The alchemist’s vessel or alembic is hermetically sealed (sealed in lead) where the spirit imprisoned in matter is cooked and suffocated. On a psychological level, it is the process of suffocating or cooking our natural tendency to blame other people and outside events for our problems. I
The power of the Oxyrhynchus to stop the largest ships gives us a visualization of the paradoxical nature of the process towards ‘wholeness.’
Voltaire acknowledged that, “four thousand volumes of metaphysics will not teach us what the soul is.”1 William James believed that our position in relation to the whole of the universe was similar to that of our pets to the whole of a human life. They take part in the scenes of our lives but have no idea of the significance of the events. They are only tangent to the meaning of world history in the same way that “we are tangent to the wider life of things.”2 That is a humbling way to look at things. Yet, if I am honest, I do sometimes feel like I am wandering through the neighborhood expecting at any moment to see my picture tacked to a telephone pole.