Inner alchemy archives - Meditation on lab processesBack to alchemy forum page . Back to Inner alchemy archive.
Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 13:16:50 +1300
From: Greg Boag
This is my first posting to the Inner Alchemy e-mail group. Hi everyone.
May I begin with a question?
I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who has had any success with meditations on laboratory processes which involve the operator visualising himself (herself) inside flasks during various processes. The 'Philosophers of Nature' have included a number of such exercises in the their lessons so I had hoped that some of you might have followed these up and would be interested in relating your experiences.
Alternatively has anyone knowledge of any other published sources of such meditations?
I have had a good deal of experience in this area myself some years ago after I began experiments following a suggestion forwarded by one of my clients (I am a qualified hypnotherapist following a Jungian discipline). I would be most willing to lend some of my experience in this area if there is interest.
From: Mats Winther
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 1997 08:27:32 +0100
> I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who has had any success
> with meditations on laboratory processes which involve the operator
> visualising himself (herself) inside flasks during various processes....
> Greg Boag.
Just a comment: to my view this symbol (containment within glass vessel) is
the most profound of all alchemical symbols. I think an understanding of
this is vital. It doesnīt just mean introversion and withdrawal. Since the
Vas Hermeticum is (preferably) made of glass there exists a rapport with
the outer world. It probably means a contraction of the libido attached to
the world to a more intense, concentrated relation. We live with the
trinitarian spirit of our christian culture. This is a spirit that isnīt
really down-to-earth. Instead it is everywhere in the world. It doesnīt
seem to feel content in the world. Instead it engages itself in so many
things. Hence the success of our culture. But the spirit that is created in
the glass vessel is the Spiritus Mercurius. It enjoys being in the vessel.
It is the spirit of quaternity which feels content in the little world.
This is because it doesnīt differ between spirit and matter. The matter
which to our trinitarian mind is the most vulgar is actually the finest of
all, it is spirit - Spiritus Mercurius.
From: Alberto I. LaCava
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 1997 09:22:26 -0500
There are many examples of such meditations in the issues of the Hermetic
Journal, which was edited by Adam McLean from the seventies to the early
nineties. I have used the plates of "Geheime Figuren" in my courses with
meditations involving each of the plates. I have written a few articles,
including a description/explanation of the plates and followed by a
meditation on each. There are at least 5 or 6 that I have put in writing.
I hope this is useful to you. there has been a long tradition in Alchemy
that the figures of the alchemists were meditation plates.
Alberto I. LaCava
Date: Sat, 15 Mar 1997 10:35:05 -0500 (EST)
This is also my first message to the forum, though I was on the old alchemy
forum before its transmutation, so I will say hello again. I have spent a
number of years experimenting with what Jung has called active imagination
and the alchemical processes. In active imagination one develops a method
for entering a waking dream in which one can consciously engage with inner
figures and images. Jung believed, and I agree with him, that the secret of
alchemy is active imagination for two main reasons. By engaging in the
imaginal realm with physical processes, or spiritual ones for that matter,
one can effect their transformation. As the alchemists write, no body can
penetrate any other body, only spirit can penetrate body. Spirit is created
by entering the realms of imagination and dealing with bodies there. A good
discussion of these idea can be found in von Franz's book Alchemical Active
Imagination, which discusses the active imagination work of Dorn. This is
more a philosphical dialogue than a material one, but the same ideas apply.
The second main reason is the alchemists seem to believe that through active
imagination work, or dialogues with figures like Mercurius and Nature, one
could not only learn wisdom from them, but concentrate their power in a
physical substance itself. Parcelsus is especially keen on the power of
imaginatio to incarnate spiritual power in a material container and so
produce healing or transmutation. Thus active imagination can elicit wisdom
from spirit helpers such as Mercurius, or the Filius, can transmute physical
substance indirectly, and can concentrate spiritual or imaginal powers and
energies in a physical form.
I have experienced good results including a few cases of spontaneous healing,
but most especially transformation of the psyche itself. I have also
experienced some failures, but after twenty years of work with this I still
am convinced that the realm of imagination is the true alchemical garden
where the greatest results can be obtained.
