Depth Psych
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Depth Psych
Pioneered by William James, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Gustav Jung, Depth Psychology is the study of how we dialogue with the Unconscious via symbols, dreams, myth, art, nature. By paying attention to the messages that show up from beyond our conscious egos, we can be guided to greater understanding, transformation, and integration with the world around us, inner and outer. Join the conversation in community at
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Jung and Alchemy—Video Replay of an Introductory Lecture by James Newell Ph.D.

Jung and Alchemy—Video Replay of an Introductory Lecture by James Newell Ph.D. | Depth Psych |

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung explored the unconscious in ways that had never been attempted prior to his ground breaking efforts. One area of study which he felt put his work on a solid historical footing was his exhaustive study of the ancient practice of alchemy. 

Jung’s understanding of the unconscious as expressed through the imagery and texts of the alchemists has far reaching implications for modern people, from personal inner work, to environmentalism, to modern pharmacology, to feminism, and more.

 For Jung, ancient alchemical texts provide us with a wealth of symbolic insight into the human mind and human behaviors that continue to be vitally relevant today. (Click title for more)

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Alchemy and the Hermetic Tradition: Mircea Eliade and Carl Jung

Alchemy and the Hermetic Tradition: Mircea Eliade and Carl Jung | Depth Psych |

The relationship between Mythology and the Religious traditions is an intricate weaving of metaphor. Both Mythology and Religion have the similar function of relating lived experience to a universal purpose... (Click title for more)

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Laura M. Smith's curator insight, March 11, 2016 10:49 PM
Alchemy is symbolic of figurative functions within the psyche as revealed by a variety of myths found in visions, myths and symbols.
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The Sleeping King Alchemical Symbols as Manifest in Dream, Alchemy, & Creative Work — by Gary T. Bartlett

The Sleeping King Alchemical Symbols as Manifest in Dream, Alchemy, & Creative Work — by Gary T. Bartlett | Depth Psych |

The king is the central person of order within a kingdom; the medium through which the upper and lower worlds are connected to the middle world of mortal reality. Speaking of the centrality of kingship, John Weir Perry, in Lord of the Four Corners: Myths of the Royal Father (1966) tells us that:

In the symbolic cosmos, the locus of most supreme and intense powerfulness was the axial center, and any figure or object occupying this position became thereby highly numinous and evoked feelings of awe and reverence. For not only was this the focal point at which the world’s powers were concentrated, but even more significantly, it was the connecting link between the three planes of existence, the sky world, the world of man, and the underworld. (pp. 18-19)

The king is also, as the generator and vehicle of the law, the establisher of the boundaries of the realm. This is not a mere geographical feat, but one of cosmic and psychic (Click title to read full article)

Eva Rider's curator insight, February 27, 2016 6:36 PM

Wonderful exploration of the King Archetype and one that is worth rekindling in these times.

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Symbols and Signs: Tree of Life and its Meaning

Symbols and Signs: Tree of Life and its Meaning | Depth Psych |
Symbolism of Tree of Life across different cultures, discovering a magical key to how life manifests itself, a complex formula of existence, the flow of creation from Divine to Earth and back to Divine.


The Mayan believed heaven to be a wonderful, magical place on Earth hidden by a mystical mountain.  They called this place Tamoanchan.  Heaven, Earth, and Underworld (Xibalba) were connected by the ‘world tree’.  The world tree grew at the locus of creation, all things flowing out from that spot into four directions.  These were: East associated with red, Northrepresented by white, West that is black and South that is yellow.  The Mayan tree of life is a cross with its centre... (Click title for more)

Susan Scott's curator insight, May 13, 2015 4:29 AM

a wonderful exposition from many traditions revealing its manifold meanings..

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs | The Secret Meaning of Myth

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs | The Secret Meaning of Myth | Depth Psych |
A simplified life in nature exemplifies the ideal environment for inner growth; this fact has been alluded to in mystical literature, which expressed the need for humbleness, quietude and the beautiful surrounding of the country. You won’t find sacred literature extolling the need for 25,000 square foot castles, or the newest electronic gadget for that matter. The point was made there is a higher purpose to life, other than materialistic or narcissistic acquisitions, this involves serious inner work on our own ignorance. The advice to “Know Thyself” was the quintessence of Greek philosophy, also applies here.
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Carl Jung on the Symbol of the “Diamond”

Carl Jung on the Symbol of the “Diamond” | Depth Psych |

So it is the same idea as in alchemy—that the earth had been transformed into a transparent, waterlike, yet hard and imperishable, incorruptible structure. 

