Carl Jung on the “Allegoriae Sapientum” and “Shri Ramana Maharshi.”

Lecture XII 7th February, 1941

We stopped last time in the middle of a sequence of quotations from the “Allegoriae Sapientum”.

We come now to the third of these four sentences:

“Item. The mountain with the sanctuary exclaims:

‘I am the black of the white and the white of the black’.”

You will remember that we have often spoken of the symbol of the mountain.

We met the world mountain, Mount Meru, in the Tibetan text, “Shri Chakra Sambhara Tantra”, and understood it as a symbol for the Self of the Yogin, who is transformed into Buddha in the course of
the meditation, and who then sits as Buddha in the sanctuary on the summit of Mount Meru.

The idea here is very similar, this mountain also has a sanctuary on it: but in this text the mountain is personified: “it exclaims” (in Latin “clamat”), it is so to speak an animated being.

We also met the mountain as a symbol of the Self in Richard of St. Victor.

You remember he says: “The complete knowledge of the reasonable mind is a great and high mountain”, and: “Dost thou desire to see Christ in transfiguration?

Ascend the mountain, learn to know thyself. “HONORIUS OF AUTUN, a celebrated savant of about the same date (he died in 1152) , says: “The mountains are patriarchs and prophets, who tower
above human merits, through the sacred transformation of their life, as mountains tower above the plain.”

He adds that the mountains are also angels.

We find a kind of personification of mountains in this passage also.

SHRI RAMANA MAHARSHI makes use of the same symbol in a hymn.

He is still living and is one of the greatest and wisest of the Indian Yogins.

He lives in the south of India at a place called Tiruvannamalai.

There is an old temple there, with a mountain in the immediate neighbourhood called Arunachala.

Chala means mountain and aruna red (red of the morning.) – the mountain of the dawn.

He lives, as is the custom in India, in a sort of hermitage with his pupils and wrote a hymn to this mountain, which is intimately connected with his religious experience.

There is an excellent German translation by Prof. H. Zimmer, from which I will read you some passages.

Prof Zimmer intends publishing a book on this Shri Ramana Maharshi.

The “eight verses” on the Mountain of the Dawn (Arunachala), God and the Self:

“Hearken ! It stands there motionless as a mountain. Its effect is mysterious , beyond human understanding.

I have realised since I was a child that the mountain of the Dawn was incomparable in majesty, but when someone told me that it was the same as Tiruvannamalai, I did not understand what that meant.”

(He refers here to the temple.)

“As it drew me to it and filled my soul with peace, I came close to it and saw: it stands unmoved.

‘Who is the one that sees’? – it was thus that I enquired within myself, and I observed that the one who saw vanished and what then remained. No impulse rose in me that said: ‘I saw’, – how could the thought arise: ‘I have not seen’? Who has the power to express in words, what thou in the olden days couldst express silently with thy gracious form? Thou standest there as a mountain, radiating from heaven to earth, only that thou mayest silently reveal thy supernatural being. When I come near to thee, and contemplate thee as a created being, thou standest as a mountain on the earth. But when someone searches with his mind for thy true form, which is without form, he is like one who wanders over the earth and looks towards the omnipresent sky. To remain motionless in thy boundless being, means to lose oneself, as a sugar doll loses itself when it falls into the sea of sweetness: it dissolves in it. When I experience what I really am – how is my being different from Thee, in that thou restest as the soaring Mountain of the Dawn? He who goeth out to search for God, and does not know of thee as existence and pure intensity, resembles one who goes out with a lamp in order to search for the darkness. Only that thou mightest give thyself to be recognised as existence and pure intensity, dost thou dwell under many names and forms in many faiths. And if men still do not attain knowing thee, they are as the blind who do not see the sun. 0 great Mountain of the Dawn, jewel without equal, dwell in me and shine as myself; thou one, beside whom no second is real. Thou permeatest all beings and revelations, thou art like the cord on which the jewels are strung. As a jewel is cut and polished, so the impure mind longs to be refined on the polishing wheel of the pure mind, in order to lose its spots; then it receives the light of thy grace and gleams like a ruby, whose fire no outer thing can harm. 0 gracious and blinding Mountain of the Dawn – is there anything besides thee? Thou art Thyself: the One Being, always aware as the heart, shining in its own light. There is a mysterious force in thee, outside thee it is nonexistent. It is from it that the ghostly apparitions of the mind steal out, like a mysterious, subtle, dark fog; and it is the light of thy perceptive being which shines on them and illuminates them, catching their mirroring surfaces and reflecting them. It is thus that they appear inwardly as images, whirling round each other in the swirling hurrying Karma, it is thus that they develop into psychical realities, and are carried outward into the external world as outer reality: then are they enlarged by the outward going senses, and move like the pictures of a passing film. Visible or invisible, 0 mountain of grace, they are nothing without thee. Is no ego impulse present, then no other impulse is present. If other impulses arise, then ask: To whom do they come? – and the answer is ‘To me’ – But when a man ceases not to ask: ‘where does the ego come from’? and, diving inwards, attains the dwellings of the mind, the heart, that man will become the highest ruler sitting in the shade of the only parasol of royal size. 0 shoreless sea of grace and light, called ‘Mountain of the Dawn’, thou dancest motionless in the court of my heart! In that place there is no more dream and no more waking, nor is there any other twofold thing, no inner and outer, no right and wrong, no birth and death, no joy and sorrow, nor is there any light and darkness.”

There is the same union of the opposites in this last sentence that we found in the passage from the Allegoriae: “I am the black of the white and the white of the black.”

We shall not be mistaken if we assume that this sentence refers to the thing which these old writers called the “lapis philosophorum” (the philosophers’ stone) , which was far more meaningful to them than
anything we can possibly understand by stone; it was in fact the mountain which symbolises the Self.

We come now to the last “Item” sentence in our sequence:

“Item. Take up the wisdom in thee, with all thy strength, and thou wilt draw eternal life from it, till thy mind is established and thy sloth has left thee ; then at last life arises. He who drinks of this thing publicly,
dies, but he who drinks the earth, lives.”

Drinking this thing is drinking this mystery.

This passage is very central in several respects.

Life first arises when the spirit is established, when it has become firm.

The verb “congelare” is used, congeals, becomes firm, freezes.

This is a “terminus technicus” in alchemy, the alchemist endeavours to establish, make firm or congeal, the volatile, that is, the spiritual, and, on the other hand, to make solid substances volatile or fluid.

This establishing or making the spirit firm is a sort of process of crystallisation.

The lapis is really a volatile or spiritual substance, a “spiritus” which has become firm, which has taken on an eternal, unchangeable form.

What this means practically is a question which we will not go into at present.

“He who drinks of this thing publicly dies.”

You will remember I read you a similar passage from the same treatise in the last lecture: “He who drinks the remedy outwardly dies.”

“Publicly” apparently means outwardly.

To drink it outwardly, before the public, is harmful, but “he who drinks the earth lives.”

The earth, in the alchemistic sense, means the body and in a double sense: chemical bodies (substances), minerals etc., and the human body.

There are many passages where it is impossible to make out which of the two is meant; this is intentionalin some cases, one is not meant to understand.

At any rate we shall not be mistaken in this passage if we take “terra” (earth) as “corpus” (body) , and then the English language is rather at a disadvantage in this respect.

The German word “Korper” is more widely used for substances than the English word “body”.

It would mean: He who drinks the body, takes over the life or essence of the body.

You have heard on several occasions that the alchemists laid great stress on the material substances and on animated bodies.

If my interpretation is correct, we have here a reason why the alchemists were right to veil their secrets.

This idea stands opposed to the attitude of Christianity in those days, which held that the body only existed in order to be mortified.

So we could assume, that this was at any rate one of the reasons why the alchemists used such mysterious language.

Our next passage comes from the sixteenth century.

A Dutch alchemist, THEOBALDUS DE HOGHELANDE, wrote a very interesting treatise in which he says of alchemistic philosophy:

“Nothing more marvellous and sublime has been given to man, except the divine word.”

