Rubedo: the Red Phase of Alchemy

After the whitening of the albedo comes the last phase of the Great Work: the red phase, or reddening.

The white phase consisted of an intense process of purification, in which all the rotting decayed matter that had died during the nigredo was thoroughly cleansed of impurities. What was left was then considered clean but also very sterile, incapable of producing new life and lacking animation.

The purpose of the red phase was to make the matter come alive again. This process was initiated with the completion of the last phase of the albedo, conjunction, which was known to alchemists as “the marriage of the sun and moon.”

The rubedo continues this work of uniting opposite energies or elements until the Great Work has been completed.

The first process in the red phase of alchemy is known as fermentation, where the alchemist receives visions and other types of inspiration that will ultimately guide them to the end of the Great Work.

This is followed by a long process known as distillation, in which the alchemist is tasked with separating “the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross.”

The final phase, coagulation, marks the completion of the Great Work and the creation of the Philosopher’s stone.

Encountering the Animus

Journal Date: November 25, 2020

I decided to do some reading for fun, for myself, so I picked up Women who Run with the Wolves again. 

I’m picking up where I left off, in the chapter on nurturing the creative life.

And once again, I’m finding that it’s exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.

As I picked up where I’d left off, the theme of the chapter turned to the nature of the animus in a woman’s psyche.

This is something that has long interested me. I knew my inner masculine was far from healthy, but I was lost as to what to do about it. I think here, I have found a way to start.


“Animus can best be understood as a force that assists women in acting on their own behalf in the outer world. Animus helps a woman put forth specific and feminine inner thoughts and feelings in concrete ways.”

“He brings ideas from ‘out there’ back into her, and he carries ideas from her soul-self across the bridge to fruition and ‘to market’. Without the builder and maintainer of this land bridge, a woman’s inner life cannot be manifested with intent in the outer world.” 


Furthermore, Estes speaks of the distrust many women feel for the masculine, even within themselves.

“Generally, this wariness comes from barely beginning to be healed traumas from family and culture during times previous, times when women were treated as serfs, not as selfs.”

And it is not even “previous times” for all. Not for me. This treatment was for me, in my time.

I think that’s the core of the issue: I was denied the right to have a self. 

I was forbidden from myself.

I felt I existed only as a reflection, as a means to another’s end.

“It is still fresh in wild woman’s memory that there was a time when gifted women were tossed away as refuse, when a woman could not have an idea unless she secretly embedded and fertilized it in a man who then carried it out into the world under his own name.”

This has been the most painful part of it all: my alienation from self. My disconnection from my own body, mind, heart and soul. My self-betrayal and self-abandonment, based only on the assumption that I had less of a right (to think, to act, to be) than anyone else.


“The key aspect to a positive animus development is actual manifestation of cohesive inner thoughts, impulses and ideas.” 

The positive animus appears to be action oriented, concerned with bringing form to the ideal. It is practical, not simply theoretical.

“Archetypally, the King [representing the Animus] symbolizes a force that is meant to work in a woman’s behalf and for her well-being, governing what she and soul assign to him, ruling over what psychic forces are granted to him.”

Unfortunately, the masculine as I have come to know it is not this way.

I have experienced the masculine not as protector, but as perpetrator. As the source of violence and fear. As that which seeks to control, and to silence me. 

Even if only my own inner masculine, the animus which rules my terrorized interior world with an iron fist.


“But what if something takes over the creative flow, making it muddier and muddier? What if we become trapped by that, what if we somehow perversely begin to derive issue from it, to not only like it but rely on it, make a living by it, feel alive through it? What if we use it to get us out of bed in the morning, to take us somewhere, to make us a somebody in our own minds? Those are the traps that wait for all of us.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes

It is definitely a trap that I have fallen into. 

And haven’t really gotten out of.

Honestly, I’m still here, wallowing in it as we speak.

I think it’s a great question to ask: What purpose is your illness/inferiority complex/lack of creativity serving for you?

Because it does serve some purpose at this point.

First, it’s a great excuse.

It gives me all the reasons I could ever need for why I can’t do x, y or z.

