Separatio is the alchemical process that involves, as its name suggests,  the  separation of elements. Sometimes this is represented in a gentle way, like  sorting and organization. Sometimes it’s violent, like cutting.

When I met my friends in the art therapist’s garage again this week, I already felt rather separated from myself. A few days before, I’d been robbed at gunpoint. The perpetrators did not get much in the material sense, but my sense of safety, my peace of mind, and my confidence were definitely wounded. It was a violent Separatio.

So I approached the alchemy and image making process with a mind that was rather divided already. Chaos fought order in the piece I put together. I had in mind to create something neat and simple, but my materials seemed to want to burst out of their containers. A variety of inner voices vied for attention, and somewhere along the way, my mother’s voice became very insistent, because there were seashells on the material table, and my mother, having grown up near the ocean, knows that anything that comes from the beach has a healing power to it.

My final Separatio image centered around a small set of dirt-filled, divided containers in which lavender and rosemary seeds were planted. Looking at it, I remembered that my Mortificatio project had also incorporated dirt, in a pile at the center of what looked like (I shudder to think about it now) the aftermath of a crime scene. But the dirt in the Separatio project was divided, contained, promising that hopefully, eventually, something will grow.

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