Finding the Philosopher’s stone.

I’ve been trying to find the answer to the question “how to become who I really am” for some years.

It started with the discovery of Shadow. I had no idea such a concept exists. Repressed parts of my personality, that control my decisions when I am not looking? The inferior character inside me, that makes weak decisions and is hateful, anxious and resentful.

I started studying Jungian psychology to discover how to integrate that part of myself. I stumbled upon the teachings of Carl G. Jung, Marie-Louise Von Franz, Jordan Peterson, James Hillman, Friedrich Nietzsche, Lao Tzu, Joseph Campbell, Viktor Frankl and most important of all — primordial mythology.

Thanks to Jung I’ve went deep into the rabbit hole of finding myself. I began studying my unconscious. I started living a clean life, noticing my impulses and resentments. I started journaling consistently and correlating my discoveries.

Then I started noticing the little synchronicities occuring in my life. Those “random” events that were not random at all, but it was my unconscious trying to send me a message.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — Carl G. Jung

Then I discovered the concept of Anima. The female part of male psyché.

But you cannot start working with your Anima before you’ve integrated your Shadow. That is the first step.

Deeper I went I discovered other archetypes, and how do you work with them, or rather, how do they control you. Mine are Seeker (Explorer), Magician, Senex and also a Puer.

I talked to them, using the method of active imagination used by Jung, when I’ve undergone “The dark therapy”— staying in darkness for a week. With no human contact whatsoever. Just talking to yourself, sleeping and eating (so called Yangtik).

The more I studied mythology and how it maps perfectly to human mind I started noticing the connections among world mythologies. The same stories all over again. Yin and Yang. Tiamat and Abzu. Isis and Osiris. Right and left hemisphere. Chaos and Order. Female and Male.

I also found a game at that time, Dark Souls, that connected all of the important mythologies into one functioning whole. Creating gods like Gwyn (Thor) and Frampt (Ouroboros).

I became fascinated with the concept of eternal recurrence. Nietzsche talked about it in Thus spoke Zarathustra.

“What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more’ … Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

That quote is basically teasing you, if you are enjoying your life.

If you are living to your potential. Using all of it.

I am a neurotic. In fact, according to JP’s Big Five test, more neurotic than 68% of all people that took the test (those people being men between 20–25 who are already interested in psychology, are probably introverted and are doing soul-searching; so compared to “normal” population, my neuroticism must be higher. 80–90 percentile).

But if the person has a greater personality within — that is, a possibility of growth — then a psychological disturbance will occur. That is why we always say that a neurosis is in a way a positive symptom. It shows that something wants to grow; it shows that that person is not right in his or her present state and if the growth is not accepted then it grows against you, at your expense, and produces what might be called a negative individuation. The process of individuation, of inner maturing and growth, goes on unconsciously and ruins the personality instead of healing it. That is how the death-tree, the death-mother tree and the life-tree are essentially connected. The inner possibility of growth in a person is a dangerous thing because either you say yes to it and go ahead, or you are killed by it. There is no other choice. It is a destiny which has to be accepted. — C. G. Jung, Two essays on Psychology

Studying Jung, Nietzsche and JP I found, that neuroticism is in fact a positive symptom. It means you have so much potential in you, that the tension you feel is your future potential self, who is trying to GUIDE you to become it.

…the cause of neurosis is the discrepancy between the conscious attitude and the trend of the unconscious. This dissociation is bridged by the assimilation of unconscious contents.” — Jung, 1934

No wonder I’ve been trying to find who I really am, for years. My 2 best friends are also very high in this character trait, and are also following the road to individuation — a Jungian term for becoming who you really are. Finding your vocation in life.

Everyone, Jung thought, has a vocation, and our “inner voice” tries to “lead [us] toward wholeness,” toward the fulfillment of our unique “calling” (aka “vocation”). Those who are vehemently closed to the unconscious often fail to hear this voice, and the result can be a neurosis.

Okay, but how do I use this? How do I actually resolve the neurosis, listen to its signals and find who I really am? How do I find my vocation? How do I hear my inner calling? How do I become an individual Self?