It allows me to tell myself, “Well, my unhappiness/lack of success/whatever is because I’m not really trying. If it weren’t for this, it would all be different…”

It allows me to avoid taking responsibility for my own life.

I can keep blaming it all on someone else, and keep away from the recognition of how I continually give away my power.

Because yes, I do have power. Even now.

I don’t have to wait until everything is “perfect,” until I’m “fully healed” or have gained approval or validation or whatever it is I’ve been waiting for.

I could start now if I wanted to. If I chose to. 

I’m starting to suspect that I’ve always had more power than I think I do.

I must stop assuming otherwise. 

It’s not just out of fear, but laziness, that I do this.

Because assuming I am powerless amounts to an act of surrender.

By refusing to look at all the options I have to create and influence change, it is as if I were just handing over my life and my self to whatever it is outside of me that would have me in subservience.

It’s time for me to remember: I don’t have to do that anymore.

Albedo: The White Phase of Alchemy

If we have been able to surrender to the darkness of the nigredo, we may find that a shift begins to occur. 

The blackness that once seemed to only grow ever deeper begins to recede. The heaviness starts to lift as we relinquish our attachments to past beliefs, habits, ways of being, etc.

As with any death, the decomposition of these old forms releases a great amount of energy that is now free to be used in new and different ways.

It is not enough to meet our shadow in calcination or to grieve and release our past pain and sorrows through dissolution.

We must then proceed into the next stage of the work, the separation and the conjunction which comprise what is known as the albedo, or the white phase of alchemy.

In the process of separation, we are tasked with using our discernment to determine which parts of our shadow (our repressed and previously unacknowledged qualities and other psychic material) are worth saving.

Not everything that we meet in the darkness is to be feared. We may often be surprised to find there is much that is worthwhile and good there.

These positive traits are sometimes referred to as “the gold in the shadow,” which refers to the unrecognized parts of ourselves that have value and are truly authentic to us. These could be the parts of ourselves we learned to hide or diminish due to disapproval we may have encountered from parents, peers, or other parts of our society.

The second operation of the albedo is known as conjunction. It involves the reunion of the disparate elements which were separated in the previous phase. It also requires a rebalancing and harmonization of the masculine and feminine parts of ourselves. The result is the creation of “the lesser stone,” or what is sometimes called “the Philosopher’s child.” 

The conjunction requires that we become comfortable with the apparent duality of our being, and join the forces of our soul and spirit. The result is the development of what the Egyptians called “the Intelligence of the Heart,” a condition or state of being where logos and eros are united in the self to create something greater than the sum of their parts.

Finding Gold in the Shadow

I’d spent a lifetime running

seeking

needing

using

fearing

hoping

destroying

doing anything to fill the narrow, trembling void between

self and shame.

One day I stopped running, and my shame

she turned, and came to me.

She took me over and she held me down

in soft savage embrace,

when I finally caught my breath and

dared to look at her straight in

tender eyes, I saw more beauty and more

goodness and more

grace than I’d ever found

in years of wild flight.

+

This is what it means in alchemy to “find the gold in the shadow.” To be able to look within at all of what is hidden, to see and to know the self in its fullness without fear, no matter what may come—that’s the moment when we first die, and when we are first born.

“We know that the mask of the unconscious is not rigid—it reflects the face we turn towards it. Hostility lends it a threatening aspect, friendliness softens its features.” —Carl Jung

+

Don’t be afraid to change direction. It might be that you end up finding a friend in what you once feared.

Releasing Projections, Reclaiming Possibilities

Journal Date: Monday, November 9th, 2020

I think I’m going to find that the more I distance myself from my family and all of the false projections they have made me carry, the more I will find that I can do whatever I set my mind to.

And this is probably one of the most difficult and disturbing things I have been coming to terms with: my vast (and totally wasted) potential.

In the process of looking back on my life, I can see how much potential I’ve had for success, and how that has not (yet) been realized because of my emotional problems and mental health struggles.

And by lack of support from my family. The emotional abuse and trauma that I was left with is obviously a big factor.

But it goes beyond that. 

Some of it is self-sabotage. Believing I don’t deserve to be successful.

I’ve carried around this (barely conscious) belief that I shouldn’t succeed. Not just that I may not have what it takes but that it would actually be bad for me to have success in my life (that it would make me a very “selfish” person).

