reply to post by Frater210
This is no simple matter friend.
Nick prefers working with dew
Author says urine is the best prime materia. My method is suppossed to be a shorter method of this one-
...which involves a 300 dollar electric kiln.
The author of the Book of Aquarius does not beleive in this shortcut but i will test it none the less.
If you feel strongly about this I suggest following the Authors method as it is free to read and the equipment is cheaper.
or you can buy Nicks books Covenant of Silence. RAMS has a nice collection of Alchemical Manuscripts that are very old.
Read the Networking Alchemist thread for more info.
The alchemist say one should be familiar with the Art and understand what you are doing before you proceed.
I dont know if i can do this but i cant find the pdf
Robert Bartlett. Real Alchemy a good starting point.
Kids! Don't try this at home!
The practice of Real Alchemy is inherently dangerous. Formal laboratory training is
encouraged. Consulting a licensed physician is encouraged before consuming herbal
preparations. Familiarize yourself with the laws that may apply to you in your jurisdiction and
Read as many of the other books on the subject of Alchemy as possible. (A list of
recommended books can be found in the Bibliography.) Learn as much as you can from a
qualified teacher. And above all, know the theory before attempting the practice.
This book is sold for informational purposes. The author or the publisher will not be
held accountable for the use or misuse of the information in this book.
Copyright © 2006 Quinquangle Press
All Rights Reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage
and retrieval system, without permission in writing from Quinquangle Press. Reviewers may
quote brief passages.
FOREWORD by Dennis William Hauck 3
INTRODUCTION Practical Alchemy 6
CHAPTER ONE A Brief History of Alchemy 9
CHAPTER TWO Theory of Alchemy 14
CHAPTER THREE Astrology and Alchemy 22
CHAPTER FOUR Introduction to Laboratory Alchemy 25
CHAPTER FIVE Alchemical Processes 30
CHAPTER SIX Herbal Alchemy 41
CHAPTER SEVEN Water Works 48
CHAPTER EIGHT Return to the Fire 60
CHAPTER NINE Qabalah and Alchemy 66
CHAPTER TEN Introduction to Mineral and Metallic Works 71
CHAPTER ELEVEN Via Humida 73
CHAPTER TWELVE Concerning the Minerals 78
CHAPTER THIRTEEN Via Humida, Part Two 83
CHAPTER FOURTEEN Via Sicca 88
CHAPTER FIFTEEN Antimony 100
CHAPTER SIXTEEN The Seed of Metals 108
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN The Philosopher's Stone 112
The book before you is an amazing accomplishment in many ways. My friend and
fellow alchemist Robert Bartlett has laid bare the secret processes and experiments of our
discipline with exceptional clarity and openness. He has exposed the Hermetic origins of
alchemy and shown how modern alchemists approach the ancient art. But first and foremost,
his book is a revelation of the genuine craft of alchemy as it was meant to be practiced.
While the work of Carl Jung and others have underscored the archetypal power and
universal significance of alchemical symbols, alchemy itself is much more than a
psychological commentary on the nature of the human psyche. It is true that alchemy reflects
the highest aspirations of the human soul, for our gold has always symbolized the hastened
perfection of Man as well as matter. However, any alchemist worth his salt knows that lasting
transformation only takes place when the work is accomplished on all levels of reality—the
mental, the spiritual, and the physical. The Great Work is actual work to be done with the
hands, the heart, and the soul, and not just understood with the mind.
A medieval alchemist brought back to our era would be highly amused at the endless
discussions among modern theorists as to the nature and depth of alchemy or its sudden
blossoming in the offices of psychiatrists and New Age counsellors. "Has no one ever tried
it?" he would ask incredulously. "What good is such understanding without its practical
application in the world?"
No alchemist in history ever thought the Secret Art was solely a mental discipline. The
work of transformation takes place in the real world. Yet alchemy is not chemistry. Chemistry
is a superficial science that deals only with the external forms in which the elements manifest.
A chemist seeks to rearrange atoms and molecules to exhibit different properties of the same
dead material. An alchemist seeks to create an entirely new substance by exposing its
essences, bringing them alive, and causing them to grow.
When an alchemist performs a laboratory experiment, it is the culmination of careful
planning to find the right timing and personal purification to create the sacred space in which
the transformation can take place. The alchemist becomes an ingredient in his own
experiment, and his intention and passion contribute to the outcome. He suffers as the
essences are teased and tortured from the substance, and he is elated when the hidden spark of
truth brings the dead matter back to life on a new level of being.
Admittedly, this is a strange way of looking at laboratory work in a materialistic,
industrialized world, and there are many prejudices the modern mind must overcome to
accept the possibility that alchemy is real. Yet perhaps, after reading this book with a free
heart and open mind, you might find an ancient voice speaking to you through the drone of
appliances, engines, and commercial broadcasts that make up our environment. The voice will
whisper: But have you tried it?
Dennis William Hauck
Dennis William Hauck is an author, consultant, and lecturer working to facilitate personal
and institutional transformation through the application of the ancient principles of alchemy.
As one of the world's few practicing alchemists, he writes and lectures on the universal
principles of physical, psychological, and spiritual perfection to a wide variety of audiences
that range from scientists and business leaders to religious and New Age groups. He is the
editor of the Alchemy Journal and on the board of directors of the International Alchemy
Guild. His best selling book, The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation
(Penguin Putnam 1999), presents startling new revelations about the mysterious "time
capsule of wisdom" that inspired over 5,500 years of alchemy. His latest book, The Sorcerers
Stone: A Beginners Guide to Alchemy (Citadel Press, 2004), is an entertaining introduction to
both practical and spiritual alchemy.
These days the word Alchemy is lumped together with chic phenomena, ghost hunters,
UFO sightings and other "Dark Arts." Everyone has heard of such things but only a few know
more of the details, especially those concerning alchemy.
A few years ago, my wife was in a class for Hypnotherapy certification and she
happened to mention that I had an interest in alchemy. Everyone was intrigued. They asked if
I would be willing to give a two or three-hour presentation on the subject.
My hesitant reply was, "Yeah, I can do that." That first time, I talked for five hours.
People were entranced and asked if we could have another class to continue. Before I could
finish constructing an outline for the second class, I received a call asking if we could make
the whole presentation three six-hour classes.
Since then, I've been teaching the classes each year. There is a real thirst out there for
information on the practical alchemical arts.
