Monday, May 16, 2011

Baptism in the Alchemical Journey

We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a hope. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To see our own light.
Hildegard Von Bingen

To move from the Blackness into the Whiteness (Albedo) of the Alchemical Journey, one has to pass through the Blueness.  

Here we start to move out of the depths of despair, the numbness, the feelings of no-feeling, the paralysis and heaviness and the confusion seems to start to lift.   

Soon, your tears will be baptising you into the Lapiz stage of your journey.

The Lapiz stage is recognised by its 'water', the release of tears.  Often, as one transforms, wonderful healing tears flow seemingly for no reason at all.  It is probably the deep release of the subconscious as it moves into the first glimmer of the light.

Now is not the time to rush in and throw all caution to the wind.  This is an important time for purification and cleaning out, re-visiting the intended goal and taking a deep breath, taking time to integrate the glimmer of hope.

Before the Albedo will enter you, you must be thoroughly prepared.  The Blue stage is a good time to follow a fast, spend more time in meditation or contemplation and to give up some luxuries.  This will help you to focus on what is really important and you will be able to hear your own powerful Voice Within.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Soul Story - Seeing in the Dark

"Salvation begins when you consider the possiblity that there might be another way." -- A Course in Miracles

When in the black, dark stage of the Alchemical Journey, you are called upon a new way of seeing.  The nigredo stage can last for many years.  Often, early in life, after a traumatic emotional event, such as the realisation of loss of innocence or unconditional love, one enters the dark cocoon of the cave.  The awakening only comes when you realise that you have chosen this and that, indeed, you are still choosing to remain in the safety of the cave.  

The dark state within and seemingly without, serves to make you aware of the incredible split in yourself.  Through closing off against pain you have created a strong and powerful separate self.  Embedded in this self is the first injunction :  thou shalt judge.  Secondly, thou shalt not feel pain ever again.  In order to keep loyal and true to these sacred orders of the false self, an entire life of habits, habitual thinking and patterning develops.  Depending on the environment and the consciuosness of those around you, and your own level of receptivity and sensitivity, these patterns will create a thick coat around the Self. 

One enters the cave with the understanding or the belief 'that I cannot do this any longer', thereby implying that you cannot deal with the way the world is.  What you do not realise is that the world is a projection of your own mind.  Your perception colours your world and interprets the actions of others and your own reactions.  

Whilst in the cave one makes decisions that promises to keep you safe and separate.  However, no-one is safeguarded against the pain of the heart.  You may make your mind feel safe through your choices and decisions, but at some point your heart will start to grieve for the loss of Soul.  And this is when you realise that you no longer want to be in the cave!

In the myth of Persephone, her mother, Demeter, Queen of the Earth, suffers deeply.  I extract the following :

Early one day, a tragic event occurred in the fields of Eleusis that disrupted the Mistress of Earth, Demeter.  Demeter is reliving that fateful day when her daughter, Persephone, was lost to her.  Demeter herself searches, laments, calls for help.  No one comes to her aid, her demands for help goes unanswered.  Then comes the horrendous revelation from Hecate, the Queen of Crossroads.  The contemptible Hades, Lord of hell, dragged Persephone down to the Underworld in his saturnian chariot driven by seven frothing, seething stallions.  He abducted her to coerce her into being his consort in the domain of the Underworld.  In her mother-fury and anguish, Demeter unleashes all her powers to pull back her daughter from the ghastly fate of living for eternity in the lifeless Underworld.  Then it comes to light that Zeus, the all-powerful Lord of All has permitted his brother Hades to commit this unspeakably evil act.

Demeter, Mother Goddess of the Sacred Earth, is paralyzed.  From her swollen eyes, she regards her listless and exhausted body.  She finds herself trapped and helpless in her fleshly garb, unable to move or navigate out of the icy debris surrounding her.  The fallen deity observes her feet stuck in frozen sludge, her leaden thighs are immobilized, and her slumped-down torso is unable to move her defenseless arms.

