Levels of Engagement, Practice and Community
The metaphor of the Four Rooms
As our shared journey of Collective Alchemy unfolds, we are noticing a natural progression in levels of practice and a complexification of our field.
Over time, there is a growing circle of souls regularly joining us for our practice calls. There are regularly new faces on the calls, and many remain with us after their first experience. A growing cohort of practitioners are regularly engaging with each other in triads between the calls, and there is a growing sense of a need for a more intimate, pass-word protected online space where we can gather, converse and share irrespective of our time zones. This is reflected in the introduction of a virtual Living Room for practitioners on this website.
Some practitioners are now also stepping from the practice of regularly participating in the twice-monthly ‘Portal Day’ calls into the more intensive (and time-consuming) practice of co-sensing and hosting the calls together with Sarah and Helen. We are starting to call this ‘surfing the Portal Wave’! This development is the result of a strategic choice as a way to support the natural progression mentioned above. Those who join us to deepen their practice in this way agree that it brings a whole new level of learning and complexity into our lives! In addition to the rhythm of twice-monthly calls, a further thread of inquiry is weaving its way into the field, with the ongoing “Patrons’ and Donors” inquiry into the healthy dynamics of money, economy and resources..
In this context, we —Sarah and Helen, as stewards of the field of Collective Alchemy — have brought our attention to bear on this natural progression that we are seeing in the practice, in order to safeguard the rigour and integrity of the practice while offering some shared clarity and transparency regarding the path that is opening up as practitioners embark on the journey of deepening their practice. In this spirit, we offer the metaphor of the Four Rooms.
This metaphor of the Four Rooms is inspired by the work of the Living Wholeness Institute, which in turn took its inspiration from the journey from seeker to master in the Sufi tradition. As our appreciation of the sacredness of the practice of Collective Alchemy deepens, we find this metaphor of the Four Rooms to be a perfect way to frame the journey of deepening practice.
Most sufi masters have a trade—for example, carpet maker. The first room we enter is a shop, where an exchange takes place. A carpet shop, say, selling carpets into which the Sufi symbols are woven. People come in to buy a carpet, and the ‘carpet seller’ shows them around. Sometimes it’s only a financial transaction and people leave with a carpet. But sometimes, a conversation unfolds about the symbology of the patterns in the carpet; the carpet seller becomes a teacher. When you show a genuine interest, s/he might invite you in for tea. That’s when you enter the second room, where you can spend many hours conversing about life, philosophy and spirituality. Eventually you might be invited to attend a collective devotional practice. There comes a moment, if you continue to practice, when you wish to receive formal teaching from the master and—if the master deems you sincere and ready—you are invited into the third room. Intensive practice brings us into embodiment. Moving from practicing the practice to living it brings us into the fourth room, where we can open up a carpet shop (or alchemy lab) of our own! And so the cycle recommences.
Very practically and concretely, in the context of Collective Alchemy, we see the Four Rooms manifesting in the following way:
Room 1 – The Collective Alchemy Facebook group (you can either ask to join, or be invited by a member of the hosting field or another practitioner of Collective Alchemy)
Transition to Room 2: join a twice-monthly Portal Day call.
Room 2 – Becoming a practitioner: continuing regular participation in twice-monthly calls; practicing in triad; participation in the on-line living room.
Transition to room 3 requires a further level of commitment, responding to an invitation to co-sense and co-host.
Room 3 – in addition to the activities of Room 2, stepping in to co-sense and co-host a Portal Day or cycle of practice. Desire to deepen the collective aspects of the practice.
Transition to room 4 – witnessing and being witnessed in depths of and dedication to practice.
Room 4 – regularly co-sensing and co-hosting cycles of practice; experiencing and sensing the emergent trajectory of the practice field over time (meta-sensing); contributing to the body of knowledge and practice; independently stewarding Collective Alchemy practice cycles and journeys of inquiry.
Collective Alchemy was born of collective action research, and continues to emerge in this way as the field deepens and complexifies (as does the Era Shift: as within, so without!). We find ourselves at a tipping point, as the practice moves, spontaneously, into the Via Creativa. We don’t yet know what this means, but your participation in the action research going forward is welcome and needed.