I think the reasoning has been something along the lines of: “There are so many people suffering in the world. Who am I to sit here and be happy when others are experiencing so much injustice and pain? If I am happy, then I will have forsaken all of those who need help. If I am happy, I will be completely selfish and insensitive. Therefore, I can’t be successful or happy. I have to suffer in solidarity with everyone else. That is the only way I can create change in the world. I don’t want to be a BAD person, right?”

Hm. Yeah. I think there’s a lot that needs to be unpacked and understood about that. Because I don’t think it’s wise to just take it at face value. I think there’s a lot more going on there than I have really wanted to admit.


This is the major issue that came up for me when I had the short Akashic Records Reading with Leah Garza. 

She told me that I do want to help others and be in service to the collective, but I’m going about it the wrong way, with the wrong motivations.

She said that I’m holding on to this belief that “if I’m doing it just for me, it is self centered.” She also added that it’s not healthy if I’m approaching my work from a need to sacrifice to gain others approval.

I was surprised when I heard that. A little defensive for a second (because her words touched a nerve), but I quickly realized how true her words were.

That is what I’ve been trying to do here.

In some ways, my desire to devote myself to healing other people has been rooted in a need to continue avoiding my own life.

I don’t want to pay attention to my own happiness.

It’s actually kind of terrifying for me. 

For one, what if I try and I fail? What if I’m the problem, and I’m just fundamentally incapable of being happy?

What if I went through all of this, only to find out there’s nothing even there for me on the other side?

There’s also what I just mentioned about feeling selfish.         

And then there’s another thing that’s even more complicated: What if I do achieve success and happiness at some point, only to find out I suffer even more for it?

Leah said that I fear that if I break from the norm, I will draw attention to myself, which could ultimately lead to violence.

Yes. That’s exactly it, and I think a deeper-rooted, more primal and unconscious fear than the other two I have mentioned.

She said that I have such a strong fear around this, that I fear I will actually die if this happens.

It’s true. It’s really that bad.

It’s kind of hard to understand.

Something that helps me to gain a little more insight into why this might be has to do with some possible past life stuff…

I’ve been very skeptical about this kind of thing, and I’m still not 100% sure what to really do with it.

I don’t need to come to any final conclusion about it yet, though. I can just start by sharing what my experience around this has been.                                                                                          

Descansos

Journal Date: Thursday, November 5, 2020

I just finished an exercise Estés suggested we do in this chapter on rage in Women who Run with the Wolves. It’s called “Descansos,” and here we are to mark all the little (and large) deaths of our lives.

Descansos are symbols that mark a death. Right there, right on that spot, someone’s journey in life halted unexpectedly. To make descansos means taking a look at your life and marking where the small deaths, las muertes chiquitas, and the big deaths, las muertes grandotas, have taken place.”

Estés encourages us to make our own descansos, to sit down and examine our lives, our losses, all the places which must be remembered and at the same time, put to rest.


I had a lot of crosses to mark.

My life has been filled with losses. One right after another, with little chance to recover in between.

At this point, I have between 25-30 crosses marked down to represent what I have lost.

Descansos

It’s a lot, but somehow it still doesn’t feel like enough.

I don’t even think my greatest losses are even on here.

My deepest pain comes from having missed something more intangible than a job or a boyfriend or anything I listed here before.

Maybe my greatest loss is actually me. My own self.

To have grown up never knowing (not to mention never liking) myself.

To never have felt at home. Not even in my own body. 

Especially not in my own body. This was a source of shame, and where I could locate all of my pain. Better just to not be here. To escape, by whatever means necessary.

And not just my body. I was estranged from all of me.

Always looking outside of myself for the “right” answer. 

The “right” way to look, think, feel, act, be.

I didn’t even know what I was looking for.

I just knew that I was doing it wrong.

I was just wrong, period.

I never belonged to myself. 

That’s the worst part.

I was in such a rush to give myself away. I would sell myself off to the lowest bidder. I was constantly in a rush to find the quickest way to betray myself next.

It’s very sad.

Looking back on all of this, I feel so tired. 

Exhausted. 

What was the meaning behind all of this?

It’s hard to understand.

