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«***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HIDDEN SYMBOLISM OF ALCHEMY AND THE OCCULT ARTS*** Hidden Symbolism of ALCHEMY and the OCCULT ARTS (Formerly ...»

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the chamber should be duly warmed so that they be neither too hot nor too cold, and they could neither come out nor escape. But should they, on account of any hope of breaking this mandate, escape, I would thereupon be justly subjected to heavy punishment. I was not pleased by the thing, my fear and solicitude made me faint hearted, for I communed with myself that it was no small thing that had befallen me, as I knew also that the college of wisdom was accustomed not to lie but to put into action what it said. Yet because I could [010] not change it, beside which this locked chamber stood in the center of a strong tower and surrounded with strong bulwarks and high walls, in which one could with a small but continuous fire warm the whole chamber, I undertook this office, and began in God's name to warm the chamber, and protect the imprisoned pair from the cold. But what happened? As soon as they perceived the slightest warmth they embraced each other so tenderly that the like will not soon be seen, and stayed so hot that the young bridegroom's heart in his body dissolved for ardent love, also his whole body almost melted in his beloved's arms and fell apart. When she who loved him no less than he did her, saw this, she wept over him passionately and, as it were buried him with her tears so that one could not see, for her gushing tears that overflowed everything, where he went. Her weeping and sorrowing had driven her to this in a short time, and she would not for deep anguish of heart live longer, but voluntarily gave herself to death. Ah woe is me.

In what pain and need and trouble was I that my two charges had quite disappeared in water, and death alone was left for me. My certain destruction stood before my eyes, and what was the greatest hardship to me, I feared the threatened shame and disgrace that would happen to me, more than the injury that would overtake me.

[15]. As I now passed several days in such solitude and pondered over the question how I could remedy my affairs, 14 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts

–  –  –

many vapors arose and drew themselves up just as the sun draws water. They were condensed in the night in a lovely and very fruitful dew, which very early in the morning fell and moistened the earth and washed our dead corpses, so that from day to day, the longer such bathing and washing continued, the more beautiful and whiter they became. But [012] the fairer and whiter they became, the more they lost moisture, till finally the air being bright and beautiful, and all the mist and moist weather, having passed, the spirit and soul of the bride could hold itself no longer in the bright air, but went back into the clarified and still more transfigured body of the queen, who soon experienced it [i.e. her soul and spirit] and at once lived again. This, then, as I could easily observe, not a little pleased me, especially as I saw her arise in surpassingly costly garments whose like was never seen on earth, and with a precious crown decked with bright diamonds; and also heard her speak. “Hear ye children of men and perceive ye that are born of women, that the most high power can set up kings and can remove kings. He makes rich and poor, according to his will. He kills and makes again to live.” [16]. See in me a true and living example of all that. I was great and became small, but now after having been humbled, I am a queen elevated over many kingdoms. I have been killed and made to live. To poor me have been trusted and given over the great treasures of the sages and the mighty.

[17]. “Therefore power is also given me to make the poor rich, show kindness to the lowly, and bring health to the sick.

But I am not yet like my well-beloved brother, the great and powerful king, who is still to be awakened from the dead.

When he comes he will prove that my words are true.” [18]. And when she said that the sun shone very bright, and the day was warmer than before, and the dog days were at hand. But because, a long time before, there were prepared for the lordly and great wedding of our new queen many costly robes, as of black velvet, ashen damask, gray silk, silver taffeta, snow white satin, even one studded with [013] 16 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts

–  –  –

remarked and deemed it a lordly and wholesome water, drank much of it, more than before so that I was resolved to build the chamber much larger. [Evidently because the inmate increased in size.] When now the king had drunk to his satisfaction of this precious drink, which yet the unknowing regard as nothing he became so beautiful and lordly, that in my whole life I never saw a more lordly person nor more lordly demeanor. Then he led me into his kingdom, and showed me all the treasures and riches of the world, so that I must confess, that not only had the queen announced the truth, but also had omitted to describe the greater part of it as it seemed to those that know it. For there was no end of gold and noble carbuncle there; rejuvenation and restoration of natural forces, and also recovery of lost health, and removal of all diseases were a common thing in that place. The most precious of all was that the people of that land knew their creator, feared and honored him, and asked of him wisdom and understanding, and finally after this transitory glory an everlasting blessedness. To that end help us God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.





The author of the preceding narrative calls it a parable. Its significance may have indeed appeared quite transparent to him, and he presupposes that the readers of his day knew what form of learning he masked in it. The story impresses us as rather a fairy story or a picturesque dream. If we compare parables that come nearer to our modern point of view and are easily understood on account of their simplicity, like those of Ruckert or those of the New Testament, the difference can be clearly seen. The unnamed [015] author evidently pursues a definite aim; one does find some unity in the bizarre confusion of his ideas; but what he is aiming at and what he wishes to tell us with his images we cannot immediately conceive. The main fact for us is that the anonymous writer speaks in a language that shows decided affinity with that of dreams and myths. Therefore, however we may explain in what 18 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts follows the peculiarly visionary character of the parable, we feel compelled to examine it with the help of a psychological method, which, endeavoring to get from the surface to the depths, will be able to trace analytically the formative powers of the dream life and allied phenomena, and explain their mysterious symbols.

