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This thoughtful study, which antedates the work of Jung by a generation, represents the first serious attempt to correlate the methods of psychoanalysis with the literature of alchemy and of other great Western mystical and occult traditions. Dr. Silberer was a prominent member of the Vienna School whose untimely death prevented this, his major published work, from receiving the attention it clearly merited. Included is a wealth of material taken directly from alchemical and Rosicrucian sources. Symbolisms of salt, sulphur and mercury; of the prison, the abyss and the grave; of putrefaction and procreation; and of the sun, moon, and planets are carefully analyzed and explained. Passages from the works of Hermes Trismegistus, Flamel, Lacinius, Michael Meier, Paracelsus, and Boehme are cited both as important sources of alchemical doctrine and to substantiate the thesis that alchemy was a spiritual discipline of the highest order, comparable to the Yoga of the East. The entire inquiry is based on a parable from the pages of "Geheime Figuren der Rosenkreuzer," an l8th-century alchemical text. After a general exposition of dream and myth interpretation, Dr. Silberer proceeds to a psychoanalytic interpretation of the parable and then gives a detailed account of the traditions and practices of the alchemists, Rosicrucians, and Freemasons. Returning to the parable, he introduces the problem of dual interpretations; for while the psychoanalytic approach focuses on the depths of the impulsive life, the hermetic and mystical leads to the heights of spirituality. The heart of the book is an attempt to reconcile these divergent philosophies and a meditation on the relationship of introversion to mysticism.
Prominent among the stones of a fireplace in my country den, one large rounded giant stands out. It was bourne by the glacial streams from a more northern resting place and is marked by a fossil of a mollusk that inhabited northern seas many million years ago. Yet in spite of the eons of time that have passed it can be compared with specimens of mollusks that live today. Down through the countless centuries the living stream has carved its structural habitations in much the same form. The science of Paleontology has collected this history and has attempted a reconstruction of life from its beginnings. The same principle here illustrated is true for the thought-life of mankind. The forms in which it has been preserved however are not so evident. The structuralizations are not so definite. If they were, evolution would not have been possible for the living stream of energy which is utilized by mind-stuff cannot be confined if it would advance to more complex integrations. Hence the products of mind in evolution are more plastic-more subtle and more changing. They are to be found in the myths and the folk-lore of ancient peoples, the poetry, dramatic art, and the language of later races. From age to age however the strivings continue the same. The living vessels must continue and the products express the most fundamental strivings, in varying though related forms. We thus arrive at a science which may be called paleo-psychology. Its fossils are the thought-forms throughout the ages, and such a science seeks to show fundamental likenesses behind the more superficial dissimilarities. The present work is a contribution to such a science in that it shows the essential relationships of what is found in the unconscious of present day mankind to many forms of thinking of the middle ages. These same trends are present today in all of us though hidden behind a different set of structural terms, utilizing different mechanisms for energy expression.

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