The Alchemist

I did not intend to post today but after listening to Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese political leader, on BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs this morning, the archetypal behaviour pattern of the Alchemist came to mind.

Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist was a modern day parable that brought the concept of alchemy to popular culture.  It gripped many people who could not really articulate why it had such a profound impact on them; the same copy passed from hand to hand.  Even J.K Rowling makes reference to Nicholas Flammel, a 16th Century alchemist, in her Harry Potter books. There is something about the Alchemist that is captivating.

At the global level Aung San Suu Kyi carries the energy of the alchemist; and the Lady is not alone.  Others in our time influenced by the 'true' alchemist include Mandela and Ghandi; a non-violent response was sufficient.  And of course the ultimate alchemist of all time was the Nazarene.

A correspondant attached to The Times newspaper gave a distinct alchemical edge to the present Dalai Lama's auspicious escape on foot out of Tibet in 1959, an improbable journey.  It was a 15-day trek across the Himalayas to safety in Northern India. The correspondant hesitatingly pointed out that the escape had the semblance of a miracle: the mountains had been unseasonably shrouded in mist for the whole journey, which simply rolled away the moment the Dalai Lama reached safety.
Alchemy: the transformation of energy
           The alchemist simply brings an energy into the room, which causes the whole atmosphere to change.  Alchemists are rainmakers; all manner of things shift, grow, flourish and  are healed around them. We all know ordinary people like that; they are members of our family, our friends and neighours as well as complete strangers. There is a hefty price to pay for the ability to be a transformer because that is what alchemists are. There's a lot to say about alchemy and how we use it in our everyday life, but not here now.
            An apocryphal tale often regurgitated in the world of Jungian psychology is that of a village on a remote island, located somewhere in the Indian Ocean.  This village had been devastated by drought for many years. This time it was particularly bad. In desperation the villagers sent for an elder who had the reputation of being a rainmaker.
          The Old Sage duly arrived, sniffed the air and promptly asked to be located at a point far away from the daily life and activities of the islanders. He sensed that something of the atmosphere emanating from the people’s lifestyle was not conducive to well-being and remained outside village boundaries, where his requirements were simple and uncomplicated.                    
          This elder was a being at one with himself and the universe around him; his whole demeanour radiated the purity of his energy.  He remained in complete solitude requiring little more than a small bowl of rice and some water to be brought to him each day. At the end of the third day life-giving rain arrived in the village. 
            The power of the Old Sage's spirit was sufficient to generate an alchemical reaction, enabling the environment to change according to his needs. Many of our modern day alchemists are dark magicians, they generate acid rain.  Authentic rainmakers do not try to manipulate and control, they simply allow.  

          Perhaps the collective power of the human spirit will, in time, when we are all a bit more conscious, engage with the energy flow that tempers and 'resolves' climate change. 


  1. I love this and I love the alchemy and the alchemist. Coelo's book is worth a re-read every few years as a reminder of the larger collective universe and soul in which the truth of all time and all things resides.


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