But I’m starting to feel ready to grieve my losses. To grieve, and to let go.


“Remember in ‘The Crescent Moon Bear’ the woman said a prayer and laid the wandering orphaned dead to rest. That is what one does in descansos. Descansos is a conscious practice that takes pity on and gives honor to the orphaned dead of your psyche, laying them to rest at last.

“Be gentle with yourself and make the descansos, the resting places for the aspects of yourself that were on their way to somewhere, but never arrived. Descansos mark the death sites, the dark times, but they are also love notes to your suffering. They are transformative. There is a lot to be said for pinning things to the earth so they don’t follow us around. There is a lot to be said for laying them to rest.”

The Wisdom of the Crescent Moon Bear

Journal Date: 10:15am – Thursday, November 5, 2020

I’ve been reading a chapter in Women Who Run with the Wolves today. This one is on rage, something I do need guidance on at this moment in my life.

Here, she tells the story of the “Crescent Moon Bear” as a way to show us how we can deal with our anger.

The story starts with a woman preparing for her husband to come back from the war. She goes shopping and cooks meals for him and does everything she can to please him and make him happy.

But when she goes to him and offers him what she has made, he gets angry and flips over the trays, sending everything she has worked so hard to prepare onto the floor.

The pattern repeats itself over many nights. The man is still in a state of shock, and will not be consoled. His mind is still preoccupied with the images of violence and fear he has seen and experienced in the war he’s only just returned from.

So the woman, in a state of distress, goes to seek out the healer on the outskirts of the village.

The healer tells her to go climb to mountain and bring her back one hair from the throat of the Crescent Moon Bear.

So the woman ascends the mountain by herself to meet the bear.

As she walks the trail up the mountain among the rocks and under the trees, she says, “Arigato zaisho,” a way of thanking the mountain for allowing her to walk on her body and to pass safely.

Getting to even higher ground, she surprised by the birds which fly out at and then past her, these birds representing the spirits of the dead with no family, the muen-botoke.

She tells them, “I will be your relative. I will lay you to rest.”

The muen-botoke symbolize the parts of ourselves which we may have abandoned during times of distress.

These can be thought of as the difficult emotions and experiences which we may have repressed or dissociated from during any incident which was traumatic or otherwise overwhelmed our body’s capacity to cope.

The woman promises them that she will be their family, she will bury them. With this, it is as if she is saying, “I will recognize you as my own, I will honor you and put you to rest.”

Finally, after continued struggling up the mountain, the woman finds the tracks of the crescent moon bear. She hides near the entrance of her cave, and every morning, she leaves food out for the bear to discover upon waking in the morning.

Slowly, with patience, she gets closer and closer to the Crescent Moon Bear, until one day she finds herself directly underneath it.

She tells the bear of her situation, about her angry husband who has come back from the war traumatized and upset, and asks the bear for a single hair from its throat which she needs to heal her husband.

The bear, taking pity on her, consents to let the woman take one hair from the shining silvery crescent on her throat.

Having received the white hair from the crescent moon on the throat of the bear she rushes down the mountain through the Village to the house of the healer.

She rushes up to present the single white hair to her. The healer then smiles and throws the hair into the fire.

The woman cries out in despair, having lost the one ingredient she had struggled so much to obtain in order to heal her husband.

The healer reassured her, telling her the hair itself was not necessary. In learning how to approach the Crescent Moon Bear, win its trust and receive its message, she had learned what she must do to heal her husband as well.

“Now you know what you need to do. Go home, and repeat everything you have just done here with your husband. That is how you can heal this rage and find love again.”


In this story, we can take each character be a part of the woman’s own psyche.

The husband represents animus, the masculine inside of us, in this case the part which has been wounded. Normally, it is responsible for outer directed activity, for creating structure and boundaries and pursuing ambition and achievements in the world.

However, when wounded, it may have a tendency to respond by being either shut down, pushing others away, or with senseless rage and aggression. These responses are typical of the “fight-flight-freeze” trauma responses that are activated after periods of great stress or danger.

The woman here stands for the anima, or the emotional, feminine part of our psyches. This is the part which loves, which strives for union and ultimately seeks healing by going to find the healer outside of the village.

