The Alchemical Salt as Feeling, Eros and Wisdom:

Some light is thrown on the numerous overlapping significations of salt, and the obscurity begins to clear up, when we are informed, further, that one of its principal meanings is soul. As the white substance it is the “white woman,” and the “salt of our magnesia” is a “spark of the anima mundi.” ~Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, Page 240, para 321.

There was a good reason for this: The philosophers were so fascinated by their own psychisms that, in their naiveté, they faithfully reproduced the inner psychic situation eternally. Although the unconscious, personified by the anima, is in itself transcendental, it can appear in the sphere of consciousness, that is, in this world, in the form of an “influence” on conscious processes.

Just as the world-soul pervades all things, so does salt. It is ubiquitous and thus fulfills the main requirement of an arcane substance, that it can be found everywhere. No doubt the reader will be a conscious as I am of how uncommonly difficult it is to give an account of salt and its ubiquitous connections. It represents the feminine principle of Eros, which brings everything into relationship, in an almost perfect way. In this respect it is surpassed only by Mercurius, and the notion that salt comes from Mercurius is therefore quite understandable. For salt, as the soul or spark of the anima mundi, is in very truth the daughter of the spiritus vegetavivus of creation. Salt is far more indefinite and more universal than sulphur, whose essence is fairly well defined by its fiery nature. ~Carl Jung; Mysterium Coniunctionis, Page 241, Para’s 321-322.

“Have salt in yourselves and have peace one with another.” Mark 9:50.

“Let your speech be always with grace, and seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” ~Colossians 4:16.

Apart from its lunar wetness and its terrestrial nature, the most outstanding properties of salt are bitterness an wisdom. As in the double quaternio of the elements and qualities, earth and water have coldness in common, so bitterness and wisdom would form a pair of opposites with a third thing between. The factor common to both, however incommensurable the two ideas may seem, is, psychologically the function of feeling. Tears, sorrow, and disappointment are bitter, but wisdom is the comforter in all psychic suffering. Indeed, bitterness and wisdom form a pair of alternatives: Where there is bitterness wisdom is lacking, and where wisdom is there can be no bitterness. Salt is the carrier of this fateful alternative, is co-ordinate with the nature of woman. ~ Carl Jung; Mysterium Coniunctionis; Pages 246-247; Para 330.

[Note: I could not reproduce the Quaternio that appears on page 247 of Mysterium Coniunctionis.]

Confirmation of our interpretation of salt as Eros (i.e., as a feeling relationship) is found in the fact that the bitterness is the origin of the colors (para 245). We have only to look at the drawings and paintings of patients who supplement their analysis by active imagination to see that colors are feeling-values. Mostly, to begin with, only a pencil or pen is used to make rapid sketches of dreams, sudden ideas, and fantasies. But from a certain moment on the patients begin to make use of color, and this is generally the moment when merely intellectual interest gives way to emotional participation. Occasionally the same phenomenon can be observed in dreams, which as such moments are dreamt in color, or a particularly vivid color is insisted upon.

Disappointment, always a shock to the feelings, is not only the mother of bitterness but the strongest incentive to a differentiation of feeling. The failure of a pet plan, the disappointing behavior of someone one loves, can supply the impulse either for a more or less brutal outburst of affect or for a modification and adjustment of feeling, and hence for its higher development. This culminates in wisdom if feeling is supplemented by reflection and rational insight. Wisdom is never violent: Where wisdom reigns there is not conflict between thinking and feeling. ~Carl Jung; Mysterium Coniunctionis; Pages 248-249; Para’s 233-234.

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