The Path to
Path to Authenticity
Jung & Alchemy
Alchemy is ostensibly about changing base metal into gold, but Jung believed the outer operation was simply a metaphor for a more profound inner change. He realized that alchemy was not just an early scientific and technical process. It involved an elaborate cosmology in which the human being, the microcosm, was a reflection of the cosmos, the macrocosm. Since macrocosm and microcosm reflect one another, by engaging in the transformation of matter, the alchemists would at the same time transform their own consciousness. Jung believed that the alchemists were projecting onto matter their own psychic processes. Some were aware of the deeper symbolic meaning, but many were not. However, the preparations involved in alchemical work hint at the spiritual discipline involved. Practitioners had to be in a state of purity and had to renounce all covetousness. The attitude was to be one of detachment and prayer.
Jung found that many of his patients who were undergoing profound inner changes on their journey of individuation had dreams that resembled the processes described in alchemy. For him, the stages of alchemy became a sophisticated symbol system that represented the archetypes of the collective unconsciousness and the different stages of the individuation process.
The physical process involves a series of scientific operations using furnaces of varying temperatures, stills, flats, and the alchemist’s miraculous spherical vessel. As the base metal in their scientific apparatus divided into male and female elements and then reunited again to a new and precious substance that contained both male and female, so too did the alchemists’ souls.
This is an excerpt from Jung - A Journey of Transformation