Alchemy for the Soul
THE GEOMETRY OF ALCHEMY
ALCHEMY 1 – CALCINATION
Be fearless, seeker of perfection.
The fires of transformation will serve you well, as the substance to burned away is that which inhibits and constrains you.
In humility may your spiritual disciplines align in perfect sequence and timings, as you surrender to your perfected potential.
The fire of calcination can be the disciplines of yoga asana, or exercise, which will burn the excess materia of the physique, releasing your lean and firm body within.
You shall be cleansed, invigorated and alert, awakening the dormant potential, purified by the alchemical fire.
Calcination is held to transmute the base chakra, the leaden mass of gravitas, and is the first alchemical process of 7.
Be fearless, seeker of perfection.
In the context of alchemy, calcination is the process of burning, creating decomposition of base material. As a spiritual practice, this implies the degradation of our inner obstacles to happiness and peace of mind.
We tend to prefer being right than be truly happy, thus many neglect this deep exploration.
The first alchemical stage of Calcination can be interpreted as the stage of our spiritual journey, whereupon we commence identifying our ego, thus revealing self-doubt, intransigence, self-sabotaging behaviours, pride and arrogance, and start to learn the hidden perfection within.
Traditional European alchemists became entrapped in an obsession with metals and purified elements, whilst spiritual alchemy focuses on the inner elements of transformation and potential.
Unfortunately traditional alchemy became synonymous with gaining great wealth and immortality, primarily the transmutation of lead into gold, whereas the spiritual alchemist seeks to transmute a dull leaden mind into a golden consciousness.
THE SCIENCE OF TRANSFORMATION
‘Aurum Nostrum Non Est Aurum Vulgi: Our Gold is not Common Gold.’
The spiritual alchemist considers their path to be a freeing of the perfected potential within, by releasing fear, unbalanced beliefs, and thus considers many hidden aspects of our identity. Spiritual alchemy has the highest objective – to attain Great Enlightenment, for the benefit of all living beings, thus existing in ‘pure being’, a perfected awareness that is the ultimate state of transformation, the gold, of spiritual alchemy.
The psychologist C. G. Jung re-interpreted alchemical theory of rich symbolism, creating a colourful and sophisticated mapping of mandalas, indicating we can progress along the Spiritual Path, to evolve through our own inner enemies, allowing the fullest potential to reveal.
Jung is revered as a primary advocate and re-inventor of alchemy, developing contemporary theories suitable for his time. He identified many symbols in his patient’s dreams that aligned with the traditional alchemical texts, even though it appeared that they had no prior understanding of their meaning. His conclusion was that alchemy was a mirror that reflected many of the universal symbols of life, and was thus potentially therefore an effective tool for psychological insight.
The primary aspect of alchemy is the Materia Prima (or ‘first matter’), that which holds the notion that all the universe originated from a primitive, formless base.
The idea of a Materia Prima can be traced back to Aristotle who understood that there is a force that holds all other forms in existence together but is itself invisible, known today as Dark Matter or Dark Energy, an invisible dynamic and unseen force that is a field of pure potential that manifests in our understood physical existence when it is embodied into form.
DISSOLUTION – ALCHEMY 2
Be granted release, seeker of truth.
Cresting waves dripped pure gold into the alchemist’s pool, where the dissolution began, as immersion into the depths of unconsciousness grants a blessed release of controlling thoughts.
Each drop of gold contains an ocean’s potential, calling to each molecule of the alchemist’s body, eager and keen for this replenishment, though the power’s irrational strength must hold her breath, as awe, in respect for the traveller.
Then she sings.
Speak silently within me, water – sing the song of communion with the Mother Water, and allow me to join the congregation of wonder.
I am in your service, and unafraid of my duty.
Dissolution, or deep deconstruction of the ego, can be challenging, especially for those with strongly developed personalities and egos.
Ego-dissolution is directly related to our alchemical journey, as we take responsibility for our external projections. We can then move beyond collective victim-consciousness, blaming the world for our struggles, and abandon the tendency to see in others what we most dislike about ourselves.
On both natural and cultural levels, crisis, dissolution and fragmentation become transitional mechanisms of the liberation of spirit from limiting ontological structures.
Perfect for these times.
Dissolution can be experienced as ‘flow,’ the bliss of being well-used and actively engaged in creative acts, without traditional prejudices, personal hang-ups, or established hierarchies obstructing our path.
Physiologically, dissolution is the continuance of the kundalini experience, the opening-up of energy channels in the body to recharge and elevate every single cell.
Dissolution takes place in the second chakra (Tin), as we arise though the central channel, Sushumna.
In society, the process of steady growth through gradual dissolution is exemplified by agrarian, monastic, or agriculture-based lifestyles.
