An indescribable beauty and the devil’s daughter ( … 5 cows)

The little old woman with five cows (Yakut)

Story: C.W. Daniel Company from Siberian and Other Folktales: Primitive Literature of the Empire of the Tsars, collected and translated by C. Fillingham Coxwell, copyright 1925.

milking cows.jungian therapy
Milking cows in barn.

Gerard ter Borch, Dutch, ca 1652-54,
Oil on panel. Getty Museum


Analyzing the tale

I interpret this story according to the internal logic of its structure and by staying close, as Jung taught, to the details of each image and considering the implications of those details. I look for internal repetitions, in which a similar interpretation is suggested by a series of details, or by a series of different images; a repetition is internal evidence for an interpretation. I compare this story with similar stories, again, as Jung taught. Above all, I check my interpretation against clinical observations. Does it accurately describe developments which I see repeatedly with my patients? Does it deepen my understanding of those developments? If my interpretation satisfies all these criteria then it “rings true” for me. I use similar criteria for interpreting dreams in Jungian therapy except that, when the dreamer is present, the interpretation must also ring true for the dreamer and the dreamer must have a bodily reaction which signals that assent.

Of course, the story can be interpreted in other ways. I try to use the word “suggests” to convey this but when I use “is” or “represents” these also should be understood as probabilities not absolutes. You must decide if my interpretation rings true for you.


Tale in brief

A maiden of indescribable beauty was sent down from the heavens. A prince saw her, swooned, and asked his parents to give her to him. But, before their wedding, he neglected her. The devil’s daughter tore her to pieces and replaced her at the wedding. The land became depressed. The Khan dismembered the devil’s daughter and fiercely purified the prince. The maiden was restored stronger than before. Now matured, the prince courted her actively. They married and the Khan’s lands were restored.

Main theme

In order to interpret the tale I have to identify the main themes. At one level it is about a marriage which would symbolize the inner marriage of yin and yang, that is, between a man’s conscious identity and his anima or between a woman’s conscious identity and her animus. But there are other themes too; the tale is full of life.

The story has parallels to Demeter and Persephone:

Persephone was picking flowers in a meadow when the ground opened and she was seized by Hades who married her and made her queen of the underworld. Demeter grieved her daughter and protested by making the land barren – this made the winter. The other gods agreed to restore Persephone to Demeter for half of every year – this made the summer.

muscular hades abducting naked persephone

The abduction of Persephone by Hades. Jan Peter van Baurscheit the Elder (1669-1728). Terracotta relief, 40.5 x 43.8 cm, model for a vase.

Muses Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels


In our tale the maiden was seized by the devil (or his daughter) and the people of the land were depressed. When she was restored, the people became happy again. Demeter and Persephone emphasizes fertility and this is emphasized in our tale too.

Our tale begins with the girl’s other-worldly origin and her indescribable beauty. Then, because the prince neglected his bride, her beauty was replaced by inhuman, power-driven ugliness. The girl and the devil’s daughter thus suggest a split in the anima between its beautiful and destructive aspects.

ugly beast. woman.jungian psychoanalyst

Beauty and the beast. Illustrator: Anne Anderson

Anne Anderson’s Old, Old Fairy Tales. Racine, Wisconsin: Whitman Publishing Company, 1935.


Much of the tale is devoted to the maiden’s beauty and much to the devil’s daughter’s ugliness and the purification rituals which transformed it. Eventually both beauty and power were integrated in the bride who became more humanly assertive.

The maiden can also be interpreted as a person suffering a split in self esteem – because she was narcissistically injured by the prince’s neglect – between inhuman extremes of beauty and power-driven ugliness, a split which, once repaired, gave rise to a unified and vigorous sense of self.

I will show that the prince also had a narcissistic injury which was also transformed; this is an internal repetition which helps to confirm that the healing of narcissistic injury is one of the main themes of this story.

Complete tale with interpretations

Old woman and maiden

One morning a little old woman got up and went to the field containing her five cows. She took from the earth a herb with five sprouts and, without breaking either root or branch, carried it home and wrapped it in a blanket and placed it on her pillow.

