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Carl Jung and the Wolf in Alchemy

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The wolf as prima materia, devouring the dead king.

In the background, sublimation of the prima materia and rebirth of the king.—Maier, Scrutinium chymicum (1687) ~Carl Jung, CW 12, Para 439, Image 175

In another version of the devouring theme, Mars feeds the body of the King to the famished wolf (fame acerrima occupatus), the son of Saturn (lead).

The wolf symbolizes the prima materia’s appetite for the King, who often takes the place of the Son ~Carl Jung, CW 12 Para 440

This strange usage is explained by the fact that the majority of the patristic allegories have in addition to their positive meaning a negative one.

Thus in St. Eucherius the rapacious wolf “in its good part” signifies the apostle Paul, but “in its bad part” the devil ~Carl Jung, CW 13, Para 147

The stag signifies the soul, the unicorn spirit, and the forest the body.

The next two pictures in Lambspringk’s “Symbols” show the lion and lioness, or the wolf and dog, the latter two fighting; they too symbolize soul and spirit. ~Carl Jung, CW 14, Para 3

Psychologically, this means that the union of consciousness (Sol) with its feminine counterpart the unconscious (Luna) has undesirable results to begin with: it produces poisonous animals such as the dragon, serpent, scorpion, basilisk, and toad; then the lion, bear, wolf, dog, and finally the eagle and the raven.

The first to appear are the cold-blooded animals, then warm-blooded predators, and lastly birds of prey or ill-omened scavengers. ~Carl Jung, CW 14, Para 172

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Even the light of the moon is dangerous as it causes the moon-sickness, which comes from the “moon-wolf.”

The marriage bed, pregnant women, and small children should be protected from the moonlight.

Whoever sews by moonlight sews the winding-sheet, and so on. ~Carl Jung, CW 14, Para 214

The fourth function has its seat in the unconscious.

In mythology the unconscious is portrayed as a great animal, for instance Leviathan, or as a whale, wolf, or dragon. ~Carl Jung, CW 14, Para 277

The phase of the conflict of opposites is usually represented by fighting animals, such as the lion, dragon, wolf, and dog. Cf.

Lambspringk’s Symbols in the Musaeum hermeticum. ~Carl Jung, CW 14, Para 360, fn 389

Valentinus, “Practica,” Mus. herm., p. 394.

In another version of the incorporation motif, Mars feeds the body of the King to the famished wolf (fame acerrima occupatus), the son of Saturn (lead).

The wolf symbolizes the prima inateria’s appetite for the King, who often takes the place of the Son (fig. 175; cf. also figs. 166, 1 68, 169). ~Carl Jung, CW 12, Page 338, fn 50

It can therefore be taken as the principle of individuation in the strict sense.

It proceeds from the supracelestial bodies, for “such is the property and nature of supracelestial bodies that they straightway produce out of nothing a corporeal imagination [imaginationem corporalem], so as to be thought a solid body.

Of this kind is Ares, so that when one thinks of a wolf, a wolf appears.?

This world is like the creatures composed of the four elements.

From the elements arise things which are in no way like their origins, but nonetheless Ares bears them all in himself.” ~Carl Jung, CW 13, Para 176

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Ares = Mars.

The reference to the wolf supports this interpretation, for the wolf is the animal of Mars.

Johannes Braceschus of Brixen, a contemporary of Paracelsus, states in his “Lignum vitae” (Bibl. chem., I, pp. guff.) that the principle of the life-prolonging medicine is Mars, to which he refers the saying of Rhazes: “Accipe petram post ingressum Solis in arietem” ~Carl Jung, CW 13, Page 141, fn 39

Astrologically, Mars characterizes the instinctual and affective nature of man.

The subjugation and transformation of this nature seems to be the theme of the alchemical opus.

It is worth noting that Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia begins with the wolf as the initiating animal; he also has this significance in Canto I of Dante’s Inferno, where he appears in a triad of animals.

This lower triad corresponds to the upper Trinity; therefore we meet it again as the tricephalous Satan in Canto XXXIV. ~Carl Jung, CW 13, Page 141, fn 39

Thus in the love-magic of Astrampsychos the invocation to Hermes says:

Your names . . . are in the four corners of the heavens.

I know also your forms, which are: in the East you have the form of an ibis, in the West you have the form of a dog-headed baboon, in the North you have the form of a serpent, but in the South you have the form of a wolf.

Your plant is the grape,-“* which in that place is the olive. I know also your wood: it is ebony, etc.’ ~Carl Jung, CW 13, Para 359