Alchemical Psychology, Part II – Blue

A  look at James Hillman’s book, Alchemical Psychology, the second stage. Part I, Colours, is here.

The move from the morbidity of black is towards blue, still a bit shadowy, but perhaps coming to us just as we are able to see in the dark, which can only come from adding light, or waiting until our senses become more acute. Adjustment can come through accepting the darkness we find ourselves in, the isolation that we experience there which surprisingly leads to gaining enough distance for reflection.

“The blue transit between black and white is like that sadness that emerges from despair as it proceeds towards reflection. Reflection here comes from or takes one into a blue distance, less a concentrated act that we do than something insinuating itself upon us as a quiet removal. This vertical withdrawal is also like an emptying out, the creation of a negative capability, a profound listening – already an intimation of silver.”

Having lost the ground of our being that we once stood so firmly on, a new grounding can emerge in which we allow a place for the things in life that once fell into the shadows, because we could not bare them, disowning them through idealization of both ourselves and the world around us.

“The soul’s putrefactio is generating a new anima consciousness, a new psychic grounding that must include underworld experiences of the anima itself: her deathly and perverse affinities expressed alchemically by the “moon bitch” (CW 14: 181), “rabid dog”(CW 14: 182)  and lunacy that comes with the moon goddess, Diana.  The dark blue of the Madonna’s robe bears many shadows, and these give her depths of understanding, just as the mind made on the moon has lived with Lilith so that its thought can never be naive, never cease to strike deep toward shadows.  Blue protects white from innocence.”

We cannot reach the white without giving up the childish innocence we once new and perhaps cherished. Blue keeps us in touch with the black of the underworld, the darkness and sometimes terrifying nature of life, giving us enough distance that we neither identify with the darkness, nor the childish insistence that everything is good.

Without these gradations that the color spectrum offers, we risk perpetually swinging back and forth from the cynicism of living in a cold, dark world to the craving for a paradisiacal one in which suffering is abolished and innocence is presumed and worshipped.

“What before was the stickiness of the black, like pitch or tar, unable to be rid of, turns into the traditionally blue virtues of constancy and fidelity. Country-and-Westerns sing the blues of desertion and fidelity. “Gone and left me,” “done me wrong,” “but I can’t help lovin’.” I may be ruined and bruised, yet still my heart’s still loyal. No way to put something behind me and get on. Blue remembers, and the black in it doesn’t let things go. The tortured and symptomatic aspect of mortification – flaying oneself, pulverizing old structures, decapitation of the head-strong will, the rat and rot in one’s personal cellar – give way to mourning.”

There is so much more that HIllman brings to his chapter on blue, but I promised myself that I would be brief, in the hopes that you, dear reader, will remain curious enough to continue reading this thread and perhaps even read his wonderful book. So, I will leave the last words on blue here to Hillman:

“As an archetypal grace given with the cosmos, the colors donate their imaginative force to our creativity. How else account for the blue masterpieces in the arts? Gershwin, for instance, or Miles Davis? Is it merely a convention that names their music blue? Or does blue’s archetypal power affirm its imaginal reality by means of these masterpieces? Blue made the music blue as it makes our souls sorrow. Blue’s specific gift is to the mind so that its sight can be insight, its vision visionary, and metaphor its terra firma.”

Hillman, James (2011-10-10). Alchemical Psychology (Uniform Edition of the Writings of James Hillman) (Kindle Locations 2213-2217). Spring Publications, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Links to all posts in the series:

Colour My World , Alchemical Psychology, Part I – Black http://wp.me/pZ0y1-T7

Alchemical Psychology, Part II – Blue http://wp.me/pZ0y1-TA

Alchemical Psychology, Part III – Silver http://wp.me/pZ0y1-Um

Alchemical Psychology, Part IV – White http://wp.me/pZ0y1-UT

Alchemical Psychology, Part V – Yellow http://wp.me/pZ0y1-WV

Alchemical Psychology, Part VI – Red http://wp.me/pZ0y1-XT

Alchemical Psychology, Part VII – Air http://wp.me/pZ0y1-11b

Alchemical Psychology, Part VIII – Caelum http://wp.me/Z0y1

9 thoughts on “Alchemical Psychology, Part II – Blue

  1. Pingback: Blue Beard | sara annon

  2. Pingback: Colour Symbolism: Blue | symbolreader

    • You’re welcome! There might be a bit of a time lapse before I can write anymore as my weekend time will be filled with other commitments. Thank you again Symbol Reader for both reading and inspiring me to continue with your interest.
      Debra

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