The Cosmic Vibration in Alchemy

Namaste -
“The earthly sounds of all atomic motion, including the sounds of the body—the heart, lungs, circulation, cellular activity—come from the cosmic sound of the creative vibratory activity of Aum. The sounds of the nine octaves perceptible to the human ear, as well as all cosmic low or high vibrations that cannot be registered by the human ear, have their origin in Aum.” ~ from the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda

There is something I am learning about in the alchemy which has to do with vibrational sound. When one is still, suspended, it is easier to hear the sounds which lie beneath the world.

In the dream...

I follow the Anima into the water. I see broken people held by some kind of organic tentacles. The silty water is diffusely lit. There is no other distraction down here. This is the amniotic fluid of alchemy. The white tentacles wrap the flesh of torsos and arms and legs, piercing the skin in places. Everyone appears to be asleep. I am traveling through the water at a high rate of speed. I see adults and babies yanked up, out of sight, presumably to the surface.  Perhaps some of these souls are being born too soon, not fully healed. Do they awaken in the terror of alchemy, creating a shudder that catapults them world-side in a gush of fear and oblivion? I see a woman whose body is separated at the waist, there is blood, but not in the water. Her hair floats like vapor. She is held, white tentacles pierce her skin, wrap her, hold her, contain her.

The Body Remembers

Beneath the Water by Laura Smith
My current dreamwork prayer (I have decided to call it a prayer instead of “homework”) is to feel the vulnerability of the bunny/lamb as I bring my spiritual/inner work to all the places of my life and to stay in the alchemy of breathing the sulfur water in the deep well, even when the Anima leaves.

I think this is the prayer, my homework...with alchemy it always feels like a tumble...a blurry line between my inner life and my outer world. I can’t possibly know what is happening and so it is not the confusion of trauma, but the mystery of alchemy that is in direct opposition to the polemical vagaries of my mind.

It is true for me too how when I am in alchemy, my body experiences pain in the shifting. For several weeks, I have been suffering from asthma and the physical reactions associated with allergies, sneezing, headache, congestion, aching in my lungs and back. This is common for me in the fall and my partner, Vanessa, reminds me that the fall is a hard time for me. When the leaves find their color and the air turns crisp, my body remembers the pain of brother and my birth mother both passed in the fall. I got sober in the fall...the mountain in me erupted and the lava began to flow and I was burned.

The body does remember these things you know.

Walking in the Not Knowing

"He whose desire turns away from outer things, reaches the place of the soul. If he does not find the soul, the horror of emptiness will overcome him, and fear will drive him with a whip lashing time and again in a desperate endeavor and a blind desire for the hollow things of the world."  Carl Jung, p 129 The Red Book, A Reader's Edition

Who on the journey has not felt this? In the moment where we finally agree that our pursuit has been for naught, we encounter the place in us that does not know who we really are. And we are terrified.

I experienced this myself at a certain point in my life. It came in the form of hitting rock bottom. I was bereft, lost, and truly terrified. I feared dying the hopeless death of the lost soul I had become, enslaved to a cycle of alcoholism and in an increasingly desperate nihilism. My pain and hopelessness became the great motivator that I had sought in books and churches and people.

It doesn't matter how we come to desire our soul, only that we do. When we come to terms with our own powerlessness, our own inability to manifest through the force of our will the faith that we so desperately want, we may become willing to turn from our false desires and turn inward towards our soul.

This is terrifying, because we cannot know it until we find it inside ourselves, in this body, in this life. When we objectify it, we make it something outside ourselves to be sought after. But when we truly open our self to the mystery, then she can come.

Jung goes on to say, "Every step closer to my soul excites the scornful laughter of my devils, those cowardly ear-whisperers and poison-mixers. It was easy for them to laugh, since I had to do strange things.” p 137

Tantric Energy

Painting by Francine Hart
When my analyst first used the word "Tantric" in my recent Archetypal Dreamwork session, I could feel a curiosity rising in me. What was this? I had only a passing western understanding of the word and, I have to say, more than a few judgments about it.

