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Psychology and Alchemy CW 12

One might almost say that the dream ooes on with the “explanation” of what is happening in the square space.

Animals are to be changed into men; a “shapeless life-mass” is to be turned into a transfigured (illuminated) human head by magic contact with a reptile. The animal lump or life-mass stands tor the mass of the inherited unconscious which is to be united with consciousness.

This is brought about by the ceremonial use of a reptile, presumably a snake.

The idea of transformation and renewal by means of a serpent is a well-substantiated archetype (fig. 70).

It is the healing serpent, representing the god (cf. figs. 203, 204). It is reported of the mysteries of Sabazius: “Aureus coluber in sinum demittitur consecratis et eximitur rnrsus ab inferioribus partibus atque imis” (A golden snake is let down into the lap of the initiated and taken away again from the lower parts).”‘ Among the Ophites, Christ was the serpent.

Probably the most significant development of serpent symbolism as regards renewal of personality is to be found in Kundalini yoga.

The shepherd’s experience with the snake in Nietzsche’s Zarathustra would accordingly be a fatal omen (and not the only one of its kind—cf. the prophecy at the death of the rope-dancer). ~Carl Jung, CW 12, Para 184

Hardly have conscious and unconscious tone heel when they fly asunder on account of their mutual antagonism.

Hence, right at the beginning of the dream, the snakes that are making off in opposite directions have to be removed: i.e., the conflict between

conscious and unconscious is at once resolutely stopped and the conscious mind is forced to stand the tension by means of the circumambulalio.

The magic circle thus traced will also prevent the unconscious from breaking out again, for such an eruption would be equivalent to psychosis.

“Xonnulli perierunt in opere nostro”; “Not a few have perished in our work,” we can say with the author of the Rosarium.

The dream shows that the difficult operation of thinking in paradoxes—a lent possible only to the superior intellect—has succeeded.

The snakes no longer run away but settle themselves in the four corners, and the process of transformation or integration sets to work.

The “transfiguration” and illumination, the conscious recognition of the centre, has been attained, or at least anticipated, in the dream.

This potential achievement—if it can be maintained, i.e., if the conscious mind does not lose touch with the centre again—means a renewal of personality. Since it is a subjective state whose reality cannot be validated by any external criterion, any further attempt to describe and explain it is doomed to failure, for only those who have had this experience are in a position to understand and attest its reality.

“Happiness,” for example, is such a noteworthy reality that there is nobody who does not long for it, and yet there is not a single objective criterion which would prove beyond all doubt that this condition necessarily exists.

As so often with the most important tilings, we have to make do with a subjective judgment. ~Carl Jung, CW 12, Para 188

The anima reports that there are painful processes going on in the life-creating centre, which in this case is no longer the “glass” containing the life-mass but n point designated as a “uterus,” to be reached—so the spiral suggests—by means of a cin iimambnlatio.

At all events the spiral emphasizes the centre and hence the uterus, which is a synonym frequently employed for the alchemical vessel, just as it is one of the basic meanings of the Eastern mandala.

The serpentine line leading to the vessel is analogous to the healing serpent of Aesculapius (fins. 203, 204) and also to the Tantric symbol of Shiva Hindu the creative, latent god without extension in space who, in the form of a point or lingam, is encircled three and a half times by the Kundalini serpent.

With the primeval forest we meet the animal or ape motif again, which appeared before in vision of the first series (par. 117) and in dreams if) and 18 of this.

In vision it led to the announcement that “everything must be ruled by the light” and, in dream 18, to the “transfigured” head.

Similarly the present dream ends with a panorama of white “glaciers,” reminding the dreamer of an earlier dream (not included here) in which he beheld the Milky Way and was having a conversation about immortality.

Thus the glacier symbol is a bridge leading back again to the cosmic aspect that caused the regression.

Rut, as is nearly always the case, the earlier content does not return in its first simple guise—it brings a new complication with it, which, though it might have been expected logically, is no less repugnant to the intellectual consciousness than the cosmic aspect was.

The complication is the memory of the conversation about immortality.

This theme was already hinted at in dream 9 (par. 134), with its pendulum clock, a perpetiium mobile. Immortality is a (lock that never runs down, a mandala that revolves eternally like the heavens.

Thus the cosmic aspect returns with interest and compound interest.

This might easily prove too much for the dreamer, for the “scientific” stomach has very limited powers of digestion. ~Carl Jung, CW 12, Para 246


462 The oldest source to treat specifically of the stone’s connection with Christ would appear to be a text, Preliosa margarita novella, written by Petrus Bonus ol Ferrara between 1330 and l339 from which I give the following extract:

This art is partly natural and partly divine or supernatural.

At the end of the sublimation [fig. 200] there germinates, through the mediation of the spirit, a shining white soul [anirna Candida] which

flies up to heaven with the spirit [cf. fig. 134].

This is clearly and manifestly the stone.

So far the procedure is indeed somewhat marvellous, yet still within the framework of nature.

But as regards the fixation and permanence of the soul and spirit at the end of the sublimation, this takes place when the secret stone is added, which

cannot be grasped by the senses, but only by the intellect, through inspiration or divine revelation, or through the teaching of an initiate.

