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Chaos, the Solvent & the Stone

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Iona Miller's Spiritual Alchemy Series
CHAOTIC CONSCIOUSNESS: Chaos, the Solvent & the Stone


Everybody Must Get Stoned

The Great Work of the art of alchemy is the creation of the Philosopher's Stone, a symbol of wholeness and integration. The Stone is also the prima materia. The liquid form of the Stone, called the Universal Solvent, dissolves all old forms like a rushing stream, and is the self-organizing matrix for the rebirth of new forms. It is thus a metaphor or model for the dynamic process of transformation, ego death and re-creation.

The Stone is a return to the prima materia. The Philosopher's Stone is like a psychic lodestone or vortex. It 'magnetically' orders the contents of our consciousness around it through reflexive feedback loops in chaotic yet meaningful fashion. It is a 'strange attractor' in the lives of those engaged in the quest for alchemical transformation. The Stone whispers to us in our slumber. It brings us into its orbit.

This instinctual attraction toward processes that dissolve the ego and liquify consciousness leads to transpersonal experience via symbolic death/rebirth. As alchemists we experience deep states of emotional turbulence in initiation ordeals and in the merger of subject (soror mystica) and object (frater). The massa confusa of the vortex of pure information becomes gradually differentiated as we work through the alchemical stages.

The alchemical operation Solutio, called "the root of alchemy," corresponds with the element water. It implies a flowing state of consciousness, "liquification" of consciousness, a return to the womb for rebirth, a baptism or healing immersion in the vast ocean of deep consciousness.

It facilitates feedback with Source or the groundstate of consciousness via creative regression. De-structuring, or destratification by immersion in the flow of psychic imagery through identification with more and more primal forms or patterns leads toward creative emergence of a psychedelic, expanded state. This creativity can become a stabilized trait of the individual.

Chaos Theory, as well as alchemy, provides a more than metaphorical language for describing the flowing dynamics of the chaotic process of psychological transformation. Chaos has always been recognized as a primal condition from which things emerge and into which they dissolve when they become obsolete. It sets the stage for holistic repatterning. Creativity and healing are emergent properties of self-organizing systems.

Chaos Naturae

Chaos is a pure cosmic principle. The language of chaos theory augments, validates and supports the arcane terminology of alchemy. We can unpack its metaphors in the analogical language of alchemy. It gives us a unitarian language to discuss the alchemical process in contemporary terms. As a chaosophical natural philosophy, alchemy is an art with its origins in magic.

Chaos theory provides a philosophical basis for exploring the relationship of psyche and matter since they share a common dynamics. It allows us to formulate a theory of consciousness and healing based on an organic model of transformation, rather than a mechanistic or cybernetic process, as other contemporary theories.

Chaos, matter and attraction lie at the heart of chaos theory and complex dynamical systems. Chaotic systems display certain characteristics including complex feedback loops, self-organization, holistic behavior, and inherent unpredictability. Because of its holographic nature, a chaotic system cannot be decomposed.

There are certain primary characteristics of chaos and chaotic systems (complex dynamic systems):


1) deterministic
2) paradoxical
3) self-generative
4) self-iterating
5) self-organizing
6) intrinsically unpredictable
7) yet boundaried
8) and geometric
9) and sustained by complex feedback loops


1) sensitive to initial conditions
2) disproportionately responsive to stimuli
3) translatable from micro- to macroscopic proportions
4) attractor centered
5) shuffled time/space
6) apparently acausal (actually enfolded; implicate/explicate)
7) qualitative
8) global phenomena
9) flexible/creative

Each of these aspects can be literally or metaphorically illustrated by a consciousness state, particularly if we include dreamlife, art, therapeutics and esoterics. In fact, they are all present within each and every one of us when we turn our attention inward. This is our raw prima materia.

Still there are patterns in seeming confusion randomness -- the vortex of the pleroma of raw information generated internally and in our environment. Our experience of the cosmos is essentially of multi-dimensional holographic images. Matter is simply frozen light or energy which also patterns consciousness or psyche. We observe this ongoing dynamic as the stream of consciousness with its concurrent imagery. Paying attention to images invests them with more meaning.

We live in a chaotic universe. The chaos of our human lives is reiterated from the subatomic through the cosmic level. Chaos is the matrix of creation. It provides a bridge for unfolding "heaven on earth," a means of manifesting and grounding spiritual energy that is not only creative but healing.

In solutio, the body is joined with the soul and spirit. The skin-boundary dissolves into visceral as well as sp iritual perception. Awareness of physical processes may be greatly amplified, appearing as impressions, intuitions, sensations, sounds, odors.

Chaos is endlessly self-generating and self-iterating. It is an evolutionary force. New forms emerging from chaos tend toward higher degrees of adaptation. This recycling of consciousness leads to a self-referential vortex. Changes in state are accompanied by changes in boundaries, strength or intensity and stability (equilibrium points, periodic orbits, stable and unstable manifolds).