This book is something of a transcription from those classes and will provide a short
primer for those interested in exploring firsthand the “Sacred Science and Royal Art” which
Now I will teach and describe the secret of the arts, which secret is at the heart of all
secrets hidden in the art of alchemy; since one will here understand the wonderful works that
God has accomplished in all things he has made out of the four elements... For I shall here
teach you to know the spirits of herbs, trees, and all growing things; how to separate them
from their bodies, and also how to purify the four elements and restore them to their first
being and their perfect power; that is, that when the elements are purified, how they can be
put together again and make a perfect and fixed body of them, which is then glorified and has
a miraculous effect.
— Issac Holland, Opera Vegetabilia (15th century)
When we mention the word “Alchemy,” most people think that means a nowdiscredited
method of turning lead into gold.
Then we have the psychologists, after Jung, who tell us that alchemy, with its fantastic
imagery, is only a metaphor—that is to say, that alchemy is an allegory describing the
processes of psychological reintegration. Many believe this is the new and correct
interpretation of the alchemists’ riddle. It's all Psychology.
Yet, if we look into the lives of the alchemists themselves we find they were indeed
involved in laboratory work that appears to be similar to what we call chemistry today.
Alchemy has been described by many of the ancient masters as a sort of "Celestial
Agriculture." I like that definition.
It is amazing that alchemy, once called the Divine Art or Sacred Science, has fallen
into such obscurity that it is now only remembered as the primitive beginnings of modern
chemistry. And yet, alchemy lies at the root of every Western Esoteric tradition as well as
many of the arts and sciences, including medicine and pharmacology. Alchemy has been
called "The Mother of all Science and Wisdom."
In a nutshell, alchemy is an ancient Art and Science concerning the Mysteries of Life,
of Consciousness and its Evolution.
Currently there are many people who latch on to the word alchemy and attach it to any
number of "New Age" transformative tools (such as alchemical massage or alchemical
hypnotherapy) because alchemy is associated with the transmutation or transformation of
something of little worth into something of great value.
In the following pages, we're going to explore alchemy—the Real Alchemy. This
means we will be exploring Practical Laboratory Alchemy. We will include here the history,
theory, and simple practices that anyone can use to prepare herbal and mineral extracts in the
Who am I? And where is this information coming from? I've been exploring alchemy
since I was about twelve years old. I've had a laboratory of my own in one form or another
since even before then.
In 1974 I began an intensive study of alchemy at the, Paracelsus Research Society
(PRS)—later called Paracelsus College and located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The classes were
taught by Dr. Albert Reidel, who preferred to be known as Frater Albertus.
Frater Albertus was one of the most well-known practical alchemists of the twentieth
century. He also taught classes in Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia.
The classes took place on a small campus composed of a dormitory, a lecture hall, and
a laboratory. Class size was limited to twelve students and contact with the outside world was
not encouraged (no radios, TV, phones, or newspapers) so the student could fully immerse
himself in the teachings. It was a Mystery School.
The classes ran Monday through Saturday, from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. (with homework
and lab work that ran continuously) for two weeks each year over seven years. At the end of
each two-week class, the students were given work to accomplish in preparation for the next
By 1976, I decided to return to a university where I could finish my degree in
chemistry in hopes of one day working at Paralab—the commercial offshoot of the PRS that
would be opening soon.
Paralab offered a line of herbal and mineral preparations formulated along alchemical
principles for research and alternative healthcare practices.
After graduation in 1979, I was appointed Chief Chemist at Paralab and remained in
that position until its closure in late 1983. Frater Albertus passed away in 1984.
I have been a professional chemist since that time and have worked on my own
projects through the years. Being employed as a research and analytical chemist has allowed
me to collect state-of-the-art analytical data on many products from alchemical experiments,
and so begin to answer some of the questions modern science would ask concerning these
Frater Albertus had a simple definition of what alchemy is about. He said that alchemy
was about Evolution and "Raising the Vibratory Rate." To understand that correctly requires
some understanding of natural laws and some introduction to mysticism or occult philosophy.
The information being taught here is an ageless wisdom handed down for centuries by
an oral tradition and later in a necessarily obscure language and symbolism. It is called the
Hermetic Philosophy, after its legendary founder Hermes Trismegistus—the Greek name for
the Egyptian god Thoth (god of wisdom and inventor of all science and magic.) The ancient
sages often referred to themselves as the "Sons of Hermes" or the "Sons of Wisdom."
The earliest descriptions of alchemy link it to transformations in matter through the
influence of light or spirit, or fire. It is the metamorphosis of matter orchestrated by spirit.
It is generally agreed that ancient Egypt is the birthplace of alchemy (as it is known in
the Western World) and it is there that we begin our exploration.
A Brief History of Alchemy
The origins of alchemy are lost in history and theories abound as to where it might
• God taught it to Adam and later to Moses.
• Fallen Angels taught it to human women in exchange for sex.
• It is a remnant of lost Atlantean technology.
• Extraterrestrials taught it to our ancestors.
Whatever its true origin is, recorded history documents an esoteric tradition that has
existed for several thousand years. Mystery and magic permeate all that is ancient Egypt.
From beginning to end, Egypt has been called a theocratic state, ruled by a very
powerful priesthood. The priesthood was divided into various castes, each with specific duties
—such as scribes and astronomers. Of special interest to us are the priests, who worked with
materials in ways we might describe today as chemistry. These priests, often working under
an oath of secrecy regarding their art, developed skills in metallurgy, ceramics, medicine,
mummification, and winemaking, to name just a few.
The study of the operative forces at work in the universe was the primary goal of the
priesthood. They called these forces the "Neteru" from which we obtain our word, "Nature."
The Neteru are the forces of Nature.
From the small number of writings which remain to us, it is apparent that these priests
were skilled healers who possessed a materials science, much of which is still a mystery to us.
There were always two parts to these sciences—one was mental/spiritual and the other
physical. For example, the preparation of a medicine included the processing of a material
accompanied by certain words, spells, incantations or rituals. And in prescribing, the patient
was given the medicine with instructions to repeat a spell or prayer. The proper timing of
these things was equally important.
In the Egyptian Mysteries, Man was composed of various spiritual and mental
components as well as the physical component and each had its proper "medicine." These
Secret Sciences advanced over time and tales of wondrous healing oils, life-giving potions,
and imitations of gold and precious stones have survived even to our day.
When ancient tomb robbers would plunder a pharaoh's tomb, these precious oils were
one of the first things to be stolen. They were considered to be as precious as gold and easier
to carry and sell. Stolen gold was heavy and had to be melted down before you could sell it.
