Gerhard Dorn and the The Caelum

 

Aurum nostrum non est aurum vulgi. -Gerhard Dorn

Gerhard Dorn was a Belgian alchemist who lived in the sixteenth century. Detailed facts concerning his life have been lost. We know he lived in Mechelen, in the province of Antwerp, from about 1530 until the 1580’s. He began publishing books around 1565 when he wrote his Chymisticum artificium. Working with Adam von Bodenstein, with whom he studied, Dorn was instrumental in the recovery, translation into Latin, and publishing of Paracelsus’ writings. He died in Frankfurt in the early 1580s, when he was in his mid-fifties.

His philosophy was adamantly opposed to the teachings of Aristotle, which had been popularized by Scholasticism, with its emphasis on the material world. Dorn was an alchemist who believed man could discover the lapis philosophorum within. His alchemy was centered in the belief that alchemical processes involved the human mind, and not so much the physical quest to turn base metals into gold. It was his opinion that God needs redemption and that the way for humans to bring it about is to engage in alchemy.

The alchemical work has, as its general goal, the creation of the lapis philosophorum, the Philosopher’s Stone. Theoretically, this completes the second stage of the opus. Dorn, however, believed there was yet a third stage to be worked. This third stage is the union of humans with the Unus Mundus. It is the conscious realization that human being is one with the world at large, and thus one with the Anima Mundi.

Carl Jung wrote an amazing commentary on Dorn’s alchemy in his book, Mysterium Coniunctionis. In my article, Animaterialism and the Unus Mundus, I examined some of Jung’s statements on the third stage of Dorn’s alchemical processes.  Dorn refers to the union at the third stage as the caelum, which author Colin Wilson interprets Jung as saying it is “man’s deepest inner truth–a form of the Philosopher’s Stone” (Wilson 7344). Jung goes on to describe the manner in which he understand Dorn’s third stage of completion:

So if Dorn sees the third and highest degree of conjunction  in a union or relationship of the adept, who has produced the caelum with the unus mundus this would consist, psychologi­cally, in a synthesis of the conscious with the unconscious. The result of this conjunction or equation is theoretically incon­ceivable, since a known quantity is combined with an unknown one; but in practice as many far-reaching changes of conscious­ness result from it as atomic physics has produced in classical physics. The nature of the changes which Dorn expects from the third stage of the coniunctio can be established only indirectly from the symbolism used by the adepts. What he called caelum is, as we have seen, a symbolic prefiguration of the self. We can conclude from this that the desired realization of the whole man was conceived as a healing of organic and psychic ills, since the caelum was described as a universal medicine (the panacea, alexipharmic, medicina catholicaJ etc.). It was regarded also as the balsam and elixir of life, as a life-prolonging, strengthening, and rejuvenating magical potion (Jung 539).

Another crucial point to consider is that Jung claims “the caelum also signifies man’s likeness to God (imago Dei), the anima mundi in matter, and the truth itself” (ibid.). He continues on to say the caelum can only compared to “the ineffable mystery of the unio mystica, or tao, or the concept of samadhi, or the experience of satori in Zen”(Jung 540). So, the fusion of the caelum with the unus mundus is a mystical union of an individual with the world, the amazing idea that “everything divided and different belongs to one and the same world” (Jung 538). This is why I write about animaterialism.

Friends, as we become more conscious of this truth of who we really are, what our potential is, nothing can stand in the way of making life on this planet better in every conceivable way. I believe future humans will continue to expand their consciousness and evolve into what God intends us to be. I pray that a sufficient number of us discover this before it is too late. Instead of destroying our world, we should be creating new ones.

 

Works Cited

Jung, C.G. Mysterium Coniunctionis: An Inquiry Into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy. trans, R.F.C. Hull. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 14. Princeton: Princeton, 1963

Wilson, Colin. Mysteries: An Investigation Into the Occult, the Paranormal, and the Supernatural (Kindle Location 7344). Diversion Books. Kindle Edition.

 

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