Exactly, we find this vessel of transformation in the writings of Zosimos, an alchemist of the third century a.d.70.
It probably goes back to the fourth tract of the Corpus Hermeticum, in which it is said that God had sent a vessel from heaven to earth, in which the humans could submerge in order to reemerge renewed in the state of ennoia.
[Note: Ennoia = Greek, “thinking mind, knowledge, insight”: a way to reach higher consciousness. Cf. C. G. Jung, “The Visions of Zosimos,” in CW 13, § 97]
A medieval variation of this kratér is the Grail.
It is a miraculous bowl from which Christ is said to have taken the Last Supper.
Another legend says that Joseph of Arimathea had collected Christ’s blood in it.
It is also a blood vessel, filled with the blood of Christ, with the spirit of God.
The power of giving man new life by filling him with its spirit is inherent in both the kratér and the Grail.
Wolfram von Eschenbach brings another version of the story of the Grail.
Do you know about it?
Participant: He talks about the Grail as a stone.
Yes, for him it is a stone. Wolfram von Eschenbach quotes a very strange expression in connection with the Grail, namely, lapsit exillis.
Now this is bungled Latin; he himself did not understand Latin.
Philologists have tried their hands at its interpretation in all kinds of ways.
One of them interpreted it as “ex illis,” “from those” (i.e., “from those eternal stars”); another as “ex coelis,” “from the heavens.”
In my view, however, this “lapsit exillis” could refer to the lapis.
There is evidence for this. Arnoldus de Villanova, a doctor living around the year 1250, left some alchemical texts, in which the stone is called “lapis exilis” in a hexameter, meaning that the stone is one that can be had vili pretio, cheaply.
It is found everywhere, in the streets, in dung, in toilets.
An alchemist held that people would sell it at a quite different price if they only knew its value.
This stone is, of course, the cornerstone that was discarded by the builders, and that is an allegoria Christi.
The Christian Church also knew about the secret similarity between the stone and Christ.
In the ritual of striking fire, the new fire, which is an image of Christ, is struck out of the cornerstone, the lapis angularis.
In 1330, Petrus Bonus for the first time expressed the idea that the stone was an allegory of Christ.
So this enigmatic expression, “lapsit exillis,” can be interpreted as “lapis exilis,” that insignificant, unimportant stone, to which nobody pays attention, although it is the greatest treasure.
Do you know about a passage in the Old Testament where the stone plays a role?
Participant: The rolling stone in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel.
Yes, that dream speaks about a great, tall, and bright image of a terrible form. It was made of four different materials—gold, silver, brass, and iron—and its feet were of clay.
While the king looked at the image, a stone rolled down the mountain and smote the image upon its feet, so that this great being collapsed.
The strange thing about it is that the stone broke away from the mountain “without hands,” without being touched by anybody.
In the Book of Daniel this stone became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
Daniel’s prophecy that this stone will smite and destroy all kingdoms, but shall stand forever itself, might well have been why Christ was compared to it in the patristic literature.
Where else does the mountain appear in connection with the precious stone?
Participant: In your lecture you mentioned that the city of Meru is on top of the mountain.
Professor Jung: Yes, this connection is found in the Indian Shri-Chakra-Sambhara Tantra.
We also find it in alchemy, where the city, the vas hermeticum, is lying on top of the mons.
Often the image of the vitrum aureum, the golden glass, appears in connection with the idea of the eternal city.
As you have heard in the paper, it says in the Revelation of John: “and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass” (21:18).
What does this glass indicate?
Participant: Something hard and indestructible.
Professor Jung: This is characteristic not of the glass, but of stone in general.
The wondrous thing about glass is the diaphanitas, its transparency.
One has also tried to express the spiritual nature of the stone or the vessel with the help of this characteristic.
The same is true when we talk about the lapis spiritualis, the lapis invisibilitatis, or the lapis aethereus, or about the diamond stone light as water.
All these expressions are meant to illustrate the spiritual existence of the stone; they are about an object that is a body, yet at the same time transparent.
The glass house in the present dream also points to this spiritual existence.
Mrs. Jaffé quite correctly interprets the Doppelgänger in the glass house as corpus subtile, as a subtle body, a spiritual mirror image, so to speak.
One creates oneself in this transparent vessel; the double in the glass house is like a second one, who is also there, and who awaits his preparation there.
This is a vision of what we have to call the Self.
There the transformation to one’s own self occurs, the other within us is consolidated there.
This other has miraculous qualities: he is transparent and has a subtle and incorruptible body.
For the time being, he is still in a suspended state; he has not yet become.
Through the union with the human being, he is clothed in matter, thus acquiring actual existence in actu and is saved from his potential existence.
This idea is also at the base of the homunculus, that miraculous being that, so to speak, creates himself in the stone.
In the dream, the glass house is on top of the pyramid, and so there is also a connection between the double and the king, resting in the tomb as a mummy.
The lapis is thus related to the grave, to death. ~Carl Jung, Children’s Dreams Seminar, Pages 294-298.