The island of the serpent: the creative process. Audio-recording of class discussion.

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An online, interactive class offered by the
C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology


Max McDowell is a Jungian analyst who has been in private practice in New York for the past 25 years. Here he leads a class of 10 students discussing and interpreting this story from ancient Egypt.

Cobra. Ancient Egypt
Photo: source unknown

Click here for the text version of the tale 

(Or read the brief synopsis below)

Island of Serpent: part 1

Island of Serpent: part 2

Island of Serpent: part 3

Synopsis of the story

A Count must report to the Pharaoh (on a failed expedition?). The good Attendant tries to lend him courage by relating his own ‘similar’ adventure:

On a voyage to the Mine Country the Attendant’s ship and able sailors were destroyed in a storm and he was cast up on an island where good food grew.

A huge gold-clad serpent took the Attendant in his mouth, carried him to his resting place, and made him tell the story of his voyage so far.

Then the serpent consoled the Attendant by relating something similar that had happened to him: a star fell on the island and burnt up all his kin. Time heals.

The serpent told the Attendant he would spend four months on the island; then a ship would arrive from the Pharaoh’s Residence and take him home to his family.

The Attendant promised that the Pharaoh would reward the serpent with luxuries from Egypt.

The serpent laughed at his vanity, saying he (the serpent) was the Ruler of Punt, the home of myrrh and fine oil. When the Attendant left, the island would disappear underwater.

When the ship came, the serpent gave him a fine cargo of African luxuries. The Pharaoh, in turn, rewarded the Attendant richly.

The Count responds cynically. He expects to be executed.

Photo: source unknown

Egyptian ship
Picture: source unknown

Storm at sea
Photo: ©, 2008
Falling Star
Photo: © Bob Keck, 2002

Loading cargo: Ships of Hatsu
Drawing: source unknown

temple reliefs.Deir el-Bahri.1473-1458.BCE.465x600.jpg
Loading cargo. Temple reliefs. Deir el-Bahri: 1473-1458 B.C.E.
Photo: source unknown


Pharaoh Akhenaten, 1351-1337 BCE. Statue.
Photo: source unknown