Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Metal Element: Inner Alchemy & Surrender

We can see the journey through all of the elements through the seasons in nature.   In the Winter, the water element gives us the seed.  The innate potential of what is to come condensed into a promising seed of life, the acorn holding the full potential of the Oak it is to become.  In the Spring, the Wood element bursts through the soil as the seed becomes a spout.  In the Summer, the Fire element brings us the blossoming of plant life, flowering our landscape.  And then we have the late summer, the Earth element, which offers abundance through the fruits and harvest. 

The unharvested fruits fall to the earth in preparation for the Autumn season.  And then what?    What then happens that transforms the rotten apple that fell to ground into the sprout that appears in Spring?

The answer is the mystery and the magic of the Metal element- that alchemical process that transforms something that can no longer serve us into the seed of new potential.  It is the Metal that discerns the flesh of the rotten apple that must return to the earth from the seed that must be nurtured.  But there is no physical evidence of this process, which happens so deep underground.

This cycle through the elements is evident in human life as well- we are born (Water), we grow and evolve (Wood), we flourish (Fire), and we nurture (Earth).   Much of spirituality throughout history has been dedicated to the mystery of the Metal Element- what happens to transform us from one experience, one reality, and one world, to the next. This is a key aspect of the Metal element, the art and science of alchemy. 

The word alchemy comes from the Arabic word al kimia, which has been translated as "black land art" or "Egyptian art".  We notice the root word, "chem" or "Khem", in words like chemistry and Khemit, the native name of Eqypt.    Khemit had a highly developed science for inner alchemy.   As one of the first agricultural societies, the Khemtians studied natures- the cosmos of the heavens and the seasons of the Earth- to understand that as above, so below.   We can also see many aspects of the Metal element so pervasive throughout the culture, from the beautiful metal jewelry to the reverence and spiritual discipline as evidenced through their pyramid shrines, and hieroglyphic prayers and incantations.  It can be argued that The Book of Coming Forth By Day was one of the first alchemical texts, chronicling the journey of the soul through darkness into new light.

Alchemy existed in almost every culture- Taoist alchemy became the precursor for Chinese Medicine
as we know it today,  while European alchemy became the basis for modern chemistry. In India, inner alchemy became the roots of yoga, tantra, and Ayurvedic medicine. The Kabballah and the Khemetic Tree of Life draw their wisdom from inner alchemy.   Though the practices differ, we can see an underlying goal that is central to alchemist philosophy- the "transmutation of base matter into illuminated substance"1.  The principle holds true whether your talking about turning physical matter- like lead- into gold, or transforming the darker aspects of our psyche and spirit into the illuminated qualities of love, compassion, and generosity.  

Think about the last major difficulty or adversity you had to face.  Much of the process may have been internal, and like the apple underground, you and others couldn't see the transformation happening until a new seed burst through the soil.  Your metal element was hard at work discerning what from your experiences to hold onto, what of yourself needed to be transformed, and what of yourself was a seed of new possibility.   It was the work of the alchemist, transforming lead into GOLD. 

We cannot control this transformation, all we can do surrender to the mystery.  This requires us to call on our deepest resources of trust, and faith, that something new can emerge from darkness.  Like a precious stone crystalized from the heat and pressure of the earth,  like lead turning into gold, like an apple falling to the ground during the Metal season of autumn-  our metal element allows us to accept change, and if necessary, the responsibility to JUST... LET.... GO


Flower Essences are a wonderful tool to facilitate inner alchemy.  There are thousands of flower essences, all which cultivate some of the highest aspects of humanity.  But instead of choosing flowers that cultivate qualities that are "nice to have", I have found that the most profound transformations have resulted from using flower essence therapy to turn "lead into gold".  That means using flower essences for those themes that tend to reoccur in different stages of your life, or bringing resolution to past experiences that have forced you to grow beyond your comfort zone into new ways of being.  From this perspective, transforming our negative thoughts, emotions, and habits within our greatest challenges can help us to unlock our greatest potential.

My favorite flower essences for surrendering to transformation include Cerato, Cherry Plum, Fireweed, Gentian, Oak, and Sweet Chestnut.

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