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 mistake of thinking that coagulatio is only about creating earthly forms. It is about creating form generally from that which was not formed. So for any concept to come in to being a coagulatio is needed. For every image, a coagulatio is needed. For sure these are subtle coagulatios but the operation is that of bringing in to being – that of coagulatio. The making real operation of the alchemist’s opus. In my 2007 paper on coagulatio (on the papers section of this blog) I mention a dream in which qualities are formed out of water. This on the face of it looks like a solutio dream – its about water right? Must be solutio? No. It is a coagulatio dream, because something is coming together, not breaking apart. Interesting isn’t it?

Why does it matter? Well – when you are a therapist you work differently with coagulatio times than with solutio, or separatio, or cacinatio etc. For coagulatio there needs to be an allowing of becoming. As therapists when we facilitate this operation we are often encouraging the not knowing, discouraging discursive thought and helping the person to birth the child they do not yet know. This might be a new feeling, a new perspective, a new languaging or narrative of an old problem. It might be a way of getting out in to the world.

Coagulatio is placed alongside solutio in the alchemical maxim ‘solve et coagulae’. Dissolve it, reform it, dissolve it again and reform it again until you are done. That is a nice simple way of thinking about the alchemical work (by which, don’t forget, we mean the work of psycho-spiritual transformation).

But you can also put it alongside calcinatio. There are interesting alchemical images of the wolf being thrown in to the fire, and emerging as the lion. The lion then returns too the fire and emerges as the King (or the Queen). Calcinatio is clear here, it is the burning, but note also each coagulatio – formed as wolf, formed as lion, formed as King.

So there are some illustrations of coagulatio through dream work in my paper. Working with dreams is a great way of working with alchemy, because the imagery is so rich, the imagery will help you. I will write more on this in another post.

Here is a picture of my favourite coagulatio.


Kissing the Ground

Today like every other day, we wake up empty

and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study

and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.


Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground


(A Coleman Barks rendition of Rumi)

What are the implications of stealing the bees’ honey?

This was my original research question (or one of them) when I started wondering about how to take my doctoral studies forward. The photo underneath here shows a section of one of the brood frames from my hive ‘Audrey’. The honey belongs to the bees, they are making it for stores, and they are raising baby bees, and doing bee stuff. There is a good ecological argument for honouring the bees’ ownership of their honey (see here for example ) but something else occurs to the alchemist in me. The honey is the gold. It is the product of a craft process, by which beauty – flowers – transforms to sweetness – honey. Beauty to sweetness. Sweetness is a heart quality. It seems to me that beauty is something which we encounter, we see it revealed to us when we have eyes to see. And then if we let this beauty in to our hearts, if we see in a certain way, we become more open, more loving, more sweet – this is the gold, we produce this honey in our hearts, and it is gold – the alchemical gold, we generate and give back love. We create ourselves as more compassionate beings, more loving, more open hearted.

So what are the implications of stealing the bees’ honey? I am not sure that stealing is an energy which it is helpful to bring in to the cycle I am describing here. Taking, tricking, warfare (for that is how the bees see it even if the beekeepers don’t) – these are not kind qualities. Perhaps stealing the bees’ honey is a step too far away from the archetype of beauty transforming to gold/sweetness. I know I am talking about two things here – the image and the analogue. But maybe they are not so separate. Beauty to the honey, beauty to gold.


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