Diirawic kills her incestuous brother

Diirawic and Her Incestuous Brother (interpreted to illustrate aspects of Jungian therapy)


Legend: Dinka Folktales, African Stories from Sudan by Francis Mading Deng, (New York, Africana Publishing Company, a division of Holmes & Meier, 1974), copyright 1974 by Francis Mading Deng.

Understanding a fairy tale

Jung showed that a fairy tale expresses the unconscious of the culture from which it comes. The unconscious compensates prevailing attitudes, showing what is suppressed,   seeking to move consciousness towards balance. Thus a fairy tale is like a dream which does the same thing for the individual.

So the translations that we make in interpreting a fairy tale are the same kinds of translations that we make in interpreting a dream. The unconscious mind, using images, is thinking about our everyday adult life by means of a language of symbols. We have to learn how to translate this language which is at first foreign to consciousness.

Each fairy tale is a new opportunity, not only to benefit from the specific wisdom it contains, but also to learn this symbolic language: a fairy tale is like a rosetta stone. My interpretation (like my interpretation of a dream) is based upon internal repetition and internal consistency, and also upon my experience with other myths and dreams and with my patients’ psychology. But Jung showed that the tale is also like a poem whose interpretation requires a poetic sense. I do not claim that my interpretation is the only correct one. You must decide for yourself whether it rings true for you.

A young girl

This is an ancient event.

A girl called Diirawic was extremely beautiful. Everyone in the tribe listened to her words. A man called Teeng wanted to marry her, but her brother, who was also called Teeng, refused.

girl's face.jungian psychoanalysis

Fulani Girl Early morning, village southwest of Sokoto, Nigeria

Photo copyright: Irene Becker

Diiriwac was young. Her youth suggests a new manifestation of yin: a new potential to be receptive, to be vulnerable, to bond, to play, to create new life. She suggests sensitivity, feeling, affiliation, and interdependency. So this seems to be a story about yin and its maturation.

Incestuous brother

Many people each offered a hundred cows for her bride-wealth, but her brother refused. One day Teeng spoke to his mother and said, “I would like to marry my sister Diirawic.”

His mother said, “I have never heard of such a thing. You should go and ask your father.”

He went to all his relatives and they all told him to ask someone else. Finally his mother’s sister said,

“My child, if you prevented your sister from being married because you wanted her, what can I say! Marry her if that is your wish. She is your sister.”

Diirawic’s yin potential was first threatened by her incestuous brother. Teeng did not offer a meeting of equal opposites. Before Diiriwac could get started he might have robbed her of her independence and enslaved her. Then yin would have been subjugated by compulsive (that is, unconscious) yang. For a woman, unconscious yang appears as the animus, a charged and potentially destructive male figure. Here Diiriwac’s brother was the first manifestation of the animus.

In another African tale, The Power of the Great Mother, (also interpreted on this website) the young girl wove baskets. In Diiriwac’s story, her younger sister used a woven basket. A beautiful young girl has the potential to attract the love of a stranger and thereby to weave further the fabric of society, binding the community into the kinship bonds upon which all human life depends. Without community we become impotent and crazy.

Symbolically Diiriwac suggests the capacity of a receptive attitude to integrate new “foreign” energy into the personality. We often think of consciousness as yang or solar, that is, bright and hard edged, like sunlight, but Diirawic represents its yin aspect, lunar because it is softer , more subtle, and more based upon reflection. Solar consciousness is alienated and sterile unless it is interwoven with lunar consciousness.

For example a man is obsessed with his own prowess, by his ability to get things done. He is unwilling to spend time with his children and listen to them. He’s forever checking his Blackberry. Or a businesswoman who is trying to interpret dreams is caught up in quick answers. She does not know how to listen and wait for meaning to gestate, but instead wants to interpret a dream symbol quickly and move onto the next one.

When consciousness is exclusively yang it cannot listen to the unconscious and is therefore is possessed by it. Paradoxically it becomes unconscious. This is a predicament of western science.


