My early twenties were often spent in a quasi trance state sweating out energetic banter, twirling on a dirty dance floor somewhere in the depths of Los Angeles’ underground. On any given night I could be found marathon dancing as a form of personal alchemy. Although I would not know that I was until much later.
Music was a ritualistic container for me and dancing was my seance. I would assign a task to each movement with the intention to heal and explore myself. Movements become emotion, sent within to untangle blocked energy, childhood trauma more often than not to send love to a sore knee. Dancing was the way I cast my spells. It was my intuition that led me into this dance trance alchemy, and Hip Hop, Hip Hop was the soil that held space for my intuition.
Hip Hop is popular culture. Far above and beyond all other genres of art and music hiphop continues to capture the imagination of billions of youth all over the world. Perpetually ensuring its relevance into the foreseeable future. Its ability to resonate with the spirit of what is cutting edge as a universal aesthetic and the vulnerability of the human condition is profound and reveals its deep connection to the human spirit and its heroes’ journey.
I feel a deep connection to hip hop as do so many. Not just because I am a black male born in the United States but because of the transformation I have seen the culture undergo as it has evolved in my 40+ years on earth. It has taken an intuitive path into chaos and expansion similar to my own.
Filled with trauma, injustice, reflection, guidance, celebration, divine imagination and transcendent ecstasy! Hip Hop’s evolution has been one planted within a fertile field of innocence, emotion and intuition. I’m interested in identifying a pattern within that fertile field by assigning the stages of hip hop’s growth to the ancient system of alchemy.
My personal path has included a feverish study of myself in companion with a study of ancient wisdom traditions, shamanism and natural sciences. Wisdom that I was either led to or stumbled upon. Wisdom that held out tools to me on how to raise myself into a more focused, competent, coherent, compassionate, insightful and complete being.
A being with a worldview that is able to expand with more knowledge without fear of discarding an old belief. It is faith in your worldview that makes life a lot easier to navigate. Little did I know that much of this wisdom had its roots in the idea of breaking myself apart and recreating myself from scratch. In my opinion, this principle is at the essence of HipHop.
As a culture I recognize that hiphop is made of many individuals going through their own becoming. This evolution can be much more satisfying and inspiring with tools left by the ancestors. With these tools we can build a frame through which to view ourselves, the idea of culture and the true nature of reality. With this view we are able to see the true potential of hiphop culture as we align it with our new understanding of universal principles.
Alchemy is rooted in universal law. Meaning if most things nurtured by nature are left to their own devices they will eventually evolve towards what we can concede is a more perfect state. Now I know what you’re thinking, everything dies! Entropy is a universal law as well. Yes, entropy is a law of thermodynamics.
It states that everything tends to fall towards disorder if no energy is reinvested into the system. But the truth is alchemy exists within this law. In fact entropy exists within alchemy! You see entropy is an actual step on the path of transmutation.
On the largest scale aware to me, it is alchemy at work, pulling all of existence into states of optimal energy usage and order. But when this law is identified and applied to a living system such as a civilization, a culture or even an individual, nature must work with the powerful consciousness of the human beings at the center of the system to transmute the energy, perception and emotion. Because human consciousness is typically not as stable as a rock in nature it makes moving this energy through the 7 steps of Alchemy a little more challenging when consciousness is involved. This is ultimately what alchemy is about.
It is a tool for consciousness to work with as it moves through invalid preconceptions, acculturation and beliefs in order to emerge a truly conscious and highly effective processor of reality. But whether it is a culture or an individual, energy tends to get stuck as it moves due to all of the external influences.
Especially when the culture of individuals isn’t aware of this tool and how to use it. In this article I will attempt to do my best to teach hip hop culture how to utilize this ancient spirit tech. First a little history lesson.
“Alchemy, basic with a touch of wild wonder
Alchemy, we made this to take your style under
Metal frame, walking through a, metal game with a limp, tight grip
Determined not to let time slip
This is Alchemy, iron b-boy and all his glory
Alchemy, hold it from the colder sob story
Metal frame, walking through a, metal game with a limp, tight grip
Determined not to let time slip”
When most in the West think of alchemy they think of an eccentric old wizard in a black hooded robe and a long beard shuffling through brittle scrolls in a dingy catacomb beneath a castle somewhere in Europe. Their medieval chemistry laboratory filled with boiled dragon’s teeth, sacred geometry and rattling beakers vomiting putrid epiphany into vials of mystery in search of the “elixir of life” or “philosopher’s stone”, the alchemist’s magnum opus.
