ancient Roman poet, Ovid, tells us that once upon a time...
The gods were quite concerned that they were being ignored. So Jupiter
(the chief ruling god of thunder) and Mercury (the messenger god) visited
the earth disguised as poor, beggarly travelers. Jupiter and Mercury
quickly discovered that - no matter what door they knocked on - the
people living in the home abruptly, rudely turned them away...
the two gods came upon the ramshackle hut of a poor, elderly couple.
The elderly couple's names were Philemon (loving disposition) and Baucis
(tender). And although Philemon and Baucis were incredibly poor, they
welcomed the two strangers into their home and shared what little they
had with the visitors.
next day, Jupiter and Mercury revealed to Philemon and Baucis who they
were. Grateful for being welcomed into the elderly couple's home, the
gods rewarded the old couple with one wish. Much in character, the humble
couple's only wish was to be allowed to stay together until death and
and Mercury granted the couple's wish. Instantly the ramshackle hut
was transformed into magnificent temple - where, for the rest of their
lives, Philemon and Baucis served as priest and priestess to the gods.
When the kindly couple reached the end of their lives, they died at
the same time and were transformed into two trees standing side by side.
The trees stood so close to one another that their branches were entwined
in an eternal embrace.
happened to all the many people who'd refused Jupiter and Mercury shelter?
They were then drowned in a great flood and thus repaid for their godlessness.
The archetypal motif of the gods visiting earth disguised as poor, unknown
visitors is quite common among differing cultures and religions. In
the Judeo Christian tradition (for example), the unknown visitors are
most often identified as being angels. And the New Testament Book of
Hebrews strictly cautions us to be kind to strangers because we may
be entertaining angels unaware.
or not called, the god (the archetype) will be there.
Moral of the Story
In her book "Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche" Marie-Louise von Franz
seems to me to be one of the greatest contributions of Jung and his
work that it taught us to keep our door open to the "unknown visitor."
He (Jung) also tried to teach us an approach through which we can
avoid the wrath of this visitor, which every frivolous, haughty, or
greedy host in the folk tales brought down on himself. For it depends
only on ourselves whether this coming of the gods becomes a blessed
visit or a fell disaster."
or not called, the god will be there... and the question is: Will you
welcome the god or turn the god away?
and otherwise [the saying is] found in Erasmus's collection of Adagia
(XVIth cent.). It is a Delphic oracle though. It says: yes, the god
will be on the spot, but in what form and to what purpose? I have
put the inscription there to remind my patients and myself: Timor
dei initium sapiente ["The fear of the Lord is the beginning
of wisdom."] Here another not less important road begins, not
the approach to "Christianity" but to God himself and this
seems to be the ultimate question."
19, 1960 letter from Carl Jung - C.G. Jung (1975) Letters: 1951-1961
to the Unus Mundus Menu)