“The neurosis is thus a defense against the objective, inner activity of the psyche, or an attempt, somewhat dearly paid for, to escape from the inner voice and hence from the vocation.” — Jung, 1934

Finding the answer

The process of individuation has been mapped out in the past already. Humanity just forgot about it, or stopped seeing its utility, but Jung rediscovered it.

Alchemy. Alchemist and Taoists were trying to do the same thing. Find the Philosopher’s stone and reach immortality. Of course, these were just PSYCHOLOGICAL CONCEPTS, but people took it seriously and considered making the philosopher’s stone as an objective and real thing.

Perhaps most famous of these is the notion of the Philosopher’s Stone and the principle of turning base metals into gold- gold, in Hermetic Alchemy, is symbolic of enlightenment. The Philosopher’s Stone would not be a physical object, but the path to enlightenment, maybe even (in modern terminology) “The Meaning of Life.”

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First it was Taoism. Taoist masters trying to turn metal into gold, same as medieval alchemists. It was all just a metaphor for finding your true self.

In Taoism they practiced so called Internal alchemy:

Making one’s spirit complete, one can recover emptiness. To do so, first keep the will sincere, and make sure body and mind are united. Thereby spirit can be returned to emptiness. … To attain immortality, there is nothing else but the refinement of these three treasures: essence, energy, spirit.” (tr. Kohn 1956, 146).

So keeping your mind clean, your body strong and getting rid of any desires, similar to Buddhist teachings, which are also aimed to attain the individual Self.

The ancient Chinese believed that ingesting long-lasting precious substances such as jade, cinnabar or hematite would confer some of that longevity on the person who consumed them.

Let’s look at the Ripley’s scroll, the “extraordinary manuscript, nearly 6 meters long, that describes how to make the fabled Philosopher’s stone” from 15th century:

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Ripley’s scroll, Winged Chaos

This is the last part of Ripley’s scroll. The scroll is accompanied with a poem.

“Thou must part him in three
And then knit him as the Trinity
And make them all but one
Lo here is the Philosophers Stone”

But let’s go back a little.

The sun and moon are a syzygy, a conjunction of opposites. The unification of two parts of psyché, Anima and Animus. That is the second step after you integrate your Shadow side (you do that by noticing your resentment and integrating your capacity for chaos — becoming dangerous but choosing not to. For the most part it can be done by becoming physically dangerous. A martial arts training for example).

The hermaphrodite Rebis shows the syzygy nicely:

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Rebis

And look, it uses the same symbols as the Ripley Scroll!!

So that is out of the way.

Now the dragon. It is eating its tail in most the representations. It is very obviously an instance of Ouroboros. It is the capacity to sacrifice the parts of yourself than no longer serve you. Buddist teaching described it— one of the impediments to enlightenment is attachment. If you cling to who you are too much, you cannot become who you are supposed to be. And it is bleeding. That is the sacrifice. Of your life mostly, to really find who you are.

And, as seen on the Ripley scroll, it is bleeding into the three holes in the Winged Chaos.

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A version of Ripley scroll

Now, this is an extremely complex symbol to unpack, so bear with me. It will be longer than the article so far, because it is so unbelievably complex and I want to show you all the analogies and connections I’ve found that are important for the revelation.

Winged chaos and Philosopher’s stone

The page of Ripley’s scroll is called “Bird of Hermes” and has a quote from the alchemist Ripley himself on it:

My name is Hermes and I clipped my wings to make me tame.

The principle of the phrase is to say that through self-sacrifice we can bring peace. Through self-control, self-imposed limitations, we bring safety and stability to the world.

The script beneath the Serpent of Araby (Ouroboros) says:

“Both meek and milde”

That corresponds with the Matthew 5:5 in Bible:

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Meek here does NOT mean weak. In different translations it is something like “Those are able to wield weapons but choose not to use them”.

So again, a part of Shadow. You need to develop your Shadow side by being ABLE to be dangerous, have the capacity to hurt someone, but choose not to. Basically, be a moral person, not a weak bunny who is masquerading his weakness as morality. Not being able to defend yourself is not moral. Moral is being able to be aggressive and dangerous, but choose not to be. Integrated anger.

The dragon is then both mild and has integrated his Shadow, through self-sacrifice.

If you find the Winged Chaos, you will unlock the way to get the Philosopher’s stone.

