This summer I began to write about the alchemical stages of transformation through a Jungian lens as it corresponds to coursework I’m following through AromaGnosis, called, Aromatherapy and Medicine of the Soul. In this post, I’m picking up with the third phase, Coagulatio – Solidification – Coming to Earth.
As always, this post is intended for creative exploration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or mitigate disease, nor are any statements here approved by the FDA. Please see your physician or mental health professional for chronic issues and concerns. Please see special aromatherapy considerations and warnings listed at the bottom of this post before exploring essential oils.
“Dreams are impartial, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche, outside control of the will. They are pure nature, they show us the unvarnished truth, and are therefore fitted, as nothing else is, to give us back an attitude that accords with our basic human nature.” Carl Jung
As one who works in an artistic healing modality, I long for the breath of Spirit that fills my creative lungs and guides my work. The inhale of creative inspiration and exhale of expression is where I find myself most alive and at home in my body, mind, and soul. Completely and imperfectly whole. Many call this flow. Joseph Campbell might say I’m following my bliss. Certainly, living forever in this utopian state of creative oneness sounds lovely, but in the end, is impractical and in effect, limiting. We have work to do. This is the work Carl Jung expressed as individuation – “an expression of that biological process, simple or complicated as the case may be, by which every living thing becomes what is was destined to become from the beginning.”
Coagulatio, the third alchemical stage of transformation following Calcinatio (the burning away of what is not serving), and Solutio (the rejuvenative dissolution of the ashes of Calcinatio), serves to coagulate, or bring to solid form, the valuable emotional and spiritual remains that were forged and cooled in the previous stages. It is a stage that is marked with the shaping and integration of lessons learned and new awareness. A coming down to earth. For some, leaving the cooling/inspiring waters of bliss found in Solutio (especially for creatives!) is challenging. Eventually, we must move forward and turn our lessons and inspirations into life. For many, this work represents their mission, life’s work, creative vision, calling, etc. I share the belief of many that we are all born with a light or a gift and it’s our responsibility as renters of this earth to give birth to it while we’re here and nurture it throughout our lifetime. Of course, this sounds beautiful and dreamy on paper, but in real life we know this is HARD.
It’s hard to keep excavating ourselves in order to grow. It’s hard to hold a steady, responsible awareness of how our behaviors effect us and others. It’s hard to be 100% accountable for ourselves. It’s one thing to nod our heads and theoretically understand as the lessons are being taught, but quite another to follow what’s truly best for us and bring tangible shape and form to all we’ve learned. It’s hard to do the work. And it’s hard to be patient with ourselves and the process because as mythical journeys would indicate, the path is sometimes fraught with beasts and alluring distractions. We are ever the student, investigator, craftsperson, and explorer. Coagulatio represents a true test of will.
I often dream of walking in the desert to an unknown destination. Once, I came upon a sundried hut. Inside, bleached animal bones and wooden bowls sat on a table, dried desert herbs hung from the ceiling, and a few other tools were left on a workbench as if the resident would be back to finish their work. There was nothing romantic about this scene and everything served a purpose. In the dream, I had to go back from where I came but I wanted to stay and work. And I wanted to go beyond this place, even, to whatever was next down the road.
The beauty of the soul is that it knows our true light, it IS our light, and will never lead us astray. Though we may not always listen or trust what is communicated to us through gentle prodding and inspiration, the soul remains persistent. And, though at times we set down the tools that serve our growth, Spirit never fails to encourage our earthen bodies back to the path, even in our dreams. Pay attention.
Oils to explore
Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum): Similar to ginger (both come from the Zingiberaceae family), cardamom has an affinity with the digestive system and is considered warm and dry in Chinese medicine (a bit gentler than ginger’s hot and dry nature, ginger also being in same family). According to Gabriel Mojay in Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit (Healing Arts Press, 1997), cardamom promotes both physical and energetic appetite and an “appetite for life” (it’s classified as an aperitif), stability when addressing solar plexus chakra related imbalances, and contentment for those who tend to overthink or worry. Worth noting, Robert Tisserand writes in The Art of Aromatherapy (Healing Arts Press, 1977) that cardamom, “is especially good for digestive problems of nervous origin.”
Since Dr. Birkmayer and Cathy Skipper of AromaGnosis suggest Coagulatio is the stage most associated with our third chakra, the solar plexus, you may wish to explore other essential oils traditionally used to help support physical and/or metaphorical/energetic digestive issues.
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
A powerful ally during cold and flu season, tea tree is commonly used to help support the upper respiratory system. Listed as an expectorant, tea tree helps to “dry up”, so to speak, excess mucus. Tea tree, the shrub, tends to grow in marshy areas in Northern Australia and is effective in “drying up” excess ground water. (Perhaps this act of “drying up” serves as a metaphor for drying up and solidifying what’s elemental in Coagulatio.) Mojay writes in Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, “Fortifying the Lungs and Bodily Soul (P’o), through its camphoraceous pungency, it helps to promote both a positive outlook and the healing instinct. At the same time, its strong, bittersweet spiciness invigorates the Heart and Mind (shen), uplifting the Spirit and building confidence.”
As always, please follow essential oil safety best practices. Never ingest essential oils. Always dilute essential oils appropriately and check each essential oil’s contraindications before use. For chronic conditions and/or for questions, please refer to your physician or mental health professional.