ETH Lectures

Since the time of the old Gnostics, the serpent has been the symbol for the brain and its appendages ; that is, for the lower centres of the brain and for the spinal cord, partly on account of its shape, but also from introspective reasons.

One has an inner feeling that the way a snake moves, and the character of its body, is like this psychical mind.

The old saurians actually had a swelling in the lumbar vertebrae which was larger than the “brain” and if they had a brain at all it must have been situated in the lumbar region.

This shows us how important the spinal cord is, it is a pure system of reflexes, reaching up to the highest and most complicated instincts .

The reflexes function through the collaboration of the spinal cord and the basal ganglia. All this was symbolised by the serpent, and
this gives us a further hint as to the source of the “Einfiille ” .

It shows us that they come from a region which lies in the subcortical centres ; that is, from the instinctive and reflexive psyche.

This reaches into the sympathetic system, of which the chief p art is the two ganglionated cords which lie on each side of the
spine, a sort of rope ladder system which extends into the innermost organs of the body.

The sympathetic system has a peculiar connection with the cerebro-spinal system, it works with it but is older, in that it is to be found in the lowest invertebrate animals which have no backbone and no cerebro-spinal nervous system.

The name its elf is peculiar – why sympathetic?

This system rules the vegetative functions of the body, and also, to a great extent, the circulation of the blood, and is thus connected with the emotions .

The connection with the cerebro-spinal nervous system gives a highly peculiar physiological foundation to the unconscious.

One could say, in a certain sense, that the unconscious was the invisible, psychical part of the tangible and visible nervous system, just as one might say consciousness was the invisible part of the brain.

This does not mean, of course, that the whole psychical phenomenon is a secretion of the b rain or of the basal ganglia, or anything of the kind; the whole thing is far more complicated, and lies, through its very nature, on the b orders of human understanding.

Living matter is a mystery which is beyond our understanding, if only for the reason that we ourselves consist of living matter.

We cannot climb above our own heads, a fact which should be a warning to all those people who try to explain the nature of God.

One would have to be His colleague before one could understand Him in any way! ~Carl Jung, ETH Lectures, 4 July 1941, Para 109