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,…

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…

Fuelling hallelujahs – a parable about an apple tree.

‘And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah.‘  (L. Cohen) There is an apple tree in my garden, a lovely old  rambling Bramley. It is gnarled and distinguished, and for a number of years had been having diminishing returns on the apple…

The Brexit Challenge – take one dragon…

How do we detoxify our anger, purify our passion so that it becomes medicine not poison? The fire element powers our anger, but it is also the bringer of light. The current Brexit situation (the 48/52 split and all its social and political ramifications) has awoken the dragon of anger on all sides. The dynamism of this fire…

Separatio – the Alchemist’s discernment

Alchemy is about the application of wisdom to process – personal and political. Wisdom seems to have abandoned the political system this week, as Britain falls apart before our eyes. The crisis is creating  a domino collapse, precipitated by the placing of personal expediency above proper, good stewardship of the constitution. The tumult results  not so…

The archetype of containment

Containers are an archetypal structure. They feature an inside, an outside, and something between the two. Material can be held within the container, and some containers are designed to be transformative for that substance (the womb, the stomach, the alchemical flask, the therapy relationship). Leaky containers are useless. This is why we focus so much…

Coagulatio – becoming earth, becoming spirit

The materialisation of spirit and the spiritualisation of matter. As above, so below. The alchemist’s job is to raise what is earthy to the level of spirit and to bring to through to full incarnation that which is in potential. It is a two way thing. Bring it down, raise it up. Don’t make the…