I would love to hear some of your experiences as well as those of others on
Alternatively has anyone knowledge of any other published sources of such
Date: Mon, 17 Mar 1997 22:54:03 -0400
From: Deanna Herrera
To Greg Boag,
Welcome to the group
to Mats Winter,
What do you think about the classic Jungian interperetation of the flask as
the ego? Not so much to offer an alternative to the alchemical metaphor
but to offer another but similar view. The idea of the ego contained and
of clarity (As aspects of the spirit, not the whole of spirit as you say
the part of the spirit that is involved with matter). Then it would seem
that the material of the flask is important. Crystal over glass. I am
thinking of the myth of Psyche and Eros. If I remember correctly, Psyche
drew water from the spring of life and sealed it in a crystal flask, which
was carried by an eagle to the Far seeing tower (Overview, perspective and
vision). This saved Psyche from her doom. It was Psyches last task I
recall to apease Aphrodite. I like this metaphor because after Psyche
marries Eros they have their baby and Joy is born from love and spirit. I
will take some time to look up the myth since it has been so long since I
have read it. Unless anyone else would like to add additional comments. I
realize I have a hard time sticking to the confines of alchemy.
Dr. Deanna Herrera (Counseling Psychologist, Stevenson College, UCSC)
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 1997 11:14:10 +0100
To Deanna Herrera (and Gary Whiting and all).
(To Deanna:) No, I donīt think the Vas Hermeticum is analogous to the ego.
I would say that the classical jungian interpretation is "Spirit in a
Bottle". This archetype is extremely significant to our time and represents
the essence of alchemy. You say you have a "hard time sticking to the
confines of alchemy". We all have, that is when "Spiritus Mercurius"
escapes from the vessel and the work has to be started all over again. Here
is a short review of alchemical thinking the way I see it. It is the most
sophisticated "philosophy" that mankind ever created. The reason for all
these strange symbols is that the thoughts are so hard to grasp that we
have to use symbols instead. The glass or crystal quality of the vessel
hints at spiritual qualities. The container of the spirit is also spirit.
So the spirit is really containing itself. So what is this spirit that is
contained within itself? It is matter! Spiritus Mercurius is equal to Prima
Materia or Lapis! The Ourobouros, tail-biting snake, is being discussed now
in this group. It is the self-container. He can eat himself, and womit
himself up. This is a completely new view of matter. Matter is completely
connected to spirit like the head to the tail. But we have inherited the
christian, trinitarian viewpoint that matter is dead material that doesnīt
hold any real meaning. The meaning of life is within the Spirit. To modern
man matter and spirit have only a loose connection. We consider matter as
not really evil, only a little "dirty", but well worth manipulating with.
As pointed out earlier by Gary Whiting (inner/practical work) the most
important thing is to confront the Massa Confusa or Prima Materia. What
Gary hints at is the analogy to the jungian concept of integrating the
shadow by being confined in a state of "Nigredo". The analogy is there but
Jung was quite aware that the alchemical concept went much further. He had
to confine himself within the trinitarian world-view of science but the
alchemical "shadow-integration" concerns the total withdrawal of the
negative projections on matter altogether. Not just withdrawal of the
projections of ones own qualities on other people but actually changing
ones world-view by realizing that the meaninglessness and dirtyness of
matter really comes from the soul as a projection. Matter carries meaning
within itself! The glass flask which you hold in your hand, look at it and
in a glimpse you will see Mercurius there, with a roguish twinkle in his
eye! The medieval alchemist explained that the Serpens Mercurialis will be
found in what we think is the most vulgar matter, in excrement, in the
menstruum of a whore. What they meant was that if you withdraw the
projection and realize that this matter which you think is vulgar, is
really Spiritus Mercurius, then you are a Master. Mercurius is the one
closest to God. One side of the planet is red hot, and the other is blue
cold. Mercurius is Duplex - both matter and spirit. When Einstein tried to
explain the path of Mercurius he couldnīt use three-dimensional mathematics
which was fully sufficient for other planets. He had to use
four-dimensional time-matter mathematics. For nine years he worked himself
almost to death before he solved the problem. The path of Mercurius is hard
to follow. His number is four as compared to the trinity of christianity. I
envisage christianity as the morning-star, the planet of love - Venus, next
close to God.
Where does these concepts emerge from? Christianity started it itself.
What the story of Christ tells us is that matter is not so far away from
spirit anyway. How else could God send his Son to earth as a man of flesh
and blood? And afterwards he travelled back to the Heavenly Father with his
body! (not as a spirit). This is extremely significant. What the christians
did was that they rebuffed the Gnostic dualistic world-view that spirit and
matter is separated and that matter is essentially inferior to spirit. The
christians said that matter is not that bad, not that far away from spirit.
By doing that they encouraged the human mind to go still further - towards
the modern alchemical quaternity paradigm.
