Dear Denizens of Canberratown [and also humans generally interested in my work].
It has been a long while since I wrote about stretching, one of the more obvious practicum of the art of Physical Alchemy. The lapse has been less arcane, more mundane, I’m afraid: the secular cloistering of Covid, writing a tome and moving cities [yes indeed, I am once again a citizen of Canberratown].
Canberra is the ancestral home of the method of stretching – Stretch Therapy – that I apprenticed in, more than a decade ago now. Around town, in secondhand booksellers and thrift stores, I keep seeing the familiar 90s graphic design chic of the covers of Kit’s earlier stretching manuals on display, on the regular.
An artifact of a prior Age.
Stretching is more popular now than it was when I was studying it. Far more so than when [K] was originally researching and developing his methods. I remember him telling me on a number of occasions about the huge asymmetry in stretching research papers in comparison to other athletic qualities such as strength and conditioning development, or cardiovascular fitness.
Stretching is dangerous.
And not in that ill-informed propaganda way about the act itself, that still lurks in the subconscious of the physical training world.
No… it is ‘dangerous’ because when one begins exploring and repatterning the tension patterns of the body, one can easily stumble into experiences that begin to radically adjust one’s image of oneself and the world around us.
Unbound from sequentially deeper habitual tensions, one can become more spontaneous; freer, more themselves and less what culture and heritage has conditioned them to be. Though, equally curiously, it is also possible to train in powerful stretching and other physical methods for decades and evade such openings into the depths of the body – and beyond.
In fact, it is possible for the body to become more supple and the personality more rigid. A paradox that began as a launchpad for my own craft in a number of ways.
[*] so what the hell is ‘alchemical stretching’, anyway?!
‘The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.’ – W.B. Yeats
Simply put: Alchemical Stretching is the use of stretching methods within a reenchantment paradigm with the explicitly combined goals of: removing the perceptual warping effects of the disenchantment from the student; increasing bodily awareness, tuning tension patterns, improving flexibility and coordination of the organism; and refining the use of the physical body as a tool for the exploration and integration of the world and Cosmos in which we find ourselves living.
The later two points can be understood in a reasonably straightforward manner. If, perhaps, seeming a little strange [linking the body to the study of the world has taboos invested in it to do with the formation of modern scientific civilization, for instance].
The former point is where things become a bit tricky to explain to people [mis]educated within this culture. ‘Removing the perceptual warping of the disenchantment’ sounds nebulous. It isn’t: but this, most times, needs a long and thorough course of training to make sense of.
‘Reenchantment’ is a word that getting used more frequently and in a number of different ways, colloquially. None of these ways describe the phenomena I am using the word to represent.
The disenchantment as I use the term is slightly wider than is sometimes used in the ‘disenchantment literature’ in regards to the already broad ecological, embodiment and sociopolitical ramifications of the advent of modern scientific civilization. It is seen as having its genesis in a subliminal triadic coding phenomena that habitually patterns a certain bandwidth of human behaviour – and has done throughout human history. This patterning totally obscures features and connections between seemingly separate spheres of influence, and actually has profound ramifications for physical training and beyond.
So thoroughly does it saturates the realms of human endeavor that it is functionally invisible. What little is seen of it is usually, understandably, ascribed to more conventional and convenient factors that fit neatly into the permissible reasoning of the paradigms operational in this present epoch.
In fact, the disenchantment is in many ways best studied via dissectional of the approaches that themselves state that they seek to solve the ills of the world, at the conjunction that is this epoch shifting period we find ourselves in, in a new and integrated fashion: metamodernism, ‘the meaning crisis’ and embodiment.
‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ‘ – Alvin Tofler
Because the approaches attempting to integrate physical methods in application to the disenchantment are at present themselves fragmented; the inevitable outcome is that the roots are not addressed – thusly no physical alchemy or reenchantment occurs. When we seek to use methods of stretching and other physical repatterning arts as partial cures – and whilst they can and do work for middling aspects like cultural conditioning, pain syndromes, the effects-affects of stress patterns and sensory motor amnesia [the loss of ability to feel and use the physical body], and so on – no harmony can be produced.
What happens instead is mutation.
Because the physical methods are not phase-shifted out of the paradigms of fragmentation, there can be no alchemical reduction reaction within the realm of Ideas ensconced within the foundational metaphysics of the arts.
There is no seperation of the fine from the coarse.
Thusly, the methods begin not only to not work as effectively within the middling ground; they begin to also make the triadic coding patterns more virulent in a sub-memetic equivalent to anti-biotic resistance.
[*] is there something special about stretching, per se [?]
