Chaos Naturae

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Iona Miller's Spiritual Alchemy Series
CHAOS NATURAE: Chaos, Complexity and Alchemy



Alchemy Journal Submission May 2009


KEYWORDS: Chaos Theory describes the behavior of non-linear dynamic systems, fractal geometry, and the complex, systematic behavior of nature as well as our nature, consciousness and health. It describes in eloquent equations deterministic ordered randomness, dimensionality, reflexive feedback loops, boundary conditions and integration. It is the realm of the irrational, paradoxical, of rich values and structure, self-generative and self-iterating, of self-organizing (autopoietic) emergent creativity, stretched time and folded space, inherent unpredictability, yet boundaried and geometric. The domain of global behavior, open systems, criticality, sensitive dependence, strange attractors, fluctuations, turbulence, perturbations, thresholds, trajectories, bifurcations, phase transitions, temporal density, reiteration, synchronicity, resilience, the "butterfly effect," subquantal chaos (ZPE), dynamic geometrization, probability, relativity, disruption, coherence and stochastic resonance, synergetics and tensegrity, self-reflection, nested cycles, the breakdown of order with sudden transitions, the creative and evolutionary "edge." Chaotic systems are apparently acausal, inherently qualitative, sustained by complex feedback loops, and disproportionately responsive.

CHAOS NATURAE: Chaos, Complexity & Alchemical Process
By Iona Miller, 2009
"Whence will come the chamaeleon of our chaos in which all secrets are hid in their potential state."




A state-of-the-art empirical foundation is essential for any well-grounded philosophy of life and realistic self-concept. We have limited subjective fantasies about ourselves and the nature of the universe all the time. Usually we do not examine our a priori beliefs which condition those notions. We grasp our beliefs as though they were the most precious of gemstones, rather than just models or constructs, only a simulation of ourselves and the world-at-large. From our worldview come symbols and images which a small part of our brain, and an even smaller part of our mind and consciousness clings to, attempting to structure reality out of chaos. Understanding the poetry and art, we can still pursue our sacred science, amplifying and updating our terms with contemporary metaphors. Alchemy is a mode of perception equally concerned with psyche and substance, mind and matter, science and art. In alchemy all matter has soul. Alchemy frees our creative magination -- esoterically-trained imagination -- by providing a matrix within which we can dissolve and transcend our old boundaries. Chaos is a bridge for unfolding "heaven on earth," a means of manifesting spiritual energy that is not only creative but inherently healing.

Alchemy and complexity bridge the gap between psychology, the arts and sciences. By applying contemporary perspectives of chaos theory, complexity theory and fractal geometry we can discard outworn conceptions of health based on ideals of regularity, set points and normative statistics in favour of models that emphasize unique moments, variability, and irregularity. We can explore philosophical and spiritual implications of contemporary science for life sciences at the interface between artistic, scientific and spiritual aspects of therapy, healing and personal development.

Sacred Science

We are agents of chaos. The secrets of chaos are embodied and revealed in alchemy and chaos theory. Both are open-ended processes. Alchemy and chaos theory are metamodels, demonstrating we are verbs, not nouns - holographically interconnected dynamical processes, not separate things. The whole is contained in the part in reiterated patterns of nested structure. Chaos is the transformative energy. We have the capacity to transform utterly in any given instant of pure potential.

Alchemy rightly identifies chaos as a chamaeleon -- ever changeable yet the same. Chaos is complete in itself, internally harmonious. Creation is a self-contained, organic process of development. Layered complexity automatically surfaces the features it is critical to work on at a different level. We do not have to take apart, analyze or interpret the complexity of images but learn to flow with them just as they are presented in the stream of consciousness and experience. Each flowing image brings a morphological epiphany, "I am that."

