Alchemy of the Psyche: Paracelsus & Jung

Brompton Cemetery Chapel

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Sunday 5 June 2016
15:00 - 17:00
Pop-Up, Something A Little Different, Theatre/Arts, Walks & Tours

Paracelsus was a contemporary of Martin Luther and Leonardo da Vinci who revolutionised medicine in the same way they did religion and art. One of the first recognisable modern scientists, he relied on observation of nature rather than the then standard practice of consulting the teachings of the ancients. He believed that wellness resided in the harmony between Man and Nature.

He was, in common with all other natural philosophers at the time, an alchemist, however he held that alchemy was not merely about the creation of gold, but was a medical and mystical philosophy that explained the functioning of the body (the transformation of food into flesh, blood and excrement) as well as the more general principles that revealed the mysteries of the earth.

Four centuries later the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung was struck by the recurrence of alchemical symbols in his patients’ dreams and theorised that the symbolic language of alchemy was an expression of innate but unconscious psychological processes. He related alchemy to the psyche in the same way that Paracelsus had to physiology and it became key to his groundbreaking hypothesis of the collective unconscious and the process of “individuation”.

Tickets £12 including a Hendrick's Gin Cocktail.


Philip Ball is a science writer and is the author of many popular books on the subject including works on the nature of water, pattern formation in the natural world, colour in art, the science of social and political philosophy, the cognition of music, and physics in Nazi Germany. He wrote The Devil’s Doctor, the much revered biography of Paracelsus and has written widely on the interactions between art and science, and has delivered lectures to scientific and general audiences at venues ranging from the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) to the NASA Ames Research Center and the London School of Economics. He has broadcast on many occasions on radio and TV, and is a presenter of "Science Stories" on BBC Radio 4.

Sonu Shamdasami is a London-based author, editor, and professor at University College London. His writings focus on Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), and cover the history of psychiatry and psychology from the mid-nineteenth century to current times. Shamdasani edited for its initial publication a major work of Jung: The Red Book. Although well known by its title, until 2009 its contents had remained hidden from the public and from practicing psychotherapists.

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Brompton Cemetery Chapel
Entrances on Fulham Road or Brompton Road, London, SW10 9UG

Nearest station:
West Brompton (Tube)


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Great way to spend a couple of hours in a cemetery. An atmospheric setting for a pair of lectures on different lenses into the ancient study of alchemy. (The gin was pretty good as well!) Visited Brompton Cemetery Chapel on 2016-06-05
by on June 7th, 2016

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