Although there were alchemists solely interested in the art because of it’s apparent promise of endless riches by turning lead into gold. An account of the lives of most alchemists would lead us to believe that they were concerned with things spiritual more than things temporal. They were people inspired by a vision, a vision of a being made perfect, of being freed from disease and of limitations both mental and physical, standing godlike in the realization of a power that even at this very moment of time lies hidden in the deeper layers of consciousness, a vision of being made truly in the image and likeness of the one divine mind in its perfection, beauty, and harmony.
These men and women are the grandparents of science itself. They were spiritual people, mystics, concerned with understanding the mysteries of the natural and supernatural world.
What alchemy is actually fixated on is spiritual development – with the end goal being a state of awareness, completion and harmony. What many won’t know about alchemy is that this study has been reflected in cultures around the world for thousands of years before it reached Europe.
In China references to alchemical work are to be found in myths and legends of ancient china. Chang Tao-ling the first Taoist Pope born A.D 35 is said to have devoted himself wholly to study and meditation, declining all offers to enter the service of the state.
He preferred to live in the mountains of Western China where he persevered in the study of alchemy and in cultivating the virtues of purity and mental abstraction. This demonstrates that alchemy was studied in China before the commencement of the Christian era and its origin must lie even further back in Chinese history.
An Arabic version of alchemy was also discovered in work accredited to Jabir (Geber), which was probably made around the ninth century. Geber’s real name was Abou Moussah Djfar-Al Sell, or simply “The Wise One.” Born at Houran in Mesopotamia, he is generally esteemed by adepts as the greatest of them all after Hermes. Geber’s writing must be one of the oldest alchemical documents known as it corresponds to the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus.
Hermes teaches the unity of matter and the basic truth that all form is a manifestation from one root, the one thing or ether. Gebar was an adept student of alchemy and wrote many books that were either banned or burned during his lifetime. This led him to invent his own alphabet to encrypt his insights to the uninitiated. Geber was so skilled in his mysterious style of writing that it is from him that we derive the word “gibberish”.
So where did the idea of alchemy come from? The great Egyptian “Deity”, named by the Greeks “Hermes Trismegistus” but known as Thoth in Egypt, is thought to have been the founder of the art. Said to have lived about 1900 B.C., he was highly celebrated for his wisdom and skill in the operation and manipulation of nature, as a healer, teacher, philosopher and priest. Of the works attributed to him only a few fragments escaped the destructive hand of the Emperor Diocletian in the third century A.D.
The main surviving documents attributed to him are the Emerald Tablet, the Asclepian Dialogues, and the Divine Pymander. The famous Emerald Tablet (Tabula Smaragdina) of Hermes is the primary document of alchemy. There have been various stories of the origin of the tablet, one being that the original emerald slab upon which the precepts were said to be inscribed in Phoenician characters was discovered in the tomb of Hermes by Alexander the Great.
The Legend of “Hermes” himself is as mysterious as the origin of the tablets. It is said that he was a surviving resident from Atlantis who relocated to Egypt. Yes, Atlantis. Regardless of whether you believe Atlantis existed, the wisdom of Hermes and his insights into the nature of universal principles, and the elements remain profound in theory and action.
Lead Into Gold
Now for the fun part. What truly is alchemy? To the uninitiated It was rumored to be a mysterious process by which one could turn lead into gold. As we are now being initiated, I can decode for you the true potential of alchemy.
If we examine the concept of turning lead into gold metaphorically we begin to see that lead is about the heaviness, the impurities of our own being. This is what we want to purify and transform into “gold”.
Transmuting our corruptible state into an incorruptible state and coming into a more perfected state. In order to become an alchemist we must seek the philosopher stone within ourselves which is the product of the final stage of alchemy. Today we will approach this tool on its highest level. We will approach the philosopher’s stone as a state of being in the world.
Hermes Trismagistus received this name because he mastered the three levels of his being. The body, the soul and spirit. To do so he mastered the arts and sciences of metaphysics. Alchemy, astrology and theurgia. Theurgia being Ancient Greek for “Sorcery” or divine working.
Referring to a form of magic designed to allow for conjuration of, or communication with spirits or deities. Now keep in mind that science didn’t exist back then. You may laugh at the study of astrology or theurgia, but in those days those little lights in the night sky were not stars, they were twinkling mysteries that held patterns related to changes in the seasons and wisdom waiting to be unlocked for all humanity.
