Praxis für Alternative Psychosomatik und Traumdeutung, Dr. Remo F. Roth, CH-8001 Zürich 

Remo F. Roth

Dr. oec. publ., Ph.D.

dipl. analyt. Psychologe (M.-L. v. Franz)

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Book Project:


Wolfgang Pauli, Carl Jung and the Challenge of the Unified Psychophysical Reality

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back to Chapter 4, part 2


 4. Neoplatonic and Hermetic alchemy: Eternal infertility versus incarnation

(part 3)  



part 1:

4. Neoplatonic and Hermetic alchemy: Eternal infertility versus incarnation

4.1 Wolfgang Pauli's differentiation between Neoplatonic and Hermetic alchemy

4.1.1 A short description of the alchemical opus

4.1.2 Some differences between Neoplatonic and Hermetic alchemy

part 2:

4.2 Neoplatonic alchemy
4.2.1 The impossibility of transmutation (Wandlung) in the Neoplatonic opus

4.2.2 The reduction of the quaternity to the Trinity by the early Medieval Platonist Scotus Eriugena and the Hornberger Schiessen

4.2.3 Einstein's objective worldview as Hornberger Schiessen

part 3:

4.3 Hermetic alchemy
4.3.1 Robert Fludd's chymic wedding, the intermediate world and the infans solaris

part 4:

4.3.2 The symmetry between spirit and matter in Hermetic alchemy and complementarity

part 5 (will follow):

4.3.3 Carl Jung's ambivalence between the trinity and the quaternity and the Axiom of Maria prophetissa: A preliminary analysis



 4. Neoplatonic and Hermetic alchemy: Eternal infertility versus incarnation

(part 3)


4.3 Hermetic alchemy


4.3.1 Robert Fludd’s chymic wedding, the intermediate world and the infans solaris

In Wolfgang Pauli’s dreams, the Seal of Solomon, the double-triadic star, plays an extremely important role. His tragedy consists in the fact that he was not yet able to see that with it the preconscious knowledge of the Self presented him a symbol of the sought after psychophysical realm that compensated for Carl Jung’s too spiritual quaternity. Therefore, he continued to criticize this quaternity as incomplete, but he failed to consciously realize the breakthrough to a new worldview that is connected with the Seal of Solomon symbol.

To show how this novel worldview was constellated in him, we will now deal with his Kepler essay. As I mentioned in Chapter 2, this essay has at least as much to do with the alchemist Robert Fludd, as with the co-founder of modern science. Therefore, the investigation of this aspect of Pauli’s essay will help us in penetrating into the deepest roots of Fludd’s opus. In such a manner, we will be able to understand in a rational language, what the above mentioned third meaning of the synchronicity says: The challenge is of tracing back to Robert Fludd, behind Johannes Kepler - in consideration of the results of quantum physics and the insights of depth psychology. 

As we have seen, the basis of the Neoplatonic alchemy’s opus was the spiritualization of matter. In extreme contrast to this, a double movement characterized the work of the Hermetic alchemists: A descent into matter, which was preceded or followed by an ascent to the upper realms. This fact shows that the Hermetic judged matter much more positive than the Neoplatonist. Hermetic alchemy held that matter was of the same value as the spirit. Therefore, as we will see, the goal of the opus was described as the “chymic wedding” or coniunctio, the sexual union of the two equivalent divine principles.

A further very important difference lies in the fact that the Hermetic opus is characterized by a transmutation (Wandlung) that is itself symbolized by the filius philosophorum, the divine child, as a result of this chymic wedding. This child is also represented by the lapis, and because it is the product of the sexual relationship of a god and the goddess, it is androgynous; it is a hermaphrodite, „yin/yang“ like the Tao (see below).

One of the most important examples of Hermetic alchemy is the sick king’s renewal that begins with his descent into matter. Because this process is so central in alchemy, Carl Jung has dedicated a whole chapter in his book Mysterium Coniunctionis to this descent and renewal (CW 14, Chapter IV: Rex and Regina). As he describes in the first section of this chapter, the alchemical expression “king” means “God”. Therefore, the Hermetic alchemical opus is a symbolical description of a transformation of the Christian image of God that begins with a union with matter. It is this process in the deepest depths of the collecitve unconscious, which is constellated anew today, at the beginning 21st century.

Our investigation will show us, that in modern terms this renewal belongs to a parallel transformation of the Western Logos consciousness into a new kind of ego that will include what I call Eros consciousness. By this task we can consciously return to medieval alchemy, as Pauli’s Fludd/flood synchronicity requires, however on a higher level that takes into consideration the results of modern depth psychology and quantum physics.

With this ego development hypothesis in mind, we can assume that it would also have been Pauli’s challenge to consciously suffer this transformation from a Logos consciousness into one that also included Eros consciousness which parallels a today constellated change in the collective unconscious. We will see that it was exactly this unconscious claim that was behind his fascination for Kepler’s antagonist, Robert Fludd. 

