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Barclay PowersBarclay Powers is an author and futurist filmmaker. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and has an extensive background as an independent scholar. He has studied Chinese, Tibetan and Indian meditation, yoga and martial arts traditions for more than 30 years. Powers is currently releasing multiple media projects worldwide in film and print, related to the evolution of consciousness based on his studies with numerous masters of ancient wisdom traditions. His most recent film, The Lost Secret of Immortality, based on his book, won best spiritual/religious/Christian film at the Great Lakes International Film Festival, 2012, the Silver Palm Award at the Mexico International Film Festival, 2012 and best spiritual documentary at the New York International Film Festival, 2011. See his website at for information on the book, graphic novel and film.


Dragon and Tiger

The Hun and Po Souls in Theory and Practice

Barclay Powers

One of the oldest aspects of Chinese alchemical medical theory is the framework of the twin souls, or yin and yang subtle bodies. The problem in understanding Chinese alchemy is one of translation, as well as scientific materialist allegedly rational assumptions, which when combined with a deceptive history of the Enlightenment and Western science results in widespread confusion among scholars. The entire history of spiritual alchemy in Europe is often excluded from both discussion and consideration, by virtue of incomplete scholarship and the bizarre materialist certainty that the Philosopher’s Stone never existed. The dramatic historical shift from the dark ages to the Renaissance can be directly attributed to the translation of Hermetic texts, and the Rosarium Philosophorum and other well-known writings demonstrate a general widespread understanding of esoteric alchemical enlightenment traditions throughout Europe. Once it is understood that a secret tradition of sexual yoga that results in spiritual enlightenment is being described and concealed by alchemical metaphor, an entirely different history of Western European art, religion and science emerges. Both Integral/transpersonal psychological models, as well as the Joseph Campbell monomyth hypothesis are unable to recognize the original alchemical structure, even though Campbell describes the hero returning with the Elixir from the journey to non-ordinary reality as a virtually universal narrative.


The idea, for example, that the Hun yang soul or spirit is actually the Philosopher’s Stone or Infans Solaris of the premodern scientific Hermetic tradition of Western Europe admittedly initially sounds outlandish. Jung for example, was unable to understand the physiological basis of the Hun and Po souls as the subtle structures of the enteric and central nervous systems of the human body. However he did succeed in recognizing the central significance of the union of yin and yang, the Coniunctio or Coincidentia Oppositorum as the widely known central metaphor of alchemical spiritual enlightenment in multiple ancient civilizations and texts.

Philosopher's Stone
Philosopher’s Stone (note the embryo in the lower abdomen.)

It could be argued that the eventual rediscovery of the Philosopher’s Stone, the Hun soul, which unites with the Po soul at the time of enlightenment, represents the inevitable future of Western science, the literal sacred re-enchantment of the world and the human body in particular. When the union of the Hun and Po souls is similarly recognized as the union of mother and son lights, the final stage of enlightenment within the well known Dzogchen and Mahamudra Indo-Tibetan lineages, the overall narrative becomes even wilder.

Dragon and tiger symbolism
Dragon and tiger symbolism is the alchemical code for the union of the yin and yang subtle structures of the central and enteric nervous systems of the human body.

The question remains why and how Western civilization and science in particular, concealed and lost its own enlightened Hermetic origin? It is almost as if European culture sold its soul and lost its own mind in the process of doing so, resulting in centuries of amnesia, which may be eventually cured by contemplative neuroscience. Although Iain McGilchrist has omitted the Philosopher’s Stone from his book, The Master and His Emissary, his overall conclusion of a shift between twin brain hemisphere humanism to literally half brained scientific materialism is consistent with a history of Western Europe that explains the loss of the Hermetic Androgyne as the collapse of the real European spiritual enlightenment tradition. The problem naturally boils down to the demonization of human sexuality by Western religion, and the conflict between the mainstream Christianity of the time and the underground-enlightened Hermetic tradition based on sexual yoga. The ultimate cosmic joke is when Western science and its bizarre materialist intellectuals, controlled by the skeptical Stockholm syndrome of their pseudo-rational worldview, are forced to eventually acknowledge that science itself is originally based on a well-known secretive tradition of sexual yoga that results in spiritual enlightenment like both China and Tibet.