And in other passage:

“Who bends his back over books in order to study them, and begs God, like Solomon, for wisdom and not for riches, that man will unceasingly rule in his (or the) kingdom till his death.”

Here again study is emphasised, investigation through books.

One should ask God for enlightenment, for wisdom, and one should not ask for riches, not for ordinary gold.

It is said of the man, who acts in this way, that he “inregno regnabit”, which can be he reigns in his or in the kingdom.

In other words, presumably the man who follows these observances faithfully is initiated, and thus, through the meditation, is raised to the rank of a king.

This is the mystic elevation in rank which we find in the old mystery cults, in the Isis mysteries, for instance, as they are described by Apuleius.

We come now to some quotations from a German doctor, GERARDUS DORNEUS, who practised in Frankfurt, also in the sixteenth century.

He says of alchemy:

“It is truly a Herculean labour, transcending man’s mind, body and age, and it is only to one in millions that the victory is given.”

Dorneus says in another place:

“Reason and mind can be brought to the fullest perfection of the world through this art. It is a metaphysical work.”

The Latin is “ad extremam huius mundi perfectionem.”

The surprising word is “mundi” (of the world) .

One would expect the purpose of this art to be leading the people who practice it to their own highest perfection.

But that is not mentioned, it is the perfecting of the world.

This gives us an important hint about the mysterious nature of the alchemistic opus.

In spite of the fact that it is performed by man and in man, yet it is not for man, in the sense that it does not perfect or complete the alchemist himself.

The goal is perfecting the world.

This means: they endeavoured to produce a substance which would give the world the possibility of reaching an optimum of existence.

They tried, so to speak, to crown the whole of creation.

The panacea, the medicina catholica, is not only intended to heal plants, animals and men, but also to ennoble all bad and base substances; everything which nature has left incomplete should be transformed into the most perfect state imaginable.

This is undoubtedly a highly ambitious claim, it is difficult to imagine such a possibility at all.

But it is a metaphysical opus, which is not really performed on the level of this world, but mysteriously in the Beyond.

It is this metaphysical work which the passage refers to, but we will not go any further into it at present, you will hear more about it later.

Dorneus says further:

“That with which we are concerned is not God, the creature is the image of the human mind, neither alive nor dead.”

He speaks as if someone had said it was God that he was trying to produce; but he denies this.

The alchemistic art is divine but it is not God, it is “creatura est animi hominis imago nee viva nee mortua”.

And it is through this, that the miraculous effect happens.

It is evidently this “creatura ” which is created by the alchemists, let us say the “lapis philosophorum”.

Dorneus uses the word “imago”, an image of the human mind or spirit, and says further that it is “neither living nor dead”.

This is a thoroughly supernatural image of man; for an image is dead, or else alive, but it cannot be both at once, unless it is supernatural.

So here again we have a union of the opposites, like the mountain in the “Allegoriae Sapien tum”, there black and white, here living and dead; a union of life and death, a “nonexisting existence” as the Indians would call it.

This is a passage, where you can see for yourselves, that ideas, which are in full bloom in the East, are also to be found in medieval meditations, ideas which touch the foundation and origin of our existence.

Here they are applied to the “creatura” which the alchemist produces in his retort.

So apparently he is trying to catch an image of the human mind in the retort.

He must surely have a suspicion somewhere that it is a matter of his own- mind, that what he sees happening in the retort is also happening in him, he must intuit that the process is a projection?

But even if the alchemist suspects a projection – and the term has even been used – the projection is still an absolutely concrete and real thing in itself, according to the idea that if we assume something it will really happen.

These are magic notions, which are based on the belief in the almighty power of thought.

In Tibet this art is actually practised through such meditation, as I have told you before.

There is a training in managing these psychical elements as projectiles, the Yogin or magician can learn how to produce magic effects in the outer world, and how to draw back the projectiles afterwards.

It is even assumed that people can be killed in this way.

We find the same idea with the primitives.

The North Californian Indians, for instance, believe that medicine men can send out icicles, which can kill their enemies.

But the medicine man runs a great risk, because when the enemy is dead the icicle, angry and full of the lust of killing, will return to him.

So he must keep himself informed (through the ghosts in the bush) about the state of the dying man; and when death is near he must make a sort of scarecrow of his clothes and to hide near it in the bush.

Then when the man dies and the icicle returns to find the medicine man, it will spend its deadly force on his clothes; and when it is tiring he can catch it in the clothes and tame it further by rubbing it, till it is so tired, that it will lie quietly in his pocket.

These are primitive ideas, which are still alive in alchemy; and a projected idea does really correspond to a psychical reality.

I do not pledge myself to prove the damage which such projections can still bring about, but it is a field which is open to future psychologists.

Dorneus continues:

. . . . “Whoever is constantly exalted by the simple knowledge of this pure simplicity, that man will perform wonders.”

This simplicity or simple knowledge plays a certain role in alchemy, even in the very ancient texts.

The thing which the alchemists were searching for is quite simple and uncomplicated.

Therefore it is eternal, and beyond change.

It is necessary to be very simple in order to recognise it, for it is simple and direct beyond words.

Dorneus says in another place:

” This, our philosophy, is heavenly not earthly, like that highest principle, which we call God.”

Here he is saying the same thing again; alchemistic philosophy is as divine as the thing we call God, but it is not God.

It is evidently concerned with the highest knowledge, but in its own most peculiar way.

We come now to some passages from another very famous alchemist, HENRICH KHUNRATH, who, like Dorneus, was both a doctor and philosopher.

wrote the famous “Amphitheatrum Sapientiae”, of which many copies still exist.

In another book (Von Hylealischen Chaos 1597) he tells us that the art of alchemy has a moral effect:

“This art either finds or makes a God-fearing, devout man. In this art, one learns to know God, nature, the creature and also oneself. Alchemy is the gift and arcanum (secret) of God, it is the sister of philosophy, it has its being in God, by inspiration “

He formulates it somewhat differently in the “Amphitheatrum”, he does not say so directly that one learns to know God through the art, but rather through the result of the art.

This result is usually called the “lapis philosophorum”, but Khunrath calls it “filius naturae” (the son of nature) in the following passage: “God himself is to be known through the son of nature.”

In another passage of the “Amphitheatrum” he calls it the “filius macrocosmi” (son of the great world) and draws a parallel between it and Christ who is the Son of Man and therefore the ” filius microcosmi” (son of the small world).

The “filius” produced by alchemy is intended for the whole of the physical world and the universe, whereas Christ himself was incarnated by God for man.

On the other hand, the salvation of man, according to the alchemists, is not necessarily included in the “filius macrocosmi”.

You can see from this what a grandiose idea it was, which inspired the old alchemists. Khunrath says further: “Harmony of re-birth, both of men and of our stone.”

This re-birth is a renewal of something in nature, a mystery of nature, which appears as the “filius macrocosmi ” and a renewal also of man.

If an artist gives birth to a masterpiece, he gains a sort of re-birth himself; it is something of that kind which is meant here.

He continues:

“Paulus Tarsenis (Paul of Tarsus) says: ‘Cupio dissolvi et esse cum Christo.

Therefore, my dear philosopher, thou must catch the spirit and soul of the magnesia, and purify these as well as the body, and lead back the pure soul to the body . . . . then it will receive life again and thereafter it will never die.”

Here again our expectation is disappointed, it is not “dear philosopher, fish up thy spirit and transform it”, but that ” of the magnesia “.

What is this magnesia?

It is the white sub stance, the secret, the mysterious substance from which the soul must be extracted.

This soul is the filius naturae, a soul which lives in the materia, the anima mundi; and this must be extracted, and must then be purified as well as the body.

You see the confusion here, how the body could be taken to refer to the chemical substance itself, that is to the mystical magnesia, by which the alchemists undoubtedly understood a mineral substance; or it might refer to the alchemist’s own body.

In this case one is inclined to think that it is the alchemist’s body which must be purified.

