"Crush the Head of the Serpent and It will Bite you in the Heel": A reconstruction of Jung's Interpretation of the Poisonous Serpents in Zarathustra Through Liber Novus

Gaia Domenici
2018 Phanes: Journal For Jung History  
The psychological interpretation of Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra given by C. G. Jung in a speci cally dedicated seminar in years 1934-1934 comes across as obscure, somewhat mysterious and philosophically distant from Nietzsche's work. Such interpretation, however, remains consistent in Jung's later works. One of the most striking aspects of Jung's interpretation of Zarathustra concerns the animals: in most cases, Jung delivers long and detailed explanations, drawing on
more » ... al, as well as alchemical material, to analyse some animal gures that do not play any relevant part in Nietzsche's text. This is particularly remarkable in the case of the serpent hanging from the shepherd's mouth in chapter 'Of the Vision and the Riddle', closely related by Jung to the adder biting Zarathustra's throat in chapter 'Of the Adder's Bite'. The same connection will come back later in 1952, in Symbols of Transformation. Interestingly, most of Jung's later interpretation of Zarathustra can be re- contextualised and understood if compared with Jung's own Liber Novus, serving as a proper lens to observe and analyse the evolution of Jung's confrontation with Nietzsche. Reading Jung's marginalia on his own copy of Zarathustra, it is clear that he interpreted the work as a sort of Nietzschean Liber Novus, so to speak—both being understood by Jung as 'visionary' works. This paper will explore Jung's understanding of Zarathustra chapters 'Of the Vision and the Riddle' and 'Of the Adder's Bite' in the 30's and 50's, and will then reconstruct such understanding based on Liber Novus. KEYWORDS Nietzsche, Zarathustra, Liber Novus, The Red Book, Serpent, Heel, Visionary Works
doi:10.32724/phanes.2018.domenici fatcat:reigb5anozglfg3tgt3alyq4nm