Alchemical Art Manifesto 2009
Post-postmodern Alchemical Art
A Post-postmodern Approach to Alchemical Art
“Nothing is possible without love, not even the processes of alchemy, for love puts one in a mood to risk everything and not to withhold elements.”
“Psyche cannot be totally different from matter, for how otherwise could it move matter? And matter cannot be alien to psyche, for how else could matter produce psyche? Psyche and matter exist in the same world, and each partakes of the other, otherwise any reciprocal action would be impossible. If research could only advance far enough, therefore, we should arrive at an ultimate agreement between physical and psychological concepts. Our present attempts may be bold, but I believe they are on the right lines.” --Carl Jung, AION
“To propose a psychology of Anima Mundi is to invite oneself to a relationship of intimacy with the soul of the world and its objects…From this point of view, the psychic reality of the world’s soul becomes available from the images. There is no way to separate our soul from the souls of others – and by “others” I mean people as well as everything that we can consider an environment. It is, thus no longer possible to work with the classical notion of individuation and its rhetoric of “my travel,” “my process,” “my journeys,” the blind frenetic pursuit of an inner Self, and to ignore the individuation of the soul of the world and its objects. The care of the soul does not necessarily mean introversion or denying the reality of the world, its substance and objects. There is no way to engage in soul-making if we keep ourselves attached exclusively to the Self, and exclude the world.”
--Marcus Quintaes on James Hillman’s Polemics in Archetypal Psychologies (Marlan, 2008)
The topic of ancient and medieval alchemy was, arguably, rescued from obscurity largely through the efforts of C. G. Jung and a few others. Jung gleaned psychological illumination from alchemy and other spiritual technologies. As modern alchemists we can build our lived understanding of alchemy with psychological insights as well as experimental work.
The structure of our inquiry is malleable. Whether there is point or purpose to life, alchemy is an organic way of amplifying meaning and giving value to life. You create it and the universe responds. You and the cosmos resonate as One, making psyche matter.
Alchemy describes, demonstrates and illustrates the participatory field as central to the conscious condition in nature. As alchemists we intentionally engage the participatory field of consciousness to perform the Opus, or Great Work. The concept of this field allows us to redefine consciousness. Intentionally interacting with the experiential process allows us to transform consciousness.
As exemplified in alchemy's prime directive, "Solve et Coagula," the raw material of self and world is deconstructed to facilitate emergent self-organization at a higher level. This is nature's way, as chaos theory has shown us. Nature is a dynamical balance of order and chaos. The edge of chaos is the point of emergence for new behaviors, enhanced capacities and transformed identity.
The edge of chaos, where critical systems adapt and evolve, is the most effective place to be. Alchemy challenges us to remain at the evolutionary edge, mutable to the transformative process. The alchemical perspective is not merely deconstructionist, but paradoxically regenerative -- cyclically regenerative. In this sense, alchemy is post-postmodern though it radically predates that philosophy.
There is theory and practice in science, and two applications in alchemy -- spiritual alchemy and experimental alchemy involving literal lab work. Spiritual alchemy is a theophanic metaphysics, revealing a sacred presence within its process. You can work either the spiritual or practical method separately or both in concert. Like mystics of all paths who have gone before, we make the experiment on ourselves. Our potential exceeds what our conscious awareness alone could ever make of us. There is an autonomous domain of soul.
Jungian, Archetypal, Imaginal and Transpersonal psychology deal clearly in contemporary language with the same process and mystical philosophy we find in alchemy. Archetypal or Imaginal psychology is a relativistic, polytheistic orientation rather than monotheistic. It recognizes multiple points of view in the latent infinity of psyche. To be an alchemist requires learning the language of alchemy, becoming conversant in its terms and operations. But these are concepts and metaphors until they are grounded with practice, planted in the earth (coagulatio).
Soul based therapies claim imagination and images as primary concerns, describing a nonlinear dynamic process of being-in-anima. Archetypes are self-similar, acting like cyclic and strange attractors of the soul field. Their fractal-like reiterations perturb us at every functional level of being. They are the focal points of psyche held in subtle webs of entangled interaction.