One must catch and extract the soul of the magnesia; and the body of the magnesia, or perhaps that of the alchemist, must be purified.

The soul must then be led back to the body and re-united with it.

So that nothing short of a separation and re-uniting of soul and body is undertaken, not in the body itself, but projected into the materia.

The body receives life again through this, and in a more perfect, incorruptible form: “thereafter it will never die.”

We find one of the simplest and most beautiful insights into the inner being of alchemy in a verse by SALOMON TRISSMOSIN.

He is of local interest to us here as his book, “AUREUM VELLUS”, was printed in Rorschach in 1598, but we know very little about him, except for a few biographical details which were published in his book.

His SPLENDOR S OLIS is a famous manuscript with very interesting pictures, three copies of it exist: one in London, one in Berlin and one in the possession of the King of Egypt.

The verse is:

(Study and search of what thou art,
And what is in thee, thou wilt see,
Thy study, learning, whole and p art,
It all doth come from inside thee,
For what outside us we do ken
Is also in us, so Amen.)
Here he has let an alchemical secret ” out of the bag’. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lectures, Pages 99-106

Carl Jung on Alchemical Literature.

Lecture XI 31st January, 1941

At the end of the last lecture we were speaking of the history of alchemical literature and we will continue this subject today.

I will not mention very many of the treatises by name, as they are probably mainly unknown to you.

There is considerable uncertainty about some of the Greek texts, which have come to us through the Arabs; in some cases the Arabic texts no longer exist, and in many cases it is difficult to be sure whether they were translated from Greek into Arabic, if they are of Byzantine origin, or if they were written by the Arabs themselves.

The Greek names have been badly mutilated by the Arabs (partly on account of the differences in the letters of the two languages), they speak of Rosinus, for instance, and mean Zosimo’s; and there is a treatise attributed to Micreris, which is simply a corruption of Mercury.

And furthermore the Latin translators encountered similar difficulties with the Arabic language; so that the whole of this literature swarms with corrupted Greek names and is altogether very confusing.

There is also a series of medieval texts which are all in Latin, but are very Arabic in style.

These are the so-called “arabizantes” and it is uncertain whether these texts were originally Arabic, or whether the authors only imitated the Arabic style of writing.

I will only mention one book among these, attributed to CALID.

It is the story of a Christian hermit, called Morienus, Morienes, or Marianus, who was said to understand the art of alchemy.

As I have already told you, certain Arabic texts were translated into Latin as early as about the tenth century.

An independent Latin alchemistic literature developed soon afterwards (circa twelfth and thirteenth centuries) and several works were written in this period which remained in use for many centuries and had a considerable influence on later alchemy.

Among these, there is a treatise which is attributed (probably correctly) to ROGER BACON (circa 1214-1294), the famous scholastic who was called “doctor mirabilis”.

Some other treatises are ascribed to ALBERTUS MAGNUS (1193-1 280) , the famous philosopher and Bishop of Regensburg.

It is interesting that the author speaks in his philosophy of the principium individuationis” as a quality of the materia.

He assumes that life in the “materia” is the substratum for form, which is a thoroughly psychological definition.

There is also a treatise by ALAIN DE !’ISLE or ALANUS in Latin (1114-1 202) , and a certain HORTULANUS commented on the “Tabula Smaragdina.”

All these authors wrote in Latin and were more or less contemporary.

There were also many anonymous writers in those days, one of the best of these was the author of the “ROSARIUM PHILOSOPHORUM “.

It is sometimes difficult to understand why there is so much secretiveness in alchemy, such as anonymous authors.

There is also an earlier Latin treatise (which belongs perhaps to the thirteenth century) the AURORA CONSURGENS (the rising dawn) or the Aurea Hora, (the golden hour).

This is a long and interesting volume and it is of local interest to us here in Zurich, in that the Central Library has a codex of it, the “Codex Rhenoviensis”, with very important pictures.

Unfortunately it is incomplete, the first four chapters are missing.

There is a complete copy of the Aurora Consurgens (Aurea Hora) at the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

In a printed edition, the first part was omitted, on account of its blasphemous content.

This naturally incited me to look for the first part, and I found it in Paris.

It is not blasphemous in the usual sense of the word, but is interesting in that the Christian doctrine of salvation is described in terms of the alchemistic doctrine of salvation.

With the sixteenth century we come to the time of collections of the alchemical writings.

We do not know if the manuscripts were assembled into volumes,

I have never seen such a volume, but a good many such collections appeared with the age of printing.

Three of the oldest are: “De Alchemia” printed in Nurnberg in 1541; it contains the first printed edition of the “Tabula Smaragdina “.

Another collection was printed in Basel in 1561: “Verae Alchemiae”. Tract. Coll. and the “ARTIS AURIFERAE ” (two volumes) which was printed for the first time in 1572.

It contains the “Rosarium Philosophorum”, the ” Turba Philosophorum ” and many other of the texts which we shall meet later.

The first really big collection is the “THEATRUM CHEMICUM “, there is a copy in the Central Library in Zurich.

It consists of six volumes which extend into the second half of the seventeenth century.

A good many collections appeared at that time, but most of them are included in the “Theatrum Chemicum”.

The so-called “Musaeum Hermeticum” (1678) is especially interesting for the philosophic aspect of alchemy.

DR. MAN GET’S “Bibliotheca chemica”, two volumes in folio, is the culmination of all these collections and the concluding apotheosis.

In England, Elias Ashmole (1617-92), founder of the Ashmolean Library in Oxford, made a collection of the writings of the British alchemists in the “THEATRUM CHEMICUM BRIT ANNICUM”; and German treatises were collected in the same way, by Scholz in the middle of the eighteenth century.

One of the earliest of these collections, the “Aureaum vellus” (the golden fleece) , by SALOMON TRISSMOSIN, was printed in Rorschach (Switzerland) in 1598.

This edition also contains a history of the life of the author.

Alchemistic literature began to degenerate in the seventeenth century and it practically came to an end in the eighteenth century.

With a few exceptions, the treatises became more and more worthless in the age of enlightenment.

One of these exceptions is a treatise by a Benedictine Father A. J. PERNETY, who sums up the whole of ancient mythology from the alchemistic point of view.

He was very pleased with the way in which mythology lent itself to alchemistic interpretation.

But he did not realise that alchemy had largely originated in mythology, so that it was naturally easy enough to bring it back into its original form.

The book is interesting in this respect.

Though the literature of alchemy ceased in a direct form, alchemistic ideas continued to produce after effects.

The greatest alchemistic opus of this kind is the second part of GOETHE’s “Faust “, which rises from the very spirit of alchemy.

We find a more recent echo in “Prometheus & Epimetheus”, by our Swiss poet, CARL SPITTELER.

You will remember the story of the treasure brought down to earth by Pandora, that treasure plays the role of the “lapis philosophorum “.

One could also mention GUSTAV MEYRINCK in this connection, the author of “The Golem” and “The Green Face”.

He translated a treatise which was erroneously attributed to Thomas Aquinas.

In his introduction to this translation, Meyrinck describes his own alchemistic experiences with a great deal of involuntary humour.

It is not a very savory story, but he was really convinced that he was on the way to making gold.

He bought an old privy and extracted the lowest layer of its contents and put it into a retort.

He then sealed the unappetizing mixture hermetically, according to the prescriptions of the alchemists.

Eventually the cover flew off in his face, but there was a yellow substance in the retort and he was convinced that this was a pre-stage of gold.

This is quite in the medieval style.

There is a still more medieval story which took place quite recently in England.

This is the touching story of Mrs. Atwood, whose maiden name was Mary Ann South.

She was the daughter of an English country gentleman, and lived with her father for many years at his country seat.

He had a wonderful library, which contained many of the old alchemistic treatises.

She was evidently extremely intelligent and very well read.

I do not know what experiments they undertook together, but anyway they both read a great many of the old Latin texts.