When Alexander the Great arrived in Egypt around 300 B.C.E., he fell in love with the
whole culture, and the Egyptians welcomed him with open arms. This began the so-called
Greco-Egyptian or Ptolemaic period of Egyptian history.
The Greeks called Egypt Khem or Khemet. This literally meant "The Black Land" and
is in reference to the thick layer of dark fertile soil deposited by the annual flooding of the
Nile. Knowledge of Egyptian Secret Sciences made its way into Greece where it was called
Khemia "The Black Art" and spawned a long line of Greek alchemists.
In Egypt, Alexander initiated a sweeping campaign of construction and restoration,
including the city named after him—Alexandria. The Great Library of Alexandria is
legendary. It has been estimated that this library contained nearly a million volumes of the
collected writings of the known world. Scholars from everywhere flocked to Alexandria and it
became a melting pot of ideas and philosophies. It is here that the Hermetic Philosophy and
alchemy congealed as a Path to Spiritual Attainment and its secrets were only revealed to
initiates under an oath of silence.
By around 30 B.C.E., the Roman legions had swept the world and the last of the
Egyptian Ptolemies had fallen to Roman rule. During this insurgence, a very large part of the
Great Library was destroyed by fire. Initially, Rome was tolerant of Egyptian ways. In fact,
the worship of Isis spread well into the Roman world with temples in Rome itself. As the
early Roman Emperors became converted to Christianity, this level of tolerance dropped off.
In 290 C.E., the Emperor Diocletian feared that the influx of imitation gold produced
by the Egyptian Art could disrupt the Roman economy. Fearing also that it would allow
someone to gather enough wealth to form an army which could move against Rome,
Diocletian passed an edict calling for the destruction of all texts and materials dealing with
the manufacture of gold and precious stones. This order was carried out with great severity.
Great masses of information were indiscriminately destroyed as well as what remained
of The Great Library. In 325 C.E., Rome officially became Christian and in 391 the Emperor
Theodosius made heresy punishable by death and ordered the destruction of pagan temples. In
the Roman world, which at the time covered quite a large area, you were either a Christian or
you were exiled or killed.
Most of those practicing the Hermetic Philosophy fled the country and migrated east
to Arab lands not occupied by Rome. The early Persian Caliphs were much more hospitable
to the alchemists and the center of The Art shifted there, although in a much more guarded
capacity. It was here that the Arabic prefix Al was added to the Greek Khemia to give us Al-
Khemia, later to become Alchemy.
Scientific pursuits in early Christian Rome became dormant for centuries. With the fall
of the Roman Empire, the "civilized world" was thrown into chaos. Thus began "The Dark
Beginning with the Islamic invasions around 800 C.E., knowledge of alchemy spread
into Western Europe, largely through the works of Ibn Sinna (also known as Avicenna.) He
formulated a medical system that was popular for several centuries. Another was Abu Musa
Jabir ibn Hayaan. Jabir had a very cryptic style of writing, designed to conceal alchemical
secrets. It is from his name that we derive our word for Gibberish. They collected many of the
ancient Egyptian and Greek alchemical works and translated them into Arabic, which were
later translated into Latin in Europe.
In Medieval Europe, alchemy became very fashionable. By now, kings and rulers
everywhere had heard of the wonders possible through alchemy, especially the turning of lead
into gold. Alchemy, as a means to making gold, became a popular pursuit by the rich and the
poor. There were also a great number of cons and scams perpetrated by those who pretended
to know the secrets of the alchemists. Many unsuspecting people lost their life savings in
hopes of finding the way to inexhaustible wealth.
Alchemy began to acquire a bad reputation as a fraud because of this, and people
began to distrust the whole matter without really knowing anything about the true alchemical
art. Then, around 1310, Pope John XXII issued a decree prohibiting the practice of alchemy,
and gold-making in particular, with heavy fines against those who traded in alchemical gold.
In 1404, King Henry IV of England issued an "Act" declaring gold-making a crime
against the Crown. By the fifteenth century, the invention of the printing press made
knowledge more available to the public. Texts about alchemy became very popular and began
Paracelsus (born Theophrastus Bombast von Hohenheim in Switzerland 1493)
revolutionized the Alchemical Art and is considered to be one of the fathers of modern
chemistry and pharmaceutical medicine. A respected physician and university lecturer,
Paracelsus was also skilled in all of the arts of the Hermetic Philosophy. Paracelsus repeatedly
demonstrated the power and effectiveness of alchemically prepared medicines.
He stressed to his colleagues the importance of looking carefully into alchemy as a
source for medicines far beyond what the current pharmaceutical technology could produce.
He was constantly at odds with the medical professionals of his day and was looked upon
very suspiciously by the Church because of his views and opinions. Because of this some
believe Paracelsus was murdered in 1541. However, his ideas and writings did not go
unnoticed. In a strange twist of irony, these helped lead to the end of the Age of Alchemy and
the beginnings of chemistry as we know it today.
The writings of Paracelsus shifted the view on alchemy from the pursuit of gold into
which it had fallen, back toward its original intent—medicines for the body and soul leading
one to perfect health, wholeness, and initiation into Nature's mysteries. Paracelsus recognized
man's physical and occult constitution according to Hermetic Principles.
By the seventeenth century, there was a growing religious freedom which sparked a
wave of interest in all things Mystical. Alchemical texts became still more widely available,
and scholars boldly identified themselves as Rosicrucians, Adepts or Alchemists. The spiritual
aspects of alchemy appealed to many, apart from any practical works.
Robert Boyle (another "Father of Modern Chemistry") and Isaac Newton studied
alchemy during this time. Newton was fully involved and produced volumes of work. In fact,
he considered himself to be more of an alchemist than a physicist or mathematician. His notes
indicate that he believed he was very close to success in the alchemical art of metallic
Boyle was also an ardent student trying to clarify many alchemical concepts which
were becoming obscured even in his day. He was a meticulous experimenter and realized the
difference between Philosophical and Unphilosophical workings upon materials.
In his very influential book, "The Sceptical Chymist," Boyle called into question the
number and nature of the elements and called for a more organized terminology. His
alchemical insights have been largely misinterpreted to be a debunking of vitalistic alchemy
in favor of a more rigorous concentration on the physical facts. It was the beginning of a more
mechanical world-view, which would last into the twentieth century.
Around 1660, King Charles II signed the first Charter of the Royal Society and the
study of chemistry soon became an officially recognized science.
