the culinary metaphor

People keep asking me:  what is Physical Alchemy? 

How does it differ from other physical methods? How is it similar? Are you just re-badging known methods with new terminology?!   ‘Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?‘ 

Up until this point I have usually opted to answer this question in reverse:   by stating what it isn’t.  Not fitness, not therapy, nor movement culture –   and most definitely not ‘movement philosophy’.  The reasoning for the apophatic approach relates to how people react to the neoalchemical model of physical work. 

In this article I am going to begin to tell you more of what Physical Alchemy is.  I will be using a metaphor that may at first seem out of place to weave a pattern resonance between seemingly unconnected but-nevertheless-analogous processes of transformation. 

Fairly often over the last 7 years I have had someone sidle up to me [or the digital version of this], and in hushed tones say something along the lines of:  ‘I see what you are doing:  we are doing the same thing‘.   In precisely zero cases has this been accurate.   Though almost all of these people are – in fact – doing great work of their own, albeit of an entirely different nature to Physical Alchemy. 

There is confusion within the physical work sphere between outer form and inner substance.  A common habit of forcing things into known categories.  A blindness against there being other categories of praxis and inquiry that one is unfamiliar with. These tendencies are often become stronger if one has been practicing a method for a long time [decades rather than years].  People can become calcified in their modes of interaction.  In some cases there can be a humorous inversion of a perceived truth:  the mind becomes more rigid as the body becomes more flexible and mobile.  

All this negatively influences both the selection and combination of methods toward auspicious ends.  It can lead to what one of my Teachers calls ‘ the burden of ‘omniscience’ ‘ – where the advanced practitioner or guide can paint themselves into a corner trying to know and speak about anything and everything.

During the course of my studies I have had the opportunity and blessing to experience a number of very high quality physical training methods intensively and also over the long durations necessary for embodiment of qualities.  A good number of these have been within the stretching and bodywork realms.  Possessing similarities for sure;  nevertheless these methods differed hugely in means and ends.  Even within this one corner of the totality of the physical training.

The metaphor I shall use in this article will localize around stretching methods for sake of keeping things simple.  The metaphor itself can be carried over and applied to all methods for training the physical body. 

Within the physical work sphere there is lack of a common language to describe and differentiate between form, intention [direction], inner content, qualities and orders of physical work.  There is a confusion of tongues.  One we won’t get out of with the terminology of physiology alone.  I am not the first person to become aware of this, nor point it out.   Putting aside people who change wording just for hype, there is a legitimate need to have a classification scheme for the potentiality of different methods. 

It was late 2000’s, during my apprenticeship with Kit –  and I was assisting at a Stretch Therapy workshop in city of Melbourne.  Workshops in this city were always the best, for some reason – and this one was no exception.  [K] was fielding questions from the participants in-between sessions of practicum.  One question that popped up from the group was something akin to: ‘So, what is the difference between Stretch Therapy and Yoga?’

[K] answered [in this instance] something along the lines of the technical differences:   partial poses, partner stretching, the contract-relax suite of techniques, and so on. 

Which is of course true. 

Yoga [the asana dominant modern methods commonly misunderstood as ‘yoga’ that is] and Stretch Therapy are not the same thing at all.  Though to casual and even partially-studied eyes they can appear nearly identical if there is a fixation is upon outer form. 

We shall return to this question as we progress through the metaphor which is the articles namesake. In doing so hopefully there arises an increase in clarity around the idea that there are many factors other than the technique and outer form that dictate the results obtained via training different physical methods over time. 

For it is what happens internally that is of prime importance.  It is how and why and when we cook the posture, not just the posture itself.   Sure, the outer form points have their place – but these are just preliminaries. 

A culinary metaphor may at first seem an odd choice for use in comparison of physical methods but this is physical alchemy after all.

As above, so below’ 
And side by side

seemingly disparate processes
possess a hidden sympathy.

Cooking is a process of change. 

We take foodstuffs, spices and other ingredients and combine them with heat to produce something completely different in a ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ way [when the cooking process is done well].

Everybody understands that you can cook different meals with the same base ingredients. 

