Author Topic: Dissolution and Dismemberment of the King in Alchemy  (Read 4017 times)

Matt Koeske

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Dissolution and Dismemberment of the King in Alchemy
« on: June 06, 2007, 12:02:17 PM »
This is an issue that has come up here a number of times both in dream discussions and in the discussion of the shamanic initiation experience.  This passage from Jung below is an excellent symbolic example of the process.

from Mysterium Coniunctionis p.266-68

Among the older Medieval treatises is the so-called "Allegoria Merlini." […] The allegory tells us of a certain king who made ready for battle. As he was about to mount his horse he wished for a drink of water. A servant asked him what water he would like, and the king answered: "I demand the water which is closest to my heart, and which likes me above all things." When the servant brought it the king drank so much that "all his limbs were filled and all his veins inflated, and he himself became discoloured." His soldiers urged him to mount his horse, but he could not: "I am heavy and my head hurts me, and it seems to me as though all my limbs were falling apart." He demanded to be placed in a heated chamber where he could sweat the water out. But when, after a while, they opened the chamber he lay there as if dead. They summoned the Egyptian and the Alexandrian physicians, who at once accused one another of incompetence. Finally the Alexandrian physicians gave way to the Egyptian physicians, who tore the king into little pieces, ground them to powder, mixed them with their "moistening" medicines, and put the king back in his heated chamber as before. After some time they fetched him out again half-dead. When those present saw this, they broke out into lamentation, crying: "Alas, the king is dead." The physicians said soothingly that he was only sleeping. They then washed him with sweet water until the juice of the medicines departed from him, and mixed him with new sub­stances. Then they put him back in the chamber as before. When they took him out this time he was really dead. But the physicians said: "We have killed him that he may become better and stronger in this world after his resurrection on the day of judgment." The king's relatives, however, considered them mountebanks, took their medicines away from them, and drove them out of the kingdom. They now wanted to bury the corpse, but the Alexandrian physicians, who had heard of these happenings, counselled them against it and said they would revive the king. Though the relatives were very mistrustful they let them have a try. The Alexandrian physicians took the body, ground it to powder a second time, washed it well until nothing of the previous medicines remained, and dried it. Then they took one part of sal ammoniac and two parts of Alexandrian nitre, mixed them with the pulverized corpse, made it into a paste with a little linseed oil, and placed it in a crucible-shaped chamber with holes bored in the bottom; beneath it they placed a clean crucible and let the corpse stand so for an hour. Then they heaped fire upon it and melted it, so that the liquid ran into the vessel below. Whereupon the king rose up from death and cried in a loud voice: "Where are my enemies? I shall kill them all if they do not submit to me!" All the kings and princes of other countries honoured and feared him. "And when they wished to see something of his wonders, they put an ounce of well-purified mercury in a crucible, and scattered over it as much as a milletseed of finger-nails or hair or of their blood, blew up a light charcoal fire, let the mercury cool down with these, and found the stone, as I do know."

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