My last article “Is Trading My Vocation or a Money-Driven Obsession?” ended with the neophyte trader symbolically sitting in the alchemical cooking pot. The aliens who come from the trader’s unconscious (symbolized as outer space) do the bidding of the Self by cooking the ego, thus purifying it and making it ready for transformation.
Carl Jung discovered that modern men and women had dreams that mirrored alchemical processes. He then realized that while the alchemist was trying to literally turn lead into gold, the alchemist was symbolically transforming himself by purifying the ego (lead) thus revealing the Self (gold).
Many new traders, especially in the second half of life, come into the world of trading after having a previously successful career during which they developed a strong ego. Now the strong ego runs headfirst into the wall of truth: 95% of all traders lose. This means they lose more money than they make. Many times, a lot more.
This struggle dumps the trader’s strong ego into the burning cauldron. In alchemy, this process is called calcinatio which dissolves the ego’s power urges to succeed and intense desire to win by burning them away. In trading, calcinatio works through repeated losses. Repeatedly losing frustrates the ego and leads to hot affect (e.g ., anger, rage) which fans the flames of calcinatio.
Theologically, “God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). Also, if an individual cooperates with the alchemical transformation, the Self can manifest like the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost as tongues of fire (Acts 2:1-13). This spiritual fire can inspire an individual to speak with “the voice of angels” (1 Corinthians 13:1) by bringing love, creativity, and meaning to any realm of life in which he or she is passionately involved. Thus, self-expression becomes Self-expression.
This transformation doesn’t occur overnight. If the transformation takes place at all, it takes many years. Many years of hard inner-work.
One benefit of calcinatio transformation is illustrated by a woman’s dream told in Edward Edinger’s book, Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy.
“The dreamer saw a woman bending over a cauldron-like vat holding a ball of fire in her hands.With complete nonchalance and no evidence of pain or harm she held, shaped, and squeezed the ball of fire as though it were a piece of laundry being washed. The dreamer watched with amazement.”
“The image of invulnerability to fire indicates an immunity to identification with affect. Experience of the archetypal psyche has this effect to the extent that it enlarges and deepens ego consciousness.” (p.24)
“An immunity to an identification with affect” doesn’t mean that an individual doesn’t feel or express emotions. The post-transformational lack of attachment to emotion allows the individual to experience a natural calmness rather than an artificial calmness attempted through willpower, mental manipulation, or cognitive trickery. Natural calmness can’t be gained by reading simplistic self-help books or imitating Spock from Star Trek, it can only be given through grace as a by-product of the pursuit of the pearl of great price through intense soul-work.