Sovereign Alchemical Galactic EnterPrize
The Alchemical Path of Genius and Ecstacy
The roots of Alchemy can be traced back to Egypt ... In-Deed Alchemy was born in Ancient Egypt, where the word Khem was used in reference to the fertility of the flood plains around the Nile. Egyptian belief systems regarding life and death, and the mummification procedures they developed, gave rise to a vast array of chemical knowledge and a goal of immortality.
By 332 BC, Alexander the Great had conquered Egypt. Greek philosophers became interested in the Egyptian ways. Greek views of how matter is made up of the four elements of nature - Fire, Earth, Air and Water, were merged with the Egyptian Sacred Science. The result was 'Khemia', the Greek word for Egypt.When Egypt was occupied by the Arabs in the 7th Century, they added 'al-' to the word Khemia and al-Khemia meaning 'the Black Land', which was derived from the Arabic "al kimiya" meaning "the magical craft of the black country." ... The Greek word 'khumos' is also an origin for the word alchemy.
It is extremely unfortunate that more is not known about this early period in the history of alchemy. Tragically, in 391, invading Christians burned the Great Library in Alexandria, destroying many relevant works ...
Ancient Egyptians were master metalworkers and believed that magic powers were contained in all matter. This is significant as we discover the double meanings behind elemental symbols ...
Alchemy symbols provide us with understanding and clarity of thought when focused upon. When the mind focuses on symbols, answers inevitably come
Alchemy symbols provide us with a wide variety of insight into the potential transformation of the human landscape ... both internal and external
Alchemy can be credited for being the foundation of modern-day chemistry. But more than science, alchemy represents the spiritual progress of humanity.
The world of alchemical signs is rife with deeper (hidden) meanings. Many are used to define elements as well as conditions of the spirit. Planetary symbols and animal signs were also used in alchemy to define the elements
Ancient Alchemists were evolved thinkers, combining efforts to transform matter to another form - all the while having an internal goal of transforming the heart and soul of mankind into another form.
Consequently, putting the science of Alchemy together with its underlying philosphy of inner transformation, opens up a broad range of power in our lives. Understanding this tradition's symbolic meanings is the first step in accessing that power.
Alchemy was also developed independently in China by Taoist monks. The monks pursued both the outer elixir and the inner elixir. The former being minerals, plants etc. which could prolong life, and the latter being the use of exercise techniques, such as Qigong, to manipulate the Chi or life force of the body.
Like China and Egypt, India developed alchemy independently. They had beliefs similar to the Chinese, in that they used external and internal methods to purify the body and prolong life. In their work the Indians invented steel and realised the importance of flame colour in the identification of metals.
The introduction of Alchemy to the west came in the 8th Century when the Arabs brought it to Spain. From here it quickly spread to the rest of Europe. The Arabian belief was that metals are made up of mercury and sulfur in varying proportions. Gold was seen as the perfect metal and all others were less perfect, an idea popular among western alchemists.
In-Deed ... It was a very popular belief of the day, that these lower metals could be transmuted into gold by means of a substance which came to be known as the 'Philosophers Stone' ...
House of Gold.
The Egyptologist Phillippe Derchain connected the 'House of Gold', a section of the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, with the origins of Alchemy. The room was used to prepare cultic instruments. The god in charge of this room was Thoth, whom the Greeks associated with Hermes, who was the god of knowledge and philosophy. The king was represented on the doorway of the room with the epithet 'Son of Thoth'.
Part of the mystery performed while making the cultic material here symbolically transformed grain into gold. Derchain believed that the border between symbolism and later alchemy that sought to transform materials into gold was still maintained here.
Horus of Edfu
The temple of Horus in the town of Edfu also dates to the Ptolemaic Period. The walls of the treasury of this temple depicts mountains offering gold, silver, lapis-lazuli, turquoise, jasper, carnelian, hematite, and other semi-precious stones. The ointments prepared at this temple for use in the ritual utilized these materials. They were prepared over long periods, with particular actions required on each day. The description of the preparations closely resembles alchemy with repeated heating and cooling of these stones in order to create something different. These second-century B.C.E. activities might be the origins of Egyptian Alchemy.
Two texts in Arabic highlight the connection between alchemy and Egyptian cult. They are the Risalat as-Sirr 'CircularLetter of Mystery' and the Ar Risala al-falakiya al kubra (Great Circular Letter of the Spheres). In the Arabic tradition, alchemy was the science of the temples, and Egyptian temples were the places where its secrets were located.
Zosimus had previously associated the hieroglyphs on temple walls with the secrets that Hermes and the Egyptian priests knew. The Risalat as-Sirr maintains that it too came from a temple in Akhmim.
It had been hidden under a slab of marble in the crypt of a woman, perhaps a reference to the Egyptian goddess Isis. This text places its own finding in the ninth century C.E.
