Art Alchemy

Every day as humans we experience polarity; there is day and night, hot and cold, positive and negative. Many view humans themselves as an intermediary between it all. We are in the middle of polarity in our lives confronting it every day, and also existing in between two types of existences: physical and spiritual. We are an intermediary whose role is integration, or you could say alchemy. What is the benefit of experiencing two extremes at the same time? In my view, it is about appreciation of the whole. Because aren’t opposites different sides of the same coin? As I’ve written about in the past, living in extremes helps you value the opposite more, but also helps you experience it fully, appreciate its place, in order to move on. Sometimes you have to dive deep into the depths of despair in order to find a reason to find joy.

Finding joy however is not so easy, even if you possess the desire to. Or perhaps at the bottom of your deep sea, looking up at all the water weight and distance, it feels impossible to travel to the surface. There is no way, force of will or force of muscle can push through the water above your head. Often times this is when the magic happens, because it involves surrender. You have to surrender, allow the natural flow to carry you upward. You let go of the rigidity of your negative thoughts that might have placed you underwater, accept where you are and forgive. As soon as you do this, the way is easier but it still is a process. This is what alchemy is, a transformation process of something lesser into something greater. And there are practices that can aid to transform the harmful aspects into something valuable and beautiful. Breathwork, meditation, the body arts, and I believe the creative expressive arts (sound, dance, visual) are all practices that can aid in this transformation. It is a channeling process of energy, for that is all that everything is. Thoughts and feelings are things that create and it is our role as humans to craft and cultivate it into something positive.

Because I feel most connected to the expressive arts, I will speak to this. The process involves becoming present to what you are experiencing, feeling it, moving it, and changing it. In painting, you bring yourself and all your baggage to the canvas. At first, it is all about expressing the baggage - or feeling what you are feeling - and not pushing it somewhere else. It is also not directing it toward another being. My baggage is my baggage, I’m not handing it off to anyone else. I carry it and in expressing it, or transferring it to the canvas, I can then look at it objectively. It doesn’t cloud my vision in the same way because I have a different relationship with it. The canvas serves as a kind of mirror, one where I can see myself but also alter myself. The raw chaotic discordant energy in my heart becomes transmuted into shape, color, texture and the interactions of the elements into something more harmonious that I can change. And in the process, I am altered to more match the vision of my painting/mirror. As you release the energy it becomes mutable and can change and purify if you so direct it.

Again, bringing in the tarot. The Art card in the Aleister Crowley deck is all about the alchemical union of opposites to create something whole. Or in the Rider Waite deck it is the Temperance card with the angel on earth (physical/spirit) balancing groundedness (earth) and flow (water). Both seem relevant to the topic of integration, especially today on the Libra full moon, representing balance, beauty, and justice. Ultimately I believe it is about connecting to something greater, which is healing in itself, finding and unifying with the whole that is positive, inspiring and of service.

Jessalin BeutlerComment