The Secret of Alchemy and Psychology
Alchemy, at least as followers of Carl Jung understand it, isn’t about trying to transform lead or other metals into gold. Instead, perhaps there were some people who carried out the true secret of alchemy: symbolically reversing the material, earthly, and unconscious for spirit, consciousness, and meaning. This is true gold.
This significant work is done under the hermetic assumption that it’s important to embody the spirit and spiritualize the body. Basically, this consists of a journey under the protection of the god Hermes-Mercury, the mediator of opposites. According to Jung, the whole issue of transmutation of stones and metals has to do with the transformation of the psyche projected onto matter.
The alchemical work is transformed into symbols, such as the Holy Grail. Matter in form, the unconscious in conscious. This is a kind of transubstantiation or transformation of matter into pneuma or spirit.
The secret of alchemy and its relation to psychological development
Based on the above, when we’re discussing alchemy, we’re actually talking about sublimation, distillation, and condensation or coagulation. The central process is regressive (dissolution) and progressive (condensation). These would be the fundamental steps of the alchemical process:
1st Stage: Nigredo
Nigredo means blackness. This is the process of dissolution (melancholy), characterized by regression or the descent into hell or the unconscious.
2nd Stage: Albedo
Albedo refers to the color white or purification and catharsis. At this time, it’s essential to confront your shadow and support yourself with anima or animus.
The individual must recognize, incorporate, and master all of the “black” contents of the unconscious. In these phases, you lay the first stones for enlightenment.
3rd Stage: Rubedo
The rubedo or glowing red-gold refers to the iridescence or mystical complexion that occurs in the middle of the alchemical process. Also, during this transcendent moment, the incarnation of meaning takes place as symbolic gold or the Sun reborn from the womb of Mother Earth and her darkness.
The great secret of psychological alchemy
Next, we propose steps for an initiatory path traveled by hundreds of people. We’ve presented in the form of ideas and concepts so that the reader can create their own symbolic image during their journey.
- Firstly, to free themselves, the absolute individual constructs a magic octagon. From this place in time and space, they carry out their great work.
- Through alchemy, they separate the elements united in the world of forms and unite other elements that are separate through an emotional mirage.
- Through magic and spirit, they integrate into themselves all that’s disintegrated by the mental fog of illusion.
- By a process of individuation, they build a bridge to existence, relying on shadows, imagination, and the symbolic, the three ancient sphinxes of the universe.
However, only someone who’s a true individual can cross the four circles:
The four circles
- Firstly, the first circle is where the personal unconscious lives. In this circle, the dead pull towards the Earth.
- Then, the second circle, where the collective unconscious lives, is where archetypal forces pull towards the planetary psychosphere.
- Next, in the third circle, there’s the cosmic unconscious, in which the demons pull towards the stars.
- The universal conscience inhabits the fourth circle, in which the gods pull towards their own ideas, recruiting follows.
- Finally, from the four circles, the absolute individual frees themselves by existing at every step and distilling their own being.
In conclusion, as you can see, long before the idea of modern psychology existed, there were already ways to achieve the completeness of being or becoming an absolute individual.
This means that alchemy wasn’t only the precursor of chemistry, it was also a precursor of psychology. Hermes Trismegistus is the first proponent of these ideas.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Burckhardt, T. (1976). Alquimia. Plaza & Janés, Barcelona.
- Jung, C. G. (2005). Psicología y alquimia: Vol. 12. Madrid: Editorial Trotta, SA.
- von Franz, M. L. (1991). Alquimia. Luciérnaga.