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For Writch and Chptr 12

For Writch and Chptr 12

rolef
Nov 2, 2009, 6:04 PM 2

4. PARACELSUS AND THE RENEWED IMAGE OF GOD

 

  4.1 Paracelsus's Antitrinity of Drives

 

The first three chapters have confronted us with the fact that, due to their archetypal nature, the number three and hence the triad or the trinity must always and everywhere also represent an ambivalent duality when we consider their qualitative aspect. As a necessary consequence of this pre-conscious1 fact, a principle in opposition to the Trinity had to arise over time in the course of Christian development.

We have also seen that this countervailing principle had made its appearance among the early-Christian Gnostics. In opposition to the purely masculine aspect of the Christian God they posited a divine feminine principle, the locus of which many of them, moreover, suspected lay in the human body or in matter itself. But since this principle was itself not yet differentiated into a trinity, the original Gnostic idea of a Father-Mother-Deity could develop no further. As a consequence of remaining a unity, it continued to be undiscernible, and we have seen that the necessary condition for unity to be discerned and individually experienced is that it (unity) be differentiated into a trinity: The Other must split off from the undiscernible One, while the Third resolves this tension of opposites permitting the One (or the Unitary) to become discernible. This development from unity to trinity would have been the necessary precondition for a further development of the feminine aspect of the image of God in Gnosticism, too. But this was precisely the step that this early Christian heresy could not take.

We find the first, albeit unconscious, solution of the problem of the ambivalent duality of the Trinity in the fantasy productions of a later heretical current running counter to official Christianity, in alchemy, above all in the work of the physician Paracelsus (1493-1541) and his students, that is, since the last third of the 16th Century2. From that time on, the fantasy is wide-spread3.

Since the Christian definition of the Trinity was incomplete because the ambivalent duality of spirit and matter had not been taken into account, God's fall into matter took place in the alchemists themselves, as we discussed in the previous chapter. Thus they rediscovered the Gnostic principle of the feminine side of God in their concept of the prima materia which constituted the starting point of their opus and which, according to their particular point of view, was concealed in matter or in the human body (cf. figure 4.1).

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The central idea of the alchemical opus is that the prima materia -- contaminated and concealed in the human body or in matter round about us -- must be purified and a spirit must subsequently be liberated from it. Since this prima materia possesses not only a divine quality but was even thought to be co-eternal with the Christian God4, the opus likewise signifies the liberation of a feminine Divine Spirit of stature equal to that of the male Deity from matter or from the realm of human drives. By redeeming it from this captivity, the feminine aspect of God, moreover, is united with God's male aspect.

Of course this idea is extremely heretical, for ultimately it means that in the course of the opus a light - i.e., "illumination" and knowledge - can be freed from the prima materia and joined to the upper image of God which, in turn, transforms the original God image. In this dynamic process which, moreover, embraces the human being, a transformation takes place in the upper image of God, which the church fathers ultimately defined in a long drawn-out process as a static, "supra-human," principle whose characteristics were assumed to be pre-established once and for all.

Fundamentally, therefore, the medieval alchemical opus consists in this: the human being consciously replicates in him- or herself the transformation of the God image that has already taken place in the unconscious. Since a further essential goal of the opus is the creation of the medicina catholica, the all-healing medicine, the healing of physical and psychic suffering is obviously to take place via a transformation of the image of God in every individual human being, a revolutionary and, from our contemporary standpoint, very modern point of view. This, as we know, lies at the root of the deeper aspects of what C.G. Jung called the process of individuation. We recall that the ancient Gnostics already held similar views. They, too, believed that by a revelation of the "Mother," which in principle every human being can experience, new knowledge of the upper Father Deity would be set free.

While most alchemists, as did the Gnostics, saw this prima materia as a unity, we can observe in Paracelsus the development of an Antitrinity opposed to the Christian Trinity. Here lies the extraordinarily valuable accomplishment of the Swiss alchemist and physician, in my opinion. As we will see in Chapter 6, this process of the unconscious transformation of the God image was repeated in the sixth decade of our waning 20th Century in elementary particle and quantum physics: in 1964 Murray Gell-Mann postulated his simplest quark model in which the "trinity" of the three quarks, up, down, and strange (matter), were opposed by an anti-up, anti-down, and anti-strange trinity (anti-matter).

How this process of differentiating a double-trinitarian image of God and the transformation of the God image thus initiated came to pass can best be ascertained from one of Paracelsus's major works, De Vita Longa ("The Book of Long Life"). Hence I will attempt a review of this difficult book. Essentially, my explication is a summary, organization, and further interpretation of C.G. Jung's commentary on the Vita Longa5.

As an intuitive type, Paracelsus again and again invents new concepts for the same or similar facts. In the Vita Longa, therefore, we find a confusing number of synonyms. But in my opinion this inflation of neologisms is also due to the circumstance that he was able only to describe the processes he discovered in mythologizing terms, but not yet consciously to understand the underlying psychological principles at work. Only Jung's extensive work has created the necessary basis that enables us to translate the processes described by the alchemical master into depth psychological knowledge. Hence the primary content of my remarks consists in describing the opus suggested by Paracelsus in the empirical terminology of depth psychology developed by C.G. Jung.

For Paracelsus, the prima materia consists first of all in an opposition of the One and the Other. Paracelsus calls the one principle the Iliaster, and the other the Aquaster. The Ilaster is a fiery, active, and masculine principle; the Aquaster a watery, passive, and feminine principle. In each human being both principles are simultaneously at work, a fact which reminds us immediately of the way the vegetative nervous system functions.