This is absolutely in the style of the old philosophers, in antiquity and the Middle Ages; this father and daughter were a pair, such as Zosimos and Theosebeia, or Nicholas Flamel and his lady Peronelle, and many others.

The father played the role of the old wise man and Miss South was the daughter-pupil acquiring wisdom.

After twelve years’ study she had gained a deeper insight, and her father proposed that they should each write a book and publish the secrets which they had discovered.

As they did not want to influence each other, they retired into separate wings of the great house and wrote separately.

She produced an intellectual and learned work, whereas he wrote in verse.

Her volume was finished first, and she handed a thick manuscript to her father.

As he had not yet finished, they decided to publish her book first.

This was done in 1850 but when nearly 100 volumes were already in the hands of the booksellers, the old man suddenly became afraid that they had betrayed the mysteries.

This is the old fear of the alchemists, they may say a little, let fall a few hints, but on no account may they say too much, or they will be cursed by God and cast into hell.

Old South was caught by this fear in a completely medieval way, so he persuaded his daughter to withdraw the edition and, as far as possible, they bought back the volumes already distributed.

They then arranged an auto-da-fe, and burnt all the books; the old man topping the pile with his manuscript.

Only about a dozen of his verses have been preserved, which were quoted by his daughter, but judging by these, the manuscript was no great loss.

She did not go on writing after this; and, after the death of her father, her inspiration failed completely.

In her despair she married a parson, Mr. Atwood, but neglected his parish and went on reading.

She did not succeed, however, in becoming an Annie Besant or a Madame Blavatsky, though she lived to the age of 93 and died in 1910.

A few copies of her book had escaped the fire, and in 1918 a friend of alchemy had it printed again, and it was re-printed in 1922.

I have read the book, which is called “A suggestive Enquiry into the Hermetic Mysteries”, and I saw no particular reason why it should have been either burnt or preserved from oblivion!

It is by no means unintelligent but she certainly does not betray any mysteries.

It is really, in common with most alchemistic treatises, an attempt to say what the author does not know; and that is always interesting, because things come out which are unknown to the writer.

It is extremely intuitive and emotional, we should say in psychological language, that it was written by an over-flowing animus.

We could say that the Souths were the two last alchemists, yet such people still exist.

When I published a paper on alchemy a few years ago, I received a letter from a man in Germany, whom I did not know, telling me that what I wrote was all very well, but that it missed the point,
the real secret.

The man turned out to be a believer in alchemy.

It is a peculiar fact that, whenever an alchemistic book comes on the market, it is at once sold.

There are still secret libraries even today, I know that as a fact; there is one in London, where many rare alchemistic books are kept behind locked doors; and such a private library in Germany recently found its way into a public library.

We may conclude, therefore, that there is still a secret, underground, alchemistic, movement, and there is certainly something about alchemy which is eternally fascinating to human phantasy.

We will now turn to the consideration of the content of the alchemists’ ideas.

For this purpose I have decided to take the leading themes, and to read you passages from the authors themselves, so that you may see what they say about alchemy, and how it appeared to them.

It will be necessary to consider a great many authors in order to achieve this.

We will begin with:

I. The Meaning of Alchemy

I have collected a considerable numb er of passages in which the alchemists speak of the meaning of their art, and we shall see from these how they understood it.

We will begin with MORIENUS, who lived in the eighth or ninth century.

He says:

“The art is the secret of the glorious God.”

He means that alchemy is not just a human science, but that it also contains the mysteries of God.

We cannot know what secrets God has, and it would be very presumptuous for us to assert anything about them.

We can only assume that this art, being of a psychical nature, seemed to the alchemists to transcend their consciousness, they felt that it lay beyond their grasp, and therefore Morienus says it is God’s secret.

We should say more modestly, that part of it lay somewhere in the unconscious.

An Arabic author of the eight century, DJA.BIR IBN HAYYAN, said that alchemy was:

“Superior to the other sciences.”

He adds that the other sciences specialize, whereas alchemy is really the mother of them all, so you see that he had a very high opinion of his art.

The “CONSILIUM CONJUGII”, a treatise of the fourteenth, or possibly thirteenth, century says:

“One should possess a mind purified by God, because it (alchemy) is the gift and mystery of mysteries of God, and it is a sister of philosophy and the philosophers, as it derives its existence from God, through inspiration.”

This tells us that the arcanum, the real secret of alchemy, is inspiration.

A knowledge of the ultimate things in alchemy can only be attained through divine inspiration, that is, it comes from the unconscious, from the unknown.

It is those essential contents in the art of the alchemists which transcend human consciousness.

The “ROSARIUM PHILOSOPHORUM” says that the purpose of alchemy is:

“raecipuum humanarum rerum statum aperire.” (to reveal the most important foundation of human things.)

“Est donum Spiritus Sancti” (is the gift of the Holy Ghost.)

“Et scias, quod haec est longissima via.” (Thou shouldst know that this is a very long path.)

The way which leads to the goal is very long and troublesome.

“Aurum nostrum nonestt aurum vulgi.” (Our gold is not ordinary gold.]

The Rosarium contains quotations from treatises, which are no longer available.

One of these, which comes via the Arabs, says:

“The food of him, who finds this knowledge, will be legitimate and eternal.”

This language refers to the fruits of the philosophical tree, a kind of apple of the Hesperides.

Curiously enough Spitteler used this same simile in the second version of his “Prometheus and Epimetheus” (the poem: “Prometheus der Dulder” ).

Pandora gives an apple to the sick and reclining god for his refreshment.

In 5 the first version this daughter of the god takes the treasure down to earth to alleviate the suffering of mankind.

This treasure is a real panacea in the alchemistic sense.

Another quotation in the Rosarium is from the so-called letter of Aristotle to Alexander, an attribution which is certainly an inventio!It says:

“0 how wonderful is this thing, it contains everything which we are searching for. ”

“This thing “, then, is the answer to the highest endeavours of man. And further:

“It is a divine mystery, the gift of God, and there is nothing in the world more sublime, with the exception of the ‘anima rationalis’.”

The “anima rationalis” is the reasonable mind of man, which is really the highest form of the human psyche, worthy of immortality.

But with this one exception there is nothing higher than the secret of alchemy.

Another author of the “arabizantes” treatises is GEBER.

He must not be confused with the Arab Dj abir, whose name is often spelt Gahir.

Geber was a Latin writer and in his “Summa perfectionis” (sum of perfection) he says:

“This excellent gift of God is kept for you alone.”

But turning to the others he adds:

“But ye, ye ignorant sons of injustice, ye evil wishers of infinite depravity, flee ye from this science. “

This i s a moral restriction. Evil-doers are excluded from this science, and they should shun it.

The “LIBER QUARTORUM ” is a text which comes to us through the Arabs and which was translated later into Latin, it probably belongs to about the ninth century.

It says:

“And he, who has recognised our purpose and the efforts of its religious contemplation, has already become rich. And, like old Plato, he will seek his salvation all his life in this thing.”

The writer means, that as Plato found his consolation in philosophy when he was growing old, so the alchemist must search for his salvation or consolation in the arcanum of Hermes.

Pseudo-Aristotle says in the “TRACT ATUS ARISTOTELIS”:

“And this is the greatest secret, reserved to the counsel of God: in this purified and nourished serpent, as also in man who is created in the image of God, the cause (essence) and the medicine, which is superior to all other substances, can be found; but it has in itself the most perfect quality, efficacy and grace.”

This is a very interesting passage.

The purified and nourished serpent in al alchemy is the mercurial serpent, the Ouroboros, which is connected with the round thing.

It is one of the basic symbols in alchemy and refers to Mercury, not as ordinary mercury or quicksilver, but to the god or spirit Mercury.

The serpent is a Gnostic symbol for the spinal cord and the basal ganglia, because a snake is mainly backbone.

Snakes are weird and strange, and on account of this they have been used as a symbol for the unconscious since olden times.

If the unconscious can be localized anywhere it is in the basal ganglia, and it has the same uncanny character.

The snake really represents the vegetative psyche, the basis of the instincts, if one may express it in that way.

