Chapter 8. Inanna and Alchemy.


Jung summarised the essence of true alchemy of the adept (in contra-distinction to dabbling in alchemical chemistry) in an interview with Mircea Eliade as follows:

"...after fifteen years of research and observation, ineluctable conclusions were forced upon me. The alchemical operations were real, only this reality was not physical but psychological. Alchemy represents the projection of a drama both cosmic and spiritual in laboratory terms. The opus magnum had two aims: the rescue of the human soul and the salvation of the cosmos. What the alchemists called 'matter' was in reality the [unconscious] self. The 'soul of the world', the anima mundi, which was identified with the spiritus mercurius, was imprisoned in matter. It is for this reason that the alchemists believed in the truth of 'matter', because 'matter' was actually their own psychic life. But it was a question of freeing the 'matter', of saving it - in a word, of finding the philosophers' stone, the corpus glorificationis.

This work is difficult and strewn with obstacles; the alchemical opus is dangerous. Right at the beginning you meet the 'dragon', the chthonic spirit, the 'devil' or, as the alchemists called it, the blackness, the nigredo, and this encounter produces suffering."

"...it is always a question of struggling with evil, with Satan, and conquering it, that is to say assimilating it, integrating it into consciousness. In the language of the alchemists, matter suffers until the nigredo disappears, when the 'dawn'(aurora) will be announced by the 'peacock's tail' (cauda pavonis) and a new day will break, the leukosis or albedo. But in this state of 'whiteness' one does not live in the true sense of the word, it is a sort of abstract, ideal state. In order to make it come alive it must have 'blood', it must have what the alchemists call the rubedo, the 'redness' of life. Only the total experience of being can transform this ideal state of the albedo into a fully human mode of existence. ...in which the devil no longer has an autonomous existence but rejoins the profound unity of the psyche. Then the opus magnum is finished: the human soul is completely integrated."#1

Cirlot puts it more succinctly:

"Alchemical evolution is epitomised, then, in the formula Solve et Coagula (that is to say:'analyse all the elements in yourself, dissolve all that is inferior in you, even though you may break in doing so; then, with the strength acquired from the preceding operation, congeal.') #2

Some confusion arises because of different uses of the colour sequence in alchemy. "Greco-Egyptian alchemy used a four colour sequence:

1. Initial blackness/chaos/prima materia, melanosis (Greek) or nigredo (Latin).

2. Whiteness, from washing, cleansing, purification of the calcined blackened first matter. Leukosis (Greek) or

albedo (Latin).

3. Yellowing stage, xanthosis (Greek) Not usually included in Latin alchemy, but called citrinitas.

4. The final stage, iosis (Greek) meaning purple, imperial.

Red is associated with kingship.

The Latin sequence was:

1. Nigredo.

2. Albedo as a result of purifying etc. as above.

3. Cauda pavonis, Peacock's tail, signifying flowering and

blossoming of the opus.

4. Rubedo, corresponding to iosis above.

Paracelsus gives the sequence:

1. Blackness caused by heating.

2. Peacock's Tail [which] indicates interaction of Philosophical and Vulgar Mercuries.

3. Matter of the Moon, white and candid as Snow.

4. Yellow and Saffron-like groweth the colour.

5. Perfect redness, having reached which, then is the substance of gold prepared, the enthroned King." #3.

The dispute concerning the yellow colour may be solved by recalling the circular nature of the work. Quoting from Miraldus in the Turba, Trismosin says of the materia: "Twice it turns black, twice also it turns yellow and twice red; and it takes on many colours." The first yellowing is very transient, but the second time around,"..the other yellowish colour which results after the perfect white and before the last red does show itself in the matter for a while." (Trismosin.S.:Splendor Solis. Godwin,J.,Trans. Grand Rapids MI. Phanes Press.1991. p67)

The usual assertion is that alchemists were attempting to convert base materials into gold, and weren't they naive. But for people unaware of the immutability of the chemical elements, "extracting" the silver and gold from the base metals would be indistinguishable from transmutation: in fact, were it not for the alchemical process being an extractive one, it would not parallel the individuation process at all, but be more like genetic engineering; changing the essential nature of something rather than isolating its essence.