Chaotic systems revolve around attractors, nexus points of psychic gravity. Chaotic attractors are potential information generating devices. Some are fixed point attractors, or periodic oscillators like pendulums swinging between paradoxical opposites, while others are downright strange attractors. The degree of entrainment of processes determines the degree of coherence or integration of a system and its ability to unfold the potentiality of emergent information.

Attractors are magnetic analogs of archetypes. These pacemaker nuclei generate supercritical perturbations that resonate through our whole being. Pushed toward different attractors, we go through a state change, a new pattern or network of behavior. Changing the activity of just one element may unleash an avalanche of changes in the patterns that otherwise would not occur.

The body is always speaking silently. Through this raw, physical expression, that which was solid becomes liquified, dissolved, deliteralized. The concrete image of the body "morphs" into the flow of pure energy, in a variation of Transubstantiation. It is the "rapture" of being siezed up into the heavenly realm.

The flow of dynamic energy from the deep Self reawakens and activates the body, and also that portion of the unconscious that the body carries. The body not only carries, but is the memory of the entire evolutionary cycle. Consciousness can access any portion of this material memory through creative regression.

The body manifests kinesthetic, preverbal, and preconceptual memory of its direct experience. Immersion in the healing creative energy flow is like a spiritual baptism, which facilitates creative reformation of ordinary consciousness, and even the physical body.

Solutio, as a state of consciousness, unites the powers of above and below, transpersonal and personal. It is the integration of the higher spiritual powers with personal experience that embodies the healing dynamic. This produces the paradoxical poison-panacea. The dual nature of the universal medicine points to a consciousness state beyond both opposites.

All apparent structure is chaos and in chaos there are hidden forms. When we are far from equilibrium change becomes inevitable. Like a bifurcation point in chaos theory, the old system either fails or emerges with a higher degree of order. Our bifurcations or state changes are personal crossroads, decision points, initiated by perturbations of our systems. Flowing back and forth between chaos and order keeps us healthy.

We can cooperate with chaotic dynamics, enter a less-rigid process of flow, submitting outworn aspects of the ego to dissolution. This increases our adaptability and helps us evolve. Chaos theory provides a comprehensive metaphor for uniting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual realities -- holistic repatterning.

The alchemical process begins and ends with chaos (prima materia/ultima materia). Chaos is the universal solvent. Current research in quantum chaos shows it exists across all scales and domains of nature and human nature.

Illuminative Vortex

The nature of life is chaotic. Jung said, "God is the name by which I designate all things which cross my willful path violently and recklessly, all things which upset my subjective views, plans and intentions and change the course of life for better or worse."

Alchemy is a way of being and a form of thought. The subtle gold is the fully liquified Mercurius. Alchemy describes, demonstrates and illustrates the participatory field as central to the conscious condition in nature. As alchemists we intentionally engage the participatory field of consciousness to perform the Opus, or Great Work.

The concept of this interconnective field allows us to redefine consciousness consistent with the unpredictable values of quantum mechanics and chaos theory. The alchemical world is animated. Images have immediate present reality. Intentionally interacting with the experiential process allows us to transform consciousness.

As exemplified in alchemy's prime directive, "Solve et Coagula," the raw material of self and world is deconstructed to facilitate emergent self-organization at a higher level. This is nature's way, as chaos theory has shown us. Nature is a self-sustaining dynamical balance of order and chaos.

The alchemical perspective is not merely deconstructionist. Alchemical decomposition is paradoxically regenerative -- cyclically regenerative, even negentropic. In this sense, alchemy is Transmodern though it radically predates that post-Millennial philosophy.

Alchemy explores the nature of matter-energy and consciousness. It is possibly the first historical example of self-initiation, self-help and self-care -- self-organization of the human chaotic condition. Though following certain common guidelines, each alchemist's process is necessarily idiosyncratic. Solutions emerge from and through each individual practitioner in a self-empowering inner journey

The brain can become more chaotic while solving problems. Neurons express self-organized criticality (SOC), neither ordered nor random but somewhere in between. Chaotic modulations are reined in by attractors (archetypes, psychic gravity wells). Critical points lead to phase transition. The edge of chaos is the point of emergence for new behaviors, enhanced capacities and transformed identity.

Universal Solvent

Chaos is the universal solvent (Miller). Human intention is about choices, self-reflection and the search for meaning. The edge of chaos, where critical systems adapt and evolve, is the most effective place to be. As more than a metaphor, it mirrors greater degrees of freedom and nonlinearity in systems far from equilibrium.

