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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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Introversion (seeking for the uterus or the grave) is a necessary presupposition of regeneration or resurrection, and this is a necessary presupposition of the mystical creation of the new man. (John III, 1-6): “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to Jesus by night [introversion] and said unto him, ‘Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him.’ Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter 236 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts the second time into his mother's womb and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Water is one of the most general religious mother symbols (baptism). With the earliest alchemists the brazen man becomes silver, the silver man, gold, by being dipped in the holy fountain.

A mythological representation of introversion with its danger and with regeneration was given previously [see Vishnu's adventure]. Detailed examples follow; first the Celtic myth of the birth of Taliesin.

[309] In olden times there was a man of noble parentage in Peelyn named Tegid Voel. His ancestral country was in the center of the lake of Tegid. His wife was called Ceridwen. Of her he had a son, Morvram ap Tegid, and a daughter, Creirwy, the fairest maiden in the world. These two had another brother, the ugliest of all beings, named Avagddu. Ceridwen, the mother of this ill favored son, well knew that he would have little success in society, although he was endowed with many fine qualities. She determined to prepare a kettle [introversion] for her son, so that on account of his skill in looking into the future [Siddhi] he should find entrance into society. The kettle of water began to boil [cooking of the child in the uterus vessel] and the cooking had to be continued without interruption till one could get three blessed drops from the gifts of the Spirit [treasure]. She set Gwyon, the son of Gwreang of Llanveir, to watch the preparation of the kettle, and appointed a blind man [mutilation or castration] named Morda to keep alight the fire under the kettle, with the command that he should not permit the interruption of the boiling for a year and a day. [Cf. the activity of the wanderer in the parable, Sec. 14 ff.] Meanwhile Ceridwen occupied herself with the stars, watched daily the movement of the planets, and gathered herbs of all varieties that possessed C. Regeneration. 237 peculiar powers [Siddhis]. Towards the end of the year, while she was still looking for herbs, it happened that three drops of the powerful water flew out of the kettle and fell on Gwyon's [310] finger. They scalded him and he stuck his finger in his mouth.

As the precious drops touched his lips all the events of the future were opened to his eyes, and he saw that he must be on his guard against Ceridwen [dreaded mother]. He rushed home. The kettle split into two parts [motive of the tearing apart of the uterus], for all the water in it except the three powerful drops were poisonous [danger of introversion], so that it poisoned the chargers of Gwyddno Garantur, which were drinking out of the gutter into which the kettle had emptied itself [the flood]. Now Ceridwen came in and saw that her whole year's work was lost. She took a pestle and struck the blind man so hard on the head that one of his eyes fell out on his cheeks. “You have unjustly deformed me,” cried Morda; “you see that I am guiltless. Your loss is not caused by my blunder.” “Verily,” said Ceridwen, “Gwyon the Small it was that robbed me.” Immediately she pursued him, but Gwyon saw her from a distance and turned into a hare and redoubled his speed, but she at once became a hound, forced him to turn around and chased him towards a river. He jumped in and became a fish, but his enemy pursued him quickly in the shape of an otter, so that he had to assume the form of a bird and fly up into the air. But the element gave him no place of refuge, for the woman became a falcon, came after him and would have caught him [forms of anxiety]. Trembling for fear of death, he saw a heap of smooth wheat on a threshing floor, fell into the [311] middle of it and turned into a grain of wheat. But Ceridwen took the shape of a black hen, flew to the wheat, scratched it asunder, recognized the grain and swallowed it [impregnation, incest].

She became pregnant from it and after being confined for nine months [regeneration] she found so lovely a child [improvement] that she could no longer think of its death [immortality]. She put it in a boat, covered it with a skin [skin = lanugo of the fœtus, 238 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts belongs to the birth motive], and at the instigation of her husband cast the skiff into the sea on the 29th of April. At this time the fish weir of Gwyddno stood between Dyvi and Aberystwyth, near his own stronghold. It was usual in this weir every year on the 1st of May to catch fish worth 100 pounds. Gwyddno had an only son, Elphin. He was very unfortunate in his undertakings, and so his father thought him born in an evil hour. His counselors persuaded the father, however, to let his son draw the weir basket this time, to try whether good luck would ever be his, and so that he might yet gain something with which to go forth into the world. On the next day, the 1st of May, Elphin examined the weir basket and found nothing, yet as he went away, he saw the boat covered with the skin rest on the post of the weir. One of the fishermen said to him, “You have never been so unlucky as you were to-night, but now you have destroyed the virtue of the weir basket,” in which they always found a hundred pounds' worth on the first of May. “How so?” asked Elphin. “The boat may easily contain the worth of the hundred.” The skin was lifted and he [312] that opened it saw the forehead of a child and said to Elphin, “See the beaming forehead.” “Beaming forehead, Taliesin, be his name,” replied the prince, who took the child in his arms and because of his own misfortune, pitied it. He put it behind him on his charger. Immediately the child composed a song for the consolation and praise of Elphin, and at the same time prophesied to him his future fame. Elphin took the child into the stronghold and showed him to his father, who asked the child whether he was a human being or a spirit. Whereupon he answered in the following song: “I am Elphin's first bard; my native country is the land of the cherubim. The heavenly John called me Merddin [Merlin] and finally, every one, King: Taliesin. I was nine months in the womb of my mother Ceridwen, before which I was the little Gwyon, now I am Taliesin. With my Lord I was in the world above, and fell as Lucifer into the depths of hell. I carried the banner before Alexander. I know the names of the stars from C. Regeneration. 239 north to south. I was in the circle of Gwdion [Gwydi on] in the Tetragrammaton. I accompanied the Hean into the valley of Hebron. I was in Canaan when Abraham was killed. I was in the court of Dve before Gwdion was born, a companion of Eli and Enoch. I was at the judgment that condemned the Son of God to the cross. I was an overseer at Nimrod's tower building. I was in the ark with Noah. I saw the destruction of Sodom. I was in Africa before Rome was built. I came hither to the remains of [313] Troy (i.e., to Britain, for the mystical progenitor of the Britons boasted a Trojan parentage). I was with my Lord in the asses' manger. I comforted Moses in the Jordan. I was in the firmament with Mary Magdalene. I was endowed with spirit by the kettle of Ceridwen. I was a harper at Lleon in Lochlyn. I suffered hunger for the son of the maiden. I was in the white mountains in the court of Cynvelyn in chains and bondage, a year and a day. I dwelt in the kingdom of the Trinity [Tri-unity]. It is not known whether my body is flesh or fish. I was a teacher of the whole world and remain till the day of judgment on the face of the earth. [Briefly, Taliesin has the ubiquity of [Symbol: Mercury].] I sat on the shaken chair at Caer Seden [Caer Seden is probably the unceasingly recurrent cycle of animal life in the center of the universe.], which continually rotates between the three elements.





