Sphere 10, Malkuth, cont.
3. ASTROLOGY & ALCHEMY
a. Astrological Cycles of Unfolding (Natal Chart
= Prima Materia)
b. Alchemical Imagination: Making Psyche Matter (Mortification)
4. ORIENTATION & EXERCISE
a. The Banishing Ritual and Psychological Orientation
b. Psychic Equilibrium and the Middle Pillar Exercise
c. Middle Pillar Exercise and Synesthesia: Cross-Modal Sensations
3. ASTROLOGY and ALCHEMY
a. Astrological Cycles of Unfolding, (Natal Chart = Prima Materia)
Astrology is assured recognition from psychology, without further restriction,
because astrology represents the summation of all psychological knowledge
--C.G. Jung/Commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower
The systems of both astrology and alchemy provide frameworks of imagery
and correspondence. Conveying the images of the Astral Plane, they
supply modes of working together for conscious and unconscious processes.
Through them we can read a "status report" concerning what is otherwise
The practice of astrology or alchemy does not require "belief" or "disbelief."
They are tools for making psyche matter. "Faith is not what is believed,
but that by which it is believed."
What can astrology do for you? The relationships of the planets in
the solar system (including the sun, moon, and earth) create certain dynamic
energy potentials for change, growth, evolution, action, and transformation.
This influence pervades everywhere, including who we are and what we do.
The cyclical movements of the solar system define trends and patterns of
The true form of universal language is symbolism. The overlapping
cycles of planetary movement represent the living force of archetypal principles,
and the dynamic geometrical relationships between them. This yields
an experience of wholeness, in which complete and unique constellations
of archetypal energies and cyclic patterns of relationship manifest.
All of this is examined through a "horoscope". The chart is a variation
of the mandala, or magickal circle. There are several kinds of horoscopes
for different applications. The primary form is the natal horoscope,
or birth chart. It shows the dynamic potentials with which you were
born and which actuate your being.
There is the horary horoscope which defines the same thing for anything
at any moment of time. There is the transit chart which compares
your natal horoscope the current potentials and changes. Transits
represent external pressures of the current environment. There is
also a progressed chart, which purports to show your life's dynamic opportunities
by examining the motions of the stars for the two or three months after
your birth, on the basis that 1 day = 1 year of life.
Everything in astrology deals with interpreting the meaning of the planetary
relationships in these horoscopes. The planets in themselves create
certain potentials. Their angular relationships (aspects) affect
the flow of these potentials. Their cyclical flow around the sun
create different areas where these potentials are felt (the zodiac).
The sum total of these relationships combines with the earth cycle (the
Houses, or field of experience) in a unique pattern for every different
location, birth, and moment on earth. Each "house" is supposed to
relate to a part of your being and life activity. The positions of
the planets within the Houses provide different and unique potentials for
all of us.
[INSERT PICTURE Two fish swim in our sea]
We can connect the basic concepts of astrology and alchemy to amplify our
knowledge of them both. The natal, or birth chart, in astrology,
is a blueprint for the unfolding of an individual life. It contains
all of the implicate information concerning predispositions and future
trends. It forms the basis for a unique pattern of archetypal coordination.
As a graphic depiction of the heavens at the moment of birth, from a precise
location, it links man to the cosmos. Representing the conditions
at the beginning, it corresponds with the alchemical prima materia.
The base matter was the prima materia, in alchemy. This "stuff" one
starts with corresponds to the inflated immaturities of one's own psyche.
In the beginning of the psychological process of individuation, the personal
ego cannot distinguish itself from the powers and abilities of the Collective
Unconscious. S/he does not, for instance, realize that "Mars trine
Venus" manifests in a characteristic manner for all who are in that archetypal
domain; rather, the ego thinks, "I am thus and such."
The prima materia is our ego-Self identity, the residue of original inflation,
or identification with the subconscious. To submit this material
to the alchemical process means to apply conscious effort and attention
to the task: Refining and separating this composite mixture to the
end that the Self or archetypal psyche will be freed from its contamination
with the ego.
The composition of the ultima materia (end result) and prima materia (beginning
conditions) are essentially the same. The characteristic difference
is that the conscious ego has distinguished itself from the contents of
the Collective Unconscious, represented in Astrology by the dynamic interaction
of the planets in the field of experience. He can distinguish "himself"
from the various archetypes. This sets up a feedback system, which
is access through the imaginal modes of astrology and alchemy, to Self-Realization.
The aim is to unite with the well-springs of being.
The birthchart forms a field of unfolding, rhythmical sequences.
It discloses innate psychic attitudes and behavior patterns, and provides
a fairly reliable method of timing life crises. Used as a form of
active imagination, you learn to consciously relate to meaningful events
and cycles in life, making psyche matter.
Jung used both astrology and alchemy as psychological tools. Meaning
can only be found in realization of the unity between man and cosmos.
To become in fact that which we are potentially is the basis for "personal
Dane Rudhyar, The Astrology of Personality
Stephen Arroyo, Astrology, Psychology, and the Four Elements
Alexander Ruperti, Cycles of Becoming: The Planetary Pattern of Growth
Isabel Hickey, Astrology: A Cosmic Science
ERECTION OF THE NATAL CHART:
(add shareware description and how to use it)
1. date of birth
2. time of birth (to nearest minute)
3. place of birth (longitude and latitude)
Reference material needed:
1. ephemeris for the year of birth
2. table of houses
3. book of time changes
Computation of the ascendant and the midheaven positions:
Finding local mean time (LMT) at birth: Using the time change book,
determine the time zone and the time meridian; check for daylight time
or war time and adjust the birth time to standard time if necessary.
Note the difference between the time meridian and the longitude of birth.
To adjust the birth time for the actual location of birth, multiply the
above difference by 4 minutes for each degree of difference. Now
add this figure to the birth time if the birth longitude was east of the
time meridian or subtract it if the birth longitude was west of the time
meridian. This gives the LMT of birth.
Finding sidereal time (ST): In the ephemeris there is a column marked
ST which gives the ST at noon for every day. Find the ST for the
noon before LMT at birth.
Correction factors: Take the time difference between Greenwich and
place of birth and multiply by 10 seconds for each hour difference (the
difference in time zones will be close enough). Take the LMT and
multiply it by the same factor of 10 seconds per hour. This gives
the two correction figures.
Take all four resulting figures and add them up: this is the sidereal
time of birth. If the figure is greater than 24 hours, subtract 24
hours from the total. One additional note: if LMT was an AM
time, then the 12 hours from the previous noon has to be added to it to
give an accurate LMT (remember ST was determined for the noon before birth,
not necessarily the closest ST to birth).
Now go to the table of houses: They are arranged by latitude and
sidereal time. Use the sidereal time at birth from the above calculations
and the latitude of place of birth. Read through the columns and
take down the figures for the ascendant (first house cusp) and the midheaven
(tenth house cusp). The other house cusps are not necessary in cosmobiology,
but they are there if desired.
Computation of the planetary positions:
The planetary positions are listed in the ephemeris for each day for noon
at Greenwich. These have to be adjusted to LMT of birth. Note
the difference between birth time and Greenwich noon using the time zones.
This gives the interpolative factor; now interpolate the tables to get
the correct planetary positions for the actual time of birth.
For an individual born:
2. 10:19 AM
3. Seattle, WA (48N, 122W)
Time change information: there is no daylight or war time in effect;
it is Pacific Standard Time (PST); the time meridian is 120W.
LMT: 122 - 120 gives a difference of 2 degrees; times 4 minutes this
equals a time difference of 8 minutes; 122 is west of 120 so this difference
is subtracted from the birth time giving 10:11 AM. Since this is
an AM birth, 12 hours have to be added on to correspond to the ST criteria
of the noon before birth. Thus, the LMT becomes 22:11.
The ST at noon previous to birth is 13:31 (from the ephemeris).
Correction factors: The difference in time between Greenwich and
Seattle is 8 hours; times 10 seconds this gives approximately 1 minute.
The LMT of 22:11 is multiplied by 10 seconds also; giving approximately
Adding the LMT, the ST, and the correction factors:
11:47 ST at birth
From the table of houses for 48N and ST of 11:47: Ascendant: 4 Sagittarius
Midheaven: 26 Virgo
Interpolation of planetary positions: if it is 10 AM in Seattle,
in Greenwich it will be eight hours later - 6 PM. The ephemeris tables
are listed for noon Greenwich; it is 6 hours later. The next planetary
figures listed are for 24 hours later (the next noon in Greenwich).
The interpolative factor becomes 6/24 or 1/4. All the planetary positions
have to be adjusted 1/4 of the way towards the next day's positions:
planets 10/15/53 10/16/53 interpolation positions
sun 21:50 libra 22:50 libra 22:05 libra
venus 26:08 virgo 27:22 virgo 26:25 virgo
mercury 14:45 scorpio 16:00 scorpio 15:02 scorpio
moon 16:51 capricorn 00:15 aquarius 20:13 capricorn
saturn 29:09 libra 29:16 libra 29:11 libra
jupiter 26:26 gemini 26:26 gemini 26:26 gemini
mars 19:21 virgo 19:59 virgo 19:31 virgo
uranus 23:03 cancer 23:03 cancer 23:03 cancer
neptune 23:34 libra 23:36 libra 23:35 libra
n.node 28:51 caprico 28:47 caprico 28:50 capricorn
pluto 24:24 leo 24:24 leo 24:24 leo
The interpolative process is simply a matter of subtracting the difference
between the position on 10/15 and 10/16; multiplying this difference by
the factor 1/4; and adding this new figure onto the position of 10/15.
After the computations have been done, the data is entered onto a chart
form and the erection of the natal chart is complete.
The whole process should only take five to fifteen minutes with a bit of
practice, or you may rely on astrological computer programs, using various
house systems. The planetary positions need to be known only to the
nearest degree; the interpolations can be done in one's head. In
the example the only planet to change a degree or more was the moon.
For placement on the natal chart, the planetary positions are rounded off
to the nearest degree. One should always check all the planetary
movements for interpolations, but usually a quick mental scan is sufficient
for accuracy to one degree.
The foregoing instructions were for a birth west of Greenwich. If
the birth was east of Greenwich, the same procedure would be followed except
for one thing: the first correction factor (10 seconds per hour for
time difference between Greenwich and place of birth) would be a minus
factor and would be subtracted from the other figures.
Transposition of the planets to the 90 circle:
The ascendant and the midheaven points and the planetary positions are
first entered on the inner circle of the C-2 form. This is the 360
degree zodiacal circle; the degrees progress in a counterclockwise direction.
The 90 circle is composed of three segments: 0 to 30, 30 to 60, and
60 to 90. The planets falling in cardinal signs (Cancer, Libra, Capricorn,
Aries) are entered in the 0 - 30 segment. A planet in 10 Cancer would
be entered in 10 of the 90 circle, as would be one located at 10 aries.
The planets falling in the fixed signs (Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius, Taurus)
are entered in the 30 - 60 segment. A planet at 10 aquarius would
be placed at 40 on the 90 circle. The planets falling in the mutable
signs (Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces, Gemini) are entered in the 60 - 90 segment.
A planet at 10 Pisces is placed at 70 on the 90 circle.
Now the natal chart is ready for analysis and interpretation.
INTRODUCTION TO ALCHEMY
IN JUNGIAN PSYCHOLOGY
Jung spent the better part of the end of his life studying the subject
of alchemy. In typical "Jungian" style, his interest in alchemy developed
from a vivid dream. Jung was amazed to find that the images and operations
he encountered in the old alchemy texts related strongly to his theories
of psychoanalysis and the unconscious. Therefore, his main research
project at the culmination of his career was around this topic of alchemy
and how it related to the process of consciousness. Jung saw in alchemy
a metaphor of the process of individuation.
