The Twenty Woodcuts Of The Rosarium Philosophorum And Their Implications For Psychotherapy (4 Of 4)
This paper is inextricably tied with a talk I presented to the Bath Analytic Network. The talk was to be based on my paper “Clarifying and Re-Mystifying Transference, Counter-Transference and Co-transference: A Guide to to avoiding Procrustean Psychotherapy”, however I wanted to include what I was in the middle of researching and writing, i.e. this paper.
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The preceding detailed description of the individual woodcuts provided an in depth analysis of each of the woodcuts.  What follows is an analysis of them as a series and what this means for psychotherapy.

"Alchemy deals with flow and change and cannot be encompassed in the hard rigid fossils of intellectual formulae. Intellectualism only analyses and breaks down a subject into smaller units, but to grasp Alchemy we must develop a consciousness that is simultaneously capable of synthesis, of building up into a larger picture. Here we must see the individual unit as part of a whole." [McLean (1980)]

McLean's arrangement of the whole series shows the first ten woodcuts as used by Jung forming the first two rows. He then demonstrates there is a symmetry formed by woodcuts 4-10 and 11-17 if the reversal in sequence of woodcuts 11 and 12 is allowed for.


There is a general consensus amongst authors familiar with the full series, McLean, Scwhartz-Salant and Fabricius, that the first three woodcuts represent the prima materia, followed by the two sets of seven images representing two similar, but different cycles of transformation. The first cycle (4-10) is seen as a transformation of the feminine (lunar) by the masculine (solar) forces resulting in the production of the “white stone”. The second cycle (11-17 or 20 depending on author) is seen as a transformation of the masculine (solar) by the feminine (lunar) forces ending in the formation of the “Red stone”.
The earlier exploration of the woodcuts in this paper has led me to see this as a gross and drastic simplification and therefore place the emphasis differently. It is not a case of one working on the other in the first cycle, followed by a reversal in the second cycle. Rather what is depicted in the first cycle is a dual process wherein Sol rises to Heaven and Luna descends into the sepulchre/Earth. Psychologically this move could be described as thinking moves towards intuition, i.e. a thinking that comes to us rather than a thinking we use to shore us up or defend ourselves, and feeling moves towards the body and senses, i.e. it too becomes more direct, less affected by mood and personal complexes. Thinking and feeling are second-hand experiences. The first cycle could be described as more of the same, like meets like, an extension of what is. The second cycle involves the transformed Sol and Luna of the first cycle being transformed in the realms of their opposite i.e. Sol descends into the sepulchre/Earth and Luna ascends to Heaven. Psychologically the second cycle is a profound transformation brought about by the immersion of Sol and Luna in each other's (their opposite's) realm. Both of the cycles begin with a conjunction, followed by a mortification, and after a separation, end in a re-unification. To me, the rubedo, which follows on from these two cycles, is a process in itself involving a final mortification and re-birth.


There are several reasons put forward for Jung's omission of half of the full set of woodcuts.

He possibly did not have a complete manuscript of the Rosarium as alchemical texts were old, rare and in their day seen as heretical material. However, that he referred to woodcut 11 “Fermentation” as a “winged variant” in the Psychology of the Transference [Jung (1946) p86 CW para 459] indicates he was aware of at least one more picture, but being number 11 maybe his manuscript ended there - but I doubt this.

More controversially, their omission is seen as a repressive act by Jung. Either his Christian upbringing and /or his over-dominant thinking function could not allow him to include the second cycle because this would have meant letting what he saw as the “dark” Chthonic, Dionysian, sexual forces dominate. This personal dilemma was brilliantly portrayed in the film “The Impossible Method” by his encounter with his ‘dark twin' Otto Gross. Other evidence for this assertion lies in the nature of the “Red Book” where his intellect during active imagination grabbed hold of imaginal figures, inflating them into famous historical figures rather than following them whole-heartedly, staying true to the image. Later in life, he may well have adopted a different attitude but his writings portray a scientific attitude that distances and observes rather than engages and submits. Although this may have come from his desire for scientific rigor and a concern to make his work acceptable to the medical community, this inevitably sets up a transcendent rather than a transformative paradigm.

This omission may have been due to Jung's psychological theorising at the time of writing the Psychology of the Transference only allowed for an individual to have either an anima or animus but not both. In his description the woodcuts were an interpersonal relationship rather than an intra-personal relationship (even though the former notion breaks down at the formation of the hermaphrodite, the merging of bodies at woodcut 6, Death). Put simply, if Jung had recognised that an individual has an animus and an anima then the relevance of an “alternative” second version becomes obvious - both need to transform. His attitude implies a relationship of ego and anima, leaving no room for the ego-animus relationship. A fusion of ego and animus might be an apt description of Jung's personal psychology.

