The Alchemy of Consciousness In and Out of Body An Exploration of Embodiment, Parapsychology, Death and Rebirth


Far below I saw the globe of the Earth, bathed in a gloriously blue light…Presumably I too was in my primal form…I felt as though I were floating in space, as though I were safe in the womb of the universe in a tremendous void, but filled with the highest possible feeling of happiness…It is impossible to convey the beauty and intensity of emotion during those visions. They were the most tremendous things I have ever experienced.”   C.G. Jung

Being embodied is an experience of feeling finite in the form of the body.  To be identified with one’s thoughts, and hence “out of the body” and then manage to enter into an embodied state, moves a person back to his or her true essence.”  Nathan Schwartz Salant

It is not coincidence that the first subject of Carl Jung’s collected works was occult phenomena. This was in clear opposition to Freud’s causality driven world view.  When Freud told Jung to “promise never abandon the sexual theory…that we must create a dogma of it…an unshakeable bulwark…against the black tide of mud of occultism.”  These words “alarmed” Jung and ultimately split his relationship with his mentor.

These “so called occult phenomena” involve the concept that consciousness and spirit can exist ‘in’ as well as ‘outside’ the body, and not just limited to the biological function of the brain.  As much as these ideas terrified Freud, they, thankfully, helped propel Jung into a healing crisis, his “confrontation with the unconscious,” with the result that he formulated some of the most revolutionary and practical psychological advances in modern times.  In the process, Jung struggled to understand issues of science and faith, death and rebirth, precognition and karma.  He also found that it was essential to stay grounded and embodied enough so as not to be “torn to pieces” by the intense “emotions wrought up” by this experience.  Jung’s self experiment provides a model for the animation of the individuation process.

Violence, abuse, emotional incest, war, medical procedures, near death experiences, shock, dissociate and displace our consciousness and tend to drive it out of body.  Even our good qualities and talents can send us out of body through inflation.  Especially intense and intrusive energy can cause states of possession that occupy the body stubbornly and dominate and alter perceptions.  In response to the stress, compensatory defense mechanisms, addictions and prescribed medications can fill the gap left by the displaced psyche and prevent us from re-inhabiting our bodies fully in an attempt to protect us.  Paradoxically, the greater the displacement and dissociation, the greater the repetition of the patterns that synergize with the wounding.

If we can become mindfully aware of this displacement, we can turn the reverberating effects of trauma into a healing crisis. Then we can build our psychic and bodily immune response to these revisited patterns and eventually dissolve the imprints in and outside the body enough so that we can re-occupy our bodies safely and thrive.  Paradoxically, to do this, we often need to go “out of body” into a world that can transcend time and space, that often forces an encounter with our mortality in processes more easily identified with the occult or shamanism. These “non-ordinary states” encourage synchronistic occurrences that can help our selves associate consciously to our reactivity and the realization that these seemingly external triggers and patterns are actually self generated.  With this increased orbit of conscious psychic existence we can expand our individuation energy’s connectivity and create opportunities to get clarity about our role and meaning in our lives, fear death less, and live more in the present.

In this course we will examine the alchemical psychodynamics of embodiment, attachment, displacement, the confusion of simultaneous mixed in and out of body states, and collective and religious influences on these states.  We will explore Jung’s struggle with questions about the transformation of psychic energy when the body dies, astral experiences, precognition and reincarnation as well as Nathan Schwartz Salant’s work on fusion states.


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