The bear can be thought to represent the wisdom of rage itself. The Crescent Moon Bear, and the primal power of sacred rage which she represents, are something which many of us fear and reject, but which, when approached with the proper care and respect, can ultimately serve as one of our greatest teachers.

The woman’s interactions with the bear and the environment around her along with her journey up the mountain show us a way in which we can start to come to terms with these difficult and troubling feelings.

With caution, with respect, with care, understanding and a little bit of fierceness, we can find the wisdom we need to release our pain while preserving our natural instinct to protect.

The bear teaches “that one can be fierce and generous at the same time. One can be reticent and valuable. One can protect one’s territory, make one’s boundaries clear, shake the sky if need be, yet be available, accessible, engendering all at the same time.”

In fact, I believe that in many ways it is the “NO” which makes the “YES” possible. If we are unable to communicate the points which are our limits, we will never be able to feel truly comfortable expressing the fullness of our power and can never express the fullness of our generosity, as well.


When we have discovered how to approach the tender, hurting parts of ourselves which we have previously sought to disown, we can begin the journey of healing and learning from our rage.

Our anger and our pain are worthy of being treated with respect. To push them away, or to ask that they simply “be nice” and act as if nothing has happened, is to do ourselves a disservice.

It is understandable to be wary of such a powerful and potentially explosive current of raw energy within ourselves. But there is a message waiting for us if we can sit quietly and let it speak to us.R

Repression or denial is hardly effective. In fact, it only makes the denied energy louder and more destructive, as it struggles to get us to pay attention to pain which needs tending to.

There is inestimable hope and healing available to those who turn towards the powerful sacred rage of the Crescent Moon Bear.

As Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, “Women who are tortured often develop a dazzling kind of perception that has uncanny depth and breadth. Although I would never wish anyone tortured in order to learn the secret ins and outs of the unconscious, the fact is, having lived through a gross repression causes gifts to arise that compensate and protect.

In that respect a woman who has lived a torturous life and delved deeply into it definitely has inestimable depth. Though she came to it through pain, if she has done the hard work of clinging to consciousness, she will have a deep and thriving soul-life and a fierce belief in herself regardless of the occasional ego-waverings.”

I know that this is true about me. This has been my path. What was once my shame is becoming my strength, and of that I am proud.

Introduction to Inner Visions: Part Two

Later in the day, I received an audio recording from my reiki healer, containing a summary of what she had seen while working with my energy. She had explained that she typically consults the Akashic records and my spirit guides, as well as other entities such as archangels or the divine mother, while working with my energy.

Angelic started with a brief description of how my aura/energy body appeared to her during the session. 

She said that my heart chakra was“pristine”, appearing completely clear and without any blocks. To her this meant that one of my gifts is claircognizance and clairsentience, which can appear as a sudden and clear inner knowing.  In fact, one of the most important next steps for me is learning to trust more in myself and this inner knowing.

There seemed to be noticeable blockage and stagnation in the upper part of my aura, lots of head congestion, likely due to overthinking. My third eye and crown chakra appeared quite blocked due to relying too much on logical/analytical thought processes, all of which was rooted in fear and attempts to try and figure things out.

“Above all, your spirit guides say that you need to trust yourself. Coming into your own is the next big step.


During the session, she had also consulted with Archangel Michael, keeper of the Akashic Records.

“Archangel Michael was very gentle with you. That’s the only way I know how to put it. You’ve had some very trying past lives, during which you have faced a lot of adversity. You’ve spent many lifetimes persecuted for something you didn’t do, punished for crimes you didn’t commit.” 

She reiterated again how gentle and compassionate Archangel Michael had approached her when speaking of me (which apparently is not the norm). “You need to know this: you are strong.”


In contrast to other sessions I would later have with her, Angelic spent the majority of this reading/recording sharing the very broad view of me and my soul and my purpose which she had been given then by Archangel Michael: 

“Your dominant energy is peace. This is why you incarnated: you came to embody peace. You came to practice acceptance: letting things flow in and out. Learning to choose your battles wisely. Let people walk in and out of your life. 

“Acceptance is non-struggle. Flow with the current of life and not against it. When you master this, you will experience incredible natural blessings, synchronicities, and joy in your life.