Jung elaborated most of his alchemical analysis of the psyche in three
major volumes of his Collected Works. They include Alchemical Studies,
Psychology and Alchemy, and the final volume Mysterium Coniunctionis.
Since the publication of these there have been other works of interest
produced by notable Jungian analysts. Among these are the following:
1). Foremost are the works of Marie-Louise vonFranz; she has
written Alchemical Active Imagination, Projection and Recollection in Jungian
Psychology, Number and Time, and Alchemy; An Introduction to the Symbolism
and its Psychology, to name but a few.
2). Edward Edinger has given us the classical text, Ego and
Archetype plus Psychotherapy and Alchemy.
Other contributors include Henry Corbin with Spiritual Body and Celestial
Earth, on Arabic alchemy, M. Esther Harding's Psychic Energy, Robert Grinnell's
Alchemy in a Modern Woman, and Edward Whitmont's Psyche and Substance.
Some of the most recent work has been done by avante garde psychologist
James Hillman. He is director of the Dallas Institute which specializes
in Jungian Studies. His works appear in Spring, the Journal for Archetypal
Psychology, and include pieces on the Anima Mundi, or Soul of the World,
and articles such as "Silver and the White Earth." As its title suggests,
Spring originated as a voice for archetypal psychology, but now most articles
are in the perspective of Imaginal Psychology.
Then there are the classical texts of alchemy, themselves. Among
these number such as The Book of Lambspring, Aurora Consurgens, Codicillus
(by Raymond Lully), Splendor Solis, Theatrum Chemicum, and The Alchemical
Writings of Edward Kelly. Liber Azoth and De Natura Rerum (among
others) by Paracelsus. Other classics include The Chemical Wedding
of Christian Rosenkrutz and Rosarium Philosophorum which Jung used to illustrate
his work The Psychology of the Transference. Finally, there are the
modern translations of older works by A. E. Waite which include Turba Philosophorum,
The Hermetic Museum, Lexicon of Alchemy, and The Hermetic and Alchemical
Writings of Paracelsus. Even newer are the compendiums such as The
Secret Art of Alchemy by Stanislas Klossowski De Rola and Alchemist's Handbook
by Frater Albertus. Another Jungian contribution is Eliade's The
Forge & the Crucible. For the lesser known treatises, Jung's
bibliographies are a gold mine. Jung wrote the forward to the Taoist
classic on alchemy, The Secret of the Golden Flower.
Most of us, unfamiliar with the subtle nuances of alchemical practice,
view it as the historical predecessor of some of our modern sciences, like
medicine, chemistry, metallurgy, etc. But, according to Jung's research,
it seems to be much, much more. It is a curious fact that there is
no single alchemy for us to examine. It is a cross-cultural phenomena
which has been practiced in various forms by ancient Egyptians, Greeks,
Romans, Christian Europeans, and the Islamic, Hindu and Taoist faiths.
All of these use symbols to depict a process of transformation, whether
this process is thought to occur inside (introverted) or outside (extroverted)
of the human body. Although there are many types of alchemy, the
main split seems to be between material (extroverted) and spiritual (introverted)
alchemies. The deciding factor is the direction of the practitioner's
In his book, The Alchemical Tradition in the Late Twentieth Century, Richard
Grossinger summarizes the basic components of the different alchemies,
which he dubs 'planet science.' These include the following:
1. A theory of nature as made up of primary elements.
2. A belief in the gradual evolution and transformation of
3. A system for inducing transmutation.
4. The imitation of nature by a gentle technology.
5. The faith that one's inner being is changed by participation
in external chemical experiments.
6. A general system of synchronistic correspondences between
planets, herbs, minerals, species of animals, signs and symbols, parts
of the body, etc., known as the Doctrine of Signatures.
7. Gold as the completed and perfected form of the metals,
in specific, and substance in general (Alchemy is the attempt to transmute
other substances into gold, however that attempt is understood and carried
8. The existence of a paradoxical form of matter, sometimes
called The Philosopher's Stone (the lapis), which can be used in making
gold or in brewing elixirs and medicines that have universal curative powers.
9. A method of symbolism working on the simultaneity of a series
of complementary pairs: Sun/Moon, Gold/Silver, Sulphur/Mercury, King/Queen,
Male/Female, Husband/Bride, Christ/Man, etc.
10. The search for magical texts that come from a time when
the human race was closer to the source of things or are handed down from
higher intelligences, extra-terrestials, guardians, or their immediate
familiars during some Golden Age. These texts deal with the creation
or synthesis of matter and are a blueprint for physical experimentation
in a cosmic context (as well as for personal development). They have
been reinterpreted in terms of the Earth's different epochs and nationalities.
11. In the Occident, alchemy is early inductive experimental
science and is closely allied with metallurgy, pharmacy, industrial chemistry,
12. In the Orient, alchemy is a system of meditation in which
one's body is understood as elementally and harmonically equivalent to
the field of creation. (Between East and West, the body may be thought
of as a microcosm of nature, with its own deposits of seeds, elixirs, and
13. Alchemy is joined to astrology in a set of meanings that
arise from the correspondences of planets, metals, and parts of the body,
and the overall belief in a cosmic timing that permeates nature.
Thus, alchemy deals fundamentally with the basic mysteries of life as well
as with transcendental mysticism. But its approach is neither abstract
nor theoretical, but experimental, in nature.
Just who were the alchemists, and why are their contributions important
to us today? The alchemists were the leading explorers of consciousness
in medieval times, and their research led to a vast improvement in the
conditions of human life. Among the more famous are Albertus Magnus,
Paracelsus, Nicholas Flammel, and Sir Isaac Newton. Their contributions
not only improved the lives of their contemporaries, but influenced the
thought of many philosophers if the same and later eras, such as Meister
Eckhart, Thomas a Kempis, John Dee, Johannes Kepler, Thomas Vaughn, Bishop
Berkeley, Emanuel Swedenborg, William Blake, and Geothe.
The contributions of these eminent alchemists are staggering: Albertus
Magnus, alone, wrote eight books on physics, six on psychology, eight on
astronomy, twenty-six on zoology, five on minerals, one on geography, and
three on life in general from an Aristotelian point-of-view. He was
a Dominican friar who was canonized a saint in 1931. Paracelsus was
a Swiss born in 1493. His accomplishments were many and include being
the first modern medical scientist. He fathered the sciences of microchemistry,
antisepsis, modern wound surgery, and homeopathy. He wrote the first
medical literature on the causes and treatment of syphilis and epilepsy,
as well as books on illness derived from adverse working conditions.
Notwithstanding this accurate scientific bent, his work is in close accord
with the mystical alchemical tradition. He wrote on furies in sleep,
on ghosts appearing after death, on gnomes in mines and underground, of
nymphs, pygmies, and magical salamanders. His word view was animistic.
Invisible forces were always at work and the physician had to constantly
be aware of this fourth dimension in which he was moving. He utilized
various techniques for divination and astrology as well as magical amulets,
talismans, and incantations. He believed in a vital force which radiated
around every man like a luminous sphere and which could be made to act
at a distance. He is also credited with the early use of what we
now know as hypnotism. He believed that there was a star in each
man. (Mishlove). This sentiment was echoed by 19th century
magician and alchemist, Aleister Crowley, who said, "Every man and every
woman is a star." This alludes to the essential Self.
Kepler developed the laws of planetary motion. But he developed his
theories on the basis of explorations into the dimly lit archetypal regions
of man's mind as surely as on his mathematical observations of the planetary
motions. He was clearly a student in the tradition of earlier mystic-scientist
such as Pythagoras and Paracelsus. Thomas Vaughn, Robert Fludd and
Sir Frances Bacon number among the 17th century Rosicrucians, who practiced
not only alchemy, but also other hermetic arts and the qabala.
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was a mathematical genius, as well as one
of the greatest scientists who ever lived. He discovered the binomial
theorem, invented differential calculus, made the first calculations of
the moon's attraction by the earth and described the laws of motion of
classical mechanics, and formulated the theory of universal gravitation.
He was very careful not to publish anything which was not firmly supported
by experimental proofs or geometrical demonstration thus he exemplified
and ushered in the Age of Reason.
However, if we look at Newton's own personal notes and diaries, over a
million works in his own handwriting, a startlingly different picture of
the man emerges. Newton was an alchemist. He devoted himself
to such endeavors as the transmutation of metals, the philosopher's stone,
and the elixir of life. He was intensely introspective and had great
mental endurance. He solved problems intuitively and dressed them
up in logical proofs afterwards. He, himself, was astounded by the
startling nature of his own theories. Gravity is a problem that still
hasn't been dealt with satisfactorily by scientists.
His followers, however, emphasized his mechanistic view of the universe
to the exclusion of his religious and alchemical views. In a sense,
their action ushered in a controversy in psychical research which has existed
ever since. Since Newton's time, all discoveries suggesting the presence
of a spiritual force which transcended time or space were ironically considered
to be a violation of Newton's Laws--even though Newton himself held these
It is interesting to note, that today scientists actually can turn small
amounts of lead into gold through particle acceleration, since they are
only one atomic weight apart. Despite the advances in science, the
"unknown" is still projected into the realm of matter, and the alchemical
continues. Science is still debating over what is physical, what
is psychic and what is metapsychic. VonFranz, in Projection and Recollection
in Jungian Psychology, states that "In Western cultural history the transpsychic
has been described sometimes as "spirit" sometimes as "matter." Theologians
and philosophers are more concerned with the former, physicists with the
Von Franz points out that "what was once regarded as the opposition between
spirit and matter turns up again in contemporary physics as a discussion
of the relation between consciousness (or "Mind") and matter." It
bears on such questions as the bias of the observer, and the theories of
relativity, probability, synchronicity, not to mention the whole field
of parapsychology. Jung really returned us to the alchemistic viewpoint
when he said, in Aion:
Sooner or later nuclear physics and the psychology of the unconscious
will draw closely together as both of them independently of one another
and from opposite directions, push forward into transcendental territory.
...Psyche cannot be totally different from matter for how otherwise could
it move matter? And matter cannot be alien to psyche, for how else
could matter produce psyche? Psyche and matter exist in the same
world, and each partakes of the other, otherwise any reciprocal action
would be impossible. If research could only advance far enough, therefore,
we should arrive at an ultimate agreement between physical and psychological
concepts. Our present attempts may be bold, but I believe they are
on the right lines.
As VonFranz notes, "There is therefore no concept fundamental to modern
physics that is not in one degree or another a differentiated form of some
primordial archetypal idea." These include our concepts of time,
space, energy, the field of force, particle theory, and chemical affinity.
Laws in physics are subject to scientific revolutions and there has been
a major breakthrough in paradigm shifts about every 20 years, or each generation.
VonFranz says, "As soon as an archetypal idea that has been serving as
a model no longer coincides with the observed facts of the external world,
it is dropped or its origin in the psyche is recognized. This process
always coincides...with the upward thrust of a new thought-model from the
unconscious to the threshold of consciousness."
This is basically the process of weeding out "scientific errors."
"...scarcely a thought is given to what they might mean, psychologically,
once they are no longer fit to serve as a model in describing the outer
world." This certainly happened to alchemy, until Jung revived an
interest in it. "It is only today, when we know that the assumptions
of the observer decisively precondition the total results, that the question
is becoming acute." Physicists have become increasingly conscious
of the extent to which psychological circumstances influence their results.