I recently had a reaction to my teacher Marc Bregman's suggestion at one of our retreats that there was work that couples could do to support each other around the healing of sexual trauma through the holding of space for each other in the most intimate moments. He used the word Tantric and I didn't like the idea of sexual healing being associated with my spiritual community.

So now here it was in my own work. And, it's not like it's the first time it's come up.

In this most recent dream, I see a boy, 16, who is in an intense state of arousal. A man is with him. Then we are together and I am touching him. I feel what he feels. It is like seeing and feeling a mirror image of myself,  only with all the feeling and energy of a 16 year old boy. The opening that I feel in my own body is a deeply intense need that is held inside me. The need is so great that it writhes in my body like it wants to be released. It is powerful and in the dream when I press into the boy, he arches back in ecstasy. I feel this ecstasy in me. It is not about ejaculation or release, that's not what happens in the dream. It is about how the energy is moving in me, and what it is like to experience the energy of this 16 year old boy who is me. It is contained and so I am contained, yet powerful in my desire and need.

Still Point in the Turning World

I am dancing in some kind of studio with others. I feel young, like pre-adolescent, maybe 8-10. The teacher, who looks like Sue (divine Anima figure), is there helping us get started. I start to spin in one place with my arms out. I feel the immediate disorientation of it. I feel like people are watching me but it's OK. I feel very contained in my body and all my vision is then turned inward. Then I am spinning but I am not moving my feet anymore. Then I shift my body into some kind of position that feels like some kind of yoga pose, like a flower. My arms are entwined with the hands held up. I feel my body become very still into this position as I am spinning around. It is like time has stopped and it feels strange and still. I feel frozen in time or outside of time somehow.
This is a recent dream and one that is a touchstone dream. One I know I will go back to over and over. Every time I touch into the still point, I feel a bloom of fear which, if I stay with it, turns into sensuality. I did not feel this in the dream. I begin my dance with arms outstretched and spin around. When my body settles into the pose in the spinning, it is like there is no tension, even though I can feel how my body is in some kind of pose that should have me straining in some way! There is no tension in my body and I feel it sink deeper into this place of stillness. I look down and see my thin, young girl arms entwining up into the pose, and they are beautiful, smooth and then they become very still. So strange to be spinning and yet so still. I am waiting, but there is nothing that I am waiting for. The world spins beyond me even as I turn and I feel a timeless expansiveness in the stillness of the waiting that is not waiting, in the action that is inaction. I can feel the presence of the Anima somewhere behind me. I can feel her support for me in this new place.

In my session, when we worked this dream, my analyst read me this part of a poem by T.S. Elliot, which describes this dream perfectly:

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.

Recently, my work is opening me more to this soul girl in me, and even to the warrior soul girl we call the Valkyrie. The girl for me is revelatory.


In North of Eden, the dreamwork community I am a part of, we practice a radical way of being in relationship which we call The Glass Bead Game. It’s a reference to the Herman Hess novel called The Glass Bead Game only it is not an esoteric and intellectual obscure association game (a shallow interpretation at best). Instead it is about using the surface area of our mutual work in the NOE organization to practice seeing our pathology, owning our reactions and withdrawing our projections. It’s about learning to be in relationship with the Divine and with others at the same time.

It follows the spiritual axiom that whenever we are emotionally disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us (friends of Bill will be familiar with this)! This is a difficult piece of news to swallow and requires the intense commitment of a warrior to truly embrace it. It requires us to know that in each given moment we are the central bead, whole in the love of the Divine and accept the teaching and correction that the dreams bring for us.

Archimandrite Dionysios, an orthodox monk, states that the greatest thing we can do to combat our demons is repentance.

This is what we do in the glass bead game! We repent. We learn to see our shortcomings, to accept the teachings of our leaders and teachers around the pathology that lives hidden in us that we cannot see, and to commit to being a warrior in our effort to eradicate the effects of the demons that haunt us. It requires an immense amount of faith and willingness to repent in each moment when we encounter the enemy in us.

Return From Esalen

I have recently returned from a North of Eden archetypal dreamwork retreat at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. As always the teachings and learnings were profound. Every moment of it was just for me. The moment I arrived at Esalen from a short visit with friends in Oakland, the energy of the retreat center and the landscape of Big Sur entered my body with ecstatic sensuality.