Certainly the alchemists used their experiments to stimulate imagination, just as we can use Rorschach ink-blots or staring at flames and clouds; but we evade reality if we ignore their essential starting point, which was a sequence of chemical reactions. The following quotes are from a standard university chemistry text of the 1950s and early 60s.#4

"Galena, PbS, which is the principal source of lead, often contains appreciable amounts of silver sulphide, Ag2S, as an isomorphous impurity. When smelted, either alone or with added silver ore, it yields an argentiferous lead. The silver which it contains is concentrated by ... Rozan's ...process, and the lead is then removed as oxide by "cupellation."p320 "In the Luce Rozan process the lead is crystallised out by blowing steam through the molten mass, whilst cold water is sprayed on the surface. ...the enriched silver lead alloy contains as much as 2% of silver before cupellation."(p321)

"Cupellation,- The argentiferous lead is placed in a cupel and heated in a blast of air, when the lead is oxidised to molten litharge, PbO, which is blown away by the blast, leaving a bright residue of molten silver. The cupel is a flat dish of marl and bone ash ... in an iron framework. It is heated in a re-verbatory furnace* ... The metal remaining in the cupel is re-fined by cupellation at a higher temperature, when the last traces of copper, lead and bismuth are oxidised and a FINE METAL containing 99 9% or more of pure silver is produced. The traces of gold which remain in the fine silver can be recovered ..."(p321f) *Reverb furnace see CW13 p138,n17.

"...the silver may be dissolved out by concentrated nitric or sulphuric acids, and the residual gold washed and melted into an ingot."(p327)

"Extraction of Gold [from alluvium, using a pan] Finer particles may be retained by making use of mercury, which forms an AMALGAM from which the gold can be recovered by distilling off the mercury."(p327)

"Mercuric sulphate, HgSO4, is obtained by heating mercury with concentrated sulphuric acid, and crystalises from the strong acid in small silvery plates: ... It is de-composed by water, which precipitates a lemon-coloured basic sulphate." (p341)

"Mercuric sulphide, HgS, occurs in beautiful red crystals as CINNABAR and is the principal ore of mercury. It is obtained in a black form, ... by precipitating a solution of mercury with hydrogen sulphide ...[when] heated in a retort it sublimes as a brilliant red pigment and is known as VERMILION."(p340)

"Mercury ... is nearly all extracted from mercuric sulphide or CINNABAR, HgS,... by burning a mixture of the crushed ore with charcoal in a blast furnace, ... The mercury vapourises and is condensed either by air or by water."(p336)

Haeffner (op cit,p59) suggests that:

1. Birth of the silvery lunar mercury from the vermillion red cinnabar may be one source for the classical alchemical symbolism of Sol and Luna.

2. Chinese Taoist alchemists founded their quest for the elixir on the ninefold transformation of cinnabar and mercury. 3. Cinnabar and mercury were also vital in Greco-Egyptian Islamic alchemy, and the reactions in the kerotakis used for creating HgS in Greek and Judaic alchemy may have set the pattern for the colour sequence of stages in the opus.

4. It was natural to think of the volatile mercury fumes as the spirit escaping from its ore, the prima materia, which was left as a deposit.

"Mercuric iodide, HgI2, is precipitated on adding a solution of potassium iodide to a solution of mercuric chloride; when it first separates it is yellow in colour but quickly becomes red. [It] is in fact dimorphous ... the scarlet form being stable below 126ø, whilst the yellow variety is stable above this temperature. When ... sublimed, the vapour usually condenses in yellow crystals, which gradually revert to the scarlet form at room temperatures; this change is accel-erated by scratching or rubbing, a line of scarlet appearing where the crystals are touched.

Mercuric iodide dissolves readily in potassium iodide ... The solution obtained by adding potassium hydroxide is known as NESSLER'S REAGENT and forms a very delicate test for minute traces of ammonia, which produce a brown colouration."(p340) "... when mercury and iodine are rubbed together, a green mercurous iodide,Hg2I2, is formed when the mercury is in excess, and a red mercuric iodide,HgI2, when the iodine is in excess." and

"[Iodine] oxidises hydrogen sulphide to sulphur."(p297) The notes on iodine are included because iodine was first isolated in 1811 (ibid 295), so many of its coloured salts would have been seen by experimental alchemists who worked with sea-salt, especially if they used kelp, which concentrates it. They would thus have attributed many of its properties to NaCl/salt and other compounds in which it was an impurity.

The Elaboratory as a safety barrier.

"[Individuation] is not without its perils, and the strictest control by the partner or therapist and by the patient's own consciousness as well is needed to safeguard the ego against the violently irrupting contents of the unconscious and to integrate these contents into the psychic totality in a manner consonant with the end in view. Consequently it takes two to undertake this journey… any attempt to travel it alone is extremely dangerous, particularly for an Occidental, and success is more than doubtful." (Jacobi. The Psychology of C.G. Jung p 107.)

That danger is the risk of falling into a state of identification with the archetypal figures appearing in the alchemists' minds as they worked, ie insanity. At best the alchemist had the aid of a soror or frater mystica, so had to leave the images "…in their objective impersonal state. So long as the alchemist was working in his laboratory …he had no opportunity to identify himself with the archetypes as they appeared, since they were all projected immediately into the chemical substances. [Unfortunately he] was forced to represent the incorruptible substance as a chemical product - an impossible undertaking which led to the downfall of alchemy …But the psychic part of the work did not disappear. It captured new interpreters… from the signal connection between our modern psychology of the unconscious and alchemical symbolism." CW 12 p37, ¶ 42.

