Children’s Dreams: Notes from the Seminar Given in 1936-1940

[Carl Jung on “White Animals.”]

Participant: White animals are those animals that don’t live in the daylight, that are always underground. This clearly points toward the unconscious.

Professor Jung: Which animals are white?

Participant: The white horse in folklore, fairy tales, and myths. It also appears in a book by Kubin, Die andere Seite.

Professor Jung:

Kubin’s book is actually quite silly.

It was written by a modern artist keen not to think anything, in contrast with the artists of the Renaissance.

He gives a description of the unconscious tel quel [as it is], pure raw material, a reproduction.

It features a crazy horse that thunders through the vaults of the underworld.

So this is such a white animal, but in this case it is a mythological one.

Such animals also exist in reality.

The Proteus in the karst caves is white, for example, because it needs no color.

Participant: Worms and cockchafer grubs are white, too.

Professor Jung: Yes, all intestinal worms, tapeworms, and the like,

and in general many animals that live in the dark, are white.

These are animals that symbolize the unconscious, the source just coming out of the womb of the earth.

This is one of the reasons why the boa in our dream is white.

But then it is not completely white, but has black crosses.

This indicates that it is not just a cave tapeworm, but that its white color has still another meaning, derived from the contrast with black.

What does “white snake” mean in a positive sense? Where does it appear?

Participant: In fairy tales.

Professor Jung: How does it appear in fairy tales?

Participant: Doesn’t it have something to do with divination and premonition?

Professor Jung:

It is, of course, the magic serpent; it reveals a secret, and usually appears with a little golden crown on her head to indicate that it is the queen serpent—a doctor snake. It brings wisdom and revelation, it knows about the secret treasure and the secret path.

It is a helpful animal.

Thus the white color is also a favorable color, obviously a color of enlightenment.

Participant: In old dream books, white animals are also favorable.

Professor Jung:

Which corresponds with the fact that black animals are unfavorable.

Now there are black crosses on the snake. What does that mean?

Participant: The unification of the opposites, of white and black.

Professor Jung:

So the snake is of a contradictory nature: white on the one hand, black on the other.

If we call to mind that the snake represents the cerebrospinal nervous system, it follows that a symbol of this other, uncanny, contradiction and strangeness is expressed by
this image.

A psychical content is expressed through it.

The snake is not just a natural animal, but also a mythological animal.

It not only stands for instinct, but also has a symbolic quality.

We must not forget that sexuality is not just sexuality, but also a psychical experience.

It has a psychical quality; it is somehow symbolic and magic.

It never appears in its essence as such, therefore, but is always also a strange psychical state at the same time. ~Carl Jung, Children’s Dreams Seminar, Pages 214-215.

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