Alchemy: A Journey of Discovery
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.
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Mark Newlon, feeling the embrace of the sacred feminine daily!
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