Do you notice something familiar about the Winged Chaos? Have you seen it in any movies possibly? Yes, J. K. Rowling used mythology a LOT. The Golden snitch is EXACTLY the Winged Chaos. And do you know the role of Harry Potter? He is a Seeker. She named his function exactly as the archetype who is known to be obsessed with searching for the meaning of his life.

Seeker. Explorer. Me.

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For months I’ve been searching for the meaning of the Winged Chaos.

It is a symbol of individuation. You find it, you find your vocation, you will live a deeply meaningful life. A symbolic life.

References and analogies I’ve found

Winged Chaos, sometimes called Round Chaos, is the “messenger of Gods”.

About Psychopomps, the Messengers of Gods

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Hermes/Mercury and his Caducecus
  • Hermes, Greek deity, is a psychopomp (an escort for the souls of the dead) who helped the dead find their way to the afterlife (the Underworld in the Greek myths). Most typically shown as a messenger between the divine and mortal realms.

In Jungian psychology especially, Hermes is seen as relevant to study of the phenomenon of synchronicity

  • Mercury, Roman deity, he is a god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence, messages, communication (including divination), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves; he also serves as the guide of souls to the underworld.
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From Psychology and alchemy — Carl G. Jung
  • Caducecus, is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology and consequently by Hermes Trismegistus in Greco-Egyptian mythology. Also by Mercury and Iris. It is said the wand would wake the sleeping and send the awake to sleep. If applied to the dying, their death was gentle; if applied to the dead, they returned to life. (In Harry Potter, the resurrection stone is INSIDE the Golden Snitch, Round Chaos)
  • Iris was the messenger of the Olympian gods while her twin sister Arke betrayed the Olympians and became the messenger of the Titans. She is the goddess of the rainbow (Birfrost in Norse mythology). She also serves nectar to the gods and goddesses to drink. Iris was said to have golden wings. As goddess, she is associated with communication, messages, the rainbow and new endeavors. This personification of a rainbow was once described as being a link to the heavens and earth.

She does not, however, appear in The Odyssey, where her role is instead filled by Hermes. Like Hermes, Iris carries a caduceus or winged staff. By command of Zeus, the king of the gods, she carries an ewer of water from the River Styx, with which she puts to sleep all who perjure themselves.

Here is a hint that “messenger of gods” is basically your inner intuition. Inner signals, telling you what is really interesting to you. In my opinion, it is the drugs and overstimulation, that retard the progress of finding one’s true self. You do not feel intuition, nor dream (thus don’t have the connection to the underworld, to your unconscious side) when you use too much drugs (be it coffee, social media, or harder stuff) or overstimulate your dopaminergic and adrenal systems, and on top of that stimulant drugs can make you focus on things you would normally have no interest in, by making them stimulating.

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Iris
  • Ningishzida

A Sumerian god of the underworld alternately the son of Ereshkigal and Gugullana or of Anu, the sky god. His symbol was the serpent Basmu entwined around a staff much like the later Caduceus of Hermes. He was known as the `Lord of the Good Tree’ and was associated with protection and fertility. Also known as Geshida and, under that name, appears with Tammuz as a dying and reviving god figure who watches the gates of the gods in the Myth of Adapa.

Good tree is the World Tree in Norse mythology, Yggdrasil (more about it below).

The watcher of The Gates of the Gods is the same role as Heimdall in Norse mythology, who can be also interpreted as Ratatoskr — also a messenger of the Gods.

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Serpent god Ningishzida on the libation vase of Gudea, circa 2100 BCE
  • Ratatoskr and Heimdall

Ratatoskr is a squirrel who carries messages along Yggradsil, the Tree of life. He mediates communication between the Eagle on top of the Tree and the hungry dragon, Nidhoggr, who lies coiled among the roots. So, he is a messenger between the divine and mortal realms, same as Hermes and other psychopomps.

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  • Heimdall(r)

Heimdallr is also closely related to the Yggdrasil. He guards the Bifröst, the rainbow bridge between the Earth and the realm of Gods (notice parallels with Iris and other psychopomps).

