Carl Gustav Jung on Kundalini (full story)

“Jung amplifies the image of the snake in the abdomen by reference to the serpent in Kundalini Yoga. “I told you,” Jung says, “the case of that intuitive girl who suddenly came out with the statement that she had a black snake in her belly.” He situates the snake in the context of the collective unconscious. “Well now, that is a collective symbol,” he says. “That is not an individual fantasy, it is a collective fantasy.” The image of the snake in the abdomen, Jung says, “is well known in India.” Although the woman “had nothing to do with India” and although the image “is entirely unknown to us,” he says that “we have it too, for we are all similarly human.” When the woman first told Jung about the snake in her belly, he wondered whether “perhaps she was crazy,” but then he realized that “she was only highly intuitive.” She had intuited a typical, or archetypal, image. “In India,” Jung says, “the serpent is at the basis of a whole philosophical system, of Tantrism; it is Kundalini, the Kundalini serpent” (1977: 322). According to Jung, “This is something known only to a few specialists, generally it is not known that we have a serpent in the abdomen” (1977: 322-3).

The Kundalini serpent is coiled quiescently at the base of the spine. When this energy is aroused in the practice of Kundalini Yoga, it uncoils and rises up the spine through six successive chakras, or centers of consciousness. This is what John Woodroffe (also known as Arthur Avalon) calls the “serpent power” (1973). There is, Jung notes, “in Tantric Yoga or Kundalini Yoga an attempt to reach the condition where Shiva is in eternal union with Shakti.” He says that Shiva “is encircled by the female principle, Shakti, in the form of a serpent” (CW 18: 120, par. 263).”

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