.: What is Alchemy? :.

.: LESSON 1 :.

ᚾᛟᚹ ᚹᛖ ᚹᛁᛚᛚ ᚱᛖᛗᛖᛗᛒᛖᚱ ᛏᚺᛖ ᛏᚱᚢᛏᚺ

How do we destroy the illusion of illness, death, desire, fear, and separation? How do we live in Truth and Harmony with our bodies, minds, souls? Why and how do we practice ritual High Magick artistically to craft and shape a more perfected reality?

No spiritual, magickal, or scientific practice answers this better than ALCHEMY.

ALCHEMY is the laboratory practice of separating, purifying, and recombining matter. Alchemy applies the founding principles of Hermetic philosophy to physical matter in order to achieve higher states of consciousness and harmony with Nature. In other words, alchemy is a combination of science and spirituality, mechanics and psychology. Sounds simple, right? … Perhaps not.

Alchemy is misunderstood. For some, it is believed to exclusively be the transmutation of lead into gold–aka “The Philosopher’s Stone.” Or it is merely thought to be an ancient pseudoscience with no real basis in the material reality, but rather a mental exercise for mental and spiritual development. In general, The Alchemical Art is so shrouded in secrecy and mystery that many flat out doubt its existence. And yet its mystique seems to universally capture the imagination. A simple google search can lead you to tinctures, face creams, essential oils called “alchemical”. Meditation, movement, self-help style practices use the label “alchemy”. Even unrelated businesses seem to tack on the word: “Money alchemy”, “food alchemy”, “dental alchemy”. Everyone knows “alchemy”, but no one really seems to know “alchemy”…

In reality, the practice of laboratory alchemy is equal parts philosophy and science. It is process of working with observation, imitation, and acceleration of Nature. The primary basis of alchemical lab processes is the notion that there is a part to all physical things (organic and inorganic) that equates to the Three Essentials in quality and characteristic. The Three Essentials are:

the Sulfur (soul), the Spirit (mind), the Salt (body)

All matter, therefore, can be universally broken down in to these three parts. Once separated and purified, an alchemical subject cannot be broken down any further. Physically and metaphysically, alchemy brings us down to the building blocks of matter, the building blocks of reality and eliminating unnecessary components. Quantum physics research suggests that consciousness affects matter (The Observer Effect experiment noted that particles of matter change their movement patterns when observed). This perfectly fits in to the founding Alchemical principle which is that consciousness and matter impact one another. Through the lab process, the “perfection” or purification of matter in the lab will have a beneficial affect on the alchemist. Additionally, the alchemist’s state of mind will have an affect on the subject being purified. This purification is an aim to imitate the processes that occur in the natural world to further advance and speed up evolution. Consciousness and matter are relating to one another in an alchemical process. So alchemy is the relationship between consciousness and matter. Over time, the alchemist will start to experience the energetic states created in the lab through perfected health physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Alchemy is not just one process, but numerous possibilities of separation, purification, and recombination (also known as cohobation) of a certain subject. An alchemist does not just work with metals, but also with plants, fungi, animals, insects, minerals, and metals, and traditionally all alchemical subjects would have fallen in to three categories or kingdoms: “vegetable”, “animal” and “mineral.” An alchemist can choose a subject from one of these three such as a lavender plant, a moth, or a rose quartz, and then separate, purify, and recombine each of the Three Essentials (soul, mind, body). Alchemy is an on-going process of perfecting Nature’s movements.

It is notable that this art is thoroughly based in observable, repeatable procedure and cannot be practiced without thorough chemical understanding and practice (the metallic processes can be quite dangerous and inadvisable for the beginner). This is not to say, however, that alchemy is a rigid, set practice, but rather an ever-evolving study of reality and mind which transcends the barrier between human systems of logic and human systems of spirit. Moving past its primary goal of exalting matter, it is essential to give greater attention to alchemical philosophy and history before proceeding to the lab work. The lab work, as we will discover, can get increasingly mysterious and complex. Therefore, the human mind needs a story to be able to grasp and contextualize that which cannot be named or spoken of…