Then she went out again and sat down to milk her cows. Suddenly she heard tambourine bells jingle and scissors fall, on account of which noise she upset the milk. Having run home and looked, she found that the plant was uninjured. Again she issued forth to milk the cows, and again thought she heard the tambourine bells jingle and scissors fall, and once more she spilt her milk. Returning to the house, she looked into the bedchamber. There sat a maiden with eyes of chalcedony and lips of dark stone, with a face of light-coloured stone and with eyebrows like two dark sables stretching their forefeet towards each other; her body was visible through her dress; her bones were visible through her body; her nerves spreading this way and that, like mercury, were visible through her bones. The plant had become this maiden of indescribable beauty.

The little old woman …

functioned like a midwife, first for the birth of the maiden in human form, and then for her marriage. She kept livestock, picked the plant from the field, bargained with the Khan’s servant (‘drive up cattle, and fill my open fields with horses and horned stock!’), and slaughtered animals for the marriage feast. So she was a canny peasant who made sure she herself was enriched by this marriage.

Polish peasant woman.jungian therapy

Peasant woman, Poland.

Photo: Andrew Kielbowicz, 2008


She suggests, therefore, mother nature who provides for fertility, who both enlarges the herd and harvests it. The story is named for her and begins with her which indicates that the whole sequence that follows is an expression of her power – a development that arises spontaneously and intinctively, out of nature.

The maiden …

had the translucent beauty of new life perfectly formed and not yet marked by use. Her beauty was ‘indescribable’. Her face was like light-colored stone. Her body was visible through her dress; her bones were visible through her body; her nerves spreading this way and that, like mercury, were visible through her bones.

ethereal beautiful face of virgin.jungian therapy

Virgin and Child with Milk Soup (detail). Gerard David: oil on oak, 33 x 28 cm, c. 1515.

Aurora Trust, New York


By contrast with the earthy old woman, the maiden represents other-worldly beauty. She came from above suggesting spirit. Beauty is the spirit of harmony in the natural world and in art.

The tension …

between maiden and old woman suggests the tension between spirit and earth which lies at the center of psychology. Spiritual ideals become manifest in us. We are not just animals who seek only to feed and reproduce ourselves. We have appetites (I want, I’ll devour) but we must reconcile these with spiritual longings (this is right, this is beautiful, this I must admire). In biblical myth this tension is conveyed by Christ’s words: ‘Man cannot live by bread alone.’ We cannot simply use other people to fulfill our needs but must love them and relate to them.

The tension between old woman and the maiden thus anticipated the tension between the devil’s daughter and the maiden. This is a repetition which helps to confirm that our interpretation is on track.

Conventional relating

Soon afterwards Kharjit-Bergen, son of the meritorious Khan Kara, went into the dark forest. He saw a grey squirrel sitting on a curved twig, near the house of the little old woman with five cows, and he began to shoot, but as the light was bad, for the sun was already setting, he did not at once succeed in his purpose. At this time one of his arrows fell into the chimney.

‘Old woman!’ take the arrow and bring it to me!’ he cried, but received no answer. His cheeks and forehead grew flushed and he became angry; a wave of arrogance sprang from the back of his neck, and he rushed into the house.

When he entered and saw the maiden he lost consciousness. But he revived and fell in love. Then he went out and, jumping on his horse, raced home at full gallop. ‘Parents!’ said he, ‘there is such a beautiful maiden at the house of a little old woman with five cows! Get hold of this maiden and give her to me!’

The father sent nine servants on horseback, and they galloped at full speed to the house of the little old woman with five cows. All the servants became unconscious when they beheld the maiden’s beauty. However, they recovered, and all went away except the best one of them.

‘Little old woman!’ said he, ‘give this girl to the son of the meritorious Khan Khara!’

‘I will give her,’ was the answer.

They spoke to the maiden. ‘I will go,’ she announced.

‘Now, as the bridegroom’s wedding gift,’ said the old woman, ‘drive up cattle, and fill my open fields with horses and horned stock!’

Immediately the request was uttered and before the agreement was concluded the man gave an order to collect and drive up the animals as the bridegroom’s gift.

‘Take the maiden and depart!’ said the little old woman, when the stock of horses and cattle had been given as arranged,

The maiden was quickly adorned, and a finely speckled horse that spoke like a human being was led up to her skilfully. They put on it a silver halter, saddled it with a silver saddle, which was placed over an upper silver saddle-cloth and a lower silver saddle-cloth, and they attached a little silver whip. Then the son-in-law led the bride from the mother’s side by the whip, mounted his horse and took the bride home.