We are always in dynamic balance between order and chaos. Nature's way also expresses our deepest nature, precreative chaos. Paradoxically, we initially have to separate ourselves from it to become more intimate with it. Mining the soul through mindbody cultivation, we disassemble ourselves to recongeal in purified or refined form, reintegrated at a holistic level of dynamic functionality. We revert to chaos in meditation as the body stills and thoughts slow down and cease in universal resonance. Healing emerges by immersion in the undifferentiated chaotic consciousness.

Chaotic material comes in many forms with structure at a global level. Chaos is present in the universal set of building rules, networks, events, coherent wholes, dimensional embedding, the nonlocal mind and the synergetic achitecture of life and biological organization. Matter is not passive but spontaneously active. Order is created in this random activity.

Chaos underlies global behavior and the dynamical system of the mind, panpsychism, psychological complexity, sentience and emergent properties, pattern recognition, genesis of intelligence, reality discrimination, raw awareness, attention, meaningfullness, perception-cognition loops, refocusing, creative inspiration, consequences, memory, self-sustenance/structure maintenance, perceptual chunking, time distortion.

There is chaos in our dreamlife, fantasies, mythologizing, in the complex interactions of the neural firing patterns of our brain, and the dynamics of thought especially during REM, creative imagination, connectivity, even enlightenment--the biology and psychology of consciousness itself with its tightly knit fabric of subprocesses, and especially in point of view/relativity, significance/correspondence (beliefs, concepts, attitudes, emotions, behavior), attributions, restructuring, adaptive learning, spontaneous healing.

We don't need to worry about the mathematics or geometries here, except to know chaos and self-referential fractals validate the assertions foreseen long ago in alchemy, such as "As Above, So Below," holism, and the urobouric feedback of circulatio and turbulent vapors. Chaos is sensitively dependent on initial conditions. It kindles heightened response patterns. This kindling is synonymous with the alchemical fire of calcinatio. Chaos turns up the psychic heat.

Jung related the deep structure of the psyche, prima materia to the collective unconscious, our transpersonal being. Our minds shape our perceptions of the environment according to innate categories. Our nature is not separate from the nature of matter or the nature of the world. We are always in flux. We are one with the matrix of all creation, primordial awareness, the unmoved groundstate of our being.

When the mind is stripped of its contents by sublimation of our being, we experience the pristine natural mind. Prima materia is the "mother" and a return to this most fundamental state is a return to the womb for rebirth. This initial state is the raw material from whch we make gold by pursuing the experiment with ourselves. Our understanding of the true nature of the work deepens beyond concepts into experience and direct knowing.

Form Modification

Chaos is our quintessential nature, an attribute of the prima materia, starting point of our Work. Prima materia is the crisis (massa confusa) preceding spiritual awakening. The process is not linear but recurs in each nanosecond of our existence. We awaken or not each and every moment with the potential for utter illumination. We separate the chaos into the active (soul) and passive (body) principles, then reunite them in the spiritual coniunctio from which the magical child (homunculus) or reborn self emerges (ultima materia).

Creative chaos is the seed of rejuvination and enlightenment. There is a generic process in nature and consciousness which dissolves and regenerates all forms. Each self-similar fractal part contains the whole in greater or lesser resolution. The imagery and protocols of the alchemical process depict the metamorphosis of soul as it merges with body and spirit. The same process is encountered in meditation and experimental practice. Just as we learned the alchemical vernacular, we can become accustomed to thinking in the analogous terms of chaos theory.

Much could be written on the subject but we can begin with introductory chaos concepts mirrored in alchemy. Alchemy speaks of magnetic psychic vortexes called archetypes in psychology. They include such qualitative classes as astrological attributes, the metals, and processes of alchemy, as well as personifications such as Sol and Luna, Mercurius and Homunculus. Virtually everything imaginable is contained within this esoteric lexicon.