And on the planetary level, dissolution is the Great Flood, the cleansing of the earth of all that is inferior.
Through dissolving ego barriers to growth and change dissolution represents a further breaking down of the artificial structures of the psyche by total immersion in the unconscious, non-rational, feminine or rejected part of our minds.
It is, for the most part, an unconscious process in which our conscious minds let go of control to allow the surfacing of buried material, opening the floodgates and generating a new energy from the waters held back.
SEPARATION – ALCHEMY 3
We enter the unexplored worlds of dark thoughts and emotions.
This is shadow-work, allowing dark feelings to arise, in order to identify, quantify and assess our various repetitive, negative mental habits, so as to become free of their limiting reflective constraints, through gaining clear knowledge and deeper insights about their potency.
Much of this shadow material relates to our sense of shame, about thoughts we were taught to hide away, often by our parents, churches, and schooling. Separation is letting go of the self-inflicted restraints to our true nature, so ultimately our souls can shine through the darkness.
Alchemically, separation refers to the appropriate extraction of one substance from another—for example, the extraction of essential oils from flowers, or petrol from crude oil. Chemically, it is the isolation of the components of dissolution by filtration and then discarding any unnecessary or unworthy material.
This stage represents the need to focus on what has been revealed after the first two alchemical stages, to gain clarity on precisely what needs to be given attention.
Navigated successfully, the separation stage aids us in taking clear stock of our life, frankly admitting our own errors of judgment.
The separation stage is of crucial importance on the path of awakening, as it is both feared and overlooked. Many ‘feel-good’ approaches to personal transformation, (shabby new age teachings) in their rushed expectancy to reach an idealized state of unity with existence, through glossing over the need to face and thus assume responsibility for one’s shadow aspects, or darker nature.
The separation stage is entirely concerned with the need to both see and take responsibility for the shadow within. If we fail to do this, the shadow elements will be projected onto the world, usually showing up in the form of others who appear to subject us to unjust treatment.
Oftentimes for the alchemist, through the humbling effects of life she begins to clearly identify what actually matters, thus intuitively commencing the alchemical process of separation, (of the wheat from the chaff) both within our minds, and from our outer lives.
However this is only possible when we are truly ready to be deeply honest with ourselves, by taking ownership of our frustrations and self-imposed limitations, and the entire range of thoughts and feelings within, from the positive to the negative—in short, of our entire self-image.
Such a step makes it possible to achieve a radical breakthrough in our lives, something that may take the form of a thorough change in attitudes and inner positions, if not also in outer circumstances.
Psychologically, this process indicates the rediscovery of our essence and the ultimate reclaiming of our dream and visionary ‘gold’ that was previously rejected by the masculine, rational part of our minds. It is, for the most part, a conscious process in which we review formerly hidden material and decide what to discard and what to reintegrate into our refined personality.
Physiologically, separation is practiced the work of Pranayama (conscious Yogic breath-work) as it works with the forces of Prana (spirit) and Soul rebirth to fresh energy, vitality and physical renewal. Separation begins in the navel or iron chakra located at the level of the solar plexus.
In society, separation is expressed as the establishment of clans, cities, and nationalities.
Separation on the planetary level is represented by the formation of landmasses and islands from the powerful forces of air, water, earth, and fire.
CONJUNCTION – ALCHEMY 4
Navigate the crystal labyrinth, formed of enigmatic mysterium, following all pathways to intuition. Navigate now. Pause from reading.
Destinations are those of seekers, exploring the vectored space, delineated by truth’s passive emergence.
For in truth resides the capacity of form, birthed through union.
Observe - synchronicities begin to occur that confirm the alchemist is on the right track.
In conjunction, fears melt away, the old scripts that ran in our head that said we ‘must’ or we ‘should’ are quieter, if not gone. There is more joy now. We begin to see the world more clearly. The acts we do choose to engage in – even mundane acts – take on a greater delight.
Then we experience this stage of spiritual alchemy, as our unconscious thoughts and feelings bubble up to the surface, into the light of conscious awareness.
Conjunction leads to an inner unification that is made possible by the challenges, purifications, and inner divisions that occurred in the first three alchemical stages. Essentially, conjunction provides an inner space in which to mediate between two apparently distinct opposites.
Esoteric alchemy proposes that what remains after the first three stages is a state wherein we can more clearly mediate between our ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’. These two are sometimes categorized as the divine feminine (soul) and the divine masculine (spirit). The combining of the two is the essence of Tantra, the sacred union of spiritual opposites. Traditional alchemical symbolism refers to this as the marriage of the Sun (Sol/spirit) and the Moon (Luna/soul).