Rosarium Philosophorum

  The Alchemists provide a large and useful corpus of archetypal images, but they do not provide gospel truths; nor should their heterogeneous works be regarded as anything more than intermittent images of enlightenment. We would do well to observe their insights carefully; but critically, if their labours are to be appreciated appropriately.

Like it or lump it, they did not fully appreciate the power, nor the autonomy of the archetype which we would call Dynamic Feminine. They had hints of it. Newton had hints of jet propulsion in his third law: but Newton did not invent jet aircraft. Let us observe the alchemists' insights honestly: as insights, but not full-blown fundamental insights.

Moreover, not only were their perceptions (and the ability to communicate them) conditioned by their life and times: equally so are our interpretations.

This is particularly important in looking at the image of the hermaphrodite. If we put ourselves in the alchemists' position of questioning nature, perhaps an analogy might be made to calling an unknown telephone number. If we ring one day, and hear a female voice saying she will ask her husband, then next day a male voice answers saying he will ask his wife, do we assume that there is a hermaphrodite on the other end? Probably we are wiser to assume there is a couple.

The hermaphrodite image is a convenient way of expressing an antinomy, but extreme caution is necessary to avoid attributing to it more than is appropriate.

The alchemists saw their world(s) through Christian eyes, not only because they would join Giordano Bruno at the stake for failing to do so. They lived in a Christian (or, possibly even worse, a Moslem) Weltanshauung, with its own idiosyncratic presumptions about the universe. How deeply this affects anyone's everyday perceptions is reflected in Marie-Louise von Franz' assertion that the reason for our conception of space as three-dimensional (rather than four or five, or two) is Kepler's alleged statement that "…naturally space must have three dimensions because of the Trinity!" Perhaps this should alert us, not only to the alchemists' potentially distorted view of their world, but also to our own presumptions when interpreting their images in our own time.

We can admire these people for going as far as they did in the face of internal as well as external persecution, but their perceptions were coloured by their limited world view. That view did not include a proper conscious appreciation of the dynamic non-maternal feminine, so Hermes/Mercurius was considered "hermaphroditic" despite the obvious Aphrodite component. In ¶ 499, Jung has fallen into the same error,

  1. By assuming that a crowned virgin is Mercurius, and not "Aphrodite," and
  2. By equating arbor philosophica with mother and thus virgin.

"As the giver of new birth, the mother is identical with the tree. In the 1588 edition of Pandora the tree is shown as a naked virgin wearing a crown. The arbor philosophica is a favourite symbol for the alchemical process, and when Ripley speaks of the "Crowned Maid" (virgo redemita) we at once recognize the anima mundi, the feminine half of Mercurius …" CW 12 p420 ¶499.

Anyone who has looked at a "Herm" in front or side view is likely to be astonished at how he could be considered anything but rampant masculine.

We have an obvious tendancy to perceive and explain the unknown in terms of the known, and our favourite metaphor for the interplay of opposites is that of female and male. (Yin and Yang, Sun and Moon, Positive and Negative, Active and Receptive.) But like all metaphors it has finite limits, and pure intercourse resulting in birth of offspring does not quite measure up to the ultimate incommensurable in psychology; the constellation and emerging awareness of the Self. If the church refused to, Nature told the alchemists that totality must include all opposites, including feminine and masculine. That they (or their imaginations) were sufficiently adept to produce the fantasy of the hermaphrodite speaks volumes for their ingenuity, not to say survival instinct! It was the best result possible in a world where deviation from patriarchal radical monotheism was dangerous in the the extreme.

Free of that restriction, we can see (and even say) that the Self must contain equal proportions of all those entities we perceive (whether correctly or not) as feminine and masculine, dynamic and static.


Inanna and Enki: Is She a Feminine Mercurius?

"...not only Mercurius but also what happens to him is a projection of the collective unconscious. This ...is a projection of the individuation process, which, being a natural psychic occurrence, goes on even without the participation of consciousness.*But if consciousness participates with some measure of understanding, then the process is accompanied by all the emotions of a religious experience or revelation. As a result of this, Mercurius was identified with Sapientia and the Holy Ghost." (CW13 p229, 277)

* cf Neumann's idea of Individuation being a conscious aspect of centroversion in 2nd half of life. (Origins p398 2)

But in Chapter 3 we have already canvassed Jung's description of Sapientia, the Shulamite, and Inanna Herself as identical to a personification of Wisdom.

