Module 1: At the Boundary of Science & Magic
In this opening session, you’ll start to explore alchemy and how depth psychology explains it as a metaphor for a healing process that leads to full integration and self-realization.
You’ll look at symbols and images known as archetypes — which reside in humanity’s shared universal psyche — and learn to understand the collective unconscious… universal patterns harbored in all of nature, animals, and the universe itself.
Rabbi Tirzah will begin to guide you through the cross-cultural, gender-expansive archetypal patterns of the personality, all of which are facets of the Philosopher’s Stone, which symbolizes the ultimate goal of the mystic path — likened to enlightenment, unity, and bringing heaven to earth. These archetypes will be central to your alchemical process.
You’ll start to recognize important archetypes within your own personality, such as Persona, your social mask… Ego, the hero within you seeking its place in the world… and Complex, the place of your original wounding — when you experienced a trauma that became one of your organizing principles.
You’ll also learn how the Prima Materia is akin to the mystical Hebrew letter Aleph, a magical essence that carries the power to unify opposites that create discord in the world and ill health in your body.
Module 2: Coming Through the Dark Night of the Soul
The basic tenets of alchemy will be explained, as Rabbi Tirzah provides vivid images that represent the discovering and living out of the true self. She’ll illustrate why this process of self-discovery is inexorably linked to tikkun olam — your contribution to redeeming the world.
You’ll learn the alchemical terms and images for the dark night of the soul — Nigredo, Mortificatio, and Putrificatio (black stage, death, and decay) — the first stage of alchemical transformation. Although this stage can be challenging, it’s necessary to experience in order to do the work of alchemical healing and transformation… and birth new life.
Rabbi Tirzah will introduce you to the alchemical vessel — the key alchemical instrument, which must be sealed for the magic of transformation to work. You’ll learn how it relates to Ego, health, boundaries, and relationship structure.
You’ll study alchemical images of the peacock, born of the death process… and the Phoenix, born of ashes. This is the blackening stage in the alchemical process, which rises and glows in beautiful hues of flame.
With the goal of bringing Prima Materia into actuality, you’ll examine the “core complex” of your being and that of your family — and understand it as a reflection of a rupture that occurred and is carried in your lineage.
You will explore the archetypes at play within you and the world around you — Death and Rebirth, the vessel of the Ego (in both its ruptured and whole shapes), the Inner Partner, and the Wise Old Woman or Man within you.
You’ll discover the realized self (or Tzaddik) within you and how it can guide you to the ultimate goal of the Self — the synthesis of your potential as the integration of all sub-personalities and parts that lead you to experience the Philosopher’s Stone.
Module 3: Alchemical Ritual Lab 1 — Raising the Bones
You’ll investigate the myth of Serach, daughter of Asher, a young girl from the Hebrew lineage who’s gifted with prophetic powers. She’s called upon to find the bones of Joseph — hidden at the bottom of the Nile River — before the exodus of her people.
Rabbi Tirzah will guide you to find yourself in the story to understand the call of the ancient elder Joseph, who could see ahead that his descendants would lose their way, become enslaved, and one day be redeemed. Joseph entreats his children to carry his bones out of Egypt into the promised land — and so must you.
When you enter the alchemical laboratory, you’re invited to bring with you an actual object that serves as a symbol of your core wound or complex or that of your family. You’ll be asked to have your altar prepared with all the elements on it as well as ancestral photos.
In this process, you’ll use each of the elements to activate your symbolic representation. With the music of Serach, you’ll travel deep into the chambers of the ancestral halls and ask for the wounded and paralysed to make themselves known. There we perform an alchemical ritual to raise the bones and carry them forward through time.
Module 4: Marrying Your Inner Other
As you continue exploring the story of carrying the ancestral bones to the promised land, you’ll begin your study of the Philosopher’s Stone — the goal of alchemy and elixir of life.
You’ll explore the first three of the four stages of alchemy and their corresponding archetypes.
You’ll review the alchemical stage of Nigredo (or blackening) from Module 2, which represents the experience of psychological death when things fall apart in our lives. In the language of alchemists, this is the “lead” that must be charred and burnt into black ash.
This stage paves the way for renewal, found in the alchemical stage known as Albedo (or whitening) — the purification that happens when we marry or unite with our inner opposite. For male-identified people, it’s the feminine energies of the psyche, or Anima — and for female-identified people, it’s the internal masculine energies, or Animus.
This inner marriage leads to the alchemical stage known as Citrinitas (or yellow brightening) — the stage of psychological development when you tap into your wise and well ancestors and cultivate relationships with them. This in turn signals a deepening of your soul and access to your own inner wells of wisdom.
