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so here there is an immediate and factual connection between a symbol of the Isis mysteries and one of the earliest alchemical documents.4 There is actually a tremendous amount of connection between these two worlds. Zosimos, as an Egyptian, was certainly acquainted with the Isis mysteries and therefore used the vessels and instruments of her cult in an alchemical way. The next object carried is a golden basket for corn. This is also a symbol for Osiris, who dies and is resurrected like the corn. In the museum at Cairo there is a corn mummy in the form of Osiris, which was covered with linen and watered and kept damp so that corn grew on it. This was part of the resurrection ritual. After this there follow in the procession a vessel which is not described and then a priest with the statue of Anubis. He is the one who is responsible for the whole ritual of mummification in Egypt, for Anubis, the god with a jackal’s head, according to the myth, found the bones of the dead Osiris and put them together again. All the objects which are carried in the procession have a specific meaning. Some point to Isis and others to Osiris. But then the text emphasizes an especially holy symbol: a small round shining gold jar, covered with hieroglyphs, with a mouthpiece on one side, and a broad handle on which is a coiled serpent on the other. Apuleius does not give the deeper significance of this jar, but he says that it is “incredibly holy” and that one “must honour it in deep silence.” This round golden vessel reminds us first of all of the holy mystical vessel in alchemy, which was considered as a symbol of cosmic totality. Zosimos, for instance, says of the alchemical vessel that it is a round cup which represents the totality of the cosmos and in which the holy alchemical process takes place.5 In alchemy it represents the all-embracing principle and the concept (concipere, “to conceive”) of the contained thing; that is, the psychological attitude, or the approach toward matter, toward the mystery in alchemy. This symbolizes self-concentration and the absolutely essential introversion needed for this proper approach toward matter and the mystery of the cosmos. All this is symbolized by the vessel, and some alchemical philosophers even say that the lapis philosophorum, the philosopher’s stone, in the vessel and the vessel itself are the same thing, a different aspect of the same mystery. For Apuleius the vessel probably represents Osiris. I was delighted to find that Merkelbach comes to the same conclusion. Innumerable jars and vessels have been found in Egypt with human heads on them representing Osiris. He was also very often represented

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Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

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