Jung, C. G. (1970) 2nd Ed. Mysterium Coniunctionis. An inquiry into the separation and synthesis of psychic opposites in alchemy. The collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 14. Bollingen Series XX, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N. J. First edition 1963.

xiii In the forward Jung relates and compares the archetypes with whole numbers in their characteristic of being discovered and not created - in justifying his discovery of the archetypes as a sound psychological concept to be investigated; “Indeed, there were not a few who regarded them (archetypes) as sheer fantasy, although the well-known example of whole numbers, which also were discovered and not invented, might have taught them better, …”

1. The Opposites

§1 “….either confronting one another in enmity or attracting one another in love…”

§2 I would mention the eagle and toad (“The eagle flying through the air and the toad crawling on the ground”), which are the “emblem” of Avicenna in Michael Maier,8 the eagle representing Luna “or Juno, Venus, Beya, who is fugitive and winged like the eagle, which flies up to the clouds and receives the rays of the sun in his eyes.” The toad “is the opposite of the air, it is a contrary element, namely earth, … For this reason it denotes the philosophic earth, which cannot fly [i.e., cannot be sublimated], as it is firm and solid.”
8Symbola Aureae Mensae Duodecim Nationum, p. 192.*

Note: Gabricus (or Thabritius) (Cf. para 14. where 'Gabritius' is mentioned.) and Beya.

§3 “Another favourite theriomorphic image is that of the two birds or two dragons, one of them winged, the other wingless. … They stand for Sol and Luna, brother and sister, who are united by means of the art.12 In Lambspringk's “Symbols”13 they appear as the astrological Fishes which, swimming in opposite directions, symbolise the spirit / soul polarity. … Another symbol is the stag and unicorn meeting in the “forest.”16 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,17 or the wolf and dog, the latter two fighting; they too symbolise soul and spirit. In Figure VII the opposites are symbolised by two birds in a wood, one fledged, the other unfledged. Whereas in earlier pictures the conflict seems to be between spirit and soul, the two birds signify the conflict between spirit and body, and in Figure VIII the two birds fighting do in fact represent the conflict, as the caption shows. …“
13Musaeum Hermeticum, p. 343. (Cf. Waite, The Hermetic Museum Restored and Enlarged, I, pp. 276f.)
16See Psychology and Alchemy, fig. 240.

'The Solar Table',
plate 42 from the manuscript Viridarium Chymicum

“Emblem” of Avicenna in Michael Maier,
plate 20 from the manuscript Viridarium Chymicum

'The two fishes', soul & spirit,
image from the manuscript Musaem Hermeticum

'Stag and unicorn', soul & spirit,
image from the manuscript Musaem Hermeticum

'Male and female lion', soul & spirt,
image from the manuscript Musaem Hermeticum

'Wolf and dog', soul & spirit,
image from the manuscript Musaem Hermeticum

'Two birds', one fledged the other unfledged, body & spirit,
image from the manuscript Musaem Hermeticum

§4 “The elevation of the human figure to a king or a divinity, and on the other hand its representation in subhuman…form, are indications of the transconscious character of the paris of opposites. The do not belong to the ego-personality but are supraordinate to it. … The pairs of opposites constitute the phenomenology of the paradoxical self, man's totality.” Emphasis mine

The predicament in which Ostanes finds himself is similar to the arrangement of the 'Solar Table' above; Aries (ram), Cancer (crab), Libra (scales), Capricorn (goat).

back to top

2. The Quaternio and the mediating role of Mercurius

§6 “This refers to the synthesis of the planets or metals with the sun, to form a crown which will be “within” Hermes. (Crown as total unity.) The crown signifies the kingly totality; it stands for unity and is not subject to Heimarmene. …”

§7 16Sea is a synonym for the prima materia.

§8 In the scholia to the “Tractatus aureus Hermetis”39 there is a quaternio consisting of superius / inferius, exterius / interius. They are united into one thing by means of the circular distillation, named the Pelican:40 “Let all be one in one circle or vessel.” …“
40“For when she applies her beak to her breast, her whole neck with the beak is bent into the shape of a circle. … The blood flowing from her breast restores life to the dead fledglings.:* Ibid., p. 442 b.

Note the A to G = seven. The 'seven into one'. The seven planets, metals etc that the alchemical text is full of.

Σ §9 ”… The central point A, the origin and goal, the “Ocean or great sea,” is also called a circulus exiguus, very small circle, and a “mediator making peace between the enemies or elements, that they may love one another in a meet embrace.”42 The little inner circle corresponds to the Mercurial Fountain in the Rosarium, which I have described in my “Psychology of the Transference.” The text calls it “the more spiritual, perfect, and nobler Mercurius,”43 the true arcance substance, a “spirit,” and goes on: …” (It's worth noting the spiritual / religious subtext in the rest of this paragraph. For example, where Jung mentions Luke 17:21 and the tendency in man to look out for spiritual growth as opposed to within; “within you” has been changed to “among you”.)

