Jungian Therapy, Jungian Analysis, New York

illuminated capital letter.jungian therapy, analysishe Magic Orange Tree

Fairy tales and myths from many cultures interpreted by a Jungian Analyst in New York City

The Magic Orange Tree

A tale from Haiti
Retold by Diane Wolkstein

This interpretation is dedicated to the people of Haiti and to Diane Wolkstein. Diane co-taught a class with me in which she told us this tale and sang the girl's song. I showed how the tale resists Haiti's exploitation.

Diane is gone now and the people of Haiti are still suffering. Here they express their resiliant spirit.

CRIC? CRAC!

There was once a girl whose mother died when she was born. Her father waited for some time to remarry, but when he did, he married a woman who was both mean and cruel. She was so mean there were some days she would not give the girl anything at all to eat. The girl was often hungry.

The stepmother is the cruel side of the great mother. The great mother (an archetype, yin) is the source of everything physical and everything psychological. We might assume this means that food was lacking in Haiti but this is a folktale, not an article on hunger! The stepmother is a symbol which, as Jung said, conveys something which cannot be better conveyed in any other way.

The stepmother forced the girl to grow; had she been indulgent the girl might not have grown. Parents take heed! But again, the image is symbolic. It makes a subtle point, not about normal development, but about individuation (the process by which, sometimes, a person develops a more conscious relationship with archetypes). The subtle point is that the great mother is both the earth and the unconscious and the unconscious, paradoxically, seeks to make us conscious. There is much evidence for this in dreams and in myths and other folktales. Jung showed, for example, that the bible is a guidebook for the growth of consciousness.

Where was the father? Von Franz, a colleague of Jung, showed that the father-mother or king-queen balance at the beginning of a tale, together with the change in balance at the end, represents, in broad strokes, a tale's meaning. A father symbolizes yang. Yang is spirit which asserts, penetrates, fertilizes, separates, reflects, illuminates (makes conscious), quickens, burns, and sometimes kills. The daughter was hungry, probably because the father was absent. At the end she was well fed, which suggests that yang was then present, though no man had appeared.

One day the girl came from school and saw on the table three round ripe oranges. Hmmmm. They smelled good. The girl looked around her. No one was there. She took one orange, peeled it, and ate it. Hmmm-mmm. It was good. She took a second orange and ate it. She ate the third orange. Oh-oh, she was happy.

Painting of  five oranges by Joni Dipirro
Oranges.
Oil painting: Joni DiPirro, 2009.

Sunlight is the epitomy of yang. It falls from heaven and is stored in oranges. This is literally true (its energy is stored by photosynthesis) and symbolically true (an archetype radiates energy and feeds our personality).

Sun-god Aten radiating on Akhenaten and Nefertiti. Jungian analysis

Akhenaten and Nefertiti pray to Aten, who provides his rays..
New Kingdom, XVIII dynasty. Stone relief, detail.

Egyptian Museum, Cairo.





Re radiating energy. Jungian analysis

Ra and Lady Taperet.
Taperet stele, Thebes, Ptolemaic period (circa 1069 – 30 BC).

The deceased is linked to the daily resurrection of the sun. Rays of flowers flow from the sun disk, illuminating her face. She offers Ra a table laden with dishes, while the hieroglyphs behind her back guarantee her 'thousands of loaves of breads, beer, meat, and poultry,' that is, eternal sustenance.

Louvre, Paris. Photo: commons, wikipedia.org
Andreu G., Rutschowscaya M-H., Ziegler C., L'Egypte au Louvre, Hachette, Paris, 1997, 171-174, notice # 83.
Aldred C., Daumas Fr., L'Egypte du crepuscule, L'Univers des formes.Tome III. , Paris, 1981, 115-116; fig. 101-102.



Oranges fed the girl, a repetition (a new image which repeats the meaning of a previous image) which confirms our guess that the father's absence had made her hungry: now the missing personal yang was replaced by the sun's impersonal yang.

But soon her stepmother came home.

"Who has taken the oranges I left on the table?'' she said. "Whoever has done so had better say their prayers now, for they will not be able to say them later.''