Jungian psychologist, Edward Edinger lists seven aspects of solutio:

(1) return to the womb or primal state; (2) dissolution, dispersal, dismemberment; (3) containment of a lesser thing by a greater; (4) rebirth, rejuvenation, immersion in the creative energy flow; (5) purification ordeal; (6) solution of problems; and (7) melting or softening process. These different aspects overlap. Several or all of them may make up different facets of a single experience. Basically it is the ego's confrontation with the unconscious that brings about SOLUTIO.

Critical thinking, (purposeful, reflective judgement about what to believe and do), helps us navigate through superstition, presumption, conjecture, confabulation, groupthink and psyops toward testable hypotheses and models of reality. Relevance is determined by heart, intuition and skilled, active observation of experiences, information, communication and argumentation.

Bifurcation is the splitting of attractors. A cascade of bifurcations is the precursor to chaos. The number of attractors in a dynamical system changes when any system parameter is changed. Certain changes are possible which are absent in conventional systems. Periodic attractors describe oscillations between polarities which lead to flow. Strange attractors are the center of gravity for critical phenomena and experiences, holding us in thrall for longer or shorter periods of time.

The process doesn't have to make sense to the rational mind. Small and large-scale changes emerge and the practice of our art facilitates that, offering more potential for realization. Dramatic changes can come from seemingly insignificant events. As gain changes, the nature of the attractor changes.

Alchemy's structure challenges us to remain at the evolutionary edge, mutable to the transformative process. Patterns are detectable in the process when you look closely enough. Alchemy's mystery is the reconciliation of opposites, refining arcs of ascent and descent. Due to the Butterfly Effect, amplification of small fluctuations turns up the heat or intensity of psychic processes.

Integrating the science of chaos theory can help us expand our understanding of reality moving us closer to a unified worldview. It impacts our sense of self as well as our concept of "how things work" in the universe. Pushing through fear and following chaos back into our lives in a positive way also fosters the healing process, stimulating feelings of rejuvenation and well-being. Implications & Applications

There are certain fundamental characteristics of chaotic systems and each has its analogy and application to the nature of human consciousness and therapeutics facilitating the natural healing process.

Sensitivity to initial conditions. The main feature of self-generated complexity is the presence of an iterative mechanism which transforms the information contained in the initial conditions in a deterministic way. In this sense, it is possible to view complexity as elaborated simplicity. Sensitive dependence on initial conditions means similar causes do not produce similar effects. Disease is a crisis presented to an organism that creates the opportunity to dissolve the old structure and evolve into a new one, better adapted to survival. We are not limited to any specific technique or practice for healing, but use a deeper understanding of the nature of the healing process itself to create whatever technique is needed at whatever level we are working.

Butterfly effect. A variance so small it is almost insignificant in the beginning can create vast differences as the system evolves, making it impossible to track or predict. In natural healing, just as one traumatic incident may pattern a lifelong disorder, one healing therapeutic event may completely and permanently restructure the whole system from the most fundamental level. After a bifurcation there can be no return to the old situation.

Fractal Embedding. A fractal is an object that reveals more and more detail as it is increasingly magnified, like seeing the universe in a grain of sand. Self-similarity repeats its conformations from the most fundamental to the most complex level. A disease image appears in a myriad of self-similar forms revealed through the levels. Again, one traumatic event can shape a life; one intense therapeutic event can reshape it.

Strange Attractors. Investigation of the mechanism of turbulence led to the invention of the term strange attractor. The turbulence of strange attractors is “turbulence in time” -- deterministic chaos, or temporal chaos. Graphic depictions of attractors allow us to map a dynamical system’s behavior in discreet-time or phase-space. Roughly speaking, an attractor is what the behavior of a system settles down to, or is attracted to. A system may have several attractors. Strange attractors are the core of unpredictable variation with limits. For humans this means any perturbation from conception onward can be a determining factor in structure and personality. Personality traits can be construed as strange attractors of behavior. Natural chaos allows adaptation and self-organization for evolutionary change.

Bifurcation. Amplifying a situation, intensifying it, leads to de-stabilization. This leads to a phase transition; phase instabilities or turbulence in a system lead to the possibility of bifurcations. Near bifurcation, systems present large fluctuations. Such systems “hesitate” among various possible directions of evolution. Even little fluctuations in subsystems combine through positive feedback loops, becoming strong enough to shatter any pre-existing organization. This crucial moment is known as bifurcation. At this point, the disorganized system either disintegrates into chaos, or leaps to a new higher level of order or organization. Through this means, order arises spontaneously from disorder through self-organization. Healing is an ever-present potential.

The Edge of Chaos. When a system is far-from-equilibrium, the slightest flux can be amplified into structure-annihilating waves. Chaos theory helps us think in terms of these fluctuations, feedback amplification, dissipative structures, and bifurcations. Chance plays its role at or near the point of bifurcation, after which deterministic processes take over once more until the next bifurcation. Thus, nonequilibrium, the flux of matter and energy, is a source of order. The highest mean fitness is at the phase transition between order and chaos. Complex adaptive systems adapt to and on the edge of chaos. All the action lies in going just beyond the boundary from the known and comfortable into the fear, pain, and challenge.