I have still to reveal in what book and in what circumstances the parable appears. It is in the second volume of a book “Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer aus dem 16ten und 17ten Jahrhundert,” published at Altona about 1785-90. Its chief contents are large plates with pictorial representations and with them a number of pages of text. According to a note on the title page, the contents are “for the first time brought to light from an old manuscript.” The parable is in the second volume of a three-volume series which bears the subtitle: Ein güldener Tractat vom philosophischen Steine. Von einem noch lebenden, doch ungenannten Philosopho, den Filiis doctrinae zur Lehre, den Fratribus Aureae Crucis aber zur Nachrichtung beschrieben.

Anno, M.D.C.XXV.

[016] If I add that this book is an hermetic treatise (alchemistic), it may furnish a general classification for it, but will hardly give any definite idea of its nature, not merely on account of the oblivion into which this kind of writing has now fallen, but also because the few ideas usually connected with it produce a distorted picture. The hermetic art, as it is treated here, the principles of which strike us to-day as fantastic, is related to several “secret” sciences and organizations, some of which have been discredited: magic, kabbala, rosicrucianism, etc. It is particularly closely connected with alchemy so that the terms “hermetic art” and “alchemy” (and even “royal art”) are often used synonymously. This “art”—to call it by the name that not without some justification it applies to itself—leads us by virtue of its many ramifications into a large number of provinces, which furnish us desirable material for our research.

So I will first, purposely advancing on one line, regard Section I. The Parable. 19 the parable as a dream or a fairy tale and analyze it psychoanalytically. This treatment will, for the information of the reader, be preceded by a short exposition of psychoanalysis as a method of interpretation of dreams and fairy tales. Then I will, still seeking for the roots of the matter, introduce the doctrines that the pictorial language of the parable symbolizes. I will give consideration to the chemical viewpoint of alchemy and also the hermetic philosophy and its hieroglyphic educational methods.

Connections will be developed with religious and ethical [017] topics, and we shall have to take into account the historical and psychological relations of hermetic thought with rosicrucianism in its various forms, and freemasonry. And when we begin, at the conclusion of the analytical section of my work, to apply to the solution of our parable and of several folk tales the insight we have gained, we shall be confronted with a problem in which we shall face two apparently contradictory interpretations, according to whether we follow the lead of psychoanalysis or of the hermetic, hieroglyphic solution. The question will then arise whether and how the contradiction occurs. How shall we bring into relation with each other and reconcile the two different interpretations which are quite different and complete in themselves?

The question arising from the several illustrations expands into a general problem, to which the synthetic part of my book is devoted. This will, among other considerations, lead us into the psychology of symbol-making where again the discoveries of psychoanalysis come to our aid. We shall not be satisfied with analysis, but endeavor to follow up certain evolutionary tendencies which, expressed in psychological symbols, developing according to natural laws, will allow us to conjecture a spiritual building up or progression that one might call an anabasis. We shall see plainly by this method of study how the original contradiction arises and how what was previously irreconcilable, turns out to be two poles of an 20 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts evolutionary process. By that means, several principles of myth interpretation will be derived.

[018] I have just spoken of an anabasis. By that we are to understand a forward movement in a moral or religious sense. The most intensive exemplar of the anabasis (whatever this may be) is mysticism. I can but grope about in the psychology of mysticism;

I trust I may have more confidence at that point where I look at its symbolism from the ethical point of view.

[019] Section II.

Dream And Myth Interpretation.

[Readers versed in Freud's psychoanalysis are requested to pass over this chapter as they will find only familiar matter.] In the narrative which we have just examined its dream-like character is quite noticeable. On what does it depend? Evidently the Parable must bear marks that are peculiar to the dream.

In looking for correspondences we discover them even upon superficial examination.

Most noticeable is the complete and sudden change of place.

The wanderer, as I will hereafter call the narrator of the parable, sees himself immediately transported from the place near the lion's den to the top of a wall, and does not know how he has come there. Later he comes down just as suddenly. And in still other parts of the story there occurs just as rapid changes of scene as one is accustomed to in dreams. Characteristic also is the fact that objects change or vanish; the shift of scene resembles also, as often in a dream, a complete transformation. Thus, for instance, as soon as the wanderer has left the wall, it vanishes without leaving a trace, as if it had never been. A similar change is also required in the garden scene where, instead of the previously [020] observed enclosing-wall, a low hedge appears in a surprising manner.

Further, we are surprised by instances of knowledge without perception. Often in a dream one knows something without having experienced it in person. We simply know, without knowing how, that in such a house something definite and full of mystery has happened; or we know that this man, whom we see now for the first time, is called so and so; we are in some place for the first time but know quite surely that there must 22 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts be a fountain behind that wall to which for any reason we have to go, etc. Such unmediated knowledge occurs several times in the parable. In the beginning of the narrative the wanderer, although a stranger, knows that the lovely meadow is called by its inhabitants Pratum felicitatis. He knows intuitively the name of one of the men unknown to him. In the garden scene he knows, although he has noticed only the young men, that some young women (whom on account of the nature of the place he cannot then see) are desirous of going into the garden to these young men. One might say that all this is merely a peculiarity of the representation inasmuch as the author has for convenience, or on account of lack of skill, or for brevity, left out some connecting link which would have afforded us the means of acquiring this unexplained knowledge. The likeness to the dream therefore would in that case be inadmissible. To this objection it may be replied, that the dream does exactly like the author of the parable.

Our study is chiefly concerned with the product of the fancy and [021] forces us to the observation (whatever may be the cause of it) that the parable and the dream life have certain “peculiarities of representation” in common.



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