent, it went playing about; the baboons trying to get it, missed it. Then one baboon, he was the one who caught hold of it, he threw it towards another.

Then the /Kaggen merely sprang out from this place, the /Kaggen caught hold of the child’s eye, the /Kaggen, snatching, took the child’s eye. Then the /Kaggen whirled around the child’s eye; he anointed the child’s eye with [the perspiration of] his armpits.

The baboons share their own (lesser) consciousness by looking at one another, another repetition.

The father protected his son’s eye, enlivened it with his own sweat as though fertilizing it or blessing it. Another repetition confirming that the focus of this story is consciousness.

In Christian myth God’s blessing was “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” This meant that Christ, who represented consciousness and individuation, was the most precious potential of the unconscious.

In egyptian myth

Thoth, [a god who took the form of a baboon], restored the eye with his fingers or by spitting on it.

Horus’s left eye is linked to the moon and its cycle of disappearing and being restored.

The restored eye – Wadjat eye or sound eye – became a symbol for reestablishment of ordered conditions after disorder, that is, the re-establishment of consciousness after a period of darkness.

wadjet eye.jungian psychoanalysis

Wadjet eye. Artist: Jeff Dahl

Photo: Wikipedia.

When Horus gave the Wadjet eye to his dead father Osiris, Osiris ate it and was restored to life.

(We will see that the /Kaggen restored his son to life from his eye). Thus the Wadjet eye became the guarantee of regeneration of life, the quintessence of gifts, and a symbol of offerings. Osiris’ regeneration symbolizes the renewal of consciousness.

Frequently, in the art of the later New Kingdom, a personified eye presents incense or other offerings. Then the eye represents the deceased as he kneels before the throne of Osiris.

eye presenting incense as offering. Jungian therapy

Personified Eye of Horus presents incense offering to Osiris. 1200-1150 BC. XIX Dynasty. Sarcófago de Senbi, Reino Medio, madera pintada, 63 x 212 cm. Egyptian Museum, Cairo.

Photo: source unknown.

As sacred solar animals, baboons are frequently shown presenting Horus’s eye to the rising sun. Like the Wadget eye, the rising sun represents consciousness’s renewal.

Thoth baboon presents eye to Ra. Jungian therapy

Thoth presents Wadjet eye to the rising sun.

Photo: source unknown.

Because there are so many parallel details in the Egyptian and Bushmen myths, it is highly improbable that each arose independently from archetypal suggestion. (When parallel myths do evolve independently, they differ in the details; the parallels occur in the underlying themes.) Therefore, because of the chronology of the two cultures, and because the Bushmen myth is strongly associated with the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, it seems very likely that the Egyptian myth is a later elaboration of the Bushman myth.

The ascension

Then he threw the child’s eye towards the baboons, the child’s eye ascended, the child’s eye went about in the sky; the baboons beheld it above, as it played about above in the sky. And the child’s eye went to stand yonder opposite to the quiver; it appeared as if it sprang over the quiver, while it stood inside the quiver’s bag. [8]

The son’s eye went into the sky, demonstrating its spirit/knowledge aspect, and then hid in the father’s quiver of spiritual tools. This is more repetition which confirms yet again that the eye represents consciousness.

In Christian myth Christ ascended to heaven. Edinger showed that the ascension represents the sublimatio, the radical renewal of consciousness which is also part of individuation.

 Christ ascends, Mary, disciples, angels witness. Jungian analysis

Ascension. Giotto.

Photo: source unknown


Then the baboons went to seek for it. The /Kaggen also sought for it, while the baboons sought for it. Then all the baboons were altogether seeking for the child’s eye. They said: “Give my companion the ball.” [9] The baboon whose ball it was, he said: “Give me the ball.” [10]

The /Kaggen said: “Behold ye! I have not got the ball.” The baboons said: “Give my companion the ball.” The baboon whose ball it was, he said: “Give me the ball.”

