ALCHEMY – An Introduction
This programme consists of a series of lectures and sandplays that introduce the major alchemical operations, their images, symbols and meaning from a Jungian and Transpersonal perspective.
There are two approaches to the study of alchemy. The Jungian approach exemplified by the work of Edward Edinger and the Transpersonal approach of Titus Burckhardt.
This course is primarily based on the Jungian alchemy with an introduction to the Transpersonal and Spiritual perspective of Titus Burckhardt.
As Jung studied alchemy he found that the drawings and images created by the alchemists could be used to understand the complex content of the psyche and the therapeutic process that leads to individuation (defined as a psychic wholeness). Individuation results from the union of anima, animus, instinct and spirit. In this process the ego becomes subject to the spiritual dimension of our being, the True Self. As we look at a series of our own sandtrays we can often see the symbolism of at least some of the alchemical stages in the process of integration that can eventually lead to individuation.
Jung suggests that the alchemists while experimenting had psychic experiences which were the result of the alchemical processes and the substances that were ingested. The alchemists were experiencing altered states of consciousness that were then projected as properties of matter while what was being experienced was the products of their own unconscious.
Jung realised that the images the alchemists created to explain their experiences and understanding of the alchemical processes paralleled his own and his clients experiences of the individuation process. As Edinger states ‘alchemical images describe a process which is identical with Jung’s individuation process’.
From the perspective of Titus Burckhardt while it was true that many alchemists were attempting to transmute lead into gold there were many others who saw and experienced alchemy as an intense spiritual/transpersonal discipline involving self reflection, meditation, prayer and study. In the words of Titus Burckhardt ‘alchemy is a branch of mysticism…it is the art of transmutations of the soul’
Titus Burckhardt points out that for the alchemists matter was an aspect of the function of God and is not separate from spirit but is a necessary compliment. This parallels the Hindu concept identified in the ancient Upanishads that all is Brahman (God).
In the transpersonal alchemical system the three principle elements mercury, salt and sulphur are symbols for soul, body and spirit. Gold is the symbol for unity with the spirit and lead for our basic instinctual nature. The objective of mystical alchemy is the integration of body, soul and spirit and unity with God. The overall symbolism for the work is the transmutation of lead into Gold.
Participants will be given the opportunity to discuss their sandtrays (if they wish to do so) and relate their sandtrays to their understanding of alchemy and where they are in the alchemical process towards psychological wholeness
Course leader: John Daly B.Sc., M.A.(Couns & Psych)., Dipl. Supvn.
After training as a scientist John worked in industry for ten years before moving to the US where he studied counselling and psychology from a transpersonal perspective at JFK University in California. He subsequently worked as a psychotherapist and lecturer in San Francisco and London. John lived in India for several years and travelled extensively throughout the Himalayan regions of Nepal, India and Bhutan, and studied with Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi and Christian Mystics in India and in the West. He designed and taught Masters, Degree and Diploma courses for CCPE, PTUK and Canterbury University and is the founder of the Association of Integrative Sandplay Therapists.
Who should attend:
This course is intended for all those who wish to obtain a greater understanding of alchemical symbolism in psychotherapy. How the images and symbols relate to the client’s world view, the therapeutic process and their psychological wholeness.
This course is a pre-requisite for the certificate in alchemical studies.
Timings & Logistics:
The course consists of one 3 day weekend costing £420, lunch will be provided each day.
Details of the 2019 venue and dates will follow soon.