“As Above, So Below!” — A Description of Spiritual Alchemy

The Alchemist; after Breugel

The Alchemist; after Breugel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I tell people I’m an Alchemist, the first thing they usually ask me is what that means exactly. “So, you’re, like, trying to turn metal into gold?” they say, incredulously. “What, like Harry Potter?”

No. Not like Harry Bloody Potter! I am a spiritual alchemist. For me, then, alchemy can best be described as the “chemistry of the soul”. I am a metallurgist of deeper meanings, seeking to transmute my soul, not base metals.

Believe me, I am not alone in this respect. From alchemy’s very first inception there has existed two camps within its ranks. On the one side were those literally intent on finding the secret of changing lead into gold. These alchemists are known disparagingly as “puffers”, due to the bellows they fire their alembics with. And the other camp sought the more spiritual goal of releasing their spirit (or pneuma) from the dross that makes up this imperfect physical existence.

It took the genius of Carl Jung to reinterpret the great alchemical tracts of the past as being symbolic representations of the process of becoming psychologically whole, something he called individuation.

And it is some kind of cross between Jung’s psychological approach to alchemy and the work of the earlier spiritually-minded (often Gnostic) alchemists that I feel my own Work is most-closely aligned to.

So what is it that I actually do, then, as an alchemist, if I am not trying to discover the philosopher’s stone and turn other less-precious metals into gold?

Simply put, I turn my dreams into reality.

Mostly, I’m talking about those actual dreams I remember having dreamt upon waking. Yes, those kinds of crazy, disjointed amoral psychodramas that flood our minds while we sleep. I take those and try and bring them to life. And I do this by living symbolically.

A mundane example might be that I have had (as I did last night) a dream of going ice-skating, a past-time I don’t normally partake of. And so, when I wake up, I try and find a way of incorporating the idea of skating somewhere into my daily activities.

But don’t think it’s as literal as all that. It’s not like I race off to the closest ice-rink and start skating figure-eights for the next eight hours. Trust me, I have just as many responsibilities and time constraints as you yourself.

No, I try and “distil the essence” (an alchemical reference) of the dream down to its most basic components. For instance, what did it feel like to be skating in my dream? Well, I felt powerful and my legs felt supremely muscular as I carved up the ice under my skates. It surprised me, in fact. It surprised me to feel how physically adept I was at something I have never really spent any time trying to master.

Okay, to me, then, the dream seemed to be about the joy and feeling of strength to be found in physical movement. And, you know, it took me all day to “real-ise” this feeling. But I did it, when I raced my child in the park today. Instead of sitting behind a computer for once, I suddenly “found myself” being propelled across the ground by the legs I’d almost forgotten I have. Not a moment of Olympic glory, to be sure, but a peak experience of sorts in the life of a spiritual alchemist…

And that’s enough for me. Because it’s not about going for gold, as far as I’m concerned. It’s about listening to the whispers of the soul, while chasing your dreams. And in the process, who knows what you might discover about yourself? I discovered I could write a novel, fashion handmade jewellery and create digital artwork, like the image below:

01 Citrinitas (behance)

The 3rd Stage of Spiritual Alchemy — (Citrinitas). Original artwork by Lorem Ipsum

About Lorem Ipsum

Just some guy trying to figure out where the "on" switch is hid on the remote control—ah, forget it. Because, you know what, I'm also the kinda guy who always likes the book waaay more than the movie! View all posts by Lorem Ipsum

9 responses to ““As Above, So Below!” — A Description of Spiritual Alchemy

  • timidvoice

    I love this. I want to do that. Though my dreams tend to be wacky so it may take a while to distil the essence but it sounds like a fun process and the way you applied it is awesome. Given me something to think about.

    • Lorem Ipsum

      Attention is really the key. In spiritual alchemy, attention is like the fire under the Alchemist’s crucible. Simply by paying attention to your dreams, transformation will begin, for dreams, I believe, are the whispers of the soul. Wacky or not, the soul will have its say! 🙂

  • timidvoice

    Attention and discipline I think, to make sure you put in the effort and time to pay attention. So do you find multiple ‘essences’ in a single dream? Just wondering for those very long dreams that keep changing scenes. Seriously I think all I’ll be doing is paying attention because I have so many dreams each night and they can be very convoluted. Did you read the book, The Spiritual Alchemist? Looks interesting.

    • Lorem Ipsum

      Bizarrely enough, I have never read or even heard of The Spiritual Alchemist until you just mentioned it. Doing a google search, I see that “The Spiritual Alchemist introduces you to the practice of spiritual alchemy, a transformational path that allows you to hear the unique voice of your soul”?! Go figure?

      I shouldn’t be surprised, because my own approach to alchemy comes by studying Carl Jung’s works on the subject, and he of course coined the term the collective unconscious. So it makes perfect sense within his conceptual framework that any number of people would arrive at a similar idea independently. I’m just thankful, ultimately, you didn’t ask me if I got the idea from Harry Potter!

      Still, I might check out the book in question. Even though, from a gnostic point of view, I believe all wisdom can be acquired first hand through knowledge/gnosis of the godhead within.

    • Lorem Ipsum

      To answer your question about essences, it might help to think of them as being like flavours in food. What, for instance, is the predominant flavour in a green chicken curry, when you eat it? And as for dreams being convoluted, they can be seen as courses of a meal. So pick out the essential flavours of each course of the meal from within your dreams.

      Having said that, dreams are not the only avenue to hearing the whispers of the soul. They are merely the most accessible route, being as Freud put it, “the royal road to the unconscious”. But I’ll expand more on that in a later post.

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