Anyone with an interest in these arts was an anomaly to say the least. To study these arts was a luxury and left to the most affluent and brilliant minds in antiquity. These students of nature and consciousness were closer to priests than scientists.
Through their study of these arts they developed a deep understanding of their own consciousness. They understood how to bring the study of their consciousness into these arts. Using alchemy as a tool to refine their own hearts and minds. This understanding is illustrated in the phrase Solve Et Coagula. This is latin for dissolve and coagulate or separate and recombine. In this natural process of separation and recombination Hermes identified 7 steps.
“First the principal subject of this Art… is Fire…it possesses a state and power of vivifying. ”
The 7 steps in the alchemical process
Alchemy is a system that gives flesh to natural processes. Processes that modern day chemistry followed in order to purify any substance. Alchemy is an ancient poetic way of illuminating these distinct stages of transformation seen in natural processes. Applied to one’s life it’s not difficult to see these same processes taking place.
Having a knowledge of these natural principles can help one remain conscious of the phase they are currently in as a tool to obtain guidance, wisdom, clarity, self mastery and other gifts of the spirit. By recognizing these steps one can make a conscious effort to work with the phase we are in and pass through it with purpose!
Although I NOW see how I personally have passed into many of these phases( not always passing through them. Sliding back and having to repeat a stage. ). At the time I was moving on intuition and instinct in order to simply persevere through trying times, much like Hiphop. But, Becoming aware of these stages has made it much easier for me to push through difficult times as well as seek challenges, or fire, during serene times of reflection.
All in an effort to burn away any excess, invalid energy or beliefs quickly in order to continue to march toward my own expansion. To progress and improve is the will of nature. We can learn to work with life rather than allow it to happen to us. Willingness to walk into the fire is a wise first step in our own evolution. The danger is not the fire but rather what happens when we avoid the fire.
As we move forward into examining the steps of alchemy I am going to present each phase in the following way to maximize the lessons embedded in your Alchemical journey.
Explanation: I will give a traditional explanation of what the step is and the symbol sets and ideas it’s associated with.
Cultural Reflection: I will give a reflection on where I see the culture connecting with this step.
Cultural Projection: I will give a reflection on the potential of the culture fully embracing this step. How it entered this phase and how it will exit this phase.
Personal Projection: I will guide the reader into their own potential when dealing with this step. I will offer simple challenges to help enter and exit each step with as much grace and ease as the phase permits.
The 7 STEPS in your Alchemical Journey
In alchemy this is depicted as the burning of the prima materia into ash.
This stage refers to the breaking of our attachments to the world. Along the journey of life, it’s easy to get lured into the rat race – we seek wealth, but also status, fame, prestige, things to feed our ego and our own perceptions of our identity. These things can be beneficial, but the larger of a figure it plays in our lives, the more we chase it, and the more it can consume us.
The break with the worldly can come to us in something as sudden as a traumatic event like a loss. Or it can come gradually over time, through the suffering we experience in life, or even when we get all the things that we could ever want, but without feeling a true sense of fulfillment. This stage asks us to humble ourselves – fire sparks the journey into the self.
FIRE….Burning and breaking down. This is an Intense process that completely destroys the old form. Separating gross elements from the essential elements.
There have been many catalysts for the birth of hip hop. The socio tumultuous economic climate, systemic racism, generational shame, poverty, violence inspired by scarcity, The cocaine epidemic. There have also been positive catalysts. Gangs in New York grew exhausted by the senseless violence in the neighborhoods of their loved ones. They slowly began to create pacts of peace that evolved as the hip hop culture emerged. This led to battling on a dance floor instead of with knives in the street. Evolution is the flow of nature. Hip Hop culture was a way for the disenfranchised youth to control and face the fire within and in their environment.
Hip Hop is in a constant state of calcination. Ironically I would say that Hiphop is a source of calcination for the world at large that wants to destroy its influence on the youth.
As a culture Hiphop is talented at breaking down the old ways of being. Hiphop is a culture of new ideas and rebellion. This rebellious archetype associated with the attitude of youthful clarity is the fire that constantly burns the constructs that keep hiphop artists reaching for a new authentic gesture to articulate their insight.
