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Andro
02-13-2013, 10:14 PM
Regarding the books written by the authors we consider to be 'The Classics'...

Throughout years of reading, practical experience and much applied discernment, I have come to the realization that a considerable number of Alchemical writings (that we usually cherish) are in fact close to utterly useless when it comes to the Great Work itself. People were people then, as they are today - and I don't need to elaborate on what this means...

And the texts that are actually useful, even the ones more difficult to access publicly, are almost never to be regarded as plain or explicit recipes/methods/instructions/indications. In all or most cases, certain key factors will be either omitted or so cleverly disguised that they can only be found if the readers already know in advance what they are looking for.

This is partially because what we usually refer to as the 'Alchemical Corpus' actually consists of more than the writings themselves. The writings are in most cases (not unlike most spiritual traditions) accompanied by ORAL TRANSMISSIONS, from one generation of Alchemists to another, and these oral transmissions would most likely be of an Initiatory nature, much more and beyond disclosing plain instructions or recipes. There is of course another important factor related to these orally transmitted initiations, which is the readiness of those who receive them.

Like in all Arts and Sciences (let's call them 'The Liberal Arts'), one must pass through a process of selection, either natural & auto-initiatory (not uncommon), and/or by a Mentor who is an already accomplished MA (Master of the Arts). Alchemy is no different in this regard.

Another interesting phenomenon is when people gather in a non-hierarchical way to cooperate in The Great Work. Such people usually will each have Something of Value to bring to the table, for the sake of sharing and mutual enhancement. And by 'Something of Value', I do not mean access to some rare alchemical texts with 'clear instructions' or similar. Such associations/study groups based on texts alone are usually doomed to failure. Much more than just texts is needed for such associations or cooperative endeavors to work.

To summarize, our precious alchemical texts are only part of the equation, among other factors of equal (if not greater) importance. Yes, the texts can be very valuable, but definitely not enough in and of themselves.

This is just my perspective. You don't have to believe it. Just follow your best texts to the letter and see where it gets you...

Rheomode
03-04-2013, 02:12 AM
I have come to the realization that a considerable number of Alchemical writings (that we usually cherish) are in fact close to utterly useless when it comes to the Great Work itself.

Would you mind elaborating on this? My assumption is that by "classics" you are referring to 17th-18th century texts and earlier.. maybe you could cite some of the texts or particular authors you are thinking of, and why you feel the works are close to utterly useless? Just curious :)

Bel Matina
03-04-2013, 06:22 AM
There are a lot of reasons why the books are veiled and incomplete. Any text unfortunately assumes context that is only really accessible at the time they were written. Many books in the tradition are lost in their original language, including the Emerald tablet (I think Egyptian is a good candidate, given the way the prepositions are translated into Arabic in different manuscripts, but all that means is we have no real basis for reconstructing the sense). The way people use text has changed dramatically over the centuries. For example, the entire sutra literature is essentially lecture notes originally written on palm leaves, with a premium value on economy of space. Some of them are surprisingly clear (and it's really beautiful when they pull it off) but a lot of them read like a professor's notes scrawled onto a napkin before a lecture and are frankly indecipherable even with copious post facto exegeses desperately trying to justify that they have some relevance to anything.

A lot of the early texts were designed to be read by initiates of specific mystery schools, and so the authors could count on not only a shared experience but a personal acquaintance and shared philosophical background. Once a discourse is started the tone tends to be respected and many later authors (I have to plead guilty to this myself) emulate this mysterious and "ecstatic" (okay maybe literally ecstatic to you, but that doesn't always translate well to another reader) style to the detriment of their purpose in writing. Until the eighteenth century authors could rely on their readers to have studied years in person, since it was mostly passed down through the universities in Europe, and until the Golden Dawn broke up and all got publishing deals authors could rely on their readers to at leads be well studied in the literature, or at least to have the money to buy all those books after reading the new text. Combined with the sense already by the eighteenth century that enough books on the topic had been published you'd be a fool not to get it by now (who was it who said you could make the road from Mainz to Frankfurt nice and soft with them?), there was also a lot of sloppy and self-indulgent work done during this period, to say nothing of the shucksters who started getting into the game around this time. I suppose the prime example is the Rosicrucian manifestos. To really understand these books, you have to know the context in which they were published. At the time, the printing press was still new media. Books were sold primarily in huge book fairs in a few German cities. These fairs would have the whole square full of tables piled with books, each with a publisher trying to sell them. The "second" edition of the Fama Fraternitatis was a run of I think about a hundred copies - as few as they could print and still have it published. Being a tiny run from an obscure publisher, the authors could feel assured that nobody would care at all. This was the contemporary equivalent of a Geocities page in the nineties, and the most likely culprits were university students - if you read through the alchemical symbolism the book is mostly about how cool they are in the most vague way possible for being initiates of the art and how they "totally have to get together every year, man" and even a shout-out to their bro who died. The rules listed for being a Rosicrucian are to dress like a normal person, meet once a year, and give free medical treatment to the poor. Call me cynical, but I can think of one of those rules I expect they followed after graduation.