Chaotic Consciousness. There is a fundamental field of unstructured consciousness prior to energy or form, the bornless field. A return in the journey to this state evokes spontaneous healing and creative self-reorganization. At the quantum level, strange attractors influence the emergence of consciousness and its interactions with other fields to create the essence of self and external reality. In Bohm’s holographic model, consciousness can be either enfolded as potential structure or a field, or it can be manifested or unfolded as structure in the space-time universe. In enfolded or potential form, it is outside of space-time reality.

Autopoietic self-organization; creativity and self-actualization. Human EEG shows significant fractal structure, suggesting the brain inherently resides in a state of self-organized criticality, where a small stimulation can set it into fluctuation where the response distribution is fractal. Small changes in this process result in whole person changes in a healthier direction. This process is creative; healing is biological creativity. When we overcome fears, face pathology, and seek to comprehend it, we grow healthier. When we willingly choose to face our being, seeking to comprehend it, allowing awareness of its terrors, passions and transiency, we become most truly human and self-actualized.

Emergence. Central to any understanding of consciousness and the brain, emergence is a process by which order appears “spontaneously” within a system. When many elements are allowed to mingle, they form patterns among themselves as they interact. When the mind lets go of its rational order and enters into unstructured chaos it emerges later with a new structure.

Placebo Effect. Medicine is just beginning to use the mind-body connection for healing. Given a dummy drug at least 30% experience the same pain relief as with true painkiller. But this effect requires no “pill” to initiate spontaneous healing; the pill itself is meaningless. The body has the ability to produce any biochemical response once the mind has been given the appropriate suggestion, which is converted into the body’s intention to cure itself. We can bypass the deception of the sugar pill and directly to the intention. This is the panacea.

Dreams/REM. Dreams are complex dynamic systems; they embody the very nature of chaos. They are uncensored messages from the twilight zone of chaos-order and communicating with us at the most basic sensory levels imaginable. Dreaming reflects a pivotal aspect of the processing of memory, and helps us form strategies for survival and adaptation. They are complex, incorporating self-image, fears, insecurities, strengths, grandiose ideas, sexual orientation, desire, jealousy, and love. Their unusual character is a result of the complex associations that are culled from memory.

LIQUIFICATION: Network behavior can be metaphorically related to the phase states of matter: ordered networks are solid, chaotic networks are gaseous, and networks in an intermediate state are liquid. Using this model, according to Kauffman,

“If the biases in an ordered network are lowered to a point near the critical value, it is possible to “melt” slightly the frozen components. Interesting dynamic behaviors emerge at the edge of chaos. At that phase transition, both small and large unfrozen islands would exist. Minimal perturbations cause numerous small avalanches and a few large avalanches. Thus, sites within a network can communicate with one another–that is, affect one another’s behavior–according to a power law distribution: nearby sites communicate frequently via many small avalanches of damage; distant sites communicate less often through rare large avalanches.”

From this, researchers conclude that parallel-processing networks poised at the edge of chaos might be capable of extremely complex computations. Extending his metaphor, Kauffman concludes that the complexity of a network can coordinate peaks at the “liquid” transition between solid and gaseous states.

Systems poised in the “liquid” transition state may also have special relevance to evolution because they seem to have the optimal capacity for evolving. Networks on the boundary between order and chaos may have the flexibility to adapt rapidly and successfully through the accumulation of useful variations.



Chaotic Consciousness



We don't need a solution to chaos; it is the means by which solutions emerge.

Biopsychosocial Health

The alchemist leads him/her self and follows nature. The alchemical world is composed of Mercury, Sulphur and Salt. Natural and human processes are the matrix of action. Recognizing action, bipolar opposition, and connection as the three components of creation in natural processes provides tools for creation and the incentive to take the initiative. They are the raw materials of Mercury, Sulphur and Salt of chaos theory.

Mortality (and suffering) is the overarching strange attractor, a vision of life after death that improves living in the here and now whether it is "true" or not, for death/rebirth is with us in each and every instant as our primordial awareness. Each moment arises and passes yet somehow we remain.

More than abstractions, self-organizing processes and fractal organization are results of dynamic interactions. Alchemy is a self-organizing activity and artform that epitomizes open-ended process, intentionally engaging the natural tendency toward self-organizing process.

This poetry-science recognizes the universe in man and man in the universe. We learn to know our own nature. The universe is reborn within us in various forms, including our image being, pre- and post-existence, and the secret medicine Azoth. The 'Crystalline Chaotic Sea' of alchemy is synonymous with the Dirac Sea of virtual vacuum fluctuation. It is the root of our being in the gaps or void between our particles [sic]. We are part of Eternity and it is part of us.