I believe that if it weren’t for hiphops urge to separate itself from the gross stereotypes painted by mass media about poverty and people of color in poverty, hiphop would not exist at all. This phase of calcination is what hiphop is made of. The fact that the culture is divided into elements is evidence of its awareness of the power to break down the spirit of this powerful spirit coming forth. As hiphop continues to stand in its own flames of progressive creativity and boundary pushing artistry, it continues to refine its offering as it moves into the dissolution phase of alchemy.
Consciously entering this phase is simply a matter of embracing this difficult moment in your life as point of calcination. Yes it may be painful, you may think it’s intolerable but this fire is your guide into your true self.
The challenge in this step is to take a deep breath, in fact take several! Begin a practice of meditation. Any practice of silencing the mind. In my eyes meditation isn’t just defined by sitting on the ground, legs crossed with your eyes closed in silence. Meditation for a hiphop head could mean writing lyrics in a journal, free styling with your instruments without a lust for any result or practicing your up rock until your mind is empty and your body burns! HipHop in practice contains several ways to enter the trance state also contributed to meditation. The whole idea is to empty yourself of all your ideas about why this fire has come to you and what you’re going to do about it. For now, your job is to let the fire burn, let it do its job of separating the gross parts of the old you from the essential parts that make us all so human and divine. Your ego will whine, throw tantrums and threaten you with more pain, even death. Meditate your way through it. Put this unspeakable pressure into your art. Later you will have a record of this phase that you can share and examine further. This examination phase is our next stop on our alchemical journey, dissolution.
The chemical process of dissolution is an emotional process. Metaphorically what’s left from the fire is placed into the water of emotion to dissolve.
Here, we are plunged into the waters of the unconscious. When you are primarily driven by ego, as one is prior to undergoing your journey into the spiritual, we may have buried parts of ourselves in order to create an image of what our identity is. It is in this stage that we must unearth those parts of us – the parts of us that we have rejected – whether they are perceived faults, or painful memories, or traumatic upbringings. The water in this stage asks us to let go, and to release the structures and the systems that define our perceptions of ourselves.
Hiphop has definitely entered into this phase of dissolution. Hip Hop culture is famous for emoting its deepest fears and desires. It takes us on an emotional ride whether we are hypnotized by a stunning piece of graffiti or watching a breaker push their bodies into hyperspace as they burst and twirl on a plane. But it has also surpassed much of its insecurities in order to maintain its ego and image. An image as a strong, rebellious force. Which it will always be, but I would argue that it can learn a lot from vulnerability as well.
Hiphops unconscious is the true source of its power and creativity. Leaning into this phase is how hiphop discovers its slang, its idea of cutting edge style and its way of assembling the chaos of the world into something that is a unique expression of the culture. In this phase hiphop will also get glimpses of those buried aspects of itself. The parts that fear being misunderstood or exposed as weak or ignorant. Those parts that don’t feel worthy of being truly wealthy beyond the scarcity mentality that puts luxury on display as a way to cope with not feeling significant enough. Those parts that fear fatherhood because of its traumatic childhood that developed without that aspect to guide them. Of course these parts are based on my own clarity through emotional dissolution. I am a microcosm of hiphop culture in America. These shadows will rise to the surface as the culture learns to embrace its emotional nervous system and use the elements of hiphop to organize that energy.
Hiphops relationship with its emotion is one of many pillars of its genius. It’s easy for me to see that as hiphop becomes more comfortable with integrating the essence of the elements with its emotional genius, it will evolve in ways it has yet to imagine. This marriage of the essential elements of the culture with the emotion that guides its action is the formula for personal and cultural rapture! The ecstasy of pouring your unconscious emotion into a container of action is what sets the stage for healing, new expressions and perspectives to flow energy and information forward from the infinite universe itself.
Emotions begin to rise into the conscious mind. We sooth them, we express them. We may even cry out. But it is difficult to make decisions when we are in the throws of emotion. We must stay self aware and use this phase to learn self control.
We must learn to release it. No room for victim hood. This is a cleansing process. A purifying step of letting the emotion pass through until we feel ready to move on. The water in this stage asks us to let go, and to release the gross structures and the systems that define our perceptions of ourselves.
Similar to the meditative practices of the calcination phase, this dissolution phase gives us the opportunity to use our art to see ourselves and release our old beliefs as we explore new ways of creating. So try a new technique, use your weak hand to paint or write lyrics. Explore a drum pattern that is odd to you. And lastly use actual water in your meditation somehow. Do this as a reminder that water is your guide in this step in your alchemical journey. This will also prepare you for the next phase, separation.
