Rozafa: A Psychoanalytic and Symbolic Interpretation (2005, The Netherlands) by Blerina Berberi
Introduction p. 4
1. Rozafa p. 5 – 6
2. Analysis p. 6
2.1. Interpretation of some Symbols in Rozafa p. 7 – 19
2.2. The depth psychological contents of Rozafa p. 19- 24
3. Conclusion p. 24 – 25
Reference bibliography p. 26
I am most grateful for the encouragement and advice for exploring this beautiful story to Dr. Maria Kardaun.
Special thanks to my family and relatives in Shkodra.
In contrast to many Western countries, Albanians call their country, motherland. The woman is a very respectful character throughout Albanian history. The female character has always been shown as amiable toward their family, and especially toward their husbands in times of war after they returned safely back home. Nevertheless, during war times women have fought too, side-by-side with other men.
The Albanian Collection of Old Stories presents ballads and folk rhapsodies, which have their origin in the Illyrian times.
As Kuteli advocates, the legendary and historic songs aim in presenting the highest values of the country, which are bravery and the invincible resistance against the enemy to protect the country and honor.
Some of the stories are about war and heroes, who really fought against enemies to protect their honor and the honor of their family, friends, and that of the country. The character of the heroes shows their good and bad characteristics. But what now has remained is just the ‘skeleton’ of the songs, the story, while poetry is lost (Kuteli, 1987, p. 6).
Rozafa is the story of a castle and that of a mother and bride. As many other castles in Albania, the one in Shkodra, which holds the name of Rozafa, has an
interesting and perplexing story. Throughout this paper, Rozafa is interpreted firstly on the symbolic meaning of different elements in the story, which is basically a complex net of different systems of beliefs. Since the symbolic meaning does not presently bear too much meaning because of the different beliefs at the present,thus different questions raised by the story are difficult to answer. Therefore, the interpretation is followed by a more accurate understanding of Rozafa by the application of Carl Gustav Jung depth psychology theory, with an emphasis in the mother complex and anima, which provides a clearer meaning and explanation of the story. The following quote by Jung is crucial to the interpretation of the story and will be explained in the coming pages:
“How else could it have occurred to man to divide the cosmos, on the analogy of day and night, summer and winter, into a bright day-world and a dark night-world peopled with fabulous monsters, unless he had the prototype of such a division in himself, in the polarity between the conscious and the invisible and unknowable unconscious? (Jung, 1968, p.101)
National History Museum, Tirana
Rozafa is the story of a woman, mother, wife and that of a castle, a city, country and its people. This story is believed to have been created before the foundation of the city of Shkodra, which was founded in the 4th century B.C. Nowadays, the castle of Rozafa is to be found in one of the mountains of this city, northern Albania, close to the river of Buna which ends in the shores of the Adriatic sea.
Briefly, the story is about three brothers who wanted to build a castle but it was ruined during the night. Only the sacrifice of the youngest bride, called Rozafa,
made the walls stand even until the present times. Moreover, this story is orally passed through generations, and is believed to have been a rhapsody since there is a lot of repetitive elements and the “o” element, which increases emotional chanting.
However, what remains today is the following story (Kuteli, 1987, p. 7-11):
The mist covered the Buna river for three days and three nights. After three days and three nights the wind blew the mist up to the hill of Valdanuz. On the top of that hill there were three brothers building up a castle. The wall they built during the day collapsed during the night, so they could not built it higher.
There passes an old wise man and says: Good job, o three brothers!
The brothers, reply: Thank you. But where do you see our good job? We work during the day and at night the wall collapses. Can you tell us any good and wise word; what can we do to build up these walls? The old man replies: I know but it’s a sin for me to tell it to you.
The brothers: Put that sin unto us (our heads) because we want to make this castle stand up.
The old man thinks and then asks: Are you married, o brave men? Do you have your three brides?
The brothers: We are married and we have our three brides. Just tell us what do we have to do in order to built this castle.
The old man: If you want to build the castle and make the walls stand, you have to give your oath: Don’t tell your brides, don’t talk at your house about what I will tell you. The one of the three brides who will come to bring you the food (lunch) tomorrow, you have to immure (wall up) her alive in the wall of the castle. Then you will see that the wall will rise and continue to exist forever.
The old man said this and left. The older brother didn’t keep the promise (besa: oath) and he told his bride about the story so she would not come the next day. The middle brother did the same, he told everything to his bride. Only the younger brother kept his promise, he did not tell anything to his wife.
In the morning the brothers wake up early and go to work. The hammers hit, the rocks break, the hearts beat, the walls get higher…
At home, the mother of the sons doesn’t know anything.
She says to the oldest son’s bride: The masters want bread, water and wine.
The older son’s bride replies: Dear mother, I cannot go today because I am ill.
She asks the middle brother’s bride: The masters want bread, water and wine.
She replies: Dear mother, I cannot go today because I have to go and visit my family and relatives.
The mother asks the younger son’s bride: You, young bride…
She stands up immediately and says: Yes, mother!
The mother says: The masters want bread, water and wine.
The young bride replies: Dear mother, I would go but I have to take care of my young son. I’m afraid he will need me and cry.
The other brides say: You can go, we will take care of him.
The young bride, Rozafa, takes the bread, water and wine, kisses her son in the chicks and goes at the brothers. She salutes them: Good job, o masters!
But the hammers don’t hit the rocks and the hearts beat strong. Their faces get pale.
When the young brother sees his bride, he puts away his hammer and curses the rock and the wall. His bride says: What is it my dear? Why do you curse the rock
and the wall?
The older brother says: You were born on a bad (black) day. We have agreed that we have to immure you alive in the wall of the castle.
She replies: I wish you health, my dears. But I have to leave you my will: when you will immure me, you have to leave outside the wall my right eye, right hand, right leg, and my right breast because my son is young and when he will cry I shall watch him with one eye, with one hand I shall pat my son, with one leg I shall wiggle his bed and with one breast I shall feed him. I will get immured, the castle will stand high, and my son will become a brave king.
They take the young bride and immure her at the wall. The walls rise higher and they do not collapse as they did before. Nowadays, the wall is wet because there continues to drop the tears of the mother for her son…Her son grew up, fought wars and reigned bravely.