Diirawic was in latency and this tale describes the preservation of latency.

Latency is a time of gestation. One organization of the personality, the pre-adolescent period of childhood, is functioning well: the child is learning skills and developing strengths in the practical world and in peer relationships. In modern societies this is the time for schooling, for developing knowledge and analytical and creative skills. Sexuality does not compete with knowledge and skills for a child’s energy: sexuality is repressed.

latency boys girls.jungian psychoanalysis

Boys and girls in latency.


But something new is gestating: boys’ and girls’ personalities are about to reorganize, to identify more either with yin or with yang. The tension between these opposites, as they manifest themselves in adolescent identity, will then create energy for romantic and sexual relationships.

Symbolically, latency represents the mechanism by which the personality transforms at any stage in life. As the old organization dominates and seems to thrive, a new organization is gathering strength: in good time it will burst forth, destroying the old order and, at first, leading to chaos and dysfunction. The chaotic phase is necessary if a genuinely new organization is to develop. This cycle happens repeatedly in analysis. When it does happen it leads to intense anxiety (or excitement) as the old program is undermined. You may stay awake all night with your mind racing.

Latency suggests natural timing and the cycle of nature. Development is an organic process: we have to respect its timing. Diirawic’s brother wanted to rush Diirawic into premature adulthood. This is a symptom of unbalanced yang. A man in analysis got excited about his inner discoveries and wanted to write a book about them. Instead of rushing to exploit them, he needed to wait and allow them to gestate.

Diirawic was the leader of her peers. As she renewed herself, she guided others into new directions. This is basis of creative leadership which is not the same as gaining power over others. Creativity arises from a relationship with the unconscious which (the unconscious) continually surprises us with new possibilities. When we realize such new possibilities then our personality, or the culture, moves forward into a new organization.

The story emphasizes that the relatives took no stand on Teeng’s proposition. Collective wisdom is impotent to avert this danger. The collective has nothing to say about individuation. Individuation occurs outside of the collective, perhaps in opposition to it. The new development needs to be accepted by the collective if it is to be realized and the collective, in turn, tries to benefit from the new development. But the collective is also threatened and tries to co-opt and disempower the new development, to reassert non-creative norms. This tension is inherent to any institution.

Mijok’s tail

Diirawic did not know about this. One day she called all the girls and said, “Girls, let us go fishing.” When she asked, everyone obeyed. So all the girls went, including little children.

In the meantime, her brother Teeng took out his favorite ox, Mijok, and slaughtered it for a feast. He was very happy that he was allowed to marry his sister. All the people came to the feast.

Diirawic’s little sister had overheard Teeng and she knew what was happening. But she kept silent.

A kite flew down and grabbed up the tail of Teeng’s ox, Mijok. Then it flew to the river where Diirawic was fishing and dropped it in her lap. “This looks like the tail of my brother’s ox, Mijok, “she said. “What has killed him? I left him tethered and alive!”

The girls tried to console her, saying, “Nothing bad has happened.”

Diirawic was still troubled. She stopped the fishing and suggested that they return to find out what had happened to her brother’s ox.

There was guidance from the heavens, the kite who drops Mijok’s tail. So there was spiritual wisdom, that is, an archetypal possibility for a solution. Though the collective does not understand individuation, there are spiritual suggestions, hints, about individuation for those who will listen.

red predator bird flies wings extended.jungian therapy

Red kite.


An ox tail dropped from the heavens is like a day residue in a dream. It has been severed from its original context and dropped into our consciousness in a dream. Now its meaning is symbolic rather than literal – what does the tail symbolize? To Diirawic it symbolized a marriage feast. When we dream of the giraffe we saw yesterday at the zoo, we cannot take it at face value – we have to ask what a giraffe symbolizes for us.

Her sister’s advice

They went back. As they arrived, the little sister of Diirawic came running to her and embraced her, saying, “My dear sister Diirawic, do you know what has happened?”

“I don’t know,” said Diirawic.

