Five Thursdays, beginning April 20th (4/20, 4/27, 5/4, 5/11 and 5/18)
Too many still look outward, some believing in the illusion of victory and of victorious power, others in treaties and laws, and others again in the overthrow of the existing order. But still too few look inward, to their own selves, and still fewer ask themselves whether the ends of human society might not be best served if each man tried to abolish the old order in himself. -C.G. Jung (c.1918)
Alchemy provided a symbolic blueprint for the foundation of Jung’s psychology, the individuation process. The goal of alchemy is the sacred marriage, the coniunctio. The greatest catalyst for this transformative process comes through self-awareness within the interactive field of human relationships, both personal and public. In the alchemical text, Rosarium Philosophorum, the experience of this mystery of union, death, and resurrection is depicted by the king and queen in the bath. This 16th-century image represents the potential to transmute chaos into synergy in relationships: in couples, families, with yourself, therapeutic partners, with the boss, and even electoral candidates. Jung states, “The factors that come together in the coniunctio are conceived as opposites, either confronting one another in enmity or attracting one another in love.”
In the present frustrating political climate of Capitol Hill, it is said that 80 percent of “man” hours go to election and 20 percent go to legislation, a process mired in partisan politics. These partisan emotional states are the result of the same wounding, incestuous, and codependent experiences of childhood that undermine connections in adult relationships. In an attempt to get needs met, find approval, and bolster self worth from external sources, these wounds get projected into the container of the relationship, create chaos and alienation, and seduce us away from self-reflection and self-care.
In order to attain the highest degree of conjunction, the prima materia —what Jung calls “the unknown substance that carries the projection of the autonomous psychic content”— must be extracted from the sacred bath. Jung says of this procedure: “in the unconscious are hidden those ‘sparks of light’ (scintillae), the archetypes, from which a higher meaning can be extracted. The magnet that attracts the hidden thing is the Self.” In this course we will explore the dynamics of human relationships and how they relate to the alchemical marriage. Through this process we can discover a revelatory model for transmuting the chemistry of divisive relationships into a lifelong sacred marriage with the ‘inner’ Self. This in turn, can create vital and mutually productive relationships in our ‘outer’ world.
Tim Lyons, LICSW, is a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist in private practice in Capitol Hill and Silver Spring. He has studied Tibetan Buddhism and yoga for many years, and has given lectures and classes on Jung and Eastern Spirituality at the Jung Society of Washington. He is also an architect, has written for the Washington Post, and has lectured at the Smithsonian Institution.