The uses of water….

This bee is thirsty. She longs for the water, she and her sisters have been covering the fountain today, crowding close to the water, sipping, flying off, coming back for more. Obviously bees need to drink water for their own metabolism, but also they use it to regulate the temperature and humidity of the hive,…

A condition of complete simplicity (costing not less than everything)

Non-attachment, sacrifice, surrender, presence. These concepts are at the heart of spiritual development, at least in its more sophisticated forms. What could be more simple? And yet what can possibly be harder? Eventually you have to give your self over to something bigger than yourself. No-one escapes it. We come in to the world naked…

Storming out of the darkness

When transformation comes, it is sometimes at the pace of a glimmer, a hint, the tiniest and merest minute sign that something is different. But sometimes that spark catches, like an early May day, and the whole of a person’s life can be transfigured. Boom! Just like that. Did you go to the countryside this…

Albedo – alchemist’s purity, alchemist’s peril.

By the light of the silvery moon…..albedo is the whitening stage of alchemy. How do we recognise it, how do we work with it, and what are its dangers? Although we are often mightily relieved to move out from the dreadful clutches of nigredo in to the white, imaginative, open, diaphanous, cleansing rising of albedo,…

One or two honest words….

It’s possible that while sleeping the hand that sows the seeds of the stars started the ancient music going again   -like a  note from a great harp –  and the frail wave came to our lips as one or two honest words.   Antonio Machado (translated by Robert Bly)

Solutio – the Alchemist’s surrender

Coming apart, dissolving, letting go of structures. The alchemical operation of solutio, the purification by water, is a fundamental and observable feature of the transformation of matter (and of what matters). The alchemical operations are ways of understanding how something is worked on in the process of transformation. So if we are changing lead to…

The Emerald Tablet

The earth reflects heaven and heaven reflects  earth, and there is no division between these realms. Everything proceeds from the origin. This knowing is, and is  engendered by Light and by loving reflection. It became known through the body and understanding gently emerged there approached with wisdom and love. It will be constant and it will…

The upward pointing icicle and other miracles

So the upwards pointing icicle came to my garden one morning about five years ago. I still have no idea what to make of it. It was there, bold as brass, or a little icy excitement, emerging from the frozen ice of the pot. Icicles usually go downwards. This one went upwards. There was no…

The forgotten mistress of the king.

This poem by Rowan Williams has become a favourite of mine. Glory and defeat, victory and humility, all  there.   For Inna Lisnianskaya Barefoot, down the long woodland corridors of frost, Over the needles, walks the forgotten mistress of the king. She smells of grapes, candles, black furs. Of cooking smells, and smoke in a…

Imagination and Psychotherapy – the neuroscience is friendly

The imaginal function is important to psychotherapists because it connects us directly to what is  not yet know. Psychotherapy is not about what is known. Any therapist who purports to be able to tell you what is ailing you and what you should do about it is one to run a mile from. No, psychotherapy…

Advent, waiting, and alchemy.

Alchemists work with consciousness to bring greater light, greater consciousness, to the world. The transformation of this in to that (the great secret of course is that that turns out to have been this all along, but that is a whole other story…). Advent is the Christian season of waiting for the new consciousness to emerge, to be born. It is the…

Therapy as safe harbour.

During times of turmoil, the therapeutic relationship can provide a refuge, a moment of peace, a place of safety. It is not always like this of course, nor should it be. Sometimes the therapeutic relationship is fraught and frightening – we use the therapy space to grow and as therapists we offer ourselves to our…