As I’m revising The Alchemical Detective, I realize I understand a lot more about alchemy now than I did when I first wrote the book.
The alchemical process is described sometimes as a distillation process, sometimes as a fire that burns the matter to ashes. The remains are refined only to be destroyed again and refined again, and on and on and on.
Alchemy is a metaphor for deep emotional change. Something happens. Maybe we’ve spent the last year with a regular meditation practice. Maybe we’ve been doing shadow work. Maybe we’ve just had a kid. Suddenly, our heart cracks open, and that vulnerability leads to great joy followed by great pain. If we can rise above our attachments, we come out stronger, better, and our heart bursts open again. The cycle repeats. And if we’re lucky, we rise higher and higher with each rotation.
It’s $*@#ing painful.
And once you start on the path, I’m not sure there’s an end to it.
It was quite by accident that the next book in the series I’ll be editing, The Shamanic Detective, comes immediately after Alchemical. Because the process to becoming a shaman is similar, involving a destruction of the self—either physically or psychologically—before developing into a shaman.
I can’t remember if I intentionally put those two books together or not. It would have been really smart and deep if I had, so I doubt I did. It was probably dumb luck, plus the fact I’d just gotten out of some shamanism workshops.
In any case, those learnings are all part of the revisions. Hopefully my new understandings will improve both books from a metaphysical as well as a prose perspective.