Over the past few days I have been busy traveling between Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In between all the flights and events I had scheduled, I’ve been immersing myself in readings about alchemy for my training program with Robert Bosnak in LA. Even though I am a bit tired from all the running around, I have also had the opportunity to savor a bit of spring in each of these locations during my morning walks. Here is a small sampling of some of the beautiful blossoms I have enjoyed while thinking about the alchemical idea of “albedo” or whitening.
In science, albedo refers to the amount of light reflected off of the surface of an object. When an object has a high albedo, it means that the surface reflects most of the light that hits it. So pure white has the highest albedo of 1 because it reflects back all of the light. Click here for examples of scientists measuring the albedo of arctic water, ice, snow and tundra.
In alchemy, albedo refers to the second stage of transformation of base materials into gold. C.G. Jung, who was very interested in alchemy, saw it as a wonderful metaphorical system for understanding the process of transformation in the lives of his clients he worked with.
As the second year of my training program with Robert Bosank draws to a close, we have begun to focus on the study of alchemy as it relates to dreaming and the imaginal realm. For me, alchemy is such an alien system of thought that both inspires and totally confuses me. It is also providing me with just the right combination of stimulation, challenge and fun that makes life long learning such a delight. More than anything, it feels as if I am finally starting to understand a wee bit about my own Western cultural heritage, which in many ways is still such a mystery to me after living so long in Japan.
The albedo of a