UPDATE: This workshop has been postponed. New dates will be posted.
The Alchemy of Relationship
In this new two day workshop, Cathy Skipper and Florian Birkmayer, MD will take us on a journey into the Alchemy of Relationship. Their work is based on lived experience in their own life together as well as their clinical work with many clients. They use a range of aromas, including essential oils, hydrosols, attars and others. Along with their course, they will also be offering individual consultations, for those who are interested in additional work.
Aromas have long been known to influence emotions and have been imbued with magical attributes with regards to relationships. People have tried to influence feelings using everything from love potions to the latest designer fragrance. Irresistible and unforgettable smells have been linked to tender memories of togetherness and help us with the challenging feelings of apartness in poetry and practice. And yet, on the whole, we are blind and unconscious to the role of aromas in relationships. Aromas are the molecules of connectedness. We can use them to explore and understand ourselves more deeply, our ego and our unconscious self. When we are committed to working on ourselves, we can also learn how to use aromas in sacred relationship for intimacy, processing, awareness-cultivating and evolution.
This course will explore how to use aromas to restore balance and resilience in relationships, both in your own life and with your clients. Relationships suffer from imbalances in ourselves, in our families of origin and in our communities and nature, and imbalanced relationship perpetuate imbalance in all these areas. Healing is restoring proper relationship.
What is the Sacred Marriage?
The alchemists called the ultimate alchemical stage, the reward of the challenging alchemical process the conjunctio, which is Latin for marriage. The opportunity in relationship is to achieve this Sacred Marriage, the union of the ‘opposites’ out of which a new reality arises. The ‘goal’ of the alchemical process is the Conjunctio, the sacred marriage, but this is not a static end-point but a sign-post along the neverending path of growth and evolution. There’s a term that’s been going around, Twin Flames, which refers to two people that have a unique compatibility to achieve a Sacred Marriage. Yet the most important relationship is within ourselves. We will explore aromas that teach us about how to experience conjunctio within us, between our ego and soul and to create the sacred safe space, the sanctuary in our lives and relationships so the conjunctio can appear in our deep relationship.
The Alchemical Stages of Deep Relationship
Being aware of the alchemical transformations our entire being goes through, including our psyche and especially our unconscious, our shadow, allows us to grow in and through our deep relationships, such as marriage or partnership. Deep, committed relationship is an accelerated form of self-development. Relationships are challenging and can help us grow and evolve, if we can cultivate heart awareness and have a framework for the process. Alchemy is such a framework for deep transformation while maintaining awareness. By being aware of the alchemical stages of relationship we can be in a relationship that grows us. We will discuss the aromas for each alchemical stage, so we can grow through them instead of being devoured by them.
We need to work within ourselves for change to manifest outside of us. As the alchemists said, the microcosm is the macrocosm. Changes in relationship require changes in ourselves. Most of us know that if we keep wanting our partner to change, we are simply unconsciously projecting our own wounds onto them. Our partners are probably doing the same with us. If we want to step out of this unconscious, endlessly repeating pattern, we have to be the change we want to see in relationship. This means we have to learn to collaborate with and listen to our Unconscious, instead of projecting onto our partner.
Within us, we need our ego and our unconscious to be partners, neither dominating the other, each honored for their unique gifts. It is the same in a marriage or relationship and we cannot do this with another person until we’ve cultivated it in ourselves. We will journey with aromas that allow us to explore our Shadow and commit us to the challenging path of self-discovery.
It is often said that we marry our mother or father. Family history echoes across the generations. We may engage in destructive relationship patterns without knowing why. We may be completely unaware that our relationship patterns can be echoes of what our parents and ancestors went through. Through our work, we learn how to unearth the transgenerational hidden or buried patterns and traumas so that we don’t unconsciously repeat and echo the past in our present relationships. We will work with aromas to contact our ancestors and gain more perspective on historical echoes, so we can transform them instead of repeating them.
Important Archetypes in this Work
There are several important archetypes and archetypal dynamics that we have to know to be able to step out of unconscious relationship patterns. These include the positive and negative archetypes of the Father, the archetypes of the Mother, including the Death Mother and the Dark Mother. We need to have an understanding of how our primal relationships, with our mother and father, shape our unconscious expectations of relationship. We also need to understand the Anima and Animus. There are also important archetypal dynamics are psychic incest, specialness and other unconscious programming that influences our ability to be in relationship.
We need to know about our Shadow, about how we constantly project our Shadow onto others, including our partners. We need to know about parents projecting their Shadow and their unlived lives onto their children and how this makes the child unable to become aware of who they really are and that they are not their parents’ projections.
We will work with aromas that will empower us to recognize and face these archetypes, so we can transform them from unconscious barriers into stepping tones for growth.
Intimacy and Barriers to Intimacy
Due to trauma, unconscious expectations and cultural pressure, many of us struggle with being able to be truly intimate with our partners, no matter how much we want to. We will discuss aromas and rituals to enhance and cultivate intimacy and overcome fear and barriers.
Join Cathy and Florian for this transformative class in Bellingham, WA.
Cathy Skipper trained in France as an herbalist and aromatherapist and now spends her time between Europe and New Mexico. Her journey in plant medicine lead her to work with plants intuitively and help others to reconnect with nature. Using alchemy and aromatics, she leads students through experiences that empower, heal and help find their personal myth. Cathy is the author of two books, Aromatic Medicine and The Alchemy of Menopause
Florian Birkmeyer, MD is the co-developer with Cathy of Aromatic Shamanism. He is a Wounded Healer, ceremonialist and teacher and was a holistic psychiatrist for many years. He has an extensive background in treating trauma and addiction as well as Equine Assisted Therapy. He views himself as a bridge-builder between different medical worlds. He works with aromas as living allies for transforming the entire psyche, including the body, emotions, mind and spirit. In teaching and consultations, he focuses on rapid and deep transformation and empowerment.
Cathy and Florian are both wounded healers believing that in any healing art, the most important thing is for the healer to be committed to their own healing journey. This healing energy will then ripple outwards to their patients and clients. Gnosis means the direct perception of Spirit in Nature. Through scent, we become aware that Nature is conscious and intelligent. Through awareness, we have the opportunity to reclaim our living relationship to plants and all of Nature. We see a beautiful synthesis between aromatherapy and alchemy, which in C. G. Jung’s view is a model of personal evolution and soul growth. Aromatic molecules, have profound powers to heal physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Though scent we can connect with the intrinsic aliveness all around us and within us. By reclaiming this connectedness we heal ourselves and Nature. Our own Wounded Healer’s Journey is central to all healing—of ourselves, of our clients, of our environment.