Sphere 10, Malkuth, cont.

  a. Astrological Cycles of Unfolding (Natal Chart = Prima Materia)
  b. Alchemical Imagination:  Making Psyche Matter (Mortification)
  a. The Banishing Ritual and Psychological Orientation
  b. Psychic Equilibrium and the Middle Pillar Exercise
  c. Middle Pillar Exercise and Synesthesia: Cross-Modal Sensations


 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 of antiquity.

                                       --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 unknowable.

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 trends.

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 immortality."

Recommended Reading:

 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


(add shareware description and how to use it)

Information needed:

 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:

 1.  10/15/53

 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 4 minutes.

Adding the LMT, the ST, and the correction factors:







 subtract: 24:00


  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.



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 creativity.

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 substance.

 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 out).

 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, and coinage.

 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 mineral substances).

 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 very beliefs!

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 quest 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 later."

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:

Sacral Plexus
Prostatic Ganglion
Solar Plexus
Cardiac Plexus
Pharyngeal Plexus
Pituitary Body
Pineal Gland

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 (animal flesh).

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 or wholeness.

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 with illumination.

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 fundamental energy.

 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 (earth).

 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 successful.

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 states:

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 first-hand experimentation.

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 and matter.

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 some hints:

 (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 them.

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 of individuation.

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 philosopher's stone."

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.


...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.


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 is

...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 attitude.

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 appropriate results.

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 has said:

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 mind.

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.


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 drudgery.



 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 world.

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 Jacob's Ladder.

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 of time/space.

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, slowly.

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 time.

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 memory:

 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 El Chai)

 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.



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 to Kether.

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 at will.

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 physical/spiritual connection.

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 metaphor.

V.  Techniques:

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 frequency.

 3.  Visual pitch predicts the whiteness or blackness of associated photisms.

 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
"late, let"
high pitch
"bit, beet"
lowest pitch
red & black
darkest lowest
dark colors,
deep blue
darkest lowest

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.

VI.  Conclusion:

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  Perspectives
(6)  Edward F. Edinger, Ego and Archetype, Penguin Books, Maryland, 1972, p104.
(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, p.235.
(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, 1979, p47.
(19)  Ibid.  p50.
(20)  Israel Regardie, The Middle Pillar, Llewellyn, Minn., p79-107.
(21)  Denning and Phillips, The Magickal Philosophy, Llewllyn, Minn. p257-262.
(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, 1973.
(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.



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