Monday, March 5, 2007

Alchemical Fire

I will turn my hand against you.
I will smelt away your dross in the furnace.
I will remove all the base metal from you.

Isaiah I: 26

In alchemy, the fire purifies…

Carl Jung, in Psychology and Alchemy
Shortly after I finished this image that needed to be drawn, I interpreted the flames as trauma and anger, and the smoke as depression. Even with many years of psychological practice, I assumed that what needed to be healed was my body, and perhaps my emotions.

It is only in reviewing the images a year later that I understand that there was an intense psychological process going on, a transformational process.

After a dream in 1926, Jung had the brilliant recognition that alchemy was a metaphor for psychological and spiritual development. Alchemy, at the time he wrote about it, was regarded as a useless quest to turn base metal into gold; Jung saw alchemy as a parallel for turning the base metal of human existence into something more eternal and lasting.

While the heart attack burned me, dealing with its aftermath transformed me, purified me in some way. Afterwards, I was less caught up in the base life of my everyday existence; my attention turned much more frequently to spiritual matters, and at the same time I was on the road of being more understanding and compassionate for my fellow travelers in this life.

My ego was being burnt to a crisp, and something had to change.




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