Kat Hathaway: Soul Centred Psychotherapist & Relationship CounsellorDip SCP, BA Psych (Hons), Clinical member ASCP, PACFA and ARCAP listing #22054
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The Connection Between Alchemy and Therapy

The Connection Between Alchemy and Therapy

Posted by kathathaway in on 1 October, 2017

The Soulful Connection Between the Alchemy and the Psyche…

Alchemy is a philosophical and esoteric tradition dating back the the Ancient World. To outsiders it was depicted as the process of changing base metals, particularly lead, into higher metals, like gold.  But in fact, this was a metaphor for the deep inner process of transforming the base aspects of the psyche, or prima materia,  into the ‘gold’ of the psyche, the Philosopher’s Stone.  Alchemists worked to turn their traumas, beliefs and early experiences into states of union and connection with themselves.

Due to its ancient origins, it is a tradition based on imagery, rather than written word.  After the growth of Christianity,  this image based recording was continued in order to avoid detection and persecution by the Christian majority.  And the deeper psychological purpose of alchemy was kept implicit to allow the practice to continue.

In his development of a psychological theory of the collective unconscious, Carl Jung studied and incorporated the ancient tradition of alchemy with an understanding that the ‘Great Work’ of the alchemists was a metaphor for the psychological steps involved in the individuation process.  Following Jung’s understandings, Soul Centred Psychotherapy incorporates the wisdom of alchemy in several different ways.  One of the most fundamental of these is when working with the shadow and parts of the psyche.  Soul Centred Psychotherapy also works in accordance with the alchemical understanding of the importance of following nature (as shown in the illustration at the top of this page) and holds to the alchemical value of the emotional states.

The exquisite 16th century alchemical series called the Rosarium Philosophorum depicts the development of relationship, either between parts of the self, or in the outer world between people.

Beginning with the first image, representing the Prima Materia, a fountain where, as Jung says, “This fluid substance, with all its paradoxical qualities, really signifies the unconscious which has been projected on to it.”

the series goes through 17 incredible images, with the final image one of union and wholeness…

Alchemy, as a path to the unconscious and the Inner Work, is a complex and rich world.  It emphasises the value of the natural processes, the Feminine Principle, and the emotions, and holds an important place within Soul Centred Psychotherapy.


Further reading:

Psychology of Transference: (From Vol. 16 Collected Works) by CG Jung