The addition of different herb and spice combinations change the flavours immensely.  There are many different methods of cooking and preparing food from the same ingredients.  This is self-evident in world cuisine. 

Of course one can be the use of different ingredients as well – but the method of cooking, the vessels used and the chef themselves all heavily factor into what the meal ends up being and how the meal tastes. 

Analogous principles operate within the training of the body. 

They are not as widely or easily recognized as the cooking processes of food but they are there and hopefully this metaphor makes some of them easier to see.

The culinary metaphor allows for us to look at the qualities developed and plot a trajectory for where these myriad qualities can and cannot go from different types of training and training milieu.  Qualities generated can vary a significant amount even when the base form appears to the casual eye to be very similar or the same. 

The culinary metaphor resolves some of the opacity around this.  At least at the conceptual level until one can literally perceive and experience the differences. 

Long ago – and on a whim – I began using the term ‘simmering’ to describe  experiential results of a triangulation of factors within certain stretching postures.  Apt, I thought – and it gave me the semi-regular opportunity to crack jokes about ‘fava beans and a fine chianti’.  

Many methods of stretching overlap a great deal in terms of the postures they utilize and yet the results obtained – in terms of types of flexibility, other qualities of body and beyond –  differ radically.

How can this be so [?]

Looking at the ‘base ingredients’, ‘herbs and spices’ and ‘process of cooking’ a posture can yield many insights into how this works.

So let us set out our mezze [laying the ingredients all out before us to look at] and begin to look at the application of the culinary metaphor localized around stretching methods of the physical body.

[*]  the base ingredients 
The ‘base ingredients’ when we look at stretching methods are the postures we select to work upon.  The essence of the base ingredients is anatomy.  This makes sense. This is how we actually put specific tissues under stretch.  

Practically,  if we take an example such as the ‘pancake’ stretch:  we can have differing angles of leg abduction;  different levels of spinal flexion;  a gradient from poor to exquisite form;  and so on – but essentially we are flexing the trunk forwards with the legs abducted to an angle ~110-140°.   

The base ingredient is form

But this is not the only ingredient. 

[*]  herbs and spices 
The ‘herbs & spices’ are the many types of ‘enhancers’, ‘catalysts’, ‘techniques’, or ‘modifiers’ that can be added alone or in combinations to the base ingredients [base posture].  Utilizing whichever physiological mechanisms they use, they change the impressions received during the work on the posture. 

To continue with the example of the pancake posture:  you have the standard configuration of the exercise –  posterior aspect of the legs in contact with the ground – to which all sorts of props and partner supports can be added to change the stretching sensations, location and potential qualities imbued into the body over time. 

These are accomplished by manipulation of the tensional forces supporting or enhancing-deepening the posture [or both!].

But one can also do the form of a pancake ‘upside-down’.  With the back on the ground and the legs draw toward the floor.  One can do it standing:  on the feet in free space or supported with the back against the wall.  One can do it hanging off playground equipment;  or seated on the sit bones in a Balinese villa. Some of these variants lend themselves better to flexibility;  others to sensory fluency and yet others to Instagram followers. 

In all of these examples the form is the same:   but how the form orients in relationship to gravity is different. 

And – as anyone who has tried any/all of these out knows – the sensation and effect is very different, too.  

In this way it is the manipulation of gravity [or physical form as orientated in gravity] is also classified a ‘spice’ .

These variants of the same posture are all different when done with:  partner[s] support and enhancement;  added weight (dead weight and trained partner who-also-has-mass and is dynamically and intuitively responsive being two separate classes). 

In this way we have another spice available that is the manipulation of external mass – and the effects of this upon form and internal experience in relation to this. 

Again:  the form of the posture itself remains constant and it is debatable  whether every slight permutation change needs a new name [or not]. People become fascinated with the idea of variation and complexity, diminishing their capacity to deepen practice.  

Then we come to the smörgåsbord of physiological techniques utilized the systems I have studied and by my own method:   contract-relax combinations of a large variety;  isometric holds;  dynamic efforts;  eccentric contractions; uncoupling of different combination of muscles to support or to expose new sights to repatterning via stretching stimulus; physical intuition states;  addition of sinew wringing and soft tissue techniques of all sorts; use of devices and so on.   

