Mysterium Coniunctionis

The factors which come together in the coniunctio are conceived as opposites, either confronting one another in enmity or attracting one another in love.    

Were it not for the earth in our work the air would fly away, neither would the fire have its nourishment, nor the water its vessel.(10)    MC 5

The ego-personality occupies an intermediate position, like the “anima inter bona et mala sita” (soul placed between good and evil).  The pairs of opposites constitute the phenomenology of the paradoxical self, man’s totality.    MC 6

… as [the moon] withdraws from the sun, until she is in opposition to him, so does her light increase in relation to us in this lower world, but diminishes on the side that looks upwards.  Contrariwise, in her conjunction, when she is totally darkened for us, she is fully illuminated on that side which faces the sun.  This should teach us that the more our intellect descends to the things of sense, the more it is turned away from intelligible things, and the reverse likewise. (129)  (MC 24)

When the moon turns upon us her fullest radiance, her other side is in complete darkness.  This strict application of the Sol-Luna allegory might have been an embarrassment to the Church, although the idea of the “dying” Church does take account, to a certain extent, of the transience of all created things.  (130)  (MC 25)

The wise man remaineth stable as the sun, but a fool is changed as the moon,” (133) and poses the question:  “Who then is that fool who changeth as the moon, but Adam in whom all have sinned?”  (MC 25)

… the sun causes  constancy and wisdom, while the moon is the cause of change and folly (including lunacy). (135)  MC 26

Sun and moon reveal their antithetical nature, which in the Christian Sol-Luna relationship is so obscured as to be unrecognizable, and the two opposites cancel each other out, their impact resulting – in accordance with the laws of energetics – in the birth of a third and new thing, a son who resolves the antagonisms of the parents and is himself a “united double nature.”.  MC 29

The alchemical equivalent of the God-Man and the Son of God was Mercurius, who as an hermaphrodite contained in himself both the feminine element, Sapientia and matter, and the masculine, the Holy Ghost and the devil.  MC 30

Whereas the Christian belief is that man is freed from sin by the redemptory act of Christ, the alchemist was evidently of the opinion that the “restitution to the likeness of original and incorrupt nature” had still to be accomplished by the art, and this can only mean that Christ’s work of redemption was regarded as incomplete.  MC 34

For the alchemist who professed allegiance to the Ecclesia spiritualis it was naturally of supreme importance to make himself an “unspotted vessel” of the Paraclete and thus to realize the idea “Christ” on a plane far transcending a mere imitation of him.  MC 35

The material we have adduced shows what an archetypal drama of death and rebirth lies hidden in the coniunctio, and what immemorial human emotions clash together in this problem.  It is the moral task of alchemy to bring the feminine, maternal background of the masculine psyche, seething with passions, into harmony with the principle of the spirit – truly a labour of Hercules!  In Dorn’s own words:

Learn therefore, O Mind, to practice sympathetic love in regard to thine own body, by restraining its vain appetites, that it may be apt with thee in all things.  To this end I shall labour, that it may drink with thee from the fountain of strength, and, when the two are made one, that ye find peace in their union.  Draw nigh, O Body, to this fountain, that with thy Mind thou mayest drink to satiety and hereafter thirst no more after vanities.  O wondrous efficacy of this fount, which maketh one of two, and peace between enemies!  The fount of love can make mind out of spirit and soul, but this maketh one man of mind and body.  MC 41

Dorn's explanation is illuminating in that it affords us a deep insight into the alchemical mysterium coniunctionis. If this is nothing less than a restoration of the original state of the cosmos and the divine unconsciousness of the world, we can understand the extraordinary fascination emanating from this mystery. It is the Western equivalent of the fundamental principle of classical Chinese philosophy, namely the union of yang and yin in tao. ..... cont'd... MC 464

and at the same time a premonition of that "tertium quid" which, on the basis of psychological experience on the one hand and of Rhine's experiments on the other, I have called "synchronicity."44 If mandala symbolism is the psychological equivalent of the unus mundus, then synchronicity is its para-equivalent. MC 464

It is significant for the whole of alchemy that in Dorn's view a mental union was not the culminating point but merely the first stage of the procedure. The second stage is reached when the mental union, that is, the unity of spirit and soul, is conjoined with the body. But a consummation of the mysterium coniunctionis can be expected only when the unity of spirit, soul, and body is made one with the original unus mundus. This third stage of the coniunctio was depicted after the manner of an Assumption and Coronation of



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