§10 “From this remarkable excursus we learn, first of all, that the “centre” unites the four and the seven into one.48 The unifying agent is the spirit Mercurius, and this singular spirit then causes the author to confess himself a member of the Ecclesia spiritualis, for the spirit is God. This religious background is already apparent in the choice of the term “Pelican” for the circular process, since this bird is a well-known allegory of Christ.49 …”

From Wikipedia - a statue of a Pelican wounding her breast to feed her young:

§11 “Mercurius is conceived as “spiritual blood,”52 on the analogy of the blood of Christ. …“
52The aqua permanens “whose power is the spiritual blood, that is, the tincture …

§12 “In addition, we learn from the scholia that the circle and the Hermetic vessel are one and the same, with the result that the mandala, which we find so often in the drawings of our patients corresponds to the vessel of transformation. …“
Accordingly Mercurius, in the crude form of the prima materia, is in very truth the Original Man disseminated through the physical world, and in his sublimated form he is that reconstituted totality.62 …“
“The “white and red” of Mercurius referes to (Song of Songs) 5 : 10: “My beloved is white and ruddy.” He is likened to the “matrimonium” or coniunctio; that is to say he is this marriage on account of his androgynous form.” (Cf. para 2. the opposites of the 'red man' and 'white woman'.)

back to top

3. The Orphan, the Widow, and the Moon

Some of the references Jung uses:

§13 “The stone was called “orphan” because of its uniqueness - …”

§14 Here Jung talks of 'widow' and the “son of the widow”, i.e., the orphan.
All these synonyms (for the 'widow', the mother of the orphan) allude to the virginal or maternal quality of the prima materia, which exists without a man74 and yet is the “matter of all things.”75 Above all, the prima materia is the mother of the lapis, the filius philosophorum. …“
Cf with para. 57

Jung talks here of Osiris and Isis, relating 'Gabritius' (Gabricus) to Horus - see footnote 78. The mother-son incest.

“For, “when the son sleeps with the mother, she kills him with the stroke of a viper” (viperino conatu). This recalls the murderous role of Isis,81 …“
81In Greco-Roman times Isis was represented as a human-headed snake. …

“As such she (Isis) personifies that arcane substance, be it dew83 or the aqua permanens,84 which unites the hostile elements into one. …”

Of interest is the image of Isis (Sister-wife to Osiris) suckling her son Horus - the motif then adopted by the Christian Mary Jesus images. This type of image is also used throughout alchemy.
From Wikipedia:


“The cognomen of Isis was Χημεία, the Black One.86 … and since ancient times she was reputed to possess the elixir of life88 as well as being adept in sundry magical arts.89 …” (Contrary to first associations, the black was the colour of life and fertility, the blackness of the soil around the Nile. That said, the Greek Jung quotes, 'Χημεία' means “art of alloying metals” according to Wiktionary.)

back to top

§15 “All these statements apply just as well to the prima materia in its feminine aspect: it is the moon, the mother of all things, the vessel, it consists of opposites, has a thousand names, is an old woman and a whore, as Mater Alchimia it is wisdom and teaches wisdom, it contains the elixir of life in potentia and …”

Plate 50 from Maier's Scrutinium Chymicum. This is referenced in the text Jung quotes

“Nevertheless the Philosophers have put to death the woman who slays her husbands, … Let a grave be dug for that dragon, and let that woman be buried with him, he being chained fast to that woman; and the more he winds and coils himself about her, the more will he be cut to pieces by the female weapons which are fashioned in the body of the woman. …103

103… The final illustration in Maier's Scrutinium Chymicum shows this burial. Cf. para 30. below.

Σ §17 “In Christian tradition the widow signifies the Church; …”

Σ §18 “Another tradition to be considered in regard to the widow is the Cabala. There the abandoned Malchuth (Malkuth or Shekhinah is the tenth of the sephirot in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.) is the widow, …”

§19 ”… Directly or indirectly the Cabala was assimilated into alchemy. Relationships must have existed between them at a very early date, though it is difficult to trace them in the sources. …
The identification of Malchuth with Luna (Cf. footnote 116 on p. 22.) forms a link with alchemy, and is another example of the process by which the patristic symbolism of sponsus (the Bridegroom) and sponsa (the Bride) had been assimilated much earlier. …”

Jung continues with some points about the Sol-Luna allegory. ”… I want to emphasise it, because the moon, standing on the borders of the sublunary world ruled by evil, has a share not only in the world of light but also in the daemonic world of darkness, … That is why her changefulness is so significant symbolically: she is duplex and mutable like Mercurius, and is like him a mediator; hence their identification in alchemy.131
131Jung, ”The Spirit Mercurius,” par. 273.

