The goddess Sophrosyne (part 2)


Part 2 of an article in two parts ‘Sophrosyne is the greatest virtue, and wisdom is speaking and acting the truth, paying heed to the nature of things.’ – Heraclitus, fragment 112 In the first part of this article, we explored the many-sidedness of sophrosyne and the necessity to honour this many-sidedness if we are to utilise its power for personal transformation. We looked at how our culture has a tendency to violate such archetypal complexities through its insistence on one-sided rational concepts. We also saw how an essential part of this practice involves opening ourselves to more deeply experience the natural tensions inherent to […]

Stop the world

stop the world

‘If you can connect to the addictive quality, the urge to do something…. Patience is all about connecting to the addictive quality of anger, or whatever your addiction is. Connecting to the urge to do something. It is all about connecting with the addictive quality and sitting with that restless, painful energy. And not letting the momentum pull you under like an undertow, and cause you to do the same thing over and over, ruining your life and the life of those close to you. ‘That addictive quality…. For example, to criticise, to overeat, to abuse substances, to erupt in anger, to aggression, to jealousy, […]

Spiritual ‘work’?

The use of the word ‘work’ here and elsewhere on this website is in homage to Alchemy-as-language, through which the lineage underlying the ideas on Sacred River was transmitted from ancient times to the present. The alchemical ‘work’ was referred to as the opus contra naturam, ‘the work against nature’. This phrase represents both the entire body of activities in which this art involves one and the essence of the work. In our culture, the word ‘work’ has become associated with heroic activity. Yet, Alchemy is anything but heroic. Rather than slay dragons, Alchemy meets them, listens to them, learns from them, is shaped by […]

The art of restraint


‘Where the moods of one’s own heart are concerned, one should never ignore the possibility of inhibition, for this is the basis of human freedom.’ – From the I Ching or Book of Changes, by Richard Wilhelm What does it mean to be truly free? We encounter so many paradoxes when we dwell deeply on this question. Entering the many-mirrored realms of paradox is a sign that we’re making progress. Which in itself is a paradox. But a paradox at the heart of the difference between a psychology that aims to cultivate imagination, and one aiming at productivity, health or even self-realisation. For if we […]

Living between realms: Embodying


Second in series of three articles ‘Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.’ – Carl G. Jung, from Psychology and Religion: West and East   In the first article, we saw that what Carl Jung viewed as the path of becoming an authentic individual, involves much more than changing our philosophies, beliefs or correcting our ‘errors of thought’. Deep and lasting transformation of our being involves processes that shape us at the core. Such change has to be imprinted on a body level; it has to be embodied to be lasting. We saw that for this to occur, requires that we ‘stay close to […]

Living between realms: Individuation


First in series of three articles ‘The effect of the death experience is to bring home at a crucial moment a radical transformation.’ – James Hillman, from Suicide and the Soul Castaneda’s Don Juan taught that ‘death is the only wise advisor we have.’ Even though Castaneda’s path is fundamentally different from ‘a path of soul’ in many ways, his ideas often touch authentically into the realm of archetypal images, and so resonate with profound meaning. Whether death is our only wise advisor, may be a worthwhile enquiry. But is there not something deeply profound about the idea that death is our ‘advisor’? It is […]

When last … ?

when last

‘In the spring mornings I would work early while my wife still slept. The windows were open wide and the cobbles of the street were drying after the rain. The sun was drying the wet faces of the houses that faced the window. The shops were still shuttered.’ – Ernest Hemingway, from A Moveable Feast When last have you felt the overwhelming presence and depth of a glittering starry sky? And truly felt its magic? The kind of magic, which, if you are someone who desires to understand, itches with that nearly unbearable proximity of profound revelation. And yet, it remains elusive. The ultimate realization […]

Hermes Trismegistus

hermes trismegistus

Hermes Trismegistus is the central figure of the hermetic tradition of Alchemy. Trismegistus means ‘thrice great’ or ‘thrice hero’. There are many speculations on the significance of his name, but no real conclusions. A reference to a deity going by the name of ‘thrice great’ was found on a clay tablet written in Mycenaean Greek, dating back to between the 16th and 12th centuries BCE. In Hermeticism, Hermes Trismegistus is regarded as an enlightened being who was reincarnated several times. His earliest incarnation is said to have been a contemporary of biblical Adam. Or in other accounts, Abraham. While he is said to have lived […]

‘As above, so below’

as above

‘As above, so below’ is from the Emerald Tablet, an original alchemical text attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. It echoes that phrase from The Lord’s Prayer as taught by Jesus Christ: ‘on earth, as it is in heaven’. It also relates to Plato’s theory that everything manifest in existence is mirrored by ‘a world of ideas’. Which is also where the notion of ‘archetypes’ derives from. This correspondence flowing through several religious and philosophical traditions suggests the hermetic Prisca Theologia. Which states that if we look carefully with an open mind, we will perceive a thread running through all religions. Which thread forms ‘the true theology’.‎ […]

Emerald Tablet

emerald tablet

The Emerald Tablet, also known as the Tabula Smaragdina, is an original alchemical text attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. Despite the fact that it was written somewhere between 500 and 800 CE, many centuries after Hermes’s supposed last incarnation. However, this kind of discrepancy is something we often encounter with so-called ‘holy texts’: the actual author attributes authorship to ‘the spirit who really wrote the book via divine possession.’ Many alchemists regarded the Emerald Tablet as the foundation of alchemy. Numerous serious and profound thinkers and alchemists rendered translations of the text and wrote commentaries on it. Including Sir Isaac Newton, whose translation is available here […]