Where the role of romanticism and idealism in the history of the unconscious is not disputed, the in¯uence of Western esoteric discourses in particular theosophy is more controversial.1 Theosophy enters the history of psychiatry through the mediation of the German romantics and plays as decisive a role in the development of the theory of the unconscious as do the widely referenced remarks in Leibniz and Kant concerning ``dark representations.''2 The importance of theosophy for Schelling's philosophy, especially that of his middle period, is well known in the German literature and almost completely overlooked in the surge of recent English studies of Schelling.3 Schneider (1938) and Benz (1955) argue that Schelling is already appropriating theosophical insights into the nature-philosophy of 1797± 1799. They suggest that the early Schelling's inspiration for problematizing Fichte's subjectivism with a brazenly revamped nature-philosophy is Oetinger's post-vitalist neo-Boehmian theology. According to Oetinger, the common enemy of theology and philosophy is mechanism, which elevates the lifeless causal interaction of discrete particles into an ontological paradigm. Modern natural scienti®c discoveries, Oetinger argues, need to be interpreted in a biometaphysical context that appreciates the absolute not as ®rst cause or highest being, but as self-revealing life. The then-new sciences of electricity, magnetism, and chemistry, with their interest in the ability of matter to act from a distance, exempli®ed for Oetinger a theological principle largely forgotten in modernity but central to the thought of Jewish theosophy, Boehme, and the Renaissance Kabbalists: life is only possible in the antagonism and resolution of polarities. Ostensibly baptized into Freidrich Christoph Oetinger's speculative Pietism, Schneider argues that Schelling was already sceptical of ``the transcendental turn'' ± even when he

was actively contributing to the Fichtian idealist movement. Transcendental philosophy needed the complement of nature-philosophy because it in¯ated consciousness to a place that could only be occupied by life. If Schneider and Benz are correct, we could make an even stronger case for the theosophical root of the Schellingian unconscious and by implication the theosophical origins of the psychodynamic unconscious of the nineteenth century. We could then argue that both Schelling's early and middle concepts of the unconscious (which are distinct and responsible for different impacts on nineteenth-century psychology) are theosophical in origin.