The girl was so frightened she ran from the house. She ran through the woods until she came to her own mother's grave. All night she cried and prayed to her mother to help her. Finally she fell asleep.

She had the good sense to flee the evil mother and pray to her own good mother. Lacking her father's protection, she turned to another protective being. The oranges had fed her own potential for discrimination and action, her own yang.

In the morning the sun woke her ...

A beautiful image and another repetition: impersonal yang awakened her to her situation.

... and as she rose to her feet something dropped from her skirt onto the ground. What was it? It was an orange pit.

A seed of yang. That it was on her skirt suggests the Annunciation.


Painting of Annunciation by Fra Angelico 1435
Annunciation. Fra Angelico, 1435

Prado.


Annunciation by Robert Campin, 1425
Annunciation. Robert Campin, Oil on wood, 1425.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The star of sunlight on Mary's red dress shows that she was being fertilized.

Mary was not touched by any man but was impregnated by the Holy Spirit, imagined as a ray of sunlight. Likewise the girl was not connected to her personal father; her yang was quickened by the sun.

And the moment it [the orange pit] entered the earth ...

Earth is the great mother again, yin which receives indiscriminately, holds, gestates and feeds.

... a green leaf sprouted from it.

This beautiful image shows how yin and yang quicken each other.

The girl watched, amazed. She knelt down and sang:

Orange tree,

Grow and grow and grow.

Orange tree, orange tree.

Grow and grow and grow,

Orange tree.

Stepmother is not real mother,

Orange tree.

Song is yang because it expresses spirit and because language and music both discriminate. Magic is yang because it uses spirit to change matter. The girl fertilized the plant with her yang.

The orange tree grew. It grew to the size of the girl. The girl sang:

Orange tree,

Branch and branch and branch.

Orange tree, orange tree,

Branch and branch and branch,

Orange tree.

Stepmother is not real mother,

Orange tree.

And many twisting, turning, curving branches appeared on the tree. Then the girl sang:

Orange tree,

Flower and flower and flower.

Orange tree, orange tree,

Flower and flower and flower,

Orange tree.

Stepmother is not real mother,

Orange tree.

Beautiful white blossoms covered the tree. After a time they began to fade, and small green buds appeared where the flowers had been. The girl sang:

Orange tree,

Ripen and ripen and ripen.

Orange tree, orange tree,

Ripen and ripen and ripen,

Orange tree.

Stepmother is not real mother.

Orange tree.

The oranges ripened, and the whole tree was filled with golden oranges. The girl was so delighted she danced around and around the tree, singing:

Orange tree,

Grow and grow and grow.

Orange tree, orange tree,

Grow and grow and grow,

Orange tree.

Stepmother is not real mother,

Orange tree.

But then when she looked, she saw the orange tree had grown up to the sky, far beyond her reach. What was she to do? Oh she was a clever girl.

Clever is yang.

She sang:

Orange tree,

Lower and lower and lower.

Orange tree, orange tree,

Lower and lower and lower,

Orange tree. 

Stepmother is not real mother, 

Orange tree.

When the orange tree came down to her height, she filled her arms with oranges and returned home.

Haitian oil painting of The Magic Orange Tree
The Magic Orange Tree
Painting: A.M. Maurice, 1950s-2000. Petite-Riviere de l'Artibonite, Haiti

The moment the stepmother saw the gold oranges in the girl's arms, she seized them and began to eat them. Soon she had finished them all, ''Tell me, my sweet,'' she said to the girl, "where have you found such delicious oranges?"

The stepmother's teeth represent an early, undifferentiated, unconscious state in which yang, the discriminator, is contained within the Great Mother. When it is unconscious yang tends to be greedy and destructive (the same is true for every archetype).

The girl hesitated. She did not want to tell. The stepmother seized the girl's wrist and began to twist it.

''Tell me!" she ordered.

The girl led her stepmother through the woods to the orange tree. You remember the girl was very clever? Well, as soon as the girl came to the tree, she sang:

Orange tree,

Grow and grow and grow.

