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WCH
02-09-2009, 06:29 AM
Been absent from the forum for a few months, didn't make the transition to the new site until yesterday. I intend to become active again, although I suppose we'll see.

Main reason for my disappearance was delays regarding setting up a laboratory, which I still haven't been able to do due to housing issues. I do have some lab gear at a friend's house, and we've said that we'll do some alchemy stuff together, but haven't actually done much. Somehow managed to fail at distilling alcohol from wine, most likely because the water bath we used was too large and the heating element too weak, meaning it just didn't get hot enough. I wanted to try again but he's been very busy... it's just not that ideal a situation. Eventually I'll have my own lab, but maybe not until the fall (I'll be spending the summer abroad).

For those of you who don't remember me from the other site, I'm a sociologist doing an honours thesis on alchemy. My research question is "what is the role of psychoactive substances in contemporary alchemical/spagyric practice?" Basically, it's readily apparent both that psychoactive plants are used in spagyrics, and that not all spagyric preparations are psychoactive, so I want to explore that a little and see precisely what role the psychoactives play within the larger practice.

My specialty as a sociologist is called ethnopsychopharmacology, a big-word way of saying "drug culture." This alchemy paper is a bit of a departure for me (my specialty is the drugs, not the spirituality, although I find that interesting too), but it's both fascinating and a lot of fun. One of my goals with it is to highlight the role of drugs within a spiritual system that has European roots... too often I see psychoactive substance use assumed to only be spiritual (and therefore somehow acceptable) among certain native groups in North and South America, which is simply untrue. By showing that there's a rich tradition of it in Europe as well, and that there are practitioners still using these techniques today, I hope to challenge that myth a little, as well as provide an alternative to the pop culture notion of the strictly-for-profit drug producer. Of course, I realise that I'm an undergradaute that nobody has heard of, so it'd be silly of me to expect that any paper I could write would make too large a difference... but hey, always fun to aim high.

If anyone would like to talk to me about drugs, I'd love to hear from you. My research is supervised by Dr Welsh in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto (she specializes in complementary and alternative medicine, has written papers on Chinese traditional medicine, homeopathy etc, is particularly interested in the professionalization process). My only other relevant affiliation is with the TRIP! Project, a municipally funded harm reduction group that provides safer sex and drug use information to the rave scene in Toronto. I don't receive funding from any source at the moment.

Awani
02-09-2009, 09:42 AM
We are very happy to have you back!

I am sure your activity will increase when your lab is set up, nothing like sharing the Great Work!

:)

WCH
02-27-2009, 02:14 AM
Okay, so I'm now actually performing interviews. Is anyone interested?

All information that could identify you gets stricken from the notes, nobody but me gets a copy of my notes or transcripts, you're free to opt out at any time, yada yada. If you want, I can send you my official consent form to peruse.

Again, to recap, my research question is "what is the role of psychoactive substances in contemporary alchemical/spagyric practice?" -- "not bloody much of one" being a totally acceptable answer. If you have any opinions or thoughts on the subject, please let me know.

kerkring
02-27-2009, 10:39 AM
Okay, so I'm now actually performing interviews. Is anyone interested?

All information that could identify you gets stricken from the notes, nobody but me gets a copy of my notes or transcripts, you're free to opt out at any time, yada yada. If you want, I can send you my official consent form to peruse.

Again, to recap, my research question is "what is the role of psychoactive substances in contemporary alchemical/spagyric practice?" -- "not bloody much of one" being a totally acceptable answer. If you have any opinions or thoughts on the subject, please let me know.

Jean Dubuis, a renowned alchemist who published a lot of work through the Philosophers of Nature, wrote that psychoactives cause to much damage to be of any use:

Excerpt from Spagyrics Vol. 2, p152:

DRUGS: EXPLANATION AND CAUTION

During the conferences given, we noticed that several people
interested in esoteric studies thought that a solution could be found
to some esoteric questions by using so-called psychedelic drugs.
Some of these people even thought that the alchemical process we
are offering had links with the use of these products. Our answer is
absolutely not. We even say that the principles used in alchemy are
opposed to those at play through the usage of drugs and that the
alchemical path is not compatible with any drugs.

Sooner or later, an Alchemist must know and not only believe
that man has the possibility of several levels of consciousness.
Awareness of these levels of consciousness can only happen through
.the functioning, momentary or constant of what some schools call
chakras and what we call sephirothic centers.