Then the baboons [11] said that the /Kaggen must shake the bag, for the ball seemed to be inside the bag. And the /Kaggen exclaimed: “Behold ye! Behold ye! the ball is not inside the bag. Behold ye!” while he grasped the child’s eye, he shook, turning the bag inside out. He said: “Behold ye! Behold ye! the ball cannot be inside the bag.”

The /Kaggen plays a magic trick on them. Consciousness expands when we find that things are not as they seem. Consciousness itself is a form of magic which transforms everything it touches. This is another repetition.


Then this baboon exclaimed: “Hit the old man with fists.” Then the other one exclaimed: “Give my companion the ball! “while he struck the head of the /Kaggen.

Then the /Kaggen exclaimed: “I have not got the ball,” while he struck the baboon’s head.

Lying also expands consciousness: when we lie, holding the truth privately in our awareness, we have to be more conscious of the difference between our inner knowledge and our outer presentation.

Therefore, they were all striking the /Kaggen with their fists; the /Kaggen was striking them with his fist.

Their battle is another repetition because consciousness disrupts the old order, inciting conflict.

Ascension again

Then the /Kaggen got the worst of it; the /Kaggen exclaimed: “Ow! Hartebeest’s Children! [12] ye must go! !kau. !Yerri-ggu! [13] ye must go!” [his skin bag and other tools must flee] while the baboons watched him ascend; as he flew up, …

Again the /Kaggen’s ascension represents the renewal of consciousness.

The water

… as he flew to the water.

Then he popped into the water on account of it; while he exclaimed: “I |ke, tten !khwaiten !khwaiten, !kui ha i |ka!” [14] “Then he walked out of the water; he sat down; he felt inside bag; he took out the child’s eye; he walked on as he held it; he walked, coming up to the grass at the top of the water’s bank [15]; he sat down. He exclaimed: “Oh wwi ho!” [16] as he put the child’s eye into the water. “Thou must grow out, that thou mayest become like that which thou hast been.” [17]

Being immersed and emerging from the water, like baptism, symbolizes being reborn to a new level of consciousness, another repetition.

 Christ baptised by John and Holy Spirit. Jungian therapy

Baptism of Christ

Painting: source unknown

Reclaiming his tools

Then he walked on; he went to take up kaross, he threw it over his shoulder; be took up the quiver, he slung on the quiver; and, in this manner, he returning went, while he returning arrived at home.

He reclaimed all the tools which promote consciousness. This and what follows represent many repetitions, new different images which again and again symbolize the development of consciousness.

Recounting the story

Then the young Ichneumon exclaimed: “Who can have done thus to my grandfather, the /Kaggen, that the /Kaggen is covered with wounds?” Then the /Kaggen replied: “The baboons were those who killed grandson, !Gaunu-tsaxau; I went [the /Kaggen speaks very sadly and slowly here], as they were playing at ball there with grandson’s eye; I went to play at ball with them. Then grandson’s eye vanished. Therefore, the baboons said that I was the one who had it; the baboons were fighting me; therefore, I was fighting them; and I thus did, I flying came.”

 He recounts what happened, a dramatic device (which Shakespeare also uses) to reinforce our awareness. But the /Kaggen chooses to reveal only part of the story and his sadness is also deceptive. A characteristic of awareness is that it can differ from one person to the next.  There is dramatic tension in the differences in consciousness between the players.

Then |Kuammang-a said: “I desire thee to say to grandfather, Why is it that grandfather continues to go among strangers [literally, people who are different]?”

He highlights the cultural clash. Such a clash sparks awareness.

Then the /Kaggen answered: “Thou dost appear to think that yearning was not that on account of which I went among the baboons;” while he did not tell |Kuammang-a and the others that he came and put the child’s eye into the water.

The /Kaggen was dissembling again. He was also speculating about what they thought of his motivations (probing into their consciousness) while withholding information from them. Thus he focussed on their inner awareness and upon his own.