“Then I will tell you a secret.”

“Come on, Sister, tell me,” said Diirawic.

“Teeng has been preventing you from being married because he wants to marry you, “her sister said. “He has slaughtered his ox, Mijok, to celebrate his engagement to you.”

Diirawic cried and said, “So that is why God made the kite fly with Mijok’s tail and drop it in my lap. So be it. There is nothing I can do.”

“Sister,”said her little sister, “When your brother bedevils you and forgets that you are his sister, what do you do? I found a knife for you. He will want you to sleep with him in the hut. Hide the knife near the bed. And at night when he is fast asleep, cut off his testicles. He will die. And he will not be able to do anything to you.”

“Sister,”said Diirawic, “you have given me good advice.”

Diirawic kept the secret and did not tell the girls what had occurred. But she cried whenever she was alone.

She went and milked the cows. People drank the milk. But when Teeng was given milk, he refused. And when he was given food, he refused. His heart was on his sister. That is where his heart was.

At bedtime, he said, “I would like to sleep in that hut. Diirawic, sister, let us share the hut.”

Diirawic said, “Nothing is bad, my brother. We can share the hut.”

Nature’s wisdom

They did. Their little sister also insisted on sleeping with them in the hut. So she slept on the other side of the hut. In the middle of the night, Teeng got up and moved the way men do! At that moment, a lizard spoke and said, “Come, Teeng, have you really become an imbecile? How can your heart be on your mother’s daughter’s body?”

He felt ashamed and lay down. He waited for a while and then got up again. Each time he got up, another part of the hut spoke in the same way, the grass on the thatching spoke, the rafters spoke. The walls spoke and said, “You monkey of a human being, what are you doing?”The utensils rebuked him. The rats in the hut laughed at him. Everything started shouting at him. “Teeng, imbecile, what are you doing?”

At that moment, he fell back ashamed and exhausted and fell into a deep sleep.

The natural wisdom of the lizards and the grass, the rafters, the walls, the rats, and the utensils in the hut all called out against Teeng’s impulse.

collection of grass huts.jungian therapy

Wooden hut. Omo valley, Ethiopia

Photo: Omo Valley.com

Nature itself abhors the destruction of yin’s potential. The same idea is embodied in Diirawic’s beauty: her beauty held the promise of special integration (the marriage of yin and yang) which nature itself is tending towards and does not wish to have subverted. So nature – the collective unconscious – supports individuation, as indeed nature supports all potentials, while collective consciousness (the relatives) opposes it. The collective unconscious is a seething jungle of fertility while collective consciousness defends a particular order. In Joni Mitchel’s words: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

The knife

The little girl got up and woke her older sister, saying, “You fool, don’t you see he is now sleeping? This is the time to cut off his testicles.”

Diirawic got up and cut them off. Teeng died.

Diirawic, guided by her sister, claimed the yang blade for herself, castrated her brother and killed him. If a woman is to grow she must be willing to fight, to discriminate. She cannot allow animus attitudes to dominate her. When the girls left the village (below) they carried with them axes and spears, which shows again that they were claiming yang for themselves.

knife.jungian psychoanalysis

Forged african knife. Saka/Mongo, Congo, Zaire


The wilderness

Then the two girls got up and beat the drums in a way that told everybody that there was an exclusive dance for girls. No men could attend that dance. Nor could married women and children. So all the girls came out running from their huts and went to the dance.

Diirawic then spoke to them and said, “Sisters, I called you to say that I am going into the wilderness.”She then went on to explain to them the whole story.

All the girls argued: “If your brother did it to you, what is the guarantee that our brothers will not do it to us? We must all leave together!”

So all the girls of the tribe decided to go. Only very small girls remained. As they left, the little sister of Diirawic said, “I want to go with you.”

But they would not let her. “You are too young,” they said, “you must stay.”

“In that case,”she said, “I will cry out loud and tell everyone your plan! “And she started to cry out.

