NOTES ON ALCHEMICAL PSYCHOLOGY* is a series of texts dedicated to personal creative therapeutic work, merging the old ways & the new.
Our planetary heritage of storytelling & healing is vast, extraordinary, both geographically specific and culturally interchangeable, perpetually effective, and experienced by most – but seldom included in the curricula of contemporary psychology. However, when tracing the origins of the science of the psyche, one finds that this vast vault of soul investigation is the true backbone of all modern theory. Today, its magical ways are still mostly accessed in private, or within alternative frameworks, and disenfranchised in the public spheres of psychology. Half our human experience has been thus invalidated for professional study, and open to considerable misuse in practice. This most curious state of affairs in the profession has its origins in the way it was postulated a century ago by Sigmund Freud. The method of psychoanalysis has a distinct occult feel to it, an exorcist shine, so breaking away from any ties to the supernatural needed to be vehement and permanent for psychology to establish itself as a scientific discipline – and this attitude remained in all schools branching out from this position, transpersonal & archetypal psychology, as well as the psychology of anomalous, exceptional, and non-ordinary experiences being anomalies (pardon the pun) to the norm. Nevertheless, this dogmatic approach continues to appear a common sense paradox, as all the material of our existence should be deemed valuable enough for us to research. Especially, when its lore endures for millennia.
In recent years, the tide seems to be turning, as times have been shifting to yet unknown paradigms. The sense of unease with what we hereto considered to be reality grows with every new virtual persona we develop. There is little difference between the occult and the virtual, in fact. It’s a messy state of affairs, our psyches endure daily more stimuli than they are able to process, giving rise to mental instabilities, overwhelming emotional states, and spiritual uncertainties of a new kind. For better, and sometimes, for worse, the ways we understand our nature and heal our pains are increasingly becoming infused with old ways that endured the long period of ridicule, suppression, and not infrequently, persecution. An old remedy necessary for the worlds we are now building in thin air. In a strange, but somehow, expected way, we are going back to basics, as familiar grounding is scarce, and the rational mind turns out to be the original trickster, after all the enlightenment.
The esoteric life has suddenly become almost mainstream.
We are rapidly developing a collective need to expand our understanding of our natures, and the nature of life, itself. The frontier of the contemporary human is now, most overtly, their own psyche. And that was inevitable, and a good thing – healthy in its motivations, but often naive in its casual/cultish pursuits, and sadly predatory in a neocolonialist sort of way. There are still grave dangers in the deep seas of our unconscious selves, some locked and/or monitored for centuries by spiritual gatekeepers – and for a reason. Even someone as highly trained as Jung almost lost himself forever between the pages of his red book.
Yet, we are in many ways at a point of no return, there is no more rewind, everything in history has been post-modernly reprocessed. Twice over. This is the challenge we now are about to face. Awareness and quality information is our protection, not monitored ignorance.
Our collective heritage of healing has always embraced me, it held me when I stumbled, and soothed me when I ached, always inspiring a zest for life, a quest for the truth in a shiny web of narratives on offer. I walked its miraculous, joyful, and often thorny path since early childhood, and I would like to start to honour it in my work more directly.
For starters – through this scribe’s pilgrimage of sorts. Merging what I have learned in the sphere of the elegant, respectable left brain academia with what I have experienced in all the roads that led through the wild, ephemeral mysteries of the right hemisphere. I’m only one of many that will talk about this in the years to come in the way that has yet to be considered as acceptable for the practice of psychotherapy, or even suitable for public spheres of psychology, or the public sphere, full stop. But if I can give a few pointers towards a synthesis in this torn, fragmented, unwoven universe, I’m here. And available.
*NB the inevitable disclaimer – although I am a psychologist by education, and in training as arts psychotherapist, I am a writer & visual artist by vocation, and these notes describe a personal journey, meant for philosophical & creative inspiration – they are (still) not therapy or substitute for therapy. But they are written with a sincere hope they keep sacred space, the temenos, for other people’s experiences of the therapeutic numinous, and will be of good service to your soul.
- Windmills Of Our Mind – on solving riddles in our sleep with music.