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The Alchemy of an Extraordinary Year and its Potential for Personal Transformation

​Marian Dunlea’s work explores the interconnection of body, mind, and psyche. Her somatically focused therapeutic technique, which she calls “BodyDreaming,” draws on the findings of neuroscience, analytical psychology, attachment theory, and trauma therapy.  

Trauma, like that we’ve experienced this year, changes our neural circuitry.  It can throw us back into old habits of defensiveness, fear, agitation, and passivity.  The residue of trauma can leave us without a sense of safety, shutting us down to experience.  BodyDreaming offers a way out of such patterned responses to psychological injury and re-injury.

“Wounded, rejected, parts of who we are split off and fall into the somatic unconsciousness,” Marian explains. By bringing our attention to the body’s expression in dreams, symptoms, images, movements, and gestures, we can slowly begin to “unblock areas in the body where complexes and trauma are stored.”

Marian will walk us through simple but enlightening exercises which engage the right brain—and start the process of changing the body-mind’s neural circuitry.  As we begin to reinstate balance to a dys-regulated psyche and nervous system, we also change our default response to trauma.  Setting down new neural circuitry offers greater coherence and flow for the whole system.

Monika Wikman’s work also focuses on transformation of the self at the cellular level and restoring flow to the body’s whole mechanism.  Our waking lives, of late, have been rife with schisms, power imbalances, racial conflict and other interpersonal violence—and out of relationship with nature.  This chaos, she thinks, has its roots in a psychological underworld, and it is to this dark world we must turn for answers and advice.   This is the metaphor of the alchemical journey. 

The ancient alchemical quest was an effort to create metallic gold by heating base metals over fire. Jung saw in medieval alchemy a mirror image of the transformational path to wholeness. Unearthing certain truths about our lives and experiencing the fire of feelings they bring to light, he thought, could help us meld disjointed parts of ourselves into a more balanced Self.  Alchemy and its reach into the deepest  strata of the psyche can help us incarnate the gold within ourselves, even as the world heaps darkness on. 

Monika calls the archetype of alchemy, a transformational process promising renewal.  She says the archetype, “remains alive in the depths of human psyche. [Here] the imagery in the call for birth of the new light out of the dark is available to us all.”   To help us find this new level of better understanding ourselves and our world, our speaker will guide us in the imagery of “the alchemical journey through the underworld" where we can "discover the soul's true aim in chaos.”

Entering the land of the unknown requires a psychological descent—and a willingness to take a journey whose end is unclear.  The archetype of the quest is intrinsic to myth and folk and fairy tales.  From the heroic figures and fairy tale naifs who go deep into haunted forests or cross uncharted waters,  we learn how to surrender to chaos and “not knowing” with courage.  These brave, selfless figures who put the ego aside and faced their path with patience and trust, discover unimaginable solutions and truths.  In the smoke of the alchemical fire, Quakers might say, “way opens.”

Plenary Speaker Lectures

1. The Alchemical Journey Through the Underworld - Monika Wikman

(Friday 7 PM EDT)

2.  Body Dreaming:  The Universe of the Nervous System, Alchemy for our Time - Marian Dunlea

(Saturday 10:30 AM EDT)

3.  Discovering the Soul's Aim Through Chaos - Monika Wikman

(Saturday 3:30 PM EDT)

4.  BodyDreaming : At Home in Our Matter - Attunement and Titration Uncover the Numen of the Living Body - Marian Dunlea

(Sunday noon EDT)

Marian Dunlea, M.Sc., IAAP, ICP, is a Jungian analyst and somatics practitioner who has led international workshops on integrating body, mind, and soul for 25 years. She is head of training for BodySoul Europe, part of the Marion Woodman Foundation.  Her new book, BodyDreaming in the Treatment of Developmental Trauma:  An Embodied Therapeutic Approach (Routledge , 2019), received both the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis Gradiva Award and the International Association for Jungian Studies Best Book Award in 2019.

Monika Wikman, PhD, is a Jungian analyst and astrologer and author of Pregnant Darkness: Alchemy and the Rebirth of Consciousness (Nicolas Hays, 2004). She has lectured and conducted workshops nationally and internationally, including at the Center for Alchemical Studies, her non-profit project under Earthways.org, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  A graduate of the Jung–Von Franz Center for Depth Psychology in Zurich, Monika Wikman has done research on dreams of the dying at the University of California San Diego Medical Center and taught at California State University, Los Angeles. 

To see the full schedule of events, click here.

FCRP has long been a place where your story matters.   We look forward to connecting with you—in this odd moment in the history of the Friends Conference on Religion and Psychology.

Sliding scale fees for the three days are from $45-$85.