Heimdallr is attested as possessing foreknowledge, keen eyesight and hearing, and keeps watch for invaders and the onset of Ragnarök while drinking fine mead in his dwelling Himinbjörg, located where the burning rainbow bridge Bifröst meets the sky.

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Notice his helmet and Caducecus staff.

Other references to Winged Chaos and Philosopher’s stone

Freedom to pass back and forth across the world division, from the perspective of the apparitions of time to that of the causal deep and back — not contaminating the principles of the one with those of the other, yet permitting the mind to know the one by virtue of the other — is the talent of the master. The Cosmic Dancer, declares Nietzsche, does not rest heavily in a single spot, but gaily, lightly, turns and leaps from one position to another. It is possible to speak from only one point at a time, but that does not invalidate the insights of the rest. The individual, through prolonged psychological disciplines, gives up completely all attachment to his personal limitations, idiosyncrasies, hopes and fears, no longer resists the self-annihilation that is prerequisite to rebirth in the realization of truth, and so becomes ripe, at last, for the great at-one-ment. His personal ambitions being totally dissolved, he no longer tries to live but willingly relaxes to whatever may come to pass in him; he becomes, that is to say, an anonymity. — Joseph Campbell

The Delphic myth

  • serpent form
  • hermaphroditic dragon (Syzygy, Rebis)
  • Three heads
  • “this winged chaos as mate of masculine Eros, was apparently hermaphroditic”
  • dragon with tail in his mouth
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Python: A Study of Delphic Myth and Its Origins

Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter is a Seeker, literally. The Golden Snitch is “a thing that glimmers and moves everywhere”, same as Mercury and other Messengers of Gods I mentioned.

But that is not all!
As we get to know in the Deathly Hallows books and movies, the Golden Snitch has an inscription on it:

I open at the close

That itself could be a reference to the dragon eating its tail. Inside the Golden Snitch there is the Resurrection Stone.

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Symbol of the three deathly hallows. Wand, stone, cloak.

The Resurrection Stone is one of the fabled Deathly Hallows. In “The Tale of the Three Brothers”, it was the second Hallow created, supposedly by Death himself. It was bestowed upon Cadmus Peverell after he requested, as his bounty, something with the power to recall loved ones from Death. According to legend, whoever reunited it with the other two Hallows (the Elder Wand and the Cloak of Invisibility) would become the Master of Death.

So, J. K. Rowling obviously knew about the psychopomps being the “guides to the Undeworld”. That is impressive. Not only did she study the mythology to implement the incredibly obscure symbol of Round Chaos into the story, but the studied it in detail to get it right.

I do not know if the other two hallows bear any significance or connection in the case of Winged/Round chaos, but I will list their functions to be sure:

  • Resurrection stone — ability to bring back dead souls

Represents longing and love. The brother used it to resurrect a girl he loved.

It is said to be the only object that would bring back the spirits of the holder’s deceased loved ones, activating when turned three times in the user’s hand. These shades are said to dislike being drawn from their rightful afterlife.

  • Cloak of invisibility — renders wearer invisible

I suspected the Cloak of invisibility to be a metaphor for humility for some time. The Tale of three brothers confirmed it:

The invisibility cloak was asked by the youngest of three brothers out of his humility. He never sought to prove anything to anyone and led a humble life.

  • Elder Wand — most powerful wand in the world, always wins in a duel

The elder wand was asked by the eldest of three brothers who was power hungry. He asked for this wand in his blinding hunger for supreme power, without analyzing any other factor.

The Elder Wand’s core is the tail hair of a Thestral, a potent yet tricky substance to master; only a witch or wizard who is capable of accepting death can do so, since only by them can a Thestral hair even be seen.

Here is a point where I got stuck for months, trying to figure out what do the three holes in the Round Chaos really mean.

Let’s look at it once more:

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The syzygy and round chaos

Ripley is talking about three stones in his scroll.

In short:

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source: interactive Ripley scroll

White, Red and Black stone.

Three holes. Filled with sacrifical blood of the dragon eating its tail. Your capacity to sacrifice what no longer serves you.

