Practice Guide

I. The Bigger Picture

Humanity Is Going Through a Rite of Passage

These times are offering their potency and tenuousness. What does our past experience tell us about what is wise at the epicentre of the 6th great extinction? This rite of passage – we come out a mature species, or we don’t come out at all. 9For more, see, ‘In the Beginning - Creation as Separation’, Temple Thurston, L, with Laughlin, B. (2000). The Marriage of Spirit, Enlightened Living in Today’s World, p.52-53. – Colin Campbell –

The wider context in which this action research came into convergence is reflected in the example of the following three videos. This rite of passage could be a birth canal or a (near-)death experience for humanity; it is already a mass extinction within the community of the rest of life on Earth.

Our Current Crisis, The Death-ReBirth Mystery, and Faith in the Darkness [7:00] Richard Tarnas

Video: Introduction to Climate Change – The Facts [1.02] – David Attenborough

Grieve, Play, Love [9:12] Jem Bendell

At this juncture in the story of planet Earth, humanity finds itself at a pivotally volatile and uncertain moment, in an era shift. It seems that a drastic transformation is needed in the collective psyche of the species if we are to survive the situation we have created for ourselves and the planet with our current consciousness. Our collective narrative is gradually shifting from one where humanity is living in a disenchanted universe towards one where we are embedded in, and an expression of, an ensouled Cosmos of inconceivable depth, mystery and intelligence.

Why Is Humanity in This Rite of Passage?

Ultimately, we are living a sensory delusion of separation. Splits have arisen in our consciousness between mind and matter, masculine and feminine, body and spirit, us and them, man and nature, conscious and unconscious.10 Everything we manifest with this consciousness is imprinted with duality. This sense of separation is the foundation upon which the individual ‘operating ego’11 has evolved: the sense of separate self that is inevitably damaged on the journey to adulthood.

This damaged, reactive cluster of automatic defence mechanisms that is the ‘operating ego’ needs now to be set in its place so we can awaken to the larger Self that is aligned and co-extensive with cosmic consciousness. Our consciousness, then, is key to survival. We need practices rooted in wholeness and a consciousness that has healed the splits and taken us beyond our habits of separation. Once we embrace our multidimensional, full-spectrum nature, humanity can awaken into its role as co-creator with All that Is.

Video: The Great Turning [1.53] Joanna Macy

Humanity’s Current Phase Shift

Humanity’s current phase shift can also be seen as a transition from the patriarchal manifestation of the Solar culture that has held sway for the past ten millennia, towards the potential of the Sacred Marriage between the Lunar (matriarchal) and Solar (patriarchal), which can bring in the Stellar culture of balance: the Sacred Child of the alchemical texts. According to Anne Baring, “Alchemy sets the supreme quest for the treasure in the context of a marriage between the solar and lunar aspects of the soul, the fiery gold of the masculine element and the volatile silver of the feminine one, a union between our mind and our soul, our head and heart, between the solar King and the lunar Queen. This marriage also unites the invisible dimension of the subtle world of spirit with the material world of our experience, rendering the latter transparent to spirit. The Sacred Marriage is the age-old image of this mysterious double union. The alchemists called the consciousness that was the fruit of this inner marriage Stellar Consciousness – signifying that they had become reunited with the invisible cosmic ground that is the foundation of the phenomenal world.”12

The Intention of Alchemical Practice

The intention of alchemical practice, then, is to evolve consciousness. Alchemy reveals the patterns that connect the ‘invisible cosmic ground’ and the ‘phenomenal world’ which is in a process of continual transformation. How can we intentionally harness this transformational power to accelerate the evolution of consciousness and bring forth a mature species rather than become an extinct one?

Collective Alchemy is an evolutionary offshoot of the ancient practice of Alchemy that can accelerate the evolution of human consciousness. It provides a bridge from the Mental/ Rational consciousness predominant in the Western world to the newly emerging Integral consciousness described by Jean Gebser. 13

This practice guide describes the practices of Collective Alchemy, sets out the experiences and insights gleaned through the action research process, and highlights both its relevance and transformative power. These insights also point to future collective inquiry streams that can support our collective navigation in these white-water times.14

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