Dissertation Title:

The Ashura Ritual: An Alchemical Study of Suffering in Shi’ism


Mansoor Hassan Abidi

Date, Time & Place:

March 25, 2021 at 2:00 pm


This study explores symbols of a religious ritual called Ashura in Twelver Shi’ite Islam. It provides a look into these symbol’s unconscious power at work in the suffering of the participants. The ritual’s ceremonial rites are compared with the three stages of alchemy: the nigredo, the albedo, and the rubedo. Through these processes, using hermeneutical approaches, Shi’ite cosmology and beliefs are examined and compared with depth psychology. Hence, the study also contributes to depth psychology a Shi’ite way of experiencing inner spirituality. The central theme of this study is the phenomena of al-bātin (the esoteric). In Shi’ism, al-bātin is the soul’s journey to find the metaphysical Adam and Eve within the tawhid (oneness) of a person. The study starts with defining the terms and background of the ritual. The alchemical stages that correspond with the participant’s conscious states are examined. The study provides a symbolic understanding of Fatimah and Ali, the two main archetypal persons that express their unique powers in the mourning rites of the ritual. The final aim is to understand the Shi’ite concept of the walayah (guardianship) and its metaphysical consciousness associated with C. G. Jung’s notion of the unus mundus. This study concludes by articulating a way to see the world from the inner vision of depth psychology and Shi’ism in dialogue.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Specialization in Jungian Psychology and Archetypal Studies, N, 2015
  • Chair: Dr. Dylan Hoffman
  • Reader: Dr. Kesstan Blandin
  • External Reader: Dr. Tom Cheetham
  • Keywords: Shi’ism, Ashura, Ritual, Alchemy, Archetypal, Suffering