The Ar Risala al-falakiya al kubra claims for itself a find spot under a statue of Isis-Hathor in the temple located in Dendera. It claims that Hermes wrote it at the instruction of Osiris. Both texts seem to have origins in the Ptolemaic Period, though such stories are similar to ancient Egyptian lore. The Book of the Dead in one tradition was discovered under a statue of Thoth. Thus it is possible that the Arabic tradition preserves some knowledge of Egyptian practice.
Thus ancient Egypt's heirs, both Greek and Arabic speaking, practiced alchemy. They attempted to connect this practice to Pharaonic knowledge with varying degrees of success.
... The Sacred Alchemical Pathway ...
Animal Allegories and Alchemical Transformation
Alchemical allegories have often focused on Animals and Birds who are our spiritual brethren. They too have their own visions, quests, dreams, and evolutionary spirals which have in the past overlapped with those of humanity as well as other life streams. Since Alchemy at its highest level is both a Divine Science and a Divine Art, alchemical knowledge and teachings were often transmitted through the symbolism of pictures and allegories.
This ensured that the Alchemical Treatises would only be understood, their true meanings and teachings only comprehended, by those already steeped in spirituality and higher levels of awareness. This safeguarded the keys to the kingdom from falling into the hands of those who might misuse this wisdom.
In the allegories, a person often went on a transformative Journey or Quest to search for spiritual knowledge or for true understanding of Mystical Alchemical Processes ....
Along the way, the Seeker encountered various Archetypal Arcana characters such as the Empress or the Fool; as well as, Birds and Animals. For example, the Fire Elementals, the Salamanders were depicted as Dragons, while, the Air Elementals, the Sylphs were depicted as Eagles.
A spiritual science of soul intellect, Alchemy and Alchemical Transformation seeks knowledge and understanding of the Alchemical inter-relationship between Humanity, Animals. Nature Spirits, and Divinity. As a material science, Alchemy and Alchemical Transformation also deals with the material realm of minerals, plants, animals, and metal, since matter and spirit are interconnected like two sides of a coin.
To the Alchemist such archetypal expressions as Animal Allegories, as well as, the Oracular Arcana of the Tarot encompass all aspects of being from the minutest particles and cells of the body to the most distant galaxies and their largest stars; from DNA spirals to emotional moods; from survival needs to vast spiritual aspirations. From the symbolism and meditative meanings of the Tarot, to the Chinese I Ching, and to the Hebrew Cabala, the Arcana are a way to intuit and interpret the outworkings of the One Mind, the Greek 'Logos'. Since the Arcana transcend the normal boundaries of relative time and space, deciphering their mysteries empowers the Alchemist with the ability to Transmute, Change, Restore, Revitalize, and Transform.
Much of Alchemy knowledge and many Alchemical Transformation principles were transcribed and encoded for transmission in the form of these allegories, as well as, hieroglyphs, symbols, paintings, icons, poems, pictorial languages, ciphers, songs, coded alphabets, and sacred architecture. This process of dissemination not only protected spiritual knowledge from being profaned but also acted like a powerful impetus to push beyond the envelope, to transcend the boundaries of normalcy and to truely reach for the starry heights twinkling Above, beckoning the seeker of understanding Below to strive to become the Sage Mage with the View from the Hill.
Over the millenium, different categories of Alchemy and Alchemical Transformation have developed including: Egyptian, European, Jewish, Christian, Gnostic, Islamic, Chinese, Hindu, Hermetic, Mystical, Metaphysical, Personal, Psychological, Shamanic, and Quantum. Many original Alchemy books had allegorical writings and illustrations that were symbolic and deliberately obscure, requiring considerable effort to glean their meaning and intent. Even today writings on practical Alchemy are rare since the core Alchemical Transformation Teachings are passed on by the Alchemist through oral traditions.
The aphorism of Hermes Trismegistus, 'As Above, So Below', is a great Cosmic Law and a chief tenet of Alchemy and Alchemical Transformation teachings and traditions.
The work of Paracelsus, the physician and Alchemist, influenced Dr. Bach who developed the Flower Essences infused with the spiritual and elemental forces of Nature to help heal the human spirit.
Carl Jung viewed Alchemy as a transformative process, an archetypal system of psychological symbols. The Grail energy for the Alchemists was intimately connected with the integrity, immutability, and immortality of Materia Prima, First Matter, the chalice cauldron of unlimited potent potentialities and primal prescience.
STAGES OF THE ALCHEMICAL OPUS
'SOLVE ET COAGULA'
Alchemy, Dark and Light
Nature is sustained by a continuous rhythm of disintegrations and formations, and the Alchemist imitates this with 'Solve et Coagula.'
One dissolves the imperfect coagulation of the soul (lead) and crystallizes it in a new form (gold).
This is accomplished through an inner circulation of energy which the alchemist sets in motion, and this circulation then works by itself to achieve the desired result.
