When our teacher Lorie Dechar put those words on the board, I turned to the person next to me and said “Now I know we’re at Hogwarts.” They sounded like spells to me.
And then I learned what the words mean. “Connunctio” in alchemical terms is sometimes called “divine marriage.” It’s the union or the dance of Yin and Yang, Dark and Light. Lorie explained it can be the moment when you are at a meeting (or a class, convention, vacation trip, etc.) and things click and the “illumination of connection happens.” And you’re blissed out.
“In European alchemy, the creative dance of the opposites is called the connunctio, the divine marriage. In Taoist alchemy, the opposites are dragon and tiger, cinnabar and sulfur, the spirits of above and below. In astrology, they are the Sun and the Moon. Expansion and contraction. Both are sacred. Both are necessary. One without the other leads to stagnation, sterility, a still and soulless world.”
– Lorie Dechar from The Alchemy of Darkness – Entering the Season of Metal
And then you go back to your regular life.
“Con drop” is what happens after you leave that place. “Con” is short for “convention” but here it can also be short for “Connunctio”. You go back to Platform 9 3/4 to spend the holidays amongst the muggles. And maybe no one gets what you’re talking about. Maybe you crash hard and need to sleep for a few days straight. Maybe you get sick (aka “con crud”). Maybe you become depressed.
This let-down period is the “Nigredo.” It’s time to look within yourself. This may be a lonely time, which is why some people get depressed. Nigredo can make you feel isolated, alone in a dark place.
How do you handle this dark period? How do you integrate what you’ve experienced in with your day-to-day life? Allow yourself down time, to sit with the darkness and see if there’s anything you can learn from it. Nigredo is essential for integrating the Connunctio into our lives. As Lorie told us, this dark time is something to treasure because it’s when light starts coming down and we embody it – “it’s how the soul learns.”
My friend and amazing artist, Marrus sees people going through Con Drop (or the anticipation of it) a lot in her work at festivals and here’s her advice:
“You take what you learn in the heart of experience, and bring it back to the world . . . Wanna fight Con Drop? Tend new friendships like a sacred garden. Bring that joy, that fearlessness, that lightness, into the “real” (whatever that is) world with you. Talk to strangers. Smile at people on the street. Make dinner or gaming parties (or both) in your home.” – Marrus, Con Drop, Or Pining for Too Much of a Good Thing.
Here are some more suggestions I have along the same lines:
- Keep in touch with the people you made connections with and talk to them about it.
- Have a symbol from the con that you can see in your everyday life. Maybe it’s a piece of jewelry, clothing, a scent, a photograph, a lantern (see picture above), or even a badge or ticket stub. (I recorded sounds from the last festival I went to, so I can play them and “return” there anytime I want to.)
- Take classes related to subjects that interested you while at the con.
- Make art about your experience. Write, paint, photograph, dance, sing, collage, blog, whatever kind of art you do.
- Meditate, daydream, do divination, make magic, do ritual.
- Get plenty of rest and be gentle with yourself.
Think of the white dot within the black on the yin/dark side of a Taiji (yin yang) symbol:
Within the Nigredo, you will start to find the bit of light that will lead you towards it and the dance between dark and light will continue.