From knowledge to mental liberation, stage 15
« …The task of the Initiate is to find the Fire that dries out his material substance and exalts his solar essence.»
The fire of the matter that ties and then frees the mind
Sexual energy is the telluric fire that, driven by desire, leads Men and Women to reproduce; it associates the generating act to the desire to survive themselves.
The telluric fire ties Men and Women to the wheel of death and re-birth in order for them to preserve their species from extinction through sacrifice. The sexual drive causes physical and emotional chaos. Its impulses dim the reason and the hormonal thunderstorms lead to ‘chemical infatuation’; they produce a state of exaltation that is called ‘whim’.
In primitive agglomerates the free expression of sexual drives caused social disorder, which was managed by hierarchies based on aggression and physical strength. *
*Sex and social rules
Sex among blood-related people, promiscuous mating, sodomy and homosexuality were largely practiced in the archaic era. The loss or gain of sexual favors caused fights for supremacy; promiscuous coupling originated incontrollable disorder. In order to stop promiscuity, patriarchal societies established rules, which subjected sexual activities to social pacts. With the advent of matrimonial contracts, breaking the rule of sexual exclusivity became a taboo; this guaranteed the reproductive domain to all males, included those low in the hierarchy. The social taboo soon became a sacred and inviolable moral principle, defended by the moral and religious interdiction of the social status. Once sexual exclusivity was established by law, adultery, incest, homosexuality and other promiscuities could only be practiced by the dominating classes; on the contrary, breaking sexual taboos meant sanctions for lower classes.
From a certain point of view sexuality is nature’s means to tie individuals to reproductive cycles; on the other hand it satisfies the senses, reduces aggression and dims emotional conflicts by decreasing stress levels. It would be a mistake to reduce its meaning to the principles of common perception. It is amazing to discover that the same energy that ties the humankind to the generating function can be transformed into creative power to be used in the development of the intellect. Indeed, when sexual chaos is subjected to an intelligent will, it can be organized in psychic energy, which, at a higher level, is also able to develop the subtle counterpart of physical senses.
Mental Alchemy is based on the principle that there isn’t a contradiction between ‘physical nature’ and ‘immaterial nature’. The prevalence of one of these aspects is only apparent, it depends on the limits of the observer; sometimes he overcomes these limits through scientific instruments.
One of his characteristics is to consider Man a living Athanor that contains energy changing continuously. Because of the complexity of his conscience, Man is considered the most representative symbol of nature, a mirror that reflects the energy of the universe in the being that animates his conscience, his body, his thoughts, his words and his acts. *
*Everything is energy. Solid matter is energy, too; only it is so slow that it seems immobile. Yet, matter moves and changes; its slowness is given by the frequency, that is by the speed of the oscillating (vibrating) molecules. Whatever its appearance, energy is the same transformed in the different aspects, from the inconceivably subtlest to the heaviest.
Traditional Alchemy and the 12 inner Doors
Traditional Alchemy has 12 passages (doors) to change Man’s essence.
“Livre des Douze Portes D’alchimie’ by George Ripley.
Premiere Porte De La Calcination
Deuxieme Porte De La Dissolution
Troisieme Porte De La Séparation
Quatrieme Porte De La Conjonction
Cinquieme Porte De La Putréfaction
Sixieme Porte De La Congélation
Septieme Porte De La Cibation Ou Nourriture
Huitieme Porte De La Sublimation
Neuvieme Porte De La Fermentation
Dixieme Porte De L’Exaltation
Onzieme Porte De La Multiplication
Douzieme Porte De La Projection.
The ‘Doors’ are the processes needed for the transformation of the emotional substance into mental energy and of the mental energy in subtle energy. It is clear that, like Hermeticism, traditional Alchemy, too, uses symbolic language and metaphors to cover and hide its teachings. For example, from the initiatory point of view, the alchemic Laboratory is not the building of the ‘chemist’ but the Alchemist himself; his stills are his heart and mind. In his Work he uses the four Elements that for the initiate are:
Thoughts (air or fire).