An archetype is a "dynamic action plan" shaping consciousness, emotions, behaviour and relationships as well as the realm of matter. Creation myths describe the evolution of an archetypal system from the undifferentiated homeostasis of equilibrium to the symmetry-breaking perturbation of the primordial matrix and on through the increasing differentiation, coupling and complexity of the unfolding system. Psychologically, creation myths symbolize the origin of consciousness, the process of individuation, and the dynamics of creativity, each closely associated with the archetype of the self, regulator of the human psyche (von Franz, 1972).

Creativity is characterized by psychological openness to inner and outer experiences. We engage this tendency in a purposeful way and learn to flow with the energy and creativity within the system leading to insights and applications by breakthroughs in information barriers. Reducing the dataglut of massa confusa to alchemical channels of information flow expedites the process. Tiny inputs can lead to cascades of events -- embodying logically necessary relations.

Alchemical 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. In the coherence model learning is a process of transformation, or self-organization. Complexity and freedom are actually coextensive with one another.

Engagement Learning

A discipline such as alchemy engages us in a way that promotes a deeper understanding of the concepts, issues and ideas that drive us, including sensitive dependence on initial conditions, iteration, fractal nature, and the presence of strange attractors. Commited to the irrational process, we are "in over our heads." We embody our internal transformation states.

Alchemy is not an orderly, single-path progression to a conclusion. Emergence is naturally a self-transcending construct. The creative individual in the process of alchemical acceleration must experiences states of disequilibrium. We must and do trust the process that we are at the creative edge, not the verge of obsession or psychosis.

1. Creativity develops under conditions of emotional fluctuations, tensions, and external as well as internal conflicts. 2. Creativity is "self-organizing dissipative structure," an open system that can survive only through a constant exchange of matter/energy and information with its environment. 3. Creativity continuously creates disequilibria and bifurcations, breaks barriers of routine, to liberate from automatic experiences in order to achieve inner autonomy. 4. Creativity can be regarded as desire to build a new reality through an expanded awareness. 5. Creativity is an important outlet for the increased tension of inner conflicts and defense force against mental illness. (Laycraft)

Alchemy is a virtual training environment where nature shows the nonlinear, interactive way. Noise can be embedded signal in nonlinear feedback systems. Control mechanisms operate over many time scales. Thus, what first appears as sporadic or emergent qualities can stabilize over time. There is a connection between arts skills learning and broader learning.

What we learn in the alchemical art compliments, validates and suppliments what we learn elsewhere. The mind normally follows learned trajectories. But a change in parameters or modification of the link structure produces bifurcations leading toward novel organizational states. These dynamical networks present idiosyncratic organizations, involving more or less lability and chaos, ranging from spiral-point attractors to chaotic ones.

Personality is a reciprocally-interactive complex system. Recursive distinctions give rise to complex fractals in personality. Recursion relates directly to self-reference, through which logic loops back upon itself like the alchemical Ouroboros as well as fractal geometry. These perspectives are attractor states that divide the observed from the observer. They give rise to the laws of physics, the deep structure of language and the controversies of social science.

Adaptation and adaptive behaviors are central themes of practical importance in the study and function of personality. Adaptation is an important non-linear, dynamic and complex concept and system involved in evolution and survival of our species. It is related to "holding the tension of the opposites":

As a state of being, the uroboros represents fused opposites: self/other, inside/outside, good/bad, feminine/masculine which we modeled well by fractal dynamics. As a cycle of activity, the uroboros symbolizes seeds of creative growth and self-renewal. By looping around and feeding upon itself, the uroboros relates to recursion, whereby the end products of experience are fed back into the beginning. As an ongoing cycle, recursion eventuates in conscious processes of self-reflection and self-control over impulses. Although the separation of opposites, or making of distinctions, is necessary for survival, the symbol of the uroboros suggests that our paradoxical core remains buried deep within the psyche for life. (Marks-Tarlow)

Alchemy creates catastrophe shelves or bifurcation points in a deliberate way. This advances interaction through the first two levels of chaos ultimately reaching the third level, or deep chaos. This enables us to move from the known with its certainties and predictable solutions to the unknown.

We construct our own belief systems and knowledge from direct experience. Anomalous experience emerges from chaotic systems. They inject novelty into the system. They include everything from deja vu to high weirdness. How we react to them, depends on how we contextualize them. Traditions tell us they can be wrathful or beatific, horrifying or blissful.

For example, fear is the driving force behind paranormal delusions because high fear levels invert the effect of experience on fear, thereby creating a positive feedback loop in which belief, experience, and fear mutually reinforce each other in a perceptual "contagion" process. The excellent fit of the cusp model implies that, at least at high levels of paranormal experience, we face the dilemma of choosing between believing in the paranormal or experiencing fear.

Paradox Logic

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, the cusp of self-discovery.

