I’m thinking about the mechanics of change a lot these days.
I’m a middle-aged woman now, nested in the time when the blushes and illusions of youth have given way to the tempered gnosis of adulthood (we hope) and one is able, if there is interest in such things, to behold the unfolding of broad-scale patterns in our own lives and in all the concentric circles that radiate out from that central place in our own awareness, and to take full responsibility for them.
I personally find this to be a very good time, even though it’s a…. demanding curriculum, shall we say?
I am, myself, aware of a few of the essential energetic patterns that have donned different costumes but danced the same dance again and again in my life and in the world around me. One of the gifts of this perspective is that it gives me something deeper to connect to as I contemplate this wild prospect known by the simple word “change,” and which I hold by the deeper handle of “Energetic Alchemy” because those words give me more ground to stand on as I engage this process (words are so good).
Change is on everyone’s radar all the time, but how does it work? What is energetic alchemy? What the fuck are you talking about right now, Wolfie???
Rampant in North American society is the negative impulse towards change that is based on the implication that we are fundamentally insufficient and/or flawed as we are, and so must strive to improve our standing and validate our existence by “bettering ourselves.” We have Genesis, the advertising industry, beauty and celebrity culture, the “hero myth,” and the hierarchical model of society to thank for that oxens yoke. You know what I’m talking about.
There is also the positive impulse towards change which is the aspect of Self or Soul that beholds the greater possibilities ready to be born and nurtured into wholeness within ourselves, our relations, and our world at any given moment. We feel our inherent majesty as Beings and long to realize it when we are living out of alignment with that. We feel the pain in the world so we dive into our own inner realms to do the work of transformation and also extend our hands as resources to others in whatever ways we can. We know that the industrial capitalism/extraction model of society is killing the world and we bend our energy towards ending the destruction whilst instituting new ways of being.
However the impulse to change comes alive in us – and in all of us it is alive in a mixture of ways, as far as I have seen – I find that frequently the best efforts do not yield the results aspired to because the mechanisms of change are little understood, there is a lack of clarity around the impulse driving the desire to change, and there is are varying manifestations of resistance that aren’t understood or even seen, sometimes. It’s a bit of a thing!
Hence, the linguistic deepening from “change” to “energetic alchemy.”
As someone who has actually changed a lot over the course of many years, I have come to understand now, almost to the point of holding it as embodied wisdom (almost), how change actually “works.” I am still very much a disciple to the actual process of it, but it’s getting better all the time, so I’ll be bold enough to pontificate on it to the best of my abilities for a while. Take what serves and leave the rest.
Here’s the crux of it: change only happens on the manifest plane in any meaningful way once it happens on the energetic plane, because manifest experience and our material reality is an expression of the energetic field of being.
Let me share a story to illustrate what I mean.
I am the only child of a single parent. When I was young, my mother was tremendously emotionally and energetically fragmented, which manifested in extreme variations in her emotional presence as well as frequent energetic disassociation. She fluctuated between loving kindness, emotional disassociation and explosive rage. We would be together and she would be there and then suddenly be gone, energetically speaking, though she hadn’t moved. The experience was that in one moment I was snuggling with my Mommy, all emotionally bonded and safe, and in the next I was curled up next to a body with no one in it, energetically alone, but not physically alone. I felt this but had no context for understanding it, of course, so to young empathic me, it was freaky as fuck, and I had to find a way to secure myself inside of that context because there was no way out of it. Thus, I learned how to be internally contained, how to be alone. I attuned myself to the subtle realms, to animals, art, nature, books, and the imagination. I became energetically self-contained so that when she dissociated or went off, I could withdraw inside of myself and turn my attention to the other worlds around me. I had friends, always, but since it was a very solitary childhood, I learned how to be by myself, and that way of being is the foundation upon which I built my very solitary, very mystical life.
Now I live in a community house for the first time in many years, which is part of a broader land-based community that I am tip-toeing my way into, and I am also in a romantic relationship for the first time in many years. All of this is illuminating, with deeply uncomfortable clarity, how unaccustomed and resistant I am to being in sustained, immersive relationship with people, even though I am engaged in both of these scenarios because I want that. Even though I want all of this intimacy, my energy system is not designed to operate this way. My energy system is developed to engage in short bursts of deep connection that are nested in long bouts of solitude.
