I am nothing if not inspired by, and take solace and sustenance in, time to myself, felt most vividly, and perhaps most deeply, when late at night.
If people align or walk themselves most truly at certain times of the day, then a large portion of my time would be at night, when not many, or hardly any, are around, if any at all.
It may be complete darkness then, or pert near, as my grandmother at times said, but the idea approaches nothingness, an absence, a void even.
At one end of the spectrum you find a willingness, or a need, to go beyond the regular realms and times of daylight, of the daylight hours, a time when we most ingest and take part in and co-create the reality we think we know, or we certainly try making.
But that for me has never quite been reality.
The untraceable memory of truth within us, which ever guides and leads us in life, points to us lifting back the regular world of ideas and the days of everyday life, which we find to just be how things are.
There is another world, and I think you can most taste it in those alone times, not lonely, although that can occur.
At night, in this place, the moonlight as gentle knowledge, here you will find, to my mind, a peace and an ease, a more natural way to understand.
The work I do becomes intimately informed by what I know from this place, this time, although the time I am referring to now is hours away from when I am posting this.
What to do in the daylight?
I try and not get caught up with what we all know, and try to remember what I do know, perhaps unique from this place.
It lines up with the deeper understanding I feel essential in life.
To be who we are we have to be able to be in a place as this.
I am glad to value this place and time as I do, and I am happy to share with you from here.
Rounding out recent thoughts I have had of alchemy and Tantra (see the post Alchemy: Destination Red), I want to relate how I see magic as synonymous with love in terms of being the fabric and dynamic of reality.
The untraceable memory of truth within us calls us to realize who we are as a unique expression of the universe, while simultaneously being the universe itself.
We are all moving towards this understanding, whether we are consciously doing so or not. Thus says Vedanta.
An experiential knowledge that we are the universe, according to Tantra, comes from us feeling the vibratory reality of it, this sacred tremoring or vibration of the universe, perhaps a feeling of love or joy within ourselves, permeating our whole being, coming to us in peak moments, although certainly not restricted to them.
That being the fabric of reality, the dynamic of reality comes to us in everyday life in the form of the connection between any two: a person and a person, a person and an object, a person and a place, or even between an object or a place and another object or place. (The word "thing" can be used in place of "object" here.)
If all of reality, according to Vedanta, becomes nothing but an expression and experience of the very universe itself in our greatest understanding, the experiential Tantric dynamic of it has the relation between any two physical manifestations, as described above, as being alchemical in nature, that is, the natural tendency between any two phenomena becomes ultimately the experience of the universe as whole. The vibratory or joyful experience or dynamic between any two represents the natural desire for wholeness or union, the experience of the undivided, absolute universe.
We can say love exists between them, desiring wholeness.
Saying nothing about how magic, in being the fabric and dynamic of reality as just described, may be manipulated or worked with in intentional and conscious ways, which I have nothing to say on, although the framework and reality of it is clearly there--magic as an expression and dynamic of the universe can easily be substituted for the word "love" when recalling the feelings we have in peak moments and when resonating with others or other objects or places in a special way.
What motivated me to post, and what this post has come down to in a very simple way, this has me sharing how the tasks of daily living, I like to think of as an opportunity to experience and express magic, as acts imbued with love, for those tasks done especially to help and assist others, and for those done to help keep the peace and cleanliness of our own space and domain.
These are not to be seen or experienced as mundane activities or detail work.
They are the very acts of life itself, regular everyday life, but possibly able to be experienced as a way of working magic, of expressing personal love, or a way of sacredly connecting to what you are doing, or who you are doing it for.
... this being the story of a wizard, the fourth part, continued from Wizarding 101 ... it began in Return of the wizard.
Unbearable, he thinks, unbearable!
A roaring flame of cascading fire, consuming him whole, the sound almost as loud as eternity itself screaming from the dragon's mouth.
Lightning! Hitting him and the beast, a silver-sharded weapon of the gods. Tongue of flame enticing and arousing, the Goddess devouring him.