The discussion is around the fullest or 'strict' application of the Sol-Luna allegory adopted by the patristic symbolism. The alchemical approach or symbolism was more complete though than the Patristic allegory as it brings not only the illumination but the dark side of the moon when she turns away. Hence the mutable attributes of the Luna nature, and the alignment with Mercurius. To the early Christians the moon was a symbol of the lack of constancy in man to follow God, to keep from sin.

§20 “Since, for the men of antiquity and the Middle Ages, comparison with the stars or planets tacitly presupposes astrological causality, the sun causes constancy and wisdom, while the moon is the cause of change and folly (including lunacy).135
135Sol corresponds to the conscious man, Luna to the unconscious one, i.e., to his anima.

Correction: where Jung references Psalm 71:7 it should be Psalm 72 not 71.

The motif of death in the coniunctio

”… The moon and death significantly reveal their affinity. Death came into the world through original sin and the seductiveness of woman (= moon), and mutability led to corruptibility.141 …”

§21 ”… Luna is on the one hand the brilliant whiteness of the full moon, on the other hand she is the blackness of the new moon, and especially the blackness of the eclipse, when the sun is darkened. …”

There's a lot to take in from para. 21. Jung quotes from the “Consilium coniugii”, from the first printing of Ars chemica (1566). The quote brings to the fore a number of alchemical motifs worth mentioning to help with alchemical symbolism.

A reminder about the house of the sun in the house of Leo;
146Leo, as the domicilium solis, stands for the sun, i.e., for the active (red) Mercurius.

The relation of the dog to the moon;
147… The dog is Hecate's animal and pertains to the moon (pars. 174ff.). …

Then a quote showing the dark side of the royal conjunction between Sol and Luna:

… It is named the Tyriac153 of the Philosophers, and it is also called the poisonous serpent, because, like this, it bites off the head of the male in the lustful heat of conception, and giving birth it dies and is divided through the midst. So also the moisture of the moon,154 when she receives his light, slays the sun, and at the birth of the child of the Philosophers she dies likewise, … And the parents are the food of the son

A well known formula of Democritus;
152… “Nature rejoices in nature, nature subdues nature, nature rules over nature.”* …
153Tyria tinctura or Tyrius color …“Thus we call our Tyrian (colour) at each step of the procedure by the name of its colour” …
154Luna sends the dew.
Tyrian also refers to Royal purple, or Tyrian purple, Tyrian purple also known as Tyrian red, royal purple, imperial purple or imperial dye. Although Jung doesn't mention it I find it interesting to view this noun used by the alchemist alongside Aurum potabile, Colloidal gold solution that varies in colour depending on the size of the gold particles being dissolved. I can imagine that in this way the alchemists could gauge their work. As the quote says, “It is named the Tyriac of the Philosophers.”

back to top

§22 “The daemonic quality which is connected with the dark side of the moon, or with her position midway between heaven and the sublunary world,155 displays its full effect. Sun and moon reveal their antithetical nature, which in the Christian Sol-Luna relationship is obscured as to be unrecognisable, … in the birth of a third and new thing, a son who resolves the antagonisms of the parents and is himself a “united double nature.” … ” (So here we have the crux of the matter - the third, the birth of the son following the conjunction.)

“The alchemical equivalent of the God-Man and the Son of God was Mercurius, who as an hermaphrodite contained in himself both the feminine element, Sapientia and matter, and the masculine, the Holy Ghost and the devil. …”

§23 “The alchemists also represented the “eclipse(Emphasis mine) as the descent of the sun into the (feminine) Mercurial Fountain,160 or as the disappearance of Gabricus in the body of Beya (Think Isis, Horus. Cf. para. 2 above). Again, the sun in the embrace of the new moon is treacherously slain by the snake-bite (conatu viperino) of the monther-beloved, or pierced by the telum passionis, Cupid's arrow.161 These ideas explain the strange picture in Reusner's Pandora,162 showing Christ being pierced with a lance by a crowned virgin whose body ends in a serpent's tail.163 …”

§24 Honorius of Autun commentary on Song of Songs and the motif of wounding

“The animals assigned to her (the moon, the bride who wounds) - stag, lion, and cock172 - are also symbols of her male partner in alchemy. As the chthonic Persephone her animals, according to Pythagoras, are dogs,173 i.e., the planets. In alchemy Luna herself appears as the “Armenian bitch.”174 The sinister side of the moon plays a considerable role in classical tradition.”

§25 The eyes is connected with the hierosgamos of the gods, see footnote 178.

