When I meditate, I am working at becoming more aware. The work is powerful, time-consuming and life-changing. All effort produces change. Each day I sit in meditation, I go through the transformation process. It’s a never-ending work as I see it and know it. But the impact of even small changes on a daily basis is significant.
The same kind of transformational work goes on each time a person engages in therapeutic processes such as undergoing Jungian psychoanalysis. Alchemy is the transformational model that Carl Jung used to frame his own practice.
I am doing a bit more pre-investigation before jumping into the use of alchemy for personal transformation as a therapeutic model. A not so quick search of the literature and websites has yielded more information than I can actually use. Below are a listing of some links you might find useful.
- Adam McLean – The Birds in Alchemy
- Hollingsworth Counselling – Alchemy For the Soul
- Nigel Hamilton – The Alchemical Process of Transformation
- Dennis William Hauck – The Seven Stages of Transformation
- Jo Hedesan – The Four Stages of Alchemical Work
- Dirk Gillabel – Alchemy
- Wikipedia – Magnum Opus
My focus will concentrate on the Magnum Opus, or the four stage process, rather than the seven stage process that is discussed in most studies of alchemy. The four stages of the Magnum Opus are easier for me to discus in psychological terms with the focus on effecting change in consciousness, bringing a deeper awareness of self. As I understand it, this process is best likened to a spiral with each journey through the stages taking a person deeper and deeper into the personal unconscious in order to bring that which is hidden into the light of ego consciousness. Using Buddhist terms, one could say that this is the path to enlightenment.
The four stages are:
- nigredo – blackening – The Shadow
- albedo – whitening – Anima / Animus
- citrinitas – yellowing – Wise Old Man
- rubedo – reddening – Archetypal Self (wholeness)
In future posts, I will visit each of these stages, hopefully giving you a better understanding of the stages in terms of finding a way out of darkness, the Dark Night of the Soul that you may be suffering.