Other experimental-minded persons have sought the mysteries of life and
divinity within their own bodies, since ancient times. Whether known
as Yogis or Adepts, their goal was basically the same, as we shall see.
Some modern schools of the Hermetic Arts see an identity between medieval
European alchemy and the eastern practice of Yoga. They see a metaphysical
or symbol correspondence between the planetary and metallurgical attributions
of alchemy and the chakras. Yoga is also experimental in nature.
The qualities of the metals correspond to the planets and chakras as follows:
Alchemy is not concerned exclusively with consciousness, but also seeds
the subtle transformation of the body, so that the physical level is also
brought into perfect equilibrium. Thus, the alchemical metals may
be considered analogous to the chakras of the yogis. We can draw
another parallel among the three major principles of Alchemy and those
of Yoga, which are known as the Gunas.
The quality of Mercury is vital and reflective; it equates with the spiritual
principles of goodness and intelligence; Sattva guna is illuminative.
The quality of Sulphur is fiery and passionate like the principle of Rajas,
which incites desire, attachment, and action. The quality of Salt
is arrestive and binding, and reflects the gross inertia of matter, which
is much like Tamas. These gunas and the three alchemical substances
symbolize spirit, soul and body. Another "alchemical" way the gunas
were applied concerns food: sattvic foods incline one toward meditation
and the spiritual life (fruits, vegetables, and grains); rajasic foods
are stimulating (i.e. spicy food); tamasic food incites the baser instincts
The concept of four basic elements, harmonized in a fifth, is also common
to both alchemy and yoga doctrine. The Indian elements are known
as Tattvas. They are: Akasha (quintessence; Tejas or Agni (fire);
Apas (water); Vayu (air); Prithivi (earth). Furthermore, the preparation
for the practice of both alchemy and yoga requires a moral or ethical preparation.
Both stress that evil tendencies should be overcome while positive virtues
are developed. This includes both behavior and the purification of
the various body centers. The objective is not wealth, but health
Alchemy also speaks of a "secret fire", which is often compared to a serpent
or dragon. Here again, we find the correspondence to Kundalini, the
serpent-power. Alchemy is performed by the aid of Mercury, the illuminative
principle, and the powers of the sun and moon. The yogic system works
in three channels in the subtle body of man. One equates with the
sun, another with the moon. They are called ida and pingala.
The third, or harmonizing channel, is known as sushumna, and is associated
The yogi seeks to arouse the latent power of the Kundalini serpent so it
rises up the chakra centers until it opens the third eye of mystical vision
and illumination. Alchemists apply slow heat to their alchemical
vessel to sublimate and refine the contents therein. The yogis use
breath control, the alchemist bellows to control the fire. Interestingly,
yogis have breath exercises called "breath of fire" and "the bellows."
In summary, the points of correspondence resulting in the alchemical production
of a new kind of human being (one made hale or whole) are as follows:
1. Both systems agree that all things are expressions of one
2. Both affirm that all things combine three qualities:
a. Wisdom, Sattva, superconsciousness or Mercury; b. Desire,
Rajas, compulsion or Sulpher; c. Inertia, Tamas, darkness, or Salt.
3. Both recognize five modes of expression: Akasha, Spirit
or the quintessence; Tejas or Agni (fire); Apas (water); Vayu (air); Prithivi
4. Both systems mention seven principle vehicles of activity,
called chakras by yogis, and metals by alchemists.
5. Both say there is a secret force, fiery in quality, which
is to be raised from one chakra or metal to another, until the power of
all seven is sublimated in the higher.
6. Yoga says 1) Prana or Surya, sun, 2) Rayim, moon, and 3)
Sattva, wisdom are the three main agencies in the work (or ida, pingala
and sushumna). Alchemy says the whole operation is a work of the
sun and moon, aided by Mercury.
7. Both systems stress preparation by establishing physical
purity and ethical freedom from lust, avarice, vanity, attachment, anger
and other anti-social tendencies.
8. Both allege that success enables the adepts to exercise
extraordinary powers, to heal all diseases, and to control all the forces
of nature so as to exert a determining influence on circumstances.
In short, what both alchemist and yogi do is 1). to recognize what goes
on in his body, and 2). to use his knowledge of the control exerted over
subconscious processed by self-consciousness to form a definite intention
that this body-building function shall act with maximum efficiency creating
increased vitality. This supercharge of libido then wakens the spiritual
vision of the pineal gland to full activity. The Great Work of alchemy
consists of stabilizing the vision of Light into a full realization.
The by-product is that the body-building power of the subconscious changes
the alchemist himself into a new creature.
Jung asserted that the medieval alchemists were unaware of the natural
process of psychological transformation which went on in their subconscious.
Therefore, they projected this process into their experiments. In
other words, they projected an inner process outside of themselves.
Had they been more conscious in their intent, or more sophisticated in
their psychology like the yogis, they would have been more consistently
But why is a study of alchemy relevant to our modern lives? We are
not daily occupied in pseudo-alchemical experiments like the alchemists,
or are we? In many metaphorical ways we are thinking like alchemists
all the time. Also, Jung observed that the dreams of his clients
repeatedly stressed the main alchemical themes, especially the conflict
and union of opposites. The alchemical symbolism is widespread in
dreams if modern individuals, and can shed light on these more primitive
aspects of our subconscious life. It is important for our understanding
of our own unconscious. In Alchemical Active Imagination, VonFranz
True knowledge of oneself is the knowledge of the objective psyche as
it manifests in dreams and in the manifestations of the unconscious.
Only by looking at dreams, for instance, can one see who one truly is;
they tell us who we really are, that is something which is objectively
there. To meditate on that is an effort towards self-knowledge, because
that is scientific and objective and not in the interest of the ego but
in the interest of "what I am" objectively. It is knowledge of the
Self, of the wider, objective personality.
We could view alchemy as an antique form of therapy, which originally had
the meaning 'to heal,' and the implication of 'service to the gods.'
Psychotherapy basically means service to the psyche, and offers us a way
to reconnect with our unconscious, thus experiencing wholeness. It
also opens an avenue to increased physical health, since those ailments
which remain unconscious often manifest as psychosomatic diseases.
If we become conscious of the source of the dis-ease, it dissipates.
Knowledge of alchemy's symbolism can lead us to psychological insight in
terms of our own condition, especially that reflected in dreams.
Alchemy may be carried out as either a physical or mental operation.
The Jungian orientation is primarily mental, though it might take a physical
form. For example, you might choose to ritually "act out" certain
aspects of the Great Work in active imagination. The Jungian interpretation
that alchemy is a passive and unconscious process comes from a basically
mental, or Greek orientation. The type of alchemy that aims at rejuvenating
or preserving the physical body is descended from the physically-oriented
Egyptian alchemy. The main traditions of conscious, inner spiritual
alchemy come mainly from the Islamic and Oriental philosophies.
Jung's original interest in alchemy came from a dream he had of a library
filled with arcane tomes from medieval times and the Renaissance.
During the next 15 years he spent collecting this library, he learned to
recognize the major symbols of the unconscious. He was reading about
them in alchemy books and hearing about them in his patients' dreams and
fantasies. Their projections told him of an inner quest, a sealed
vessel, the conflict of opposites, a philosophical tree, a fountain of
eternity, a golden flower, a Stone, a sacred wedding, etc.
Slowly Jung familiarized himself with their alchemical meaning. Then
he, himself, became a living symbol of the healing power of the Philosopher's
Stone. In his case this power manifested as the ability to heal on
the mental level--in other words, to release any blocks hindering the natural
process of growth and transformation. When proceeding in the direction
of their individuation with self-realization. We should be careful
here not to dichotomize between "mental" and "physical" too much or we
will lose our proper alchemical perspective. Alchemy cannot be reduced
to a metaphor of psychological or philosophical transformation--it requires
Grossinger says that "what Carl Jung recognized was that the stages
if the alchemists also corresponded to a process of psychological individuation.
The psychic stages were as precise and rigorous as the chemical ones by
which they became imaginal. Furthermore, they generated a physical
and even quantitative terminology for an undiagnosed tension of opposites
in the human psyche arising from male and female archetypes, a struggle
they sought to resolve by the creative unity of the chemicals in the Stone.
" Alchemy sought to unite Spirit (male), and Matter (female) through
a Royal Union (coniunctio) to create their synthesis in the homunculus,
hermaphrodite, or lapis. This is an alchemical metaphor of the process
of spiritual rebirth.
The entire body of alchemical literature covers many variations on the
theme of the Great Work. No single person will ever express all of
the operations and symbols described in alchemy, just as no single person
ever embodies the totality of the Self.
We each have unique experiences of the common roots of humanity or the
collective unconscious. Thus, the various operations of alchemy come
in different order for the various practitioners. The alchemical
writings seem to contradict one another about the evolution of the process.
Likewise, in dreams, we sometimes find the symbols of the end-product (like
a mandala, or flower, or child) appearing at the beginning of the process.
They symbolize what is latent and seeks manifestation.
Nevertheless in both alchemy and Jungian psychology there are classic stages
in the process of individuation or personal experience of the unconscious.
One major recurrent theme in modern dreams is the symbolism of the planets,
which correspond with the alchemical metals. These metals, or planets
(astrology), or Spheres (QBL) can be understood psychologically as the
building blocks of the ego, which forms itself from fragments of these
divine, archetypal qualities. These spiritual principles seek concretization
through the unique experience of an individual ego. This links spirit
The sacredness of the Opus, or Great Work, is the central idea behind alchemy.
One must be self-oriented, rather than ego-oriented. The adept is
also diligent, patient and virtuous. In other words, in order to
create the Stone, you must have the potential within yourself for self-realization--for
becoming whole or 'holy.' It requires an inward seeking, just like
the process of individuation. It is a solitary talk for no one may
follow where you go. But there may be guides who will help inspire
your faith and dedication to the task. Others have been to the territory
you will explore, but none will accompany you.
The secret of alchemy is that it is a personal journey of transformation,
and cannot be explained but only experienced. It is "eating the dish",
not just reading about it in an alchemical cookbook. Its effects
must be channeled into spiritual growth, for if alchemy is used to gratify
personal desire the work is lost. This means the ego gets inflated
with its own importance when the real power source lies within the Self.
This naturally produces a regression back into an unconscious state, back
to the prima materia. The instinctual urge for growth and transformation
lies within us. For this urge to be considered evolutional requires that
the ego must cooperate quite deliberately and consciously with the Self.
This leads toward self-realization.
The main purpose of the Opus is "to create a transcendent, miraculous substance
which is variously symbolized as the Philosopher's Stone, the Elixir of
Life, or the universal medicine (panacea). The procedure is, first,
to find the suitable material, the so-called prima materia, and then to
subject it to a series of operations which will turn it into the Philosopher's
Stone." (Edinger, 1978). The First Matter is a homogenous unity
of Mercury, Sulpher and Salt. It is therefore 'three,' but can also
be expressed as 'four' elements, which are again essentially 'one.'
Jung felt that the secret of the psyche was contained in this question
of the 'three' and the 'four.' In alchemy it is expressed as the
axiom of Maria Prophetissa: "Therefore the Hebrew prophetess cried
without restraint: 'one becomes two, two becomes three, and out of
the third comes the One as the fourth.'" Today, physicists echo this
statement when they call 'plasma' both the fourth and first state of matter
(the others being liquid, gas and solid).
In Jungian psychology, the prima materia is the original undifferentiated
condition of ordinary consciousness, which is really unconsciousness.
