Monthly Columns

The Modern Merlin’s Corner: Transformative Magick With Astrology and Alchemy

My Dark Night of the Soul

I think before I get along with my more practical explanation of what exactly I’m talking about here, I first need to explain why I chose to write this article, at this particular time. As an Astrologer, I firmly believe that humanity itself is on a threshold: evolve, or don’t. It sounds simple, but it’s much more complex, because we, as human beings, are more complex than duality of good vs. bad, or light vs. dark. The grey area is within us and around us. I mainly work in this grey area, believing that magick and spirituality are exactly what you make it. It can be used for self empowerment, healing, and the helping and healing of others, as well as psychic defense, and the occasional hex thrown around when need be (I can hear some of you scratching your heads, wondering why I would do such things; well, sometimes people just don’t learn to leave you alone, and your last recourse is just that, a hex). I’m not here to explain my personal thesis on magick, as I believe many others have covered my thoughts on the matter pretty well. However, true magick, is not a spell that obtains riches, or a new job, etc. While those spells do have their place, and I cast them as well, I believe that the highest of magicks is that which changes us at a molecular, soul level.

I’m no stranger to the shadows; as someone born with a Hades Moon in Scorpio, conjoining 5 other placements in Scorpio (including My Sun, Moon and Pluto), while also squaring a Saturn in Aquarius (coincidentally sitting in my natal 8th house, ruled by Lord Pluto). I’ve struggled with the deepest of the deep hurts, traumas, and betrayals by those closest to me. I don’t seek sympathy, not allowing myself to wallow in it; instead, I’ve learned to seek the lessons in those occurrences, to avoid them repeating. Within every painful moment, there is a lesson to be plucked from the shadows. This is what I call “Soular Alchemy”. Some call it shadow work, and I do believe that meeting your shadow self, and all those repressed desires, experiences and parts of yourself is valuable, it too often gets those who undertake it stuck in those shadows. We all need the light sometimes, too. After all, we are in a season of balance and renewal, Spring.

My Dark Night of the Soul started right around when COVID-19 happened, with my 1st Saturn return occurring and dragging out every cruel moment I’d experienced. I felt broken, alone, and invisible. I chose the wise path of meeting those shadows head on, healing and transmuting them into hidden abilities I had never known about myself. This is all well and good, but I realized after a while, that I had gotten stuck in those shadows, and that there were some who wanted me to stay in those very shadows. A plant can’t grow without sunshine. So how do we keep one foot in the shadows, and one in the light? Well, Astrology and Alchemy helped me. Over time, practicing both spiritual alchemy (the kind most often practiced by Ceremonial orders such as the Golden Dawn and others), as well as studying and applying the practice of Astrology to my magick and life, I decided to merge them, and have since coined this system of magick “Astro-Alchemy”. I’ve found that it can be as simple or complex as one wishes, depending upon intent; intent is, after all, the root of all magick, and the success of our magick is null, no matter how elaborate a ceremony, if we do not have enough intent, or the intent doesn’t match the ritual actions. Think of Astro-Alchemy as the celestial counterpart to the Chthonic energies of shadow work (though the signs and planets do all have their dark side, think of this as an already alchemized energy).

The Technical Aspects of Astro-Alchemy

Whatever your personal beliefs about souls, karma, contracts, etc., I think most practitioners of the metaphysical, and magick and the occult, would agree that our consciousness, which I call the soul, does exist. We’re just driving around a meat-suit that will eventually wear out.

In my personal belief, the soul is made up of three parts: the higher self, or celestial self, the conscious self, or your earthly presence, and then the shadow or underworld self. These three selves, or parts of the soul, each function in different capacities, and once they’re integrated with your conscious or earthly self, you can become a powerful vehicle for positive change, magick and power. But, how does one inegrate these selves?

It takes a lot of work, time and intention. It’s not for those seeking a quick fix. You have to know deep within, that you’re worth putting this effort into yourself. Start with self love affirmations, spells or rituals. Call on deities that you’ve developed a relationship with for those intentions. Ask your spirit guides and ancestors to help you. More often than not, they have a better understanding of the core issue than we do. Divine about the issues; you’d be surprised the accuracy of readings I’ve gotten about my own personal Soul journey by tossing some Runes, Ogham and laying out a few cards.

The other essential bit, is shadow work. Most of us shudder when we hear the word. But it doesn’t have to be this horrible ugly thing; sure, it will dig up hard memories and traumas. But there is hope in the healing and integration of those wounds, which more often than not, stretch back lifetimes through patterns you’ve seen play out in your current lifetime. Past the shadow work and self love and self care, there is another step. And this is where Astrology and Alchemy come in.

