THE NAKED TRUTH
The text to this picture (fig. 3) is, with a few alterations, a quotation from the Tractatus aureus.
It runs: “He who would be initiated into this art and secret wisdom must put away the vice of arrogance, must be devout, righteous, deep witted, humane towards his fellows, of a cheerful countenance
and a happy disposition, and respectful withal. Likewise he must be an observer of the eternal secrets that are revealed to him. My son, above all I admonish thee to fear God who seeth thine actions [in quo dispositionis tuae visus est\ and in whom is help for the solitary, whosoever he may be [adiuvatio cuiuslibet sequestrate.]
2 And the Rosarium adds from Pseudo-Aristotle:
“Could God but find a man of faithful understanding, He would open His secret to him.”
This appeal to obviously moral qualities makes one thing quite clear: the opus demands not only intellectual and technical ability as in the study and practice of modern chemistry; it is a moral as well as a psychological undertaking.
The texts are full of such admonitions, and they indicate the kind of attitude that is required in the execution of a religious work.
The alchemists undoubtedly understood the opus in this sense, though it is difficult to square our picture with such an exordium. The chaste disguises have fallen away.
Man and woman confront one another in unabashed naturalness.
Sol says, “O Luna, let 4a me be thy husband,” and Luna, “O Sol, I must submit to thee.”
The dove bears the inscription: “Spiritus est qui unificat.”
This remark hardly fits the unvarnished eroticism of the picture, for if what Sol and Luna say-who, be it noted, are brother and sister means anything at all, it must surely mean earthly love.
But since the spirit descending from above is stated to be the mediator, the situation acquires another aspect: it is supposed to be a union in the spirit.
This is borne out admirably by one important detail in the picture: the contact of left hands has ceased.
Instead, Luna’s left hand and Sol’s right hand now hold the branches (from which spring the fiores Mercurii, corresponding to the three pipes of the fountain), while Luna’s right and Sol’s left hand are touching the flowers.
The left-handed relationship is no more: the two hands of both are now connected with the “uniting symbol.”
This too has been changed: there are only three flowers
instead of five, it is no longer an ogdoad but a hexad,T a sixrayed
The double quaternity has thus been replaced by a double triad.
This simplification is evidently the result of the fact that two elements have each paired off, presumably with their opposites, for according to alchemical theory each element contains its opposite “within” it.
Affinity, in the form of a “loving” approach, has already achieved a partial union of the elements, so that now only one pair of opposites remains: masculine-feminine or agens-patiens, as indicated by the inscription.
In accordance with the axiom of Maria, the elementary quaternity has become the active triad, and this will lead to the coniunctio of the two.
Psychologically we can say that the situation has thrown off the conventional husk and developed into a stark encounter with reality, with no false veils or adornments of any kind.
Man stands forth as he really is and shows what was hidden under the mask of conventional adaptation: the shadow.
This is now raised to consciousness and integrated with the ego, which means a move in the direction of wholeness.
Wholeness is not so much perfection as completeness.
Assimilation of the shadow gives a man body, so to speak; the animal sphere of instinct, as well as the primitive or archaic psyche, emerge into the zone of consciousness and can no longer be repressed by
fictions and illusions.
In this way man becomes for himself the difficult problem he really is.
He must always remain conscious of the fact that he is such a problem if he wants to develop at all.
Repression leads to a one-sided development if not to stagnation, and eventually to neurotic dissociation.
Today it is no longer a question of “How can I get rid of my shadow?” for we have seen enough of the curse of one-sidedness.
Rather we must ask ourselves:
“How can man live with his shadow without its precipitating a succession of disasters?”
Recognition of the shadow is a reason for humility, for genuine fear of the abysmal depths in man.
This caution is most expedient, since the man without a shadow thinks himself harmless precisely because he is ignorant of his shadow.
The man who recognizes his shadow knows very well that he is not harmless, for it brings the archaic psyche, the whole world of the archetypes, into direct contact with the conscious mind and saturates it with archaic influences.
This naturally adds to the dangers of “affinity,” with its deceptive projections and its urge to assimilate the object in terms of the projection, to draw it into the family circle in order to actualize the hidden incest situation, which seems all the more attractive and fascinating the less it is understood.
The advantage of the situation, despite all its dangers, is that once the naked truth has been revealed the discussion can get down to essentials; ego and shadow are no longer divided but are brought together in an admittedly precarious unity.
This is a great step forward, but at the same time it shows up the “differentness” of one’s partner all the more clearly, and the unconscious usually tries to close the gap by increasing the attraction, so as to bring about the desired union somehow or other.
All this is borne out by the alchemical idea that the fire which maintains the process must be temperate to begin with and must then gradually be raised to the highest intensity. ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Pages 235-239