I WILL NOT GO LIKE THIS!
His voice its own creation, thundering its echoes, the Goddess' flames, the dragon's life and breath hanging on this force of his will, this desperation, this last gasp from unfathomable depths of learning and knowledge gained from the first light of time itself.
He has seconds, he has eternity, he has a recollection of youth in precious moments.
What I liked so much about my mother was her ability to just be with what came her way, like in the cumbersome way papa tried to chase her around our dirt floors, especially in the kitchen when she was baking or cooking, them both laughing, her seeming vexed, but never in a way anyone but a sensitive child would notice.
I remember her skirts to hang onto, to hide in, to command to be held by grabbing onto, her lifting me up into her smiling face and love, kisses, with more kisses, giggling from a shyness borne of her attention.
And meadows, seemingly endless meadows, of sunlight, and running, and falling, getting dirty with grassy things all over.
I remember mama as having the qualities of heaven, drifting along so easily in light and air.
The Goddess. Stops.
The dragon. Topples.
A great height.
On his tower, the wizard sideways falls, a great looping arc, rushing through his tower window as the land itself shifts in sync with his vision and movement.
Copyright © 2022, Mark Newlon
I am somewhat self-conscious sharing this information, but, I think it important to be myself and relate what ties in with the work I do. It helps explain the framework behind the process of my counseling, shedding light on relevant beliefs and understandings that come into play in my practice.
What I am sharing I would like to put in the framework of alchemy's three stages, which can be found in other posts or under the hidden menu for Esoterica on this site.
As a way to accelerate a natural process, whether this be for metals or for human beings, alchemy's stages outline how we reach for wholeness.
Being a mystic fits in well with the stages or steps. By going deeper into oneself, or losing oneself through the embrace of something greater, the desired goal of wholeness, where we are more purely ourselves than at any other time, this wholeness can be tasted, experienced, and touched on, requiring nothing else at this time.
I have a sense that there is no divided experience from anything or anyone else when we come into ourselves more like this, ironically disappearing into this unified wholeness as we realize ourselves more and more. What transpires then, or on the way to experiencing and knowing this, I might describe as a thinning of reality or as a taking away from any experience the substantiality of it.
Things do not bother us like they used to, and they do not have the weight that they once did.
They simply do not have the substance like that.
Now, this experience may last for but a short time, the example of a deeper experience of meditation coming to mind, along with the felt experience of reality afterwards.
In alchemy we could say that we are in the world of the everyday, its thoughts and ideas, and removing ourselves consciously from it in the next stage, which allows us to return to the world in the third stage, with a closer experience to or approximation of that golden destination of feeling and being whole, experiencing the true nature of reality as less substantial and weighted than before we entered deeply into meditation.
From white, to black, to red tinged with gold, to speak chiefly of the colors of the alchemical stages just outlined.
Alchemy, whether we know it or not when we follows its stages, helps us arrive more quickly at this place of wholeness.
Being a mystic helps us arrive there in the way just outlined, and by doing practices like a mystic might, we give ourselves the opportunity to experience this.
Meditation might be one way to this.
In the practice of counseling, certainly how I approach it, two people have the opportunity to thin out reality together or for one to lead the other in practices which help this to occur. Working through problems or concerns or issues, to give just a general description of counseling, this is a way to lessen the load and help make less substantial the obstacles or difficulties on one's path, which include within oneself.
Any experience becomes an opportunity to experience wholeness, if we are able to let go fully into it and touch on the underlying reality within the moment, it being of less substance than we might have otherwise experienced then.
Being a mystic, I have almost a need to dip into this underlying reality for my sense of balance and well-being as a person, although it does not tolerate well at times experiences that fall short of this deeper immersion.
It may in some ways be easier not to be a mystic while living on this earth, but I do think it aligns me with a knowing that I truly do cherish, however it may be beyond any of my ability to help not having this drive or this experience.
I just work with what my experiencing of reality is and has been, that has informed me and continues to do so, and I think it has its benefits when helping others with their own drives and needs in reaching wholeness.
