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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 raw product then, of the symbol-choosing phantasy of the individual (“raw,” i.e., not covered for publicity with a premeditated varnish) bears traces of the things that closely concern the person in question. (“Out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh”—even without premeditation.) If we now start from a spiritual product which is expressed in symbols (mythologically apperceived), and whose author we must take to be not an individual man but many generations or [326] simply mankind, then this product will, in the peculiarities of the selection of the symbol, conceivably signify not individual propensities but rather those things that affect identically the generality of mankind. In alchemy, which as a mythologically apperceiving science is completely penetrated by symbols, we C. Regeneration. 249 regard as remarkable in the selection of symbols, the juxtaposition of such images as reflect what we have, through psychoanalysis, become acquainted with, as the “titanic” impulses (Œdipus complex). No wonder! These very impulses are the ones that we know from psychoanalytic investigations as those which stand above all individual idiosyncracies. And if we had not known it, the very circumstances of alchemy would have taught us.

The familiar scheme of impulses with its “titanic” substratum, which is necessarily existent in all men (although it may have been in any particular case extraordinarily sublimated) comes clearly to view in individual creations of fancy. It must be found quite typically developed, however, where a multitude of men (fable making mankind) were interested in the founding, forming, polishing and elaborating of the symbolic structure.

Such creations have transcended the merely personal. An example of this kind is the “mythological” science of alchemy.

That we are repelled by the retrograde perspective of the types residing in its symbols (and which often appear quite nakedly) comes from the fact that in the critic these primal impulse forms [327] have experienced a strong repression, and that their re-emergence meets a strong resistance (morality, taste, etc.).

The much discussed elementary types have therefore insinuated themselves into the body of the alchemistic hieroglyphics, as mankind, confronted with the riddles of physico-chemical facts, struggled to express a mastery of them by means of thought. The typical inventory of powers, as an apperception mass, so to speak, helped to determine the selection of symbols. A procedure of determination has taken place here similar to that we might have noticed in the coincidence of material and functional symbolism in dreams. Here again appears the heuristic value which the introduction of the concept of the functional categories had for our problem.

The possibility of deriving the “titanic” and the “anagogic” from the alchemistic (often by their authors merely chemically 250 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts intended) allegories is now easily explained. We can work it out, because it was already put in there, even if neither in the extreme form of the “titanic” (i.e., the retrograde aspect), nor in that of the “anagogic” (the progressive aspect), but in an indeterminate middle stage of the intro-determination. What gave opportunity for this play of symbolism was an effort of intelligence directed toward chemistry. The chemical content in alchemy is, so to speak, what has been purposely striven for, while the rest came by accident, yet none the less inevitably. So then natural philosophy appears to be the carrier, or the stalk on which the titanic and the [328] anagogic symbolism blossoms. Thus it becomes intelligible how the alchemistic hieroglyphic aiming chiefly at chemistry, adapted itself through and through to the hermetic anagogic educational goal, so that at times and by whole groups, alchemy was used merely as a mystical guide without any reference to chemistry.

What we have found in alchemy we shall now apply to mythology where analogous relations have been indicated. [The apperception theory here used should not be confused with the intellectual theory (of Steinthal) which Wundt (V. Ps., IV2, pp.

50 ff.) criticised as the illusion theory. I should be more inclined to follow closely the Wundtian conception of the “mythological apperception” (ibid., pp. 64 ff.) with particular emphasis on the affective elements that are to work there. With Wundt, the affects are really the “actual impulse mainsprings” and the most powerful stimuli of the phantasy (ib., p. 60). “The affects of fear and hope, wish and desire, love and hate, are the widely disseminated sources of the myth. They are, of course, continually linked with images. But they are the ones that first breathe life into these images.” I differ from Wundt in that I have more definite ideas of the origin of these affects, by which they are brought into close connection with the frequently mentioned elementary motives.] Modern investigation of myths has, in my opinion, sufficiently shown that we are here concerned with a nucleus of natural philosophy (comprehension of astral and C. Regeneration. 251 even of meteorological processes, etc.) around which legendary [329] and historical material can grow. As has been shown by two fairy tales and as I could have abundantly shown from countless others, the psychoanalytic and the anagogic interpretations are possible alongside of the scientific. [We can criticise Hitchcock for having in his explanations of fairy tales considered them only in their most developed form, and not bothered about their origin and archaic forms. And as a matter of fact the more developed forms permit a very much richer anagogic interpretation than the archaic. But that is no proof against the interpretation, but only establishes their orientation in the development of the human spirit. The anagogic interpretation is indeed a prospective explanation in the sense of an ethical advance. Now the evolution even of fairy tales shows quite clearly a progression towards the ethical; and inasmuch as the ethical content of the tale grows by virtue of this evolution, the anagogic explanation is in the nature of things able to place itself in higher developed tales in correspondingly closer connection with mythical material.] I adduce here only one example, namely the schema that Frobenius has derived from the comparison of numerous sun myths. The hero is swallowed by a water monster in the west [the sun sets in the sea]. The animal journeys with him to the east (night path of the sun apparently under the sea). He lights a fire in the belly of the animal and cuts off a piece of the pendant heart when he feels hungry. Soon after he notices that the fish is running aground. [330] (The reillumined sun comes up to the horizon from below.) He begins immediately to cut his way out of the animal, and then slips out (sunrise). In the belly of the fish it has become so hot that all his hair has fallen out. (Hair probably signifies rays.) Quite as clear as the nature myth purport, is the fact that we have a representation of regeneration, which is quite as conceivable in psychoanalytic as in anagogic explanation.





