Friday, October 30, 2009
Sophia’s Devices II: Alchemical Processes! – CREDO XCII
Don’t be alarmed. Just realize that you’ve been using them all along, which I will explain later on. Alchemy is the name given many, many centuries ago to the discovery of those archetypal processes that are basic to our existence and operate on every level. The popular image is that of a medieval man attempting to turn lead into gold. By now, dear readers, you will remember how often I write of them and the importance of viewing them symbolically. Astrologically, Saturn rules lead and – you guessed it! – the Sun rules gold, which never tarnishes.
Jung studied the matter assiduously and wrote copiously on the subject because he saw the psychological symbolism of the individual’s vicissitudes of experience (Saturn) as the struggle for spiritual growth or individuation. He found that his patients often dreamt alchemical images, which in turn, mirrored the problems and solutions necessary for growth. Solutio is one of the alchemical terms. Shakespeare and Goethe, both literary giants, were familiar with the “science” and the late great Jungian analyst Edward F. Edinger wrote a whole treatise on Faust and also on Paracelsus. Jung was pooh-poohed for his interest, but has hopefully been validated more recently.
My purpose today, in connection to Hagia Sophia, Holy Wisdom, is to point out that if you have ever been cooking in a kitchen, you have been practicing alchemy. All that is necessary is to attach the Latin terminology to a few of the processes. The gold in this case must surely be the secret ingredient: Love! Also the nourishing of life.
One of my very earliest memories of my mother was in the kitchen when I was three. It must have been the cook’s night off. (I never saw my mother in a kitchen again until twenty-four years later because when I was four we left the only home I ever knew for our traveling days, and hotels, nannies, and boarding schools, etc. for me.) Mother had cooked some soup and was eating it, and I sat across the table which, in my memory was as wide as a billiard table! I wanted a taste, so she filled a spoon, blew on it, and reached across with a smile and fed me with love. Needless to say, she never was domestic. My father ended up cooking, making a ghastly mess, and Mother cleaned up. No dishwasher! But that once is still a most meaningful event.
The alchemical term coagulatio describes what happens when you turn raw eggs into scrambled or make Jello; the liquid mixture becomes more solid, or the batter becomes a cake.
Sublimatio occurs as the hot water for tea lets off steam.
Putrefactio takes place in the rottings of the garbage pail.
Distillatio is what you are performing if you make homemade beer or if you made coffee years ago in those glass globe coffeemakers that sent the boiling water up a tube to the top one and you put the coffee in and turned the heat off. Meditation, for me, is the equivalent! You send the consciousness to a higher level, and the Powers-that-Be put a message in and you go about your day until brrrrbrrrbloop, the Thought comes down. The only problem was that I might be getting into the tub or driving in traffic at the magic moment! But I find that if I have a question, it rarely gets answered on the spot. Alas, this system has cost me many insights. Like dreams that vanish on awakening.
Separatio – just peel and core an apple, or debone a fish.
Solutio – dissolve sugar in your coffee or honey in your tea.
The point I am trying to make, is that these basic archetypal processes are hidden in everything occurring on our planet – they are the varying ways energy expresses itself and go by an infinite number of names. The key to perceiving them, as Jung points out, is to be able to think symbolically. Can you remember those IQ tests that list church, house, womb, knife and ask, which one does not belong? You pick knife. Why? Because all the other three contain. The astrological shortcut is the sign of Cancer, ruled by the Moon as Mother, the archetypal container. This understanding can extend all the way to Mother Earth and Mother Nature. In prehistoric archeology, and the Age of Cancer, figures of the Mother Goddess had animals, birds, and stick figures carved into them. Psychologically, the Good Mother/Bad Mother complex has connections to the placement and aspects of the Moon in a man’s or a woman’s chart. There is a difference.
In alchemy the container is the vessel; in the Taoist symbol of the yin/yang, it is the circumference that holds the opposites of light/dark, each holding a tiny circle of dark/light. The entire manifest world belongs to Hagia Sophia, and the struggle of opposites is played out in history and the daily news. Humanity today is out of balance with nature because of our ignorance. Primitive man saw the opposites of womb/tomb and covered the dead with red powder to illustrate the blood of rebirth. Capricorn, ruled by Saturn, is the opposite sign to the Moon-ruled Cancer and rules, among other things, what the Dutch call stoffeljik overschot, stuff left over or mortal remains! In other words, we come into the world naked and live a manifest life but leave everything behind. I believe I have already quoted the Tibetan lama who said we make a huge mistake in making verbal opposites of Life/Death. It should be Birth/Death and both are part of that Greater Life.
It should be noted that the Moon transits everybody’s chart once a mo(o)nth and Saturn transits it every 28/29 years. I think it was Lincoln who said, “The years know much that the days don’t know.” So there is a “menu” to life. The first 28-year stage consists in dealing with what psychological gifts/lacks (karma?) we have; the second, in acquiring new experience and dealing with what we missed in the first stage; the third, combining the results of the first two, and offering that consciousness to the world. As an apple tree blossoms, grows a long summer of little green apples, and drops the fruit and seed for future generations. So by 60, ideally, you should be sharing. Personally, I think I’m making cider by now! Only a few more days and I’ll be 87! The cackling lessons are almost done! I graduate on November 13. Needless to say, this is the ideal plan for psychological evolution, but it is very obvious that the exceptions far outnumber the rule! No two people are alike. All we have in common is time, a mystery itself.
The phone just rang. One of my granddaughters’ water just broke and the world awaits a new incarnation as I write. Awesome! And one of these days, someone is likely to tell you I have departed. Just remember I refuse “to die.” I am going to celebrate my Aberduffy Day. (Later – Arabella just arrived in Maine!)
Posted by IonaDove