Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A is of Annealing & Alchemy

This morning I discovered a new word, annealing. "Annealing" is a heat treatment wherein a material is altered, causing changes in its properties such as strength and hardness. It is a process that produces conditions by heating to above the recrystallization temperature and maintaining a suitable temperature and then cooling. Annealing is used to soften material, relieve internal stresses, refine the structure by making it homogeneous and improve cold working properties.

The description resonates so clearly with what has been seen as my "original medicine" - the ability to raise the heat level higher than normal temperatures, foster a shift in conditions and refine structure. My desire and ability to step into the hard places (Johnny Cash and Martha Beck call it "the ring of fire") while holding a space of compassion and kindness allow the dross to be burned away. Heating can feel dangerous and it's risky to step out of our comfort zone. I continue to learn from personal experience beginning with the time in my life when it became evident my children weren't willing or able to maintain malleable existences. It became imperative for someone (me) to shift out of a brittle existence and move into something more free flowing - otherwise the fracture could have become irreparable. So, I'm learning to "anneal".

Alchemy is a similar word I've been drawn to for awhile. It means the art of transmuting metals. I think of it in terms of seeking inner wisdom through a process of burning away the unnecessary shell to get to the precious gold (or diamonds) that reside within each of us. My original medicine is to find the gold in everything - including and perhaps especially fear. It's a little scary to announce to the world my own original medicine, but being one who supports stepping into the fiery ring, I choose to live it in order to give it.

While this post feels a little rambling, it's important for me to get some of these thoughts out there. I wish this blog offered polished thoughts, but alas, this is where my training wheels play. Or in the words of the wise Anne Lamott - this is where (reader beware) my sh*tty first draft often lands.

Annealing & alchemy. I invite you to consider where the process of softening and reshaping may be welcomed by stepping into your own ring of fire.


13 comments:

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

I have just recently kicked an addiction. The process I went thru to get clean definitely softened and reshaped me ... i think of the proess as ongoing.

Sue said...

Oh, you are so brave - the ring of fire. Where you sometimes even forget why you've walked into it until you come out the other side and ... well, remember why you walked into it, haha :)

I too love the word "alchemy". It jumped out at me when I read this post because it's been jumping out at me in all sorts of different places lately.

"Annealing" ... hmmm, nice!

claire said...

Softening and reshaping...

At the moment, I feel a certain softening as I allow my fears to be welcome, as I let go of control... It is quite a novel feeling, a certain calm, a certain detachment...

Reshaping, I don't know. I am not there yet.

This is a good post, lucy. I like it very much.

lucy said...

tinkerbell - GOOD for you!! kicking an addiction is not an easy thing... and i agree this process of reshaping is definitely ongoing.

lucy said...

sue - happy new year, friend!!! isn't annealing a fabulous complementary word to alchemy?

lucy said...

claire - "allowing my fears to be welcome" yes yes yes... they start to lose their power then, don't you think? scary as it is!!!

delighted to hear from you, too.

The Pollinatrix said...

Personally, I've always preferred stones in the rough to polished ones, but that's just me. I like the "ramblingness" of this post, because I get to travel along with your thought processes.

Last night my 13-year-old son and I were having a rather intense conversation about spirituality and he told me he associates fire with peace. What just came to mind is: What if the "ring of fire" is only and always the present moment? We're only safe if we're right in the middle of it; when we stray from its center is when we get burned.

I know this isn't really related to what you're talking about in this post, but I guess it led me to some rambling of my own! Fire is such a rich metaphor for so many things.

SUNRISE SISTER said...

This is such a marvelous self-revelatory post - the non-malleable vs the brittle - is a beautiful description of events deeply imbedded in your soul!

The MB stuff and the Lucy stuff are a fabulous blend.......a recipe for success. It's a pleasure to read your "drafts" - ha! as if they were "only" that. Terrific!

xo

lucy said...

polli - this really stood out to me. "What if the "ring of fire" is only and always the present moment? We're only safe if we're right in the middle of it; when we stray from its center is when we get burned."

martha beck has an example in "steering by starlight" where the ring of fire surrounds the essential self. rimming the outside is "the shallows" (which is where most people reside). so we either live in the shallows or step into the ring of fire to reach our core. once we know the core, the fire doesn't burn quite as much perhaps?

i love the present moment as fire and being safe at the center - kind of like the calm at the center of a storm.

here's to rambling. love it!!

lucy said...

SS - soooooo delighted to have you back here with your deepened perspective of lucy :) xoxoox

Sue said...

I wonder how much of this post dribbled down into my subconscious. Cos here I am two weeks later, and I've begun writing a short story, and my character is a glassblower of some description. And so I'm off researching glass-blowing and how it's done, to see whether it's at all possible that she is glass-blowing in her flat without blowing herself up, and here again I come across that word, 'annealing' :)

lucy said...

suzy Q - i LOVE this!!!! please please please send me your short story when you finish it!! i adore how we pick up and offer little pieces of matter here and there never knowing when or how they may manifest in the world. so coooooool!

Sue said...

Agh, I will ... if I ever get it written. Bogged down in the details of glassblowing and lampworking and a character who is REALLY shy about showing herself to me.

Yes, if I get it written, I will definitely show you :)

I love it too, our little bits all flowing out into the world. Imagine what the world would look like if everything that flowed out was manifested. That would be some awesome kind of paradise :) Maybe some day, eh? :D