Inner Alchemy and the Wim Hof Method

The planets are alive and well in your body.  They move up the spine starting with Saturn and ending with the Moon.

This is further discussed in the previous post but here again is our our friendly chakra map

Today we are going to go a little further with this, starting with the role of the endocrine system.

The endocrine system is made up of glands that produce and secrete hormones which go on to regulate the activity of our cells and organs.  These hormones are chemical substances that travel through our blood.

The fish are the hormones that swim through the the blood (the sea) once released by their particular gland.
Imagine these fish as the adrenaline (Mars) released from the adrenal glands that are going to supply us with the energy we need to confront that rude person on the street.

The major take home point is that feelings such as anger, relaxation, thrill, bonding and whatever else have a very real CHEMICAL component.

We can all feel our Mars when we tap into our adrenaline.  We can all feel our mysterious Moon when we dream  (the pineal gland).

Here are the major endocrine glands of the body

Certain glands have a clear affinity with the planets as they go up the body while others may have to be seriously pondered.  I encourage you if your interested to find these associations by studying the functions of the glands matched the with functions of the planets.  In the future as I study this further I’ll probably write another post on it.

But for today I need to move on to talking about the single most inspiring person I have ever come across on the world wide web!

This is Wim Hof!  Aka the “Iceman” who is famous for breaking 26 world records in extreme sports, namely the ability to withstand extreme temperatures and altitudes.

Wim claims his abilities have to do with learning how to CONTROL his autonomic nervous system, which taps into the endocrine system and influences the immune system.  He does this mainly from breath work and cold water exposure.  But what’s even more amazing is that he says ANYONE CAN LEARN HOW TO DO IT..

Hof calls the cold his “warm friend” because exposure to it actually trains the body to adapt and secure inner warmth by creating brown adipose tissue which is a natural insulator.  Many other health benefits are involved including balancing hormones, reducing inflammation and creating endorphins.
In a controlled study, Hof was injected with an e-coli endotoxin that causes fever, vomiting and other flu-like symptoms in the vast majority of people.  He demonstrated control over his immune system and was not affected.  When the researchers were ready to deem him an anomaly he promised he would be back in a couple weeks with 12 of his students that he trained.  All of theses students were unaffected by the toxin compared to the other 12 non-trained participants who came down with fever, chills, the works.


Wim claims that his teacher is “hard nature” and that the cold is “merciless but righteous”.

He explains that our addiction to being warm keeps us separated from this merciless but righteous teacher, and therefore we are vulnerable to these elements instead of adaptive.

The main method he uses is breath work.  Essentially a controlled way of deep breathing for deep-tissue oxygenation which raises the pH level of the body.

What’s interesting about the breath is that it is the only function we have that is BOTH automatic and voluntary.  That is, it operates under the autonomic nervous system as well as the somatic nervous system (voluntary movement).  What Wim Hof has learned to do is use this breath to influence the autonomic nervous system (ANS) via the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus gland is located where Mercury lives in the body.  It links the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland.  The hypothalamus also controls TEMPERATURE REGULATION.

The alchemists viewed Mercury as the most essential component in turning base metals into gold.  Hof himself says “we have to learn how to become our own alchemists” thereby taking CONTROL over our own systems which give us true security and lasting “health, strength and happiness”.

The lion (our inner power) is controlled by the subconscious (the woman adorned with the wild flowers).  The symbol above her head stands for “dominion”.   If we can influence the autonomic nervous system, can we not influence the subconscious mind to better control our vitality?

Think about your new subconscious relationship to the cold if you learned to not be as afraid of it, by CONTROLLING your reaction to it.

The concept of CONTROL brings us astrologically to Saturn, found in the base of our bodies.  At the top of our bodies we find the Moon, aka “mother”, “matter”, “nature”, “mother nature”.

Again the tarot gives us a good look at how the mother can be menacing.  We growl and seek to protect ourselves from her (as the lobster’s exoskeleton shows).

And we are always trying to control mother nature by using our thermostats or air conditioning, or making our lives too COMFORTABLE all the time.