“Hush, hush,”said the girls. Then turning to Diirawic they said, “Let her come with us. She is a girl with a heart. She has already taken our side. If we die, we die together with her!”

Diirawic accepted and they went. They walked; they walked and walked and walked, until they came to the borders between the human territory and the lion world. They carried their axes and their spears; they had everything they might need.

Because she asserted herself she was exiled from the village and had to enter lion country. She lost the protection of collective attitudes and customs. She was exposed to the unconscious in its raw, unmediated form. This was lonely and dangerous.

But she was not completely alone: she was the leader of all her age mates. This story is from a time and place where people were rarely alone.

The individuation process is solitary but, at the same time, we must maintain connections with other people. In his autobiography Jung described a period of years in which he withdrew from his job – from outside world obligations but not from his connections to his family – while he grappled with the unconscious. What he learned thus, he spent the rest of his life developing and publishing. An analysis may also entail a night-sea journey like Jung’s.

They divided the work among themselves. Some cut the timber for rafters and poles. Others cut the grass for thatching. They built for themselves an enormous house—a house far larger even than a cattle-byre. The number of girls was tremendous. They built many beds for themselves inside the hut and made a very strong door to make sure of their safety.

They had no food, but they found a large anthill, full of dried meat, grain, and all the other foodstuffs that they needed. They wondered where all this could have come from. But Diirawic explained to them. “Sisters, we are women and it is the woman who bears the human race. Perhaps God has seen our plight, and not wanting us to perish, has provided us with all this. Let us take it in good grace!”

yellow ant hill in veldt.jungian therapy

Ant hill.

Photo: Shutterstock Images

They did. Some went for firewood. Others fetched water. They cooked and ate. Every day they would dance the women’s dance in great happiness and then sleep.

The lion

One evening a lion came in search of insects and found them dancing. But seeing such a large number of girls, he became frightened and left.

It then occurred to the lion to turn into a dog and go into their compound. He did. He went there looking for scraps of food. Some girls hit him and chased him away. Others said, “Don’t kill him. He is a dog and dogs are friends!”

The male lion was a version of the animus. We need to ask, what aspects of the animus is emphasized by this image? A lion represents a force that may control and devour, a force that could tear you apart and make you disappear.

lion on rocks and grass.jungian therapy

Lion. Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Mara, Kenya

Photo: www.porini.com/kenya.html?sub=porini-lion-camp

Modern examples might be alcoholism, overeating, compulsive sex, compulsive gambling, even psychosis. In all of these the power of the unconscious may devour the individual personality.

The collective seeks to protects us from this danger with collective rituals: at a football game we all are immersed together in the archetypal realm, we don’t have to make any critical choices, we face no danger, and yet we emerge renewed because we have been communing with the unconscious. Going to church does the same thing.

To face the unconscious alone Diiriwac needed a higher level self realization, of individuality. Her conscious personality had to be strong.

What about the food in the anthill? Industrious nature provided food for Diiriwac’s journey. This detail emphasizes not only that much energy is needed for individuation, but also that the role of the unconscious is paradoxical: the lion, which was part of nature (part of the unconscious), would threaten to devour Diiriwac but, at the same time, nature needed Diiriwac to tame the lion. So nature fed her during her journey. Individuation is an organic expression of nature’s productivity but it cannot be accomplished by the unconscious alone. It requires active engagement by the conscious personality.

After graduating from college a young woman felt compelled to pursue art as a career. She had many talents and she investigated better-paid careers but found that she could not accept any of them. Her drive to pursue art was genuine; it had developed within her organically. But she could not integrate that drive into her identity until she had given it much conscious thought, for example about practicalities: How would she support herself? Where would she study? Could she find good teachers? What were her realistic prospects?

The little sister and the lion

Diirawic’s sister was afraid of the dog. She had not seen a dog following them. And the distance was so great that the dog could not have traveled all the way alone. She worried but said nothing. Yet she could not sleep; she stayed awake while all the others slept.