Alchemy appeals to those who wish to pro-actively go beyond conventional boundaries, without being self-defeating or self-destructive. Cultivating relationships with archetypes make us eccentric and therefore individualistic. Madness is a relative term that also means a high degree of intellectual independence. Alchemy also represents a rebirth of artistic responsbility, honoring craft, proficiency and individual initiative. The truly creative are always reinventing themselves and can not help but follow their uniqueness.
Psychological life has a metaphoric and phenomenological character expressed in images. Archetypal images impact us in multidimensional ways. In Vol. 9 of his CW, Jung said, "That people should succumb to these eternal images is entirely normal, in fact it is what these images are for. They are meant to attract, to fascinate and to overpower. They are created out of the primal stuff of revelation." We learn as much from our experimental failures as successes. That is how we find our creative edge.
As we move within the transformative elements of alchemy we radically switch perspectives. By seeing through and mirroring the fractal elements of alchemy we learn to recognize the nigredo, the albedo, the rubedo and coniunctio when they arise. We get a feel for the Solar and Lunar, the Mercurial, the Venusian, Martian and Saturnian energies and what feelings and images come with them. We see through the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual synchronicities the outer world presents that mirror our inner lives. The uncanny and extraordinary becomes familiar, more expected than not.
There are ancient elements at work in our psychic lives. Astrological, kabbalistic, metallurgical and even chemical elements are metaphorical, archetypal, symbolic forces operating in a holistic system. Imaginal psychology draws on the sacred potentials of alchemy, spiritual traditions, somatic practices, creative arts, mythology, indigenous wisdom, humor, deep ecology, literary and poetic imagination. The opus of soul work includes mystical philosophy, cultural history, and social critique.
More than academic commentary, alchemy is an applied art of affinities, a revelatory 'psience' with self (body-spirit) as laboratory. The aim of psychophysical renovation is regeneration of nature and restoration of youth. Healing, rejuvination and longevity are attributed to the Elixir, the liquid form of the Philosopher's Stone. The creative force of the divine is 'living water.'
The body's energies are used for transformation. The true elixir of illumination is the body's own DMT, the spirit molecule, stimulated from the pineal gland by meditation. But the ultimate alchemical regeneration is a marriage of heaven and earth that builds a vehicle for consciousness after death -- the incorruptible Diamond Body.
The nature of embodiment is biophotonic light. This lightbody embodies the highest aspirations and the attainment of immortality. Withdrawn from becoming, the natural mind abides unmoved in the radiance of primordial awareness. We can call this transubstantiation Homo Lumen. (Miller, Photonic Human)
Image is a direct expression of soul. Alchemical images articulate a different reality of soul, that is neither mind nor matter -- imaginative consciousness. The being of nature is Anima Mundi, the soul of the world. Mind and heart, sensuality and aesthetics flow from this root of psyche as imagination -- the primary element and mode of experience. Psyche continuously creates and pours forth emergent images that matter. Body is the physical form of spirit, the somatic source of imagery that helps us grow spiritually and creatively.
Mythic events burst through the status quo. Myth forces a certain "truth." We cannot escape myth. Myth reveals the character of reality yet it is not of this realm. Myth must be uncovered. It is a primal active force in the world and the missing dimension in the dynamic interplay of politics. Myth is a common unifying principle. Myth permeates our understanding of our past, present and potential.
Myth is a conceptual schemata embodying core metaphysical concepts and moral wisdom. Myths do cultural work. All societies live by myths. In myth-building any words or symbols can be modified from their original meanings to suit their new roles in a matrix of varied forms. The material world has a mythic nature with its dangers and ambiguous promise. Myth creates the vision of a future perfect world. We are largely unconscious of mythic operation and affects.
Thus, alchemy, the art of understanding nature and our own nature, is a way to mirror and care for the soul with chemical, psychophysical, mythical, and cosmological aspects. Soul as center of our inquiry and practice speaks to us meaningfully through the imagery of alchemy, the wisdom of the heart, through which we remember our naked connection to the cycles of nature and rhythms of the Earth. The universal couple is the ever-passionate Alchemist and seductive Soror Mystica, Anima Mundi revealing herself. Image is the esoteric lover, the intimate other that offers us healing and gives us meaning.