Hof teaches us that we have come a far way from balance by CONTROLLING NATURE too much.  Sure we all need shelter but we have become too good at protecting ourselves from nature and thus have become SEPARATED.

kicked out of Eden!

The Saturn (control) must be turned inward in order to become steadily reacquainted with nature.  Through the breath and cold exposure, we can CONTROL our physiology to better live in nature instead of the opposite which leave us VULNERABLE (another Moon word) to nature.

We are uniting the opposites here.  The “below” of Saturn seeks to reestablish balance with the “above” of the Moon.


The other opposites to be united in the body would then be..

African american woman meditating in nature
Jupiter (EXPANDING) and Mercury (BREATH).  Jupiter is located in the gut and supplies us with intuitive understanding.  Mercury is located in the brain where we can focus.
Mars (ADRENALINE) and Venus (BALANCE).   Healthy stress brings us back into balance.  And remember- this is Wim’s extreme sport- we can all go about this at our own rates.  For example I like to end my hot shower with one minute of cold- not even ice cold, and I will build from there.  I feel great after!

After we unite Mars and Venus (solar plexus and throat chakra) we have the alchemical GOLD in the middle, our heart, which is associated with the Sun, and our true vitality.

Ahhhhh… welcome home.

Until next time- happy breathing!


Venus and the Virtues of Negativity

Ladies and gents we are about to explore the mysterious functions of Venus, a.k.a Aphrodite.  Alchemically she is linked to the metal copper.  Her reputation revolves around love and beauty.

All aboard!

First stop, the human body, specifically the circulatory system.

Hmm.. strange first stop but okay.  In this picture of the human circulatory system we see that we are all red and blue inside.

In the last post we talked about how Mars, a.k.a iron is what makes the blood red when it combines with oxygen (iron as hemoglobin).  It is this oxygenated red blood that travels through the arteries and nourishes all of our organs.

homework boy
What is all the blue then?

Quite simply the blue blood is now WITHOUT oxygen because the organs have used it all up.  It now travels through the veins back to the heart where it will become oxygenated again through our breath (and that hemoglobin!)

Ok but where does she fit in?  This is a post about Venus?

Let’s start with her name, Venus.  Quite similar to the word VEIN is it not?  And for that matter Mars sounds more like ARtery.

In the same way, Adam uses Mars’ letters and Eve uses Venus’ letters
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Ram is practically the word Mars backwards (as well as it’s zodiac-associated symbol)  And EWE is Eve with a small middle letter adjustment!
Eve, ewe and now ELE.  ELEctricity is conducted most often through Venus’ signature metal, copper.
MAgnetism is found in MArs’ signature metal iron by means of the magnetized iron ore attracting to it more iron.

Back to the blood..  it seems to be an intuitive understanding that Mars and red blood go hand in hand.  Less intuitive is Venus’ blue blood, the blood that is WITHOUT oxygen.

ELEctric lightning produces NEGATIVE ions in the air.  Negative ions are said to produce numerous health benefits mostly by relaxing the body and bringing it back into balance
Ah.. back into balance.  This is beginning to sound like me.
Water falls and infrared saunas are other places where negative ions are found.  Can you not feel the affects just by looking at this image?

Venus is introducing the principle of PASSIVITY and RESTORATION (negativity without it’s bad connotations).  It seeks balance by being passive.  It trusts in nature and knows there is an order more divine here than anything we could actively cook up ourselves (leave that to Mars!).

Let’s talk a little more about it’s signature metal, Copper.

Here is our Lady of Liberty displaying copper in all it’s beauty when it oxidizes in salty air and turns green.  For the Ellis Island immigrants she looked shiny and bright copper-colored.

So some of Copper’s themes have to do with electricity, and this rather pretty light green tint.

Northern lights: Spectacular footage captured in Iceland - video
Therefore we can see her strange and mysterious signature here in the Northern Lights.  Mars’ lodestone will point towards this.  Mars being attracted to Venus.
Here she is in a firefly

Venus points to the blue blood and the green color that copper turns.  Where else do we see blue and green?

