Steve Seven's book; "The Idea of the Archetype", has greatly helped to broaden and deepen my understanding and appreciation of the influential role the instincts, and, thereby the archetypes, play in our psychology. Particularly the role they play in our daily lives and in our interactions with others. This has gone a long way toward helping me to being a more effective agent in the sessions with my clients, helping them to know themselves better and to grasp what is happening for them both personally and interpersonally. I have much appreciation for the work Steve has put in this endeavor.
Dr. Andrew Prokopis
Steve Seven is adept at explaining the psychological roots of alchemy and other esoteric spiritual disciplines and at placing them in their historical context. His work shows us a valuable path of spiritual progress.
John Opsopaus, PhD
"The Oracles of Apollo"
"The Pythagorean Tarot"
Dear Steve, Your book has good insights and I'm enjoying it. I've found it very informative in defining the broader concept of the archetypes. Kind regards, Bruce
Prof. Bruce MacLennan
Dept. of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science University of Tennessee
"Evolution, Jung, and Theurgy:
Their Role in Modern Neoplatonism"
"Psychological Effects of Henôsis"
and many other titles directly related to the archetype and depth psychology.
Dear Steve, I like [your books]. They show a great deal of sensibility and earnestness towards the subject. Warmly Teo
Prof. Teo Ruiz
Distinguished Professor & Robert and Dorothy Wellman Chair in Medieval History UCLA
ere are many books with the words 'spiritual alchemy' in the title. There are very few that I would suggest that anyone should read to find out about alchemy. This is one of them. The author writes clearly and, it seems to me, writes of what he has experienced. His familiarity with a great many *real* mystical, philosophical and alchemical texts is apparent - and quite frankly that is rare - most people who write about this subject do not seem to have much idea about what they are writing about. The author has also been influenced by Carl Jung, in what seems to be a constructive way.
Most of the book consists of an explanation of the stages of the work. Now it needs to be said that there are many versions and orders of the stages, but the one chosen by the author makes sense and his explanations are useful and interesting. The stages of the 'physical' work, correspond to the phases of the 'soul work, and they interconnect. The book finishes with a short psycho-magical ritual, to incorporate and recognise the 'shadow'.
One way of looking at this book is as a series of short interconnected essays. This is good because, after the reader has read the whole book, the compact focus allows them to easily contemplate what is being said in each 'essay', and to elaborate it, feel it, and imagine it for themselves. This is an essential part of the alchemical practice - read, contemplate, and put to the test.
The texts can only guide you, you yourself have to do the engagement and test the texts for yourself. If you feel that something is not right for you, then maybe you need to know more.... may be it is not right for you.... again you contemplate and perceive the feeling.
Is it the whole truth? I would never say that about any alchemy, or mystical, book. Any outline of the mysteries and the practices is limited and therefore in some ways false. But more importantly, it points a way helpfully and clearly and is easily worth your effort and time.
This is an introduction, but the author has written many other, equally useful books which I bought as they were released. They are all excellent and I recommend all of them.
Jonathan Marshall PhD. Future Fellow, University of Technology Sydney.
Jung, Alchemy and History: A Critical Exposition of Jung's Theory of Alchemy.
Overview: If you are a “both/and” person, this book is for you. If you are interested in psychology, this book is for you. If you are doing theology in dialogue with psychology this book is for you. This “bridging” book refuses to stay in a disciplinary silo. Instead it opens the psychological discipline to the wisdom of ancient philosophy and current consciousness studies in theology.
Author Steve Seven will acquaint you with various schools of psychology, in particular the thought of Jung and Jung’s early mentor, Freud. But Seven, from personal experience, is convinced that psychology can be a doorway to what many psychologists want to ignore: the instinctual orientation of the human psyche toward spiritual transcendence.