These could be classed as manipulation of proprioception – or perhaps manipulation of sensation [as some of these techniques use other physical receptors – thermal, for instance].  

Breath and breathing methods alone make up a specific class of spice. Some of the yogic postures only reaching their full potential when breathing and its related atmospherics reach a certain quality.  This is not simply manipulation of ventilation – otherwise every freediver or wimhoffer would be a saint.  And it just ain’t so. 

In authentic yogic systems breath work quite rightly gets its own ‘limb’ [prānāyāma] and the combination of external postural form [asana] with pranayama, bandha and mudra yields many order more things occurring in the body than just the standard form of the postures if practiced correctly.   In some yogic and alchemical texts the cooking metaphor is explicitly used in relation to these.  No accidents in this. 

Then we come to the use of sound, word, and vocalisation whilst working a posture. These aspects are particularly important in how I am  now teaching what I call ‘alchemical stretching’ – though not in the same way that mantra is used within authentic yogic paths.  The modifier of voice and language in the context of the stretching session is highly important.

So already we can see that there is huge scope for different results from what essentially is a common base form.  Many different meals can be made from the same base ingredients:   just look at the humble potato!  We begin to see how spice and herb selection is very important.  We can also see how repetition of the same posture can become a very rich experience for impressions over time. 

Now for a minor heresy:   these are far from the most important elements in the culinary metaphor as it applies to the training of the physical body.

[*] the cooking process  [different kitchens]
The kitchen, the cooking process and the vessels equate to the method and its model.    These contain the base ingredients,  the herbs & spices, the recipes and heuristics.   These determine:  the how, the why and the when these are mixed together and cooked.   Methods may utilize the same postures and even the same [or very similar] modifiers and enhancers.  Yet the results in terms of qualities embodied through the training can be of different types. 

It is essential to understand how important the cooking process aspect is on what can and cannot arise within the training [especially the qualities below the technical and form layer – so beyond flexibility if we are talking about stretching].  What is supported and what is inhibited by the method.  These are almost never mentioned when one begins searching for physical methods to study.  One only encounters the chemistry of training, not the alchemy of training [and we want both]. 

[*] fire [heat]:
The fire [the heat for cooking] represents the strength, quality and perseverance of the efforts of the practitioner themselves in the training.  One can be exposed to all sorts of methods [base ingredients, herbs, spices and cooking pots] but unless one actually trains hard and persistently in them nothing much happens besides collation of trivia and technique.

Nothing gets cooked.

There is a gluttony of practitioners in this category currently holding the mic in the physical work sphere.  This reinforces the notion that this is all there is, but it ain’t so. 

Returning to the tale we can now have a more fruitful refocus around the narrative invested in the question [K] fielded.   

The original answer involved base ingredients and spices.   Specifically it localized around the herb and spice selection:  partial poses, contract-relax, partner assisting, etc.  This is not wrong and also it is not the full picture.

If we now apply the culinary metaphor what becomes clear is that;  whilst the spice difference is definitely true –  the actual deeper difference is one of the cooking process.  

It is primarily a difference of cuisine.

[*] prelude to recombination
One can certainly study and embody different methods.  Just not all at once.  There is a major issue with the striping of techniques from their sub-cultural milieu – from their cuisine – in the currently en vogue larder pilfering of ingredients and spices.  

Knowing thousands of techniques is not at all the same as embodying a dozen:   as that hallowed physical training proverb goes.  But the true issue is not just ’embodying’, per se –  but where and when they arise in the body [under which model and in which sequence].  Embodying a dozen postures in one cuisine does not equal embodying the same dozen in another, as strange as that may sound. 

This is almost never spoken of:  embodiment of form is not embodiment total:  simply embodiment of the form within the milieu it arises in.   It is not the outer form but the inner substance within the outer form that confers the embodied qualities.  There are different inner substances in different arts.     

What model you learn within matters. 
When and in what sequence you learn it in, matters. 
Whom you learn it from matters. 

