Alchemical Speculative Placemaking

Coniunctio ♓︎

[Qualities of coniunctio: union of opposites, philosophers’ stone, rectifying of all one-sidedness, love purged of desirousness, transpersonal love for humanity itself, unity, “glue of the world”]

The Philosophical Egg, from Theoria Philosophiae Hermeticae, 1617. According to Franz, it is “both birthplace of, and container for, the new attitudes symbolised by the alchemical goal of the coniunctio, the union of opposites (male and female, consciousness and the unconscious, etc.). Here that goal is pictured as hermaphrodite [sic] in triumph over the dragon and the winged globe of chaos. The seven planets represent different aspects of the personality and the seven stages of transformation.”

“I kill and I make alive, neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. I offer my mouth to my beloved and he kisseth me. He and I are one. Who can separate us from our love?
No one in length or breadth, for our love is stronger than death.”
Aurora consurgens, 15th century

Both Bull and Self Transcended
Whip, rope, person, and Ox –
all merge in No Thing.
This heaven is so vast,
no message can stain it.
How may a snowflake exist
in a raging fire.
Here are the footprints of
the Ancestors.
(Part 8 of the Ten Ox Herding Pictures of Zen Buddhism, 12th century, China)

Breath in,
Breath out.
Note the space between each breath.
That is everything.

A story: Beltain, 2020. In meditation I sit, hands cradled together in my lap. A force not my own seems to push them apart and fills the palms of my hands with a heaviness. I begin to push my hands up, and realize I am raising a heavy curtain to a passageway. On the other side stands Hekate [varyingly, the goddess of liminal spaces, crossroads, the underworld, earth and sky, the Cosmic World Soul], shrouded in white. She is alone in an immaculate, arching corridor of glass and marble. I feel awash in love. I speak, and She replies instantly. Unprepared for this unexpected meeting, I fumble for questions. The answers come immediately, with an absolute certainty, nearly before I finish asking. I cannot recall verbatim the conversation. It went something like this: “What should I be doing?” I ask. “You are doing it,” She replies. “Am I doing okay?” “You are fine.” “How can I grow further?” “This is the way.” The encounter ends, and I am left feeling as if in a trance.

Opposites united,
Duality ceased,
Stone created,
Wholeness reached.

We have come to the end of the work. Eros’s arrow has pierced the universe. Nestled in its beating heart, across spirals infinite of time and space, is love.

Its heart beats in yours. Love.

Love spilling forth from the universe. Love caressing with light from the Sun and the Moon. Love exhaled from the Earth. Love from those who came before, whose love vibrates in our cells and souls. Love from those yet to come, whose future calls upon our love.

Take the fruits of this practice and pass them forward. Fear not of running out. It is always there in the divine heartbeat between each sacred breath.


“I strive to honor you. The way you slide on through resilient magic. The spell of your abundant impossibility. Your entire body writes our future infinite. Your breathing body spells our future name.”

“I love you enough to respond to your urgent crucial call. Decoded so you hear exactly what I am saying. I love you. I’m here. Come with me. I hear you. I love you. I’m here. Stay with me. Take care.”

– Alexis Pauline Gumbs

To end, a song that for me embodies the work we’ve been through, Masâr [path in Arabic] by Le Trio Joubran. Aptly, this version culminates in a conjoining of the music with the recorded echoes of the late Mahmoud Darwish, reciting a serendipitously fitting section of his poem “The Dice Player.”

I’d walk/jog/run/ascend/descend/scream/
bark/howl/call/wail/speed up/slow down/
plummet/lighten/dry up/march/fly/see/
not see/stumble/turn yellow/green/
blue/crack/sob/thirst/tire/starve/get up/
run/forget/see/not see/remember/hear/
or not/moan/go mad/get lost/become less/
become more/drop/soar/descend/bleed/
fall unconscious/

Thank you for joining me on these travels. My gratitude, blessings, and love to you.

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