Nonlinear Phenomena

Chaos theory is a modern natural philosophy describing nature's self-assembly, spanning all domains from subquantal (ZPE, quantum foam) chaos to quantum chaos to quantum cosmology. Like alchemy, it recognizes we each contain a small universe inside us. Like fractals, each iteration of the alchemical refining process is infinitely variable across all scales. Fractals emerge from attractors, which are simply the characteristic behavior of a dynamical system changing over time.

Psyche folds in on itself, kneads itself. What was formerly separate becomes proximate. Universal information is contained in each fractal reiteration. As it emerges, it can be pumped up from microcosmic to macroscopic proportions. Information continues to unfold potential solutions in nonlinear imagery. Psyche "matters."

Randomness has an adaptive value. Intentionally interacting with it has adaptive value. Bifurcation, the sudden appearance of a new quality, solution, or parameter, accompanies the onset of chaos. Chaotic synchronization means all parts of the system change holistically in resonance. As in alchemy, even breakdowns have a prospective implication, followed by an increase in order.

Emergent qualities change the whole state of the system and can increase exponentially in influence. Bifurcations are state changes in the system. The names of the four varieties of bifurcation are evocative: flip, fold, pitchfork, and transcritical bifurcations. They exert logistical control over phase changes. Systems cascade toward chaos through bifurcations.

A bifurcation is a crisis where the future is uncertain. As we approach the point of bifurcation, change happens faster and faster, breaks become sharper. Repeating the process generates new emergent information. We can think of bifurcations as existential crossroads, qualitative changes in psychic attractors.

Degree of awareness is related to the magnitude of attractors. Jumps in magnitude result in jumps in awareness. Attractors of the mind may undergo subtle bifurcations or splits among possibilities. Bifurcations occur when a system rests right between two attractors. A tiny change in the system's state can then push the system in one direction or another. For example, the transition from one state of consciousness to another is represented as a sudden or dramatic jolt which knocks the system out of its attractor, and leads it along a trajectory toward another attractor.



There is no single strategy for resilience and survival - the problem does not have a unique solution. Although survival of each individual is a unique historical process, it has at every point many potential avenues, some of which will be productive and some unproductive. Survival thus has more to do with deciding a viable course of action than finding the optimal solution to a problem.

Biofields & Tulpas

We are in no way solid entities. Our primal nature is one of 3-D holographic standing wavefronts in space emerging from n-dimensional cosmic zero of virtual vacuum fluctuation. Shapes and patterns emerge from the mysterious infinity of chaos.

Turbulent flows are omnipresent in nature. Turbulence increases mixing rate. Turbulence cries out for form and expression. Agitation of the soul leads us to make something of the turbulence within us. Turbulence in the alchemical material is considered a spontaneous sign of life. Turbulence is lifeforce and stirs creativity. Nature self-organizes out of the cross-flows of dynamic turbulence. Turbulence increases mixing rate. Emotional processing reduces emotional turbulence.

The wonderous son of chaos, Mercurius, emerges from this dissipative turbulence and claims, "Though I am vile and small, Nothing else in the entire world Contains the true Tincture, Since I have the subtle and pure Mercury, Settled, without turbulence, Completely liquid, yet white and clear." Peace comes with the clear Light. We learn how to navigate the turbulent flow. Turbulence is also a source of order. New theories based on "order through fluctuations," help us understand the emergence of creativity from turbulence.

This is also true of images or thoughtforms which can be observed in our stream of consciousness. Sudden shifts in awareness arise from the suddeness of bifurcations in nonlinear dynamic systems. These forms reach deep inside, resonate with our spirit and foster a sense of connection. Chaos and cosmos exist within us at the quantum level.

In nonlinear dynamics, the main questions are: What is the qualitative behavior of the system? Which and how many non-wandering sets or attractors /archetypes appear, (i.e. fixed point, limit cycle, quasi-periodic or chaotic orbits)? Which of them are stable? How does the number of attractors change while changing a control parameter of the system? The appearance and disappearance of a new attractor is called a bifurcation. Change towards more or less stability and bifurcation always coincide.

