'The Alchemy of Mediation', Essays in Mediation
Posted: 10 Mar 2017
Date Written: 2016
We live in a fragmented age of mediation. Diverse disciplines make a claim to mediation; they include communication, psychology, human resources, international relations, law, restorative justice, gender studies, peace and conflict studies, cultural studies, counseling, neuroscience and others. As with all disciplines, they have their own theories, systems, literature, models, jargon, processes and practices and many mediation scholars remain within their own academic silos, resulting in a fragmentation of the field.
While there is a plethora of propagated advice on techniques and models that seek to explain the transformative potential of mediation; the field lacks a common core. There is no shared language for mediation, no “obvious” starting point, no accepted map of the mediation territory. Yet as we move towards an epistemology of mediation, we need to integrate aspects of these various disciplines and apply them to our areas of concern, adapt and develop them and make them our own. We need to find a shared door through which we can enter the world(s) of mediation. Beyond this door we might imagine a series of interconnected paths leading us to encounters with diverse languages, maps and cultures of mediation.
In this chapter, we turn to the notion of alchemy with its rich history and varied applications, as an organizing concept for mediation – a possible shared door – and one which offers fresh insights into the transformative territory of mediation.
Drawing on Jung’s and others’ work, this chapter explores how integrating understandings of alchemy into mediation via aesthetic and sensory engagement can change our embodied experiences of processes, of one another and of mediated outcomes themselves. We use the four elements – earth, water, air and fire – and their corresponding alchemical processes of coagulatio, solutio, sublimatio and calcinatio to open a path towards a deeper, more holistic and aesthetically-grounded understanding of mediation.
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