§26 “The moment of the eclipse and mystic marriage is death on the cross. In the Middle Ages the cross was therefore logically understood as the mother. …”

§27 “The motif of wounding (Emphasis mine) in alchemy goes back to Zosimos (3rd cent.) and his visions of a sacrificial drama.180

”“The life of the world is the light of nature and the celestial sulphur,187 … Whereas the Christian belief is that man is freed from sin by the redemptory act of Christ, the alchemist was evidently of the opinion that the “restitution to the likeness of original and incorrupt nature” had still to be accomplished by the art, and this can only mean that Christ's work of redemption was regarded as incomplete. ..”
187Lux naturae and caelest sulphur are to be understood as identical.

Σ §28 Kenosis (= emptying). Footnote 194 & 196 ← must read.

§30 “Indeed, the secret poisoning that otherwise emanates from the coldness and moisture of the moon is occasionally attributed to the “cold dragon,” who contains a “volatile fiery spirit” and “spits flames.” Thus in Emblem L (shown below) of the Scrutinium198 he is given a masculine role: he wraps the woman in the grave in a deadly embrace. The same thought occurs again in Emblem V, where a toad is laid on the breast of the woman so that she, suckling it, may die as it grows.199 The toad is a cold and damp animal like the dragon. It “empties” the woman as though the moon were pouring herself into the sun.200(Cf. para 15. above)

Some other interesting references: Zohar and the Vulgate

back to top

4. Alchemy and Manichaeism


§32 “In the Aurora Consurgens “sulphur nigrum” (Black Sulphur = 🜏, Sulphur = 🜍. Black Sulphur → Brimstone, related to 'spirit') stands side by side with ”vetula,” (old woman, or 'corn mother'/ corn dolly) the first being a synonym for spirit and the second for soul. … The “black sulphur” is a pejorative name for the active, masculine substance of Mercurius and points to its dark, saturnine natures, which is evil.217

Considering the vetula or 'corn mother' this might explain the second image in the Aurora Consurgens which portrays a two headed figure made of different animals and parts, including what looks like a burning left leg made of corn. Perhaps this is in reference to the 'corn mother', the spirit of the corn effigy that was made at each harvest and is here being burnt. Keeping in mind vetula ↔ corn mother ↔ anima.

§34 “Just as for the Manichaeans the sweat of the archons signified rain,228 so for the alchemists sweat meant dew.229
228… In ancient Egypt, the gods of the seasons brought forth the harvest with the sweat of Osiris' hands … (Cf. This with Osiris as the god of corn and the 'corn dolly' ⇒ 'ventura' mentioned above.)
229… that is, a Heavely Dew, and this dew is called the Mercury of the Philosophers, or Aqua Permanens.” …

Edinger p51. relates the sweating with heating, arousing desire. Cf. this with footnote 232 in the Manichaean myth about how the Archons - children of darkness, were aroused (girls to the boys and boys to the girls) to sweat or ejaculate and thus release the light they had eaten. The correlation of sweating ↔ desire ↔ releasing the light, all very interesting.

§35 “It is the moral task of alchemy to bring the feminine, maternal background of the masculine psyche, seething with passions, into harmony with the principle of the spirit - truly a labour of Hercules! In Dorn's words: …”

… The fount of love can make mind out of spirit and soul, but this maketh one man of mind and body.234

234Dorn, “Speculativa philosophia,” Theatrum Chemicum, I, p. 229

back to top

1. The Arcane Substance and the Point

§36 Footnote 1 is interesting…there is this play on opposites and paradoxes that is so central to the Alchemical narrative, 'the stone that is no stone', 'a running without running, moving without motion' [para. 37] type thing. Opposites and paradoxical. …making Alchemy really easy to read and understand :-)
“The materia is visible to all eyes, the whole world sees it, touches it, loves it, and yet no one knows it. 4
1… “The philosophers of old saw that this stone in its birth and sublimation …could be compared in parables …with all things that are in the world, whether bodily or intellectual. Wherefore whatever they are able to say and declare concerning virtues and vices, etc. A litany of opposites follow… all these things they are able to say of this worshipful stone.”

§37 “Further paradoxes: …” and then the paragraph concludes with this: “That paradox and ambivalence are the keynotes of the whole work is shown by The Chymical Wedding: over the main portal of the castle two words are written: “Congratulor, Condoleo.”19
CongratulorI rejoice, wish joy
CondoleoI feel pain, suffer
…ladies and gentleman, welcome to life.