One night the lion came and knocked at the door. He had overheard the names of the older girls, one of them, Diirawic. After knocking at the door he said, “Diirawic, please open the door for me.” The little girl who was awake answered, chanting:

“Achol is asleep, Adau is asleep, Nyankiir is asleep, Diirawic is asleep, The girls are asleep!”

The lion heard her and said: “Little girl, what is the matter with you, staying up so late?”

She answered him, saying, “My dear man, it is thirst. I am suffering from a dreadful thirst.”

“Why?”asked the lion. “Don’t the girls fetch water from the river?”

“Yes,”answered the little girl, “they do. But since I was born, I do not drink water from a pot or a gourd. I drink only from a container made of reeds.”

“And don’t they bring you water in such a container?” asked the lion.

“No,”she said. “They only bring water in pots and gourds, even though there is a container of reeds in the house.”

“Where is that container?” asked the lion.

“It is outside there on the platform!” she answered.

So he took it and left to fetch water for her. The container of reeds would not hold water. The lion spent much time trying to fix it with clay. But when he filled it, the water washed the clay away. The lion kept on trying until dawn. Then he returned with the container of reeds and put it back where it was. He then rushed back to the bush before the girls got up.

woven basket.jungian psychoanalysis

Hand woven basket (dillybag) made from a pale coloured reed with string handle. Australian aboriginal or Torres Strait islander

Photo: Aboriginal and Torres Straight islander art collection, National Museum Australia

This went on for many nights. The little girl slept only during the daytime. The girls rebuked her for this, saying: “Why do you sleep in the daytime? Can’t you sleep at night? Where do you go at night?”

She did not tell them anything. But she worried. She lost so much weight that she became very bony.

One day Diirawic spoke to her sister and said, “Nyanaguek, my mother’s daughter, what is making you so lean? I told you to remain at home. I will not allow you to make the other girls miserable. If necessary, daughter of my mother, I will kill you.”

But Diirawic’s sister would not reveal the truth. The girls went on rebuking her but she would not tell them what she knew.

One day, she broke down and cried, and then said, “My dear sister, Diirawic, I eat, as you see. In fact, I get plenty of food. But even if I did not receive enough food, I have an enduring heart. Perhaps I am able to endure more than any one of you here. What I am suffering from is something none of you has seen. Every night a lion gives me great trouble. That animal you thought to be a dog is a lion. I remain awake at night to protect us all and then sleep in the daytime, and she told Diirawic what was happening. So that is what is destroying me, my dear sister. You blame me in vain.”

Only Diirawic’s sister was awake to the danger of the lion. She used the basket of woven reeds to frustrate the lion’s devouring tendency. A woven basket is subtle, the product of yin ego skills, as also is the trick Diirawic’s sister played upon the lion. So here yin consciousness was discriminating unconscious impulses.

In the Roman legend of Psyche and Eros, Psyche had to perform a series of tasks before she could win Eros as her partner: one task was to separate a huge pile of mixed grains into its component species (she got help from the ants). Again this shows the discriminating power of yin.

A example familiar to us is the endless conversations between girls, or between mother and daughter, in which interactions and decisions may be carefully examined from every point of view – this is consciousness being developed in a lunar way.

Diirawic’s sister became gaunt from confronting the lion each night. This shows how exhausting it is for any person to face a demanding, threatening force from the unconscious. I’ll say more about Diirawic’s sister later.

Taming the lion

“I have one thing to tell you,” said Diirawic. “Just be calm and when he comes, do not answer. I will remain awake with you.”

They agreed. Diirawic took a large spear that they had inherited from their ancestors and remained awake, close to the door. The lion came at his usual hour. Then he became afraid and went away again. Then he returned to the door towards dawn. He said, “Diirawic, open the door for me!” There was only silence. He repeated his request. Still there was only silence. He said, “Well! The little girl who always answered me is at last dead!”

He started to break through the door, and when he succeeded in pushing his head in, Diirawic attacked him with the large spear, forcing him back into the courtyard.