And this is how the story of Rozafa ends. But Rozafa’s sacrifice contributed not only to the existence of the walls of the castle that protected Rozafa’s family (family member in Albania, is everyone who lives under the same roof) but it also secured the other people of the generations to come from the abominable enemies.
The study of symbols is sometimes considered to be a weak interpretation in trying to understand the human character, events, culture and history. Maybe nowadays, such a type of interpretation is considered not a ‘scientific’ explanation. But centuries ago people did not know about science, and their culture was a grid of symbols in which they held their beliefs. Therefore, in order to understand Rozafa, the first tentative is its interpretation according to the ancient people’s beliefs in the symbols.
After that, by ‘exercising’ depth psychological theories we can understand their creation, meaning, and life. The most crucial theory to be applied is that of Jung, while Freud’s theory of the Oedipus complex is merely a small contribution to an alternative.
2.1. Interpretation of some
of the Symbols in Rozafa
As can be noticed from the story of Rozafa, there are a lot of symbols, which we have to believe to be pagan since Christian-ism was not yet founded at the time the story was created. These pagan symbols, however do correspond to a certain extent with the Christian ones, since Christianity evolved from pagan religions and similar elements are found in them. Nevertheless, other religions and beliefs do contribute to the following interpretation. This interpretation tends to dehumanize the story by focusing on the interpretation of the possible pagan and Christian symbols.
Some of the questions, which come up from, this story are: Where is the father of the brothers? Who was the man that confessed the secret of the castle to the
brothers? Why the younger brother kept his oath, and the other older brothers did not? And why was Rozafa, not any other person or object, sacrificed? This questions will be answered later on, but now let’s see the interpretation of the symbols.
Rozafa starts with a mist, which had covered the river for three days and three nights, being blown by the wind in a hill where the three brothers were working on the wall of the castle. The mist is thought of being vague but it still brings new shapes. In more details the mist is interpreted as such:
“Symbol of the indeterminate, of a phase in development when shapes have yet to be defined or when old shapes are vanishing and have yet to be replaced by definite new shapes. It is also a symbol of the mixture of Air, Water, and Fire which existed prior to the creation of solid matter…as it was before the six days’ Creation and before all things were given their shape…mists are regarded as preludes to important revelations, prologues to manifestation. … Also God when he met Moses said that he came with a thick Cloud in order for the people to hear while he speaks and believe for ever (Exodus 19:9)” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 661)
Therefore, the mist will bring new shapes and in Rozafa’s context it means that it will give a definite shape to the castle. The Christian interpretation suggests that there was mist for six days before the world was created. Since the mist had covered the river for three days and three nights, thus six days, it can be already acknowledged that in the seventh day the castle will be created. In the story it is also stated that the next morning Rozafa had to be sacrificed in order to keep the walls standing. Since in Exodus, God appears with a Cloud or mist, it can be also possible that the mist in Rozafa symbolizes God, or the father of the brothers, who is missing in the story.
Furthermore, the old wise men that appears after or with the mist, tells the secret to the brothers which will make the wall and the castle stand. It is possible to think of this old man as God or his Holy Spirit, shown in the form of man, since he is the only one who knows the secret.
But why did the mist stand on the river and not immediately appear on the hill, at the castle? The river is believed to have some features, which maybe were necessary for the ‘mist’ to have them in order to get blown up by the wind at the top of the hill.
The river is:
“The symbolism of rivers and running WATER is simultaneously that of ‘universal potentiality’ and that of ‘the fluidity of forms’, of fertility, death and renewal. The stream is that of life and death.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 808-810)
The mist, which would bring the definite shape of the castle, was mixed with some predicting elements for the story, which would bring life and death. As we know, the brothers by walling up Rozafa secured the continuation of life for the coming generations and that of her child, husband and relatives.
Since the mist was blown up in the hill by wind, let us see the interpretation of the wind:
“…it is a symbol empty- headedness, fickleness and instability. … On the other hand wind is synonymous with BREATH and consequently with the Spirit, a heaven-sent spiritual influx…God’s messengers. Wind even gives its name to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God moving across the face of the primordial WATERS is called Ruah, ‘Wind’ … Winds were also the instruments of God’s power, bringing life, punishing and teaching.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 1110-1112)
The empty- headedness, fickleness and instability are characteristics that can be attributed to the two older brothers who did not keep the oath. The other
interpretation holds that the Spirit of God, its messengers, brought up the mist to the hill. Since the mist, coming from the river, brought an old wise man then in Christian interpretation that would mean that wind, the Holy Spirit, has brought God or just God’s instruments which are bringing life, punishing and teaching. In this case it seems that the younger brother was punished and his bride Rozafa brought life to the next generations, while the other brothers were taught by this event. But why would God “punish” the younger brother since he was the only one who kept the promise? This interpretation would be more correct if we would consider the role of the female in Christian religion that is in general devalued. Thus the punishment might have been directed to Rozafa herself and not to any of the brothers.
Another symbol in the story are the three brothers. We can ask, why they were three? The three brothers can be related to the three lords in Classical mythology, which were lords of the Universe: Zeus, lord of Heaven; Poseidon, Lord of the Sea; and Hades lord of the Underworld. The Earth belongs to all of them.
It can be possible that the younger brother symbolizes Zeus since he through his Faith in the old man made possible the unification of the Heaven and Earth, through the sacrifice of Rozafa. While the other two lords who have kind of negative characteristics might be said to be the other two brothers, whose presence then might be thought as being the cause of the instability of the castle and the walling up of Rozafa. Still, the number three has other interpretations. According to Chevalier and Gheerbrant, three also symbolizes:
“…the culmination of manifestation, since Man, the son of Heaven and Earth, completes the Great Triad…Three theological virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.993)
The three theological virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity do somehow correspond with each of the brothers’ character. The younger brother might be Faith, since he kept his oath while the other two brothers, each of them, might have Hoped that the other brothers will not tell to their brides but keep the oath, so the sacrifice will be done by another brother. It can also be said that the older brothers showed Charity toward their brides in order not to get immured, walled up. In the Christian context it can be believed that the creation of Man, which is the son of Heaven and Earth, would not be accomplished without the (half) female element, Rozafa. The creation of Man might even stand for the castle in this story, which had the masculine element from the work of the three brothers but missed the female aspect.
