“He who is born in imagination discovers the latent forces of Nature. . . Besides the stars that are established, there is yet another — Imagination — that begets a new star and a new heaven.”
Attributed to Paracelsus, the alchemist and physician who made groundbreaking advances in the field of medicine in the early 16th century.
What does forgiveness have to do with alchemy, even spiritual alchemy you ask. A great question.
Those who have even dabbled in the Art immediately realize that unless one’s inner being, our spiritual nature, is prepared to learn and experience the fundamental truths of the existence we find ourselves emersed within, the result of all of our time and effort in our laboratories is in vain.
Perhaps then a question to ask and answer is: What is the nature of our spiritual self? We’ll all have answers to this and they will all be true to some extent. But, if we can agree that a part of all of our answers is that are spiritual selves are embedded in something larger than our daily experience and is able see things we only feel or sense because of this perspective, then I believe, forgiveness plays a significant role.
For, when we realize that forgiveness in not necessary, then also do we realize that we are spiritual beings in human form.
My blog entry for Oct 10, 2009 introduced the Ouroboros, the ancient symbol of alchemy and its cycles, which can be easily accessed by selecting Ouroboros from among the Categories displayed to the right. There is much more information to share about this enigmatic symbol and I wish to tell you more.
On the west wall gable of the Sarcophagus Chamber in Pyramid of Unas, the Pyramid Texts were engraved in hieroglyphs more than 4,000 years ago. The hieroglyphs state that “A serpent is entwined by a serpent” and “the male serpent is bitten by the female serpent, the female serpent is bitten by the male serpent, Heaven is enchanted, earth is enchanted, the male behind mankind is enchanted.” While there is no symbol that captures the exact meaning of Utterance 233 of the Texts, the statement seems to describe an image that is very reminiscent of later images of the Ouroboros showing two snakes each biting the other’s tail. The figure above shows one version of this image. The Pyramid Texts were funerary inscriptions so it is possible that the meaning of the two serpents biting each other is related to the views of ancient Egyptian culture about the afterlife and possibly their view of eternity and immortality. However, Utterance 233 mentions enchantment which calls forth an image of a magical act of creation. Could it be that the bite of the snake creates something new? Enchantment is also related to attraction and the feeling of delight. We have only the handful of words from the Pyramid of Unas about the bite of the snake, but a new element of the significance of the Ouroboros has been added to the picture.
Look for more articles about this famous alchemical image.
Kazimir Malevich’s striking painting – White on White – beckons to visitors from a wall of New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. At first it seems that white is all there is – white paint on a white canvass. Looking for more than a fleeting moment however reveals that there are two shades of white carefully placed on the canvass and, actually, there are more. That’s when this piece of art comes alive by reaching out to your consciousness and, if you stand still rather than shaking your head and walking away, you can experience the white space alchemists seek to practice their art.
Malevich describes it this way:
I tore through the blue lampshade of color limitation and came out into the white. After me comrade aviators. Sail into the chasms – sail forth – the white free chasm of infinity is before us.
A friend, Bernice, who attended one of my presentations, sent me my most prized invitation of 2009. She knew I would be in Nashville in November and asked me to talk with her class at the Waldorf School about alchemy. I immediately accepted and was thrilled to have the opportunity not only share some of what I knew but to discover what they already knew. Talking about alchemy to 11 and 12 year olds in a private school left me wondering how I would be seen by school administrators, teachers and parents. Warmly was the answer to my question. It was the students who surprised me though. They were welcoming, talkative, excited about the topic and anxious to learn about alchemy.
They listened intently during my informal talk with them about a handful of alchemy principles, a little history about the Practice, some of the work done in the laboratory and some of the symbols that are part of the foundation of the Art. Their questions showed an understanding of this basic information – questions like: How long does it take an alchemist to prepare himself before he can work in a laboratory? Do you think you will create gold in your lifetime? (A parent of one of the children who requested to join the class for my presentation asked if I had turned lead into gold). Why don’t scientists see themselves as part of their experiments like alchemists? Are we really necessary for Quintessence to be formed from the Four Elements?