Discussing the dual nature of Mercurius, Jung collates a large number of hermaphroditic symbols, especially,

"Sometimes his body is said to be masculine and his soul feminine, sometimes the reverse. ...As vulgaris he is the dead masculine body, but as "our" Mercurius he is feminine, spiritual, alive and life-giving. He is also called husband and wife, bridegroom and bride, or lover and beloved." etc.CW13 p218, 268.

He even identifies him with Splendor Solis Plate 8, showing the red man rising out of the water to meet the white lady, an idea he says may go back to the Babylonian wisdom teacher Oannes, and spares us the descending dove comparison when Jesus was baptized by John.

"Because of his half-feminine nature, Mercurius is often identified with moon and Venus. "As his own divine consort he easily turns into the goddess of love, just as in his role of Hermes he is ithyphallic. But he is also called the "most chaste virgin." ...like Venus close to the sun in the morning and evening sky, is like her a Lucifer, a light-bringer. He heralds, as the morning star does, only much more directly, the coming of the light." (CW13 p226, 273)

Jung never saw a patient spontaneously produce a true hermaphroditic Mercurius image, and nor has the present author. Jung proposed, and there is no reason to demur, that the Hermaphrodite was not an archetype at all. It was a partly conscious attempt to produce an image which explained the psychological phenomenon of something contrasexual in each of us. Thus the "Bearded Venus" and all other images of Hemaphrodites were attempts to say "Well,it's sort of like this."

Red and Green Lion as Symbol of Venus, Mercurius & Saturn:

But at ibid, 275,"One of the manifestations of Mercurius in the alchemical process of transformation is the lion, now green and now red.... From ancient times the lion was associated with Saturn. [Khunrath] calls Saturn "the lion green and red." In Gnosticism Saturn is the highest archon, the lion-headed Ialdabaoth, meaning "child of chaos." But in alchemy the child of chaos is Mercurius." [NB notes 10 an 11, esp. As Sal Veneris, green and red lion (= Venus), Khunrath. and The substance of Mercurius consists of Venus (Mylius.)] CW13 p226 n210-11.

 Mercurius and Venus as Water and Fire:

This may be a peripheral argument, but to lay it to rest, in case it is important, Jung stated:

"Water and fire are classic opposites and can be valid definitions of one and the same thing only if this thing unites in itself the contrary qualities of water and fire. The psychologem "Mercurius" must therefore possess an essentially antinomian dual nature." (CW13 p216, 266)

But cf Böhme in CW9(i) p331, 580: (Re the life of nature and spirit, united in the spherical wheel,) "...an eternal essence of Nature, like to water and fire, which stand as it were mixed into one another ...one eternal essence in two Mysteries mingled together, notwithstanding the difference of two principles, viz. two kinds of life."


"...as an ancient pagan god he possesses a natural undividedness which is impervious to logical and moral contradictions." CW13 p245, 295.

If Mercurius was 'a' (i.e. one) pagan god, this statement would be true. But how can anyone look at the substantial number of foregoing quotes without suspecting that Hermes/Mercurius is a conflation of two earlier deities, one of each sex? Such a pair would both possess wisdom, both be dynamic borderland entities, each acting as stimuli for development of individuation in its true sense. That is precisely what Inanna and Enki are.

She has one additional claim. Joseph Campbell notes in "Inanna's Descent" it was her messenger Ninshubur (Papsukkal, Ilabrat) "chief messenger of the gods" who wept before Enki, to enable Inanna's return from Ereshkigal. Ninshubur's figurines, found beneath the doors of temples, have 'him' bearing a staff in 'his' right hand. 'He' is the prototype of Hermes/Mercury whose caduceus refers to the connubium of the monster serpent with the naked goddess in her serpent form. (PrimMyth p416) There is only one problem with Campbell's description. Jacobsen, Perera, Wolkstein and Kramer, and Black and Green all agree that Ninshubur was a goddess: her name means "Queen of the East" - and in those days queen only had one meaning. Even N.K. Sandars, hardly an Ishtar fan, notes ('Poems' p182) that "...he [Ninshubur] appears recently to have changed sex." - inevitably, as evidence mounted.So Ishtar had a Mercurial messenger, Ninshubur, and a Hermetic ally, Enki, at least fifteen hundred years before the Greek Hermes was ever written about, and far from having to ask whether Hermes/Mercurius has a feminine aspect, we may rather ask how Hermes got to be seen solely as a male at all!

Ovid (pp 110-113) tells the story of the true Hermaphroditus, adolescent son of Hermes and Aphrodite, who was embraced so completely by the nymph Salmacis that the two became one hermaphroditic person. The parallel with spirit trapped in matter is inescapable.

We are never going to derive a complete picture of Inanna/Ishtar simply by reducing her to Venus. There were three goddesses at the trial of Paris: Hera, Athene and Aphrodite. They each represented equal aspects of Ishtar, although in watered down form after considerable political interference from the Jews as well as the Greeks. Hermes/Mercurius is not just counterpointed by one of them, but by all three in one Goddess: Ishtar!