Although the title of this post may sound like a contest or a game of some kind to see who wins out, the two spellings here highlight a subtlety of difference in the same understanding.
To begin with, let us throw out the idea of stage magic, for I am not referring to this with either spelling.
Also, let me share the importance of my understanding and knowledge in this post as it relates to my practice, whether you use one or two spellings of magic, or even the word at all: when you are experiencing health and wholeness, and you come to taste and touch on what this means and may mean, you might say the magic of life meets you, gives you the freedom to feel who you really are and might be.
Magic, however you spell it, which I will get to in a moment--experiencing it becomes a marker on the road to being yourself and to reaching wholeness.
I have previously defined magick with the letter k, to distinguish it from stage magic. For all intents and purposes right now, unless I indicate otherwise, I am talking about the same magick when I spell it without a k. Magic and magick then, from this point on, are interchangeable and synonymous on this site, unless I purposely refer to stage magic, which would be a separate definition.
If magic and magick are the same in essence when I mention either, what is the subtle difference between them?
Consider magick a formal definition of the word, which I have used purposefully to reference those who practice it and how it may have been understood and referenced in times past, not to mention current practitioners' usage of it.
There is truly something magical about the word, and powerful.
To conjure my definition again for magick:
A shift in perspective of reality where mystery and symbols hold power and the key to providing answers and knowledge which can alter reality.
More recently, I have used the word magic without a k and essentially meant the same thing.
However, when I have said magic more recently, I have been referring to a less formalized feeling and expression and experience of what it means, as in the life around and about you providing you with moments that feel like magic, are made up of magic, contain magic, to the point that you really understand and do believe in magic and know what it means in those moments.
Again, it marks progress in life.
Now whether you wield it formally or not, and whether I myself have more to say on that--honestly, I would not have much to say right now due to lack of knowing, and this perhaps may never change. I do believe in its practice though.
I consider the formally defined magick the same as the experience of magic in life, and to distinguish them further does not seem to be required at this point in my practice.
Being who we are, there becomes no greater magic than this.
This I truly believe and know.
For a summary of the overall knowledge I draw upon and make use of in my practice, the lens of alchemy helps highlight key areas. Through honoring the esoterica I know, which includes alchemy, I share ways of knowing associated more with darkness, obtained by going off the beaten path to be safely away and protected from the world. Under the processes of healing, I highlight more conventional counseling ideas, where we reach for and maintain ourselves operating in the world, or at least whatever our own particular version of the world may be. Within understandings of the sacred feminine, I share transcendent ideas, no less true, where love becomes the truth of what we know and experience.
All three of these areas can be seen as emblematic of alchemy's three processes, coded black, white, and red, respectively. (See the post Alchemy: A Journey of Discovery for more information on this.)
When I say Mystery of alchemy, I am purposely using a capitalized version. For mystery, in general, I mean that which we do not know. Almost all of the work I do and how I try and live have become more and more informed by my relationship to mystery or what I do not know.
I sometimes feel inclined to share a bit of reasoning or logic behind why I share and say what I do, but, in honor of mystery, I will leave a bit of that for now as I continue.
Without not knowing, how can we know or claim to know or come into knowledge of any kind? How can we explore, find truth, experience and enjoy what is new? More importantly, for the map of living and life which I find to be valid for experiencing one's own happiness and evolution: how can you experience any wonder in life or living without a sense of mystery, of enjoying not knowing how or why something occurs, which may include a sense of awe at times?
I might say that mystery involves itself quite intricately with the enjoyment of life and leads to its enchantment.
When I say Mystery, versus mystery, I am not using that designation lightly. I feel we are all a unique, and at times not a unique, expression of this ultimate mystery as Mystery, or, you may say, God or Goddess, the universe, Truth, whatever personal representation of Mystery speaks to you.
To say or even think we will come into the knowledge of all someday while still living on this earth, as we know ourselves to be living right now, this becomes an incessant drive and a fruitless quest in terms of the desired goal of knowing all.