Paracelsus also calls the Iliaster Ares. Hence it corresponds to Mars, the god of war. We could equate the principle that makes Mars effective with what psychology calls the aggression drive. Paracelsus associates the Aquaster with Aphrodite-Venus, the goddess of love. Here, of course, we immediately think of the second fundamental human drive, the sexual drive.

However, Iliaster and Aquaster are also the fundamental principles of the entire cosmos; that is, they represent principles of a trans-human totality. For aspects of the psyche that embrace all of humankind, C.G. Jung introduced the term "the collective unconscious." Hence Ilaster and Aquaster are the structural dominants of the collective unconscious; they are archetypal principles. Since these principles extend down into inert matter, Paracelsus, in a stroke of genius, equated them with two inorganic substances. He calls Iliaster Sulphur, and Aquaster, Sal. Sulfur, the fiery principle par excellence, and salt, which always has the tendency to dissolve in water and hence belongs to the watery principle, constitute the two basic elements of the prima materia.

Summarized, these principles yield the following organization:

The fiery, active principle of the prima materia:

The watery, passive principleof the prima materia:

Iliaster Aquaster
Ares-Mars Aphrodite-Venus (Melusine)
Sulphur Sal
aggression sexuality

This yields two principles: a duality corresponding to that between the One and the Other which I discussed in Chapter 2 in the context of Jung's interpretation of the natural number two. We are immediately reminded of Freud's two basic principles, Eros and Thanatos.

At the beginning of the alchemical opus these two principles, Iliaster and Aquaster, are conflated and initially form an undifferentiated unity in the prima materia opposed to the Christian Trinity. The alchemists attribute human characteristics to the prima materia, and therefore imagine it as an hermaphrodite or androgyne, a double-sexed human creature, a monstrous man-woman. Hence the hermaphrodite corresponds to that very ancient idea of a human that existed before the creation of human beings, the so-called protanthropos. According to certain Gnostic ideas, God created the first human being from this larger, prehistoric, hermaphroditic humanoid being.

prima materia
iliastric Aquaster
melusinian Ares-Mars
Hermaphrodite
Androgyne
conflation of aggression and sexuality

I am aware that the views just expressed must greatly shock a pious Christian. The heretical idea that God got immersed in matter and thereby deified matter might perhaps still be acceptable to an open-minded Christian. These sorts of tendencies are also very popular in the contemporary esoteric subculture. But the idea that God is supposed to become a bisexual being with human attributes -- that is, with male and female genitals6 -- has to be much more shocking. Yet the marked increase in bisexuality in the nineties of this century7 does show, in my opinion, that the archetype of God's fall into matter and His reappearance in the prima materia of the hermaphrodite has already asserted itself unconsciously. Therefore the androgyne idea, concretely lived out today, constitutes the modern form of the primary or original substance (prima materia) to be worked on in the modern alchemical opus.

This "lower" and drive-laden aspect of the Divine that, for the time being, remains caught in an undifferentiated unity -- this prima materia that is to be transformed -- is what Paracelsus also calls the melusinian Ares-Mars. Here Melusine replaces Aphrodite-Venus. This figure from Old French literature, who probably goes back to Celtic roots, is a water nymph with a fish's or snake's tale, a half human, half animal being. Here we now see that a shift has taken place in Paracelsus's unconscious from the human-form of Venus to a part human, part animal hybrid. This clearly demonstrates that Paracelsus's opus is in fact supposed to commence in the realm of drives, and that the prima materia, the starting point for this procedure, corresponds to human instincts (cf. figure 4.2).

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But this displacement to Melusine is important for another reason: In the Old French saga, this figure always appears in borderline situations, specifically when the hero finds himself in one of life's blind alleys and his entire life plan has collapsed8. Jung continues:

"When such a catastrophe occurs, not only are all bridges back into the past broken, but there seems to be no way forward into the future. One is confronted with a hopeless and impenetrable darkness, an abysmal void that is now suddenly filled with an alluring vision, the palpably real presence of a strange yet helpful being . . . . The figure of Melusine is eminently suited to this purpose."9

It has been fifteen years since my first draft of these thoughts on Paracelsus in 1981. In the course of these years, fate has led me to the problem of HIV positive patients and the AIDS syndrome. Psychotherapy and analysis with HIV- and AIDS-patients has shown me that in those persons who are diagnosed as HIV-positive, who from that moment on find themselves in the supposedly hopeless life situation described above, this very same Melusine is constellated. When these persons learn to address the inner world of visions that proceed primarily from the realm of the drives (from Melusine's domain!), it has been my experience so far that there is a good chance that the illnesses of the AIDS syndrome will not break out in them. Since I am convinced that the HIV phenomenon constitutes the beginning of the apocalyptic last days of the Christian eon, it seemed to me timely to present my preliminary results in my book, Hat AIDS einen Sinn?10.

[Remark of August, 2003: The term "apocalypse" is meant symbolically, and not in the Christian meaning, and especially not in the concretizised meaning of today's Christian sects. A destructive example of this "apocalypse" (with a deeply unconscious creation myth behind it), is the HI-Virus (HIV), the existence of which, in its original form, has never been proved, which means that it comes out of an "invisible, potential form of reality that is only indirectly inferable through its effects" (Wolfgang Pauli, physicists and Nobel Laureate) [For the lack of proof of the HIV see the comments of the Nobel Laureate Kary Mullis, http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/index/kmullis.htm]. 

