What is Alchemy?
Alchemy, derived from the Arabic word al-kimia (الكيمياء, ALA-LC: al-kīmiyā’), is both a philosophy and an ancient practice focused on the attempt to change base metals into gold, investigating the preparation of the "elixir of longevity", and achieving ultimate wisdom, involving the improvement of the alchemist as well as the making of several substances described as possessing unusual properties. The practical aspect of alchemy can be viewed as a protoscience, having generated the basics of modern inorganic chemistry, namely concerning procedures, equipment and the identification and use of many current substances.
Alchemy has been practiced in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), India, Persia (modern Iran), China, Japan, Korea, the classical Greco-Roman world, the medieval Islamic world, and then medieval Europe up to the 20th and 21st centuries, in a complex network of schools and philosophical systems spanning at least 2,500 years.
Alchemy is a science that centers on the inherent powers of the four elements-fire, water, earth, and air. Any varying combination of these will provide one with the makings of any element presented on the periodic table. Alchemy was first utilized in Khem-the ancient name for Egypt (Al-Kimiya)-and it is the basis of modern chemistry.
Of the more legendary aspects of Alchemy, the most common belief is that by performing some arcane alchemical ritual, one can change lead or any other metal into gold, or produce the Philosopher's Stone-a mythical rock said to prolong the owner's lifespan.
See: Manly Palmer Hall, Comte Saint Germain, Nicholas Flamel, Isaac Newton, John Dee, et. al.
One of the famous sayings of Alchemy is 'Aurum Nostrum Non Vulgi' (Our gold is not that of the common man); this refers to the idea that, at least for many Alchemists, it was more a spiritual search that a chemical one (although alchemists did make siginificant contributions to chemical knowledge). Alchemy reached its peak in Europe in a time when any religious disssent could get you into trouble, particularly if you felt that your spiritual development was your own business, and not that of the religious authorities. Carl Jung more-or-less identified Alchemy with his process of Individuation
Above we see "on the left the king, 'Son of Re Amenhotep,
ruler of West',
offering a conical loaf on a cup to 'Sopdu, the great god of the east'".
This is also called the "gold of reward".
To most of us, the word "alchemy" calls up the picture of a medieval and slightly sinister laboratory in which an aged, black-robed wizard broods over the crucibles and alembics that are to bring within his reach the Philosopher's Stone, and with that discovery, the formula for the Elixir of life and the transmutation of metals. But one can scarcely dismiss so lightly the science -- or art, if you will --that won to its service the lifelong devotion of men of culture and attainment from every race and clime over a period of thousands of years, for the beginnings of alchemy are hidden in the mists of time. Such a science is something far more than an outlet for a few eccentric old men in their dotage.
What was the motive behind their constant strivings, their never-failing patience in the unravelling of the mysteries, the tenacity of purpose in the face of persecution and ridicule through the countless ages that led the alchemists to pursue undaunted their appointed way? Something far greater, surely, than a mere vainglorious desire to transmute the base metals into gold, or to brew a potion to prolong a little longer this earthly span, for the devotees of alchemy in the main cared little for such things.
The accounts of their lives almost without exception lead us to believe that they were concerned with things spiritual rather than with things temporal. They were men inspired by a vision, a vision of man made perfect, of man freed from disease and the limitations of warring faculties both mental and physical, standing godlike in the realization of a power that even at this very moment of time lies hidden in the deeper strata of consciousness, a vision of man made truly in the image and likeness of the One Divine Mind in its Perfection, Beauty, and Harmony.
To appreciate and understand the adepts' visions, it is necessary to trace the history of their philosophy. So let us for step back into the past to catch a glimpse of these men, of their work and ideals, and more important still, of the possibilities that their life-work might bring to those who today are seeking for fuller knowledge and wider horizons.
Egypt, approx 2000 BC
Ancient Egypt is where alchemy as it is known in the West seems to have sprung. The great Egyptian adept king, named by the Greeks "Hermes Trismegistus" is thought to have been the founder of the art. Reputed to have lived about 1900 B.C., he was highly celebrated for his wisdom and skill in the operation of nature, but of the works attributed to him only a few fragments escaped the destroying hand of the Emperor Diocletian in the third century A.D. The main surviving documents attributed to him are the Emerald Tablet, the Asclepian Dialogues, and the Divine Pymander. If we may judge from these fragments (both preserved in the Latin by Fianus and translated into other languages in the sixteenth century), it would seem to be of inestimable loss to the world that none of these works have survived in their entirety.
The famous Emerald Tablet (Tabula Smaragdina) of Hermes is the primary document of alchemy. There have been various stories of the origin of the tract, one being that the original emerald slab upon which the precepts were said to be inscribed in Phoenician characters was discovered in the tomb of Hermes by Alexander the Great. In the Berne edition (1545) of the Summa Perfectionis, the Latin version is printed under the heading: "The Emerald Tables of Hermes the Thrice Great Concerning Chymistry, Translator unknown. The words of the secrets of Hermes, which were written on the Tablet of Emerald found between his hands in a dark cave wherein his body was discovered buried."
An Arabic version of the text was discovered in a work ascribed to Jabir (Geber), which was probably made about the ninth century. In any case, it must be one of the oldest alchemical fragments known, and that it is a piece of Hermetic teaching I have no doubt, as it corresponds to teachings of the Thrice-Greatest Hermes as they have been passed down to us in esoteric circles. The tablet teaches the unity of matter and the basic truth that all form is a manifestation from one root, the One Thing or Ether. This tablet, in conjunction with the works of the Corpus Hermeticum are well worth reading, particularly in the light of the general alchemical symbolism. Unhappily, the Emerald Tablet is all that remains to us of the genuine Egyptian sacred art of alchemy.
The third century A.D. seems to have been a period when alchemy was widely practiced, but it was also during this century, in the year 296, that Diocletian sought out and burnt all the Egyptian books on alchemy and the other Hermetic sciences, and in so doing destroyed all evidence of any progress made up to that date. In the fourth century, Zosimus the Panopolite wrote his treatise on The Divine Art of Making Gold and Silver, and in the fifth Morienus, a hermit of Rome, left his native city and set out to seek the sage Adfar, a solitary adept whose fame had reached him from Alexandria. Morienus found him, and after gaining his confidence became his disciple. After the death of his patron, Morienus came into touch with King Calid, and a very attractive work purporting to be a dialogue between himself and the king is still extant under the name of Morienus. In this century, Cedrennus also appeared, a magician who professed alchemy.
The next name of note, that of Geber, occurs in or about 750 A.D. Geber's real name was Abou Moussah Djfar-Al Sell, or simply "The Wise One." Born at Houran in Mesopotamia, he is generally esteemed by adepts as the greatest of them all after Hermes. Of the five hundred treatises said to have been composed by him, only three remain to posterity: The Sum of the Perfect Magistery, The Investigation of Perfection, and his Testament. It is to him, too, that we are indebted for the first mention of such important compounds as corrosive sublimate, red oxide of mercury, and nitrate of silver. Skillfully indeed did Geber veil his discoveries, for from his mysterious style of writing we derive the word "gibberish," but those who have really understood Geber, his adept peers, declare with one accord that he has declared the truth, albeit disguised, with great acuteness and precision.
About the same time, Rhasis, another Arabian alchemist, became famous for his practical displays in the art of transmutation of base metals into gold. In the tenth century, Alfarabi enjoyed the reputation of being the most learned man of his age, and still another great alchemist of that century was Avicenna, whose real name was Ebu Cinna. Born at Bokara in 980 A.D., he was the last of the Egyptian alchemical philosophers of note.
References about alchemy are to be found in the myths and legends of ancient China. From a book written by Edward Chalmers Werner, a late member of the Chinese Government's Historiological Bureau in Peking comes this quotation from old Chinese records: "Chang Tao-Ling, the first Taoist pope, was born in A.D. 35 in the reign of the Emperor Kuang Wu Ti of the Hari dynasty. His birthplace is variously given as T'ien-mu Shan, Lin-an-Hsien in Chekiang, Feng-yang Fu in Anhui, and even in the "Eye of Heaven Mountain." He devoted himself wholly to study and meditation, declining all offers to enter the service of the state. He preferred to take up his abode in the mountains of Western China where he persevered in the study of alchemy and in cultivating the virtues of purity and mental abstraction. From the hands of the alchemist Lao Tzu, he received supernaturally a mystical treatise, by following the instructions in which he was successful in his match for the Elixir of Life." This reference demonstrates that alchemy was studied in China before the commencement of the Christian era and its origin must lie even further back in Chinese history.
About the period of the first Crusades, alchemy shifted its center to Spain, where it had been introduced by the Arabian Moors. In the twelfth Century Artephius wrote The Art of Prolonging Human Life and is reported to have lived throughout a period of one thousand years. He himself affirmed this:
"I, Artephius, having learnt all the art in the book of Hermes, was once as others, envious, but having now lived one thousand years or thereabouts (which thousand years have already passed over me since my nativity, by the grace of God alone and the use of this admirable Quintessence), as I have seen, through this long space of time, that men have been unable to perfect the same magistry on account of the obscurity of the words of the philosophers, moved by pity and good conscience, I have resolved, in these my last days, to publish in all sincerity and truly, so that men may have nothing more to desire concerning this work. I except one thing only, which is not lawful that I should write, because it can be revealed truly only by God or by a master. Nevertheless, this likewise may be learned from this book, provided one be not stiff-necked and have a little experience."