It is here (and in this place in the human being) that the greatest secret is to be found, the panacea, the universal medicine; and, according to the text, fortunate indeed is the man who finds it.

There is a very interesting text, the “ALLEGORIAE SAPIENTUM”, which may perhaps be attributed to the thirteenth century, and we read there:

“Do ceo igitur te art em a uri, quod est caput mundi ex vilissimis.” (I teach thee the art of gold making, which is the principle and beginning of the world, from the most vile.)

This is somewhat obscurely expressed, and as you see the Latin text itself is very obscure, but if you compare it with other texts you see more or less what it means.

The “art of gold making” is a sort of creating of the world, or it is based on the pattern of the creation of the world, and, as in Genesis, a cosmos is fashioned from the chaos.

This is what alchemy also does in a small way; it fashions a world from the prima materia, the unknown chaos.

We find a quotation from Hermes in the same old treatise, which says:

“He who drinks the remedy outwardly dies, but he who does so inwardly lives and rejoices.”

Outward drinking is ordinary drinking, one can drink the tincture or aurum potabile, but one dies of it.

This means, applied to alchemy, that it is death to take alchemy as an external occupation, but the man who regards it as an inward experience, can live and rejoice.

A further passage in the same treatise is in the form of a sequence of four sentences, which begin “Item” (likewise).

The sequence begins:

“How beautiful is the path of wisdom. Item. Sow then Thy wisdom in our hearts and expel from them apathy, corrupt gall and seething blood; and lead us in the paths of the Blessed, whose spirit has been purified. Thou art almighty and what Thou desirest Thou bringest to pass.

“Item . . . I bear witness, that the stone will remain with you, and will not be separated from you, neither by the earth and sea nor by any other means.”

These passages show us, in a way which cannot be misunderstood, that alchemy is not concerned with making ordinary gold, but that it is a moral and philosophical matter, dealing with the human mind.

The assurance that the stone will remain with us seems to be directly related to Christ’s promise: “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. ” (St. Matt. XXVIII. 20.)

And to the words of St. Paul: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans VIII : 38 & 39.)

The wording of the passage in the “Allegoriae Sapientum” is really very similar, and indeed it is probable that the author was strongly influenced by Christianity. ~Carl Jung, ETH, Lecture XI, Pages 91-98

Carl Jung: " The purified and nourished serpent in alchemy is the mercurial serpent,…"

The purified and nourished serpent in alchemy is the mercurial serpent, the Ouroboros, which is connected with the round thing.

It is one of the basic symbols in alchemy and refers to Mercury, not as ordinary mercury or quicksilver, but to the god or spirit Mercury.

The serpent is a Gnostic symbol for the spinal cord and the basal ganglia, because a snake is mainly backbone.

Snakes are weird and strange, and on account of this they have been used as a symbol for the unconscious since olden times.

If the unconscious can be localized anywhere it is in the basal ganglia, and it has the same uncanny character.

The snake really represents the vegetative psyche, the basis of the instincts, if one may express it in that way.

It is here (and in this place in the human being) that the greatest secret is to be found, the panacea, the universal medicine; and, according to the text, fortunate indeed is the man who finds it. ~Carl Jung, ETH, Lecture XI, Page 97.

Carl Jung: “…it is just like the fight against venereal diseases…"

To Hans Conrad Banziger

Dear Colleague, 26 November 1934

You will have discovered as I have done that the viewpoints of modern psychotherapy go far beyond the boundaries of medicine and have aroused an interest in the general public which is becoming
a menace.

No doubt you are also aware that Freud, despite his intense resistance to “wild” psychoanalysis, could not help trusting the competence of his medically unqualified daughter and even expressed very
heretical views in public about the medical future of psychoanalysis.

I am therefore of the opinion that doctors would do well to keep an eye on this trend.

For this reason I emphasized at the last Psychotherapeutic Congress in Nauheim how important it is that the non-medical movement should remain under the control of the doctor and that a fixed course
of studies and a fixed relation to the doctor should be prescribed for non-medical psychologists.

There are unquestionably a lot of cases who need psychological education although they cannot be assigned to any clinical group of neuroses.

There are also people who for that reason never visit the doctor but, if they belong to the Catholic Church, turn to the father confessor.

Perhaps such people make up the clientele of psychological counsellors.

As you very rightly surmise, among these people there are also definitely neurotic cases who for these and other reasons belong much more to the doctor.

If, then, doctors close their eyes from the start to the large psychological lay movement that already exists, the lay movement will not be suppressed, as experience has amply shown,
but will on the contrary be made independent of them.

In that way the doctor loses all control over the activity of lay therapists.

In my humble opinion a far-sighted policy would strive without reserve to establish a carefully normalized cooperation between lay psychologists and doctors in order to prevent quackery from running riot.

Medical psychology, however, like any other branch of the healing art, needs technical assistants who require a careful training.

Hence there is already a pedagogic therapy which with us, at least, does not lie in the hands of doctors but which they should know something about.

If doctors adopt the position of not wanting to know anything about these developments, they will one day be confronted with the fact that this development has passed over their heads.

On the basis of long experience l have come to the conclusion that one would do better to consolidate these dissident groups and if possible work out a normalization which would clearly delimit the
Various fields of work and facilitate the much needed medical control over the activities of non-medical psychologists.

I must now confess that I do not understand your reasons for holding aloof from these endeavours.

I think that under no circumstances is it appropriate to practise an ostrich policy with developments that are actually going on.

In Germany they are now trying to bring non-medical psychological work into a definite relationship with medicine, and this alone will make proper control possible.

In this respect it is just like the fight against venereal diseases: pushing prostitution out of sight in no wise prevents infection.

I do not find it so bad that mechanistic and hormonistic points of view are repudiated, for in the last resort we treat neuroses neither with mechanisms nor hormones but psychically, and at present the
idea that the psyche is a hormonal system still belongs to the realm of mythology.

Hence I am all for the psychotherapist calmly acknowledging that he treats and cures neither with diet nor pills nor with the surgeon’s knife.

With collegial regards,

Yours sincerely, C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 178-180.

Carl Jung and how he got interested in Alchemy

Lecture X 24th January, 1941

Perhaps you found the last lecture somewhat difficult, but it was necessary to give you a sort of general survey of the alchemists’ ideas as to the meaning and goal of their work, and this structure reaches far
back into history.

As you saw, we had to go back as far as Empedocles, in order to understand where the peculiar symbols originate, which the alchemists use to express their ideas about a complete or perfect being.

This perfect being is a conception of an optimum of life, and it is symbolically represented as the all-round being.

The latter is closely related to the Sphairos of Empedocles, and to Plato’s round primeval man.

This deduction is no arbitrary opinion, for the alchemists themselves often refer to Plato’s “Timaeus” as the source of their ideas.

Today we will turn to another aspect of our subject.

I expect you realise by now how extraordinarily complicated alchemy is, both in the way the alchemists think md in their outlook; and you are probably surprised, that I, as a practical psychologist and psychiatrist, should be concerned with such an extremely peculiar subject.

But as you know, I have been working for many years on the psychology of the unconscious, and it was the enigmatical and puzzling structure of the unconscious which brought me to alchemy, as well as to the study of Yoga and of the Ignatian exercises.

In the case of alchemy, however, this fact needs further explanation.

I did not embark on this complicated and abstruse material from the start, but in the course of increasing experience, about ten or more years ago, I began to investigate it.

The first stimulus was provided by a peculiar case, which I will sketch briefly.

L It was not, of course, the only one, I have seen a great many such cases in my practise, but it was the one which gave me the first and strongest incentive to study alchemy.

It was the case of an American woman, with a good academic education, about 50 years old, who, in the course of years, had gradually come to a sort of deadlock; partly because of her age, and partly because she was a modern human being.

Earlier in life she had had very pronounced views on religion, but they gradually became somewhat ineffective.

So she began to search, and this brought her to psychology.