So far we know, that the mist had covered a river, was blown in the hill and there were the three brothers working on the wall of the castle. The hill is interpreted as:
“…the first manifestation of the creation of the world, standing high enough to be set apart from the primeval Chaos…” ( Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 506)
This means that the hill symbolizes the possibility of creation since it is set apart from the old and starting Chaos, but what was actually necessary in its creation was the ‘message’ of God sent by his messenger or the presence of God to reveal the secret to the brothers and of course the female element, thus Rozafa’s sacrifice. The presence of the old man might also, as stated before, symbolize the ‘ghost’ of their father, which they did not recognize maybe because they did not know him since he might have died or left home when they were really young.
The three brothers in the story are trying to build a castle. The castle is commonly perceived as a symbol of protection. In more details:
“The castle, fortress or stronghold is the near-universal symbol of humanity’s inner refuge, the CAVERN of the heart, that place of privileged intercourse between the soul and its God, or the Absolute. The Psalmist compares God himself with such a stronghold…. They are symbols of protection. … Thus castles are placed among the symbols of transcendence…Spiritual transcendence is the castle’s protection. …The ‘white castle’ is a symbol of achievement, of destiny perfectly fulfilled and of spiritual perfection.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.161-162)
This interpretation acknowledges that castles include mysteries as this one about Rozafa. By taking into account the interpretation of the castle as the intercourse between soul and its God, the question would be: Whose soul was to have intercourse with God? Apparently, was Rozafa’s (half?) soul. So did God in order to make that castle stand, needed the sacrifice of Rozafa and intercourse with (half?) her soul? Possibly, but not necessarily. In perspective the castle would protect and secure also the three brothers, the other two brides, the mother of the brothers, Rozafa’s son and the other generations to come. Thus Rozafa’s sacrifice aim was to establish the continuous God’s spiritual transcendence with the rest of humanity.
The castle of Rozafa is a white one. Even though it is considered to be a hill in relation to the high surrounding mountains, it is still formed of white rocks that the hill itself has. According to Chevalier and Gheerbrant, the achievement in building this castle would mean that a destiny is fulfilled and that there is a spiritual perfection. The creation of the castle and its destiny are explained by the white color but the spiritual perfection is an element, which required the (half?) soul, half body, or other elements of a female.
The main problem in the story that the three brothers had, is building the wall of the castle. The wall is:
“…the enclosure which guarded and shut in a world to avoid the invasion of evil influences originating at some lower level. Walls had the disadvantage of restricting the realms which they enclosed, but the advantage of ensuring their defense while leaving the way open for the reception of heavenly influences…. In Ancient Egypt the symbolic properties of a wall were based upon its height, since it bore the meaning of rising above ordinary levels. However, the building of fortresses means that the first sense was also present in the defense of frontiers” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.1076).
According to Chevalier and Gheerbrant, the cracks in a wall mean that there are diabolic influences. These diabolic properties ‘forbidding’ the wall to stand up seem to have a ‘condition’, which is the sacrifice of Rozafa. Another interpretation can be that the mist that came up in the hill and the ‘confession’ of the old man about the secret of the castle could mean that it was the ‘will of God’ to let this castle be built,
since the creation of this castle would bring in the future the people living there closer to Heaven, and above ordinary levels as the Ancient Egyptians believed.
Still, walls are also interpreted as such:
“Walls are interruptions to intercommunication with their twofold psychological repercussions- security which stifles and protection which imprisons. In this context, wall symbolism may be related to the passive and female aspect of that of the womb”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.1077)
Since walls, as the female aspect of the womb, are passive we can state that the sacrifice of Rozafa was necessary since her female side of the body, or just her female characteristics are the ones that the wall did not have so far but would be appropriated by her being walled up. Nevertheless, the wall is considered to be a defense, which of course would strengthen the self and existence of the coming generations.
The figure of the old man, which it seems to have appeared during the mist, up in the hill is apart from the previous interpretation that it can be the Holy Spirit, God himself, or the Father of the three brothers, is explained in relation to old age as such:
“Where old age is regarded as a sign of wisdom and righteousness- priests were originally old men, in the sense of wise men who gave guidance…old age has always been respected, this is because it is the image of longevity, of experience and wisdom acquired over the years, itself no more than a flawed image of immortality.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 715)
The old age seems to give no real indication of who might have been the old man. But the attributes that this man has such as immortality, longevity, etc., can be regarded as those of God or Holy Spirit. So it can be possible that God disguised as human appeared to the brothers and told the secret. If this old man would be the ghost of the Father, it would have been possible that the brothers would have recognized him. In general, the ghosts of know persons do appear in the same image, as they were alive, thus not disguised, as is also the case in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Most interestingly the old man asked from the three brothers to keep the oath of the secret he told. The oath, which in Albanian is called Besa, in the Albanian tradition is believed to be a very important action or element of the culture among people. Even at the present, giving the word or keeping the oath, besa, is considered a valuable factor in relationship with friends and other people. However, as Kuteli states in the introduction, in all the stories people are described as having also bad characteristics.
Anyway, the oath’s symbolic interpretation is as follows:
“An oath may be seen as the symbol of an accord with whatever being, divine, cosmic or human, who has been invoked as surety.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant,
As we know, only the youngest brother kept the oath. Earlier on, it is stated that the younger brother, who might represent Faith, did not tell his bride about what the old man said. If the old man is believed to be God or Holy Spirit, disguised as a human, it would be contradictory that they knew a secret and that was a sin if they told it. It is possible that this was just a test in order to have as a sacrifice something, which came by Faith in God, and consequently would be more pure, pristine and valuable, as Rozafa was by being willing to sacrifice under the condition of also serving to Heaven, God and Earth, her son and future generations. Furthermore, this interpretation can be sustained also by the interpretation of sacrifice, which is:
“The sacrifice is set apart, too, from the rest of the world which remains profane, separated from itself and given to God as a token of dependence, obedience, repentance or love. …Sacrifice is a symbol of the ‘renunciation of the ties of Earth through love of the spirit’ or of the godhead. …Sacrifice is linked to the notion of interchange on the level of spiritual or creative energy. The more valuable the material object, the more potent will be the spiritual energy given in return, whether the object of sacrifice be purification or propitiation. …In the Old Testament, the act or motion of sacrifice symbolizes human recognition of God’s supremacy”(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 818- 819).