Wolfgang Pauli begins section 6 of the Kepler essay with a short description of Robert Fludd’s opus as contrary to Kepler’s: 

Kepler’s views on cosmic harmony, essentially based on quantitative, mathematically demonstrable premises, were incompatible with the point of view of an archaic-magical description of nature as represented by the chief work of a respected physician and Rosicrucian, Robert Fludd of Oxford: Utriusque Cosmi Maioris scilicet et Minoris Metaphysica, Physica atque technica Historia, first edition, Oppenheim 1621. In an appendix to Book V of the Harmonices mundi Kepler criticized this work of Fludd’s very violently. Fludd, as the representative of traditional alchemy, published in his treatise Demonstratio quaedam analytica a detailed polemic directed against Kepler’s appendix, whereupon the latter replied with an Anpologie that was followed by a Replicatio from Fludd

The intellectual ‘counter world’ with which Kepler here clashed is an archaistic-magical description of nature culminating in a mystery of transmutation (Wandlungsmysterium). It is the familiar alchemical process that by means of various chemical procedures releases from the prima materia the world-soul dormant in it and in so doing both redeems matter and transforms the adept.“

What Pauli describes here is the first step of the alchemical opus, the spiritualization of matter, which was also represented by the transmutation of lead into gold. He stresses the magic and the transmutation aspect of the opus. This liberated the so-called world soul out of matter.

As we have seen, for the Neoplatonic alchemists this “sublimation” of matter was the only important step. Because for them matter was evil, the opus was looked at as a refinement or distillation with the help of which the Good or the bright essence was extracted. The rest, which was the obscure and therefore bad matter and thus the garbage, was thrown away.

Pauli continues his essay with the Hermetic aspect of the alchemical work:

The world is the mirror image of the invisible Trinitarian God who reveals Himself in it. Just as God is symbolically represented by an equilateral triangle so there is a second, reflected triangle below that represents the world. This can be clearly seen in a figure taken from Fludd’s Utriusque Cosmi etc. (Plate I).“ [emphasis mine]

Then a „Plate I“ with the title „The divine and mundane triangles“ follows:


Figure 4.2 


After translating the texts in this image, Pauli shows a second one with the title „The interpenetration of the material and formal pyramids I (With the infans solaris)“ (see figure 4.3). „Form“ means the light principle, coming from above, and „matter“ the dark principle, dwelling in the earth.

Fig. 4.3

Then he remarks:

„From below, the material pyramid grows upward from the earth like a tree, the matter becoming finer toward the top; at the same time the formal pyramid grows downward with its apex on the earth, exactly mirroring the material pyramid. ... In the middle, the sphere of the sun, where these opposing principles just counterbalance each other, there is engendered in the mystery of the chymic wedding the infans solaris, which is at the same time the liberated world-soul.“ [emphasis mine]

What fascinates Pauli so much is the fact that Fludd - in contrast to the Neoplatonic/Christian tendency - treats the opposites spirit/matter as symmetrical. As we will see below, in a letter to Carl F. von Weizsäcker, for him this Hermetic-alchemical thinking has the same archetypal roots as the one of quantum physics, which means, its particle/wave’s duality, the complementary principle of Niels Bohr.

This symmetry between spirit and matter is the necessary condition for the central process in Robert Fludd’s opus: the spiritualization of matter and the materialization of spirit. 

The former process corresponds to the redemption of the world soul, which was originally a Neoplatonic concept. However, with the introduction of a parallel process, the materialisation of spirit, Hermetic alchemy contains a great difference in contrast to Neoplatonic alchemy and to the dogma of the Assumptio Mariae, because the world soul is not taken up into the Christian heaven. It belongs to a sphere in the middle between matter and spirit, „where the opposing principles just counterbalance each other“.

Both aspects of this part of the Hermetic’ extended opus are absolutely heretic: On the one hand, the materialisation of some contents of the spiritual world, which means an incarnation in our space- and time bound world, is a concept which resembles the theory of reincarnation, on the other, this intermediate realm does not exist in the dualistic Christian theology. 

As we have seen, Pauli criticized the Neoplatonic concept, too, because in it nothing new was created. In his letters, he even made a lot of fun of this „impotency“, because for him - who could experience such an indeterministic or acausal creation in every quantum physical observation act – this idea was more than absurd [Pauli, 1993]. Therefore, we can imagine how glad he was, when he realized, that besides the Neoplatonic branch of alchemy there existed also the Hermetic one.

The result of the opus of most alchemists is the lapis, the philosopher’s stone. In Fludd’s work, the „sphere of the sun“ is equivalent to the lapis. As we have seen (in sec. 4.3.1), this „stone“ is androgynous. Therefore Fludd’s equivalent of it, the „sphere of the sun“ cannot be the concrete one, but is an intermediate world, where matter is not matter anymore and spirit not spirit. It is a subtle realm, in which the Cartesian split between an outer, material world, the res extensa, and an inner, spiritual world (res cogitans) does not yet exist.

