“Putrefaction is so effective that it destroys the old nature and form of the rotting bodies; it transmutes them into a new state of being to give them a totally new fruit. Everything that has life, dies; everything that is dead putrefies and finds a new life.” (Pernety, 1758)
In alchemical philosophy there is a stage of progress called Putrefaction. It is a stage of fermentation, and decomposition, a phase they call the black dragon or nigredo or just the blackness. It is a time when the old forms break down and through decomposition are transformed into a raw material from which a spiritually elevated form of life can arise.
A similar idea is described by the tarot card called the Tower. In the Tower card the lightning bolt, symbolizes a flash of spiritual insight that destroys the fixed shape of the tower which symbolizes the fixed opinions and dogmas we have built up in our lives over time. It represents a time of upheaval and disruption. Similarly the time of putrefaction is activated by ones own inner fire.
Change can only take place if the old is allowed to die. Renewal cannot take place unless destruction of the old takes place. On the mythological level, nigredo signifies the difficulties man has to overcome on his journey through the underworld. We all go through these sorts of changing phases – those disruptive phases of our lives we call transitions. Life’s transitions can be challenging because they are unpredictable, difficult, confusing and disorientating. It is a time when life forces us away from the familiar and so we feel vulnerable.
Here i am attempting to capture the feeling of a life transition musically.