Friday, October 22, 2021

Alchemical Wheels: A Portrait of a Painting & a Near Death Experience (a silent video)

Alchemical Wheels: Portrait of a Painting & a Near Death Experience (a silent video)

Alchemical texts are riddles. Writing about visionary experience is impossible. Here goes…

the circle dips


& two become one

opalescence of the self,

golden pearl rising

A psychic and artistic journey encircling a dream of alchemical wheels emerging on each side of the face. Wetting charcoal dust, dragging charred willow, self-portrait surreality. The spinning wheels become Catherine Wheel fireworks, then a spiral goddess path. Maria Prophetissa,1 mother of alchemy and chemistry, beckons, one arm about me, the other pointing.. How to do the work of turning lead into gold — her formula:

“If the two do not become one, nothing will take place. If one does not lighten, and the two become three, nothing will take place. But when one yellows, three becomes four, for one yellows with yellow sulphur. At the end, when one tints into violet, all things become violet.”2

Carl Jung, in Alchemy and Psychology, writes:

…the ultimate aim of alchemy…was trying to produce a corpus subtile, a transfigured and resurrected body, i.e., a body that was at the same time spirit.”3 

Scraping, chiselling the carapace, breaking the shell, sloughing the cocoon, a serpent’s, an oroboros’ discarded skin. Hardships, pain, complexes, defense mechanisms, PTSDs. Grit of peeling. An emergent self — trust, openness, sensitivity, generosity, loving. Untarnished, wondrous child. The transfigured self, glittering healing radiance of what calls, powerful love pulling us to live in intimate near-death-experience, profound, inclusive. Fully who we are and fully in the panorama.

Impossible vibrating luminance of the self beyond the self in the self.

The video follows a journey beginning with, ‘Self-portrait after an Alchemical Dream,’ 2021, 20x26", charcoal on Yupo paper, then focusing on ‘Alchemical Wheels,' 2021, acrylic on canvas, 30x40”.

My Near Death Experience at the age of 28: 

‘Radiant energy appeared. A startling and powerful love had come for me. How powerful this love was is indescribable — the greatest love I have ever felt, complete and full. I drew upwards, rising from my body, leaving it on the bed below. I felt only ecstasy, the wave of my form nearing the radiant healing energy like entering the Great Union or heaven or Nirvana. As I rose, I thought, ‘but my father’s grief, the life I’m to live…’ and, immediately, fell back gently into my body and the radiance vanished.’

For many decades, I’ve regretted my egoic attachment to my little life, to not embracing that powerful love, to what I might have learned and brought back. Working through this grief in painting has brought me to a realization that something was, indeed, imparted. If it was a type of ‘das-log’, a shamanic Near Death Experience of Tibetan religion, then I may have given from it.


1 Maria Prophetissa was a 1-3rd century Jewish woman who invented the bain Marie, the double boiler, still used in cooking and chemistry today, and who is credited with being the mother of chemistry and the first recorded practitioner of alchemy.

2 Quote from Jame Hillman’s audiobook, The Alchemy of Psychology, BetterListen! LLC., 2015.

3 Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, trans. Gerhard Adler and  R. F.C. Hull, Princeton University Press; 2nd ed. edition (Oct. 21 1980), p. 514.

With gratitude and thanks to the Centre for Applied Jungian Studies' Art of Individuation 2021 course.
Music, a edited mix I did of Kepler, BytheWay May, a paid-for license from


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