§38 “As Mercurius is the name for the arcane substance, he deserves mention here as the paradox par excellence. …” Jung goes on to quote from Hippolytus - Monoïmos, definitely worth a second read. He speaks of the Monad, the Son of Man, the undivided, unmixed man “having its composition from nothing whatsoever, yet composed of many forms, …” etc. Footnote 25: “All this is a Gnostic paraphrase of John 1 and at the same time a meaningful exposition of the psychological self. …”

§39 “The alchemists seem to have visualised their lapis or prima materia in a similar manner. At any rate they were able to cap the paradoxes of Monoïmos. Thus they said of Mercurius: “The spirit is generated from the substances of the sea26 and calls himself moist, dry, and fiery,”27 in close agreement with the invocation to Hermes …”

§40 This para. seems related to footnote 25 - discussing the 'point' or smallness of the final, the art, both the prima materia and the lapis, it is the full task and the end. The iota, the indivisible but all things, the thing we seek. The point from which all things originate. (The Adam in footnote 25).
From a mathematics - trigonometry - perspective the point is interesting as it is the first thing before we can create any dimensions. A point is dimensionless. Two points = straight line = one dimension. Three points = plane = two dimensions, etc. Just an interesting thought. The point is like '1', it is the start.
The next paragraph helps…

§41 “John Dee (1527-1607) speculates as follows: “It is not unreasonable to suppose, that by the four straight lines which run in opposite directions from a single, individual point, the mystery of the four elements is indicated.” …“
The theme of the point, the germ, the egg continues…quite a lot about the egg, the yolk, the bird. He goes on to talk about gold and then the 'point' again:
”… The most perfect form is round, because it is modelled on the point. … The point symbolizes light and fire, also the Godhead in so far as light is an “image of God” or an “examplar of the Deity.” … The gold has a “circular form.”45 (Sun = ) “This is the line which runs back upon itself, like the snake that with its head bites its own tail, wherein that supreme and eternal painter and potter, God, may rightly be discerned.”46 The gold is a “twice-bisected circle,” …” This comes back to the start of the paragraph where John Dee talks of the point created by two bisecting lines at 90 degrees. Without being too literal however the symbol for the planet earth is ⊕. The symbol for gold was the sun ⇒ . That said, there is a symbol for Gold with the cross 'point' at the center of the circle:

See full list of hieroglyphs.

53… Dorn is an opponent of the quaternity. Cr. ”Psychology and Religion,” par. 104 and n. 47.
This makes sense; Dorn as one of Paracelsus' strongest advocates was more Christian as well so the quaternity would not have readily appealed to him. Paracelsus' early work advocated the Three Primes or 'Tria Prima' ⇒ Salt, Sulphur, Mercury, as the basis of all matter although he acknowledged the four elements. I can't be sure of the context here but this seems to me in conflict with the quaternity perspective.

back to top

2. The Scintilla

§42 “The point is identical with the σπινθήρ,55 scintilla, the “little soul-spark” of Meister Eckhart.56 … Simon Magus62 likewise teaches that in semen and milk there is a very small spark which “increases and becomes a power63 boundless and immutable.”64

§43”… In the centre dwells the Archaeus, “the servant of nature,” whom Paracelsus also calls Vulcan, identifying him with the Adech, the “great man.”65 …“
From Wikipedia: “Apart from the Archeus, which is primarily a Platonic name for the subject, this sphere is also called the Anima Mundi, Soul of the World, Spirit of the World, The Transitive LVX, The Path of Saturn (connecting Malkuth and Yesod on the system of Jewish mysticism called the Kabbalah), the Earth Sphere and the Zone Girdling the Earth. It is also sometimes simply called the lower astral sphere, or the “geographic” region of it, as everything in the Archeus parallels physical manifestation.” Saturn ⇔ Vulcan

Not to be take out of context. xRef. footnote 66 & 72 RE the motif of undressing, being stripped
66… The undressing symbolizes the extraction of the soul.
72… According to the text (fol. r1r), the undressing signifies putrefaction. … the nigredo is called a “wall like the blackness of darkness.” …The nigredo is also represented as the “garment of darkness.” …
There is more in these footnotes about garments/clothing and how they relate to the negrado, how garments relate to the imago.

§44 Adam Kadmon “He is the product of the conjunction of sun and moon.”

The motif of 'fishes eyes'
§45 “The scintillae often appear as “golden and silver,”…found in multiple form … They are then called oculi piscium” (fishes' eyes).74
Just as the “one stone” meant, for the alchemists, the lapis,90” so the fishes' eyes meant the seven eyes or the one eye of God, which is the sun.”
90Cf. what is said in “Adam and Eve,” pars. 568f., below, about the Cabalistic stone, and particularly about the stone as Malchuth (Malkuth)

§46 “The Egyptians held that the eye is the seat of the soul; for example, Osiris is hidden in the eye of Horus.91 In alchemy the eye is the coelum (heaven): …“
coelomate (n.): 1883, from Coelomata (1877), from Modern Latin neuter plural of coelomatus, from Greek koilomat- “hollow, cavity,” from PIE root *kel- (2) “to cover, conceal”
coelum: Alternative spelling of caelum (“sky, heaven”)