Another possibility lies in the 15th or 16th century omission of the citrinitas (yellowing) stage of the alchemical process from general use and texts which according to Fabricius (and Hillman as far as I can discern) corresponds to the second cycle, i.e. woodcuts 11-17, reserving the rubedo (reddening) for woodcuts 18-20. With a dearth of material available as to the nature of the citrinitas process, Jung may not have seen it as a process in itself and saw the whole second cycle, not just woodcut 11, as simply a variation on a theme rather than a process in its own right. Some evidence to support this view may be that in The Psychology of the Transference (1946) p153 CW para 533 he refers to (and prefers) “the corresponding picture of the Rebis in the second version”. Jung, like post 16th century alchemists, used only the three alchemical processes, blackening, whitening and reddening, and Jung managed to see them all in woodcuts 4-10. This despite having written in Psychology and Alchemy
"Four stages [of the alchemical] opus are distinguished, characterised by the original colours mentioned in Heraclitus: melanosis (blackening), leukosis (whitening), xanthosis (yellowing), and iosis (reddening)... Later about the fifteenth of 16th Century, the colours were reduced to three, and the xanthosis, otherwise called the citrinitas, gradually fell into disuse or was seldom mentioned... There were only three colours: black, white, and red.
The first main goal of the process... highly prized by many alchemists... is the silver or moon condition, which still has to be raised to the sun condition. The albedo [whitening], is so to speak, the daybreak, but not till the rubedo is it sunrise. The transition to the rubedo is formed by the citrinitas [yellowing], though this, as we said, was omitted later.” [Jung (1953) CW12 para 333-4]

Unfortunately, as Hillman highlights, both von Franz and Edinger, along with many other authors have not only perpetuated the omission of the citrinitas but also more obtusely persisted in using just the ten woodcuts despite evidence to the contrary. Jan Wiener, in her book “The Therapeutic Relationship”, blithely and without explanation substitutes the winged coupling pair of woodcut 11 for the unwinged couple of woodcut 5.


The above picture is described as showing the quartering of the philosophy or the four degrees of fire imparted to the alchemist by his animal or soul sister. The processes they represent respectively are blackening, whitening, yellowing and reddening. The elements they are associated with - earth, water, air and fire, are illustrated by the symbols on the spheres they stand on. Contained within the pots on their heads are an inky man, a white rose, an eagle flying up to the sun and a golden lion.

By omitting the third process, the citrinitas, Jung effectively compressed the rubedo or final stage, into the end of the second stage, the albedo. Whilst it may be seen that the citrinitas is the early parts of the rubedo - the yellowing of dawn before the sun rises in full glory - there are two profound implications of this compression. Firstly, the rubedo is misrepresented by being associated with the Rebis of woodcut 10, and secondly, the citrinitas as a process is not included at all. I do suspect from his later writings in Mysterium Coniunctionis that he understood the nature of the rubedo but I am not aware of this ever being fully rectified in relation to his writing about psychotherapeutic practice. This along with the neglect of the citrinitas, or at least the diminution of its importance, has meant the perpetuation and extension of psychotherapeutic theoretical ignorance and mis-practice. To move to the rubedo without moving through the citrinitas risks a false or premature reddening that excludes the body and the wisdom of somatic consciousness, lacks the relativisation of the Solar aspect and as Hillman points out leads to the endless polishing of the psychoanalytic mirror.

“I am led to propose that the omission of yellow as the neglected fourth colour eliminates the earthly stasis and inherently dark (even “devilish”) (Jung CW 11 243-95) materiality of the quaternity. This neglect or denial influences even Jung's own psychology of alchemy and those in his footsteps (von Franz, Edinger). Alchemical hermeneutics remains confined by the Trinitarian milieu in which so many of its texts were composed, offering ascensionist, progressivist, and redemptive fantasies that all too easily can be absorbed into the Jungian schema called “the process of individuation.”” [Hillman (2010) p229]

The following diagram shows the four stages in relation to the whole series of woodcuts, according to Fabricius and with whom I agree. As already stated Jung effectively crammed the last three woodcuts of the rubedo (red) onto the end of the albedo (white), woodcut 10 and omitted the citrinitas (yellow) completely.