Yes and no. On a physical level one needs to focus on strength, movement and other qualities for a well-rounded training of the body. Once we breech into the terrain from physical repatterning to physical alchemy, the act of stretching has the specific benefit of having low motion, which in turn leads to a higher ability to focus on awakening internal sensations that are then used to triangulate in the world to open the eye of reenchantment.
At a certain point of coherence the stretching itself begins to digest ‘coagulated sulphur’ [stuck pattern-energy of a particular type] within the body in an alchemical process, too, but this usually takes a fair while and needs a running dialogue as precursory experiences and qualities arise, so as to not generate false-positives and to train a proper differentiation within the body of the student.
[*] can one produce physically alchemical effects via other physical methods?
Of course – though these are exceedingly rare, too, at present. They will involve, necessarily, the acquiring of different qualities. Just as strength, flexibility, agility, power and endurance are different qualities on a base level. So too are there different qualities to train on the ‘rungs above’, most of which are unknown, forgotten or waiting to be discovered.
Even within Alchemical Stretching there are new discoveries occurring regularly – this is part of why it is so much fun! To be part of a living, unfolding physical revelation current is a secret desire to all who get glimpses of the true power of the harmonious training of the body – but most settle for a hypernuanced neuroplastic training approach.
[*] what is the difference between alchemical stretching and yoga?
Yoga, in its non-domesticated form, is a soteriological praxis* and ancient physical alchemy par excellence. This goes for many types of yoga –jnana, bhakti, raja, hatha, and so on. Unfortunately, ‘yoga’ has watered down significantly as its number of practitioners increased exponentially.
Part of this is that one can only teach to the level that one has accomplished, henceforth yoga becomes ‘medicalised’ or ’embodified’ – as people attempt to disguise their mediocrity of practice and coopt the power of the word and art.
Like ‘zen’, ‘yoga’ is now a lucrative commodity ripe for exploitation by the unscrupulous. And so yoga in the marketplace has a huge spectrum from debased currency to authentic gold of an ancient practice still alive to this day. Yoga as a whole is an exceptional study of the disenchanting current [a feature of the disenchantment that degenerates methods capable of encouraging the persons exit from it].
Alchemical Stretching is invested with the intentions of: combining with other aspects of the craft of Physical Alchemy to evoke and stabilise the transmutation of reenchantment within students; teach, tinker and researching the skills necessary to have this transmutation shift domains – particularly into other physical methods, the craft tradition and creative arts; and to develop a series of physical, memetic and sub-memetic skillsets that aid ones’ ability to navigate the increasing chaos and complexity of the 21st century.
The syllabus of Alchemical Stretching is not at all in conflict with authentic expressions of yoga of all sorts – but it is also not the same thing, though both utilize postures and stretching and Awareness in their practice.
There is also no conflict between Alchemical Stretching and any other true soteriological path. One does not have to have moksha [freedom, liberation, Enlightenment] as a direction to practice and receive benefit from its syllabus [though there are auspicious interactions if one sincerely does have this direction].
One of the primary benefits of Alchemical Stretching is its interface with the another syllabus of the art of Physical Alchemy: Reenchantment Work. That syllabus is more on the ‘theorum’ side, than the practicum of Alchemical Stretching – but they interface so beautifully together that their separation is largely artificial and more or less just for the aid of textual description.
Unless you have been hiding under a rock or living in a cabin in the woods for the last decade or so, you will be aware to varying degrees of the rise of the meme, the saturation level of dis- and mis-information and ongoing ‘psychic warfare’ in the social media space localised around politics, identity , metaphysics and more.
All of this can seem like increasing chaos, but the memetic and sub-memetic skillsets linked to Alchemical Stretching provide the perception of a hidden Order. This is incredibly powerful in a number of ways. Just as one can [and should] train in the martial arts for physical protection and general raising of auspiciousness levels of the organism; and wilderness skills for Nature connectivity and practical food and shelter concerns. So too one needs to train in memetic and sub-memetic survival and defence in this Age.
This order of learning is incredible difficult to present in this current era. Many of us have a sort of ‘conspiracy resistance’ due to the actually insane behaviour of many people attempting to break away from the norm. Families and friendship are being amputated in the battle of belief systems. But the norm is also clearly catastrophically dysfunctional.
‘Our war’s is a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives’.
So, no problem if you disagree with what I am penning.. it is .. understandable. I will say what I will about this syllabus of my Craft, in a manner that is fitting to it. That is all.
Alchemical Stretching is one of the premier modes of accomplishing this [IMHO], as odd as it may sound to link stretching the body to interpretation and discernment of ones informational nutrition and digestion.