This new creation is destructive because we do not approach the psychophysical world (behind the split in spirit and matter) by means of the Eros consciousness, but think that we can destroy it with aggressive Logos (which means with natural science, limited to left brain empiricism). See Hat AIDS einen Sinn? Behandlungsmöglichkeiten der HIV-Infektion auf der Grundlage tiefenpsychologischer Imaginationsmethoden (English: What Does AIDS Mean? HIV Treatment Possibilities on the Basis of Imaginal Methods in Depth Psychology).

See also remark, below: HIV as an expression of the transformation of yin energy into yang energy ]

But let us return to Paracelsus. In contrast to many of his alchemist colleagues, he took the path of differentiating the unknowable unity into a trinity by subjecting his prima materia, the Melusinian Ares-Mars, to a process of transformation.

According to Paracelsus, in a first step in this process this dual-sexed monster (which, viewed psychologically, corresponds to a mixture of aggression and sexuality) must be split into its components, that is into the Iliaster and the Aquaster, into Ares-Mars and Venus-Melusine, or, as he also calls them, into Sulphur and Sal. With the help of this procedure applied to his Melusinian Ares, Paracelsus separates the One and Unknowable into a pair of opposites: the One and the Other. In this manner the lower divine principle, the prima materia, is divided into a duality11. In modern parlance this means that the principle of aggression is separated from sexuality.

In order to effect this separation, however, Paracelsus needed a third principle. Sometimes he called this Hephaistos-Vulcanus, other times Mercurius-Hermes. He assigns this Vulcanus to the human stomach12. At the biological level, the Hephaistos-Vulcanus principle obviously appears to correspond to the hunger drive. (See fig. 4.3)

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With this step Paracelsus succeeded in differentiating the original unity of the prima materia into a trinity. Since this trinity of drives opposes the spiritual trinity of the Christian God, I will call this the Antitrinity in the remainder of my discussion. Moreover, as mentioned above, Paracelsus employs a confusing multitude of names for this Antitrinity. In addition to Ares-Mars, Mercurius-Hermes, and Aphrodite-Venus we also find, as the most common, Sulphur, Mercurius, and Sal. (See fig. 4.4)

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While the first Antitrinity has to do with a divine Trinity in the realm of human drives, the second appears to represent an intuition of a divine animation of all nature, i.e., an anima mundi (a world soul). Since as an alchemist Paracelsus thought in the categories of the microcosm and macrocosm which mirror each other, as a physician he also refers the second Antitrinity to the human body and says, for example, "Every body consists of three substances. Those are Sulphur, Quicksilver, and Sal."13 As is evident from his written works, he means the so-called astral body and postulates an ultimate identity between the macrocosmic world soul and the microcosmic subtle body. In Chapter 5 we will see that both the Hindu as well as the Buddhist Tantra arrived at similar conclusions so that the Paracelsian and the Tantric experience can be equated without difficulty.14

Without understanding this consciously, Paracelsus sparked a revolution when he differentiated the lower God image into a trinity, a revolution that will have to be carried forward by people of the third Christian millennium. As I demonstrated in Chapter 2, the number three and hence also every triad or trinity is an energy-symbol. Moreover, as I pointed out there, every triad has the tendency to develop further into an ambivalent duality for pre-conscious, archetypal reasons. We can infer from this modern interpretation of the trinity idea that the concept of energy must also correspond to an ambivalent duality. Hence physical-chemical energy can not be the sole possible form of energy, but must have a complement for the same pre-conscious, archetypal reasons (as a consequence of the ambivalent duality of the Third).

Modern materialistic science, however, has lost sight of this complementary aspect of the energy concept and, referring to the events taking place in matter, ultimately repeated the one-sided and incomplete definition of the God image of the Church Fathers. But since Paul Dirac this complementary aspect has nevertheless again entered occidental science through the back door and confounded physicists with so-called "negative energy" and its strange properties (see below).

On the basis of his primal experience of falling into the collective unconscious during the years 1914 to 1918, at the beginning of the last century of the 20th millennium, C.G. Jung gradually came to see that the objective psychic energy he had postulated was itself the complementary aspect of physical energy. Unfortunately the empirically observable fact that this objective psychic energy (Jung's "reality of the soul") corresponds to an independent principle has not yet been generally accepted, and even in circles of contemporary Jungian analysts it is treated as a "nothing but." Only very slowly does it begin to dawn on a very few that this new form of energy, viewed macrocosmically, is the same as the medieval concept of the divine, feminine World Soul that permeates the entire universe.

{Remark of August, 2003: Today, I differentiate between two forms of objective psychic energy, the yang and the yin aspect of it. [See Die mystische Hochzeit (coniunctio)...(in German)] Further, both can be observed in the outer material and in the inner psychic world. Jung's collective unconscious and its center, the so-called Self, is the inner yang aspect of this complementary form of energy, and thus the inner aspect of physical energy (which is itself outer yang). The yin aspect is behind the energetics of parapsychology, especially of psychokinetics. For yin it is impossible to state the difference between inside and outside, therefore the alchemists assumed a (nonlocal) parallelity of microcosm and macrocosm.

