Is this work right for you?

What sort of person engages in this kind of work? And what can you expect to gain from it?

This type of work is for the endlessly curious. People who just know that reality is bigger (and better!) than they can experience with their senses but haven’t yet found a sustainable way to explore the boundaries. You are an independent traveller in all senses of that word and want to find your own way, not because you are difficult or egotistical, but because you know that the real value lies in the journey of discovering and experiencing things for yourself. You might be religious or spiritual, both or neither, but you will have a deep sense of depth. There’s more to this business of living than our culture is currently in touch with, and that we humans probably have more power in the way our lives go than we give ourselves credit for.

But to coin a cliche you’re loathe to ‘reinvent the wheel’. You don’t want to spend the next few life times crafting something from scratch, because you have an inkling that somewhere people must have already done this. And you’d be right. Over the centuries the alchemists have explored the nature of transformation and what it takes to purify and transmute thoughts, feelings, beliefs and circumstances into their highest (most developed) form. They also worked on material matter too and some were successful at turning ‘base metal into gold’ – but these days we scoff at such things, thinking we know better. 

In many ways the early alchemists were the first to explore the depths of the human unconscious, which is why Carl Jung got so excited when he came across their work. He’d rediscovered a whole tradition, thousands of years old that spoke deep truth about the nature of what it is to be human, yet had been more or less forgotten about since the so called Enlightenment in the 18th century. He found confirmation of his own theories about the collective unconscious and archetypes and spent the rest of his life exploring what the alchemists had to offer with ever increasing amazement. They were perhaps the first depth psychologists who explored notions of ‘projection’ and ‘transference’ long before psychology was invented, and discovered processes and imagery that effected profound transformation.

The alchemists prize the imagination above all else. When imagination is ignited by passion and will it becomes Secret Fire that can accomplish anything. Many of the ancient alchemists believed this to be such a potent force that is was necessary to have control over your shadow (or base self)  before seeking to use it, otherwise the results could be disasterous. This might explain their often impenetrable and knomic writings on their art. On the other hand, they also knew that if they harnessed this secret fire and used it appropriately then miracles were bound to happen. But not without the necessary purification.  Unleashing that creative power properly and sustainably really does take commitment, dedication and effort. But dedication to the Great Work is more than just a personal endeavour for personal gain. Ultimately it contributes not only to our own soul but The Soul of The World which nourishes all beings and Life itself. In that sense it’s also sacred work and is not just another therapeutic ‘quick fix’ or diagnostic fad.

With all that in mind, this work is particularly for you if you:

    • are committed to personal growth and know that imagination is the starting point for change
    • are looking for an alternative or addition to psychotherapy, perhaps having grown tired of endlessly going over your childhood history
    • are beginning to suspect that actually there’s nothing wrong with you, and that your eccentricities and quirks are not actually pathological
    • want to get over a creative block, including feeling stuck about what is next for you in your life
    • believe and would like to experience the imagination as a powerful and healing faculty
    • want to be a contribution to those around you

Fundamentally alchemy is about the integration of opposites or polarities. This means we work with both logic and feeling, masculine and feminine, light and dark, spirit and matter and all the other dualities. The point of this is that nothing is excluded – it’s all part of it. This sometimes means acknowledging and owning the stuff that doesn’t work, feels bad and that we wish wasn’t there, and being willing to let it be without trying to ‘fix’ it. That’s what makes it a game for grown ups. Ultimately the promise is not that you will be happy (although you can be if you choose), but that you’ll be fulfilled. Filled up with personal power to live an expanded life out beyond the boundaries. And if that sounds like fun, well…you know what to do!

 

Alchemical Imagination Training.

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