The Alchemical Field
Alchemy is a poetic process of active imagination in which we can act and suffer in a creative way. Discovery excites us. Aesthetic response is an awakening that drives us. To pursue alchemy, we must love it, utterly. Vulnerability opens us to breakthrough that fosters commitment. We surrender our hearts to the creative process that moves us into liberation. We respond to the impetus to realize our full potential. Thus, alchemy is an aesthetic education that leads us beyond normalcy into our gifts and talents. As such, it is a compassionate act of self-care.
Reality is in-formed by soul's metaphorical weave of mythical narrative. Soul (anima) is an active intelligence that forms or plots our fates. Being-in-Anima (esse in anima) is to be ensouled. Soma Sophia, the Body of Wisdom is inherent dwelling within the body of Anima Mundi.
Psyche is immersed in imagination, metaphor, poetry and myth, including scientific and spiritual technologies. Fantasy deliteralizes the illusory concreteness of matter. Images and fantasy are the carriers of meaning. The language of alchemy provides archetypes for the world as it is phenomenologically constructed. Inspiration replenishes the world, the wasteland of the nigredo.
Alchemy is a Way of being in soul with its own common language that anchors the narrative of each alchemist's life. We are deepened through the instruction of these inherited cultural symbols. Alchemy is a language of the soul, a matrix of transformation that coordinates our efforts. It allows us to play with ideas about the nature of reality and our own spiritual and practical nature. Alchemy configures our soul, aligning us with a deeper life. The identity of our story is welded to the identity of our character.
There is a unity of existence underlying psyche and matter, mind and body. We live life in terms of our story. We construct a reality accessible only through that alchemical language of earthiness and the transcendental, the mundane and the intangible. Alchemical metaphors appear spontaneously in the psyches of all individuals, largely unnoticed. But alchemy naturally includes work with dark matter and energy. It is this darkness that makes it the occult pursuit of Light.
We can consciously choose to notice and see through alchemical metaphors forming an intentionality. Do we choose alchemy or does it somehow choose us? Some are moved toward alchemy as something to live in and through, a way for soul to find itself in life, to find the multidimensionality of the "one that is many." A momentary insight can capture a lifetime of experiences.
Pondering the burning questions of life leads to self expression that functions as a reciprocal feedback loop between the sacred and profane. We penetrate the Mystery even as the dynamic impulse penetrates us. This inspiration is why we make art and explore our spirituality. Intentionality is contemplative focus (meditatio) which opens an inner dialogue with the cosmos.
Our works lead toward bliss when they are life-changing. We change the context of our lives. Raising the alchemical heat increases the intensity of being. It enables us to drill a hole to the very center of ourselves, following the injunction VITRIOL: Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem. ("Visit the Interior Parts of the Earth; By Rectification Thou Shalt Find the Hidden Stone.") This is the true meta-syn, the elixir of life.
Choosing alchemy as an artful lifestyle transmutes chance into fate. We live life in terms of our alchemical story which makes meaning possible. Literal events become metaphorical enactments, deepening events into meaningful experiences with poetic suggestion. Alchemy is a cosmological myth ("As Above, So Below") that reunites us with the sacred, with the divine. We are involved with the world in a new way, no longer inhibited by reductionistic culture. The Philosopher's Stone is a non-dual state of consciousness.
Jung felt that art is a healing response to collective cultural norms. The alchemical art connects the individual psyche to esoteric history and underground currents of occulture. Alchemy's ideas are tools that help us animate the literal and superficial by moving us immediately beyond literal objectivities into the mythic perspective of ambiguity, multiplicity and inherent meaning. The alchemical art lies in inducing the synchronistic unification of psyche and matter as a numinous reality. It is a resurrection of spirit in the realm of matter that raises consciousness by reframing our personal history.
Clarity is artistic discovery of the universal. There is enchantment in the quality of wholeness. There is beauty in the rhythms of nature and our nature. Aesthetic response is an essential emotional aspect of alchemy that lends flow and harmony to the process of balance, rhythm and synthesis of immediate perception. That flow is lyrical, epic and dramatic. Aesthetic signification is one thing, but the deep emotional impact of aesthetic arrest -- being suspended for a thrilling radiant moment in the eternal -- stops us in our tracks in a moment of realization.