The union of these two energies is described by the Hermetic alchemical opus (see The Return of the World Soul, chapter 4) with its two main processes of the coniunctio, the (sexual) union of these two principles, in which a so-called exchange of attributes takes place: yang transforms into yin, and parallel to this yin transforms into yang. As this terminology shows, this process is not yet described - and not describable - in terms of modern natural science. In my opinion, the main reason for this deficiency is the fact, that physics postulates the energy conservation law that forbides this transformation. For this reason Wolfgang Pauli "invented" the antineutrino, a "ghost particle" that does almost not interact with matter and disturbs today's physicists very much (See also The Connection between Radioactivity and Synchronicity in the Pauli/Jung Letters)

The antineutrino is created during the radioactive decay. If the hypothesises of its (inner-outer!) yin nature and the archetypal ideas of the hermetic alchemists are right, the enormous increase of radioactivity by the modern artificial fission of the atom should have incalculable consequences for the world and for the universe. In a parallel process this yin will transform into both, a new outer yang and a new inner yang, which means that out of "nothing" - i.e., a real world that is however unobservable with the tools of the physical experiment - new physical energy is created. To my mind, the UFO phenomenon is the unexpected result of this archetypal development, observed in the outer world, the appearance of the HIV (and further retroviruses in the future) out of the "nothing" the inner aspect. The inner-outer aspect of this phenomenon is presented to us in the UFO abduction syndrome.}

Likewise our medicine, grounded in the natural sciences, has fallen an unconscious victim to the same imitation of the Church Fathers' incomplete definition of the image of God. Paracelsus would turn over in his grave if he knew how his concept of Sulphur, Mercurius, and Sal - in modern parlance, the energetic principle - has been reduced to a materialistic point of view [yang]. For the same reasons mentioned above, there must exist a second, ambivalent aspect of energy in the microcosm [yin], that is, in the human body. This microcosmic subtle body aspect [yin] corresponds to the World Soul [, the yin aspect] of the macrocosm, mentioned above, and there is good probability that both are acausally and nonlocally linked.

******

Why is it precisely Hephaistos-Vulcanus that Paracelsus introduces as a third principle? In order to understand the facts of the situation we must shift our focus to the early history of humankind, to the period of transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural cultures. Roaming and migrating was an essential aspect of hunter-gatherer cultures. In those prehistoric times people still sustained themselves very much as did other animals by venturing out on expeditions to steal and plunder edible meat and roots. These peoples' psychic energy, therefore, was almost completely invested in the nomadic-exploratory drive. This, in turn, was very closely connected to the hunger drive, for ultimately it was hunger that drove these proto-humans to roam and to hunt. The nomad and hunter Wotan, who appeared in the visions of Niklaus von Flüe (and whom we will discuss in the next chapter), is a fitting symbol for the psychic condition of these peoples.

The study of prehistoric humanity15 assumes today that between 15,000 and 10,000 B.C.E. human beings first developed the hand axe and later the lance point and knife-like tools from the flint that had long been used for making fire. Flint was admirably suited for these sorts of tools since, due to its crystalline structure, it can fracture in any direction, leaving a sharp edge where it breaks. This property aided early humankind in inventing the lance and the knife. Since from then on flint was utilized both for producing fire and for making lances, fire and spear formed a natural symbolic unity for archaic humans. The spear of the Celtic god Lug, therefore, corresponds to lightning16

Around 13,000 B.C.E. primeval humankind's consciousness made another quantum leap. In the eastern Mediterranean basin, which is the ancient homeland of the three great religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the Urmensch discovered that wild grains were edible. Having invented lance- and knifelike tools of flint, primal humankind was then able to harvest this new source of food efficiently. It was only a small step from there to the idea of cultivating these grains. Thus human beings in the eastern Mediterranean basin slowly developed agriculture and a settled way of life. The domestication of certain wild animals followed this process, and by about 6,000 B.C.E. agrarian cultures can be identified in many places. Primordial humankind became settled and tied to the locality. (We will again encounter this extraordinarily important process when we discuss Niklaus von Flüe in the next chapter.)

We have seen that in the hunter and gather cultures the greater part of people's psychic energy was bound up in the nomadic-exploratory drive. With the development of a more settled way of life, nature assumed a part of the effort for nourishing and sating human hunger, for, as we know, grain grows on its own17. The libido invested in the nomadic-exploratory drive would be freed up in part since it would no longer be needed there. In this transition to an agrarian way of life, the psychic energy released could then flow into the exploration drive. This is why this transition signals the beginning of many fundamental discoveries and inventions. The human being starts to develop into a creature of culture.

In Greek and Roman mythology this development is symbolized by the smith, Hephaistos or Vulcan18. Like the Germanic god, Wieland, these gods are distinguished by being wounded in the foot or leg. This handicap abruptly put a stop to their nomadic-exploratory drive. Instead of indulging their inclination to hunt, they were condemned to sit at home "with the mothers" and mope about. But that must have gotten too boring in short order. The energy abruptly displaced from the nomadic-exploratory drive cathected a new drive: the drive to explore and to invent. Hence in many cultures the person with the wounded foot or leg symbolized the creative inventor. What seems essential in this displacement of energy from the nomadic-exploratory drive, therefore, is the impediment to motility. But viewed in the larger context of an entire culture, this impediment signifies nothing other than the decision to establish settlements and become attached to a locality.

When Paracelsus relates Hephaistos-Vulcanus to the stomach, he describes this transfer of psychic energy from the hunger and nomadic-exploratory drives to the exploratory drive, perhaps unbeknownst to himself. Simultaneously he has expanded the duality of aggression and sexuality -- the melusinian Ares-Mars -- into an Antitrinity of aggression, exploration, and sexuality, and thus in a certain sense separated aggression from sexuality. Of course he succeeded in this only because this Antitrinity corresponds to a pre-conscous, archetypal structure in the human soul. But in this way Paracelsus also simultaneously differentiated the chthonic principle in humankind that the Church Fathers condemned and thereby created the precondition for conscious recognition. Of course the differentiation into three is, as we saw in Chapter 2, the prerequisite for consciously recognizing the original Unity.

