Today I’m going to talk about psychological alchemy and personal sovereignty as it relates to trusting your instincts, self-development, and a deep relationship with yourself. This is a way to trust yourself and increase self-awareness self-discovery- in other words, to know thyself.
The definition of sovereignty is as follows: a supreme power or authority. A self-governing state.
So what does this mean for an individual when we’re talking about personal sovereignty on a psychological level? It means that the person is self-regulating and in control of their choices. I believe that means taking responsibility for yourself and your actions. It also means that you need to listening to yourself and figuring out your needs. Then you have to figure out how to manage yourself. (This is the definition of self-care, by the way).
So What about Alchemy?
Jung wrote about alchemy and so did Jungians such as Maria Louise Von Franz and James Hillman. Historically alchemy is a blend of proto-chemistry, astrology, astronomy, and the symbolism of ritual magic. I can hear you saying now, “But Maggi! What does that have to do with me in the modern world?” The alchemist believed that through their processes working with elements and plants that they could elevate the spirit of the element or plant they were working with. Through that process they were doing a favor for the energy of that plant or element, and in return, they also were aligning with the energy of this evolutionary and raising their own energy too. Alchemists found insight and personal evolution through this process.
The philosopher’s stone was a symbol for this process of refining oneself from qualities that are heavy and dense like lead and becoming rarified, incorruptible, and pure, like gold. I hope this doesn’t disappoint the Harry Potter fans out there.
Personal Alchemy Today
So what does psychological alchemy and personal sovereignty have to do with us today? When we listen to the feelings broiling around inside of ourselves, we gain insight. Delving in to sit with ourselves in our pain, with our yearnings and regrets are similar. Therapy creates a mirror for us to see all of our parts, behaviors, and potentials. Listening to what we actually say to ourselves in our thoughts can be painful! The payoff can be amazing. When we are willing to “do the work” and lean in to our discomfort, incredible change can happen.
Art in therapy can act as a mirror as well. In art, more parts of our self can come to the table. The art expresses pieces that you couldn’t quite put your figure on or just didn’t have the words to be able to describe. As we sit with those parts of self, the art over time changes too. Sitting with the art making process and in the therapy room with the art also changes us. Like the alchemists’ plants, we too are changed through a deep communion, a deep relationship, with the art.
The top of this post shows the alchemical symbol for gold. It is made up of the astrological symbol of the sun. The sun represents where you get your life force from, the core of who you are, the central point of your solar system, and how you shine in the world. The other part shows a crown. In the qabala, the sphere Tiphereth relates to the sun. This sphere relates to the transpersonal connection that each person can have, whether that be named, higher self, higher power, God, universal soul, anima mundi, Great Spirit, etc. The crown, relates to personal sovereignty, and having integration and conversation with your parts, and knowledge of the Self.
Like the elements melted and turned to salt in the alchemist’s crucible, life asks us to similarly endure the pressure of self scrutiny in service to realizing our potential. This is what it means to explore psychological alchemy or personal sovereignty. It is to take up the call to meet your destiny in on a path uniquely your own. I discuss this process in previous posts, beyond coping skills and about individuation here.
The yearning for something more, a dissatisfaction, and nagging feeling of becoming more calls many of us to do this sort of work. This is why depth psychology doesn’t focus on cookie-cutter programs and worksheets.
Reach out if you’d like to pursue this personal alchemical process together.
Maggi is a registered art therapist at Columbus Art Therapy who assists their clients to discover more of themselves through dream interpretation, art therapy, and depth psychotherapy. They specialize in working with grief and loss as well as gender exploration. Click the button below to get connected.