Thursday, September 22, 2011

AURUM by Edward C. Whitmont, M.D.

GOLD is the metal of the sun. For untold ages, it has held fascination for mankind. Gold has been the "royal" metal furnishing the king's solar halos: their crowns. Universally it is a symbol of imperishable value. Even when gold no longer supplies the actual coinage it nevertheless continues to represent the basic standard of currency. Evidently the collective psyche harbours an unconscious awareness of a supreme symbolic significance inherent in gold.

In Hermetic tradition gold is held to be part of a cosmic "functional" triad comprised of sun, heart and gold as corresponding, synonymous entities. It is noteworthy that the sun rhythmically "pulses" in a way that is analogous to the heart. It contracts and expands about .002% of its diameter (or about 3K) in approximately two hours and forty minutes.

For alchemy gold represented the solar principle and the highest goal of spiritual transformation. ("Our gold is not the gold of the vulgar" was an alchemical saying.) Astrologically, the solar principle stands for the life will in the individuating human consciousness, the sense of self-value, honesty, responsibility, pride, willpower, vital strength and the capacity to exert control, all vested in the heart.

Among many Indian tribes the rising sun was greeted by breathing upon one's hand and offering one's breath to it as the source of life. In a more gruesome ritual, the Aztecs would tear out the living heart of their sacrificial victims, preferably prisoners of war or nobles, and hold it up as an offering to its "father" the sun.

These traditions bear witness to the deeply felt correspondence between the substance of gold, the sun and the sun-like organ, the heart. It is interesting in this connection that the center and source of consciousness as well as the life will were traditionally associated with the heart, the organ of feeling, rather than the brain.

Astrologically, our consciousness is seen as anchored in the two "lights," the assertive "greater light" the sun and the receptive "lesser light" the moon. Both are polarized by their "antagonist" Saturn, the principle of limitation, who rules the metal lead and the bony skeleton which defines and limits our existence in time and space. Under Saturn's influence the sun becomes "black," the sol niger of alchemy, representing decay, depression and death. Hence the goal of the alchemical opus was the transmutation of earthbound Saturnian stuff, of lead, into spiritual essence, into gold.

The sun is the center of our universe. But like human consciousness and human will, the sun is still subordinate to a higher center, the center of the galaxy which, according to newest observations, is a black hole: a mysterious entity in which time, space and substance as we know them are vitiated. Thus, the solar principle expresses also the problem of human individuality, balanced and polarized between life and death, between the dark mystery of the transcendent "center" above and the Saturnian limitation below, to both of which our light of consciousness and sense of individual life are subordinate.

As focal points of consciousness the sun and moon also rule our chief sensory orientations - the outgoing sun ruling the outer-oriented attitudes of smell (associated with Muladhara, the basic Saturnian earth chakra) and of vision. ("Were not the eye to sun akin, how could we ever behold the light?" -Goethe.) Hence gold affects heart and circulation, the bony skeleton (ruled by Saturn), eyes and nose. Correspondingly, the receptive moon rules the inner-oriented gesture of hearing; hence the moon, like permeable and receptive Calc. carb., Phosphor or Pulsatilla, has a greater affinity to the ears.

The pathology of Gold fits personalities of a serious, over-responsible and depressive character.

The solar types are would-be rulers, "kings," that feel actively responsible for the destinies of their "subjects" and for the burdens they themselves have assumed.

Usually, they are active and intrinsically strong people who feel they bear heavy responsibilities often experienced as overwhelming. Their pathology expresses the tension between their sense of responsibility, their will and felt call to control people and circumstances, as over the existential limitations they encounter.

Physically they tend to be ruddy, dark-complexioned, plethoric, active and strong, sometimes heavy-set. Or, the other side of the spectrum: oldish-looking, low-spirited "overwhelmed" children, often boys with atrophy of the testicles.

Responsible fathers or heads of families, (regardless of whether they happen to be males or female), effective business and executive types with strong willpower, they occupy highly responsible functions, and like the mythological Atlas who had to carry the weight of the whole globe on his shoulders, they frequently carry more than they can. Burdened by an often over-scrupulous conscience that overshoots the mark, and inclined to take matters too seriously, they tend to see predominantly the dark side of problems and of life. (Impressively enough, this is also a symptom of disturbed physical vision: seeing only the lower half of objects.)

They have a hard time tolerating contradiction. Yet they do not show their anger or worries, do not say much and tend to withdraw into solitude.

But swallowing rather than expressing their emotions intensifies inner as well as outer tensions, eventually to the point of explosive breakdown. To these situations they respond with self-criticisms, self-accusations, and heavy, often unjustified, feelings of guilt, worthlessness and self-condemnation.

Readily overwhelmed by a load that feels or actually is too heavy for them, they are given to anxiety and restlessness about trifles, about the future and about their health. They tend to feel neglected and deserted and become silently brooding, show aversion to other people including even their immediate kin, and tend to isolate themselves.

Ultimately this may lead to hopeless despondency, depression and despair, emotionally no less than physically (despair about pain), to a loathing of life and suicidal tendencies. Often these types may be found among seemingly strong and silent people who suddenly commit suicide.

Noise bothers them, but the solar types are uniquely sensitive and made to feel organically better from music. (Kent's repertory lists only Aurum and Tarantula under this rubric.)

Apparently, music conveys solar light and life strength. We are reminded of the Biblical image of King Saul having lost his connection with God and in deep depression: "... and whenever the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand; so Saul was refreshed and was well and the evil spirit departed from him." (1 Samuel: 16, 23)

Apollo, the Greek sun god, is also a musician. Traditionally, from the sun issues the "harmony of the spheres," and Goethe opens his individuation drama Faust with the archangel's intoning:

"The sun sounds forth in ancient fashion
In brother sphere's competing song."

Like sun-kings, the Gold types feel oppressed mentally and physically when hemmed in. They have to be on the move and feel better by walking around.

Clinically, the Gold scope includes also ailments from anger, fright, contradiction and disappointed affection and unhappy love.

The aggravations at night, in the winter, in cold weather, as well as from heat, the desire for open air and improvement from bathing fit well with the solar pathology.

Strongly rooted in a sense of ego, Gold types have a great tolerance of alcohol and may drink a lot, but not like Phosphor in a search for easy ecstasy. Instead Gold types drink in order to temporarily lighten the burden of their worries and responsibilities. Yet, in extreme cases the addictive outcome is the same. On the other hand, like Phosphor the carrier of light, Aurum the solar principle and Sulphur the carrier of sol-sun are anidotal to, as well as in their pathology generating a susceptibility to, consciousness-lowering drug dependency.

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