Of the thirteenth-century literature, a work called Tesero was attributed to Alphonso, the King of Castile, in 1272. William de Loris wrote Le Roman de Rose in 1282, assisted by Jean de Meung, who also wrote The Remonstrance of Nature to the Wandering Alchemist and The Reply of the Alchemist to Nature. Peter d'Apona, born near Padua in 1250, wrote several books on Hermetic sciences and was accused by the Inquisition of possessing seven spirits (each enclosed in a crystal vessel) who taught him the seven liberal arts and sciences. He died upon the rack.
Among other famous names appearing about this period is that of Arnold de Villeneuve or Villanova, whose most famous work is found in the Theatrum Chemicum. He studied medicine in Paris but was also a theologian and an alchemist. Like his friend, Peter d'Apona, he was accused of obtaining his knowledge from the devil and was charged by many different people with magical practices. Although he did not himself fall into the hands of the Inquisition, his books were condemned to be burnt in Tarragona by that body on account of their heretical content. Villanova's crime was that he maintained that works of faith and charity are more acceptable in the eyes of God than the Sacrificial Mass of the Church!
The authority of Albertus Magnus (1234-1314) is undoubtedly to be respected, since he renounced all material advantages to devote the greater part of a long life to the study of alchemical philosophy in the seclusion of a cloister. When Albertus died, his fame descended to his "sainted pupil" Aquinas, who in his Thesaurus Alchimae, speaks openly of the successes of Albertus and himself in the art of transmutation.
Raymond Lully is one of the medieval alchemists about whose life there is so much conflicting evidence that it is practically certain that his name was used as a cover by at least one other adept either at the same or a later period. The enormous output of writings attributed to Lully (they total about 486 treatises on a variety of subjects ranging from grammar and rhetoric to medicine and theology) also seems to suggest that his name became a popular pseudonym. Lully was born in Majorca about the year 1235, and after a somewhat dissolute youth, he was induced, apparently by the tragic termination of an unsuccessful love affair, to turn his thoughts to religion. He became imbued with a burning desire to spread the Hermetic teachings among the followers of Mohammed, and to this end devoted years to the study of Mohammedan writings, the better to refute the Moslem teachings. He traveled widely, not only in Europe, but in Asia and Africa, where his religious zeal nearly cost him his life on more than one occasion. Lully is said to have become acquainted with Arnold de Villanova and the Universal Science somewhat late in life, when his study of alchemy and the discovery of the Philosophers' Stone increased his former fame as a zealous Christian.
According to one story, his reputation eventually reached John Cremer, Abbot of Westminster at the time. After working at alchemy for thirty years, Cremer had still failed to achieve his aim, the Philosopher's Stone. Cremer therefore sought out Lully in Italy, and having gained his confidence, persuaded him to come to England, where he introduced him to King Edward II. Lully, being a great champion of Christendom, agreed to transmute base metals into gold on the condition that Edward carry on the Crusades with the money. He was given a room in the Tower of London for his work, and it is estimated that he transmuted 50,000 pounds worth of gold. After a time, however, Edward became avaricious, and to compel Lully to carry on the work of transmutation, made him prisoner. However, with Cremer's aid, Lully was able to escape from the Tower and return to the Continent. Records state that he lived to be one hundred and fifty years of age and was eventually killed by the Saracens in Asia. At that age he is reputed to have been able to run and jump like a young man.
During the fourteenth century, the science of alchemy fell into grave disrepute, for the alchemists claim to transmute metals offered great possibilities to any rogue with sufficient plausibility and lack of scruple to exploit the credulity or greed of his fellowmen. In fact, there proved to be no lack either of charlatans or victims. Rich merchants and others greedy for gain were induced to entrust to the alleged alchemists gold, silver, and precious stones in the hope of getting them multiplied, and Acts of Parliament were passed in England and Pope's Bulls issued over Christendom to forbid the practice of alchemy on pain of death. (Although Pope John XXII is said to have practiced the art himself and to have enriched the Vatican treasury by this means.) Before long, even the most earnest alchemists were disbelieved. For example, there lived about this time the two Isaacs Hollandus (a father and son), who were Dutch adepts and wrote De Triplici Ordinari Exiliris et Lapidis Theoria and Mineralia Opera Sue de Lapide Philosophico. The details of their operations on metals are the most explicit that had ever been given, yet because of their very lucidity, their work was widely discounted.
The English Alchemists
In England, the first known alchemist was Roger Bacon, who was a scholar of outstanding attainment. Born in Somersetshire in 1214, he made extraordinary progress even in his boyhood studies, and on reaching the required age joined the Franciscan Order. After graduating Oxford, he moved to Paris where he studied medicine and mathematics. On his return to England, he applied himself to the study of philosophy and languages with such success that he wrote grammars of the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew tongues.
Although Bacon has been described as a physician rather than an alchemist, we are indebted to him for many scientific discoveries. He was almost the only astronomer of his time, and in this capacity rectified the Julian calendar which, although submitted to Pope Clement IV in 1267, was not put into practice until a later papacy. He was responsible also for the physical analysis of convex glasses and lenses, the invention of spectacles and achromatic lenses, and for the theory of the telescope. As a student of chemistry, he called attention to the chemical role played by air in combustion, and having carefully studied the properties of saltpeter, taught its purification by dissolution in water and by crystallization.
Indeed, from his letters we learn that Bacon anticipated most of the achievements of modern science. He maintained that vessels might be constructed that would be capable of navigation without manual rowers, and which under the direction of a single man, could travel through the water at a speed hitherto undreamed of. He also predicted that it would be possible to construct cars that could be set in motion with amazing speeds ("independently of horses and other animals") and also flying machines that would beat the air with artificial wings.
It is scarcely surprising that in the atmosphere of superstition and ignorance that reigned in Europe during the Middle Ages, Bacon's achievements were attributed to his communication with devils. His fame spread through western Europe not as a savant but as a great magician. His great services to humanity were met with censure, not gratitude, and to the Church his teachings seemed particularly pernicious. The Church took her place as one of his foremost adversaries, and even the friars of his own order refused his writings a place in their library. His persecutions culminated in 1279 in imprisonment and a forced repentance of his labors in the cause of art and science.
Among his many writings, there are two or three works on alchemy, from which it is quite evident that not only did he study and practice the science but that he obtained his final objective, the Philosopher's Stone. Doubtless during his lifetime, his persecutions led him to conceal carefully his practice of the Hermetic art and to consider the revelation of such matters unfit for the uninitiated. "Truth," he wrote, "ought not to be shown to every ribald person, for then it would become most vile that which, in the hand of a philosopher, is the most precious of all things."
Sir George Ripley, Canon of Bridlington Cathedral in Yorkshire, placed alchemy on a higher level than many of his contemporaries by dealing with it as a spiritual and not merely a physical manifestation. He maintained that alchemy is concerned with the mode of our spirit's return to the God who gave it to us. He wrote in 1471 his Compound of Alchemy with its dedicatory epistle to King Edward IV. It is also reported in the Canon of Bridlington that he provided funds for the Knights of St. John by means of the Philosopher's Stone he concocted.
In the sixteenth century, Pierce the Black Monk, wrote the following about the Elixir: "Take earth of Earth, Earth's Mother (Water of Earth), Fire of Earth, and Water of the Wood. These are to lie together and then be parted. Alchemical gold is made of three pure soul, as purged as crystal. Body, seat, and spirit grow into a Stone, wherein there is no corruption. This is to be cast on Mercury and it shall become most worthy gold." Other works of the sixteenth century include Thomas Charnock's Breviary of Philosophy and Enigma published in 1572. He also wrote a memorandum in which he states that he attained the transmuting powder when his hairs were white with age.
Also in the sixteenth century lived Edward Kelly, born in 1555. He seems to have been an adventurer of sorts and lost his ears at Lancaster on an accusation of producing forged title deeds. Dr. John Dee, a widely respected and learned man of the Elizabethan era, was very interested in Kelly's clairvoyant visions, although it is difficult to determine whether Kelly really was a genuine seer since his life was such an extraordinary mixture of good and bad character. In some way or other, Kelly does appear to have come into possession of the Red and White Tinctures. Elias Ashmole printed at the end of Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum a tract entitled Sir Edward Kelly's Work that says: "It is generally reported that Doctor Dee and Sir Edward Kelly were so strangely fortunate as to find a very Iarge quantity of the Elixir in some part of the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, which was so incredibly rich in virtue (being one in 272,330), that they lost much in making projection by way of trial before they finally found out the true height of the medicine."