The divided self, traditionally represented by a king and queen, now purified and healed—is reunited, producing filius philosophorum, or ‘the philosopher’s child,’ a magical, hermaphroditic babe, representing the reborn, integrated self.
This is both the embodiment and empowerment of our true selves, the union of both the masculine and feminine sides of our personalities into a new belief system, an intuitive state of consciousness.
All this speaks to the important of balance on our path of awakening, and in particular, direct and honest awareness of those parts of us that remain out of balance. In achieving a conscious balance of our spirit-soul/masculine-feminine energies, we become capable of deeper spiritual realizations and more effective manifestations in our life. Put in practical terms, we maintain a balance between our maximum context transcendent awareness (meditation) and our embodied, integrated immanence (relationship, in all its forms—relationship with others, with our practical affairs, our surroundings, and so on).
The conjunction phase can be related to our spiritual heart (heart chakra - copper), which as metaphor speaks to the ability to ‘hold a space’ in which conflicting elements can work out their differences and become resolved to a higher potential. It is here where we realize a maturity, understanding that differences, especially those of polar opposite qualities, do not get resolved via force, but rather by holding space, i.e., cultivating the patience to allow integration and change to occur organically. Warlike males, take notice…
In society, it is the growth of crafts and technology to master the environment.
On the planetary level, conjunction occurs when primordial life forms are created from the energy of the Sun or lightning.
FERMENTATION – ALCHEMY 5
Turn back if you fear the journey, travel no more with me. For we enter the darkened labyrinth of the long dark night of the soul.
Continue the path of alchemy, be taken upon an inner death, whereupon aspects of both our conscious and unconscious minds must rot and decompose.
Then taste the first moments of deep inner peace and a profound stillness, glimpsing the gold of the spiritual alchemist.
Fermentation is the introduction of new life into the product of conjunction to completely change its characteristics, to completely raise it to a whole new level of being.
The spiritual alchemist might achieve this through various activities that include fasting, intense prayer, desire for mystical union, personality breakdown, transpersonal therapies, psychedelic drugs, and/or deep meditation.
Fermentation is a two-part process that begins with the putrefaction of the hermaphroditic ‘child’ born of the conjunction, resulting in its death and subsequent resurrection to a new level of being, introducing new life energy into that same product of conjunction, to both strengthen it and insure its survival. This stage is called spiritisation.
Here, the alchemist undergoes a type of rebirth resulting from the deep willingness to let-go of all elements of us that no longer serve our spiritual evolution, marking the true beginning of inner initiation, potentiating entry into a ‘higher’ life in which our pure destiny opportunes to breathe.
Chemically, fermentation is the growth of a ferment (bacteria) in organic solutions, such as occurs in the fermenting of milk to produce curds and cheese or in wine-making.
Initially, the grapes are ‘sacrificed’ or crushed to release their essences in the juice. Then, putrefaction begins as the juice is allowed to decompose and rot. Finally, the new life force ‘conquers’ the original identity of the grape juice and supplants it with a new and higher presence or life. This higher presence is release during the next operation (distillation), which produces the true Spirit of Wine (alcohol), which contains the purified essence of grapes.
Like natural fermentation, alchemical fermentation is a two-stepped process that begins with putrefaction, which in which the matter is allowed first to rot and decompose and then to ferment or come alive again in spirit.
‘Destruction brings about the death of the material. But the spirit renews, like before, the Life. Provided that the seed is putrefied in the right soil – otherwise all labour, work, and art will be in vain.’
The sign that putrefaction is nearing its end is the appearance of whiteness in (or upon) the black, rotting material. I saw this as the light at the end of the tunnel. Yes.
Psychologically, this can be considered is the death of the weak (unstable) child of the conjunction that will eventually result in its resurrection as a new level of being.
Out of the blackness of the alchemist’s despair (putrefaction) comes a brilliant display of colours and meaningful visions (the peacock’s tail) that reanimates, energizes, and enlightens the alchemist
Spiritually, this refers to a kind of inner death process in which old, discarded elements of the personality are allowed to rot and decompose. In the Tarot, this phase is represented by the Death card, which denotes the death of an aspect of our lower self that no longer is needed.
Physiologically, fermentation is the rousing of living energy (prana, chi or kundalini) in the body to heal and vivify, sung as vibratory tones and spoken truths, emerging from the Throat or Mercury Chakra.
In society, the fermentation experience is the basis of religion and mystical awareness.
On the planetary level, it is the evolution of life to produce higher consciousness.
DISTILLATION – ALCHEMY 6
I desire release from the prison of matter, enslaved and enchained these unknown aeons.
Take me, distillation, shake off my heady dreams, those betrothed to the condensate. Free me of your masked bonds of charm.
Soul - Be purified, refined of spirit and volatility.
