Paranoia and the Masked Maiden.

Paranoia evolves in families which have a particular skeleton in their closet, a singular unwritten rule about how-to-be, way more than stuff that can’t be discussed, or episodes and stories that are off limits. Its as simple as pretending you’re nicer than you are. The more correct the more paranoia. Jostling truths produce split realities. The designated paranoic will be as barmy as this split is wide.

A man comes in for the admissions interveiw of a psychiatric ward. There’s an ashtray with three cigarette butts in it. He looks at it long and hard before settling back comfortably in his seat. With an ironic smile he says, ‘ok, I get the picture.’

Another man is somewhat handicapped by the penetrating power of his gaze. It is so intense it can turn people into glass. But the day is saved, he knows when to avert his eyes just in time.

What a relief…

”when in one’s early life, the mother exhibits strong polarities of presence, alternatly nurturing and witholding, what is formed is a split anima.” R. Gunn.

a man’s connection to the feminine is divided, both in terms of the women in his life and the thoughoughfare of his own inner world over which that muse presides.

”Contemporary man still experiences a major split between the spiritual and sensual aspects of Eros.” N. Qualls-Corbet.

This is typically lived out collectively in men as a ‘madonna/whore’ attitude, where women are either worshipped, untouchable and beyond stain or slappers to be degraded.

In my last post I looked at the kind of spiritual distortions and divine machismo present in the story of Siegfried and how his appropriation of the Divine Feminine weakens and ultimately kills him..

Taking  a narcissistic stance in the world, all charged up with Dragon Blood and Duty, costs more than death and destruction because a split anima will cause all kinds of mischief in the meanwhile.

The death and destruction is garnish.

The split anima in the Western Psyche is admirably conveyed in allegory by the loves of Siegfried; Brunhilde, who is all noble, true and unreachable on the one hand, and then Kriemhilde who has a taste for dark magic and vengeance on the other. Her name means Masked-Shield-Maiden, a helmeted beserker.

So things aren’t over when Siegfried is betrayed and murdered by his shadow, lord Hagan..

not by a long chalk.

Kriemhilde wants heads.

To this end she marries Attila the Hun who has the kind of clout needed for such a hit and invites her conspiratorial brothers King Gunter and Prince Gizelher along with Hagan to a baptismal ceremony where she chops them up into small pieces.

Everybody dies, oh, except Attila who just carries on doing what Attila does best.

Its the kind of party where paranoia might well be of service. Or at least a few more hired goons.

The baptismal/death feast is the prototype of an enactment our culture seems to unwittingly repeat on a disturbingly regular basis, people hacking each other up, or the world they depend upon, without quite being sure of the reasons why. After all, Kriemhilde was largely responsible for bringing about the death of Siegfried in the first place by using black magic to mess with his destiny.

With the loss of the Goddess our relationship with Yahweh underwent some intersting changes. One of the less obvious is the unspoken, collusive and paranoia inducing prospect of how exactly we are to be a bride to Yahweh.

Fortunately, certain…deals can be struck whereby God promises to be gentle with us provided sufficient blood is split to mark the occassion.

God’s Covenant to his people is like a kind of guarentee of unconditional love to make up for trying to kill mummy..

but in exchange for sacrifice.

your children will do.

When its own turn, we try to fob God off and look the other way with minimal, symbolic sacrifices, haggling him down to a container of foreskins and a war in every generation.

A foreskin is not just a symbol. Having it ripped off will also affect your sex life. Modern ad hoc medical justification for circumsicion was preceeded by a widespread desire..

”to control ‘masturbatory insanity’ – the range of mental disorders that people believed were caused by the ‘polluting’ practice of ‘self-abuse.’ K. Paige.

There was widespread belief that circumsicion was neccessary to prevent a boy discovering his penis, along with beatings, spiked boxes, cauterisation….

”without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment.” R. Darby.

But even this explanation of ‘selfless mortification’ is underpined by something more visceral..

Abrahmic law, old enough to be on the DNA waiting list, is quite clear on the matter. His love for you, His Covenant, depends on your sexual mutilation …. that or go find a mead hall to hack up and spill your blood in.

Preferably in some out of the way place where media coverage is more easily controlled.

When Anima is split, the Royal Road to the Unconscious gets lane closure and diversions. Lots of cones and men in hi-vis jackets.

Symbols and their meanings come apart and paranoia steps in, for what else is paranoia than not knowing the significance of something or having a feeling that is still in search of a context?

My friend and colleague Chuck Schwartz, an analytical psychologist for many years, told me the story of how he was hiking in northern Portugal, a very remote region of the mountains. At dusk he arrived in a small village but there was no-one around. The whole place was closed up. Eventualy he tried the church and found the priest who explained that though the people were good Catholics and came to church on Sunday, on Friday they closed themselves up with their ‘mumbo-jumbo’.

Chuck asked to be introduced and wanted to find out about the mumbo-jumbo. It turned out the people were celebrating Jewish Friday prayers. They had fled persecution from Russia as a community, settled there three generations back and converted. Behind closed doors the rituals continued, but, because they could not be refered to directly or talked about openly, because of the fearful secrecy, the meaning was drained from the experience..

leaving only mumbo-jumbo.

Chuck is a Canadian Jew. He recognised the form of the prayers and rituals and explained to them what they were doing, to a great outpouring of feeling and remembrance.

We too have forgotten, like Siegfried, and make our mumbo-jumbo in the forests of Vietnam, the deserts of Iraq, the jungles of Africa, where only the best and the bravest propitiate the unmentionable maw, ultimate sacrifice, not for his mate, or for the safety of loved ones, let alone spoil,  but because having God answer the rest of our prayers depends on it.

Like the medical or moral reasons for circumsicion, we give ourselves the lattitude of an ad hoc lie, to explain what won’t stand up otherwise..


And because our good-god won’t let us have war just to snatch one anothers’ stuff..

because that would be greedy and bad.

Or just for the sake of time honoured rape and pillage

cos that’s not being good is it….

We’ll have to do it for an idea instead. For some ‘ism or ‘ist.

Some banner to get behind.

When the feminine is split and half sunk in the unconsciousness..

‘it responds with violent emotions, irritability, lack of control
coupled with lack of self­criticism and delusions. [Man] becomes
ruthless, arrogant and tyrannical’. (Jung 2014)

….overrun by Kriemhilde..


for as long as she stands,

is She-who-must-be-Obeyed.

Hidden in the wings.

all pissed and pointy.



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.

Leave a Reply