The King’s secret Curse.

Dying is a tricky business. Even at the best of times..

if there is such a thing as a good day to die.

There are no rehearsals to attend and no on-line courses you can download. We know we have to go and that we can’t know when, just that it gets increasingly likely. There is no wrong time or unfair moment.

Having banished the containing vessel of the Great Mother who might make a better job of consolation where it’s needed rather than the other side of bikes for Christmas, the horror of it all is just too much to bear…

and so we quietly collude with the crippling expectation to be someone else’s golden child, or their whore, and find some croutons of succor and semblance of omnipotence over death in the shared identity, the participation mystique of the collective self, the inheritance of dashing, archetypal roles, though they do like the easy way out and would just as soon you fell asleep in the snow.

In Greek mythology king Midas is given Ass’s ears by Apollo as a poetic affliction for this tendency of the golden child to collude with the very thing that prevents him from being himself, the heady cocktail of mother’s ambition fizzing with the instinct to acheive his own potential…

see if you can get that right…

all puffed up with this unholy expectation, Midas stupidly questions Apollo’s judgement in a music contest.

So Apollo zaps him with Ass’s ears as if to say, ‘lets see if you can hear better with these’…

and maybe the God is simply making visible what just happened..


Midas has been contaminated by some psychic content that doesn’t belong to him such that he would speak to the God as though he were one himself.

The Ass has long been associated with the Divine Feminine and in its horned aspect as Unicorn, the Self.

being slapped with such a pair of ears is going to give you the mother complex from hell.

and whilst it might preserve from overdue concern about niggly things like mortality or life’s meaning and purpose in the meanwhile, it also devours his essential humanity from within and gives him instead the living death of being a bit player whose actions, attitudes, goals and ambitions are now no longer his own…

and whilst he functions perfectly well, and swans Elysian fields unbegnighted by either death’s spectre or the risk of an unprotected life, that life is still someone else’s.

Midas tries to keep this from being known and swears his barber to secrecy. But the poor man is overwhelmed by the burden of such a secret and whispers it into a hole in the ground. Reeds grow up. A musician cuts one for a flute and the first notes played tell the story….

Not only is the Emperor knaked, he is not his own man.

Eaten up from within.

The idea that a psychopathic adaptation, the beginning of Narcissism, is simply because of the absence or lack of something is not unlike the Catholic doctrine of ‘Privatio Boni’, that evil is the privation of good. Clever old Augustine. What a lad. He gets to terrify you with visions of hell and damnation whilst dismissing Satan with a papal bull that says he’s not a real thing.


The Psychoanalytic proponents of deprivation as causal in Narcissistic Personality Disorder are at the liberal end of this spectrum.

More  hardcore than Augustine.

You did it to yourself.

We’ll pay lipservice to..

‘the lack of a sufficient containing environment..’ Lederman

and in the next breath will say that..

‘a baby who experiences the breast as noxious can barricade itself off from the mother…’ ibid

You are the problem. You barricaded yourself.

all of which precludes the possibility of being noxiously fed.

‘Not so readily do we give up what we drink with our mother’s milk’. Dostoevsky.

And so despite ideological differences the Pew and the Couch agree on a fundamental issue.

You are bad.

In fact, because of the restrictions placed on her, mother buries her own deep treasure in the vessel of her child, in lieu of being able to realise it in her own lifetime. Like an ancient priestess burying forbidden sacred things in earthenware jars…

for the future….

sometimes the story of the whispered secret and the reed flute surface like the Gnostic gospels at Nag Hammadi, and other times, less fortunately, mother’s inheritance, made necessary by the oppression of her own sacred heart, comes to fruition as a big fat psychiatric label.

‘One of the most wicked destructive forces, psychologically speaking, is unused creative power … If someone has a creative gift and out of laziness, or for some other reason, doesn’t use it, the psychic energy turns to sheer poison. That’s why we often diagnose neuroses and psychotic diseases as not-lived higher possibilities.’ Marie-Louise von Franz

This story of unlived possibility finds collective expression principle in the ancient Talmudic rendering of the story of the Flood.

Its way more interesting than our version.

yeah, tales of unresolved conflict, desecration and betrayal an’ fings…

So, the story goes that only the great and the good get into the Ark as you’d expect and all the sinful who foolishly wanted to live life on their own terms were summarily deluged and drowned.


Buuut…. The Unicorn, aka She who must not be named


..who was so huge that only Her nose could fit on the Ark, was lashed to the side of the craft and towed along in the waves.

there’s more…

Lashed onto the other side of the hull was a giant, the mighty king Og of Dashan. Like Midas with his affliction from elsewhere stuck onto him, these Beings that had to be suppressed for consciousness to be ‘afloat’, plague the Ark on both sides.

the return of the repressed..

The Patriarchal barge finds itself afflicted by archetypal contents it hoped to leave behind but now has to deal with in their less sophisticated animal and giant forms.

It turns out Og is a descendant of the original angels kicked out  of Heaven for siding with you know who. He called the city he founded after the flood, ‘Ashtaroth’ in honour of,


And so the Ark is carrying a great secret, hidden in the rolling waves, living symbols of the Sacred Feminine and her son lover, the very pair

at which the flood was aimed..

them and their sort..

but half submerged, exhausted, vengeful, and most dangerously, adhered to consciousness rather than a part of it and manifesting in an undifferentiated destructive way that dogs our culture. Marion Woodman calls it the ‘Death Mother, the critical inner Harpie that kills innovation, novelty, enthusiasm, which pours cold water on spontaneity, spreads doubt and clips wings and turns life to stone, the fate of Midas’ daughter whom he accidently turns to gold.

This phenomenon is quietly endemic in our society. A recent survey of one hundred elderly folk were asked about their greatest regret. Their response was unanimous.

and not for some rash act or sinful shortcoming but for the self they had failed to become, the things they’d talked themselves out of doing, the aliveness they’d choked off, the beat of their own drummer that Ass’s ears had stopped them hearing.

Published by


Psychotherapist/writer/artist/ author of, 'Going Mad to Stay Sane', a psychology of self-destructiveness, about to come into its third edition. Soon to be printed for the first time, 'Abundant Delicious.. the Secret and the Mystery', described by activist Satish Kumar as, ' A Tao of the Soul'. This book documents the archetypal country through which the process of individuation occurs and looks at the trials and tribulations we might expect on the way. In the meantime..... Narcissisim is the issue of our age. This blog looks at how it operates, how it can damage and how we may still fruit despite it.

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