“The things that you are searching for, Eleanor, they are searching for you.  The only way to receive them is to not resist how they come about.

“Just be. Don’t hold onto things. It accelerates your blessings. You’re being blessed for balancing out the karma.

“Your life path is one of service– the path of release and forgiveness. 

“You definitely have the path of a spiritual teacher, a very unique path. It is not just any spiritual path though–some are called to work with certain specific energies, and of all the energy of the divine feminine, you resonate strongly with crone energy.

“Many in this age are drawn to the spiritual path to be “lightworkers” – but not you. You are instead here to serve as a “shadow worker.” 

“You have the capacity to deal with the darker sides of life, to do shadow work and work with the subconscious mind. You can handle the taboo, the guilt, and the shame that lies within others. 

“You can hold this space for other people, you can help save them. You can allow them to forgive, to release, to transition. 

“This is your lesson: surrender is the greatest form of blessing. You recognize that you and the divine are one. Every time you surrender to a higher power an even greater outcome happens.

“People on this path are training to be spiritual teachers. You already are, in this lifetime, but you are preparing for the next incarnation, as well.”

“Your next right step: to become. Step into your role as a teacher. Embody your truths. Trust yourself. Become by un-becoming previous notions and conditions.

“This stage of your life is very phoenix-like. You are shaking off old beliefs–now you are undoing. This undoing is your becoming. You are stepping into your own truth, your authenticity, your own power.”

“Your power isn’t over others, it isn’t manifested in a way that is forceful or against, it is a knowing, a remembering, of who you are. Your life path is very transformative, you are very much like a phoenix.


She said that my guides had words for her which she initially thought a bit strange or unusual. They had said: “The process of undoing is a death and the process of becoming is a birth. Only the wisest walk this.”

She summarized by reminding me that I have strong crone energy; my purpose will involve some kind of shadow work; and I can serve by being a kind of midwife, or perhaps a death doula. 

Either way, I am meant to be a guide for others in their own processes of birth, death, and transformation.


Her final words had to do with what was to come next for me. There were difficult times ahead, but I would do well to have faith. 

“Fear not the truth. Lies will be coming to the surface. Don’t be afraid to face it, to demand the truth, to accept what really is: it is the very thing that is going to free you. 

“Prepare for the shifts by being willing to let go. Don’t fear the current. You came here to do transformative work, not just on a personal level, but on a collective level as well.


Hearing these words, I was stunned. I had never met or spoken with Angelic before, but she seemed to recognize the deepest part of my core identity, to see the needs and dreams and directions of my soul in this short time we had together.

I have kept these words in mind in the days that followed. It can be hard to stay focused at times, but when I begin to feel lost I come back to this, and find strength in remembering the truth of who I am.

A Tarot Reading from July 10th, 2020

For this reading, I had asked the following questions:

What should I be focusing on now? Is there anything I need to know about my purpose, especially as it relates to my personal healing and growth?

What follows are the notes I took that day on my interpretation of these cards:

The Core of the Issue & What Crosses It: Death crossed by 10 of Cups

Truly, the core of my question is in many ways about the process of death and rebirth I now find myself in.

I’m dying to many past elements of myself and my past so that I may be reborn again and become the woman I know I am meant to be now and in the future.

As I accept and lean into this dying, my natural joy seems to be returning. There is no longer such a driving pressure to push myself into “achieving” happiness.” 

Instead, as I let all that does not serve me wither and fall away, my well-being seems to arise more spontaneously.

The Basis of your Question: 7 of Pentacles

The basis of my question is that I am looking to my past to observe what has come about as a result of it, in order to start making plans for my future. I’m seeing what I have sown and what I have reaped so that I can do differently in the future if I want to.

Recent Past: 3 of Wands

This is reinforced by the 3 of Wands in the position showing my recent past. This card is about surveying the landscape in front of you and using your previous experiences, current desires and even your past pain as you look out toward what could become your future. It means pausing and taking the time to ascend to higher ground to view the territory from a more objective perspective.