America also had its alchemists, including several state Governors. There were groups
in Pennsylvania who brought with them many of the early German alchemical writings
(which were quite extensive).
By the 1800s, the practice of Alchemy had largely disappeared in the outer world in
favor of its still young offshoot—chemistry. Alchemy survived underground in various
"Secret Societies" which became popular, especially towards the end of the nineteenth
In the early 1900s, H. Spencer Lewis received a charter from some of these European
contacts to form the Ancient Mystical Order of the Rosae Crucis, better known as AMORC.
Among other things, they taught laboratory alchemy as it was handed down by earlier
In the early 1940s, one student of these classes was Albert Reidel. Frater Albertus
went on to teach these classes himself and then later split off on his own to establish the
Paracelsus Research Society in 1960, which became accredited as Paracelsus College in the
With the passing of Frater Albertus in 1984, there seemed to be a void in alchemical
teachings and a lack of a central point where students could exchange information. By the
early nineties, through the efforts of several PRS students, contact with a French group was
made and the Philosophers of Nature (PON) was formulated to fill the void with fresh ideas
and to carry on research in alchemy. The PON closed in the late nineties. Now we have the
Internet—the new "Library of Alexandria." As we shall see, chemistry, left to grow
unfettered, has nearly come full circle to rediscover the Hermetic Philosophy.
Theory of Alchemy
The First Law of Hermetics - All is from One
Perhaps the most concise exposition of alchemical theory, acknowledged by adepts
from all ages, is the famous "Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus." Legend has it that this
tablet predates the Biblical flood and was inscribed by Thoth himself on a large plate of
alchemically produced emerald:
VERBA SECRETORUM HERMETIS
It is true, certain, and without falsehood, that whatever is below is like that which is
above; and that which is above is like that which is below: to accomplish the one wonderful
work. As all things are derived from the One Only Thing, by the will and by the word of the
One Only One who created it in His Mind, so all things owe their existence to this Unity by
the order of Nature, and can be improved by Adaptation to that Mind.
Its Father is the Sun; its Mother is the Moon; the Wind carries it in its womb; and its
nurse is the Earth. This Thing is the Father of all perfect things in the world. Its power is most
perfect when it has again been changed into Earth. Separate the Earth from the Fire, the
subtle from the gross, but carefully and with great judgment and skill.
It ascends from earth to heaven, and descends again, new born, to the earth, taking
unto itself thereby the power of the Above and the Below. Thus the splendor of the whole
world will be thine, and all darkness shall flee from thee.
This is the strongest of all powers, the Force of all forces, for it overcometh all subtle
things and can penetrate all that is solid. For thus was the world created, and rare
combinations, and wonders of many kinds are wrought.
Hence I am called HERMES TRISMEGISTUS, having mastered the three parts of the
wisdom of the whole world. What I have to say about the masterpiece of the alchemical art,
the Solar Work, is now ended.
The alchemists always admonish their students, "Know the theory first before
attempting the praxis." They say, "You must walk in the Book of Nature to understand our
The alchemical concept of life and matter lies at the opposite pole of that of the
current scientific community. Science is trying to find out how matter created life. Alchemy
states that life created matter.
Alchemy affirms that at the origin, there is consciousness. Consciousness is the need
to Be of the Absolute.
In order to satisfy this need, consciousness created life, and in order to evolve, life
— Jean Dubuis, PON Seminars 1992
Alchemy is an exploration of the involution of the Absolute into matter and its
subsequent evolution back to the source—the Ouroborus. There's a very old saying, "The All
is mind. The universe is Mental."
The All or The One is, that which is the Fundamental Truth, the Substantial reality,
(i.e., standing under and supporting Reality.) This All is beyond comprehending or the ability
to truly name it, so we use a symbol and call it—The All, the Absolute, the Divine, Spirit, the
Force, The One Only One. Whatever you choose, it is just a symbol so we can talk about it.
This is perhaps best described as Infinite Living Mind.
Only by mental creation, can the All manifest the universe and still remain the All. For
if a substance was used or acted upon, it would be separate and the All would not be All.
— The Kybalion
What we call "matter" is only that portion of the All we apprehend through our senses.
It is only a label we use to designate the manifestation of the All within the range of our
limited sensory apparatus. All things are connected but separated only by their rates of
Each one of us is a unique and complex waveform, though we also share many of the
same "harmonics." Like fingerprints, we are unique but all related. Modern science takes
advantage of this fact in order to identify materials by their vibratory nature in the form of
spectral resonances in visible light, infrared, microwaves, etc. Einstein once said, "Everything
is energy, beyond that is divine."
We live in a vast ocean of energy and everything seen and unseen is a part of it. The
alchemists called this energy the Celestial Fire, Prima Materia, the First Matter, Chaos, and
many others. Everything around us, though it seems separate and different from ourselves is
One only One. All is from One is the First Law of Hermetics.
The Second Law of Hermetics - Polarity
The One reflecting on itself creates the first movement towards polarity—the division
of the One into a most subtle spiritualized energy and dense material energy; the One divided
into Spirit and Matter. Today we might call this energy and matter, which are the same.
The Second Law of Hermetics is the law of Polarity. One of the earliest observations
of Nature was that everything has its opposite—day/night, male/female, hot/cold, wet/dry.
The One divides into active and passive modes, with the active energy constituting the
energies of life, and the passive one the energy of matter. Consider the image of a sine wave
—two opposite energies but One wave.
"The Golden Chain of Homer," a book written about 1730 and highly esteemed by
several generations of alchemists, called the active energy "Celestial Niter" and the passive
energy "Celestial Salt." We call these "The Volatile" and "The Fixed." These two modes of
the One express an inherent polarity as well.
The Four Elements
The energy of Life (Niter) operates through the Elements of Fire and Air. Both are
active in nature but Fire is the more active of the two. These are the volatile energies. The
energy of Matter (Salt) operates through the Elements of Water and Earth. These are the fixed
energies—Water being the more active of the two.
These "Elements" have nothing to do with the material bodies of the same name. They
are in fact, energetic states, each with their own unique characteristics. As early as 500
B.C.E., the ancients called these The Four Elements and recognized them as the essential
qualities by which Nature operates and is formed. The Element of Fire relates to the qualities
of radiance, expansion, warmth, and light—anciently known as the hot and dry properties. On
the psychological level, fire relates to the Superconscious Mind.
The Element of Air is penetrating, diffuse, moveable—the wet and hot properties.
