Alchemy #6

Alchemy and psychology go hand in hand. There is an opposition, a duality, in all of nature. Enjoy your self-discoveries. ❤

c.g.jung collective works vol. iii:

Psychology of the transference: Introduction I:

Alchemy didn’t change into chemistry by gradually discovering how to break away from mythological premises, but it also became and had always been, a kind of mystic philosophy. The idea of conjunction served on one hand to shed light on the mystery of chemical combination, while on the other it became the symbol of the unio-mystica since, as a mythologem, it expresses the archetype of the union of opposites

Conjunctio: is an a priori image, maybe which has always occupied an important place in man’s mental development. It has two sources in alchemy; one would be Christian and the other pagan. Christian source is the doctrine of Christ and the church, sponsussponsa, where Christ takes the role of sol and the church that of Luna. The pagan source is the hierosgamos, on one hand, on the other it is the marital union of the mystic with god.

Practical analysis has shown that unconscious contents are invariably projected at first upon concrete persons and situations. Many projections can ultimately be integrated back into the individual once he recognized their subjective origin; others resist integration and although they may be detached from their original objects, they transfer themselves to doctors. The doctor is nearly always put in place of the father, brother, and eve, though more early, the mother. Experience has shown that this projection persists with all its original intensity (etiological), thus creating a bond that corresponds in every respect to the initial infantile relationship, with a tendency to recapitulate all the experiences of childhood on the doctor, meaning transferred to him. Freud, who was the first to recognize and describe this phenomenon, coined the term transference neurosis.

Transference neurosis: is a collective term hysteria, hysterical fears, and compulsion neurosis. This bond is often of such intensity that it’s almost a combination: when two chemical substances are combined, both are altered. This is what happens in the transference. Transference is closely kin to projection.

The strongest instincts require concrete realization and general instincts require concrete realization and generate it. They can’t be considered exclusively biological since the course they actually follow is subject to powerful modifications coming from the personality itself. If a man’s temperament inclines him to a spiritual attitude, even the concrete activity of the instincts will take on a certain symbolical character. This activity is no longer the never satisfaction of instinctual impulses, for it’s now associated with or complicated by meaning. In the case of purely syndromal instinctive processes, which don’t demand concrete realization to the same extent, the symbolical character of their fulfillment is all the more marked. Not only are there different instincts which can’t forcibly be reduced to one another, there also different even on which they move. The instincts and their specific fantasy contents are partly concrete, partly symbolic “Unreal”. Sometimes one, sometimes with another, and they have the same paradoxical character when they are projected. It’s possible to interpret fantasy contents of the instinct, either as signs, as self-portraits of instincts, or as symbols as the spiritual meaning of the natural instinct. In incest the instinctive process is taken to be “real” and the latter “unreal”.

The resultant paradoxical blend of positive and negative energy, of trust and fear, hope and doubt, attraction and repulsion, is transference. It’s the love and hate of the elements, which the alchemist linked to the primeval chaos. The activated unconscious appears as a flurry of unleashed opposites and calls forth the attempt to reconcile them, so that in the chance of the alchemist, the great panacea can be born, came the mediciancatholica. In alchemy the dark initial state or nidredo (black) is often in regarded as the product of a previous operation, and that it therefore doesn’t represent the absolute. The psychological parallel to the nigredo is the result of the foregoing preliminary talk which, at certain moments, has along delay, “touches” the unconscious and establishes the unconscious identity of the doctor and patient. This moment may be perceived and registered consciously but generally it happens outside of consciousness, and the bond thus established is recognized later and indirectly by its results. Occasionally dreams occur about this time, announcing the appearance of the transference. A dream may say that a fire has started in the cellar, or that a burglar has broken in, or that the patients father has died, or it may depilate an erotic or some other ambiguous situate. From the moment when such a dream occurs there may be initiated a queer unconscious time-reckoning, lasting for moments, or longer.

The self is timeless and existed before any birth. So long as it doesn’t obtrude itself the unconscious is best left alone. The transference problem isn’t on account of the daily routine of the psychotherapists, but for more a description of what happens when the check normally exerted on the unconscious by the conscious mind is disrupted.

Nigredo: in addition, is charged with dangerous polar tensions, with the inimiciraenementorum. One finds one’s self in an impenetrable chaos, which is one of the symptoms for the prima materia. The latter corresponds to the nature of the unconscious content in respect, with one exception: this time it doesn’t appear in the alchemical substance, but in a man himself. In alchemy, it’s quite evident that the unconscious content is of human origin. Prima materia is to be discovered in man himself. This content can never be found and integrated directly but only by the circuitous route of projection. The unconscious, at first, appears in projection form. 