Higher Self: Queen of Pentacles

This position is meant to represent your Higher Self, and with the Queen of Pentacles here, it shows how I have been learning how to take on the role of being a mother to myself. I am finding ways to give myself all that I once wanted and needed as a child, but never was given or allowed to have by my actual mother.  Above all, I am learning how to hold myself gently and with care, much as this Queen holds her Pentacle on her throne.

Near Future: 8 of Cups

This shows how, much like in the image on this card, I am preparing to leave behind one situation to go out in search of greater happiness and fulfillment. In this card we see a solar eclipse, symbolizing one kind of order or way of being in the world receding as a new one arises to take its place.

What I Bring to the Situation: 9 of Cups

I think that in some way I do feel like my wishes are being granted right now. I’ve read anything and everything out there, gone through so much therapy, and worked so hard in an effort to heal, and now I feel that this healing is happening for me. 

What Others Contribute / How What You Bring is Perceived in Your Outer Environment: Page of Wands

This card can indicate a sense of honesty, innocence and eagerness to please. It can mean someone who has great ideas and intentions, and shows a lot of excitement at the beginning of a project, but is usually not so great with the follow through. It’s a reminder that I need to be more persistent and committed to acting on my goals (and not just the dreaming and planning parts).

Hopes & Fears / Advice: 9 of Pentacles

The woman in this card is known to be independent, self-assured, secure, and at ease in abundance. She has good boundaries and has taken the time to cultivate herself in order to achieve success. Truly, this is what I want most for myself right now.

Final Outcome: 7 of Cups

This card is all about imagination, fantasy, illusions and dreams. This reflects the danger I am in of falling into a familiar pattern or trap that I have of eternal dreaming about the possibilities and never getting anything real or substantial accomplished. So with that said, I know now that I need to be careful and watch out for this as I move forward.

I want to commit to taking direct, practical action on specific tasks that will actually move me forward towards my goals. I need to release my previous patterns of overthinking and endlessly theorizing while I neglect reality and my actual state of affairs. I’m ready to start making real changes now.


Want more clarity on what’s really going on? Need guidance on what your next steps should be?

A tarot reading is the ideal resource for all of that and more. Let’s work together.

The Dance of Sulfur

After Bellows Breath, you may want to follow up with another practice called the Dance of Sulfur.

Sulfur is a yellow powder which the alchemists believed symbolized the active masculine principle of fire. It was often used in laboratory alchemy in the form of sulfuric acid (also known to them as vitriol).

The Dance of Sulfur is an exercise to increase energy and circulate it in the body. Not only that, it is ideal for taking the emotions which arise in Roasting Cinnabar and the energy raised in Bellows Breath and expressing them in a healthy way. We can use the Dance of Sulfur to let go of pent up rage, aggression and other emotions that have been suppressed or held in our bodies for too long.

close up shot of blue flame
Sulfur fire burns blue

HOW TO PRACTICE

  1. To begin, you can put on some music (some say angry or aggressive rock music works best) and start to dance. You can try any other type of aerobic movement that will increase your heart rate, like jogging in place or jumping rope, but I prefer to dance, as it really allows you to get into the music and feel the powerful feelings which have been brought up by other alchemical practices. Aim for at least 20 minutes of movement in this practice.
  2. Try to leave thought and the conscious, rational mind behind. As much as you can, drop your awareness into your body, feel all the emotions coming up as the energy grows stronger and rises within you.
  3. Once you feel you are in the moment and present in your body, start to imagine intense, fiery energy rising up in waves from below. You can then direct that fire energy to any areas of tension or pain in your body (either physical or emotional). Let the flames wash over you, consuming the stagnant ego structures of your past, and burning up and releasing any ideas, emotions or behavior you want to let go of.

This practice, along with the previous two, may be used alone or in conjunction. If you have the time, I recommend creating a ritual that combines Roasting Cinnabar, Bellows Breath, and the Dance of Sulfur (in that order).

When I have done this set of practices together in the past, I like to say a prayer or set an intention (whatever works for you), and I light a red candle to honor the rage and pain of the past, and to symbolize what will be consumed and released during the ritual. You may also want to conclude this set of practices with a ritual bath (salt baths are great for this). Visualize the salt water cleansing you of any remnants of anger or stuck energy, then picture all of these troubles leaving you for good as they are washed down the drain at the very end.