Miss Wolff: The Egyptian myth of Ra.
Prof Jung: Yes, when Ra, the sun god, the king of the two Egypts, was making his way over the heavens, Mother Isis had prepared a worm for him, a sand viper which lives buried in the sand, a particularly ugly beast; only its nose sticks out and it bites whoever walks over it.
So the sun god was bitten, and then all the gods came together and begged Mother Isis to remove the poison from his system, which she
did, but Ra was definitely weakened. Now this is very much like that very ancient Egyptian myth which has been believed through so many
thousands of years because it is a very great truth, one of the great psychological truths expressed in mythology.
You see, the sun god is a hero man, the typical man with high ambitious plans, but he is at variance with his anima; she doesn’t want such aloofness, but wants to have him close to the earth, she doesn’t like his distance from the lower centers.
So she prepares a trap into which he invariably falls, thus losing all his divinity, which is of course a rather painful loss to a man; it sometimes means losing all his best qualities.
It is a dangerous catastrophe when a man falls into a trap laid by the anima.
To be caught by the heel is the usual fate of a man.
Crush the head of the serpent and it will bite you in the heel.
This is a regular occurrence and it can finish a man’s career, his hopes, or even his life.
Or it may also be the way to wisdom, if he is intelligent enough to make the right use of it.
Well, whether one avoids the trap very sagely or whether one falls into it is pretty much the same thing; in either case he is poisoned, that is the awful thing, and therefore it is expressed in a myth.
Now Nietzsche or Zarathustra would be very much in that predicament; he talked in a very high style, walked over the heavens, and then down he comes with a crash.
When he had taken his arm from his face he looked at the serpent; and then did it recognize the eyes of Zarathustra, wriggled awkwardly,
and tried to get away.
“Not at all,” said Zarathustra, “as yet hast thou not received my thanks! Thou has awakened me in time; my journey is yet long.” “Thy journey is short,” said the adder, sadly; “my poison is fatal.”
Zarathustra smiled. “When did ever a dragon die of a serpent’s poison?”-said he. “But take thy poison back! Thou art not rich enough to present it to me.”
Then fell the adder again on his neck, and licked his wound.
Isn’t that a wonderful miracle!
Mrs. Fierz: But is it not queer that it is the neck that is bitten? It should be the foot.
Prof Jung: Yes, and why is it the throat?
Mrs. Fierz: The throat is the center of speech.
Mrs. Crowley: The logos.
Prof Jung: Well, he was sky-walking in his speech, so it has to do with words; his feet were not on the ground.
The same motif comes again later where the serpent tries to crawl into the shepherd’s throat, and he is advised to bite off its head.
So we must assume that the throat region is the active organ. In how far is that true?
Mrs. Sigg: When Nietzsche wrote this part of Zarathustra he had just had five months of daily discussions with Lou Salome.
Prof .Jung: Ah, there he met the serpent, that is quite certain.
But it happens here to Zarathustra, and why was he bitten just in the throat?
Miss Welsh: Because he was always preaching.
Prof. Jung: Yes, Thus Spake Zarathustra; you see, he did not act, he spoke.
Zarathustra is very obviously the logos, and you cannot reach the logos with the feet because it has none; you can only reach it by the
throat where the word comes from.
Expressed in the Tantric system it would be in the visuddha center that he was bitten, not in muladhara, because he is located on a much higher plane.
So it might lame his speech, as, if bitten in the feet, his legs would be first paralysed.
Obviously the purpose of the serpent in the case of Zarathustra himself and of the shepherd, is to get at the speech center, to lame his talk.
It is through his talk that he has attracted the serpent, for it is through his talk that he walks over the heavens like a sun god.
Now Zarathustra looks at the serpent and the serpent obviously becomes quite uncomfortable.
Can you explain this peculiar phenomenon?
Miss Wolff: It almost looks as if the snake, if it had known that it was Zarathustra, would not have bitten him.
Prof. Jung: Probably, if the snake had been informed beforehand.
But why should the snake not bite Zarathustra? There is a particular justification for this passage.
Miss Wolff: It may be Zarathustra’s own snake; he has a snake and an eagle, so if it had recognized him it would not have done it.
Prof. Jung: Yes, but he says, “When did ever a dragon die of a serpent’s poison?”
He identifies with the serpent-he himself is the serpent-and he assumes that when one serpent bites another it would not be poisonous.
As a matter of fact that is not quite true; serpents do die from the poison of their own species even, but that doesn’t matter.
Because Zarathustra is of the same nature as the snake, its poison here doesn’t injure him.
And in how far is Zarathustra of the same nature?
Mrs. Crowley: He is the hero, and the hero is supposed to be a snake.
Prof. Jung: Yes, he is supposed to have a serpent’s soul.
The justification for this idea is found chiefly in Greek mythology.
Those two old heroes Cecrops and Erechtheus were supposed to be half human and half serpent; they were legendary kings of Athens, and Cecrops was the founder of the Acropolis.
Also it was thought in ancient Greece that the souls of heroes actually took the form of serpents that lived in the grave, so they used to sacrifice to the soul-serpent through an opening on top of the tomb.
And one finds very often the belief with primitives that the first animal seen near the grave of the diseased contains the soul of the dead man-the first snake or toad or beetle or whatever it is that appears is supposed to be the carrier of his soul.
In East Africa they generally assume that souls appear in the form of serpents, and whenever a serpent enters a hut the people clear out, not from fear, for they could kill it, but out of sheer politeness; they say an ancestral spirit has honored their hut with his visit and so they leave the hut for its use.
They even leave food for it, and then when it has gone, they use the hut again for ordinary purposes.
So souls are very often identified with snakes. ~Zarathustra Seminars, Page 754-757