Point being that each text is embedded firmly in the world that created it, which is to say the internal world of its authors and no other. In as much as you find you have things in common with these authors, you may be able to get a bit of help on the way, but not for nothing that the texts are unanimous in saying that you will get nothing from the word in and of itself, that you will find our first matter only in your own experience. You may get some mileage out of checking someone else's notes, but your results, and your work, are your own.

Also, not that you can't find inspiration anywhere, I like to be sure if the notes are lab notes or slanderous encoded messages with a very specific intended audience regarding a mutual acquaintance.

That's just a personal preference, though.

Rheomode
03-04-2013, 08:09 PM
Any text unfortunately assumes context that is only really accessible at the time they were written.

Point being that each text is embedded firmly in the world that created it, which is to say the internal world of its authors and no other.

Are these deductions based on your personal experience, or is this a commonly held idea being promulgated via current literature, or both? Can you give me examples of this kind of dating due to language in the western alchemical texts? For instance, would this view be applicable with regard to the language used by Geber, Ripley, or Philalethes (Eirenaeus)?

I am curious about this .. from my perspective, even at a base level, it seems that if you were to ask a person to name a few qualities associated with a lion, or water, or the sun, you'd probably receive the same answers from a person a thousand+ years ago that you would from someone today, almost regardless of global location.. to me this implies a degree of accessibility somewhat free of time constraints or popular culture. Perhaps my perspective is flawed?

Kiorionis
03-04-2013, 08:30 PM
I am curious about this .. from my perspective, even at a base level, it seems that if you were to ask a person to name a few qualities associated with a lion, or water, or the sun, you'd probably receive the same answers from a person a thousand+ years ago that you would from someone today, almost regardless of global location.. to me this implies a degree of accessibility somewhat free of time constraints or popular culture. Perhaps my perspective is flawed?

What if -- regardless of timeline -- they had never seen nor heard of a lion?
what answer, or qualities, would you expect them to give then?

Krisztian
03-04-2013, 08:41 PM
Archetypes do exist, some aspects of the collective pool we call consciousness (of the humanoid form).

I suspect, having to know intimately the Northern aboriginals, their practices and symbols, they would probably attribute that power and strength and grace to a grizzly bear instead of the lion.

Kiorionis
03-04-2013, 09:22 PM
May be true, but they still wouldn't fully understand the lion; and their knowledge of the lion will only be as good as your ability to describe a lion to them.
so when an alchemist is talking about a lion or water or the sun, is it more helpful to change it into some grizzly bear or try and understand the lion?
Bel Matina's post, I thought, did an excellent job explaining the internal world of an author. I would also like to hear Androgynus' opinion on it all.

My point relates to the original topic. Texts are helpful, but say you want to work on a material that isn't described in any books, and no processes are given for its manipulation on the internet? I think this is where the application of the Artist's understanding and skill would come in.

Krisztian
03-04-2013, 10:28 PM
Adam McLean maintains also that to know the symbols (and meanings) of an alchemical text, one must know the historical and cultural context it was written in.

Joseph Campbell emphasized the opposite, believing after travelling the world, that all cultures have one mythology (viz., use the same archetypal imagery).

Both are valid, for me.

Bel Matina
03-04-2013, 11:55 PM
Any communication using language (arguably, any communication in general) places the greater part of the burden of meaning on an assumed common context. In using the word "lion", not only am I assuming that you know what a lion is and that those letters refer to it, but in using the term metaphorically I may rely on you knowing things about the behavior of lions and their relationships with other elements of the world. Someone who knows of a lion only as a fearsome animal in a museum will not understand metaphors relying on, say, the fact that the females do pretty much all of the hunting. Someone who lives their lives in close proximity to lions may not even think of the possibility of someone knowing about lions but not knowing that about them.

