'Alchemy for Dummies'
Charlene Henry, LCSW, Jungian Analyst
The Presentation: 'Alchemy for Dummies'
The word “alchemy” often conjure up images of some wild ancient person in his laboratory surrounded
by various vessels and materials. And, we are told that he is trying to turn a lowly substance (prima materia)
into gold, “Really??” we ask. And, if we look through a book of alchemical images, we might be left scratching
our heads wondering, “What in the world is this?”
It is good to know that when Jung viewed the first alchemical manuscript that he got his hands on, even
he said, “Good Lord, what nonsense! This stuff is impossible to understand.” (MDR, p. 204). But, he stuck
with it and over time he began to see that the images were meant to be interpreted symbolically and that they
represented “symbols of transformation” taking place in the psyche.
In this three hour presentation, Charlene Henry presented 1) a brief history on the development of
alchemy beginning with the mummification process in Egypt; 2) the various stages and processes
involved in this work of transformation, and 3) and with some of the Latin terms that we run across when
we are reading this material.
To have a depth understanding of Alchemy requires many years of trying to interpret these very
difficult texts. But, perhaps, it can begin to make a little bit of sense as we are exposed to and try to
understand this ancient lost art and how it relates to our own psychological process.
Charlene Henry is a Jungian analyst and psychotherapist who has just started her fiftieth year of
practice. She lives and works in Lafayette, Louisiana and is one of the founders of the C.G. Jung Society
of Lafayette and is a member of the Board of Directors.
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