Everywhere on our home planet Earth!

Earth demonstrates magnificent beauty especially when it’s left alone (Venus).  National Parks are an excellent example of this.

Venus doing what she does best: nothing.

Venus knows how to let nature BE her order.  She knows to listen, to notice, to meet and behold.

She knows how to befriend by not imposing any will upon the other.  This photo is from Argentina’s extreme and controversial petting zoo.  In 2 decades there have been no reports of the animals lashing out to the humans.  The zoo owners claim that all they do for these animals is make sure they are comfortable and well-fed.

Our bodies are constantly sending electrical messages from our brain to various body parts.  Electricity is needed to make anything happen, from blinking our eyes to making ourselves a sandwich.  Electrical signals happen when the cells switch from a negative charge to a positive charge.

The natural resting state of your cells is negativity, a.k.a Venus.  Leave the action to Mars (positivity)

Once again I will bring in the Wizard of Oz because I simply can’t help it.  The Emerald City looks a lot like the northern lights married the Statue of Liberty.  Not only that but like the North Pole, it serves as center of attraction of which our heroes and heroine are pulled towards.

We’re off to see the Wizard!

But what happens when they get there?  What does the Wizard say?

He tells them they already have what they are looking for.  They don’t need to do ANYTHING except realize it.  Venus has spoken.

In closing, Venus teaches us the virtues of negativity and how non-doing can restore and bring back balance.  It is a side of life that is often ignored, especially in our fast paced modern society.  We can consciously feel the blissful effects of negativity by sitting by running water and soaking up those negative ions, or noticing the peace that is felt after a rainstorm.  Another fun tip, beeswax candles also emit negative ions.

To the bees, thank you for being a friend.





Cultivating Your Inner Cary Grant: Natural Order and Integration

The word “integrity” sure has  a good vibe to it doesn’t it?  If someone were to compliment you on your integrity would you not feel fantastic?  It feels to me that it’s one of the best things to compliment a person on.

When I think of a famous archetype of a person with a lot of integrity my mind migrates towards Cary Grant, or at least his screen persona.  His feathers just refuse to be ruffled and his moral standing seems very difficult to become compromised.

He himself recognized the enviable attributes of his on-screen persona.

His characters embody that of charm and effortless problem solving.  Being socially graceful is of utmost importance, even when it would seem out of the ordinary.  In this way he comes across as more alive then the other characters, more awake.

He seamlessly embraces paradox (Venus) which heightens his romantic (Venus again) disposition.


Even in times of panic the look on his face is focused, even somewhat serene.  Not to mention his clothes and hair are perfect.

Venus is very apparent here.  Calm cool and collected.  Let’s examine the word “integrity”.  It comes from the notion of integration which is another very Venusian concept.  Increasing the strength of something by bringing things together.

Like the dude’s rug that “really tied the room together” integration puts us in tune with vital energies, and strengthen our sense of self

There is a longing for us all to find order in ourselves.  Chaos happens when our energies are attuned to disintegrating qualities such as jealousy, anger, hatred etc.  The solution is assuredly not to suppress these natural forces within us but to gently get back towards SOME kind of natural and integrative mode of conduct.

This is a famous alchemical sign pointing out that a shift in perspective can  transmute chaos into order

Instead of letting these disintegrating emotions and thoughts become deconstructive to us we must gently put ourselves back in line with CONSTRUCTIVE tendencies.  Con-(with) structure (structure) puts order back in our lives, and order is naturally in tune with INTEGRATIVE energies.

Robbie Hart, the wedding singer, was wise to CONSTRUCT a song to channel his DECONSTRUCTIVE feelings of anger that had been brewing ever since Linda left him at the alter

Back to Cary Grant for a moment.  Social grace, integrity, personal order, how might these look symbolically in a natal chart?

consult chart

 Without knowing a thing about astrology one can see the clump of planets at the bottom of the chart.  What is the feeling that conveys?  Perhaps the feeling of anchoring?