At the same time, however, a conflict arose in Paracelsus between the Christian Trinity and this heathen Trinity of drives (cf. Fig. 4.5) about which he was obviously conscious to a certain degree, for he writes: "I must also confess that I wrote as a heathen, but am a good Christian."19 In contrast to this, there reigns in contemporary humankind a complete unawareness of this conflict in the Christian soul, although its effects become ever more clearly manifest.

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Hephaistos-Vulcanus serves the separation of Ares-Mars and Aphrodite-Venus, if we are to believe Paracelsus. This Paracelsian intuition is confirmed in a motif from Greek mythology. Hephaistos-Vulcanus is the spouse of the beautiful Aphrodite-Venus. She cuckolds him with the god of war, Ares-Mars. Therefore Hephaistos-Vulcanus invents an invisible net that he casts over them and secures with a lock when he finds the lovers taking their pleasure in bed.

In this image Greek mythology expressed one of the deepest human realizations in symbolic form, and also shows how modern such myths are when we can translate them into a psychological language. Obviously Hephaistos is cuckolded by his spouse, Aphrodite. Viewed psychologically this means that the principle of exploration is neglected in favor of the principle of aggression. But it was precisely this neglect that the Church Fatherscommitted. When they drove the Gnostics from the Church, they also threw out the drive for individual exploration. Among the Gnostics, individual exploration was introverted and directed toward the revelation of an individual deity, for through introverted exploration they attempted to experience and to recognize God. The Church Fathers, on the contrary, taught that Jesus Christ was the first and only one who had experienced such a revelation. With this pronouncement they likewise suppressed the introverted drive to exploration that modern biology more and more accepts as one of the primal drives in the human being. Hephaistos-Vulcanus was obviously neglected. According to the Greek mythologem, he gets his revenge by fettering aggression and sexuality together. But the mixture of these two drives appears to be one of the greatest problems for Christianity, a problem that, in our times, is tending toward a level previously believed hardly possible. In this context I remind the reader of the explosive proliferation of hard porno films and sado-masochstic sex, as well as the fact that the statistics on rape have increased very significantly in recent times.

With his invisible net, Hephaistos-Vulcanus chained Aphrodite-Venus and Ares-Mars together. But he is also the only one who can again separate these two. He alone holds the key that separates Paracelsus's melusinian Ares-Mars. Viewed psychologically, this mythological statement means that only exploration can undo the mingling of the sexual and the aggressive drives.

In its archaic form, we find the prototype of this phenomenon in the myth of the American Indian trickster which Paul Radin20 published for the first time. This Indian simpleton continually flip flops between aggression and sexuality, and he, too, gets them mixed up until he perfects a technical invention, the redirection of a water fall, which resolves the problem for the time being. The extraverted exploration drive has prevailed in Trickster, and the psychic energy flows from sexuality and aggression into the eploration.

Today we are still caught in this archaic stage of the redirection of libido. We of the Western World, who are so extraordinarily proud of our intellectual development, should be the first to recognize that our extraverted mania for innovation corresponds to an extremely archaic principle. Exploration, which we live out in extraversion, and the technology that arises from this, are just as much expressions of a drive and hence as compulsive as aggression and sexuality. Hence occidental humankind, so very innovative, continually runs the risk of capsizing into these two drives or into a mixture of them, and falling victim to sadistic or masochistic sexuality.

 

 

4.2 Exploration and Meditation: Liberating the God-Man from the Realm of the Drives

Again we are indebted to Paracelsus for the first premonition of a solution to the trickster problem, i.e., the unconscious and uncontrollable transfer of psychic energy from one drive in the Triad to another. In his Vita Longa, the father of modern medicine suggests an imaginatio21 which is supposed to operate in an introverted manner "beyond all physical and manual work." In modern psychological terminology that means that the separation of aggression and sexuality can be achieved only through an introversion of psychic energy in the exploratory drive whereby simultaneously the archetypal principle of meditation is developed -- i.e., the introverted exploration of one's own drive economy. Thus the spiritual principle of imaginatio or meditation develops out of the Antitrinity of aggression, exploration, and sexuality. Later we shall see that C.G. Jung, at the end of the Christian aeon, took up Paracelsus' idea and, using it as a foundation, developed his introverted method of active imagination22.

The first step in liberating the God-Man from the realm of the drives, which, at the same time, corresponds to the beginning of the formation of a renewed upper God image is sketched in figure 4.6 and 4.7. For the time being we will consider this process with the help of the mythologizing concepts expressed in Paracelsus' terminology. Additionally, for the sake of simplicity, I will summarize the two lower Trinities of Ares-Mars, Hephaistos-Vulcanus, and Venus Melusine, and Sulphur, Mercurius, Sal (See figure 4.6). 

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If we replace Paracelsus' mythologizing concepts with those of depth psychology, we have this schema (see figure 4.7).

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This schema implies that, by introverting the exploratory drive, the Antitrinity of aggression, exploration, and sexuality gets bound to the spiritual principle of meditation.

This also establishes the connection between the Paracelsian procedure and the process of transformation of the God image discussed in Chapter 3. There I showed that the third element in the spirit archetype represents an ambivalent duality. Since the Church Fathers were not able to acknowledge these pre-conscious facts, the dark aspect of this ambivalent spirit was split off. This process corresponds to the Gnostics' fall of the heavenly God-Man, the Anthropos, into matter, and to the Alchemists' Rex or Regina entrapped in matter who must be set free from this entrapment. In his opus, Paracelsus describes this re-ascent of the God-Man. As we saw in our discussion of the tikkun of Luria's kabbala in Chapter 1, human cooperation is of decisive significance.