Interesting reference to the black soil of Egypt, the ancient name of Egypt - Kemut, and the etymological relation to the word chemistry. From the Wikipedia Egypt page:

The ancient Egyptian name of the country was ⟨km.t⟩, which means black ground or black soil, referring to the fertile black soils of the Nile flood plains, distinct from the deshret, or “red land” of the desert. This name is commonly vocalised as Kemet, but was probably pronounced [kuːmat] in ancient Egyptian. The name is realised as kēme and kēmə in the Coptic stage of the Egyptian language, and appeared in early Greek as Χημία (Khēmía, which in modern Greek means chemistry). …

Jung notes in footnote 91 that the name for Egypt, the “Chemia” was also used to name the black portion of the eye and compare it to the heart. I find the colour reference very interesting; the black ⇔ red between the soil ⇔ desert, rich & fertile ⇔ barren and dry.


“The eye of God emits power and light,97 …” This and other bits of this paragraph seem to explain how in many alchemical and ecumenical or religious paintings you see a ray of light, or rays targeted towards an individual and you wonder what is their meaning. Earlier in the paragraph, ”…and through the rays and the glance [of heaven] all things take form.92
97… “Osiris means many-eyed… ”
So again, these rays from heaven. Where heaven is related to the eye, the coelum.


The early generations of men thought there were two principal gods that were eternal, that is to say, the sun and the moon; the former they called “Osiris,” and the latter “Isis.” The name Osiris means “many-eyed” (πολυόφθαλμον), and is rightly applied to the sun, which darts his rays everywhere, seeing as it were with many eyes what is on land and sea… (Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, Budge, v.1, 1911)

“They (This scintilla) correspond to the particles of light imprisoned in the dark Physis, whose reconstitution was one of the chief aims of Gnosticisim and Manichaeism. …”

§47 “The eye, like the sun, is a symbol as well as an allegory of consciousness.99 …” Good para. about complexes and scintillulae, and the psychological view. Grounds the earlier topics quite nicely.

§49 “The negative aspect of the scintilla is remarkable, but it agrees very well with the alchemists' less optimistic, medico-scientific view of the world.111 …” I like this paragraph. Not least for Jung's use of the term 'medico-scientific', seriously, wtf :-) It is fantastic that the alchemists brought morality, or metaphysics to the physics, the medico I assume. There is something wonderful about incorporating the meta aspects even as causal elements to the physis…it is a complete, unconscious blend…before the logic, rational physis won out. I.e., Science.

§50 “In Khunrath113 the scintilla is the same as the elixir … the Aqua Permanens, eternally living.”114 …“

back to top

3. The Enigma of Bologna

§52 “The reason why I am digging up this curiosity again in the twentieth century is that it serves as a paradigm for the peculiar attitude of mind which made it possible for the men of the middle Ages to write hundreds of treatises about something that did not exist and was therefore completely unknowable.” Cf. para 67 where he notes the 'alchemical way of thinking' when parts of the enigma are interpreted.

§53 “Everything psychic is pregnant with the future. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a time of transition from a world founded on metaphysics to an era of immanentist explanatory principles, …

§57 129… It was also conjectured that the prima materia might be found in hair.
Cf. with para. 14 references to Gabritius and Beya.

§58 ” … like the scorpion, which is another synonym for the arcane substance.134 …”

§60 Lucius = 'lucid', endowed with the most lucid intellect.
Agatho = 'good-natured', upright
Priscius = pristine, 'senior'.
“Maier maintains that these names “signified the chief requisite necessary for the fulfilment of the art.””

§64 148… The “mangled King” refers to Osiris, well known to the alchemists, and his dismemberment. …Osiris and Isis together form the androgynous prima materia. ….
The motif of dismemberment
149Cf. Psychology and religion: West and East, Collected Works Vol. 11 - “Transformation Symbolism in the Mass,” pars. 345ff., 400, 410f.

§65 “Interment is identical with the nigredo.154
There is also reference here to the 'tomb' being called/related to Saturn.
“The “king” is buried in Saturn,157 an analogy of the buried Osiris.158 “While the nigredo of the burial endures, the woman rules,”159 referring to the eclipse of the sun or the conjunction with the new moon.”
157“The tomb in which our king is buried is called … Saturn”* (Waite, Herm. Mus., II, p.189).
159… “Therefore Avicenna says: So long as the nigredo is manifest, the dark woman prevails, and that is the first strength of our stone.”

§66 ” …the whole secret of the union of opposites is revealed, …“ (italics mine) Namely that there is freedom, or 'escape' in the union of opposites. See footnote 161 where Jung mentions the 'riddle of the hermaphrodite'. Cf. para. 89.

