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Peters, R. (1987). The Eagle and the Serpent: Or — The Minding of Matter. J. Anal. Psychol., 32(4):359-381.

(1987). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 32(4):359-381

The Eagle and the Serpent: Or — The Minding of Matter

Roderick Peters, M.B., M.R.C.P., M.Sc

A man in his Mid-Thirties, married and with children, had a keen intellect which he immersed in a very high-minded and committed study of Western and Eastern philosophy. His earning work made it necessary for him, from time to time, to make inspections of work sites. There he found himself among earthy labourers, in a sweaty and physical atmosphere in huts where the walls were covered with gloriously tempting photographs of beautiful women baring their bottoms or masturbating or voluptuously enjoying the caresses of another. So powerfully did he find his sexuality aroused that he either ejaculated involuntarily or was, more often than not, unable and unwilling to stop himself from masturbating. He felt an intensely jarring disharmony between his serenely cool philosophical states of mind and these overpowering and somehow shameful descents into a hot-blooded pounding sexuality. During this period of his life (about a year) he had some fifty dreams, all of which had a very similar theme. Usually he was on a raft trying to get across a river or lake. The raft was made of woven reeds and it had a little mast but no sail. As he tried to get it over the water, snakes, one or many, big and small, wriggled up through the woven reeds and he felt mortally afraid of them, often gripping them around the neck and trying desperately hard, but unsuccessfully, to strangle them. All the time he was aware of the presence of an eagle perched on top of the mast, which seemed loftily unconcerned with the goings-on below.

I have records of many other dreams in which this same threesome appears: an eagle, a serpent, and between them the dreamer him/herself. Involving all three there is a tension, or a conflict; something going on. But the same essential theme finds expression in other images, which are still recognisably dealing with an opposition between something higher and having one or more qualities in common with an eagle, and something lower which has qualities in common with the serpent.

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