Expressed in the modern terminology of depth psychology, this redemption of God from out of matter obviously begins with this: the third principle, exploration, is turned inward, introverted, and thereby transformed into meditation. Since this third principle represents an ambivalent duality due to its pre-conscious, archetypal nature, it is very well suited to be the carrier of the transformation process. Consequently the ambivalent Mercurius -- i.e., the duality of extraverted exploration and introverted meditation -- forms the bridge between the lower Antitrinity and a new Trinity yet to be formed. The alchemists must have had a premonition of these facts since they described the quintessence in which the ambivalent Mercurius forms the center (see figure 3.3) as the highest of all attainable goals23. This quintessence is also represented by the symbol of the lily24, thus linking the process Paracelsus describes with that of the mystic Niklaus von Flüe, whom we will discuss in Chapter 5.

In order to proceed with our investigation, we must now examine the alchemical concept of meditation more closely. Meditation has become a popular word. Above all in America many scientists, particularly physicists, feel the need to compensate the intellectual one-sidedness demanded of them by their profession with meditative experiences. However, such meditative practices are usually borrowed from the Eastern mystical tradition although the occidental and Christian world has also developed these techniques.

In alchemy, the concepts meditatio and imaginatio have a very specific content that diverges to a significant extent from those meditation techniques taken over from other cultures. Since this specific variety of meditation arose on Christian soil, it may well be far more suited to the occidental person than the oriental meditation that has become so fashionable today. Hence we must look more closely at the precise content of alchemical meditation.

In his book, Psychology and Alchemy, Jung dealt in detail with the content of alchemical meditation in the section entitled "Meditation and Imagination"25. There, the concept of meditation is used to refer to a dialogue with an inner voice which, depending on the alchemist we consult, is equated with God, a good angel, or an aspect of the meditator. By dialogue the alchemists do not mean, for example, the ego's reflecting on itself -- hence no narcissistic staring at one's navel and mirroring of the ego -- but rather a living coming-to-terms with the "wholly Other" in the human being. It is of decisive significance that in the alchemical opus it is not the ego or human consciousness that possesses this ability26. On the contrary, this unique ability corresponds to a property of the "soul." But what then is this "soul"? In the anonymous treatise De Sulphure (i.e., a treatise on the properties of sulfur which, at that time, corresponded to Ares-Mars and to Fire) it is said that this soul takes God's place. Expressed in other words, this means that in meditation the alchemist relates to an inner God image which is made available to him on the basis of his imaginative capacities of which consciousness up until then had not had the faintest suspicion27. Moreover, the capacity for a divine essence to reveal itself is innate in every single human being, an extremely heretical idea, as already mentioned.

In order to pursue our explorations, we must next ask where in the body of the empirical human being might the soul, furnished with this capacity for divine revelation, be situated? The author of De Sulphure localizes it as a living spirit in the human blood. From within the blood this soul rules both reason and the body. But as if that were not enough, this soul, dwelling in the human blood, also rules outside the body, and according to Paracelsus is responsible for such parapsychological phenomena as telepathy and precognition. Hence this divine soul, localized in the human body, appears to underlie the principle of synchronicity, too, which, according to C.G. Jung, is necessary to account for parapsychological phenomena.

The alchemists also call this divine principle of revelation active in the human being the anima corporalis28, the "body soul," that mediates between consciousness and the physiological bodily functions. As I pointed out in Hat AIDS einen Sinn?, this corresponds to Vulcanus-Hephaistos, which he also calls Archaeus. This Archaeus represents a transformative principle, which, according to the alchemical physician, is localized in the region of the solar plexus.

In Tantrism, which C.G. Jung accepted as the only Eastern form of meditation because it did not leap over the shadow and the drives, the body soul corresponds to the three chakras situated below the diaphragm: muladhara, svadhisthana, and manipura. But these three are understood as the seat of the drives, and there is a high probability for the inference that the exploratory, the sexual, and the aggressive drives are projected into these three chakras29. The alchemist's soul, possessing a capacity for imaginative revelation, and which takes the place of the Christian God, obviously sits in the drive triad of aggression, exploration, and sexuality. A tough nut for a pious Christian!

Hence we can conclude that, via having-it-out and coming-to-terms with the spirit, or with the soul of this drive triad, the alchemist's striving was obviously directed toward freeing new knowledge from the collective unconscious and annexing it to consciousness which, in turn, would expand consciousness. The psychic structure of the lower God image that Paracelsus intuited therefore provides the precondition for the transfer of energy into the realms both of consciousness and of the upper part of the renewed God image.

I hold this form of meditation which C.G. Jung rediscovered in his active imagination to be one of the avenues most promising of success in escaping the dilemma of the end of the Christian era. In the not too distant future, we humans will be forced to relinquish our extraverted mobility mania in the face of the approaching environmental catastrophe if we are not to be eradicated in toto. Then we mobility maniacs will have far fewer possibilities to live out our compulsiveness in an extraverted, unconscious way. Should this vision of the future come to pass, each of us will have to come to terms with his or her compulsivity through introversion. If we do not do this, we will most probably sink into a deep depression. Increasing unemployment likewise tends in the same direction. It might have the meaning that we will be forced to leave our compulsive work mania and introvertedly redirect our psychic energy with the help of active imagination, "beyond physical and manual labor," as Paracelsus expressed it. In this conscious decision to break our identification with the trickster archetype, and to find our way into a new era of mysticism with the aid of C.G. Jung's active imagination, we have, in my opinion, the only way out of the meaninglessness and hopelessness of these Christian Last Days.

But let us return to Paracelsus. As we have seen, an Antitrinity of drives took shape in his unconscious. The third principle of this Antitrinity, Vulcanus-Hephaistos, appears as Archaeus in the region of the stomach. Hence it appears to have something to do with the hunger drive.