The fixed form of the soul must be melted down so that its creative power is freed ... then, it becomes the 'parents' of a new form.
This process creates unstable changes and irrationality in the alchemist, and only the influence of the illuminated mind can control the change and bring back stability.
When one passes from the consciousness of Individual Existence to the consciousness of Universal Existence, one will experience a state of darkness and chaos called variously Nigredo, the 'nox profunda', 'the dark night of the soul' or the' lost confusion', corresponding to energy in an unformed potential state.
This death and rebirth is at the heart of all successful techniques of Trans-Form-At-Ion.
Metaphorically, Lead can be compared to emotional and physical heaviness, endarkenment, ignorance and self-absorption. When we talk about 'lead', we're referring to the issues that drag us down, our fears, doubts, insecurities, self-deception, the pain that keeps us from opening our hearts, creative blocks, difficult decisions, childhood hurts that didn't get healed, and so on.
Gold corresponds with enlightenment, illumination, self-awareness and sovereignty.
When we talk about 'gold', we're referring to the open heart, unfettered creativity, healthy connection to others and to Spirit, skillful expression, clarity, honesty, artistry, loving communication, presence, authenticity, wholeness, and deep integration of body and mind.
The existential condition of the Nigredo is always experienced by those who wish to transform their psychic impulses into pure sentiment, affection and self-knowledge.
Very often considerable difficulty is encountered in expressing sentiment stems from problematical relations with parents, siblings and from the emotional dimension of existence.
Complexes rooted in an individual’s relationship with ones father or mother may inhibit the natural flow of psychic energy, which may remain in an 'undeveloped state', and 'fixed' at an early stage of growth.
The aim of the Alchemist still struggling at the Nigredo stage is to transform the 'rough stone' (the Pleroma) into Philosopher’s Mercury, which must be distilled until the Elixir of knowledge is obtained.
In practical terms, the experience involves refining 'psychic energy' generated by the primary instincts into "mental energy" to attain a stage at which the individual comprehends that human impulses constitute a creative potential which we have at our disposal and which can aid us in our search for happiness.
Psychic energy manifests as fear, anger, ill feelings, envy, jealousy, hate, greed, attachment and its physical manifestations are tears, shouting, bilious attacks, stomach pains and secretions of the endocrine glands that change the colour of our skin or make our lips turn rigid.
Psychic energy is in most cases a clear warning of the existence of a conflict that can have a negative internal influence on the body.
... Depression is best viewed as a Rite of Passage.
As an Initiation ... a state which we must enter into and pass through.
Mythologically speaking it is an Underworld Journey.
When we suffer depression our attention is pulled out of life and away from the world. As we withdraw our energy our life takes on the silent tone of a stark winter landscape.
This withdrawal of energy may also be viewed as a retreat.
In many ways a depression is an unconscious demand for retreat.
If we fight this need for retreat the unconscious only doubles its efforts. The shame, shyness, apathy or sadness that is experienced during a depression are all cues to pull back from life.
Interestingly these psychological symptoms ease off as soon as we consciously acknowledge and honour the need for retreat.
The pain and torment of this initial stage of depression is directly proportional to our attachment to life.
Embracing a depression is essentially an act of 'letting go'.
This shedding may be the release of certain dreams, aspirations, ambitions, relationships, skills, attitudes or anything else that might keep hold our attention in an out or upward direction.
This 'surrender' is the 'death' that depression calls for.
The Jungian view of the urge to suicide is often the correct psychological attitude - EXCEPT that one should do no physical harm to one's body.
The Descent into the Underworld requires a psychological or ego-death.
After 'death' comes 'Limbo' - a seemingly eternal state where all is still. Limbo stands between life and death.
It is the drawn out Winter initiated by the Autumn fall ...
The 'Limbo' phase of a depression is a notoriously slow passage.
Limbo lasts forever.
Time freezes and we are left abandoned in the dark with no sense of purpose or direction.
Whilst we grope in the dark we are given no indication of whether we are moving forward or back.
In real terms limbo may last many years or many days.
Yet it is in Limbo that the true work begins ...
... The old has fallen away and cleared a passage for the new. In limbo we piece ourselves and our lives back together. Without really knowing we prepare ourselves for new life.
Depression and the gaining of Wisdom
It is the Time in the 'dark mines' that deepens the Soul.
The dirt is gold dust and the rocks are diamonds.
When your down don't forget to pick something up.
Upon reflection a depression is often viewed as one of the most enriching periods on one's life.
Most of the creative, wise and soulful people, have, at some stage, passed through a period of depression ...
... And it was often in this depressive state that they found either themselves, a new direction, a solidity and integrity or a previously untapped creative capacity.
In the getting of wisdom a bout of depression seems to be common place ...
... For amidst the depths of depression a greater relationship with one's S-Elf is forged.
Indigenous cultures describe the initiation of the shaman or spirit-doctor as a descent into the underworld of the dark spirits where a death and dismemberment experience takes place.