While there is plenty of common context to point to with authors in any period, these are fundamentally common elements, and alchemy is nothing if not a holistic science. As otherwise inert substances may react in the presence of a catalyst, the same set of elements may produce vastly different structures depending on what else is mixed in there. The context on which the text relies may thus be very different from what we expect.

Awani
03-05-2013, 01:19 AM
Adam McLean maintains also that to know the symbols (and meanings) of an alchemical text, one must know the historical and cultural context it was written in.

He also refuses to see any subtext and values an alchemical text only literarily. Which is a shame IMO, but then again scholars are like that alas.

:cool:

Rheomode
03-05-2013, 01:45 AM
So.. for the sake of reining this in a bit (but more importantly, in the interest of getting answers to my original questions :D), let's confine this to the western alchemical tradition and its roots, so, loosely following that line that moved from Egypt through Greece and the Middle East, and then through Europe to where we are now. This would include the classical works that were the topic of this thread. All along that line throughout the history, lions were present on the continents, they were (and are) still found in Asia, Africa, Europe, N America, etc. There are images of lions carved in and painted on stone thousands of years ago, and I think it's safe to say that imagery plays a role in alchemical studies (in fact lions seem to be pretty common in alchemical and heraldic emblems), so in that respect, the written language barrier is basically breached. Likewise, if you spend some time looking at the images painted on the ancient temples in Egypt, I expect you'll recognize a few philosophical ideas being communicated there, without having to read the language.

And further, let's just say that during over this entire time period, anyone drawn to the alchemical art would have been equipped with a basic understanding of what eagles and fires and moons are. :)

The reason I have posed questions on this thread is because this is a situation I have been discovering lately that is super interesting to me, I don't see a right or wrong side to things, just differences in perspectives. It seems that as a perspective shifts, all things can be true in one way or another. Lots of people I have talked to are convinced that they have one the one true way according to particular system or master, to the thing that everyone is looking for, and they'll be happy to hand you a list of discredits for all the others, and I have no reason to disbelieve them. But how can there be 40 different "one true ways?" :D I suspect that this is indicative of something, but I don't know what yet, so I'd like to learn more about it. It's kind of fascinating actually.

In this thread, the idea was posited and subsequently supported that the classical alchemical texts are fairly useless in this Art. I just happen to know a person or two that has had the exact opposite experience, meaning that they are finding that some of these texts are in fact the most useful and reliable in the Art, which negates the constraints due to the era of their origin. So this is why I am curious about the distinction between people then and people now and how the differences between them would render the classical works inaccessible.

Thanks for your patience!

Bel Matina
03-05-2013, 04:26 AM
I didn't read anyone as suggesting that the texts are useless. I think the value of comparing experiences with someone is self-evident. I certainly have my own list of texts I like to recommend. But what I've understood to be written here is exactly what you're getting at: that there is no, "one true way" that isn't exclusive to a single experience, that the differences between the "paths" are a matter of perspective and technique. To paraphrase the Turba, "it seems as if the philosophers are in disagreement, but everywhere we have spoken we have spoken in perfect concord."

This is not to say that it's not possible to recapture the context of an antique text, and this is why we've recommended reading up on the author of a book you read, and on their life and times and home.

Another factor which will lead to experiences of uneducated people finding wisdom in the texts is where the context is so lost to them they see whatever makes sense to them in it. This is like reading tarot or casting lots - you see things you already know but couldn't bring to words.

As a false counterpoint let me put it another way - there is one true way, but it can't be captured in words. It's like trying to fish for air with a net. Anyone who says they've caught it is trying to sell it to you.

solomon levi
03-05-2013, 04:54 AM
imo, the context is given: the PHILOSOPHERS' stone.
reading Plato, Plotinus, etc has been very useful to me. also reading those who use Sophia as an archetype... kabbalah (refers to Hokmah), and Gnosticism i've found useful. it's all useful imo. i read Rumi and Tagore and see lots of alchemical symbolism/references. the Bible is also a great resource. and one can hardly due without mythology, Homer, Hesiod, etc...
lege, lege, lege! :)

solomon levi
03-05-2013, 04:57 AM
i guess i should say it takes a lot of reading to come to the point of burning your books and knowing what is useless.

Bel Matina
03-05-2013, 05:32 AM
That's exactly because in any given texts there will be some places you can find the context and others where you can't. The tradition becomes a context for itself, and you end up bouncing from one book to another, and back to the first. Every pass lights up a little more of the last book. Hence the "garden of the mysteries" in which we'll get lost without Ariadne's thread. We've been doing it this way very self-consciously at least since Della Mirandola, and it seems to work well enough.