Thus the younger brother, who might have not known what the old man represents, which might be God or the Holy Spirit, by keeping the oath ‘recognized God’s supremacy’. This kind of recognition did of course cause his bride, Rozafa, to be sacrificed as ‘the more valuable object’. So far it appears that Rozafa was the right sacrifice to be done, since her husband was the one who was faithful to God, Holy Spirit, and she was the most valuable bride, which would make the castle stand.
In the story, the father figure is missing, but the mother figure is very important since she is the one who ‘commands’ the brides at home. She also asks them to send water, wine and bread to the masters. These three elements, water, bread and wine are interpreted as such:
Bread- “…plainly the symbol of basic nourishment. …bread is the nourishment to his (man) spiritual nourishment, to Christ in the Eucharist, the ‘bread of life’. This is the ‘sacred bread of eternal life’ of which the Catholic liturgy speaks. … Traditionall BETHEL, the ‘House of God’, the STONE set up by Jacob, became ‘House of Bread’.
The House of Stone is changed into the House of Bread, that is to say, the symbolic presence of God is changed into the physical presence of God as spiritual food…”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 118)
This interpretation of the symbol of bread means that the bread brought to the masters by the bride would basically nourish them, and it will also give ‘eternal life’
to the brothers. It can be possible that the intention of the mother to send bread to her sons, masters, building the castle would make the castle the ‘House of God’ by changing the physical presence of God, which can be the old man, into a spiritual food. But of course that does not seem to suffice the walls of the castle to stand. Thus we can state that the exchange for the ‘spiritual food’ in this case is Rozafa being
immured in order to make the wall stand, but it can also be that the spiritual food would be the Faith that the older brothers would have in the future. The other element which was to be sent to the brothers, is water, which means:
“It is a source of life, a vehicle of cleansing (purification) and a center of regeneration (life). …In Jewish and Christian tradition, water in the first place symbolizes the beginnings of creation. …As the source of all things, water makes manifest the transcendent and from this very fact should be regarded as a revelation of holiness.
…Water is the source both of life and of death, is creator and destroyer.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 1081- 1082)
Once again, as is also the symbol of the river interpreted, which holds the elements of death and life, the symbol of water stresses the idea of creation and destruction, life and death. Since water also symbolizes the beginning of creation, purification and life then it is possible to admit that these elements might have been sent to purify the spirit of the two older brothers who did not keep the oath. But it is also possible that water was not sent just for the masters working in the hill, but maybe as elements of a ritual. But before we jump to conclusions, let’s see what wine symbolizes. Chevalier and Gheerbrant state:
“…wine is the beverage of life or of immortality. Especially, but not exclusively, in Semitic tradition it is in addition the symbol of knowledge and of initiation, because of the INTOXICATION which it causes. …In Chinese secret societies, rice wine was mixed with blood for their member oath-taking and, as the communal drink, allowed members to reach ‘the age of one hundred and ninety’. Such, too, is the significance of the chalice with the ‘blood of Christ in the Eucharist and prefigured in the sacrifice of Melchizedek. This brings us back, too, to the idea of sacrifice which may at the same time be that of the abandonment of self-restraint associated with intoxication.
…Wine as the symbol of knowledge and initiation… To St Clement of Alexandria, wine was to bread what the contemplative life and gnosis were to the active life and faith…In Old Testament tradition, wine was first and foremost a symbol of joy and then, in more general terms, of all gifts which God lavishes upon mankind.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 1113)
These three elements bread, water and wine might have been just nourishment for the brothers, or maybe were elements needed as an omen for the event to come, or possibly a sign of the ritual that is necessary in order for an event to occur. The mother did not know anything about the old man’s secret and her sons’ oath. It would also be possible to interpret these three elements as each of these corresponding to each of the three brothers characters.
Rozafa’s will as she herself states is to nourish and take care of her young child.
What is important here is not just the parts of her body that were left out of the wall, but also the idea of her right side of the body being left out. Since Rozafa is very old, and was created during the pagan beliefs in that region the first and best explanation would be according to the Celts:
“Whatever follows its (sun’s) path is ‘right’, whatever goes in the opposite direction is ‘left’ ” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.802)
The Celts also believed that right was lucky and a good omen. But relating this belief in the Sun with the previous interpretation in the beginning of the story is difficult since it is basically more Christian. Anyway, according to the Christian tradition, right is considered to be:
“In the Old Testament, to look to one’s right hand is to look towards the side upon which one’s protector stands (Psalm 142: 4). …The left is the direction to Hell, the right that of Heaven. Some Rabbinical commentators explain that Adam, the first man, was hermaphrodite, his right side being male and his left female. When God created ‘male or female’ he split him down in the middle. This tradition affected medieval Christian thought, which held that the left side was the female side and the right, the male. …To the Ancient Greeks, the right was the side ‘of the arm which shakes the spear’ (Aeschylus, Agamemnon 115). …Good omens appeared on the right hand, which symbolizes strength, skill and success. …In Western Christian tradition, right has the connotation of the active and left of the passive.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 801- 804)
Pagan God, Ancient Illyrian
The right side of Rozafa’s body would mean that it was left out of the wall, not in shadow, in order to have the property of looking at the protector, God or being in the direction of Heaven. Since the pagans believed that the ‘protector’ was the Sun, we can once again claim that Rozafa’s right side of the body would look to the Sun since it was not immured. By referring to the Rabbinical commentators, since Adam’s right side was male and the left female, it would be possible that Rozafa’s right side was the male part. If the old man was God or the Holy Ghost, then this sacrifice by Rozafa was meant to give to God back his male part that he had given to the female. But the Ancient Greeks’ interpretation would definitely fit with Rozafa’s will as nourishment and care of her son with her strongest side of the body, thus the right side that would make her son brave and successful. Since the right posses better qualities compared to the left, and the right is active and presents the future, we can infer that her will would be fulfilled.