In this place that she inhabits, all is dark, void of life and sound - a deep darkness, not the darkness of the night where your eyes finally adjust enough to make out some semblance of form.  This is a place of formless matter, of thick and heavy obscurity where nothing moves.  She feels like she is buried alive in a bloodless tomb where shadows do not exist.

Demeter finds herself in this wasteland of immobility where her agony is so deep that emotion is dried up, her consciousness anesthetized, her will destroyed.  But wait, there is a dim realisation that she chooses to be in this state.  That it is necessary to be here, to engage in profound soulwork.  In fact, there is a knowingness that she must go even deeper to find her way out. 

As Demeter's soul dries up, so does the fecundity of the earth.  The vacuum of life-giving energy which she, the Great Mother, projects on to the world causes the landscape to become withered and frozen.  Soon Zeus, the Lord of all, notices the diminishing abundance of the earth and offers a compromise to Demeter - he will allow mother and daughter to reunite, but only for part of the year.  Persephone must return yearly back to the Underworld as queen and consort to Hades.  Demeter rises up out of the cold, dark place and embraces her daughter.  She glances back at her cocoon-like cave where she was stuck in devastation, all the while giving thanks for the gift of solitude and timelessness that helped her find her soul and a way out, back to her daughter.

In this myth, the nature of Persephone is two fold :  before she enters the underworld she is Kore, the maid and after her return, she is Persephone, Queen of the Underworld.  All the characters in the myth represents the various forms of consciousness that you know as yourself and your Divinity.  Zeus represents the 'sun-god', the higher authority or God in religious terms;  Persephone is your daughter, the life of your soul, your 'creature' or that soul-life that you are responsible for;  Demeter is the body, the earth, the physical and the mind attached to the body;  Hades is your shadow, that which you have suppressed and hidden in your dark underworld and the seven horses are the seven chakras of the physical body.  All of these are also represented in the collective and the cosmic;  so they are personal and transpersonal.

Kore, the maiden, is the life of the soul as created by the young and innocent;  Persephone is the soul life as created by Wisdom!  Wisdom is only gained through contemplation, reflection, suffering, sacrifice and dedicated inner soul work.  Through the time spent in the cave or the underworld, the ego is softened, cracked and eventually dissolved.  Only when you change the way that you look at the losses experienced as your passage and initiation into a fuller soul life and as a necessary journey to a higher consciousness, will Zeus come to your aid and assist you.

Loss is the initiation into nigredo.  Loss of expectations;  loss of a relationship;  loss of yourself and access to your inner world;  loss of purpose;  loss of joy; loss of employment and more.  The loss in the outer world is a reflection of the loss in the inner world.  

The realisation that Demeter made, and thus setting Persephone (her younger self) free was :  I am powerful, I am not weak.  I am a survivor, not a victim;  I am a wo/man, not a child.  I have the key within myself;  I am ENOUGH!

Nigredo is never a life-sentence;  only a stage.  The profound grief that one suffers has to be faced head on and there is a deep psychological and spiritual need in all human beings to connect with their own inner life;  to tell their stories;  to make sense of themselves .
Jung said the treasure lies in the darkness.  The gift of the spirit is found imbedded in the wound.  As my vision so clearly stated :  You have swallowed the poison, now go and find the cure.  And finding the cure is a journey that will last a lifetime.

There is a famous saying :  'Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water;  After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water'.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Soul Story - Alchemical Journey

Divinity is in its omniscience and omnipotence like a wheel, a circle, a whole, that can neither be understood, nor divided, nor begun, nor ended - Hildegard von Bingen

The Alchemical Journey puts our inner Soul Story into visual symbols and images, complete with smells, colours and texture.  A hidden journey made visible and thus given meaning : the Great Work of turning the lead of the personality into a golden Union - a mystical marriage, a hieros gamos, between the goddess and god within.

Alchemy is a powerful tool for transformation.  By understanding the numinous archetypes within yourself and all of creation, you can access and harness your inner power and allow transformation to take place.  The journey of transformation is filled with obstacles and challenges;  intense emotion and dark fears;  hidden shadows, delusion, illusion, joy and confusion.

