Transformation vs. Transmutation


By: Danielle Wilson

In a recent conversation with Bare Feet’s wise and abundant, Julianne Farrell, we briefly discussed the difference between and importance of transformation and transmutation in relation to a soul’s journey, and the growth that occurs on that path. We exchanged some pretty profound thoughts that I felt should be shared with the Bare Feet Community as a whole!

First, let’s break these words down on a very logical and tangible level:


A prefix of Latin origin meaning “beyond,” “across,” “through,” “changing thoroughly,” “on the other side of”


A thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance; a metamorphosis during the life cycle of an animal.


The action of changing or the state of being changed into another form; the changing of one element into another by radioactive decay, nuclear bombardment, or similar processes.

At first glance, transformation and transmutation seem interchangeable on both physical—the actual spelling and presentation of the words—and conceptual levels, but my conversation with Julianne prompted me to dive deeper into these words in their definition regarding spiritual journey. I know, no matter what, that change is occurring, but are there various types of change, or a graduation to a more profound type of change that I should be aware of?

My spiritual journey has taught me that everything I grow to be, everything I am capable of, everything I will eventually learn, and all of my brilliant ideas that will at some point surface, are already inside me today. In fact, they have ALWAYS been a part of me, lying dormant somewhere in the depths of my soul. My own journey of Self continues to teach me that the knowledge was within me all along—an ancient wisdom that requires an open, supple mind, compassionate heart, and a spiritual practice to tap into. The true challenge on this path is not to attain the information, it is to accept it

Imagine everything that makes you, you, including all of the ancient wisdom you could possibly need to grow into your best Self, floating around as colorful elements within your energetic soul. This physical, human life fools us into thinking that we are just that: physical beings that live a mortal life—a perspective that gives our ego self a whole lot of power, leading it to drown us in fears, worries, and insecurities that cloud the very simple and direct sightline to our spirit and its many elements. Our journey of Self-awareness and growth begins when we realize and accept that we are not our ego. This mere acceptance of our true Self and its elements is a moment of transformation on our spiritual journey. We are still as we always were, a soul experiencing life on the human plane, yet the shift in perspective that occurs when we bring acceptance to the forefront of our mind, heart, and soul fosters a sense of change we’ve never experienced before. I would argue that the definition of transformation applicable here is “a thorough or dramatic change in appearance.” Everything is actually still the same, but the clarity and acceptance we step into makes the world within us and around us look completely new. Things we never thought to be possible now seem attainable and insecurities that once hindered our growth now fall into the background. Once you culminate enough moments of transformation, the door to transmutation swings open, bright, beautiful, and infinite in possibility and opportunity.

The transformational journey of acceptance, acceptance of life, acceptance of Self, or acceptance of other, is lengthy (actually, it’s never ending) and made up of joys, sorrows, failures, and successes that push us forward, pull us back, and keep us still. It’s the real and necessary work required to reach the chapter of transmutation so many of us need, and/or desire. So, what makes transmutation the Holy Grail of personal and spiritual growth? Remember those infinite elements swirling around in your soul? Once you’ve accepted them or grown to accept the infinite elements circling through all other beings in, of, and beyond this realm, or even accept the elements of a situation or circumstance, you give your own facets of Self clearance to change completely, i.e. “the changing of one element into another.” Transmutation, in regard to your spirit, is the experience of what makes you, you, altering itself entirely. This is the type of change that makes you look back on a past version of yourself with a sense of curiosity and amazement as to how that was even you to begin with, as that person seems only vaguely familiar and undoubtedly distant. While transformation makes the impossible seem possible, transmutation makes what seems possible manifest into your reality. The transmutation of your being can welcome you into higher vibrations, more compassionate connections, and empower you to conquer life in ways you never have before.

It’s crucial to point out that this process is notnecessarily a ladder you continue to climb. It is more so a path of spacious meadows, dense forests, tall mountains, and sinking ravines. Your path isn’t always going straight, and it definitely isn’t always going up. It ventures through a vast world for you to explore and discover. You can think of transformation being the ability to take yet another step down your path, and transmutation being the moment in which you’ve reached new terrain—sometimes that will be the top of a mountain, and sometimes it will be the low of a ravine. 

It would be unwise to denote the experience of transmutation as merely “positive,” when, in actuality, it is a neutral metamorphosis that provides us with the opportunity to use it for “good” or “bad” in our lives. As we explore the world our path resides in, walking through the process of transformation and arriving thanks to transmutation, it is our choice as to how we treat that world (i.e. ourselves). We can water the plants of our meadows, and walk lightly through the snow of our mountains, or we can litter the land of our ravines and chop down the trees of our forests. All that time, we will experience transformation and transmutation, but it is within our will, perspective, and actions that we use these experiences to serve us or not.

Understanding our journey as a constant state of transformations that lead to a monumental occurrence of transmutation allows us to appreciate each step towards personal growth, small or large, in a more genuine and fulfilling way. Denoting the difference between them can aid us in staying motivated on our path, as confusing transformational moments as transmutational ones can be discouraging and stunt our growth. We all want better for ourselves, whether that is a better situation, a better Self, a better job, a better social circle. Jumping straight to transmutation is not realistic, we must be up for the hard, internal work that is transformation, as the only way to move past anything is to travel directly through it, experiencing it in its entirety, accepting it, and allowing it to guide us beyond what we’ve ever known, to a place of complete and utter metamorphosis.

All  formal definitions from

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