As Above, so Below – and adjacent, many veiled connections are wait patiently to be found. The body, well trained and tuned, can become an immense resource in the decipherment needed in the 21st century.
Reenchantment is not so simple as pulling out one metaphysics and inserting in another. It is no Frankensteinian graft. This exposes a fundamental error of perception. People – especially ‘well educated’ people – have a colossal block to one of the primary principles of Alchemical Stretching.
That is that they think they can understand something outside the realm of disenchantment on pure cognition and intellect. This homogeneity of the essence. This communism of the spirit. It infects nearly all mentation within the current civilisation. One has to understand that there are things that are impossible to understand, in ones current state.
What is required is dismissal.
This is a special sort of non-cumulative integration that exposes the weaknesses of the pyrites ‘reenchantment’ of metamodernism, et al. No ‘general sematics’. No ‘systems theory’. No ‘evolutionary psychology’. One has to reject – totally – the metaphysical aspects that are commonly seen as ‘essential steps’ in understanding. And this paradoxically doesn’t mean that these realms have nothing to offer, either.
[*] reject and forget and forsake.
Otherwise nothing will happen. This is slightly too much for one article, so it will be pursued elsewhere. But as has been said: ‘false knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance’. And those with high degrees of false knowledge will repeat this same quote, too. There are some amazingly humourous insights to be had.
[*] this isn’t how things are – and most of the ‘creative’ approaches to physical training betray the unremoval of this delusion. The Reenchantment Paradigm is not anti-science. To label it such is a trigger-admission of the mechanical subservience to scientific materialism as proxy religion. What it is discussing is trans-scientific materialist perceptive binding.
As such scientific research into the body and its physiology are definitely incorporated into the syllabus, just at a tertiary level. Why not make use of the useful where it IS useful. Secondarily, the practical heuristics from physically alchemical methods from human history [yes, a number of ancient Schools and systems survive into this age; or records of their golden ages exist].
Primarily to the alchemy of Physical Alchemy is something that may be entitled ‘Gurdjieffian physiology‘ – as Gurdjieff*** is the only human to totally nail the specific and the general aspects of the disenchantment; and this was more than a century ago, too! Haven’t heard of him, but have heard of Freud and Jung? Indeed. Also, at a primary level are the practical results in real life of the method itself.
Just like a stretching, aspects of the reenchantment paradigm may seem painful when you first encounter them. They may seem judgemental, etc., But just as ‘pain’ transmutes into richness of sensation, so too does ‘judgement’ transmutes into discernment – if you are willing to peep into your own darkness and not plaster it over with in toxic positivity or denial.
[*] Why hasn’t this been studied or put forth before [?!]
Well, firstly – it has. And precious few listened those times, so it is being presented once again. Is it different now? Possibly. The ability to observe the mechanical manifestations of humanity on the Internet is new, then again humans have been afflicted by the disenchantment since primal antiquity – only the coding at a world-principle level changes. So perhaps it is no different. One of the benefits of studying this material is the false differentials between different populations of hominids collapse.
There are also the crucial aspects of when and by whom.
Not just in terms of the greater arc of human civilizations and how the disenchantment effects and directs them, but more personally – on the level of the individual.
Most people need an extensive training history to prepare themselves for the reenchantment work. Then again, if it is too extensive in a beige way they will be saturated with conceit – thus ineligible for the training. The disenchantment is a major perceptual veiling concerning the body, human potential and civilization itself.
The disenchantment is a shapeshifter.
It causes mutation within the methods that seek its demise. A triangulation of actualities – not just ‘years training body and mind’ – are a necessity. You have to have qualities active and in communion within your body for the steps towards transmutation to occur.
Otherwise, like Dante, you are trapped within a dark and shifting woods.
Even if you maintain a prudent skepticism to the memetic, submemetic and alchemical aspects of the syllabus; the ‘benevolent collateral’ of the parent arts of the physical practice are still accessible.
You will get more flexible, mobile and supple.
You will increase bodily awareness and grace in motion.
You may even – if you train hard enough – become more of a cat-like motherfucker.
There are variations.
In fact, I have literally hundreds of exercise developments that were created in the first phase of the unfolding of Alchemical Stretching that have yet to see the light of day – and which I have not seen elsewhere.
But you have to understand: none of this is Alchemical Stretching.
Variation is novelty. And novelty is the opposite of Shoshin [the beginners mind]. Complexity is the modus operandia of the third strain of disenchantment within the physical sphere. Repetition is alchemical. But not just any old repetition. Other things need to be .. Present.
