Our invitation to practice Collective Alchemy continues on 29 January 2021

Friday January 29, 2021


In o
ur 20th wave of alchemical practice, we find ourselves moving beyond the light of the Sun of Life (15 January) and into the initiatory domain of the Great Bear.

We invite you to lean in with us and explore what we can experience, witness and transmute within the holding heart of our practice.

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

The past few Portal Waves have churned us through an intense process of learning, practice and opening—reflecting much of what is going on in our lives and in the wider world. As above, so below; as within, so without. During these weeks, our view of the field and purpose of Collective Alchemy has been evolving and deepening. We see the value and the power of staying engaged with a collective depth practice over time.

This 20th portal wave lies within the signature energy of the Great Bear—the 20th card in the major arcana of the Wildwood tarot deck. The Bear is the guardian of the portal that takes us into the ultimate initiation, both in our own personal journeys and in the evolutionary cycles of our species, as reflected in the rise and fall of civilisations.

The next Portal Wave, the 21st in our journey together since we started in April, marks the culminating step in the hero’s journey, beyond which we are called (again) to step into the unknown. In practical terms, this will mean a step change in the pacing of our practice as we enter a new cycle, moving the rhythm of portal waves from twice-monthly to monthly.

For this Portal Wave, Marie-José, Aakanksha, An, Pieter, Brandon and Ursula have joined Sarah and Helen to co-sense what is alive and calling for our shared attention as practitioners of Collective Alchemy. This wave has continued to turn up the heat under our collective cauldron, and the build-up of intensity continues: after forging our sovereignty, we are called to relinquish it! We are called to shift from undergoing the Era Shift to participating as the Era Shift.

Framing the calling question:


As we prepare to step into the liminal space between longer cycles, there is alchemical work to be done if we are not going to repeat the next cycle at the same level as we entered the one we are just leaving.

We begin this framing where the previous invitation left off: Alchemists of old understood that in order to obtain the philosophers stone, you must genuinely renounce all desire to obtain it. This is the alchemical phase of radiation, and this is the work that awaits us as our journey continues.

Relinquishment and surrender

You will see from the Matrix of Alchemical Procedures that the materia prima of this phase in the alchemical process is ‘Arbitrary Magic’. Its symptoms are apparent loss of magical powers or the will to do magic, and a sudden onset of humility. To abet, you must surrender. The product of transmutation is Sacred Magic.

Arbitrary magic—what is be transmuted in the phase of radiation—is a fruit of sovereignty. You cannot proceed until you have learned to act on the authority of your own spirit, without relying on any other source of confirmation or justification. You must be able to bear not knowing whether you are good or bad, right or wrong, foolish or wise. You must have taken full possession of your human freedom. ‘Arbitrary’ here simply means that your deeds speak completely for themselves. You don’t defend your action, you just do it.

When you renounce the power to manifest your personal will, you do so because you have come to desire something better still: the will of the Whole. The joining of human will to the cosmic will is Sacred Magic. The question for our inquiry revolves around what it takes to come to the place of such deep surrender. In this, the only possible teacher is Death.

In these times of Era Shift, Death is close at every level: in our personal lives, in our societies, at the level of our globalised civilisation and even in the natural domain of life on Earth. This is a rite of passage that we must truly face, not seek to fake. The consequences of avoiding it bring us right back to… Death. The task for us now is to prepare ourselves.

How does the mature alchemist face this initiatory ordeal? Through surrender. In the words of Catherine MacCoun: “In one who has abandoned every strategem to protect or secure themselves, vulnerability becomes radiant.”

An invitation into ceremonial space

Since the outset, the practice of Collective Alchemy has been held in the spirit of sacred ceremony. 

Western civilisation has forgotten much of what humanity knows about rites of passage. The Great Bear invites us into a burial mound. The invitation is, literally, to allow ourselves to be buried and left for dead. In the words of Bear Heart, a Muskogee medicine man: “We need to be rendered helpless in order to open up to the love and forgiveness of the Great Mystery… You haven’t relinquished what you are holding onto until you can be fully present in the circle with your bare feet on the ground with people who fully love you. To relinquish in this way, you need a tribe of people and all living things. You can’t do it by just looking inward.

We are inviting you to come and stand with your bare feet on the ground, in the circle of practitioners of Collective Alchemy, to begin the process of relinquishing all you cannot take with you on the next phase of the journey.

What awaits us beyond the burial ground is the liminal space of the World Tree. A surrendering of the illusions of both having and being, into the constant becoming that is the nature of the universe.

Whether you can be present on the calls or not, we invite you—from whatever time zone you are in—to intentionally hold space for the full duration of this Portal Day—not just the call you attend. Know that the community of alchemists is gathering in ceremony this day, and allow the sacred intention of this fact to infuse your day.

* We intentionally use the term ‘selves’ separate from ‘our’ here. What we actually mean (but that is too cumbersome to include in the question) by ‘self’ is: all that is not you. When you really start to look closely, that probably includes everything you identify as being ‘you’, your attachment to which is what induces fear of death: the ultimate loss of the illusion. In Collective Alchemy, the practice of seeking and expressing ‘truth’ (verition) invites us not to shy away from this deep existential inquiry.

Preparation for the calls

Even though every Collective Alchemy circle is held in the spirit of sacred ceremony, the gravitas of this inquiry invites more explicit and deeper intention for ceremony. We therefore invite you to prepare your own space—the physical space in which you will attend the call—in whatever way supports your own ability to enter and abide in ceremony. We also invite you to consider ensuring that your space is warm and comfortable enough to allow you to sit with us with bare feet for the duration of the call.

We invite you to revisit this video where Richard Tarnas speaks of the era shift as a rite of passage for humanity.

More about the alchemical phase of radiation.

Deepening our capacity for deepening requires study and practice. All that we understand about Collective Alchemy so far is available in the Practice Guide (including bibliography) and the blogs on the website. You can download the Practice Guide as a PDF, or read it online. We also have a few spare printed copies left, which you can order by sending us a request with your postal address.

Alchemy and Collective Alchemy as a process of transformation

Matrix of alchemical procedures

Photo credit: Prateek Gautam, Unsplash

Your hosts are: Helen Titchen Beeth, Aakanksha Singh, Marie-Jose d’Aprile, Pieter De Ceuninck, Brandon Finegold, Sarah Whiteley


METAPHORS AND IMAGES OF OUR CONNECTIONTO THE PRACTICE FIELD OF COLLECTIVE ALCHEMY On Collective Alchemy portal days, we always notice a subtle but palpable difference

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