The Mandala Herr Roth hat Frau Weiss geheiratet ("Mr. Red has married Mrs. White") was painted while I was in a very deep life crisis in 1974. It is composed of 9 x 11 (!) red and 9 x 11 white elements plus the empty center. For me it is a symbol of the union of the opposites and of the unus mundus (Carl Jung) or of the unified psychophysical reality (Wolfgang Pauli) out of which a new creation is born. I was very shocked when I realized that it contains the symbolism of 9/11...! In my interpretation it symbolizes a positive compensation to that event.

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

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The Archetype of the Holy Wedding

 in Alchemy and in the Unconscious of Modern Man

(Part 10)

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4. “Rend the books lest your hearts be rent asunder” —Gerardus Dorneus’ unio corporalis and the matter-psyche as the shadow of the Self


4.3 The content of the Hermetic opus: The death of the Heavenly king


4.3.1 Carl Jung’s problem with the interpretation of the unio corporalis


Twelve years after the interpretation of the Rosarium, in his work Mysterium Coniunctionis (1955), the depth psychologist compares, as I have already briefly mentioned[1], the unio mentalis, the release of the psyche out of matter or of the body (see 7th picture on the right) and its union with the spirit to the spirit-psyche in the Christian Heaven with Active Imagination. Since the goal of the latter is exactly the creation of the spirit-psyche, he compares his imagination method with the alchemical production of the caelum[2], the “heaven”. In a psychological terminology he interprets further the first phase of Dorneus’ opus as the integration of the personal shadow with the help of Active Imagination. For him this task is thus equivalent to arriving at self-knowledge[3].

As the procedure of the liberation of the spirit or the psyche – Carl Jung never distinguishes really between the two – from matter or from the body, Active Imagination is per se a Neoplatonic concept. As a logical consequence the physical body stays outside of this procedure and Carl Jung’s depth psychology ends with Neoplatonic Active Imagination, the modern unio mentalis.  

As I will show in the following, the second phase of Dorneus’ opus, the unio corporalis, the second coniunctio, the sexual union of the god and the goddess and its goal in its Hermetic alchemical meaning, the creation of the subtle body or of the quintessence, of the lily or the Seal of Solomon[4] is not included, when Carl Jung interprets the subtle body in a Neoplatonic way as the creation of the “spiritual subtlety”, the quaternity of the conscious functions, and as the integration of the shadow with the help of Active Imagination.  

The main reason for this inability is the circumstance that Active Imagination is, in my terms, the liberation of the psyche from matter and its union with the spirit. In alchemical terms the soul leaves the body and unites with the spirit in Heaven. However, during the unio corporalis the psyche chooses now the opposite direction, abandons the spirit and unifies again with matter, the “earth” or the body.  

Thus, Carl Jung has now a problem, since it is impossible to compare the descent of the psyche, the absolutely decisive process of the unio corporalis, and its re-union with matter or the “earth” in the dew, with the opposite process of Active Imagination, the psyche’s liberation from matter or the body, and the psyche’s union with the spirit in Heaven. Therefore the depth psychologist begins now, in my opinion, to create a confusion, in which, at the end, he tries to identify also the second phase of Dorneus’ opus, the unio corporalis, as Active Imagination, the liberation of the psyche from matter (or from the instinctive patterns).


4.3.2 The descent of the god and his death in the womb of the goddess

In the section The Monocolus[5] of his Work Mysterium Coniunctionis Carl Jung deals with the unio corporalis. He introduces into the discussion some images of a so-called “uniped” (monocolus), obviously the alchemical king, the god. These pictures are published in the Paris codex (Fr. 14765). Its author is Abraham le Juif, i.e., Abraham Eleazar. The 7th picture shows the union of the king with the queen:  

In § 734 Jung describes this image with the following words:  

“What our Abraham le Juif text says about the royal persons sounds like a mythologem: the sun, the king of the blue sky, descends to earth and it becomes night; he then unites with his wife, the earth or sea. The primordial image of Uranos and Gaia may well be the background of this picture. … The French alchemists of the eighteenth century were familiar with the king, the hot, red sulphur of the gold, and called it Osiris; the moist (aquosum) they called Isis.” [emphasis mine]

The hot, red sulphur or the bright gold in Heaven, the spirit-psyche as the result of the unio mentalis, the king of the Logos principle is not yet the final goal of the opus, the philosophical gold. For the wedding with the queen this principle has to come down. Only like this the red sulphur can re-unify with the white sulphur (or salt), with the cold and moonlike silver, the moist substance[6]. Only then the final goal is reached, which is, after Albertus Magnus Jung quotes here, the “gold [that] is silver ‘inside’ and vice versa.”[7], synonymous to the lily, to the Seal of Solomon, to the quintessence, the infans solaris and to the red tincture. 

This description of the lapis as a re-union of the opposites leads Carl Jung to the further remark that the unio corporalis darkens the sun. It is obvious that an eclipse is meant, since the eclipse of the sun and the moon is another image for the coniunctio. The depth psychologist tells us then that the French alchemists used also the symbol of the divine pair Isis and Osiris, the latter the king of the underworld. This shows that the union happens in fact not in Heaven, but in the Beyond.  

