When I was a kid, I loved sneaking into my older brother’s room to look inside the top drawer of his desk. Among the rubber bands, erasers, and sharpened #2 yellow pencils was a small glass vial.
Aware that I was breaking a taboo, I took the vial out of the drawer. After checking to make sure the cork stopper was secure, I turned it upside down to watch the forbidden mercury dissolve into minute bubbles and then back into a single shimmering stream.
I repeated my secret experiment many times before finally deciding to remove that cork stopper.
Four years ago, when Benjamin proposed we consider building a web site to introduce our Alchemical Healing work to the world in a more intentional way, I had that same breathless feeling of breaking a taboo.
My first response was, “No way!” Alchemy has always been a carefully guarded, hermetically sealed esoteric tradition. It is shared person to person, through symbols and myths, from one practitioner to the next. It can’t be done online.
I remembered the precious yet dangerous mercury sliding out of the tube and slithering into every crack and crevice in the floor. Like the genie in Aladdin’s lamp, the mercury contained by the vial was entrancing, seductively promising to do my bidding. But once freed from its vessel, it became unpredictable, dangerous, and impossible to control.
Since its earliest beginnings, the art of alchemy has been associated with Mercury, the fleet-footed shape-shifting patron god of communication, eloquence, trickery, theft, and financial gain.
This many-faced god also guides us across the borderlands, back and forth between the land of the living and the dead. He is toyed with at great peril.
Four years after my initial “No! It can’t be done,” I have come to understand that Mercury is also the presiding god of the Internet.
As we have joined others around the globe in the project of bringing inner work, transformational healing, and spiritual investigation to the Internet, I have come to see that Mercury, and the principles and practices of alchemy, can help us to approach the Genie in the Bottle that is the world wide web more effectively and more wisely.
Here are some lessons from Mercury for engaging with the Internet with integrity:
- Mercury is a shape shifter. Alchemy recognizes an intelligence and sentience in all things. There is nothing completely unresponsive to psychic energy. As we interface with silicon-based, electronic technology, our task is to remember its power and its responsiveness to our own psyches. The energy and attitudes we bring with us when we surf and post are as important as the words we share. Meditating, centering, breathing for a few moments before, between, and after engagement really makes a difference.
- Mercury is a trickster. Alchemy recognizes a distinction between true and fool’s gold. If we enter cyberspace driven by greed for money or power, we will be at the mercy of tricksters and fools. We will create a soulless wasteland no different from the wastelands we have already created on our planet. But if we come to the cyber community remembering that the true gold is our connection to each other and the soul, if we approach with an attitude of generosity, centered intention, and love, there is no end to the global healing and transformation we can manifest.
- Mercury can be many places at the same time. Alchemy cherishes synchronicities and recognizes that the limitations of linear time and space do not apply to all states of awareness. The Internet is our first foray into a new dimension of consciousness. Ultimately, our task is to remember that we are taking the very first tiny steps into a completely new way of being human and a totally new relationship to time and space. Like any new beginner, we need to go slow, take breaks, be highly discerning about the teachers we choose, be willing to start over when we’ve gone off course, and honor the magic when it happens.
- Mercury is our guide between realms. Spirit and Matter are two sides of one coin. Like the ancient alchemists in their laboratories, we must be relentless in our search to understand the mysterious relationship between spirit and matter. As the Internet has become our primary source for information, there is no doubt this exploration must now include the cyber world.
We’d love to stay connected. Check out our online CEU classes for acupuncturists or join our conversation at our Alchemical Healing Global Community Facebook Group.