Orange tree, orange tree,

Grow and grow and grow,

Orange tree.

Stepmother is not real mother, 

Orange tree.

And the orange tree grew up to the sky. What was the stepmother to do then? She began to plead and beg.

"Please" she said. "You shall be my own dear child. You may always have as much as you want to eat. Tell the tree to come down and you shall pick the oranges for me", so the girl quietly sang:

Orange tree,

Lower and lower and lower.

Orange tree, orange tree,

Lower and lower and lower,

Orange tree.

Stepmother is not real mother,

Orange tree.

The tree began to lower. When it came to the height of the stepmother, she leapt on it and began to climb so quickly you might have thought she was the daughter of an ape.

A repetition which confirms my interpretation that she represents early, undifferentiated yang.

And as she climbed from branch to branch, she ate every orange. The girl saw that there would soon be no oranges left. What would happen to her then? The girl sang:

Orange tree,

Grow and grow and grow.

Orange tree, orange tree,

Grow and grow and grow,

Orange tree.

Stepmother is not real mother,

Orange tree.

The orange tree grew and grew and grew and grew. "Help!" cried the stepmother as she rose into the sky. "H-e-e-lp...."

The girl cried: "Break! Orange tree, Break!"

The orange tree broke into a thousand pieces and the stepmother as well.

Clever is yang and yang can kill.

Then the girl searched among the branches until she found ... a tiny orange pit. She carefully planted it in the earth. Softly she sang:

Orange tree,

Grow and grow and grow.

Orange tree, orange tree,

Grow and grow and grow,

Orange tree.

Stepmother is not real mother,

Orange tree.

The orange tree grew to the height of the girl. She picked some oranges and took them to market to sell. They were so sweet the people bought all her oranges.

The girl had balanced yang and yin. She was rich.

Every Saturday she is at the marketplace selling her oranges. Last Saturday, I went to see her and asked her if she would give me a free orange. "What?'' she cried. After all I've been through!'' And she gave me such a kick in the pants that that's how I got here today, to tell you the story.

Commentary

When a child is born in the countryside, the umbilical cord may be saved and dried and planted in the earth, with a pit from a fruit tree placed on top of the cord. The tree that grows then belongs to the child, who can barter or sell it. (Young children in Haiti very quickly become economically active.) Trees in Haiti are thus thought to protect children and are sometimes referred to as the guardian angel of the child. However, if the tree should die or grow in a deformed manner, that would be considered an evil omen.

The song of the orange tree is often sung by the storyteller after the cric?, before the beginning of the story. Each storyteller may offer a slightly different melodic version of the song. Therefore, the storyteller's decision to sing before the story not only teaches the audience the storyteller's specific melody but also warms up the audience, for singing gets the blood flowing and the heart's juices pumping.

Storyteller and audience kindle yang by singing.

Earth Father

There is another image of yang in this story. Haitian folktales have few images of positive fathers. When there are dominant males they are likely to be exploitative white men. This reflects Haiti's history, first of slavery and then of commercial exploitation by europeans and americans. Cunning cerebral power, the destructive potential of the sky father (Jahweh, Zeus, Thor, Odin) disempowered Haitian men, raped the island, and starved its people.

The Magic Orange Tree compensates by portraying a life-giving earth father, the tree. The tree grew upwards and then shrank back repeatedly, a distinctive movement which mimics the repeated cycle of an erection.

The earth father is seen in the celtic horned god, the greek god Pan, and in the egyptian god Geb. Geb was black and lay on his back on the earth underneath the sky goddess Nut: she arched over him carrying the stars and the sun on her body. Geb had an erection reaching up towards Nut.

The Magic Orange Tree shows that Geb embodies the sun's yang. The spirit of Haiti's people is oppressed but its power remains, in the earth father.

Nut and Geb, sky arching over earth. Jungian therapy
Nut and Geb
Papyrus scroll: Egyptian Mythology, Veronica Ions



horned god-man surrounded by animals.jungian therapy

Gundestrup Cernunnos