They went along the road, and the young man said, ‘In the depth of the forest there is a trap for foxes; I will go there. Proceed along this road! It divides into two paths. On the road leading to the east is hanging a sable skin. But on the road leading to the west there should be the skin of a male bear with the paws and head with white fur at the neck. Go on the path where the sable skin is hanging.’ He pointed out the road and went away.

The son was shooting at squirrels – a juvenile occupation. When he saw the maiden he swooned and fell in love (and asked his parents to get her for him!) Their marriage was quickly arranged and he led her off. The old woman had her bride price, he had his bride, and she had her silver-saddled horse; it looked good on the surface but there was no true engagement between them; he wanted only to own her. He immediately went off to his traps, sending her alone towards danger.

Thus relating at the conventional level is portrayed as an empty fraud. The son’s subsequent ordeal forms a sharp contrast with his conventional engagement, suggesting again that the engagement was empty.

The maiden needed to be appreciated. Her beauty could not flourish, that is, her psychology could not unfold, unless she was adequately seen.

But in the tale she accepted the prince’s immature approach. She behaved as a passive and irresponsible pretty face. Perhaps she was seduced by the silver saddle. The expensive, ceremonial saddle hints that her pelvis was too much the focus. As a result her face was torn off by the devil’s daughter and she was dismembered by wild dogs.

What point is being made here? It cannot merely be the conventional idea that new couples should take marriage seriously. Rather the story suggests that true maturation – which is often represented symbolically as a marriage – is an inner development of extreme difficulty, a development which is not addressed by outward conventions. Because the collective pushes for collective behaviors it misleads us as to our tasks in life. We have to learn again and again that outward things are insubstantial. We are afraid to look inward, to become conscious of our own demons. But if we don’t, then they seize us and destroy us.

diana and charles mariage, charles miserable.jungian therapy

Diana and Charles’ wedding.

Photo: Getty Images


Devil’s daughter

The girl made her way to the fork in the road, but on coming to it forgot the directions. Going along the path where the bear skin was hanging, she reached a small iron hut. Suddenly out of the hut came a devil’s daughter, dressed in an iron garment above the knee. She had only one leg, and that was twisted; a single bent hand projected from below her breast, and her single furious eye was situated in the middle of her forehead. Having shot forth a fifty-foot tongue on to her breast, she pulled the girl from the horse, dropped her to the ground and tore all the skin from her face and threw it on her own face. She dragged off all the girl’s finery and put it on herself. Then mounting, the devil’s daughter rode away.

The husband met the devil’s daughter when she arrived at the house of the meritorious Khan Khara. Nine youths came to take her horse by the halter; eight maidens did likewise. It is said that the bride wrongly fastened her horse to the willow tree where the old widow from Semyaksin used to tether her spotted ox. The greater part of those who thus received the bride became sorely depressed and the remainder were disenchanted; sorrow fell on them.

All who met the bride abominated her. Even the red weasels ran away from her, thus showing she was repugnant to them. Grass had been strewn on the pathway up to her hut, and on this grass she was led by the hand. Having entered, she replenished the fire with the tops of three young larch trees. Then they concealed her behind a curtain, while they themselves also drank and played and laughed and made merry.

The devil’s daughter was all power and aggression. She made people depressed. ‘Even the red weasels ran away from her, thus showing she was repugnant to them.’ This means that the pretty, passive maiden had split off her aggression into the unconscious where, because it was unconscious, it functioned destructively.

female demon.jungian psychoanalysis

Hell. Hans Memling: oil on wood, 22 x 14 cm, 1485.

Musee des Beaux Arts, Strasbourg, France.


“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” The beautiful maiden seems to evoke the devil’s daughter. What could this mean?

Beauty inspires and empowers us. This can be constructive but can also be destructive: Christianity inspired the crusades; suicide bombers are inspired.

When a child’s beauty is seen and appreciated, mirrored in the parents’ eyes, then the inspiration of beauty is woven into the fabric of loving relationship and the child’s conscious personality is empowered constructively.

When a child’s beauty is denied, then the inspiration of beauty is not woven into the fabric of relationship; it remains unconscious and its power tends to be destructive. If the rejection by parents is so severe that the personality splits – self esteem is narcissistically split – then the problem is the more extreme.