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

Entropy and dissipation are the core thermodynamic insight, leaving the creation and evolution of living systems as ignorable mysteries. A deeper appreciation of the wholeness of human occupation emerges within a spiritual paradigm reflecting the fundamental complexity, organizational fitness, nonlinear processes, and pattern flow formation of dynamic human occupation.

Individual Innovation

Self-similarity and self-affinity are newly recognized symmetries by which transformations in time and/or space leave the central pattern unchanged. Attending to fractal complexity is fascinating yet effortless. Gell-Mann (2002) defines effective complexity as regularities or schema found or judged to be useful. They appear as equations, genotypes, laws and traditions, and best practices. Chaos is synergistic, guided by preferential attraction.

Multidimensional information implies higher dimensional chaos. The folding dimension can describe time evolution of fractal structure with no relation to time scale. Data or information then appears nonlocal, synchronous, or entangled. A fractal conception of time injects the infinite into the finite, with open-ended possibilities for nested temporal cycles.

Fractal structure is the result of repeated nestings of temporal intervals into the window of the present now. This iterative embedding process shapes the world/observer interface by increasing its complexity with every new temporal nesting. Simultaneity supercedes succession explaining the structure of temporal interface.

Fractal time results in complexification and decomplexification of our perceptions. Fractal time may account for the depth dimension of symbolic perception. Inside/outside are entrained and the outer structure locks onto the internal dynamics of the observer/participant.

From a fractal point of view we can pack an infinite number of activities into the same period of time and still leave room for more. Perturbations of current focus in unfolding existence are fractal catalysts permiting us to overcome structural constraints.

Positive maladjustment is a phase transition from chaos to order. Spontaneous multilevel disintegration is described by the chaotic attractor. As soon as a person feels that some modes of thinking, feeling, and acting are higher, conflicts of a vertical nature arise.

Emotional, unconscious and slightly conscious forces dominate the spontaneous multilevel disintegration. Epistemology addresses how we know what we know. A deep question for epistemology is how (without a homunculus) sentient beings discover new ideas that are within their structural capacity but beyond previous experience. Innovative crystallization can be understood as synchronized coupling between two or more chaotic systems.

Nonlinear Thinking

A stable worldview is one that reinforces thought trajectories that enhance individual wellbeing. Many factors can interfere with this stability. Metaphors reflect two parallel systems, each stable in their own right. Mapping across destabilizes each system, leading to entropy and an emergent self organizing system.

This re-organization produces new insights, consciously or unconsciously. Metaphoric meaning produces different perceptions, reframing or a solution to a problem. One metaphor can alter perspective, attitude, self concept, motivation, learning and behavior, just as one trauma or therapeutic intervention can change us utterly.

Chaos theory and alchemy are both about systems trajectories. Chaos and complexity theories merge at the point where they focus on fractals. Developmental stage change has a fractal nature, including increasing task complexity. The sequence of tasks in transition is identical from order to order.

Problem solving is a dynamical process where nonlinearity is expected. Pattern variables are the key to choices. Critical states, small and big disruptions, influence our learning. Bifurcations or changes in pattern, changes in our mind and views, are intrinsic to our stability. Fluid boundaries are critical to growth. Thus, solutio is the key to the alchemical process. Chaos is the Universal Solvent.

A dynamical systems approach to cognitive systems is a multimodal model of creative thinking. The levels include semantics (or sense transformation level), logics and grammar. Dynamical patterns are used as substitutions for representations in cognitive theories. The dynamics of each level, which is supposed to be chaotic, allows for the generation of new information not presented by initial conditions.

The transition steps pattern is also fractal. The transition steps result in increasingly less partial organization of combinations of elements at the next order. At the same time, those elements increase in complexity from one order to another, with fractal similarities to the overall model. Levels of organization, from physics to psychology and alchemy, display homologous features. They are fractal.

Although the concept of ‘a self’ is a hypothetical construct, it has proven useful as a psycho-social construct. Usually perceived as a central or core part of an individual's identity, there are many variations of what the idea of self system is like. The self is almost always considered an organized system.

Recursion gives rise to self-similarity. Since all properties enter consciousness, all of them are in this sense recursive. A particular property emerges as a result of a given combination, or new sequence revealing a new property from the total set available. Emergent phenomena are constituted by and generated from underlying phenomena, and at the same time they are autonomous from those underlying phenomena. Emergent phenomena are ubiquitous in living systems across scales and domains.

As part of human dynamical organization, self-image is considered non-linear. Different initial points of origin lead to different trajectories and outcomes. Fractals may play a significant role in self-concept and self esteem. Developmentally, the self evolves into increasingly complex self-organization continuing through whole-life learning. Alchemy brings infinite possibilities for meaning, so conclusion of an operation or cycle of refinement does not imply closure of fractally reiterating processes, since alchemists are recursive paradoxical thinkers.