The essence of this transformative, morphological process is chaotic -- purposeful yet inherently unpredictable holistic repatterning. Evolution occurs at the edge of chaos as new psychophysical basins of attraction emerge. Creative, holistic patterning is introduced into the human system through the psyche as nonmanifest, yet phenomenological images, symbols, and patterning information. Psyche is polyphasic consciousness in a multistate paradigm. Alchemy mirrors and accomodates this generic structure, providing terms for its numerous emergent aspects.

Chaotic Order

Chaos Theory underlies the fundamental laws of nature and natural processes, and implies a universe of evolution and constant re-creation. Structure arises in the moment and is in resonance with its environment. But in a universe of constant evolution each form eventually becomes dissonant as the evolving environment surrounding it changes.

Unstable systems can become stable. Disorderly behavior can be a creative process of complexity. Dissipative systems maintain their identity only because they are open to flows of energy, matter, or information from their environments. Complexity lies at the edge of chaos, a transition phase, where life itself is created and sustained. This phase transition demands brinksmanship. Complexity is the midpoint in the transition from chaos to order, and partakes of both.

Chaos Theory restores the balance to the entropic forces which lead to the decay and death of outworn systems. It is the means of creative self-organization which arises from the undifferentiated disorder that lurks within the processes of creation. Chaos holds infinite possibilities of new form, and these forms are eventually revealed and emerge from chaos as new structure. This is also an apt way to describe consciousness dynamics, such as thought, spontaneous behavior and creativity. Reality is neither structure nor chaos, but a process in which structure and chaos dance between form and formlessness. This is the eternal cycle of death and renewal.

A dynamical view emphasizes interconnectedness and self-organization. Self-organization creates new information in a dynamical system with the development of increasing complexity. There is growth potential in the self-control of bifurcations to novel attractors. Anyone can learn to make choices to empower their future and develop new skills, to inhabit new attractors, to explore conjectured attractors, and make informed choices concerning potential trajectories, to affirm and create self. In complex dynamics, divergent features are as important as convergent features.

There are also gradual changes in degree of awareness and the amount of energy expended in a particular process. In general, the expansion of an attractor requires that more energy be devoted to it; increased forces increase the magnitude; shrinkage of the attractor is accompanied by the lessening of energy requirements by the system. In Chaos Theory, the notion of psychobiological stability has been considerably liberalized to include psychobiological periodic and chaotic attractors

Crisis & Recovery

Fear of chaos manifests as ontological anxiety or existential dread, a fear of being, a feeling there is no meaning in life. Since nothing makes sense in this oppressive blackness of the nigredo, why go on? In the throes of our own turbulence, we often forget who we are. Alchemy helps us hold the sacred center, the Light. Overcoming the anxiety and depressions of contemporary life requires a drastic change in attitude about what is important and what is not.

Trauma is a path to awakening. Jung suffered a mindblowing shamanic breakdown and recovery similar to other adepts. A periodic disruptive flood of images, even temporary mental illness, is a classic symptom of the wounded-healer. The old structure of the psyche "dies," as breakdown leads to breakthrough in psychic rebirth. Sir Isaac Newton, scientist and alchemist also suffered such a depressive breakdown:

"In 1692 [Newton] began a period of instability that would last until September 1693; even his closest friends believed him to have taken leave of his senses. Other possible factors in his affliction include mid-life crisis, a slow recession from the spotlight following the publication of Principia, and the collapse of his friendship with a young disciple with the unlikely name of Fatio de Duillier. Whatever the reason, Newton's condition seems to have struck with great force--he suffered from insomnia and depression, and his sensitivity to criticism gave way to a debilitating paranoia; it is referred to as his "Black Year." He lashed out at his friends, accusing them of conspiring against him...However, Newton recovered reasonably quickly, wrote letters of apology to his friends, and was back at work within a few months. Yet the period of breakdown seemed to have longer-lasting effects: while Newton emerged from the period with his faculties undiminished, he had seemingly lost interest in scientific problems; he now favored more arcane pursuits--notably the interpretation of prophecy and scripture, and the study of alchemy, the medieval pseudoscience that sought to transmute base elements into gold."

