[*] The ‘three pillars’ of Physical Alchemy
At its base Physical Alchemy has a triad of works, that form the tripod necessary to produce the human transmutation that for now I am calling ‘reenchantment’.
As well as three pillars of work, in this transmutation there are three phases of the work: the black work, the white work and the red work. *
These three distinct realms of training [3 pillars] are undertaken together but the proportion and emphasis of each form of training is different in each phase.
Physical Work is as it sounds – any form of potent work upon changing the physical form: strength, flexibility, movement, martial, dance, parkour, coordination – and so on. There are many different types and, I personally know or have met a decent number of practitioners who have truly exceptional methods in this realm. This work is primary in the first phase.
Awareness Work is the work upon attention; work on meditative and contemplative qualities and skill-sets. As in the 1960s, it is going through another quickening in terms of interest from the populace and numbers of practitioners. Within Physical Alchemy this is largely personal choice of flavour, lineage and methods. With [of course] the proviso from the third pillar work that the 𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑛 of disenchantment afflicting the human will often ‘choose’ the type it can hide and recoagulate within the easiest. This work is primary in the second phase.
Reenchantment Work is unique to Physical Alchemy within the ‘new school’ of physical work. It is red work specific. The work is upon aspects of the disenchantment patterning as they try to recoagulate and ‘burrow’; as they reinfect the physical methods and awareness practices ye hath used for the first-to-second phase jump (for those that have). This work is primary in the third phase.
All three together form the basis of training Physical Alchemy and give the student the best chance to have the transmutation complete itself.
Physical Work, no matter how advanced, is only one leg of the tripod. It is prime in the first phase and necessary as a anchoring for further work but can become a curdling agent to the process in the second phase – if one is not careful. One does not remove the disenchantment simply by ‘re-embodying’, though it is one key aspect of it. One cannot simply ‘drill the techniques for the next few years/decades’ and expect the transmutation to come, because of the recoagulation patterns.
Paradoxically [in its ‘contrary to popular opinion’ form, here], I would even go so far as to say that the more potent the physical methods in use, the more likely they are to ensnare the practitioner in the second phase.
The disenchantment-vāsanā lure people, via subterfuge, then re-bind and nullify the resources gathered. This is 𝑐ℎ𝑒𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 of the essence [one of the principles of the red work].
The assumption is that which works strongly in the Physical Work translates straight into the other works and this is not so.
Qualities and experience developed in the first phase quite rightly make one confident in the capacity of their methods at producing real results in the physical realm but this can easily become ‘confident ignorance’ if one mistakes what works upon one order for that which works on another.
Some things translate well, some things do not. Some only with a certain cipher. […]
Even the Physical Work + Awareness Work common to the white work– as virtuous a combination as this is – does not produce the transmutation in question**, though they can do many wondrous things in terms of physical transformation, pain-treatment and embodiment.
A bipod is not stable enough to complete the work – the retort needs to be a tripod.
The language of those ensnared within the white work often betrays this ‘bipodity’: ‘mind-body’, ‘bodymind’, ‘coding’, ‘movement and stillness’ – themselves neat binaries.
The attempts to bridge the second-to-third phase divide – and the final barrier to transmutation – elude the ‘New School’.
The ‘cybernetic’ pattern-reboot; the systems-theory disenchantment of the ‘bio-psycho-social’; or the dharma-bot pyrites ‘red work’ emulation patterns. All of these (and more) are attempts to take the work of the black and white phases into the red and it cannot be done.
[general, general, specific.]
The 𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑖𝑛 will devour and re-coagulate the fruits of practice [in terms of the 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑐𝑒𝑠 – and later in the ‘red work’, 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑔𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑠] of the combined Awareness Work and Physical Work. The special relationship between Awareness Work and Reenchantment Work must be understood and not ‘known’.
I always liked the tangibility of physical work. The weight goes up, or it does not. The shin hits the bag lightly or heavy. Sure, there are technical form points but these can be taught in a simple manner. Oddly enough, one can learn to see this work just as people trained in physical arts can see qualities in physical forms, or skilled medical practitioners learn to diagnose correctly.
“What makes a subject difficult to understand – if it is significant, important – is not that it would take some special instruction about abstruse things to understand it. Rather it is the antithesis between understanding the subject and what most people want to see. Because of this the very things that are most obvious can become the most difficult to understand. What has to be overcome is not a difficulty of the intellect, but of the will.”
It is reasonably simple, but as the Wittgenstein quote states – people 𝑑𝑜𝑛’𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑡𝑜 𝑠𝑒𝑒 this particular transmutation and what it reveals.
But, as the movement culture –> movement culture 2.0 developments are showing – people are searching for an certain, elusive 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔.
Maybe they’ll find it. […]
Perhaps it is something not yet known. Perhaps an ancient form is in translation into the neon-age.
The transmutation I call ‘reenchantment’ – at least until the Thamian current arrives full force – opens perceptions and one sees things that are unseen but always there (no, not auras or machine-elves).
One of the more auspicious features of this is that you become keenly aware that there are a number of other transmutations possible and equally or more rare for human beings. Many of these I know very little about and cannot produce. Flooding back, the awe and wonder of childhood but within a completely new context.
Even upon the humble level of physical work alone many of my peers and colleagues can do things in terms of training, teaching or healing that I can not. A small number of my friends are likely better than me at teaching the first-to-second phase jump.
Dave is a red work specialist.
The combination of the ‘three pillars’ – all at once – produces startling and emergent results, in my limited experience with stretching methods as the Physical Work component. These do not occur bipedally. […]
Part of the next phase of my research is to use a non-stretching Physical Work system in combination with the other two pillars to see if I can produce the same transmutation. I am quite sure this can be done but want to see what emerges.
This, indeed, is the point of this ‘small note’ I am writing. I have been covertly trialing the teaching of the ‘Reenchantment Work’ pillar remotely via online methods and against all odds I am unexpectedly happy with how well it is working [even before the publishing of my book, which is a working 𝑚𝑎𝑝 for the third phase work].
I will soon be offering my services as the only red work specialist within a physical work mileau that I am currently aware of. I am good at teaching stretching; used to be okay at teaching strength work; better than average at bodywork and ‘file not found’ at teaching parkour and athletics – but this work is, as I said, my specialty and a deep part of the total art that is Physical Alchemy.
I won’t be offering online physical work as I prefer to do that in person, though I do have a number of trusted peers I can recommend for this if people want that option.
This service will only be available to people already in the white work phase [features of these phases to be included in said tome I am writing], preferably at ‘crisis point’.
Let us see what strange things happen.
* note, these are alchemical terms but I am not using them in the ‘normal’ way. Definitely not in a Jungian or Hillmanian context, but also not precisely how they are used within plant or mineral alchemy either. They designate phases on route to a transmutation that are of very different natures and must be completed sequentially.
** Whether Awareness Work can produce the transmutation I call ‘reenchantment’ alone is an interesting question I deal with in the book. I have seen some evidence that monastic order practice (ie 10-16hrs a day) can produce it but again it is surprisingly rare and I have also seen far more who have done plenty of practice who I would put a firm wager have not. The point is moot in regards to the fact I am not particularly interested in training monks but in interfacing the 3 pillars with people in the world; with families, work to do, limited time-energy reserves and physical arts they practice.