Divergent Perspectives

A paradigm is a prevailing point of view or way of thinking about an issue that exemplifies an entire scientific culture, such as the "new" nature of nature. Science changes as our perceptions and patterns change. The universe is a complex web of relations. The radically novel comes into existence through emergence.

Nonlinear wisdom emerges through several important themes: the necessity of living in the dark with chaos; the self-organizing quality of nature, both inner and outer; interpenetrating, fractal boundaries between self, world, and other; and the paradoxical essence of psyche, where only through separation and individuation can we open ourselves to love and vital interconnection with self, others and world.

Chaos and complexity have made militant anti-humanistic models of spirituality obsolete, opening the way for intentional facilitation of emergent positive internal resources. Whether you come to chaos theory from a scientific, artistic or philosophical portal, at some point the concepts take root in you and proliferate. Changes in shared beliefs, expectations, perceptions, norms and patterns of reciprocal behavior among individuals who interact with one another lead toward cultural shift.

Emergent perceptions about life-meaning, purpose, and identity are understood through the model of intention, meaning, and perception, influencing the system-wide changes that occur during spiritual occupation. Complexity is the mother of new ideas and forms. Alchemy opens flows of information across scales, from smaller biological processes up to larger scale social processes.

We can view spiritual occupation as both the creative process (means) and as engagement in spiritual activities (ends), which sustain and support life and health. This is a nonlinear view of the spiritual dimensions of personal growth through the process of self-organization and self-transcendence.

Hyperdimensional Experience

Hyperdimensional experience (HDE) is psychological awareness of a dimension beyond that experienced previously, or normally and in everyday life. Sometimes it is unexpected or fleeting, the result of a drug, temporary circumstances or a physiological state such as illness. Sometimes it is sought as an abiding frame of mind by means of a program of training like alchemy, religious discipline or meditation, or as a successful outcome of psychotherapy. (Marks-Tarlow)

By its nature the experience of hyperdimensionality means the sense of a further or higher dimension in perception, thought and feeling. As such it may be distinguished from other altered states of consciousness (ASCs), which may be positive, negative or even pathological in their effect. As distinct from ASCs in general, the HDE is felt as a liberating, expansive or life-changing experience.

Often it is linked with intellectual and/or emotional insights, which again may be evanescent or may be capable of subsequent articulation and elaboration in a productive sense. Coherent narratives of our life-journeys is a reiterated aspect of self-concept. We gain the capacity to sink beneath everyday surface events to the very origins of consciousness. In this zone of expanded awareness, external events of life are seen as meeting and fitting the internal contours of psyche like hand and glove. Oceanic experience leaves a sense of expanded perception in its wake that is more or less persistent..

Elimination of all clear distinctions between inside/outside, self/other, mind/matter, grants a wholeness to experience, a sense of "rightness" about how character and destiny intersect, even when this fit appears perfectly horrific. A state of "primordial confusion" at the base of consciousness can be modeled via re-entry dynamics by fractal boundaries between psyche and world. Within this paradoxical state, boundaries are simultaneously opened and closed, and opposites are equated. This is the stuff either of madness or higher consciousness, depending upon the strength of the therapeutic container (alembic, retort).

Chaos theory and alchemy are aligned methodologies. Emergent wholeness is qualitatively different than holism. Critical dynamics are "constructed" according to a specific meaning. Positive and negative hedonic categories are perceived as subjective categories of distress (fear, anger, sadness, etc) and eustress (joy, love, wonder, etc).

Their accompanying approach/avoidance action tendencies offer perceptual guidance concerning self-preservationary and self-developmental adaptive responses to environmental changes. Our behavioral choices must align to ensure optimal biological harmony---a naturally harmonious state of homeostatic balance with cognitive and emotional fluctuations.

The transitional conditions at each interpenetrating operative level may be identified as phase states, occurring by analogy within nonlinear dynamical systems, and involving iterations, feedback, and strange attractors. They may also be represented as fractal loops. The resulting condition of wholeness unfolds a fractal or "in-between" ontology which hyper-dimensionally marries living and dying, order and chaos. Alchemy and chaos means levels without hierarchy and wholes without holism.

Rationality is not always capable of dealing with the complex situations we encounter in the real world. Irrational decision-making processes have evolved over time and are rooted in the deepest functions of the brain/mind. Nonlinear dynamic systems modeling of broad and deep spiritual occupations further validates the theory and practice of alchemy by addressing the full complexity of occupation as an embodied process of spirit-mind-body and world. Linear and nonlinear thinking are required for creativity, healing and innovation.

The Age of Information is the Age of Turbulence

The traditional scientific view is to regard matter, information and energy as basically different. Knowledge from the theory of relativity, and especially from quantum physics, shows that at the micro-level, matter appears to be energy if considered from the appropriate point of view. Information has not yet been considered or discussed in this connection, or at least not adequately.