Mystics of all times have repeated that in the ordinary state we are all
asleep or even "dead" to the true Reality. In psychology the four-fold
nature of the prima materia is expressed by the four functions which correspond
with the alchemical elements: intuition (fire), thinking (air), feeling
(water), and sensation (earth). In Jungian theory we have a dominant
function and limited access to one or two others, but the fourth function
is inaccessible, maladapted or hard to integrate. It is what keeps
us from "getting it all together." Thus, we are out-of-balance.
Balancing the four functions means achieving an integrated personality,
balance, and high well-being. This requires undergoing a symbolic
process of the union of opposites, which is what both alchemy and Jungian
analysis are all about. Both alchemy and Jungian psychology require
a period of depth analysis (solutio) to distinguish the original, undifferentiated
contents. The ego learns what part of the personality comes from
itself and which parts from the Self. It reflects on its own components
parts (subpersonalities) and learns to see itself as a small part of a
greater whole, the larger unity of the Self. Edinger says, "The fixed,
settled aspects of the personality which are rigid and static are reduced
or led back to their original, undifferentiated condition as part of the
process of psychic transformation," i.e. back to a state of 'innocence.'
Further, Edinger compares the problem of discovering the prima materia
to the problem of finding what to work on in psychotherapy. He gives
(1) It is ubiquitous, to be found everywhere, before the eyes
of all. This means that psychotherapeutic material likewise is everywhere,
in all the ordinary, everyday occurrences of life. Moods and petty
personal reactions of all kinds are suitable matter to be worked on by
the therapeutic process.
(2) Although of great inward value, the prima materia is vile
in outer appearance and therefore despised, rejected and thrown on the
dung heap. The prima materia is treated like the suffering servant
in Isaiah. Psychologically, this means that the prima materia is
found in the shadow, that part of the personality which is considered most
despicable. Those aspects of ourselves most painful and most humiliating
are the very ones to be brought forward and worked on.
(3) It appears as a multiplicity, "has as many names as there
are things," but at the same time is one. This feature corresponds
to the fact that initially psychotherapy makes one aware of his fragmented,
disjointed condition. Very gradually these warring fragments are
discovered to be differing aspects of ones underlying unity. It is
as though one sees the fingers of a hand touching a table at first only
in two dimensions, as separate unconnected fingers. With three-dimensional
vision, the fingers are seen as part of a larger unity, the hand.
(4) The prima materia is undifferentiated, without definite boundaries,
limits or form. This corresponds to a certain experience of the unconscious
which exposes the ego to the infinite...It may evoke the terror of dissolution
or the awe of eternity. It provides a glimpse of the pleroma,...the
chaos prior to the operation of the World-creating Logos. It is the
fear of the boundless that often leads one to be content with the ego-limits
he has rather than risk falling into the infinite by attempting to enlarge
The different operations to transform the prima materia follow as the natural
consequence of finding the material to work on. The imagery associated
with these operations is profuse and draws from myth, religion, and folklore.
The symbols for all these imagery-systems comes from the collective unconscious.
There is no set number of alchemical operations, just as there is no set
number or order to archetypes.
However, certain of the operations seem to recur more often in the literature
and experience. We could consider these as the skeletal frame of
the alchemical process. Their order switches around also. Edinger
lists seven operations which seem to typify the major transformations of
the alchemical process. These include: calcinatio, solutio, coagulatio,
sublimatio, mortificatio, seperatio, and coniunctio. Other major
operations include nigredo, albedo, rubedo, solificatio, multiplicatio,
projectio, separatio, circulatio, and more.
We can detail the nature of each of these operations later. For now
it is enough to grasp the overview, which is best stated by Jung, himself,
in Mysterium Coniunctionis: "...the alchemist saw the essence of
his art in separation and analysis [solve or solutio] on the one hand and
synthesis and consolidation [coagula or coagulatio] on the other.
For him there was first of all an initial state in which opposite tendencies
or forces were in conflict; secondly there was the great question of a
procedure which would be capable of bringing the hostile elements and qualities,
once they were separated, back to unity again.
The initial state, named chaos, was not given from the start but had to
be sought for as the prima materia. And just as at the beginning
of the work was not self-evident, so to an even greater degree was its
end. There are countless speculations on the nature of the end state,
all of them reflected in it designations. The commonest are the ideas
of its permanence (prolongation of life, immortality, incorruptibility),
its androgyny, its spirituality and corporality, its divinity and its resemblance
to man (homunculus)."
He goes on to point out what this might man psychologically. We could
view it as conflicting drives originating on the spiritual, mental, emotional,
and physical levels creating splits in the personality. Jung says
that, "The obvious analogy, in the psychic sphere, to this problem of opposites
is the dissociation of the personality brought about by the conflict of
incompatible tendencies, resulting as a rule from an inharmonious disposition.
The repression of one of the opposites leads only to a prolongation and
extension of the conflict, in other words, to a neurosis. The therapist
therefore confronts the opposites with one another and aims at uniting
them permanently. The images of the goal which then appear in dreams
often run parallel with the corresponding alchemical symbols."
He reiterates the value of accessing the alchemical symbolism for increasing
insight. "Investigation of the alchemical symbolism, like a preoccupation
with mythology, does not lead one away from life any more than a study
of comparative anatomy leads away from the anatomy of the living man.
On the contrary, alchemy affords us a veritable treasure-house of symbols,
knowledge of which is extremely helpful for an understanding of neurotic
and psychotic processes. This, in turn, enables us to apply the psychology
of the unconscious to those regions in the history of the human mind which
are concerned with symbolism."
Each of the operations of alchemy functions as the center of focus of an
elaborate symbol-system. Other symbols which are related to the operation
cluster around the theme of the operation--they share a common essence.
These central symbols provide basic categories which we can use to understand
our own personal psychic life, and even the transformation processes of
others. Taken together, the alchemical operations illustrate almost
all of the full range of experiences which are involved in the process
As Grossinger points out, "Alchemy is thus a form of chemical research
into which unresolved psychic elements were projected. The alchemical
nigredo, the initial phase of the operation which produces 'black blacker
than black,' is also an internal experience of melancholia, an encounter
with the shadow." But this is also the necessary first stage in Jungian
analysis--confronting that which has been rejected or repressed is essential
to becoming whole. This realm of the shadow can often provide more
real substance for the spiritual quest than mimicking the teachings of
a spiritual master without really changing oneself. Though stumbling
around in the dark seems frustrating, if it is honest and heartfelt, and
one really grapples with the shadow problem, the way is cleared for progress
that will be sustained by a firm foundation gained in the early phases.
Throughout the alchemical process, the lapis functions as an inner guide
by presenting itself in diverse symbolism. It symbolizes the growing
manifestation of your latent potential for wholeness. It frequently
manifests in mandala symbolism. This includes such forms as a revolving
wheel or the zodiac, the petals of a magnificent flower, or a serpent eating
its tail. As a grand union of opposites, it symbolizes the unification
of king and queen, man and wife, conscious and unconscious, personality
and society, etc. in a royal union called the Marriage of the Sun and Moon
in alchemy. Alchemy is a means of understanding our unconscious projections
of archetypes into the world.
In "Spiritual Development as Reflected in Alchemy and Related Disciples,"
Rudolf Bernoulli summarizes the basics of extroverted and introverted alchemy.
He says, "There are two kinds of alchemy: one strives to know the
cosmos as a whole and to recreate it; it is in a sense the precursor of
modern natural science. It aspires to create gold as the supreme
perfection in this sphere...The other alchemy strives higher; it strives
for the great wonder, the wonder of all wonders, the magic crystal, the
This is not a substance susceptible of chemical analysis. It does
not represent a spiritual or psychological state that can be reduced to
a clear formula. It is something more than perfection, something
through which perfection can be achieved. It is the universal instrument
of magic. By it we can attain to the ultimate. By it we can
completely possess the world. By it we can make ourselves free from
the world, by soaring above it. this is alchemy in the mystical sense...The
goal is reached only when a man succeeds in creating the...stone within
himself, and this is made possible only by the intervention of the 'inner
master.'" i.e. the Self.
--von Franz, Psychic Energy, p. 452-3
Psychologically...the union of body and spirit or of conscious and unconscious
can be safely attempted only when both have undergone a purification brought
about by the earlier stages of analysis, in which the conscious character
and the personal unconscious are reviewed and set in order.
In the alchemistic literature there is evidence that the mysterious coniunctio
took place in three stages. The first is that of the union of opposites,
the double conjuntion, which chiefly concerns us here. The second
stage effects a triple union, that of body, soul, and spirit; or, as it
is said elsewhere, "the Trinity is reduced to a Unity."
In the Book of Lambspring, published in 1625, this triple union
is represented first by two fishes swimming in the sea, pictured with the
legend, "The sea is the Body, the two fishes are the Soul and the Spirit",
and later by a second picture showing a deer and a unicorn in a forest,
with the following text:
In the Body [the forest] there is Soul [the deer] and Spirit [the unicorn]...He
that knows how to tame and master them by art, and to couple them together,
may justly be called a master, for we rightly judge that he has attained
the golden flesh.
The literature offers far less material about this more advanced stage
of the work than about the simple coniunctio, and still less about the
third stage, the union of the four elements, from which the fifth element,
the "quintessence," arises. However, Jung's latest works are largely
concerned with the problems of this fourfold coniunctio, through which
not only are the personal parts of the psyche--ego and anima, or ego and
animus--consummated, but these, in a further stage of development, are
in turn united with their transpersonal correlates--wise man and prophetess,
or great mother and magician (under whatever names these superordinate
elements are conceived. ...The subject is by no means simple, but
it amply repays careful study.
b. Alchemical Imagination: Making Psyche Matter
We should now proceed to find a neutral, or unitarian, language in which
every concept we use is applicable as well to the unconscious as to matter,
in order to overcome this wrong view that the unconscious psyche and matter
are two things.
--Professor Wolfgang Pauli
In the alchemical search for the God-head in matter (Kether in Malkuth),
Paracelsus contended that matter was a living counterpart of the creating
deity. A system of correspondences is the foundation of alchemy.
The conception of a primal event manifested in different fields is fundamental
to alchemy. The process in the retort vessel is analogous to the
process of transformation of the psyche. Through alchemy, we can
perceive the parallels between microcosm, universe, and man. Alchemy
is based on the assumption that the equation world = man = God is Truth.
The metaphysical perception of alchemy grew in the Jungian school of psychology.
It emphasizes the process of psychological transformation. This is
the Opus, or Great Work of alchemy. It is given this appellation
because that which "works" is that which has the power to transform.
The experiments are performed on oneself. This renews the alchemical
philosophy which is primarily concerned with the union of psyche and matter.
There is an indissoluble unity in alchemy between theory and practice.
They are explicate aspects (which are experienced through a metaphorical
sensory perception) of the Quest, or attainment of immortality through
the union of opposites. Thus, the goal of the Opus is precisely this
union, which is known as the Philosopher's Stone, Royal Marriage, or Unus
Mundus (experience of one world view uniting psyche/body/spirit).
Paracelsus described alchemy as the voluntary action of man in harmony
with the involuntary action of nature. If the center of the creative
process takes place in the "heart of man", his intentions take on profound
significance. They can now influence the destiny of the cosmos.
Attainment of this state is known as the production of the Diamond Body.
Alchemy strives for the experience of spiritual rebirth via the union of
opposites, or the sacred marriage. The sacred marriage is characterized
as the union of the Sun (+0 and Moon (-). These polarized positions
may be symbolized variously as positive-negative; male-female; god-devil;
spirit-matter; father-mother; etc. The sacred marriage, or coniunctio,
creates a bond by which opposites are united in an image which transcends
both original potentials. The whole art of alchemy is contained within
the image (implicate order) of a magical or divine child.
