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Contributed by David Jay Brown
Images are first pages of each oracle summary from "Alchemy of Possibility"
David interviews celebrated author and artist Carolyn Mary Kleefeld on the inspiration behind the launch of her free online divination oracle (alchemyoracle.com) based on her book The Alchemy of Possibility, (now in its second edition) about dealing with change.
David: What originally inspired you to write The Alchemy of Possibility?
Carolyn: My life’s experiences inspired me!
The Alchemy of Possibility is the result of over 10 years of creation and reflective contemplation. The ideas, images, and philosophies expressed in the book were excerpted from over 950 pages in journals written during that period and then arranged by topics to form the 56 chapters.
The Alchemy of Possibility is about change, the metamorphic aspect of our lives, evolving in the endless seasons of mortal and eternal life. The book implies that it is always possible to view life from a broader perspective, to metabolize change rather than to resist it, and to be re-alchemized in the process. In fact, for these reasons, the original title of the book was The I Change.
Even before I realized the book could be used as a divination
oracle, I was drawn to include quotes from the I Ching and the Tarot to head each chapter, as at the time, the I Ching was an important daily guide for me.
In addition to the prose, each chapter also includes one of my paintings and poems chosen for its resonance with the psychological or spiritual theme of the chapter.
An innate need to create and re-alchemize my experiences of life’s challenges and changes is essentially what inspired the book into being.
David: How did The Alchemy of Possibility first become a tool for divination?
Carolyn: When The Alchemy of Possibility was first published, I held a number of book readings around California. During these readings, people spontaneously asked questions about their personal lives, and then opened the book “randomly” to find guidance.
This process continued over the years with people consulting the book on their own, and the results were often remarkable.
David: How did the Alchemy Oracle website develop from the book?
Carolyn: Many years ago, it occurred to me that we could expand this divination dynamic with computer technology. After meeting the skilled computer programmer Richard Rasa, we felt the technological advancements were such that the time was right to recreate the personal experience into cyberspace.
Rasa built the Alchemy Oracle website, incorporating all of the prose, poetry, art, and I Ching and Tarot quotes from the book.
David: How can the Alchemy Oracle website be used for divination or to gain personal insight?
Carolyn: The Alchemy of Possibility provides a vehicle for interactive self-discovery, allowing you to tune into your own subconscious, as I do in my painting and poetry.
Because my artwork and poetry arise from “the life process” itself rather than from the projections of an outside authority, I find it to be
my most honest mirror, reflecting back to me the deeper recesses of my psyche.
In this same way, you can access the Subterranean through the imagery and poetic prose you are drawn to in the Alchemy Oracle, deriving intuitive guidance and insight from your soul, however the Oracle speaks to you.
My daughter, psychotherapist Dr. Carla Kleefeld, summed up this dynamic: “As in Ancient times, the Oracle gives us a chance to address a larger Mystery or the great wisdom of Gaia and to ask Her questions and receive creative and useful responses to our lives.”
The instructions for using the Oracle are on the website at this link: alchemyoracle.com/suggestions.html
You can consult the oracle by going to the website and asking a
question, holding the question in mind, and then clicking on the “Start” button at the bottom of the page. As you focus your mind on the question, the 56 archetypal paintings will then shift, change, and rearrange themselves on the
screen until you are ready to receive guidance by clicking on the “Oracle” button.
The Oracle will then rotate through the different possibilities, and a divination reading will be highlighted and displayed on the screen, accompanied by the chosen painting and the entire text of that chapter.
You can then read and reflect on the text, the I Ching or Tarot quote, and focus on the image, the poem, or wherever you are drawn, to find the guidance that is awaiting you. Your intuition draws what you need to know from the symbolic imagery and words.
David: Can you share any interesting stories with us about how people have used the Alchemy Oracle for divination?