I asked the students to take 15 minutes to create a simple drawing that expressed their understanding of alchemy. They gave them to me as an expression of their appreciation for my coming to their classroom. They are simply amazing. The images they drew and the symbols they incorporated convinced me that I did not bring all of this information with me to the classroom that day. Their minds and hearts already knew much about alchemy. This belief increased my hope for all of us. With fifth and sixth graders already realizing this much about the message that alchemy has for the world, we are going to be ok.
We are One. You are beginning to see that now. You can take these words literally. There is no separation of any kind. There is only the One and One is all that exists. Now I will talk about We because the One includes me . We begin by including in the One that with which we are comfortable. We work from ourselves outwards. A leap occurs when we realize and accept that the One really does include everyone and everything. This happens when we become aware that everything is alive and therefore part of the One. As we embrace this perspective we also realize that every discernible point in the One is a Center that can initiate expansion and growth. What I see comes to be. One expands. One does not become something different for it is already All. One reveals more of itself. When you realize, accept and see, One responds and becomes what it already is. Look at it another way. The One is energy, an alive, bubbling warm mass of pieces of matter waiting impatiently to join with other particles to become something else that lies in a state of potential. We exist in the mass, this sea of potential energy. We have willed ourselves into existence the way we are now. We have also willed, sometimes alone and sometimes with others, all that we see and experience. Figuratively, we are the creator with lumps of clay in our hands. See what you will and form what you want.
I am here. You are wondering about the change in consciousness that is taking place now. Do not wonder about it. Accept it. Embrace it. For the more you do so the more you will become and the more you will see and the more you will know. You will also experience it as a gift to be reassured above all else. For this is the one treasure that can change everything in your life. Know that it is not the world that is changing, it is you. It is your perception that is evolving and with it your experience of your existence including your world and everything in it. Consciousness is most like a river. It continually flows. A river does so down to the sea. Consciousness flows back to Source. As you become more aware of it, this river of consciousness, you see what you have been doing. Fighting the current and trying to go back upstream or staying in place. Moving under your own power towards the shore. Or, allowing yourself to go with the flow. This awareness that is emerging opens all of these options to your consciousness. You get to choose. You get to have it your own way. Enjoy your trip.
Alchemy is in the news again as one year comes to an end and another begins. On December 29 of last year, scientists at Penn State University reported they were able to create combinations of certain atoms resulting in “superatoms” or elements that mimic other elements. This is possible because the superatoms have a pattern of energy or an energy signature that is similar to other atoms. So they can imitate or display their qualities. The buzz in the scientific and news communities is focused on the possibility of substituting metals that are cheaper to manufacture or use for more expensive ones, tungsten carbide for platinum as an example. There is also a recognition- at least in the press – that the process, especially if it can be applied to other elements, sounds very much like the alchemy of metals. This puts a big smile on my face.
More about this discovery can be found here:
The card for this year is the Star. Hope reigns supreme and for good reason. The feminine energy is bountiful now, increasingly embraced as the source of understanding as well as acceptance and, therefore, the source of benevolent change – change that is needed and required. Last year was a time of rapid but uncertain and therefore unsettling change. Our hopefulness is more grounded this year, more realistic. It is clear that we have a necessary role to play in this and what that role is for each of us. There is less than three years before changes in us and our world that have not yet been experienced by human kind will unfold. The energy of three – essential to the alchemical process – will be dominant during this time. The resolution of opposites – the combination of two seemingly independent and opposite views of the world – will result in new and unexpected solutions to significant problems and challenges. Look for the first of these changes before the end of the first three months of the year – before the Spring Equinox that will usher in a period of sustained discovery and delight.
It is time – time to give voice to the Muse who is singing in my ear, time to share the visions and feelings that emerge from the Inner Work of alchemy, time to run wildly down my path screaming to whoever has ears to hear about what I see and find along the way.
It was a year ago that I came out of the closet of self reflection to begin this blog and during those twelve months my dialog has been primarily with spammers who have offered jokes, financial windfalls, special deals on Viagra, other health remedies, car insurance and coded messages consisting of a series of question marks. I appreciate their belief that my blog is among the top thousand they have found that might give them what they seek. However, it is another reader I intend to reach – one who is seeking more light in their lives, those who need that one piece of perspective that will be the spark that ignites their visions, adventurers who want to claim the treasure that will make the difference in their community of family or friends.
It is my hope that this year, together, we will find what we both seek – the doorway to the next pathway of this labyrinth we call life.