“Please, Diirawic,” he pleaded, “do not kill me.”

“Why not?”asked Diirawic. “What brought you here?”

“I only came in search of a sleeping-place!”

“Well, I am killing you for that,” said Diirawic.

“Please allow me to be your brother,” the lion continued to plead. “I will never attempt to hurt anyone again. I will go away if you don’t want me here. Please!”

So Diirawic let him go. He said:

“I am going, but I will be back in two days with all my horned cattle.”

Long-horned african cattle: narcissism narcissistic personality disorder
Ankole-Watusi cattle. Rwanda. Specialized horns serve to cool animal

Photo: Copyright Adam Bacher, 2007

Then he disappeared. After two days, he came back with all his horned cattle, as he had promised. Then he addressed the girls, saying: “Here I have come. It is true that I am a lion. I want you to kill that big bull in the herd. Use its meat for taming me. If I live with you untamed, I might become wild at night and attack you. And that would be bad. So kill the bull and tame me by teasing me with the meat.”

Then the lion asked to be tamed. Here again is the paradoxical role of the unconscious: it seeks to become conscious even as it also resists.

They agreed. So they fell on him and beat him so much that his fur made a storm on his back as it fell off.

They killed the bull and roasted the meat. They would bring a fat piece of meat close to his mouth, then pull it away. A puppy dog would jump out of the saliva which dripped from the lion’s mouth [among the Dinka, a puppy was a symbol of wildness]. They would give the puppy a fatal blow on the head. Then they would beat the lion again. Another piece of fat meat would be held close to his mouth, then pulled away, and another puppy would jump out of the falling saliva. They would give it a blow on the head and beat the lion some more. Four puppies emerged, and all four were killed.

The saliva of the lion (a wild animal) became puppy dogs (domestic animals but still wild, undisciplined). The devouring tendency of the unconscious was being tamed; Diirawic was beginning to relate to it.

A series of puppies were killed. The unconscious had to be discriminated repeatedly. All the little derivatives of desire have to be faced one by one. In alcoholics anonymous the same insights have to be repeated again and again in meetings before they become effective against addiction.

Jungian analysis Jungian therapy in new york: narcissism narcissistic personality disorder
Denning African Wild Dog pups

Copyright © 2007-2009, The Wild Source

Yet the lion’s mouth streamed with a wild saliva. So they took a large quantity of streaming hot broth and poured it down his throat, clearing it of all the remaining saliva. His mouth remained wide open and sore. He could no longer eat anything. He was fed only milk, poured down his throat.

He was then released. For four months, he was nursed as a sick person. His throat continued to hurt for all this time. Then he recovered.

Hot milk scorched the lion’s throat. The lion’s own drinking (that is, devouring power) caused its own frustration (that is, its own discrimination) – again this shows the paradoxical role of the unconscious. The devouring tendency was frustrated by a feminine fluid. Here again is the discriminating power of yin.

Lion brother

The girls remained for another year. It was now five years since they had left home.

The lion asked the girls why they had left their home.

“My brother wanted to make me his wife,” explained Diirawic. “I killed him for that. I did not want to remain in a place where I had killed my own brother. So I left. I did not care about my life. I expected such dangers as finding you. If you had eaten me, it would have been no more than I expected.”

“Well, I have now become a brother to you all,” said the lion. “As an older brother, I think I should take you all back home. My cattle have since multiplied. They are yours. If you find that your land has lost its herds, these will replace them. Otherwise they will increase the cattle already there, because I have become a member of your family. Since your only brother is dead, let me be in the place of Teeng, your brother. Cool your heart and return home.”

Then the lion revealed that he was also Teeng, her older brother. This confirms my assertion that the lion represents a new, more positive version of the animus. The animus became constructive because Diiriwac related to it.

stone sculpture.jungian psychoanalysis

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

Photo: Thomas Stephan, Copyright Ulmer Museum

Diiriwac gained all the lion’s cattle. Consciousness wins the energy of the unconscious. When a woman faces down the relentless, negative commentary of her unconscious animus, then she gains its yang power and becomes energized and productive.


