Event

Our invitation to practice Collective Alchemy continues 25 September 2020

Friday September 25, 2020


IN THIS TIME OF INTENSIFYING ERA SHIFT,
HOW HAS IMMERSION IN THE PRACTICE CIRCLE OF COLLECTIVE ALCHEMY GIVEN ME THE COURAGE TO EFFECT CHANGES IN MYSELF?
HOW ARE THOSE CHANGES REFLECTED IN THE WORLD?

 

Autumn is almost here! And harvesting season is still with us in the field of Collective Alchemy. As Collective Alchemy enters its fourth year, we invite you to lean in with us and explore where our practice wants to take us.

Orienting the next Portal Day calls on the arc of the journey so far:

We are coming to a turning point in our practice as we deepen into harvesting season.

Until now, the pattern of opening a portal to practice Collective Alchemy twice monthly has been interweaving a two-stranded dual path, like the double helix of DNA. Will we continue to walk this deliberate path? Or will our journey move into wilder terrain? Perhaps we can now recognise the Via Positiva (exploring transpersonal, Integral consciousness) and the Via Negativa (burning off the personal dross that blocks access to it) as useful elements to carry in our rucksack as we strike out into ever more uncharted territory.

On 25 September we will enter our 13th cycle of collective practice together. In the celtic tarot deck that has so often served our sensing in this alchemical adventure, 13 denotes the Journey (Death in other tarot decks). In our ancestral cultures, the dead were not feared, and death was recognised as a part of the cycle of nature. The Journey is a required experience on the passage around the wheel: it may mean the death of old ideas or practices that have outlived their usefulness. And so we do not wish to assume that our path will look the same once we leave our harvesting cycle.

One sure gift of this harvesting cycle is that it has brought two of our alchemist practitioners closer to the fire of preparing and opening the space of practice: we are overjoyed to announce that Molly will be joining Anna, Sarah and Helen to host the coming Portal Day.

Framing the calling question: 

IN THIS TIME OF INTENSIFYING ERA SHIFT,
HOW HAS IMMERSION IN THE PRACTICE CIRCLE OF COLLECTIVE ALCHEMY GIVEN ME THE COURAGE TO EFFECT CHANGES IN MYSELF?
HOW ARE THOSE CHANGES REFLECTED IN THE WORLD?

(For this framing, we have borrowed from Chapter 1 of On Becoming an Alchemist, A Guide for the Modern Magician by Catherine MacCoun)

In ancient times, alchemy was understood as a science. Until the middle ages, alchemy and physical science were the same discipline. The quarrel that eventually sundered the two had to do with their respective methods of investigation, not with their results. To the scientist, a phenomenon must be detectable by the physical senses—with or without the aid of scientific instruments—and experimental results are valid only if they are repeatable and free from ‘observer bias’. This has rather marginalised the alchemist, whose methods of knowing include meditation, hunches, dreams, visions, divination, signs from nature and conversations with non-corporeal beings…

Like scientists, though, alchemists seek to understand the inner workings of the world in order to participate actively in its creation. But whilst they seek to rearrange the stuff of this world, they nevertheless recognise that one who produces the philosopher’s stone must necessarily undergo a profound inward change: “a drastic rearrangement of body, soul and spirit”—to quote Catherine MacCoun, who goes on to say: “From an empirical point of view, there appears to be no causal connection between the magician’s actions and the desired result.” However, the alchemist’s magic lies not in defying the laws of nature, but in understanding, better than the average person, how the world works.

The alchemist wants to understand the whole of the world, in both its material and its non-material aspects. S/he recognises—arguably better than the die-hard materialist scientist—that natural phenomena offer up only some of their secrets to objective scientific inquiry. The soul of a thing (be it animal, vegetable or mineral) reveals itself only in active relationship to another soul. As it happens, the range and accuracy of the soul as an instrument of perception can be developed and enhanced, and this is part of what we practice together as collective alchemists.

In Tibetan alchemy, the philosopher’s stone is a magical diamond reputed to have the power to transmute poison into medicine. To render the harmful beneficial requires an intimate knowledge of the poison that cannot be gained by remaining unaffected. Herein lies the greatest difference between the scientist and the alchemist. Between me and anything I might wish to influence, there is a relationship. It’s a systemic affair: if either party in a relationship changes, then the relationship itself is changed. And any change in the relationship changes both parties. So if we wish to change something, we must first discover the true nature of our relationship to it. Once we understand this, we will be able to see how to change it by changing ourselves. This is the basic logic of alchemy.

Of course, our perception is clouded by our conditioning, our assumptions, our hopes, fears, conceptions, opinions, prejudices, likes and dislikes—and above all, by the very desire to change an object in the first place! You will perhaps recognise that these ‘clouding agents’ are the base matter that we have been unearthing and placing in the crucible throughout our alchemical journey together thus far. What fruits has our practice born?

IN THIS TIME OF INTENSIFYING ERA SHIFT,
HOW HAS IMMERSION IN THE PRACTICE CIRCLE OF COLLECTIVE ALCHEMY GIVEN ME THE COURAGE TO EFFECT CHANGES IN MYSELF?
HOW ARE THOSE CHANGES REFLECTED IN THE WORLD?

Preparation for the calls:

If you would like to prepare for this process, we invite you to revisit the harvests from our previous portal days.

Featured image: Flammarion’s engraving from L’atmosphère : météorologie populaire

Recommended Resource for Collective Alchemy: MacCoun, C. (2008) On Becoming an Alchemist, A Guide for the Modern Magician. Boulder Colorado: Trumpeter Books.

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