Rozafa explains her will, by stating that her right eye would watch her son when he will cry, with her right hand she will patty her son, with one hand she will wiggle his bed, and with one breast she will feed him. This seems to be a very logical reasoning including all the functions of the parts of the body in relation to taking care of her son, but let’s take a look at what these elements symbolize:
Eye– “It is only natural that the eye, the organ of visual perception, should almost universally be takes as a symbol of intellectual perception.” (Chevalier/
Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 362 )
This intellectual perception would be one the ‘gifts’ that Rozafa would offer to her son. Furthermore, Chevalier and Gheerbrant advocate that the eye is also the divine knowledge, which unifies God with the soul and the First Cause with manifestation. That would mean that Rozafa would be the soul and the manifestation.
The other part of Rozafa’s body is the hand. The hand is interpreted as power, royalty, God’s right hand with mercy, etc. More specifically the hand is:
“The hand expresses ideas of action, as well as those of power and dominion. …The hand is an emblem of royalty, an instrument of command and a sign of dominion. …Traditionally, God’s left hand is concerned with justice and his right hand with mercy… The right hand is the hand which blesses. …In both Old Testament and Christian traditions the hand is the symbol of power and of supremacy. To be touched by the hand of God was to receive the manifestation of his spirit. When the hand of God laid hold of a man, the latter received into himself divine strength. (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 466- 470)
By following this interpretation, Rozafa’s right hand would command her son and give him power and dominion. In relation to the ‘emblem of royalty’, the right hand would define her son’s future as becoming a king. In the same time, Rozafa’s right hand would bless her son and if her right hand which was the right direction of the Sun, the male part, the more active, skilful one, etc., would be touched by the God, or maybe it would pass the divine strength to her son.
The other element is the leg. Chevalier and Gheerbrant advocate:
“The limb for walking, the leg is a symbol of social bonding. It allows individuals to approach one another, promotes contact and removes separation and therefore derives its importance from the social order. … By extension, the leg is to the body of society what the penis is to the human body. It is the instrument of maternal and social relationships…Like the penis, the leg is a symbol of life. …To bare one’s leg means to display one’s power and virility.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 594)
The leg as the symbol of life and of social bounding clearly states the relationship of Rozafa with her son who wanted to be half alive to take care of her son and continue to live. The last interpretation which states that ‘baring one’s leg displays power and virility’, does supplement the idea, as mentioned before, that Rozafa’s right side is actually her male part. Virility and power would be the main elements that she shows to her son, which will influence his becoming in the future. But Rozafa has also a female symbol on her right side.
The last element that Rozafa wills not to be walled up is the breast. The breast is related as in contrast with the leg, more to the female characteristics. More specifically:
“The symbol of protection and of measure(ment). …The breast is connected with the female principle, that is to say with measure in its sense of restriction, since measurement is restricted to the object measured. This is in contradiction to the male principle, which is limitless and measureless. The right breast symbolizes the Sun, the left the Moon. But above all breasts are symbols of motherhood, comfort, security and plenty. They are connected with fertility and with MILK, the first nourishment, and associated with pictures of intimacy, giving and protection.” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996,p. 118)
Here, again, the right breast symbolizes the Sun. As Rozafa willed, with her right breast she would feed her son and give protection. The idea of measurement and restriction can be interpreted as an intensive caution to her son’s development, which might also have negative effects in the future. But since the story end with her son becoming a brave warrior, this interpretation would not fit in the story.
In the beginning of this section, it is stated that the old wise man who appeared and revealed the secret about the castle to the brothers, might also symbolize their father.
The symbol of father is interpreted as follows:
“…a symbol of procreation, ownership, domination and courage, the father is an inhibiting and, in psychoanalytic terms, a castrating figure. He stands for all figures of authority in education, employment, the armed forces, the law, and for God himself. …one which discourages attempts at independence and exercises an influence which impoverishes, constrains, undermines, renders impotent and makes submissive. …He is the fountain of social order…” (Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.372- 373)
If the old wise man would be the father of the brothers then Rozafa can be explained in different ways. But since the symbol of father is interpreted as really dominant and castrating then it is impossible that the old man was the father of the brothers, who might have not recognized him since they might have never known him if he for example died in a war. The symbol of the father which is missing in this story, would then lead to the idea that the three brothers did not have any courage, education, and other skills which might have helped them in order to build the castle. So, apart from the interpretation that the castle was not standing up in the
beginning because of evil spirits we can add that the brothers lacked the proper skills in building the castle. Thus the castle would be built with the sacrifice of Rozafa in accordance with the ‘message’ of the Holy Spirit or God himself, who might have appeared as the old man. In this story, the father would symbolize more God rather than a human father figure.
In Rozafa the role of the mother of the three brothers seems at first not to be very important. As we can understand from the story, her activities as those of the brides had nothing to do with building the castle. But the mother was the one who ‘ordered’ the brides to go and send water, wine and bread to the masters. Still the interpretation of the mother, might be of more importance in explaining Rozafa’s character rather than that of the mother of the brothers. The Celts believed in the mother as:
“…in Celtic religious concepts, women played an important role either as messengers from the Otherworld or as sole possessors of the right of kingship and as war- goddesses. There was, however, one sole and unique female deity with varied aspects, in contrast with separate and distinct male deities. The female deity counterbalanced the ‘Almighty Father’ and since, although he was the father of mankind, he lacked virility, she was both virgin and mother of the gods.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.678- 679)
This description of the mother in this interpretation fits much better with Rozafa, rather than the mother of the brothers. This sole and unique female deity is Rozafa, who with the her will really complies with the idea as a possessor of the right of kingship, which would pass to her son the right of kingship, and as a war- goddesses who wishes her future son to became a good and brave warrior by inheriting her skills. The other interpretation which states that ‘the female deity counterbalanced the ‘Almighty Father…’ would explain the story in a whole different way. The ‘Almighty Father’ or his messengers (if he had any) might have appeared as the old man to the brothers since on purpose they or he might have needed the ‘male element’ of Rozafa which she might have developed during her life, so he the ‘Almighty Father’ would put a sin on the brothers’ head in order to take away from Rozafa her dark side, which in this case would mean the right side that should have been the properties of a male, which in the end her son received. Thus we can state that Rozafa’s sacrifice would make the castle stand only if she gave away her maleness to a man, her son. This means that the ‘Almighty Father’ did justice on earth.
