Remo F. Roth

Dr. oec. publ., Ph.D.

dipl. analyt. Psychologe (M.-L. v. Franz)




English HomePage

© 2005 by Pro Litteris, Zurich, Switzerland and Remo F. Roth, Horgen-Zurich. All Rights Reserved. Republication and redissemination of the contents of this screen or any part of this website are expressly prohibited without prior written consent. This book is intended for private use only, and is copyrighted under existing Internet copyright laws and regulations.

With many thanks to Gregory Sova, Ph.D. and Patricia Sova (LA, CA) for translation assistance

go to index of contents

The Archetype of the Holy Wedding

 in Alchemy and in the Unconscious of Modern Man

(Part 3)

back to part 2

3. The Alchemical Rosarium Philosophorum  

3.4 The archetypal child and the seal of Solomon as the fourth  

In the Rosarium we have however a completely different situation. In it, the opposition of the sexes of the two divine figures is presented to us. Because the king as well as the queen possess the quality of royalty or even of divinity, it is impossible to assign one of these figures to consciousness. Therefore, the opposition of the king and the queen in  the fountain of Mercury in which the Holy Wedding will take place describes a conflict in what Carl Jung calls the collective unconscious or even in the unus mundus, and also its necessary solution resides there.

We will later see that this situation leads to an extension of Carl Jung’s depth psychology. What he calls the Self, I will call the Logos Self, i.e., the collective spirit-psyche that is represented here by the king. Behind it there exists an even deeper realm – I will call it the Eros Self – a feminine principle, the collective matter-psyche, that is of the same value as the masculine[1]. I would like to stress already here that only with such an assumption we will be able to translate the energetical process represented by the alchemical Rosarium’s Holy Wedding into a modern language.  

When we compare the Holy Wedding with man’s sexuality, there arises a further difficulty. Namely, if one understands the coniunctio as a process that takes place between the queen, the king, and the ambivalent Mercury, then the reader will have figured out that the child actually represents not the third, but the fourth. The creation of the fourth is however a problem that alchemy was occupied with very intensely. It is represented by the famous Axiom of Maria Prophetissa: "One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the One as the fourth.”  

As I have described elsewhere[2], the decisive aspect of the Axiom is the fact that with the expression “out of the third comes the One” it states implicitly that the third is split. The dove that I interpret as the ambivalent Mercury, being matter as well as spirit, fits very well in that picture. It seems therefore that the Holy Wedding serves the purpose of the creation of the fourth that overcomes the opposites in Mercury itself[3]. This fourth, the archetypal child of the coniunctio, is the hexagonal structure of flowers, represented in the above picture (see section 3.2) and also in other ones (see picture on the left; 3rd picture of Jung’s essay). The fourth is thus symbolized by a vegetative symbol. As we will later see, this interpretation is backed by the fact that in the moment of the coniunctio the creation myth described in the Rosarium will change from an instinctive to a vegetative one, which means of course that the child must be some vegetative being.  

In an abstract language, the above interpretation [see also I Cercatori di Dio] means that the fourth corresponds to the number six, respectively to a double-triad, and that this fourth has something to do with a vegetative creation myth.  

As the radius of the circle is equal to the length of one of the sides of the hexagon, number six is intimately connected to the circle. A necessary conclusion of this fact is that the fourth does not correspond to number 4 and the square, as most Jungians believe. Further, only the inclusion of the circle makes the quadrature of the circle possible[4]. As this geometrical operation is a very important symbol of the alchemical opus’ goal, the inclusion of the circle as the fourth is absolutely important for the understanding of a modern interpretation of (Hermetic) alchemy. 