So what is the citrinitas, the second cycle that leads to the solar tree? Hillman begins his description of the citrinitas by looking at the reluctance of alchemy and psychotherapy to move away from the white, to include the yellow. “In analysis, the whiteness refers to the feelings of positive syntonic transference, of things going easily and smoothly, a gentle, sweet safety in the vessel, insights rising, synchronistic connections, resonances and echoes, the dead alive on the moon as ancestors who speak with internal voices of the activated imagination - all leading to the invulnerable conviction of the primacy of psychic reality as another world apart from this world, life lived in psychological faith. In this tepid and shadowless lunar light, everything seems to fit. As Jung said, CW18; 388, this is the first main goal of the process and some alchemists were satisfied to stop here, bringing the opus to rest in silvery peace. This condition does not want more light, more heat.” [Hillman (2010) p211]

It is no wonder that the Yellow was thrown out... not wanted by the rational mind as it involves its own transformation, why risk that silvery peace?

“Yellowing rescues the soul from the whiteness of psychological reflection and insight.... “In this state of ‘whiteness' one does not live.... In order to make it come alive it must have ‘blood'” Jung Speaking McGuire and Hull p228... From the alchemical perspective the human individual may be a necessary focus but cannot be a sufficient one; the rescue of the cosmos is equally important. Neither can take place without the other. Soul and world are inseparable: anima mundi. It is precisely this fact that the yellowing makes apparent and restores, a fact which the white state of mind cannot recognise because that mind has unified into itself the world, all things psychologised.” [Hillman (2010) p221]

Hillman, possibly following the alchemist calling himself Hermes in the Rosarium Philosphorum (quoted earlier) draws a comparison to the making of cheese “The yellowing of the white is like milk becoming cheese. The white coagulates, takes on body, flavour, fatness. White resists this physical substantiation, for it feels like a regression to the vulgar drivenness of earlier moments in the work - materia prima and nigredo - which the arduous hours of analytic reflection have finally sophisticated and pacified.” [Hillman (2010) p212]

The yellowing brings life. Changing one thing into another, milk into cheese, something that is going off becomes something that is maturing. Extending the analogy one needs to be aware that milk does not know what cheese is. The whitened mind cannot see the value of cheese, all it sees is that something is going wrong, that it is losing its whiteness and seeks to return to it by employing whitening principles - more reflection. The yellowing is rejected and the fattening can't be seen in the mirror.

“The intellect too goes through changes; not only the heart, the body and the imagination. “Thinking and being are the same” (Parmenides), a position shared by Gnostics and Zen teachers as well as alchemists. Alchemy (and analysis) clarifies the mind and sophisticates its thought since thought derives from psyche. The mind in nigredo shows characteristics of downward and backward thinking, an intellect caught in reductive and depressive reasonings and figurings out: past history, materialized fantasies, and concretistic explanations, coupled with a bitterly stubborn protest against its condition. The nigredo psyche knows itself as victimised, traumatised, dependent, and limited by circumstantiality and substantiality. The nigredo psyche is eo ipso substance-abused.
The mind in albedo more likely dreams. Receptive, impressionable, imagistic, self-reflective and perhaps comfortably magical. “But in this state of ‘whiteness' one does not live... it is a sort of abstract, ideal state,” as Jung states. No problems, except the vast generalised abstractions of spirit - for spirit and soul are indistinctly unified.” [Hillman (2010) p214]
“In sum: during nigredo there is pain and ignorance; we suffer without the help of knowledge. During albedo the pain lifts, having been blessed by reflection and understanding. The yellow brings the pain of knowledge itself. The soul suffers its own understanding.” [Hillman (2010) p215]

From the woodcuts it is possible to ascertain that the citrinitas is the dual process of the already whitened Sol descending and Luna ascending. The immersion of solar awareness (including its new found experiences of the heavenly realm from the albedo) in the mercurial waters of the sepulchre confront the ego with its physical limitations, i.e. that consciousness is contained within a body. The very increasing consciousness of old age and the literal degeneration of the body make the somatic unconscious ever more potent. The realisation of its own finiteness comes as a complete defeat to the ego/Sol. The mortification of this stage is different to the first cycle in that it is felt in the body. More emphasis is placed on the putrefaction part of the process, a rotting down that eventually takes on its own life, providing itself with its own material which actively continues and furthers the process. The feeling of putrefaction is itself an awareness, it does not need reflecting on, does not need psychologising. The feeling of something being wrong is the experience itself.

