Category Archives: Change

Working through Depression with Alchemy

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“More than a school of thought, alchemy is a gnosis, a “way” of knowing. It is a deliberate attempt to grasp immortality in which the process is paramount. We all embody the archetypal journey of life, consciously or unconsciously. We are born in our essential nature but it quickly becomes covered with a hard-shelled core of the false ego. We long to return to our true nature. Alchemy amplifies and accelerates this process of self-actualization, connecting with a sacred sense of self.

Naturally, there is no absolute actualization, no final self-reflective insight. It is a recursive formula of returning, over and over on more subtle levels, to the sacred center where heaven and earth meet. You don’t have to heroically “succeed” at alchemy.

Not succeeding will deepen you as you improvise the narrative that is your life up to that point. How many times do we make, then lose the Stone? How many times do we lose our hard-won happiness or wholeness? The trick is to not paralyze yourself with New Age guilt over it. If a scientist has a failed experiment he or she doesn’t wallow in shame or analysis paralysis but starts over with new boundary conditions.

First, you must separate yourself from the herd mentality. When your comfort zone becomes constrictive, you have grown beyond it. Still, only a few adventurous souls will move beyond the cocoon of their self-imposed prison. If you suppress yourself too much, you become a stranger to yourself. Alienation is felt as chronic depression.

You have to change your level of game play, change your reality map. You die to one level to be reborn at a higher level. Dis-identify from the social hologram, dis-identify from rigid roles and soul-diminishing victimization to become open. To step up your game, you have to reconnect with your core, your deep presence and awareness. Reality speaks for itself if we listen closely enough to nature and our nature. But you have to retrain your eyes, ears, and heart to comprehend the intuitive language of alchemy.”

“The spiritual landscape is changing and alchemy offers a safe harbor for the drifting spirit beyond institutional or cult affiliation. Many paths are vying for participants but alchemy chooses you. It is a self-initiatory path that provides a structure or scaffolding for metaphorical death and rebirth, a generic process described in many traditions. But you must remain dedicated to the process.In exploring the unknown you are exploring yourself. The journey to wholeness often begins with a retreat – into oneself, your interior nature.”

From: Working through Depression with Alchemy http://ionamiller.weebly.com/nigredo-depression.html

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“”The ancestors. They are in our bones. Remember.”

“When societies lose their initiation practices, new ones emerge, for rites of passage are hardwired in the human psychological formula.”

“The classic tarot deck is a great representation of this, as it parallels the esoteric Jewish Kabbalah, in symbolically showing us the four levels of magickal morphogenesis through the suits of the wands, cups, swords, and disks. An idea begins in the archetypal ethers, funnels into the realm of dreams, visions, and emotions, moves down into the realm of thought and mental activity, and then finally becomes manifest reality.  Initiation, because it is such a psychically impactful experience, can affect all four realities at once in impressive and synchronistic ways, leading to a revived belief in apophenia. [the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data.] Again, initiatory experience is about reconnecting the separated aspects of the psyche. Ideas, emotions, thoughts, and physical things may quickly shift, as the psyche attains a new level of integration.”

via 21st Century Guide to Cross Cultural Initiation | Reality Sandwich.

P.D. Ouspensky: Strange Life of Ivan Osokin – Ivan-Osokin.pdf

“At six years of age Ouspensky was reading on an adult level. Two books made a strong impression on him—Lermontov’s A Hero for Our Time and Turgenev’s A Sportsman’s Notebook. Lermontov’s book is noteworthy since the ideas it expresses—the plasticity of time and questions of predestination, fate and recurrence—are those that would occupy Ouspensky throughout his life. As a young boy Ouspensky disliked school, finding the work dull. At sixteen he discovered Nietzsche, whose idea of eternal recurrence would remain a lifelong interest. He left school the same year. In 1905, at the age of seventeen, his mother died. That year he wrote his only novel (not published until 1915), The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin.”

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http://www.gurdjiefflegacy.org/archives/pdouspensky.htm

Strange Life of Ivan Osokin – Ivan-Osokin.pdf. old link didn’t work – updated to add working link

Strange Life of Ivan Osokin is a novel by P. D. Ouspensky. It follows the unsuccessful struggle of Ivan Osokin to correct his mistakes when given a chance to relive his past. The novel serves as a narrative platform for Nietzsche’s theory of eternal recurrence. The conclusion fully anticipates the Fourth Way Philosophy which typified Ouspensky’s later works. In particular the final chapter’s description of the shocking realization of the mechanical nature of existence, its consequences, and the possibility/responsibility of working in an esoteric school.” – wiki