There is an inherent paradox in alchemy: all the while stressing
redemption of the physical body, or matter, alchemy is actively striving
toward creation of a subtle, immortal body, which has no apparent physical
basis (magical child = body of light).
This central problem in alchemy is the spiritual redemption of the physical
body. Alchemy requires resurrection of the soul of body. The
challenge one encounters is to "see through" to a unified vision of mundane
physical processes with spiritual values. This develops awareness
of the ordering processes inherent in matter. The solution is to
visualize the physical body as a metaphor for psychic transformation.
[INSERT DRAWING; ALCHEMICAL TREE]
...the mystery of the structure of the universe, was in themselves,
in their own bodies and in that part of the personality which we call the
unconscious, but they would say in the life of their own material existence...They
thought that instead of taking outer materials you could just as well look
inside and get information directly from that mystery because you were
it. After all, you too were a part of the mystery of cosmic existence,
so you could just as well watch it directly. Even further, you could
ask matter, the mystery of which you consist, to tell you what it is, to
reveal itself to you. Instead of treating it like a dead object to
be thrown into a vessel and then cooked in order to see what came out,
you could just as well take a block of iron, for instance, and ask it what
it was, what its kind of life was, what it was doing, how it felt when
melted. But since all these materials are within you, you can also
contact them directly and in that way they contacted what we would now
call the collective unconscious, which to them was also projected into
the inner aspect of their own bodies. They consulted these powers
directly through what they called meditation and therefore most of these
introverted alchemists always stressed the fact that one should not only
experiment outwardly but should always insert phases of introversion with
prayer and meditation and a kind of yoga. With yoga meditation you
try to get the right hypothesis, or information, about what you are doing
or about the materials. Or you can, for instance, talk to quicksilver,
or to iron, and if you talk to quicksilver and iron then naturally the
unconscious fills up the gap by a personification. Then Mercury appears
to you and tells you who the sun God is. A power, the soul of Gold,
appears and tells you who and what it is. (16)
So, we see that basically the dynamic impulses of the original alchemists
and modern physicists is the same. Namely, to find out all that is
possible about how God works.
This Opus, or Work, is understood as taking place in a sealed retort vessel.
The nature of this vessel is the origin of the common-use term, "Hermetically
sealed." This containment insures that none of the ingredients will
be lost, and also provides a container in which the contents are slowly
heated, or cooked (calcinatio). The initial material (prima materia)
then goes through several stages of transformation, defined as operations.
These are not always presented in the same sequence in alchemical texts.
Most, however, include sublimatio (seperating), and coniunctio (uniting).
There are also operations of circulating, multiplying, and reiterating.
The meditatio, or meditation, consists of inner dialogue with the alchemical
figures: Saturn=lead; Luna=silver; Sol=gold; Mercury=quicksilver;
Venus=copper; Mars=iron; Jupiter=tin. Because the process of alchemy
does not extend into God-Realization. This does not exclude this
from occurring through God's grace, however. Then Kether is in Malkuth,
the beginning (prima materia) and end (ultima materia) are One. In
alchemy, the Anima Mundi, or Soul of the World acts as the soul-guide to
the highest region. We experience An-imaginal (Anima-ginal) Reality.
[INSERT PICTURE; ULTIMA MATERIA]
Always remember that the body is of vital importance in any alchemical
operation. To transcend somewhere out of the body is not alchemical
practice; rather, imagine the body NOWHERE, or now-here. Alchemy
...a physiological mythology juxtaposed with a cosmogonic mythology.
In between is the psyche itself-the arcane substance, the subjective factor-which
achieves a personified level in the divinities of mythology. It is
the psyche's own image-making activity, its self-creation through symbols,
that is central to this model. It represents a process of the "psychization
of instinct," the transformation of instinctual and biophysical phenomena
into psychic experience. These phenomena can then to a certain extent
be brought within the range of conscious will and reason. In this
process instinct loses some of its primordial autonomy. It is an
opus contra naturam, so to speak...Alchemy accordingly gives us a model
for the psychology of projection; it points at once "upward" and "downward."
It is radically symbolic in its insistence on the "arcanum." And
finally, in the obligation it imposed for the careful elaboration of theoria,
it included the formation of apperceptive concepts and symbols as a fundamental
part of the opus . (17)
What happens to body/soul at the level of Malkuth? The process of
alchemical initiation begins with the stage known as Mortificatio, or psychological
masochism. This is the disintegration of the conscious personality.
It is specifically a religious crisis in the life of the individual, where
ruling ideas lose their meaning. Needless to say, this is a depressing
state of being. This depression is imaged in terms of "blackening"
and has, therefore, to do with the Shadow. The actual process occurs
on XXI. The Universe, which corresponds with the Nigredo.
To derive pleasure from punishing one's body is a curious pathological
image. The unheroic, self-humiliation is a form of masochism with
a religious aim: to gain forgiveness through a mode of redemption.
This dedication to suffering produces meaning, compassion, humility, and
healing. This is a discipline of the soul which contradicts the ego
There is a relationship between ritual flogging in initiation ceremonies
and the intoxication of masochistic mortification. The participant
is entranced and enters the transformative process. The combination
of humiliation and pleasure yields an experience of ambivalence, a primal
condition of psyche.
Mortificatio is a psychological operation, not a moral one. We
cannot apply a moral frame of reference to it; it is neither good nor bad,
better nor worse. It is a necessary, just-so operation. One
alchemical text advises, "Take the old black spirit and destroy and torture
it..." Another philosopher tells us that "The tortured thing, when
it is immersed in the body, changes it into an unalterable and indestructible
nature." So the operation is necessary, not to make us morally better
or spiritually purer, but rather to change us. When we immerse masochistic
material in the body of fantasy, psyche and psychic reality become indestructible.
The operation is necessary, not for the sake of moral ego-strengthening,
but to make hard psychic reality. If we could fully realize this,
that mortification is a way into the weighty, heavy matter of the soul,
it might help us get past the momentary cringe. For we cringe and
shrink at the moment of realization, at the reality of psyche where there
is no ego-control, especially in its ugliness or banality. (18)
Do not confuse masochism, which is a religious attitude to suffering, with
martyrdom, which is a manifestation of the neurotic, heroic ego.
The movement from martyrdom to masochism is also a movement from guilt
to shame, and this movement has the quality of depth. Guilt is primarily
an ego phenomenon, while shame is a quality of the soul. The antidote
for guilt is not always forgiveness; it lies rather in the perception of
the archetypal dimension in which the ego is caught. Guilt implies
the possibility of rectification, of righting the wrong; hence the ego-protests
and justifications which are variations on the martyr's theme: "Well,
I'm trying!" and "You make me feel guilty," and "If I only had more will-power."
But shame belongs to the dimension of soul, and implies the permanence
of a deficiency, the impossibility of rectification (and also of justification).
It is the sense of permanent lack, insufficiency, inadequacy, which cannot
be made right or corrected by any activity of the ego--no amount of will
power, strivings for perfection, or withdrawal of demands from other people
will do the trick. In its very nature, its "natural state", the soul
is incomplete, and the experience of its incompleteness is the experience
of shame. Guilt is a moral category, shame belongs to psychological
experience and the experience of psyche. (19)
a. The Banishing Ritual and Psychological Orientation
In the realm of sacred space, its most striking manifestation is religious
man's will to take his stand at the very heart of the real, at the center
of the World, that is, exactly where the cosmos came into existence and
began to spread out toward the four horizons, and where, there is possibility
of communication with the gods, where he is closest to the gods.
Every religious man places himself at the Center of the World and by the
same token at the very source of absolute reality, as close as possible
to the opening that ensures him communication with the gods.
--Mircea Eliade/The Sacred and the Profane
The Banishing Ritual and Middle Pillar Exercise are particularly effective
because they are a ritual enactment of the basic Creation Myth. In
his book, The Sacred and the Profane, Mircea Eliade states,
The creation of the world becomes the archetype of every human gesture,
whatever its plane of reference may be. Every construction or fabrication
has the cosmogony as paradigmatic model.
Techniques of orientation, or aligning oneself to the directions, are designed
for the construction of sacred space. The more closely a ritual reproduces
the work of the creator gods, the more effective it is in producing the
The model for the creation of sacred space begins from a center and projects
horizons in the four cardinal directions: East-West, North-South.
This model has been followed throughout history when settling new territory
or in the founding of cities. Any individual resides at the center
of his/her own existence.
This quadrated circle sets up the conditions necessary for us to enter
into the sacred time/space of the archetypes. We may contact the
gods through the medium of the sacred pole or cosmic pillar. The
Middle Pillar Exercise is a particularized form of this sacred connection.
Sacred time appears under the paradoxical aspect of circular time, reversible
and recoverable, a sort of mythical eternal present that is periodically
reintegrated by means of rites.
When we enter this psychic region, we experience the feeling of immortality,
since our soul is in a time which is equivalent to the "beginning."
The principle characteristics of sacred space include the following:
(a). A break in the homogeneity of space;
(b). This break is symbolized by an opening where passage from one
cosmic region to another is facilitated (i.e. between heaven and earth,
earth and the underworld);
(c). Communication with heaven is expressed by variants of the Cosmic
Pillar, which stands erect at the Center of the World.
This Pillar is a useful symbol for the Ego-Self Axis, or the connection
between the conscious and subconscious principles of existence. Forming
the link between ego-consciousness and the Self, it represents both aspects
of the soul working together in harmony. It is known in Magick as
the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
The Banishing and Middle Pillar Exercises conform precisely to the creation
myth. Since a myth is a paradigmatic model, one can easily understand
how it can be a very effective exercise. It establishes your relationship
to the cosmos and your conscious relationship to totality. Eliade
What men do on their own initiative, without a mythical model, belongs
to the sphere of the profane; hence, it is a vain and illusory activity,
in the last analysis, unreal. The more religious a man is, the more
paradigmatic models he possesses to guide his attitudes and actions.
With this in mind, we may examine how the Banishing Ritual produces an
effective orientation and transformation in the psyche of the aspirant.
1). Construct a circle. In order to "ground" our imagery
of the surrounding circle, it is necessary to have a physical model in
the beginning of magickal practice. Hammer a spike into the dirt.
Extend a string from it which is used for a radius, and inscribe a circle
in the dirt. If you have no suitable place which is private enough,
purchase two 4'x8' masonite panels and paint a portable model on your floor.
Walk around in the circle to get a "feel" for your working area.
By placing your body in the circle, you will get a feeling for your special
spot, then later this circle is internalized. Visualization will
allow you to set up your circle at will, once its lineaments are firmly
In alchemy, this sacred area was created through a process known as circumambulatio.
It promotes focus or concentration on the center. An indirect approach
to the center was provided through circumambulatio. In setting off
the circumference of your magical circle, you enact this primary deed.
It prepares the mind for the influx of archetypal energies. The circle
is a receptive, feminine symbol. For a brief exercise, dance slowly
into the center, proceeding with a spiral motion.
2). Return to the center of the circle. Imagine a stream
of white light flowing into your body from above. This scintillating
rod of light penetrating the body, is the masculine force of the spirit.
It traverses the planes of existence from spirit to matter. It transforms
and connects instinct to archetype. The light may be visualized as
extending from a point above the head, widening into a cone shape which
is widest at the feet.