Alexander says that there are two categories: seeing through the eye and understanding through the heart.

This secret stone is a gift of God. There could be no alchemy without this stone.

It is the heart and tincture of the gold, regarding which Hermes says:

“It is needful that at the end of the world heaven and earth be united: which is the philosophic Word.”

Pythagoras also said in the Titrba:

“God concealed this from Apollo, so that the world should not be destroyed.”

Thus alchemy stands above nature and is divine. The whole difficulty of the art lies in this stone.

The intellect cannot comprehend it, so must believe it, like the divine miracles and the foundation of the Christian creed.

Therefore God alone is the operator, while nature remains passive.

It was through their knowledge of the art that the old philosophers knew of the coming of the end of the world and the resurrection of the dead.

Then the soul will be united with its original body for ever and ever.

The body will become wholly transfigured [glorificatmn], incorruptible, and almost unbelievably subtilized, and it will penetrate all solids.

Its nature will be as much spiritual as corporeal.

When the stone decomposes to a powder like a man in his grave, God restores to it soul and spirit, and takes away all imperfection: then is that substance [ilia res] strengthened and improved, as after the resurrection a man becomes stronger and younger than he was before.

The old philosophers discerned the Last Judgment in this art, namely in the germination and birth of this stone, for in it the soul to be beatified [beatificandae] unites with its original body, to eternal glory.

So also the ancients knew that a virgin must conceive and bring forth, for in their art the stone begets, conceives, and brings itself forth.

Such a thing can happen only by the grace of God.

Therefore Alphidius!,a says of the stone that its mother was a virgin and that its father had never known woman.

They knewbesides that God would become man on the Last Day of this art [in novissima die huius artis], when the work is perfected; and that begetter and begotten, old man and boy, lather and son, all become one.

Now, since no creature except man can unite with God, on account of their dissimilarity, God must needs become one with man.

And this came to pass in Christ Jesus and his virgin mother.

Therefore Balgus says in the Turba: “O what miracles of nature, that have changed the soul of the old man into a youthful body, and the father has become the son” [cf. figs. 166, 167].

In  like manner Plato, writing of alchemical matters, wrote a gospel which was completed long after by John the Evangelist.

Plato wrote the opening verses from “In the beginning was the Word” to “There was a man sent from God.”

God has shown the philosopher this wonderful example that he might perform supernatural works.

Morienus says that God has entrusted this magisterium to his philosophers or prophets, for whose souls he has prepared a dwelling in his paradise. ~Carl Jung, CW 12, Para 462


So far the “Cantilena.” Elsewhere Ripley writes:

Christ said: “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.”

From that time forward, when both parts, having been crucified and exanimated, are betrothed to one another, man and wife shall be buried together [fig. 223] and afterward quickened again by the spirit of life.

Then must they be raised to heaven, so that body and soul may be there transfigured and enthroned on the clouds; then they will draw all bodies to their own high estate [fig. 224]. ~Carl Jung, CW 12, Para 492


The “Cantilena” ends with the apotheosis of the virgin mother.

This the above-mentioned Pandora depicts as a glorification of Mary, the assumptio Beatae Marine Virginis (fig. 232).

After her death, by a divine miracle her body was again united with her soul and both together were taken up to heaven.

This has long been the view of the Church, although it has only recently been promulgated as a dogma.

In fig. 232 she is marked with the words “terra” and “corpus Lyb” (body) and “die won der jung-frowenn wardt” (who became the joy of virgins); the

dove descends upon her, and God the Father touches her with his right hand in benison.

She is crowned.

The figure of God holding the orb is inscribed “Anima Seel” and “Jesse pater, filius et mater.”

“Mater” refers to the Queen of Heaven enthroned beside him, the King; for in her the earth substance, becoming transfigured in her resurrected body, is absorbed into the Godhead.

On the left is a bearded figure equal in rank to God the Father, inscribed “Sapientia Wyssheit.”

In the shield below there is a picture of the rebis being freed from the prima materia.

The whole has the form of a mandala, framed by the emblems of the evangelists.

The inscription at the bottom of the picture reads: “Figura speculi Sanctae Trinitatis. Gstalt des Spiegels der Heiligen Dryheit” (Figure of the Mirror of the

Holy Trinity). ~Carl Jung, CW 12, Para 500


The lapis-Christ parallel plays an important role in Jakob Bohme (1575-1624), but I do not want to go into this here.

A characteristic passage is to be found in De signal ura rerum.

It is clear enough from this material what the ultimate aim of alchemy really was: it was trying to produce a corpus subtile, a transfigured and resurrected body, i.e., a body that was at the same time spirit.-”

In this it finds common ground with Chinese alchemy, as we have learned from The Secret of the Golden Flower.

There the main concern is the “diamond body,” in other words, the attainment of immortality through the transformation of the body.

The diamond is an excellent symbol because it is hard, fiery, and translucent. Orthelius-” tells us that the philosophers have never found a better medicament than that which they called the noble and blessed stone of the philosophers, on account of its hardness, transparency, and rubeous hue. ~Carl Jung, CW 12, Para 510-511