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 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…

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…

A blaze of light in every word….

‘There’s a blaze of light in every word It doesn’t matter which you heard,  the Holy, or the Broken. Hallelujah.’ Some poets and dreamers have been particularly generous in their contributions to the forming, the languaging, of what it means to be a human person. Psychotherapy is about this formation. Good therapy wonders as it…

How many goats do you have?

      Becoming Human Once a man came to me and spoke for hours about “His great visions of God” he felt he was having. He asked me for confirmation, saying, “Are these wondrous dreams true?” I replied, “How many goats do you have?” He looked surprised and said, “I am speaking of sublime…

The beauty of the wound

Have you ever been struck by how the most beautiful part of a tree is the wounded part, where a limb has been torn off? Probably it was a difficult experience for the tree, limited its capacity to function efficiently for some time. But it healed. It survived. And it was left with a unique…

Refusing the spiritual bypass..poem by RS Thomas

Facing terrible truths, roses have thorns,  people can be murderous, cruel, indiscriminately monstrous. And beauty is still present in the violent, selfish world. At the same time. Roses don’t shed their thorns before they flower. Here is a poem by RS Thomas in which he wonders about the many faceted nature of the God he…

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…

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…