3). Perform the Qabalistic Cross (facing East). This
affirms the basic structure of The Tree of Life, interpenetrating the physical
body, and ordering processes.
1. Touch the forehead, say ATOH (Thou art).
2. Bring the hand down toward the feet, saying MALKUTH.
3. Touching the left shoulder, say VE-GEDULAH.
4. Touching the right shoulder, VE-GEVURAH.
5. Crossing the hands over the breast, say LE-OLAHM.
This is repeated when closing the circle at the end of your rite.
4). Orientation Ritual. There are several extant variations
on the theme of the Banishing rite. These include The Lesser Ritual
of the Pentagram, and Lesser Ritual of the Hexagram, used in the defunct
Order of the Golden Dawn, and the active Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.).
(20) Another variation is the Setting of the Wards of Power in the
Aurum Solis (A..S..). (21)
These rituals begin by quadrating the circle. One form (Golden Dawn)
proceeds to the right, turning clockwise E. - S. - W. - N. The other,
(Aurum Solis) moves to the left to clear the area, and then to the right
to invoke the angels. Since it is traditional that a widdershins
movement (leftward or counterclockwise) is a banishing movement, and clockwise
motion invokes forces, this detail of the A..S.. ritual seems preferred.
The quadrated circle symbolizes the wholeness of four elements united in
the center. This sets up a field with two polarities, synthesized
in a central unifying principle. Four is the minimum number of divisions
of a circle which represents wholeness.
The four (forms), as it were, a frame for the one, accentuated as the centre...By
unfolding into four it acquires distinct characteristics and can therefore
be known...So long as a thing is in the unconscious it has no recognizable
qualities and is consequently merged with the universal unknown, with the
unconscious All and Nothing...But as soon as the unconscious content enters
the sphere of consciousness it has already split into the "four," that
is to say it can become an object of experience only by virtue of the four
basic functions of consciousness. It is perceived as something that
exists (sensation); it is recognized as this and distinguished from that
(thinking); it is evaluated as pleasant or unpleasant, etc. (feeling);
and finally, intuition tells us where it came from and where it is going...The
splitting into four has the same significance as the division into the
horizon into four quarters, or the year into four seasons. That is,
through the act of becoming conscious the four basic aspects of a whole
judgement are rendered visible. (22)
In alchemy, the center was the quintessence, or spiritual aspect of matter,
which is the basis of the elements. A mandala is a magical circle
representing ultimate unity of inner and outer reality. The magical
circle is a tool for experiencing the rationally unknowable. The
four principles which the aspirant manifests include:
1. openness, or receptivity;
2. plurality of consciousness, or a condition of multiple possibilities;
3. engagement, where the individual confronts the continuum
with "right action" or personal intervention;
4. integrability, which indicates a digestible amount of experience
of cosmic consciousness.
A unique moment of perfection emerges from the latent continuum.
The intervention of this ordering principle promotes realization in consciousness
of the underlying unity in creation.
The stable, cohesive nature of the boundary of the circle is represented
by its division into 4 parts. 'Four' is the number which represents
the soul. 'One' represents God, or God-Realization. Giordano
Bruno, 16th Century alchemist, defined magic as "that which unites the
soul with God through love." So, this basic orientation ritual is
a graphic representation of the unification of material and spiritual realms
through mutual interpenetration. The aspirant is the nexus point
of the operation where these principles are commingled. Spirit is
manifested, and matter ennobled. The soul is protected from disintegrative
influence and reconstituted positively, using right action and visualization.
This timeless world is conducive to synchronistic or parapsychological
phenomena. This doesn't mean miraculous manifestations of desires
or ego-control fantasies. This realm operates on determined patterns
of probability. Its proper use is for meditation which leads the
personality toward inner concentration and unification.
NO MAGIC SHOULD EVER BE PERFORMED OUTSIDE OF A CONSECRATED CIRCLE.
Anthropologists have noted that ritual and play cannot be separated in
primitive civilizations. They interpenetrate and overlap one another.
Rituals and games are alike in that both require complete sincerity and
complete detachment from wishes and desires. To avoid the trap of
"cheating", one has to be passionately involved, but sacrifice any personalistic
desire. This reflects a basic religious attitude. Rituals and
games need fixed rules and certain specific images to govern their proper
unfolding, but they are not completely rigid. A certain amount of
playful personal freedom is inherent in the unique artistic execution of
a rite or game. Do not conduct your ritual mechanistically; an error
in form is more excusable than a faulty approach or attitude. Try
to cultivate and maintain a joyous, playful orientation.
Magick is called the Great Work, because what "works" is that which has
the power to transform...not because it is conducted in a spirit of disciplined
b. Psychic Equilibration and the Middle Pillar Exercise
To my mind, the exercise described as the Middle Pillar is the groundwork
of all actual developmental work. It is a process which is the basis
of Magic. That this has been but seldom realized is obviously at
the root of the futile attempts to do Ceremonial and perform Ritual, of
which the general public hears every now and again. Even students
of Magic of many years standing have been guilty of negligence in this
respect, and also in failing to recommend it to their successors.
--Israel Regardie/The Middle Pillar
The circuit of the Tree of Life represents All possible experiences of
human existence. The spheres represent modes of being, while paths
are transitional phases between them. The Middle Pillar Exercise
circulates the consciousness of the aspirant around all these aspects.
The practice of its visualization begins activating only the spheres of
the Middle Pillar, in line with the vertical axis of the body. Later,
when some proficiency has been acquired, the spheres of the side pillars
are added. We then have the entire diagram of the Tree interpenetrating,
and ordering all planes from physical to spiritual. This is a fairly
profound image produced with a minimum of graphic elements.
Intonation, or vibration, of the God-names makes it easier to drop into
the theta and alpha state which Middle Pillar encourages. They are
not sung, but rather droned or chanted so that a tingling resonance can
be felt to emanate from the corresponding physical center. Experiment
with the pitch of your voice to produce a rich, sonorous tone. Put
feeling in it, and add your own dramatic interpretation. You set
up a feedback system with yourself, and the more often the sequence from
intonation to brain wave pattern is reinforced, the easier it will become
for you to create this state. Eventually, the aspirant could perform
the exercise in the most distracting of situations without loss of concentration.
The goal of Middle Pillar Exercise is the eventual formation of the Philosopher's
Stone, or Diamond Body. Many phases of transformation are necessary
to work toward this task. One of the operations necessary for the
production of the stone is the alchemical circulatio, or circulation of
consciousness around the aspects of being. This circulation of the
light (consciousness) unites diverse centers. This circulation of
one's true, creative, formative energies produces a sense of joy and intoxication,
as if one had been freshly bathed. It opens up the reality of an
inner world, which serves to break the soul's dependence on the phenomenal
Circulation fixes the light. In fact, it builds a body of light,
which makes the enlightenment a permanent condition. The light must
be visualized as permeating the body, not only inside or outside.
While the light means clarity, perception and enlightenment of understanding,
as you circulate it around your body, there should be a perceptible physical
sensation, as well. Once you begin your meditation, there should
be no interruptions; end and beginning are one. To be effective at
all, the confirmation in the light should last for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Circulatio, or circulation of the light, combines the alchemical operations
of sublimatio and coagulatio. Sublimation means generally to have
an ennobling effect, and coagulation means to solidify.
During circulatio, one sublimates body and coagulates spirit. Circulation
around the aspects of being leads to an equilibrium where one is contained
within the opposites. Spirit penetrates soul, and soul envelops spirit.
When spirit and soul unite, thoughts are immobilized. The soul "crystallizes"
and spirit becomes an effective influence in the personality. This
is real-I-zation of the Diamond Body, or Self. The phenomena which
used to be experienced as (external or internal light) is now perceived
as psychic revelation.
This balancing is a delicate process. It must be performed by the
right person at the right time. Sublimatio consists of spirit and
soul ascending and descending from lower to higher, and higher to lower,
in the imaginal realm. Through it, the spirit hidden in matter becomes
visible. Sublimatio is the alchemical form of resurrection.
Sublimatio, psychologically, is the process of raising concrete, personal
experience to a higher level, a level of abstract or universal truth.
Coagulatio, in contrast, is the concretization or personal realization
of an archetypal image. (23)
Sublimatio is a vertical, solar activity. Coagulatio is feminine,
or lunar in quality. Excess quantities of either of these potencies
may have destructive effects. This is the value of a balancing ritual.
The solar-libido, which is creative and life-promoting, may be experienced
as scorching dryness or fiery anger. The lunar-libido also has negative
forms, which are literal "bring downs." These modes of psychic energy
have a wide range of powerful effects on human experience.
Through disciplined use of a balancing ritual, the solar-principle provides
an increase in understanding and an expanded field of awareness.
The Stone's lunar portion materializes elusive intuitions and spiritual
potential. One submits willingly to the transpersonal totality of
psyche. This marriage produces the Philosopher's Stone through circulation.
Sublimatio is the vertical, Middle path and corresponds with the element
Air. In QBL, Shekinah is the Middle Pillar. She meditates the
ascents and descents of the soul and spirit. Through her, the ten
spheres of the Tree of Life slowly sublimate into Kether, the Crown (Primordial
Air). The "ascents and descents" of the soul are characterized in
ancient lore as Angels. An example of this imagery is the story of
The Supernal Triad (top 3 spheres of the Tree of Life) represents the three
aspects of knowledge: the Crown, Wisdom (the Knower), and Understanding
(that which is known). In Kether, the Crown, all opposites reside
in total union. It reconciles oppositions which are distributed throughout
the other spheres.
One may be redeemed through this self-knowledge. But there is great
danger in direct revelation of the archetypal psyche. The danger
lies in calling up the pure archetype, which ego-consciousness is never
able to assimilate or integrate. Therefore, never invoke Spheres,
but always use Pathworking. If one succumbs to the disintegrative
effect, the personality is annihilated in the Abyss of the transcendent
imagination. This is the psychological equivalent of drowning.
The alternative is release from the personal ego attitude toward active
participation within the archetypal dimension. Behavior does not
become archetypal. It already is, if only you care to notice.
Dreams, Active Imagination, and the practice of Ceremonial Magick may be
seen as forms of coagulatio. In the process of circulatio, there
is a resurrection of the Soul of Body. Images are an expedient mode
of access to the knowledge of the soul, as it circulates rhythmically throughout
every cell of the body.
The body becomes subtle and spirit gains body. One is able to maintain
daily functions in the ordinary world without losing intimate contact with
the archetypal dimension. In fact, this connectedness to daily life
is essential to balance soul-travel in the archetypal realms. Maintain
ordinary pursuits except during the allotted meditation period.
This indirect penetration to the core-of-being produces fulfillment.
One may use conscious, purposeful action to intentionally produce experience
of unconscious non-action which is purposeless. This is a natural
preparation for death, the experience of awareness without the constraints
The dynamic activity associated with ego-conscious (the desire to know,
to penetrate and illumine) culminates in a cessation of effort. The
rational process of controlling imagination defers to another power.
This experience of silence and tranquility is known as Shekinah, or Sophia,
Divine Wisdom. This means there is an emptying of the personal attachments
of the ego. Man then experiences a timeless incarnation of the universal
aspect of being.
The alchemical process described through this circular thinking is imaginatio.
This indicates an abstraction from concentration and active fantasy.
Its negentropic effects are a product of the Self. "Free-energy"
enters the field of time when it leaves the archetypal world. In
sublimatio-coagulatio, something new is created, and negentropic potential
becomes available. This is commonly described to have a cleansing,
or healing effect.
Through sublimation, the spirit hidden in matter becomes visible.