In March 1583, a prince of Poland, the Count Palatine of Siradia, Adalbert Alask, while visiting the Court of Queen Elizabeth, sought to meet with Dr. Dee to discuss his experiments, of which he became so convinced that he asked Dee and Kelly and their families to accompany him on his return to Cracow. The prince took them from Cracow to Prague in anticipation of favors at the hand of Emperor Rudolph II, but their attempt to get into touch with Rudolph was unsuccessful. In Prague at that time there was a great interest in alchemy, but in 1586, by reason of an edict of Pope Sixtus V, Dee and Kelly were forced to flee the city. They finally found peace and plenty at the Castle of Trebona in Bohemia as guests of Count Rosenberg, the Emperor's Viceroy in that country. During that time Kelly made projection of one minim on an ounce and a quarter of mercury and produced nearly an ounce of the best gold.
In February 1588, the two men parted ways, Dee making for England and Kelly for Prague, where Rosenberg had persuaded the Emperor to quash the Papal decree. Through the introduction of Rosenberg, Kelly was received and honored by Rudolph as one in possession of the Great Secret of Alchemy. From him he received besides a grant of land and the freedom of the city, a position of state and apparently a title, since he was known from that time forward as Sir Edward Kelly. These honors are evidence that Kelly had undoubtedly demonstrated to the Emperor his knowledge of transmutation, but the powder of projection had now diminished, and to the Emperor's command to produce it in ample quantities, he failed to accede, being either unable or unwilling to do so. As a result, Kelly was cast into prison at the Castle of Purglitz near Prague where he remained until 1591 when he was restored to favor. He was interned a second time, however, and in 1595, according to chronicles, and while attempting to escape from his prison, fell from a considerable height and was killed at the age of forty.
In the seventeenth century lived Thomas Vaughan, who used the pseudonym "Eugenius Philasthes" (and possibly "Eireneus Philalethes" as well) and wrote dozens of influential treatises on alchemy. Among Vaughan's most noteworthy books are An Open Entrance to the Shut Palace of the King, Ripley Revived, The Marrow of Alchemy, Metallorum Metamorphosis, Brevis Manuductio ad Rubinem Coelestum, Fone Chemicae Veritatis, and others to be found in the Musaeum Hermiticum. Vaughan came from Wales and his writings were regarded as an illustration of the spiritual approach to alchemy. Yet whatever the various interpretations put upon his work, Vaughan was undoubtedly endeavoring to show that alchemy was demonstrable, in every phase of physical, mental, and spiritual reality. His work Lumen de Lumine is an alchemical discourse that deals with those three aspects. His medicine is a spiritual substance inasmuch as it is the Quintessence or the Divine Life manifesting through all form, both physical and spiritual. His gold is the gold of the physical world as well as the wisdom of the spiritual world. His Stone is the touchstone that transmutes everything and is again both spiritual and physical. For instance, his statement "the Medicine can only be contained in a glass vessel" signifies a tangible glass container as well the purified body of the adept.
Thomas Vaughan was a Magus of the Rosicrucian Order, and he knew and understood that the science of alchemy must manifest throughout all planes of consciousness. Writing as Eireneus Philalethes in the preface to the An Open Entrance from the Collectanea Chymica (published by William Cooper in 1684), Vaughan says: "I being an adept anonymous, a lover of learning, and philosopher, decreed to write this little treatise of medicinal, chemical, and physical secrets in the year of he world's redemption 1645, in the three and twentieth year of my life, that I may pay my duty to the Sons of the Art, that I might appear to other adepts as their brother and equal. Therefore I presage that not a few will be enlightened by these my labors. These are no fables, but real experiments that I have made and know, as every other adept will conclude by these lines. In truth, many times I laid aside my pen, deciding to forbear from writing, being rather willing to have concealed the truth under a mask of envy. But God compelled me to write, and Him I could in no wise resist who alone knows the heart and unto whom be glory forever. I believe that many in this last age of the world will be rejoiced with the Great Secret, because I have written so faithfully, leaving of my own will nothing in doubt for a young beginner. I known many already who possess it in common with myself and are persuaded that I shall yet be acquainted in the immediate time to come. May God's most holy will be done therein. I acknowledge myself totally unworthy of bringing those things about, but in such matters I submit in adoration to Him, to whom all creation is subject, who created All to this end, and having created, preserves them."
He then goes on to give an account of the transmutation of base metals into silver and gold, and he gives examples of how the Medicine, administered to some at the point of death, affected their miraculous recovery. Of another occasion he writes: "On a time in a foreign country, I could have sold much pure alchemical silver (worth 600 pounds), but the buyers said unto me presently that they could see the metal was made by Art. When I asked their reasons, they answered: 'We know the silver that comes from England, Spain, and other places, but this is none of these kinds.' On hearing this I withdrew suddenly, leaving the silver behind me, along with the money, and never returning."
Again he remarks: "I have made the Stone. I do not possess it by theft but by the gift of God. I have made it and daily have it in my power, having formed it often with my own hands. I write the things that I know."
In the last chapter of the Open Entrance is his message to those who have attained the goal. "He who hath once, by the blessing of God, perfectly attained this Art," says Vaughan, "I know not what in the world he can wish but that he may be free from all the snares of wicked men, so as to serve God without distraction. But it would be a vain thing by outward pomp to seek for vulgar applause. Such trifles are not esteemed by those who truly have this Art -- nay, rather they despise them. He therefore whom God has blessed with this talent behaves thus. First, if he should live a thousand years and everyday provide for a thousand men, he could not want, for he may increase his Stone at his pleasure, both in weight and virtue so that if a man would, one man might transmute into perfect gold and silver all the imperfect metals that are in the whole world. Secondly, he may by this Art make precious stones and gems, such as cannot be paralleled in Nature for goodness and greatness. Thirdly and lastly, he has a Medicine Universal, both for prolonging life and curing all diseases, so that one true adept can easily cure all the sick people in the world. I mean his Medicine is sufficient. Now to the King, eternal, immortal and sole mighty, be everlasting praise for these His unspeakable gifts and invaluable treasures. Whosoever enjoys his talent, let him be sure to employ it to the glory of God and the good of his neighbors, lest he be found ungrateful to the Source that has blessed him with so great a talent and be in the last found guilty of disproving it and so condemned."
From England, there is also the story of a transmutation performed before King Gustavus Adolphus in 1620, the gold of which was coined into medals, bearing the king's effigy with the reverse Mercury and Venus; and of another at Berlin before the King of Prussia.
In the same century, Alexander Seton, a Scot, suffered indescribable torments for his knowledge of the art of transmutation. After practicing in his own country he went abroad, where he demonstrated his transmutations before men of good repute and integrity in Holland, Hamburg, Italy, Basle, Strasbourg, Cologne, and Munich. He was finally summoned to appear before the young Elector of Saxony, to whose court he went somewhat reluctantly. The Elector, on receiving proof of the authenticity of his projections, treated him with distinction, convinced that Seton held the secret of boundless wealth. But Seton refused to initiate the Elector into his secret and was imprisoned in Dresden. As his imprisonment could not shake his resolve, he was put to torture. He was pierced, racked, beaten, scarred with fire and molten lead, but still he held his peace. At length he was left in solitary confinement, until his escape was finally engineered by the Polish adept Sendivogius. Even to this dear friend, he refused to reveal the secret until shortly before his death. Two years after his escape from prison, he presented Sendivogius with his transmuting powder.
Alchemy in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
The first man to teach the chemistry of the human body and to declare that the true purpose of alchemy was the preparation of medicine for the treatment of disease was one Jean Baptista Van Helmont, a disciple of Paracelsus. Van Helmont has been called the "Descartes of Medicine" for his probing philosophical discourses. But he was also an accomplished alchemist. In his treatise, De Natura Vitae Eternae, he wrote: "I have seen and I have touched the Philosopher's Stone more than once. The color of it was like saffron in powder but heavy and shining like pounded glass. I had once given me the fourth of a grain, and I made projection with this fourth part of a grain wrapped in paper upon eight ounces of quicksilver heated in a crucible. The result of the projection was eight ounces, lacking just eleven grains, of the most pure gold."
In his early thirties, Van Helmont retired to an old castle in Belgium near Brussels and remained there, almost unknown to his neighbors until his death in his sixty-seventh year. He never professed to have actually prepared the Philosopher's Stone, but he say he gained his knowledge from alchemists he contacted during his years of research.
Van Helmont also gives particulars of an Irish gentleman called Butler, a prisoner in the Castle of Vilvord in Flanders, who during his captivity performed strange cures by means of Hermetic medicine. The news of his cure of a Breton monk, a fellow-prisoner suffering from severe erysipelas, by the administration of almond milk in which he had merely dipped the Philosopher's Stone brought Van Helmont, accompanied by several noblemen, rushing to the castle to investigate. In their presence Butler cured an aged woman of "megrim" by dipping the Stone into olive oil and then anointing her head. There was also an abbess who had suffered for eighteen years with paralyzed fingers and a swollen arm. These disabilities were removed by applying the Stone a few times to her tongue.