Within this context I have to warn you against the saying: "Spirit is
within matter". There is gnostic poison here. Spirit is not something that
is within matter and can be freed from it. Matter can be converted to
spirit in its whole. The correct saying (by an alchemist) should be: Spirit
and Matter is One.
Now I want to clarify something. Iīm not saying that the alchemical
paradigm is right and the christians and the gnostics are wrong. The
gnostic paradigm is very attractive. For instance, Iīm sure you all like
the Shadows-in-the-Cave parable by Platon. The paradigms are really
paradises where one can go and live. I wished I could live in the gnostic
paradise, but I canīt. I donīt know why - maybe the air is too thin at the
lofty mountain tops of gnosticism. Gnosticism is the paradise of the number
two. Christianity is the paradise of the number three. Alchemy is the
paradise of number four. The paradise of number one would be Taoism. Of all
these paths the most painful and dangerous is the path of a true alchemist.
The next hardest is the path of a true christian.
Finally Iīd like to repeat what I said in my previous mail. The spirit
enjoys being confined in the material world. This is heaven! Being here is
the practical work. For instance, donīt we enjoy being here discussing
planetary symbols and other strange things? Thatīs what is so hard to
understand about alchemy. Donīt let the your spirit fly away from the
world. Confine it here. The world is the vessel.
Date: Tue, 18 Mar 97 10:15:59 UT
From: Mike Dickman
Greg (and Deanna)
You're aware of Madathanus' (i.e., Adrian von Mynsicht's) 'Parabola' in the
'Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians'?... The version I have is the Steiner
Publications 'A Christian Rosenkreutz Anthology' of 1968, in which you will
find it on pp. 381-391 (followed, interestingly enough, on the next page, by
Vaughan's 'Holy Mountain' text and image, complete with its own tame
I was also wondering, Deana, what you thought the confines of alchemy might
be? I'd also be interested to know how your 'serpent thing' evolved.
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 11:33:31 +1200
From: Greg Boag
You're a man after my own heart. Although I began my trance experiences 13 years ago through a strictly conventional training in hypnosis I was always more interested in the discipline of hypnosis for the benefits (spiritually) that could be gained from practicing self-hypnosis. This orientation lead me to develop, in the last six years, what I eventually learned is the technique Jungian therapists recognize as active imagination. So I have found myself, in a kind of back to front manner, practicing a very Jungian approach to psycho-therapy. My original introduction to archetypes came through an interest in practical magick so I am very pleased to be discovering for myself in the last three years that Jung has so much to offer in the areas I am developing by natural inclination and as a sideline to my training. Particularly in the area I am most interested in - active imagination coupled with creative imagination.
I also hold very firmly to the idea of thought directly effecting matter and have worked, in the last six years, on some very successful experiments with myself and a select group of friends, on active imagination techniques with can profoundly effect both physical and psychological transmutations (outside of lab' work which I am also involved in). I began work in this area as a by-product of my professional training where I noticed that a select number of therapeutic processes we were taught were having almost immediate and very obvious effects in the physical environment of the students on the course. After having some very important success in my original experiments with my anima I had read a book by one of Jungs students ( I forget her name (Hanna? someone)) on active imagination where she quoted something she said Jung used to quote often at gatherings. Jungs quote involved a story about a friend who went to China(?) and witnessed a Taoist monk effect the weather in th!
rict of a small village by imposing his balanced will in the collective conscious of the villagers. I am now very sure that this was Jungs way of hinting ... to those who knew from experience ... that it is very easy (in my experience) to manipluate the physical environment from the psyche via work with archetypes.
You asked in your posting 15 March if anyone knows of sources of written material of meditations on lab' processes. I take it that you have seen Alberto LaCava's posting where he suggests the Hermetic Journal. I also have a heap of notes from my personal work in this area and some notes a few of my friends who are familiar with this work are willing to share. I have also a good deal of written material on the subject of the use of active imagination in the transformation of the shadow and the anima/animus (If you're interested). I need to know more about the anima/amimus idea though, especially were the coniunctio is concerned, because my personal focus is in this area and I (and others)have found that results here are producing very interesting effects which are as yet a little beyond my present understanding.