As I have shown[8], the myth of Isis and Osiris is a vegetative myth, since after the dismemberment of the god of the underworld – also the central procedure of the unio corporalis -- Isis does not find his phallus anymore. In the re-union of his body she replaces therefore the real male sexual organ with a wooden one. Symbolically seen, “wooden” means “vegetative”. This detail shows us that in this moment the opus continues with a deeply introverted procedure and has – like the Buddhist and Hindu Tantrism – to do with the sympathetic (“vegetative”) nervous system[9].  

In Robert Fludd’s opus Wolfgang Pauli was so fascinated of, it is the heaven that comes down. Further, in a countermovement, the earth moves up, and the two meet on an equal footing in the middle and create an intermediary realm[10]. It is a subtle realm we can also equate with the Beyond or the unus mundus, the psychophysical reality, “an invisible, potential form of reality that is only indirectly inferable through its effects.”[11]  

In the alchemical visio Arislei the king enters even the uterus of the queen and dissolves there into atoms[12]:  

“Then Beya [the queen] mounted upon Gabricius [the king] and enclosed him in her womb, so that nothing at all could be seen of him any more. And she embraced Gabricius with so much love that she absorbed him completely into her own nature, and divided him into indivisible parts.”  

A further example of “the silver plating of the gold” or of the union of the red with the white sulphur is Ripley’s Cantilena[13]. Carl Jung quotes the decisive verses of this song as follows[14]:  

Usterly perish’d is the Flower of Youth,  

Through all my Veines there courses naught but Death.

Mavelling I heard Christ’s voice, that from above

I’le be Reborne, I know not by what Love.


Else I God’s Kingdom cannot enter in:

And therefore, that I may be Borne agen[15],

I’le Humbled be into my Mother’s Breast,

Dissolve to my First Matter, and there rest.  

And he concludes[16]:  

“In order to enter into God’s Kingdom the king must transform himself into the prima materia in the body of his mother, and return to the dark initial state which the alchemists called the ‘chaos.’ In this massa confusa the elements are in conflict and repel one another; all connections are dissolved. Dissolution is the prerequisite for redemption. The celebrant of the mysteries had to suffer a figurative death in order to attain transformation.”  

A little earlier the depth psychologist shows us the real revolution which in my opinion is extremely constellated today, at the beginning of the 21st century (see also footnote 15). He stresses the blasphemy of the identification of the alchemical king with God, since the former is old, senile, infertile. Then he continues[17]:  

“We have here, in fact, a new religious declaration: God is not only in the unspotted body of Christ and continually present in the consecrated Host but – and this is the novel and significant thing – he is also hidden in the ‘cheap,’ ‘despised,’ common-or-garden substance, even in the ‘uncleanness of this world, in filth.’” [emphasis mine] 

Of course the above quote reminds us of the central motto of alchemy I discussed in the Introduction: In stercore invenitur – In the dirt we will find it[18] – not the aurum vulgi, the common gold, but the philosophical gold, the “silver plated gold” or the “gilded silver,”[19] the union of the opposites.  

In his work Psychology and Alchemy Carl Jung goes even further and tells the perplexed reader that the lapis, the philosophical gold, is a parallel to the Christian God and the alchemist thus “a redeemer of God and not the one to be redeemed”[20]. It is obvious that this redemption must happen in stercore, in which the king, the parallel to the Christian God, during the unio corporalis has fallen.  

In a special branch of Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalah of Isaak Luria (1534 – 1572), there exists an impressive parallel: When God created the ten-fold tree of the Sefiroth – a Gnostic image of the Anthropos (God-man) – only the first three Sefiroth were strong enough to absorb the Divine Light. The rest were too weak and broke whereby they were swallowed by the demonic forces and matter. With this disintegration of the Anthropos a state of non-redemption of man and God was created. Therefore man has the challenge of the so-called tikkun, the restitution of the Anthropos (God-man) in his wholeness. In this way every human being assists the godhead with the reversal of the destruction of the world’s creation. When we contemplate the disaster of today's world, the thought could come that such a method could be the greatest and very last attempt to rescue mankind. 

Carl Jung was excited about this idea of Luria's Kabbalah. He realized in it a mystical correspondence to his individuation process, discovered in empirical experience and writes in a letter[21]:


“Here the thought emerges for the first time that man must help God to repair the damage wrought by the Creation. For the first time man’s cosmic responsibility is acknowledged.”  



4.3.3 The death of the Heavenly king as the necessary condition for the creation of the quintessence or matter-psyche  

Let us remember once again that in the Rosarium the alchemical sublimation is described in two completely different ways, the production of the “spiritual subtlety” on the one hand, and the creation of the quintessence on the other. For the creation of the spiritual goal the psyche has to abandon the body and unify with the spirit in Heaven (1st coniunctio or unio mentalis). For the production of the quintessence however (2nd coniunctio or unio corporalis), the “spiritualized” psyche has to abandon the spirit and come down to earth. In this moment the spiritual king in Heaven dies, and the above mentioned vegetative myth begins.  

