“Often tymes herde Manuel tell of the fayrness of this Queen of Furies and Gobblins… insomuch that he was enamoured of hyr, though he neuer saw hyr: then… made he a Hole in the fyr, and when he had spoke with hyr, he shewed hyr his mynde.” Figures of Earth — James Branch Cabell.
Jung wrote of two kinds of thinking: the concentrated, directed kind which demands language for clarity and the fantasy-thinking which flows, like nature, through images. The differences between conscious thought and unconscious perception are most clearly revealed in the confusing language of dreams.
He later evolved his theory of psychological types to show the influence of the two ways of thinking and how they inform the differences in perception of what we so off-handedly and euphemistically refer to as “reality”. The antagonism between introverted and extraverted viewpoints is so subtle, it can’t be resolved by “normal” dialogue in our current form of consciousness.
Jung also demonstrated cultural swings, beyond the subtleties of individual types, in which the spirit of the times may be more or less extraverted or introverted according to shifts in the collective unconscious. He traced their historical ebb and flow through his psychological interpretations of religious conflicts and their gradual development through philosophy into science and rational thought. Beneath individual and cultural differences, Jung explained the empirical facts of two fundamental and contradictory psychic realities.
I cite this as psychological background for the writings of James Branch Cabell. A contemporary of Jung, extraverted critics classed his writings as fantasy and escapist, though what he described was a literary, symbolic example of Jung’s research material. In Figures of Earth, Manuel, a folk analogy of Christ, seeks the spirit, not in the conventional heavenly sphere but through the natural, earthly figures in the unconscious.
An obligation, a “geas”, has been conferred upon him by his mother (the unconscious) to fashion a clay figure of himself in the world until it is to his liking and then to animate it, make it real — his life’s work. In this inner journey, he meets the shadowy wraiths who will aid him in the fulfillment of his strange “geas” whom no one understands.
Through various sources, Manuel learns of Queen Freydis, who alone can animate the clay figures he has fashioned. She can be summoned only by magical incantation and only when the moon is full. She’s dangerous and able to change into frightening images at will, and these must be confronted and endured to catch hold of her in human form.
When Manuel has made the sacred fire from which she would appear according to the rites, a giant serpent leapt upon him, and he clutched it desperately. As he holds it at bay, it changes into a monstrous black pig with great tusks “which possessed life of their own, and groped and writhed toward Manuel like fat white worms.” He recites the magic words per instruction.
“Now Manuel was grasping a thick heatless slab of crystal, like a mirror, wherein he could see himself quite clearly. Just as he really was, he, who was not familiar with such mirrors, could see Count Manuel, housed in a little wet dirt with old inveterate stars adrift about him everywhither; and the spectacle was enough to frighten anybody.” Suddenly, Manuel found himself “grasping the warm soft throat of a woman.”
“… do you take no thought for me,” says Queen Freydis, “who am for the while a human woman: for my adversary is a mortal man, and in that duel never yet has the man conquered.” She described her kingdom:
“… So do I tread with wraiths, for my lost realm alone is real. Here all is but a restless contention of shadows which pass presently; here all that is visible and all the colors known to men are shadows dimming the true colors; here time and death, the darkest shadows known to men, delude you with false seemings: for all such things men hold incontestable, because they are apparent to sight and sense, are a weariful drifting of fogs that veil the world… So in this twilit world of yours do we … appear to be but men and women.
“… I am Queen of all that lies behind this veil of human sight and sense. This veil may not ever be lifted; but very often the veil is pierced, and noting the broken place, men call it fire. Through these torn places men may glimpse the world that is real: and this glimpse dazzles their dimmed eyes… and this glimpse mocks… Through these rent places, when the opening is made large enough, a few men here and there, not quite so witless as their fellows, know how to summon us… when for an hour the moon is made void and powerless… and we come as men and women.”
The veil of the senses was rent large by Jung for those who would see beyond it by reflecting on their own images of themselves. With the knowledge he discovered and these figures of earth, you may glimpse such psychic contradictions in more contemporary form, though it’s mirror may yet be a very frightening spectacle to a scientific philosophy caught in the senses, only now without any religious values to support it.