The child

Then he remained there at home, while he did not go to the water. Then he went there, while he went to look at the place where he had put in the child’s eye. And he approached gently, while he wished that he might not make a rustling noise. Therefore, he gently came. And the child heard him, because he had not come gently when afar off; and the child jumped up, it splashed into the water. Then the /Kaggen was laughing about it, while his heart yearned for the child. And he returned; altogether returned.

The child’s acute hearing detected his father while the /Kaggen was still distant and not yet thinking to be quiet. This emphasizes the consciousness of the child and the relative unconsciousness of the /Kaggen. The child represents a new level.

The /Kaggen’s laughter and yearning heart also represent new developments of consciousness (new ways of perceiving).

Then the child grew; it became like that which it had formerly been. Then the /Kaggen came; while he came to look; and he in this manner walking came. While he came walking and looking, he espied the child, as the child was sitting in the sun. Then the child heard him, as be came rustling along; the child sprang up, the child entered the water. And he looking stood ….

More looking, more absorbing the quality of the child, more cultivation of awareness.


….. he went back, he went; he went to make for the child a front kaross (apron), that and a ||koroko. [18] He put the things aside; then he put the front kaross into a bag, that and the ||koroko; he in this manner went; he in this manner came he approached gently.

man.child.apron.jungian psychoanalysis


Photo: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

The /Kaggen brought clothing which, as for Adam and Eve, suggests more awareness of the child’s nakedness. Costume is connected to theater. The body is covered to indicate meaning and consciousness grows.

expulsion.jungian psychoanalysis

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (detail). Hieronymus Bosch

Photo: source unknown

Father and son

And, as he approached gently, he espied the child lying in the sun, as the child lay yonder, in the sun, opposite the water. Therefore, he gently came up to the child. And the child heard him, as his father gently came. And the /Kaggen, when the child intended to get up, the /Kaggen sprang forward, he caught hold of the child. And he anointed the child with his scent; he anointed the child; be said: “Why art thou afraid of me? I am thy father; I who am the /Kaggen, I am here; thou art my son, thou art !Gaunu-tsaxau; I am the /Kaggen, I whose son thou art; the father is myself.”

Sunlight is illumination from heaven, from the child’s heavenly father,  the ultimate source of consciousness. Then the /Kaggen makes the child more conscious of his relation to the /Kaggen, more conscious of who he (the child) is.

son.bow.play.jungian psychotherapy

Bushman father and son with toy bow

Photo: cnn

And the child sat down, on account of it; and he took out the front kaross, he took out the ||koroko. He put the front kaross on to the child; he put the ||koroko on to the child; he put the front kaross on to the child. Then he took the child with him; they, in this manner, returning went; they returning arrived at home.

Trickery again

Then the young Ichneumon exclaimed: “What person can it be who comes with the /Kaggen?” And |Kuammang-a replied: “Hast thou not just heard that grandfather said he had gone to the baboons, while they were playing at ball there with the child’s eye? While grandfather must have been playing before us; his son comes yonder with him!” And they returned, reaching the house.

The /Kaggen was known to be a trickster. They suspected he had been playing with their minds (expanding consciousness).

Their surprise is also a dramatic device to emphasize the miraculous transformation which brought the son back to life. The renewal of consciousness is not an ordinary development.

Then the young Ichneumon spoke; he said: “Why did my grandfather, the /Kaggen, first say that the baboons were those who killed the child, while the child is here.

Then the /Kaggen said: Hast thou not seen that he is not strong? while he feels that I came to put his eye into the water; while I wished that I might see whether the thing would not accomplish itself for me; therefore, I came to put his eye into the water. He came out of the water; therefore, thou seest that he is not strong. Therefore, I wished that I might wait, taking care of him; that I may see whether he will not become strong.”

The /Kaggen was saying that development of consciousness took time and had to be protected from premature exposure.


The story uses many repetitions to show different aspects of this most difficult and mysterious work, the creation of consciousness.

It is striking that such an elemental material culture was so sophisticated about consciousness. But consciousness is more than technology. The bushman were conscious enough to live in harmony with their environment, to conserve it, which we are not. Perhaps they were more conscious than we.