In actual fact these are primary and all the rest is secondary or tertiary if one wants to dive deep into the physical arts.  There are strong bias within our educational framework against deep learning in physical arts related to these points.  This is not often mentioned and certainly not emphasized. 

[*] the chef [human technologies]

The chef is the guide or teacher of the method. 

Anyone who has accomplished some order of embodiment within a physical art of sufficient potency to allow for a physical unfolding to transpire will have some familiarity with at least the beginning of the processes I am eluding to.  Even if it has not been explained in this fashion before. 

In a number of the arts I studied there was a clear emphasis on crafting a method that could be passed on to just about anybody with a functioning nervous system. A clear and concise syllabus of instruction and metrics to assess form points and so on.  The idea being that of maintaining quality and also lending to its potential to proliferate and aid more people.  This felt and sounded noble at the time of my hearing it  – and still does in a great number of ways.  Understood correctly:  for the ‘science’ [technical] aspects of a method this is fine.  It is proper educational process.

However, the deeper aspects of physical work simply cannot be passed on in this manner.  This sounds like heresy because we are in a milieu vested in the modern scientific materialist paradigm.   In other eras, and still today in some pockets, it was[is] understood and courted.  There are political and secularly religious elements to the removal of human agency and human artistry. 

Chefs can and do specialize in different cuisines. Or continue towards mastery in one. The use of ingredients and spices is unique with a real chef.  The vessels and cooking process carries a personal signature. The timing for one is different than the timing for another.   When is a key that opens many doors. 

Physically the aspect of timing we can understand at a very basic level thusly:  expose an unconditioned organism to high grade stimuli and it is broken or destroyed.  Train for a while, it is survivable.  Train hard and transmute the physical body and it thrives and grows from the stimuli. 

This more ‘cultivation’ example works for the science [technical] phase, whereas the way it works in the ‘art’  has a more ‘repatterning’ flavour.  A certain degree of bodily awareness is needed to gain access to deeper structures and facilitate them to releasing chronic tensions and sensory amnesia.   In ‘alchemical art’ it is different again. 

The chef is a key ‘ingredient’ in the procession along lines of qualitative dimensions.  Whilst one can be ones own chef [teach oneself to progress into an art], there are types of feedback and mirroring that are really, really difficult to do alone and the capacity for self-delusion becomes greater the farther one goes into the work.   Beyond this the chef catalyses – speeds up the process and reduces errors.   And beyond even this are the reasons teachers and guides have existed in many facets of life throughout history. There is a profoundly human element to learning in this manner. 

[*] science, art and alchemical art 

At the midpoint of the essay I am going add a triadic reagent into the mix.  This adds an extra degree of dimensionality to the metaphor.  The way things are normal conceived at present creates a largely ‘two-dimensional’ perspective around physical training.  Correct understanding of the ‘cooking process’ and ‘cuisine’ aspects of the culinary metaphor opens up a third dimension [seeing how strongly the metaphysical effects the potentiality of the deeper qualities arising [or not] within the physical].  The degree of artistry of the chef has the potential to create a tesseractial  fourth dimension.

Some [but not all] physical methods can activate at different depths. 

New properties emerge from the training at these junctures. These qualities can be embodied deeper and interact with each other in ways the neophyte cannot comprehend [is illiterate in the sensory languages that describes them] .  If one progresses in physical literacy there is as clear a distinction between ‘the day and the night’ of this.  If one fails to move phase these are not understandable and seem to lack tangibility. Mediocrity of practice breeds misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

In this article I am going to have three broad depths:  science [technical], art and alchemical art. 

The cooking process [the method and its metaphysics] determines a great many things.   Some processes do not allow for the science-to-art progression.  Far more do not allow for the art-to-alchemical art procession. There are ways to decipher which methods can activate to which depths – but that is a topic for another day.

The most important factor for ‘art’ and especially ‘alchemical art’  is actually the chef.  Their ability to teach and transmit the timing, lore and heuristics that cannot be conveyed through textual mediums.  Their skill to navigate, separate and recombine qualities to do the tricky art-to-alchemical art transition. 

