Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Autumn and the emptying of the cup

Dear friend, I hope you’re doing well as we move into the Autumn, a time when the colors change, which for the alchemist was a sign of transmutation in the vessel.

For many of us, this transition is also occurring simultaneously in our bodies and hearts, as some part of us falls away. It’s as if some piece of soul is no longer able to accompany us into the next phase; a tender emptying of the cup.

This clearing out, which some part of us might long for, can also be shaky and unknown, leaving us with the felt experience of groundlessness and uncertainty.

In alchemy, this is the stage of the yellowing, with its primary process known as putrefaction, one of my favorite alchemical words and images, referring to the putrefying, or dying away of one thing so that something new can come into Being.

Autumn has always been the most emotional, vulnerable, and broken-open time of the year for me personally. It’s as if a certain landscape of grief or melancholy is activated and a doorway opens where the blue ones of the Soul emerge in my body and imagination.

These pieces of soul who reside in the blue regions of psyche carry felt experiences of tenderness, melancholy, sadness, and grief, and invite a shattering. It’s not the ordinary, conventional sort of sadness where something is felt to be missing, lost, or incomplete. It’s more like an overflow in the heart, a sadness that is pregnant and full.

It’s tender, raw, naked, and sore, as if it could take you to the ground and turn you to dust if you were to go with it, to walk with the blue ones into their world.

In the Autumn we see that yellowing unfolding out in nature, by way of the decaying leaves, the wet green moss, the burning reds and the oranges and the rotting logs. And we may also see it deep in the Soul.

To attune to that Inner Autumn requires a new cleansing of perception and a polishing of the heart, where that which was once so clear - me and my life and how I was so sure that it would all turn out - my relationships, work, physical health, living situation, emotional stability, who my friends are, what I enjoy doing, what it is that brings me meaning…

There’s a way that in this yellowing, all of that can begin to putrefy, fall apart, and be turned to dust. The particles of light which comprise this dust, the alchemical scintilla, are one of the true symbols on the alchemical or mystical path, emanations of the activity of the Ally as it incarnates in time and space by way of emotion, image, and pure feeling.

It’s only natural that we’d view this as less than idea, or as evidence that something has gone wrong. I mean, who among us wants to have their life putrefy, and their most precious beliefs, reference points, and realizations ground into particles of dust.

But from an alchemical perspective, this is a necessary process and unfolding, a clearing of the space, and evidence of the emissary of wholeness, laying the foundation for something new and creative to come into Being… something we didn’t quite expect, that we weren’t able to see beforehand, something literally beyond our capacity to imagine.

This process begins to flow by way of our willingness and ability to grieve, to tend and stay embodied to the death of an old dream, in whatever form it comes, which requires a fidelity and a real devotion to the broken and to the wisdom it carries.

One of the mysteries of the path is that we can’t know in advance what it will be like to live our lives without our conditioned ways of seeing the world. If our lenses of perception are cleansed it’s like we’re naked and newborn. This is the archetype of birth, or rebirth, which can be simultaneously thrilling and terrifying, and almost always contradictory.

Yes, there is a certain excitement in stepping into new territory, but it can also generate bewilderment or even a panic in psyche and soma as we sense a pending confrontation with the unknown. We must be kind to ourselves during times of liminality and transition, and honor the actualities of what it truly means to heal.

In the end, it is a work of love, but it’s a path that includes the sweetness of love, as well as its more wrathful and reorganizing aspect, holding, and honoring not only that which we gain from the journey, but also everything that we’re sure to lose on the path of awakening and healing.

If we look carefully, we can see that whole cosmic drama unfolding in the very center of each falling leaf.

It's a love that’s Whole, that is vast enough to contain and contain it all. It’s all path, it’s all grace, it’s all God.