In Lives of the Alchemystical Philosophers (published in 1815), it is stated that prior to the events at Vilvord, Butler attracted some attention by his transmutations in London during the reign of King James I. Butler is said to have gained his knowledge in Arabia in a rather roundabout way. When a ship on which he had taken passage was captured by African pirates, he was taken prisoner and sold into slavery in Arabia. His Arab master was an alchemist with knowledge of the correct order of the processes. Butler assisted him in some of his operations, and when he later escaped from captivity, he carried off a large portion of a red powder, which was the alchemical Powder of Projection.
Dennis Zachare in his memoirs gives an interesting account of his pursuit of the Philosopher's Stone during this period. At the age of twenty, he set out to Bordeaux to undertake a college curriculum, and hence to Toulouse for a-course of law. In this town, he made the acquaintance of some students in possession of a number of alchemical books. It seems that at this time there was a craze for alchemical experiments among the students of Paris and other French towns, and this craze caught Zachare's imagination. His law studies were forsaken and his experiments in alchemy began. On his parents' death, having expended all his money on his new love, he returned home and from their estate raised further money to continue his research. For ten years, according to his own statement, after experiments of all sorts and meetings with countless men with various methods to sell, he finally sat down himself to study carefully the writings of the philosophers on the subject. He states that it was Raymond Lully's Testament, Codicil, and Epistle (addressed to King Robert) that gave him the key to the secret. From the study of this book and The Grand Rosary of Arnold de Villanova, he formulated a plan entirely different from any he had previously followed. After another fifteen months of toil, he says "I beheld with transport the evolution of the three successive colors that testify to the True Work. It came finally at Eastertide. I made a projection of my divine powder on quicksilver, and in less than an hour it was converted into fine gold. God knows how joyful I was, how I thanked Him for this great grace and favor and prayed for His Holy Spirit to pour yet more light upon me that I might use what I had already attained only to His praise and honor." In his only writing (titled Opusculum Chemicum), Zachare gives his own personal narrative and states that the Great Art is the gift of God alone. The methods and possibilities of the transmutation of metals and the Elixir as a medicine are also considered.
There is also the evidence of John Frederick Helvetius, as he testified in 1666. He made claim to be an adept, but admitted he received the Powder of Transmutation from another alchemist. He wrote: "On December 27th, 1666, in the forenoon, there came a certain man to my house who was unto me a complete stranger, but of an honest, grave and authoritative mien, clothed in a simple garb like that of a Memnonite. He was of middle height, his face was long and slightly pock-marked, his hair was black and straight, his chin close-shaven, his age about forty-three or forty-four, and his native place North Holland, so far as I could make out. After we had exchanged salutations, he inquired whether he might have some conversation with me. It was his idea to speak of the 'Pyrotechnic Art,' since he had read one of my tracts, being that directed against the Sympathetic Powder of Sir Kenelm Digby, in which I implied a suspicion whether the Great Arcanum of the Sages was not after all a gigantic hoax. He took therefore this opportunity of asking if indeed I could not believe that such a Grand Mystery might exist in the nature of things, being that by which a physician could restore any patient whose vitals were not irreparably destroyed. My answer allowed that such a Medicine would be a most desirable acquisition for any doctor and that none might tell how many secrets there may be hidden in Nature, but that as for me -- though I had read much on the truth of this Art -- it had never been my fortune to meet with a master of alchemical science. I inquired further whether he was himself a medical man since he spoke.so learnedly about medicine, but he disclaimed my suggestion modestly, describing himself as a blacksmith, who had always taken great interest in the extraction of medicines from metals by means of fire.
"After some further talk the 'craftsman Elias' -- for so he called himself -- addressed me thus: 'Seeing that you have read so much in the writings of the alchemists concerning the Stone, its substance, color, and its wonderful effects, may I be allowed to question whether you have yourself prepared it?'
"On my answering him in the negative, he took from his bag an ivory box of cunning workmanship in which there were three large pieces of a substance resembling glass or pale sulfur and informed me that here was enough of his tincture there to produce twenty tons of gold. When I held the treasure in my hands for some fifteen minutes listening to his accounting of its curative properties, I was compelled to return it (not without a certain degree of reluctance). After thanking him for his kindness, I asked why it was that his tincture did not display that ruby color that I had been taught to regard as characteristic of the Philosophers' Stone. He replied that the color made no difference and that the substance was sufficiently mature for all practical purposes. He brusquely refused my request for a piece of the substance, were it no larger than a coriander seed, adding in a milder tone that he could not do so for all the wealth which I possessed; not indeed on amount of its preciousness but for another reason that it was not lawful to divulge, Indeed, if fire could be destroyed by fire, he would cast it rather into the flames.
"Then, after some consideration, he asked whether I could not show him into a room at the back of the house, where we should be less liable to observation. Having led him into the parlor, he requested me to produce a gold coin, and while I was finding it he took from his breast pocket a green silk handkerchief wrapped about five gold medals, the metal of which was infinitely superior to that of my own money. Being filled with admiration, I asked my visitor how he had attained this most wonderful knowledge in the world, to which he replied that it was a gift bestowed upon him freely by a friend who had stayed a few days at his house, and who had taught him also how to change common flints and crystals into stones more precious than rubies and sapphires. 'He made known to me further," said the craftsman, 'the preparation of crocus of iron, an infallible cure for dysentery and of a metallic liquor, which was an efficacious remedy for dropsy, and of other medicines.' To this, however, I paid no great heed as I was impatient to hear about the Great Secret. The craftsman said further that his master caused him to bring a glass full of warm water to which he added a little white powder and then an ounce of silver, which melted like ice therein. 'Of this he emptied one half and gave the rest to me,' the craftsman related. 'Its taste resembled that of fresh milk, and the effect was most exhilarating.'
"I asked my visitor whether the potion was a preparation of the Philosophers' Stone, but he replied that I must not be so curious. He added presently that at the bidding of his master, he took down a piece of lead water-pipe and melted it in a pot. Then the master removed some sulfurous powder on the point of a knife from a little box, cast it into the molten lead, and after exposing the compound for a short time to a fierce fire, he poured forth a great mass of liquid gold upon the brick floor of the kitchen. The master told me to take one-sixteenth of this gold as a keepsake for myself and distribute the rest among the poor (which I did by handing over a large sum in trust for the Church of Sparrendaur). Before bidding me farewell, my friend taught me this Divine Art.'
"When my strange visitor concluded his narrative, I pleaded with him to prove his story by performing a transmutation in my presence. He answered that he could not do so on that occasion but that he would return in three weeks, and, if then at liberty, would do so. He returned punctually on the promised day and invited me to take a walk, in the course of which we spoke profoundly on the secrets of Nature he had found in fire, though I noticed that my companion was exceedingly reserved on the subject of the Great Secret. When I prayed him to entrust me with a morsel of his precious Stone, were it no larger than a grape seed, he handed it over like a princely donation. When I expressed a doubt whether it would be sufficient to tinge more than four grains of lead, he eagerly demanded it back. I complied, hoping that he would exchange it for a larger fragment, instead of which he divided it with his thumbnail, threw half in the fire and returned the rest, saying 'It is yet sufficient for you."
The narrative goes on to state that on the next day Helvetius prepared six drachms of lead, melted it in a crucible, and cast in the tincture. There was a hissing sound and a slight effervescence, and after fifteen minutes, Helvetius found that the lead had been transformed into the finest gold, which on cooling, glittered and shone as gold indeed. A goldsmith to whom he took this declared it to be the purest gold that he had ever seen and offered to buy it at fifty florins per ounce. Amongst others, the Controller of the Mint came to examine the gold and asked that a small part might be placed at his disposal for examination. Being put through the tests with aqua fortis and antimony it was pronounced pure gold of the finest quality. Helvetius adds in a later part of his writing that there was left in his heart by the craftsman a deeply seated conviction that "through metals and out of metals, themselves purified by highly refined and spiritualized metals, there may be prepared the Living Gold and Quicksilver of the Sages, which bring both metals and human bodies to perfection."
In Helvetius' writing there is also the testimony of another person by the name of Kuffle and of his conversion to a belief in alchemy that was the result of an experiment that he had been able to perform himself. However, there is no indication of the source from which he obtained his powder of projection. Secondly, there is an account of a silversmith named "Grit," who in the year 1664, at the city of the Hague, converted a pound of lead partly into gold and partly into silver, using a tincture he received from a man named John Caspar Knoettner. This projection was made in the presence of many witnesses and Helvetius himself examined the precious metals obtained from the operation.
In 1710, Sigmund Richter published his Perfect and True Preparation of the Philosophical Stone under the auspices of the Rosicrucians. Another representative of the Rosy Cross was the mysterious Lascaris, a descendant of the royal house of Lascaris, an old Byzantine family who spread the knowledge of the Hermetic art in Germany during the eighteenth century. Lascaris affirmed that when unbelievers beheld the amazing virtues of the Stone, they would no longer be able to regard alchemy as a delusive art. He appears to have performed transmutations in different parts of Germany but then disappeared and was never heard from again.