This does not line up with how things are often preferenced in modern civilisation.   The human elements are striped out of the learning process so that the technical knowledge transfer can be homogenized and inauspiciously circumscribed by the arbiters of the Procrustean molds.

There are strong tendencies away from oral traditions, true apprenticeships and lessons within the modern epoch.  The controlled, the contrived and the commodifiable win out 9 times outta 10. 

The preferences of modernity carry scars of the caesarean birth of modern science that are seldom mentioned.  The combined effects of these trends  upon the more arcane potentialities of training the body are those of dilution and chelation.  The binding of the mesoteric into the ‘secular esotericism’ of brain science and intersubjectivity.  Knowledge collapses into a flat square.   

If one wants to activate a method at the levels of ‘art’ and ‘alchemical art’ the base ingredients and spices will become of progressively less and less importance.  One can see the opposite in the squabbling of IP around techniques.  Technical fixation is evidentiary of the failure to move from art to alchemical art in one’s practice and teaching.

Little by little, we bare witness to the beginning of a counter-tide.  We see a returning of the style of craft apprenticeship within the physical sphere. This is not the long-format workshop or retreat with the price tag not always matching the transmission of knowledge with magnanimity. 

What I am talking about is uncontrived apprenticeship. 

As anyone who has had one of these knows, the best lessons often present themselves at the most unlikely times:  in the aisles at Woolworths;  whilst moving equipment before workshops; at the coffee shop or on a long walk in the forest. 

People who have had long and deep study in an apprentice style setting in the physical arts almost universally emphasize this as being of a completely different and superior order to degrees, certification, workshops, et al.  

It is the best medium in which to combine the stages of science/technical, art and alchemical art.  If one is at the beginning phases of technique acquisition all of this might make little sense  – appearing to be of the most arbitrary or fanciful nature.   This is an understandable and natural response.  I remember my own ravenous technical seeking well.  If this is where you are, just treat this article as a curiosity and try to entertain some of the ideas.  If one proceeds through one’s training and begins to move further into the arts they study,  the critical nature of it becomes more and more apparent. 

Many never make it out of the ‘science'[technical] phase of physical arts [you can often tell via the suffixes at the end of their names].  The habits of workshop hopping and technique taxidermy.  The ‘returning to uni to get Masters/PhD’ flavour over-commenters.  The ones locked in perpetual debate and argumentation all across the online forums of physical training. 

Within stretching methods this patterning appears as the perennial titillation with new variations and exercises;  dichotomous debate around  ‘pandiculation vs stretching’, ‘neuromatrix vs fascia’, ‘stretching before sport’; posture and pain; fixation on topics like ‘hydration’, haptics, proprioception and interoception. 

One gathers this knowledge in the beginning [for sure] but if one continually discusses and debates raw ingredients nothing ever gets cooked.  None of the deeper principles of the craft are ever stabilized and the impression is as the late, great Bruce Lee was fabled to have said:  ‘a complicated mess’.  Sometimes a lucrative mess, too – which compounds the negation.  Once ossified, only with great difficulty can one take a backwards or sideward step. 

What we have at the moment is an abundance of merchants of the staples and spices of physical work [science and technique] but precious little kitchens [art] or physical laboratories [alchemical art]. 

And I put it to you that it is the two later that are actually what many of us are seeking. 

The combination of culinary metaphor with the three depths of expression of craft [science, art and alchemical art] further clears the muddy waters around physical training. 

One can see from the culinary metaphor how similar forms can produce different outcomes via the spice and/or cooking processes being changed.  

The three depths is the level of mastery of the cooking process, herbs, spices and raw ingredients within a specific cuisine. 

The impact of the cooking process is [however] far more substantial than can be conveyed in the normal parlance of modern scientific culture.  Yes;  it is a ‘model’ or paradigm that involves metaphysics, principles and heuristics, and so on  –  but it is also far more than this. 

It is enchantment. 

You can have people doing virtually identical physical training methods and there are certain qualities that literally will not arise within some models – inclusive of the some of the ones currently labelled ‘best practice’.  These are unseen because the technical focus and form fixation is so strong and all encompassing within. 