Legend suggests that alchemy was invented simultaneously in ancient Egypt, India, and China. The original alchemists, also known as “Fire Philosophers” were suspected to have initially been metallurgists and smiths. Evidence has found that the alchemical symbols and descriptions are uncannily similar between the three cultures. However one of the earliest alchemical texts appears to have come from ancient Egypt via The Corpus Hermeticum between 1st century BC and 4th century AD. Hermes Trismegistus (or Hermes the Thrice Greatest) was the supposed author of this series of ancient Egyptian-Greek texts that founded The Hermetic religion and philosophy. “Hermeticism” comes from the worship of the god or entity Hermes and is often associated with contemporary esoteric secret societies and magickal groups such as The Golden Dawn and The Rosicrucians. What is often overlooked is the fact that Hermeticism forms the founding esoteric beliefs that construct alchemical theory. The religion offers a system of organizing divinity, cosmos, mind, and nature in to one system. (The Emerald Tablets of Thoth (800 AD), written much later, provides more explicit description of alchemy.) Practices such as magic, divination, herbal medicine, and astrology, can arguably all be products of the ancient Hermetic art of alchemy. It is even speculated that ancient Hermetics were the founders of science and modern medicine as we know it today. In our modern age, spirituality and science are considered completely opposite and often irreconcilable. However, at the time of the ancients there was no separation between science, spirituality, and art. The ancient Egyptians created an entire hierarchical cast of royal, priestly, well-educated healers, artists, and researchers that utilized philosophy and observation to understand the observable natural world.

It is interesting that the true “author” of these Hermetic texts is somewhat unknown. As mentioned previously, the god Hermes is behind the Hermetic namesake and he rules over air, mind, intellect, reason, communication, and magick. Hermes Trismegistus or Thoth (“thought”) as the author, may have been a single figure or collection of figures living during the time of Moses. It is possible that he was an Egyptian priest-king that was given the name “Hermes” as an honorary, since it was common to name royalty after gods. However, some have speculated that Hermes Trismegistus was not a real person at all, but rather an idea or a form of consciousness invoked through ritual. This view is perhaps the most useful in understanding the Hermetics of the time, since they believed that there was a single universal mind as well as universal archetypes that exist in all things.

Also notable is the fact that The Corpus Hermeticum is written in dialogue form between mysterious Hermes Trismegistus and Nous or Thoth who teaches Hermes. Thoth the Egyptian moon god, who was thought to represent thought, was also known in ancient Egypt as a version of Hermes. Nous meant Supreme Good or God and was described as creating all of existence. The name Nous resembles the word “gnosis” which means “knowledge of spiritual mysteries.” Thoth as thought and Nous as intuition. Since Nous and Thoth are used interchangeably in the text, it is implied that Nous, Thoth, Hermes, and God are likely all one being. Hermes (as a divine aspect of consciousness) has split himself in to multiple beings to talk to himself. This is a common quality of Mercury, a vital figure in alchemical lab work. Not only is mercury one of the essential three, the universal spirit of a subject, but he is the archetype that invented alchemy. Hermes or Mercury is a trickster god known for his ability to shape-shift, practice magick, convey messages, and traverse the gap between all worlds (heaven, earth, and the underworld). It makes sense then, that the god of mind, communication, and magick created the alchemical art. This naturally leads us to another founding Hermetic-alchemical principle: the archetypal energies.

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Firstly, what is an archetype? They are aspects of consciousness that create the fabric of the All Mind. They can also be viewed as living reflections of God, but as a variety of primary colors or energies that create the fabric of our reality, our beliefs, and our identities. What happens inside of our minds and our bodies happens in the world around us and what happens in our minds happens on the astronomical level, being observable in the planets and the stars. Many of us express ourselves through one or a couple archetypes primarily, however technically every archetype exists in each person, animal, plant, and even rocks. In alchemy, these archetypes are organized in to seven energies which are exalted through alchemical processes. The Seven can easily be identified by the days of the week:

Monday is Moon (Silver)
Tuesday is Mars (Iron)
Wednesday is Mercury (Mercury)
Thursday is Jupiter (Tin) 
Friday is Venus (Copper)
Saturday is Saturn (Lead)
Sunday is Sun (Gold)

Each planet, god, or archetype corresponds with their specific patterns or set of characteristics. The ancient Hermetic texts describe these seven energies as forming all of reality, consisting of the All Mind and in their perfected states always returning to One. Later, we will discuss the qualities of each planetary influence. Observation will allow the alchemist to identify which of the seven archetypal energies correspond with a subject (which can be more than one) and work to strengthen that force or forces. Astrological timing strengthens archetypal energies of each specific lab process. Astrology, as mentioned, is an essential branch of alchemical practice and reinforces the Hermetic principle “As above, so below” because it literally connects the above with the below–planetary alignment corresponds to human lives; human lives correspond to planetary influence. The position of a planet at a given moment (for example birth time) reveals the particular archetypal energies and interactions that run through the body, mind, and spirit of reality in that moment. The universe operates with the same repeating patterns because it is all One thing. The universe exists within the Mind of the All. 