Commencing spiritisation we can map our journey, as we continue to integrate these spiritual realisations into our daily lives in order for them to become permanent.
To live in a heart centred inner peace, even in mundane circumstances, and through repeating the contemplations upon the certainty of death and the potential of rebirth, previous identifications and cycles of the mind will change, experiencing a strong and profound inner transformation.
Raising the contents of the psyche to the highest level possible, free from attachment and ignorance, and all suffering.
This can be defined as Liberation (Nirvana).
Chemically, distillation is the boiling and condensation of a solution to increase its concentration and purity – this is the boiling and condensation of the fermented solution to increase its purity (called the white stage of alchemy), as takes place in the distilling of wine to make brandy.
The final phase of distillation is a sublimation in which vapour turns solid, or the spirit is made corporeal.
Psychologically, distillation represents a further purification process, being about an ongoing process of integrating our spiritual realizations with our daily lives, living with integrity, being as impeccable in our lives as we can be, and avoiding the temptation of this inner work being a means by which to escape the world.
At this stage remaining impurities, hidden as ‘shadow’ elements in the mind, can be released, and flushed out, crucial if they are not to surface later on.
This unresolved phenomena can be seen when a reputed saint, sage, or spiritual teacher, seemingly operating from a relatively advanced level of self-realization, appears to have fallen from grace.
This agitation and sublimation of the psyche is necessary to ensure that no impurities from our baser instincts are incorporated into the next and final process.
Physiologically, distillation raises the life force repeatedly from the lower chakras of the body to the higher chakras, (the Circulation of the Light), where it eventually becomes a wondrous solidifying light full of power.
It suggests a robust triumph and an embracing of a limitless source of energy.
Distillation is said to culminate in the third eye area of the forehead, at the level of the pituitary and pineal glands, in the brow or silver chakra.
In society, the distillation experience is expressed as science and objective experimentation.
On the planetary level, distillation is the realization of the power of higher love, as the life force on the entire planet gradually seeks to become one force in nature based on a shared vision of Truth.
COAGULATION – ALCHEMY 7
Entering the pathway to freedom.
The door awaits three keys.
Love. Wisdom. Compassion
This shall transmute a dull leaden mind into a golden consciousness.
The meeting point between two opposites such as the spiritual self and raw matter, heaven and hell, and life and death, is the point where existence become self-aware. This is the moment when our lives are without duality; when matter becomes spirit, or the spirit is manifested in material form.
In the stage of coagulation, the physical universe is not separate from the mind or spiritual reality; it is a reflection of it.
According to the Emerald Tablet, ‘Thus will you obtain the Glory of the Whole Universe. All Obscurity will be clear to you. This is the greatest Force of all powers, because it overcomes every Subtle thing and penetrates every Solid thing.’
In alchemical metallurgy, the baser metals are transformed into incorruptible gold during this stage.
The ‘Powder of the Sun’ and the alchemists believed it could instantly perfect any substance to which it was added, and from the Philosopher’s Stone, the alchemists believed they could exist on all levels of reality.
On the mental level, coagulation is first sensed as a new confidence that is beyond all things, though many experience it as a Second Body of golden coalesced light, a permanent vehicle of consciousness that embodies the highest aspirations and evolution of mind.
The resurrection of the soul is accomplished by bringing together only the purest essences of one’s body and soul into the light of meditation.
Heaven and Earth as seen as one, or as the Buddhists say, Nirvana is beyond samsara (the world of attachments). At this end stage, whatever we set eyes on we see the divine, as we have come to realize our own full divinity. We have arisen from the ashes of limited individuality, and been reborn as our Perfect Self.
The seventh ray of the Azoth points to the realm of the Queen and contains the symbol that stands for both the metal gold and the Sun. It is at the feminine level of soul where masculine consciousness is transformed.
Psychologically, coagulation is first sensed as a new confidence that is beyond all things, though many experience it as a Second Body of golden coalesced light, a permanent vehicle of consciousness that embodies the highest aspirations and evolution of mind.
Physiologically, this stage is marked by the release of the Elixir in the blood that rejuvenates the body into a perfect vessel of health. A brain ambrosia is said to be released through the interaction of light from the phallic-shaped pineal gland and matter from the vulva of the pituitary. This heavenly food or viaticum both nourishes and energizes the cells without any waste products being produced. These physiological and psychological processes create the Second Body, a body of solid light that emerges through the Crown or Gold Chakra.
In society, it is the living wisdom in which everyone exists within the same light of evolved consciousness and knowledge of Truth.
On the planetary level, coagulation is a return to the Garden of Eden, this time on a higher level in tune with the divine mind.
Alchemy’s greatest achievement is to create a perfect relationship between mind and matter, between self and world.