Mercurius himself is a later derivative of the very powerful Enki, god of the subterranean waters so clearly drawn in the first plate of the Rosarium (Fig 1, CW16 p215) Kramer insists that Enki is the forerunner of Poseidon, and certainly the watery nature of the two suggests parallels; but Enki's behaviour is more like Hermes.

If Mercurius can be a trinity (ibid p 206) so can Ishtar. Look what the Greeks did to devalue her.

Athene: This goddess of wisdom and war (and civilized crafts, most of which are listed amongst the me brought by Inanna,) is no longer the daughter of two moon deities, but a contrived product of some unprecedented parthenogenetic birth from the forehead of Zeus who got a headache because he ate his wife.

The Assyrians hopelessly oversimplified Ishtar's role in actual warfare by making her into a bad-tempered tooth-fairy. You don't win battles by running about in front of your army shrieking hysterically. Ishtar's contribution to military success lay in her strategic value, an application of wisdom as military skill. She is repeatedly contrasted to the belligerent and rather hoon-like Mars/Ares, who would have done better to avoid the battle-field in favour of the bed-chamber.

Any military leader with an ounce of sense will develop the closest possible relationship with Ishtar/Inanna/Athene by invocation, meditation, and sacrifice: not of harmless animals, but by his life; by training his troops, his subordinate commanders and himself.

When battle is likely, Ishtar is not invoked by prayers alone, but by a well-tried formula which has worked for every successful western commander from Alexander the Great to Norman Schwartzkopf. It goes like this:

Assess the Situation: What is happening. Who is where, and in what numbers, with what consequences.

Define your Aim: In one sentence with no conjunctions. This will seldom be simply to destroy the enemy. Often it is just, "Take that hill," or "Make them leave that area," or even "Be annoying."

Factors affecting the aim: Your forces, strengths, weaknesses. Their forces ditto.Ground: Where do you want to fight? How can you make the enemy fight where you want? What is the geography? How does it affect you; and them? Obstacles and protection for you and them. Deployment of infantry, cavalry, artillery (archers?) Weather, day or night battle. If night, moonlight?

The list goes on, but every factor must be considered, together with what it means to you, and what you can do about it, or how to gain advantage from it.Courses: From the factors, certain courses can be derived which will allow you to achieve the aim. Each must be weighed with all pros and cons.

Then Stop!

Stare into the fire, as the Druids did.

(The Romans thought they were praying to Brighida, their fire-goddess)

If you have time, sleep. Dreams can help.

But whatever you do, do what Gilgamesh did.

Leave it alone!

Trust Inanna!

You have done all your left brain can do. If you have listed everything accurately, you have now presented the unconscious with a series of unambiguous statements. Now it can process them, with all its collective wisdom, and include all its own pieces of useful information. Then you receive a

Plan: This product of all your own thought, together with all the extras you did not consider, but Ishtar did. It may need some refining, but thus you used all your own efforts, and all that Ishtar can offer. If she is with you, this will give victory. If she does not "love" you, resign your command, extremely quickly! But if you won, she must be thanked. Decorum and polite etiquette are as important in dealing with archetypes as they are in working with outside people; maybe more so.

To take personal credit for the workings of an archetype is inflation, and the most dangerous inflation of all is anima-posession. Shelley's poem "Ozymandias" (the Greeks' name for Pharoah Rameses ,) shows the consequences.

"Mercurius appears ...in "Aurelia occulta" with a crown of stars." "As the little star near the sun, he is the child of sun and moon. But contrariwise he is also the begetter of his parents..."


"The mandala, though only a symbol of the self as the psychic totality, is at the same time a God-image, for the central point, circle, and quaternity are well-known symbols for the deity. The impossibility of distinguishing empirically between "self" and "God" leads, in Indian theosophy, to the identity of the personal and supra-personal Purusha-Atman. ..."God is an infinite circle (or sphere) whose centre is everywhere and the circumference nowhere." And quoting Parmenides,

"For the narrower rings were filled with unmixed Fire, and those next to them with Night, but between these rushes the portion of Flame. And in the centre of these is the goddess who guides everything; for throughout she rules over cruel Birth and Mating, sending the female to mate with the male, and conversely again the male with the female." (CW9i,p325, 572) (See also ibid p330,n119)

"For such is the name for that which abides outside holiness, such as the seven fallen kings and the four Achurayim (The four elements correspond to them 579). From them come the "klippoth" or cortices. As in alchemy, these are the scoriae or slag, to which adheres the quality of plurality and of death." CW9(i) p328, 576.