For the process of self-organization, every complex system requires, in addition to matter, (materially compressed energy), various types of energy, as well as information of appropriate quality and quantity. No system can function or exist without this information. (Karl, Toifil).

If consciousness is pure information it is not limited to physical form; its patterning may emerge from chaotic dynamics operating at the quantum level, where the "no-thing" of pure information becomes a structured "some-thing," through intentionality coupled with chaotic determinism (self-organized emergent order). The so-called "software of consciousness" is unlike the matter and energy of classical understanding, but exerts a measureable effect on the physical world, apparently through quantum chaos.

Fractal therapies, including alchemy, allow us to penetrate deeply into the psyche--into the vortex of the internal structuring process--through progressively de-structuring patterns of organization. The undecomposable level of chaotic consciousness is experienced as the pure, unconditioned imprint of the whole, resulting in a new primal self image and sense of relationship to the greater whole which emerges through nonunitary transformation.

Information patterns randomness. Even though information is beyond physical reality as we know it, it is nevertheless "real" and even more fundamental than the world of matter. The functionalist definition of consciousness is not based on the measurement of a substance or energy, but on a measure of pure information. This implies that consciousness interpenetrates the entire universe, but at a level more fundamental than field theory or QM.

There are characteristics of quantum systems that can be tied to chaotic behavior in classical systems. When the dynamics is chaotic, these quantum fluctuations and virtual vacuum fluctuations grow very large. Disorder is not an ultimate fate from which nothing can escape, but is actually the progenitor of order. A more ordered state arises out of apparent disorder. At this moment of crisis for a system a "bifurcation point" a system has two options. Either it will be destroyed by the fluctuation and disintegrate into chaos, or it will suddenly leap to an entirely new level of organization, a new internal order.

At bifurcation the stability of steady states and cycle changes becomes supercritical--far from equilibrium. Repatterning of the whole by the natural chaotic dynamic leads to new emergent order within the framework of personality--ego is transformed and "reborn" anew. Repatterning may occur through harmonic resonance of certain informational content within the general perception of overwhelming white noise or blankness, the results of "downloading" informational overload. The information contact that is "in phase" with the participant is fed back into the system through synchronization.

Quantum Potential

The occult secret of alchemy is that we carry a bit of chaos and a bit of the Universe in us. The universe is fractal in the expression of the forces of nature and biological tissue is the ultimate fractal form it adopts (King). Matter is not inert but "alive and active." Further, the vacuum state is teeming with nonobservable "life"; a turbulent froth which conditions the emergence of probabilities in quantum fluctuation. The vacuum is not an empty stage, but the domain of violent upheavals in nothingness, where new particles are constantly being created and destroyed.

Bohm has posited a multidimensional common ground for consciousness and matter. He alleges that the superholographic level of the universe has a staggering number of dimensions, and that it may be a "mere stage" beyond which is "an infinity of further development." Bohm calls it, "vast, rich, and in a state of unending flux of enfoldment and unfoldment, with laws most of which are only vaguely known." In this view nature itself is a living organism whose diversity encompasses all the diversity of form emerging from the superhologram. It is "purposive" and possesses "deep intentionality."

To the ancients Chaos was the unknown, the spirit world, which displayed the discontinuous monstrosities created by the erratic side of nature, as well as her beauty. When we look into the face of nature, we see ourselves reflected back with an eye not jaundiced by the bias of the ego. Dreams, nightmarish visions, and the dynamic imagery process all reveal the state of our consciousness at the deepest level--depicting the nature of our relationship to the whole of consciousness network.

Recycling consciousness allows emergent order to crystallize in a more-adapted primal self image--a new steady-state, a new system of values. Transformation takes place as one configuration or expression dynamically changes into another in accordance with chaotic dynamics, global repatterning. Bonds are the force of attraction. They make matter matter.

We inhabit an ocean of "active information"--the ever-flowing, ever-changing pattern of the meaning of life itself. The entire inner and outer environment includes the whole field of electromagnetic information, which patterns our electronic bodies. But we also are subject to the patterning effects of the whole of existence, a global pool of information, a pool of being, which is paradoxically rooted in non-existence.

Novel processes and elements emerge that are in no way implicit in anything that has gone before. They permit the totally new to enter the universe, superceding historic determinism. They are like gaps or intermittancy in the scintillating fabric of spacetime, from which creation emerges. Inside gold is the sun.

Non-existence underlies existence, and we fluctuate between them. Existence is discontinuous. Just where are we when we don't exist--between moments--at the bottom of our breath? We have dissolved into the matrix of unconditioned creativity, unconditioned process--the spirit world, the realm of the dead, eternity. And we are reborn in each and every nanosecond. This is the quintessence of alchemy.

 ©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: 




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"



LUMEN NATURAE, Iona Miller, 1993