In "The Symbols of the Self", the last part of "II - Individual dream symbolism in relation to alchemy", Jung reflects about the dream analysis and concludes his results.
He remarks how the analysed dreams consistently show the "center" as a central dream symbol, and how this symbol presents consciousness with the in itself unobservable center point of the psyche, the self. In case internal processes would go their course unhindered, this symbol shows itself even through the turbulances of the personal psyche. On the other hand, it is possible for consciousness to be afraid of these unconscious processes, in which case the center point works like a disparate magnet, "pushing" its influence upon consciousness and hence effecting its movements. Interestingly, he connects this negative relation to unconscious processes with the symbol of a spider in its net. However, Jung observes the personal psyche in relation to the unconscious to act like a shy animal - fascinated and frightend at the same time, lurking around the center.
He observes how the center often presents itself in symbols related to a spiral. Correspondingly, he upholds how - neither for him nor anyone else - any particular insight on the nature of the center is possible. In itself it remains unrecognizable and only expresses itself symbolically through its phenomenology.
Still, Jung notes a certain fourfoldness showing itself as a quality of the center throughout the dreams, which often would find itself in competition with either the 3 or, less often, the 5. (this has an interesting correspondence in the discontinued use of the citrinitas process in alchemy, as we will see later.) To him, it is highly unlikely that this he showing itself as a quality of the self through dreams would have its origin outside of the unconscious and is, for example, brought to it by autosuggestion. Rather, he infers that there must be a psychical element expressed by this fourfoldness and that this expression must be a meaningful process of the objective psyche. This expression is described as the presentation of Images of the psyches aim, which psyche gives to itself without any outer suggestion.
One of these expressions of the psyche is the madala motif, always pointing towards the center. Jung argues that in case of the analysed dreams, this motif has been present right from the beginning instead of developing in its course. He describes the mandala as an archetype that, correspondingly, can present itself to everyone; In practice, this would happen only for relative few.
Concluding the dream series in my own words, Jung undertook quite an effort to show how the self autonomously presents itself in symbols, hence enabling deductions of current inner processes that must be expressed in symbolic form to be visible in the first place. On one hand, this makes me thing of how many things present themselves to us in a unity of form and essence, so to speak, for which writing and especially poetry would be a good example. The meaning created in poetry is, in my eyes, constituted in the interplay, the rythm and the melody of words, for example, rather than the merely associated meaning of each individual expression that is interpreted differently from person to person. On the other hand, Hegels phenomenlogy of spirit comes to mind, in which he tries to show the different levels of consciousness in their respective forms. I think it is a valid interpretation to say that these forms are necessary in order to make these visible in the first place - and, a step further, that levels of consciousness are even constituted by their respective forms.
III. Religious Ideas in Alchemy
Chapter I: Basic Concepts of Alchemy
In A - Introduction, Jung basically describes how alchemy - before its decline during the enlightenment - dealt with forms and laws which originally come from the soul but are observed via substances. Picking this idea up, we can say that alchemy makes visible inner processes and qualities visible in the outside, much like the self shows itself via symbols in dreams. Interestingly, this seems meaningful for the decline of alchemy, as it becomes impractical nonsense once taken literally, as Jung himself argues as well.
In B - Phases of the alchemical Process, Jung gives an account of the main processes in alchemy. In general, alchemy is explained to describe a chemical transformation process and give instructions for its execution. Even though authors don’t agree upon the phases and the course of the processes, four can be distinguished:
This quadripartition of alchemy corresponds to the four elements, four qualities and other fourfoldnesses found within nature.
In the 15th and 16th century, Xanthosis (citrinitas) becomes more and more negleceted until only melanosis, leukosis and iosis remain. This decline of one of the processes appears to relate to the 3/4 and 4/5 problematic observed by Jung in his dream analysis.
Melanosis, the nigredo phase, is explained as the initial state of the matter, either as quality of the prima materia, chaos or "massa confusa", present either from the beginning or created by divinding the elements (solutio, seperatio, diviso, putrefactio). In case of a seperation, a unification of the opposites via the analogy of the unification of male and female is aimed for, after which the death of the unifed product follows (mortificatio, calcinatio, putrefactio). After nigredo, the cleansing of the blackend substance (ablutio, baptisma) leads directly to whitening. Alternatively, the soul that escaped at death if unifed with the dead body and revitalized or, speaking in colors, many are transformed into one white color which contains all others. This way, Albedo as the silver or moon state is reached, which in the end peaks in the "state of the sun" via rubedeo. Originally, the transition from albedo to rubdeo has been marked by citrinitas, but after its elemination, rubedo directly follows after albdeo via "the increase of the fire to the highest degree".
In C - Conception and Symbols of the Goal, Jung notes the structure of the particular phases described would greatly depend on the goals of the authors, of which he names the white or the red tincture (aqua permanens) or the philosophers stone, containing both as hermaphroditus, or the Panacea, the philosophical gold, the gold glass or the hammerable glass.
The Goals often are as unclear as the phases of the processes - in case of prima materia, for example, it is sometimes the means for the creation of gold, then described as deus terrestris, salvator or filius macrocosmi, the son of the cosmos.
Next to prima materia, fire and water are described in an important role. These are opposites, but are often stated to be one and the same by alchemical authors. Leaning on “Excercitatio VIII in Turbam”, jung for example conludes that the philosophical water is one and the same as the philosophers stone / the prima materia, and at the same time their solvent, which is true for fire as well.
Equally important would be the hermetical vessel, the retort or melting kiln, as a vessel for the substances that are to be transmuted. Even though instrumental, it is not a mere appartus and described to be in a special relatin to prima materia. It has to be round in order to mimic the spherical cosmos and is a kind of uterus from which the stone is born, which is why the vessel is demanded not only to be round, but egg-shaped. Jung quotes Maria the prophet who says how the secret would lay in the knowledge of the hermetical vessel, even further stressing its importance.
From Fire we create life.