Inner alchemy archives - Fixing the volatile

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Date: Sun, 16 Mar 1997 19:45:01 +0000
From: Estelle

This phrase "fixing the volatile" came to me last week whilst on my way to
Jungian therapy. I can't find reference to it in my limited library and wondered
if you could either explain its significance and/or suggest some reading.
my working interpretation so far is that I have been trying to
fix/crystallise something that resists fixing ie wanting security and a
given universe when the universe/energy/feelings are constantly
I'm sure I've read about it as part of the alchemical process and remember
something different about the aim and result.
please help!

thank you,


Date: Mon, 17 Mar 1997 09:47:52 -0500 (EST)
From: Jeffrey

In a message dated 3/16/97 1:41:08 PM, you wrote:

>This phrase "fixing the volatile" came to me last week whilst on my
>way to Jungian therapy. I can't find reference to it in my limited library
>and wondered if you could either explain its significance and/or
>suggest some reading.

Fixing the volatile has several different meanings, but in relation to
working with the unconscious or in dealing with a specific inner issue, it
means focusing totally on that issue without being distracted or moved off of
it until some transformation or insight occurs. The unconscious as Mercurius
is constantly changing its image and message, and so if anything is to be
accomplished the question you are dealing with needs to fixed so it cannot
change again. In active imagination work fixing also means holding onto a
single image and dealing with it while ignoring all other images and
distractions. Without fixing one can be distractec by a hundred other
images, or more often, by one's own desire not to look at the question at
hand. Jung writes of fixing in Pychology and Alchemy as does Eddinger in The
Anatomy of the Psyche.

Hope this is useful.


Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 11:45:54 +1200
From: Greg Boag

To Estelle:

Volatile = Archetype? Maybe an archetype which has up to this point largely existed in potential within your personal psyche is seeking recognition i.e. fixing within your awareness?

In practical alchemy the volitle, usually a solvent liquid, is washed over the fixed, usually a mineral salt. The purified salt, after a lot of work and effort eventually coagulates and fixes the liquid and at the same time the salt or fixed article is volitized creating at one and the same time a medium between the fixed and the volitile. This medium is Mercurius ... the messanger of the Gods, for he stands between the worlds at the threshold to the mysteries. This privileged position also gives him the opportunity to act as guide to the soul in the underworld (unconscious).

Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 14:23:16 +1200
From: C M Larsen

Dear Estelle,
I have been reading the various letters with much interest and now, for
the first time, feel I would like to add a comment to those responses
already made by others.

Your phrase took me back to a teacher who used to regularly quote from
Genesis 2:7 'And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living
soul' to illustrate this point. Perhaps the words of Corinne Heline
will clarify 'The spirit became indwelling. Breath here signifies a
portion of the Universal Soul which entered the created form.'

If we can consciously draw down and fix more and more of the universal
energy, not only does it nourish our body but seemingly also encourages
soul growth. We do it on a practical level when we put material
outdoors, in circulations etc.

I trust this gives you yet another aspect to consider before making your
own decision, as ultimately you must do, on what significance the phrase
has for you personally.

Yours sincerely

Colleen Larsen

Date: Sun, 16 Mar 1997 15:58:12 -0600
From: howard higgins

> From: Estelle
> This phrase "fixing the volatile" came to me last week whilst on my way to
> Jungian therapy. I can't find reference to it in my limited library and wondered
> if you could either explain its significance and/or suggest some reading.


Quoting my favorite source: "Two primary laws exist in nature, two
essential laws, which produce, by counterbalancing each other, the
universal equilibrium of things. These are fixedness and movement,
analogous, in philosophy, to Truth and Fiction, and, in Absolute
Conception, to Necessity and Liberty, which are the very essence of the
Deity. The Hermetic philosophers gave the named fixed to
everything ponderable, to everything that tends by its natural to
central repose and immobility; they term volatile everything that
more naturally and more readily obeys the law of movement; and they form
their stone by analysis, that is to say, by volatilization of the
, andthen by synthesis, that is, by fixing the
, which they effect by applying to the fixed, which they
call their salt, the sulphurated Mercury, or the light of life, directed
and made omnipotent by a Soverign Will. Thus they master entire
Nature, and thier stone is found wherever there is salt, which is the
reason for saying that no substance is foreign to the Great Work, and
that even the most despicable and apparently vile matters may be changed
into gold, which is true in this sense, that they all contain the
original salt-principle, represented by the the cubical stone."

Hope this helps

Charlie Higgins

Date: Mon, 17 Mar 97 00:36:53 UT
From: Mike Dickman


In my limited understanding, fixing the volatile - at least in its 'inner
alchemy' sense - means something very like stabilising an insight and
integrating it into your way of going about things... There's a kind of 'jet
lag' between what could be termed 'understanding', on the one hand, and
'realisation' (= the stabilsing abovementioned), on the other...
Generally speaking the task of the alchemist is to 'volatalise the fixed
(which would then, by the same logic, mean something like dissolving one's
encrusted ideas and barely visible, because so all-encompassing,
prejudgements) and fix the volatile'. Good introductions, if you read French,
are Canseliet's 'Trois Anciens Traites d'Alchimie', 'Alchimie' and 'L'Alchimie
Expliquee sur ses Textes Classiques' (excuse me - since they don't come out
anyway, I've skipped the accents)
I hope this helps a little.