Psychologically, air represents the Selfconscious Mind. The Element of Water relates to
coolness, contraction, mutability or change—the properties of wet and cold. Water is the
perfect representative of the Subconscious Mind. The Element of Earth relates to the qualities
of stability, rest, inertia, strength, and solidity—the dry and cold properties. In the human
economy, this is the physical body.
Modern science agrees that there are Four Fundamental Forces governing the activity
of everything in our universe and though they call them "Strong Nuclear Force, Weak Nuclear
Force, Electromagnetic Force and Gravitational Force," they are related to the ancient
Elemental qualities of Fire, Water, Air and Earth respectively.
These elemental qualities and their mixtures form the vehicles through which the
alchemical "Three Essentials" operate. They are the clothing which we interpret as our
The Three Essentials
The Three Essentials are the alchemical principles of Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt. Again
these terms are not the common materials we associate with these words, such as table salt or
the mercury in your thermometer. They describe subtle philosophical principles active in
Alchemical Salt, or the Body of a thing, provides the matrix wherein the Sulfur and
Mercury can act. It is a passive medium, the Virgin Earth, subject to the fixed energies of
Water and Earth. The Salt is influenced by psychic and instinctual forces of the subconscious
as well as the conditions affecting the various states of matter.
The Alchemical Sulfur, or Soul of a thing, conducts the volatile principles of Fire and
Air expressing consciousness, intellect, and the "True Will" or personal fire. Alchemical
Mercury, or the Spirit of a thing, is the vital force or life force, and predominates in the
elements of Air and Water, reflecting intellectual, instinctual and psychic energies. It forms
the link or bridge, between the higher forces of Sulfur and the lower body of matter, the Salt.
In mythology, Mercury is the messenger between the world of the Gods and the world of
mortals—the physical world.
The energies of Celestial Niter are often equated with the force of Kundalini, or
spiritual forces of Indian philosophy. In alchemy, this is referred to as the Secret Fire in Man.
The energies of Celestial Salt are equated with the force of Prana, or Vital Energy carried by
the air we breathe. Prana is said to maintain physical life and existence. It acts at the
instinctual and unconscious levels as well as being influenced by cosmic cycles and other
The function of the Kundalini/Niter is to increase in humanity its sense of True Self
and True Will by opening us to wider vistas of awareness. At the lowest level of functioning,
this is the self-centered ego; at its highest, we become aware of our Divine nature.
The effects of awakening this Secret Fire within constitute a true initiation into
nature's mysteries with attendant changes in our perception of how Nature operates. This is a
direct experience of liberating interior knowledge. The physical body is also changed and
improved in functioning, constituting a genuine rebirth on spiritual and physical levels.
The alchemical process seeks to fan this fire..."carefully, with great judgment and
skill." In laboratory alchemy, the Three Essentials of Body, Soul, and Spirit are most
important because they provide us a means of manipulating the elements. Many alchemists
indicate that the Primal Elements are too subtle even for the most skilled artist and that only
Nature can work at that level. The Three Essentials are the fruit of the Elements, which Man
can manipulate even at the physical level.
As the Polish alchemist Michael Sendivogius wrote in his New Chemical Light about
The three principles of things are produced out of the four elements in the following
manner: Nature, whose power is in her obedience to the Will of God, ordained from the very
beginning, that the four elements should incessantly act on one another, so, in obedience to
her behest, the fire began to act on air, and produced Sulfur; air acted on water and
produced Mercury; water, by its action on earth, produced Salt.
Earth alone, having nothing to act upon, did not produce anything, but became the
nurse, or womb, of these three principles.
In summary then:
The Salt represents the Body, or vehicle, which allows expression of the other two
essentials. It is a principle of fixity, consolidation, and focus—The Material Basis, or matrix.
The Sulfur, represents the Soul, the Consciousness. It is a fiery principle, brightness. The
Spiritualized Male aspect of the One. Kundalini. The character of a thing. The True Colors.
The Intelligence. The Divine Spark.
The Mercury, represents the Spirit—the Vital Life Force, the Animating Spirit, Chi,
Prana. It is a Subtle, spiritualized Feminine aspect of the One. Pure Energy. It bridges the Air
and Water Elements, the Spiritual World and the Material World, the Volatile and the Fixed.
It is the Sulfur (the Consciousness) which directs the Life Force through the body.
Directing more of the Life Force through more refined bodies or vehicles is the course of
Nature and Evolution. Alchemical work strives to create and fortify an incorruptible spiritual
body of which the physical body is a reflection.
The Three Kingdoms –
Vegetable, Animal, Mineral
To the alchemist, everything is alive and consists of a Body, Soul and Spirit or Salt,
Sulfur and Mercury. This is true in the Vegetable Kingdom, the Animal Kingdom and the
Mineral Kingdom. That the plant world and the animal world are filled with living beings is
obvious to all.
The mineral world is generally looked upon as nonliving because we only understand
carbon based life, but to the alchemist the mineral world is also teaming with life and
consciousness just as much as the other two kingdoms. The processes of alchemy reach into
each of the three kingdoms in order to bring its subjects to a higher degree of perfection.
In alchemy, all things are evolving but considered to be exposed to a wave of energies
becoming involved in matter as well, and thus subject to hindrances and impurities from
matter not ready or mature enough to evolve beyond a certain level (corruptible matter). As a
result the energies of life are weakened and the energies of matter predominate when it is the
energies of life which should predominate.
The alchemist believed that by understanding Nature's laws and applying them with
Art, that it is possible to remove hindrances to the evolutionary wave so that the energies of
life can predominate and lift the subject toward perfection.
Nature is the greatest alchemist of all. She has all of time to complete the process of
evolution which is constantly unfolding around us like a symphony. The alchemist seeks to
assist in this evolution utilizing Nature's own laws and methods.
In the Laboratory, the alchemist can demonstrate Nature's laws at work and can speed
the processes up.
Early observations of Nature revealed that she moves in cycles, that there is a rhythm
to everything. Vibration is a periodic event, circular in nature. Everything we see, everything
we know of is vibration and because of this, there are certain harmonies established between
From early times people have observed the stars in order to understand the rhythm of
Nature. If one intends to help the process of evolution, one has to keep within Nature's laws.
You would not go out and plant lettuce in the snow. So it is in the Laboratory, where the
alchemist would await a specific time to carry out an operation in order to capture the
momentum of subtle forces.
There are many such connections between gardening and alchemical works.