Therefore, the philosopher’s stone is the expression of the highest perfection of the earthly body, and, therefore, you also find the idea that the lapis philosophorum is man himself, that is, his corpus glorificatum, his body at the Resurrection.

This immortal body is the subtle body that had left the physical body and is beyond corruption. The diamond, the hardest mineral, is synonymous with the lapis philosophorum. This is ancient metaphysics, old speculation in symbolic form.

What does this mean psychologically?... (Click title for more)

Via Tammie Fowles
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The Red Book and Beyond - The Red Book of Carl G. Jung: Its Origins and Influence

The Red Book and Beyond - The Red Book of Carl G. Jung: Its Origins and Influence | Depth Psych |

Jung described the process that led to the creation of the Red Bookas “my most difficult experiment.” He was referring to his sustained response to a series of “assaults” from his unconscious that he feared might overwhelm him. These experiences began after Jung’s break with Sigmund Freud. Jung recorded them in a series of notebooks that he later used as the basis for the Red Book.


As he recalled in the autobiographical Memories, Dreams, Reflections: “An incessant stream of fantasies had been released . . . . I stood helpless before an alien world; everything in it seemed difficult and incomprehensible.’ Amidst this psychic turmoil, Jung resolved to “find the meaning in what I was experiencing in these fantasies”—a process that required him both to engage with and distance himself from their effect— and to describe, comprehend, and transform them for a constructive purpose.

The material in the Red Book came from Jung’s exploration of his unconscious and his encounters with the works of many cultural figures, including the... (Click title for more)

Laura M. Smith's curator insight, October 7, 2014 8:09 AM

Nice summary with references to other great works from The Library of Congress...

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Circumambulating the Alchemical Mysterium

Circumambulating the Alchemical Mysterium | Depth Psych |

A L C H E M Y  may be described, in the words of Baudelaire, as a process of ‘distilling the eternal from the transient’. [1] As the art of transmutation par excellence, the classical applications of alchemy have always been twofold: chrysopoeia and apotheosis (gold-making and god-making)—the perfection of metals and mortals. In seeking to turn ‘poison into wine’, alchemy, like tantra, engages material existence—often at its most dissolute or corruptible—in order to transform it into a vehicle of liberation. Like theurgy, it seeks not only personal liberation—the redemption of the soul from the cycles of generation and corruption—but also the liberation (or perfection) of nature herself through participation in the cosmic demiurgy. In its highest sense, therefore, alchemy conforms to what Lurianic kabbalists would call tikkun, the restoration of the world.

Via Zeteticus, Eva Rider
Eva Rider's curator insight, September 3, 2014 2:32 PM

Alchemy - the transformation of  what was unconscious lead into illuminated Gold is the essence and goal of Soul Making, the discovery of the eternal in the transitory, the imagination made manifest in Beauty.

Erel Shalit's curator insight, September 4, 2014 5:46 AM

The author discusses the interesting etymology, such as Egyptian, of alchemy. However, there is also, as raised by Gershom Scholem, a possible Hebrew origin (see Enemy, Cripple, Beggar, p. 202f.).

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Much to his astonishment, C. G. Jung discovered that the ancient art of alchemy was describing, in symbolic language, the journey that all of us must take towards embodying our own intrinsic wholeness, what he called the process of “individuation.”

As Jung wrote, “I had very soon seen that analytical psychology [the psychology Jung developed] coincided in a most curious way with alchemy. The experiences of the alchemists, were, in a sense, my experiences, and their world was my world. This was, of course, a momentous discovery. I had stumbled upon the historical counterpart of my psychology of the unconscious.”

The alchemists, over the course of centuries, had generated a wide range of symbolic images which directly corresponded to the anatomy of the unconscious which Jung had been mapping through his painstaking work with... (click title for more)

Michael Goodman's curator insight, October 12, 2013 3:27 PM

Thank you Bonnie B, this is my first introduction to Paul Levy, I am very appreciative for the work you do culling these gems for us 

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C. G. Jung and the Alchemical Renewal

C. G. Jung and the Alchemical Renewal | Depth Psych |

The lovely little town of Knittlingen, near the Black Forrest in West Germany, is noted far-and-wide as the original residence of the famed Dr. Johannes Faustus. A plaque in the small but exquisite museum devoted to the facts and legends concerning Dr. Faust tells us that, although alchemy has often been considered a pseudo-science based on the pretense that gold could be made from other metals, it is now known that, in reality, it was a spiritual art having as its aim the psychological transformation of the alchemist himself.


This public statement, viewed daily by large numbers of visitors, demonstrates most impressively the rehabilitated image alchemy has acquired in recent decades. This positive change is due in large measure to the work of one remarkable man: Carl Gustav Jung.