Those who studied these problems know that in most deaths
through illness, the awakening of these centers often occurs a few
moments before death, even a few hours or a few days. Those,
therefore, who know these planes are realizing that what is called
the delirium of the dying is truly a change of mental reference due
to the confused perception of new reality. The conclusion is that
approaching death generally awakens the sephirothic centers.

A second remark in this domain is that all drugs are toxic.
Because of their specific toxic but reversible effects, a certain
sephirothic awakening occurs. But in this case the awakening
generally occurs in disastrous conditions for various reasons. First,
as the centers haven't been cleaned, the perception is not
harmonious and is distorted: it is somewhat like contemplating a
landscape in the reflection of a very distorting mirror. In addition,
because of this lack of harmony, the perception often only reaches
the most contaminated regions of these planes, therefore resulting
the general hallucinatory characteristic of the visions thus
triggered.

In the usage of drugs, it is impossible to obtain an effect
determined in advance because these products act on almost all
centers at once without a possibility for dosage. The most serious
of all this: these products use the negative energies of death,
therefore provoking serious destruction in the body and particularly
in the zones of the sephirothic centers. They make esoteric advance
impossible afterwards. Repetitive drug usage dulls the sensitivity
of these centers to this awakening mechanism. To realize this
awakening again, the centers demands approaches the definitive
point where the drug loses its characteristic of reversibility. The
result - or the beginning - is a trip to the other planes through
death by overdose.

If we compare this path through the drugs to the alchemical
process, we can see that it is exactly opposed. The cleaning, one by
one, of the sephirotic centers with elixirs doesn't destroy the body,
but on the contrary, progressively leads to a much more harmonious
state of health.

The alchemical metallic tinctures have no toxic
characteristics and they awaken the centers through a surge of vital
energy coming from the other planes of consciousness. In addition,
thanks to their selective effects since each tincture only
corresponds to one center, a progressive method of awakeriinq can be
adopted and it consists in progressively awakening each center so as
not to create any unbalance in the psyche or the intellect. The use of
metallic tinctures ameliorates psychic and physical health in a much
more significant way, than vegetable tinctures.

We just mentioned that an advantage existed because of the
selectivity of each tincture. This not exact for the antimony which
touches all the centers: but the correct extracts of antimony
establish a link between the earth, the planet of the antimony and
the seven other traditional planets. Clearly, the extracts of
antimony establish a current of energy between the body and the
seven centers or chakras.

To conclude, the two processes are as opposed as the
life/death opposition, this, moreover, applies to the physical plane
as well as the other planes.

End of Excerpt.


You might also want to look into the work of zoe7. He did use psychoactives in combination with brain entrainment technology. And if you believe him then he got results that might be a bit similar to what a quite evolved alchemists could do. Just google zoe7 to find his site.

WCH
02-27-2009, 09:41 PM
Very helpful, thanks. I'll probably excerpt it in my paper.

Kind of curious where he's getting his definition of "toxic" from or what he really means by it... pretty counterintuitive if you look at the safety profile for, say, LSD. Or at the many people who've poisoned themselves with mercury because they misunderstood alchemical instructions.

kerkring
02-28-2009, 09:42 AM
Very helpful, thanks. I'll probably excerpt it in my paper.

Kind of curious where he's getting his definition of "toxic" from or what he really means by it... pretty counterintuitive if you look at the safety profile for, say, LSD. Or at the many people who've poisoned themselves with mercury because they misunderstood alchemical instructions.

He means toxic mostly in a psychic or mental sense I think and not the physiological sense.

horticult
02-28-2009, 03:15 PM
Who will define what is a bloody "drug"? Everybody ate bread, everybody are dead.

WCH
02-28-2009, 07:43 PM
Who will define what is a bloody "drug"? Everybody ate bread, everybody are dead.Well, I can tell you the definitions I use...

"Drug" is any exogenous substance which causes a change to the mind or body and which is consumed for that purpose.

"Psychoactive" means it specifically effects the mind. A "psychoactive substance" could be an exogen or an endogen -- DMT, for instance, is both.

"Psychoactive drug" then means that it needs to be an exogenous substance which causes a change to the mind and which is consumed for that purpose. This means that nutmeg is not a drug when it is used as a spice; other psychoactive substances such as alcohol-containing drinks, coca leaves and various caffeinated things are sometimes consumed without that direct intent of producing their mental effects. In these cases, these substances can more accurately be called "food" than "drug."

"Drug" includes every kind of medicine, "psychoactive drug" a subset of those medicines. To say that someone who does spagyrics doesn't make drugs is nonsensical... all spagyric preparations are drugs. Just not all of them are psychoactive, and my research is aimed at examining the role of the psychoactives within the larger practice.