Tag Archives: Carl Jung

“Oh Lord, Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood!” — Spiritual Alchemy and the Creative Process

Citrinitas — The 3rd Stage of Spiritual Alchemy (original artwork by Lorem Ipsum)

In an earlier post I gave a description of what I (along with many others) term spiritual alchemy — see here for that previous article.

Anyway, today what I wanted to focus on was how my own personal approach to spiritual alchemy informs and helps shape what I create as an artist.

For this purpose, I will be talking today in this context, in particular, about the novel I have written called Missing Zero. The subtitle of which reads thus, “an alchemical account of one man’s dissent from madness”.

A work of satire primarily, the novel incorporates many of the techniques of spiritual alchemy within its pages. And I will set about now trying to throw some light on what exactly some of those are, as well as what they entail.

First off, the most prevalent technique I use is one that is most widely known as dialoguing. My experience with this idea comes from what Jung called “active imagination” exercises. The basic gist is that you take a dream figure or absent party and you talk with them. The only twist is that you also supply the other person’s responses, by imagining what they would say if they were actually physically present.

So, you see, as an adjunct to the creative process of writing itself, I then took this technique of dialoguing to the next level and started having conversations with my novel, just as if it were another person in real life. In my imagination, therefore, I would picture myself, sitting on a beach talking to my book, only my book had the form of a woman, and I would ask it questions.

“But why on Earth would you do that?” I hear you asking incredulously. “Are you crazy?”

Well, crazy is as crazy does. Although what I really mean to say is that within a discipline like spiritual alchemy the division between sane and crazy often becomes quite fuzzy. But there is nearly always a benefit to be had from blurring the line in this fashion, believe me.

Let me explain further. The exact reason why I wished to talk to my novel was so I could ask for its help whenever I came to an impasse in the writing of it. For instance, by way of my asking the novel (it obviously still being in the form of a woman) what it wanted to be or why I couldn’t finish a certain section of the story, I was able to get unexpected insights into whatever it was I was currently struggling with.

Of course, the key to this process rests entirely in any given person’s ability to suspend his or her disbelief. And, I suppose, it’s equally obvious to say, like anything, it gets easier the more you do it. But most importantly of all, does it actually work?

Well, yes, in my case, I would have to say it worked for me. Not because I now have an option with Hollywood for a three-film deal against the novel’s book rights. But rather instead because I got through the process of writing my debut novel relatively in one piece.

Take a quick tour of other people’s blogs and one of the first things you’ll see is how many of them have bucket lists. And so, then, let me tell you, I’m not really all that different to anybody else. I’ve got my own version of one of these lists. Moreover, guess what, writing a novel pretty much headed my list.

For some people it’s bungee jumping, while for others it’s climbing to the base camp at Everest. But we spiritual alchemists are mountaineers of the soul, and so therefore my bucket list was always going to be about internal challenges and triumphs.

Whatever. Ultimately what all of this means is that I am am now free to move onto the next entry on my list, namely “securing an option with Hollywood for a three-film deal against the novel’s book rights”…hey, you’ve got to remember alchemy has always been about turning stuff into gold, right? So why not a little Oscar gold, awarded for Best Adapted Screenplay created from an original story, as well?

So, anyway, check this out, soon after I finished writing my novel I dreamt that Ellen DeGeneres and her wife Portia de Rossi played two key roles in the dream version of just such a film of my book. It was a brilliant piece of casting, and one that I would never have been able to come up with on my own.

Portia played the role of Dualia, a much-maligned and misunderstood hermaphrodite, whereas Ellen played the role of Dr Marie Louise von Auerbach, her “attention-shy but brilliant” superior within the ranks of a clandestine sisterhood of political anarchists. The “urst” between them was palpable.

I know, I know, you don’t care about that, because what you’re still really itching to find out (from earlier on) is what my novel said she wanted to be when I asked her that very question. Ok, I’ll tell you. In essence, then, just like everybody else, she said she felt a need to make a connection with other people. And the exact words she spoke to express this feeling were these…”I want to be understood”.

This is an image of the Ellen Degeneres and Po...

This is an image of the Ellen Degeneres and Portia DeRossi wedding cake topper sculpture by Michael Leavitt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“As Above, So Below!” — A Description of Spiritual Alchemy

The Alchemist; after Breugel

The Alchemist; after Breugel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I tell people I’m an Alchemist, the first thing they usually ask me is what that means exactly. “So, you’re, like, trying to turn metal into gold?” they say, incredulously. “What, like Harry Potter?”

No. Not like Harry Bloody Potter! I am a spiritual alchemist. For me, then, alchemy can best be described as the “chemistry of the soul”. I am a metallurgist of deeper meanings, seeking to transmute my soul, not base metals.

Believe me, I am not alone in this respect. From alchemy’s very first inception there has existed two camps within its ranks. On the one side were those literally intent on finding the secret of changing lead into gold. These alchemists are known disparagingly as “puffers”, due to the bellows they fire their alembics with. And the other camp sought the more spiritual goal of releasing their spirit (or pneuma) from the dross that makes up this imperfect physical existence.

It took the genius of Carl Jung to reinterpret the great alchemical tracts of the past as being symbolic representations of the process of becoming psychologically whole, something he called individuation.

And it is some kind of cross between Jung’s psychological approach to alchemy and the work of the earlier spiritually-minded (often Gnostic) alchemists that I feel my own Work is most-closely aligned to.

So what is it that I actually do, then, as an alchemist, if I am not trying to discover the philosopher’s stone and turn other less-precious metals into gold?

Simply put, I turn my dreams into reality.

Mostly, I’m talking about those actual dreams I remember having dreamt upon waking. Yes, those kinds of crazy, disjointed amoral psychodramas that flood our minds while we sleep. I take those and try and bring them to life. And I do this by living symbolically.

A mundane example might be that I have had (as I did last night) a dream of going ice-skating, a past-time I don’t normally partake of. And so, when I wake up, I try and find a way of incorporating the idea of skating somewhere into my daily activities.

But don’t think it’s as literal as all that. It’s not like I race off to the closest ice-rink and start skating figure-eights for the next eight hours. Trust me, I have just as many responsibilities and time constraints as you yourself.

No, I try and “distil the essence” (an alchemical reference) of the dream down to its most basic components. For instance, what did it feel like to be skating in my dream? Well, I felt powerful and my legs felt supremely muscular as I carved up the ice under my skates. It surprised me, in fact. It surprised me to feel how physically adept I was at something I have never really spent any time trying to master.

Okay, to me, then, the dream seemed to be about the joy and feeling of strength to be found in physical movement. And, you know, it took me all day to “real-ise” this feeling. But I did it, when I raced my child in the park today. Instead of sitting behind a computer for once, I suddenly “found myself” being propelled across the ground by the legs I’d almost forgotten I have. Not a moment of Olympic glory, to be sure, but a peak experience of sorts in the life of a spiritual alchemist…

And that’s enough for me. Because it’s not about going for gold, as far as I’m concerned. It’s about listening to the whispers of the soul, while chasing your dreams. And in the process, who knows what you might discover about yourself? I discovered I could write a novel, fashion handmade jewellery and create digital artwork, like the image below:

01 Citrinitas (behance)

The 3rd Stage of Spiritual Alchemy — (Citrinitas). Original artwork by Lorem Ipsum