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'The Pelican As It Appears In
The Golden Treatise of Hermes'
Lecture & Reading Seminar By
Regine Schweizer-Vullers, Ph.D.
Friday, November 1, 2019
Saturday, November 2, 2019
Friday evening lecture.....
The alchemists often called their alchemical vessel “pelican.” However, the pelican represents the entire alchemical
opus. One can even say that the bird is a symbol of the alchemist himself, namely of the spirit in which the opus is
done. The alchemists, though, did not intend to produce the so-called ordinary gold out of the impure and ordinary
initial substances. Rather they wanted to create a psychic gold, a miraculous stone, an all-healing remedy, in order
to unite the initially separated or even hostile psychic substances.
In the accompanying image called “Revivifying,” we see Sol and Luna rise from the fountain. On the left we see the
Pelican with its fledglings. According to the accompanying text the two scenes belong together – the reappearance
of the emerging sun and moon out of the depth of the fountain and the revivification of the dead fledglings by the
The pelican also appears in the last chapter of the so-called “Tractatus aureus Hermetis” [Golden Treatise of
Hermes] which goes back to the early 17th century. Four colors belong to the bird, whereby the fourth color, the
“true yellow”, “the golden color” or “the gold” was equated with the goal of the whole process. As the lapis, that
is, as the “all-transforming ferment” or the “all-transforming medicine”, the pelican could reconcile not only the
opposites within the human soul but – miraculously – even the opposites of the outer world. This lecture explored
the symbolism of the first three colors of this alchemical process and concluded with some reflections on the fourth
color, the “golden color” or the “gold.” Looking at the text with reference to C. G. Jung’s and Marie-Louise von
Franz’s psychological approaches to alchemy we discussed this healing and uniting power of the Fourth.
Saturday reading seminar.....
After discussing the lecture of the previous day, we continued our work with a reading seminar. We read and
discussed one of the most beautiful chapters in Marie Louise von Franz’s Commentary to Thomas Aquino’s
Aurora Consurgens, the fifth chapter on the “Treasure House that Wisdom has built upon a Rock.” We looked
at this “House of Wisdom” as it appears in the text of the Aurora Consurgens as well as in the Codex Rhenovensis,
an old alchemical manuscript with some very impressive pictures. We then looked at the innermost center of this
house – at its sanctuary. In the innermost center of a temple, a holy place or a church always stands the image of a
God or a Goddess. What is the mystery of this “House of Wisdom” and what kind of an image or deity does it contain?
Regine Schweizer-Vüllers, Ph.D., is a Jungian analyst and psychotherapist in private practice in Zurich, Switzerland.
She completed her training as analyst at the Jung Institute, Zurich, in 1986. From 1994 to 2008 she was a member
of the board of the Research and Training Centre in Depth Psychology according to C. G. Jung and Marie-Louise von
Franz. Regine Schweizer-Vüllers is a member of IAAP and works as a training analyst, supersupervisor and lecturer
in Zurich and internationally. From 2001–2014 she was part of the board that organized the annual Eranos Confer-
ences in Ascona, Ticino. She is the current president of the Foundation of the Psychology Club Zurich and to-
gether with her husband the editor of the ongoing publication of the Psychology Club Zurich, a series of books
which contribute to the scientific work of C. G. Jung. Her interest includes topics related to Analytical Psychology,
especially alchemy, medieval mysticism, fairy tales, legends, folk songs and historical tales. For many years she has
offered monthly reading seminars on C. G. Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctionis and –recently – on Marie-Lousie von
Franz’s Commentary on the Aurora Consurgens.
<<Revivifying>>: Sol and Luna
Rise from the fountain, on the left the Pelican.