Each moment was for me, for my work and my journey: the moment when my partner went into reaction because I didn’t call for 12 hours, the moments in my tiny cabin with my sister dreamers as we settled in for the evening, the ancient sulfur bathes on the cliff side, dancing with wild abandon in the Huxley room with other Esalen retreaters, the famous Esalen massage, the 12 Step Tribe meeting, the music of our beloved Trubadors, the food, and of course the deeply moving work that every member of my group participated in during the 5 days we were together perched on the cliff overlooking the western horizon where it disappeared into the vast pacific ocean.

Awakening the Snake-Girl

Snake Rising ~ Laura Smith
What is it like to have the energy channels opened in the body? I have written a lot on this blog about the sensuality as it has manifested in my dreams and in my body. In my work so far, it is a visceral and pleasurable feeling that travels up my spine and diffuses out through my limbs. Sometimes it carries heat. This sensuality is The Snake. I have been bitten by The Snake. This is very Archetypal. The Archetypes who come to us in our dreams are real. They are real entities that can help us with healing and open us to the primal energies that are dormant or blocked in our spiritual and physical bodies.

I had this dream in June of 2012:
I am with some people and they are doing something to me, like maybe stringwork, like at a NOE retreat. I don’t understand what is happening but I am scared. I hear myself telling them, “no, no, no, no, no” like I am pleading with them not to do what they are about to do. Then a woman (the Anima), takes her hands and pulls her fingernails across my lower back at my sacrum. I feel a burning sensation and I feel my body arching and responding in a feeling of sensuality and desire outside of my control.
This is how it can happen. This is a real moment, a real event in my life that carries all the feelings contained in the blocked place at my sacrum, which in the dream have to do with desire and sensuality. In the opening, I feel the energy released and traveling in my body. Some call this place of entry in the body the sacral chakra and refer to this energy as Kundalini. I only know the truth of what I feel in the dream and what I am feeling in my body more and more in my waking life since embarking on this journey.

I had a dream recently where I see a prepubescent girl on a bed.  The Animus is watching her, focused intently upon her. I see her and think that she is coquettish, overly sexual for such a young girl. This is my judgment of The Girl: that she is bad to have this energy in her. This is the judgment that the history of the world has persecuted The Girl for. This is Gnostic knowledge which has been perverted by a world that is run by a terrified collective ego which attempts to suppress this energy. In fact, for most of us, it is so suppressed that we do not even know that it is there.

The Grand Improvisation

I am in a small room off the North of Eden School classroom. I am doing something that is for a class, like transcribing or filming. I feel separate from everyone. I hear Marc teaching and there is music sometimes. Everything is improvisational. Scott F is the conductor of the music. Marc says something really amazing and then Scott starts riffing with the music. I can hear all these different instruments all coming together in the most amazing way, and I think, Oh my God, this is what Scott used to be like before he forgot who he is. I run into the main room because I just want to hear it. I think I am probably not supposed to be leaving my station and my job there, but I don’t care. The lighting in the carriage house is dim and warm, like it is a living room, not the cold, white lighting of the class room. I see Marc & Christa and other NOE people. I don’t see the musicians, but I close my eyes and feel myself smiling. The music is all around me, orchestral…incredibly passionate and beautiful, all completely improvisational. And then I feel all the ecstatic sensuality rising in my body and I feel so happy. I wake up in this feeling.
I really just love this is a very spiritual dream for me, for it shows me who I am before I forgot who I am: a sensual being, in the flow of the universe. This is who we all are.

What if the music rising is really the way life could feel coming at me when I am standing in the truth of who I am as a sensual being? What if this is what it feels like when people, places and things are happening all around me and I am not in reaction, projecting from the place of my trauma? What if the mystery of life is in this incredible, seemingly random, but beautiful improvisation? This is an exciting possibility since in the dream what I feel is all the Kundalini sensuality rising into my body. Here, I feel the love. If I had no trauma, maybe people, places and things...what happens in the world, would not trigger me, and I would just be in myself, in the flow.