ASTROLOGY AND ALCHEMY
AS ABOVE SO BELOW
Astrology is intimately connected with the Hermetic Philosophy and supplies much of
the guidance for practical applications of the Alchemist's Art. The forces of nature have their
reflection at all levels of reality—the Salt, Sulfur and Mercury.
Man is a microcosm inseparable from his macrocosmic environment. The Sun has
always been considered the source of all life and light in our system. The Sun radiates out; the
planets absorb what they need then radiate the excess.
This forms the complex interplay of subtle energies that reach our planet and form the
basis for astrological studies. The stars also exert their energies and enter into this constant
interplay. Advances in Radio Astronomy have shown that we are constantly receiving energy
"fingerprints" from many stars as well as the planets.
In practice, all things are considered to be the product of their natural cycles. For
example, medicinal plants are harvested at the correct time in relation to the plant part
required. When the plant is operated on in the laboratory, each stage should be done at an
optimal astrological configuration harmonious to that operation. It has been said that without
knowledge of astrological tools and methods, the production of a true alchemical medicine is
Each illness appears like a vibratory disharmony or dissonance to our particular
waveform or field. Using a system of correspondences, alchemical medicine seeks to restore
the harmony of our true selves.
From ancient traditions to modern scientific studies, we know that medicinal herbs
have physiological effects on specific organ systems. Herbs, like the organs they affect, are
considered to fall under the influence of a particular planet or sign of the zodiac on the basis
of an affinity.
Each planetary sphere has a unique energetic expression and signature qualities
associated with it, such as color, musical tones, parts of the body, diseases, medical effects,
herbs, stones and metals. For example, the planet Venus is said to be the "ruler" of Copper
metal and the herb Yarrow, as well as affecting the kidneys in man.
This rulership is a two-way interaction called sympathy, and refers to the planetary
energies as they affect our world, and things of this world manifesting the different qualities
of these planetary energies. Today we might describe this "sympathy" as resonance. Each
thing below then, has a characteristic waveform resonating with planetary energies from
above in specific ways.
Within man's occult anatomy, these planetary representatives were often referred to as
our "Interior Stars." In Practical Alchemy, the timing of astrological events is used to assist
various aspects of the work on the three levels—Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury.
In the work with plants, the Moon's disposition is a very important consideration. The
Waxing Moon is good for Enriching an Essential element by circulations or distillations. Its
magnetic influence draws things up—volatilizing, exalting and spiritualizing them.
The Waning Moon is good for Separating the Pure from the Impure whether by
distillation, extraction, or calcinations, etc. Just as the dying moonlight, our matter is
subjected to the fermentation and putrefaction of death in order to release its essence, thus
separating the pure and the impure.
Astrology helps to harness subtle forces, which have an influence on our subject
matter. That there are physical forces at play has been demonstrated through studies such as
crystallization experiments, and capillary dynamics; but there is also a subtle, spiritual aspect
we seek to capture as well. Our material subject is the magnet which gathers the energy and
The Importance of the Birth Chart
Our personal natal horoscope provides us with a powerful tool for understanding our
own energy signature and how it is affected by other energy forms including matter. A
detailed examination of the birth chart takes time, but reveals one's essence.
The first concepts to examine in order to use this system are the individual planets and
zodiacal signs, their energies, and rulerships. By developing an understanding of these
sympathies and their interactions with each other, we can work to rectify the energetic
imbalances that can lead to illness, and also work to strengthen specific energies within
ourselves for physical or spiritual improvement.
Each individual at birth is considered to be of a particular zodiac type in that their
energetic imprint predisposes them to a particular temperament and also a predisposition to an
organ weakness which is peculiar to that sign of the zodiac.
There are a few approaches to working with planetary energies for healing. The most
simple is to use the individual planetary energies to support organs, systems, or functions of
the body, or use them to oppose disorders, all according to planetary rulership.
Another technique for using the planetary system of healing involves a more in-depth
study of the birth chart and of the whole self, rather than just the treatment of passing
symptoms and illnesses. It offers much deeper and longer-lasting balance and wellness. In this
approach, the birth information of the individual is examined, and planetary affinities are
The concept behind this is that at the time of birth, the planetary energies are locked up
in physical material and have a determined reflection, stamping their influences and energies
at each level of being. The rulership of the various houses in the birth chart reveals all types of
personal qualities, such as strengths, weaknesses, disease and health tendencies, and affinities
for certain methods of treatment.
The planetary energies can also be deliberately introduced in order to produce certain
effects in the body, mind, or spiritual level of a person. Each planetary influence can be
experienced and worked with in turn to create physical and spiritual balance.
In alchemical works, the pattern of life/death/rebirth is often repeated upon the subject
in various forms. For example, during distillation, our liquid passes into an invisible state then
condenses and manifests in an improved form. The alchemists viewed this as analogous to
death, a visit to the spiritual world then rebirth in the physical. Similarly during
recrystallization, our matter is dissolved into a medium and becomes clear, then made to
reappear as an improved form. In astrology, the birth chart shows the imprint of the cosmos
on the individual at birth. So too during those periods of rebirth of our matter there is the
imprint of the heavens. By repeatedly reinforcing a particular planetary power during these
multiple rebirths, our subject becomes polarized to that force.
Introduction to laboratory Alchemy
It is therefore necessary that theory is accompanied by practice, the one being the
consequence of the other. Only laboratory practice gives mastership, for what is practice if
not controlled by theory. The rigor of the former corrects the vagaries of the latter. The
disciple must exert himself to realize all his concepts.
— Magaphon's Commentary on Mutus Liber
In Practical Alchemy, there is only the One Thing and all that we perceive is an
adaptation of that One. The One takes on the "Clothing" of the Four Elements to bring forth
the Three Essentials of Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt. It is the Work of the alchemist to separate,
purify and recombine these basic principles until they are in perfect proportion and harmony
with each other. Alchemy is all about bringing things to a greater state of perfection.
Everything which is generated of its elements is divided into three, namely into Salt,
Sulfur, and Mercury. Learn the form which is peculiar to these three. One is liquor, and this
is the form of Mercury; one is oiliness which is the form of Sulfur; one is alkali, and this is
The three philosophical essentials are mirrored even to the physical level, and
manifested through particular forms which are harmonious to their nature. The Practical
Alchemist seeks to physically separate these three essentials from a substance, purify them,
and recombine them—a process termed Spagyrics by Paracelsus. The word Spagyric
(pronounced "spa jeer ik") is derived from the Greek words meaning "to separate and
The general process used in Spagyrics consists of three main steps:
1. Separation (of the Three Essentials)
3. Cohobation (or recombining)
Learning to spagyrically prepare herbs is a typical starting point for laboratory
alchemy. It provides experiences which develop skill and understanding of the Art and
Science involved, and can provide you with some very powerful remedies along the way.
