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no chance for the grail

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posted on Oct, 31 2005 @ 02:08 PM
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Originally posted by 0951
My understanding was that the real teaching of alchemy was the same kind of idea, and much like later magic practices - an act of transformation, 'tis true, but again as a metaphor, as it refers to the transformation of consciousness, and that brings about a change in the world, rather than anything 'physical'.

The turning of base metals into gold, has a clear resonance with the transformation from ignorant into illuminated.

... but only if you read it that way.


Again, not picking on you.

But modern minds somehow refuse to actually read the material itself, preferring "abridged" versions and "adaptations;" we also don't want to believe the assertions of the stories themselves. And yet they are too compelling to ignore.

Several posters after me have said basically, "yes, but . . . it's is an allegory, right?"

If you read the rather lengthy post I wrote, you'll see my take on it.

In the words of the British Prime Minister, "I refer the honorable ladies and gentlemen to the reply I gave some moments ago."

turn insight out.




posted on Oct, 31 2005 @ 03:28 PM
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Originally posted by dr_strangecraft

Originally posted by 0951
My understanding was that the real teaching of alchemy was the same kind of idea, and much like later magic practices - an act of transformation, 'tis true, but again as a metaphor, as it refers to the transformation of consciousness, and that brings about a change in the world, rather than anything 'physical'.

The turning of base metals into gold, has a clear resonance with the transformation from ignorant into illuminated.

... but only if you read it that way.


Again, not picking on you.

But modern minds somehow refuse to actually read the material itself, preferring "abridged" versions and "adaptations;" we also don't want to believe the assertions of the stories themselves. And yet they are too compelling to ignore.

Several posters after me have said basically, "yes, but . . . it's is an allegory, right?"

If you read the rather lengthy post I wrote, you'll see my take on it.

In the words of the British Prime Minister, "I refer the honorable ladies and gentlemen to the reply I gave some moments ago."

turn insight out.



No worries on being picked on, it's all up for discussion ... I think we are at the same point pretty much anyway - that's why I went on to mention the context in which these stories, real or imagined, (and I'm actually kinda easy either way) took place. Without being there, I can't say true or not true - no matter how compelling, or [in balance] how fantastical one finds them.

One has to wonder about the perception (and consequential) recording of those events in the minds of those that penned them, or in the accounts of their contemporaries ... either through commission or omission, would there not have been an temptation to tweak the narrative to suit an agenda, as much as to simply tell the truth about what they had seen, or is this a recent approach ?

If not at the time, perhaps then in a later retelling ... It is interesting to view the 'facts' of history over time, (a kinda history of history) so maybe more of the truth of this will become apparent as we actually learn more about our history, and rely less on interpretation.



posted on Oct, 31 2005 @ 09:08 PM
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Originally posted by 0951

. . .that's why I went on to mention the context in which these stories, real or imagined, (and I'm actually kinda easy either way) took place. Without being there, I can't say true or not true - no matter how compelling, or [in balance] how fantastical one finds them.

One has to wonder about the perception (and consequential) recording of those events in the minds of those that penned them, or in the accounts of their contemporaries . . . temptation to tweak the narrative to suit an agenda, as much as to simply tell the truth about what they had seen, or is this a recent approach ?
. . .
so maybe more of the truth of this will become apparent as we actually learn more about our history, and rely less on interpretation.


I see a couple of different thoughts here.

First, are modern people more rational, or less rational that the people who wrote those accounts?

That is a philosophical question. The mainstream of modern historical and literary research today views us as standing on some kind of a pinnacle, a privileged viewpoint in human history. Supposedly, at least the historians among us, are more rational, more rigorious, and more objective than the ancients were capable of. Partly because of our immense knowledge base, but more because of our mastery of the scientific method, we are not fooled by accounts of the supernatural; we are better observers of the world that our ancestors were.

For my part, I repudiate this bigoted worldview. All the bases of the scientific method were in place in the ancient world. Men like Plato or St. Thomas Aquinas use arguments every bit as careful as those of modern minds. The word "logic" is a Greek word, not an English one.

So I believe they were capable of all of the intellectual rigor of the modern age, as well as its foibles.

Second, there is a question of unintentional exageration. This is always a problem, and obviously occurs in accounts throughout history. They are more glaringly obvious when written in faded ink on yellowed parchment, that's all.

Is it all exageration?

The answer to that question depends on you as much as it does upon the "evidence" at hand, and how comfortable you are rejecting accounts that don't match your notions of the world.

One of the things I have documented in my own research is a set of recurring motifs in the style of the alchemical texts which fit my preconceptions of what a text needs in order for me to take it seriously:

1) Claim that the author has seen or witnessed something special
2) The sort of oath that a person in that time and place would not have taken lightly.
3) A description of the phenomena that, while surpising to the author, correlate with other accounts of how and why different things were observed.
4) A willingness on the part of the author to try and explain phenomena that don't jibe with his worldview.

If people were simply "tweaking the narrative," I'd expect them to tweak each story in the direction of what was 'expected' in such accounts. What surprises is when the authorsj consistently report the same phenomena in their works, and it is the same observed phenomena each time. Even in accounts separated by thousands of miles and hundreds of years.



posted on Nov, 1 2005 @ 02:54 PM
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Originally posted by dr_strangecraft

I see a couple of different thoughts here.

First, are modern people more rational, or less rational that the people who wrote those accounts?

[...]

Second, there is a question of unintentional exageration. This is always a problem, and obviously occurs in accounts throughout history. They are more glaringly obvious when written in faded ink on yellowed parchment, that's all.

[...]

