My friend Jim Price forwards this interesting information, which he received in a series of dreams. It seems to be about alchemy, but as will be seen it is about awareness.
The Four Stages Of Alchemy (received in a connected series of dreams):
1. The struggle of opposites: The image is of two snakes, like the caduceus staff, coiling about each other, fighting- struggling- hopefully mating. The coming together of opposites is the first stage. Opposites can also mean “elements not in blended harmony”. If there is only fighting, the process ends here. Struggle, however, is to be expected. I’m told, “Be sure the snakes are labeled as opposites as + and -. That’s not entirely accurate, but that’s how it could be done.” That seems to be like a positive charge and a negative charge. I was told that snakes were not accurate depictions, which of course makes them symbolic.
2. Holding on: This is the second stage of the alchemical process. The image is of a person in a sailboat on a rough sea in a heavy wind. The person needs to hold onto the sides of the boat to remain in the boat, and also needs to handle the sails and rudder in order to navigate through the fierce weather. This is symbolic of navigating the early process of alchemy as the elements combine and interact. There’s bound to be a reaction. It is the stage in which the outcome seems uncertain.
3. Elements begin to merge: this is the stage where opposites lose their meaning. If the process ends here, we’re stuck with ambiguity, neither one nor the other. Ambiguity can lead to loss of boundaries, and a broader point of view that allows understanding, but not directed intention.
4. Dissolution or distillation: In the final sequence of the process, the original elements have transformed into their new state. This is the mythical lead into gold. This process can have two outcomes for the original elements.
Dissolution: The first is that the original elements dissolve. They more or less become either inert or are used up and cease to be relevant. If the object of alchemy is a human being, this is the least desirable outcome (assuming one wants to continue to live a vital life). The old has given way to the new, but the old has not become the new. The image is of an old man displaced in authority and vitality by his son. Dissolution occurs when the alchemical process is unconscious, resisted, or denied (having at least partially occurred due to the applications of external processes). Dissolution can also occur if the process is intentional but lacks insight into the properties of the elements (the individual has little understanding of the elements in process).
Distillation: Distillation results in the original elements undergoing a process of purification. What has been distilled by the alchemical process moves forward consciously as something new, becomes the transformation. If the object of alchemy is a human being, this is a wondrous outcome. The old has given way to the new, and what was old has become renewed or enlightened. This is possible because the process happens consciously, with intent toward integration. Individuals move forward because they identified themselves as being a part of the process.
Comment: the dream wanted me to know that this sequence is not unlike the “ox series” in Zen Buddhism, in which an individual becomes more spiritual through awareness.