The symbolically rich world of alchemy illustrates and amplifies death and re-birth as a series of transformational or alchemical stages through which a new person is born, or to use alchemical language, a second body comes into being, transformed and renewed. Transformation can take place both during and after a period of descent as well as after a period of deep, quiet reflection. James Hillman (1979) made the distinction between an event versus that of deep reflection as entry into descent “entering the underworld is like entering the mode of reflection, mirroring, which suggests that we may enter the underworld by means of reflection, by reflective means: pausing, pondering, change of pace, voice, or glance, dropping levels.” Symbols and dreams become ever-present during a transformative experience, informing us of how psyche wants us to proceed. Stories, myth and poetry are also powerfully evocative, and can act as guides and sign posts in a terrain that becomes increasingly difficult to navigate during a period of transformation when all things familiar become no longer so.
Artwork by April Rhodes