I understand how this can be difficult and perhaps unpleasant to comprehend to people who have just started ‘peeling the onion’. The extent to which these factors perceptually inhibit the actualized results of physical training [particularly moving from art –> alchemical art] is immense.  They never mention this in the brochure, either.

Properly grokked this leads to an increased clarity for the practitioner and prospective practitioner alike.  As well as to an increased appreciation and holy curiosity for the vastness of physical training potential as a whole.

This brings us back to the ‘essential ingredient’ [which is no ingredient] of the chef:   the guide or teacher of the method.  In the physical arts the chef helps catalyze a transmutation within the practitioner via the physical transmission of the art:  via contact, discourse, timing and a whole lot of ‘intangible’-not-intangible factors.  Their body teaches your body. Their essence teaches your essence. The chef can only teach to the depth of art that they have stabilised themselves. 

The technical fixation has elements of  ‘open source ignorance’ to it.  It is a perniciously negation of the sacred role the guide plays in learning.  The perceptual warping caused by the prominence of people who do not [can not] unfold methods that can go deep; coupled with the ease at which people find a communism of methodology convincing because it allows them to evade some of the depth activation principles –  are all part of the subliminal features invested within the flat square

Covid-19, the meaning crisis, climate change, these things don’t concern me.  What concerns me is ‘corporate mindfulness’, the medicalisation of yoga, entrepreneurial microdosing start-ups for business.  ‘CEOS’, memetic contagions, algorithms. 

[*] curiously incurious
Back when I myself was tinkering primarily on the ingredients and spices layers of the metaphor, a lot of people were quite interested in my discoveries.  When I began developing a new cuisine many people were curiously incurious.   In this era of ‘novelty’ [rapidly shifting forms] addiction and titillating with false depth it is difficult to introduce something that in its deep ocean currents is vastly different.  Like the waterstrider insect, many prefer to dart rapidly across the lake surface.   Seeing outer form is relatively simple.  Perceiving inner substance and quality differences takes time and effort. 

Physical Alchemy exists within a cuisine that uses physical methods to repattern the effects of the general and the specific aspects of the disenchantment in the body and the world.  One of the major things I have been researching and crafting these last 7 years is the neoalchemical model for physical training which facilitates this new cuisine. 

Whilst I accumulated [and continue to gather] a lot of ingredients, cooking techniques and lore of herbs and spices along my path – the cuisine of Physical Alchemy is completely different from what I studied or found available.  Hence its development.  Therefore fixation on form similarity with other methods I studied;  or that exist within the physical sphere, is evidentiary of an inability to perceive differences of inner substance.

Technically Physical Alchemy has ingredients in common with physical therapies and bodywork, physical culture, embodiment, athletic conditioning and martial arts – but it is not those things.  These are common forms – ingredients and spices – not common cooking process, vessels or cuisine. 

So the values of the culinary metaphor are:   differentiation, true curiosity, increased coherence and [eventually] a far deeper and more auspicious co-creation between humans beings within [and beyond] the physical work sphere. 

For the student-practitioner at the beginning of their studies it lends itself to increased clarity of selection.  In the middling term it can help with what one needs to acquire in ones skill-set [or IF one needs to learn a totally new type of cuisine to augment or phase shift what they are already doing].  Later on when one is established it lends very well to art-formation via recombination of a small number of cuisines taken to the art and alchemical depths. 

[*] combination and recombination
The moving deeper into an art satiates the ravenous hunger for technique collating.  It doesn’t mean we cannot appreciate learning new things but the thrall is gone.  A nucleus of long study practices remains as the base from which we explore.   Sometimes we feel no need to explore new avenues and are happy with a continued refinement and distillation of that which we have learned. 

Occasionally, more often when one has reach the alchemical art depth in at least one method and art/alchemical art in a small handful of others – something new begins to happen all by itself.  From where, we do not know or care overly. This is a feature of proper recombination and leads to craft formation.  In the era of ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’ these bodies of work stick out in a particular and paradoxical way. 

If this happens to you there is a very large opening to the wonder physical training and the variety of training and qualities available to the human body.  There is a foreseeing of the potentiality of new hybrid arts and alchemical arts arising within the physical sphere to suit the problems we as a species and planet face in the 21st century. 