As often happens at that age, she began to dream of her youth, and at the same time she developed a desire to visit her mother’s native land, where she had never been.

Her mother was born in a northern European country, but had emigrated to America.

On her visit to her mother’s country, my patient was seized with a wish to paint the landscape, which is indeed very paintable, and for the first time in her life she took to painting.

She had no special talent in this direction, but she found great satisfaction in the attempt.

When she left there and came to Zurich, she was still full of her impressions and went on painting, this time necessarily from memory.

She then began producing pictures which had little resemblance to nature, to outer nature anyway.

The first picture which she produced, while working with me, was a view of 9 7 the sea shore. (See sketch 1.)

There are large rocks in the foreground, and she [Sketch I] herself is standing with the lower half of her body caught in the rock.

This rock, and some of the others, have cavities in them, which makes them look like eggs cut in half, with seeds in the centre.

They are also different in colour from the other rocks.

A strong wind is coming from a hole in the sky, and is blowing her hair back.

She was trying at first simply to paint the seashore and the rocks, but, because her visual memory was not strong enough, the picture became symbolic under her hand, and turned into this curious thing.

She then had a phantasy:

I passed by with a magic wand, and rescued her from the rock. This was a sort of vision and does not app ear in the picture. I made it clear to her that psychologically she was really in a very unpleasant position, caught in a rock as in the picture, and that I had no magic wand, so she must face the problem of how she could get herself free.

I advised her to go on with the pictures, which would most likely show her a way out of her predicament.

The next picture again represents a range of rocks and the sea; but now a golden lightning has struck the rocks and has freed a round stone. [See sketch II.)

This is her rescue, she has escaped as a stone.

The following picture was very curious, for the stone had become a sphere, suspended in space, surrounded by a wavy, mercurial ring, resembling Saturn, (See sketch III) with the number 12 on it.

Above there is a golden snake which is approaching the sphere. This is evidently the golden lightning, which liberated her, and which appears again here as a golden snake.

She told me that the image reminded her of a dream, which she had had under ether during an operation some years before.

Such narcosis dreams are usually very important, for naturally people, who undergo an operation, are often occupied with the thought of death, which constellates a correspondingly intense content, that then appears in such a dream.

My patient told me that there had been a round sphere in her ether dream, with a band round its equator.

This band was formed of quicksilver, and rotated in such a way that it had zones where it widened and zones where it narrowed.

There were 12 points of condensation, and each point represented an epoch in history, perhaps several centuries, and was characterised by a great man.

This is somewhat the same idea as we find in Persia, the Zoroastrian idea of the Saoshyant, the saviour of the world who should appear every 1000 years.

Or in Islam as the figure of Chadir, who also appears periodically.

You know the poem of Friedrich Riickert where Chadir says:

“And again when 500 years were past,
I came, travelling the same way at last.”

The patient said she was born at midnight, or at least between 12 and 1, so that 12 was so to speak her number.

Evidently the 12 refers to the moment of her birth.

Astrologically speaking, this is her absolutely individual moment, the essential sign of her personality.

But she could not tell me why the band was quicksilver, we simply had to accept it as a fact.

The golden snake, which was approaching the sphere, was somehow disagreeable to her, for she was afraid it might embrace the sphere, after the manner of the band of quicksilver, and hatch something out of it.

She had a very dim remembrance of the Orphic world egg, which was surrounded by the serpent, but she knew very little mythology.

She was just afraid that the snake might have some evil intention.

The next picture justifies her suspicion (see sketch IV).

The sphere has opened at the top and the snake is entering it, head first.

The snake has become black, which accounts for my patient’s fear: black represents evil.

Everything has changed in a most peculiar way.

The quicksilver is now lining the sphere, and [Sketch IV] forms a threefold image, containing a kind of seed which makes the fourth.

Apparently this represents a process of growth.

Then we come to the last picture of the series (see sketch V), the snake has withdrawn and is now below the picture.

The sphere has closed again, containing the quicksilver, and the threefold image has become a quaternity.

Four whirls surround a sphere in the centre [the quinta essentia).

It was the invasion of the snake which brought about the quaternity. [Sketch V]

If I had known more alchemy in those days, the quicksilver would not have been necessary.

As it was, I felt increasingly convinced that there must b e a reason for its obtrusiveness.

The patient was unable to account for it, and, while I was puzzling over it, I turned to an old book, “Artis Auriferae”, which I had had in my library for some years.

It contained an edition of the “ROSARIUM PHILOSOPHORUM”, [the Rosegarden of the Philosophers).

The latter was first printed in 1550, and, as it happens to be one of the best of the old alchemistic treatises, I can thoroughly recommend it.

Most of the editions are in Latin, there is one old German translation, but it is very difficult to obtain.

It is a typical treatise, but is remarkable as one of the first attempts at a synopsis of alchemy; an anonymous author has tried to produce a summary of the whole of Hermetic philosophy.

He was obviously very widely read, and there are many quotations from the old authors in his book.

The pictures, in this old book, reminded me vaguely of my patient’s.

I then read the treatise, but it left me hopelessly confused.

I could make no sense of the peculiar mixture of chemical prescriptions, symbolism and philosophical ideas.

But every now and then I met with hopeful sentences, apparently intended to keep up the interest or courage of the reader.

For instance, the advice for studying the books of the philosophers: “lege de parte in partem”, showing that one should read very carefully from one passage to the next.

And further: “Magnam habeat librorum copiam philosophus” (the philosopher should have a great number of books) ; and : “Liber labrum aperitif ” (one book opens the understanding of another).

I realised then that it would be necessary to read a great many of the alchemistic books, and I soon came on a treatise by a philosopher of the sixteenth century, BERNHARDUS TREVISANUS: “De secretissimo philosophorum opere Chemica ” . (Concerning the most secret chemical work of the philosophers.)

This treatise is interesting, in that the author tells us how he searched and worked all his life, and yet did not succeed in finding the right tincture, and I found this confession very pleasing.

After all those years he made the discovery (which he should have made at the beginning), that is, he realised he should study the literature.

So he began to read the “Turba Philosophorum ” (the assembly of the philosophers).

This book is written in the form of a meeting of the Greek philosophers, each explains in his own way how he understands the alchemistic work.

There are many famous names among them (naturally pseudo names), but many 102 of them have been distorted by the Arab copyists.

Having read this book, Trevisanus gives his own interpretations of its meaning, and tells us what he thinks should be done.

He says that it was the sayings of PARMENIDES which had enlightened him the most, and it was among these that he had found the thing which led him to his goal.

He never claims to have made gold, or the Philosophers’ Stone, but he says that he reached his goal.

I took this as a hint and read the “sermones” of Parmenides.

I will read you some extracts:

(11) . Parmenides : “. . . Therefore explore the books ever and again, so that y o u may know the natures of the truth . . . . Contemplate therefore the words of the wise, how they completed the whole work with these words, in that they said, that nature rejoices in nature, and that nature holds nature fast.”

He is quoting a version of the sentence of Demokritos here: “Nature delights in nature, nature conquers nature, and nature rules nature.”

“In these words, therefore, do ye complete the whole work . . . . 0 ye divine natures, ye that at the hint of God multiply the ‘natures of the truth’! 0 thou strong nature, thou that conquers the natures and allows
their natures to enjoy themselves and to be joyful! To this in particular God has granted a strength, which the fire does not possess . . . .”

The fire he speaks of is the fire which the alchemists used for their processes; but it is the power of God, and not the fire, which accomplishes the work.

These passages naturally stimulated me considerably, and I read on.

The following passages are under the name “Mundus” which is however merely due to the way the Arab and Latin transmitters mutilated the name “Parmenides”.

(18) ” . . . For through this process the spirit is substantiated and the body transformed into a spirit . . . .

(47) ” . . . . But the old philosophers believe, that he, who has transformed gold into ‘poison’, has already reached the goal, and that he, who cannot do this, remains in nothingness. But I say unto you, all ye sons of the doctrine, that if ye have not refined all things through the ‘fire’ till those things ascend as ‘spirits’, ye remain in nothingness. This then is a spirit, escaping from the fire”,

This means that the fire cannot destroy it.

