The Alchemic Mythos of the Elements in Psyche and Nature: A Philosophical and Depth Psychological Evaluation of Interconnectedness
Date, Time & Place:
February 29, 2016 at 2:00 pm
Lecture Hall, Lambert Road campus
An epistemological and ontological discussion of the elements—earth, water, fire, and air—has been considered by the most ancient of Western philosophers— from Anaximenes, Heraclitus, and Empedocles to Plato and Aristotle. Hitherto, philosophy and cosmology dominate the discourse of the elements. In most of these discussions, the element space has been neglected. Hence, drawing from the Eastern philosophies of Hinduism and Buddhism, this study examines five elements—including space as the fifth element—as harmonious (creative) and dualistic (destructive) links in the soul-making and soul-transformation of humans and environmental nature. More precisely, this study synergizes Eastern thoughts on the five elements with the Western perspectives of the elements in order to provide a cosmological, philosophical, and psychological gestalt of the mythos and mythopoesis of the elements in the psyche of human beings as well as in nature.
As a whole, this study’s methodology exemplifies James Hillman’s re-visioning theory of the field of psychology and exploring the soul. Metaphorically, the research and argumentation ascribes the psychic activities of dissociation, projection, hysteria, and repression to the environmental phenomenon of tsunamis, tornadoes, lightning storms, and the aurora borealis to exemplify the similar psychology expressed by Mother Nature’s elemental soul and the human psyche. Hence, Aristotle’s Meteorologica along with Jung’s and Freud’s dimensions of psyche—the id, the ego, the superego, the unconscious, the conscious, and the collective unconscious—aid in exploring the alchemical transformation of psyche via the processes of separatio, mortificatio, sublimatio, solutio, calcinatio, and the coniunctio.
Expanding upon Theodore Roszak’s notion of ecopsychology and David Macauley’s book, Elemental Philosophy, this study explicitly presents a depth psychology of the five elements as psychophysical and psychoidal energies that bond the human soul with Mother Nature. Ultimately, the objective of the research is to illustrate a connected world psyche that reestablishes—through a psychological viewpoint—the ancient perspective that the soul of God, humankind, and nature are innately interconnected.
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- Program/Track/Year: Mythological Studies, Track E, 2010
- Chair: Dr. Susan Rowland
- Reader: Dr. Jeffrey Raff
- External Reader: Dr. Christopher Chapple
- Keywords: Elements, Elementals, Ecopsychology, Nature, Psyche, Psychoids, Alchemy, Projection, Neurosis, Dissociation, Meteorology