After this dismemberment the helpful spirits arrive to help patch the initiate's body together again. Next is a journey to the sun or upper world where a vision is received before returning to the earthly realm to fulfills one's responsibilities.
This shamanic rite of passage mirrors the process of depression.
As we go down into a depression we are torn apart, slowly we regather ourselves before we rise from out of the depression with a whole new perspective on life.
After depression we are often elevated into a state of realisation, of vision and inspiration.
In alchemy the process must pass through the Nigredo or Mortifico (the blackening and death phase) before the Albedo (the whitening).
After the Albedo comes the Rubedo (the reddening and return to life).
Viewed from this perspective Depression is really the Gateway to a deeper and fuller relationship with one's True S-Elf.
As Dante illustrated in 'The Divine Comedy' ...
... 'the passage through hell and purgatory leads directly onto heaven'.
Psychologically, Nigredo is a process of directing oneself to find self-knowledge.
As a rule, the problem is given full attention and reduced to its core.
This is not done so much in an intellectual way, but especially by feeling the emotions.
By really going into to it, one causes putrefaction, the decomposition of that in which one had been stuck. The confrontation with the inner reality is often painful, and can lead to depression ...
... once in the depth of the darkness, with the discovery of the seed of the problem, the seed in the ‘prima materia’, the white light is born (albedo, whiteness, the next phase).
A state of rest arises.
Insight into the problem has been gained, it has been worked out emotionally, and knowledge arises on how to handle it in a more positive way and to build a more pure attitude.
‘Matter’ has to be stripped of its superfluities in order to arrive at the center, which contains all the power of ‘the mixture’.
The seed is the essence and contains all the essential powers of the body. One has to go to the center of ones problems, to the center of ones emotions, to the center of oneself.
There, in the still centre ... is the Power of Trans-Form-At-Ion.
To elaborate further ....
Nigredo or Blackness
The blackening is about depression, the melancholia, that is often the initial stage causing one to slow down and examine life, that brings one into therapy, and that deepens when one encounters the shadow side of personality.
The 'Shadow' is the interior part of the personality ... the sum of all personal and collective psychic elements which, because of their incompatibility with the chosen conscious attitude, are denied expression in life and therefore coalesce into a relatively autonomous 'splinter personality' with contrary tendencies in the unconscious.
The shadow behaves to compensate consciousness ... hence its effects can be positive as well as negative.
The encounter with the shadow is invariably experienced as a mortification ... the dark shadow aspects of the Self have to be confronted and assimilated into consciousness ...
The feelings of guilt, worthlessness and powerlessness have to be suffered, taken on and worked through.
As a prelude to resolving conflicts and warring elements in the psyche, a cleansing process was required involving an examination and withdrawal of projections.
Nigredo, as the first stage, is about recognising and integrating the shadow ... asking what is wrong in the physical realm, looking for the psychosomatic symptoms, and then moving to purging or cathartic remedies ...
The Nigredo stage was known by the Alchemists to be dangerous ... poisonous vapours of lead and quick silver (mercury) were generated or the 'vessel' itself might explode due to over-heating ...
The alchemist had to endure, to observe and experience the value of patience in order to move the work on ...
Albedo or Whitening
In alchemical language, matter suffers until the Nigredo disappears and a new day dawns.
The material slowly starts coming back to life.
The albedo, the second stage, was said to result from the washing (ablutio, baptisma) of the products of this Nigredo.
Psychologically, it represents the later stages of shadow integration within the intimacy of the analytic 'retort' ... the equivalent of the process of washing one's dirty linen in public ... it being in the gross matter or 'shadow' of our worldly affairs where contamination has taken place.
In some traditions, the Nigredo constitutes the 'death' of the prima materia - in analysis, a dying to old habits, attitudes and patterns of relating, to childhood attachments and dependencies, and the withdrawal of psychologically naive projections ...
... at the moment of 'death' the soul (ie, the anima) is released, refined and then reunited with the revitalised materia to produce the glorious stage of many colours - called the 'peacock's tail,' the 'caudis pavonis', which then transforms into white (albedo), which contains all colours, like 'white' light.
This moment is highly rewarding, though still a sort of abstract, ideal state. Jung compared it with daybreak, the preparation for the next and final stage, which is the sunrise.
Rubedo or Reddening
To make the opus come alive into a fully human mode of existence it must have 'blood', or what the alchemists call the rubedo or 'reddness' of life.
In this final stage, the white becomes united with red through the raising of the heat in the fire.
The white is associated with the Queen and the red with the King, who now arise out of the mercurial, tranformative 'waters' of the unconscious to perform their coniunctio oppositorum, the union of all opposites as symbolised by the conjunction of the archetypal masculine and feminine in the 'chymical marriage', the hieros gamos ....