“Brighter, more coagulated and more combustible, the yellowed intellect is complicated with emotions, as one is indeed acutely aware and alive when in the grips of jealousy, cowardice, fear, prejudice, ageing and decay. It is like an instinctual smoky light shining through reflections from within, thought jaundiced with prejudice, fear, envy, the mind like a smouldering yellow effusion staining with intellect whatever it meets.” [Hillman (2010) p215]

The yellowing of the body puts me in mind of jaundice. To have jaundiced opinions is to be seen to be stuck with particularly prejudiced or hostile views. If we look more compassionately and through our own prejudices of this (prejudicial) term, does it not point to the views of an individual that are not being heard by society, that only become “hostile” when continually not heard. Jaundiced opinions may well be those views that simply will not go away despite the best attempts of the ego to perfect itself, despite the analysts attempts to polish them away by reducing them to unconscious attitudes in need of removal, they might just be the gold that does not dissolve, they might be me, or you.

What happens in the rotting down, the sinking into the Earth, is that so much of who we believe we are is lost, until nothing else remains other than who we essentially are. The “impurity” becomes the initiator of the fermentation. This is the firmness that eventually emerges, not through rational analysis, but through being broken down by somatic consciousness and the recognition of our animal consciousness imposing itself on us, forcing us to fully recognise our animal nature and psychology, which is so easily lost in our psycho-spiritual aspirations.

As described earlier a dream pointed me to the term “Wilting” and its probable relevance to the citrinitas. Wilting in this context is the loss of the ego's urge to maintain itself in some kind of phallic erectness. An acceptance that to all things age comes, and the move is not towards the apex of life but of being on the other side of that summit. The ego gives up trying to force itself past a physical limitation, something that can no longer be denied. Viagra, the medical professions “cure” for the citrinitas, the magical blue pill, straight from the fountain of youth designed to keep the elderly ever youthful ever thrusting up to the top. Wilting however does not imply the loss of all firmness, something remains, it is a falling down into, rather than a rising up.

Following the woodcuts, one of the stark differences between the two cycles is the young female form rising up to heaven as the male body putrefies in woodcut 14 (compared to the young boy rising and female body rotting of woodcut 7). Rather than the extension of the existing faculties associated with the first cycle this interpenetration of Sol and Luna in each others' sources implies a profound and disturbing challenge to the individual. Keeping with the terminology used, this equates to the spiritualisation of the feminine forces of the soul, along with the defeat of the ego/Sol when confronted with its own limitations. I surmise that light, consciousness or understanding is being brought to the functions of feeling and sensation. Dreams become more real, more tangible. Dreams, the language of the soul, can be seen for their own truth rather than a source of information about the unconscious. The ego can no longer force its reality onto the unconscious, exploit the unconscious for its own ends. The dream is the reality, and the ego is always behind. When the couple re-unite in the hermaphrodite, the feminine forces, the body, sensation, feelings and the dreamworld are more consciously experienced, and more available to the now relativised ego/solar forces.

The citrinitas does not culminate dramatically like the albedo, as described earlier. One thing that it is important not to overlook about the citrinitas is the slowness of the process. Putrefaction takes time, its not something that can be hurried along; like rotting, it has its own pace defined by nature's processes, not the ego's agenda. As we move from silver Lunar light to the dawning yellow Solar light, the deceptions of moonlit sight become more apparent, and things can be seen for what they are; more objectivity less subjectivity.

“One's nature goes through a temperamental turn, a change in humors from choleric to sanguine, which the dictionary defines as confident, optimistic, cheerful. So does citrinitas become the reddening.” [Hillman (2010) p216]

The Demonstration of Perfection, as the culmination of the citrinitas, describes a being whose dual aspects have extended to the further reaches of their own source and that of their opposite. Depicted is a figure that would be confident of it's own place in the world, possessing a mastery of the dual unconscious forces, Above and Below.


Historically alchemical writing was the province of men or at least written anonymously under a male pseudonym. Similarly psychological writing given its very nature has tended to be male (or animus identified women) dominated, giving rise to a masculine-male (or ego allied to Sol) perspective. Hillman, who I quoted extensively on the citrinitas, unlike Fabricius, makes little reference to the psycho-biological interconnection of psyche and soma. Hillman's perspective is more masculine-male, more psychological in its traditional sense, dealing with imagination and thinking. It would be re-miss of me to neglect to highlight that the citrinitas may well be experienced differently from a female perspective.