But the mother as a symbol is also interpreted in different ways:
“…related to that of EARTH and the SEA, in the sense that all three are WOMBS and wells of life. Earth and sea are themselves symbols of the mother’s body. …Life and death are interdependent. To be born is to emerge from the mother’s womb; to die is to return to Earth. Mothers are anchors of shelter, warmth, love and nourishment.
…Christianity mystically transposes the Mother into the Church, conceived as a community from which Christians can draw nourishment in the life of grace, but from which they may also suffer intolerable spiritual despotism, such is the human
capacity to corrupt. On the other hand, the Divine Mother symbolizes the most perfect sublimation of instinct and the most profound harmony of love.”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p.677- 679)
In the interpretation of the symbol number three, it is advocated that there have been three brothers in Classical mythology, who were lords of the Universe: Zeus, lord of Heaven and Earth; Poseidon, Lord of the Sea; and Hades lord of the Underworld. It is discussed each of the brothers would be each lord. If we would think of these lords as being ladies, then we can state that since mother is a symbol of Earth and Sea which including the mother would make three wombs, then there at the castle a young mother, Rozafa, was walled up in order to have the element of Earth and Sea which would later on would make possible the unification of the castle that could be the ‘street’ between the Underworld and Heaven. But her mother care would still be proper to her son by taking care of him with a lot of love. The Divine Mother in the Christian religion would still share the same emotions toward her son, but still there are no clues in the story of whether Rozafa’s son was born in the same way as Jesus.
Now, let us turn back to the questions posed in the beginning: Where is the father of the brothers? In Rozafa the father, might have also been presented to the brothers as the old man who told them the secret but they would have noticed him. It can be possible that the old man might have appeared with the mist so the brothers did not see clearly who was the man talking to them. Still, it can be that the old man was the father, because as suggested sometimes earlier, the father of the brothers might have been dead long ago and the brothers did not know or remember him anymore since they might have been too young when they saw him for the last time. The most interpretable part of the story is that done through Christian symbols, which leaves the real father out of the picture and substitutes him with God, Holy Spirit, etc.
The other question was: Who was the man that confessed the secret of the castle to the brothers? Well, as also stated above the Christian and Pagan interpretation would interpret him as a supernatural Father, who for the Christians could be God, Holy Spirit and for the Pagans just the ‘Almighty Father’.
Why the younger brother kept his oath, and the other older brothers did not? The most plausible interpretation would be that the younger brother was the one who showed faith first of all to his brothers. He might have believed that none of them would tell anything home, so that he did not tell to his wife or mother about the old man and the sacrifice. Other interpretation that can be attached to him is the one that sees him as being Zeus. Maybe the younger brother was just the better person who taught a lesson to his ‘bad’, selfish, etc., brothers.
And why was Rozafa sacrificed? The faith of the younger brother in keeping his oath, made Rozafa a more valuable ‘object’ of sacrifice. Also it can be that God wanted her sacrifice, in order to take away from her the male right side and better place it in her young son who would need it in his future. To sum up, this section offered an interpretation of the story by referring to different phenomena, events, objects, etc., as symbols standing for other meanings. The answers that are aforementioned do not really have a universal appeal since the
system of beliefs changes in the course of time. But what does not change is the mere existence of human beings. Therefore, this interpretation is interesting but it would still not give any meaning to the story in which we in nowadays can make any interference with reality and also our life. One common interpretation refers to this story just for the magnificence and sacrifice of Rozafa for the country, rather than it makes any reference to the family, individuals, etc. For a better understanding of Rozafa and our selves, let’s see Jung and Freud’s interpretation.
3.2. The Depth Psychological Content of the Story
The depth psychological content of Rozafa is mainly focused on Carl Gustav Jung’s (July 26, 1875- June 6, 1961) theory, who founded the neopsychoanalytic school of psychology. Jung himself preferred the term of analytic psychology. But let’s first start with a quick interpretation based on Freud’s, Oedipus complex theory.
If we would interpret the story by referring to Freud’s theory, there is no father complex as is the Oedipus complex. Since there is no indication in the story about the existence and death of the father it is in vain to make any claims about the sexual drive of the brothers. We can suppose that if there have ever been a father complex, then it has already been resolved before the building of the castle. Still, just the absence of the father might elude the fact that the story was created as such on purpose to show that three brothers with their brides would live just with the mother and not with a father. Those who did create and inherit the story might have left out the father in order to give the message that the three brothers were weak in building a castle since they were ‘weak’ and in ‘love’ with their mother and even to sacrifice the bride for a castle, which might represent sexuality. Still, if these interpretation would be considered, then it would be only the young brother who loved the mother so much as to believe an old man, which could have been an oracle, as to ‘kill’ his wife for a better sexual life, the castle, or for a better and closer relationship with the mother.
Furthermore, the symbol of the father which would kind of evoke some similar feelings as Freud’s theory, is also interpreted as such:
“…a symbol of procreation, ownership, domination and courage, the father is an inhibiting and, in psychoanalytic terms, a castrating figure. …Such a
development embodies the suppression of the ‘other’ father and the acquisition of ‘self’ fatherhood. Such identification with the father involves a
two way movement of (his) death and (my) rebirth.”
But since the figure of the father is missing in the story we can state that the ‘identification with the father’ might have been already occurred and in the story the ‘rebirth’ of the brothers is already achieved.
Freud’s interpretation which always comes down to sexuality is really far fetched, since in Albania parents, even at the present, do still live with their children and grandchildren and it a sign of respect and carefulness which was given first to
the children by the parents and then the children when they grow up would also take the same carefulness toward their parents. The absence of the father in the story can be explained in relation to the historical events of the country. As Albania (Illyria) has continually been in wars to protect the borders, in most of the families the fathers have either been dead or fighting somewhere. Therefore, in Rozafa the father might have died in a war. His sons in order to protect themselves, brides, children and mother, needed to built the castle.
