Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Alchemy in Islam

Marie Louise von Franz, close collaborator of Depth psychoanalyst, C.G. Jung in his work on Alchemy offers this observation in her book "Psyche and Matter:"

"European alchemy therefore gradually died away. Its traditions moved to the North African realm, which remained pagan, especially to Mesopotamia, where later it flourished under Islamic rule. The Islamic culture has brought forth several important creative alchemists, such as Mohamed ibn Umail (tenth century), who became famous in later Western alchemy under the name of Senior (which is the translation of sheikh).

Jung has pointed out that Islam is a religion of pure eros. Accordingly, coniunctio symbolism, the hierosgamos of the sun and moon, plays a great role in the writings of Senior. In itself, the motif of the sacred coniunctio also springs from the Egyptian ritual of the dead and again comes up in the Komarios text, which I mentioned before. From then on, the motif of the hierosgamos, the sacred marriage, remained the central theme of alchemy. It denotes on the one hand chemical affinity and on the other the union of psychic opposites in the process of individuation, which Jung has so deeply interpreted in "The Psychology of Transference" and Mysterium Coniunctionis." (1992, p. 152).

~Excerpted from "Psyche and Matter" by Marie Louise von Franz, distinguished analyst and founder of the C.G Jung Institute in Zurich.

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