Alchemy by most definitions, refers to the attempt to turn base metals, such as lead, into gold by chemical processes. The Idol most often associated with Modern Satanism, Baphomet, from Eliphas Levi’s Transcendental Magic, is actually an alchemical metaphor put into visual form. I’ve always found it fascinating that such an infamous group of individuals who actually refuse to acknowledge a deity at all, would choose this as one of their main symbols. My personal belief, beyond the shock-factor with this imagery, is that somewhere in the deep recesses of the mind, man knows that he (or she) is too an animal, but with a higher nature that is possible only by exploring the shadows. My two cents, of course; after many years of practice and research with the Left Hand Path, while also balancing that out with the Right Hand Path, has given me this unique perspective.

Alchemy as a practice was combined with Astrological and Occult rituals, as base metals were related to qualities of the planets in Astrology. Astrological time-reckoning, such as planetary day, hour, moon phase, aspects, and the like were also calculated into these rituals. The basis of thought within medieval alchemy was that turning a base metal (the shadow self) into gold (the higher self) would allow communion with God or deity. In occult circles, this concept was integrated into Qabalah, by individuals such as Israel Regardie and Aleister Crowley, through intensive and ceremonial rituals calling on various powers and spirits to assist in the achievement of these goals. At the end of the day, most of this is metaphor, whether you’re working through the lens of Qabalastic Magick and Ceremonial Magick, or through Alchemical and Astrological lenses.

Anyone who has studied even the slightest bit of Qabalah has most likely heard of The Lightning Path, referring to the path through which consciousness emanated from the unknowable, most divine realms into the earthly, mundane realms. I won’t get too philosophical with this, but will include some texts I recommend for those interested in pursuing a similar path, that have helped me develop this practice, at the end of this article.

Now that we’ve covered some basics on the more hidden, or occult (by definition) aspects of alchemy, I recommend you to get a cast natal chart for yourself, which you can do for free online with sites such as This will help you gain an understanding of yourself, and how to alchemize the various parts of the unique being that is you, into one, cohesive and highly potent force of nature and magick. Even those with an aversion to more ceremonial and occult practices, like those I mentioned above, could benefit from this.

Three main patterns to consider on your chart are:

  1. Your big three: Sun, Moon, and Rising (denoted as AC on a natal chart)
  2. The Angles (denoted as MC, IC, AC and DC on a natal chart. These standing for Midheaven, Imum Coeli, Ascending and Descending, respectively)
  3. Your Pluto and Saturn placements; these are where hidden powers lie within you.
  • Your big three determines your general appearance in the physical world, as well as some innate traits within you. Your ascending typically refers to your body, and how others see you, while the Moon is your inner self that many others might not see. Your Sun is your mission in this life, and generally the core of your being.
  • Your Angles determine patterns that are likely to repeat within your life until a lesson is learned, generally speaking. Your descendant sign, which is the opposite of your Ascending (or rising) sign, and will typically explain more shadow behaviors, as well as potential romantic interests and their general traits. Your ascending we discussed above. The angles that I don’t feel get enough attention are the Imum Coeli and Midheaven. Your IC shows how you experienced childhood, as well as behaviors rooted from your childhood learning and experiences. Your midheaven is in the opposing sign, and will generally give clue as to career strengths, but the MC also acts as a final “mask” that goes over top of your AC.
  • Your Pluto placement describes how you transform, and the house it sits in describes the areas that are likely to be transformed. Pluto also indicates hidden abilities and occult tendencies. A Pluto sitting in the 4th house means you’re from a line of witches or occultists (from personal experience, even though it was buried underneath a couple of generations of shame). Your Saturn placement will determine where you feel held back; the sign gives the energies of your restrictions, while the House describes the areas you feel restricted in.

As a note, you can find house, sign and planetary correspondences online for free, as well as in many great Astrology books, like those by Theresa Reed (a personal favorite).

What do I do with all this information?

Now that we’ve gotten some of the leg work out of the way, we can start to see our shadows (which most already are aware of), as well as hidden strengths within those shadows. We can also get a glimpse of our higher selves through placements like Jupiter, our South Node and our MC. This information is essentially a star map of you, and all of the wonderful, quirky and unique things about you. It took me a long time to embrace a 6 placement Scorpio stellium (a grouping of 3 or more placements in a sign) and all the troubles that come with it. Soular Alchemy, combining the information on our natal charts, as well as the ideas presented in alchemy, shadow work, and other magickal and mystic practices, allows us to embrace what we already love about ourselves, while also finding hidden gems within those parts of us we’re not so crazy about.

I won’t give anyone all the answers, as my path is mine alone, and doesn’t fit into everyone else’s, and that’s fine with me. But what I will do, is inspire others with examples, and even easy-to-do spells or rituals, and resources to get them started. I’ve put one together here, which is followed by various resources I recommend to help get you started.

