The real alchemy: the transformation inherent in existence itself

I started listening to the Elixir episode from Something Rhymes With Purple, which is about alchemy and alchemy terms. Alchemy is essentially about change and transmutation.

I love alchemy as a metaphor for our inner transformation, as Jung so beautifully described and explored.

And yet, the ultimate alchemy is not done consciously by humans. It happens all around us and it happens as us all the time. It’s the alchemy of existence itself.

Existence is change. It is transmutation.

This universe is transforming itself continuously and inevitably – from energy to particles, from simple particles to complex, from general uniformity to areas of more density, from these areas of more density to solar systems with stars and planets, from non-living matter to life, from life to life that’s conscious and conscious of itself, and so on. (We even have consciousness consciously aware of itself as the universe bringing itself into consciousness.)

So much of what we take for granted is the most amazing alchemy in action. We are it and we fully depend on it for our life.

Just look at the amazing alchemy of soil and seeds becoming plants, and the amazing ecological succession from pioneers (which we often think of as “weeds”) to eventually a mature and rich ecosystem.

What we humans do with alchemy is just one tiny subset of this far more vast and grand alchemy that’s always in process.

That is hinted at in the word itself. The word “alchemy” is thought to derive from the ancient Egyptian word “khem” or “kem,” which means “black.” This may refer to the rich, fertile black soil of the Nile Delta, which was crucial for agriculture and associated with creation and fertility.

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