“and a heavy smoke, which rejoices the body when it penetrates into the body. But all philosophers have said: ‘Take the black, old spirit, and destroy and torture the ‘bodies’ through him, until they are changed’.”

Then in a further sermo:

(62.) “All explorers of the art, it becomes you to know, that whatever the philosophers have reported and prescribed, namely the ‘purple snail,’ and the roots ‘celandine’ and ‘kermes’, are one.”

The philosophers should not be disturbed by the many names, for they are one and the same thing.

“Do not trouble yourselves therefore about the multiplicity of things.”

Many substances are not necessary.

“For one (only) is the colour of the philosophers, though they give it what names they please, and, suspending its real name, they have called it black, because it is drawn from ‘our Pelagus’.”

This means that the blackness is drawn from “our sea”.

” And know ye, that the old priests did not consider it suitable to lay any artificial materials on their altars; so that they dyed with the Tyrian colour of the purple snail, in order not to lay anything dirty or impure on altars that should be venerated and kept pure.”

That is they used royal purple.

“But our Tyrian colour, which they had in their altars and treasure houses, is sweeter smelling and purer than it is possible for me to describe; (a colour) that is drawn from our red, purest ‘sea’, and which has a pleasant smell, is beautiful, and is neither dirty nor impure when it decays.”

This sweet smell is frequently alluded to in the alchemistic writings, and is also to be found, as a quality of the Holy Ghost, in the literature of Hellenistic Syncretism.

These two literatures are historically directly connected.

“And know ye, that we have called it by many names which are all true ; take wheat as an example in order to understand; it is ground and then it is called by another name.”

It is then called meal.

“And when it is p assed through the sieve, it is divided into various substances, from which different kinds of bread arise, each one having a separate name. Yet all these cereals are called by one single name, and (afterwards) discriminated by several names. So we acknowledge our Tyrian (colour) in every stage of its process, with the name of its colour.”

This means that its appearance changes from time to time, and receives different names, but we must not be deceived, it is a matter of one and the same substance.

We read in the last sermo:


“Know ye, all explorers of this art, that the ‘head’ is everything “

The Latin word “caput” means head, but also principle, fundamental source, beginning.

The “caput mundi” is the beginning of the world.

It is possible, therefore, that it is the fundamental source which is everything but it could also really be the head, for the latter has been compared, by the alchemists themselves, with the head of Osiris which was fished out of the sea.

“He who does not possess this, has no benefit from anything which he ennobles. Therefore the masters have called that, with which it is completed, the ‘living’. For it is not several natures which ennoble that’thing’, but only a single and suitable one, which must be handled with care; for many have gone astray on account of ignorance of the process. Do not trouble, therefore, about the multiplicity of combinations, Nor about that which the envious have written in their books, for the nature of the truth is only one, through which the natural is changed; because the secret, which is concealed inside nature, is neither seen nor Known by any, save by a wise man. He who proceeds with care, and knows his ‘complexion’, draws from it that nature which overcomes all the natures. Then will the words of the master come to pass: Nature delights in nature, nature overcomes nature and nature rules nature.”

This is another version of the sentence of Demokritos.

“And yet there are not different natures, nor several, but only one, which has the strength of all in itself, through which it far excels the other things. See ye not that the master began with one, and ended with one?

Then he called those unities ‘the water of sulphur’, which conquers all nature.”

Bernhardus Trevisanus found something in these “sermones” of Parmenides, which enlightened him about the whole mysterious art.

At the age of sixty he found, through the study of books, the thing which he had been searching for elsewhere all his life.

While I was wondering whether I too had learnt something vital, my eyes fell on the end of the Turba where it says: “quorum dicta insipientibus sunt occulta”. (These words are hidden from the ignorant.)

So I said to myself: “Well, I must belong to the ignorant”, for I was by no means sure what it was that Trevisanus had seen.

But I did not allow myself to be discouraged, and went on reading these treatises, and studying the literature which extends over some sixteen centuries.

I have not read all by any means, for it is a matter of thousands of treatises, many of them only in manuscript form and scattered all over the world; but I am now acquainted with all the main authors.

I had to invent a method in order to decipher these texts and to reach their meaning.

I made a catalogue of all the peculiar symbols which they use, and made notes of the connections in which these symbols occurred.

In this way I gradually succeeded in deciphering their peculiar symbolic language.

I must now give you a short summary of the history of the literature of alchemy, in order that you may have some idea of the material with which we are dealing.

We find the oldest traces of alchemy in Egypt.

A book about chemical experiments is mentioned in the catalogue of the library in the temple of Horus at Edfu.

This reference is not later than the time of the Ptolemies (circa 300-100 B. C.).

We also find a Persian alchemist, OSTANES, mentioned in the oldest Greek alchemistic literature, who probably lived in the time of Alexander the Great [fourth century B. C.) or possibly even earlier.

Then we hear from a Sicilian historian, called DIODORUS SICULUS, that Isis was in possession of an elixir of life, a “pharmacon athanasias”, a medicine of immortality.

Siculus wrote about 50 B.C., in the time of Julius Caesar; and in India the grammarian PATANJALI, who lived about 150 B. C., mentions two alchemists.

There are distinct traces of an already well established alchemy in the first century B. C. in China; but the first actual Chinese treatise which we possess is that of WEI PO-YANG, who wrote about 140 A. D.

His treatise has been translated into English and he says something very pleasing in the Epilogue.

He describes himself as “a lowly man from the country of Kuai, who has no love for worldly power, glory, fame, or gains, who wastes his days leading a simple, quiet, leisurely, and peaceful life in a retreat in an unfrequented valley.”

It was in this valley that Wei Po-Yang lived and worked, though he has, of course, become a legendary figure.

Apart from the Chinese style, the trend of thought, revealed in is treatise, does not differ in any respect from Alexandrian alchemy; which is curious, for one could not prove any historical connection between the two, so we may assume that it is a matter of eternal truths.

The earliest western alchemical texts, which we possess, are of Greek-Egyptian origin.

These two traditions are very much confused, and have given rise to that peculiar mixture of ideas from which much [also in our own Christian religion) has arisen.

Among the oldest Greek-Egyptian authors and their writings I should mention:

DEMOKRITOS, you will remember his passage on the natures which is so often quoted; COMARIUS, the Archpriest, who taught Cleopatra; and a treatise called ISIS TO HORUS, which Isis the prophetess addresses to her son Horus.

These treatises belong to about the first century and are about the oldest which we possess.

The PAPYRUS OF LEYDEN comes from about the third century A. D. and consists mainly of magic sentences, and prescriptions for gold making and gold forging.

Many of these old texts were collected in the famous CODEX MARCIANUS (circa eleventh century) which is in the library of San Marco in Venice.

BERTHELOT, the French scientist, published a great many of these treatises comparatively recently (1887-88) in his “COLLECTION DES ANCIENS ALCHIMISTES GRECS”, including the writings of ZOSIMOS, third century A. D.

Berthelot also gives some Byzantine texts, OLYMPIODORE, LE CHRETIEN,STEPHANUS [of Alexandria?) etc.

These are our main direct sources of Greek Alchemy, but there is also a Greek alchemy which comes to us through the Arabs.

Most of these Arabic texts were translated into Latin about the eleventh and twelfth centuries, though some of these translations are said to date from the tenth century.

GERBERT OF REIMS, who died in 1003 A. D., is said to have made some of these translations.

He was afterwards POPE SILVESTER II., and, according to a legend, he kept a golden head in a chest, a kind of oracle, which answered questions.

We hear of “the children of the golden head” from Zosimos.

The “TABULA SMARAGDINA”,as you have already seen, came to us through the Arabs, and also a particularly interesting treatise: TRACTATUS AUREUS HERMETIS; the seven books of HERMES;
the “LIBER QUARTORUM” (which is attributed to PLATO) and several other texts. ~Carl Jung, ETH, Lecture 10, Pages 81-90.