We dissolve in the mysterious ground of being, the sublime wellspring of creativity. The mind goes still as primal awareness expands into wholeness. Something without physical form shines forth from the hidden world in that very moment. These luminous experiences, true works of art, drive us onward in the Quest. We are struck with divine inspiration and the passion to see it through to completion. Sensuous cognition of beauty is a revelation, an astonishment that captivates our rapt attention.
Aesthetic arrest blows apart the illusory differences between the sacred and the profane. We are inspired in the a-ha moment, utterly dissolved in the momentary ego-death of its solutio that tears asunder illusory nature. This aesthetic experience is an act of surrender that is an epiphany. It makes us gasp for air and sparks a cascade of pleasure.
We become a part of the truth we seek at the paradox of participation. The alchemist lives at this paradox. The greening of the wasteland restores artistic expression. Voegelin calls each participant in therapeutic process and practice a simultaneous part and whole of a reality of consciousness like a marriage, polity, or cosmos. Alchemy speaks of the Royal Marriage, or paradoxical cosmic conjunction (coniunctio) of opposites.
We are directly connected to beauty and wholeness. We know what it means to exist rooted in the mysterious creative ground of being. As artists we are mythmakers, dreaming the alchemical dream onward. Myth is transparent to transcendent process in the Now-Here. In sublimatio we reach escape velocity. In aesthetic arrest, the phenomenal field disappears as we come to our own Zero Point. Any artistic expression produced by this personal experience is likely to lead others to their own, as the alchemists have led us with their secret fire.
Soul is made by narrating events in terms of myth, the metaphoric and symbolic dimensions of our experience. Poetics brings the archetypal into participation with the mundane by tending the currents of life. The alchemist in us is an imaginative variation of our mundane character through which some of us come to recognize our life story. Our enlivened art speaks from and to our depths. Alchemy is a direct way of knowing -- experience-based knowledge -- a gnosis.
What's New with My Subject?
Jung was enamored with alchemy -- the spiritual impulse, hidden wisdom and experiential matrix he found there. Jung was self-initiated by his own mercurial occult spirit. Occult practice was at the core of Jug's theory, clinical practice and inner experience. By revitalizing alchemy he participated in its mysteries. Occult ideas were circulating widely among Central European intellectuals before World War II and they captured Jung's imagination.
Following an influential dream, Jung collected an entire library of alchemical works. He compiled alchemy’s universal truths in several of his works including Psychology and Alchemy, Alchemical Studies, Mysterium Coniunctionis, The Secret of the Golden Flower, Aion, and Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious.
Jung codified the encrypted language of alchemy in terms of our human transformation process, including irrational consciousness. Yet, Jung’s is not the only interpretation of those elements, including the Quest and the Great Work. While initially we might learn about symbols, we have to learn how to work with them, to work within them since they contain us, rather than being contained within ourselves. The alchemist is a living symbol, an ensouled personification of the healing power of the Philosopher's Stone.
Jung’s second-generation followers adhered fairly strictly to his monist view of alchemy. Highlights of this period include now classic works by Marie-Louse von Franz and Edward Edinger. Edinger gave us Ego and Archetype plus Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy. The works of von Franz include Alchemical Active Imagination, Projection and Recollection in Jungian Psychology, Number and Time, and Alchemy; An Introduction to the Symbolism and its Psychology, to name but a few.
Other Jungian contributors include Henry Corbin with Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth, on Arabic alchemy, M. Esther Harding's Psychic Energy, Robert Grinnell's Alchemy in a Modern Woman, and Edward Whitmont's Psyche and Substance. Another Jungian contribution is Mircea Eliade's The Forge & the Crucible. Their work was referenced and paralleled by contemporary alchemy scholars like Frater Albertus, Stanislas Klossowski De Rola, Richard Grossinger, David Fidler, Adam McLean and other modern commentators.
Revisioning the Psyche
Moving beyond Jung's popularized but static definitions, 3rd generation psychotherapeutic practitioners were far more innovative than preservationist. They overthrew Jung's old order with new hermeneutic understanding beyond the progressive, heroic Self, which is a concept not an image. In this they were true to the vital and reflective Mercurial Spirit.
Revisioning the whole mindscape, James Hillman led a revolt against the ossified orthodoxy of Jungianism that came to be called Archetypal Psychology and later Imaginal Psychology. It freed the psyche from what had become a conservative fundamentalism with a party line and right and wrong interpretations. It brought back living process and moved interest out of the containment of the cloistered therapy room into the living, breathing World-at-Large by reframing the psyche and deliteralizing concrete reality.