In this stage, the alchemist separates and filters the products of dissolution.
Now that we have unearthed the unconscious materials that we once discarded, we can also now sift through it to really find parts of it that can help us grow. What parts of you have you rejected, that you have hidden from the world, can they actually make you stronger?
How can these parts of the self, which may be considered by the rational mind worthless or weak, bring joy to others? How can we incorporate this narrative that was once so painful to you, into the greater arc of your story? On the flip side, you also have to be honest about what parts of your shadow legitimately hold you back, and work to discard those habits, emotions, memories or narratives from your identity.
Lighter essences rise to the top and the dense elements sink to the bottom. Get the clarity to get what we need. This is when you take enough time to sit and settle down. Removing the dense from the gross. Start to realize the underlying event that caused the catalyst. When we identify the fear or belief that we are facing we can identify the emotional attachment and understand what’s really going on within us.
Hip hop entered this phase when it began to separate the more aggressive aspects of the art form from the more introspective aspects. Removing the dense from the lighter aspects. But also creating a space to judge the output of other artists invalidating their experiences. Mainly through its music. N.W.A being on the polar end of the culture and The Pharcyde on the other although they are both from Los Angeles they represent 2 opposite voices of the culture.
This also begins to extrapolate out into it’s art and fashion as street artists are hired to do commercial work and street wear is embraced into popular culture. But because the culture as a whole isn’t clear on what it’s potential is or what it desires beyond the impulse to be seen and heard it hasn’t been able to really heal from the emotional trauma that inspired the culture or find peace with the shadow aspects of the culture.
Naturally, every individual in the culture feels a need to project their own idea of what it should be, how the platforms should be used and what it should stand for. Im doing this right now!
Why is N.W.A compelled to speak up about police brutality, the crack epidemic and gang bangin? Why is The Pharcyde so eccentric? All they rap about is smoking weed and chasing girls. Why cant either of these artists be more politically minded like Public Enemy!?
The problem with this is you can get caught up defending only your side of a 2 sided coin. You can’t learn anything by arguing a point you’re already married to. In order to know the true value of an idea, honeslty in order to know the truth, you must let yourself be introduced to and respect the opposite perspective you are compelled to defend. This way you have a full birds eye view of the spirit of a subject.
Many aspects of HipHop may be stuck in this phase as a whole. As it continues to hold onto its old attachments and emotions that gave it fame and fortune it is trapped in victimhood as a residue of its own dogma, as an attachment to its own image.
Instead of using the past as a reference for how to guide the culture we must balance the wisdom of our past with the vulnerable parts of its present. This creates a stargate into the true joy, pain and genius of the spirit of the culture. Examine the whole and find peace with all aspects of the culture.
When hiphop is divided it divides the individuals. We can feel beyond any duality into hiphops wisdom. Which I believe is hiphops intention. To help us become clairvoyant AKA see clearly. Hiphops dance with dualities is apparent in many aspects of the culture. I.E. A Breaker cant spin on only one side of their head. They have to marry the 2 extremes to create their art. (Ill deal more with the principles of duality in another article.)
What does hiphop need to hold onto?
What does it need to let go of?
How necessary is this healing in order for the culture to evolve?
What do I want to keep and what do I want to work on? Here we get clear on what we want to clean up. Telling the truth about ourselves instead of making it about the outside situation. This can be an Isolating or lonely stage.
We may need to separate from old relationships. Stabilize our identity.
We may need to learn to integrate parts of ourself that may be perceived as eccentric or abrasive. This self love will be your guide into the deeper phases of your alchemical journey.
Take the time to examine all of the emotional wounds that were exposed in the prior phase. Really meditate on the belief systems that hold you together and anything else that truly triggers or upsets you. Even those things that you cling to for joy, here is your chance to understand the foundation of that thing that makes you so happy. Now is your oppurtunity to examine them in a safe space knowing that this uncomfortable space of clarity wont last forever.
Do not get stuck holding on to those old attachments. This is how we get stuck in this phase. Release those old ways of seeing and saying and prepare yourself for the great combining in the next phase, conjunction.
Here, the alchemist combines the elements deemed worthy of separation into a new substance.
