Intentions, Purity and Results

Over the past weeks we’ve been looking at choice, intention and recipes for our personal empowerment in 2015 and beyond.

During the coming months we’ll be looking at the steps in creating a piece of pottery, at various kinds of clay and forms, and at how to look at all these as metaphors for effective living.

We’ve begun a series based on the parallel between building a beautiful and functional piece of pottery and creating a healthy, glowing and conscious self. We started with ‘wedging’ and ‘weighing.’ This is the process of removing trapped air from clay – and beliefs from our unconscious, and weighing the necessary amount of clay for a piece – or personal energy to take on and complete a project.

This week we’ll look at issues of the purity of clay, intention and results.

Pure: 1. Free from mixture or contact with that which weakens, impairs or pollutes. 2. Free from adulteration; clear; clean. 3. Genuine; stainless: pure food: pure motives. 4. Free from moral defilement; innocent; chaste; unsullied; also, free from coarseness; refined; a pure life.

Purity: 1. the quality or state of being pure.

Kaolin is very pure clay, serves as a standard of purity for other clays meant to be glazed, and is an important ingredient in high-fire white ware and porcelain.


Seldom in nature will we find any materials which are pure, yet the primary kaolins are often 95% pure.

Deposits of kaolin occur in Europe, England, North America, and Asia. Major deposits in the US were formed 50 million years ago and are found on tour coast from Alabama to North Carolina.Mechanical and chemical weathering of feldspars forms kaolin. It may disintegrate and remain where it began, or be transported by wind and water and re–deposited as pure kaolin. Kaolin tends to contain large amounts of quartz and mica.

Because of the additional physical activities involved with the development of these clays, the particle sizes of secondary kaolins are usually finer, making the secondary kaolin easier to work with (more plastic) than kaolin from a primary location. Secondary kaolins usually lose some of the purity as they are relocated.

To summarize; Kaolin is the purest of clays. Because of its purity Kaolin, when fired at very high temperatures, is an important ingredient in the creation of fine china and porcelain. It has been processed by both time and the elements into a fine texture. The kaolin formed in its original location is more pure, while that clay relocated by natural forces is finer and more malleable.

In order to break this down and consider the metaphor it offers regarding out intentions and results, let’s look at what Kaolin has been through to become a finished porcelain bowl.

It began as its:

Components – quartz, mica; both translucent, one hard and clear, one fragile and flakey

That were:

Processed – tossed and tumbled by the rain and wind, rivers and streams


Time – lots and lots of time!

Until they became:

Fine – broken down into miniscule particles


Pure – free of toxic elements


Plastic – easy to work with

And then:

Wedged, centered, shaped, thrown, dried and glazed


Fired – by intense heat in the kiln


Glazed again

If we expect to manifest our intentions, we clearly must understand the nature of process and anticipate that although not everything we wish to accomplish will be as complex as making a piece of pottery, it takes time and effort to achieve results.

Metaphorically, if, like Kaolin, our intention is pure it’s possible to produce results as fine as porcelain. Conversely, we cannot expect to produce an exalted end from a sullied beginning.

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet. ― Mahatma Gandhi

Purity is not an often used term today. We may consider it to be on the one hand old-fashioned.

The Puritans and their rigid and intolerant lifestyle come to mind. On the other hand, we may be repulsed by the horrors that are still being perpetrated by those who value ethnic purity.

“The price of purity is purists.”  ― Calvin Trillin

And yet, as Dr. Fritz Perls who created Gestalt Therapy wrote, “garbage in, garbage out”! 

If we don’t set high standards for ourselves in terms of what we focus on, we may well be launching into a downward spiral involving settling for lowered goals and mediocre results.

We may be inadvertently contributing to the erosion of morality by accepting, unexamined,

diminishing expectations of honesty, commitment and humanitarianism in our schools, workplaces, communities, governments…

Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind. – Leonardo da Vinci

Purity engenders Wisdom, Passion avarice, and Ignorance folly, infatuation and darkness.

– Cyril Connolly

Like Kaolin, we may tend to remain unchanged to a greater degree when we spend all of our time in the metaphorical place where we started out. In order to become people who, like the clay, are easier to work with, we must let ourselves be moved-broken down and built back up – take the heat, be processed, and to absorb a bit of ‘otherness’ as we do! In this way we’re purified, empowered, and bound for a beautiful result.

When we set high standards for ourselves, not in material terms, but in terms of values of the heart, mind and spirit, we can only evolve, and achieve a sense of fulfillment and inner peace.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8). 

For me, it’s a purity thing about the joke itself. It’s a test of a joke whether or not you do it completely clean and it works. If it does, then that’s a legitimate item you have there. For me, it’s nothing to do with finding those words offensive. It’s just not what I’m in search of. Do it clean, and you are really earning that laugh. – Jerry Seinfeld.

In order to maintain our values we have to feed our soul with beauty, with the willingness to breathe deeply, with the courage to know ourselves and to follow our dreams! 

We’re here at Clay Alchemy from the Voice of Clay to support you! We’re Committed to Encouraging Conscious Living. We’re about empowering your intentions. Join us!

shannon Burke