White horse and white God

But the marriage feast came to an end, and there was a return to ordinary life. The little old woman with five cows, on going into open country to seek her cows, found that the plant with five sprouts was growing better than usual. She dug it up with its roots and, carrying it home, wrapped it up and placed it on her pillow. Then she went back and began to milk the cows, but the tambourine with the bells began to tinkle, and the scissors fell with a noise. Going back to the house, the old woman found the lovely maiden seated and looking more lovely than ever.

‘Mother,’ she said, ‘my husband took me away from here. My dear husband said, ‘I must go away on some business,’ but before he went he said, ‘Walk along the path where the sable’s skin is hanging, and do not go where the bear’s skin is hanging.’ I forgot and went along the second path to a little iron house. A devil’s daughter tore the skin from my face and put it on her own face; she dragged off all my fine things and put them on; and next this devil’s daughter mounted my horse and set out. She threw away skin and bones and a grey dog seized my lungs and heart with his teeth and carried them to open country. I grew here as a plant, for it was decreed that I should not die altogether. Perhaps it has been settled that later I shall bear children. The devil’s daughter has affected my fate, for she has married my husband and contaminated his flesh and blood; she has absorbed his flesh and blood. When shall I see him?’

The meritorious Khan Khara came the field belonging to the little old woman with five cows. The speckled white horse, who was endowed with human speech, knew that his mistress had revived, and he began to speak.

He complained to Khan Khara thus: ‘The devil’s daughter has killed my mistress, torn all the skin from her face and covered her own face with it; she has dragged away my mistress’s finery and clothed herself in it. The devil’s daughter has gone to live with Khan Khara’s son and become his bride. But my mistress has revived and now lives. If your son does not take this fair girl as his bride, then I will complain to the white Lord God on his seat of white stone, by the lake that has silver waves and golden floating ice, and blocks of silver and black ice …

blocks of ice on shore of frozen lake.jungian therapy

Lake Baikal. Siberia: a fresh-water lake, 25 million years old.

Photo: Alexey Trofimov/ Solent News


… and I will shatter your house and your fire, and will leave you no means of living. A divine man must not take a devil’s daughter. Fasten this devil’s-daughter bride to the legs of a wild horse. Let a stream of rushing water fall on your son and cleanse him during thirty days; and let the worms and reptiles suck away his contaminated blood. Afterwards draw him from the water and expose him to the wind on the top of a tree for thirty nights, so that breezes from the north and from the south my penetrate his heart and liver, and purify his contaminated flesh and blood. When he is cleansed let him persuade and retake his wife…!’

The speckled white horse told Khan Khara what had happened and then threatened to inform the white God. The horse was thus an intermediary, like Hermes, who carried messages between God and humans.

A horse is also a symbol of libido (because of its vigorous body) and this horse seems to be that because it carried the maiden towards her marriage. But this horse is libido that talks. A woman said: ‘I’m so bored with men who want to relate only through having sex … we need to talk!’

The speckled white horse is like the winged horse, Pegasus, or like Odin’s horse, Sleipner (which carried Odin into the underworld and back), in that it mediates between levels. In the middle land, the place where our humanity unfolds, the white horse took physical libido and imbued it with meaning from the spirit world, thereby creating story telling (the horse retold the story). Story telling is passionate talk and understanding, that is, fuller relatedness. White represents spirit and speckled represents random variation which leads to unexpected developments.

blue-white horse in intensely colored background.jungian therapy

Blue Horse 1. Franz Marc: 1911

Staedtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Germany


The white horse appears when we ‘fall in love’. When we ‘fall for’ someone we are seized by libido and inspiration both and carried forward, potentially towards an intimate conversation. The white horse is the psyche’s power to lead us into new, unplanned directions.

White God’s brother

The khan heard and understood the horse’s words. It is said he threw aside tears from both eyes; then he galloped home. On seeing him the bride changed countenance.

‘Son!’ said Khan Khara, ‘whence and from whom did you take your wife?’

‘She is the daughter of the little old woman with five cows.’

‘What was the appearance of the horse on which you brought her? What kind of woman did you bring? Do you know her origin?’