He pleaded with Diirawic for about three months. Finally she agreed, but cried a great deal. When the girls saw her cry, they all cried. They cried and cried because their leader, Diirawic, had cried.

The girls agreed to return, but first they cried a lot. This suggests what we know to be true, that psychological growth involves much grieving.

The lion slaughtered a bull to dry their tears. They ate the meat. Then he said to them, “Let us wait for three more days, and then leave!”

They slaughtered many bulls in sacrifice to bless the territory they crossed as they returned, throwing meat away everywhere they passed.

They had put one bull into their big house and locked the house praying, “Our dear house, we give you this bull. And you bull, if you should break the rope and get out of the house, that will be a sign of grace from the hut. If you should remain inside, then we bequeath you this hut as we leave.” And they left.

Then Diiriwac repeatedly sacrificed bulls. She consciously honored the unconscious. We can never overcome the unconscious – as soon as we put it behind us it catches us from behind. We must always respect it and listen to it. That is the meaning of praying and making sacrifices to the gods, or of analyzing one’s dreams.

All this time the people at home were in mourning. Diirawic’s father never shaved his head. Her mother, too, was in the same condition. She covered herself with ashes so that she looked grey.

The rest of the parents mourned. They did not care as much for their own daughters as they did for Diirawic.

The many men who had wanted to marry Diirawic also neglected themselves in mourning. Young men and girls wore only two beads [for young people to be without beads signifies disaster]. But older people and children wore no beads at all.

All the girls came and tethered their herds a distance from the village. They all looked beautiful. Those who had been immature had grown into maturity. The older ones had now reached the peak of youth and beauty. They had blossomed and had also become wiser and adept with words.

Symbolic daughter

The little boy who was Diirawic’s youngest brother had now grown up. Diirawic resembled her mother, who had been an extremely beautiful girl.

The little boy had never really known his sister, as he was too young when the girls left. But when he saw Diirawic in the newly arrived cattle-camp, he saw a clear resemblance to his mother. He knew that his two sisters and the other girls of the camp had disappeared. So he came and said, “Mother, I saw a girl in the cattle-camp who looks like she could be my sister, even though I do not remember my sisters.”

“Child, don’t you feel shame? How can you recognize people who left soon after you were born? How can you recall people long dead? This is the work of an evil spirit!” She started to cry, and all the women joined her in crying.

Age-sets came running from different camps to show her sympathy. They all cried, even as they tried to console her with words.

Then came Diirawic with the girls and said, “My dear woman, permit us to shave off your mourning hair. And all of you, let us shave off your mourning hair!”

Surprised by her words, they said, “What has happened that we should shave off our mourning hair?”

Then Diirawic asked them why they were in mourning. The old woman started to cry as Diirawic spoke, and said, “My dear girl, I lost a girl like you. She died five years ago, and five years is a long time. But seeing you, my dear daughter, has cooled my heart.”

Diirawic spoke again, saying, “Dear Mother, every child is a daughter. As I stand in front of you, I feel as though I were your daughter. So please listen to what I say as though I were your own daughter. We have all heard of you and your famed name. We have come from a very far-off place because of you. Please allow us to shave your head. I offer five cows as a token of my request.” [It was customary among the Dinka to give cattle to an aggrieved person to end the mourning.]

So she was shaved. Diirawic gave the woman beautiful leather skirts made from skins of animals they killed on the way. They were not from the hides of cattle, sheep, or goats. She decorated the edges of the skirts with beautiful beads and made bead designs of cattle figures on the skirts. On the bottom of the skirts, she left the beautiful natural furs of the animals.

The woman cried and Diirawic pleaded with her to wear them. She and the girls went and brought milk from their own cattle and made a feast. Diirawic’s father welcomed the end of mourning. But her mother continued to cry as she saw all the festivities.

So Diirawic came to her and said, “Mother, cool your heart. I am Diirawic.”