"...John Dee symbolizes the elements by an equal-armed cross. [n113: Dee also associates the cross with fire.] As we said, the cross with a little circle in it is the alchemical sign for copper (cuprum, from Kypris, Aphrodite), and the sign for Venus is E . ....the lightning ...can come

from below out of the blood, from Venus or from Tartarus....Salt, ...is the symbol for Sapientia and also for the distinguished or elect personality,... CW9(i) p327, 575.

"Fire the Holy Ghost" CW9(i) p330, 579.

Tibetan Mandala: Fire of concupiscentia,'desire,'from which proceed the torments of hell. CW9(i) p356, 630.

Spirit too has a fiery aspect, as we know from the language of the Old Testament and from the story of the Pentecostal miracle. CW9(i) p224, 409.

Rather than become carried away with strange notions of Mercurius being a composite bisexual creature, why not discriminate the obvious pair of inherent opposites? We can do that, with obvious productive results, but why didn't the alchemists?

1. Aphrodite was the only suitable image they got from the Greeks. The Athene and Hera 'components' of the dynamic feminine had become separate entities, and nobody thought to reintegrate them.

2. The same incredibly dogmatic attitudes of Medieval Europe, which endowed Galen's demonstrably inaccurate descriptions of human anatomy, also cramped any constructive and critical assessments of other classical thought.

3. The alchemists had the additional problem of the Roman Church constantly looking over their shoulders, with the very real danger of torture or death for heresy.

4. Most of them were in any event devout believers in radical monotheism, which made it difficult to propound any idea of equality of a feminine deity.

5. Their level of understanding was probably too grounded in the primitive to perceive individuation as possible, desirable, or attainable. However, Jung's comments on Dee in CW14 suggest that some had a vague idea.

Probably the best representation of what the hermaphrodite figure represents is shown in the Qabalistic tree of life. Moving our viewpoint from its start in Kether (the Kingdom, the world we see around us) through Yesod (the world of Platonic forms) we are confronted with Netzach (Power) and Hod (Glory) representing the pillars of Mercy and Severity respectively. Netzach contains all the ideas usually attributed to Aphrodite, so reasonably those of Inanna. Hod represents those attributes of Hermes, hence Enki. For the Qabalists, the pillars represented masculine and feminine elements which married up the produce the next Sephira, number six, Tiphareth, the solar redeemer with attributes of Apollo and his shadow half-brother Dionysos, whose water to wine trick, and resurrection would form elements of the Christian myth five hundred years later.

In his foreword to "Psychology of the Transference" Jung stressed the provisional character of his investigation of alchemical symbolism, indicating that it built upon "Psychology and Alchemy" but was an introduction to the problem of opposites in alchemy, to be dealt with more comprehensively in "Mysterium Coniunctionis."

There are 20 images in the series, but Jung only discussed ten, on the basis that:

"The denarius forms the totius operis summa, the culminating point of the work beyond which it is impossible to go except by means of the multiplicatio." (p 308, ¶ 526)

There are two strange things about this:

  1. Stopping at Image 10 is equivalent in alchemical terms to finishing the Individuation process at the albedo.
  2. Image 19 represents the Assumptio Mariae, about which Jung was extremely enthusiastic when it was made official policy by the Catholic Christians. (The other denominations have not yet made any moves to follow suit.)

Jung has included most of the other Rosarium woodcuts in other parts of the collected works but did not deal with them in a coherent sequence. (No 11 is CW12 p478, Fig 268. No 17 is CW12, p113, Fig 54 and CW13 Plate B2, following p 152. No 18 is CW12, p332, Fig 169. No 19 is CW12 p429, Fig. 235. No 20 is CW 12, p423, Fig. 234)


In CW 16 p 315, ¶ 533. # Rebis ghastly, and limitations which made sexuality show up. Uses "other version" Psy/Alc fig 54. Over-looks possibility that Mercurius may represent a dyad!

It is reasonable to argue that Images 1 - 4 represent the 'preliminaries' which indeed they do.. The comparisons presented above are valid: but Images 12, 18, 19, and 20 have no comparable images in the first decan. Why? And why did Jung appear to ignore this obvious fact?

So second decan is a recapitulation of first (excluding the preliminaries.) But it involves the assertion of the A/T Femme, subjugation to her, consumption by her, recognition of her heavenly role, all of which are preconditions for emergence of the true self. (E or G ) But is this Rubedo?!

CW 16 ¶ 482 leads into this.

Kabbalistic interpretations. (Insert Kingdom, Power, and Glory) Does this admit Inanna is Green Lion? # References of it. Story of Lions in Ishtar Gate. What does Jung say is the Green Lion. What does Newton say? What do others say? Maria Prophetissa? Hint in engraved version where Queen arrows 'King.' Inanna's weapon was the (composite) bow, divorced from lunar associations!

# Transfer to commentary on Ros Phil Images!

(From Hillman - Myth of … p 261-2) Hermaphroditic festival for Aphrodite, on Argos.