This results in the grand climax, the achievement of the goal - the 'Lapis Philosophorum', the hermaphrodite embodying the united King and Queen.
This is the so-called 'third thing', the 'Rebis', the phenomenon of the union of Love and Soul itself, the Soul that is engendered through Love ...
This 'divine birth' symbolises a re-awakening of psychological reality, a new ruling consciousness.
In conclusion ...
... Jungian terms describe these three stages as symbolic expressions of the stages of individuation.
Individuation is the process by which we move towards the integration of the opposites, their transcendence, and finally bringing into consciousness of the Self.
It can also be seen as a redemptive process of recovering Spirit, Soul or S-Elf from the Unconscious ...
IN JUNGIAN PSYCHOLOGY
Alchemy is much more than the historical predecessor of metallurgy, chemistry and medicine -- it is a living form of sacred psychology. Alchemy is a projection of a cosmic and spiritual drama in laboratory terms. It is an art, both experiential and experimental. It is a worldview which unifies spirit and matter, Sun and Moon, Yang and Yin.
Jung spent the better part of the end of his life studying the subject of alchemy, which has been called the search for the godhead in matter. In typical "Jungian" style, his interest in alchemy developed from a vivid dream about an ancient library full of arcane books.
Later, after much searching, Jung came to posses such a library.
Alchemy reflected in symbolic form the same sorts of imagery Jung saw in his practice in neurosis, psychosis, dreams and imagination. Jung insisted that the psyche cannot be understood in conceptual terms, but only through living images or symbols, which are able to contain paradox and ambiguity. Alchemy reflects the process of personal transformation in the metaphor of transmuting base metals into gold.
Jung was amazed to find that the images and operations he encountered in the old alchemy texts related strongly to his theories of psychoanalysis and the unconscious. Therefore, his main research project at the culmination of his career was around this topic of alchemy and how it related to the dynamics of consciousness.
Jung saw in alchemy a metaphor for the process of individuation, and the morphing and mutating imagery of that process which emerges from the stream of consciousness. Alchemy can also be viewed as a system of self-initiation. Jung often turned to the images of alchemy, mythology and religion to help describe psychic life.
For an image to be a living symbol it must refer to something that cannot be otherwise known. Jung elaborated most of his alchemical analysis of the psyche in three major volumes of his Collected Works. They include Alchemical Studies, Psychology and Alchemy, and his final volume Mysterium Coniunctionis. Since the publication of these there have been other works of alchemical interest produced by notable Jungian analysts.
Among these are the following 2nd generation Jungians:
1). Foremost are the works of Marie-Louise vonFranz, who wrote Alchemical Active Imagination, Projection and Recollection in Jungian Psychology, Number and Time, and Alchemy: An Introduction to the Symbolism and its Psychology, to name but a few.
2). Edward Edinger has given us the classical text, Ego and Archetype, plus Anatomy of the Psyche. Other contributors include Henry Corbin with Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth, on Arabic alchemy, M. Esther Harding's Psychic Energy, Robert Grinnell's Alchemy in a Modern Woman, and Edward Whitmont's Psyche and Substance.
A 3rd generation has arisen in depth psychology which considers imagination or 'the imaginal' to be the primal reality. Essentially unknowable, it can only be experienced through images by which it is expressed. It draws constantly on ancient elements of psychic life, which still abound in the modern world, such as ritual, gods and goddesses, dreams, alchemy and possession as well as aesthetics, etymology, humor, sensuality, poetry, etc. James Hillman has written extensively on Anima Mundi in Spring, the Journal for Archetypal Psychology, and it has many alchemical articles such as "Silver and the White Earth." T
hen there are the classical texts of alchemy, themselves, of course.
There is a vast array of alchemical texts, with staggering varieties of ways of expressing the alchemical process, psychologically and experimentally. Many of them curiously contain homologues of the magic mushroom Amanita muscaria, (see Clark Heinrich's Forbidden Fruit). Among these texts are The Book of Lambspring, Aurora Consurgens, Codicillus (by Raymond Lully), Splendor Solis, Theatrum Chemicum, and the Alchemical Writings of Edward Kelly. Liber Azoth and De Natura Rerum (among others) by Paracelsus are foundational.
Other classics include The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkrutz and Rosarium Philosophorum which Jung used to illustrate his work The Psychology of the Transference.
Finally, there are the modern translations of older works by A.E. Waite which include Turba Philosophorum, The Hermetic Museum, Lexicon of Alchemy, and The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus. Even newer are the compendiums such as The Secret Art of Alchemy by Stanislaus Klossowski De Rola and Alchemist's Handbook by Frater Albertus.
There is a whole catalogue of astute alchemical literature available from Phanes Press, including in particular those with commentary by Adam McLean, such as The Alchemical Mandala, Splendor Solis, and The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz.
Another Jungian contribution is Eliade's The Forge & the Crucible. For lesser known treatises, Jung's bibliographies are a gold mine. Jung wrote the foreword to the Taoist classic on alchemy, The Secret of the Golden Flower.