Then she shrieked with cries of joy. Everyone began to cry—old women, small girls, everyone. Even blind women dragged themselves out of their huts, feeling their way with sticks, and cried. Some people died as they cried.

Diirawic’s mother accepted her as a symbolic daughter before she knew that Diirawic was her biological daughter. So their relationship was more symbolic (a child symbolically accepted as daughter) and less narcissistic (a child experienced as an extension of the mother’s self). Diirawic’s work on herself enabled deeper relationships in her family.

Drums were taken out, and for seven days people danced with joy. Men came from distant villages, each with seven bulls to sacrifice for Diirawic. The other girls were almost abandoned. All were concerned with Diirawic.

People danced and danced. They said, “Diirawic, if God has brought you, then nothing is bad. That is what we wanted.”

Then Diirawic said, “I have come back. But I have come with this man to take the place of my brother Teeng.”

“Very well,” agreed the people. “Now there is nothing to worry about.”

Diirawic’s marriage

There were two other Teengs. Both were sons of chiefs. Each one came forward, asking to marry Diirawic. It was decided that they should compete and they did that.

Diirawic said, “I will not marry anyone until my new brother is given four girls to be his wives. Only then shall I accept the man my people want.”

The people agreed with her and picked four of the finest girls for her new brother. Diirawic then accepted the man who had won the competition. She was given to her husband and she continued to treat the lion-man as her full brother.

Another Teeng appeared whom Diirawic married, but the name suggests that her union was also with her lion-brother animus.

Diirawic’s 13th child

She gave birth first to a son and then to a daughter. She bore twelve children. But when the thirteenth child was born, he had the characteristics of a lion.

Her lion-brother had brought his family to her village and was living there when the child was born. The fields of Diirawic and her brother were next to each other. Their children played together.

The children would explain to Diirawic that her youngest child pinched them and dug his nails into their skins and would suck blood from the wounds. Their mother simply dismissed their complaints as lies.

Then a son was born who was a lion (more evidence that her marriage was also with the lion). This suggests that the unconscious is inexhaustible and has always to be faced.

But the lion-brother began to wonder about the child.

The boy grew up with the children. But when he reached the age of herding, he would go and bleed the children by turn and suck blood from their bodies. He would tell them not to speak, and that if they said anything to their elders, he would kill them and eat them.

young lion.jungian psychoanalysis

Young lion.


The children would come home with wounds, and when asked, would say their wounds were from thorny trees.

But the lion did not believe them. He would tell them to stop lying and tell the truth, but they would not.

One day he went ahead of them and hid on top of the tree under which they usually spent the day. He saw the lion-child bleed the children and suck their blood. Right there, he speared him. The child died.

Then he went and explained to his sister, Diirawic, what he had done.

Her lion-brother killed it for her. Because Diirawic was more consciously related to the animus she could deal with the unconscious when she had to.

Diirawic’s sister

Let’s return to Diirawic’s little sister. She is an odd figure: she was never given a name, she possessed special insights, she guided the action into deeper places (castrating their brother, tricking the lion), she was despised and threatened, and she disappeared once Diirawic began to relate to her lion-brother.

Diirawic’s sister seems to represent what Jung called the “Self”, the center of a new personality. Jung said that Self helps to integrate the conscious personality with the wider unconscious, that it guides individuation. This is what Diirawic’s sister did for Diirawic.

Jung pointed out that Christ is an image of the Self: Christ guides the Christian version of individuation. And, like the lion, the devil is an image of the animus. So the young sister’s struggle with the lion at night parallels Christ’s temptation by the devil. Her exhaustion, emaciation, and then disappearance parallel Christ’s crucifixion and ascension.

So the archetype behind Diirawic’s sister is also the archetype behind Christ. The sister is a female version of Christ.

painting of christ's ascension to heaven.Jungian analysis
Ascension of Christ. Giotto, 1305

Cappella degli Scrovegni, Padua, Italy,