Carl Jung: “…intelligence and psychological preparation in cases of schizophrenia result in a better prognosis.”

To Jolande Jacobi

Dear Dr. Jacobi, 12 June 1945

I would answer your question as follows: It is a fact that intelligence and psychological preparation in cases of schizophrenia result in a better prognosis.

I therefore make it a rule to give anyone threatened with schizophrenia, or the mild or latent schizophrenic, as much psychological knowledge as possible, because I know from experience that there is then a
better chance of his getting out of the psychotic interval.

Equally, psychological enlightenment after a psychotic attack can be extraordinarily helpful in some circumstances.

I am not convinced that schizophrenia is absolutely fatal any more than tuberculosis is.

I would always recommend psychological education to patients at risk as a measure of prophylactic hygiene.

Like neurosis, psychosis in its inner course is a process of individuation, but one that is usually not joined up with consciousness and therefore runs its course in the unconscious as an Ouroboros.

Psychological preparation joins the process to consciousness, or rather, there is a chance of its being joined, and hence of the individuation process having a healing effect.

Hoping I have answered your question satisfactorily, and with best regards,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung, ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Page 371.

Carl Jung: "There is a poem in an old treatise, the "Rosarium Philosophorum"…"]

There is a poem in an old treatise, the “Rosarium Philosophorum”, which speaks of the stone in a very interesting way.

The hermaphrodite appears here in its feminine aspect and is called the Empress, the first lady in the land.

We must keep in mind that the “Empress” is the philosophers’ stone:

“Here is born the rich and noble empress,
One with their daughter, so the masters say,
She multiplies, bears children numberless,
Immortal, pure and without spot are they.
Death and poverty are hated by this queen,
She doth surpass all jewels however rare,
And also silver, gold and physics all,
Nothing on earth that can with her compare,
To God of Heaven’s realm our thanks we call.”

(Then this hermaphrodite begins to speak herself.)

“Oh, might compelling me, naked woman,
For my first body was indeed unblessed,
To be a mother, never I began,
Till I myself was born again afresh. (A)
The strength of every root and herb I won,
And triumphed over every sickness too, (B)
And there it was that first I saw my son,
For we were born together there, the two. (C)
And of my son I pregnant was,
And b ore him on a sterile ground,
I was a mother, yet remained a maid,
They laughed at me for what they found,
That my own son my father was,
For God in truth hath willed it so,
The mother who gave birth to me,
Came as my child to earth below.
We are as one united naturally,
With master ease the mountain swallowed down, (D)
The four came forth, one yet again to be,
In our complete and more than perfect stone. (E)
And six in trinity bethought,
To an essential substance brought. (F)
And who can reach this kind of thought
A power by God Himself is taught,
All sickness can he bring to naught
In human body and retort.
Without God’s help no man may build,
Self-knowledge too must be fulfilled.
A fountain rises from my earth,
And brings two rivers there to birth,
One flows towards the rising sun,
The other where it sets doth run.
Two eagles rise, their feathers burn,
So naked down to earth return,
And yet again are feathered there ,
The sun and moon its subjects were. ” (G)

(A) This refers to the fact that the first form of the “stone”, the so-called prima materia, is a sick and sterile form, “unblessed” as the poem says. This is the corruptible form of the lead, which is discarded when,
as a result of the alchemical opus, she is born again a second time.

(B) All the three evils, death, poverty and sickness, are mentioned here.

(C) She has a son, and this son is herself, and therefore she was born at the same time, and is male and female, mother and son together. “Sie kam mit ihm selbander dar.” She came into the world at the same time that he did.

(D) This needs some elucidation. Mother and daughter, father and son are all to be regarded as one. All these figures are one and the same, a figure which begets itself. The mother is the daughter and her
own mother, the father is the son, who is also the father of the father. And this one being has been devoured by the mountain, taken into the gorge of the earth. This reminds us of “the One” in the “Tabula Smaragdina”, whose “strength is perfect when it has turned towards the earth.”

(E) The indistinguishable One has gone into the earth, the body, the Four are inside the body. You will remember that in the eastern texts we also met the problem of One containing Four. Through meditation, through Yoga, the Four are produced out of the One. In the alchemistic process, this is the stage of the separatio or divisio where the four elements are begotten. Separatio symbolises discrimination. One tries to distinguish the four aspects of the One. Discrimination is an act of consciousness. In the unconscious condition, in the mountain, everything is indistinguishably one. Consciousness is orientated towards the four cardinal points, it functions according to four categories. The four functions, as the four elements , arise from an incomprehensible unity. Unconscious contents, in order to become conscious, must also be discriminated by all the four functions. The four elements are again united and become “the On ” in the philosophers’ stone; the universal soul is liberated, the godhead restored. In meditation, in the stage of the coniunctio in the alchemistic opus, the Four, that is the extension into the world of consciousness, is contracted, and the four elements become One again. The philosophers’ stone, the Self, is being produced.

(F) This six is a doubling of three, which makes a well-known sign: the star of D avid. But this figure is to be understood here in its alchemistic sense, the upper triangle is fire and the lower water, a pair of
opposites. Where fire and water become one, there is a unio oppositorum, which is really an image of God, for God is the union of opposites. Fire is in itself a uniter of opposites and is a very ancient image for God.

(G) The two eagles fly up out of the streams and fall down again naked on to the earth.

The images in this poem are the purest alchemy.

The miraculous substance (as a coincidentia oppositorum, a union of opposites) has the power in itself to heal all illness in the metals, that is to make imperfect metals perfect, and to heal all sicknesses of the human body as well.

So it is a Saviour.

Naturally this can only be produced by the help of God, and this help is only given to the man who knows and sees through himself, only such a man is capable of producing the “stone”.

You will remember the passages from Richard of St. Victor and Hippolytus.

We saw there that the one who knows himself is on the way to God.

The complete consciousness of one’s own being has a transforming effect.

You will now be able to get some idea of what alchemy really means.

“A fountain rises in my earth ” means that it is from my body that a spring gushes forth.

This is an image which we already know from the New Testament, and it is possible that the passage in this poem was directly inspired by it.

This is uncertain, but it suffices to recall that Christ is spoken of there as the well of living water.

He himself is this fountain, or it is from his body that the living water arises. As JUSTIN THE MARTYR said: “As a spring of living mater from God . . . has this Christ bubbled up”

We might, therefore, almost assume that this idea of the alchemists originated in the New Testament – they frequently quote it literally – but we must not forget that the idea of the divine water is much older than the New Testament.

The hydor theion, the divine water, is a basic idea in Greek alchemy; Berthelot translates it as sulphur water, because the word “theion” is also sulphur.

But the old alchemists knew nothing about sulphur, what they called sulphur was an unknown, miraculous thing to them and so it was designated as divine.

Only the man who can see through himself can build this stone.

As to this self-knowledge, this real penetrating knowledge of our own being, do not make the mistake of thinking that it means seeing through the ego.

To understand the ego is child’s play, but to see through the Self is something totally different.

The real difficulty lies in recognising the unknown.

No one need remain ignorant of the fact that he is striving for power, that he wants to become very rich, that he would be a tyrant if he had the chance, that he is pleasure seeking, envious of other people, and so on.

Everyone can know such things of him or herself, because they are mere ego knowledge.

But Self-knowledge is something completely different, it is learning to know of the things which are unknown.

And when someone learns to know of these, he may say of himself that he is a fountain, from which two streams arise; one flows towards the East, where the sun rises, and the other towards the West, where the sun sets.

These are the opposites which we saw in our poem, two contrary streams flow from man and two eagles arise from them.

These are the volatile substances for the alchemist, he calls them spiritus, spiritual potentialities.

They fly up, fall down again, naked, are re-feathered below and fly up yet again.

These are ideas which we also found in the Tabula Smaragdina. ~Carl Jung, Modern Psychology, Alchemy, Pages 69-72.