[*] a veritable feast
One very cool bonus feature of the culinary metaphor becoming literal [perceptual] for you is that you realize there is a veritable feast of amazing physical training systems of different styles and orders on offer out there. 

Even in keeping within the small segment of ‘stretching’, I have personally briefly experienced many different cuisines that utilize similar ingredients to my own but produce very different inner substances and qualities.  Bioenergetics work, authentic hatha yoga, multiple systems of bodywork, performance and contortion dominant modalities.   All produce different results to my own method – how fantastic!  So much more to explore and learn. 

Another hidden benefit of the application of this metaphor is that when you have actualized deeper qualities from a few different realms of physical work your ability to tell the ‘internal weather’ should go up – and this lets you more easily determine when you have found an art that has different inner substances created than what you have been training.  Whereas if you have not stabilized deeply it will look all the same and you will delude yourself into believing you understand it based on that old form fixation habit once more. 

So, what is this thing called ‘Physical Alchemy’ ?

Firstly it is – or at least it encompasses – a new cuisine [the neoalchemical model for physical work].  It is a cuisine that works upon the general and specific aspects of the disenchantment as they afflict human beings and in doing this creates an alchemical reaction within the body.  

As I said earlier in the essay:  it utilizes ingredients and spices from all of the arts I have studied deeply.   I have also created dozens and dozens of ingredients [exercises] and new herbs along the way.  Few of which have seen the light of day, as I have primarily been focusing on the development of the cuisine, because – in a way that is too lengthy to describe here –  none of the methods I studied or observed in the genesis of this craft encompassed both the general and the specific aspects of the disenchantment – thusly a new cooking processes was necessary. 

It is my great hope that other crafts can arise within the neoalchemical model of physical training [chefs in the new cuisine].  Indeed, this is a large part of my putting material forth.  My experience with the co-creation aspect – that special and mysterious space that opens to be filled when two [or more] people who have their own alchemical art come together – is one of the things that makes the labour invested in craft formation so worthwhile.  I feel very strongly that this model can facilitate more of this in the world, but I guess I will just have to see what strange things happen. 

*Circe enchants Ulysee’s sailors, Smithsonian American Art Museum, artist:  Paul Manship. 

  • the ‘burden of ‘omniscience” idea comes from my Teacher [M], Mushtaq Ali Al Ansari [https://ninesidedcircle.com/]

the parallax of alchemy

[*] the Hopkins Parallax
I am currently penning a chapter of my tome upon ‘science and alchemy’ and poking through a Cambridge university compendium of alchemical literature throughout the ages I stumbled upon a little quote that hints at a phenomena I have been observing for some time across multiple fields of inquiry and have the challenge of trying to sketch out in my tome.

The quote: ‘…Hopkins drew attention to certain problems in the study of alchemy that remain largely unresolved today: ‘A comprehensive explanation [is] still lacking’ Hopkins noted, ‘such a theory would coordinate the whole and make clear to the modern mind what was the purpose and underlying conception of the alchemist.’ [Berman says the same thing differently in a passage I will quote in a longer Dreamwidth blog I will do on this. ]

The mindshapes solve the Hopkins parallax in a way that is simple to see if you have delaminated from your own sufficiently – but opaque if you have not.

You see ‘alchemy’ is word that has a special property to it.

If you mention it you will get to see some subthreshold information about the mindshapes in the responses and descriptions of what people conceive of the word to mean. The responses are predictable skewed down the lines of the mindshape afflicting the organism [the exceptions to the rule clarify a lot but this is too much detail for a post].

Humans afflicted with the C3breus mindshape [the ‘modern mind’] will, in the black work thickened edition, have the standard and predictable scientific materialism opinion structure you were taught in school: ‘puffers, charlatans! Proto-scientific quackery!’
Yes, somehow they, largely accidentally, discovered some useful chemical substances and procedures and theories, but via erroneous nonscientific metaphysical foundations.
If the mindshape softens from life or work [or both] – in the white work they will often gravitate towards a Jungian alchemical explanation, psychologicalising the imagery, texts and emblemata. Or an ‘sociocultural’ and ‘mythological’ configuration. Sometimes some ‘neuroalchemy’ polarity.
IF they make it into the hinterland of the so call red work phase , there is a tenancy towards Terence McKenna or Ken Wilber style fusions .. ‘integrated’ interpretations. The metaphysical centrist.

