Emblem 060: Ouroboros

You’ve met him before, the snake with his tail in his mouth. He comes to us from alchemy. There he stands for the circulatio, a process that continues itself. The material on which you work in its closed container, responding to gentle persistent heat, sublimes and rises, condenses and falls. Repeat as necessary.

There are matters in our lives in such process. “Why is this bothering me again? I thought I already dealt with it,” we think. We’re right, we did. But it needs more work. When we’re the material the work takes a lifetime.

Alchemy isn’t about being done with things. It’s about change. Each time the material cycles it incorporates all of your previous hard-won insights into itself. Gradually it transforms. Look at the image of the ouroboros. As he changes, so does his diet. As his diet changes, so does he. He’s neither what he was nor what he’ll be. He’s traveling.

area of influence, change, self-efficacy

Emblem 039: What can you do?

There were, as there often are, three brothers. They walked along the road on a cold day and the wind whipped around them.

“It’s freezing,” said the first brother. “I’ve got to do something about this.” He knew that warmth comes from the sun. So he called up to the sun, “Sir! Please give us more heat!” He begged and cajoled, genuflected and bowed. But the sun paid no attention. The brother was still cold, and he felt terrible because the sun had ignored him.

The second brother said, “I’m cold too, but you’ve got it all turned around.” He knew it was the wind-chill factor that was the problem. He turned to face the wind directly. “Stop blowing right now,” he commanded. “Just settle down!” To show that he meant business he beat his arms against the wind and pushed it back with all his might. But the wind just slipped around him on all sides. Soon the second brother had worn himself out, and he was colder than ever.

The third brother put on a jacket.