"Primitive thinking" or anima consciousness (a diffuse awareness of potentials),
is more suited to maintaining opposites in harmony while this ordering
process continues along mythical patterns. It might be thought of
as an archetypal ordering process, a "Way." When disorder is not
ordered by archetypal processes, it falls to the ego.
A middle path between "primitive thinking" and directed, goal-oriented
(ego) thought points to the type of sublimation which Jung speaks of in
Aion. The ego system has a linear form of segmented, irreversible
time implanted as a result of the directed thinking and historical development
of the self. A relationship between the ego and the self is possible
through the transcendent function. This is not built up with directed
thinking, but with circular thinking, the negentropic source: imagination.
Middle Pillar Exercise provides a fail-safe, balanced form of participation
in the realm of imagination, which is central to psychology, alchemy, magick,
and physics. If, for some reason, you dislike using Hebrew God-names,
correspond the qualities of these spheres with god-names from another Pantheon.
It is best, however, to pick a pantheon and stick with it, for consistency.
BALANCING RITUAL: The Middle Pillar Exercise (for alignment with
the higher Self)
Visualize a brilliant ball of white light above your head. The ball
is to be about 1 1/2 to 2 ft. in diameter, just above the head. As
you visualize, chant "EH-HE-YEH" three times, quite slowly. If you
do it correctly, you resonate within your own body, causing physiological
and psychological changes.
Next, imagine a rod of light descending through your head to your throat.
It changes colors there and becomes pale lavender. The ball of light
is visualized as the same size, only the color changes. Chant "YE-HOH-VOH
E-LOH-HEEM three times.
The ball then travels down to the center of the chest. The color
changes to gold. Chant "YE-HOH-VOH E-LOAH-VA-DA-ATH", three times,
Once a concurrent visualization of the centers is obtained, and the sequence
of chants finished, the ball travels back up through the body to the head.
From the head a stream of energy goes down the left arm, left leg, the
entire left side of the body, coming back to the head via the right side
of the body. This energy then travels down the from of your body,
coming back to the head via the right side of the body. This energy
then travels down the front of your body, through the feet, and comes back
up to the head via the spine. At that point, it becomes a fountain,
spewing forth multicolored light, after spiraling up from the feet a third
When the energy is moving downward, you should exhale; when it is moving
back towards the head, moving upward, you should inhale. When the
ball is at your feet, in the beginning of the exercise, it may be expanded
to include the entire sphere of the earth, as the god-form is literally
The Lord of the Earth.
The visualized colors, and vibratory nature of the chanted god-names, turn
on the endocrine system. The harmonization of right brain and left
brain functions is symbolized in the harmonious blending of the circulation.
Frequent (once daily, minimum) practice of the middle pillar, doing the
visualizations and doing the chants, will create an energy reservoir which
balances the personality, promotes growth, initiates repair or healing,
and builds a reserve for times of stress. It forms the basis of a
firm foundation for further experiments in self-transformation.
Middle Pillar Exercise provides a fail-safe, balanced form of participation
in the realm of imagination, or the psyche. A practice of this type,
whether a psychological exercise or a magical rite is central to psychology,
alchemy, magick, and physics. It forges a conscious link with our
Source, and a road or means of communication for consciousness to travel
along--it is a Way. Through it we come to know and understand our
inner guiding principle and work toward realizing our Divinity. Tiphareth
represents our inner guiding principle, but Kether is our sainthood, or
Mastership. The Middle Pillar links up the various up the various
aspects of our Being from Body-consciousness, to Ego-consciousness, to
Self-Realization, mystical experience, and Perfection. The gulf between
our animalistic nature and our incarnation of Divinity in the Master-soul
is symbolically expressed by the vertical column of Middle Pillar.
THE MIDDLE PILLAR EXERCISE may be corresponded with Tiphareth, since it
seeks to align us with the higher Self. The establishment of a conscious
dialogue between the ego and the Self is the goal of both Jungian Psychology
and High Magick. We can consciously work toward this goal.
Its psychological aspect deals with establishing an "ego-Self axis" or
line of communication. Likewise, in Magick the same vertical connection
between the mundane and transcendent is sought. This seeking is active
and a procedure has been established to realize the goal. The procedure
is a visualization exercise wherein we build the Tree of Life within our
physical, astral, causal, and divine Selves.
Middle Pillar Exercise concerns spheres known as #1 Kether; Daath; #6 Tiphareth;
#9 Yesod; and #10 Malkuth.(see diagram, next page.) The ancient philosophers
who developed this system created a symbolic means of depicting how to
gain control over your emotions enough to remain poised in detachment from
the dual pull of the opposites. This develops within you a new faculty
for discrimination and spiritual discernment. The mind moves from
the superficial to the depths wherein lie creativity and meaning.
"The Secret of Wisdom can be discerned only from the place of balanced
power, "--that is between the two outer pillars, along the Middle Pillar
where all transformations of consciousness occur! This is freedom
from emotional compulsion, and yields equanimity.
This central point between the two symbolic pillars of the opposites, the
place of balanced power from which the working is correctly viewed, is
the implication of DAATH, the shadowy Sphere. Doing Middle Pillar,
you magically create the sphere DAATH as an imaginal gateway to mystical
experience--another dimension of experience. It is a new factor of
adaptation or equilibrium, not a given within the basic scheme. It
is the result of actively seeking, then experiencing, the transpersonal
Divine through grace. It is this new factor of adjustment which is
known variously as the Golden Flower, Rosy Cross, Philosopher's Stone,
Diamond Body, etc. and is linked with Tiphareth as the seat of conscious
awareness of the higher Self.
To the central spheres and shadowy Daath are attributed five Divine Names
of God. They are the Names of God on each of the five planes expressing
the vibratory rates of various grades or degrees of consciousness.
No religious or metaphysical theory attaches to the employment of these
names--they come from the Judeo-Christian system. You can be any
religion and employ them without conflict. They are keys which open
doors to different parts of our being, the existence of which hitherto
we have been kept in ignorance. The words should be committed to
1. KETHER (brilliant ball of white Light above head):
AHIH (pronounced Eh-hay-yeh)
DAATH (ball of lavender-blue light at the throat)
YHVH ALHIM (pronounced Ye-hoh-voh E-Loh-heem)
6. TIPHARETH (ball of brilliant golden light at heart) YHVH
ALOAH ve-DAAS (Ye-hoh-voh El-oah ve-Da-as)
9. YESOD (violet sphere at genitals) SHADDAI AL CHAI (Shah-dai
10. MALKUTH (olive green or black sphere under the feet) ADNI
HARTZ (Ah-doh-nai ha-Ah-retz)
Kether refers to our latent God-Realization of sainthood; Daath is a symbolic
link, self-induced and self-devised, between the Divine Genius and the
ego. Tiphareth is Self-Realization; Yesod is ordinary emotional consciousness;
Malkuth, body awareness. they symbolize your heights and depths.
Middle Pillar brings in a charge of spiritual force, which is realized
in consciousness. It brings Godhead into incarnation.
THE MIDDLE PILLAR
Middle Pillar consists of several phases: First the preliminary establishment
of rhythmic breathing. Second, the formulation of the five centers
through vibrating the God Names. And third, circulation of the Divine
force throughout the psychic system. After months of practice you
can extend the scope of your effort by adding the spheres of the two side
columns as well. Remember, while vibrating the Divine Name of each
sphere to contemplate in full consciousness on the implications of the
sphere, i.e. its spiritual qualities and its relation to your own divine
consciousness. Also, DAATH, as the link between your ego and Sainthood
is very important. At Tiphareth, we realize the Self and can take
up an I-Thou dialogue with it. Yet, we don't merge with the Self,
or God, or become perfected until Kether, when the final traces of duality
are annihilated--therefore the ego is annihilated or transcended.
You become a timeless incarnation of the universal aspect of Being.
METHOD: Stand upright, hands to side, eyes closed, breathing rhythmically
and deeply. Wait until the mind is calm, quiet, and still.
Transfer your attention to the region immediately above the crown of your
head, and visualize a great sphere of brilliant white radiant Light.
When the visualization is obtained, regard it with a sense of devotion
since it is the vital core of your Being, the living spark of Divinity.
It is pure Light and power. Vibrate three of four times EHEIEH (Eh-hay-yeh),
which means "I AM" or "I WILL BE." Steadfast in the contemplation
of this Divine Source of power and enlightenment, endeavor to feel an all-penetrant
beam of brilliance which is travelling downward toward your throat or nape
of neck. Light becomes a lavender-blue sphere as you vibrate Ye-hoh-voh
Eh-loh-heem, repeatedly. A quite indescribable sense of poise and
mental quiescence should be experienced.
The brilliant beam then descends to the heart or region of solar plexus,
and from there a warmth and a quite different sense of powerful love will
gently radiate from within like an interior sun. Vibrate the Name,
Ye-hoh-voh El-oah ve-Da-ath, several times. It is felt within the
interior of the body, at its very heart. As you pass from contemplation
of the heart to the generative organs, they will become stimulated or "turned
on." Visualize the bright violet sphere and vibrate Shah-dai El-Chai.
After arousing this center, the beam of Light passes downwards to the feet;
this negative pole of Middle Pillar automatically appeared when Kether
was formulated, but now we concentrate here on the olive drab or jet black
sphere, and vibrate Ah-doh-nai ha-Ah-retz. We have brought down light
into the personality, even the body.
Now circulation of the Light becomes necessary. Having been awakened
from latency into some degree of activity, it is necessary that the power
the centers generate should be circulated throughout the invisible or psychic
system, or nervous disorders and psychic disturbance could result.
Circulation distributes the power and relieves the pressure of over-stimulation.
With everyone of the five centers active and throwing power into the mind
and body, and clear awareness of middle pillar, another technique becomes
necessary. RETURN TO CONTEMPLATION OF KETHER. Imagining this center
still radiating, will it to circulate through your system. It descends
from the head towards the left shoulder. Passing through the entire
length of the left side of the body, the magnetic current strikes the soul
of the left foot. Then it passes over the right sole, upwards through
the leg and thigh and body to the right shoulder, eventually returning
Second, This time imagine the current of spiritual power descending from
Kether in a forward direction, downward in front of the face, neck, chest,
thighs and feet. It turns backward along the soles, calves, ascends
the spinal column, and neck until it reaches Kether. Repeat both
steps several times, breathing rhythmically. To "wrap up" the circulation
phase of the exercise, we imagine spiralling Light surrounds our body.
Contemplate on Kether and imagine the upright column of brilliance, corresponding
to Middle Pillar; Pass now to the visualization of Malkuth emanating its
inherent power of stability and equilibrium and fertility. Spiral
Light up from the soul of your feet, as if wrapping yourself like a mummy.
The spirals of Light gradually ascend the body, while you feel a distinct
sensation of a whirling of spiritual powers rising from feet to thighs,
up the trunk, swathing you in pure white Light, until, the current rests
in Kether, where it shoots out the crown of the head in a fountain effect.
This prepares you by stilling the mind for meditation. Close with
Banishing and Cross.
* * *
Middle Pillar Exercise and Synesthesia:
Cross-Modal Translations of Sensory Dimensions
by Philo Stone (Miller & Miller), c 1981
I. Statement of Purpose:
(a). Middle Pillar is an exercise in visualization. Visualization
is important as a means of communication with the subconscious, to influence
the process of self-transformation.
(b). Reproduced scientific evidence, (Marks, 1975), now indicates
that there is a mutual-reinforcement between certain specific vibrated
vowel-sounds and visualization experiences. This constitutes a visual-auditory
synesthesia or feedback system. Vowels evoke powerful visual "sensations."
