Focus of the month: With Time Magic Arises

July 2019

In our relative world, growth, transformation and the rearranging 
of elements occurs where there is time. Sadhana (spiritual 
practice) involves discipline— a process over time—a steady, 
repeated application in order to attain results.  
We can think of time as a person, as the Great Goddess and call 
her Mother Nature. But then to use phrases like “it happens over 
time” seems not to give Time her due credit for the part she 
plays. Instead we could say with rather than over. The 
term over can imply dominance—to get something over on 
somebody. As a species, we have been hell-bent on finding 
ways to dominate nature and exploit Her.  
In 1.2 of his Yoga Sutra, Patanjali defines the state of Yoga as 
when identification with the fluctuations of mind (the thoughts) 
ceases. Then in sutra 1.12, he offers a 2-step method for how to 
facilitate that and thus how to attain Yoga. He tells us that 
through abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (non-attachment), we 
will be able to stop identifying with our thoughts and be able to 
see the true reality of who we are. At that point, we begin to 
realize who we really are beyond our thoughts. 
So all we need to do is practice and not be attached. All very 

good as a concept. But how to do it? What do those concepts 
really mean?  
Abhyasa means to practice, and to practice something implies 
that you stay with it for a while. You sit with something, and 
every time you have a reaction to it–like why do I have to work at 
this job? Why doesn’t my husband listen to me? Why do we 
have to hold this shoulderstand for five minutes? or Why should I 
just sit here and try to meditate, I have important things I need to 
be doing? –you note your reaction and you let it go. Then you 
note your next reaction, and you let that one go, too. And on and 
on. You do that as long as you need to.  
During my early twenties, I studied laboratory Alchemy, which 
shares some kinship to yoga in that it deals with transmuting the 
gross to the refined. So my first real spiritual teacher was an 
alchemist. By “real spiritual teacher” I mean that he consciously 
gave me teachings and practices to help me understand the 
spiritual principles underlying all of existence. By “alchemy” I 
mean the ancient practice of transforming the ordinary into the 
extraordinary.  He was a photographer by profession and his 
knowledge of chemistry was not only practical but metaphysical 
as well. I initially came to him because I wanted to know the 
cause of physical matter: what makes form form?  
Under his tutelage, I studied the basic building blocks that 
constitute matter-the twelve cell salts. These salts, being 
crystalline in form, actually provide a mathematical or 
geometrical grid that attracts subtle vibrations and organizes 
them into what eventually becomes manifest form. I also learned 
how to grow crystals in test tubes in a laboratory setting and 
assisted him in classical alchemical long-term projects that dealt 
with elemental properties of minerals, especially mercury and 
gold. He taught me the value of meditation and how to look 
deeply into ordinary things to discover essence, which included 
the investigation of words and their root etymological meanings. 
He infused our lessons with practical science, providing what he 
promised was an experiential connection to truth.  
Abyhasa–regular continuous practice, done with detachment, 
meaning no matter what, will help the settlingof your mind and 

lead to peace of mind. The implication is “with” time a number of 
obstacles to freedom will fall away. The practices of yoga— as 
well as alchemy— are magical practices that alter one’s 
perception of the world, one’s selfand of time. Such an altered 
perception can help you to live in harmony with nature, rather 
than viewing yourself as separate from nature. The development 
of that harmonious co-existance, once perfected, can lead to the 
arising of enlightenment—the transformation of the individual into 
something (someone) more inclusive—one who knows 
themselves as part of the whole of creation rather than a self- 
centered, skin-encapsulated ego. This living in harmony with 
nature can be enjoyable; it doesn’t have to be a life lived in 
asceticism, which has been an all too common image of the 
renunciate yogi—the hermit in a cave. Living in harmony with 
nature can be enjoyable, sensual and savory. 
The body of the enlightened yogi houses the light of truth. The 
yogi as alchemist works with nature to effect their own 
transformation from ignorance to enlightenment. This takes time. 
In fact without her, no transformation is possible. Without being 
born into life—the embodied physical experience—purifying ones 
karma (past actions, relationships with others) is very difficult if 
not impossible. There is an old alchemical precept that states: 
“through repetition the magic is forced to rise.” I like this saying 
because it equates repetition, which can only occur with and by 
the agent of time, to the key ingredient necessary for magic to 
arise.

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