Alchemy of The Heart: The Healing Journey From Heartbreak to Wholeness


Heartbreak can lead to depression and even despair or, alternatively, act as a profound initiation onto the path of Individuation. The author discovers a healing myth for not only herself, but for a heart- broken world in the love story of Dionysos and Ariadne.



Heartbreak can lead to depression and even despair or, alternatively, act as a profound initiation onto the path of Individuation. The author discovers a healing myth for not only herself, but for a heart- broken world in the love story of Dionysos and Ariadne.

Dionysos, one of the most misunderstood of the gods, is a masculine energy that brings us back to life and vitality in a way that includes deep partnership with the feminine.  Through the exploration of this timeless myth, Alchemy of the Heart takes us on adventure into a world where the dance of masculine and feminine ignites fullness of being in both men and women. From the shadowy labyrinth of Minos to the sacred Initiation Chamber at Pompeii, Alchemy of the Heart travels the landscape of both the outer world and the inner psyche as it points the way past contemporary hedonism, pornography and addiction into a Dionysian world of joy, vibrant sexuality and spiritual transcendence.


“A solid and important work of scholarship that is a must-read for those doing depth psychological work. Aguilar mines the myth of Dionysos and Ariadne for its insights into expanding Jungian notions about the animus and a woman’s journey to wholeness. In the process, she updates Jungian thought to match emerging ways of seeing gender, the feminine, and the masculine in our time.”

Carol S. Pearson, Ph.D., Author of Persephone Rising, The Hero Within and Awakening the Heroes Within. Former President of Pacifica Graduate Institute


“Joseph Campbell showed us the mythic mysteries, now Marina Aguilar unlocks the secrets of ecstatic teachings.  Alchemy of the Heart is a breakthrough work on our divine connection to nature and the playful wisdom of the body.”

Jonathan Young, Ph.D., Psychologist, Founding Curator, Joseph Campbell Archives


“A superb study of the myth of Dionysos through the lens of Jung’s spiritual alchemy.  Focusing on the sacred marriage of Dionysos and Ariadne, the author illuminates the journey to wholeness, both horizontal and vertical, revealing a power to heal not only a broken psyche but a broken world.  Aguilar’s ‘meditative exegesis’ on the Dionysian initiation chamber in the Villa of Mysteries at Pompeii is a model of transcendence at the heart of Plato’s noetic philosophy. This is a penetrating reading bringing to life an ancient, yet timeless, myth.”

Michael P. Morrissey, Ph.D., Author of Consciousness and Transcendence: The Theology of Eric Voegelin

Table of Contents

Introduction Dionysos and the Healing of the Heart 11

Dionysos and the Healing of our World 12

A Destructive Heritage of Biblical Story and Interpretation 14

Misuse of Women and the Earth 15

Redemption 15

How We Met 18


Who is Dionysos? Why Does He Matter? 25

Dionysos, the God 27

What Happened? 31

2. Roots 35

India 35

Egypt 37

The Egyptian Cretan Connection and the Star Sirius 38

The Minoan Civilization 41

3. Flowering 43

Greece 43

Joy, Sex, Comedy, and Tragedy 43

The Lesser Dionysia 45

Lenaia 46

The Anthesteria 48

Sex and the City 49

The Greater Dionysia 52

The Theater of Dionysos 53

The Democracy of Dionysian Worship 54

4. Mythic Beginnings 57

The Theban Myth—Parents and Politics on Parnassus 57

The Orphic Myths—Orphism and Dionysos 60

The Orphic Dionysos Myth 63

Our Dionysian and Titanic Nature 65

The Orphic Dionysian Mysteries 67

5. The God of Women 71

The Maenads 71

The Tyades 74

Dionysos, Ariadne, and the Sacred Marriage 76

The Myth of Dionysos and Ariadne 77

Dionysos, Spiritual Partner 78


6. Feminine Individuation and the Animus 83

Jung’s Theory of Individuation 83

The Animus 85

Logos and Eros 85

Thinking and Feeling 88

Dionysos, an Erotic Animus 88

Bodily Definitions of Masculine and Feminine 90

Phallos and Animus 91

Solar Phallos 91

The Chthonic Phallos and Dionysos 92

Dionysos—Consort of the Embodied Feminine 94

The Expression of the Dionysian Animus 96

Dionysos as Androgyne 97

The Whole Woman 98

7. The Sacred Feminine 99

Mary, the Shekhinah, and Lilith 99

Lilith 101

The Dark Feminine in Christianity 104

The Black Madonna 107

The Archetype of the Labyrinth 111

Ariadne, Lady of the Labyrinth 112

The Labyrinth: Soul, Spirit, and the Self 113

Ariadne and Her Animus 115

8. Soul, Body, Spirit Dionysos and Christ 123

Soul and Spirit 123

Soul and Body 124

Sex and the Divine, The Goat and the Lamb 125

The Goat and the Witch 127

More about Christ and Dionysos 129

Dionysos and Symbols of Enlightenment 132

The Thyrsus and Kundalini 134

9. The “Chemical Wedding” of Ariadne and Dionysos 137

Alchemy, Initiation and Individuation 137

The Chemical (Alchemical) Wedding 140

10. Initiation and Individuation: The Women of Pompeii and the Women of Today 143

Ritual and Initiation 145

Experiencing the Initiation Chamber 146

The Meaning 149

The Sacred Drama of Initiation: Scenes 1-10 152

Conclusion 167


11. Dionysos and the Feminine in the Contemporary World 171

The Tree Waves of Feminism 172

12. A Contemporary View Dionysos and Ariadne in the 21st Century 177

Dionysian Signs and Symptoms 177

The Dionysian in Dreams 179

Recognizing the Dionysian Boy, Adolescent, and Man in an Apollonic World 180

Ariadne and the Contemporary Woman 184

Goddesses in the Ariadne Woman 186

13. Conclusion 193

The Plates 197

Bibliography 203

About the Author 209

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