Colm Holland-Blog

Reflections on the Alchemy of Romantic Love and how it is Essential to our Wellbeing.

A core principle of alchemy is the meeting of seemingly irreconcilable opposites that come together to form a new transcendent entity. To my mind, this is the perfect description of two people in love. The romantic love that draws us to each other is the same unconditional love that will help us to stay together. A simple appreciation of the natural alchemical processes present in everyone will assist in finding the fulfilment we long for in a loving relationship.

The Greek myth of Eros, with his intense love desire and his joining with Psyche, a beautiful maiden who is the personification of the human soul, purified by passion and misfortune, is an early revelation of the workings of romantic love in the human soul. These two qualities are not the same and yet we all experience them within the dynamics of love.

On the one hand, physical desire is commonly regarded as a primordial instinct that possesses us and makes us behave irrationally and impulsively - almost against our better judgement - and in the heat of the desire we are quite often unconscious of its consequences. It generally has no commitment to the future and can disappear as quickly as it appeared.

Also, the longing to be connected and deeply known by another human being is an emotional need we all share and we are usually engaged in a lifelong conscious effort with those we love, to work out the ups and downs of fulfilling that need.

Most people will describe the success of combining these two contradictory internal drives in their relationships as ‘true happiness’ and it is possible, if we’re prepared to put in the alchemical work; for without the conscious effort of both individuals, the relationship may forever lack the magical chemistry we seek.

When we each make the effort, then the union of opposites can produce the loving connection and the joy of knowing and of being known.

No relationship is one hundred percent perfect, and relinquishing that expectation is a good first step on the alchemical journey to a fulfilled relationship. The clue is not to look for the other to provide something we feel is missing within ourselves. Likewise, not blaming the other person for failing to meet us or even making them the ‘problem’ is a great step two. If we can simply understand those key principles as they relate to our expectations, they will hold us in great stead towards the happiness we seek.

Alchemy is not only about the union of opposites, it is also about the paradox of where the answer lies. The reality it seems is that happiness we seek with another can only be found when we have discovered happiness within ourselves. An inner union and reconciliation of our desires, weakness, expectations, fears, hopes and dreams that lie within our psyche is required, but in my view that union can only be achieved in tandem with a loving commitment to working on the same issues in our relationship with another.

The alchemists turned lead into gold in a container in their laboratory by adding heat and a special ingredient called ‘Prima Materia’. In my experience we will find that the relationship we have with our significant other is also a container where the heat of friction can result not only in pain but also in gain if we are prepared to add the secret ingredient of Unconditional Love.

On St Valentine’s day, and everyday, we can remind ourselves that true love is an organic and evolving relationship, where a sacred place is formed and magic happens when we commit to each other as equals with care and compassion. This is where the alchemical gold of love lives.

Colm Holland - the original publisher of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - reveals life changing secrets from the book.