The motif of the oak-tree

§70 “The oak is the tree of Jupiter, but it is also sacred to Juno.177 …”

§73 183… In contrast to alchemy, red is co-ordinated with the feminine, and white with the masculine, side of the Sefiroth system.

§74 A parable of the kings bath and oak tree.

§75 “From ancient times the tree was man's birthplace;194 it is therefore a source of life. The alchemists called both the vessel and the bath the “womb.”195 … The King's bath is itself a matrix, the tree serving as an attribute of the latter. Often, as in the Ripley Scrowle,197 the tree stands in the nuptial bath, either as a pillar or directly as a tree in whose branches the numen appears in the shape of a mermaid (=anima) with a snake's tail.198 The analogy with the Tree of Knowledge is obvious.199

§76 Cf. The Turba Philosophorum I wonder of the significance of the number 180.

§77 215… “Forty” is a prefiguration of the length of the opus. According to Genesis 50:3 forty days are required for embalming. Forty seems to be a magic multiple of four, 10 (the denarius) X 4.

§78 ”… The grave-haunting numen is likewise a widespread idea that has lingered on into Christian legend. …“

§80 219Here marble is the female substance, the so-called Saturnia (or Luna, Eva, Beya, etc.) which dissolves the sun. …

§81 “This text describes the resurrection after death, and if we are not deceived, it takes the form of a coniunctio, a coming together of the white (dove) and the black (raven), that latter being the spirit that dwells in the tombstone (see n. 219). …“
222Birds flying up and down appear frequently in the literature and symbolise the ascending vapours. The “heaven” to which they ascend is the alembic or capitelum (helmut), which was placed over the cooking-vessel to catch the steam as it condensed.

§82 ” …the miracle of the phoenix, of transformation and rebirth (the transformation of the nigredo into the albedo, of the unconscious into “illumination”) … “
This and the preceding paragraphs talk of the joining of opposites, the black bird turning to white - the motif transformation and resurrection.

§83 ”… let us turn back to the motif of the oak-tree, …”

§85 229Like the hamadryads, snakes are tree numina. …

Σ §86 Succinct explanation of the psychological meaning of the myth of Cadmus. This is an excellent paragraph where Jung goes on to discuss the conflict of opposites, the conflict that ensues when opposites are brought to unite. Moreover, the ethical aspects of this - the 'moral problem of opposites' …I'm not sure what this means: ”… This image (the dragons teeth soldiers fighting one another to the death till only five remain) is a representation of the way in which a split-off conflict behaves: it is its own battle-ground. By and large this is also true of yang and yin in classical Chinese philosophy. Hand in hand with this self-contained conflict there goes an unconsciousness of the moral problem of opposites. Only with Christianity did the “metaphysical” opposites begin to percolate into man's consciousness, and then in the form of an almost dualistic opposition that reached its zenith in Manichaeism. This heresy forced the Church to take an important step: the formulation of the doctrine of the privatio boni, by means of which she established the identity of “good” and “being.” Evil as a μή όν (something that does not exist) was laid at man's door - omne bonum a Deo, omne malum ab homine.230 … Original sin had corrupted a creature originally good. … therefore, good is still wholly projected but evil only partly so, since the passions of men are its main source. Alchemical speculation continued this process of integrating metaphysical projections in so far as it began to dawn on the adept that both opposites were of a psychic nature. …This development was extremely important, because it was an attempt to integrate opposites that were previously projected.“

§87 “Cadmus is interpreted alchemically as Mercurius … He seeks his feminine counterpart, …but she meets him in the shape of the Mercurial serpent, which he must first kill because it contains the furious conflict of warring elements (the chaos). From this arises the harmony of the elements, (why five elements = warriors remaining?) and the coniunctio can now take place. (Italics mine) The spoils of the struggle, in this case the dragon's skin … In other words, it is offered up to the unconscious as the source of life, which produces harmony out of disharmony.231 (Italics mine) … according to the myth, Cadmus and Harmonia turned to stone (evidently because of an embarras de richesse: perfect harmony is a dead end). In another version, they turn into snakes, “and even into a basilisk,” …”
These paragraphs are very rich and warrant re-reading again and again. The conflict, the order from chaos that the coniunctio brings, the relation to entropy as a law of nature in contradistinction to the unconscious objectives to bring harmony through the joining of opposites. The 'morality' of the unconscious and the withdrawal of projections by the Alchemists to own these psychic moral issues as opposed to projecting them with religion …all very very interesting topics.

§88 ”… The contradictoriness of the unconscious is resolved by the archetype of the nuptial coniunctio, by which the chaos becomes ordered. Any attempt to determine the nature of the unconscious state runs up against the same difficulties as atomic physics: the very act of observation alters the object observed. Consequently, there is at present no way of objectively determining the real nature of the unconscious.“

The motif of 'triple prediction' or 'triple cause'.

