zenpundit.com » alchemy

Archive for the ‘alchemy’ Category

The Woman with the Golden Gun

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — James Bond in the Sun Myung-Moon universe? ]
.

As you know, I’m interested in the intersection of religion and violence, and there can hardly be a more emphatic example of that intersection than a religious ceremonial for the blessing of guns — complete with the personnel of an offshoot of messiah the Rev. Sun Myung-Moon‘s Unification Church (upper image, below, worshipper with crown of bullets):

— and their queenly leader Rev. Yeon Ah Lee-Moon (lower image, above) complete with her weapon of gold.

**

Ah, guns of gold.

I would love to know the symbolic meaning of a crown of bullets — compare Christ’s crown of thorns — but the symbolism of gold…

Gold corresponds in alchemical symbology to the sun, and silver to the moon, making the original Unification messiah Sun Myung-Moon‘s name a sweet alchemical conjunction of sun and moon, albeit in transcription from the Korean in which the names would no doubt have entirely different valences from their English versions.

Forget the Moon, then — golden weapons are, in a sense the Aztecs might have appreciated, weapons of the sun, and adornments of sunly male royalty.

**

Consider in this light the golden weapon of cartel boss Ramiro Pozos Gonzalez (upper image, below):

— far outshining Scaramanga‘s golden gun from the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun — (lower image, above, by mrgarethm under CC © Gareth Milner)..

**

Gold, oh dear, is also the symbolic essence of wealth-as-power, ie for practical cases, money, cash, dosh — and as such, that substance the desire for which is, famously, scripturally, the root of all evil.

Golden guns, in this sense, are desirable precisely in inverse relationship to their owner’s desire for good.

Caveat emptor!

**

Sources:

  • BBC, In pictures: US gun-blessing ceremony
  • Mail, Gold plated AK-47 confiscated during arrest of Mexican cartel leader
  • International Spy Museum, Golden Gun
  • Poetic or magical phrasings in otherwise realist contexts

    Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — featuring SWJ, Uma Thurman, and an outbreak of sheer alchemy – !! — on MSNBC ]
    .

    Poetry is irrepressible.

    Often confused with things people print with broken lines, poetry is a view on things, an angle oblique to reality revealing an archipelago of plausible, interesting deeper meanings, not behind but within the everyday.

    Under that definion, poetry is irrepressible, while the broken line stuff is failing, almost dead, precisely because it so oftten lacks authentic poetry.

    Here, then, are three examples of the elements of poetry visible emerging from the dense forests of the prosaic, as the Mayan temples emerge from the Guatemalan forest in this National Geographic image:

    From Exclusive: Laser Scans Reveal Maya “Megalopolis” Below Guatemalan Jungle.

    **

    Small Wars Journal:

    vegetation and the night can come to be seen part of the enemy, a similar view can emerge concerning civilians

    So: “the night can come to be seen part of the enemy” — true in terms of personal experiences of war (we’re talking Vietnam here) no doubt, but also mythic in its resonance, in a way that’s inseparable from its practical, field reality: night as darkness, the unknown, mystery, terror, all providing a cloak for sudden attack.

    From Preventing the Barbarization of Warfare: The USMC CAP Program in Vietnam in the Small Wars Journal, not a source renowned for poetry — or “poetry” for that matter.
    **

    New York Times:

    There’s divinity, and then there’s celebrity:

    Uma Thurman is certainly a star, maybe more —

    Her hall features a large golden Buddha from her parents in Woodstock; her father, Robert Thurman, is a Buddhist professor of Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia who thinks Uma is a reincarnated goddess.

    — a goddess, with a lower-case “g”?

    From Maureen Dowd, in This Is Why Uma Thurman Is Angry

    **

    MSNBC, The Beat:

    This is no doubt the most astonishing.

    Bringing the moon and the sun together always makes me happy.