These planets are in the signs of Capricorn and Aquarius which are both affiliated with Saturn.  Saturn itself is at the very bottom of the chart.  What planet in astrology best signifies ORDER?


Now keep in mind, Aquarius, although co-ruled by Saturn welcomes in the bizarre.  Could this be saying that order in the natural world IS bizarre yet still orderly?

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No argument here..
Nor here!

And what about that social grace?  The wit, the charm?  In other words, what is happening with Venus?  Well, it is in the sign of Sagittarius which embraces larger than life essences and enthusiasm.  It is squared by Jupiter which only EXPANDS it further and is opposite Pluto which serves to EMPOWER it.  OF course this is if he is working well with his own energies, and he sure seems to do that.


The virtues Cary Grant embodies on screen speak so loud to people because they are resonant with natural laws.  Social harmony and order are birds of the same feather.

They flock together

Personal order can be cultivated by practicing and making room for these things within ourselves.  By doing so we unite with nature and our fellow humans.

Was Archie Leach this schooled in the craft?  Archie Leach was Cary Grant’s birth name.  In a bizarre (Aquarius!) moment in the film “His Girl Friday” Grant says this.  Talk about embodying his new persona!  Watch it- it’s only 7 seconds.

That’s pretty wild right?  He isn’t who he was, he’s who he is becoming.

On a final note I want to celebrate the fact that we can all learn to tap into our inner Cary Grant in times of trouble and chaos.  With a little cool-headed grace can come a little more order and vice versa.  Constructive choices bring put us in better reception to INTEGRATING energies which keep us more settled in nature’s natural order.  Letting deconstructive choices block integration, working more to dis-integrate ourselves.  It is always possible to balance it a bit more in the natural direction.


Alchemy with Astrology: Celebrating Wonders of the Natural World

Alchemy attempts to transform base metals into gold.  The three prime elements that it works with are Sulfur, Sodium and Mercury.  But before you say, ah- I’m not interested in metals- realize that we are not just talking about metals.  We are talking chemical changes that occur everywhere in nature.  We are talking about our bodies as well as our psyches. Astrology and Alchemy are very intertwined in their symbolic language and we can learn a lot about ourselves and the world we live in by realizing these parallels.

The great physician and philosopher Paracelsus was a committed alchemist who believed in natural healing in a natural and magical world.  He said that sulphur mercury and salt are the 3 substances that give EVERY single thing it’s body.  Using the example of a piece of wood as a “body”, the part that BURNS is the sulphur the SMOKE is the mercury and the ASHES is the salt.

Okay so let’s bring these three alchemical elements into their planetary forms, starting with Sulfur.

Yellow as yellow gets!

Of all of our planets what does this photo most remind you of?  The Sun right?  Bold and yellow like our Father Sun.

It is often found near volcanoes and hot springs.  Heat is associated with Sulfur, like the Sun.
Sulfur is the substance sparks the fire of a match
It is also the prime ingredient in fireworks.

Sulfur is also known for it’s pungent smell.  Think rotten eggs.  This is another shade of it’s boldness- it’s “isness”.  Sulfur is akin to the SOUL, like the word “SOL” which is latin for Sun.  The Sun is the “I am” principle.  Our “being”.  In french “I am” is “Je suis”.  Jesus is the “Son of god” (Sun?) and “walks on water”.

Like this?  Here is the Sun “walking on water”.  This idea was introduced to me by the great Santos Bonacci (Mr. Astrotheology)- of whom I’ve watched HOURS of youtube videos.
egg yolk
The yoke of an egg is loaded with Sulfur.  Yellow and round like the Sun.  It is the egg’s center, it’s core (“coeur” is french for “heart” which the Sun rules)

Father Sun is that part in us that is the “inner king”, like a lion.  Leo the lion is the sign associated with the Sun.  We all need this masculine roaring “isness” in order to know what we want and where we are trying to go in life.  This is the essential vital principle within us, the Qi that flows through the body.

Moving on to Sodium.

What does this substance remind you of?