Natal charts specifically can be useful when deciding to work with an archetypal energy for medicinal qualities. Similar to Ayurvedic theory of Doshas or elemental constitutions, astrology can be used to identify predisposition to certain diseases and qualities of character. The goal in alchemical medicine is to create balance and to unite all archetypes in to One. So, for example, if I’m a Pisces sun sign which has a strong Jupiter influence, it would beneficial to work with a Saturnian plant, since Jupiter and Saturn are opposites. Opposites as a general rule create balance.

The principles that create natural harmony via alchemy were later outlined in The Hermetic Qabalah, written during the end of the Roman Empire, 400 AD. Like the seven archetypes. the text places its Hermetic laws in to Seven. This further explains the source of universal mind, correspondence, balance, and connection between all things…

1. The principle of mentalism
"The All is Mind; the Universe is Mental."[4]

2. The principle of correspondence
"That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing."[38]

3. The principle of vibration
"Nothing rests; everything moves; everything vibrates."[6]

4. The principle of polarity
"Everything is dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled."[7]

5. The principle of rhythm
"Everything flows, out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything; the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left; rhythm compensates."[8]

6. The principle of cause and effect
"Every cause has its effect; every effect has its cause; everything happens according to law; chance is but a name for law not recognized; there are many planes of causation, but nothing escapes the law."[9]

7. The principle of gender
"Gender is in everything; everything has its masculine and feminine principles; gender manifests on all planes."[10]

The Seven Laws might seem quite simple or obvious at first glance. But the deeper we reflect, the more complex they can become like a spiral expanding or contracting infinitely. The most important thing, however, as we return to Hermetic application to alchemy, is that we comprehend all things are One and all things are part of one Mind. Our minds create all things. Once truly understood, the alchemical lab work becomes increasingly profound. If we affect and perfect an object, we affect and perfect our minds. And once we remember that it is our minds that created that process to begin with, we take back our full power. Once sovereignty is remembered through alchemy, we return to our natural ability to practice High Magick–to alter our realities at will. This is the nature of High Magick. Unlike sorcery or magic (without the K), High Magick works with the natural world and therefore true, human nature. Nature shows us our truest Self without the impedance or distractions of chaos. High Magick through alchemy does not create ritualistic “wishing”. Instead it is ritualistic remembering that it is I or Eye who creates All. Each of us are God. When we operate in the frequency of Truth, we are not the victim of disease, beliefs, or self-identification.

Simultaneously if everything is vibrating as One, the vibration of alchemy is perfection. The Hermetics broke reality down in to states of Chaos and states of Order. Everything moves from one in to the other and it is this movement that brings the natural world from a from order to chaos, from chaos to order. This is what creates Nature’s rhythms and cycles and can also be referred to as Evolution. Through alchemy, we are working with these cycles of evolution to create Order and resonate with the vibrating music of Nature.

The beauty of our current time is that alchemy is more available than it ever has been before. The laws that once condemned alchemy are no longer in place (alchemy was once punishable by death and many alchemists were burned alive). The information age has given us access to the ancient secrets. The lost art of alchemy is now on Google and Amazon. We can download PDF’s of secret esoteric texts. Glassware and distillation kits can be delivered to our doorsteps. The alchemists that have come before us have already decoded much of the ancient texts.

If interested in going further with The Great Work, subscribe below as we will be releasing courses and guides to create one’s first alchemical laboratory. In later lessons, we will be going deeper in to our understanding of The Philosopher’s Stone, the historical relevance of alchemy, and the differences between lab work in the different kingdoms. I highly recommend investing in a notebook to dedicate only to alchemy as well as a copy of Real Alchemy: A Primer of Practical Alchemy by Robert Allen Bartlett. As we move closer to the physical lab work, it is necessary to move with humility, patience, and without seeking. Through alchemy the processes speak for themselves. We don’t have to chase, deduce, or fabricate stories. We don’t have to repetitively cleanse, pray, sacrifice or change ourselves to achieve externalized fulfillment. Working in the lab alone brings Truth, Awareness, and balance. There is no trying.

It simply is.

When you understand the Law of CAUSE and EFFECT, you understand All. And when you know the initial CAUSE, you know all EFFECTS, all secrets of time and space. ALCHEMY is the original CAUSE.

The Emerald Tablets of Thoth

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