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By Marie-Louise von Franz

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Extra resources for Alchemy: an introduction to the symbolism and the psychology

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Yale Univ. 271 Page 12 1.  The blindfolded man represents the stumbling search for truth; the right way is shown by the investigator prepared to follow his natural instincts. Page 13 Lecture 1 Introduction I have given much thought as to how I should give this course introducing you to the symbolism of alchemy, and have decided on a short interpretation of a good many texts, instead of one text as at other times. As we have nine lectures, I thought I would give three lectures on Old Greek, three on Arabic, and three on later European alchemy, so that you may obtain at least a glimpse of every phase of the development of this science.

You can talk to a wise old man, ask him questions, or can present him with all your human problems, whether you should divorce, or if you should spend your money in a certain manner, and you can assume that since he appears in this form he should know about that, though perhaps he will say that he is far removed from such things! In any case, the primary feeling, or guess, or the attitude which it evokes is that you can relate to such a figure on a human level. But you cannot talk to a ball of fire, or make contact with it, except in some form of natural science perhaps catch it in a glass bowl, if that is possible, or watch it and see what it does, go on your knees and worship it and keep far enough away so as not to be burnt, or go into it and discover that it is a fire which does not burn, but that it is not possible to relate to it in a human form.

If something falls down then one must find out why the wind must have blown it, or something like that, and if no reason is discovered I am sure that half of you will say that we do not yet know the cause, but that there must be one! Our archetypal prejudices are so strong that one cannot defend oneself against them, they just catch us. The late physicist, Professor Wolfgang Pauli, frequently demonstrated the extent to which modern physical sciences are in a way rooted in archetypal ideas.

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