The philosopher’s stone, more properly philosophers’ stone or stone of the philosophers (Latin: lapis philosophorum) is a legendary alchemical substance capable of turning base metals such as mercury into gold or silver. It is also called the elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and for achieving immortality; for many centuries, it was the most sought goal in alchemy. The philosophers’ stone was the central symbol of the mystical terminology of alchemy, symbolizing perfection at its finest, enlightenment, and heavenly bliss.

So, philosopher’s stone is useful for gaining knowledge, as the name implies, and in later phases grants you the ability to achieve immortality.

It is an elixir of life. That caught my attention when reading about Ratatoskr, the Norse psychopomp. A kind of mead kept being mentioned in the stories, and Odin himself found it in a story about “Mead of poetry”. It is a mythical beverage that whoever “drinks becomes a skald or scholar” to recite any information and solve any question. So is a Philosopher’s stone.

Ratatoskr is sometimes linked to Rati, a magical drill which the god Odin used on a quest to obtain magical mead, made from the blood of the wisest man who ever lived, out of a fortress inside a mountain. Rati was used to drill a hole in the mountain. Odin used this hole to enter the mountain in the shape of a serpent, swallowed all the mead of wisdom, and turned into an eagle before exiting the mountain again. Still in the form of an eagle, Odin ascended to Asgard (located in the top branches of Yggdrasil) to share the mead with the other gods.

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Odin steals the mead of poetry and spits it while fleeing from Suttungr

The magical mead was made from Kvasir, a man so wise there was no question he could not answer. One day, he visited two dwarwes who killed him and poured his blood into two vats and a pot. Into three vessels. They mixed the blood with honey, thus creating a mead of poetry.

The vessels are called Boðn, Són and Óðrerir.

Silver Crimson Black

There is a song by Zack Hemsey, a philosopher who makes music I would say. It is not rap, rather an epic sounding mythology.

It’s called Silver Crimson Black and I’ve known it for years, but only made the connection to Red, White and Black a few days ago, while studying Ratatoskr.

The text goes:


To know silver is to know respect
In disguise come that silver like a side effect
But silver lies with the snake, aint no idle threat
So only rest where all them silver lines bottleneck

Silver = respect = humility.

Crimson decimate the workings of a straw man
Cut the ribbon, crimson opens with a strong ram
And crimson spread a mass of fury when the flames fan
Crimson have you searching for the exit on the floor plan
….
And crimson can seduce and turn a district into sleepers
Infect a righteous leader with a case of scarlet fever
Now let that crimson rise within, begin to see red
Catch that surprise, crimson reveals, begin to seem red

And crimson flows from the rivers that our hearts bled
Crimson rose, redrum, murder, pose, dead

Crimson is passion. Can be anger or love.

Black rose pedals on the landscape when Grim come near
And black roams far, it’s that final frontier
….
As black’s knight shield the heaven’s with — black — hides the messages
But black’s light shows the evidence
….
Question of the truth will lead to silence in that blackout
You should know confusion always follows when you black out
So never turn your back to black when it blacks out
Every luminescence casts a black shadow we perceive

That silver shines when a man stand in victory
That crimson blinds from the fires of our history
That black aligns all the beauty and the misery

Crimson and that silver can shed light on black’s mystery
So pull that sliver from the stone, let that red attack
Cross that silver with that black, be a silverback
And hold that crimson, red-handed as you go
Then with your black hand spin that hourglass, black widow

Black is still a mystery to me. I would guess it represents power or death.

Chinese alchemy

The colors hold deep symbolism. I tried looking into Chinese alchemy, where they used Jade, Cinnabar and Hematite in outer (Waidan) alchemy — light color, red and black stone.

The colour was significant to symbolic belief as well, red being considered in Chinese culture to be the “zenith of the colour representing the sun, fire, royalty and energy.”

Red could represent fire, royalty and energy.

And their inner alchemy (Neidan) consisted of:

  1. Yin cultivation — life essence. Taken care of by good dietary and lifestyle practices.
  2. Qi cultivation — vital essence. Keeping the body healthy. Qi Qong or a form of Yoga. In today’s world a martial art would be a good idea, in my opinion.
  3. Shen — mind. Meditation.

Few details to conclude

Tree of Life, Yggdrasil

The Tree of life represents the Psyché. There is an Eagle on top of the tree on the mountain, and a hungry dragon Nidhoggr, who lies coiled among the Tree’s roots.

