• Nance Harding

The Alchemy of Lent

Updated: Feb 26


Ash Wednesday initiates the penitential season of Lent that culminates in the Easter resurrection. Alchemy perceived ash, like salt, as an emblem of the albedo, the “white foliated earth,” resulting from the burning-off of impurities—desire freed from compulsion, bitterness become wisdom. It was the substance of the “incorruptible body” or “diadem of the heart,” the paradoxical simplicity of self-knowledge.*

In plain language, the psychological necessity of ritual has mostly been denied in modern scientific materialist belief systems causing us to languish in the psychotherapist office looking for a cure when what is needed is an inner healing that requires our participation. The writer, DH Lawrence referred to this participation as a difficult repentance of the mistake that mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.*


Psychological ritual can be something as simple as sitting still while quietly reciting a request for compassion such as May I be free of pain and suffering. May I be free of fear and anxiety. May I know peace and joy.* It can be also as complicated as traveling to the Peruvian jungle to engage in a Shamanic Ayahuasca* ceremony.


The most important thing to remember is when the conscious meets the unconscious, humility is needed. Then give expression to your experience through creative acts such as journaling, painting, dancing or sculpting or any other activity that brings meaning to what you're experiencing.


From ARAS.org - used with permission

DH Lawrence's poem Healing

From self-compassion.org list of self-compassion exercises


Nancy A. Harding, MAHS-LPC

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