Symbol Paper - Rearing Cobra (Part 1/7)

Updated: Aug 14

This a seven-part paper in the blog series 'What's it like to train as an Analyst? in which I explore the experience of training as a psychoanalyst from a personal perspective.


Parts 1, 2 and 3 of Rearing Cobra are available as open access https://www.nicholastoko.com/blog. Parts 4, 5, 6 and 7 will be released to #JungianBitsofInformation members only. Register on the site to become a member and be first to read or listen to my latest blog or podcast.


A review of Rearing Cobra

Rearing Cobra is inspired by a life-changing encounter with a rearing cobra as an ultimate #synchronicity that definitively convinced him of the reality of a lively unconscious that speaks to us through symbols, and to him especially through the symbol of the serpent. Then suddenly the meaningful purpose of his life was revealed to him: to become an analyst. He movingly unfolds the traumatic experiences in his childhood to which he reacted with an urge to befriend, hunt and master snakes - which appears as a spontaneous auto-initiation, as well as a re-enactment of a creation myth. After years of seemingly great success in his career, feelings of depression, lack of meaning and boredom emerged like a "hurricane making landfall on a paradisiacal island". Jungian psychology finally helped him find meaning in his traumatic experiences, revivify his life and realize that "becoming a wounded healer had always been his destiny in life".


Nicholas presents a unique testimony to the creative and healing power of a symbol: he shows how the dialogue between symbolic experiences and their conscious symbolic interpretation form a "process directing an individual to a specific goal or outcome" and can bring true healing and joy. With great honesty and passion he circumambulates his experiences, synchronicities, dreams and active imaginations, and enriches them by reflections on the transforming nature of the symbol and by the main features of the snake symbolism - especially African -, which contribute to deepen his individuation journey.


#synchronicity is an analytical psychology hypothesis which refers to events that coincide in time and space but can also be seen to have meaningful psychological connections [Samuels et al. A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis. 2013]. An outer event or phenomena is experienced as a meaningful coincidence, or the individual detects some sort of purposeful trend in their life. The outer event, which may appear as chance or coincidence, has direct relevance on a personal level; it appears to coincide with one's own inner state or emotions.


An outline of my Symbol Paper 'Rearing Cobra'

I travelled to India for five weeks during the Christmas and New Year period of 2015/16 where I realised that I wanted to become a Jungian Analyst.

Author's encounter with a rearing Cobra, Jaipur, India, 2016.

It was a sudden, unexpected 'encounter' with a rearing Cobra on a street in Jaipur which was so personally meaningful to me, it fundamentally altered the direction of my life. I have just completed my 4th semester of training as a Jungian Analyst at the ISAPZurich. A Symbol Paper is a pre-requisite to taking the Propadeuticum Exams, commencing a three-month placement in a psychiatric clinic and working with clients under supervision. My Symbol Paper is entitled 'Rearing Cobra' in which I explore, from a Jungian analytical psychology perspective - what is meant by a symbol, the symbolism of the snake or serpent in history, culture, mythology and the significance of the rearing Cobra in my personal life. Rearing Cobra is a deeply personal story about how I came to train as a Jungian Analyst. It was a confrontation with my unconscious over some years which radically transformed my life. It is not a unique story. In fact, many people before me have gone through a transformation and achieved so much more. However, I hope to show you the process of transformation via the unconscious in a way which helps you or others to follow your/their instinct and ultimately, become who they truly are.


India was a memorable experience. I captured so many photos during my travel to New Delhi, Varanasi, Khajuraho, Jaipur, Jodphur, Udaipur, Mount Abu, Chattra Sagar and Agra. Here are a collection of some of my favourite photos from these wonderful places. This is part 1/7 of the paper. The remaining parts of the paper will be published over the coming weeks. I hope you enjoy the story.

Author's encounter with a rearing Cobra, Jaipur, India, 2016.