Our Debt to the Alchemists (by Reginald Merton)
If there were any of the alchemists who discovered the mineral agent of transformation, fewer still were able to find its application to the human body. Only a very few adepts knew of the essential agent, the sublime heat of the soul, which fuses the emotions, consumes the prison of leaden form and allows entry into the higher world. Raymond Lully made gold for the King of England. George Ripley gave a hundred thousand pounds of alchemical gold to the Knights of Rhodes, when they were attacked by the Turks. Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden had an enormous number of gold pieces coined that were marked with a special mark because they were of "Hermetic origin." They had been made by an unknown man under the protection of the king, who was found at his death to possess a considerable quantity of gold. In 1580, the Elector Augustus of Saxony, who was an alchemist, left a fortune equivalent to seventeen million dollars. The source of the fortune of Pope John XXII, whose residence was Avignon and whose revenues were small, must be ascribed to alchemy (at his death there were in his treasury twenty-five million florins). This must be concluded also in the case of the eighty-four quintals of gold possessed in 1680 by Rudolph II of Germany.
The learned chemist Van Helmont and the doctor Helvetius, who were both skeptics with regard to the Philosopher's Stone and had even published books against it, were converted as a result of an identical adventure which befell them. An unknown man visited them and gave them a small quantity of projection powder; he asked them not to perform the transmutation until after his departure and then only with apparatus prepared by themselves, in order to avoid all possibility of fraud. The grain of powder given to Van Helmont was so minute that he smiled sarcastically; the unknown man smiled also and took back half of it, saying that what was left was enough to make a large quantity of gold. Both Van Helmont's and Helvetius' experiments were successful, and both men became acknowledged believers in alchemy. Van Helmont became the greatest "chemist" of his day. If we do not hear nowadays that Madame Curie has had a mysterious visitor who gave her a little powder " the color of the wild poppy and smelling of calcined sea salt," the reason may be that the secret is indeed lost; or, possibly, now that alchemists are no longer persecuted or burnt, it may be that they no longer need the favorable judgment of those in official power.
Until the end of the eighteenth century, it was customary to hang alchemists dressed in a grotesque gold robe on gilded gallows. If they escaped this punishment they were usually imprisoned by barons or kings, who either compelled them to make gold or extorted their secret from them in exchange for their liberty. Often they were left to starve in prison. Sometimes they were roasted by inches or had their limbs slowly broken. For when gold is the prize, religion and morality are thrown to the side and human laws set at naught. This is what happened to Alexander Sethon, called "the Cosmopolitan." He had had the wisdom to hide all his life and avoid the company of the powerful and was a truly wise man. However, marriage was his downfall. In order to please his ambitious wife, who was young and beautiful, he yielded to the invitation extended him by the Elector of Saxony, Christian II, to come to his court. Since Sethon was unwilling to disclose the secret of the Philosopher's Stone, which he had long possessed, he was scalded every day with molten lead, beaten with rods and punctured with needles till he died.
The famous alchemists Michael Sendivogius, Botticher, and Paykull all spent part of their lives in prison, and many men suffered death for no other crime than the study of alchemy. If a great number of these seekers were impelled by ambition or if there were among them charlatans and impostors, it does not diminish the fact that a great many of them cherished a genuine ideal of moral development. In any event, their work in the domain of physics and chemistry formed a solid basis for the few wretched fragmentary scraps of knowledge that are called modern science and are cause for great pride to a large number of ignorant men.
These "scientists" regard the alchemists as dreamers and fools, though every discovery of their infallible science is to be found in the "dreams and follies" of the alchemists. It is no longer a paradox, but a truth attested by recognized scientists themselves, that the few fragments of truth that our modern culture possesses are due to the pretended or genuine adepts who were hanged with a gilt dunce's cap on their heads. What is important is that not all of them saw in the Philosopher's Stone the mere vulgar, useless aim of making gold. A small number of them received, either through a master or through the silence of daily meditation, genuine higher truth. These were the men who, by having observed it in themselves, understood the symbolism of one of the most essential rules of alchemy: Use only one vessel, one fire, and one instrument. They knew the characteristics of the sole agent, of the Secret Fire, of the serpentine power which moves upwards in spirals -- of the great primitive force hidden in all matter, organic and inorganic -- which the Hindus call kundalini, a force that creates and destroys simultaneously. The alchemists calculated that the capacity for creation and the capacity for destruction were equal, that the possessor of the secret had power for evil as great as his power for good. And just as nobody trusts a child with a high explosive, so they kept the divine science to themselves, or, if they left a written account of the facts they had found, they always omitted the essential point, so that it could be understood only by someone who already knew.
Examples of such men were, in the seventeenth century, Thomas Vaughan (called Philalethes), and, in the eighteenth century, Lascaris. It is possible to form some idea of the lofty thought of Philalethes from his book Infroitus, but Lascaris has left us nothing. Little is known of their lives. Both of them wandered throughout Europe teaching those whom they considered worthy of being taught. They both made gold often but only for special reasons. They did not seek glory, but actually shunned it. They had knowledge enough to foresee persecution and avoid it. They had neither a permanent abode nor family. It is not even known when and where they died. It is probable that they attained the most highly developed state possible to man, that they accomplished the transmutation of their soul. In others words, while still living they were members of the spiritual world. They had regenerated their being, performed the task of mankind. They were twice born. They devoted themselves to helping their fellow men; this they did in the most useful way, which does not consist in healing the ills of the body or in improving men's physical state. They used a higher method, which in the first instance can be applied only to a small number, but eventually affects all of us. They helped the noblest minds to reach the goal that they had reached themselves. They sought such men in the towns through which they passed, and, generally, during their travels. They had no school and no regular teaching, because their teaching was on the border of the human and the divine. But they knew that a truthful word, a seed of gold sown at a certain time in a certain soul would bring results a thousand times greater than those that could accrue from the knowledge gained through books or ordinary science.
From the bottom of our hearts we ought to thank the modest men who held in their hands the magical Emerald Formula that makes a man master of the world, a formula which they took as much trouble to hide as they had taken to discover it. For however dazzling and bright the obverse of the alchemical medallion, its reverse is dark as night. The way of good is the same as the way of evil, and when a man has crossed the threshold of knowledge, he has more intelligence but no more capacity for love. For with knowledge comes pride, and egoism is created by the desire to uphold the development of qualities that he considers necessary. Through egoism he returns to the evil that he has tried to escape. Nature is full of traps, and the higher a man rises in the hierarchy of men, the more numerous and the better hidden are the traps.
Saint Anthony in his desert was surrounded by nothing but dreams. He stretched out his arms to grasp them, and if he did not succumb to temptation it was only because the phantoms vanished when he sought to seize them. But the living, almost immediately tangible reality of gold, which gives everything -- what superhuman strength would be necessary to resist it! That is what had to be weighed by the alchemical adepts who possessed the Triple Hermetic Truth. They had to remember those of their number who had failed and fallen to the wayside. And they had to ponder how apparently illogical and sad for mankind is the law by which the Tree of Wisdom is guarded by a serpent infinitely more powerful than the trickster serpent that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The Pineal Gland and the Biology of the Inner Light
The Biology of the Inner Light
Deep Meditation evokes pineal '___' release through EM vibrations (sound). During hypnagogic mind awake/body asleep state, visionary experience with symbolic, archetypal or religious content may give way to dazzling light of illumination, reported in eastern and western religions. Meditation modulates pineal activity, eliciting a standing wave through resonance effects that coordinates other brain centers with both chemical and electromagnetic and even quantum processes (see Penrose, "The Emporer's New Mind"). Resonance may be induced in the pineal gland using electric, magnetic, or sound energy, re-synchronizing both hemispheres of the brain, resulting in a chain of synergetic harmony that releases '___', an endogenous psychedelic, along with a variety of beneficial hormones, endorphins and neurotransmitters. The pineal contains high levels of enzymes and building-blocks for '___', which may be secreted when inhibitory processes cease blocking its production with other chemicals, such as beta-carbolines which magnify and prolong '___' effects. '___' is the source of visionary Light in transpersonal experiences. Its primary source, the pineal gland, has traditionally been referred to as the Third Eye. Curiously, this gland is light sensitive and actually has a lens, cornea, and retina. '___' production is particularly stimulated in the extraordinary conditions of birth, sexual ecstasy, childbirth, extreme physical stress, near-death, psychosis, and physical death, as well as in deep meditation and other altered states. Pineal '___' may also play a significant role in dream consciousness.
Meditative techniques using sound, sight, or focal awareness, may generate particular wave patterns whose fields induce resonance in the brain. Millennia of human trial and error have determined that certain ‘sacred’ words, visual images, and mental exercises exert uniquely desired effects, causing multiple systems to vibrate and pulse at certain frequencies. When our minds and bodies resonate with these spiritual exercises the pineal begins to ‘vibrate’ at frequencies that weaken its multiple barriers to '___' formation and release, while activating the production of a variety of beneficial hormones, endorphins and neurotransmitters.