Once a person has focused intention a break with the form of ritual can lead right to its essence. A similar process is happening in the practice of alchemy, which has come to include more than scholar/practitioners and laboratory experimentalists. Globally, new subcultures are engaging in spagyrics, fire circles, artistic metallurgy, social networks, art shows and performance as well as other volatile tranformative practices, which have escaped the retort into the world. Alchemists no longer have to wok in isolation. But alchemy is no psycho-spiritual franchise, but a deeply individual process.
Alchemy's process-oriented spirituality has come down to earth. As depth psychology has drawn from the spring of alchemy, so too can we gain the wisdom of our art from psychological practice. Their common language allows us to break free of conventional constraints on our thought, experience and behaviors to enter the mythic dimension in new expressive ways.
We do so as soon as we recognize the poetic element behind identifying ourselves as alchemists and what that means in the narrative of our life stories. Alchemy is the kind of language we employ describing the intimate engagement between psyche and matter. It is the original mindbody medicine.
The Way of Alchemy
Alchemy is not just a 17th century sacred cow, embodied only in hoary texts, enigmatic laboratory procedures, and static pictures. Soul is made in the fractal reiteration of the deepening of experience – all experience – which molds character (narrative identity) with mythologizing. Alchemy is one of these dynamic means of moving beyond deconstruction into soul-making – a phenomenological approach.
Alchemy is a creative encounter with chaos and a struggle to understand the nature of healing. Chaos is the Universal Solvent. Healing springs from deep within. All apparent structure is hidden in chaos, and in chaos there are hidden forms. As we deconstruct our fictional selves, we find that deep within there is a primordial consciousness of pure Being. Connection with this wellspring is the Source of life and creativity. Chaos is the crucible of creation. Through alchemy, we move deeper into the images, and then become them, rather than merely interacting with them.
Alchemy, like therapy, is a practical Way of making life into a flowing story, and that story is necessarily illustrated to convey what cannot be said in words, to include what happens in the gaps in consciousness. The alchemy of by-gone centuries is as inappropriate today as obsolete science. Naturally, there is value there but we don’t need an encyclopedic knowledge of its extant literature to apply its wisdom and gain its treasure.
Post-postmodern alchemy has broken the retort and escaped into the world at large, into bigger stories. We craft a personal narrative by recognizing and reiterating mythic claims, metaphorical enactments through reflective speculation, experimentation, projection, meditation, dream, image and fantasy. Reflection deepens into experience and expression through artful means of what never happens but always is.
Soul is an active intelligence because myth leads to practical moves. Soul is made through suffering the process and by taking up myth as a poetic perspective – a dramatic complexity of multiple metaphorical and symbolic dimensions of experience. In this sense, alchemy cannot be separated from life. The narration is one of life’s possibilities, of our alternative selves as realizable potential, including discordant elements, into meaningful story lived in and through the alchemical process.
If we are truly Mercurial, we oscillate in our thoughts, are enigmatic in our language, inconsistent with ideas, and resistant to any fixed definitions or propositions. Perhaps only archetypal imagination serves this mercurial nature. It is explored and embodied best through artistic expression of archetypal images, making the universal particular and moving archaic symbolism into the immediate present, rather than relying exclusively on stale retrievals and intellectual commentary.
What soul does is make fantasy images. Alchemy is a psychological metaphysics, a worldview that takes the soul further into mythopoiesis, producing images, events, and phenomena. Analysis and discourse (deductive and inductive reasoning) merely turns the libido into a narcissistic reflection of itself, when it could be embodied or manifested, even beyond self-evident intuition.
Soul-making approximates what it means to be “in soul,” esse in anima, immersed in both an internal and external process of transmutation. It is the process of making psyche matter, of making the World Soul – the Anima Mundi – through image, phenomena and pathologizing. It is not limited to so-called spiritual matters, but spiritualizes the whole sociopolitical field of human endeavors so that it all “matters.”
Imagination is stimulated by mythical fiction, which generates mythological imagination and speculative freedom of the soul. Breaking our containment in the ancient practices through artful means releases libido into the world, into the drive, which loves the world, even into erotic desire for anima mundi.