P 262 n80 says Argos sacred to Hera.

Myth of…p 280 Tiresias was of both sexes, implying that only his kind of consciousness can penetrate into the invisible world of Thanatos and all psychic components deriving from death. Approximation to the hermaphrodite is a death experience; the movement into death proceeds through bisexuality. Death and bisexual consciousness are what Dionysus involves.

Image 11: Fermentatio

The Fermentation. A further conjunction (as in emblem 5) of the King and Queen, now winged, occurs in a pool of water. Image 11 is comparable to Image 5, Except, the Queen is removing the King's phallus, and both are now winged.

Fabricius (p140) describes image 11 as the start of the process of Citrinitas; in 'chemical' terms, a yellowing of the lunar consciousness, to a state of solar awareness. Jung has attracted considerable criticism from feminist writers for confusing objectively feminine people with his own anima material. Insofar as that criticism is valid, Jung would not have been able to comprehend the true nature of the dynamic feminine, so would miss the essence of the second decan of the Rosarium, which is coming to terms with this entity which completes the individuation process for men and women.

Image 12: Illuminatio

The Illumination. A winged Sun hovers above a sepulchre filled with water. Image 12 (sun and fountain) has no comparison with any image in the first decan, a fact which Jung ignored.

The Sun, insofar as it equates to solar rational consciousness, must be allowed to sink into the fountain of water, symbolising the unconscious, to allow recycling of the process, after the Queen starts to assert her will.

"The real climax and culmination of the I Ching occurs at the sixty-third hexagram Chi4 Ch'i2 or "the Achivement of Harmony" and its line pattern is 

(the inverse of the number 64) in which yang (unbroken) lines are on yang (odd) places and yin (broken) lines on yin (even) places. The feminine and masculine elements are thus each appropriately balanced within and without. Also, the dragon flies above the sun 

in this hexagram, carrying it as in the winged disk of Egypt;

whereas in number 64, the dragon is below the sun, showing a basic misjoinder, since the dragon's region is the invisible highest heavens, and the visible, fiery jewel is meant to be carried below the dragon in its claws." (Musès p 148)

Crowley (777 p 155) identifies hexagram 63 as "Moon of Sun" which, given the supporting relationship between the wings and the solar disc, bears an interesting comparison to the relationship between the Sumerian Sun-god Shamash, and his two lunar parents, Nanna and Ningal.

I Ching (Wilhelm/Baynes p 710) has the trigrams of K'an, water (striving down), above Li, fire (striving up); "hence the outer and the inner organization of the hexagram create a state of equilibrium that is obviously unstable." Comparison with the "Star of David" is obvious.

Lilith's Medieval Myth is pertinent here. She is supposed to have been Adam's first wife, but left him because he always insisted on intercourse in the 'Missionary position.' Given that masculine is imagined as fire and feminine as water, what Lilith wanted was congruent with hexagram 63; i.e. that water be above fire for any effective alchemical work to occur. In the psychology of either gender, this means that subordination of the masculine to the dynamic feminine is a pre-condition for progress. For women, Individuation will not occur unless animus projections are withdrawn in deference to the greater power of the ultimate process, personified as Inanna. For men, relationship of a duly respectful type to the divine non-maternal feminine is the ultimate goal.

Image 13: Nutrimentum

The Nourishment. A winged hermaphrodite or conjoined King and Queen lies as if dead in a sepulchre filled with water. Image 13 is comparable to Image 6, except the hermaphrodite has wings (said to be swans')

Image 14: Fixatio

The Fixation. The hermaphrodite or conjoined King and Queen (now having lost its wings) still lies as if dead in a sepulchre. A small female spirit rises into clouds. Image 14 is comparable to Image 7, except the rising spirit is depicted as a mature female.

Image 15: Multiplicatio

Emblem 15 The Rosarium Philosophorum

The Multiplication. The hermaphrodite or conjoined King and Queen still lies as if dead in a sepulchre. Drops of rain descend on the body from the clouds above. Image 15 is comparable to Image 8, with no exceptions.

Image 16: Revivicatio


The Reviving. The hermaphrodite or conjoined King and Queen still lies as if dead in a sepulchre. A small female spirit descends from the clouds above. Image 16 is comparable to Image 9, except the spirit descending is again a mature female, and the crows are absent.

Image 17: Perfectionis ostensio

The Demonstration of Perfection. A hermaphrodite, now clothed, and with bat- rather than bird-like wings, stands upon a small hill in which three snakes attempt to devour each other, rather than on the moon. It holds in its right hand a cup or chalice within which are three serpents, and its its left hand a coiled snake. Behind it is a lion. On the left is a Sun tree with thirteen Sun flowers, while on the right a pelican nourishes its young with its own blood. Comparison and contrast with image 10 is obvious, but a larger cycle seems to have been completed. It also has the lion and pelican in the background in place of the bird whixh Jung says is a Raven, and thus a symbol of the Devil.

