Splendor Solis–summer alchemy intensive

 

The first Boulder Association of Jungian Analysts (BAJA) Boulder Jung Seminar Summer Intensive on Alchemy was held at Boulder’s Hyatt Place over the weekend of June 24-26, 2016, on the beautiful and complex 16th century text Splendor Solis with Jungian Analyst Joe McNair.

Joe McNair_1 - 2016-06-26 at 08-42-38
(Shown here are the first and last plates of the full Splendor Solis text.)solis1

Joe’s approach to this well studied text brought the participants slowly and inexorably through one plate at a time, at a pace that gave room to open each image within the psyche, and allow it to work on the group as a whole.  Pensive reflection on the central theme and the intricate web of symbols in each plate (22 in all), coupled with consideration of the bordering motifs, left everyone enriched, satiated, if not a little overstimulated. “I need to go back and look at my notes,” someone said at the end. “There was so much to this seminar.” “It was dynamic–we were steeped in it,” said another participant.

Joe has a truly magical way of entering into the feeling content of each plate, circumambulating them from the perspectives of Jung’s functions, astrology, the alchemical colors, the alchemical substances being transformed (lead, mercury, salt, etc.), the operations and the stages, and more.  The group engaged in rich discussions and explorations. They experienced alchemical solutio, and when coagulatio happened the insights were unmistakable and profound.

For me, alchemy has to be lived and experienced.  We can read all we like, but to “get it,” we have to step into the relationship with the image, experience the alchemical group process as it moves with the images,  and feel what the alchemists were feeling: in other words, one has to experience the alchemical field. Because Joe’s workshops are both oratory and laboratory, one emerges having actively worked yet also acted upon and transformed; one is in the alembic and watching the reactions within.  Joe has a unique way of inducing the layers of the alchemical field so that no matter where you are with alchemy you feel you have been able to stay with the image yet he brings it alive through contemporary psychological conditions, challenges and stories.

For many this was a first experience of Joe’s teaching style, for others it was a repeated experience.  Either ss22way, we can all agree that it removed us from the “Trumped Up” drama of the outside world, and allowed the intensive space for internal work with the unconscious, which is what Jungian work is all about.  Thanks Joe!

Stephen Foster, Jungian Analyst

 

(Shown here are the first and last plate of the text–Plate 1 and 22–of Splendor Solis)

Snakes as Symbols of Transformation by Deborah Bryon Ph.D., Jungian Analyst

References to snakes and serpents as a universal symbol of transformation are found throughout mythology across the world. As a student of Jung, I have found references in his writings to snakes which have also enriched my understanding of this powerful image. Jung has stated that the image of a “serpent in a cave is a common image associated with baptism or beginning[1].” The cave or Underworld represents a layer of the unconscious where there is no discrimination; male and female are no longer distinguishable. Snakes exist in the primordial realm of creation.

In Greek mythology, Asklepios, the god of physicians for healing, wisdom and prophecy is represented by the serpent.[2] In Asia, Kundalini is the snake fire that burns and cleanses the chakras in the body. Nathan Schwartz-Salant described these kinds of snake symbols as Dionysian, involving the lower anthropos, chakras or energy centers in the subtle body and etheric field.

What continues to be most meaningful to me about the snake – beyond providing me entry into my own shadow and dismemberment process – has been the deepening of my “felt” connection to Peruvian cosmology. In Peruvian Shamanism, Uhupacha, the Underworld, is ruled by Amaru the great snake. It is the womb of the Great Mother, Pachamama, and the place of manifestation. This is the primordial realm where a complete “union of opposites” exists.

 


[1] (C.G. Jung, CW Vol 18 (1989), p.116)

[2](C.G. Jung, CW, Vol 18).

Women’s Voices by Puddi Kullberg, Jungian Analyst

pudd 

 

In Praise of When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice (2012) by Terry Tempest Williams

Women’s Voices

I am now 67 years old. The summer of my 16th year I sat on the dock at Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, and over the course of several sunny days, I simultaneously tried to get a good tan and read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. It changed my life forever. Not the tan.

Don’t get me wrong, I went on to follow a very conventional life-style for the next two decades. However, the seeds of discontent had been planted. My inchoate considerations of my life in my family, in the Catholic Church, in the patriarchal academy and employment sectors and society of the United States in the late sixties had not escaped my observation. Here was someone who was articulating my dilemmas and puncturing my various denials.

After seeing the movie Tom and Viv  in 1994, I refused to read anyone but women authors for many years to come.  The whole “women are crazy” just got to be too much for me to bear – think Sylvia Plath, Virginia Wolf, Zelda Fitzgerald, Viv of course. Not to mention the prevailing etiology of serious mental illness at that time? The crazy (frigid) mother and/or penis envy.

Neither did I buy the tag line, “But it is symbolic” about Thelma and Louise having to sail the car off the cliff or “But it’s the myth” when Jen in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon leaps into the ethers above the valley to escape an impossible life.

Women’s voices saved my life. During my self-imposed male author hiatus, I became accustomed to the sound of women’s voices speaking to me from all realms of endeavor. Eventually and without any conscious decision on my part, I was back to reading men authors as well as women. It had taken a seriously long time, about ten years I would say, of immersion into the realm of the sisters, mothers and daughters to heal the women-are–crazy wound in my psyche.

I have just come across a Holocaust book, Where Every Single One Was Someone (2013) by Phil Chernosfsky. The entire volume is a repetition of the word JEW, six million times. Some say it is more a work of art than “a book”. In the spirit of repetition, if I was to write such a book, here is my list of names that would be reiterated over and over and over again. The women’s voices who saved my life – provoked, enlightened, sustained, entertained and educated me – from the time of that 16 year old teenager until now (excluding family and friends).

Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Amy Cutty Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Amy Cutty Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Amy Cutty Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Ami Cutty Betty Freidan Erica Jong Madeline Albright Willa Cather Gerda Lerner Elaine Pagels Alexandra David-Neel Beryl Markham Anne Morrow Lindberg Lucile Clifton Betty Meador Linda Leonard Sherry Salman Annie Liebowitz Louise Bourgoise Mira Nair Deepa Mehta Jane Campion Taiye Selasi Abi Maxwell Amy Cutty …

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Flooding, riverbeds and Archetypes By Stephen Foster, Jungian Analyst

Flooding_in_Boulder

Archetypes are like riverbeds which dry up when the water deserts them, but which it can find again at any time. An archetype is like an old watercourse along which the water of life has flowed for centuries, digging a deep channel for itself. The longer it has flowed in this channel the more likely it is that sooner or later the water will return to its old bed.

CW 10: Civilization in Transition. P. 395

One month after the event, it is impossible to have lived in Boulder, or the small mountain communities near us, and not have been emotionally and, in some devastating cases, physically moved by the flooding that occurred on September 12 through 14, 2103.  We have been touched personally, we know those who have been touched, and in some cases know those who have been “wiped out” by the water and the mud that flooded out of the hills, after we received one year’s worth of rain (18.5 inches) in a few days.

It quickly became apparent, that we had experienced an event with traumatic consequences.  When one hears, “we were lucky, we only had three feet of mud in our basement, and we didn’t loose our house,” it actually says more about the friends who were left homeless.  For those affected there are so many “hard parts” to the destruction.  It is not just the lost material property (house, car, furniture), although these losses are hard enough, there is the loss of stored precious memories, stored photographs (births, weddings, anniversaries), yearbooks, and more.  And the smell of antediluvian basement mold in one’s beloved treasures is unforgettable.

Emotional flooding during and after powerful events parallels Jung’s observation on Archetypes; our own emotional riverbeds fill in ways we have not known, yet they somehow feel familiar to us.  Our emotions flow in rivers; tears fill our eyes welling up like groundwater from beneath the surface.  When it is too much for us, they flow over the banks of our fragile containing ego consciousness, and we dissolve. When the energy is too much for the ego it is overwhelmed and lost in the flood. Yet, Archetypes have no value, except that assigned by the ego, and there is another side to flooding.  When psychic energy flows through psychic channels, we can also feel the energy enliven those unseen aspects of our world.

The Archetype of flooding is as old as civilization itself. In Egypt it was the source of renewal, and sustained life in the desert.  The god of the event was Hapi, and one image of Hapi is two figures holding a common strand of wheat, representing the uniting of Upper and Lower Egypt.  For those of us who are not required to rebuild our lives, the experience has challenged us to reexamine what has value, what is important in our lives, and to reconsider our relationship with the small mountain towns and people who were grievously impacted.  In the midst of material losses there is an opportunity for reorientation and renewal.  By eliminating the unimportant we may all return to one of the deepest and most important Archetypes of human existence that unites upper and lower, and that can heal so much: relationship.

 

The Heart as a Vehicle to the Self and the Unus Mundus by Deborah Bryon, Ph.D.

148In Peruvian shamanism, “the heart” – as an expression of connection with Pachamama (the Great Mother – Mother Earth)- is the hub of connectivity in the body and the vehicle through which connection and relatedness with others is experienced. Peruvian shamans say that the heart is where we experience munay energetically, the universal feeling state of love connecting us to the land and every living thing around us. The experience of munay refers to a state of union or an experience of a major conjunctio. It is collective state of love, different from personal love directed specifically towards another person.

Von Franz and Jung both referred to an aspect of this experience as “union through the Self.” Von Franz has written,

“Whereas relations based merely on projection are characterized by fascination and magical dependence, this kind of relationship by way of the Self has something strictly objective, strangely transpersonal about it. It gives rise to a feeling of immediate, timelessness, “being together” (p.177). [1]

Von Franz’s statement about relationships via the Self corresponds to the Q’ero description of munay. Both, are ecstatic spiritual experiences of connecting with the numinous that transcend time and space. Jung stated, “Objective cognition lies behind the attraction of emotional relationship; it seems to be the central secret. In this world created by the Self, we meet all those many to whom we belong, whose hearts we touch; here “there is no distance but immediate presence.”[2]

Lionel Corbett[3] has written about a glutinum mundi, or glue of the world, a “life force, uniting body and soul (Jung, 1968, 12, par 209). According to Corbett, this glue is the bonding material or prima materia of the conjunctio – a “secretion of the Self.”  As presented earlier, this has also been described as a conjunctio experience between people in relation to the field within the analytic container, in the context of transference and counter transference. The experience of the field as a conjunctio experience can also occur outside of the analytic container, often in contexts such as ceremony or communal religious settings. The power of a group in creating an energetic field is well-known and practiced in meditation circles and monasteries around the world.

In Egypt, I had the opportunity to watch whirling dervishes perform and enter a state of ecstasy. Sitting in the room during a ceremony, I witnessed a vibration shift in the entire energetic field of over 100 people! Chanting and drumming rituals and tribal dancing are illustrations of similar phenomena. Pentecostal churches with members of a congregation who speak in tongues, the emotional charge present created by a group of gospel singers.  Modern raves are another example seen in current Western culture of people collectively becoming mesmerized.



[1] M. Von Franz, “Re-Collection and Projection.”

[2]  C.G. Jung, “CW Vol 8” (par 912).

[3] L Corbett, “Fire in the Stone,” (p. 125)