Author Topic: Alchemy  (Read 5569 times)

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March 20, 2014, 02:32:31 AM
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My first impression of this art was, "why bother?" We have chemistry now, and that's basically concluded that lead is one of the most stable elements we know a really bad idea to try to turn that into gold. Oh, silly backwards medieval magicians!

Even when I heard of Alchemy as a psychological process for which the physical practice of it was only a metaphor for emotional/spiritual work and meditations for--basically, manufacturing gold is a metaphor for enlightenment--I just thought, "So what?" The Jungian (okay, it's older, but Jungian psychology was where I first heard this) processes of albedo, rubedo, and all that were characteristic enough to be recognized in, say, someone with depression...but from what I heard and read it never came with a method for how to change from one stage to another, nothing concrete with which to create a symbolic language. So, never mind.

I've finally gotten around to reading On Becoming An Alchemist by Catherine MacCoun, and I have to say that I really really like it. It's clear, simple, and very practical. She's unflinching in her summary of the development of Alchemy through the charlatanry of the organizations that adopted it, and her description of Alchemical cosmology (planes, upper and lower worlds, entities, centers of power and the nature of their flow) was more basic than basic and very refreshing.

Some people might be put off by how contemporary her tone is, and all the Harry Potter references, but I definitely appreciated this as a gateway. Each stage she chose to represent, of The Great Work, came with a profile of the physical procedure with which it was associated, the characteristics of the emotional or mental state with which it is now associated, and most importantly "how to abet" that state. How to transform fear into confidence, desire into devotion, vulnerability into compassion, how to transform a concern for territory into integrity...Good stuff, in my opinion.

May 08, 2014, 11:43:31 PM
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