|Beneath the Water by Laura Smith|
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 loss...my 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.
So much has happened in these last few weeks and I have avoided writing, feeling the pinch of reticence and the lash of the spirit of the times. These two places, the alchemy and the way that I avoid, feel like how the wind pushes the sea up against a running tide. Will I be thrown up upon the shore of this world like flotsam, gasping for air, or will I allow the tide pull me into the depths of the sea where I will sink like a pebble and enter the great oneness?
I drove down to Lake Champlain yesterday and felt the pull of the water, the water in me that seeks the sea. The body remembers, you see.
From the dream:
I am with a woman at some kind of retreat center that is very remote, somewhere in the high desert. She shows me a very deep, smooth stone lined well that has clouds of sulfur coming from some kind of opening in the bottom. She goes down in and I follow her. I notice right away that I can breathe. Then we are sitting on the bottom facing each other holding each others arms and my eyes are closed. I feel the flood of sensuality come into my body. Then some new kind of energy comes in that causes my body to shake and twitch. Then she starts swimming back up. I see her rising above me and wonder if she is going up for air and if I am supposed to follow her. I follow her up even as I am thinking that I don't need the air because I can breathe. Then I am outside the pool and a woman says we need to adjust the sulfur going in to the well. I look down in and see that the cloud of sulfur is really big and rising all the way to the surface now. I pick some out on my fingers. It is very viscous and I feel like it could cause a chemical reaction and burn. I tell her that this much sulfur could cause an explosion.
After my session with my dreamwork analyst, I researched sulfur and found that it is an element that was associated with alchemy in antiquity. It is known as “brimstone”, is associated with the masculine principle, and is spiritually analogous to the soul. It has many other interesting qualities from a scientific standpoint. It is one of three prime elements the alchemists used to try to make gold (along with salt & mercury) and is known as “the omnipresent spirit of life”. In its solid form it ignites very easily and burns a very hot, blue flame. Seems like it is also associated with the Sun, which sits in my zodiacal sign of Leo in my astrological birth chart. In Archetypal Astrology, Sun and Leo are about my heart. They represent the divine spark, the unconditional love of the spiritual Father and my soul's essence as felt unconditional love. So perhaps my heart is opening in some new way. I continue to breathe the sulfur water.
There is no way to know what is on the other side of an alchemical moment. It can only be known as some place where the past and the future meet and all is changed. But in the present, it is the great mystery unfolding which opens to something new, something previously hidden from us. It can be known in the moment where we recognize that we intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us and when we suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves (my friends of Bill, will recognize this passage from The Promises!).
The body remembers this too, just as it remembers the density of our trauma, the bardo state that we choose when we do not want to feel it all.
I see that Vanessa has several sheep in the house because they are sick or she is trying to keep them safe. I tell her she can't have them in the house, they will make a mess. Then one of them goes barreling past me into a small outbuilding. I follow her. I see her pawing at a new born lamb that is on the ground which is rapidly flooding from water that seems to be rising. I go to the lamb and pick it up and see that it is actually a little bunny. I feel scared. I swing the bunny to get the water out of its lungs, but it seems fine.
The lamb/bunny hold the place of my own vulnerability. To stay in the deep well breathing the sulfur water is to be in my vulnerability as a student to my teacher. This is the archetypal imagery of the lamb of God. We are all lambs, innocent and vulnerable. We have demonized being the lamb because to be the lamb is to be vulnerable and none of us wants to know this vulnerability. When we are vulnerable we must feel everything, all of the loss, the pain and the trauma that has happened and then we can feel the lion of our hearts, our connection to the Divine and the unconditional love that is there for us. The bunny is perhaps the psychopomp that wants to lead me deeper into this vulnerability, that wants me to bring this vulnerability to my outer world reality which is truly an act of faith.
When we follow the dream, we are like Alice who follows the rabbit down into the hole, into the underworld. Once we begin the journey in the dreams, we are forever changed because in some way turning towards our soul is an alchemical action. It activates our desire, the desire that lives in the fiber of our being which is in the very atoms, the quarks and neutrinos of our corporeal state. This activation is a calling to turn from the well worn gyroscopic path of the bardo state of avoidance and to begin walking upon the waves of chaos. Alchemy is change, transformation.
I am at a conference with a man who is my teacher. The conference is about some kind of old gnosis and he is teaching me about the customs and rituals which includes some kind of clothing and other artifacts. I feel curious about it all and special and safe that I am with him there. He pulls out some large, hard bound old texts with teachings and images and starts showing them to me.
The truth is, I only need to be open to the teaching in the moment, whatever that is. And then the next moment and then the moment after that and so on ad infinitum.
Could it be that simple? Yes, I think so, and yet it brings up so much fear, because whenever we allow this much vulnerability it always touches into the places we carry in our bodies that relate to our trauma. This is a natural condition since we all carry many lifetimes of trauma in our bodies. The body remembers this too and it is the place where I always want to jump away from my work. It is the place where I leave the deep well, where I believe that the sulfur will burn me instead of heal me.
I am talking to a man. I can barely speak because I am so thirsty. My tongue and lips are swollen. He gives me a glass of water and I feel relief and like he is caring for me.
It is difficult to speak when my lips and tongue are swollen, when my thirst is so great. I wonder, can others feel this thirst in them? When did I become aware that He was there to give me water? I do not know. My body remembers this thirst for Him. The thirst for my lost soul, my divine connection, something greater than myself. I feel this thirst in every atom, quark and neutrino. When I breathe the water, it is like entering the depths of my essence. The body is what remembers that I am a water breather the moment it takes the breath.