Today, I did only Eight Pieces of Silk, my Druidic daily practice, and the tai chi form. I was able to do all three slowly; I’m planning to do Five Golden Coins later today. It didn’t feel rushed, for the first time in a long time. All three together took about forty-five minutes. If I hadn’t popped awake an hour earlier than I should, at 4:00 am, I think I would be having a great morning. As it is, I’m definitely feeling like my day began way too early for a Monday.
I put the time to productive use, though. When it became clear after about 40 minutes that I wasn’t going to go back to sleep, I got up and finished the filtration and decanting of a tincture I’ve been working on.
The difference between the first filtration and the second filtration, as seen in this photograph, demonstrates pretty clearly the difference between the first separation, and the second. The crumbly residue in the first filter on the left went into the cohobation stage as a gray ash, almost white — it’s absorbed a vast number of impurities from the finished spagyric tincture. The resulting tincture (of dill weed) is an intense dark green, not translucent like some of my other tinctures, but really more like an evergreen or hemlock or red pine color.
And I think there’s a metaphor here for my tai chi practice (gee, alchemy and tai chi have something in common? Who’da thunk?). When we first begin the study of tai chi or a martial art, our teacher or the video or a combination of the two must show us the path forward, and correct our mistakes. They burn down our errors, and re-add the corrected errors to the practiced form. But then new errors appear, and these also must be burned down and reabsorbed.
As we reflect on our practice, fewer and fewer mistakes appear — but these too must be burned down and reduced to ash again and re-added to the mixture, each time producing a more intense and powerful result.
There’s still stuff in my practice that must be burned down and reduced to ash before it can be built up again. There’s still things I want to work on. But after a year and a half, I feel as though I have a pretty high-quality practice that’s helping me fix errors, build strength and flexibility, and that’s growing more intense over time. And that’s some of the core reasons to engage in a daily practice. So far, this is going well, even if I’m currently in a part of the time frame where nothing much appears to change on a day-to-day basis.