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Alchemical Active Imagination: Revised Edition [Paperback]

Marie-Louise Von Franz
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 2 1997 C. G. Jung Foundation Books
Although alchemy is popularly regarded as the science that sought to transmute base physical matter, many of the medieval alchemists were more interested in developing a discipline that would lead to the psychological and spiritual transformation of the individual. C. G. Jung discovered in his study of alchemical texts a symbolic and imaginal language that expressed many of his own insights into psychological processes. In this book, Marie-Louise von Franz examines a text by the sixteenth-century alchemist and physician Gerhard Dorn in order to show the relationship of alchemy to the concepts and techniques of analytical psychology. In particular, she shows that the alchemists practiced a kind of meditation similar to Jung's technique of active imagination, which enables one to dialogue with the unconscious archetypal elements in the psyche. Originally delivered as a series of lectures at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, the book opens therapeutic insights into the relations among spirit, soul, and body in the practice of active imagination.

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"Von Franz has a remarkable gift for interpreting and demystifying the difficult symbolism of religious visions, ancient myths, and fairy tales of the common folk. Whether explaining the psychic complexities of gender or racial conflict, or the survival value of our connection to other animals, von Franz is perhaps unsurpassed as the archetypal Jungian."— Library Journal

About the Author

Marie-Louise von Franz (1915–1998) was the foremost student of C. G. Jung, with whom she worked closely from 1934 until his death in 1961. A founder of the C. G. Jung Institute of Zurich, she published widely on subjects including alchemy, dreams, fairy tales, personality types, and psychotherapy.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where are you tonight, Sweet Marie? Sept. 24 2002
Format:Paperback
This was the first serious modern work on alchemy that I've read, and boy did I luck out! It is a work charged with authenticity and vision. von Franz gives you some historical background on the origins of alchemy, then introduces this 16th century alchemist, Gerhard Dorn, and his inner and outer struggle to illuminate and heal the schism between spiritual alchemy and Western Christianity. Dorn doesn't come to any happy conclusions, but the chapter on Medieval Magic is worth the entire read. It includes a serious attempt to examine the question of evil (oh thank you!)and the historical process of projecting the contents of the psyche onto some aspect of the body. Also an inspiring section on the "cloud" as symbol in alchemy and christian mysticism for the confusing and darkening part of a person's journey inward to her own core. Also, peppered throughout are juicy tidbits about things like necromancy, pyromancy, hydromancy and something Jung himself was into for a while called Geomancy--which she explains in a brief but fascinating aside. The book is developed from transcripts of a 1969 lecture she gave in Zurich at the Jung Institute. It reads like a lecture, with the rythmns and addendums of the spoken word mostly intact, but obviously translated. That's ok--it flows like pure gold and is a great window into this whole Zurich scene and the living body of work that von Franz and Jung together embodied. This little work is bound to inspire and fuel some aspect of your own imagination. Enjoy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful disquisition on alchemy and Jung... May 17 2000
Format:Paperback
....from his finest student. The depth of her self-exploration-informed research shines from every page. If you can't understand why alchemy has so much to tell us about the dynamics of the unconscious and of individuation, buy this book, it's quite wonderful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Dorn's ability to attend to and faithfully express the manifestations of the unconscious contents provides a tremendous springboard for us today. It provides a springboard in that inner conflicts --the conflicts under discussion in the book --can be objectified. Marie-Louise Von Franz's own insight alongside her own experience can help us root ourselves in a world where we are not estranged from ourselves. The symbolic processes honored by Dorn are still today factors in our psychic hygiene.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Makes Jung easier :) Jan. 10 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
MLVF has a wonderful writing style that is as easy to read as it is potent with powerful ideas. She made quite colourful the b&w empiricism that Jung's books on alchemy etc. had to be written in. I very very much enjoyed this book ... and learned so much, whereas Jung I have to digest - this book was like a novel. Wonderfully written!!!
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Correction Sept. 21 2001
Format:Paperback
I haven't read this book yet but couldn't find anywhere to request that you change your information. Ms Von Franz is no longer Jung's greatest living disciple; she no longer lives in Kusnacht; she died recently, perhaps in 1998?
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