Each of our ancestors is a gate to our Inner Sanctum, to the wonder-world of our soul. Genealogy is the relational mode of understanding. The tale of our genesis is our prima materia (cosmic egg, oroboros) and our ultima materia, the unknown and self-knowledge. Like the oroboros serpent we recursively turn back toward our origins.
We must incorporate symbolic relationships. The basic alchemical sequence begins with a male and female sealing the prima materia (original substance; sea, darkness, void) into a vessel -- in this case the family tree. Here we can gently 'cook' our existential woes: rootlessness, anxiety, fear, pain, emptiness, discontent, and despair.
The retort of genealogy gives new meaning to the notion that "like cures like." We fill the retort with our ancestors' names, seal them with documentation, and fire up the slow burning oven of integration. With reflection on the wounds therein we remember past traumas and give voice to feelings previously inexpressible in metaphorical language.
We cling to our surface story and impressions as we bunge jump down our lines of descent. As we work, the House of our Flesh becomes a high tempered glass house, transparent to transcendence. Their breath is our breath, including aspirations and A-ha moments that enliven the experience within.
We have no choice but to live through unendurable times in our lives that nearly breaks us. Our dreams and their life stories will indicate if the hot fires of an initiatory
experience are to be. Psyche leads us through the labyrinth with her dim light.
In the beginning everything is chaotic, fluid, co-mingled, and undifferentiated. The chaos hides the Stone, contains it, yet is it, but hidden by our inability to see it. Its metaphorical names include quicksilver, shadow, water of life, dragon, and poison of the contaminated opposites. The problems that block us are like the brick walls in our pedigree.
The shadow that plagues us is an undead zombie -- not just a historical profile wrongly marked as living. This is the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.
We must endure and endure with devotion, dissolving defenses with emotional congruence to illuminate our undiscovered inner life, clarifying the step-by-step process. In the stillness we feel what needs attention. As the opposites co-mingle through the centuries, it changes our life potential.
We must be patient, humble, and loving with this work. We must handle the tension of not-knowing, of ambiguity, of caring for the unloved, rejected, and forgotten. Our first attempts to extract the gold from the unrefined narrative may be difficult. It is a long journey, sorting through undifferentiated hurt feelings, anger, traumatic reactions, fear, depressed moods, and restlessness, back to find our first royal marriage. Symptoms become patterns.
Its alchemical symbol is a 3-headed serpent or dragon, of Sulpher, Mercury, and Salt. This represents the dance of Sun and Moon, King and Queen, the archetypal superpatterns of male and female, and their material offspring. We spring from the soul and remain the child of our ancestors.
In every adult there lurks a child--an eternal child, something that is always becoming, is never completed, and calls for unceasing care, attention, and education. That is the part of the personality which wants to develop and become whole. -C. G. Jung CW 17: 286
First matter gives universe its properties. It organizes into the Elements, (fire, water, air, and earth), which are the building blocks of words, thought-ideas or archetypes. It is liminal, between manifest and unmanifest. It is the spiritualized essence or soul of substance: identity, form, and function oscillating between creation and destruction.
We must go a bit deeper and realize that with the instinct of creation is always connected a destructive something; the creation in its own essence is also destructive. You see that quite clearly in the moment when you check the creative impulse; nothing is more poisonous to the nervous system than a disregarded or checked creative impulse. It even destroys people's organic health. It is dangerous because there is that extraordinary destructive quality in the creative thing. Just because it is the deepest instinct, the deeper power in man, a power which is beyond conscious control, and because it is on the other side the function which creates the greatest value, it is most dangerous to interfere with it.
(Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Page 654).
The main difficulty here is that the eternal ideas have been dragged down from their "supracelestial place" into the biological sphere, and this is somewhat confusing for the trained philosopher and may even come to him as a shock. (Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 559-560).
"The transformation of Mercurius, as prima materia, in the heated, sealed vessel is comparable to cooking the basic instinctive drives in their own affect until their essential fantasy content becomes conscious."
“Instead of arguing with the drives which carry us away, we prefer to cook them and . ask then what they want. . . . That can be discovered by active imagination, or through experimenting in reality, but always with the introverted attitude of observing objectively what the drive really wants.” (Marie von Franz, Alchemy, p. 129)
It is often suggested the prima materia is found in "feces" or lead which is alchemical code for matter or the physical body and what gets shoved down into the unconscious. The first matter is cyclic, contains all the elements, and is the source of the Philosopher's Stone -- the egg or light of Nature; Anima Mundi or Soul of the World.
The alchemical motto Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultuum Lapidem means “Visit the innermost parts of the earth; by setting things right (‘rectifying’), you will find the hidden Stone.”
Jung more or less identified the unconscious with the autonomic nervous system. Such sympathetic identification is integral, interiorized or internalized knowing instead of conceptual knowing: unmediated, direct perception by the body and the emotions and the intellect -- the soul. Emotions are part of the reasoning process itself -- bodily intelligence.
This psychophysical mimesis, or power of imitation, is direct experience by total submergence of the unconscious tendencies of the ancestors. So, we can visit the interior of our own earth, our physical body for the treasure of embedded ancestral memories it has hidden for good or ill.