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Month: November 2013

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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