When people ask me how I got interested in alchemy, I laughingly say, "drugs!" Actually, while I was in graduate school I also worked as a substance abuse counselor. I became fascinated how drug use related to consciousness. In other words, how psyche (the mind) and soma (the body) interact. This interest led me to study C. G. Jung whose final thirty years of research was devoted to investigating psychological alchemy.
I learned that Mercurius, a devilish trickster, was patron of the Royal Art, and in writing my doctoral dissertation, I focused on the Trickster Archetype. It would be many years after receiving my doctorate that I returned to study alchemy. Having gained some maturity I was far better able to understand what the alchemists were really all about. In the process of transmuting metals they intuitively knew that the "mind must be in harmony with the work." This is no easy feat! Work isn't simply about manipulating the physical world, but if you are truly one with the work, then, the usual separation between inner and outer reality disappears. This is a blissful state, what some call Tao and others, like the alchemists, called the Philosopher's Stone. This experience not only refers to a transmuting agent, one that can change lead into gold, but also transform our mundane, day-to-day life into a state of high ecstasy (and I don't mean the drug!)
My consulting room, where I provide Jungian psychotherapy, is my alchemical laboratory - the place where two minds encounter one another and the miracle of healing occurs. As Jung said, " The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any, both are transformed." I am so privileged to have seen firsthand what alchemical healing can do in transforming a person's life.
Here's a very simple example: a middle age woman complained that her divorced husband wouldn't stop following her around. They had lived as a married couple for so many years, he knew her daily routine very well. Exasperated after telling to stop following her around she instinctively decided to do something very unusual: she wrote his name on a piece of paper and put it into the freezer thinking that this would somehow stop him in his tracks. It didn't! After hearing her story in the first therapy session, I told her that she was using the wrong element. Instead of water, why not use the element of fire. After all water has more to do with feelings and freezing with preserving, but fire transforms. Being a realtor she knew nothing of alchemy, but was willing to give it a try. By the next session, she reported success: she'd written down her ex-husband's name on a slip of paper and this time burned it! Like magic, he stopped following her around, and not too long after, she met a nice man who she eventually married!
Yes, I know this may sound like magic, and indeed alchemy and magic are closely related, but there is an important difference: magic aims more to control a circumstance, whereas alchemy works with nature (the right element in this case) to facilitate the process of change.
In addition to therapy, my work also includes giving seminars on various Jungian subjects and providing participatory workshops. Having a background in fine art, I use the workshops experience as a stage for performance art. I believe that learning should not only be educative, but fun - an embodied experience. Over the years I have executed a number of such performance workshops. In teaching the alchemical psychology of ancient Egypt for example, I had participants wrap each other up in strips of cloth to give one the experience of performing a mummification ritual. These workshops are not only entertaining but are experiences one never forgets!
Finally, in addition to psychotherapy and workshops, I also provide coaching - life, writing and executive coaching. Working with one business man over the course of years, I've seen him go from a moderately successful entrepreneur to a multimillionaire executive. In another case involving a creative writing professor, coaching helped transform the book he was writing into a winning novel. This is what alchemy can do for you!!