The mind-body is an electronic and an eletromagnetic phenomenon, but it is rooted in the luminosity of its invisible ground. Living systems are very sensitive to tiny energy fields and resonance phenomena, both locally and at a distance. They allow the cells of the body to work together instantaneously and symphonically. All biological processes are a function of electromagnetic field interactions. EM fields are the connecting link between the world of form and resonant patterns. EM fields embody or store gestalts, patterns of information. Biochemical action and bioelectronic action meet at the quantum-junction.
We can return to Nature and our own nature, collectively preparing a paradigm shift for a new shared reality and trajectory of physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual coherence. The silent frictionless flow of living intelligence is beyond words and conceptual constructs. We are a process of recursive self-generation. This continuum, which is our groundstate or creative Source, is directly discoverable in the immediacy of the emergent embodied moment, in the living Light that generates our Being.
Illumination has been described as being blinded by the manifestation of God’s presence. This brightness has no relation to any visible light. Visionary experience, which has symbolic or religious content, may give way to this dazzling light, which is reported in eastern and western religions. No wonder it is called illumination, and it can confer a palpable glow to the person that is perceptible after the return to ordinary awareness.
Imagine suggesting that the body makes it own psychedelic drug! This is just what psychiatrist Rick Strassman contends in '___': The Spirit Molecule (2001). He asserts it is an active agent in a variety of altered states, including mystical experience. This chemical messenger links body and spirit. Pineal activation may awaken normally latent synthetic pathways. Meditation may modulate pineal activity, eliciting a standing wave through resonance effects that affects other brain centers with both chemical and electromagnetic coordination. Resonance can be induced in the pineal using electric, magnetic, or sound energy. Such harmonization resynchronizes both hemispheres of the brain. This may result in a chain of synergetic activity resulting in the production and release of hallucinogenic, as well as compounds beneficial to human health and regeneration.
If this is true, it is easy to see how much this mind-altering chemical could amplify all of the tendencies toward mystical apprehension originating in other parts of the brain, as we have described above. To explore his theory, Strassman conducted extensive testing, injecting volunteers with the powerful psychedelic, synthetic '___'. '___' is so powerful it is physically immobilizing, and produces a flood of unexpected and overwhelming visual and emotional imagery. Taking it is like an instantaneous '___' peak.
He suggests the mysterious pineal gland is implicated in the natural production of this mystic molecule, as metaphysical teachers have long claimed. The pineal has been called the spirit gland and may be the biological basis of spiritual experience. The only solitary, or unpaired gland in the brain may initiate and support a variety of altered states of consciousness.
The pineal is known to contain high levels of the enzymes and building-blocks for making '___', and it may be secreted when inhibitory processes cease blocking its production. It may even produce other chemicals, such as beta-carbolines that magnify and prolong its effects.
The pineal sits, well-protected in the deep recesses of the brain, bathed in cerebrospinal fluid by the ventricles, the fluid-filled cavities of the brain that feed it and remove waste. It emits its secretions to the strategically surrounding emotional, visual and auditory brain centers. It helps regulate body temperature and skin coloration. It secretes the hormone melatonin. Generally, after the more imaginative period of childhood, the pineal calcifies and diminishes.
Endogenous '___' is described as the source of visionary Light in transpersonal experiences. Its primary source, the pineal, has traditionally been referred to as the Third Eye. Curiously, this gland is light sensitive and actually has a lens, cornea, and retina.
'___' production is particularly stimulated, according to Strassman in the extraordinary conditions of birth, sexual ecstasy, childbirth, extreme physical stress, near-death, psychosis, and physical death, as well as meditation. Pineal '___' may also play a significant role in dream consciousness.
“All spiritual disciplines describe quite psychedelic accounts of the transformative or transpersonal experiences, whose attainment motivate their practice. Blinding white light, encounters with demonic and angelic entities, ecstatic emotions, timelessness, heavenly sounds, feelings of having died and being reborn, contacting a powerful and loving presence underlying all of reality—these experiences cut across all denominations. They also are characteristic of fully psychedelic '___' experience. How might meditation evoke the pineal '___' experience?”
“Meditative techniques using sound, sight, or the mind may generate particular wave patterns whose fields induce resonance in the brain. Millennia of human trial and error have determined that certain ‘sacred’ worlds, visual images, and mental exercises exert uniquely desired effects. Such effects may occur because of the specific fields they generate within the brain. These fields cause multiple systems to vibrate and pulse at certain frequencies. We can feel or minds and bodies resonate with these spiritual exercises. Of course, the pineal gland also is buzzing at these same frequencies. The pineal then begins to ‘vibrate’ at frequencies that weaken its multiple barriers to '___' formation.” (Strassman).
Become Your Own Technoshaman
Want to take an active role in your own spiritual life, a safe and easy mind trip? Would you like to glimpse some of the experiences outlined here? Or even just get the mental health benefits of deep relaxation and increased inner focus? Intimidated by the prospect of spending 15 to 20 years learning to meditate to attain life-enhancing benefits?
Haven’t had a near-death experience and don’t want one? Too busy to devote your life to alchemy, or spend endless years in transpersonal therapies, or too afraid to allow a “mad scientist” to zap your brain with EM frequencies, hook your brain up to a high-tech scanning machine, or inject you with psychedelic substances?
Modern technology offers an easy, “passive” alternative. Anyone can employ a safe and easy technique that automatically puts you in the “zone.” A form of “yogatronics” is available using a simple CD and headphones with input from subsonic frequencies. This audio technology creates a harmonization of the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and automatically drives the brain harmlessly into the Alpha or Theta brainwave range.
This resonance phenomenon, a form of entrainment, is called the frequency-following response, or binaural beat technology. Entrainment is the process of synchronization, where vibrations of one object will cause another to oscillate at the same rate. It works by embedding two different tones in a stereo background. Continuous tones of subtlely different frequencies (such as 100 and 108 cycles per second) are delivered to each ear independently via stereo headphones. The tones combine in a pulsing “wah wah” tone.
External rhythms can have a direct effect on the psychology and physiology of the listener. The brain effortlessly begins resonating at the same rate as the difference between the two tones, ideally in the 4-13 Hz. (Theta and Alpha) range for meditation. All you have to do is sit quietly and put on the headphones. The brain automatically responds to certain frequencies, behaving like a resonator.
You may not become immediately enlightened, but hemispheric synchronization helps with a whole host of problems stemming from abnormal hemispheric asymmetries. Problems, often resulting from stress or abuse in early life, include REM sleep problems, narcissism, addictive and self-defeating behaviors. Communication between hemispheres correlates with flashes of insight, wisdom and creativity.
Split brain experiments have shown we are of “two minds” -- one rational, linear, time-bound, and cognitive while the other is emotional, holistic, intuitive, artistic. Even when we know what we should do we do what we want. The main distinction is between thinking and feeling, objective analysis and subjective insight. Each half has its own way of knowing about our being and perceiving external reality. Either mode can lead or follow, or conflict, keeping knowledge such as traumatic memories, from the other.
The hemispheres are meant to work in concert with one another. Interactive hemispheric feedback is used to treat disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, ADD, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and a host of other dysfunctions. Disorders of under-arousal include depression, attention-deficit disorder (ADD), chronic pain and insomnia. Overarousal includes anxiety disorders, problems getting to sleep, nightmares, ADHD, hypervigilance, impulsive behavior, anger/aggression, agitated depression, chronic nerve pain, and spasticity.
Because the brain is functionally “plastic” in nature, creating and exercising new neural pathways can retrain neural circuitry. In binaurl beat brainwave entrainment meditation, the halves of the brain become synchronized and exhibit nearly identical patterns of large, slow brainwaves. Rhythmic pulses can modulate collective neuronal synchrony. Then, both lobes automatically play in concert.
Rhythm regulates the entire spectrum of activation and arousal by kindling, or pulling more and more parts of the brain into the process. Disorders related to under- and over- arousal, including attentional and emotional problems, can be stabilized by self-organizing restructuring. Depressions, anxiety, worry, fear, and panic can be moderated. Stimulating neglected neural circuitry creates new pathways, improving equilibrium and long-term change, essentially “tuning” the nervous system.
'___' The Spirit Molecule 1/5
The Egyptian Connection (MUST SEE! - jump to 4:30 in particular..)
'___' The Spirit Molecule 1/5
Steps in Alchemy
Every spiritual system has its steps or phases of development. The Qabalist has his guide in the fruits and the paths of the "Tree of Life." Mahayana Buddhism teaches its adherents the various "bhumis," or "grounds" that has to be passed; other traditions such as Sufism and Yoga similarly have designated the rungs of the spiritual ladder. The 33 degrees of Freemasonry has its prototype in the vetebrae of the human spine. Kundalini is supposed to climb 33 rungs before she is crowned in the sahasrara chakra. The Patriarch Jacob was shown in a vision how to climb that spiritual ladder. In Alchemy, teachings differ as to the number of stages required; some adepts propound 5, 7, 9, 12, or even 14 steps. We choose to deal briefly with the following seven steps:
Sanctification is the act of consecration, of rendering holy an object; or in the case of the spiritual path, the act of committing or consecrating one's life to an occult, esoteric purpose and objective. This step is undertaken when one, like Kaspar or Melchior, who saw the Star, and was determined to follow it despite obstacles, obstructions and hindrances. Psychologically, the determination to follow and see a project to its ultimate conclusion can be said to be an expression of sanctification.
