The Collected Works of C. G. Jung - Vol. 14

The Collected Works of C. G. Jung - Vol. 14

The Collected Works of C. G. Jung - Vol. 14

The Collected Works of C. G. Jung - Vol. 14

Synopsis


Jung's last major work, completed in his 81st year, on the synthesis of the opposites in alchemy and psychology.

Excerpt

This book—my last—was begun more than ten years ago. I first got the idea of writing it from C. Kerényi’s essay on the Aegean Festival in Goethe’s Faust. The literary prototype of this festival is The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz, itself a product of the traditional hierosgamos symbolism of alchemy. I felt tempted, at the time, to comment on Kerényi’s essay from the standpoint of alchemy and psychology, but soon discovered that the theme was far too extensive to be dealt with in a couple of pages. Although the work was soon under way, more than ten years were to pass before I was able to collect and arrange all the material relevant to this central problem.

As may be known, I showed in my book Psychology and Alchemy, first published in 1944, how certain archetypal motifs that are common in alchemy appear in the dreams of modern individuals who have no knowledge of alchemical literature. In that book the wealth of ideas and symbols that lie hidden in the neglected treatises of this much misunderstood “art” was hinted at rather than described in the detail it deserved; for my primary aim was to demonstrate that the world of alchemical symbols definitely does not belong to the rubbish heap of the past, but stands in a very real and living relationship to our most recent discoveries concerning the psychology of the unconscious. Not only does this modern psychological discipline give us the key to the secrets of alchemy, but, conversely, alchemy provides the psychology of the unconscious with a meaningful historical basis. This was hardly a popular subject, and for that reason it remained largely misunderstood. Not only was alchemy almost entirely unknown as a branch of natural philosophy and as a religious movement, but most people were unfamiliar with the modern discovery of the archetypes, or had at least misunderstood them. Indeed, there were not a few who regarded them as sheer fantasy, although the well-known example of whole

Das Aegäische Fest: Die Meergötterszene in Goethes Faust II.

[First Swiss edn., 1944, but the two chief component essays first appeared in Eranos Jahrbuch 1935 and 1936.—EDITORS.]

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