From Tension to Transformation: The Alchemy of Harnessing Differences
By Dr. Theresa Bullard
The process of alchemy reveals to us how transformation unfolds. How it works, at its core, is through harnessing differences.
In Alchemy these differences are often represented as “polarities”.
Many of us are already familiar with the concept of polarity in the body. For example, left and right sides of the body, which are governed by the right and left hemispheres of the brain, respectively.
The left hemisphere is generally more logical, detail-oriented, language-based, numbers, rules, and abstract thinking such as is required for doing math. The right hemisphere is more creative, gestault, non-linear, intuitive, social, relationship-oriented, and artistic.
So we have polarity at work within ourselves all the time, in addition to it showing up in our relationships and interactions with others.
We can also talk about this inner polarity in terms of conscious mind and sub-conscious mind.
The sub-conscious is the part of us that operates beneath the surface of our awareness. About 90% of our brain capacity is being used for sub-conscious activity. This sub-conscious part of us largely dictates what we accomplish, what we perceive, how we behave, our habits, and how we respond or react to things.
Then there is the other 10% of our brain capacity that we are consciously aware of. This is that part of us that is activity choosing what to do and how to approach certain situations.
When applying alchemy to our conscious and sub-conscious sides, we learn to harness more of our brain capacity for conscious awareness, balancing and harmonizing these two aspects of our selves, and therefore becoming more self-aware and in control of our decisions and actions, rather than sub-consciously controlled.
When talking about polarity, the discussion would not be complete without addressing one of the biggest polarities in our world, that of masculine and feminine.
In ancient traditions these have been represented as the sun and the moon, with the moon being feminine and the sun being masculine. In Eastern traditions, this polarity is also referred to as the yin and the yang, with the yin being feminine and the yang being masculine.
The masculine is about active, dynamic, expansive energy. It is that driven nature that wants to reach out and accomplish something in the world. The feminine, on the other hand, is the part of us that is more inwardly directed, introspective, reflective, and nurturing. The feminine is about taking time to be quiet and still, and to rest.
Essentially we want to learn how to balance and create an active, dynamic yet harmonious flow between both these sides of ourselves, as well as in our relationships between men and women. This too is what alchemy is all about.
The ultimate goal of alchemy is to harness, balance, and unite the power and qualities inherent within these two natures of feminine and masculine, sub-conscious and conscious, right hemisphere and left hemisphere. In so doing, we can operate at a much more masterful level and become self-realized.
So how do we do this process of harnessing differences? Alchemy says the way to balance the two sides is by mediating with 4 elements. These 4 elements are symbolically represented as Earth, Water, Air and Fire.
Alchemy heavily uses metaphorical language and symbols to convey its universal principles and methods. In our Free Webinar on Accessing Creativity, I discussed the importance of symbols, especially for helping us harness our faculty of creative imagination. These 4 elements of Alchemy are symbols that help us access different states of consciousness and different stages in the creative and transformative process.
Stay tuned next week as we go deeper into the 4 elements and their role in transformation and accessing breakthrough creativity.