Purpose of the Book: Seven seems to be asking the question, “Do archetypes illustrate certain characteristics of an a priori human instinctual unconscious?” (59) His whole purpose in this volume is to answer this question with a yes, and to build his case he needs to show the limitations of such giants as Jung and Freud. Seven will present evidence for an “…inherent drive for personal development,” (3) He will point out the inadequacy of the analytical school as spins its wheels overworking the concept of the archetype so that every symbolic vehicle simply mounts an unending list of archetypes. (5) He is convinced that Jung failed to recognize the differentiation between the innate contents of the instinctual unconscious and the subjective productions of the personal subconscious. (6) Seven will suggest that the great mistake of analytical psychology is to confuse the conscious symbols with the unconscious archetype, and he urges a return to the original understanding of the archetype as it is explained in Plato and his followers in the Western philosophical tradition. (46) Seven finds more solid ground in Freud for whom the archetype is not the image of the dreamer, but the catalyst and motivating drive behind it. The archetype actually brings forward a symbolic representation, not just of the personal nature, but also of the collective nature of the regression of the dream symbolism. (49) Seven quotes Freud (1913) in saying that “…we inherit an archaic constitution as an atavistic vestige.” (49)
The Point of the Book: This leads Seven to the focus of this volume: Archetypes illustrate certain characteristics of an a priori human instinctual unconscious, namely an openness to the Divine. (59) He will dismiss as cause, the entropy of cell or atomic behavior as too mechanistic and out of touch with current understanding “of the complex and dynamic nature of consciousness.” (54) Seven is suggesting that archetypes point to a hidden activity of the reason of God. He bases this conviction on an interpretation of the New Testament nous as a capacity for spiritual truth in the human intelligence, in the higher powers of the human soul, and he backs this up with specific Pauline references. (58) The archetypes are the perfect Forms made
by God; they exist is the heavenly realm, and they form a model that people receive in their nous. (59) “Forms” is capitalized. This refers, in my judgment, to the “Word” which Seven quotes from the Prologue of John’s Gospel in the New Testament. For Seven, the kingdom of God in the context of his thought is another analogy for the instinctual unconscious. (60) The archetypal models are first created in the original heavenly Forms, and manifest themselves in the instinctual drives of the human unconscious. They are innate or a priori propensities that propel us in the direction of their goals. (61) If I understand him correctly, he is suggesting that if all things were created in the Word (John’s Prologue) then the human unconscious is grounded in that Word. The archetypes will then flow from this union, summoning the human back to this original intimacy.
What Seven Presupposes of his Readers: It is clear from the start of this volume that Seven assumes quite a knowledge of psychology from his readers. If they come to this work lacking that background, he speaks in clear enough language to provide it.
He also presumes a “both/and” openness on the part of his readers. If they come to this work with a secular bias, wanting no “religious” elements, they will be challenged to broaden their horizons. If the reader comes with a fundamentalist religiosity, Seven will lure them into the careful consideration of scientific data. There are no closed silos of knowledge here; rather the reader is invited into the realm of discovery and possibility.
Future Possible Exploration: Seven suggests that an early “God-sense” (Elohim) consisted of a primal feeling of interconnectedness prior to the experience of a more fully developed sense of the individual self. (72) This resonates with the bridal imagery found in many religious traditions, and with the sense of “fall” from something. If the loss was an intimacy which the scriptural term refers to as “knowing the name” of the God, this too resonates with the intimate relationship longed for in many sacred texts. The fact that not every person follows this longing may have more to do with cultural influence than with the conclusion that this lack of interest may not be universal. (76-77)
The intimation that the Logos understood by Heroditus as the divine form that orders the universe is at the root on human consciousness offers the possibility of interfaith spiritual exploration. (78) Seven suggests that this form links the two spheres of heaven and earth, or the instinctual unconscious with rational self-awareness. (79)
Referring to the tragic loss of faith of scholar Bart Ehrman, the scriptural reference in Genesis of “Let there be light…” when there was neither sun nor moon, becomes a metaphor for the Word itself, the divine Wisdom of God. There is much potential here for dialogue with science.
The term “Christ” then opens up to the potential of universal application as humans collectively share in the instinctual unconscious. The term “christing” can then be used for any person who intuitively grasps and begins to realize this potential. (81)
The material or physical world of objects is thus only one reality available for human experience. Another world exists that one’s soul might experience. This world could then be referred to as “the spiritual dimension.” (133)
But this will necessitate a clear meaning for the term soul and the term spirituality in a way that these concepts can not only be understood, but appraised and measured “with a certain degree of vigor” within empirical scientific perameters Sevens states that “…the soul has been buried by the ego…to satisfy social dictates.” (133)
Finally, it will be important that in this endeavor, writers in depth psychology do not reduce spirituality to mere scientific materialism. Rather, science itself needs to be elevated to a tested and acceptable higher frame of reference, that of genuine mystical experience. After all, as Seven points out, “The empirical evidence for the instinct of the “Higher Self” is given throughout the entire Western intelligent tradition.” (167)
The volume would be enhanced by an index of terms. [Thanks for the recommendation Carla. This has been added to subsequent editions that are now available.]
Carla Mae Streeter, OP
Aquinas Institute of Theology
St. Louis, MO USA