The familiar iridescent glow of the Moon is found in rock salt, one of the most common compounds of Sodium.  The Moon, as we have discussed in other posts has been associated with the word MUNDANE, meaning “of the earthly world”, with Monday being it’s symbolic day.  Sodium is akin to the BODY.  Remember the Sodium is the ASHES of the stick, falling back to the earthly ground when the other two substances are gone, it remains.

In the Bible, Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt when she longingly “looked back” behind her.  Eurydice, the beloved wife of Orpheus, disappeared without a trace when he looked back as he was leading her away from the Underworld.  Getting stuck in the past can keep you from healthy transformations (fire and smoke).  When those things are done you are left with a pile of ashes, or a pillar of SALT.

Of course the Moon is associated with the past, which can take on a dreamy tint.

As in “she has a past”

In fact, everything about the Moon is elusive, and just beyond reach.  Mystery surrounds all things with the Moon, which is funny because the Moon is supposed to be connected with mundane Mondays!  What is going on?

Let’s take a look at the metal that is associated with the Moon, beautiful shiny and perfectly reflective Silver.

Commonly used as currency throughout history, MONEY is very associated with the MOON.  The latin word for Silver is “Argentum”, as in l’argent, the french word for money.

We wake up on a mundane Monday to go out and make some MONEY?  And then we all turn into ASHES at the end of it??  Is the Moon all about this bleakness??  I don’t think so..

The term “matter” is associated with “mother, moon mundane” but ANOTHER word that joins this club is “MATRIX”.  What if what we see is only a glimpse of a deeper more mysterious MATRIX of a magical world?

There are 7 metals in Alchemy, with Silver being the 7th yet containing the previous 6 in “spiritual form”.  I’m not saying I know what that means but I think it is safe to say that even though Silver is MUNDANE it is also MAGICAL.

Here is a nice chart showing the 7 metals with their respective corresponding planets.  Up in the left corner we see our familiar trifecta of the burning log analogy.

Silver (Moon) is also the best conductor of electricity of all the metals.  Sodium (Moon) is key in the operation of all electrical signals to and from the brain in the human body.

Paracelsus saw the Moon to be associated with the brain.  He believed all the mysteries of the universe (the macrocosm) could be contemplated by studying the human body and nature (the microcosm).

Okay, so to review, the Sun is associated with Sulfur and the “spark of life”.  It is the Soul of a person (aka SOL which is latin for Sun).  In other words it is a person’s vital essence.  The Moon is associated with Sodium and the body, and all it’s many mysteries.  What about Mercury?  What about the smoke?

The smoke is also Bogey’s BREATH.

Mercury is thus symbolically associated with the SPIRIT, a.k.a “RESPIRE”.  It is the ANIMATING principle of the soul within the body.  InSPIRation is an animating word that puts the SPIRIT back in someone’s heart and mind, thus motivating them, ANIMATING them.  Where does this root word “SPIR” come from?

Back to this image and the idea of magic in the mundane world, the latin root word SPIR means “coil”.  This is where the word “spiral” comes from.
Spirals are found all around nature.  What is this animating life-force that the ancients associated with Mercury?
The caduceus is the symbol associated with Mercury and displays two SPIRALING snakes.
We recognize the ancient ANIMATING COIL when see a picture of our self-replicating DNA
The circle represents totality and wholeness.  “God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere” -Hermes Trismegistus
There is no animation on this picture but it sure does appear to be spinning!  This optical illusion shows how a spiral can trick us (Mercury the trickster!) into seeing movement (ANIMATION).

Spirals emphasize CHANGE which paradoxically is the only thing that is consistent in the Universe.

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change” -Heraclitus

I find it helpful as an astrologer to view the birth chart as a spiral AS WELL as a circle.  Embracing changes of the spiral, yet finding peace within the circle of wholeness.

Anyway- before I go off in too different a direction here (thanks to Mercury and his bag of tricks) I will sign off.  I look forward to learning more about the principles of Alchemy and how they tie into Astrology and the natural world.

alice in wonderland laying in between the daisies