It is at this moment where we re-integrate. Unconscious and conscious come together. At this stage, though we are aware of the social structures that are at play in the world (and that have fed the ego), we are not influenced by them, we are free. Here, the alchemist is at peace with both the perceived “darker” aspects of the self, and the mask that they need to wear when interacting with the world.
LIBERATION! Feeling good about ourselves and our situation. Unconscious and conscious come together. We recognize our gifts and liabilities. At this stage, though we are aware of the social structures that are at play in the world (and that have fed the ego), we are not influenced by them, we are free. Bringing the good elements back together again. This is a rejoining of the purifying essences.
Few artists have approached this stage. Few humans for that matter. Liberation to act and think from a place where we appreciate and recognize our gifts and flaws is the foundation of self love. Far from the phase of self realization but many tend to declare mastery of themselves at this phase and stifle their own growth.
When hiphop is able to see itself as a whole made of many wonderful and traumatic ideas it will enter the phase of conjunction. When we as a culture are able to understand and accept the many modes of expressing the many aspects of its fractured psyche we will enter a state of awareness that will allow us a freedom and clarity we have yet to experience as a culture. We are all damaged reflections of the parents we’ve had, the society they’ve lived in, the ideas and values that society holds dear etc, etc. There is so much that makes us flawed and flavorful. But identifying or teachers, the purifying essences such as music, dance, color and the spoken word combined in a way that embraces its disfunction, acknowledges the gifts and flaws while moving into the depths of its own being can make new sounds, new movements, new hues and language to welcome a new way of seeing and speaking in the world.
Don’t get too comfortable. You are only at the midpoint of the alchemical process. To move to the next phase it will be necessary to add a little fire.
Bacteria and other living organisms are introduced to the substance to continue its breakdown.
Fermentation is essentially, all about testing this newly integrated self. We test ourselves through trials and tribulations, through the natural swings that life provides us. All the pain, the hurt is something that pushes the self to becoming more resilient, to be stronger. The idea here is that we must go through the darkest of night in order to see the dawn, and when it arrives, it brings with it something explosively beautiful.
Anything remaining that is corruptible needs to die here. Introducing an inner fire and releasing the spirit ( alcohol ). This takes patience and persistence over time. As difficult as it is to embrace, suffering breeds resilience.
As hiphop integrates itself into the world at large it also grows in its awareness of its place in the world. With this new perspective hiphop has a new set of stances to choose with the values in the world. Like a child hiphop is being tested. How will the culture align with capitalism? With water rites in south america?
On a personal level it may take some patience and meditation to find this tension in your being. Feel into the shadows of your ego. What triggers you or brings you joy? There is your path to purifying yourself. Integrate everything you love about yourself and everything you hate. The tribulations that come your way are guides into your subconscious core. They are your tests. You will survive every time.
Anything that is corruptible must die. The soul of hiphop depends on us as individuals passing the test of corruptibility. This is where we inherit our spirit. The essence of who we are.
In distillation, the solution is then boiled and condensed in order to purify the substance.
To prepare for the final stage, we need to purify the spirit to make sure that it is free from any destructive forms of ego. Here we are planting the seed for the unborn, transpersonal self – one that is free from the distinctions of the collective and the individual. To help it grow, one has to nourish it – which can be done with various forms of contemplation, spiritual ritual or meditation.
It is boiled and condensed in order to purify the substance.
To help it grow, one has to nourish it, give it attention – which can be done with various forms of contemplation, spiritual ritual or meditation.
Hip Hop is blessed to have meditations and spiritual rituals built into its system. Use your practice with intention.
Assign meaning to a pose or give a purpose to your tag. This is where our magick is made. Make a wish with a gesture. This experience of knowing the world responds to your intention is transcendent. When you feel seen for the first time. You know that you are connected to God. Breath in the reality you are free.
This phase needs your attention and intention. There is no meaning without meaning. Use your magick to empty yourself of ego for a moment and breath in your own genius.
The substance is crystalized into a solid state.
Here, there is the meeting between matter and spirit, inner and outer, good and evil, the union of dualities. It is at this stage where the spirit has become self aware – it perceives itself, and it sees and understands that the inner world and the outer world are not different, but reflections of each other.
This is the spirit of Hip Hop Culture, transmutation . A culture that samples other cultures has so much energy to work through and integrate. This also gives hiphop the wisdom to connect with an expanding diaspora of vastly different individuals. In hip hop there is so much potential and dormant power to speak the unspeakable, dance the undanceable, and visualize the unfathomable as we pass through the phases of our own evolution.