The Glass Bead Game

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“Anyway, in the isolation of Castalia, a new art or science will be perfected. It will arise first in the music academies, where a system of glass beads of different sizes and colors, strung on a frame like an abacus, is used to represent musical themes and the rules of counterpoint, allowing themes to be reversed, transposed, and developed. Problems and challenges in music theory can be set and solved with the game in interesting ways. Soon other disciplines, philology, physics, begin to see ways to employ and expand the symbol sets. “Mathematicians in particular played it with a formal strictness at once athletic and aesthetic.” (“Strict” and “strictness” are ubiquitous words in the book.) From Chinese beliefs that music can model the structure of heaven and earth—and from the expressive possibilities inherent in Chinese ideograms—come further developments, until it will be possible for players of the evolved game to deploy a language of symbols (the glass beads themselves long since given up) to unveil the real relations among far-flung products of intellectual endeavor: perhaps a first theme of a Scarlatti sonata evoking an equation mentioned in an Arab manuscript, answered by an oddity of Latin grammar in one direction, a fragment of Parmenides, or a rule in Vitruvian architecture in another. When players begin to practice meditation techniques, games will become at once more personally expressive and more universal. Top players will introduce new symbol sets—alchemical emblems, the I-Ching; in weeks-long festivals their games induce in observers ineffable experiences of insight.”

WHAT IS THE GLASS BEAD GAME?

Taken from http://www.glassbeadgame.com/

Herman Hesse’s Nobel Prize Winning Novel,

The Glass Bead Game

lays the foundations for an Artistic/Conceptual Game, which integrates all fields of Human and Cosmic Knowledge through forms of Organic Universal Symbolism, expressed by its players with the Dynamic Fluidity of Music. The Glass Bead Game is, in Reality, an Age Old metaphor for what has been called, the “Divine Lila” (Play or Game of Life). This metaphor has been expressed by every great Wisdom Tradition known to man, and its players, the Magister Ludi (Masters of the Game), use as their instruments Ancient and Modern modes of Symbolic Wisdom traditionally presented through Sacred Art, Philosophy, Magick and Cosmology. For a more detailed elaboration of our vision of the GBG, see:

THE GLASS BEAD GAME

http://www.sacredscience.com/store/commerce.cgi?page=GBG2.htm

David Bowie’s “Sunday” from the album Heathen with text from Hermann Hesse’s novel “The Glass Bead Game”

“Nothing remains
We could run when the rain slows
Look for the cars or signs of life
Where the heat goes

Look for the drifters
We should crawl under the bracken
Look for the shafts of light
On the road where the heat goes

Everything has changed

For in truth, it’s the beginning of nothing
And nothing has changed
Everything has changed

For in truth, it’s the beginning of an end
And nothing has changed
Everything has changed

In your fear
Of what we have become
Take to the fire
Now we must burn
All that we are
Rise together
Through these clouds
As on wings

In your fear
Seek only peace
In your fear
Seek only love
In your fear
Seek only peace
In your fear
Seek only love
In your fear
In your fear
As on wings

This is the trip
And this is the business we take
This is our number
All my trials
Lord, will be remembered

Everything has changed” – Bowie

Alchemical Psychology – Old Recipes for Living in a New World

“An alchemist is seen in physical form below this magnificent scene wearing a coat of stars, white one side and dark on the other. He stands in a grove of trees, each of which bears a symbol of the planetary metals and twelve fundamental substances. The alchemist holds a twin-bladed axe in either hand reinforcing the division of opposites in the manifest world. Yet he stands upon the backs of two lions sharing one head. This indicates his powers of discrimination and freedom from the opposites.”

Who am I? The False Self and the True Self by Jaq White

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Continuing on from my previous blog post Who Am I? All the World’s a Stage and All the Men and Women Merely Players

In the Natural World, we can observe a harmony that is at the same time both simple, and yet sophisticated.  We see different insects, plants, trees and creatures evolving into their own sophisticated form of life in order to maximise their chance of survival, and to find their own unique place in the eco-system. Different species rely on each other, and sustain each other.

There are of course conflicts, struggles for survival, and hierarchies.

In the human world, things are no different; we are very sophisticated life forms, with  the same conflicts, struggles for survival, and hierarchies. The difference is, above and beyond the natural way of things, we have also created our own very sophisticated conflicts, false hierarchies, and have created a system whereby we cause entire sections of our own species to struggle to survive, in many cases simply to sustain others.

What is the cause of our living  increasingly  out of harmony with even our own species and out of balance with the rest of the eco-system?

At birth we are unaware of any divisions in life, but as we become more self-aware and aware of our surroundings, we learn our name, who belongs to our family, our group, our town, our country. In many respects, this is the same among other life forms, and can be useful for helping us to fit in with our culture and to become a useful and productive member of our own society. However, to these we can add the particularly human traits that we choose to believe to be part of our identity – “I am a doctor” or even things such as “I read this newspaper” and “I go to see these types of films”, “This is my enemy, this is my friend”, “I need this, I don’t need that”.