C1rberus in the black especially can be seen in an exotic mixture of esotericism, weird science [or not even science but in sciencey sounding language blended with spiritual words and concepts in a dissonant manner], immortal masters, hidden history of the world, aliens and annuki, odd interpretations of actual historical figures, frequency-vibration-crystals-colours-science-magick. As this shape progresses it can often have a gravitation to an actual cultivation style path of alchemy with a mindshape overlay on top of it – which to be frank is more auspicious than any of the C3rberus recoagulations.

C2rberus likes the Paulo Coelho style take on ‘alchemy’.. likes it as metaphor for passionate and human change and transformation. Passion. Lessons. Experiences. Personal Growth. Also likely to resonate with Jung, though in a way that is palpably different than C3rberus. Quite likely to be drawn to a psychedelic interpretation but it is more likely to possess an ‘energetic’ rendering than people of C3rberus who have attached to McKenna. More likely to lend towards a tantra and kundalini style interpretation. The way they blend is different than C1rberus.

The parallax is furthered because there were[are] different alchemies.

Some specialized around certain goals and accomplishments. Some had a broader spectrum. Some were actual charlatans and fools. Then there were general alchemical principles.

Fascinating stuff [at least for me].

One of the things most relevant to what I do in the craft of Physical Alchemy is one of the basic premises of the Hopkins Parallax makes it unsolvable, unless it is rearranged. The purpose of alchemy will not – can not – be made clear to the ‘modern mind’ because what is called the modern mind is an artifact of the world-age being now within C3rberus on a civilization level. Therefore the ‘mind’ itself is the block to seeing what it is the alchemists were actually doing.

This ‘modern mind’ cannot see what the alchemists were talking about because you have to remove [or at least significantly ameliorate] the influence of the mindshape to perceive the materia that would clarify the issue.

It is not just that it is un-entertainably as an idea to the C3rberus mind – it is that the mindshape literally, perceptually inhibits the aspects of reality that are used to clarify the parallax.

Is it just the modern mind [C3berus] that is the problem [?]
No.. I don’t believe so. It is possibly the hardest world-age to see what is going on, but then again perhaps not..

Things of the nature of ‘alchemy’ have existed in each world age – and have always been veiled via alchemical language, riddles and puzzles. Part of this is ‘protecting trade secrets’ for sure, but part of it is also that you just simply cannot talk to someone who is identified strongly with a lens like the mindshape about things they cannot see.

The mindshapes, being perception warping agents that they are, will hyperfocus along a certain bandwidth. This CAN lend itself to finding certain treasures within a patch of terrain – but it also blinds you to other parts of the terrain AND it makes you interpret what you find along certain lines of inquiry based upon the posture of the metaphysics as determined via the metametaphysical artifice that is the mindshape itself at the nucleus level.

So, I am afraid I am not going to tell you anything about making gold, elixir recipes downloaded from alien alchemists, nor that I am 400 years old.. at least not this time. What I have found is an alchemy and the fact that all of the mindshapes interpret this craft along the lines of the metaphysical postures above ^ is a sort of partial apophatic proof of this.

The ‘predictible interpretation of alchemical material’ is one of the most important parts to watch – the how the metametaphysical rearranges the metaphysical postures of people afflicted by mindshapes. There is an hidden anatomy to it. The suite of postures for each shape is different and limited.

There is always a concept of ‘gaining’ in knowledge and understanding but the Hopkins Parallax is solved via dissolving. Only when the metametaphysical structure is dissolved can the metaphysics assume the ‘accomplished posture’ – of perhaps ‘gain access to the new suite of postures’ – that allows for this puzzle to be solved.

Alright, time for another coffee.


Dave.


[Image: Atalanta Fugiens, Michael Maier]