I earlier introduced the term “wilting” and referred to the ego's urge to maintain itself in phallic erectness, and this is obviously a physiological male-masculine metaphor. I think it is relevant to highlight the physiological nature of these metaphors, something that does give them body, and as such may portray something of the feminine within the male (or a male ego allied to Luna). I suspect that there is a direct physical connection between the de-generation of the mind, the senses and the body's functions, and the citrinitas. Not only do memory and other thinking processes begin to fail us or soften, but the body confronts us with our own end. This will physically and directly effect our psyche. This is the citrinitas at work. The psychological realisation of the end may add froth to the rotting, but combined with physical deterioration, these forces deal a fatal blow to the ego's attachment to personal development. Individuation changes from being a verb to being a noun. The goal is lost, and with nowhere to go, a profound acceptance of oneself, with our limitations and imperfections enters stage right, whilst the limitations and expectations placed upon us by others exit stage left along with any vestige of persona.
How realistic it is to divorce this physical process from the psychological is impossible to answer. Psychological insight prior to physical actuality may be possible, i.e. we might be able to make the individuational shifts before old age sets in, before things get too bad, but only if we can heed the body's early warning signs of being over the hill, of death approaching. The transformational effect some people experience following a near death experience might be a case in point.

As a male it would be inappropriate for me to make any definitive statements from a female perspective (as distinct to the feminine within the male above) however I will offer some possible pointers towards a female perspective.

For a woman, I suspect the citrinitas is not experienced so starkly. I think it is safe to say that women generally have a closer relationship to their body than men, and even this statement betrays the difference. Women are more in their bodies, or are more their bodies. They relate “from them” rather than “to them”. Men are more likely to see their body as separate to them, or even not them, something that needs to be managed, an inconvenience, a limitation. These are obviously broad exaggerated generalisations and there are likely to be many exceptions and variations on this theme from one individual to the next, and from one culture to the next.

Reproductive function is by definition the difference between the sexes, and the root of all biological and hormonal differences. From early teens to their forties, women are subject to, or part of, the ovulation cycle and the hormonal changes this brings. Such a constant reminder of one's biological fertility and reproductive capability, which is further enhanced by motherhood should it occur, must engender in women a more embodied psyche than for men, who's sexual role is minimal both physically and temporally. Biological difference, has historically lead to the classic division of labour where the woman is responsible for child nurture and rearing, and the man's role being more protection and provision. Whilst modern gender roles are less stereotypical in modern western society, the biological differences still remain and the psyche changes slowly in response to environmental/cultural change.

I suspect that each menstrual cycle (and eventually menopause) reminds women of both their fertility and finitude and makes them better prepared for the psycho-biological impact of the citrinitas. For men, lacking any equivalent cyclical psycho-biological process, their first significant experience of their body arrives late in life when it fails them, or no longer serves them. This defeat comes as a sudden and stark warning of death, fundamentally colouring their experience of the body, which had hitherto been objectified. These two factors, women's familiarity with their body and its cyclic nature, and men's detachment from the body suggest to me that the citrinitas is a more challenging transition for men than women (and conversely the albedo or whitening is a more challenging experience for women) if it is possible to make such generalised comparisons.

The omission of the citrinitas from alchemy has produced masculine biased psychological theory with a distorted over-emphasis on the whitening of the first cycle. This one sidedness has helped legitimise the deification of thinking and made egocentric imagination the opiate of the people in patriarchal western society. The unwillingness to enter the citrinitas has left the body subject to masculine objectification and difficult feelings prone to eradication through drugs of all kinds; prescribed, legal and illegal. The female psyche has had to defend itself against masculinisation, not always successfully, leading to the largely untold emotional trauma presently displayed in the proliferation of cosmetic surgery, eating disorders and self harming etc. never mind the largely unchallenged mainstream negative attitudes to menstruation, menopause and ageing.

The citrinitas, where the female is dominant, does not so much form a female perspective, it is a transformation that makes the notion of perspective irrelevant. Perspective itself implies a distancing from, and this is the very antithesis of the citrinitas which is more of a shrinking into, a transformation through rather than a transcendence over. There is no mirror to look into, there just is as it is.


Working psychotherapeutically in the citrinitas involves the therapist not knowing. The therapist needs to let go of theories and perspectives and enter what Schwartz-Salant describes as the interactive field, where neither knows and both are open to the experience of the now. Attention can be paid to whatever arises, body sensations, feelings, thoughts, images. Things are allowed to be what they are, and the interest is in the experience and the process, not the understanding of it. The move to interpretation is to be avoided as this punctures the interactive-field created between therapist and client. In this space, attention is paid to what emerges and little attempt is made to attribute this to either party.

