My interest in alchemy probably began sometime half-way through graduate school, with all my studies of Jung and his disciple Marie-Louise von Franz, who both dedicated much of their time studying ancient alchemy.
There were two main origins in ancient alchemy in the early 300s, the introverted alchemists, who were more concerned with working on our inner state first, and the extraverted alchemists were more focused on working on the outer, such as metals. Looking at my own life and process I’m naturally more drawn towards the introverted alchemists, and the process of transforming something by first working on our inner states.
The alchemist Giordano Bruno, believed we could essentially become magicians through meditation, and he was particularly fond of meditating on certain mandala structures, which is something that Carl Jung later came to develop even more, and something I love doing.
Mandalas and golden orbs have had a special spot in my heart since one miraculously appeared by my bedside one night! At the time I had the vision, I didn’t even know what it was. I woke up around midnight, and in front of me was a massive golden field filled with geometrical shapes stretching deep into infinity. It wasn’t until I started studying more spiritual texts that I understood it may have been a mandala connected to some kind of energy vortex.
In the 16th century, there was an introverted German alchemist and disciple of Paracelsus, called Gerhard Dorn, who strongly believed that it is from transforming our own personality into a more magical state that we can transform outer materials (Von Franz, 1997). He powerfully also found that matter essentially is a feminine counterpart of the spiritual creator. Dorn described the phenomenon very beautifully:
‘The work is done through disposition and influence. The former comes forth in that nature, by corrupting matter, puts it into a state in which it is able to receive form. Form itself consists in the influence of the ethereal region on the elemental world.’ (quote in von franz, 1997. p.41).
When I first read this, I felt like I’ve just accepted a Noble Prize! The deep understanding that somehow happened within me was just so transformative. Something clicked! If in order to undergo change, a material first must undergo corruption, and be dissolved, this in principle, could be compared to the process I have myself undergone in my own spiritual path, loosing my own power, often feeling controlled, and like I had lost my freedom. On some levels, my life was breaking into pieces. Then suddenly I reached a point where I was able to observe what was happening in my life – and this is when I was finally able to receive loving divine guidance so that true healing could occur. I was ultimately able to reclaim my own power on a higher vibrational level, and become free from my inner emotional patterns.
Marie-Louise von Franz, beautifully writes: ‘We know that ultimately all conflicts are created not only by, let us say, a wrong conscious attitude, but by the unconscious itself, in order to reunite the opposites on a higher level’. (Von Franz, 1997, p. 92). This to me, is a very powerful statement, and really shows how some conflicts can actually be good in the long run, which I find immensely comforting!
Dreams can also be seen as our creativity arenas, where we not only get to practice, but also get to see how future scenarios may evolve – which makes it easier for us to choose the best steps forward. Time is not linear, but is happening all around, and even though that is often hard for us to understand in our daily lives – while we dream, it’s the way is is – and that is the way we know it. It’s all happening, all around, all inside, and all at once.
I’m truly mesmerized by time and alchemy, and find these concepts fascinating beyond words.
From an alchemical perspective, the trials and hardships we all encounter in life can be seen as a healthy part of the process, if we remind ourselves that they actually help dissolve our stories and illusions – so that we can reach a more pure form and vibrate on a higher frequency, and evolve to experience golden soul transformation.
- Reference: Von Franz, M.L (1997): Alchemical Active Imagination. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications.
Anna-Karin Bjorklund is a Therapist (MFTI) in Newport Beach, California, and the Author of Dream Guidance: Interpret Your Dreams and Create the Life You Desire! She loves sharing her joy and passion for dreams and soul growth, and has been interviewed by Money Magazine and Marie Claire UK, and has also appeared on Fox & Friends, and the Steve Harvey TV Show on NBC.