However, most importantly it is better to take a look at Jung’s interpretation of the mother complex. According to Jung, the psyche supplies images and forms that make the knowledge of objects possible. These forms, which are traditionally transmitted through generations, have the origin in archetypal ideas. Jung states about the origin of the psyche in relation to archetypal ideas:
“…primordial images which were never reflections of physical events but are spontaneous products of the psychic factor” (Jung, 1968, p.57)
Furthermore, Jung states that the psyche is the one that translates physical processes into images that are not easily recognized in relation with objective processes. This in Rozafa might explain the existence of the story, where what is to be understood from it is different from the previous section. According to Jung, since the subjective psyche, where are the contents of the consciousness, can be considered to be Rozafa, then we have to understand the objective psyche in the story, that is the unconsciousness which in the same time is the a priori condition of consciousness,
therefore the meaning of Rozafa. Moreover, the archetypes are the unconscious determining influences that derive from unconsciousness, as Jung states:
“…the archetypal form of the divine syzygy first covers up and assimilates the image of the real parents until, with increasing consciousness, the real figures of the parents are perceived- often to the child’s disappointment” (Jung, 1968, p. 67)
Jung describes a case in which the man had a mother and castration complex and he had some drawings of the mother who in the first ones she looked as a superhuman and then as a figure of woe. Jung explains:
“…from the son’s earlier childhood, the mother was assimilated to the archetypal idea of the syzygy, or conjuction of male and female, and for this reason appeared perfect and superhuman” (Jung, 1968, p. 67-68)
The disappointment of the child causes the castration complex. The anima, that gives the mother superhuman image in the son later on becomes imperfect by reality and falls deep into the unconscious. One of the archetypes, Jung calls the anima which is the feminine part of the soul, psyche, that is encountered as a projection, which is an unconscious process, in all divine syzygies that are male-female pairs of deities. Jung stresses that this imagination of man is related to the motif to project it over time in all places. Therefore we can believe that the same mother complex concept is to be
found in Rozafa. The most projected is the parental imago, which is never conscious and needs to become conscious. Since there is a lot of “resistance” by people it is difficult to make conscious to people and patients, and we will evaluate if the purpose of Rozafa is to make conscious to people this resistance to the complex.
Moreover, since man has been under the influence of dominating ideas, according to Jung, he has the representations collectives which is repressed with resistance, which hide behind ideas and figures, as is definitely the case in Rozafa. Jung states explains the complex and the anima as such:
“…a masculine element is always paired with a feminine one…The feminine part, the mother, corresponds to the anima” (Jung, 1968, p.65)
Jung explains that these images have been once conscious and then “repressed”. The parental imago comes into existence between the first and fourth year of childhood, which is kind of a dream, twilight state. Since the psyche of a newborn holds a priori preformed patterns which give the child and the dreamer the humanlike stamp, there are archetypes that direct all the fantasy (images). These Jung calls, inherited possibilities of ideas. He furthermore, defines the anima as such:
“The anima is a factor of the utmost importance in the psychology of a man wherever emotions and affects are at work. She intensifies, exaggerates, falsifies, and mythologizes all emotional relations with his work and with other people of both sexes. The resultant fantasies and entanglements are all her doing. When the anima is strongly constellated, she softens the man’s character and makes him touchy, irritable, moody, jealous, vain and unadjusted. He is then in a state of “discontent” and spreads discontent all around him. Sometimes the man’s relationship to the woman who has caught his anima accounts for the existence of this syndrome.”
(Jung, 1968, p. 70- 71)
As Jung states, the mother complex is very common. In Rozafa the mother complex can explain the meaning of the story. At first sight, it seems that the three brothers had a mother complex, since all three of them “mythologized” the presence of an old wise man, who told them a secret, and also the impossibility of building up the castle. The younger brother, when he saw his bride Rozafa spread “discontent” by cursing the rocks and the castle, thus the anima had become ‘strongly constellated’.
His discontent in this case was not really spread but his bride Rozafa, recognized it, eve though she was not affected by his discontent. The two older brothers in the story do not say much, but their actions are of most importance to be defined. First, Jung makes a distinction between different ages in the relation to the mother complex:
“Younger people, who have not yet reached the middle of life (around the age of 35), can bear even the total loss of the anima without injury. The important thing at this stage is for a man to be a man. The growing youth must be able to free himself from the anima fascination of his mother” (Jung, 1968, p. 71)
Jung’s expression “a man to be a man” is a very important characteristic that can also be found in the other old Albanian stories. Since the oath, besa, is an important action, which is mainly taken by man, under the circumstances of war, we can state that keeping the oath was an important action that the younger brother had to do.
Thus we state that Rozafa, does not just tell the story of Rozafa’s sacrifice, but also the ‘liberation’ of the younger brother from the mother complex. Of course, we do not know if the younger brother was at the age of 35, but it is very likely that he was a bit younger than 35, since he had one child and was married and had a young bride. The younger brother, was uncastrated from the mother complex, by giving away half of his bride since the other half of Rozafa’s body would still accomplish some family tasks such as nourishing the son. But the younger brother identity had to be set. What about the two older brothers? Were they already freed from the mother complex? According to Jung, the consequences of the loss of the anima are:
“…diminution of vitality, of flexibility, and of human kindness. The result, as a rule, is a premature rigidity, crustiness, stereotypy, fanatical one-sidedness, obstinacy, pedantry, or else resignation, weariness, sloppiness, irresponsibility, and finally a childish ramollissement with a tendency to alcohol” (Jung, 1968, p.71)
Well, we do not know if the brothers drank any alcohol, even though it is known from old texts that the Illyrians ha d produced in ancient times honey wine and that their mother sent them wine with Rozafa. We can argue that the older brothers did not have any human kindness since he did not keep their oath, and consequently their brother’s bride was sacrificed. But we can also argue that they showed human kindness toward their own brides, and maybe their children if they had any. Jung explains how the mother complex is formed. He states that during childhood the role of the mother is very important since the child lives in a state of unconscious identity while the mother is the psychic apart from being the physical precondition of the child. When the ego-consciousness awakens then living in ‘participation’ with the mother weakens, and the conscious enters in opposition with the unconscious. Thus there is a differentiation of the ego from the mother.
In Rozafa the three brothers were trying to build a castle. The castle can mean ‘the self’ while the wall that they could not built might stand for defense, a strengthening of the self. As the oath can be interpreted as a commitment of the ego, it would then explain that the one who kept the oath, the younger brother, did get committed to his ego. That would mean that the other two brothers who did not keep their oath, had either committed to their ego, thus formed their identity earlier on then this story starts, or they had not yet done that, and maybe will do it in the future after the lesson from the younger brother is given.