Wed Mar 19 20:54:19 1997
From: Donald Minson
> . I need to know more about the anima/amimus idea
> though, especially were the coniunctio is concerned, because my
> personal focus is in this area and I (and others)have found that
> results here are producing very interesting effects which are as
> yet a little beyond my present understanding.
check out Jung's essay: "The Psychology of the Transference"
from Volume XVI of his "Collected Works" entitled "The Practice of
It is wonderful, I just finished it recently and it is presented
in an Alchemical format.....It changed the Journey for me and my
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 1997 05:45:24 -0400
From: Dr. Deanna Herrera
I very very much appreciate your follow up Mats. I am printing it out and
will read it over again to digest (I won't throw it up) what you had
written. I go by the academic calendar and get spring holiday off so I
will have time to give it some thought. Please wait for my reply to come
in April. Do you think that the life of a true alchemist is more
difficult than the life of a true anyone? I think anyone living
authenticaly is up for persecution. For instance, I ran into some men in
mexico df. who sewed their eyes shut and starved themselves because they
had witnessed their children and wives being murdered for not paying
bribes. I later read that they died. Life for them was very hard. Life
is hard for everyone and I don't think that any one faith or philosophy or
religion has cornered that market. It is a matter of deciding to live out
one's own beliefs and then one has the honor of living the hardest of
lives. I would very much like to hear why you think the life of a true
alchemist is the hardest? I could be swayed.
Dear, Mike: I am doing well with the snake thing. Thanks for asking. I
am heading back to Chiapas soon and I will be doing some work to follow up
on some investigation I did this last summer on snakes and rain in
reference to weaving and some indigenous groups. During my vacation I will
check out those readings you noted again for further insights. There is an
excellent library in Oaxaca that carries Rosicrusion texts, oddly enough.
I have a lot of re- reading ahead of me.
Well, I did not mean to say that alchemy is "confining" so much as I have
stepped off of the discussing alchemy track and have wandered into other
philosophies, myths and metaphors and then was redirected to discuss
alchemy as it relates to inner process. I simply meant that it is difficult
for me to stick to one metaphor. Sometimes I would like to reflect on
other analogues of inner work in the forms of Asiatic and Greek myths,
Native American stories and mezoamerican traditions as other "maps". I
think Adam mentioned to me via mail that those topics are not addressed in
this discussion group. That we should keep the topic specific to alchemy.
I am working to do just that. Even so, like most of us I have studied so
much interesting material not related directly to alchemy that seems
related to our discussions. I could somehow find the thread to weave
metaphors like these into the fabric of alchemical processes, but I do not
have the specific language of alchemy nailed down well enough to do so. I
am sure I could relate all of human experience to some alchemical metaphor
if I was an adept, which clearly I am not. So I grapple a bit with
remaining within the "confines" of my own limited neural lingua franca
in regards to the alchemy metaphor of inner work. Not
that I think that alchemy is a confining metaphor in itself. Only my
knowledge of it is. So being, my impulse is to jump into a bunch of other
metaphors to describe ideas related to topics addressed. But I don't
because I am working to stick to the goal of discussing alchemy as it
relates to inner work. Even though I have read and read and read so much
material about alchemy I feel more comfortable discussing say greek myths
or hopi creation stories. I have a fairly concrete mind which does nothing
to keep me grounded to simple ideas. It just limits my discourse.
I appreciate it a great deal when links are made between alchemical
processes and other metaphors that look toward addressing or describing the
same inner work.Offering a context for which to incorporate alchemy into
my own "cognitive/intuitive map"deepens my understanding of alchemy. It is
only one seed in a pile of languages to describe what can not be described,
the infinite. I just need the cross references.
Apologies for wordiness. I just wanted to be crystal clear.
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 1997 10:11:31 -0600 (CST)
From: Mackie Blanton
Deanna, you have noted to us that there are times in your posts
to this group when you would like to weave in discussions of other
analogues and traditions, but that you sense that they might not be "related
directly to alchemy [and] the fabric of alchemical processes." I suggest
you follow your impulse. All you need to see is that all sacred isms and
traditions, and what you call analogues are foundationally *alchemical*,
just because they are already always a conflation of internal perceptions
of external realities that will induce both inside and outside transformations
--as long as the inducer does not look away.
Here's an analogy: it does not matter which of the various 600
psychotherapies a psychotherapist practices, because psychotherapies are a
gestalt. Hence, every psychotherapy is Gestalt Psychotherapy. All of your
traditions, analogues, and isms, therefore, are Alchemy.
So if I were you, I wouldn't "jump in"; there's no need to: just be
there, on the ground, and make connections without the freneticism. That is
one ism that is not alchemical, until it seduces.
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 1997 11:38:03 +1200
From: Greg Boag
Thanks for the suggestion about the Hermetic Journal. Although interested parties are not exactly thick on the ground down under (N.Z.) I think I know someone who has some old copies of Adams publication.
You also mentioned some articles your've published. Where ... in the H.Journal?
Geheime Figuren? I'm not familiar with this work I dont think.