Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Notation for Edinger's Alchemical Operations

I find it handy to have a symbolic notation for alchemical processes. According to The Philsopher's Stone Dom Pernety first associated processes with signs of the zodiac in the eighteenth century. Alas his twelve alchemical operations are in no way compatible with the seven which Edward F. Edinger applied to Jungian Psychology in Anatomy of the Psyche. Hence I've made my own notation for Edinger's processes:

Calcinatio: Intense heating of a solid in order to drive off water and all other constituents that will volatilize. Only fine, dry powder remains.
Solutio: Turns a solid into a liquid. The solid seems to disappear into the solvent as if it had been swallowed up.
Coagulatio: Turns something into earth.
Sublimatio: Transforms earth into air; a fixed body is volatilized.
Mortificatio: Killing, experience of death. (Synonymous with Putrefactio.)
Separatio: Discriminates composite mixtures of its component parts.
Coniunctio: Two substances come together and create a third with different properties.

1 comment:

Chris Sheridan said...

For Wizard of Oz Alchemical operations vis a vis Edinger:

1. Calcinato: first operation as in burning, purifying...this is the initiation of Dorothy in OZ...all other aspects are burned off: "We're not in Kansas any more." The alchemist purifies his/herself by burning off all influences, conditions and concerns in order to more clearly conduct the great work.

2. Solutio: Solution - as in mixing with liquid do dissolve, homogenize or distribute the materia. Here she mixes together the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion to form a unified bond, pouring along the yellow brick road...

3. Coagulatio: Coagulating, turning to earth. Here is where the road gets tiresome and a slogging burden, culminating in the point where "poppies will put them to sleep!"

4. Sublimatio: from a solid to gas in physical states, according to physics and also weather phenomena. The snowfall brought Dorothy and her mates from face down in the dirt, to gazing skyward at the Emerald City in the distance. Now the trials and challenges of the earth have been conquered...and it's off to loftier goals.

5. Mortificatio: Experience of death, usually facing one's own death (at least symbolically.
The task to kill the witch puts the gang in mortal danger, and takes Dorothy to the darkest reaches within - killing the witch also kills her inner demons.

6. Separatio: After their trial by combat, each member of the group receives his/her wishes - the heart that a crying tin man already had in the first place, etc. Sometimes we do need to go through fire to discover who we were all along. The group is now dismantled; their reason for getting together in the first place has been fulfilled. Each are left a more refined, pure aspect of themselves.

7. Coniunctio: The unity of opposites, the one world, the alchemical marriage. Like the Odyssey, OZ is a story of return, of coming home, and bringing back something of value; a new perspective or more integrated feelings toward one's life and the people in it...the elixir of life, the universal medicine. That is why the alchemist, like Dorothy, has to go through such an arduous journey of operations, facing the infinite head on, and returning with the Philosopher's Stone.

Just my thoughts on the matter...thank you for stirring my consciousness. Oh, and there's a bunch more, like the lion in alchemical symbolism, and the yellow brick road being sulpher, etc...or a shamanic alchemist's observation that Toto represents the instinctive spirit that animals still are in contact with in Nature. We, who are now more disconnected with Nature than ever before, need Toto to just run off at the "wrong time," which as a result, actually put them where they needed to be, but I digress...

Chris S.