This is a considerably less convoluted treatise on Alchemy and its modern day psychological relevance,than the one produced by Carl Jung.After a couple of chapters explaining the concepts and tracing the history of Alchemy back to Egyptian mummification and the rites of Osiris,the author proceeds to dissect some of the more relevant and more lucid parts of a sixteenth century text written by Gerhard Dorn,a student of Paracelsus.The active imagination referred to in the title concerns the imaginary conversations between the different parts of the undifferentiated psyche and their conflicts,resolutions and final unity.Things do sometimes get complex, especially when Von Franz starts analysing Dorn's shadow projections in his metaphysical conversations,but that's not to say it's indecipherable it just requires more work than the rest of the text to understand. The book works well as a truncated description of individuation and the external effects of the process that manifest in the external environment of the one undergoing the process,it also contains much of the authors own inner gold in clarifying concepts that others make complex.
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This book was an excellent introduction to the concept of alchemy in the psychological process of individuation. Like everything of Von Franz's that I have read, it's very readable and at times very entertaining too. Because she uses extensive quotes from seventeenth century alchemist Dorn, her own voice is somewhat lost, and that's a shame. There are important truths in here, and it will take some digesting. If you were looking for a how-to book, this isn't it (I'm not sure there is one, or whether it'd be of value or not). A second slower read is recommended, to pick up the many nuggets of gold that you may miss during a first reading.