Rheomode
03-05-2013, 03:10 PM
Aww, maybe McLean can be a little cranky at times (and who isn't really...), but he has spent the better part of the last two decades coloring and painstakingly reproducing alchemical emblems and imagery by painting them. Seems odd that a person that has focused that much of their mental and emotional energy into the traditional imagery wouldn't glean a thing or two after a while.. it's a pretty solid long term practice :)

Or not, who knows.


I didn't read anyone as suggesting that the texts are useless.

I expect it's entirely my misunderstanding then, because that's how I read the following:


I have come to the realization that a considerable number of Alchemical writings (that we usually cherish) are in fact close to utterly useless when it comes to the Great Work itself


Any text unfortunately assumes context that is only really accessible at the time they were written.



Point being that each text is embedded firmly in the world that created it, which is to say the internal world of its authors and no other.

That's why I asked for some specific examples illustrating this from the classical texts, to get some clarity and a larger understanding of what is being suggested, that's all. I have no issue accepting that I've misread what's been posted here :)

solomon levi
03-07-2013, 01:16 AM
they're not useless. they make great coasters, or stack them like steps for capillary distallation, bruise plants with them before maceration... :D
"separate the subtle from the gross with great ingenuity" :)

Rheomode
03-07-2013, 02:50 PM
Lol.. for the Love of All that is Good and Right in the Universe, do NOT use books as coasters! You can send them to me instead, c/o Jen, at the Classical Alchemical Text Preservation Fund, or, CATFP. I will see that they find good homes.

Honestly.. did you not hold a poll here on the Greatest Alchemist? Looks like a list of classical alchemists to me (although I couldn't help but notice the absence of Eirenaeus Philalethes..), what on earth were your criteria for selection? Who wore the best wig? Who had the biggest alembick? Who, iyho, actually produced gold ? :D

Krisztian
03-07-2013, 03:24 PM
Aww, maybe McLean can be a little cranky at times (and who isn't really...), but he has spent the better part of the last two decades coloring and painstakingly reproducing alchemical emblems and imagery by painting them. Seems odd that a person that has focused that much of their mental and emotional energy into the traditional imagery wouldn't glean a thing or two after a while.. it's a pretty solid long term practice :)

McLean has made considerable contributions to the field of alchemy, and as of late, to tarot. His analysis of texts does tend to stay on the 'safe side' but one can easily build upon his method, if the right intent and perseverance is there. I do know that I have also seen him be 'off target' (i.e., redrawing of Plate 7) especially when dealing with Crowning of Nature, my most beloved of all manuscripts. I prefer the Barchusen Series, in some regards over his.

My experiences lead me to say that if he advanced his analysis (viz., interpretations) in parallel with laboratory work, he would perhaps change some of the comments he made in the past. To only interpret intellectually, and without self or tutor initiations, one can easily fumble around, and miss tiny clues.

For me, in the greater scheme of things, it is all learning and can be beneficial.

Andro
03-07-2013, 03:37 PM
Maybe it was I who wasn't clear enough.

The good Alchemical texts are useless for The Great Work without the complementary aspects/keys (received orally from a Mentor/Adept and/or via personal Revelation/Auto-Initiation).

But eventually, yes, when the 'One Thing' is fully internalized (conceptually, mentally, emotionally, philosophically, etc...) - I don't think there is a need for the texts anymore, unless for occasional reference or unless you already know what they are talking about (as opposed to trying to figure it out).

IMO.

Bel Matina
03-07-2013, 03:52 PM
I find that the best authors tend to have layers where little tips and tricks pop out at you when you've gotten the context to understand them. But certainly once you've made the stone complete, anything else becomes unnecessary.

Rebus7
03-08-2013, 06:45 AM
McLean has made considerable contributions to the field of alchemy, and as of late, to tarot. His analysis of texts does tend to stay on the 'safe side' but one can easily build upon his method, if the right intent and perseverance is there. I do know that I have also seen him be 'off target' (i.e., redrawing of Plate 7) especially when dealing with Crowning of Nature, my most beloved of all manuscripts. I prefer the Barchusen Series, in some regards over his.

My experiences lead me to say that if he advanced his analysis (viz., interpretations) in parallel with laboratory work, he would perhaps change some of the comments he made in the past. To only interpret intellectually, and without self or tutor initiations, one can easily fumble around, and miss tiny clues.

For me, in the greater scheme of things, it is all learning and can be beneficial.

