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Observations placeholder

Custance, John - Wisdom, Madness and Folly - In the Caves of the Unconscious



Type of Spiritual Experience


Number of hallucinations: 1


A description of the experience

Wisdom, Madness and Folly - John Custance

Certainly my own experience bears out Jung's theories. I found in the caves of the unconscious demons and were-wolves, strange faces of forgotten gods, and devils, while my mind played unceasingly on everything it remembered of myths and magic. Folds of the bedclothes suddenly became the carven image of Baal; a crumpled pillow appeared as the horrible visage of Hecate. I was transported into an atmosphere of miracle and witchcraft, of all-pervading occult forces, although I had taken no interest whatever in these subjects prior to my illness.

One of the most striking features from this point of view was a strong tendency to anthropomorphism. The sun came to have an extraordinary effect on me. It seemed to be charged with all power; not merely to symbolise God but actually to be God. Phrases like "Light of the World", "the Sun of Righteousness that setteth nevermore" and so on ran through my head without ceasing, and the mere sight of the sun was sufficient greatly to intensify this manic excitement under which I was labouring. I was impelled to address the sun as a personal God, and to evolve little rituals of sun-worship. The moon had a similar effect, though less intense, so had birds, animals and trees. All seemed to be instinct with spiritual life and power.

I can still remember vividly a delusion which attacked me when sawing firewood in the woodshed of my home during recovery from a severe attack of depression. It seemed to me that I was cutting up the god Pan, who could eventually wreak a terrible vengeance upon me for my impiety. The wood appeared to take on  strange shapes as of satyrs and fauns, and sometimes of snakes and other horrors. What connection  there may be between Pan and snakes I do not know, unless it is the association of Pan with the christian devil and hence with the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. But according to Sir James Frazer, Pan, like other goat-gods such as Dionysus, as well as Silenus and the  satyrs, is undoubtedly a woodland deity, and he was called by the Arcadians Lord of the Wood.

The source of the experience

Custance, John

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Manic depression