Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

The Elements As An Archetype Of Transformation: Earth Water Air Fire An Exploration of by Seth T. Miller Masters Thesis Defense JFK Univeristy, 4/26/09.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "The Elements As An Archetype Of Transformation: Earth Water Air Fire An Exploration of by Seth T. Miller Masters Thesis Defense JFK Univeristy, 4/26/09."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Elements As An Archetype Of Transformation: Earth Water Air Fire An Exploration of by Seth T. Miller Masters Thesis Defense JFK Univeristy, 4/26/09

2 Summary Conclusions The elemental cycle provides a way of understanding and effectively working with transformation It is a qualitative language It structures consciousness It builds capacities (soul-organs) – Imagination (with), Inspiration (through), Intuition (within) It is both a content and a method It works because it is archetypal in nature

3 How about an experience? 1. Examine the image and ask yourself, What is this an image of? 2. Pay attention to your consciousness: – Content of thoughts – Emotions – Changing qualities of consciousness – Insights, Revelations 3. Do NOT communicate to others what you see – let them have their own experience.


5 What I did Explore the elements using a Goethean-style phenomenology Examine the elements in the physical world Examine them as signs, ciphers, symbols, and as archetypes Repeatedly apply understanding to new phenomena, let phenomena guide my experience Enlist others to try out the elemental cycle and give a report of experiences Examine potential breadth and depth

6 Some processes at work: Direct sensory observation Awareness of feelings Thinking Discussion, Interviews Thinking backwards Meditation Silence and sleep

7 Method: Goethean Phenomenology GoetheanNewtonian Exploratory experimentationTheory-based ProcessFacts QualitativeQuantitative Experiments and concepts evolve togetherExperiments designed to test previously formulated theories Many slightly different experiments are performed with the idea of bringing to light connections between all the different manifestations of a phenomenon Experimentum Crucis – a single, definitive experiment worth 1000 others that clearly supports one theory over another Experiments can only be understood in the context of all the others Isolated experiments make sense Look at relationsProve a single fact Make sense of the whole (holism)Make sense of individual pieces (reductionism) Look for primary, Ur-phenomenon (the archetype) and associated necessary conditions Everything rests upon a single, often minutely structured phenomenon taken out of the larger context All other phenomena follow from the primary phenomenon, through a process of complexification and the addition of new conditions (facts fall out of the context) Experiments are used to plug holes in existing theory, not to explain related phenomena (the context is created from the facts as necessary) Good for situations with little previous conceptual framework (metaphor: site-assessment) Good for situations where there is a lot of prior theory that is already accepted (metaphor: brick-laying) Includes the observer as a necessarily important part of the whole phenomenon (the subject is included) Abstracts the observer from the phenomenon in order to isolate as many variables as possible (the object is primary) Insights reflect inner activityInsights reflect outer activity Answers generate questionsQuestions generate answers SyntheticAnalytic

8 Empirical Theory Building

9 Goethean Phenomenology


11 Earth Qualities: Physical Definite Shaped/formed Located/positioned Rigid Solid Static Resistant to change Inertial Structured All surface Difference/uniqueness Indifference to other elements Gravity Binary Fundamentalist Centric

12 Water Qualities : Physical Self-connection Self-continuity Conforming Covering Penetrating Planar/Spreading Formless Relation Cohesion Adhesion Fluid/Flowing Changeable/Changing Selfless/Dependent Accommodating Rhythmic Wave forms Formative forces/forming Mixing Dissolving Balancing Relational Mediating

13 Air Qualities : Physical All-encompassing Invisible Intangible Clarity Selfless/Independent Levity Dispersing Peripheral Complementing Self-dissociation Diffusion/Expansive Random/probabilistic Borderless Polarity (opposite, complement, reciprocal) Formlessness Chaotic/turbulent Sensitive Vortexial Internal layering/boundaries Speed Reversing Selfish Sounding Communicative Either/or

14 Fire Qualities : Physical Warmth Unlimited Boundaryless Radiation/light Active/activity Dynamism Affects change Omnipresent Creative Transformative Both/and Greater context Whole Integration

15 Qualities and Descriptors, one transforming from left to right: EARTHWATERAIRFIRE FactsRelationsPolaritiesWholes SolidLiquidGaseousPlasmic OpposingComplementingReciprocatingEnantiodromiating GravityMovementLevitySpace ImpactingPulsingTurbulentResonating BeingShiftingInvolutingCreating SingularitiesComparisonsSimultaneitiesParadoxes IsolatedConnectedInterpenetratingUnitive Self-containedContextualUnboundedIntegral UncompromisingCompromisingIndefiniteFacilitating StubbornConformingWafflingBeing UnchangingChangingChaoticEvolving ApparentSubtleHermeticEsoteric DivisitoryConnectingHyperbolizingHarmonizing ActualRelationalPotentialCapacity SeparatingJoiningComplementingCommuning ObjectsProcessesInversionsHolons DistinguishingRelatingReversingUnifying ContrastingComparingPolarizingGestalting StillFlowingInvolutingExploding WaitingEmergingReversingCompleting