    From Ari Melber on The Beat yesterday, at 47.12 almost at the very end of this clip:

    Sheer alchemy, out of the Tube, out of nowhere! Bringing the sun and moon together is the conjunctio, subject of Carl Jung‘s last major work, Mysterium Coniunctionis, and symbolized by the union of sun andd moon, king and queen, gold and silver:

    The middle image, showing the coniunctio, is from the Rosarium Philosophorum (1550): Jolande Jacobi describes it thus in her book The Psychology of C.G. Jung:

    The alchemical conception of one of the stages of the coniunctio. Here the ‘king’ and the ‘queen,’ who may be taken as Sol and his sister Luna, appear as symbols of the primordial psychic opposites, masculine and feminine. Their ‘marriage’ is meant primarily in the spiritual sense, as is clear not only by the words of the middle band spiritus est qui vivificat, but also by the dove as symbol of the spirit, and according to the ancients, amor coniugalis. The primordial opposites confront one another in their naked, unfalsified truth and essence, without conventional covering; the difference between them is evident and ‘essential;’ it can be bridged in fruitful union only through the intermediary of the spirit symbol, the dove, the ‘unifier’ which intervenes from ‘above.’ The branches held to form the cross, the flores mercurii, and the flower hanging down from the dove’s beak—all these symbols of the process of growth illustrate the common effort of man and woman in the living work of the coniunctio.

    Borrowed from Yin, Yan, the Tao, and Wholeness.

    For Ari Melber, out of the blue, to come up with this expression of his “happiness” at “bringing the moon and the sun together” is a stunning instance of the breaking though of the prime symbol of sheer alchemy into an MSNBC news program — in the midst of the Trump / Mueller controversy!

    **

    Had enough?

    Rest assured Inside a Bookshelf at This Genius Hotel:

    A magical — peacetime — way of nightt..

    Daveed Gartenstein-Ross in Foreign Affairs, my oblique analysis

    Sunday, March 5th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — in which Gartenstein-Ross reminds me of Albrecht Dürer ]
    .

    Daveed speaks:

    Daveed is worth reading and heeding, especially when he says he’s written something of particular consequence — so read his Foreign Affairs piece.

    **

    My topic is triggered by a single sentence in Daveed’s piece, and is orthogonal to his. Daveed writes:

    These spaces included both literal ungoverned territory and discursive spaces

    In the overall flow of Daveed’s piece that’s a simple introductory remark, an observation of fact. From my point of view, though, there’s more to it than that — it’s a disjunction & conjunction of the two realms of geography and cognition, matter and mind, or “outer and inner space” if you will. And that’s something always worth noting.

    In fact, Daveed’s comment reminds me of Albrecht Dürer and his illustrations of Saint Michael Fighting the Dragon, from The Apocalypse:

    Here, the supernatural sits comfortably above (Latin: super) the natural.

    **

    The physical-metaphysical (body-mind; outer-inner; objective-subjective) disjunction & conjunction is recognizable in Descartes, and takes contemporary form as the so-called hard problem in consciousness. It’s significant that the “war in heaven” of Durer’s vision no longer fills the skies in our contemporary images of war, though heaven and hell are no less with us than before..

    And so I note that, en passant, Daveed has alluded to what is perhaps the great schism of our time, that between visionary and factual truths.

    Kathleen Raine, poet — and mentor of my youthful self:

    Fact is not the truth of myth; myth is the truth of fact.

    Witness her distress as we abandon truth of myth shining “above” truth of fact, for truth of fact alone:

    Chemistry dissolves the goddess in the alembic,
    Venus the white queen, the universal matrix,
    Down to molecular hexagons and carbon-chains,

    John of Patmos, the alchemists, Durer, Blake, Jung, Raine, have the richer vision.

    JM Berger swiftly doubletweets Seamus Hughes

    Friday, March 4th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — coffee on the rocks with blarney ]
    .

    Seamus Hughes tweets:

    to which JM responds, rapidfire:

    **

    For the record, that’s not just idle Twitter, that’s actionable intelligence:

    Red mercury as scam and symbol

    Friday, November 20th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — CJ Chivers, nuclear nonsense, faux chemistry, and the alchemical imagination, with hat-tip to Cheryl Rofer ]
    .

    CJ Chivers, conflict journalist extraordinaire and author of a book about the Kalashnikov assault rifle, The Gun, today posted a remarkable account of what he terms The Doomsday Scam, with the subtitle “For decades, aspiring bomb makers — including ISIS — have desperately tried to get their hands on a lethal substance called red mercury. There’s a reason that they never have.”

    A taste:

    The Islamic State, he said, was shopping for red mercury.

    Abu Omar knew what this meant. Red mercury — precious and rare, exceptionally dangerous and exorbitantly expensive, its properties unmatched by any compound known to science — was the stuff of doomsday daydreams. According to well-traveled tales of its potency, when detonated in combination with conventional high explosives, red mercury could create the city-flattening blast of a nuclear bomb. In another application, a famous nuclear scientist once suggested it could be used as a component in a neutron bomb small enough to fit in a sandwich-size paper bag.

    and:

    To approach the subject of red mercury is to journey into a comic-book universe, a zone where the stubborn facts of science give way to unverifiable claims, fantasy and outright magic, and where villains pursuing the dark promise of a mysterious weapon could be rushing headlong to the end of the world. This is all the more remarkable given the broad agreement among nonproliferation specialists that red mercury, at least as a chemical compound with explosive pop, does not exist.

