A for Alchemy

by Shiloh Blackburn

A is for Abbey

icon by Carol Abel

Early in 2005 Heather Blakey created a virtual monastery at the Soul Food Cafe using blogger. In an interview with Chris Dunmire she talked about how she envisioned the Lemurian Abbey as a place full of fine art and craft, a monastery that would be filled with tiny, Spartan cells where votaries of the muse could come, retreat behind walls and observe time differently. She believed that in this Monastery, time would not be measured with clocks and believed that monastic writers would be free to wander through the cloisters and walled gardens in a meditative state, capturing metaphors in their writing nets.

The Lemurian Abbey became a wonderful sanctuary for people eager to practice the Soul Food Way, where they made writing and art a daily practice. A metamorphous began to take place and Heather realised that there was something magical happening on the site. A creative transformation was taking place and she could see that interaction and collaboration were working in an online setting.

Today the Lemurian Abbey is expanding and housing more votaries of the Soul Food Way. It is a vibrant community and is the base for travellers who are keen to explore Lemuria and undertake the Heroine's Journey with le Enchanteur, Heather Blakey's alter ego.

Gleaning from the Alchemists


Pour through the writings of one of these learned Alchemists and ask their material to tell you something about how alchemy will enhance your creativity.

Portal to the Silk Road

Abbey Door Embroidery
courtesy of Sue Martin

The Lemurian Abbey is one of the main portals that leads to the Soul Food Silk Road. One day, when you are working industriously, minding your own business, le Enchanteur (one of Heather Blakey's alter egos) will show up and encourage you to go on a journey along the Lemurian Silk Road or sail in her virtual cruise ship, the SS Vulcania. This journey has sometimes been known as the Journey of the Heart but it is also the 'Heroine's Journey'. Invariably those who come are responding to the call of the Wild Mother. Can you afford to resist this opportunity? Check the Vulcania for details of how to join post January 2009.

Active Imagination
Recommended Reading

In 'Inner Work' by Robert A.Johnson, Johnson provides an easy-to-read guide to transforming dreams and imagination into our creative lives. This book provides invaluable insight into the benefits of 'active imagination' as coined by Carl Jung.

A is for Athanor

Athanor by Heather Blakey

The word athanor is derived from the Arabic word at-tannaur and means 'oven'. To the alchemists this oven or furnace, played a pivotal part in the Great Work. Its function was to incubate the egg-shaped Hermetic vessel used fro the preparation of the Elixir. The athanor was designed to maintain a constant heat over long periods. It was made of clay and about five feet in height and divided into several departments suitable for the different requirements of the work. In the alchemist's view the practical laboratory was a metaphor for a psychic laboratory. From this perspective the athanor had spiritual significance such as representing the womb or the hen hatching eggs. Most alchemical tools and apparatus reflect the belief that the chemistry of the laboratory mirrors that of the mind.

The Soul Food Cafe, and the Lemurian Abbey in particular, is an athanor, an oven or furnace where psychic work takes place. Members of the Soul Food community will testify to the incubation that takes place within the safety of this vessel.

From the Athanor of Soul Food

courtesy of Patricia Stewart

When artists and writers choose to come to Lemuria and practice the Soul Food Way an alchemical process begins. Read Zen and the Art of Team Blogging and learn about the creative transformation, the transmutation that can take place at Soul Food with the interactive network of Lemuria.

To commit to the Soul Food Way pilgrims come to the Lemurian Abbey where they live in a monastic setting and make writing their daily practice. Above the door of the Abbey you will see that the timeless words, 'Know Thyself' have been etched by the Abbess herself.

When a 'novice' arrives they are given a small slate with some simple laws written onto it. These laws provide the artist and writer with a creative code to live by.

Laws to Live By


The Apotheosis of Homer is a marble carving which since 1805 has been kept at the British Museum in London. The carving was discovered in the 17th Century on the outskirts of Rome in the historic precinct where goddess groves and grottos were once the scene of processions and seasonal rituals. The work is by a sculptor, Archelaos, who was born in Priene in the Ionia in Asia Minor, who worked in the second and first centuries BC. It was commissioned by a poet who wished to thank the goddess and her priestesses for his success in a poetry competition. This means to us that we have a glimpse of the relationship between Roman poets and the goddess beliefs, and also a record of the way the Romans pictured the workings and theology of a goddess temple.


1. Follow Nature

2. First know, then act. Real knowledge exists in the triangle composed of seeing, feeling and understanding.

3. Use only one vessel, one fire, one instrument. The person who takes the chosen path may succeed, while the person who attempts to walk on many paths will be delayed.

4. Keep the fires burning constantly.