I think Krisztian here has made the most important point in the discussion, in that only through the laboratory can the sheep ultimately be sorted from the goats, or the truth from the fantasy. The academic, historical or psychological study of alchemy alone will never produce a true understanding but many apparent illusory illuminations seem to occur, until they are put to the practical test. I don’t know how many times I was totally convinced and excited that I was on the ‘right’ path, only to face disappointment in the laboratory. Nevertheless, each ‘failure’ caused me to reread, reject or reinterpret some classical text, so that an ongoing informed feedback between the theoria and praxis over several years enabled me greater discernment in separating the truth from the disinformation in the classics.

Illen A. Cluf
03-08-2013, 12:09 PM
I think Krisztian here has made the most important point in the discussion, in that only through the laboratory can the sheep ultimately be sorted from the goats, or the truth from the fantasy. The academic, historical or psychological study of alchemy alone will never produce a true understanding but many apparent illusory illuminations seem to occur, until they are put to the practical test. I don’t know how many times I was totally convinced and excited that I was on the ‘right’ path, only to face disappointment in the laboratory. Nevertheless, each ‘failure’ caused me to reread, reject or reinterpret some classical text, so that an ongoing informed feedback between the theoria and praxis over several years enabled me greater discernment in separating the truth from the disinformation in the classics.

I couldn't agree more. I've had to let go of a few pet theories as a result of experimentation, and I've discovered new unexpected approaches as a result of experimentation. But experimentation in the first place is totally useless without first having a very sound basis of the theory behind the texts.

Rheomode
03-08-2013, 03:45 PM
For me, in the greater scheme of things, it is all learning and can be beneficial.

I agree! And thank you all for the further clarifications, this is helpful to me.

There is another thing I am curious about now though, since it has come up. I guess that I have been under the impression that maybe the work keeps going in a sense, even after the Stone is accomplished, when I read suggestions such as: "Even thus saith Hermes: Through long years I have not ceased to experiment, neither have I have spared any labour of mind, " or, "... (unless thou make Gold to be thy final object, and so thou shalt never come hither) that thou art but now come into the Mystical School of the hidden wonders of God, in which thou mayst every day see new Miracles, if thou be studious and desirable of knowledge..." There also seems to be quite a bit of documentation on different ways of creating or perfecting things like Mercury, or perfecting and improving a process that was initially used for achieving a particular goal, like maybe sublimation. And they kind of strike me as experimentations performed after achieving the Stone, which gives me the impression that I might actually hang onto those texts for a while, even after reaching the perceived goal.

When I reflect on my experience so far, I have noted a few areas that I would like to go back and explore or improve upon, once I get a better handle on things and my focus is freed up a bit.

Have I been reading the wrong books? Or perhaps I am misinterpreting what I am reading due to a lack of understanding?

Is there a consensus regarding which classical texts or authors should be rejected, and which ones are in fact genuine?

And as an aside, I hope I am not coming off as trying to test anyone or push my own ideas forward... I honestly live in a perpetual state of seeking out my own flaws and errors in judgement so that I can amend them. This forum just felt like a good place to find some light.

Bel Matina
03-08-2013, 04:34 PM
You will never run out of new media into which you may project and multiply the stone. The more new things you find, the more they are one thing. The more everything is one thing, the more new things you find.
_____________________________________

Mod note: Things kind of drifted off-topic from here on, so this is continued on a new spin-off thread: States, Cycles & Projections of the ONE 'Making Matter' (and Stone) (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?3452-States-Cycles-Projections-of-the-ONE-Making-Matter-%28and-Stone%29)

Krisztian
03-08-2013, 06:26 PM
There is another thing I am curious about now though, since it has come up. I guess that I have been under the impression that maybe the work keeps going in a sense, even after the Stone is accomplished. . . .

The Lapis is only a catalyst, a beginning, 'a gear shift' of sort, that will now shift the body in and out of this reality here [at will]. For whatever "here" means is also quite likely not what people think here is.

The Lapis is a very highly condensed form of energy.

As one eats the fruits of the Other Side [to be poetic] more and more, this here reality, one can say the physicality of it, loses its attraction, and so you take your body with you. So that one can come back without actual painful and traumatizing birth again. Not to promote again Crowning of Nature but in some manuscript versions it is also called Opus Angelorum! Which very much at least to me promotes the theory that one joins the "angels". Regrettably though that word in reality is likely also quite different than what traditionally people believed.