    Indeed, there’s a sidebar in Chivers’ post which sums the topic up nicely:

    The shadowy weaponeer’s little helper, red mercury was the unobtainium of the post-Soviet world.

    There’s much more, of course — with red mercury rumored to be found in old Singer sewing machines, which briefly raised the price of such machines in Saudi Arabia a thousandfold to $50,000 — and the whole extraordinary piece is more than worthy of your attention. It is also about a concrete, if counter-factual, reading of the term “red mercury.”

    Cinnabar, aka mercury sulphide, anyone?

    **

    A centuries-old debate concerning alchemy has concerned the literal and metaphorical interpretations of alchemical texts.

    Scholars up to and including Isaac Newton theorized about and practiced alchemy in their aptly named lab-oratories, at a time when literal and metaphorical “readings” were much less easily considered separately than is the case today. Alchemy was then for a while widely ridiculed as proto- and indeed pseudo-science — a tendency still prevalent in many circles today. And more recently, alchemy has been explored by Carl Jung and followers (and his predecessor, Silberer) as a field of imaginative, metaphorical inquiry illuminating spirituality, psychology and literature.

  • BJT Dobbs, The Foundations of Newton’s Alchemy
  • BJT Dobbs, The Janus Faces of Genius
  • Herbert Silberer, Problems of Mysticism and its Symbolism
  • CG Jung, Psychology and Alchemy
  • CG Jung, Alchemical Studies
  • CG Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis
  • Marie-Louise von Franz, Aurora Consurgens
  • Titus Burckhardt, Alchemy
  • Jung’s reading of alchemical texts is a symbolic reading — in accordance with the principle “the stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone” (Psalm 118.22, cf Acts 411), he has taken precisely those materials in the alchemical tradition which modern chemistry rejected as ridiculous, and reclaimed them as symbolic, richly metaphorical expressions of psychological truth.

    **

    It is in that spirit that I turned from Chivers’ fascinating treatment of “red mercury” as an allegedly physical, albeit spurious, substance, with its intriguing narratives of scams from the Cold War to the present day and IS, to take a look at what I might find via a brief search in the Jungian literature. I say “quick” because I have neither the appropriate library nor the time for a more intensive search, but here’s what little I found:

    There’s a “red mercury” reference in Stanton Marlan, The Black Sun: The Alchemy and Art of Darkness, on p. 22:

    The idea is that the raw solar energy must darken and undergo a mortificatio process that reduces it to its prime matter. Only then can the creative energies produce a purified product. In this image the sperm of gold refers not to the ordinary seminal fluid of man but rather to “a semi-material principle,” or aura seminales, the fertile potentiality that prepares the Sun for the sacred marriage with his counterpart, darkness, which is thought to produce a philosophical child or stone and is nourished by the mercurial blood that flows from the wounding encounter of the Lion and the Sun. The blood — called red mercury — is considered a great solvent.

    Marlan then gives us what is effectively a translation of the paragraph above into contemporary therapeutic language:

    Psychologically, there is nourishment in wounding. When psychological blood flows, it can dissolve hardened defenses. This then can be the beginning of true productivity. In dreams the imagery of blood often connotes moments when real feeling and change are possible. The theme of the wound can also suggest a hidden innocence, which is also a subject of mortification. The green color of the lion, which is referred to as “green gold,” suggests something that is immature, unripe, or innocent, as well as growth and fertility. The alchemist imagined this innocence, sometimes called virgin’s milk, as a primary condition, something without Earth and not yet blackened. Typical virgin-milk fantasies are often maintained emotionally in otherwise intellectually sophisticated and developed people.

    **

    And then there’s what Jung would term synchronicity..

  • CG Jung & Wolfgang Pauli, The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche
  • In my twitter stream within 3 minutes of my posting my first tweet re Chivers’ piece, & before I’d tweeted my follow up, I ran across this tweet containing the phrase “Drawing Blood will eat the sun”:

    Drawing Blood will eat the sun — just how synchronistically alchemical can Molly Crabapple and Twitter get?


    Switch to our mobile site