To these questions the son answered, ‘Beyond the third heaven, in the upper region which has the white stone seat is the white God; his younger brother collected migratory birds and united them into one society. Seven maidens, his daughters in the form of seven cranes, came to earth and feasted and entered a round field and danced; and an instructress descended to them. She took the best of the seven cranes and said, ‘Your mission is to go out to people; to be a Yakut on this middle land; you must not dislike this impure middle land! You are appointed worthy of the son of the meritorious Khan Khara and are to wear a skin made of eight sables. On account of him you will become human and bear children and bring them up.’ After speaking she cut off the end of the crane’s wings. The maiden wept. ‘Turn into a mare’s tail-grass, and grow!’ said the instructress; ‘A little old woman with five cows will find the herb and turn it into a maiden and give her in marriage to Khan Khara’s son.’ I took her accounting to this direction and as she was described to me; but I accepted a strange being; in reality, as appears to me, I took nothing!’


The talking horse threatened both to complain to the white God and to destroy the Khan’s home, his fire, and his livelihood. This suggests that the white God would not accept the maiden’s split, that the split did not fulfill the maiden’s archetypal potential. The Khan had to tear the devil’s daughter to pieces with a stallion (another horse whose power could overcome the power of the devil’s daughter) and he had also to purify his son of her contaminating influence.

It was the Khan, the patriarch of the family community, who was confronted and who had to transform his family members. This emphasizes that the whole community was concerned with the bad marriage, the whole community had to be renewed. Psychologically this means that everything depends upon this inner work being done properly.

khan in white.jungian psychoanalysis

Genghis Khan. Created Mongol empire, died 1227. Ink and on silk

Getty Images


Genghis and 3 sons with white horse .jungian therapy

Genhis Khan and three of his four sons. Rashid al-Din, Persian, early 14th century

History of the World, manuscript, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris/ Art Resource


Uniting migratory birds

The white God’s younger brother collected migratory birds and united them into one society (in a society the interests of different groups are reconciled). This is an extraordinary image. Migrating birds do not fraternize with other species of birds who are on other migrations. Birds are like thoughts because they seem to have no mass and they flicker about instantly or move through the air over great distances. Migrating birds – a whole flock with an overarching direction – are like spiritual directions or tendencies. In Jungian terms these are archetypal directions; in mythological language they are the gods. The white God’s brother integrated these into a larger unity. Thus the white God’s brother represents the one God who unites all the other gods. He prefigures the integration of instincts and potentials in a conscious personality. The white God (or his brother) integrated in heaven while on earth the Khan had to re-integrate his family. This repetition shows again that the white God’s brother represents a potential which has to be realized in the world.

v shaped formation of geese.jungian therapy

Canada Geese



Migrating birds are literally the highest living things. The white God’s brother demonstrates that inner integration is the highest value, from which every other value derives. Love derives from our ability to feel union with other people, or activities, or with places, or with nature; art expresses inner unity; success in the world comes from unified will, strength and skill. Even powerful cars and diamond rings have their impact because they symbolize unity. We miss the meaning of such worldly manifestations: they become ends in themselves and distract us from the inner journey. We need to be more conscious of our underlying drive towards unity.

Narcissistic split

The story emphasizes unity so strongly because the maiden fell into profound disunity. She suffered from a narcissistic split in which her personality broke into halves. This is a near-psychotic state, in the sense that reality testing fails. When I suffer a narcissistic split I lack the the awareness of neurosis. In neurosis I feel anxious or hurt but I can, at the same time, admit that my feelings are not based on objective facts. In a narcissistic split I am dissociated and the problem is completely real: I feel bad about myself, not because I’m in a bad mood and I’ll get over it soon, but because I am worthless and will never be otherwise; that woman is desirable, not because she has qualities which are also unrealized potentials within myself, but because I will never have those potentials and will never feel whole unless I possess her. Only from repeated painful experience can I learn to accept that a narcissistic split is not in the outer world but within.

natalie portman.jungian psychoanalysis

Natalie Portman, poster for Black Swan (detail)

Photo: Fox Searchlight, 2010


A narcissistic split undermines all manifestations of unity. My capacities to love, to create art, to succeed in the outer world, are all injured. This is symbolized by the unhappy effects the maiden’s split had on the whole community.