We can learn to enjoy and find meaning in the ongoing stream of experience, in the process of living itself. Experience depends on the way we invest psychic energy--on the structure of attention. This, in turn is related to goals and intentions. These processes are connected to each other by the self, or the dynamic mental representation we have of the entire system of our goals.

This process is complex, and the notion of complexity is related to the same concept as used by some evolutionary biologists and also described with poetic insights. Its essence in terms of the psychology of the self is that a complex person is one whose behavior and ideas cannot be easily explained, and whose development is not predictable, but is autopoetic, that is self-organizing emergent order.


Order in consciousness is experienced as flow, optimal experience, healing experience. Following a flow experience, the organization of the self is more complex than it had been before. It is by becoming increasingly complex that the self might be said to grow. The flow state facilitates both differentiation and integration. The old alchemists used to say, “Only that which has been properly separated can be rightfully joined.”

The conscious ego functions in 3-space and a psychic continuum wholly unconscious to the ego. Events that entangle both continuums are synchronistic. Complexity also facilitates the integration of autonomous parts. After each episode of flow a person becomes more of a unique individual, less predictable, possessed of rarer skills. The complex self is more likely to avoid both selfishness and conformity.

“The self becomes complex as a result of experiencing flow. Paradoxically, it is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were. . .Flow is important both because it makes the present instant more enjoyable, and because it builds the self-confidence that allows us to develop skills and make significant contributions to humankind.” (FLOW; Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).

Flow helps us to integrate because in that focused, congruent state consciousness is unusually well ordered. Thoughts, intentions, feelings, and all senses are focused on the same goal. Experience is in harmony. And when the flow episode is over, one feels more “together” than before, not only internally but also with respect to other people and the world and cosmos in general. Life-enhancing, therapeutic phenomena manifest in many different forms of resilience.

Ultimately all holistic healing is the result of (a) making some level of conscious choice to positively alter one's thought patterns (b) which similarly alters one's characteristic attitudes, (c) which alters arousal levels and neurotransmitter levels within the body, (d) which accommodates the ultradian-quantum healing responses that (e) regulate breathing rhythms and brain waves in order to (f) modulate the mind-body's neural energy frequencies which (g) instruct its hormones to (h) alert the messenger molecules to (i) tell the genes which proteins to transcribe in order to (j) restore harmony and balance to the system. (Rossi) And in some cases, all of this can happen virtually instantaneously.

Survival in crisis depends as much on hunch, mind reading and quick reaction as on computational deduction. If a series of small bifurcations occur resulting from successive [quantum] computational steps, we would say the conclusion was arrived at deductively, but if however a major global bifurcation is required to reach self-consistency, an intuitive leap of understanding may result.

The transition from chaos thus models the sudden moment of insight - the "eureka", deductive cognition, sensory recognition and decision-making. Computational predictivity is thus complemented by conscious anticipation enabled through quantum transaction and manifested in the transition from chaos.

Fractal Logic:

Scientists throughout the world are working at the cutting edge of human survival technology. They are now seeking a multidisciplinary solution to the social, economic and environmental crises threatening us all. The only viable way through seems to be a return to basic human values.

Clearly, waste-based Western technology and over-consumption is now systematically causing the destruction of human values and the degradation of the global environment. More holistic worldviews of science and technology (Poetry Science; Science-Art) can lead toward viable visions of an optimistic future.

Art connected to Source and the zeitgeist of its times has a living taproot in the matrix of evolution. Our works "work" when they work themselves through our culture. Great works are rooted in culture's underlying psychological need. They become meaningful if perceived as carrying revelatory weight that somehow illuminates our collective lives. They may not be "true", but good things come of this generative vision, reaffirming and celebrating our humanity.