§89 Epigram of the Hermaphrodite, circa 1150

§89 Jung mentions a “Platonic Riddle” mentioned by Maier. The riddle answers are correct but ambiguous as though unreal but leave the door open to the idea that things are not always so clear and a simple explanation may exist no matter how weird.
”… the Aelia inscription. (the Enigma of Bologna) The seriousness with which the alchemists took it, however, is justified … because paradox is the natural medium for expressing transconscious facts.(Emphasis mine)

§91 Jung mentions Niobe - who was turned to stone. Richard White considers Aelia Laelia as 'Niobe transformed.' This is done in reference to another epigram about the body as tomb.

§92 “The human soul is “androgynous,” “because a girl has a masculine and a man a feminine soul.”244 To this remarkable psychological insight he adds another: the soul is called an “old woman,” because the spirit of young people is weak. This aptly expresses the psychological fact that, in people with an all too youthful attitude of consciousness, the anima is often represented in dreams as an old woman.”
244The psychological insight, which was rediscovered only in the 20th century, seems to have been a commonplace among the alchemists from the middle of the 16th century on.

§98 In leading to Freud's sexual theory Jung introduces a few alternative interpretations of the enigma; 'Aelia and Laelia' = 'form and matter', para 94. Then, an interpretation of Veranius that the enigma 'described the nature of Love', para 96. This leads into Freud. Jung goes on;
§99 “Now it is, as a matter of fact, true that apart from the personal striving for power, or superbia, love, in the sense of concupiscentia, is the dynamism that most infallibly brings the unconscious to light. … That is why we always find two main causes of psychic catastrophes: on the one hand a disappointment in love and on the other hand a thwarting of the striving for power.”

§100 “The last interpretation … although its argument is the stupidest its content is the most significant. …the author, C. Schwartz,256 … His view was that Lucius Agatho Priscius meant his monument to be understood as the Church. … the symbol of the Church in part expresses and in part substitutes for all the secrets of the soul …(Cf. Psychology and Religion)
256Acta eruditorum (1727), p. 332.

§101 Worth a read, difficult to sum up. Interesting is the use of term ”immanentist” principle of explanation as a result of the “psychic contents that dropped out of the dogmatic framework at the time of the Renaissance (circa 14-17th century) and the Great Schism (1378 - 1417) . ”… the collective unconscious, through its archetypes, provides the a priori condition for the assignment of meaning.” (i.e., the psyche was there first)

§103 “… the divine maiden(anima), … the divine child (the self).259
259Cf. my “The Psychology of the Child Archetype” and “The Psychological Aspects of the Kore.”
260“De sulphure,” Mus. herm., p. 617: “(The soul) imagines very many profound things outside the body, and by this is made like unto God.”*

back to top

1. Introduction

§104 “After the hostility of the four elements has been overcome, there still remains the last and most formidable opposition, which the alchemist expressed very aptly as the relationship between male and female. We are inclined to think of this primarily as the power of love, of passion, which drives the two opposite poles together, forgetting that such a vehement attraction is needed only when an equally strong resistance keeps them apart. …”

back to top

§232 quote on girls and their fathers

back to top

10. The Self and the bounds of knowledge

Σ §776

Aurum potabile (Colloidal gold) This explains a lot I think when you consider the colours associated with colloidal gold of different sizes…how it must have appeared to the alchemists.

From Wikipedia: “Solutions of gold nanoparticles of various sizes. The size difference causes the difference in colors.”


§778 “With the advance towards the psychological a great change sets in, for self-knowledge has certain ethical consequences which are not just impassively recognised but demand to be carried out in practice. This depends of course on one's moral endowment, …” Jung uses the word 'ethical' quite a lot throughout his work and I think this is a helpful sentence understand where he is coming from when he uses the word. There is a demand, an ethical demand, a responsibility even. I'm reminded of the bible verse,

“But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12 v48

“For this reason the experience of the self is always a defeat for the ego. The extraordinary difficulty in this experience is that the self can be distinguished only conceptually from what has always been referred to as “God,” but not practically. … From this general statement one should not draw the overhasty conclusion that in every case there is a hubris of ego-consciousness which fully deserves to be overpowered by the unconscious. That is not so at all, … ”

deus terrenus = god on earth
anima mundi = world soul

back to top

§779 “The alchemical compensation corresponds to the integration of the unconscious with consciousness, whereby both are altered.”

Σ §785 “… Naturally enough he feels this overwhelming power as “divine.” I have nothing against this word, but with the best will in the world I cannot see that it proves the existence of a transcendent God.”

omne malum ab homine = All good from God, all evil from man

You could leave a comment if you were logged in.
  • Last modified: 2017/02/14 05:08
  • by janus