With all of my desire to connect and be together, what my energy system is always looking for is the way to be alone. My energy system has to transform to be able to be in these energetic arrangements beautifully and well.
So how does this happen?
Well, in so many ways…. There is no single “here it is, I’ve got the answer, do this” way to go about it because every energy system and every relation of energy systems is different, but there are a few key pieces that will always be supportive and relevant, as far as I have learned and experienced, and as far as I have witnessed in others.
The first is pure awareness, self- or otherwise (isn’t it always?). We have to be able to behold things clearly and without distortion and from there to relate with what we behold honestly and responsibly. By “relate with” I mean come into empowered, honoring relationship with whatever we encounter in the beholding. In the context of internal work, when we cultivate the practice of studying ourselves in a compassionate, patient, and honest way, we deepen our agency with our own experience. Short path to empowerment right here.
I do this by living with the question “what is really happening right now?” always in the center of my awareness. This question takes me beyond the story that my mind will start to generate around an energetic response to anything, and into the deeper layers of the experience. Regardless of whether the circumstantial story is one I like or I don’t, and especially important when I am in a heightened state of energetic arousal, either pleasurable or painful, this question brings me into the subtle realm of my own being. It begins to take me under the details, the mind and the personality and into my energy system.
Once I’m in my energy body, the questions change. Then the questions become “Am I opening or closing?” and “Am I expanding or contracting?” and “Is life force flowing easefully, constricting, or draining outward right now?” And the more nuanced one of “Is there anything coming in that shouldn’t be? Is there anything going out that shouldn’t be?”
It’s “what’s really happening right now” at the energetic level instead of the behavioral level.
Now, the reductionist western mind, which is always looking for the sound-bite, may look at these questions and think “opening good, closing bad,” “expanding good, contracting bad.” How lovely if it were that simple! But it’s not. To move in the energetic realms and to choose to work with our experience on the energetic realms is a world of subtlety and nuance, and what these questions do is create a way into the experience. Once the question “Am I expanding or contracting?” has been asked, the one that follows is “why?” The why can be unpacked for a long while in the case of a lot of the big stuff (and all the little stuff leads in some way to all the big stuff, so it’s really all the big stuff), and once the why of an energetic response is more deeply understood, then the pathway towards a more beautiful experience begins to become clear. There’s volumes more to say here, but this is it for the scope of this essay.
As we enter into the space of Energetic Alchemy, we have to be clear on what our actual aspiration is. There has to be an intent that’s Soul deep for the right change to happen in any meaningful way in our lives. A distorted intent will yield distorted results. When we have discerned what’s happening right now, whether we are expanding or contracting and why, the alchemy we do with our precious energy body would best be guided by a very clear organizing principle.
For myself, I live with a clear and simple guiding prayer, which is this:
“It is my will and intention to embody my Souls deepest radiance for my own enjoyment and evolution, and as the source of a prosperous livelihood, and as a gift, and a medicine to Life, Earth, and the World.”
It’s not an easy prayer to live with, and there is ample space between the ideal of this prayer and the reality of my experience, but it is the true lighthouse of my being, and it guides me in the unfolding of my hours in this precious Life. I am glad I came to it at all, even though I am sometimes hard on myself for still being in the work of realizing it.
This is the prayer that guides me in my days, my work, and all of me endeavors into Energetic Alchemy, which is neither a simple nor easy endeavor. It is a path of deep mastery that I am still very much a novice on, and one whose difficulty is of both the highest caliber and the most extraordinary value. I am glad and honored that Life and my own Soul have guided me into this way of being and continue to “hold my feet to the fire,” as it were, because I know that now is a time of extraordinary opportunity, and I am eager to realize the greater possibilities woven into it to the best of my abilities, and to help whoever else wants to walk that path in whatever way I can as well.
To whatever is ready to come into greater alignment in you in this Life, I send this blessing: may you see yourself clearly and with love, and may you walk into the energy of your being with honor and a clear compass. May you approach the work and play of energetic alchemy with an earnest depth and also a light heart. When you make strides in that place may you be supported and celebrated by first yourself and then others who truly see you and the extraordinary journey you have made, and may it bear sweet fruit for your whole lineage and our whole world.
Thank you for tending the fire of your Soul as beautifully as you do.
I pray that this served you well.