Carolyn: Yes, at the reading in which I first launched my book at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore in West Hollywood, a youth asked how he could get over his unwanted feelings of anger and hate. Then he opened the book at “random” to the chapter aptly titled "Prejudice and Judgment." Now, as a political consultant working in Washington, DC, he uses the online oracle on a weekly basis.
Recently, a friend who wanted to learn more about the seriousness of a relationship between her grown son and his girlfriend used the online Alchemy Oracle, which selected the chapter "Union," foreseeing a profound connection between the two. Apparently, they are soon to be engaged.
And another friend who was in a lot of confusion about his job, asked the online Oracle for guidance and was shown the chapter "Mission/Ambition-- the Business of Art," which talks about distinguishing between mission and ambition and having our ideals guide us in our pursuits.
These are just a few of the many stories that I’ve heard over the years, which are inspiring on so many levels, as our sublime intuition is our most essential guide, leading us in our discovery.
David: What sort of relationship do you see between art, poetry, and divination, and how does this relationship reflect in the workings of the Oracle?
Carolyn: Since art, poetry, and divination are fueled from the same ancient wells that have existed primordially, we can resonate with them beyond our minds. It is from these magnetic fields that the Mystery speaks to us in divination.
Dr. Carl Jung expressed these thoughts comprehensively: “The man who speaks with primordial images speaks with a thousand tongues; he entrances and overpowers, while at the same time he raises the idea he is trying to express above the occasional and the transitory into the sphere of the ever-existing. He transmutes personal destiny into the destiny of mankind, thus evoking all those beneficent forces that have enabled mankind to find a rescue from every hazard and to outlive the longest night. That is the secret of effective art.” And this is why divination, art, and poetry are essentially of each other.
This is also why the Alchemy Oracle works as it does. Because it is symbolic imagery, it is rooted in the unconscious, “the language of a thousand tongues.” This poetic language offers us a kaleidoscope of possibilities. With a question in mind, we are intuitively guided by the image we draw to the guidance/fulfillment of our soul’s longing.
David: How did you choose the artwork and poetry that's used with the Alchemy Oracle?
Carolyn: It was the creative process itself, with many passages and paintings calling out to be included.
It involved many years of my refining the writings, and collaborative effort among editors. And the magic of synchronicity was at work during the whole process.
David: What are you currently working on?
Carolyn: I’m working on a few new manuscripts. Wilderness Muse is a book of poetry and prose expressing my pantheistic love of the wilderness here in Big Sur.
I’m also working on a book of prose entitled Revelations, which was inspired by my reading of Lao Tzu, the author of the Tao Te Ching and a book of poems and prose, Rippling Revelations: Memoirs of an Extra Terrestrial.
I continue to paint and create poems and prose. My life is a continual process of letting the Mystery unfold and speak to me, as well as through me. And as you know, David, life is a full-time process (ha!).
David Jay Brown is the author of The New Science of Psychedelics: At the Nexus of Culture, Consciousness, and Spirituality. He is also the coauthor of five bestselling volumes of interviews with leading-edge thinkers, Mavericks of the Mind, Voices from the Edge, Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse, Mavericks of Medicine, and Renaissance of the Mind. Additionally, Brown is the author of two science fiction novels, Brainchild and Virus, and he is the coauthor of the health science book Detox with Oral Chelation. Brown holds a master’s degree in psychobiology from New York University, and was responsible for the California-based research in two of British biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s books on unexplained phenomena in science: Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home and The Sense of Being Stared At. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Wired, Discover, and Scientific American, and he was the Senior Editor of the special edition, themed MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) Bulletins from 2007 to 2012. In 2011, 2012, and 2013 Brown was voted “Best Writer” in the annual Good Times and Santa Cruz Weekly’s “Best of Santa Cruz” polls, and his news stories have been picked up by The Huffington Post and CBS News. He's currently working on a book about lucid dreaming and shamanic healing for Inner Traditions. To find out more about his work see: www.mavericksofthemind.com