Scholasticism and research as it stands only applies to categories of knowledge that require no development of the essence – as such Alchemical Stretching falls outside of this. Nevertheless one can form a bootstrap methodology incorporating aspects of orthodox scientific and historical research; practical tinkering and heuristics; study of classical sources but with a reenchanted perspective upon a hierarchy of perception.
People of the third strain of disenchantment fixate upon language [which is a tell for this patterning]. Non-verbal languages [and not just ‘body language’] are many. But those without reenchantment are afraid of this knowledge, and recoil back towards linguistics, where their coding holds power.
But it isn’t scary for the authentic seeker. It is fun and exciting to discover hidden possibilities about the body and the world. Yes! there are still plenty of phenomena that are largely unknown.
Alchemical Stretching proper is actually a stage of accomplishment within a wider syllabus. Prior to this one is doing preparatory work that maintains that ‘benevolent collateral’ of high quality non-alchemical stretching methods upon the personage. Flexibility, suppleness, enhanced coordination, relaxation, longevity aspects related to health of the soft tissue matrix, and so on. Grand Shtuff!
[*] what the fuck is all this ‘metaphyics’, anti- ‘metamodernism’ and ‘chelation’ stuff doing here [!!?]
Don’t understand why all of the metaphysics, anti-metamodernsim [et al], material is above? Fantastic! Only one of the strains of disenchantment needs this aspect corrected for to experience the method. The other two just need to dive right in with the spirit of honest exploration. They don’t even need to subscribe to the metaphysics of the craft for it to work! Oh, the irony.
These lucky souls can bypass the need for ‘research’ and begin to experience Alchemical Stretching far before their soul-bespeckled brethren. It is a Cosmic jest that the ones whom think they are most worthy of acquiring extra-domain experience and knowledge are the ones least able to grok Alchemical Stretching and reenchantment.
But each in turn needs to fast from the behaviours that chelate their essence. And these include encephalobation on spiritual and metaphysical themes, for the third strain. Esotericitis is the new Covid-19.
[*] notes to the underground
Just as [K] fought an uphill battle w legitimizing stretching [especially for therapy], in a similar fashion I have the same quest open for the reenchantment paradigm and Physical Alchemy.
Fortunately, I ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ in that all of my core Teachers are synthesizers. All have done decades of hard work, that I am directly benefiting from. In fact, this is why I can decode the disenchantment. Just as I hope that all whom come to classes or are my students online benefit from what I am doing in a ‘beneficially non-emulatory’ way.
No real teacher or guide wants clones.
People need to live their Crafts. Express themselves fully in this world, for the good of all. Alchemical Stretching contains a potent array of tools for discovering physically [and beyond] what you are not.
An essential step towards self-actualization… as well as gaining some useful skills for navigation of the current period.
Jeers to the ‘photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy’ mentality. You can smell it a mile away..
It. Sticks. Out. Like. Dogs. Balls.
The ‘cutting edge’ is only the edge of the bell-curve. The real magic happens in the outliers. But this also means it will be imperceptible to the masses as an outlier.
So, dare to be peek into and be part of the underground.
Not even all these tantalising arcane descriptions I have expertly crafted will suffice!
As with all good and real things, it must be experienced for oneself. And triangulated from the resistance to it. ‘A workshop’ will not suffice. No note needs to be taken.
If you have other trainings you practice, let us see if the Stone** of Alchemical Stretching can rub off onto you and infuse your work with extra-domain transfer!
Besides, I need some students to be models in my shelved ‘Tome of Alchemical Stretching’ – if for nothing else other than to craft a 20s chic aesthetic manual to be found in 30 years time, circulating the nefarious bookstores and altruistic secondhand stores of Canberra.
So, see you soon?
- ‘soteriological praxis’ refers to a ‘doctrine of salvation’ but also occurs in reference to methods that incorporate physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exercises with the explicit goal of attaining Enlightenment [moksha, libreration, freedom from maya, et al]
[*] ‘ ‘Our war’s is a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives‘. is a direct quote from Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
[*] ‘‘false knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance’. A Bernard Shaw quote states as much; but there are others throughout history that have also inked words on this truth.
** ‘Stone’ is an alchemical term for the ‘Philosophers Stone’ – a substance capable of transmuting base metals into precius metals, especially gold. It is here used to described the substance of reeenchantment, which has a similar effect in the domain of the creative arts.
*** One of the best sources of intel about the disenchantment is how disenchanted individuals and groups critique him and his Work. What they take and discard. What triggers their mechanialism. Even and especially their unmentioning of his Work, when they themselves are striving for ‘reenchantment’ in their own opusii. […..]