The difficulties of our psychotherapeutic work teach us to take truth, goodness, and beauty where we find them. They aren’t always found where we look for them; often they are hidden in the dark, or projected by some force. In sterconeinveniture (found in filth) and runs an alchemical dictum-non is it any the less valuable on that account. It doesn’t transfigure the dirt and doesn’t diminish the evil anymore than these lessen God’s gifts. The contrast is painful and the paradox bewildering sayings like: ounanoano – heaven above, ouranokato, heaven below, astrakato – starts below, pantoano – all that’s above, toatokato – all that’s below, toutokaro – grasp this, keeutuxe – and rejoice – are too optimistic and superficial; they forget the moral torment occasioned by the opposites, and the importance of ethnical values. 

The refining of the prima materia – the unconscious contents demands endless patience, perseverance, equanimity, knowledge, and ability on the part of the doctor, and on the part of the patient, the putting forth of his best powers and a capacity for sufferings which doesn’t leave the doctor altogether unaffected.

The deo consentient isn’t just a rhetorical flourish, it expresses the firm attitude of the man who doesn’t imagine that he knows better on every occasion and who is fully aware that the unconscious material before him is something alive, a paradoxical mercurius of whom an old master says: and he is that on whom nature hath worked but a little, and who she hasth wrought into metallic form yet left unfinished 0 what an alchemist sees in metallic form the psychotherapist sees in man.

The unconscious isn’t just evil by nature, it’s also the source of the highest good. Not only dark, but also light, not only bestial, semi-human, and demonic, but super human, spiritual, and in the classical sense of the word, “divine”, the Mercuius who paradoxically dualistic by nature, fiend, monster, beast, and at the same time panacea. The philosopher’s son, sapientia, – dei, and hum spiritussanctien’s (alchemists liken him to Lucifer “Bringer of light”). 

Alchemy describes the same psychological phenomenology which can be observed in the analysis of the unconscious process. The individual’s specious units that the emphatically says “I want, I think” breaks down under the impact of the unconscious. As long as the patient can think that somebody else is responsible for his difficulties, he can save some semblance of unity (putatutunusesse). Once he realizes that he himself has a shadow, that his enemy is himself, then the conflict begins and one becomes tow. Since the “other” will eventually prove to be yet another duality, a compound of opposites, the ego soon becomes a shuttlecock tossed between a multitude of “velocities” with the result that there’s in an “obsuscatron of the light”, consciousness is deproteinated and the patient is at a loss to know where his person begins or ends “sublime spiriten, enlightener of mankind, purge the horrible darkness of our mind” Balbulus.

A genuine participation, going beyond professional routine, is absolutely impractive. The doctor must go to the limits of his subjective possibilities, otherwise the patient will be unable to do the same. It must be a genuine process of purification where “all superfluities are consumed in the fire” and the basic facts emerge. The reality of “this is what I am” reveals a unity, which was a diversity. No longer has the earlier ego with its make believed and artificial controversies, but now an “objective ego” better coursed the self. It’s no longer fiction, but a string of hard facts. These first indications of future synthesis of personality appear in dreams or in the mandala symbols which were also known in alchemy. The first sights of symbolism are far from indication that unity has been attained. Just as alchemy has a great many different procedures, spanning from the sevenfold to the thousand distillation, on from the “work of the day” to “the errant scusto” lasting for decades, so the tensions between the psychic pains of opposing ease off only gradually and, like the chemical end product, the united personality will never quite lose the painful sense of innate discontents. The complete redemption of the world is and must remain an illusion. The goal is important only as an idea; the essential thing is opus which leads to the god that’s the goal of a lifetime. In its attainment “left and right” are united, and conscious and unconscious work in harmony.

Rosariumphilosophorum: everything that the doctor discovers and experiences when analyzing the unconscious of his patent coincides with the content of these pictures. Because the old alchemists were other doctors, they had ample opportunity for such periances if they worried about the psychological well-being of their patients or inquired to their dreams for the purpose of diagnosis prognosis, and therapy. In this way they could collect information of a psychological nature, not only from their patients, but also themselves, i.e. from the observation of their own unconscious contents which had been activated by indication. Just as the unconscious expresses itself even in today in picture series, often drown spontaneously by the patient, so those early pictures were no doubt produced in similar way, as the deposit of impressions collected during the work and then interpreted or modified by traditional factos. In the modern pictures we find not a trace of traditional themes side by side with spontaneous repetitions of archaic or mythological ideas. “It doesn’t seem to me out of place to examine a medieval series of pictures in the light of modern discoveries, or even to use them as an Ariadre thread in our account of the latter. These curiosities of the middle ages contain the seed of much that emerge in clearer form many centuries latten” – Jung. 

One thought on “Alchemy #6

  1. Pingback: Year 6 | Inside A Soul

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