There is no more important aspect than brain chemistry for alchemy. Meditation and contemplation are a crucial part of the attention-focusing alchemical process. We can meditate with or without an object of contemplation, freeing our minds from its own content to enjoy the natural mind. We "reboot" ourselves from this primordial awareness, the Source and Zero-Point of consciousness.
Current research in meditation and neurotheology has shown tangible psychophysical benefits from meditation. Neurotheology is the biological basis of spirituality (Miller, 2008). Both alpha and theta brainwaves facilitate healing and benefit higher-order cognitive functions. When we phase lock at these frequencies, we also phase-lock with the resonant frequencies of the Earth (Shumann's Resonances, Miller, 2004).
The latest research shows significantly larger grey matter volumes in the right frontal cortex, right thalamus, left interior temporal gyrus and right hippocampus of meditators. Emotional regulation and response control improve with mindful behavior. Brain resonance CDs (binaural beat technology) can facilitate alpha and theta by driving the brain toward cascades of this harmonious response, removing any doubt of achieving the desired conditions.
Once you know the brain neurology and the resonant nature of the mindbody connection, you can make up your own mind about your mystical or anomalous experiences. It is our evolutionary legacy; we are the product of our environment and precisely tuned to it. The holistic nature of the body reflects the Nature of the Cosmos; our nature is not separate from Nature. There is great value in discipline, practice, and service which exercises the full spectrum of our human potential.
In creativity and meditation we seek in a fully conscious way, willfully cooperating and facilitating the process not only of connecting with God, but experiencing oneself in the process of “becoming” god. The ego no longer perceives itself as a separate expression of consciousness, but as the same essence as All.
Of course, we can never fully complete that process. No one can fully embody God, but we can move toward it. The succession of conscious states is toward higher integration, not toward lower dissociation. The process of integration in growth toward positive values has the complementary virtues of being obvious in fact and transcendental in implications. It means we evolve from reactive creatures into an integrated part of the spiritual dimension.
The task of meditation is essentially letting the body fall as deeply asleep as possible while the mind remains focused. In fact, if it were not for the opposite function’s presence, even in the mystical state, we would fall asleep. The REM or dream state is similar: there is extreme cerebral excitation, even though muscular activity is inhibited. Hemispheric synchronization producing long, slow alpha and theta brainwaves with high amplitude is another factor. The deeper the meditation, the slower and stronger the waves.
The energy “rush” of meditation comes when either the arousal or quiescent state “spills over” into stimulating its complementary system. When both parts of the autonomic nervous system go online simultaneously, the limbic system goes wild with emotion, absorption and oceanic bliss. This is reflected in the gender based, male-female imagery of the kundalini serpent power and the yin and yang of the Tao.
When both systems go into maximal discharge, this neurochemical flux is subjectively perceived as Absolute Unity of Being, boundlessness, timelessness, and sacredness. Our relationship to humans, earth, and cosmos is one of a relationship to the Other. Our first formative influence is the experience of empathy. And empathy needs a face. If we find that face in our personal experience of God, who shall say nay? Beyond that lies only the yawning infinity of the Void.
Meditation may modulate pineal activity, eliciting a standing wave through resonance effects that affects other brain centers with both chemical and electromagnetic coordination. Resonance can be induced in the pineal using electric, magnetic, or sound energy. Such harmonization resynchronizes both hemispheres of the brain. This may result in a chain of synergetic activity resulting in the production and release of naturally-produced hallucinogenic compounds.
Neurotransmitters bridge the mindbody gap. They are the chemicals which account for the transmission of signals from one neuron to the next across synapses. They can motivate or sedate, excite or calm us. Some brain chemicals are part of the key to our spirituality. Brain function is implicated in openness to spiritual experience from spiritual acceptance to the supernatural. An understanding of neurological processes helps you evaluate your subjective experiences.
Embodying the Vision
Alchemy cannot be a closed system of static dogmatic thoughts. It is a way of reimagining and creating metaphors from different points of view or narratives that open the field of infinite meanings. Each reiteration creates new networks, new meaning, new insights, embodiments, metamorphosis and transformation.