I call this piece HipHops Alchemical intuition because I see and feel evidence that hip hop culture is intuitively flowing within the stream of these seven alchemical stages.
Born from a violent yet colorful urban angst and socio economic trauma, the people that created hip hop were a broken people moving out of their own ashes into the clarity of their own emotional expression, joy and celebration of self (Calcination).
As a youth movement these emotions spilled over onto tongues too short to describe the turmoil they were living in. Poetry, art and dance were the natural way to communicate their unconscious understanding of their souls (Dissolution). For all involved this facilitated healing on a subconscious level. Exercising a much needed nonviolent release.
A separation from the pain that gave birth to various talents. Giving them an opportunity to see their insights outside of themselves. Now they can truly see themselves (Separation).
When a culture is truly able to see itself others outside of the culture begin to take notice. When this happened, hip hop was monetized and essentially hijacked by capitalism. This monetization forced a pseudo evolution in the art form. It required a merging together of all of the most potent elements of the culture into a new substance, something that could be sold to the masses (Conjunction).
The most potent and developed rap artists were given record deals and were stood up as the rebel voice of a generation. Many artists were made for this, some had to be made by a fast forming industry around the culture.
The contrived nature of the rap industry spawned a new rebellion against the fake mc’s, toy writers and gymnasts claiming to be breakers. Essentially this was the stage of (fermentation). Intuitively the culture knew it was time to test this newly integrated self to see what would survive the crucible. Pushing the culture to become fortified in its identity as a counter culture for the people by the people.
Purifying Hip Hop has been a process that continues. As the many aspects of the culture evolve many other aspects dig their heels deeper into materialism and the ego. But outliers continue to ignite the cultures imagination and purify the cultures idea of what is possible.
I believe hiphop is in the stage of (Distillation). A stage that requires the destruction of any toxic forms of ego. Setting the stage for a transpersonal culture free from the distinctions of the collective and the individual.
In my opinion, Hip Hop has 5 elements. MCing, Djing, Graffiti, Breakin and Knowledge. Nature has 5 elements. Fire, earth, air, water and spirit. It can be said that all of these elements are symbols of higher ideas and core principles. Ideas that exist everywhere in the universe. These elements are mediators between those higher ideas and our own earth and consciousness.
They are the bridge to a deeper relationship with reality. With the tools that alchemy provides we as the nation of hip hop have a guide for our personal and cultural evolution. The ultimate goal being Coagulation. The union of matter and spirit that allows us to perceive the world without dualities, and to perceive the wisdom of all levels of consciousness. Imagine how good the art will be then! Imagine the value it will bring to our lives!
As HipHop continues to evolve through the individuals that make up its anatomy, the output of the culture itself evolves. Utilizing its gift of intuition on so many levels. To develop their style before catching a tag or speaking to a cypher of your peers with your body as you make them see your soul on the dance floor, hiphops intuition is a testament to its profound connection to earth, to the heart. This is why Alchemy can be found within it.
I see myself as one of the many catalysts for the final stage of coagulation hiphop will undergo. Nurturing the understanding that the culture is a spiritual idea borrowed from hyperspace and made to be built upon. Thus a malleable tool for personal/spiritual evolution.
This understanding will allow hip hop culture to move in ways previously unimagined, to see itself and others in a pure way, unclouded by duality. The union of spirit and matter exhibited through the expression of the collective. A collective that understands that its past is not its path. The past is rather a series of phases it had to pass through in order to integrate the wisdom of duality into its being and embrace the truth.
The truth being that we are all ONE. Everything is One thing that emerged from a single point. As profound as that sounds this is not a “theory”. This scientific fact has already been proven by quantum & astrophysics.
There’s no need to fight against what you do not believe or understand if you understand that if it exists, it is a part of you. There is no need to fight yourself, it’s counterproductive. Now we can “battle” in our cyphers from an enlightened space of pure play.
So dance your alchemy! Soothe your soul with the movements designed by your experience, by your particular magick. Left hand, right hand, left foot, right…let your spin unify the seen with the unseen. You are now the Philosopher’s Stone.
“We claim the present as the pre-sent, as the hereafter
We are unraveling our navels so that we may ingest the sun
We are not afraid of the darkness, we trust that the moon shall guide us
We are determining the future at this very moment
We now know that the heart is the philosophers’ stone
Our music is our alchemy” –
Saul Williams, Coded Language