THE TRANSMODERN ALCHEMIST Book Blurb
THE TRANSMODERN ALCHEMIST Book Blurb
PHILOSOPHICAL SONNET by Saint-Germain "Curious scrutator of all nature, I have seen gold thick in the depths of the double mercury. I have seized its substance and surprised its changing. I explain by that art the soul with the womb of a mother, Make its home, take it away, and as a kernel Placed against a grain of wheat, under the humid pollen; The one plant and the other vine-stock, are the bread and wine. NOTHING was, God willing, NOTHING became something, I doubted it, I sought that on which the universe rests, NOTHING preserves the equilibrium and serves to sustain. Then, with the weight of praise and of blame. I weighed the eternal, it called my soul, I died, I adored, I knew NOTHING more." --trans. Manley Palmer Hall in Sages & Seers, from original ms. in British Museum
PHILOSOPHICAL SONNET by Saint-Germain
"Curious scrutator of all nature,
I have seen gold thick in the depths of the double mercury.
I have seized its substance and surprised its changing.
I explain by that art the soul with the womb of a mother,
Make its home, take it away, and as a kernel
Placed against a grain of wheat, under the humid pollen;
The one plant and the other vine-stock, are the bread and wine.
NOTHING was, God willing, NOTHING became something,
I doubted it, I sought that on which the universe rests,
NOTHING preserves the equilibrium and serves to sustain.
Then, with the weight of praise and of blame.
I weighed the eternal, it called my soul,
I died, I adored, I knew NOTHING more."
--trans. Manley Palmer Hall in Sages & Seers, from original ms. in British Museum
THE TRANSMODERN ALCHEMIST by Iona Miller, 2009 transmodernalchemy.iwarp.com
"There is a generic process in nature and consciousness which dissolves and regenerates all forms. The essence of this transformative, morphological process is chaotic -- purposeful yet inherently unpredictable holistic repatterning. The Great Work of the art of alchemy is the creation of the Philosopher's Stone, a symbol of wholeness and integration. The liquid form of the Stone, called the Universal Solvent, dissolves all old forms like a rushing stream, and is the self-organizing matrix for the rebirth of new forms. It is thus a metaphor or model for the dynamic process of transformation, ego death and re-creation." (Miller, 1992, "Chaos As the Universal Solvent")
"Alchemy posits an original unitary energy which separated in space-time into distinct physical elements, "falling apart" and differentiating in the four directions. Perceived as transmutable through shared qualities or correspondences, these elements could one day be reunited in a reconstituted wholeness. The dicta—"Return to chaos is essential to the work," "Volatize the fixed and fix the volatile," and "Dissolve and Coagulate"—express a dialectic process between complements and opposites in analysis and synthesis." (Psychoanalysis Dictionary)
"The secret of alchemy is this: there is a way of manipulating matter and energy so as to produce what modern scientists call a 'field of force.' The field acts on the observer and puts him in a privileged position vis-a-vis the Universe. From this position he has access to the realities which are ordinarily hidden from us by time and space, matter and energy. This is what we call the Great Work." ~ Fulcanelli, 1937
Transmodern Alchemy & Chaos
Alchemy is a science-art and tradition of participatory wisdom. Medieval alchemy was couched in the archaic language of its time, but we are not limited to that, or to theological, Hermetic, Masonic, Theosophical or New Age jargon. Philosophies and sciences evolve in articulation, theory and practice. New discoveries and statements of meaning inform our practice at all levels. In many cases, alchemy anticipated them.
Like the cryptic tomes and dense texts of alchemy, unfamiliar scientific or philosophical theories require thoughtful reflection until they take root in our awareness. Models from many disciplines weave together to amplify the meaning of alchemical process and patterns. Old experiments can be revisioned in a new light while new dynamical phenomena remain to be discovered. We can even revision the alchemical formula for surviving death.
Each technical or symbolic language seems like learning a foreign language, but becomes second-nature once we sense the overall gestalt. It takes contemplation and consideration of implications. We unpack them one metaphor at a time as we descend into more rarefied domains of existence, from particles to the subquantal world of the microcosm.
Motivation theory suggests if we adopt a mastery orientation to our subject, we will exhibit all the productive learning behaviors we know will work. If we believe we have the natural ability to learn something, we adopt a mastery orientation even if challenged in that area. Simple concepts, not mathematical details, from dynamics and physics are all that is required for illuminating alchemical practice.
Our worldview has evolved to include quantum physics and dynamics in our models of reality. In the 20th Century, Carl Jung described alchemy in terms of depth psychology and the physics of his day, shedding new light on an old science [see THE MODERN ALCHEMIST, Miller, 1994]. This describes the transformation of personality and Self framed on alchemical principles. But both disciplines continue to redefine and refine themselves. The alchemical process is its own solution.
Jung's notions of the centrality of a heroic, striving Self have been transcended with imaginal, nonlinear models of consciousness, archetypes as strange attractors and healing fictions. Can we expect any less from 21st century alchemy itself? THE TRANSMODERN ALCHEMIST describes the dynamic blueprints of nature, stripping away Nature's etheric veil, revealing naked awareness.
We get out of that contemplative process what we put in. Once you get it you see the basic concepts are pretty simple. Absolute space is the cosmic zero of our being and when we understand identity with that primordial awareness we have the quintessence. It dwells within us and sustains us from the core of each and every radiant particle of our being and the virtually infinite space between. We need to live every moment from that place, that realization.
Transmodernity is the synthesis of modernity and postmodern philosophy, reflected in alchemical notions of transcendence, transformation and transmutation. So what might a chaos-informed Transmodern Alchemy look like? First and foremost our existential state space is in flux. We've moved beyond our chemical skin bags into growing awareness of our energy bodies and the first glimmerings of our nonlocal virtual nature.
Phenomena no longer correspond with old-paradigm frameworks. Take, for example, our subject experience of time. In Fabric of Reality, physicist David Deutsch explains that we do not experience time flowing, or passing. Instead, we experience differences between our present perceptions and our present memories of past perceptions. He states that we interpret those differences, correctly, as evidence that the universe changes with time. However, we also interpret them incorrectly as evidence that our consciousness or the present or something else moves through time.
Philosophy can be part of everyday life. Alchemy sought the hidden structure of matter. Trans- is the prefix that guides the vision of reality as virtual and fluctuating. At the subquantal range of virtual photon flux, this is literally true and the metaphysical substrate of manifestation. At the virtual level, the fiction of ‘reality’ as substantive is revealed and the transparent veil is ripped away.
Self-organizing dynamic transactions combine the positive momentum of the modern philosophy with the emptiness of the Postmodern, the longing for unity of the former and the fragmentation of the latter. Our comprehension of the physical world has been transformed. We are wavefronts in local space, undergird by the vacuum fluctuation of absolute space.
More than one researcher is now suggesting we may find mini-blackholes at the core of all subatomic particles. Material reality, as formation, atom, mass, power, space, time, etc. is an outworn concept that brought order to a Newtonian universe. We are now less concerned with the figurative contents of space than with the dynamic fields of the hyperdimensional creative groundstate itself.
Nature herself calls us toward a deeper understanding, some of which is poetic and some of which is scientific. She requires us to make the experiment on ourselves to penetrate her Mystery. If we seek knowledge through occult means, that is because Nature literally still hides her secret self from direct observation. But magus Aleister Crowley saw her becoming vision when he declared, "Infinite Space is the Goddess Nuit."
The Nature of Nature
Physics defines the nature of nature. There are two branches of physics: theoretical physics predicts and explains the physical behavior of nature, while experimental physics gathers data by observation of physical phenomena using controlled and natural experiments.
Theory provides guidance to experiments. The results of either are not always so clear-cut and are subject to interpretations and scientific revolutions. Thus, we have the Standard Model, Multiverse, M-theory, Holographic, Transactional and various Aether theories, to name a few. A comprehensive theory has to account for both cosmogenesis and quantum weirdness. There is no consensus in physics. Further, some science around zero-point energy has been actively suppressed.
Concerned with different aspects of nature, theory and experiment have a symbiotic relationship as do the spiritual and practical branches of alchemy. Theoretical advances overturn old paradigms. Generally, theory proposes and experiment disposes. But spiritual alchemy is more than theoretical. It is a form of gnosis or direct knowing and observation through meditatio (meditation). What could be more focused than riding a photonic beam down to cosmic zero and on through the looking glass?
THE TRANSMODERN ALCHEMIST explores the theoretical usefulness of Dynamics for modeling processes in the alchemical art. Alchemy is a multidisciplinary pursuit focusing on mystic technologies, spagyrics, healing, life sciences, metallurgy, chemistry, dynamics and physics. Like science, it uses thought-experiments and benchwork. The absence of "solid" matter invites us to take a revolutionary view of today's alchemy as dynamic process using Chaos Theory and its related sciences to inform our search.
Dynamics has successfully explained many natural phenomena and been heralded as a new scientific paradigm. The quintessence is now found in nonlinear dynamics, the holographic field and the virtual vacuum of absolute space. In human terms, we find it in our own photonic emissions - bioplasma. Only when we comprehend the groundstate of being can we fathom reality. It fundamentally changes our alchemical and scientific notions about transmutation and transformations in ourselves, matter, systems, patterns and structure.
Psychology and neurology now recognize the psyche and brain as a dynamic dissipative system. Its holographic nature has also been described. Therapeutic techniques lead to reorganization of the individual at a higher level of order. Medicine realizes chaos is essential to health. The artworld recognizes the aesthetic appeal, rhythm and beauty of fractals.
However, the poetic science of alchemy made a workable theoretical and experimental system in which chaos was central centuries ago. Each era views nature from the paradigm of its time. Chaos now means more than it ever did. Paradoxically, it has finally revealed its higher order emerging from the complexity of life.
Chaos theory, interdependence of energy and event, is part of process philosophy. Time, contingency, emergence, novelty, creativity and change are metaphysical. As in alchemy, alteration, striving, passage, and novelty-emergence become important in our functional understanding of the real. The initiatory process sets up the initial conditions. Single-minded focus on awareness is gnosis.
Alchemy prescribes a deeply-coherent triple-process remedy, first addressing stress, anxiety and depression. It addresses them with a fundamentally different worldview, that they are essential to kick-start the process. This coherent process self-channels psychodynamic energy toward self-healing.
This nigredo, and the pro-active response to it -- the alchemical intervention -- is the initial condition that drives the alchemical process. This is the purpose, value, meaning and promise in depression or breakdown. Without this lowly ingredient, all comes to naught. Lapses in consciousness teach us as much or more than integration. Gaps in awareness open us to instant insight and intuition -- quantum leaps amplified by the "butterfly effect."
"The alchemists might quicken this process through their outer intervention in matter and their interior practice of soul and spirit. The opus is the work of persons or couples, whose integration or dissociation are operative. While using common references, it values the individual and dynamic over the collective and dogmatic. Through the interior change of the adept and his soror mystica (mystical sister) and the chemical changes in the "well closed vessel" of the retort, the microcosm and macrocosm affect and reflect each other." (Psychoanalysis Dictionary)
Research shows that synchronized chaos may be engineered through perturbation and operational amplification, creating flexibility among many different behaviors. Isolated chaotic systems cannot synchronize, but parts can synchronize through supporting subsystems, like a phase-locked loop. Chaotic signals are generated which drive stable periodic behavior. The presence of chaos appears to be an advantage in controlling dynamic behavior, leading to flexibility and stability.
In an initiatory process, just as small disturbances in chaotic systems radically alter their behavior (”butterfly effect”), tiny adjustments can stabilize behavior. In one form of mind over matter, changing attitudes can change our biochemistry and our subjective outlook. Chaos is the fertile soil of energetic translations of waves of unborn nothingness, the relentless flow of consciousness in search of embodiment and formlessness. Events are more fundamental than things. Novel events are possible in this esoteric paradigm that are unachievable in others.
Solutions are not found as this or that, but in terms of degrees of fractional transformation, relative and novel relationships and fuzzy logic. Focus remains on unsolved problems and unfinished tasks, even if the destination of our journey remains undefined.
Alchemy provides a complex system of imaginatively describing, symbolizing, testing and verifying results. Naturally, we should double-check our confirmation bias, which leads many practitioners to believe they have made the Stone. No two alchemists agree on what this idiosyncratic Stone might be. Jung understood it as transformational consciousness, the means and the goal of the process.
Alchemy is an experiential creative ritual, an amplifier for superconducting consciousness. Small psychoenergetic perturbations, like our alchemical operations, can lead to large changes in the system. The chaos of relative nothingness becomes paramount. Process philosophy holds the promise of inexhaustable capacity for universal creativity and renewal, resacralization, and even sanity from chaos.
More than an experiential process, this is a healing philosophy creating meaning and destiny. What is base within us dies as the more precious is resurrected. Or it comes back as a thing of many colors, sometimes described as a peacock's tail, a symbol of immortality.
Chaos, Art & Transformation
Chaos theory has emerged as a transdisciplinary study. Chaos is the synergistic science of change with constrained randomness. It describes the relationship of order, disorder and self-renewal. There are analogies between contemporary practice of sacred psychology, chaos theory, quantum theory, scalar physics and alchemical processes. They are more than metaphorical and illuminate our Transmodern quest for the Stone. Chaos demands we open to new possibilities, to the unknown, to mystery.
Chaos is the hyperdimensional manifold of all potential orders. Chaos Theory has been associated with every aspect of human behavior. Alchemy is an irreducible fusion of mysticism, science and art that also happens to be therapeutic or growth-promoting and tantalizingly hints at illumination. The process begins with doubts and lack of conviction but time spent on self-knowledge, experiments and spiritual exercises is amply rewarded. Chaos keeps the process fluid. Alchemy calls chaos the "universal solvent."
Alchemy is a nonlinear organizational framework, a model to make sense of our experience, and a means of facilitating transformation. The universe without and within is our alchemical laboratory. The fire is kindled and stoked in the ‘magic theatre’ of the mind and the retort vessel of the body. Alchemy plants virtual fractal seeds in the gaps or intervals of consciousness. You are the portal for the fractal seed to unfold its liberating potential.
The universe is our "parent fractal". Matter and consciousness share deep unity. The outer world we observe through our senses is nothing more than a consistent series of mental images that exists in our mind. Matter itself is an image in the mind, and mental images are the behavior of consciousness.
All conscious states are resonant states. Resonant states enable brains to learn about a changing world throughout life. Resonance arises when bottom-up and top-down feedback processes reach an attentive consensus between what is expected and what is in the world. Mining the soul, we disassemble ourselves to reorganize in more refined form, reintegrating at a holistic level. There are many ways to extract light from chaos.
Chaos Theory & Alchemy
Alchemy calls Chaos the prima and ultima materia. As we practice spiritual and practical alchemy, we come to understand the deep nature of chaos. In this chaosophical philosophy, all systems emerge from and eventually dissolve back into chaos. Chaos Theory allows us to follow the Hermetic Spirit deep into the heart of matter and beyond into the subquantal realm in our quest for Nature's secrets. The undecomposable domain of Chaos is not an emptiness, but a rich, generative source -- a bornless nothingness from which all form emerges.
The void of philosophy and the vacuum state of science is an unmanifest fundamental reality, a virtual field, which is an invisible flux not comprised of parts, but an inseparable interconnectedness. In this dynamic model, there are no "things", only energetic events. This holoflux includes the ultimately flowing nature of what is, and all that forms therein. This subquantal domain marks the limit of our ability to peer into the Mystery of nature at cosmic zero.
At the human scale, we are blinded to this primal creative field -- virtual photon flux. Chaos theory as holism without wholes allows us to describe both psyche and matter in terms congruent with physical reality. This is simply the way nature works, and the way our nature works, too. Chaos provides a comprehensive psychophysical metaphor for uniting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual realities.
Because interconnectivity is more than metaphorical, realizations translate across disciplines. Metaphors reflect the interdependency of mind and body, and the embodied nature of metaphor holistically reflects the unity of individual and world. The events and experiences of our lives become embedded in our structure and metabolism. We might call this nonlocal entangled embodiment "metaphorms."
Physics deals with the energetic aspect of the world. Information theory deals with the communicational or patterning aspect. Fractals, nature's dynamic self-organizing pattern, exist in the paradoxical space between dimensions, levels and forces of existence. They arise at the interface between processes, at boundary zones where they serve both to connect and separate multiple levels. They translate information/energy, structuring dimensions by adding or recursively removing structure, embodying process.
Fractal dynamics escalate change from tiny to large scales. Self-organization is an emergent property of systems and organisms, from the cosmos to human beings. Chaotic dynamics governs the emergence of this new order from apparent randomness. The deep coherence of the overall process implies hidden or missing information for holistic patterning within the apparent "noise" or randomness of chaotic patterns.
Consciousness, like creativity, is an emergent phenomenon patterned by strange attractors which govern the complexity of information in dynamic flow. Our consciousness appears co-temporaneously with our embodiment, creating the imaginal flux of representational and nonrepresentational perception - the stream of consciousness. The cosmic trinity of chaos, matter, and attraction appears at the heart of modern chaos theory and alchemy.
The Vedas identify all creative intent and substance as a manifestation of primal consciousness, which is considered the basis of all manifestation. In this worldview, there is nothing but consciousness. Complex dynamics is implicated in the energetic translation of "waves of unborn nothingness". Healing is the biological equivalent of creativity. The more complex a system, the more stable and self-correcting it is.
The objective (Sol, Frater) and subjective (Luna, Soror Mystica) are not divorced from one another, anymore than the left and right hemispheres of the brain. They marry in the mystic, in entanglement with Cosmos. Science adapted the artist’s sense that the detail of nature is significant. Like yin and yang, they rely on one another in a dynamic meld that transcends the tension of opposites. Synthesizing and transcending opposites is the theme of alchemy.
The metaphors of science have increasing relevance in the artworld and transmodern mysticism. Art and science begin as imaginative speculation that guesses at a unity or gestalt. The same holds true for alchemy. Metaphors reflect universal or holistic references and processes, connecting concepts across disciplines. There is a dimension of reality that transcends mind and matter.
The creative act is one of uniting the unmanifest with the manifest world in a meaningful, often symbolic way. Such conception is relevant to consciousness, organization, structure, faith, subconsciousness, emotion, even spirituality. Above all, creativity means trusting the process. Investigation of the negentropic criterion helps us move toward a truly transdisciplinary doctrine for the artistic field of influence. Chaos Theory provides a metaphorical language for describing the flowing dynamics of the chaotic process of psychological transformation.
Myths are like collective dreams; ritual is an enactment of myth; art is its expression. We create new philosophical and scientific myths to satisfy our need to understand our environment and give us some sense of control and understanding of our place in it. In science we call them ‘models’. Like metaphors, they provide a reference point without defining a reality.
Alchemy is unbound. It evolves like any science or artform through revolutionary paradigm shifts that revision or reframe its philosophy of practice. Chaos theory is an organic model of creation. Chaos prevails from the infinitely small to cosmic levels. Dynamic processes are deterministic though unpredictable. All experience is subjective. Intuition is an informational source that is non-linear and therefore can create quantum leaps in consciousness. Using imagination, we can ‘see through’ to a deeper level of reality.
Alchemists seek understanding of the relationships between all the elements -- fire, earth, air and water which merge in the quintessence or fifth element. Holistic vision is developed with experiments on matter and self, fantasy and meditation. In alchemy, meditation is an act of imagination fired by awareness and libido, "an inner colloquy with one's good angel." Creative insight, a new perspective on reality, emerges through transpersonal experience.
Alchemy is also a thought experiment that plunges one into the upwelling spring of Nature feeding the roots of matter and psyche. Ultimately, these cycles of experimentation and reflection are warming acts of love that keep the gentle fires of the alchemical transformation going. The formula "VITRIOL" encodes the various operations of the alchemical process.
Creativity is Healing
Alchemy, quantum mysticism and the holographic paradigm reveal the secrets of nature's subquantal realm. Metaphors are instructive. They are a Way of leaping the chasm between old and new knowledge, old and new ways of essential being. We can tap the source of creativity, healing and holistic restructuring through imagination and metaphor. They can be deeply transformative -- more than mere language. They are a technology for changing our behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs -- our spirit and soul.
Alchemists are contemplative researchers versed in the science of personal transformation and the art of inner magic. Alchemical insight ultimately short-circuits self-referential feedback loops, leading to breakthroughs in perception and quality of being. At the groundstate, mind is utterly emptied of all contents. Both physical and mental space dissolve in this exploration.
A dynamic vacuum state of consciousness opens paranormal states of awareness and healing. In much ado about Nothing, the bubble of illusion (all mental and physical phenomena) bursts in primordial awareness. In the highest potential energy state, space, time, mind and matter dissolve into their Source -- the "melted vacuum" of physics, the "clear water" of the alchemists.
Alchemy is a science-art, a tool to describe and mold reality using experimental and meditative techniques. As an art medium, alchemy helps us illustrate nature and our own nature in contemporary terms by creating new paradigms and environments.
Matter has lost its central role in physics to dynamics. Alchemy can be informed by this new physics. There is aesthetic pleasure in finding likenesses between things once thought unalike. It gives a sense of richness and understanding. The creative mind looks for unexpected likenesses, through engagement of the whole person. Organic metaphors of quantum physics, field theory, and chaos theory illuminate the alchemical art.
In "Little Essays Toward Truth," Crowley declares that making the Stone is a continuous process of uniting the opposites. In fact, if we just take him quite literally at his word, perhaps he knew more than he let on: The Quest of the Holy Grail, the Search for the Stone of the Philosophers—by whatever name we choose to call the Great Work—is therefore endless. Success only opens up new avenues of brilliant possibility.
"New avenues of brilliant possibility" is one possible way of saying "radiant potential" of Zero Point Energy -- the luminiferous ether.
“There was something undefined and complete, existing before Heaven and Earth. How still it was, how formless, standing alone and undergoing no change, reaching everywhere with no danger of being exhausted. It may be regarded as the mother of all things. Truthfully it has no name, but I call it Tao.” (Tsu, 1972)
What's New with My Subject?
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Science-Art Mystics "We expect artists as well as scientists to be forward-looking, to fly in the face of what is established, and to create not what is acceptable but what will become acceptable . . . a theory is the creation of unity in what is diverse by the discovery of unexpected likenesses. In all of them innovation is pictured as an act of imagination, a seeing of what others do not see . . . “creative observation.” (Bronowski, 1958). “Scientists search for a ‘real’ and hidden, internal visibility (invisible to the naked eye) which will confirm the limits of identity. . .This is an act of limitation which inverts its own criteria by relying on a ‘depth’ model of identity, which is invisible, but gives visibility through microscopic magnification. Yet this search for an invisible core of identity remains open to a visible transgression via artists who are constantly exposing these new certainties as constructs.” (Sargeant, 1999). "Any given state of consciousness is permeated by the clear light of primordial awareness. However solid ice may be, it never loses its true nature, which is water. In the same way, even very obvious concepts are such that their 'place', as it were, their final resting place, does not fall outside the expanse of primordial awareness. They arise within the expanse of primordial awareness and that is where they dissolve." (Dalai Lama)
"We expect artists as well as scientists to be forward-looking, to fly in the face of what is established, and to create not what is acceptable but what will become acceptable . . . a theory is the creation of unity in what is diverse by the discovery of unexpected likenesses. In all of them innovation is pictured as an act of imagination, a seeing of what others do not see . . . “creative observation.” (Bronowski, 1958).
“Scientists search for a ‘real’ and hidden, internal visibility (invisible to the naked eye) which will confirm the limits of identity. . .This is an act of limitation which inverts its own criteria by relying on a ‘depth’ model of identity, which is invisible, but gives visibility through microscopic magnification. Yet this search for an invisible core of identity remains open to a visible transgression via artists who are constantly exposing these new certainties as constructs.” (Sargeant, 1999).
"Any given state of consciousness is permeated by the clear light of primordial awareness. However solid ice may be, it never loses its true nature, which is water. In the same way, even very obvious concepts are such that their 'place', as it were, their final resting place, does not fall outside the expanse of primordial awareness. They arise within the expanse of primordial awareness and that is where they dissolve." (Dalai Lama)"To summarize, I have spoken of seven major aspects of Solutio symbolism: (1) return to the womb or primal state; (2) dissolution, dispersal, dismemberment; (3) containment of a lesser thing by a greater; (4) rebirth, rejuvenation, immersion in the creative energy flow; (5) purification ordeal; (6) solution of problems; and (7) melting or softening process. These different aspects overlap. Several or all of them may make up different facets of a single experience. Basically it is the ego's confrontation with the unconscious that brings about Solutio." (Edinger, 1985, Anatomy of the Psyche)