(c). The purpose of this paper is to show how Middle Pillar
Exercise corresponds with several forms of self-induced synesthesia, or
sensory blending. A reason is shown for retraining our eyes and ears
out of habitual modes of sensory screening. With this tool, we might
free ourselves from certain conceptual restraints and upgrade our practice
of Middle Pillar Exercise. This is a technique which heals our culturally
pre-programmed Cartesian duality, the mind-body split.
II. Historical Background:
Synesthesia is defined as sensory blending or melding; any combination
of the five senses may be involved simultaneously. The most common
combinations are between visual-images and sound (colored-hearing), and
visual-images produced by taste. The sense of smell, in perfumes,
for example, evokes memory and its attendant images. Alpha-numeric
color synesthesia may have led to specific color attributions to the Hewbrew
letters (even though these attributions vary widely).
In synesthesia, ordinary stimuli elicit extraordinary conscious experiences.
For example, standard black digits may elicit highly specific color experiences
and specific tastes may elicit unusual tactile sensations. Imagine
that every time you hear a particular sound or view an ordinary black digit,
you experience an accompanying perception of a highly specific color.
The stimulus and elicited experience can occur in the same modality--printed
digits or letters can trigger colors called photisms. Or, conversely,
cross modal translation leads to taste eliciting tactile experience, or
sounds eliciting colors.
Experiments show that for any given synesthete there is high consistency
of the pairing between eliciting stimuli and the synesthetic experiences
over time. We can take advantage of this tendency in our magickal
practice, and train ourselves toward these automatic sensory associations.
For example, we can learn to associated, not only the color, but the musical
notes of each of the alpha-numer letter/paths of the Tree of Life.
Synesthetes often claim that their synesthetic experiences occur independent
of their intentions, suggesting the processes underlying the phenomenon
may be automatic.
Findings show (Smilek, Dixon, 2002) that non-synesthetics can be trained
to associate color labels with uncolored forms, so we can presume other
associations can likewise be trained. A cortical pathway in the ventral
aspect of the Temporal Lobe is suspected in activation of synesthesia.
But there is no "seat of synesthesia" in the brain; the visual cortex is
also entrained with photisms. Often inner experience is projected
externally onto the stimulus. The binding of form and synesthetic
color can be extended throughout the qabalistic correspondence system.
Research shows that synesthetic color may be activated outside of awareness,
or conscious intent. It is precisely this type of coupling we are
trying to achieve. There are also conceptually driven synesthetic
experiences, without externally presented stimuli. This implies even
in purely astral magical work, the automaticness we ingrain through the
correspondences should meld classical qabalistic associations together
to create a gestalt or the atmosphere of our ritual. In early training,
an externally introduced stimuli may be necessary -- this is the purpose
of the magickal armamentum of weaponry and appurtences. They help
elicit the associated synesthetic experiences.
There is a common core of similarities in synesthetic experiences.
Visual colors are associated with speech sounds.
There is evidence that everyone is capable of experiencing synesthesia.
Synesthesia may occur spontaneously, or as a learned response. Middle
Pillar Exercise, with its simultaneous 'vibration of God-names' and visualizations,
may be viewed as an 'access code.' This 'access code' is a helpful
tool which opens creative relationships with different parts of the subconscious
and the physical body (parasympathetic system).
When we are "caught up" in the meditative process, we experience cognitive
meaning in sensory form. Psi information (24) is mediated via mental
imagery. The image and its "meaning" are identical. Therefore,
psi communications are enhanced under conditions which facilitate imagery.
Both Magickal visualizations and creative imagination promote this viewpoint.
According to Archetypal Psychology, synesthesia is how imagination imagines.
What this experience does is transform the singleness of any one sense
out of its literalness. It makes a metaphor of sense perception itself,
for example, "I can see music."
One of synesthesia's special roles is to summarize important cognitive
distinctions in a convenient and economical way. As a shorthand,
it is compact but relatively fixed and, therefore, limited. Its validity
as a useful tool appears to be limited to the context of magickal practice.
Without a system for creating a meaningful experience, such as pathworking,
there is very little spiritual value in the phenomenon except the aesthetic.
Researchers have considered synesthesia less significant in adulthood than
childhood. This need not be true with proper application, such as
the Middle Pillar Exercise.
III. Traditional Technique:
Proper control of the breath has been emphasized in both western and eastern
meditation techniques. This, of course, connects with the sense of
smell, and posits us in the realm of Psyche (the breath-soul of the head
whose passages are the nostrils). Psyche's realm is "the place between",
the realm of soul-making. It is that place between the physical body
and the abstractions of the spirit. Note the semantic similarity
between 'psi' and 'Psyche.' In QBL, this internal space is called
Tiphareth, realm of imagination.
Middle Pillar is designed so that the actual formation of the body/mind
system may be changed and renewed. It is not concerned with the exclusive
cultivation of either the body or consciousness.
Regardie states: "Always in a salutary way is the path between the
two extremes indicated."
The vibration of god-names, as well as stimulating the vision in specific
directions, stimulates the endocrine system and glands in the mid-brain
by a resonance effect. These effects are not necessarily to be viewed
as causal (the result of previous action), but are perceived simultaneously;
their reciprocal relationship is inherent.
IV. New Model:
We may presume to use current scientific research to upgrade our practice
of Middle Pillar. Through the inherent mutual reinforcement phenomena
of visual-auditory systems, when we Middle Pillar, we induce synesthesia
The next obvious question is: why would we want to induce synesthesia?
When one is experiencing the creative imagination, that engagement with
an image, all modes of perception meld into indivisible unity. This
form of systematic cross modal matching is closely allied with the concept
of a system of correspondences.
Significance is not found in analysis, but in the image itself. (25)
The image consists of such apparently diverse elements as behavior, fantasy,
thoughts, dreams, illness, etc. None of these are 'because of' the
image, they are the image itself as a 'just-so' story. To form a
"ground" for our spirituality in the imaginal realm (internal topography)
we must re-imagine the Creation.
Re-imagining the Creation is precisely the function of Middle Pillar; it
is a dramatization of the Creation Myth. In his book, The Sacred
and the Profane, Eliade states, "The creation of the world becomes the
archetype of every human gesture, whatever its plane of reference may be...communication
with heaven is expressed by variants of the cosmic pillar, which stands
at the center of the world."
This pillar is a useful symbol for what we shall term the ego-Self axis.
This axis is a relationship built up through various psychological exercises.
It forms the link between ego-consciousness and one's Holy Guardian Angel.
The H..G..A.. represents both conscious and subconscious minds working
together in harmony. In psychology this is termed the Transcendent
Function. It establishes one's relationship to the cosmos, namely
a conscious relationship to outer/inner space. As in synesthesia,
we are returned to the magickal, child-like mode where cognitive meaning
is in sensory form. In this experience, careful aesthetic elaboration
of a psychic event is its meaning.
One can learn to experience this mode of consciousness in a ritual situation.
Once (re-)learned, it can extend into every sensory experience of daily
life, either literal or metaphorical.
The sense of inherent meaningful importance in day-to-day events and trivia
is a necessary concern of soul. Through it 'life makes sense', and
'sense makes life'. The alchemists always stressed identity of the
The roots for the word 'sense' mean something which is directly tangible
(physical and solid or concrete). It also now implies something meaningful
and significant. Imagination takes place wherever we are. When
you split sensory data from meaning, you not only split sensation from
intuition, you also split spirit, soul, and body.
The conjunction of concrete sensation, psychic image, and spiritual meaning
is aisthesis, which denotes breathing in (smelling) and perceiving.
In ritual, all the senses are directly involved via the correspondence
system. This creates a mood or atmosphere which the participant "breathes
in." There is an experience of unity of the senses via synesthetic
The guidelines for inducing visual-auditory synesthesia are fairly straightforward:
1. Vowels are an especially powerful source for production
of secondary visual sensations.
2. There is a correlation between auditory pitch and visual
brightness; brightness of vowels vary and photisms (visual images of light)
produced vary in brightness as the sounds that produce them vary in their
3. Visual pitch predicts the whiteness or blackness of associated
4. Visual size increases as auditory pitch decreases; the louder
the vowel-sound, the larger the image. However, induced size is not
related solely to pitch.
Vowel-Sounds and Color Correspondences
red & yellow
red & black
Order of increasing frequency (pitches): u, o, a, e, i.
Order if increasing vowel brightness: u, ou, o, a, e, i.
Example: The God-name, IAO, begins with a bright vowel and concludes
with a dark vowel. The center vowel may be considered the melding
point or median.
The above information indicates that one might be able to learn to pitch
the magickal voice and loudness to induce a desired visual effect.
This eliminates any sense of detachment from one's experience or activity.
This is an experience of the immortal body, or philosopher's stone.
(1) Miller, R.A., Webb, B., Dickson, D.: "A Holographic Concept
of Reality," PSYCHOENERGETIC SYSTEMS, S. Krippner,ed.,pp231-237, Gordon
and Breach Science Publisher, Inc., N.Y., c1979.
(2) Professor David Finkelstein, in a lecture at Yeshiva University.
(3) THE DIAMOND BODY: A Modern Alchemical View of the Philosopher's
Stone, Philo Stone, c1981 (online).
(4) Such as vortices or "twistor space".
(5) Albert Kreinheder, "The Call to Individuation," Psychological
(6) Edward F. Edinger, Ego and Archetype, Penguin Books, Maryland,
(7) Ibid, p64.
(8) June Singer, Boundaries of the Soul, Doubleday, N.Y., 1972, p172.
(9) June Singer, Boundaries of the Soul, Doubleday, N.Y., 1972, p210.
(10) Edward Edinger, Ego and Archetype, Penguin, Maryland, 1972,
(11) James Hillman, Loose Ends, Spring Pub., Dallas, 1975, p184-5.
(12) Mitchell Walker, "The Double: An Archetypal Configuration",
Spring 1976, Spring Pub., Dallas, 1976, p169.
(13) Rafael Lopez-Pedraza, "The Tale of Dryops and the Birth of Pan:
An Archetypal and Psychotherapeutic Approach to Eros Between Men", Spring
1976, Spring Pub., Dallas, 1976, p179.
(14) Otto Rank, Beyond Psychology, Dover, New York, 1941, "The Double
as Immortal Self" p62-101.
(15) Jung and Kerenyi, Essays on a Science of Mythology.
(16) Marie Louise Von Franz, Alchemical Active Imagination, Spring
Pub., Dallas, 1979.
(17) Robert Grinnell, "Alchemy and Analytical Psychology", Methods
of Treatment in Analytical Psychology, Spring Pub., Dallas, 1980.
(18) Lyn Cowan, "On Masochism," Spring 1979, Spring Pub., Dallas,
(19) Ibid. p50.
(20) Israel Regardie, The Middle Pillar, Llewellyn, Minn., p79-107.
(21) Denning and Phillips, The Magickal Philosophy, Llewllyn, Minn.
(22) C.G. Jung, "Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth," Civilization
in Transition, C.W., Vol. X, P. 774.
(23) Edward Edinger, Ego and Archetype, Baltimore, Penguin Books,
(24) Psi information is that matrix of experience which depends from
the intensity of the conscious experience and its duration.
(25) "...into the pit called Because, and then he shall perish with
the dogs of Reason." Liber Al vel Legis, 2:27, Crowley. This
might be read as an exhortation to develop quantum thought-models, rather
than remain in the 19th Century, causal or mechanistic mode.
File Created: 7/23/02
Last Updated: 8/5/02