“Well?” said the Wizard waiting patiently for him to speak.
“It has been a week of tears, of joy and sadness in almost equal measure. I’ve had insights that broadened my understanding and those that crushed my very being. I have touched the face of God and have been burned by unspeakable evils. I feel as though I am not what I was having transformed myself both now and into the future and deep into the past. I am profoundly grateful and resentful of what you have done to me and now feel lost in the world that was once my home. And what’s worse, I fear that I no longer care about your stupid magic.”
“A bit dramatic are we not? Now, listen to me well boy for I am about to reveal the rest of your curriculum that only now can you comprehend. You have entered a cleansing or dissolution stage of your transformation a transformation that is necessary in order for you to attain your true spiritual inheritance. Once entered you cannot turn back for to do so would leave you at best dead or worst dissolved and no longer able to function properly. Hear now what it is you need to do in order to reclaim your birthright. Are you ready?”
The boy stood there and despite some misgivings he was ready to absorb what the Wizard was sharing and nodded his assent then cleared his throat, “I’m listening, though my fear grows by the minute and even though I can set it aside and watch it grow without becoming it, I wonder for how long can this body endure?”
The boy was struggling to control himself and remain centered in the bigger self he had discovered during his practice of the week before. He wasn’t aware of it then but he would need all his strength to make it through the transmuting gauntlet he was about to experience. As the wizard invited him to sit in the chair next to him he sunk down then straightened and slid to the very edge of the seat barely in the chair at all and focused everything on the old man who sat before him.
“Your body, mind included for I am not of the popular notion that they are in any way separated, is an instrument of magic. But like any instrument it can become useless if you haven’t taken care of it. Over time you’ve gunked it up with so many ideas, rigid beliefs, illusions, fantastical expectations, thoughts and worthless and fake knowledge that it can barely fizzle let alone sizzle or sparkle and forget about using it to consciously create magic because the natural flow from the Source to the greater reality of the Self is impeded by all the accumulated crap you’ve attached to it. Do you understand?”
“So far, yes” said the boy as he encouraged the old man to continue.
“What we’ve been doing is to scrape off this crap so as to polish the tool once again and give it the purpose for which was designed. After that you’ll relearn the art of using it properly.” The old man paused and thought a moment before speaking again, then absently picked up his pipe and took a drag, tapping it against the bowl when he realized it had gone out. Pulling a match from a container next to the bowl he held it for a moment and the match flamed without being struck. He then put the flame to his pipe and relit it. Taking a couple of drags a faint glow emanated from the pipe bowl. After another drag he leisurely exhaled a puff of smoke that created a ring that floated above his head. Meanwhile the young man just sat patiently waiting for what was next.
Holding the pipe by the bowl the old man pointed it toward the boy and went on with his lecture. “Your body is the prima materia that needs to undergo a tormenting cleansing in order to be transformed. As it is now it is like lead– heavy and without luster. When you have completed this process, only part of which you have been practicing this past week, you will shine as gold and be whole once again. After that you will learn to transcend the body and no longer ‘be it’ but include it within your greater sphere.” He paused to see if the boy were still focused on what he was saying and after satisfying himself that he was, he continued.
“The body must be consumed by fire, dismembered and dissolved before it is re-enlivened and made whole again. Though the process of living can act as a crucible where one will burn in order to prepare for the transformation into a more brilliant being, the process takes too long. Sometimes many life times.”
As he paused and took another drag on his pipe, the young man couldn’t help himself and made a comment. “This sounds like the ravings of an Alchemist!”
“In that you are right, but their so-called ravings were in reality the process for transforming the leaden consciousness of humankind into the Golden Spirit that he or she was born to be. The truth for each of us is that within us is a Philosophers Stone but to forge it into reality requires a precise tormenting of the prima materia.”
Abruptly he stopped and became very serious in demeanor focusing his full attention on the boy. The boy squirmed in his seat at the discomfort of the old man’s penetrating gaze.
“Do you trust me, boy?”
The boy sat perfectly still and looked within to see if indeed he did trust the old man and when finding that he did declared, “Yes sir!”
“Good, then stand up, the time has come for the Torment.”
The Torment? The boy shuddered at what was next, but the old man hadn’t hurt him so far, in fact, his administrations had actually opened him to a world he didn’t even know existed– a world of exquisite emotion and revelation and he was anxious for more.
“Stand before the fire.” said the old man who then leaned forward and gently touched the boy’s forehead and the boy complied and stood.
“Let go of your thoughts and walk into it.” The young man trembled and knew that this would have been foolhardy on his own or with any one other than this particular old wizard, but for some reason he knew that this man had only his best interests at heart and he walked slowly toward and into the fire. It was warming, welcoming and felt like the right thing to do.
Suddenly his clothing caught the flames and before he knew what was happening the flames engulfed him, the heat became unbearable and pain grew rapidly beyond endurance. He felt his skin crackle, sluff, and begin to melt from his body. “Oh my God” he thought, I’m going to die! He screamed a most blood-curdling scream that ricocheted off the walls then trailed to a pitiful whimper as he passed out and fell headlong into the flames becoming a human torch that lit up the whole room. What was left collapsed and quickly turned to blackened ash. The sickening smell of burned flesh filled the room.
All had become quiet and the wizard returned to his chair casually picking up his pipe and relighting it with another match. He stretched and lay back into the softness of the chair. He had taken many a neophyte to this point in the process and knew that for some it ended here what with the purity of their essence having been too compromised to withstand the Dissolution and then not being able to master the Recombination. He would wait to see if the boy was one of those. He hoped not, he kind of liked him, but it was taking longer than usual.
On that thought the ashes stirred and a small twisting vortex of air whipped up the pile of rubble into a small tornado-like twister. As the ashes were sucked up into the vortex something more substantial began to form and like a Phoenix being reborn from the ashes of its destruction the form of the boy came into view. The old man never tired of this part of the process, remembering fondly his own rebirth from dissolution to recombination.
As quickly as he had been destroyed he was once again whole, naked and glowing before the fire. He turned toward the old wizard with a spark in his eye and with love pouring from every pore.
“There’s a robe in the cabinet over there.” He leaned forward and pointed to the armoire at the far end of the room. The young man crossed the room seemingly without ever touching the floor with his feet, motioned the cabinet to open, and donned the robe, returning to the fireside tying the sash around his waist.
“You’ll need to rest now for there’s much more work to be done in order to fully reinvigorate the psyche. You can sleep in the next room if you like. We’ll cook up some breakfast whenever you wake.” He motioned to another heretofore not seen bedroom in the flat and the boy feeling incredibly exhausted took him up on the offer.
The old man settled back again into his chair and sighed in relief. “I’m glad he made it. It’s always so difficult to explain a disappearance to the authorities when they don’t.” he thought reflectively and smiled broadly.
Note: This is a story of psychological transformation presented as an alchemical process and not a function of the occult. It has been the belief by a number of psychologists, among them the famous C.G. Jung, that the study of Alchemy represented a deeper exploration of the human psyche and its psychoanalytic implications.