The Dual Path of Collective Alchemy

This post explains the Dual Path of the Via Positiva and the Via Negativa that we are walking together in the practice of Collective Alchemy.
To practice Collective Alchemy is to walk a dual path. Burning away the dross on the one hand, accessing clear transpersonal consciousness on the other. The two strands of Positiva and Negativa seem to intertwine like the strands of DNA. The Via Negativa is the path of removing what is false; the Via Positiva is the path of living what is true.
The Via Positiva leads to the place of inspired Intuition; the Via Negativa leads to the place of our deepest, unwillable Will. The goal of alchemical practice is to align the ideal with the instinctive, to cultivate a lively space of tension between the two. It is accomplished through vertical movement of the human soul: going up to meet the ideal and going down to invite the will to align with it. To quote Catherine MacCoun: “the vitality of a personality is expressed by its range and grace of movement. The sanity of such a personality is expressed by its ability to distinguish up from down and to operate within each according to its own laws.”
In humanity’s unfolding awakening into ever more lucidity, there will perhaps dawn a day when we can live fully in the light of What Is. Until then, we must walk the Dual Path.
The Via Negativa
Alchemy is best known as the mystery technology that is supposed to turn lead into gold. Whether or not any of the ancient alchemists ever did succeed in that endeavour, today we see alchemy in more archetypal or metaphorical terms, as a process for the transformation of consciousness. The alchemical procedure is broken down into a variety of different phases, which differs according to which of the ancient alchemists you study. What all the different schools have in common is the process of burning away the impure, so that only what is pure will remain. This process of removal is what we are calling the Via Negativa.
In Collective Alchemy, the dross that we bring in to work with is whatever shows up as disturbance and suffering in our daily lives. Such disturbances can take many forms: emotional triggering in relationships with others, cognitive dissonance in our work and life choices, grief and despair about loss of beauty and meaning, panic and fear at the prospect of societal collapse and chaos, nameless and formless feelings of uneasiness and foreboding. You guessed it: the list is endless! We are unlikely to run out of raw materials for the alchemical process any time soon.
In the bump and grind of daily life, sometimes we find ourselves slipping powerlessly into the “Below”. A place I call the Underworld. A dark place where you can find no perspective. The realm of the unintentional, you can’t go there on purpose. But anything that makes you feel authentically helpless will get you there—illness, depression, grief, addiction, shame, rage, anxiety. These states are like divers’ lead boots. They make us heavy and so we sink. We remain down below until, by mystery and grace, a load is removed from our hearts and we can float back up to the horizontal plane of daily life.
As we navigate daily life in the crescendoing chaos of the era shift, getting a handle on the diverse and confusing welter of our feelings and emotions can feel like an overwhelming prospect. The Matrix of Alchemical Procedures you will find in Part III of the Practice Guide is designed to help you ‘diagnose’ your symptoms, recognise their nature and identify what practices can help you transmute them from base matter to gold. These steps are set out for seven different phases in the alchemical process, each of which is designed to transmute a specific family of symptoms.
In our Collective Alchemical journey, we will traverse each one of these phases. In the portal day of 22 May, we embarked on the phase of Calcination. You can read the harvest of the calls here.
By nature, the work called for on the Via Negativa can be intense, frightening, uncomfortable. Part of the practice for all practitioners is therefore to give and receive support and companionship. Together we will make the necessary arrangements to tend to our individual and collective wellbeing on this path.
The Via Positiva
If the intention of all alchemical practice is to evolve consciousness, Collective Alchemy has emerged onto the playing field at a time when humanity is faced with a searing need to mature in record time or face extinction. It is our hope and our hunch that this practice can accelerate that maturation process for those who engage with it, offering a bridge from the prevailing hyper-rational consciousness that is having such a catastrophic impact on all aspects of life, to a newly emerging structure of consciousness—what we are calling Integral consciousness— that allows us to apprehend more layers and facets of reality than anything we have known so far.
The Via Positiva might take us on a meandering journey backwards and forwards through time, and even outside it; to revisit and retrieve ancient, even primal, ways of knowing and experiencing and reweave them into the tapestry of the present as it spills out into the future. Some of what might await us is being sketched out in the blog series on Integral Consciousness. Our explorations will perhaps add flesh to the bones of our rudimentary understandings. We can hope to be graced with insight and cosmic hints.
The Via Positiva is the bridge of practice that we trust will carry us forward into an ever deeper and stronger capacity to live in Integral consciousness. This path will take the form of collective inquiry, mostly using the foundational practice of Collective Presencing, to lean into more transpersonal questions—matters of concern to the human collective, and eventually even beyond the personal level of the psyche, and beyond mundane worldly events.
Alternating between the paths while recognising that each lies within the other
It’s time for a disclaimer (in case you haven’t already guessed…): we have no idea where this journey will lead.
Because the practice of Collective Alchemy is emergent by nature, and constantly sourced from the present’, it is only in retrospect, by looking back at where we have been, that we see we are walking a dual path. We are laying down this path by walking it. This means that when you join the growing community of practitioners of Collective Alchemy, you are participating in an action research project, and your participation will help shape what unfolds. We will document our experiences as we go, harvesting our collective insights into this blog.

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1 thought on “The Dual Path of Collective Alchemy”

  1. Pingback: Harvest of Collective Alchemy Practice Circles—14 August 2020 - Collective Alchemy

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