The secret of Mystery: you must surrender to it. You live your life, knowing what you know, not knowing what you do not know, and you come across important experiences of wonder where you have enjoyed being who you are, while at the same time enjoying what you do not know in a way which gives a nod to and honors Mystery.
I do believe the Mystery of the universe will reach down and assist and help, in perhaps unpredictable ways at times, if we just follow our own path but make room for and allow ourselves to let go into, surrender into not knowing, not ever knowing all we would like to know.
The stages of life as seen through alchemy reach milestones of wonder, and without Mystery being honored, these become less likely to occur. Certainly, it makes sense to ask, why not consciously allow a place for Mystery in life if we will never know all, but we can at least honor this not knowing by having a place for Mystery in life?
For me, this allows wholeness, allows it to occur more easily.
The Mystery of alchemy becomes a process of allowing ourselves to remember who we are.
Tat tvam asi.
I have made a change to my website today, supplying more practical esoteric material, while hiding others I still believe in but which did not have a place in the change as of this day.
Briefly, to comment on the day, I think a day of foolishness might be just a wonderful thing, a fool's delight. A fool delights in not knowing, in not giving a care. The revelry, the joy, the freedom in this, this supplies perhaps a wonderful way to help us shift out of any daily drudgery or routine or haze.
I always think honoring the mystery of life brings rewards which we can experience if not always express, and I think the image of the fool, and what comes to mind with this, in some ways shows an ideal of how to embrace and live from what we do not know.
So, in keeping this post brief, a happy April Fool's Day to you!
I wanted to offer my sketches, my thoughts, my perhaps ramblings and rumblings as I try and bring forth such a fabled concept into my practice. I mean, I am doing that right now, have been doing that since my last few posts.
Creating the Philosopher's Stone means many things, and has historically, and for me its creation represents being able to share in more Western language the precious understandings and knowledge I have of reality through Eastern paths almost exclusively.
When looking at the historical data on how to create a stone or some material, such as a powder or a wax-like substance, which can turn metals into gold, which also incorporates ideas of the perfection of oneself, with more esoteric understandings being part of the process as well, each alchemist, or person who practices this art, has a variation on the basic steps of this process, the process of alchemy.
I am relating all of this and find this important because, for one, my understanding of reality, as I am sure is the case for everyone, this shapes so much of who I am, and I know this to be quite different than a lot of people's. It seems important to share this about myself as it inevitably influences the work I do.
Secondly, if in my knowledge, and belief to an extent, I feel we are all inevitably going towards this understanding of reality, this truth of it, and most of us are not aware of this truth, and it is shaping us and our path regardless of our knowledge of it, this seems important to share in a helping profession. If I am not mentioning or referencing or working with the underlying framework and pull that drives or conditions each of us in unique ways, then I feel I am neglecting knowledge I have that could be shared to be helpful and open up reality more for a path to wholeness for each person.
The historical quest for the Philosopher's Stone, whether for turning lead into gold or perfecting the nature of oneself, in it I have found language which echoes that of traditional Tantra and Vedanta.
Both of those Eastern understandings speak of reality in a way which I know, however much I do know it They basically state we are already at our destination, having already reached a true oneness with the universe, and instead of "universe" you can use your own word for the ultimate understanding of things, whether this be for a force, a being, a presence, or what have you, whatever you conceptualize as an ultimate understanding, one which can be experienced, interacted with, even related to in the sense of a relationship.
Alchemy has tried to speed up the natural perfection it says all metals are going towards, or that all of us are reaching for. Gold for alchemists has been the perfection of all metals, symbolic of our own perfect nature which we strive for.
When turning lead into gold or helping others reach this state of perfection, the Philosopher's Stone has already reached this place, helping others or other material to arrive there.
I feel it important to conclude my talk of alchemy here, and begin to share it as the process already in place in my practice, of reaching for wholeness, and although I will use and have used the word perfection for what alchemy strives for, there is nothing more perfect than the Eastern conceptualization of us knowing our true nature, as the universe itself, as the state of perfection already inherent within us.