Fulcanelli was the only alchemist I recall discussing similar notions. Someone, much more tech savvy Forum member than I, would probably easily find that section somewhere?

solomon levi
03-09-2013, 03:16 PM
Lol.. for the Love of All that is Good and Right in the Universe, do NOT use books as coasters! You can send them to me instead, c/o Jen, at the Classical Alchemical Text Preservation Fund, or, CATFP. I will see that they find good homes.

Honestly.. did you not hold a poll here on the Greatest Alchemist? Looks like a list of classical alchemists to me (although I couldn't help but notice the absence of Eirenaeus Philalethes..), what on earth were your criteria for selection? Who wore the best wig? Who had the biggest alembick? Who, iyho, actually produced gold ? :D

lol!

solomon levi
03-09-2013, 03:26 PM
You will never run out of new media into which you may project and multiply the stone. The more new things you find, the more they are one thing. The more everything is one thing, the more new things you find.

the more you know, the more you realise how little you know, and how much more infinite infinity is. :)

Rheomode
03-09-2013, 04:29 PM
the more you know, the more you realise how little you know, and how much more infinite infinity is.

This is one of my favorite things about the journey, I get one answer and suddenly either 15 new questions sprout, or a few I was in possession of become larger in scope. It's really enjoyable :)


The Lapis is only a catalyst, a beginning, 'a gear shift' of sort, that will now shift the body in and out of this reality here [at will]. For whatever "here" means is also quite likely not what people think here is.

Thank you for this, it echoes my current perceptions. And double thanks for bringing the Crowning of Nature back into my view! That was actually one of the first manuscripts that reached me and it's amazing to come back to it now. I went looking around after you mentioned plate 7, and can I ask you, is this the version of plate that you mention preferring:

http://archive.org/stream/johannisconradib00barc#page/n541/mode/1up

I noticed in Klossowski de Rola's Secret Art book, that he includes another version of this plate from a manuscript from the Biblioteque de l'Arsenal in which the lion is not breathing fire, nor does it have the three tufts on the tail.

Really interesting, all the slight variations between these plates.

~Jen

Krisztian
03-09-2013, 06:07 PM
Thank you for this, it echoes my current perceptions. And double thanks for bringing the Crowning of Nature back into my view! That was actually one of the first manuscripts that reached me and it's amazing to come back to it now. I went looking around after you mentioned plate 7. . . .Really interesting, all the slight variations between these plates.

It is my opinion that including the black toad on Plate 7 (left out on Mclean's version; Plate 14 in Burchusen's, de Rola just copied) shows where the matter is to be at this conjunction. I saw the black leathery skin of the toad at this stage in the flask. I only know that because laboratory work accompanies my theoretical. For a researcher who's only theoretical, it makes sense to leave out the black toad, and only mention "The Green Lion", as did Mclean.

Plates were originally woodcut in 16th century; modern versions are then redrawn and certain details don't make it or it receives new embellishments.

Rheomode
03-09-2013, 09:26 PM
So upon closer inspection, I noticed that the link I posted above to the 1718 Barchusen text is missing the page with the first 5 plates.. you can see a blank page with the imprints, but the page itself is gone. Odd! I found the first 5 here:

http://www.massimomarra.net/1066/J-C-Barchusen-Sequenza-simbolica-da-De-Alchimia-vel-crysopoeia-in-Elementa-Chemiae-1718-Parte-prima-Tavole-1-25

But it seems that people that have made their own version of these plates now start with plate 6, the Ancient Chaos. Seems they've cut off the last two plates as well and trimmed a couple throughout.. thanks for directing me towards the original, I think I am beginning to understand your view :)

Krisztian
03-10-2013, 07:23 PM
. . . nor does it have the three tufts on the tail. . . .

The three "tufts on the tail" is significant from my understanding. It refers to me of the three fires, namely, solar, vulcanic/terrestrial, and astral (Axiokersa), if you want further information on this particular aspect of Plate 14, Moreh of Inner Garden Research Group writes about it on their website http://www.innergarden.org/en/article4.html, I mean about the 'elements'.

Take a look at the tail of the Green Lion (Plate 14), then compare the "fires" and their positioning with that of the tufts? Do you see a pattern?


Really interesting, all the slight variations between these plates.

In terms of laboratory work, the Barchusen Series rings closes to detailing the path. There's one Plate, I believe, no.16 that speaks plenty about the type of athanor, well, more like heating that's required; it's missing from McLean's.

Krisztian
03-10-2013, 07:30 PM
So upon closer inspection, I noticed that the link I posted above to the 1718 Barchusen text is missing the page with the first 5. . . .

