Initiatics : how they work
In our first article in this series, we talked about the often misguided expectations people have of our Initiatic Spagyrics, often stemming from their experiences with more drug-like preparations of Shamanic plants. In the second article, we discussed what our Spagyrics do offer, when used in conjunction with personal discipline and effort.
In this article, we’ll be discussing why there is a difference between drug-focused preparations of Shamanic plants and our Spagyrics of them, and what role the Spagyric processing plays in shaping the resulting experience.
Spagyric processing is described perfectly by the word’s own etymology. Spagyric comes from two root words, meaning “separate” and “recombine”. This is the nutshell version of what happens in the lab, where different constituents of the plant’s physical being are separated by different extraction processes, and then recombined into a new whole.
There is an implied third step, between separate and recombine, which is the process of purification. In Spagyrics, the more refined and concentrated a preparation is, the higher the level of being it will access and operate on.
A plant in its whole, natural state has a balance of chemicals and constituents that reflect its being in a physical way, unique to that plant. Alchemically, plants (like all other living beings) are made of three levels of being: a body, a spirit, and a soul, each level originating in the archetypal life force of Nature, but manifesting physically in different ways in each plant.
The body, called the Salt level, resides in the minerals and structural tissues, and plants like Alfalfa or Horsetail are especially centered in this level of being. The spirit, the Mercury level, is the “spirits”, the alcohol produced by fermentation. The strongest manifestation of this level in plants is found in grapes. The soul, or Sulfur level, is carried by the essential oils, perfectly expressed in plants like Rosemary or Lavender. Thus, each plant’s physical properties show the balance of subtle energies that went into its creation.
Spagyric processing works to refine one of these three levels to create a medicine targeted to that level of being. So, Salt-level medicines are created from plants whose healing work takes place mostly on the physical, while the Mercury or Sulfur levels would be the focus of processing to create Spagyrics to heal the Spirit or Soul.
It’s important to understand that this is not a process of isolation, since all three levels will be in the final Spagyric, regardless of the level being focused on. This is because Spagyrics is a process of creating a new whole, elevated and refined, but not fractured or split.
Another important point here is that the chemistries of the plants aren’t the same as the subtle energies, the chemistry is just what carries the energies. The physical constituents of the plants- the minerals, alcohol, and essential oils- are where the subtle structures of Salt, Mercury, and Sulfur reside.
Put another way, you live in your house, but you are not the building itself, and the building is not you. You shelter there, can often be found there, and are identified with the structure and location, but you and your house are separate things.
Since plants do carry physical chemicals that have physical effects, we tend to fixate on them and value them at that level, in herbalism and in spirituality. We don’t deny that the berberine in goldenseal is an antibiotic, of course, or that the harmaline in Syrian rue affects brain chemistry, these are physical facts of the plant’s being, and how that plant communicates to our physical being. We are all of us, plants and people, physical beings, and made to interact with and be affected by physical compounds.
In alchemy and Spagyrics, though, these physical effects are a manifestation through that plant of the life force of Nature, working to protect itself, thrive, and grow. Nature’s intelligence and life force reaches out to express itself through the chemicals, but they are not the source of the effects.
I explain all of this because it is key to understanding how our Spagyrics of entheogenic plants work, physical as they are, but not working solely from that level. More drug-like preparations of these plants focus only on the chemistry, extracting, concentrating, or isolating one or another “active ingredient” on a physical level to create a particular physical effect in the end user.
The problem with this approach is that these chemicals are very powerful special substances that Nature has designed to be used carefully, placing her warning signs of bitterness and physical discomfort within their characteristics and effects. Concentrating only the chemistry, bypassing her warnings against overdose, and packing in as much physical effect as possible does get results: it brings in-toxic-ation.
The physical constituents are the residence of the message of Nature’s intelligence, but other things live in that place, too. If alcohol was only life force, there would be no detrimental effect from drinking it. Likewise, if Nature’s intelligence was the only thing carried by the alkaloids in particular, nausea, dizziness, and a host of other unpleasant effects would never come from using these plants.
These other effects are in the plant because its agenda is not entirely about helping us. As a plant, it has to also fend off predators, combat disease, grow and reproduce, etc. So, the plant creates many chemistries, some of them useful to us, some not. These chemistries fall along a spectrum from food plants (mostly useful, rarely harmful) to medicine (some of both) to entheogens (a trickier balance) to poisons (mostly harmful).
Intelligent use of these plants falls along the same continuum. Food plants can mostly be just consumed, medicinal plants have to be prepared to some degree, entheogens require skill and very specific preparation, and poisons require real expertise to handle.
In Spagyrics, we understand this continuum because we have stepped back from the physical manifestations of chemistry and are understanding the plant from the perspective of its intelligence, and Nature’s intelligent communication expressed there.
So, as already described above, Spagyrics works with physically-healing plants with relatively simple processing, in the case of our Essences, over the course of about a month. The results express the physical being of the plant almost as-is, refined to be stable and continue to live longer than a plant would, but not refined to a higher level of effect.
Shamanic herbs could also be prepared this way, and would have physical effects- the intoxication quality already discussed. But we believe that there is a higher, more intelligent message these plants are communicating, and refining them properly sets that message free so that it can be heard clearly and assimilated deeply.
Free from nausea, wild hallucinations, uncontrollable behaviour, and overwhelming sensory changes, this message comes through in a way which is easier on the body and more useful in daily life. The experience of an intelligently-prepared, properly refined Spagyric initiatic won’t be the “trip” many are looking for, but it will be the journey that many of us truly need.