Nudity and Alchemy – Part 3

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 four.

5 thoughts on “Nudity and Alchemy – Part 3

  1. Would like to respond at greater length, and I do hope to: but want to say for now, thanks for a helpful and insightful explanation of these fascinating but complex psychological and alchemical ideas.

    But my own analyst, himself trained as a chemist, constantly pointed out to me that the goal of the process, whether chemical, alchemical, or psychoanalytical, is not just understanding but transformation: and it leads me to question, again and again, not simply “Who am I?” but “Who am I becoming?” — as a more fully aware, more fully conscious human being — who is also quite naked much of the time (I am now, writing this), but not limited to or by my nakedness.

    In other words: how is my more greatly conscious self (though consciousness waxes and wanes) enhanced and supported by my being comfortably naked?


    • “how is my more greatly conscious self (though consciousness waxes and wanes) enhanced and supported by my being comfortably naked?”

      My first response is to ask, ‘what are your thoughts on this?’ I guess this makes me sound like a psychotherapist, doesn’t it? But, in my opinion, it is enhanced. Is this a biased opinion or a reasoned response?


      • Well, you are a therapist, after all; and, yes, that does sort of sound like a therapist’s response! But it’s also a response that I had anticipated.

        After a short bit of reflection, I have to say that I have had experiences in which I have been working at my writing (often journaling, so only for myself), sitting in a wooded area or out on a shaded deck, sitting naked in the warm air, when I have suddenly become aware of just a bit of breeze; the access of that breeze to nearly every centimeter of my skin has brought a sudden sense of euphoria that is really, well, quite a rush.

        Now, euphoria is not to be confused with consciousness; “consciousness” means that I’m aware both of the sun’s potential to burn as well as to warm, or the wind’s potential to turn over my beverage glass and spill a drink on me as well as to give sensual pleasure.

        But a friend of mine has spoken of the “heightened sensuality” that comes when one is naked in the elements and in the company of others: and I do think that when are naked we really do increase our potential for consciousness — our consciousness both of what shames us and what moves us ecstatically.


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