Facing Evil

After his son’s reply the khan said, ‘Having seen and heard, I have come. The speckled horse with the human voice has complained to me. When you bore away your wife you spoke to her of a forked road. You said, ‘On the eastern path there is hanging a sable’s skin and on the western path a bear’s skin.’ You said, ‘Do not go on the path with the bear’s skin, but go along the path showing a sable skin!’ But she forgot, and passed along the path which had the bear’s skin. She reached the iron house and then a devil’s daughter jumped out to meet her, dragged her from her horse and threw her down, tore the whole of the skin from her face and placed it on her own face. The devil’s daughter dressed herself in the girl’s finery and silver ornaments and rode hither as a bride. She fastened the horse to the old willow; it is already a mark. ‘Attach the devil’s daughter to the feet of the wild stallion!’ said the horse to me, ‘and wash your son in a swift stream for a whole month of thirty nights; let worms and reptiles suck away his contaminated body and blood. Carry him away and expose him to the breeze at the top of a tree during a month of thirty nights. Let the breezes search him from the north and from the south; let it blow through his heart and liver!’ said the horse to me. ‘Let him go and persuade his wife and take her! But away with this woman! Do not show her! She will devour people and cattle. If you do not get rid of her,’ said the horse, ‘I will complain to the white God.’

On hearing this the son became much ashamed, and a workman called Boloruk seized the bride, who was sitting behind a curtain, and dragged her by the foot, fastened her on the legs of a wild horse. The horse kicked the devil’s daughter to pieces and to death. Her body and blood were attacked on the ground by worms and reptiles, and became worms and reptiles moving about till the present time.

Evil accepted

When the devil’s daughter was killed her blood and flesh became worms and reptiles; worms and reptiles also sucked away the contaminated blood of the prince.

small snake.jungian psychoanalysis

Slow Worm. U.K.

Photo:, xopher, Allerthorpe Common, 2008


Thus her evil was not split off and denied but was assigned to its appropriately low level. Our destructiveness, hatefulness, envy, and lack of love are an integral part of us; rather than allowing them to possess us unconsciously, we need to be conscious of them and thus put them in true perspective. The work of analysis is to integrate all the parts, including the ugly parts. The analyst must unconditionally accept the ugly parts which is only possible if the analyst has worked sufficiently on his or her own narcissistic splits.

Prince’s ordeal

After being placed in a stream of rushing water the khan’s son was placed on a tree, so that the spring breezes coming from the north and from the south blew through him.

Thus his contaminated body and blood were purified and, when he was brought home, dried up and scarcely breathing, only his skin and bones remained….

tall wind-blown green tree.jungian therapy

The Great Pine. Cezanne, 1889


What of the prince’s terrible ordeal? It is an ordeal to separate oneself from the psychology one learned as a child, to become one’s own person which means, ultimately, to develop one’s own relationship with the unconscious. Much testing, suffering, and loneliness is required. The ordeal is such that a person cannot undergo it alone.

The prince also suffered from narcissism, though in a different form. His was not due to a split but to immaturity. His parents had always given him what he wanted and he felt it was his due. Because he did ‘not at once succeed in his purpose’ (shooting the squirrel), and because he got no reply when he demanded that the old lady return his arrow, he became enraged. He went home to his parents and said ‘give her to me.’ As soon as he got her he abandoned her for his traps.

The prince was stuck in the infantile illusion that he was the center of things, that everyone and everything should jump to his bidding. His narcissistic illusion was appropriate in infancy but not in young adulthood.

Because of his narcissism the prince could not relate. He was helpless when the maiden turned into the devil’s daughter. He became poisoned by her and had to be decontaminated. This is a strange image: how does a naively narcissistic person can get poisoned by another’s split-off narcissistic power drive?

Immature people are susceptible to destructive leaders. Not all nazis were as destructive as their leaders but, perhaps because of immaturity, they were contaminated by their leaders’ narcissistic splits.

The prince had to go through an ordeal of purification almost as severe as the maiden until, like her, he was restored. Thus narcissism due to immaturity is also a severe disability.


He rode to the region of the wedding gift as before and, having picketed his horse, dismounted at his mother-in-law’s house. The little old woman who owned five cows fluttered out joyfully; she rejoiced as if the dead had come to life and the lost had been found. From the picketing spot to the tent she strewed green grass and spread on the front bed a white horse-skin with hoofs. She killed a milch cow and a large-breasted mare and made a wedding feast,

The girl approached her husband with tears. ‘Why have you come to me?’ she asked. ‘You spilt my dark blood, you cut my skin deeply. You gave me up as food for dogs and ducks. You gave me to the daughter of an eight-legged devil. After that, how can you seek a wife here? Girls are more numerous than perch, and women than grayling; my heart is wounded and my mind is agitated! I will not come!’