The Hermetic alchemical myth, the unio corporalis of Dorneus’ opus tells us therefore not the story of the deification of the spirit-psyche in the Christian Heaven or in the Platonic Empyreum, but of the death of “the king of the blue sky”. The sky darkens in an eclipse, and the king dissolves in the body of the queen. Only after this sacrifice he can be reborn as the rejuvenated and regenerated king.  

We have seen in section 3.6 that in the Rosarium in the moment of the unio mentalis the two bodies unify and die (pictures # 6 on the left and # 7 on the right). Now however, since the psyche, the life essence, leaves the spirit, also the king or masculine god, the spirit-psyche created during the unio mentalis or during Active Imagination dies. It is the death of the Logos principle during the unio corporalis, in the moment the water vapor condenses into the dew in picture # 8. The unio corporalis describes thus a second death that follows the first of the body in picture # 6. In this death of the spirit-psyche, of the Logos king, however, the dew, the  matter-psyche is born, and it is exactly this matter-psyche and not the spirit-psyche that will revive the dead body. As we will see later, the alchemical symbols of the lily, the Seal of Solomon, the infans solaris the red tincture and the quintessence correspond to the matter-psyche and are the catalyst as well as the goal of this 2nd coniunctio, the unio corporalis.  

[proofread GJS, 11/11/05]

part 11

[1] See section 3.7, above and CW 14, §§ 705-707

[2] see CW 14

[3] see CW 14, § 707-711

[4] see section 4.2.2

[5] CW 14, §§ 720; Source: Paris. Bibliothèque Nationale. MS. Français 14765. Abraham le Juif. “Livre des figures hiéroglifiques.”; see CW 14, p. 617

[6] See also § 720: “Red sulphur stands for the masculine, active principle of the sun, the white for that of the moon.”

[7] CW 14

[8] in I Cercatori di Dio, section 1.5

[9] As I have shown in Imitation of the Eastern or Creative New Beginning on the Western Way? and The New Mysticism and the Life after Death, this does however not mean that we copy the Far-East method in an undifferentiated way without considering that we in the West have already partly accomplished this opus by realizing the unio mentalis. Like this we are now in the ajna, the front chakra, and have therefore to go down into the belly – like the alchemical king into the womb of the queen. See also Bilder aus dem Bauch: Tantrismus und archetypische Psychosomatik (in German).

[11] Wolfgang Pauli’s definition; see Meier, C.A. (ed.), Atom and Archetype, 2001, pp. 82

[12] CW 12

[13] CW 14

[14] CW 14

[15] This part reminds us of the modern evangelical born again movement in the USA. Its members identify unconsciously with this part of the alchemical myth, since they are too much influenced by what I call the outer or extraverted spirit-psyche, the Logos principle, i.e., intellectualism and modern technology. The myth tells us further what will happen in the near future. The “king” of intellectually degenerated Logos will be swallowed by his feminine counterpart, the Eros principle. However, since most humans of today are not conscious of this alchemical background of contemporary history, this development will happen completely unconsciously and it will have the destructive consequences of a modern apocalypse – in which reason will vanish and raw unintegrated emotionalism will rule. In my opinion, the only possible countermovement is the conscious and introverted suffering of the king’s or God’s death and his resurrection in accordance with the alchemical myth.

[16] CW 14

[17] CW 14

[18] With this remark I do of course not devalutate the feminine sexual organ. I only quote the alchemists who were also Christians and thus influenced by the devaluation of biological sexuality by Christianity. In contrast to this demonization Hindu and Buddhist Tantrism and Taoism included sexuality in their religiosity. A famous example of  this worship is the Yoni/Lingam symbolism (see picture on the right: Ajit Mookerjee collection, New Dehli).

[19] With the help of the Hermetic alchemical myth we can also understand the archetypal background of today’s agony in the Jungian movement. By not following the meaning of the synchronicity during the foundation ceremony of the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich of 1948 (The Pauli effect with the overturned Chinese vase, see, it was of course not able to advance from the Neoplatonic unio mentalis to the Hermetic unio corporalis. If we believe in Wolfgang Pauli, the former stays however for ever infertile (see )  

[20] CW 12

[21] Jung, Letters, Vol. 2


English Homepage Remo F. Roth



The Mandala Herr Roth hat Frau Weiss geheiratet ("Mr. Red has married Mrs. White") was painted while I was in a very deep life crisis in 1974. It is composed of 9 x 11 (!) red and 9 x 11 white elements plus the empty center. For me it is a symbol of the union of the opposites and of the unus mundus (Carl Jung) or of the unified psychophysical reality (Wolfgang Pauli) out of which a new creation is born. I was very shocked when I realized that it contains the symbolism of 9/11...! In my interpretation it symbolizes a positive compensation to that event.