Those early Plates appear to refer to 'preparatory' states, probably both inner and outer.

Plate 10 is quite lovely, a mind that can express thoughts and actions in such a simple artistic manner should be called Magus.

Rheomode
03-12-2013, 05:42 PM
Take a look at the tail of the Green Lion (Plate 14), then compare the "fires" and their positioning with that of the tufts? Do you see a pattern?

I think so :)

I don't understand the reason for trimming down the number of plates though.. it seems that keeping as much of the original information intact as possible would be the most logical route. Why not just append an adjusted interpretation? I am unaware of things, I think.. can one person know what would be most useful for all? Concerning the preparatory plates, I feel like these could still be important for some, and possibly even something as small as the difference in the letters between plate 3 and plate 78 might be relevant information. Or perhaps that's just the result of sloppy printing, who knows :)

Krisztian
03-13-2013, 12:45 AM
I don't understand the reason for trimming down the number of plates though.. it seems that keeping as much of the original information intact as possible would be the most logical route.

One word, ego's intellect. Academia always seems to think that they know. (Having said that, I do respect McLean, and I know enough about his works that he doesn't believe himself as one, an academic that is.)

No one for sure knows which 'interpretations' of the Plates are correct. Barchusen is also a knock off, I think. . . . there're others. One may want to meditate on the Plates. Then, be sensitive enough to see in what way, in what form, the answers present themselves to you. . . . It's a fun exploration, a method of sort.

Krisztian
03-13-2013, 12:58 AM
Take a look at Plate no.76, you already have quite likely, the flask, within it, it's clearly a female archetype or figure that's holding the crown of possibly Nature. Then, the link you kindly provided the first image also shows us a female alchemist, isn't that so? I find this drawing entitled "L'interno del laboratorio" quite illustrative. It's not often that an alchemical manuscript has a female alchemist displayed.

The other point I wanted to highlight that Crowning of Nature, the accompanied text with it, contains many similar if not identical phrases and sayings and quotes from an earlier work, Rosarium Philosophorum.

Rheomode
03-13-2013, 02:43 PM
One may want to meditate on the Plates. Then, be sensitive enough to see in what way, in what form, the answers present themselves to you. . . . It's a fun exploration, a method of sort.

I've found this method to be useful! Last year I received a reproduction of the 1709 Tarot de Marseilles deck which I wanted specifically because I was intrigued by the imagery of the major arcana. I had an immediate reaction to the Ace of Cups which surprised me, so further study in this area is on the list of things to go back and explore when I free up some time. There are some interesting parallels between these cards and the plates, I see the World card in plate 76.

And concerning the female alchemist, I have had a question regarding this for a short time. It was suggested to me last year (by a man) that women will have a different response to the alchemical imagery and symbolism based on their gender, so that the teaching or communication of the process for men would require adjustments in order to work for women. Is this an accepted view? I am not aware of encountering obstacles based on a misinterpretation of the imagery due to my gender, but I am still working through this process, so I am unsure.

I was actually going to ask you what your impressions were of the woodcuts from Rosarium :)

Lunsola
05-20-2013, 05:57 AM
I must agree a lot of the classic texts aren't quite what some believe them to be. Of course there are plenty which are absolutely invaluable as well. I can't imagine what I would have done had I not found some of them. Modern books and forums can be great too but some things just aren't on available at least that I've been able to find thus far.

Of course this forum has also been quite useful. Especially for more than just work! I kind of view this place like a living book written by many alchemists. So naturally we get a lot of dregs but also plenty of gems.

zoas23
05-10-2017, 08:31 AM
Regarding the books written by the authors we consider to be 'The Classics'...
Throughout years of reading, practical experience and much applied discernment, I have come to the realization that a considerable number of Alchemical writings (that we usually cherish) are in fact close to utterly useless when it comes to the Great Work itself. People were people then, as they are today - and I don't need to elaborate on what this means...

Very rarely I find myself criticizing your views.
I know you have a bad memory for non transcendent things, but I have a good one.
When I joined this forum I did it with a clear intention: I was having troubles with extracting potassium carbonate from a plant by a simple calcination. Nowadays it's something simple for me to do, but when I joined this forum it was a burden. You somehow said that it was not the way of the adepts, nor very useful for the Philosopher's Stone or even Spagyrics in a traditional way.