Is it not a marvel that it does reflect a single beam?” Gwyddnaw, astonished at the evolution of the boy, requested another song and received the answer: “Water has the property of bringing grace; it is profitable to devote one's thoughts aright to God; it is good warmly to pray to God, because the grace which goes out from him cannot be thwarted. Thrice have I been born; I know how one has to meditate. It is sad that men do not come to seek all the knowledge of the world, which is collected in my breast, for I know everything that has been and everything that will be.” (Nork. Myth. d. Volkss., pp. 662 ff.) [314] The story of Taliesin closely harmonizes with that of Hermes in the Smaragdine tablet. Nork makes some interesting 240 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts observations, which besides the nature myth interpretation, contains also an allusion to the idea of spiritual regeneration.

I have already mentioned that the uterus symbol is frequently the body cavity of a monster. Just as in the previous myth the hero by introversion gets three marvelous drops, so in the Finnish epic Kalevala, Wäinämöinen learns three magic words in the belly of a monster, his dead ancestor Antero Wipunen. The gigantic size of the body of the being that here and in other myths represents the mother, has an infantile root. The introverting person, as we know, becomes a child. To the child the adults, and of course, the mother, are very large. For the adult, who becomes a child and revives the corresponding images, the mother image may easily become a giant.

Stekel tells (Spr. d. Tr., p. 429) of a patient whose dreams show uterus and regeneration phantasies in concealed form, that he, advised of it by Stekel, mused upon it some minutes and then said, “I must openly confess to you these conscious phantasies. I was 13 years old when I wished to become acquainted with an enormously large giantess, in whose body I might take a walk, and where I could inspect everything. I would then make myself quite comfortable and easy in the red cavern. I also phantasied a swing that was hung 10 m. high in the body of this giantess.

There I wanted to swing up and down joyfully.” This patient [315] had carried over the original proportion of fœtus and mother to his present size. Now that he was grown up, the body in which he could move had to be the body of a giantess.

We shall now not be surprised at the flesh mountain Krun of the mandæan Hibil-Ziwâ saga or similar giant personalities.

Hibil-Ziwâ descended into the world of darkness in order to get the answer to a question (i.e., once more the treasure in the form of a marvelous word). He applied in vain to different persons, but always had to go deeper and finally came to Krûn, from whom he forced the magic word.

The treasure or wonder working name comes from the depths C. Regeneration. 241 according to the hermetic cabbalistic conception also. David is supposed to have found at the digging of the foundation of the temple, the Eben stijjah, Stone of the Deeps, that unlocked the fountain of the great deep (I Mos., VII, 11, and VIII, 12) and on which the Sêm ha-mephorás, the outspoken name (of God) was inscribed. This stone he brought into the holy of holies, and on it the ark of the covenant was set. Fearless disciples of wisdom entered at times into the sanctuary and had learned from the stone the name with its combinations of letters in order to work wonders therewith.

In cases where the uterus is represented by the body cavity of a monster the rebirth occurs most frequently by a spitting forth.

Also the breaking forth by means of tearing apart the uterus occurs, and in every case it has the significance of a “powerfully [316] tearing of oneself away,” the burning of bridges behind one, the final victory over the mother. To the descent into the underworld (introversion) corresponds, as characteristic of the subsequent rebirth, the rising to the light with the released treasure (magic word as above, water of life, as in Ishtar's hell journey, etc.).

A frequently used symbol for the released libido is the light, the sun. Reborn sun figures, in connection with a daily and yearly up and down, are also quite general. That the released libido appears thus may have several reasons. External ones, like the life-imparting properties of the sun, invite comparison.

Then the parallel light = consciousness. [Also that higher or other consciousness that is mediated by the mystic religious work; for which expressions like illuminate, etc., are sufficiently significant. On this topic see my essay, Phant. u. Myth.

(Jb., II, p. 597).] and also inner reasons, i.e., such as rest upon the actual light and warmth sensations, which occur, as literature and observations show, in persons who are devoted to spiritual training. Here the occasion may be offered to the mystic to utilize for conscious life and action, functions that hitherto had been unconscious. Of the appearance of light in the 242 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts state of introversion, the histories of saints and ecstatics, and the autobiographies of this kind of men are full. An enormous number of instances might be given. I shall rest content with recalling

that Mechthildis von Magdeburg has entitled her revelations:



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