In Search of the Philosopher’s Stone

4 min readJul 26, 2020

I quite warm to Jung’s notion that the mysterious and enigmatic philosopher’s stone of legend is none other than the ‘humble human ego’.

This seems a strange and counter intuitive idea though; After all, the gurus have spent their entire ‘careers’ drumming into us, that it is the ego that must be overcome!

The confusion seems to be, that we equate the ego, that pure sense of self, with the ‘inflated ego’.

Nowadays we are all too aware of the proliferation of bloated and overblown egos. Too much detritus has been gathered or, more precisely, unconsciously accumulated and attracted; Like a dark labyrinthine mass, obscure and beguiling, shrouding and clinging to the hidden gem.

We house a dangerous and tricksy world that our conscious mind dubs ‘the unconscious’. Here be dragons!

The ego is a mirror, on a lesser scale, of the larger conscious reality we inhabit. As can be seen in the symbol of the philosopher’s stone; The circle within the circle.

These are precarious islands of order, totally surrounded by ‘infinite seas of chaos’

Our conscious reality then, is an adventure and an exploration into building and stability. Time is the backbone of this endeavour; It is a constraint and a restriction of freedom. Yet these shackles of reiteration are necessary; They allow for one thing to lead to another; Effect can follow on from cause and the mercurial shifting sands of ‘everything at once’ can be chiselled and hammered out, to be set in ‘iron and stone’.

Time allows incremental change, accumulation and ‘score keeping’; The mutable alien form is transformed into a flattened stability.

Our world of manifestation; that churning ‘mill-wheel’ of creation can be symbolised as a triangle. The three forces weaving their spell, like the sisters of fate.

I am reminded of the Greek thinker Pherecydes’ three divine principles; Zas(Zeus), Chronos (Time) and the Cthonic (Earth)

An active principle; The word, rule or law — A passive principle; A mouldable medium of memory and accumulation — And a third principle; A reiterative driving force.

The three dynamic forces push and squeeze themselves into manifestation and stability via the four elements. A barrier is crossed and the unseen drivers become turned to ‘stone’.

This is a house of cards though. The chaos (unconscious) can only be channeled, processed and transformed at a certain rate; Too much and the stability that has been painstakingly built will be washed away.

I also warm to the idea that ‘the ego’ has been a relatively recent development; At least when looked at over the vast span of the history of mankind.

In the beginning, ‘the sea of chaos’ channeled slowly into our fledgling experimental world, travelling straight through its denizens with little resistance to become their ‘outer world.’

The projections travelled through them and shone out, illuminating their myriad ‘external’ gods and goddesses. These archetypes had no foothold in the people, so became part of the picture book, ‘external’ world.

In time, some of what was projected outwards began to be ‘claimed’ and then, as appears to be the law, ‘like attracted like’. Magnetic centres and ‘internal’ concentrations accumulated, which began to identify with what was once ‘outside’ them.

The virtues and vices of the once projected deities, became enmeshed in a labyrinthine personal domain. The inner world was born; a mirror to what had been claimed from the ‘outer world’; ‘The precious stone in the oyster shell’, beginning to form.

The ‘fabled stone’ was formed under great pressure. Layers of accumulation, silt-like sedimentation and clinging half forms have surrounded, compressed and buried it.

The jewel rests forgotten, in need of discovery and excavation. To search for it is to work through the layers of detritus; This is shadow work. To enter the labyrinth, face the unknown and undergo transformation.

The stone (ego) becomes emboldened and stronger through such shadow work; It starts to call out to us.

What is unconscious must be made conscious. Our attention gives it form and allows us to apprehend it.

The unconscious chaos (creative well-spring), ‘feeds’ through, to be made firm and stable.

Early ‘people’ were channels for this; Their outer world was projected through them.

As a greater sense of self developed, through a clinging, identifying and claiming process, accreting through the rise of ideas; ‘The channeller’ graduated to ‘the processor’.

The unconscious not only passed through; It was transformed, and in turn the processor was also transformed.

A processor within a process; Circle within a circle.

The stone (ego) is a perfect conductor; It is pure self-awareness

the magnum opus is to hone this jewel; to facet the stone and remove debris from the over inflated ego.

The more that is processed through, the more that can be processed through. It creates a ‘heat’ that burns away the detritus and shadow clinging to it. This is pain and suffering though, for it feels like a part of ourselves is being sacrificed.

The jewel, exposed and clear, bears a powerful load. yet it remains cool; Channeling, processing and transforming the sea of possibilities into a many rayed light show.




Head in the clouds, but really quite practical. Fine art trained, but frequently seduced by the promise of science.