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Hermetic/alchemical meditation

5. The Hermaphrodite

In this series of elementary meditative exercises, no special postures are required but that in which one is most comfortable, nor are any special breathing rhythms used. Meditation should be undertaken when one is not too tired, and the best situation is probably lying down in a quiet, nearly dark, room, and it is essential to have privacy and no possibility of being disturbed.
All these exercises begin with the Philosophic Egg or retort meditation, described in the first issue, which leads one into an inner meditative space. Within that space, we shall perform short exercises, and then close the meditation with the retort exercise reversed, that is leading one out of the inner space back to normal consciousness.
In the last exercise we experienced something of the vertical polarity of our being, in the head and tail of the Ouroboros which were united. In this meditation we shall work with the horizontal polarity of our beings.
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The Hermaphrodite

By performing the Retort meditation bring one's consciousness into the inner space. Allow this consciousness to become centred in a plane running down the mid line of one's body, and begin to explore the polarities of one's being that are expressed in the left and right. We must try in this exercise to experience the qualitative differences in our feeling of right and left. The comfortable way one's consciousness rests in the right side, the left whereas seeming more strange and unfamiliar (left handed people will have to reverse these directions).

Let one's consciousness stream into the right side of one's being - one can picture this perhaps quite physically as rays flowing out of the right side of the body particularly the right hand. Experience how the conscious will lives in this side of one's being. Centre again in consciousness, then picture the left side as a realm of one's being penetrated by forces outside one's consciousness. Experience the left side of the body as a kind of receptive organ for the unconscious forces that work into our beings. Centre again and alternate focussing one's consciousness in right and left.

Part of this exercise might concentrate on the fact that the physical organs asymmetrically disposed in the body - liver, heart, guts etc., are organs we can never consciously control. Many of the symmetrically disposed organs - brain, lungs, limbs, etc., can come into the realm of conscious will. Explore images such as this.

There should eventually arise a moment in the meditation, when quite naturally a kind of synthesis begins to come about. We picture the left side as female/receptive/intuitive, the right side as male/active/conscious, begin to come together in a synthesis, to meet in the hermaphrodite. Picture inner being quite definitely as this hermaphrodite, the two essential facets of conscious/unconscious, active/receptive, male/female, etc., united, fusing together. Do not attempt to reverse this process. Once this figure has formed inwardly, do not take it to pieces, but finish at this point, letting the unity remain in one's being.

(As a physical manifestation of the hermaphrodite, we need only note that the left hemisphere of the brain is connected with the right side of the body and vice versa.) This meditation is only one small part of what is spiritually contained in the hermaphrodite symbol.