And I told you something: "You are probably right, but I need to build a bike before building a spaceship".
It was mostly due to some tips that you gave me that I managed to do the incredibly alchemical task of extracting the potassium carbonate... and I was jumping in joy when I did it (it was FANTASTIC to see that the plant contained such a beautiful salt in it... and I was sad due to a separation with a former girlfriend and the extraction of the salt somehow finished that sadness).

Was such thing relevant to the "Great Work"? YES. If I haven't managed to do such a simple thing, I would have been lost in harder tasks.
Your posts speak by themselves. Your understanding of alchemy is unquestionable... and yet: Would you have arrived to that understanding WITHOUT reading the classical texts?
(and due to your posts I know you haven't just gave them a quick reading, but you could perfectly write a book on the classical texts establishing links, explaining what's actually going on in them, making historical comparisons, etc... I do not mean that you should do it, but I know you CAN do it).

You have arrived to a very good understanding of alchemy, but you walked a long path and this path involved MANY books.
So... don't forget your past and how you arrived to these ideas (which are OK, but not really a good "tip" for most people).


And the texts that are actually useful, even the ones more difficult to access publicly, are almost never to be regarded as plain or explicit recipes/methods/instructions/indications. In all or most cases, certain key factors will be either omitted or so cleverly disguised that they can only be found if the readers already know in advance what they are looking for.

This is partially because what we usually refer to as the 'Alchemical Corpus' actually consists of more than the writings themselves. The writings are in most cases (not unlike most spiritual traditions) accompanied by ORAL TRANSMISSIONS, from one generation of Alchemists to another, and these oral transmissions would most likely be of an Initiatory nature, much more and beyond disclosing plain instructions or recipes. There is of course another important factor related to these orally transmitted initiations, which is the readiness of those who receive them.

This is true and one of the greatest lucks a person can have is to find a friend who KNOWS how to read a text and helps you to do the same.
And only after a deep understanding of the texts it is possible to somehow "dismiss" them. Other than that, Alchemy is so different to "common sense" that the "readiness" is gradual and progressive (then again, there are some persons who can never "get" it due to prejudices, obsessions, stubborn ideas, etc).


Like in all Arts and Sciences (let's call them 'The Liberal Arts'), one must pass through a process of selection, either natural & auto-initiatory (not uncommon), and/or by a Mentor who is an already accomplished MA (Master of the Arts). Alchemy is no different in this regard.

Without caring if there is an external initiator or not, every initiation is ultimately an auto-initiation.
It's a bit like writing poetry, you can go to poetry classes with the BEST poets of the world, read a lot of poetry, but finally the poetry always comes from you... the "professors" won't write your poetry for you.... they can't, even if they wanted to.


Another interesting phenomenon is when people gather in a non-hierarchical way to cooperate in The Great Work. Such people usually will each have Something of Value to bring to the table, for the sake of sharing and mutual enhancement. And by 'Something of Value', I do not mean access to some rare alchemical texts with 'clear instructions' or similar. Such associations/study groups based on texts alone are usually doomed to failure. Much more than just texts is needed for such associations or cooperative endeavors to work.

I am somehow favorable to SMALL groups... There is a reason why ancient philosophy, especially after Plato, had a long tradition of dialogues. I am stealing a concept from someone else, but friendship is a condition of thinking, not the "friend", but the "friendship" itself. Finding reasonable partners is not easy and it may never happen... but a GOOD friend can teach you a lot.

Though there's lot of conditions that have to be there: knowledge, honesty, caring for the other one, a real mutual help, a good interaction.

We all have weak areas and strong areas.


To summarize, our precious alchemical texts are only part of the equation, among other factors of equal (if not greater) importance. Yes, the texts can be very valuable, but definitely not enough in and of themselves. This is just my perspective. You don't have to believe it. Just follow your best texts to the letter and see where it gets you...

I can't deny that you are right, but such thing doesn't necessarily leaves the texts behind. The person who helped me the most never gave me much when it comes to "recipes", but a true treasure when it comes to thinking right... and knowing how to read better.
I was recently translating some old texts and I found myself "thanking" (internally) all the time a friend who taught me to read.

I go back to the beginning and my beginning in this forum: a person who can't build a bike will probably not to be able to build a spaceship.
The books may be only a part of the equation, but they are a part of the equation.

(and there's different perspectives... in my own case listening to Morrissey made a HUGE difference).

Andro
05-10-2017, 11:20 AM
Would you have arrived to that understanding WITHOUT reading the classical texts?

No.

But my exact wording was:


I don't read that much Alchemical literature anymore.

:)


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