Part 2 of a series on the Alchemical Recipe of the One ManWe left off asking two questions: How might the coniunctio bring forth the Orphan into the status of the Foundling? What are the inherent demands that emerge in process when an experience like this unfolds? In my experience it is possible to hold questions like these without trying to logically answer them. Such a practice opens us to consider a distinct approach to reading.
Alchemical Textual Practice
The alchemists developed their practice in two separate venues. In their labs they worked procedures in the retort. In their libraries they meditated with their texts, and would trace their inquiries and insights in the statements of those that went before them. There was an understanding that the work in one arena had an effect on the other.
Psychoanalysts have developed an analogous two fold practice. When in session with clients, the sealed vessel brings forth a variety of unanticipated contents. Outside of session the material gets explored privately, in supervision (and during training, in case seminars). Through my years of psychoanalytic training, time and time again I see how the processing of material in supervision and case seminar impacts process in indisputable ways.
We find in alchemical textual practice something beyond just sitting down to read a book. The text in such a practice becomes the other in a dialogue that the author of the text could never plan. A simple phrase in the original text might serve a creative digression in the process of the reader. In this way, without the systematic means of inquiry to guide the process, alchemical textual practice resembles reading the I Ching, the Book of Changes.
In this series, a similar process has been taken up. Here, the short passage in Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctionis is being carefully sifted and the different phrases are being played with in a manner that is not intended to be academic in its stance, but instead, meditative, imaginal and prospective.
Out of the Blue
So lets return to the text. After the designation of the lapis as the “orphan,” Carl Jung notes that:
“Dorn mentions (this) apparently out of the blue when discussing the union of the opposites.”
The phrase “out of the blue” gives the feeling that something just fell out of the sky unexpectedly. In this sense, it’s as if it has dropped from the heavens. The phrase could also be used to indicate something emerging suddenly from the depths of the sea. In either case, something beyond the perspective of expectations has arrived.
The color blue has both it’s heavenly and oceanic references, the celestial starry gown of the Mother of God as well as coloring of the dolphins at Knossos. Emotionally it is hard not to also consider the blues, a musical genre amplified beautifully by Mark Winborn in his Deep Blues: Human Soundscapes for the Archetypal Journey.
That the unexpected might emerge from above or below helps us to recognize that it cannot be anticipated. In a sense, to train ones focus in a certain direction forces the appearance to occur elsewhere. We can hear in this mythologem the pattern of the Christ child being born in a stable, and the linkage of the orphan to the archetype of the divine child opens us to the transformative energies manifesting in the coniunctio.
The Union of the Opposites
In his later years, Carl Jung committed much of his energy to the study of the union of the opposites. The emergence of something, anything for that matter, new depends on it. Culturally, spiritually, psychologically, or physically, regardless of the sphere of inquiry, nothing unprecedented emerges without the coming together of opposing energies.
That the symbol of the Orphan emerges out of the blue upon the union of the opposites is an important insight. Like the seed mentioned in the gospel parables sown on rocky ground, the emergence of the new thing, the divine child, is fundamentally vulnerable, and in need of being claimed.