As we have seen above, a close connection exists between hunger and exploration: As a consequence of the quantum leap from a hunter-gatherer to an agrarian culture, a great part of the energy bound up in the hunger drive was set free and hence could flow into the exploratory drive. Humankind's first great inventions therefore were made at the time of this cultural leap. As I discussed in Chapter 1, an additional quantum leap was constellated at the beginning of the Christian era: The Christian Gnostics attempted to introvert psychic energy in the exploratory drive in order to gain individual revelations of the God image. When the Church Fathers cast the Gnostics out of the Church, they simultaneously suppressed introverted exploration: imagination about the image of God. From then on it was forbidden to make personal statements about the God image on the basis of an individual, introverted position.

The dogmatic stance of the Church Fathers effected a repression of introverted exploration from Christian consciousness. Although this repression was maintained for a few centuries with the aide of the Church's instruments of power, nevertheless exploration suddenly reappeared in its extraverted, compulsive form: first in the Crusades and then a second time shortly before the birth of Paracelsus in Christopher Columbus's voyages of discovery. In a veritable orgy of compulsive exploration, Christendom roused itself to discover the world and to destroy the archaic cultures. The drive to explore, repressed from introversion, asserted itself in extraverted form with the corresponding destructive consequences.

A similar process also took place in Paracelsus. We know from his biography that he traveled throughout all of Europe in restless compulsion. Hence he, too, lived out exploration extravertedly, and for the very reason that he was unconscious of its introverted expression thanks to the Church Fathers. Yet in him the drive to explore turned inward again and again, an introversion in which he then developed his genial, creative ideas and wrote his many books. One of the central ideas of his opus lay in his description of the process of introverting the drive to explore. But he probably was never fully conscious that this introversion was a task which he should have actualized with all his strength. By contrast, his compatriot, Niklaus von Flüe, whom we will discuss in the next chapter, appears to have succeeded at this total introversion of the exploratory drive.

According to C.G. Jung, the repression of a constellated archetype usually leads -- through the process of entantiodromia, the reversal into the opposite -- to a subsequent identification of consciousness with the archetype. And in fact, this enantiodromia can be proven to have occurred in modern science: the consciousness of the representatives of science has become identified with the extraverted form of the exploration drive. Thus on the one hand it is not in a position to take the step into introversion, and on the other hand no differentiation of the drives into an Antitrinity takes place. For this reason, science after Paracelsus regresses to a level lower than the first step of his opus, i.e. into a mixture of sexuality and aggression, of procreation and destruction. Greetings from the physicists' "cosmic dance of matter," but also from Freud's Eros and Thanatos!

Since no process of becoming conscious of the identification with the extraverted exploration drive has taken place in science, it has asserted itself with the consistency of preconscious-archetypal process in a most unexpected place: as we will see in chapter 6, the knowledge gained about elementary particle and quantum physics rests on this very same principle of aggressive generation of new elementary particles, the melusinian Ares-Mars of Paracelsus! Thus we get one more indication that physics at the end of the Christian eon has returned, unconsciously, to the beginning of the archetypal process of the transformation of God. Obviously God has fallen into matter, and it is precisely from matter that He must be redeemed.

 

 

4.3 The Transformation of Aggression

Paracelsus therefore describes the first step of his procedure of renewal of the God image as an introversion of exploration through which the principle of meditation is developed. He symbolizes introversion in these words: The anima iliastri -- that is, the soul of Sulfur and Iliaster, psychologically the psychic energy in the conglomeration of aggression and exploration -- must be brought back into the heart region30 after it has escaped. Here, of course, he is describing his own experiences of outbreaks of rage and what they wrought. The logical consequence consists, for him, in the introverted transformation of aggression. In this way the soul, up until now incapable of enduring suffering, becomes able to suffer. So that the soul can be held in the heart region, it must not lack for "air."

[In Chapter 5 I will show that the heart is a symbol of introversion as such, and that this "air" corresponds to the fleeting thoughts and feelings, usually of a negative kind, that hide behind the drives and compulsivity.]

The Tantricists aptly symbolize these subliminal thoughts and feelings as gazelles that belong to Anahata, the fourth tantric chakra, situated in the heart region (see figure 5.5). In order to seize such negative thoughts and feelings that appear and disappear as fast as lightning, one must actually be in a state of deep introversion. (Later, in Chapter 5, we will intensively study the introversion of exploration and the introverted preoccupation with the manifestations to the drive triad under the symbolic image of "the lance piercing the heart." Here we need only mention in passing that, in this way, Paracelsus's imaginatio is related to the visions of the Christian mystic Niklaus von Flüe as well as to Tantrism and Sufism.)

With the inclusion of the Iliaster/Sulfur/Ares-Mars, i.e., of aggression, we are already at the second step of Paracelsus's procedure. This consists in purifying the fiery principle following its separation from the watery Venus-Melusine principle. This purification, too, takes place with the help of introverted meditation. Since Paracelsus is to a large extent unconscious of the third fundamental drive, i.e., the exploratory drive, it is mingled with aggression again and again. But this mixture is no individual problem restricted to Paracelsus; rather, it is a fundamental problem of Christianity in general since (introverted) exploration (as we discussed in Chapter 1) was forbidden by the Church Fathers. Expressed alchemically, this signifies a mingling of Mercurius and Sulfur, which in fact are often confusingly similar.

