The Mystery of the Coniunctio: Alchemical Image of Individuation
Edward F. Edinger, Joan Dexter Blackmer
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Two concise essays on the union of opposites: “Introduction to Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctionis” and “A Psychological Interpretation of the Rosarium Pictures”—the alchemical drawings on which Jung based one of his major works, The Psychology of the Transference.
men plume themselves on the improvement of society, and no man improves.''38 There certainly are individuals whose life work and destiny require them to deal with political realities. That's the arena in which they live out their life. And each of us, trying to be as conscious as possible, must ask ourselves what our proper life arena is. If we decide that our life arena is politics, then we will be obliged to prepare ourselves to function effectively in that arena and live out our life there.
lamentation, the Threnos, on the part of the chorus, the observers of the drama. 4. Then a miraculous enantiodromia takes place and the god remanifests; he resurrects, reappears on another level, and that's called the Theophany. Again I've put that sequence in a circle (diagram 3) in order to compare it with the others. I think you'll see as we go along that it closely parallels the Rosarium pictures. I think these parallels are inevitable because these cycles all derive from the same basic
vaporize and then condense or crystallize on the cooler portions of the vessel; that is called sublimation or sublimatio.97 The Rosarium also includes another picture, a parallel to Picture 10. It's a representation of Christ rising out of his tomb as a symbol of the filius philosophorum (see next page). This is an example of the Christ-lapis parallel that Jung discusses at length in Psychology and Alchemy.98 I understand this image, and Picture 10, to refer to the creation of a psychic substance
of everything. Now, what does that mean psychologically? It certainly does not mean that contact with the Self makes one immune to sickness. I think it means, rather, that all vicissitudes of life, including illness, become meaningful when experienced in relation to the Self and therefore promote the experience of wholeness. They don't bring about dissociation. So it isn't so much that one is immune to sickness or death, which is certainly not the case, but rather that such experiences are part
fire, for instance, mercury and sulphur, and moon and sun. But, before that union can take place, the evil thief must be dealt with. And the thief, Jung says, "personifies a kind of self-robbery" due to collective thinking.25 In the text, the thief is characterized as crude Sulphur in contrast with true Sulphur. Now, what is sulphur? What does it mean psychologically? Jung has a wonderful passage, extending for many pages in Mysterium, on the symbolism of sulphur. He concludes with these words: