Alchemy of Self: Calcination Part 2

Caput Corvi doesn’t always involve calcination and calcination doesn’t only occur during Caput Corvi, but destruction must be part of the process. This is the act of separation. Solve et coagula, we take ourselves apart and put ourselves back together. This will be a cycle as humans aren’t simple. We will learn from this first process and each cycle of separation and union will become more natural and instinctive. 

Calcination can only be performed healthily and productively if we have a support network, a crisis plan, and feel emotionally capable. We will be confronting our deepest secrets, fears, traumas, as well as negative and problematic behaviours and personality traits. 

Step one of calcination? Seek out counselling or therapy if you haven’t already. This, in my opinion, is an absolute must. No matter how stable or prepared you think you are, everyone can benefit from therapy with or without this inherently psychologically distressing process. Being able to share your thoughts with an impartial party with professional training will allow you to dig deeper and feel safer. If you’re not ready or willing to go to therapy, you’re not ready for psychospiritual alchemy. 

What are we actually doing though? For myself, my first step included lists. This may sound simple— we make lists all the time, grocery lists, to do lists, lists of pros and cons— but this is the most brutally honest one you’ll ever make. Sit down with yourself and dedicate time to observing yourself from a neutral omnipotent perspective. Throw your moral opinions out the door and become a passive god, or a bored viewer of a movie in which you’re the main character, every thought and action laid before you, and notice the unavoidable feelings that bubble up. 

What brings you shame? Write it down. What are you self conscious of? Write it down. Write down ‘self conscious’ while you’re at it. My first lists looked like this: selfish, insecure, contrarian, self hating, impulsive, defensive, distant, apathetic, poor diet, addict, sensitive, hypocritical, and much more. I leave behind excuses or references to the past, thinking only currently and how I can label the miasma within me. 

We might look at our lists and think ‘Fuck, is this who I am?’ but no, these words aren’t who we are. These are just words, arbitrary labels assigned to manifestations of unhappiness with ourselves. We have tendencies, we have weaknesses, but ‘have’ is the key world. These things belong to us. 

Take the word weakness and burn it. There’s nothing weak about any of the things on your list, but burn them too. Literally burn them if that feels right. 

Then rewrite the list. Dig deeper. What are those words covering up? What goes deeper than self hatred, or defensiveness, or emotional distance? 

We might consider this process similar to absolving our sins in catholic confessional. As we identify, we gain the power to change. We can’t fix anything we don’t understand, the alchemist can’t burn something he doesn’t have knowledge of. It could be toxic, it could explode. We can’t heal without being self aware. 

Admit your sins. Have a conversation with your sins. 

Everyone says to meditate, for any reason. People will treat it as a cure all and truly that’s annoying. Sprained ankle? Have you tried meditation? Severe psychological disorder? Have you tried meditation? These sentiments are irritating simply because they simplify the problem and consider meditation a solution. 

I’m going to tell you to meditate, I’m sorry. However, it’s not the solution. It’s a skill and a tool. Just as medication, so-called ‘ego death’, therapy, alchemy, or anything else cannot be a solution in of itself, meditation is a part of the many instruments we must learn to play in our journey. 

The medieval alchemist meditated, and we too shall meditate. We spend time with ourselves in complete silence. Our internal monologue must fall silent. Perhaps we’ll only manage a couple seconds of silence or if we’re lucky, thirty seconds. That thirty seconds is, for most including myself, the best we can do. Thirty seconds is all we need. We’re learning to take control of our minds.

This philosophical salt, this body of ours, by quieting our mind we begin to truly exist within our body. Part of this process of absolving our sins includes healing our relationship with our physical flesh. Our forms will change throughout our life but it will always be ours, though we do not exist solely as a body. 

Unlike focusing on the repressed and shame inducing parts of our psyche, focus on the positives about your body when the chance arises, or when the temptation to think badly about your body takes hold. Reject the word ‘want’, calcination works to burn away want and reveal what you have. 

The paradigm of alchemy brings attention to the reconstructive properties of destruction, the medicine made from poison. 

Your body is tired because it wants to heal. You keep falling asleep because you need to recuperate. What seems like a curse is a blessing. A headache is an indicator, as is a stomach ache, toothache, muscle ache. Without these we wouldn’t know something is wrong. Let your mind and body tell you what’s wrong. 

Flame renders the lies you tell yourself null, reduces the facades and false internal structures to ash. You can’t hide from the truth anymore.

The emotions will come and threaten to sweep you away, so read on to Dissolution for information on the next process.

Previous: Calcination Part 1 | Next: Dissolution Part 1 | First: Alchemy

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