16 EARTHWATERAIRFIRE IdentifyingTryingWaiting (Consciously)Surrendering AnalyzingProcessingBrainstormingCreating ReservedPoliteGregariousLuminous InformativeOrientingExpandingTransformative StructuralFluidInvertingDynamic InstinctsUrgesDesiresMotives MaterialGrowth/DecaySympathies/AntipathiesSelf SeparateMixedLayeredHolographic Solitary IndependenceDependenceMutual independenceOmni-dependence DogmaticFlexibleMutually accommodatingMutually Supportive AntipatheticSympatheticEmpatheticCompassionate KnowingUnderstandingWonderingMeditating ObviousContextualSubtleInsightful StaticPenetratingInterpenetratingOmnipresent ThinkingImaginingInspiringIntuiting InstantaneousSequencedSimultaneousTimeless IndividuatedPatterned, RhythmicRandom, ProbabilisticArchetypal KnownFeltUnknownIntuited Just MeMe and YouYou? Me?We SpeakingToleratingListeningActing Just thisThis next to thatEither this or thatBoth this and that MaintainingBalancing, MediatingExtremizingEvolving Having been formedIn the process of formingLoss of all form The activity that does the forming

17 The Elemental Mandala

18 Self-embeddedness - Fractality

19 Another Language: Earth Facts Water Process Air Polarity Fire Whole

20 The Physical Universe The Physical Earth (Large Scale) – E: Lithosphere – W: Hydrosphere – A: Atmosphere – F: Ionosphere/Plasmasphere/ Magnetosphere Radioactive Decay (Quantum Scale) – E: Original element – W: Inner relationships undergo a change (process of decay) – A: Emission of various kinds of particles results in a reversal into a new form – F: Wholly new properties of the new element manifest, both inside and outside

21 The Life Cycle of a Star – E: Gas condensation (birth) – W: Burning (life) – A: Nova, Supernova, etc. (death) – F: Nebula, galactic seeding and new star formation (re-birth)

22 The Physical Human Human Body (Large Scale) – E: Skeletal-Muscular – W: Blood, Lymph, CSF, Enzymes, Secretions – A: O 2, CO 2, N 2, H + – F: Warmth Protein Folding (Small Scale) – E: Primary Formation – String of amino acids – W: Secondary Formation – neighbor to neighbor bonding (alpha helices and beta-pleated sheets) – A: Tertiary Formation – Hydrophilic (polar – moves to outside) and Hydrophobic (non-polar – moves to inside) – F: Quaternary Formation – requires multiple proteins, the whole working together

23 The Non-Physical Human Holistic Organization – E: Physical – W: Life-body (etheric) – A: Sense-body (astral) – F: I-being Modes of Cognition – E: Object cognition – W: Imaginative cognition – A: Inspirative cognition – F: Intuitive cognition

24 Human Experiences The Heros Journey (Campbell) – E: The Call to adventure – W: The Descent into the abyss – A: Encounter with the Shadow – F: The Return, integration with the Self Music – E: Rhythm – W: Melody – A: Harmony – F: The whole piece Jungian Types – E: Sensate – W: Feeling – A: Thinking – F: Intuitive Dreams (Jung) – E: Stage/mood/context – W: Build up (plot) – A: Climax/encounter – F: Resolution

25 Others Four gifts of knowing (de Quincey) – E: Scientists gift of the senses – W: Shamans gift of feeling – A: Philosophers gift of reason – F: Mystics gift of sacred silence Light – E: Particle-nature – W: Wave-nature – A: Particle/Wave-nature – F: Light itself Alchemical Form – E: Wrought Work – W: Ongoing Work – A: Revelation – F: Being Temperaments – E: Melancholic – W: Phlegmatic – A: Sanguine – F: Choleric

26 Many Relations Element:EarthWaterAirFire Kingdom:MineralPlantAnimalHuman Symmetry:3-foldRadial (2-fold)Bi-Lateral (1-fold) Towards Asymmetry Outer Degrees of Constraint/Freedom: 3/02/11/20/3 Outer Geometric Entity: PointLinePlaneSphere Outer Movement: Point-like (No self-motion) Line-like (Above-Below) Plane-like (Circle, Spiral) Sphere-like (Unrestricted) Derivative (with respect to Time): 0 th – Position (No Change) 1 st – Velocity (Change) 2 nd – Acceleration (Change of a Change) 3 rd – Control/Jerk (Change of a Change of a Change) Inner Degrees of Restraint/Freedom: 0/31/22/13/0 Inner Geometric Entity:SpherePlaneLinePoint Inner Movement (Will):Completely Unrestricted Shared Etheric across Surface Linear (Sympathy-Antipathy) One-Pointedness Human Consciousness:Completely Dull, Simple Dreamless Sleep Dreaming Sleep Day-Waking Consciousness Ontological Aspect:PhysicalEthericAstralEgo Capacity:PersistenceGrowthDesireControl Science:Material Sciences Biology (Life-ology) Psychology (Soul-ology) Spiritual Science


28 Experiences of Others I have experimented with applying and integrating your ideas of the alchemical elements into my daily experience. I must say that I have been pleasantly surprised with the effectiveness and clarity that has arisen through the implementation of your ideas, as I understood them.