Sanctification is an initiation which offers a test of one's sincerity, of being true to one's Self, to one's principles, and to the vows undertaken at the time of sanctification, which may or may not be in the form of a mystical ceremony. Once a person is sanctified, the eyes of the spiritual hierarchy are focused upon him, guiding, guarding, inspiring, and strengthening his newly-born Christ mind, as symbolised by the Nativity. Every step of the Way brightens the aura of the alchemist, expanding his consciousness and mind to greater frontiers, to greater realities; he develops a keener sense of awareness, comprehension, and appreciation of cosmic verities. The alchemist sanctifying his life never cease to disperse from his four lower bodies the heavy particles that bind him down to mortality and limitation; and incorporating within his principles the atoms of an ethereal nature, conducive to his functioning in higher planes of consciousness.
Purification is the result of the diet, the spiritual discipline which the alchemist undertakes. By strict adherence to the laws of a spiritual ethical code, the process of purification goes underway. Purification is processed under three principles:
1) The raising of the vibratory rates of the atomic structures and atoms within the lower components of Man.
2) The dispersion of foul matter and toxins which corrupts the sheaths.
3) The prevention of the accretion of heavy atoms which densifies the sheaths and entombs the soul.
In esoteric Christianity, purification is represented by the Baptism. The soul being washed in the fluids of the Cosmic Sea, gradually changes its garments into Christ substance, and emerges into a new world of Light. The first Adam donned clothes of skin, the last Adam dons the apparel of the spiritual body. Purification is an on-going process. It never ceases as evolution never halts to the point of non-progression.
Impurity in Man results in a negative attitude and behaviour-pattern, a "tamasic" expression that makes a man sluggish in his ways. Records of karmic sins lodge in the heart seed atom and in the four lower principles. To the clairvoyant eye, these are seen as blackish-grayish clouds resembling the pollution emanating from an industrial center. The alchemist purifies and purges these astral, physical, and mental toxins from his system by living in harmony with the Tao, and by undertaking spiritual exercises designed to cleanse his being. It is the dark substances that prevents man's union with God, and with the freedom to function in higher planes of consciousness. Love, Life, and Light are detergents that washes and baptizes the soul in the River Jordon. Such divine qualities should be allowed to unfold within one's nature.
All things go through the change called "death," which is really a transformation into a new state of expression.Only forms change. The energy ensouling the form, or which gave form its expression can never be destroyed or annihilated. Molecules may break from its mass, atoms may disunite from one another and explode into a shower of electrons, but with all of this apparent destruction of identity, a law so profound operates which gives birth to a new being arising from the ashes of the old.
Putrefaction is an intensification of the process already commenced in the previous steps. Astral and mental toxins are dispersed from the spiritual structure of Man by the cleansing force, the Holy Fire, and disintegrating and decomposing the effluvia of the lower realms parasiting upon Man's fears and ignorance, making it possible for the laying of the foundations for the transmutation of tomb into temple. Like the Freemason, the alchemist has to construct a temple not made with hands; a temple worthy enough for the occupation and operation of the Ego.
In this putrefying stage, the alchemist resembles a cocoon who works upon itself internally; habitual thoughts and emotions that are not of an Ascended Master quality are decomposed and released into the Cosmic "incinerator."
The principle of change is symbolised by the Transfiguration of Jesus. Elijah representing Fire, and Moses--Water, are the wisdom and love aspects of buddhi that impregnates and fertilizes the Seed of Gold within Man.
Focus upon the solar principle, God's living fire, is a sure method of burning the dross, the dispersal of impurities, and the transmutation of tamas-rajasic metals of man's principles into qualities of gold. Fire quickens the buddhic seed within our being, awakening it into activity; Water purifies the seed giving it freedom to grow, and nourishing it at the same time. It is said that "putrefaction is the principle KEY to the process of the Transmutation." It is the agent which accelerates growth. The momentum is increased at each succeeding step of the way.
After undergoing the previous stage of putrefaction, one then undergoes fermentation, which is represented in Christian mysticism by the Passion, the agony of Jesus at Getsamene. Mystics of the Christian tradition call this spiritual condition, "the Dark Night of the Soul."
Chemically, fermentation is the breaking up of complex compounds, changing it into other structures with the aid of an agent such as yeast. Psychologically, it is a time of intense psychic activity where doubts assail one's deepest convictions and beliefs to their very root.
A man never knows the stuff he is made of until tried and tested by life and his rebounding karma. When man becomes "fixed" in his attitudes and outlook, denying the possibilities of soul-culture and development, when he gets complacent concerning his place in the scale of evolution and refuses to budge further, then Nature comes to the rescue acting as yeast would do in initiating a forced change in a compound, which in this case, is the complex being called Man. This forced change comes in the form of tests and trials; and all of his previous beliefs and misconceptions are analyzed as to their purported value in sustaining his equilibrium, saneness, and comprehension of life.
Students of Alchemy are advised by adepts to volatilize that which is "fixed" and to stabilize that which is volatized. Esoterically, this implies that one has to liberate one's self from all delusions, glamour, illusions, and the ignorance of not knowing; to shift one's focus from the unreal to the Real, and to live in eternity and Truth.
This activity of conversion, or "renewing of the mind," is the result of fermentation, and it is usually undertaken under the supervision of an adept-master who introduces the "natural state," or the "Clear Light" to the initiate when judged to be ready.
After experiencing the "Dark Night of the Soul" of the previous step, the alchemist is faced with a greater test, that of the "Dark Night of the Spirit," where one feels forsaken and cut-off from one's source of being, from the encouragement, inspiration, and support from one's teachers and loved ones. Accumulated karma of past embodiments returns in full force with apparently no mercy, but by remembering that God does not give more trials than Man can bear, the alchemist-initiate makes it through like Old Job.
In the state of crucifixion, which symbolizes combustion, the emotions and mind on their respective planes are literally on fire, or conflagration. One overcomes this period by being self reliant, dependent upon one's own resources. Although apparently neglected, the suffering initiate is never alone.
Combustion causes a reaction, an upheaval in Man's soul, which is accompanied by bliss and pain, symbolised by light and heat. Jesus expressed this paradoxical state when on one hand with agony he cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34), and on the other, after recognizing his error in presuming separation, with total surrender he entered the blissful state by decreeing to the Supreme One that is supposed to have left him: "Father, into thy hands I command my spirit" (Luke 23:46).
What causes combustion, alchemically speaking, is God's all-consuming fire. With its descent upon one's psyche, the intensity of the Light temporary induces spiritual blindness, causing the delusion that darkness had fallen upon the soul. While surrounded by Light, one gropes around in seeming darkness. With the descent of Divine Fire, a conflagration is begun in the emotions and mind, generating pain and agony, which is later subdued by being accustomed to God's face. It is said that no one sees the face of God and live; what perishes are the last remnants of the false ego, and the active identification with the carnal self. Man dies to his lower self but lives in the glory of his greater Self.
The presence of fire prepares one for the next stage of regeneration, with which it plays a vital role. Combustion is the baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost as promised by John the Harbinger. From the esoteric anatomical perspective, combustion is triggered by kundalinic activity. As the fiery serpent ascends in sushumna, sensations of heat, "cold heat," is felt along the spine.
All religions fundamentally, are concerned with regenerating Man, in laying the foundations for the regenerative process to proceed. It is the esoteric side of religion that puts Man into active contact with higher forces and principles that activates the regenerative phase of Man's spiritual development.Misguided by dogmatic teachings of the Church, the average Christian believes in a literal resurrection from the grave at the Last Judgment; however, when interpreted esoterically, Paul's writings present a wealth of information concerning the regenerative process. For instance, he declared that "for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:22). Adam, or the carnal self, causes the incarnating entity to be dead to higher realities. He operates his bodies sluggishly like a zombie. By contrast, when the prodigal son absorbs the universal Christ substance, and Christ Consciousness emanating from his higher principles, he then functions under the direction of a higher intelligence. He commences his life living in Truth and in eternity. Regeneration consequently, begins to occur within his four lower bodies, even transmuting the corporeal form into the "Body of Light." To be made alive in Christ requires a certain spiritual discipline to be exercised. But sadly, the average individual prefers believing rather than knowing and doing.
It is the destiny of Man to attain what Jesus had attained in the "resurrection," and thus Paul advised the Romans: "But if the Spirit of him that raiseth up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raiseth up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you" (Romans 8:11). If the Spirit must dwell in us for a quickening, then there must be a way for inviting the Spirit to dwell in our bodies, mere beliefs and faith are insufficient to invoke the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit.