Most of us, unfamiliar with the subtle nuances of alchemical practice, view it as the historical predecessor of our modern sciences, like medicine, chemistry, metallurgy, etc.
But, according to Jung's research, it seems to be much, much more. It is a curious fact that there is no single alchemy for us to examine. It is a cross-cultural phenomenon which has been practiced in various forms by ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Christian Europeans, and the Islamic, Hindu, and Taoist faiths.
All of these use symbols to depict a process of transformation, whether this process is thought to occur inside (introverted) or outside (extroverted) of the human body.
Although there are many types of alchemy, the main split is between intro- and extroverted forms. The deciding factor is the direction of the practitioner's creativity.
In his book, The Alchemical Tradition in the Late Twentieth Century, Richard Grossinger summarizes the basic components of the different alchemical paths, which he dubs 'planet science.' These include the following:
1. A theory of nature as made up of primary elements.
2. A belief in the gradual evolution and transformation of substance.
3. A system for inducing transmutation.
4. The imitation of nature by a gentle technology.
5. The faith that one's inner being is changed by participation in external chemical experiments.
6. A general system of synchronistic correspondences between planets, colors, herbs, minerals, species of animals, signs and symbols, parts of the body, astrological signs, etc. known as the Doctrine of Signatures.
7. Gold as the completed and perfected form of the metals, in specific, and substance in general (Alchemy is the attempt to transmute other substances into gold, however that attempt is understood and carried out).
8. The existence of a paradoxical form of matter, sometimes called The Philosopher's Stone (the Lapis), which can be used in making gold or in brewing elixirs (elixer vitae) and medicines that have universal curative powers (panacea).
9. A method of symbolism working on the simultaneity of a series of complementary pairs: Sun/Moon, Gold/Silver, Sulphur/Mercury, King/Queen, Male/Female, Husband/Bride, Christ/Man, etc.
10. The search for magical texts that come from a time when the human race was closer to the source of things or are handed down from higher intelligences, extraterrestrials, guardians, or their immediate familiars during some Golden Age.
These texts deal with the creation or synthesis of matter and are a blueprint for physical experimentation in a cosmic context (as well as for personal development).
They have been reinterpreted in terms of the Earth's different epochs and nationalities. In the Occident, alchemy is early inductive experimental science and is closely allied with metallurgy, pharmacy, industrial chemistry, and coinage. In the Orient, alchemy is a system of meditation in which one's body is understood as elementally and harmonically equivalent to the field of creation. (Between East and West, the body may be thought of as a microcosm of nature, with its own deposits of seeds, elixirs, and mineral substances).
Alchemy is joined to astrology in a set of meanings that arise from the correspondences of planets, metals, and parts of the body, and the overall belief in a cosmic timing that permeates nature. Thus, alchemy deals fundamentally with the basic mysteries of life as well as with transcendental mysticism. But its approach is neither abstract nor theoretical, but experimental, in nature. Just who were the alchemists, and why are their contributions important to us today?
The alchemists were the leading explorers of consciousness in medieval times, and their research led to a vast improvement in the conditions of life. Among the more famous are Albertus Magnus, Paracelsus, Nicholas Flammel, and Sir Isaac Newton.
Their contributions not only improved the lives of their contemporaries, but influenced the thought of many philosophers of the same and later eras, such as Meister Eckhart, Thomas a Kempis, John Dee, Johannes Kepler, Thomas Vaughn, Bishop Berkeley, Emanuel Swedenborg, William Blake, and Goethe.
The contribution of these eminent alchemists are staggering: Albertus Magnus, alone, wrote eight books on physics, six on psychology, eight on astronomy, twenty-six on zoology, five on minerals, one on geography, and three on life in general from an Aristotelian point-of-view. He was a Dominican friar who was canonized a saint in 1931. Paracelsus was a Swiss born in 1493.
His accomplishments were many and include being the first modern medical scientist. He fathered the sciences of microchemistry, antisepsis, modern wound surgery, hypnosis and homeopathy. He wrote the first medical literature on the causes and treatment of syphilis and epilepsy, as well as books on illness derived from adverse working conditions. Even with his accurate scientific bent, his work is also in close accord with mystical alchemical tradition. His was a worldview of animism, ensouled and infused by a variety of spirits. He wrote on furies in sleep, on ghosts appearing after death, on gnomes in mines and underground, of nymphs, pygmies, and magical salamanders. invisible forces were always at work and the physician had to constantly be aware of this fourth dimension in which he was moving. He utilized various techniques for divination and astrology as well as magical amulets, talismans, and incantations. Paracelsus believed in a vital force which radiated around every man like a luminous sphere and which could be made to act at a distance. He is also credited with the early use of what we now know as hypnotism. He believed that there was a star in each man, (Mishlove).