Participating in this process means mythologizing our own chaotic character, even pathologizing. Depth psychology tells us if we don't let in the Trickster and other gods, they can become physical or mental diseases. Yet if we become ill, we should not blame ourselves with "New Age guilt."
It is a truism in therapy that art expression clarifies and releases emotional flow. The classical alchemists nearly always illustrated their works, making universal pictures with themselves as point of reference. Alchemy would be a dry discourse without its images, without the discipline of images that leads to flow, to solutio.
Alchemy begins and ends in the quest for eternal life. It is a spiritual technology of rebirth using natural methods that in their effect transcend nature by amplifying that which is immortal within us. It does not exist in nature but must be prepared by Art. Art is a form of manifesting, making and objectifying the world - spiritual physics.
Artists and mystics are aware of their own internal space and thus able to enter it, playing the mindbody like a musical instrument. Looking inside, they see the true nature of reality and can express that literally and symbolically. We all possess the creative potential. All creative acts are a marriage of spirit and matter, reaching down into the body as the source of our essential being and becoming.
Today, we might describe this resonance as accessing energy that regenerates the mindbody. Healing is an aspect of creativity; nature is within and without us. The Magus does not dominate reality but develops embodied psychophysical equilibrium, clarity, wisdom and compassion.
Creative work originates in the body and is projected out into the world. The projections are then internalized into awareness. The bodymind of the artist is an alchemical vessel containing the creative flux during the process of transformation. Awareness and consciousness form a continuous alchemical movement. The creative gold is generated and embodied in the alembic of the mindbody.
The mindbody is the same substance as the Cosmos and contains and reveals its mysteries. Meditation masters speak of an inner Light that pervades the physical and energy bodies. Now science investigates it as biophotons. Through quantum physics we can watch that matter/energy/information devolve back into the unstructured void from which potential emanates.
Mystics have often equated this pervasive Light/Sound with primordial Consciousness and the source of life as well as matter. Quantum bioholography shows the DNA literally produces coherent light, which transduces to sound that directs the formative processes of life. Radiant energy is radiant energy. Whether we look outside into our environment or inside into ourselves we find primordial Light.
Alchemy reduces all to the first state, the ground state of being - original experience that is timeless, infinite. The classical Void, the quantum vacuum is a carrier of information. The energy body or the field body entangles us with the negentropic potential of the zero-point field. Radiant light literally emerges from this mystic void. Primordial structuring processes are common to both psyche and matter, working in the gap or empty interval between intention and action.
So, alchemy refines the way the mindbody generates and processes inherent light as medicine. It refines the aspirant's ability for tapping and amplifying Medicine Light. This primordial state is the luminous ground of our being, hidden deep in the heart of things.
All other goals are subordinate to this prime directive which includes meditative techniques for continuing consciousness after death. This Philosopher's Stone is also the Universal Medicine, the regenerative Elixir of Life. The greatest mystery is the LIFE IN DEATH: we don't die but continue in transcendent form.
This is the virtual secret of man and nature. The human body is the athenor that contains the fire and the First and Last Matter which are "One" with the vessel of transformation. The spiritual food of immortality signifies the ability of the ego to assimilate the previously unconscious aspects of the Self. This is the elixir of youth that creates the immortal body, equivalent to the Philosopher's Stone.
“It was a mineral substance, dense and opaque; it was melted and became transparent glass and then became much finer glass. And then this later had been subject for the first time to fusion and projection of the white Elixir, it became incandescent crystal. It was fused a second time and the Elixir was projected on it; it became diamond. Place it on the anvil, strike it with a hammer, it will dent the anvil and the hammer but it will not break.
Strike it with a piece of lead and it will break into cubiform fragments. That is the true sign that it really is diamond, but if it has become diamond it is also a sign that the diamond was hidden int he essential depths of the mineral substance, because, in fact, the composition of the later is the result of two well-known principles, mercury and sulphur, according to what is established in physics.
And this diamond, separated from the crystal, this crystal separated from the glass, this glass separated from this mineral opacity, is homologous to the ‘Resurrection Body’ of the faithful believer in the Paradise of the Future Aeon (that is o say jism B, the essential archetypal body, the corpus supra coeleste, the ‘diamond body’)”
--Shaikh Ahmad Ahsa’i (d. 1241/1826) (excerpt from Article IX, Henry Corbin’s Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth)
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