The experience of the “Now” can be quite threatening to an individual as it means, dropping all of one's persona and defences and risking stepping into the unknown, into the “mad” parts of the psyche, into Chaos. It requires the client to have an incredible trust of the therapist... and the therapist of the client! If handled carefully, the client can gain increasing confidence in entering such a space, and whilst little, if anything is predictable, intense emotions both loving and destructive can be experienced and contained, opening the individual to a vaster experience. Of course the psychotherapist needs to be willing to enter such a space and their previously gained experience of it, gives them the faith, that is then conveyed to, and helps assure, the client. The therapist being present with their own vulnerability allows the client to experience a relationship of equality, where the therapist is not a cold blank screen, and the bearer of knowledge and authority. In such a place, being faced by an individual person devoid of personal and professional personas and the associated psychotherapeutic power dynamics, the client has the chance to be themselves. It is impossible for anyone to divest themselves of all personality, all motives, making it more a question of transparency than purity. 

In practice, if the interactive-field is repeatedly disrupted by disturbing emotions it may be necessary for the therapist to revert to an interpretative approach, typical of the albedo phase, in order to work on the client's personal complexes. However, such a move should only be made if the therapist is sure that the disturbing emotions belong to the client not himself, that they are as a result of unresolved personal complexes not existential in nature or signs of the firmness associated with individual uniqueness appearing in the citrinitas. Therapeutic work, like the practical work of alchemy may involve many circulations and repetitions. If we are a multitude of selves, made of many oppositions, it is possible that some pairings may be whitening whilst others yellow. This may account for the eruptions of previously unconscious material requiring a retrogressive move to interpretative analysis.

The yellowing, by being in it too, affects the therapist “As analyst I, too am yellowed; I cannot escape the opus since the artifex is myself, the material worked on. I therefore feel a fermenting discomfort of interior doubt, that yellowing inside the white which treacherously observes it from within. We feel ourselves betraying what we were, the realisations we believed, our very psychological faith and its achievements, even our former pain and the scars of identity it gave.” [Hillman (2010) p222]

To work as a psychotherapist beyond the albedo, in the citrinitas is a challenging and personal experience, requiring an openness to being affected by the client. To work effectively in this way means allowing that your whole life, and who you believe you are, may undergo unexpected upheaval and change.

"Getting “out there” requires the yellow death, that poisoning prepared by a putrefaction of the unio mentalis that is analytic consciousness. This poisoning awakens. The pharmakon kills as it cures. Our eyes open to the narcissistic corruption inherent to our theory, our diagnoses, treatment and training. We begin to see the addictive codependency of analyst and analysand disguised and glorified by theories of transference/counter-transference, which intensify the mirror's gleam to the world's neglect." [Hillman (2010) p222]

Recently I attended a lecture by an experienced trainer and therapist who cited the dream of a Don Juan type male client who was unable to establish long term relationships due to an “unconscious” attachment to his mother. In other words by not forming a long term relationship he was able to keep his mother idealised. The dream was of him on a beach watching with indifference a young woman being drowned in quicksand to her death. The therapist said she explored with the client all kinds of ways for him to rescue the young woman. This to me speaks of the imposition of the every day conscious mores and values on psyche or the unconscious. This is trying to impose ego ideals upon the soul. The collective unconscious includes death, dying, murder, even indifference. The dream is best allowed to be what it is, not engineered into some kind of socially acceptable and morally agreeable pastiche. I do not know all the background to this case example, it was not provided, but perhaps better questions are along the lines of “how come the young girl was drowning in earth/sand when the sea was so nearby?” or “how come it was the young girl who was drowning not the man?”. For me this points to too much matter or mother, killing the girl. Maybe the therapist is being too Mother like and her trying to help by rescuing the girl only perpetuates the situation. Maybe the girl, the kind of girl he chooses, can't hold her ground and always needs rescuing. Maybe the girl needs to die, so he can be freed from the current dynamic and a different type of girl, or man, or anything will come into relationship with him. So many possibilities spring from that one brief image but for the therapist to impose her values on his soul world is not good psychotherapy. Ego colonialism, not even by his own ego by the sounds of it. Psychotherapy means to pay attention to, or care for the soul. This is not soul care, it is soul abuse as it benefits the therapist, emotionally and financially, to the detriment of the client. The client may feel better for working on his ego project but will be left ignorant of the exploitation that has taken place having been whitewashed not even “whitened”.

To some extent though the omission of the citrinitas is being realised in the psychoanalytic world but I believe this is quite unconsciously. The neglect of the body has for some time been recognised and various attempts to integrate it into the numerous forms of psychotherapies have been made. The problem is that these attempts to include “felt-experience” whilst often well intentioned come from a continuation of the white albedo psychoanalytic attitude. Attempting to add the body, to include it - they do not allow themselves to be truly transformed by it. The body becomes another source of information for the ego about the unconscious. The ego remains remote and largely untouched by the somatic, better equipped to carry on it's narcissistic self-build project unencumbered by physical limitations or its animal nature. The ego is not forced into submission or defeat, not humbled by its finiteness. Whiteness continues in perpetuity unless the continual attention to the body is able to transform the regressive albedo attitude.