Sulfur, therefore, the principle of exploratory aggression, finds expression unconsciously as an extreme compulsiveness, as Jung discussed in detail31. In the first step of the introversion of the exploratory drive and its transformation into the spiritual principle of alchemical meditation, however, aggression and exploration are separated. This separation takes place because, in meditation, exploration is introverted and spiritualized. With the aide of introverted meditation in the alchemical sense, now, Ares-Mars -- the Ilaster or Sulfur -- can be transformed. Again, the refining of Ares-Mars/Sulfur/Iliaster appears to consist in freeing this fiery principle from matter or from the drives of the human body and raising it to a spiritual level. Hence we must ask which spiritual-archetypal principle Sulfur is supposed to be transformed into.

Paracelsus was not yet able to grasp the psychological significance of the new spiritual principle. Therefore he circumambulates the product of the refining process in mythological terminology, and calls it the essence of purified fire32 which he also equates with what he calls the "sideral balsam"33. In the alchemist's fantasy world, this balsam constitutes the active principle of Egyptian mummification and is conducive to "eternal life"34 (see figure 4.8)

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When we compare this balsam with the original fire of Iliaster and of Ares-Mars, it is striking that it is obtained from the dead body: from a mummy, the remains of which were actually used as medicines in the Middle Ages. Regarded psychologically, this means, on the one hand, an introversion of aggression in that one renounces acting it out unconsciously; but on the other hand, it also signifies a quieting of the body. Here Paracelsus gives us an important hint concerning the now-popular body therapy: Only through "mummification," that is, by consciously quieting the body that is excited by drives can we transform the compulsiveness of the drives into a spiritual principle.

Granted, very few modern body therapists cleave to this basic rule of every occidental and oriental method of meditation. Concretized physical movement therefore replaces the movement of feeling. Instead of supporting the analysis and integration of the shadow with the help of introverted movement, the representatives of these sorts of therapy demand unconscious acting out. As already happened in the Christian Inquisition, the victims of these so-called therapies, which are nothing other than a shameless acting out of the power shadow, are again the weak, in this case the clients of self-appointed gurus.

In order to understand the principle of transformed and purified Sulfur -- the essence or the balsam -- we must consider the etymological derivation of the German word Wut (rage, fury = aggression!). Wut goes back to the Sanskrit stem vat, which means "understand," "comprehend," "recognize."35 In the sense of wuot = frenzy, rage, it also gave the Germanic god Wotan (Wuotan) his name36. (I will return to this central Germanic archetype in Chapter 5.)

Another etymology associates Wut with the Latin vates, meaning poet, seer, prophet37. This reveals the sense of the transformation Paracelsus was striving for: The frenzy, rage (insanity!) of collective aggression is obviously supposed to be changed into knowledge, but that means into the principle of the creative logos. C.G. Jung therefore believed that "Ares, accordingly, is an intuitive concept for a preconscious, creative, and formative principle which is capable of giving life to individual creatures."38

Paracelsus's extraordinarily creative nature suggests that the procedure he suggested led to the development of the creative logos out of his own conglomeration of the aggressive and the exploratory drives. Since this principle was based on an eminently introverted procedure in him, the result was not new external discoveries, but rather certain insights concerning the inner, psychic structure of the human being. And with this the alchemical physician succeeded in nothing less than transforming the absolute and preconscious knowledge of the collective unconscious into conscious insight which, for him, be it noted, was still veiled in mythological terminology. This transformation, therefore, also corresponds to the process by which the creative logos is built up.

Every creative person knows the unique condition at the beginning of a creative phase in which frenzy (feeling driven!) wants to transform into the word. One feels "charged up," aggressive, driven, euphoric, chaotic, inspired. New ideas roar like lightning bolts through one's head or, often, also through one's entire body. They tumble out with incredible speed, and one is no longer able to put them in a semblance of logical order with the help of discursive thought. Therefore one simply has to vomit them out lest one risks nausea or diarrhea. A Dionysian experience!

This is likewise the mythologem of procreation and of the dual-birth of Dionysus, the son of Semele and Zeus, which, in an archaic language, describes the process of the transformation of the creative logos39. As a steer, a lion, and a leopard, the Father of the Gods impregnates Semele. Dionysus, thus procreated, dances in his mother's womb, which also rouses her to frenzied dance. Jealous Hera persuades Semele to ask Zeus to come to her in his primal form. The Father of the Gods overwhelms her as a lightning storm. Semele is incinerated in mad excitement. Dionysus, unharmed, dances in his mother's womb. Mercury (!) frees him and, until he is to be born, sews him up in Zeus's thigh. In this way Dionysus is twice-born: once from Nature and once from the Spirit, born of mother and born of father.

Aggression -- or, better, the mixture of aggression and sexuality, Paracelsus's Melusinian Ares -- is emphasized twice in this mythologem: Zeus visits Semele as a steer, lion, or leopard, and as lightning. In introversion (Dionysus in the uterus!) this aggression transforms into a wild dance, the first refinement of the compulsion of the aggressive drive. Then in Zeus's thigh the transformation of the Dionysian into the spiritual principle of the logos takes place. The thigh, then, is the locus of (spiritual) procreation40.

As we will seen in Chapter 6, the motifs of lightning and dance cast a bridge from the Dionysus myth to elementary particle and quantum physics. There, too, it is "lightning," i.e., rays of energy, that beget new elementary particles via the "aggression" of collision, and lead to the "cosmic dance of matter" (Kenneth Ford). Thus we may already infer that physics is rediscovering this second step of the Paracelsian opus, the process of transforming aggression into logos.

Now we are able to translate this second step of Paracelus's opus into a psychological language. It clearly appears to consist in creating a new spiritual principle, the logos principle, out of the conglomerate of aggression and exploration (and sexuality). We can now enlarge our schema (as in figure 4.9).

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