July 17, 2008
I had discovered, early in my researches, that their doctrine was no mere
chemical fantasy, but a philosophy they applied to the world, to the elements,
and to man himself.
W.B. Yeats, Rosa Alchemica
Alchemy is the art of manipulating life, and consciousness in matter, to help it
evolve, or to solve problems of inner disharmonies.
Spanning more than 2500 years, the belief and practice of Alchemy endures even today through expanding philosophical thought. The spagyric art, (from both Greek and Latin etymological roots meaning "to separate and join together") offered a physical example for the spiritual allegory of separating from God, then joining together with spirit. As we move through life, we see cyclical separations and unions in our personal lives, our cultures, and ultimately the world. When clearly in synch, spiritual alchemy demonstrates the transformation of the ordinary into enlightenment of consciousness.
In our human experience, growth often occurs from separation and reunion. We notice this most evidently in relationships, which sometimes benefit from a break to review and refresh perspective. As a departure from work, vacation or the occasional "mental health day," serves to distance ourselves from the depths of weariness, if only temporarily. We optimally resurface, inhaling a completely new breath of life and enjoy the lasting effects of our new perspective.
When the Universe calls us to disconnect from the challenges of the day, and invites us to join hands with spirit, we sometimes fearfully trudge into the unknown of separation. In the midst of the uncomfortable chasm between habit and possibility, we grasp for the solid footings of faith as we climb to new heights. The process of distancing ourselves from confusion and tedium, adhering to new resolutions of outlook results in the alchemic transformation of our souls. We are never the same again.
Some of the greatest separations and reunions in history resulted in amazing new achievements. Religious separation notably, offered blatant examples of courageous people in history making daring moves of rebellion which resulted in changing the world. When Martin Luther courageously questioned Catholic dogma in 1517 by nailing his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg, his act constituted the beginning of the Reformation. His separation spawned a world-wide change, and spiritual alchemy affecting the lives of millions. Soon after, religious groups of people separated from oppression in their mother countries to reunite in America and grow a new nation based on freedom. In further pondering the process, the move away from the old, demonstrated more of a philosophical stance and statement of saying "yes" to spirit, than the physical move itself across the expansive waters of change.
The Civil Rights movement, uncomfortable in its roots and uprising, separated and united on philosophical and physical fronts. Breaking free from traditional boundaries embedded most distinctively in America's southern states, but also holding tether to invisible protocol and customs throughout the country, the movement of an entire race of people (and eventually women in general), brought about tremendous changes and a unification of society. The ones who dared to dream, including the new-world Martin Luther (King, Jr.) led the way to leave behind hundreds of years of perception and band together with new found choir of individual voices. As our culture in the western world outgrows the bondage of old thinking and behavior, it transmutes into an even better place to live.
Elixir of Life
Ponce De Leon, noted for his quest for the "fountain of youth" around the globe, personified man's search for the elixir of life. Throughout time, scientists and philosophers and hopeful seekers, convinced a "universal solvent" either existed or awaited either discovery or invention. The idea of a "panacea" that would cure all diseases single-handedly and also prolong life, proved alluring yet evasive.
In our daily trials and errors, we seek an overarching solution to our micro-woes, hoping for a one-size-fits-all remedy to immediately provide recompense and respite for all our mistakes and difficulties. We eagerly search outside of ourselves for the magic potion of peaceful resolve, all the while spirit within us patiently waits for recognition. Until we realize the authentic elixir of life dwells within us, and in fact IS us, our quest for completeness and wholeness from the separation of spirit, portends unanswered. You and spirit exist as one - you are the elixir of your own life.
In our brief appearance on earth, whether one time or many, we experience a series of challenges and resolutions. The continuous cycle of problem/solution moves through our lives like a lie-detector reading, ever recording our actions and fears; sometimes stressful, sometimes calm, but nonetheless a representative interpretation of our lives. We separate from our fears and challenges and move back into the continuum of momentum to carry forward. Like us, our cultures endure ups and downs, distance and unions of ideals and methodology, yet the aspiration for a better life endures over time. Remember, in your search for life's elixir, your treasure map begins and ends at the same place - within you!
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