Rozafa’s right side might represent her husband’s consciousness, which had come into ‘light’ after appearance of his unconsciousness. Since Rozafa was a strong bride, who immediately obeyed to the brothers “command”, it furthermore sustains the idea that her husband had a mother complex. Her left side represents her husband’s unconsciousness, which was left into darkness while the right side consciousness and the feminine aspect, the anima. At this point, Rozafa tells the story of three brothers, where for sure the younger brother had a mother complex but he
was uncastrated from it after it became conscious to him, by keeping the oath, committing to his ego. Rozafa’s right side, the anima of her husband is made conscious, but it also presents her archetype of the mother, which had as a primary aim the nourishment of her son, and the future of coming generations.
According to Jung, at later stages in life, the fabulous and mysterious qualities of the mother image are transferred to the grandmother. This interpretation would lead us to believe in another meaning in history of the figure of Rozafa. The Great Mother according to Jung, is:
“As the mother of the mother, she is “greater” than the latter; she is in truth the “grand” or “Great Mother”. Not infrequently she assumes the attributes of wisdom as well as those of a witch. For the further the archetype recedes from consciousness and the clearer the latter becomes, the more distinctly does the archetype assume mythological features.” (Jung, 1968, p. 102)
The archetype is elevated to a higher rank when the transition is done. When there is
an increased difference between conscious and unconscious, the grandmother is placed in a higher rank that of a “Great Mother”, and in general the opposites in this image split apart. The character of the Great Mother is then either as a good fairy or a wicked fairy, etc. This holds true in Albania even at the present. Rozafa is not actually viewed as an old grandmother who everyone loves, but she is mainly displayed as a very good and young bride. Still the attributes of wisdom are attached to her, since her sacrifice made possible for the coming generations to be protected in the castle. Most interestingly, Jung states:
“In Western antiquity and especially in Eastern cultures the opposites often remain united in the same figure… The legends about the gods are as full of contradictions as are their moral characters.” (Jung, 1968, p. 102)
It is also stated earlier on, that in Kuteli’s collection of old Albanian stories, man and women are sometimes being presented with their good and bad characteristics. The moral characters of the two older brothers in Rozafa, are of contradictions since even though the oath is a very valuable action (and still today people are puzzled by the two older brothers since they believe that that is not at all the right thing to do), still they did not keep it. The two older brothers might be considered as bad in the ‘eyes of the beholders’ but it can also be possible that their ‘deviation’ from the common belief was done on purpose just to give free way to their younger brother’s mother complex. Still, the possibility exists that the two older brothers did not commit to their ego, thus still were castrated in the mother complex.
Now, according to Jung the mother-image in a woman’s psychology is different from a man’s. He clearly states:
“For a woman, the mother typifies her own conscious life as conditioned by her sex.”
(Jung, 1968p. 105)
For the woman, the mother becomes a symbol in course of psychological development. In a woman the mother image is a chthonic type, or Earth Mother.
Since Jung advocates that a woman can identify directly with the Earth Mother, while a man cannot, then Rozafa by expressing her will acknowledges and identifies her self with the Earth Mother. It can be possible that the mother of the brothers, even though she did not know anything about the sacrifice, would be a chthonic type. It is believed that she was old so she could not go up in the hill, but if she could do that but sent the bride, Rozafa at the brothers then she would be “blamed”too as causing Rozafa to ‘fade away half of her body’. Still, a further explanation about Rozafa would be that she is identified in the future generations, as Jung specifies the Great Mother:
“As mythology shows, one of the peculiarities of the Great Mother is that she frequently appears paired with her male counterpart. Accordingly the man identifies with the son-lover on whom the grace of Sophia has descended, with a puer aeternus…” (Jung, 1968, p.106)
Rozafa was a mother of a child and the bride of the younger brother. Here once again, it is stressed that her husband had a mother complex, puer aeternus, and his commitment of the ego, which made possible the standing of the castle, ‘relieved’ him from this only by taking away from him his bride’s left side, his unconscious, and making clear Rozafa’s consciousness of the Mother Earth and his consciousness of the mother complex, her husband’s puer aeternus. Jung would then state that the unconscious has become conscious and the younger brother’s mother complex has disappeared. Furthermore, Jung analyzes the sacrifice of the bull as such:
“Indeed sacrifice primarily celebrates an internal triumph and the Jungian school was to interpret the famous scene of Mithras sacrificing the bull, as they did other sacrifices and especially certain Dionysiac rites, ‘as a symbol of the victory of man’s spiritual nature over his animality- of which the bull is a common symbol”
(Chevalier/ Gheerbrant, 1996, p. 820)
In Rozafa, that would once again mean that the female sacrifice would then be interpreted as the victory of man’s masculinity over his femininity.
The interpretation of Rozafa, such a short story, is definitely complex if it has to be interpreted in relation to the (religious/ spiritual) symbols in the story. It is possible to have different supernatural and interpretation of the symbols on their meaning in relation to religious beliefs, since we cannot completely be sure of the ancient people’s belief. But that should not discourage us to take some action and try to understand them.
Moreover, the interpretation based on Jung’s theory is more comprehensible, appealing and important. The role of the mother complex, anima, and that of the
Grand Mother seem to be very important, and have always been as such, in our society.
As Jung also states, the repression of the unconsciousness has a very terrible effect on the soul. Therefore, the understanding and human’s recognition of these archetypes, and the relationship between consciousness and unconsciousness, are not just depth psychology theories for understanding as in this paper Rozafa but also ourselves, ancestors and future generations.
“Eagle-woman” symbol of the motherland, Albania
– Chevalier, J., Gheerbrant, A., The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols, (Buchanan-Brown,
J., Trans.), 2nd edition, Penguin Books, 1996
– Jung, C.G., The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, (Hull, R.F.C., Trans.), 1968,
2nd edition, Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press (Series: The Collected Works of
C.G. Jung; Vol. 9, part 1 Bollingen series; 20)
– Kuteli, M., Tregime te Moçme Shqiptare, (Berberi, B., Trans), 2005, (Original work