Maria Hebraea or the Divine Maria was the first woman to practise alchemy in Alexandria.  She was also called the Prophetess or Mary of the Jews.  Her methods have been incorporated by great philosophers and the principles can be seen in Tantra Yoga and the Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism, as well as sacred geometry.  She was also known as Moses' sister and even Jesus' helper - the mythical importance of her work highlighted in these titles.

The alchemical voyage is not linear.  It meanders, at random, between alchemy's five stages and seven operations.  The Philosopher's stone is the illusive 'third' way, hidden and encoded in the ancient alchemical codes and always present is the Great Trickster, Hermes, the messenger and trickster of the gods, later appearing as Hermes Trismegistus, the patriarch of Alchemy.

The alchemical journey is hidden in mysticism, steeped in secrecy and only shared with dedicated students.  Part of the confusion and mystery of this ancient way, is the inclusion of the sexual union - symbolically between spirit and nature and given form through existence.

The most difficult stage is the first stage, the Nigredo, or blackness.  This is when your inner world turns black.  Sometimes without any visible reason; at other times because things around you change without your instigation.  The Nigredo calls for change and that is the part that the personality fears the most.  Without change there can be no transformation.  Change calls for a letting go, a sacrifice, a surrender, a giving up and often entering what feels like great suffering or crucifixion.  In Nigredo we meet our shadow - our dark opponent - our hidden flaws, habits and inner weaknesses.  Feelings of inertia and lethary overcome us and all our energy seems to disappear.  When the solution does not come quickly enough, we turn to solutions outside of ourselves :  shopping trips, romantic flings and so on, but none of these bring a lasting solution.

This is the time that we need to be brave and courageous and dare to look in the mirror of truth.
Here we are faced with mortal shame and mortification as we realise who we truly are and as a part of ourselves is revealed.  The blackness becomes darker and we realise the depth of its pits.  And thus we start digging into the nature of our personality and begin to uncover the extent of the false self, its positive and negative shadows.

This is the time to dive deeply into our prime matter.  This is the time when you start to uncover 'what is the matter' and what really matters to you.  Denial will appear very tempting and so will escapism, but it is to stay focused and aware, without self-rejection and self-blame or punishment.  It is to dig deep into your heart and allow yourself to find the memories of where this pain originated from.  It is the time to use the darkness to kindle the fire of burning off the shadows within.

In my blog article HOW MANY SEEDS OF THE SACRED POMEGRANATE DID YOU INGEST? I discuss the Nigredo stage in depth through the discussion of the myth of Persephone :

The story of individual transformation through the birth, death and re-birth of the personal ego, is beautifully depicted in all its complexity and depths, in the story of the Rape of Persephone. Persephone was known as the maiden goddess Kore, before her abduction by Hades. After her trials and stay in the Underworld, she was reborn as Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. But their is a juicy twist to the tale : before she left the underworld, Hades tricked her into eating four or six or more (depending on the version of the mythic tale that you read) seeds of the sacred pomegranate. Or did he trick her? Did she choose to eat the sacred pomegranate seeds, knowing that for each seed that she eats, she will have to spend a month in the Underworld as the bride of Hades? Was he her daimon* lover, did she secretly succumb to his seductions and fall in love with the darkness itself?

*(daimon is the Greek word for spirit, divine, god or fate. It means a deity who holds complete knowledge)

On her return from the Underworld as Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, Kore steps into her own secret, seemingly dark power. Why is it regarded as her dark power and why has it been kept a secret? The secret of Persephone's success is the beauty of the Queen of the Underworld - a secret that women who have been too terrified to go there, would kill to possess! The secret of Persephone's beauty, her experience of Hades, cannot be shared. It has to be experienced and then, with insight into the personal daimon/suppressed divine masculine/shadow, these gifts can be unearthed and re-birth into more of the authentic self is possible.

The myth

Kore, later known as Persephone, the young Greek maiden goddess, through her ravishing beauty, attracted the attention of Hades, ruler of the Underworld. He sought her father, the god Zeus' permission for Kore to become his bride. Zeus gave his permission and one bright morning, at dawn, while Kore was playing in the meadows, a crack in the earth opened and Hades emerged from underneath the crust of the earth and dragged the maiden down into the darkness below.