Now I cannot approve of the attempt of many psychoanalysts to treat as a negligible quantity or to ignore altogether the scientific 252 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts content (nature nucleus) of the myths which has been so well substantiated by the newer research, even though it is not so well established in the details. [I have uttered a similar warning in Jb.

ps. F., IV (Princip. Anreg.) and previously, in Jb. ps. F., II (Phant.

u. Myth), have advocated the equality of the natural philosophical and the psychological content. Now I observe with pleasure that very recently an author of the psychoanalytic school is engaged on the very subject that I have recommended as so desirable. Dr.

Emil F. Lorenz, in the February number of Imago, 1913, treats the “Titan Motiv in der allgemeinen Mythologie” in a manner that approaches my conception of it. In the consideration of human primal motives as apperception mass, there is particularly revealed a common thought in the primitive interpretation of natural phenomenon. Unfortunately the article appeared after this book was finished. So even if I am not in a position to enter into this question, I will none the less refer to it and at [331] the same time express the hope that Lorenz will further elaborate the interesting preliminary contribution, communicated in the form of aphorisms, as he terms it.] The inadmissibility of these omissions arises from the vital importance and gripping effect of the objects thus (i.e., mythologically) regarded by humanity (e.g., of the course of the sun, so infinitely important for them in their dependence upon the moods of nature). If then, on the one hand, it will not be possible for the psychoanalyst to force the nature mythologist out of his position and somehow to prove that any symbol means not the sun but the father, so on the other hand the nature mythologist who may understand his own interpretations so admirably, must not attack the specifically psychological question: why in the apperception of an object, this and not that symbolic image offers itself to consciousness. So, for instance, why the sunset and sunrise is so readily conceived as a swallowing and eructation, or as a process of regeneration.

Yet Frobenius (Zeitalt. d. Sonneng., I, p. 30) finds the symbolism “negligible.” C. Regeneration. 253 It is also conceivable that the obtrusive occurrence of incest, castration of the father, etc., should make the mythologists ponder. It was bias on the part of many of them to be unwilling to see the psychological value of these things. I must therefore acknowledge the justice of Rank's view when he (Inz-Mot., p. 278) says in reference to the Œdipus myth (rightly, in all probability, interpreted by Goldziher as a sun myth): “Yet it [332] is indubitable that these ideas of incest with the mother and the murder of the father are derived from human life, and that the myth in this human disguise could never be brought down from heaven without a corresponding psychic idea, which may really have been an unconscious one even at the time of the formation of the myth, just as it is with the mythologists of today.” And in another passage (pp. 318 ff.): “While these investigators (astral and moon mythologists) would consider incest and castration operative in an equal or even greater degree than we do, as the chief motives in the formation of myths in the celestial examples only, we are forced by psychoanalytical considerations to find in them universal primitive human purposes which later, as a result of the need of psychological justification, have been projected into the heavens from which our myth interpreters wish in turn to derive them. [Whether such a need of justification has had a share in the formation of myths appears to me doubtful or at any rate not demonstrable.

At all events in so strongly emphasizing these unnecessary assumptions and conceiving the projection upon heaven of the mundane psychological primal motives as an act of release, we hide the more important cause for concerning ourselves with heaven, namely the already mentioned vital importance of the things that are accomplished there. Now the fact that the primal motives cooperate in the symbolical realization of these things, implies no defense directed against them. A better defense [333] would be to repress them in symbolism than, as really happens, to utilize them in it.] These interpreters, for example, have 254 Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts believed that they recognized in the motive of dismemberment (castration) a symbolic suggestion of the gradual waning of the moon, while the reverse is for us undoubted, namely, that the offensive castration has found a later symbolization in the moon phases. Yet it argues either against all logic and psychology, or for our conception of the sexualization of the universe, that man should have symbolized so harmless a phenomenon as the changes of the moon, by so offensive a one as the dismemberment or castration of the nearest relative. So the nature mythologists also, and Siecke in particular, have thought that primitive man has ‘immediately regarded’ the (to him) incomprehensible waning of the moon as a dismemberment, while this is psychologically quite unthinkable unless this image, which is taken from earthly life, should have likewise originated in human life and thought (phantasy).” It is indeed never conceivable that men would have chosen for the natural phenomenon exactly these titanic symbols, if these had not had for them a special psychic value, and therefore touched them closely. If any one should object that they would not have “chosen” them (because they did not purposely invent allegories, as was formerly thought), I should raise the contrary question: Who has chosen them? I will stick to the word “choose” for a choice has taken place. But the powers that arranged this [334] choice lived and still live in the soul of man.

The conception advocated by me gives their due to the nature mythologists just as much as to the psychologists that oppose them. It reinstates, moreover, a third apparently out-worn tendency [the so-called degeneration theory] that sees in the myth the veiling of ancient priestly wisdom. This obsolete view had the distinction that it placed some value, which the modern interpreters did not, on the anagogic content of the myths (even if in a wrong perspective). The necessity of reckoning with an anagogic content of myths results from the fact that religions with their ethical valuations, have developed from mythical C. Regeneration. 255 beginnings. And account must be taken of these relations. In the way in which the older interpretations of myths regarded the connection, they pursued a phantom, but their point of view becomes serviceable as soon as it reverses the order of evolution.

It is not true that the religious content in myths was the priestly wisdom of antiquity, but rather that it became such at the end of the development. My conception shows further that the utmost significance for the recognition and comparison of the motives (corresponding to the psychological types) attaches to the material so brilliantly reconstructed by Stucken and other modern investigators, but not the convincing evidence which some think they find there for the migration theory, as against [335] the theory of elementary thoughts.



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