When Jung published his first major work on alchemy at the end of World War II, most reference books described this discipline as nothing more than a fraudulent and inefficient forerunner of modern chemistry. Today, more than twenty-five years after Jung's death, alchemy is... Click title to continue

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The Mystic Fool: Masks & Mirrors of the SELF in Tarot—Intro Lecture by Eva Rider

The Mystic Fool: Masks & Mirrors of the SELF in Tarot—Intro Lecture by Eva Rider | Depth Psych |

The Archetypal Images of the Tarot's Major Arcana serve as a guide through the alchemical changes that initiate us to reclaiming the Self. In a time of vast planetary changes, polarities, transitions, quickening and metamorphosis, it’s easy to find ourselves caught in grief, fear and despair.

We are on a journey of initiation to learn to inhabit our role as creator, mediator and steward of the gods. Through close examination of the Major Arcana of the Tarot, we find that ancient archetypal pathways reveal the masks and mirrors of ourselves and the initiations we undergo on our path to consciousness.

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Alchemy: Vessel for Personal Transformation (Or, Alchemy: The Life it Saves May Be Your Own!) — by Clara Lindstrom

Alchemy: Vessel for Personal Transformation (Or, Alchemy: The Life it Saves May Be Your Own!) — by Clara Lindstrom | Depth Psych |

Life change can be terrifying. When things fall apart, a threatened ego will grasp at almost anything to stave off rising waves of panic, anxiety, and depression. Conventional psychiatry is quick to oblige by recommending pharmaceutical medications that will ostensibly lift the user out of these states. However, if one has a certain amount of support and the proper map, one may actually plumb the depths of transformation and reap the rewards of those uncomfortable, shadowy realms.


For me, that map was alchemy, and it proved the deciding factor in successfully navigating rough terrain. What follows is an exploration of a transformational crisis, or spiritual emergency (Grof & Grof, 1991) through the lens of alchemy... (Click title to read the full article free via Depth Insights™)

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The Aural Tradition Alchemy and Sound in Psychotherapy — by Joel Bell

The Aural Tradition Alchemy and Sound in Psychotherapy — by Joel Bell | Depth Psych |

The ocular bias of alchemy can be attributed in part to the symbolic language of dreams and projections that are at the heart of the alchemical adventure. I haven’t come across the smell or taste of the roasting salamander (though I am sure it tastes like chicken.)


As well, the written word, etchings, and prints like the muter librus are mute and emphasize sight as the psychological sense for gathering experience; we study the visual image. But what if we consider sound? Since alchemy starts with a symbolic attitude toward all experience, let us proceed from the perspective that sound is an aspect of image, as well.

The absence of sound in psychology is a curious thing.... (Click title to read the full article)

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Carl Jung Depth Psychology

Carl Jung Depth Psychology | Depth Psych |

You saw that the alchemists used the term "scientia" in a very wide sense, and that they regarded it as something exceedingly mysterious. 

The same is true of the "sapientia", which even appears personified as a highly mysterious figure. 

Wisdom is personified as early as the book of the "Wisdom of Solomon" (Apocrypha]. 

In Gnosticism wisdom appears as the famous Sophia, sometimes represented as the youngest daughter of the creator of the world, or as the feminine counterpart of Christ, and sometimes as 
the virgin of light. 

The sapientia appears in a very substantial form in alchemy. 

Wisdom is attained, so the alchemists say, through the union of chemistry and theosophy.... (Click title for more)

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Psychology and Alchemy: Reviewed

Psychology and Alchemy: Reviewed | Depth Psych |
Dr. Carl G. Jung was an historian! Who knew?! His five-decade long study of the mystery of alchemy seemed a sideshow to me for the longest time. Why resurrect an ancient practice, which had been discarded by intellectuals for centuries? What does making gold have to do with it?

Gradually, over many years of studying the master’s work, it became obvious to me that it would be necessary to enter the labyrinth of his oeuvre on alchemy, to understand what Dr. Jung was really saying in all of those books. Finally, I bought a copy, and like the Philosopher’s Stone to which it refers, it remained on my bookshelf for months, untouched by human hands—incorruptible.

Via Skip_Conover, Eva Rider
Eva Rider's curator insight, October 13, 2014 4:52 PM

Thank you for this insight into Jung's work and study on Alchemy. Jungian psychology without the study of Alchemy is without its core. I have come to this understanding as well. We must go backwards and understand the roots of alchemy to move forward.

The study of the cultural roots of Egyptian and Greek Hermeticism and Gnosticism is key to understanding Jung. The Renaissance alchemists and philosophers did so in order to put the pieces of the puzzle together to find the Philosopher's Stone.  Jung pointed us both backward and forward to our selves and our relationship with Cosmos, Psyche and Matter. So, true.."he more we understand, the less we know".