"Without the yellow, the whitened mind converts directly to red, enantiodromia, moving straight forward by converting psychic insights into literal programs, red bricks without straw. We reflect the world in the mirror of psychology reducing its political conflicts to shadow projections, its exploitation of the earth to body problems.... We prescribe more of “the feminine”, more anima, more lunar consciousness (though the yellowing is a time of Mars where the “male is on top of the female”. We believe magically that self-transformation trickles down (multiplies and projects) into the world. ... No matter how the Self “multiplies itself in others”, (Edinger AoP p228) these others, too, are psychologised entities (selves), and the opus remains one which psychologises the world instead of mundifying the psyche." [Hillman (2010) p222]

Those therapies that do not “bolt on” the body, but are developed from it, such as Body Movement, Core-Process and Mindfulness need to be aware that the body is not all. To make the body sovereign, denies the mind or spirit, and relationship. In order to move into the citrinitas, the whitening of the albedo needs to be completed. The analytic mirror is still needed, prior to these therapies and it is a mistake to see them as the whole process. The problem of working from one phase of the process only, is that everything becomes self-referential, always seen within the same paradigm or regimen. The client addicted to the therapy.

Whether therapies addressing somatic consciousness are bolted on, or form the core of a therapeutic model, according to alchemy not only does psychotherapy have to successfully undergo the citrinitas, there is still the rubedo to come. Eventually, and I do mean eventually, and I don't think mainstream psychotherapy is anywhere near this point, the solar forces will be revivified heralding the end of the citrinitas and the beginning of the rubedo. This move, whilst not to be hurried towards, should be watched for and not thwarted due to an unconscious attachment to a particular therapeutic model, theory or school. The political in-fighting of the various schools and approaches as they fight for psychological territory betrays a depressingly unconscious or regressed psychological attitude and generates a negative prognosis. The increase in “integrative” therapies is heartening - provided they are not in search of one over-arching theory or therapy.

“If psychological practice neglects its yellowing, it can never leave off psychologising, never redden into the world out there, never be alive to the cosmos - from which today come our actual psychological disorders.... The inwardness habit of psychologising follows consequently from the albedo condition that, as an “undivided purity” loses distinctions among the opposites it has united. Therefore, the albedo seeks mental integrations of the disturbing yellowing emotions of transference by means of psychological grids.” [Hillman (2010) p221]

The Green Lion's vitriol dissolves the method, the very means by which everything has been achieved, leaving only the true gold. There is no method, no technique, no practice that will not have its limitations. The advantage of alchemy is that it recognises its own need to destroy itself. Even then the Green Lion is not the end of the process, the Assumption and Coronation, and Christ Arising from the Tomb, continue the rubedo.

"From the alchemical perspective the human individual may be a necessary focus but cannot be a sufficient one; the rescue of the cosmos is equally important. Neither can take place without the other. Soul and world are inseparable: anima mundi. It is precisely this fact that the yellowing makes apparent and restores, a fact which the white state of mind cannot recognise because that mind has unified into itself the world, all things psychologised." [Hillman (2010) p221]


Obviously the above material contains my views on the implications for psychotherapy of Jung's omission of half of the woodcuts in the Rosarium Philosophorum. More personally though this paper has proved a challenge to myself beyond what I was expecting. In effect, I have used the woodcuts as they were intended, as a meditative tool. As I tried to stick close to the image and reconcile my understanding with that of various authorities, both psychological and alchemical, I have penetrated them and they have penetrated me. I feel both transformed and affirmed. For many years I have struggled to understand transference and counter-transference, or more precisely “Co-transference” as I prefer to describe it. This exploration of the full set of woodcuts has taken me beyond Jung's description of the process and made me realise, what I perceive to be, errors in his work and his contemporaries. Included in this, I must include my own experience of analysis with Nicolas Spicer, whose lineage goes back to Jung through his training analysis with Mary-Louise von Franz. During that analysis I did experience the frustration of the analytic mirror. Faced with his incredible intellect, I never experienced his vulnerability, that we were two equals. Of course, I might have needed more albedo, more whitening, more mirror as it may have been an unresolved counter-transference, me looking for my father, or The Father. It may have been that I was too young at the time for the citrinitas to have grabbed (or permeated) me, that the albedo had been worked through and I ended the work at the appropriate time, the albedo complete. I suspect not though, as my writings on Co-transference attest, my belief that the Co-transference was not knowable in the now was well formed at this time. I had during the analysis, chosen to do some training in Core-Process Psychotherapy with its emphasis on felt-experience because it felt right, certainly better than the only other alternative of any attraction, which involved more theory, more analysing, more writing. Without knowing it I had headed for the body, and this work never really got into the analysis. Sticking to the truth of my experience combined with my analytic experience and understanding has led me to where I am today.

