1. The Philosophic Egg or Retort
(From Adam McClean, creator of the Alchemy Web Site)
In this series of elementary meditative exercises, no special postures are required but that in which one is most comfortable, nor are any special breathing rhythms used. Meditation should be undertaken when one is not too tired, and the best situation is probably lying down in a quiet, nearly dark, room, and it is essential to have privacy and no possibility of being disturbed.
In the first part of the meditation begin to explore the way in which one’s inward being connects with the outward world. Follow out in consciousness, say, one’s hearing of a slight sound, feel one’s consciousness raying out towards the source of the sound, then return inwards. Allow oneself to become aware of one’s body posture, a small discomfort perhaps, feel through one’s sense of touch how one connects with the physical world, and then allow one’s consciousness to withdraw and follow this back inwards. Continue this with all the senses using the impulses that come to one through the sense organs in a natural way; do not try to force or repress these realities, but follow these outward and allow oneself to return inward. One will begin to feel an awareness growing of the relationship between one’s inner being and one’s perception, and when this arises naturally in the meditation, begin to inwardly form a picture of this awareness, as an egg or flask-retort. Picture one’s being as a flask. The outside world can only enter through the walls of the flask, the shell of the egg. Let one’s consciousness look outwards through the walls of the flask into the sense world, and be able to return inward to one’s soul egg.
As the meditation continues, one will find arising quite naturally, sudden images, jumbled thoughts, daily worries. In this exercise, do not try to repress these or avert one’s consciousness from them, but allow each of them in turn to develop, grow to fruition, and then watch them dissolve and their energy dissipate. These images, emotional impulses, arise out of our unconscious, the raw energy of our inner life, the background of our being. Picture this in the meditation as the most inward content of the flask or egg, a deep interior darkness out of which these impulses unconsciously stir. Allow one’s being to sink inwards, to immerse oneself in the inner contents of the flask, then return to the surface.
One must now begin to bring these two parts of the exercise together, picturing one’s being as the egg or retort, a dynamic boundary between the multiplicity of outer perception, and inward streaming unconscious activity. In this meditative exercise, one’s soul touches upon the two seas in which one’s being has no firm foundation, and through this inner touching, begins to contact that solid ground of the soul, which lies between those two realms. Thus one begins to grow a space within, a space in which one can work surely with the soul.
This is a very simple meditation, and to the intellect it may seem trivial, but exercises such as this are essential in developing a contact with the ground space of the soul, the Retort, or Philosophic Egg in which inner development can occur. If one will persevere with it, one can use this exercise as a method of opening and closing a more extended meditative working.