29 Survey Results Would use the elemental cycle again: – lowest response was an 8, with one response indicating a 2-9 scale, depending upon the topic. Ease of application to chosen phenomenon: – lowest response again was an 8, while one responder usefully pointed out that I find it is less a matter of the mandala and more about my time/patience. Usefulness of the elemental cycle in helping you understand and work with your chosen phenomenon: – lowest response was a 9.

30 Fire Experiences I have had a few fire experiences. I think the most clear was in meditating. I simply was working on a meditation exercise. After a few months of working on it, and going through some hard parts where I felt like giving up - one day I just understood - I had been doing the mandala. It was a deep knowing about something which had eluded my consciousness for months. The total lack of expectation of any answer on my part I feel was what lead to the clarity of the insight.

31 Weaknesses Schematic in nature Easy to use superficially (classification), hard to use deeply (as a language of communication with the interiority of the world) Requires the consistent fire of our conscious attention (rhythmic will impulse) Subtle

32 Strengths Subtle Fourfold division provides balance between overgeneralization and overspecificity – Holistic but yeilding very specific detail Guide for consciousness Self-regulatory Hygienic Fractal (effective at any scale)

33 Potentially Fruitful Areas of Application Dealing with new or complex experiences and phenomena Studies of the depth of the physical world Communication/Dialogue – Business organizations/relations – Personal relationships – Self-relationship Therapy/Life-coaching Self-transformation, spiritual development

34 Elemental Questions – Earth: Earth – What are the facts? – What is different? – What is unique? – What could everyone else agree upon? – What stands out? – What seems constant? – What can I count on? – What is irrefutable? – What are the pieces? – What categories do the pieces fit into? – What feels like a heavy weight, like a solid stone, or like gravity with respect to this phenomenon?

35 Elemental Questions – Water: Water – What is changing? – Do any of the facts connect to each other? – Do the facts manifest in a sequence? – Are there different parts or areas which are self-similar? – What is the immediate context of the facts? – What patterns do I notice? – Are there any rhythms or cycles? – What are the processes that give rise to the individual facts? – Is there a specific context that makes the phenomenon more apparent or realized? – How is one aspect turning into another, seemingly different aspect? – What about my phenomenon makes me feel like I am floating along, caught in the waves, drowning, or repeating the same thing over and over?

36 Elemental Questions – Air: Air – What is reversing? – Where do I go if I extrapolate the movements I identified in the Water level to their extremes? – What is the overall range of manifestation of the major aspects of the phenomenon? – That is, what are its limits? – Where does the phenomenon seem to run out or dissolve? – What parts do I seem to be unable to focus or concentrate upon? – If I could imagine the opposite of one part or the whole phenomenon, what would it be? – How would I feel if this actually happened? – What about this phenomenon makes me feel like I am losing my moorings completely, like my knowing runs out, like there is no truth, or like every part is equally important or unimportant?

37 Elemental Questions – Fire: Fire – What is the whole? – What lies within or behind the phenomenon that allows the seemingly conflicting aspects of the Air level to coexist in a harmony, in a way that is not mutually destructive, but rather is mutually enhancing? – Do I have a new insight that makes better sense of all the previous levels? – Is there some subtle aspect of the phenomenon that once seemed insignificant but now seems like the key to the whole thing? – Do I have the feeling of participating in something larger than myself? – Do I suddenly notice how this phenomenon shows up in places I never expected or noticed before? – Do I have the experience that the phenomenon is speaking to me through other, seemingly unrelated aspects of my life and experience? Do I feel transformed in some way?

38 Back to your experience… Earth: your initial impression, first meeting – Data, objective, unchanging, meaningless, disconnection, randomness Water: your searching for the right image – Connecting, imagining, testing the feeling of rightness, discarding, repeating Air: approaching the limit – Frustration, run out of knowing, many/no right answers Fire: discovery – Aha!, instantaneous, self-revealing Earth: afterwards – Persistence of the new fact, cant not see it, familiarity

39 The End Thesis available at:

Download ppt "The Elements As An Archetype Of Transformation: Earth Water Air Fire An Exploration of by Seth T. Miller Masters Thesis Defense JFK Univeristy, 4/26/09."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google