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The Moon wanes through her third quarter this week, giving away her light one day at a time. Meanwhile, Venus’ anaesthetic sextile with Neptune provides some succor to the end of a difficult January. Nonetheless, it is Mercury’s direct station on Monday and subsequent reunion with the Uranus-Pluto square which defines the tenor of the week. Under the early-morning light of all five visible planets, important matters clamor and jostle for attention.
Mercury stations direct on Monday, January 25th, and does so while conjoined to Pluto, and in a tight square to Uranus, guaranteeing that some of the messages the swift planet bears will be sweeping in their consequence and profound in their concern.
With the resumption of forward movement, the labyrinth that we’ve roamed for all of January begins to shrink until it can be held between the forefinger and the thumb. Mercury-as-surgeon holds the stone aloft, as if it were an excised tumor.
Ecstatic at our liberation, we might at first mistake it for the vaunted philosopher’s stone. It is not. It is instead the dark reflex thereof. Yet it has similar properties.
The philosopher’s stone, the result of alchemy’s magnum opus, is not gold itself, but instead that which is capable of transforming other metals into gold. It is a contagious node, which colonizes and transforms those substances which come into contact with it. The stone is thus not only a result of an ideal pattern, but an emanating beacon thereof. It infects the systems it is present within, transforming its subsance in accord with its own virtue.
While alchemical texts go to great and convoluted lengths to describe the process by which the philosopher’s stone is created, we, in the laboratory of life, often produce the magnum opus’ villainous counterpoint- the stone of folly. Just as our highest hopes and best intentions condense into seeds, so do our worst fears and habits. The stone of folly is thus both the result of and font of pathogenic patterning, parallel in many ways to the less-commonly discussed procedures for the alchemical preparation of poisons.
Once the stone of folly is excised, it is tempting to toss it out with the rest of the biomedical waste and go about our business. Yet the stone of folly, like the philosopher’s stone, is in part the fruit of the system that produced it. Both pearls and kidney stones will both be generated again if the systems which bore them are not altered.
The logic of cancer makes this clear, as does the current condition of American politics. Donald Trump may be a tumor, but his growth is only possible in a sick body politic. While he might be removed, like the often-excised Sarah Palin, he will either be replaced or regrow if the system’s health is not improved. Though quarantine is desirable, it is not sufficient.
Furthermore, we are bound by the tight ecology of the human psyche. We cannot merely cut out the pieces of ourselves that displease us. We are our hate, fear and pain as much as we are our love, acceptance and joy. For it is within the cold fortress of our aversion that our love is held hostage, and antivenin can only be created from the very toxin it negates.
This returns us to the question, though- once the stone of folly has been extracted, how do we extract ourselves from it? The stone cannot be destroyed with violence- it is the product of violence. While the branches which extrude from it might be hacked back with sharp blades, the stone itself resists such attacks.
No, the stone of folly, once extracted, must be immersed daily in the waters of forgiveness, its mineral body washed granule-by-granule into the ocean. Yet the process by which the stone can be returned to the prima materia is as laborious, as time-intensive, as the process by which it was formed.
The stone, once removed, still leaves the question of the unhappy tissues from which it came. Fortunately, the extraction leaves behind a field plowed and ready to receive a new pattern. So plant the seeds of virtue and desire, and work toward a harvest of pearls.