‘Fire’ is the main element for the Alchemist. We need to specify what we mean by ‘fire’, though. From the physical point of view the digestive process is incomparably excellent; it divides, burns and assimilates the different alimentary substances and turns them into power and heat. This admirable process is made possible by the chemical fire, which burns the matter to produce more fire. The latter is the electric fire that manages nervous and mental functions; it develops in the fire of the will which, depending on the needs, unifies, frees or destroys.
By acting with intelligent will, the Alchemist refines in his mind the thoughts originated by the different sections of the physical conscience (see metals) produced by sensations, passion and feelings and re-joins them in the thoughts linked to the subtle conscience (gold). The processes of particular transformations end up by changing the global conscience, transforming Man’s identity. A new mental identity (I am), free from the aspects of the physical-animal nature, originates. The superior mind (see superior Ego), free from vices and bad habits that kept it tied to the earthly aspect, is free to fly to the high levels of the subtle conscience.
Working with Fire
Hermetic philosophy often uses the word ‘Fire’ referring to ‘energy’ in its aspects. Man works with the physical fire, the fire of the mind; growing, it can learn to cooperate with the spiritual fire.
The intellectual fire creates artists, inventors, scientists; men but also instruments through which the higher Ideas can access the physical world, adding new meanings. From the spiritual fire originates wise and disinterested love that turns the heart into an instrument of the soul and Man into a master of the divine plan.
Events of instantaneous illumination are quite rare; they generally occur in particular situations. Mental illumination is the sum of many little illuminations, called lesser initiations. Little illuminations develop our awareness that we have many lesser centers of conscience.
When mind and lesser consciences are aligned, the global conscience can take control of every sensitive point of the human essence, transforming the physical-animal identity into a mental identity able of inner analysis.
Once we are close to mental liberation, though, the most complex conflicts appear; for a certain time the ‘fires’ co-exist and the interests created can be in opposition.
For example, the telluric fire, which inspires sexual interests, for a certain period of time can distract attention and energy from mental development and confuse it. Also, a not fully developed mental fire can hold man’s attention on himself, increasing the intellect’s egocentrism. This would oppose the altruistic drives of the cardiac fire.
Like mental illumination, the ignition of conscience too happens gradually. This means that changes don’t occur simultaneously; therefore we must be able to control a lower center whilst the higher one is made stronger. The problem is, then, energetic distribution, which, whilst enriching the higher centers of conscience (thoughts, love and creative intelligence), is still active in the lower centers of conscience.
Spiritual and alchemic nuptials
It is impossible to talk about telluric fire without mentioning sensuality; likewise, it is impossible to mention sensuality without talking about love, the physical attraction that joins the two sexes making them complementary. When we talk about alchemic fire, though, the union we want to reach is not between man and woman, but between ‘masculine and feminine’ of the same person, ignoring whether the person is physically a man or a woman.
The highest expression of alchemic fire is not intelligence but the Act of Will. Will transforms the human essence, spiritualizing its identity (sublimation). Will starts the igneous process, blending masculine and feminine essence.
Man or woman doesn’t make any difference, in this instance, because if they want to evolve they will have to develop opposite characteristics. The man will have to develop his feminine side (perceptive sensitivity), whilst the woman will have to increase her masculine side (ability of analysis).
For the initiatory teaching ‘masculine and feminine’ don’t have anything to do with sexual identity, but they are different states of conscience. The consequence is the advantage of a shared work, in a couple of initiates where the man helps the woman to understand the characteristics of ‘masculinity’ through himself and the woman helps the man to understand the mysteries of femininity. They will then create a marriage of initiates, made of conscience as well as sex.
Independently from any sexual identity, when we can blend ‘masculine and feminine’ in ourselves, that is when perception and logic join together, we have the alchemic marriage. From this union a third independent element (psychic) is born, which used to be described as a creature of an androgynous nature. In modern words, we could call it a transpersonal identity, whose mental sovereignty (see Ars Regia) doesn’t have any obstacles in its attempt to ‘communicate’ with the super-mundane entity called soul.
According to the level of conscience reached, we can classify different types of nuptials.
Physical nuptials, ratified by the union of two bodies.
Initiatory nuptials, ratified by the union of two open and illuminated consciences.
Alchemic nuptials, ratified by the union between masculine and feminine in the same individual.
Spiritual nuptials, ratified by the union between an illuminated mind and the subtle conscience.
By Athos A. Altomonte