Psychology and Alchemy

“For the alchemist the one primarily in need of redemption is not man, but the deity who is lost and sleeping in matter.

Only as a secondary consideration does he hope that some benefit may accrue to himself from the transformed substance as the panacea, the medicina catholica, just as it may to the imperfect bodies, the base or “sick” metals, etc.

His attention is not directed to his own salvation through God’s grace, but to the liberation of God from the darkness of matter.

By applying himself to this miraculous work he benefits from its salutary effect, but only incidentally. He may approach the work as one in need of salvation, but he knows that his salvation depends on the success of the work, on whether he can free the divine soul.

To this end he needs meditation, fasting, and prayer; more, he needs the help of the Holy Ghost as his paredroz [ministering spirit].

Since it is not man but matter that must be redeemed, the spirit that manifests itself in the transformation is not the “Son of Man” but as Khunrath very properly puts it, the filius macrocosmi.

Therefore, what comes out of the transformation is not Christ but an ineffable material being named the “stone,” which displays the most paradoxical qualities apart from possessing corpus, anima, spiritus, and supernatural powers.

One might be tempted to explain the symbolism of alchemical transformation as a parody of the Mass were it not pagan in origin and much older than the latter.

The substance that harbors the divine secret is everywhere, including the human body. It can be had for the asking and can be found anywhere, even in the most loathsome filth.”

  • Psychology and Alchemy (1944), translated by R.F.C. Hull. Bollingen Series XX, Vol. 12 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1953), pp. 299-300.