Human survival requires nothing less that the re-emergence of negentropic science and art (including alchemical art) which are braided together. Recent major scientific discoveries have been made which demonstrate that the living process is indeed associated with a very complex infinite universal energy system. New understanding of complexity and self-organization in nature, nature's own means of self-assembly, reveals its geometrical basis.

Chaos theory helps us explain how new forms, or orders, even new self-images, cultural paradigms, and innovative artworks and scientific discoveries emerge. It is the third revolution in science after relativity and quantum theory. It is the prime source of unpredictability in the macrocosmic world and the human scale, formerly described only by classical Newtonian physics. Chaos and complexity is nature's own way of organizing systems and creating structure. All systems emerge from and eventually dissolve back into chaos.

Fractals, nature's dynamic self-organizing pattern, exist in the paradoxical space between dimensions, levels and forces of existence. They arise at the interface between processes, at boundary zones where they serve both to connect and separate multiple levels. They translate information/energy, structuring dimensions by adding or recursively removing structure, embodying evolution and change. Fractal dynamics escalate change from tiny to large scales.

Fractal logic is the logic of life, the basis of form, networks of nested networks - the logic of repeating patterns imposes itself at any level as an ingenious method of information storage, compression, transfer and indexing. The potentially infinite is actualized as a finite resource in a recursive fractal structure. De-centralized, de-territorialized platforms for communication, work and play, such as cell-phones, the Internet and Wii allow us to interact globally from any zero-point locale.

Wisdom and compassion are transmitted by harmonic resonance, by fractal affect - each of us carries within us the characteristics of all others. Thus, we move organically and experientially via cognitive and affective tuning from a paradigm of scarcity to one of infinite creative potential and hyper-connectivity, interdependence and spirituality for the betterment of the global human condition. This circular logic is embodied in Earth's beautiful biosphere and promises a New Renaissance in science and art. The World will decide.

This new paradigm, rooted in Chaos Theory, Complexity and Holographic Theory, also identifies the geometrical logic base that retrieves the lost ethical and humane physics value system. We can use this scientific knowledge to construct a global human survival technology of unimaginable wealth, resources and human opportunity. The catalytic properties of art have been identified as the essential ingredient needed to provide the opportunity for human survival technology to develop. Artists actively demonstrate the environments of the future and create new valuecosms. Art is nothing but life and all objects are inherently art.

Conclusions: Biopsychosocial Health

Alchemy is a self-organizing activity and artform that epitomizes open-ended process. Operations delineate discontinuous levels of consciousness as robust methods for seeking novel solutions with non-consensus coherence via synchronized chaos. Finding such adaptive solutions demonstrates survival and system resilience by maintaining tension of opposites, rather than resolution.

Play is a crucial element for discovery of fluid connections, physicosocial dynamics and prescriptive information and control for more efficient self-regulation -- adaptive solution finding. Thus, alchemy represents a dynamic synthesis that is always occuring at the critical edge of the merger of inner life and "external" [sic} environment. It is always happening in the NOW.

There is only One World. It is our work to see art in all intrinsic form and holistic process - eidetic experience, perceptive transparency. LIGHT is the basis of all appearances and differences. In this view conceptual categories become literally senseless.






Edinger, E. F., Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy(1998). Chicago: Open Court Publishing.

Miller, Iona "Chaos As the Universal Solvent",

Miller, Iona (2001) "Chaos theory & complex dynamical systems in human consciousness & healing"


©2009 Iona Miller is a nonfiction writer for the academic and popular press, hypnotherapist (ACHE) and multimedia artist. She is a participant, not just commentator. Her conspirituality work is an omni-sensory fusion of intelligence, science-art, new physics and emergent paradigm shift, melding many social issues into a new view of society. She is interested in the effects of doctrines from religion, science, psychology, and the arts. Website:  

Illuminative Vortex, Iona Miller, 1993