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Tree of life

Ratatoskr acts as a messenger, jumping over the Bifrost, being able to travel freely between the realms of consciousness and unconsciousness.

The rainbow Bifrost is guarded by Heimdallr. And the whole world is encircled by a serpent eating its tail.

The portal at the bottom, leading right to the top of the mountain has a clear message, in my opinion.

The dragon eating its tail, Ouroboros, is a symbol for integration and assimilation of the opposite, of the Shadow.

You cannot reach the top without descending into the darkness. Without acknowleding your Shadow.

Jung himself confirms this with a quote:

No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.

And here is a Jungian model of psyché. I can see parallels with the Tree of life, but I don’t have a very strong argument to support it. The line of “Personal consciousness” could be the separator of the “realm of men” and “realm of Gods” in the Tree.

  • Mana personality is Senex, the archetype of a Wise Old Man. Shaman.
  • Soul image is Anima for men. Animus for women.
  • Self is the goal of individuation. Fulfilling your potential.
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Jungian model of psyché

Back to the Ripley’s scroll

The poem on the scroll contains this:

In the sea without lees
Standeth the bird of Hermes
Eating his wings variable
And maketh himself yet full stable
When all his feathers be from him gone
He standeth still here as a stone
Here is now both white and red
And all so the stone to quicken the dead

All and some without fable
Both hard and soft and malleable
Understand now well and right
And thank you God of this sigh

Black stone quickens the dead, that corresponds with the Rowling adaptation — resurrection stone. The metaphorical meaning of this is still hidden to me. Perhaps I will need to read Maps of meaning and Mysterium Coniunctionis.

White stone = humility and the ability to change yourself
Red stone = controlling your emotions — passion, love, anger, rage
Black stone = freedom from the fear of death

Silver, Crimson, Black.

My thoughts on the “becoming immortal” in Taoistic alchemy, and the Elixir of life in Norse mythology and generally being the result the alchemical process are this:

Hero’s journey begins with humility. Hermes, the psychopomp, is an archetype of a fool/joker. One must first be able to accept his mistakes and keep learning and bettering his old insufficient self. That is represented by the Ouroboros, sacrificing old parts and integrating the inferior Shadow side.

Sun and Luna unity are Anima and Animus. Young men (< 35 years) can, according to Jung, even completely forget about their Anima, what is important is not being controlled by the Anima of the mother. In other words, not falling into the Oedipal tendencies of each mother. Attaining self-sufficiency. And later in life developing the soft side, as each man after 40 will naturally do. Become softer, lose his hard manliness.

The Winged Chaos is a messenger. A patron of the psychoanalytic process. A guide. Your intuition.

The individuation converges, in my opinion, to keeping the mind clear of any substances or overstimulation, keeping the body strong, doing the taoist practice of cultivating your libido and life force (White stone) — in modern terms, nofap; developing the Shadow side through martial arts and true moral effort, keeping a child like mind — capable of listening to others with humility and mainly working on the things that you love to do.

Once you find what you really love to do, what gives your life meaning (you have to find that by yourself, Future Authoring and trying everything you can think of helps) you will gain the Philosopher’s stone.

Your life will have ultimate meaning. You will not care if you die, because you will live exactly as you want. You will be exactly who you were meant to be.

And that makes you immortal. The Elixir of life is the Ikigai, the motivation to wake up every day, knowing you will do what you love to do. To look forward to every day. Your vocation.

Just keep trying, like an Ouroboros, and shed anything that is not useful to you. Sacrifice what you are not to become what you might be.

And do not forget, that you are constantly becoming what you are doing. “The Way to do is to be”. The way you behave determines who you are. “If you want to be a writer, write” sort of thing. So do not exercise what you don’t want to become.

But first you need to be willing to let go of your current self. You are not who you want to be, so get rid of your old ways of behavior and adapt new ones. And watch closely what does your intuition and dreams tell you. That is the Hermes archetype.

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Hermes in the Underworld — Unconsciousness (Souls on the Banks of the Acheron)

Written by

INTP, Master’s degree in comp-sci, Creator, indie game developer, director, writer, photographer. I like BJJ, Jungian psychology, mythology and memes.

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