Jungian Therapy, Jungian Analysis, New York

illuminated capital letter.jungian therapy, analysisiirawic kills her incestuous brother
and marries a lion
New York city jungian therapist/analyst carl jung therapy

Maxson McDowell PhD, LMSW, LP is a senior Jungian analyst who has practiced in New York City for the past 22 years. He is also the president of the C. G. Jung Foundation in New York. Here he tells an old African tale and shows that it speaks profoundly to our modern psychology.

Diirawic and Her Incestuous Brother


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.

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.
Black Venus opt 160x392.jpg
Photograph: source unknown.

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 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.

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."

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 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.

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.

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!"

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.

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!"

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.

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."

"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."

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."

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.

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.

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."

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 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.

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.

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.

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."

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. 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.

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. 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.