Image 18:

The Green Lion devours the Sun. Blood descends to the earth.

This depiction of a stellar green lion consuming the sun is unlabelled. Fabricius (p 170) describes it as the start of the rubedo, but unfortunately underrates it by equating this part of the process with senility and depression. Image 18 has no comparison with any image in the first decan.

Psychologically, this part of the process of Individuation requires yet another abbaisement de niveau mentale, so that all we have learned thus far is again submitted to reprocessing by the unconscious. In this context, Inanna's Descent is the paradigm. She was already Queen of Heaven and Earth before going into the underworld, and undergoing death, fixation and putrefaction. Only then, and with the assistance of Enki, Her dynamic masculine counterpart, would She return with Her power enhanced. Significantly, because the underworld requires a replacement (libido must remain balanced) a replacement had to be found for Her. Her "sons" Shara and Lulal were explicitly excluded from this, so the idea of a sacrificed son-lover is categorically dismissed. Instead the replacement was Dumizi (Tammuz) the puer aeternus husband who failed to mourn Her departure.

This abbaisement is a quantum leap beyond subordination to lunar consciousness (as illustrated in Image 12, and made more explicit in the text and the engraved version.) This is the true heroic surrender to cosmic unconciousness. The Lion is sometimes shown as star-spangled.

Image 19:

Christ holding sceptre and the Father holding an orb, together hold a crown above the head of a young woman. Above her head a bird hovers. Image 19 has no comparison with images in the first decan.

Unlabelled, but depicts the Assumptio Mariae, probably the only conceivable (and certainly the only safe) depiction in Medieval times of recognition of the dynamic feminine principle as Queen of Heaven. Significantly both the woodcut and the engraved version describe this phase of the process as conjunction of spirit and soul.

Hillman stated, "This is what the Assumption of Maria means in actual living: to take back into the psyche what has been put upon the body, to take back centuries of misogyny, to take back into consciousness the physical, the feminine, and the inferior."(sic!) (Myth of Analysis, p 282.) We may differ firmly with Hillman, especially if we are men. Our bodies are not feminine, and feminine does not denote inferiority. James Hillman is well-intentioned, but prone to patronising flights of fantasy from time to time. Moreover, the objective process does not require any masculine gods (paternal or filial) to grant the crown. All that is required is a realistic recognition that, as far as humanity is concerned, this is the way things are. We just have to be aware of it.

Recognition of Inanna's proper place as Regina Coelis is a precondition for true acceptance of the rejuvenated Self. CW12 p 420, ¶ 500 states,

"In Fig. 232 she [Mary] is marked with the words "terra" and "corpus Lyb" (body) and "die wonn der jung-frowenn wardt" (who became the joy of virgins); the dove descends upon her…" Joy of virgins?! Citing lines 31 and 33 from "The Curse of Agade" Frymer-kensky says (at p 48)

"Inanna is the sexual joy (hi-li) of the cosmos, and also the goddess who brings the joy of life to humankind. The power of sex is the power of joy, and Inanna brings happiness to children, brings dances to young women [italics mine] Inanna…herself is ša-at-me -li-si-im,"the one who is joy."

Image 20:

Christ holding aloft a banner rises from a sepulchre, his hand raised in a gesture of blessing. Image 20 has no equivalent in the first decan.

Depicts recognition of Self as Christ leaving a coffin; rather a difficult scene to justify given the account of the resurrection in Matthew!

Alchemy & Individuation


1. McGuire,William and Hull R.F.C.(Eds) C.G.Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters. Picador. Pan Books. London, 1980.

In the Editorial Note to Alchemical Studies (C.W.13) Jung is quoted from M.D.R. Ch7 as saying,

"Light on the nature of alchemy began to come to me only after I had read the text of the [Secret of the] Golden Flower, that specimen of Chinese alchemy which Richard Wilhelm sent me in 1928."

Psychology and Alchemy (C.W.12) his first book on the subject, was published in 1944, although Jung mentions in the Foreword that it evolved out of Eranos lectures published in 1935 and 1936.

2. Cirlot, J.E. A Dictionary of Symbols. (Trans: Sage, Jack) Routledge, 2nd Ed. London, 1971. P 8.

3. Haeffner, Mark. Dictionary of Alchemy. From Maria Prophetissa to Isaac Newton. Aquarian, Harper Collins. 2nd Ed. London, 1994. Heavily abstracted from Pp 60-61. _

Start of the opus with shadow. CW17 p 184 ¶ 319 ff.

"Mercurius, in the form of Lilith or Melusina, appears in the tree in the Ripley Scrowle."

"...tree and snake are symbols of Mercurius..."