When relied upon Nature's pace of evolution and development, the regeneration of Man may require eons to accomplish. By entering the "straight and narrow gate," the Path of Return, the Prodigal Som may accelerate the regenerative process and quickly deify himself in his Father's arms. It is said that great men do not die, they simply fade away. Enoch, the great antediluvian prophet was one such an individual who simply faded away. It is recorded in Genesis that he walked with God and then he was not. There are basically two interpretations to this statement: one, the complete elimination and non-identification with the false self, the false ego; and two, the etherealization of the physical body.
After successfully treading the various phases of the way, the alchemist comes to a point where a greater influx of the rays of the Higher Self descends and takes active control of the four lower bodies. Every cell in the physical body is vitalized by this Paraclete and raised to a higher state of vibration resulting as a side effect, youth and a renewed power. Life is prolonged in the form, and all diseases that plague humankind comes to no effect.
Psychologically, regeneration causes a spiritualization of the character of the alchemist. Morals, ethics and principles held by the alchemist are unfolded and applied from the divine perspective. Every smile displayed and directed by the master alchemist to a recipient comes with a special blessing and force which is subtly felt projected from the heart center of the alchemist.
From the above it can be deduced that regeneration is represented by the Master Jesus' resurrection. Regeneration causes the unfoldment of the Seed of Gold within Man to mature, and preparing him for the final stage which concludes his path of transmutation.
Exoterically, atonement is the reparation of any wrong or injury done to another. Esoterically, atonement is at-one-ment, the "unio mystica," or oneness between Man and God. It is the ascension in which Man is unified with his "I AM Presence." This is the conclusion of the path of human salvation, the attainment of alchemical gold. Many tests and trials have been passed, many initiations undergone. The Seed of the Tree of Life planted in Man's Edenic consciousness has matured and is bearing fruit of God-qualities. Man attains his high estate by personal effort and labor and not by depending upon another's merit and endeavors for his exaltation into the Light. This differentiates the Master soul from the puerile human being.
Oneness is Reality. Differentiation and separation are illusory, the projection of Maya. As Man unites with the One, he assumes the resemblance of the One; he has grown into God's image and becomes the Sun Initiate the, "Symbol of Wisdom, the Center of Power, or the Heart of Things." The Initiate, by virtue of being one with his Sun principle, is an enlightened mind and illumined being.
Atonement is the culmination of the alchemist's spiritual labour in the long process of purifying, refining, and improving the quality of his metals. The principles of Right Thinking, Right Speaking, and Right Action (some of the elements of Divine Thinking) are conducive in effecting the transformation of the various sheaths. The alchemists lives in a state of "constant" meditation and prayer, 24-hours a day, prior to his ascension. Like the Sufis, the names of Allah are continually upon his lips and mind. The spiritual practice of "zikir," or "remembrance," is applied devotedly by the maturing initiate. The alchemist is an active seeker for the kingdom of God within. In Esoteric Christianity, the principles, or the Panacea for attaining the transcendental state, and expanding the consciousness to embrace Solar Consciousness is given as Conviction, Contrition, Confession, Consecration, and Communion.
Whenever Man stalls in his evolution, the intelligences of the spiritual hierarchy offer a way out in the form of a new religion, philosophy, science, or art. Alchemy is at once all of these, and ever since its advent into the Mysteries, a profound inquiry had been made by aspirants and seekers as to the possible processes involved in effecting a transmutation. Confused by jargon and the real goal of alchemy, the average student of alchemy spends wasted time, funds, and energy trying to probe the secrets of the science. Sincerity, faith and perseverance were, and still are the keys that unlock the portal to a master's heart; and with his aid and guidance, a higher understanding and appreciation are acquired by the aspirant.
Though still dismissed as a pseudo-science by modern scientists, alchemy's value as a psycho-spiritual tool for Man's transformation cannot be denied when understood in its entirety. It only takes a mind of purity, freed from bigotry and intellectualism to become like a little child in the arms of the Divine Mother, or Sophia, in order to grasp the essential principles of alchemy which radiates so much light for the wayfarer to guide him to his destination.
Growing old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven't committed.
He that will believe only what he can fully comprehend must have a long head or a very short creed.
In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.
It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist.
Love alone can unite living beings so as to complete and fulfill them... for it alone joins them by what is deepest in themselves. All we need is to imagine our ability to love developing until it embraces the totality of men and the earth.
Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.
Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world... Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis.
Our duty, as men and women, is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist. We are collaborators in creation.
The most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of one's self to others.
The world is round so that friendship may encircle it.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
We are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other.
A Living House
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
— C.S. Lewis
Originally posted by siahchi
Here you are N.A.M., and ATS as a whole. A small selection of pdf ebooks on alchemy and related subjects. Enjoy, and much love. I will be contributing to this thread when I can, keep it up New age!
Alchemy ebooks, about 99mb zipped
Originally posted by NewAgeMan
reply to post by annabanana
Thank YOU, what an awesome contribution to this intriguing thread. I occasionally get that "ah ha" moment, even had it a bit re-reading the posts here, yours included.
I believe firmly that we simply MUST undergo "the shift" and experience in the process a re-enchantment of our world and cosmos, because the current worldview and paradigm is killing us, and the reason its killing us, is because we know in our heart of hearts that it's both a type of prison and that it's not the least bit congruent with reality as it really and truly is, according to the way it was created. I've come to think that a big part of the problem, of the incongruity, which is making us suffer dearly is the Newtonian Materialist Monist (matter is primary, and separated) worldview, which was helpful in the sense that it kicked off a scientific revolution, but unhelpful to the degree that we adopted it's fundamental tenets as "self evident" and came to view the world around as as separate from ourselves. Everything became divided, splintered, just things, dead, inanimate, without soul or substance, meaningless, pointless, without purpose.
I've recently finished reading a book called "The Self Aware Universe" by a physicist by the name of Amit Goswami, PhD. In it, he postulated a new way of doing science and of looking at ourselves and the world around us which he calls "Monistic Idealism" whereby consciousness and not matter is primary. It's principal advantage, scientifically, is that it does away with all the quantum paradoxes, but best of all, it presents a viewpoint, a worldview or a paradigm capable of re-linking science to the various religious, mystical traditions in such a way that they share a common ground. As a result it points a sturdy finger towards the possibility of a re-enchantment of the cosmos and our place within it, as a type of co-creative cosmic dance with we ourselves positioned as a rather unique product or culmination of a long (if not eternal) cosmic evolutionary process, such that we are put back into a relationship WITH God and WITH the creation in a very integral way, a way which resonates both with the discoveries of modern science AND which resonates with what we intuit deep down, to be true, that we have a unique and special place as self aware conscious observers and participants enveloped in a wholistic interdependant universal framework. It states that we MATTER by virtue of our stature as created beings, that we are not just THINGS, and that our presence here is unique, special, and INTENDED, where the motive force or the catalyst to creativity, is Love.
It gives new meaning to the statement (and please don't let any religious bias prevent you from "grokking" its significance) "All creation was made by the father for the son" or put another way, "all creation was made by the first/last cause who is a self aware being, for the sake of love, and it pleases God to SHARE his kinddom with all his children (created beings made in the image of God ie: self aware and embued with free will).
I can see some hard assed atheist stepping in here now to throw a cold bucket of water on me, and say that this is just feel good fluff because I am too scared to accept the cold hard facts of an impersonal universe and the degree of my own insignificance, or I'm just trying to make the facts fit my preconcieved religious bias, but to him I would have to say, no, that just doesn't cut it, and then, if I was as smart and knowledgable as Goswami, I could then start putting forth the quantum paradoxes and show how this viewpoint of a Monistic Idealism alone resolves them satisfactorily.
What saddens me, about the atheist arguments, is that they seemingly would rather deny their own existence, than to accept the notion that they are children (byproducts) of a God of love who created them and all creation for the sake of making the experience possible (sharing the kingdom), so that there could be love, and love as we know always takes two to tango, so to speak.
Can we reciprocate love back to something (God) that we cannot understand? Sure we can, with something called gratitude, appreciation and the joy of having been included in the creation, to be here for a reason, while at the same time gifted with absolute freedom. We can do it by LIVING and EXPERIENCING our lives more fully, by getting re-enchanted with the world around us, and especially the other people around us, since mutality is a powerful word when it comes to the matter of love.
It's an extraordinary thing to behold, even the way it's been done, at the classical level (there's another deep quantum one we can't see of course), with the stars, planets, OUR planet, the trees and plants and everything, I mean like if it's some sort of holographic projection of sorts following classical rules, then it's an absolutely incredible work of art!
I think we can bypass "the church" or "Churchianity" and re-capture this newly re-enchanted viewpoint, and oh what it says about ourselves and our true nature..?!
It makes we almost weep, to think that this may be the way it REALLY is, while my room mates sit upstairs glued to the boobtube watching two and a half men, and thinking that the reality we were sold the one we all just you know ASSUME and take for granted, the BS social matrix we've been placed in so as to serve our role as "eaters" and as good consumers is the REAL WORLD. It is NOT the real world, by any stretch of the imagination. And that world, that dead and dying world, is killing us, and taking away our soul. I say just turn it OFF and ignore it altogether and choose reality and choose life.