These first experiments with plants lead the way to the "Lesser Circulation" or Plant
Stone (which is very similar to the "Greater Circulation" which produces the Philosopher's
Before we talk about the easy method, I want to describe the process in another more
detailed fashion because I think it more clearly illustrates the separation of the Three
Essentials. Let us say that we have selected the Sun-ruled herb Rosemary to work upon.
With an eye to the Sun and Moon's disposition, we gather some fresh Rosemary, chop
it finely and place it into a flask with a little water to make paste. We let it stand awhile to
loosen up, then steam is injected into the herb paste and the hot vapors arising are captured in
a cooling condenser. This distillate contains water from the steam and floating on the water
will form a layer of oil—the essential oil of Rosemary. This oil we collect. It is the first of the
Three Essentials and represents what the alchemists called the Alchemical Sulfur of the plant.
The oil is a material analog or vehicle for the subtle principle of Sulfur, the Soul or character
of the plant.
Our Rosemary remains in the flask as a watery mush and we allow this to ferment. In
fermentation, the plant "dies" and "gives up the ghost"—that is to say, the life force departs
into the watery medium. After fermentation we can distil from this mush a volatile liquid
which the ancients called the Alchemical Mercury. This volatile liquid, which is mainly
alcohol, carries the Spirit of the plant—the life force. Today we still buy "spirits" at the liquor
store and this is where the term comes from.
Remember, these physical materials are a reflection of the spiritual forces in Nature.
The alcohol contains the life force as its body in this realm. The alcohol is not the spirit but
merely a vehicle of spirit in the plant world, a focal point.
We now have separation of the Three Essentials, the oil or Sulfur, the Mercury as
alcohol, and the Salt, which still lies hidden in the extracted Rosemary residue. The next step
of the process is the purification of our separated essentials. The Mercury and Sulfur are
redistilled a number of times until they are highly refined in the physical sense, but also
exalted in the spiritual sense.
To obtain the Salt, the extracted plant material is dried and then incinerated to an ash.
This purges the accumulated impurities and structural components, which protected the plant
in its growing environment. They have served their purpose but are no longer necessary. The
light gray to white ash we obtain is dissolved in water, filtered and the liquid is then
evaporated leaving a purified white crystalline salt. This represents the Alchemical Salt, the
true body of the plant. With the separation and purification of our three essentials complete,
we move on to the final step of the Spagyric process, that of cohobation.
In a sort of resurrection, the finely powdered Salt is saturated with its Sulfur and
awakened into activity by addition of its life force, the Mercury. After a period of digestion,
our "Elixir" is complete. The alchemists considered such preparations to be exalted and
evolved living medicines able to express the plant's true healing potentials not only on the
body but at the level of the soul and spirit as well.
When now the Spiritus and Corpus come together and are united after their
preparation, one can do wonderful things with them, since they have then a hundred times
more power than they had previously, for after the Conjunctio of the Souls and Body there
exists a Glorified Corpus and a Great Elixir. With it one performs miracles.
— Isaac Holland (circa 1480)
The Easy Method
OK, now for the easy method. Everyone can do this and you probably have most of
the materials at home. The Mercury within a kingdom is universal. The life force that
animates me is the same as that within each of you. The spirit we distil from one plant is
largely the same as we would obtain from distilling any other fermented plant. That being the
case we can easily obtain our first Essential from the local liquor store. (They sell spirits.)
Ideally, we would buy Everclear, which is 95% alcohol (but this depends on which
State you live in.) 100 proof vodka is usually available. This is 50% alcohol and is a
satisfactory medium for this beginning operation, but we can use any strong alcohol for this
first operation provided that Only Potable Alcohol is used. Do not use De-Natured Alcohol or
The Mercury of each kingdom has an affinity for the Sulfur of that kingdom. So to
begin, take a plant you wish to work with, and grind it to a fine powder. Place the powder into
a jar (a canning jar works well) then pour your alcohol over the powder to cover it by one or
two finger widths. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top and screw the lid on tightly. (The
plastic wrap prevents contact with the metal top.)
Place the sealed jar into a warm place out of direct light. The top of a water heater is a
good spot. Let this stand for about two weeks and remember to shake it well every day. After
the two weeks are up you will see that the alcohol has become deeply colored. We want to
collect this extract and a good way to do it is to pour the entire contents into an old nylon
stocking placed into a second jar. Wearing rubber gloves, squeeze the nylon to obtain as much
of the liquid as possible, then seal the jar and let it stand. This liquid extract contains the
combined Mercury and Sulfur of the plant.
Take the extracted plant residue and place it into a fire-resistant dish outside. Touch a
match to the herb and let it burn down to an ash. Grind the ash very fine and return it to the
dish. Then place it over a gas burner or in the oven under broil to make it as light gray to
white as possible. This ash contains the Salt principle of the plant.
Quickly grind the ash while still warm, then add it to the extract of the plant you
collected earlier. Again seal the jar and let it stand in a warm place for at least a week. Shake
the jar daily very well.
At the end of the week, filter the liquid through a coffee filter and let it stand in a clean
glass container for about forty-eight hours to see if any more insolubles settle out. Decant the
clarified extract into dropper bottles for use. This is now a simple Spagyric elixir containing
the three essentials of the plant in an exalted form and able to express the plant's truest and
most powerful healing potentials on the various levels of our constitution.
Remember that in each of these operations, if we can work with conscious intent and
create a sacred space to work from, the more effective the end result will be. We also want to
keep within astrological timings favorable to the plant as much as we are able.
If one is skilled in astrology, one can elect a powerful time to work the various
operations. Perhaps the easiest thing to do here in these beginning experiments is to take note
of the waxing / waning Moon as we mentioned earlier and also work on the day whose planet
rules the herb we operate on (preferably within the hour following sunrise.)
Creating the Seven basics
Our suggestion here is that you create what are known as the "Seven Basics." By
utilizing the Spagyric methods just described, one can create Seven Elixirs—one for each day
of the week.
Your Sun herb elixir is taken on Sunday, a Moon herb elixir on Monday, and so on. A
few drops in a small amount of water or wine is a good way to start. This will begin to gently
harmonize each system of the body and start the process of rebalancing and transformation at
all levels. See the Appendix for information on herbs and their ruling planets.
