The Philosopher’s Stone


Illumination page 121

November, 1919

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In 1935, Jung put forward a psychological interpretation of the symbolism of medieval alchemy, viewing the philosopher’s stone – the goal of the alchemical opus – as a symbol of the self (Psychology and Alchemy, CW 12). The Pleroma, or fullness, is a term from Gnosticism. It played a central role in the Valentinian system, and features prominently in Jung’s Septem Sermones ad Mortuos. In his later writings, Jung used the term to designate a state of pre-existence and potentiality, identifying it with the Tibetan Bardo.


“XI. MCMXIX [11 1919] This stone, set so beautifully, is certainly the Lapis Philosophorum [philosopher’s stone], It is harder than diamond. But it expands into space through four distinct qualities, namely breadth, height, depth and time. It is hence invisible and you can pass through it without noticing it. The four streams of Aquarius flow from the stone. This is the incorruptible seed that lies between the father and the mother and prevents the heads of both cones from touching: it is the monad which countervails the Pleroma.”

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The Red Book by C. G. Jung © 2009 by the Foundation for the Works of C. G. Jung, Zurich.
Notes © 2013 Sonu Shamdasani. Translations from The Red Book © 2009 Mark Kyburz, John Peck and Sonu Shamdasani.
The Red Book by C. G. Jung is a W. W. Norton & Company publication by arrangement with the Foundation for the Works of C. G. Jung, Zurich.