This sentiment was echoed by 19th century magician and alchemist, Aleister Crowley, who said, "Every man and every woman is a star." This alludes to the essential Self, but is also literally in that our elements were forged in some distant supernova. Kepler developed the laws of planetary motion. But he developed his theories on the basis of explorations into the dimly lit archetypal regions of man's mind as surely as on his mathematical observations of the planetary motions. He was clearly a student in the tradition of earlier mystic-scientists such as Pythagoras and Paracelsus. Thomas Vaughn, Robert Fludd, and Sire Frances Bacon number among the 17th century Rosicrucians who practiced not only alchemy but also other hermetic arts and the qabalah.
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was a mathematical genius, as well as one of the greatest scientists who ever lived. He discovered the binomial theorem, invented differential calculus, made the first calculations of the moon's attraction by the earth and described the laws of motion of classical mechanics, and formulated the theory of universal gravitation. He was very careful not to publish anything which was not firmly supported by experimental proofs or geometrical demonstrations; thus he exemplified and ushered in the Age of Reason.
However, if we look at Newton's own personal notes and diaries, over a million words in his own handwriting, a startlingly different picture of the man emerges. Newton was an alchemist though after his death his family burned many of his arcane manuscripts in an attempt to hide the fact. He devoted himself to such endeavors as the transmutation of metals, the philosopher's stone, and the elixir of life. He was intensely introspective and had great mental endurance. He solved problems intuitively and dressed them up in logical proofs afterwards. He, himself, was astounded by the startling nature of his own theories. Gravity is a problem that still hasn't been dealt with satisfactorily by scientists. His followers, however, emphasized exclusively his mechanistic view of the universe to the exclusion of his religious and alchemical views. In a sense, their action ushered in a controversy in psychical research which has existed ever since. Since Newton's time, all discoveries suggesting the presence of spiritual force which transcended time or space were ironically considered to be a violation of Newton's Laws -- even though Newton himself held these very beliefs!
It is interesting to note, that today scientists actually can turn small amounts of lead into gold through particle acceleration, since they are only one atomic weight apart, but the energy expense is prohibitive. Despite the advances in science, the "unknown" is still projected into the realm of matter, and the alchemical quest continues. Science is still debating over what is physical, what is psychic and what is metapsychic. VonFranz, in Projection and Recollection in Jungian Psychology, states that "In Western cultural history the transpsychic has been described sometimes as "spirit" sometimes as "matter."
Theologians and philosophers are more concerned with the former, physicists with the later." Since the dawn of the 21st century, many physicists openly speak of the spiritual nature of Reality, especially in the quantum realm -- the microcosm and foundation of the macrocosmic world. VonFranz points out that "what was once regarded as the opposition between spirit and matter turns up again in contemporary physics as a discussion of the relation between consciousness (or Mind) and matter." It bears on such questions as the bias of the observer, and the theories of relativity, probability, synchronicity, non-locality, not to mention the whole field of parapsychology.
Multidisciplinary studies such as quantum consciousness, quantum chaos and quantum cosmology have manifested Jung's prescient vision. Jung really returned us to the alchemistic viewpoint when he said, in Aion, "Sooner or later nuclear physics and the psychology of the unconscious will draw closely together as both of them independently of one another and from opposite directions, push forward into transcendental territory. ... Psyche cannot be totally different from matter for how otherwise could it move matter? And matter cannot be alien to psyche, for how else could matter produce psyche? Psyche and matter exist in the same world, and each partakes of the other, otherwise any reciprocal action would be impossible. If research could only advance far enough, therefore, we should arrive at an ultimate agreement between physical and psychological concepts. Our present attempts may be bold, but I believe they are on the right lines." (Jung).
As vonFranz notes, "There is therefore no concept fundamental to modern physics that is not in one degree or another a differentiated form of some primordial archetypal idea."
These include our concepts of time, space, energy, the field of force, particle theory, and chemical affinity. Laws in physics are subject to scientific revolutions and there has been a major breakthrough in paradigms shifts about every 20 years, or each generation.
One of the most influential recently is Complexity or Chaos Theory. VonFranz says, "As soon as an archetypal idea that has been serving as a model no longer coincides with the observed facts of the external world, it is dropped or its origin in the psyche is recognized. This process always coincides with the upward thrust of a new thought-model from the unconscious to the threshold of consciousness."
This is basically the process of weeding out "scientific errors ... scarcely a thought is given to what they might mean, psychologically, once they are no longer fit to serve as a model in describing the outer world."
This certainly happened to alchemy, until Jung revived an interest in it.. "It is only today, when we know that the assumptions of the observer decisively precondition the total results, that the question is becoming acute." Physicists have become increasingly conscious of the extent to which psychological circumstances influence their results. This "hard problem" of the subjectivity of our personal experience is the crux of consciousness studies and a sticking point in all neurologically-based descriptions of brain-mind dynamics, whether it is based in the quantum, holographic, electromagnetic, or chemical interactions.