The Modern Merlin’s Astro-Alchemy Ritual

This ritual is intense, yet basic enough that anyone can do it. All you need is the information we’ve discussed above, and a few basic supplies!

**Please note that I have gotten physically ill for a short time doing this ritual. I believe that it was a process of purging of my body (and soul) of toxins that were holding me back from progressing. That said, there should be no fear of performing this ritual, as it is no different than a petition to a deity. I would recommend doing a check in with yourself to make sure you’re 100% ready; as stated above, this can be intense.**

You will need:

1 sheet of blank paper

A blue pen, or, blue ink and quill (magickal ink works well, as I have alchemy ink I use in this ritual)

Your basic natal chart information: the big three, the angles and your Pluto and Saturn placements (sign is most essential, include House if you feel you need to)

A blue or purple candle

A stick of incense & fire safe burner

The Ritual

Cast a circle if you feel more comfortable working in one, however it’s not a necessity. I would recommend either way, however, that you cleanse yourself and your home, or at least your ritual area, with holy herbs of your choosing, before beginning this ritual.

Write on the sheet of paper, your basic natal chart information at the top; I personally choose to use the Alchemical & Astrological glyphs for the planets and signs, as I believe they carry a current within them that’s been long established, however I understand that they are not always easy to scribe when just starting out. I then write my intent, in a magickal alphabet; again, I choose to use Theban as my magickal alphabet for this, as it carries a similar current with Alchemy and Astrology, but you can use any of the Runic alphabets, Ogham, or any other magickal alphabet you prefer. What matters is, that it’s meaningful to you with your intent. Just make sure you’re using the correct phonetics  and/or intent with scripts such as Runic, as it can be tricky.

For example, I would write the glyphs for my Scorpio Sun, Scorpio Moon, and Cancer/Leo cusp Ascendant, followed by my Aries MC, and Libra IC, as well as Capricorn/Aquarius DC at the top of the page (the angles can be in english instead of a magickal script if you wish). Then I would write my Scorpio Pluto and Aquarius Saturn placement in glyphs, followed by my intent to say, transmute feelings of being held back by illusions cast upon me by father figures in my life, that have not served me any purpose, other than to hold me back, into the ability to rise above that and see my own inherent worth and ability/powers, and that those cast illusions were simply projections of those individuals onto me. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t be so wordy, but I hope you see the point I’m trying to illustrate here. You can do this to release, and I would suggest doing so during a waning moon cycle, and burning the petition in a cauldron or other fire safe container, as fire transmutes matter from one form to other.

On the flipside, you could use this during a waxing moon cycle to draw out your highest qualities (although I would suggest doing so after a release during a waning moon cycle), using placements such as your Jupiter, Sun, MC, and the like. The process would be the same, save for the lunar cycle, placements used, and intent.

Alchemy doesn’t have to look like the old medieval woodcuts of alchemists we see; usually, alchemy happens in a dimly lit room, with focused intent and a candle. Alchemy can be simple, and so can Astrology. I hope this has been enlightening for you, and I hope you can at least carry a little bit of knowledge, empowerment and transmutative power with you, to become your best self. I wish you all well in your Astrological and Alchemical journeys, should you decide to embark on them with me!

Reading and Resources to further help you on your journey with Astro-Alchemy

Below, I will list resources I’ve found helpful on my journey, and that can properly educate those in search of more information in these subjects:

  • Magical Qabalah for Beginners By Frater Barrabbas
  • Astrology for Real Life by Theresa Reed (The Tarot Lady)
  • The Philosopher’s Stone by Israel Regardie
  • Gold: Israel Regardie’s Lost Book of Alchemy
  • Twist Your Fate by Theresa Reed (The Tarot Lady)
  • for free natal charts
  • Dark Goddess Craft By Stephanie Woodfield (A Shadow Work grimoire complete with meditations, spells and more)
  • Curative Magic by Rachel Patterson (magickal self care)
  • Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Ceremonial Magick By John Michael Greer and others (a primer and introduction to all things Ceremonial Magick)
  • The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic: A New Translation by Eliphas Leví, translated by John Michael Greer and Mark Anthony Mikituk

Brightest Blessings, The Modern Merlin


About the Author:

Hello there! I’m the Modern Merlin, and I’ve been a Pagan, Witch, Sorcerer, Mystic, Ceremonial Magician, Shaman and Soothsayer for 15 years, worshipping and working with deities and spirits from many cultures, including Ancient Greece, Rome, Norse & Germanic, Celtic, Egyptian, Sumerian, as well as Yoruba & Voodoo deities. I study and practice Astrology as well as Tarot and other forms of divination. I give readings and spiritual services on my Facebook Page, The Modern Merlin, as well other free informational posts for everyone to see!