Because collective consciousness wars against every true innovation, it eventually finds itself confused when the new revolutionary idea begins to manifest. This is the real reason why, as mentioned in the above Jung quote, the archetypal child – which I define now as the fourth and not as the third – , the symbol of the future development and new life, repressed by the collective consciousness, is always connected with abandonment, loneliness, danger and persecution. Thus, if a creative human has the challenge of dealing with this child archetype constellated in him, but does not succeed or is too lazy to do it, there exists always the danger of the outbreak of severe illness; but also many psychosomatic disturbances can be attributed to the unconsciousness due to the necessary inclusion of the child archetype in one’s individuation process.  

After my conclusions above, it is not too astonishing anymore, that the archetypal child, the goal of the opus (the work), is also symbolized as the so-called rotundum[5], the round thing. Of course it is equivalent to number six, which – as we have seen above – results through the division of the circle with the help of its radius. From this hexagon the seal of Solomon is deduced, the so-called Star of David, that characterizes both the opus and its goal (see figure on the left[6]). Gershom Sholem, the well-known researcher of Jewish myth has shown that despite the common belief, this symbol is not originally Jewish (see also Rome lecture). Actually, one will find it in the mysticism of all five world religions: in the Kabbalah, in Christian mysticism – Nicholas von Flue’s image of the wheel (see figure on the right) – , in the heart chakra of Buddhist and Hindu Tantrism (see picture on the left) and in Muslim Sufism. It is always connected to the heart, the symbol of the Eros principle in the original and broadest sense of the word (see below).  

Thus, it should further not be surprising that the number six appears, as we have seen, not only in the second picture of the Rosarium but also in many further ones. In the first picture, for example, number six is present in the six stars at the fountain of Mercury; in the fourth picture (see below) the fountain in which the transformation happens is a hexagon.  

It seems therefore that the repetition of this specific symbolism points out that the number 6 constitutes a very important attribute of this process. As it appears already in the beginning of the opus, number six is closely linked with the so-called prima materia (the opposition of the king and the queen) as well as with their end product, the infans solaris. It characterizes the fountain of Mercury and the God Mercury itself, who is the central archetype of (Hermetic) alchemy. As we will see, the Rosarium deals with the archetypal or even psychophysical background of sexuality. Thus, it eventually addresses also the Sixth Commandment of the Old Testament (“Thou shalt not commit adultery”), which deals exactly with this basic human drive. Further, we can conclude here that a rejection of the symbol of the fourth as the number six ultimately corresponds to a refusal of the inclusion of the problem of sexuality in one’s own individuation process.  

This conclusion leads us back to my first remarks about my experiences at the C.G. Jung Institute at Zurich. We recognize now that in it, more than 30 years ago, the fourth was equated with number four[7], and thus the whole sexual problem was repressed. The psychological law of enantiodromia tells us however, that a repression tends to develop into an identification with the repressed subject. As America is always a bit faster than “Old Europe”, we can see this development now in certain Jungian circles there: Trainees begin to have sex with a stranger and believe that like this they can open themselves up to the coniunctio mysticism as a part of the analytical training! The fourth as “number sex” has unconsciously taken possession of them…!

[proofread GJS, 4/20/05]


[1] I must stress here that this feminine principle does not correspond to the Anima. In Jung’s definition the Anima is the mediator between the masculine ego and the collective unconscious [with its center, the (Logos-)Self]. She is thus not a principle on a par with Jung’s Self. The feminine principle that I postulate corresponds to the alchemical World Soul, to the anima mundi that represents a psychophysical principle – what I will call the matter-psyche – and not feminine spirit-psyche, as Carl Jung’s Anima.

[3] As Mercury is the archetype behind Jungian depth psychology, the creation of the fourth, of the seal of Solomon, serves also the reunion of the split in Carl Jung’s depth psychology, the inconsistency between a causal and an acausal theory. Further remarks about this split see in, section

[4] See also CW 12

[5] CW 16

[6] CW 12

[7] As we will see, the identification with number 4 means an over-identification with the spirit. It is what I call the Neoplatonic Jungian philosophy which leads also to the fact that now coneheaded homosexuals and lesbians have taken over the leadership in Jungian depth psychology.

English Homepage Remo F. Roth