Alchemy seeks to help us unlock this door of understanding, and when it does so, when it helps us uncover who we really are, it creates in the process a golden key of awareness with which we find our freedom and joy in life.
I feel like I have finally come to a place where I can share openly, if not completely so, the knowledge I have that has meant so much to me throughout my life.
This knowledge I can share will be on a path unique to each person, but it translates into freedom for everyone, a loving sense of being, a peaceful sense of existence; it is dynamic and powerful, loving and human.
It accepts no authority, but your own.
In the ultimate sense, it is authority for everyone.
When looking at the basic processes of alchemy, in which a material becomes purified to a point of perfection, reaching its own innate essence or self, the final destination becomes colored red.
This may symbolize the material's own innate perfection achieved. It may also signify its ability to change other materials into their own perfected states.
This, I am so happy to have discovered, perhaps urged on silently by the work of Carl Jung, who himself found in alchemy so much rich meaning for his own discovered understandings of how we reach for wholeness.
I will say I have come across this perfected material before, sometimes called a stone, throughout my life.
A most recent encounter with it shaped myself and the beginnings of my practice, introducing the sacred feminine to me in a way I had not known. The importance of self-love was pointed out, not in a distorted way, but in a way which had me feeling more whole.
Reading books on the subject, I found in the sacred feminine a suppressed understanding, lineages or potential lineages of women who incorporated everyday living into their daily practice.
If a path of truth were to be walked, discarding everyday life and love did not seem healthy based on the recent experiences I had had at the time.
I encountered the red thread designation of Meggan Watterson, which harkened back to the women of the past I was discovering.
Completely separate from her, I found out there was a Red Thread Zen practice, incorporating everyday living into its unique form of Buddhism.
There are other encounters with this color, and I will come to another of them in a moment, but when I discovered in alchemy just recently the path of making this treasured material, perfected in itself and which could transform others as well, I was shown how I could incorporate all of my path in a way which could be communicated to others, the symbolism of alchemy and its processes having paved the way with their precedents.
Repeated from a previous post, here are the sequences of changes when transforming a material into its perfected state, signified by color change and including my own interpretation of what each stage means. Transforming oneself, as well as other materials, has been a goal of alchemy historically.
Black - a distillation of ourselves past the everyday world and mind talk.
White - insights and information gained from the experience as we return.
Red - living our lives changed from the knowledge of our experience.
While I had very deeply and clearly encountered my own personal experiences of the first two stages of alchemy, not until I encountered the need of the sacred feminine in such a fundamental way could I have found meaning in the third stage, even though I had experienced it in my own way, if not highlighted or talked about in the traditions I had followed.
Without elaborating on this, I will simply say that any tradition that advises practice and discipline away from others or from even basic human sexual understanding, without honoring either of them, or without honoring the connecting human link we have to all, this potentially complicates the path, sometimes to an alarming degree.
You may reach a state of understanding without consciously honoring our humanity or sexuality, but depending on the degree of neglect, this will return at some point to challenge you.
A religion, for instance, may honor a removal of oneself from the world to gain insights and understanding, as in the first two stages of alchemy, but it may not have much to say on how to be a human and work with these. This represents a feminine addition to the knowledge, to my mind, and to my heart, for a more complete understanding, for how to humanly work with this knowledge and any insight gained.
Traditional Tantra represents such a complete path as I have outlined, as alchemy has put forth. I have been excited and heartened to discover we have had a Western approach, in alchemy, to a complete path to realizing the truth of who we are, which we are all going towards, whether we know it or not.
Traditional Tantra has been the most complete path I have ever encountered, predating religion as we know it, captured and intimated somehow in the stages of process outlined in alchemy for reaching perfection.
Traditional Tantra has come from India, followed closely by, perhaps around the same time and around the same region, the teachings of Vedanta. Whereas Vedanta follows more closely the first two stages of alchemy, traditional Tantra, which I will refer to as simply Tantra now--Tantra emphatically emphasizes the third stage of alchemy, incorporating red most vividly in some of its esoteric practices.