‘I did not send you to the daughter of the eight-legged devil and when I went away on an important matter I pointed out your path. I did not knowingly direct you to a perilous place and I did not know what would happen when I said to you ‘Go and meet your fate!’ The lady-instructress and protectress, the creatress, chose you and appointed you for me; therefore you revived and are alive,’ he said, ‘and whatever may happen, good or ill, I shall unfailingly take you!’

The little old woman with five cows wiped away tears from both eyes and sat down between these two children. ‘How is it that, having me, you do not rejoice when you have returned to life after death, and been found after having been lost? Neither of you must oppose my will!’

The maiden gave her word, but said ‘Agreed!’ unwillingly. Then the young man sprang up and danced and jumped and embraced and kissed and drew in his breath. The couple played the best games and burst into loud laughter and talked unceasingly.

Outside they fastened the speckled horse that spoke like a human being, laid on him the silver saddle-cloth, saddled him withh the silver saddle, bridled him with the silver bridle, hung on him the silver saddle-bags and attached to him the little silver whip….

When the prince returned to court the maiden, she protested eloquently, telling him how he had hurt her and asserting her own will. She had integrated the power to say no. This was a constructive manifestation of the power of devil’s daughter. The maiden’s new power served consciousness. Because she could refuse the prince she could also accept him fully which was shown by their joyful play.

The prince courted her vigor and humor, attended to her feelings until she agreed happily to be with him.

medieval couple wedding.jungian therapy

Bride and Groom. Schwabischer Meister um 1470, tempera on wood, 64.5 x 35.5 cm, German

Cleveland Museum of Art


True marriage

When the maiden had been dressed and was all complete on her she was sent off. She and her husband knew as they went along that it was winter by the fine snow that was falling; they knew it was summer by the rain; they knew it was autumn by the fog.

The servants from the nine houses of Khan Khara, the house servants from eight houses and the room attendants from seven houses, and nine lords’ sons who came out like nine cranes thought, ‘How will the bride arrive? Will she march out or will she saunter? And will sables arise from her footsteps?’

Thinking thus, they prepared arrows so vigorously that the skin came off their fingers; they attended so closely to their work that their sight became dull. Seven grown-up daughters like seven cranes, born at one time, twisted threads so that the skin came from their knees, and said, ‘If, when the bride comes, she blows her nose loudly, dear little kings will be plentiful.’

The son arrived with his bride, and two maidens took their horses by the bridle at the picket rope. The son and his bride dismounted and she blew her nose; therefore dear little kings would come! Instantly the women began to weave garments. Sables ran along the place from which the bride stepped forward, and some of the young men hastened into the dark forest to shoot them.

From the foot of the picketing post to the tent the way had been spread with green grass. On arriving, the bride kindled the fire with three branches of larch. Then they hid her behind a curtain. They stretched a strap in nine portions and tied to it ninety white speckled foals. On the right side of the house they thrust into the ground nine posts and fastened to them nine white foals and put on the foals nine friendly sorcerers who drank kumyss. On the left side of the house they set up eight posts.

Wedding festivities were begun in honor of the bride’s entry into the home. Warriors collected and experts came together. It is said that nine ancestral spirits came from a higher place and twelve ancestral spirits rose from the ground. It is said that nine tribes came from under the ground and, using whips of dry wood, trotted badly. Those having iron stirrups crowded together and those having copper stirrups wen unsteadily.

All had collected from the foreign tribes and from the tents of the nomad villages; there were singers, there were dancers, there were storytellers; there were those who jumped on one foot and there were leapers; there were crowds possessing five-kopeck pieces, there were saunterers. Then the dwellers-on-high flew upwards; those dwelling in the lower regions sank into the earth; and the inhabitants of the middle region, the earth, separated and walked away. The litter remained till the third day; but before the morrow most of the fragments had been collected, all animals had been enclosed and children were sporting in the place. Their descendants are said to be alive today.


The kingdom became joyful and fertile as their marriage was happily fulfilled. This shows the consequence of healing a narcissistic split. True relatedness becomes possible. The benefits to the personality are very great.

egyptian couple.jungian psychanalysis

Walk in the garden. Royal couple, relief, Armana style. New Kingdom, 18th dynasty, c. 1335 BC

Egyptian Museum, Berlin