Psychological Alchemy: Part 2

We, as humans, like to keep things separated and in their respective boxes. It makes for bringing order into what otherwise appears to be a world in chaos. We have developed codes for ourselves to ensure that order is kept, to keep things black and white. When things don’t stay in their places, we have a tendency to react negatively.

Alchemy, as a science, looked to bringing different elements together, having them interact and then noting how that interaction changed the two as they became one. The mixing of copper and tin is a prime example which resulted in the creation of bronze.

In psychological alchemy, the work or opus is focused on bringing together the conscious and the unconscious aspects of an individual in order to arrive at a wholeness for the human psyche. Carl Gustav Jung was among those who studied the ancient arts of alchemy with the view of trying to heal the human psyche, attempting to bring the fractured pieces together. One of his major works expanding on this task is called Mysterium Coniunctionis.

Jung not only drew from alchemy, he also drew from Hinduism and Buddhism in order to try to more fully understand the nature of the human psyche and approaches to healing the psyche, a task that today we call psychology and psychiatry.

As I travelled through Indian I was amazed at the presence of the overt representation of the masculine (linga) and the feminine (yoni) in every temple that I came across, a representation that had the two as one. There was little left to imagination. The union of the masculine and the feminine created a wholeness. Of course, the representation was symbolic of creation.

The idea of the union of male and female was graphically on display in various temples as well, such as the temples of Khajuraharo. In both Hinduism and Buddhism, there is a respect given to the sexual nature of being human, a respect that goes beyond merely the physical. Sexual union has a holy aspect, one that curiously points the way beyond the limits of body.

The practice of Tantric sex that has its roots in Hinduism and becomes embraced at some of the highest levels of Buddhism, specifically, Vajrayana Buddhism. The primary purpose is directed to achieving a state of wholeness and awareness.

Wholeness. The impulse to become one, to re-enter into the womb of creation and be at one with the initial impulse of creation. In Jungian psychology, the same symbolism occurs with the same intent, that of healing the human psyche, rejoining the shattered parts, the divorced masculine and feminine aspects of an individual. There is much to talk about yet, so I will leave the rest for part three.

4 thoughts on “Psychological Alchemy: Part 2

  1. Yikes! I remember trying to read this tome when I was in analysis in Evanston. What a job that was! I probably should reread it again and see if makes more sense; it seems incoherent and incomprehensible at the time, 20 years ago!


    • It still seems incoherent and incomprehensible to me, Urspo. It took a reading through Marie-Louise von Franz, and Adam McLean’s web site, as well as digging into the world of Hinduism and Buddhism for me to get some sort of idea of what was intended (and perhaps said) in Jung’s works. We’ll see in the posts to come if I have indeed managed to find a sensible thread of understanding.


  2. What a extraordinary clearly written and explained Post my friend.
    Reading this Post, imagining then feeling and then understand the meaning of Oneness. Due to our collectiveness we are able to understand what the ancient meant to share – unchanged during the centuries – such a wisdom !


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