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Year: 2013

Introduction to Animaterialism

Introduction to Animaterialism

Khan Altai, by Grigory Gurkin These are a set of revised statements that have appeared in previous articles. They reflect my evolving views. -MD We are…left dangling in the paradox of corpsed matter and incorporeal mind – the first dead, insentient and without the possibility of meaning or creativity, the second a ghost, a mere figment or phantasm “squirted out” by chance arrangements of the first. Yet it was precisely this subjective “fiction” that had somehow managed to construct the…

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Alchemy: The Vessel

Alchemy: The Vessel

Without a proper vessel, none of the processes of of alchemy can be accomplished. There must be a container in order to differentiate the various substances from the massa confusa, of which Thomas Moore writes, “It takes a special frame of mind, a particular archetypal viewpoint…to enter the alchemical massa confusa…” The unconscious is this chaos, the prima materia of the Great Work. The need for a vessel begins the alchemical stage called separatio. The alchemical vessel is a space…

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Alchemy: The Soul of Metals

Alchemy: The Soul of Metals

…perhaps the metals take pleasure in their alterations and enjoy the discipline imposed upon them by extracting their ore-bodies and the smelting (Hillman 491). The soul spelunker is always searching for treasure beneath the surfaces of things. In the alchemical inquiry, one is richly rewarded in this endeavor. The metals of alchemy, because they are animaterial substances, correspond to the gods, just as their associated planets do. In fact, all things can be imagined back to a specific god. In…

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Alchemy: Spirits in the Earth

Alchemy: Spirits in the Earth

    Things on earth, especially the metals in the earth, are in touch with the gods; they bear mythical messages. There is a spirit in the iron, in the lead, a spiritus rector, a guiding principle that teaches the artisan (Hillman 477). It is not the artist alone who creates the masterpiece. Materials, brought forth from the earth, also contribute to the work. As with alchemy, art is never an objective work of the artist upon the materials. The…

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Alchemy: In the Service of Nature

Alchemy: In the Service of Nature

    The Promethean archetype, the desire to steal that which was meant to serve Nature and use it exclusively for human purposes, should not be the blueprint for the practitioner of alchemy. Even individual soul-making, if focused solely on the human, does not assist the Anima Mundi in her transmutation. The primary task of the alchemist, his passion, is to further the improvement of the World Soul. The alchemical practice is not to carry out the Promethean aim of…

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The Fire of Alchemy

The Fire of Alchemy

Photo by Malene Thyssen Most of us who delve into the work of Carl Jung have encountered at least something he said about alchemy, that ancient art which Jung single-handedly restored to serious study in our modern age. Many of us know that, in it, he saw parallels with his theory of individuation, lead being transformed into gold, the integration of the Self. Yet, how much do we realize the immense importance of the truths he uncovered with this discovery?…

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Neykia: Descent to the Underworld

Neykia: Descent to the Underworld

Illustration of Dante’s Inferno, Canto 22, by Stradanus, 1587   In many accounts of the lives of individuals of genius, there are mental and/or physical breakdowns, where the person is hurled into a torturous abyss for a time. Their souls become a whirling vortex of suffering, confusion, and disintegration. Usually, this experience precludes normal activities and is many times accompanied by some physical malady. The person becomes withdrawn as if buried alive under the weight of suffering. Usually, their souls…

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The Doctors of Soul: Gustav Fechner

The Doctors of Soul: Gustav Fechner

Gustav Fechner I thought I had ended my Doctors of Soul series, but I keep coming across remarkable individuals like Gustav Fechner who have contributed so much to modern depth psychology. Therefore, from time to time, I’ll post another installment in the series. I have other subjects in mind for future articles. For instance, one must say something about Henry Corbin. As James Hillman said there are “even more branches which have yet to be traced” (Hillman xvii) in the…

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Going Deeper Into Hades

Going Deeper Into Hades

Elisium, by Leon Bakst Everything would become deeper, moving from the visible connections to the invisible ones, dying out of life (Hillman 30). The realm of Hades is the source of the soul’s limitless depth. There is no time there, thus there is no movement, no change at all. Needless to say, Hades is not a literal place, but a psychological domain. It is a land within the mundus imaginalis. Hillman writes that “all psychic events have a Hades aspect”…

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The Doctors of Soul: Sigmund Freud

The Doctors of Soul: Sigmund Freud

Freud, circa 1900 What can we say about the great Sigmund Freud that hasn’t already been said? Even though I disagree with him on many points, there is no doubt the man was one of history’s great minds. Without his paving the way for those who followed him, especially C.G. Jung, would we even be discussing depth psychology as we do today? Instead of rehashing Freud’s biography, I will merely quote two pertinent paragraphs from the Wikipedia article about him:…

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The Doctors of Soul: Wilhelm Dilthey

The Doctors of Soul: Wilhelm Dilthey

Wilhelm Dilthey, circa 1855 Wilhelm Dilthey has earned a place among the Doctors of Soul, primarily, for his work in hermeneutics, and the humanities. Dilthey was a German philosopher, historian, and psychologist. In 1833, two years after the death of Hegel, Dilthey was born in Biebrich, Hesse, which is a borough of Weisbaden. His father was a Reformed Church theologian, his mother the daughter of an orchestral conductor. Dilthey studied theology in Heidelberg and Berlin, but then transferred his attention…

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The Doctors of Soul: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Doctors of Soul: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In his own words, Coleridge only ever ‘seem’d’ a poet (PW I 2 1145); what he was was a sort of Sandman, a weaver of elusive ‘Day-Dreams’, ‘Sorts of  Dreams’, ‘Reveries’, ‘Visions in Dream’, and ‘Fragments from the life of Dreams’ (Toor 1). Samuel Taylor Coleridge is considered one of the greatest of the English Romantic poets. He was born in 1772 in Devonshire, England to his father, the Vicar of Ottery, the Reverend John Coleridge, and his mother, Anne…

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The Doctors of Soul: Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling

The Doctors of Soul: Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling was born in 1775 to Joseph Friedrich Schelling, a chaplain and professor of Oriental languages, and Gottliebin Marie, in the town of Leonberg in Württemberg (now Baden-Württemberg). He was good friends with Hegel and the poet, Holderlin. The three were roommates for awhile at Tübinger Stift, a seminary of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg. Here, Schelling studied the Church Fathers and the ancient Greeks. We are now getting very close in our series to the beginning…

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The Doctors of Soul: Giambattista Vico

The Doctors of Soul: Giambattista Vico

Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen Giambattista Vico was born in Naples, Italy in 1668 to a poor book seller and a carriage maker’s daughter. Due to much illness, he was mostly self-educated. He was considered a fine political philosopher, Italian jurist, rhetorician, and historian. He was vehemently anti-Cartesian and anti-reductionist. According to Wikipedia, Vico is a precursor of systemic and complexity thinking, as opposed to Cartesian analysis and other kinds of reductionism. He is also well known for noting that verum…

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The Doctors of Soul: Marsilio Ficino

The Doctors of Soul: Marsilio Ficino

Marsilio Ficino was born October 19, 1433 and died October 1, 1499. It was reported that when Ficino’s father, a physician to the Medicis, brought the young boy along with him one day to court, Cosimo de’ Medici, his father’s patron, prophetically exclaimed that Ficino’s destiny in life would be to heal men’s souls. Due in large part to the patronship of Cosimo, and the fortuitous gift of a prodigious intellect, Ficino became a crucial figure in the success of…

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