All things evolve, some slowly, others quickly. The entire life span of some moths is limited to one day while some trees live for thousands of years. The dimensions of evolution cannot be simply measured by time alone. Beauty for example adorns plants and animals with a depth unrelated to the length of their days. Evolution is beautiful both in its time and rhythm. The most beautiful aspect however is pretty much the sole property of human being. We can deeply appreciate the cycles of time because we alone have foresight into our own mortality. This knowledge allows us to plan and dream, anticipate the next sunset and properly mourn our dead. It also empowers us to work with nature like no other animal or plant can do. Our intimacy with time and change brings us very close to nature. The scientist copies her inventions, artists imitate her ways and priests are initiated into her boundless mysteries. But long before there were even names for these professions alchemists worked at learning her secrets by prayer and experiment. So closely did they work with nature that there was hardly any difference between them and the object of their study. Thus, in changing themselves they found that nature too was simultaneously changed. The lead in their vessels was no different than the weight of their depression and melancholy. The spirits of the air took on the same quality as their dreams and fantasies. Metaphysician is a good name for these change artists and alchemy an equally accurate title for their craft, religion and philosophy.
Evolution did not stop when there were no more alchemists working in dark laboratories. Alchemy itself evolved into a chemistry of matter and a psychology of mind. C. G. Jung helped alchemy make this important transition to a New World. Following the lead of Sigmund Freud he discovered that alchemy had taken residence in the unconscious minds of men and women. He described alchemy in ways even the alchemists were unable to do. From the mines of the unconscious psyche Jung drew up a whole new alchemical psychology. Just as the alchemists observed the growth of metals and plants, Jung described similar processes, operations and stages that occur in our individuation from gross, infantile states to very refined levels of consciousness. Becoming aware of this evolution is unmatched by anything else in life. By learning this psychology we attain powerful insights and acquire amazing abilities. Philosophy gives us the foundation for this enterprise and psychology the means to advance the course of natural evolution.