If people were simply "tweaking the narrative," I'd expect them to tweak each story in the direction of what was 'expected' in such accounts. What surprises is when the authorsj consistently report the same phenomena in their works, and it is the same observed phenomena each time. Even in accounts separated by thousands of miles and hundreds of years.



Firstly, please excuse the quote edit - it's to try to make the post more manageable, rather than to support *one* view by selective quoting.

I think your reply is a clear and balanced summary of the very nature of the view of history, and therein lies the problem - it's our view of history that carries the flaw. I'd entirely agree with your repudiation of the view that the modern interpretation has some kind of exclusive right to be the most valid (accepting the validity of a tighter method being employed in observation and measurement). I think we inevitably fall that way because it's the most comfortable in light of the empirical, evidential age in which we now appear to live.

Hence your second point.

From your research, could that consistent reporting of phenomena be a product of the original reports being
 
widely propagated, and then borrowed and adapted by later writers; as much as it is that a common phenomena is being observed ?

(Accepting of course, that to ask the question does rather suggest that I am simply seeking affirmation of my belief that this is the case - it's not, but I'm in no way familiar with the potential for the contemporaneous distribution of such material, so I'm clutching at the most immediate [and perhaps entirely modern] explanation).

Thanks.




posted on Nov, 1 2005 @ 06:34 PM
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Originally posted by 0951

From your research, could that consistent reporting of phenomena be a product of the original reports being
 
widely propagated, and then borrowed and adapted by later writers; as much as it is that a common phenomena is being observed ?


rather than merely telling you "no," I'll try to give you some of the reasons why I've reached the conclusions I have. Rather than trying to convince you that I'm right, let's see if I can convey the line of reasoning that has led me to my conclusions.

But there are a couple of issues which prevent me from being specific.

For one thing, I've been wrestling for more than a year with the idea of writing a book. There are specific motifs that I began to notice after more than a decade of serious research. These insights are precious to me. So don't expect me to get too specific.

One of the interesting qualities of alchemical literature is its startling variety. While some texts are nothing more than recipes, others are more like personal diaries or formal histories of the art.

One recurring motif I find in the narratives of alchemists, as they describe their own struggles, occurs in a tiny minority of texts, but appears across cultures and across the centuries. I have found this particular feature in the Boapu Zi of Ge Hong, from 3rd Century AD China, and in the correspondence of two of the Renaissance monarchs of Europe, in their dealings with purported alchemists. It would be problematic to claim that one of these sources influenced the other, or even to say that they share a common heritage.

Another example might be the language used by alchemists. Since they used codewords or ciphers for various concepts, there is a lot of confusion, even among serious students, as to what these things represent. A chemical reaction may be described as "the green lion consuming the white bride," or "The red man emerging from dark waters." Most authorities have looked upon such writings as a hopeless morass, designed to intentionally mislead the reader, and allow the writer to get "off the hook" for not giving away the secret. Yet to read the authors I have in mind is to notice that they never argue over the specific actions of qualities of the green lion or the peacock's tail. One of them, a 14th century Frenchman, even remarks along the lines of "authority x has his names for the work, and I have mine; but if you compare them you'll see we are describing the same process." At the height of alchemy's social influence, in Renaissance Europe, there were groups of adepts in major cities, dialoguing with each other. And interestingly, there is universal agreement among them as to which workers have succeeded, and which have failed in the alchemical quest. This unanimity is difficult to explain if one maintains that 'they were making it all up.' Especially if their only goal was personal profit.

Another interesting phenomenon is that the works that seems most informative are usually the least published. The document that led me to some of these insights I found only after a decade of research in various libraries, having acquired a copy early last year. One of the best research libraries in the U.S. maintains that they have a complete copy in their rare books collection, but when I gained access to the actual work, I discovered that key pages were missing. The book is virtually unknown, even to Renaissance and modern "authorities" on alchemy. And yet when I perused it, I found the same motifs as in works written 300 years before in medieval France, or in 3rd century Egypt, or in China from the same time period.

I know that the above examples are too vague to convince anyone else, without specific quotations. And I accept that to prove my point I'll have to publish my evidence, something I'm not prepared to do right now. Yet you can judge my reasoning capabilities and style by looking at the posts I write on other topics, and decide for yourself whether I seem like I'm jumping to conclusions, or being hopelessly romantic about the issue.

I guess what I'm saying is, that unless you research the topic yourself, it is a serious mistake to say, "I believe that these fellows were con-artists or mystics, hiding metaphysical concepts veiled in allegorical language. Because everyone else says that's what it is."

I've spent a serious chunk of my leisure life researching this field; time I don't feel was wasted. And I for one think there's more to it than "allegory."



posted on Nov, 5 2005 @ 03:10 PM
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Thanks for the reply. I'd say that your intention to set out to "convey the line of reasoning that has led [me] to my conclusions" has been well served by it.

Taking the long view of this, I can see how the exposure you have to this material, provides you with the understanding to reach the conclusions you draw. I'm not disagreeing with you, but humans do appear to share similar taxonomies in principle, perhaps the difference is in the level of penetration into the specific topic (mine being very little, and shaped by a blunt inculcation, your clearly not !).

The use of individual, 'though commonly themed (or commonly inferred or understood) terms to describe the process is interesting in it's occult nature, and it lends a certain, hmm, charm maybe ? (no pun intended). Not surprising tho' I guess, and I take your point about the level of influence upon subsequent practitioners.

I never knew that the practice was as widely spread (both geographically and chronologically) as you mention here - this is far in excess of the narrow medieval European basis I had in my mind (and it was against that limited context:, the culture, and to an extent the politics and theology of that time, that suggested my initial - 'it's a metaphor' line of thinking).

Cheers, I've learnt stuff here - good luck with where it takes you next.





 
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