In the underworld, Hades tried his utmost to seduce the innocent Kore. Her mother, Demeter, Goddess of the harvest and corn, was distraught at the abduction of her daughter. As she mourned and searched the earth for Kore, the earth became barren and the crops withered and died. Eventually Zeus, forced by the famine of his people, demanded that Hades return Kore to the light of the upper world.

However, before she leaves the Underworld, she eats seeds from the sacred pomegranate fruit. For each seed that she ate, she has to return as the bride of Hades and live for one month in the Underworld. In some versions of the myth she ate four and in some she ate six seeds - therefore having to spend half the year below, in darkness.

In order to know our authentic selves, it is necessary to spend a certain amount of time in darkness in our own underworld. During these times of trial and difficulty, we will be taken into a deep sleep-like state, such as told in the stories of Psyche and Sleeping Beauty. Those for whom the task has been too gruelling, may lose heart or fall into despair and self-blame during these dark times. Learning from personal experience is often painful, self-revelatory and embarassing; it may initially feel like an admission of failure to face the reality of a relationship founded upon projection or to discover that what you thought was one of your personal attributes was in fact non-existent. These are just some of the many masks worn by the inner daimon.

The inner daimon is a divine messenger from the divine beloved, the purusha, the divine soul mate, who appears to women in various stages of awakening in their lives. The daimon lover first appears in the sexual awakening of the maiden and when these experiences are not validated or recognised, the dance of suppression of her true authentic self starts. The daimon is not an incarnate man, but the representative of Love Itself in the spirit of the divine and inspirational masculine. The daimon in women is the true inner divine masculine, without the masks of the masculine self.

The daimon lover, who can only be known through marriage in the underworld, will provide us with the light, motivation, purpose, guidance and great passion to undertake and complete the Great Work of birth, death and re-birth. It will rescue us from the chaos of the unbalanced feminine and the power of unrecognised sexuality and creativity. By the light of our authentic selves we will be able to recognise the negative that runs rampant in the garden within, without the structure and focus of the inner masculine. We will be able to recognise the distorted masculine self which acts with self-judgement; that is driven through the need for recognition, power and dictatorial authority; self-criticism and extreme self-control and living in accordance with the image of the 'eternal pure virgin'.

Naked desire of the human soul is the desire for wholeness and for the complete and total experience of Love Itself. This desire in every soul is encoded and clothed in a certain image or imprint. This image is what will call you and seemingly seduce you, to enter the dreaded Underworld and the realm of Hades. But in hindsight, you will look back, and understand that you never had any choice. That indeed, as in the words of Jung, the darkness conceals the gold. And i would like to go one step further and state that the darkness is the Beloved and that all shadow behaviour is in fact the Light acting as emmissary of Love Itself.

Our shadow holds the same vibration as our authentic soul self. These are often referred to as 'twin flames'. We have to work with both the Light and the shadow to uncover the true self. The constellation of conditioning and the projection of others and the personality, can only be dismantled when we are open and receptive to the spirit messenger, to the one that bridges this world and the divine world. We have to pay attention to our dreams, poems and visions, and we have to TRUST the guidance that come from within and through these resources and innately feminine talents and gifts. We can only do this successfully through our own authentic selves, uncovered through direct personal experience. When we rely on other's theories, opinions and knowledge, we lose our opportunity to unearth the divine wisdom of the true self. True masters teach that there is no wisdom in religion, tradition or spiritual paths. It is only someone else's say-so and subjective belief. True wisdom is only possible through direct knowing - it then becomes Knowledge.

extracted from the blog  Shaman She-Who Knows.

Everything that happens to you is your Teacher. The secret is to learn to sit at the feet of your own life and be taught by it.  - Polly B Berends

When you allow yourself to truly enter the grief of the Nigredo, you will find your true voice and you will come to know and understand what it is that you have to overcome : the demands of the White Lady!!  From Nigredo we move into the Blue Lapiz stage.

Reference :  The secret doctrine of the Kabbalah - Dr Leonora Leet
The Alchemical Woman - Dr Ramona Rubio and Dr Catherine Davidson