As we become adults, we are now fully conditioned by our family, teachers, friends and society, and are keenly aware of the qualities we have which are considered weaknesses by society, and those which are considered strengths. We are judged or praised, rewarded or punished depending on our emotions and actions; we learn to ignore or hide the parts of our self that are not approved of, or do not fit in with our culture or society’s conditioning and programming. This is reinforced by so many people around us, that we come to believe that this is all I can be, and we forget or bury the other aspect of ourselves.

In many disciplines, this self is considered the false self. What can make it even more difficult, is if we are also aware that this self we are presenting to the world IS false.  In the outside world, we may think we need this false self to fit in with the system, trying to go about our business within society just as others do but inside, privately we have remained in touch with some aspect of our true self underneath the false self. We may have lived as this false self for so long that we may also not approve of what we percieve to be our true self, due to the conditioning. We even begin to think we are some kind of freak. We have learned not to trust, even doubting those who want the best for us, as we have been betrayed by others when we have confided our feelings or shown aspects of our true self to them. Is there a way back to the You that you already knew before you got so tied up in the physical world, in the expectations of society and the belief that it was the only way to exist or survive?

Yes, this conditioning and programming can be undone; it is a mistake to believe that it can’t.

We can start by unravelling our thoughts, each time we find ourselves thinking “I am this” or “I’m no good at that” “I can only do this in such a way”.  Ask yourself, do you REALLY believe that? And if so, why? Who told you that? or when did you decide that? Our thoughts are made up of stories; our mind contains so many stories from the past that shape our thinking and assumed beliefs – some from events that actually happened, and others that we made up ourselves at various points in our life, for protection or to boost our self-esteem. Because our mind has turned these thoughts into stories, we use this inner library to reference the way we act or approach the present, however much we might wish to behave differently.

By turning an inner light on these thoughts and stories, we can shed awareness on past conditioning, we can expand our consciousness and begin to rediscover and recover our true identity. We can then begin to rediscover the harmony that can be found with members of our own species, to rely on one another, to sustain one another, and even further, find our place within the eco-system. We have a choice.

The Dignity of Daring

In the film, “Withnail & I”,  we see a pair of actor friends who are both down on their luck. They support each other, and though they bicker constantly, they are also deeply dependent on each other.

This film has achieved cult status in the UK – the clever script has many quotable expressions, the characters are recognisable as people we know, or wish we knew, or maybe wish we hadn’t known.

But it is the relationship between Withnail, and “I” – who’s name we only hear once when he is referred to as Marwood – that leaves the strongest impression on us. The story ends with Marwood leaving town, and the viewer is torn between wishing the best for Marwood, whilst feeling the pain of Withnail, who, despite being a very flawed human being, we have come to love.

Yet we know that Marwood has made the right decision.

In the words of Karlfried Graf Durckheim (1896 – 1988):

“The man, who, being really on the Way, falls upon hard times in the world will not, as a consequence, turn to that friend who offers him refuge and comfort and encourages his old self to survive. Rather, he will seek out someone who will faithfully and inexorably help him to risk himself, so that he may endure the suffering and pass courageously through it. Only to the extent that man exposes himself over and over again to annihilation, can that which is indestructible arise within him.

In this lies the dignity of daring.”

Here’s the script for that final scene in Witnail & I

I:  Right, I’m off now.

Withnail:  Already?

I:  My father will pick up my stuff in the week and do something

about the car.

Withnail:  But I’ve got us a bottle open. Confiscated it from Monte’s

supplies.  53 Margaux. Best of the century

I:  I can’t Withnail, I’ll miss the train.

Withnail:  There’s always time for a drink.

I:   I haven’t the time.

Withnail:  Alright, I’ll walk with you to the station. We can drink it

through the park. [He grabs his coat and an umbrella and takes

the bottle.]

The Park [It is pouring down with rain. Withnail offers the bottle to I]

I:   No thank you, no more.

Look, it’s a stinker Withnail, why don’t  you go home.

Withnail:  Because I want to walk you to the station.

I: No, really, I really don’t want you to.  I shall miss you Withnail.

Withnail: I’ll miss you too.

[I departs. Withnail walks to the fence and leans against it.]

 Withnail: I have of late, but wherefore I know not,

lost all my mirth and  indeed it goes so heavily

with my disposition that this goodly frame

the earth seems to me a sterile promotory;

this most excellent canopy the air, look you,

this mighty o’rehanging  firmament,

this majestical roof fretted with golden fire;

why, it  appeareth nothing to me

but a foul and pestilent congregation of  vapours.

What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason,

how  infinite in faculties, how like an angel in apprehension,

how like a God!

The beauty of the world, paragon of animals;

and yet to  me, what is this quintessence of dusk.

Man delights not me, no, nor women neither,

nor women neither.

“I” is not afraid of the change, whereas Withnail has employed

his familiar tactics in an attempt to delay his friend,

who has possibly been given a small acting part in a stage play

that may lead to a brighter future.

At the very least it will be an alternative future.

“I” refuses the bottle proffered by his old friend, saying

“No thank you, no more” and then “I can’t Withnail, I’ll miss the train”…