Rosarium Philosophorum
Rosarium Philosophorum, Frankfurt 1550

One has only to look at the Rosarium Philosophorum printed in Frankfurt in 1550, to see this for oneself if a real cross-cultural academic comparison is successfully utilized. The website of Adam McLean is filled with images related to the alchemical process of the Coniunctio, based on the Hieros Gamos the alchemical marriage or union. As Jung recognized, the goal of Western spiritual alchemy was the union of Anima and Spiritus, which are united by the Coniunctio in the Corpus or body. The key symbol which describes the alchemical union of the subtle structures of the central and enteric nervous systems of the human body is the Oroborus, which has been completely misinterpreted by Integral Theory, which describes it as pre-rational, when it is actually the real post-rational secret of spiritual enlightenment. Anima and Spiritus are the same as the Hun and Po souls of Chinese inner alchemy, and the basis of famous texts by authors like Wei Po-Yang and Chang Po-Tuan, which represent the ideal historically in Chinese golden elixir inner alchemical self-cultivation theory.


Anima is the yin soul we are all in when dreaming, the subtle structure of the central nervous system. Spiritus is the dormant yang Hun soul, (like the Kundalini), which appears as a golden primordial reptilian/dragon version of the adept (the Sheng Tai spiritual embryo) at the time of the Coniunctio when it is embraced and swallowed by the Anima (the dream body). This literal experience is the basis of the marriage of the dragon and tiger, the union of yin and yang subtle bodies, often considered to be the oldest sacred knowledge of Chinese civilization. This process, the metaphorical drinking of the elixir of enlightenment, literally transforms the yin Po dream body of the adept to golden yang like the Midas touch. This is a real experience well known among genuine Taoist adepts, which represents the goal of human divinization or return to origin in many civilizations, which had alchemical traditions often represented by the Oroborus or serpent swallowing its tail. Spiritus is reptilian because it is essentially a dormant divine spark within the earliest stage of the embryonic development of the human body prior to differentiation into male and female, hence the term Hermetic Androgyne. The Hermetic Androgyne appears as a fused or conjoined version of the male and female adept at the completion stage of the alchemical marriage, the Hieros Gamos. This is actually the reason for the virtually universal religious idea of the divine soul within the human body, which can be considered to be the basic spiritual theory of multiple world civilizations. More than thirty-five aboriginal tribes that are unconnected also consider the human soul to reside in the lower torso of the body, which is consistent with the classical Chinese medical tradition as well as Kundalini yoga theory. The radical alchemical union of the Hun and Po souls, which transforms the yin subtle body to yang, can be considered to be the basis of Chinese meditation/yoga traditions as well as China’s original classical medical system. The Western esoteric Hermetic tradition describes this alchemical process using the physical metaphor of the transmutation of base metal to gold to metaphorically illustrate the Coniunctio based on the Hieros Gamos, the same marriage of the dragon and tiger.

Hermetic Androgyne
Hermetic Androgyne

When this process is accurately translated a number of questions emerge that 21st century science must answer to fulfill its mission in search of the origins of mankind. The question remains how did every human being get a divine golden dragon spark in his or her body at the beginning of human time? Just who or what is this dragon that Chinese civilization describes as its primordial ancestor? A hidden dragon is also the Chinese description of a secretive reclusive alchemical adept. You may remember the film, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon as an example of this ancient cultural metaphor. The Indian version of this narrative is the Hiranyagarbha, the primordial originator of yoga, the Golden Embryo. The goal of Buddhist meditation and enlightenment is the realization of the Buddha nature, which is within all human beings, the Tathagatagarbha or Embryo of Buddhahood. It appears that 21st century contemplative neuroscience may have to eventually deal with the fact that, as was said during the American gold rush in the mid 19th century, there definitely is “gold in them there hills.”

The figure of the dragon appeared within the modern boundaries of China at least 6,000 years ago. In 1987, at Xishuipo Cemetery Ruins in Puyang County, Henan Province, figures of a dragon and a tiger were unearthed in a tomb. Both of them were made from numerous shells. The dragon measured 1.78 meters (nearly 6 feet) in length and 0.67 (2.2 feet) in height. Dating back to over 6,400 years, it is presently the earliest image of a dragon uncovered in Chinese archeology.

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