Module 5: The Glistening Warmth of a Whole Self
The great alchemists believed that we can’t materially turn lead into light (gold) if our being isn’t aligned with the process. No change can happen in the laboratory if it doesn’t happen within the alchemists themselves.
You’ll work with the next principle of alchemical healing — healing our human tendency to fear, blame, and dehumanize the other. Rabbi Tirzah will guide you in reclaiming your shadow projections.
You’ll explore the final alchemical stage known as Rubito (or reddening), in which you find the warm ruby red of the Philosopher’s Stone — your magical, whole, and healing self.
Module 6: Alchemical Ritual Lab 2 — Carrying & Burying the Bones, Laying the Pain-Body to Rest
Rabbi Tirzah will begin this practicum as a journey, guiding you through cleansing breath practices to flush out your right and left orbital hemispheres. You’ll then recite together an ancient chant, Tehom el Tehom (From the Deep I Call to You) to invoke your ancestors as you enter a ritual ceremony in the Ancestral Realm…
… where you’ll deliver gifts to honor your paternal and maternal lineages… and gather the gratitude and acknowledgement of raising and carrying the bones of the ancestors to peace.
During this process, you’ll be invited to sense the different characters and tricksters of each lineage — those who might want to trip you up or put roadblocks in your way — all the while remaining present and grounded.
Rabbi Tirzah will then lead you in a visualization to a sacred spot in nature where you’ll be able to observe how you’ve been carrying the onus of your ancestors. You’ll complete the journey in the presence of the wounded ancestors — where you’ll bury your family’s pain-body.
This is the profound work of facing the wounded in your family lineage, honoring them, listening to them, and hearing their cries.
You’ll be asked to bring with you a bone, stone, or other relic, to imbue it with the pain of your family or lineage wound.
Module 7: Re-Choosing Your Voluminous Self
What are you left with now that you’ve buried your family’s pain-body?
Having released the bones to Mother Earth, you need to shed the old story you’ve been telling yourself about who you are.
It’s time to enter new territory — what the myth calls the Promised Land.
You’ll examine the stumbling blocks set in your way by both your inner saboteur and wetiko — the dark forces that trick us on our path to wholeness and tempt us to creep back into the smallest version of ourselves. These forces coax us to dig up and embrace the bones of our old self, so we can feel “safe” and familiar again.
So how do you occupy your voluminous self and embrace the idea that you’re no longer wounded? You’ll discuss your renewed ancient self and your return to the grand vista you had when you came into this life.
Rabbi Tirzah will also guide you in an alchemical practice to transmute the world’s heavy energies of suffering and pain.
Module 8: Alchemical Ritual Lab 3 — Preparing to Cross the Threshold of This Life
As a whole and robust soul who’s accomplished the alchemical stages of self-transformation, you’ll now practice Ars Moriendi — the sacred art of rehearsing for a conscious and beautiful passing from this life when that time comes.
A guided journaling exercise will help you explore your personal fears and the negative ancestral beliefs we’ve absorbed about death.
Rabbi Tirzah will then guide you in meditation to the threshold of this life to harvest its lessons from a state of expanded consciousness. You’ll practice being seen and lovingly received as you assume your light-body. Ample time will be provided for gentle integration.
Module 9: Creating a Luminous Legacy
In this closing session, you’ll explore the archetype of the Apocalypse. The archetype of our time, Apocalypse refers to the great uncovering — a revealing of what’s been previously obscured. You’re now ready to look at the myth or central narrative that you’re living today… and what’s coming to light in your present life.
Alchemical wisdom teaches that in times like these — with polarization and tensions building — destructive conflicts of opposing forces will generate energies deep within the psyche that, while extremely chaotic and difficult, ultimately allow for renewal and revitalization.
You’ll be invited to share with your co-participants whatever’s burgeoning with new life for you, and where you’re energized to apply your life force and sow seeds of new light. You’ll have an opportunity to share how you’re planning to take action and BE the Philosopher’s Stone in the world.
There will be time to share drawings, poetry, collages, or musical expressions of your alchemical healing journey if you choose to do so… and to journal about your journey of becoming an axis of healing — the Philosopher’s Stone — in your family and the world.
You’ll participate in a closing meditation, to bathe in the new facets of yourself that enable you to enact timeless healing, receive and send Tonglen, and be a light in the world.
Rabbi Tirzah will then close the course by guiding you in a visualization of the future — where you’ll see yourself as steady, deeply grounded, and profoundly useful.