Vas Hermeticum

… i

As Jung has pointed out, the vessel (vas) in alchemy is a true symbol, representing a mystical idea and exhibiting correspondingly extensive connections of meaning.  The legendary writer of antiquity, Maria Prophetissa, says of it that “the whole secret lies in knowing about the Hermetic vessel.”  The vessel is always One, and it must be round like the vault of heaven so that celestial influences can contribute to the work.  It is also often called a matrix or uterus in which the filius philosophorum (son of the philosophers) is born, and at the same time it is, in a mysterious way, identical with its contents.  For instance, it is simply the aqua permanens itself.  Mercurius is “our true hidden vessel, and also the Philosophical Garden in which our sun rises and ascends.”  It is itself the lapis philosophorum.  Inasmuch as it contains and gathers up dispersed matter, it can also be interpreted psychologically as a concept, a concept that is not, however, arbitrarily attributed to the unconscious by consciousness, but that develops from the unconscious itself, as a result of observing it with painstaking care.  TGL 142