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Alchemy and Psychoanalysis

 

Early psychoanalysts Carl Jung and Herbert Silberer applied their knowledge of psychology to mystic symbols and occult topics. Their goal was a deeper understanding of the unconscious mind as it plays out in myth and legend and to ultimately find a satisfying answer to man’s purpose. The latter is not an uncommon goal for the mystic or occultist but to approach it with the mindset of a scientists or doctor delving into the human mind produces interesting results.

 

Works by Carl Jung related to Alchemy and Mysticism:

Carl Jung’s Red Book (Liber Novus) – In addition to being a pioneer in the field of psychoanalysis, Jung was also an artist who dabbled in mysticism. His “Red Book” (named for its cover) which he titled Liber Novus, drew from Jung’s exploration of his own subconscious. He processed these experiences into hand crafted paintings and calligraphy over the course of roughly fifteen years. While visitors would often see the red leather folio resting on Jung’s desk, it wasn’t until almost forty years after his death that the work would be available to the public. There are two notable editions currently available, a facsimile of the entire work including a translation and notes and a “reader’s edition” which reduces the bulk of the facsimile into a manageable copy containing just the translation and notes:

Jung, C. G. The Red Book: Liber Novus. Editor Sonu Shamdasani, translated by M. Kyburz, J. Peck and S. Shamdasani. W. W. Norton and Company, 2009

Jung, C. G. The Red Book: A Reader’s Edition. Editor Sonu Shamdasani, translated by M. Kyburz, J. Peck and S. Shamdasani. W. W. Norton and Company, 2012.

 

 

From the rest of Jung’s collected work, the following volumes are notable:

Jung, C. G. Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 9 (Part 1): The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Edited and translated by Gerhard Adler and R. F. C Hull, Princeton University Press, 1969.

—-. Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 9 (Part 2): Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self. Edited and translated by Gerhard Adler and R. F. C Hull, Princeton University Press, 1959.

—-. Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 11: Psychology and Religion: West and East. Edited and translated by Gerhard Adler and R. F. C. Hull, Princeton University Press, 1969.

—. Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 12: Psychology and Alchemy. Princeton University Press, 1968.

—-. Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 13: Alchemical Studies. Edited and translated by Gerhard Adler and R. F. C. Hull, Princeton University Press, 1967.

—-. Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 14: Mysterium Coniunctionis. Edited and translated by Gerhard Adler and R. F. C. Hull, Princeton University Press, 1970.

—-. Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 15: Spirit in Man, Art, And Literature. Edited and translated by Gerhard Adler and R. F. C. Hull, Princeton University Press, 1966.

 

Special note for Academics: Most of Jung’s Collected Works are available on JSTOR.org with a library login.

 

 

Problems of Mysticism and its Symbolism by Herbert Silberer

The full text is available in the public domain including through Project Gutenberg HERE.

Originally published in German in 1914, this work has also been published in English under the titles Hidden Symbolism of Alchemy and the Occult Arts and Alchemy and Psychoanalysis. Silberer applies psychoanalytic techniques to a Rosicrucian parable he refers to as “Parabola” taken from the second volume of Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer aus dem 16ten und 17ten Jahrhundert. (15)

 

If you’re interested in a more in-depth look at this work, I’ve written a short, formal essay that you can read on THIS PAGE.

 

 

Bibliography and Suggested Readings:

Silberer, Herbert. Alchemy and Psychoanalysis. Translated by Smith Ely Jelliffe. The Lost Library, 2016.