Other experimental-minded persons have sought the mysteries of life and divinity within their own bodies, since ancient times. Some employed entheogenic plants and elixirs, while others manipulated the paradoxical switch of the sympathetic and parasympathetic arousal systems through yoga or magick.
Whether known as Yogis or Adepts, their goal was the same ...
Alchemy is not concerned exclusively with consciousness, but also seeks the subtle transformation of the body, so that the physical level is also brought into perfect equilibrium.
Thus, the alchemical metals may be considered analogous to the chakras of the yogis. We can draw another parallel among the three major principles of alchemy and those of Yoga, which are known as the Gunas. Mercury..........Sattva Sulphur.........Rajas Salt..........Tamas
The quality of Mercury is vital and reflective; it equates with the spiritual principles of goodness and intelligence; Sattva guna is illuminative. The quality of Sulphur is fiery and passionate like the principles of Rajas, which incites desire, attachment and action. The quality of Salt is arrestive and binding, and reflects the gross inertia of matter, which is much like Tamas. These gunas and the three alchemical substances symbolize spirit, soul and body. Another "alchemical" way the gunas were applied concerns food: sattvic foods incline one toward meditation and the spiritual life (fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains); rajasic foods are stimulating (i.e. spicy food); tamasic food incites the baser instincts (animal flesh). The concept of four basic elements, harmonized in a fifth, is also common to both alchemy and yoga doctrines. The Indian elements are known as Tattvas.
They are: Akasha (quintessence);
Tejas or Agni (fire); Apas (water);
Furthermore, the preparation for the practice of both alchemy and yoga requires a moral or ethical preparation. Both stress that evil tendencies should be overcome while positive virtues are developed. This includes both behavior and the purification of various body centers. The objective is not wealth, but health or wholeness. Alchemy also speaks of a "secret fire", which is often compared to a serpent or dragon. Here again, we find the correspondence to Kundalini, the serpent-power.
Alchemy is performed by the aid of Mercury, the illuminative principle, and the powers of the sun and moon. Both alchemists and Tantrics practice with the essential aid, sometimes sexual, of a mystical sister, the alchemist's soror mystica or yogi's yogini, complement of King/Queen, Shiva-Shakti, God/Goddess joined together in the miracle marriage. The yogic system works in three channels in the subtle body. One equates with the sun, another with the moon. They are called ida and pingala. The third, or harmonizing channel, is known as sushumna, and is associated with illumination. The twin serpents twine together and open the third way, as shown in the Cadeusus.
The yogi seeks to arouse the latent power of the Kundalini Serpent so it rises up the chakra centers until it opens the third eye of mystical vision and illumination.
Alchemists apply slow heat to their alchemical vessel to sublimate and refine the contents therein. The yogis use breath control, the alchemists bellows to control the fire. Interestingly, yogis employ breathing exercises called "breath of fire" and "the bellows."
In summary, the points of correspondence resulting in the alchemical production of a new kind of human being (one made hale or whole) are as follows:
1. Both systems agree that all things are expressions of one fundamental energy.
2. Both affirm that all things combine three qualities:
a. Wisdom, Sattva, superconsciousness or Mercury;
b. Desire, Rajas, compulsion or Sulpher;
c. Inertia or Tamas, darkness, or Salt.
3. Both recognize five modes of expression: Akasha, Spirit or the quintessence; Tejas or Agni, fire; Apas, water; Vayu, air; Prithivi, earth.
4. Both systems mention seven principle vehicles of activity called chakras by yogis, and metals by alchemists.
5. Both say there is a secret force, fiery in quality, which is to be raised from one chakra or metal to another, until the power of all seven is sublimated to the higher.
6. Yoga says
a. Prana or Surya, sun,
b. Rayim, moon, and 3) Sattva, wisdom are the three agencies of the work (or ida, pingala and sushumna). Alchemy says the whole operation is a work of the sun and moon, aided by Mercury.
7. Both systems stress preparation by establishing physical purity and ethical freedom from lust, avarice, vanity, attachment, anger and other anti-social tendencies.
8. Both allege that success enables the adepts to exercise extraordinary powers, to heal all diseases, and to control all the forces of nature so as to exert a determining influence on circumstances.
In short, what both alchemist and yogi do is ...
1.. to recognize what goes on in his body, and
2.. to use his knowledge of the control exerted over subconscious processes by self-consciousness to form a definite intention that this body-building function shall act with maximum efficiency creating increased vitality.
This supercharge of libido then wakens the spiritual vision of the pineal gland to full activity (in some modern interpretations overriding inhibitory mechanisms for the production of endogenous DMT).
The Great Work of alchemy consists of stabilizing this vision of Light into a full realization. The by-product is that the body-building power of the subconscious transforms the Alchemist him/herself into an entriely new creature .... The Golden Child ...