Skip_Conover's comment, October 23, 2014 4:16 PM
Dear Eva, Many thanks! It's nice to see someone is reading what I write! That's something ... I hope to find more interactions with you. Best regards, Skip Conover PS Please follow
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Alchemy - Seven Stages of Alchemical Transformation

Alchemy - Seven Stages of Alchemical Transformation | Depth Psych |

Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation - the Seven Stages of Transformation


The alchemists believed that the univeral formula contained in the Emerald Tablet was the basis for a spiritual technology first introduced on the planet in ancient Egypt more than 10,000 years ago. This formula consists of seven consecutive operations performed on the "matter" - whether it be of a physical, psychological, or spiritual nature.


To guide us through this process, we are going to make use of a tool actually used by the alchemists - a meditative mandala first published in 1759 as an illustration for the book "Azoth of the Philosophers" by the legendary German alchemist Basil Valentine.


At the center of this remarkable drawing is the face of a bearded alchemist at the beginning of the Work. Like looking into a mirror, this is where the initiate fixes his or her attention to meditate on the mandala.

Within the downward-pointing... (Click title for more)

Eva Rider's curator insight, October 21, 2014 12:45 PM

a profound and remarkable map of the journey through the alchemical processes we encounter on the way to self discovery


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Notes on Hermeticism by R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz

Notes on Hermeticism by R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz | Depth Psych |

I T   M A Y   B E   O F   I N T E R E S T  to have a look at the meaning and purpose of what is today commonly called hermeticism or alchemy. Without going into its Arabic and before that surely Egyptian etymological origins, the word ‘alchemy’ (in the commonly adopted sense) signifies the means of transmuting base metals into silver or gold. To this is attached a still more important meaning: that of ‘universal panacaea’, i.e. the means of simultaneously combating all evil and rejuvenating humankind (or at least conserving its health). To these marvels one may add those affirmed by the mystical alchemists—in addition to health, alchemy promises the means of acquiring illumination or wisdom: the key to all knowledge.

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Shamanism, Alchemy and Yoga: Traditional Technologies of Tranformation

Shamanism, Alchemy and Yoga: Traditional Technologies of Tranformation | Depth Psych |
From the most ancient times, human beings have practiced disciplines of psychospiritual transformation with devoted energy and intention. Modern systems of psychotherapy are the inheritors of three great traditions of transformation, in which the human is seen as engaged in purposive processes of exploration and integration in many realms of consciousness. In this essay I describe some of the common methods used, as well as the major metaphors for transformation.1

One possible definition of shamanism is that it is the disciplined approach to what has been variously called "non-ordinary reality", "the sacred", "the mystery", "the supernatural", "the inner world(s)", or "the otherworld".

Psychologically speaking, one could say these expressions refer to realms of consciousness that lie outside the boundaries of our usual and ordinary perception. The depth psychologies derived from psychoanalysis refer to such normally inaccessible realms as "the unconscious", or "the collective unconscious". This would, however, be too limiting a definition for shamanism, if "unconscious" is taken to refer to something within the individual, i.e. intrapsychic. Shamanic practice involves the exploration not only of unknown aspects of our own psyche, but also the unknown aspects of the world around us, - the external as well as internal mysteries.

There are three traditional systems of consciousness... (Click title for more)

Carol Sherriff's curator insight, August 8, 2014 5:04 AM

You don't usually get pscyhologists (or coaches and facilitators) admitting they draw on shamanism and alchemy, so this is refreshing reading.

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Jerusalem Stone: A Confession of Faith in Stone -- Aviva Lev-David

Jerusalem Stone: A Confession of Faith in Stone --  Aviva Lev-David | Depth Psych |

Jung began to build his house in Bollingen, Switzerland, in 1923, at the age of forty-eight. He continued building this solitary retreat well into his old age. What was the impulse behind this significant endeavor? What inspired Jung to invest this much time and energy in building the tower, as he called it? “Words and paper did not seem real enough to me” he says in his autobiography. He clarifies,


To put my fantasies on solid footing something more was needed. I had to achieve a kind of representation in stone of my innermost thoughts and of the knowledge I had acquired. Put another way, I had to make a confession of faith in stone. That was the beginning of the tower, the house I built for myself at Bollingen. (1963, p. 212, my emphasis)


At first glance, Jung’s drive to build the tower, as described above, appears to be centered on his desire to sculpt psyche into matter; to place his developing knowledge on solid ground; to root the ineffable reality of psyche in the permanence... (click title for more)

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