The Phoenix Series 4

Clay, a unremarkable dull looking and flimsy material becomes durable after going through the firing process. Here I draw the parallels between the firing clay process and the phoenix journey of transformation:

TemperatureProcessMy thoughts
176°F (80°C)Drying can be speeded up by pre-heating the ware in the kiln for a few hours.Before you go through a transformation, perhaps you can do some kind of initialization rites which makes you better prepared for what lies ahead? So that you don’t plunge directly into the ‘fire’. I don’t know. You could for example, write a letter to your future transformed self, get in touch with a counsellor/therapist (or dare I say, an astrologer?!), etc.
Up to 212°F (100°C) The water in the pores between the clay crystals evaporates.Your transformation starts.
up to 1022°F (550°C) Drive off the water which is chemically combined with the clay. Once this chemical change has taken place, the process cannot be reversed and the clay cannot be returned to its plastic state.Know that once you have been through a cathartic fire in your life, you are never the same person again. The molecular structure of your soul, your identity, your everything just changes and the change is irreversible.
At 1063°F (573°C)The crystalline quartz in the clay body increases in volume by 1%. This may cause cracking if the temperature in the kiln is increased too rapidly.At least an aspect of your life gains freedom at this point in time. There’s freedom and expansion precisely because you have lost something. One of my beliefs is “To lose is to gain”. Likewise, to die is to live again.
At 1292–1652°F (700–900°C)
Organic matter in the clay is burned and oxidized to carbon dioxide, and fluorine and sulphur dioxide from materials in the clay body are driven off . At this point the biscuit firing is completed. The clay particles are sintered or welded together. The ware has undergone little shrinkage since the bone-dry stage, but it is durable enough to withstand handling and glazing.See comment above. The extraneous stuff in your life gets eliminated. You are reduced to what is essential, the core you, the real you – without any cover-ups, without any false pretenses, values, ideal and objects that you have accumulated up to now because of your environment, societal norms, etc.
Above 1652°F (900°C)The clay body begins to shrink and vitrify. The silica starts to melt, filling the spaces between the clay particles and fusing them together. The fired clay is known as metakaolin.Silica is something flexible and malleable, soft in nature. Perhaps during the transformation process, there are parts of us and our lives that are vulnerable. Perhaps this is the time to be yielding and receptive so that we can nurture the disparate parts of us e.g. our conscious self and the shadow to come together.
At 1832°F (1000°C) The clay crystals begin to break down and melt.Your life disintegrates. Just like a body builder who wants bigger and strong muscles has to break down existing ones, you are breaking up to create a stronger you.
At 1922°F (1050°C)Needle shaped crystals of mullite 3Al2O3•2SiO2 begin to form, giving the fired clay strength and hardness. When mullite forms from metakaolin Al2O3•2SiO2, extra free silica is releasedMore rebuilding of our life. The renewed life is taking shape and becoming clearer and more definite.
Above 2012°F (1100°C)Any free silica (not chemically combined) in the clay changes to cristobalite, which has a different structure from that of quartz.Sorry, I can’t think of a suitable parallel here.
At 439°F (226°C)When the kiln is cooled down, cristobalite contracts suddenly by 3%. This can cause cracking if the kiln is cooled too rapidly by opening too soon, causing some areas to drop in temperature and stressing the ware. After a transformation, we can’t expect to be instantly ready to go back to ‘normal’ life. We should take it easy.
Below 212°F (100°C)It is advisable not to open the kiln until it is below this temperature.See above comment.

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