This in-between world is the unus mundus of the alchemist Gerardus Dorneus (see below) which Pauli defined in a scientific language as the unified psychophysical reality. For our rational mind it is very difficult to understand this intermediate realm, because it is the tertium non datur, the logically excluded third of Western philosophy.

The alchemical coniunctio (synonymous to hierosgamos) of heaven and earth is also called the „chymic wedding“ of matter and spirit. It is thought of as a sexual union of a goddess and a god, and therefore a third heretic idea of the Hermetic.

Contrary to the human case, the birth of the offspring is preceded by the creation of a third realm, which is subtle. And only when this realm has been observed or created, the child can be born.

At this point I need to underline a very important additional difference between Neoplatonic and Hermetic alchemy: The former claims with the help of a metaphysical statement that the Empyreum, the world of Platonic ideas beyond the Christian heaven, exist for eternity. We will see that also Jung’s definition of the archetype follows this argument. Contrary to this metaphysical prejudice and in accordance with the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, Robert Fludd states that the intermediate world, the “sphere of the sun”, is only “produced” by the alchemist’s observation. Therefore we can assume that this archetypal idea of the alchemist and antagonist of Johannes Kepler already prefigured the most modern quantum physical insight of reality’s dependence of the observer. Here the conflict between Heisenberg’s statement “Die Bahn des Elektrons entsteht erst durch die Beobachtung” and Einstein’s “The moon is also there even when we do not observe it” had begun. 

The equivalence of matter and spirit in the Hermetic opus is underlined by the fact, that the infans solaris - despite its name - is not born in heaven but into a middle sphere, which is an intermediate realm. Therefore, we can equate the infans solaris with the corpus subtile, the subtle body of Western esoteric tradition and the diamond body of the far-eastern Taoist tradition. The symbol „birth“ means an incarnation into our world, limited in space and time. Thus, this birth as the goal of the Hermetic opus talks of a task, the adept - also the modern one of the 21st century - should deal with during his earthly life.

We can now understand what „tracing back to Robert Fludd“ means in a rational language: It is on the one hand the acceptance of an intermediate sphere which is neither spiritual nor material, but the excluded third of a subtle consistency, and on the other the realization of the fact that out of this unus mundus of the Hermetic alchemists an incarnation, a birth of new living matter (the infans solaris) is possible. For the purpose of taking into account the modern state of consciousness, we must further include the quantum physical insight that only the observation creates reality.

As we have seen, one of the main reasons for Pauli’s strong attraction to Fludd’s opus is the Hermetic treatise of the opposites spirit/matter as symmetrical. Such a mirror image is also the central aspect of the Seal of Solomon. As Jung writes, it is itself a symbol of the (Hermetic) alchemist’s goal of the opus and represents the union of “water” and “fire” as representative of the opposites (see figure 4.4).


figure 4.4: Symbol of the art as union of water and fire. – From Abraham Eleazar (Abraham the Jew), Uraltes chymisches Werk


In November 1953, one and a half years after the publication of his Kepler essay, Wolfgang Pauli experienced a vision/audition, in which the Seal of Solomon plays the central role. He communicated it to Marie-Louise von Franz together with his argument of the “lower, chthonic trinity” (further explanations see below). This vision/audition was the main controversial subject between him and the famous student of Carl Jung. I will call it the vision/audition of the Seal of Solomon and the square, and it will occupy us in the course of my explanations very intensely.

For the moment, we can imagine this symbol as a union of the upward-pointing equilateral triangle - the male trinity (it is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit) - with its mirror image, a female and material trinity, symbolized by the downward-pointing equilateral triangle. When we have a short look back to the two figures of Robert Fludd above, we see immediately that he, too, consciously or unconsciously preferred this symbol for the description of his opus’ first goal, the subtle sphere in the middle. Thus, we can already postulate that the Seal of Solomon represents Fludd’s intermediate realm, his “sphere of the sun”, which is the unus mundus, he and the other Hermetic alchemists tried to establish by their introverted observation.

In Tantrism, one of the most important symbols of the anahata, the chakra of the heart, is the double-triadic star, the Seal of Solomon (see figure 4.5).


figure 4.5


Therefore the conclusion is that the quaternity is an incomplete symbol for the representation of the second stage of the individuation process, the unio corporalis, the union of mind and body or spirit and matter. This urgent coniunctio trying to take place in our time is better represented by the Seal of Solomon based on the empirical findings of the most recent alchemical researchers – most notably Robert Fludd. The following discussion will attempt to show that this hypothesis is correct.



Chapter 4, part 4


See also further articles about Wolfgang Pauli in