The practice of helping others in my life has come to this point of my journey, to be able to follow a Western set of guidelines for Eastern practices, which incorporate the entirety of a path to wholeness, to realizing the truth of who we are.
I will have more to say about the degrees of subtlety found in the three stages of process, the three ways or pathways of alchemy, which capture the full journey of anyone who honors being human as part of it.
I have been trying to bring more openly into my practice the ideas and understandings that are the most precious to me. If I know what truly can be life changing, and I feel there is some way to communicate this to others, and I am in the profession of helping others, how can I not want to do this?
Actually, when I felt such freedom from my discoveries the first time, in a real and experiential way, I could not help but want to just beam this out to all I knew or thought might appreciate this information when I first was experiencing the reality of it.
From that day until now, I have always tried to work with this information, really radical from the everyday perspective, and I think I may have finally been able to find a vehicle or approach to communicating this that may just be what I was looking for.
Carl Jung has said many positive things about his understandings and research into alchemy, an ancient way of approaching several tasks which encapsulated for him his understandings of how we naturally try and achieve wholeness and well-being as humans. Seen as symbolic and truly metaphor for him, the processes of alchemy captured his own understandings, discovered separately, for how we go about achieving wholeness.
I have not read of Jung's own takes on alchemy overly much or that much at all, to my recollection, for I wanted to see if it might speak to me in a way that holds value for myself, with my own interpretations, separate from anyone else's ideas about it. As I have continued to breach and work with and perhaps wrestle with at times the subject of magic, or magick as I have referred to it on here, I came across alchemy, having first read of it many years ago.
Now, after having begun to read about it in more depth, from several authors' perspectives of what it has been historically, even up to more present times, I feel I have found the vehicle to communicate the truth as I know it, the understanding of reality that seems so much a break with the everyday, yet, this is my normal way of operating and going about in the world.
It has been difficult to have this knowledge and not be able to share it or be with others who might relate to it.
In the patterns and goals described in the alchemical processes of history, there is one pattern and goal, for the purposes of this post, that I would like to relate.
Alchemy has famously been depicted as trying to turn lead into gold by its practitioners. A basic pattern to this process involves beginning with a basic material, which at times has been hidden and elusive, but an essential ingredient to the process nonetheless. I will use the word distillation, although not in the technical sense, to describe one of the first processes involved in transforming the material. When it becomes blackened through heat, perhaps during the distillation process, this color change is key for all versions of the process, and they can vary greatly among alchemists.
One of the next steps in transforming the material involves a process of combining with it again a portion of itself which may have been separated from it in a previous process. If you think of the previously mentioned stage, where the material was blackened, as death, this process of reconstituting it is a return to life, and in this second stage the material becomes white.
There does become related a stage of yellowing of the material in some versions of the process, but I am not using it here in this example.
One of the final stages then, in which other material becomes introduced into this white, resurrected material, describes the white material as being fed by food or drink, symbolic of this other material being introduced, the original material now growing or having given birth to the final stage in the transformation process.
The material is described as being red at this point, the stone which can transform lead into gold.
Not until I just began practicing counseling at the end of my school years or at the beginning of my own private practice did I come across anything where I would find meaning in the complete color sequence as outlined above for alchemy.
As I communicate it again here, I will share with you the goal that the more spiritual side of alchemy reached for, adding to each stage my own interpretation relating to the goal.
Black - a distillation of ourselves past the everyday world and mind talk.
White - insights and information gained from the experience as we return.
Red - living our lives changed from the knowledge of our experience.
The spiritual or higher aspirations for alchemy were to help us transform ourselves into the best versions of us, to perfect our human nature, if you will.
Distilling whatever substance it is, including ourselves, into a pure form, returning reconstituted again within this pure form, and then living out our lives, as our new selves, this becomes the symbolic map of the alchemical process, and I have much more to say on this, including how the stage of the red stone, the final result, ties in with the sacred feminine and traditional Tantra.
Mark Newlon, feeling the embrace of the sacred feminine daily!
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