I suspect there a few people working in a way that honours the whole of what I have outlined above, and I am not entirely sure my work does, it certainly doesn't all of the time. I think the arrogance and attachment most therapists have to their professional status, their schools, their theories and their methods prohibits effective working, doing clients a great disservice that borders on, if not enters into, being exploitative and abusive.

I have always called my work Individual Psychotherapy, not just because I work one-to-one but because of the need to invent a therapy for each individual. No-one can be “trained” to do this, as ultimately there are as many therapies as there are individuals. I suspect there needs to be a training in the first place, just as there needs to be an albedo phase, but in the end though, this too has to be progressed beyond, transformed. To see qualification as an end, is to choose to rest and remain in silvery peace. It is not the end. To practice within the limitations of one's training at best is to condemn clients to the same narcissistic silvery peace and does nothing for the world.

Hillman, with whom I very much share his views, chose to give up private practice to take his message to the world, “I am acting out my counter-transference on analysis itself, globally, with the destructive vision of prophetic inflation, convinced that what takes place in the depths of one's soul is taking place as well in other souls, in the cosmic soul of the world.” [Hillman (2010) p225]. For myself, unlike Hillman, I continue in private practice. A practice not surprisingly (given my attitude) made up mostly of disaffected therapists and supervisees trapped in, or fed up with the limitations of their particular training. I will continue to subvert from the inside, sticking to the truth clients and I experience between us. I shall leave it to them to take their truth out into the world and I thank them for all they have they taught me. I will continue to do my best to make the world as beautiful as I can in other ways too.


The intention of this paper has been to investigate the implications for psychotherapy of the full set of woodcuts only partly explored by Jung in his book, The Psychology of Transference. I have done this by analysing the full series, and introducing the alchemical process of citrinitas. Hopefully I have achieved my aim, got Jung out of our diseases (and wellnesses) in the process and that the reader now has a better grasp on the present blindness and limitations of psychotherapy.
It has taken alchemy, an ancient, discordant, often contradictory and obfuscating body of wisdom to be able to stand outside of psychotherapy's shiny theory. If there is truth in alchemy, then psychotherapy, as a science, or an art, or a combination of the two, has a long way to go if it is to escape the true myth of our time, not Oedipus, but Narcissus, who died trapped by the beauty of his own reflection, as Echo faded away in the background.

The wider implications of this paper are that if Western psychology also omits the citrinitas, one would expect to see a society capable of reflecting on its glories and its problems but detached from the experience. A society that can see its soul in the mirror but does not feel it; is not ensoulled. Such a society would shout so loudly about its triumphs so those who suffer from those triumphs cannot be heard, and, the cries of that society's members who do passionately feel, would go unresponded to as they echo off the walls of the analyst's office. This society would be more concerned with the pursuit of perfection, as reflected in vital statistics or media images; ignorant of natural beauty, genuine relationship and the damage caused in human terms by its actions. It would be a pueristic society fixated on staying young, denying the reality of growing old and the wisdom this brings, and unable to parent its own children. It would be a society fixated on growth, riddled with addiction, pollution and poverty amidst plenty. A society capable of watching TV images of the pain and suffering of others caused by its own economic, environmental, political and military actions with an emotional detachment bordering on psychotic. And should the silvery peace ever be broken, the emotional detachment breached, the drugs (prescribed or illicit) fail to keep the world at bay, the likely response would be, more aid, more military intervention and politicians fighting one another for the right to carry on in much the same way. Let the other do the changing, we're alright would be the attitude. What such a society would not do, is engage in a true soul searching and look at the transformation it needs to undergo.
There is a joke about psychotherapy... "How many psychotherapists does it take to change a light bulb?" The answer is, "one, but it will take a long time, cost a lot of money and the light bulb has really got to want to change." To which I would add "and so too does the therapist".


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Part 1 of 4 (Introduction)
Part 2 of 4 (Woodcuts 1 to 10)
Part 3 of 4 (Woodcuts 11 to 20)

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