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Descent

Jung’s second vision begins with a deep conflict over descending. He wants to go up towards the sun again, the male principle striving upwards by nature, instead of down into the cruel, dark, bloody, feminine place below. From the outset Jung is identified with the sun hero, the subject of his long excursus in Symbols. His conflict is imaged as “two dark principles” that take the form of serpents in battle.

There was a mountain ridge, a knife edge, on one side a sunny desert country, on the other side darkness. I saw a white snake on the light side and a dark snake on the dark side. They met in battle on the narrow ridge. A dreadful conflict ensued. Finally the head of the black snake turned white, and it retired, defeated. I felt, “Now we can go on.”

(1989: 95-96)

Dualities are opposing each other in the light/dark atmosphere. Yet the brutal conflict is between “two dark principles.” This may point to the maternal and the anima, terrible and seductive, dual aspects of the succubus archetype. The Zohar usually calls Lilith “the black one, the false one . . . ” The head of the serpent turning white could be linked to shame and defeat, as when one “turns white as a ghost” and “loses face” with the petrifaction of shame. Jung’s vision depicts the black serpent undergoing the whitening of his head, and this instigates the light symbolism, the victorious white serpent that gradually develops and intensifies as the vision evolves into the sacrificial transformation of the sun hero and the restoration of Salome’s vision.

 
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