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Hermetic/alchemical meditation

10. The processes of Nature - four elements

We have now worked through a series of ten meditative exercises that used certain techniques for experiencing one's inner being in particular ways or through the use of special symbols. That particular work can be extended indefinitely and hopefully enough indications have been given to enable readers to construct exercises for themselves. But here we change direction somewhat in our meditative work. The alchemists meditated upon processes in their retorts, and also worked to inwardly harmonise their being with outer processes in nature. They meditated upon processes in the natural world, bearing this into the substance of their souls.Thus they read the book of Nature.
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The processes of Nature - four elements

Our first meditation in this series involves working with the four elements. The technique given here is a development of the Solve et Coagula. It should be performed in the retort of Nature, in contemplation of the natural world, and involves bearing the essence of the outer spiritual forces across the threshold into the inner realm.

Seek out some phenomenon of Nature that reflects the nature of the element one is to contemplate, For Air, perhaps the rising of smoke from a fire, a mist slowly forming, or those processes of cloud formation that occur at a discernable rate. For Water, the seashore, waves beating on rocks, or perhaps find a little stream or waterfall. For Earth, sit beside a rock face, or a quarry, or some particular feature of landscape. Fire is more subtle, although in outer nature there are currents of warmth flowing through phenomena, through plants, gathering a certain parts of the landscape, perhaps it would be best at first to meditate before a real fire.

Find oneself a spot to sit or otherwise be comfortable and be able to observe the phenomenon one has chosen. This meditation has two parts, two cycles, an outward and an inward phase. These should be repeated alternately until one's inner soul feels filled. (One cannot really overdo such an exercise for ones concentration will fail once one is inwardly filled).

During the outer Solve phase, with open eyes dissolve one's conscious outward into the phenomenon, feel as if one is touching, merging with the sounds of the stream, the bright flashing of the waters, allow oneself to almost flow into the outer phenomenon. Then once one begins to reach a point of outward saturation, withdraw this experience inwards, closing the eyes, separating from the other senses, descending into the inner soul depths, bearing the essence of the outer phenomenon one has chosen, say Water, and touch this inwardly with one's inner vision of the Water element. This is the Coagulation phase. Then once one reaches a certain satiation allow one's consciousness to turn again outwards in the Solve phase. One will find that through this exercise one bears across the threshold of one's consciousness a spiritual essence of the phenomenon, and one will inwardly come to feel a living connection with the elements. One can of course work through all four elements in sequence, and one will through this exercise very rapidly become aware of the gradations within the elements and the terms Earth of Fire, Water of Air, etc, will no longer be merely intellectual abstractions, but will be living realities.

Please resist the temptaion to perform these exercises outside of Nature. It is essential to work with Nature, and enter into a relationship with her through this working. It cannot be done in one's own head.