You really are what you eat. By using these Seven Basics over time, their refined and
spiritualized matter become part of you and in turn you become more refined and
spiritualized. It is said that the attitude of the artist, more than the process itself, is what makes
alchemy "The Divine Art." This attitude and energy becomes transferred to the matter being
acted upon and affects the outcome of the operation. The energy is released again within us
from the Elixir in a more noble state.
You are the lead which is transmuted into pure gold. As with any new skill, we start
with simple things and progress to more complex operations as our skill and experience lead
us. We have to make a start somewhere, and these simple procedures form the beginnings of a
fascinating process of self-transformation.
I want to mention something about Spagyrics vs. Alchemy vs. Chemistry. In
chemistry, we take certain ingredients and combine them through a process to obtain a certain
result. And it is always the same result whether I mix it or you mix it. In alchemy this is not
always the case. There is a subtle something, which can influence the end result.
The chemist works with materials which are compounded and purified by processes,
which the alchemist would call Unphilosophical and the materials so produced are dead
bodies only. So what is Philosophical? To have your materials be philosophically produced
means you must follow the philosophy of alchemy and realize that you are working with the
life force and consciousness of your materials as well as the body. Again, the quality of our
attention affects the quality of life in our subject just as with a houseplant or pet.
The processes used in laboratory alchemy strive to capture and preserve the operation
of subtle essences in a suitable vehicle all the way to their material analogs. Between 1600
and 1700 there occurred a transition period between alchemy and the new science of
chemistry. It is during this time period that we can find some of the most clearly written
descriptions of processes used in alchemy.
Apothecaries of the time were acquainted with the processes and used them to
compound certain medicines. This branch of the pharmacy at that time came to be known as
Spagyrics and related mostly to the preparation of plants. Spagyric preparations became
widely popular but due largely to the long processing times and labor, they slowly faded into
obscurity at the hands of faster, cheaper substitutes born of a developing chemical industry.
Some writers say Spagyrics is the work on plants and alchemy is the work on metals.
In truth, alchemy is a universal process working at all levels. Whereas the Spagyric process is
fundamental to both, alchemy in addition seeks to promote the matter's evolution. In a
practical sense, Spagyrics leads to powerful medicines for the body. Anyone who follows the
methods can produce Spagyric medicines. There is no strong dependence on the operator's
state of mind.
Alchemy aims to produce medicines for the soul and spirit levels of being, as well as
the body, and the operator is strongly linked to the material operated upon. The proper state of
mind is essential for success. For example, once you have purified your essentials to a certain
degree, they become very susceptible to mental impressions by those around them—good or
bad. This is another reason for the secrecy surrounding alchemical works. Very often, only the
artist is allowed to see or handle materials at certain points. These processes and materials can
lead to deep insight or contact with alternate realms of consciousness, thus bringing direct
knowledge to the alchemist. This is a type of knowing that can not be written because words
are too limiting. It is the marriage of intellect and intuition or the Sun and the Moon, as the
alchemists would say.
Alchemy is more than just something you do in a laboratory. It is a spiritual path
leading one to enlightenment—to evolving. It can be thought of as a psycho-physiological
transformation directed by human self-consciousness.
The Great Work, or Magnum Opus of alchemy, leads to the spiritual and physical
regeneration of the alchemist himself. The Philosophers agree that the process consists of
stages, which are repeated over and over again on the matter until perfection is obtained.
These stages or Operations, represent the active principles at work in nature whether we are
speaking of the work on plants, metals or on our own body and psyche. The alchemical work
is not just a "spring cleaning" or "detox session" from which we fall back into the same
routine. Instead it is a true and lasting purification.
That portion of The Great Work which has to do with the transmutation of the
alchemist himself is a process whereby the vibratory activity of our "interior stars" is so
modified that the lower rates of vibration are transmuted and sublimated, or lifted up.
This transmutation of the subtle force working through the interior stars has a triple
consequence. It leads to spiritual illumination. It presents the alchemist with radiant health,
due to the perfect combination and coordination of chemical and electrical energies, which
maintain the form and functioning of the human body. And finally, this process opens the
activity of powers which are normally dormant in most human beings. Paracelsus said, "You
will transmute nothing if you have not first transmuted yourself."
Man himself is the primary subject of the Hermetic Art. It is useless to try to make the
Philosopher's Stone outside oneself before one has approached the first part of the operation,
which slowly transforms the operator himself into the Living Stone. Only then will the
Alchemist possess the necessary skill and understanding of subtle forces to complete the work
of making an actual substance with the power to transmute other bodies.
The study of Astrology and practical Qabalah provide us with tools for establishing
relationships between seemingly unrelated concepts and materials as well as a technology for
the raising of spiritual energy, the Secret Fire in Man. These are essential parts of the
alchemist's discipline. Trying to separate out the physical actions of the alchemist in the
laboratory from these interior connections, bridging the spiritual and physical realms, reduces
it to common chemistry.
ORA ET LABORA
The alchemical dictum Ora Et Labora (pray and work) was the ancient guideline for
practice. Our word "laboratory" comes from it. The lab is a temple and oratory wherein we
labor. The laboratory work provides us with some powerful tools for accomplishing this Great
Work. The creation of our tinctures and elixirs is a first step in correcting the imbalances in
our own Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt. But there are many improvements that can be made to
augment their power and effectiveness. Some are simple; others require much more time and
Each process teaches and provides insight into Nature's operations. Before we can
approach this subject however, we need to understand something of the methodology of
laboratory alchemy. Many people have the impression that to even begin alchemical work,
one must have all manner of expensive chemical apparatus at one's disposal. Not true. You
can begin your own alchemical laboratory with common household items just as we did in
preparing the "Seven Basics." As one continues the Work, one finds that the materials one
needs have a way of showing up when they are needed.
In the laboratory, fire is our main tool for transformation. Alchemy has been called the
Work of Vulcan (blacksmith of the gods) and the old masters called themselves Fire
Philosophers. The Sages agree that control of the fire is the key to success in alchemical
Not very long ago, there were no thermostatic controls like we have today, and not
much further back, there were no thermometers. Yet the alchemists were able to perform
delicate distillations as well as prolonged searing heats of materials using coal and charcoal
furnaces. Anyone who has ever stoked a woodstove or campfire (or even a barbeque) must
appreciate the dedication and diligence required to keep a crucible at red heat for a month or
even longer using a coal furnace.
The Four Degrees of Fire
There are many grades of fire me