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Thread: Where to Begin?

  1. #11
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    Tips for Beginning Alchemy?

    Hi everybody!

    I was wandering if any of you who have been practicing alchemy for some time had any advice they could share with a beginner like me. What books to read, what kind of equipment is best for a beginner, etc. Just general advice you would share with somebody who's just getting started. Thanks!

  2. #12
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    I suggest that you start with making alcohol.
    Ferment up a batch of sugar and water, and depending on where you live....if legal, make your own still and distill it.
    Redistill several times to purify.

    This sets you up for many avenues.
    You have a real skill which is useful in the real world. You will save a fortune on your booze budget.
    You can trade your booze with other people to acquire things that are difficult to get.
    You are set up on the road to real chemistry (and classical alchemy) if you wish to continue along that road.
    Eg your alcohol can be used to make diethyl ether.
    You can also directly start making plant based tintures using your alcohol, if you wish to follow that avenue.
    Because you made your alcohol from sugar, it will be food grade and safe to consume tinctures made from it.

    I never did a search on this forum for alcohol making, I assume it has already been covered before.
    But if not, let me know and I can put up my receipe for sugar mash.

    Regards
    G Alchemist

  3. #13
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    JDuncan ...

    I'm fairly new myself, to the forum and in a way to the lab experience, that is, since I was quite young, 15-16, when I built a full-blown lab.

    However, this time I'm moving very slowly, reading, collecting equipment and a few herbs, and most of all "contemplating." I feel that's an important part.

    Not only is it practical, in that much of the reading I'm doing it's repeated over and over that you should be more than familiar with what you're about to undertake, meaning know from start-to-finish what you're about to do before you do it, but I also consider Alchemical processes "sacred" and not to be rushed.

    I'm doing that ... not rushing ... and keeping things simple ...

    ... even if it's just simple water distillation at first (which it will be).

    I'm treating myself as if I'm in nursery school and know nothing. Of course I don't know nothing, since I've had a lab and know the equipment, and have been around the block for a few decades, but I'm proceeding that way.

    Then, there's the spiritual aspect (for me) which is rather an important element as far as I'm concerned. Although I've set up equipment and checked to see if what I have will work for different processes, I won't be doing a single actual live process until my [basic] altar is set up.

    The reason for this is three-fold ... first, preparing the altar is giving me time to contemplate, time to mull this whole thing over, time to take my time and gets things right ... second, the altar will have elements/components to remind me of things ... Alchemical things ... physical, historical, non-physical, spiritual and theoretical things. I don't want to undertake a single process without those [live, active] reminders right there in the lab with me. My twin candles will always burn while I'm undertaking a process ... third, I don't believe I'll be undertaking these processes alone. The altar is my invitation to those forces or entities that wish to join me in a good way (and also a safeguard against the not-so-good).

    As I mentioned, simple water distillation first. That's in honor of Alchemy itself. The most basic process should christine my new lab. I may do the traditional seven-times distillation to purify the water for future use. Second, I promised myself I'd make my morning [black] tea with my Soxhlet extractor apparatus, which I also will be reporting to a friend who is fascinated with the idea. He wants to do coffee with his. I may double-up on the process since I've been doing a second brew (same mug) with rosemary the last couple of months.

    After that, I'll be distilling red wine to alcohol to make tinctures, again, the traditional seven repetitions. By that time I hope to be settled on my first herbal tincture choice ... another thing I'm not rushing into. I'll let my contemplations lead me to the first.

    From there? Who knows? I'm going to pretty much let the path lead me rather than forcing my way down the path.

    Just my two pfennigs.
    Last edited by DonSweet; 04-09-2014 at 02:47 PM.

  4. #14
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    Hey TJ,

    I suggest starting like everything starts: In (your) 'Mind'.

    I suggest to see/visualize/conceptualize what it is that you wish to accomplish, in the best possible detail.

    It may be a good idea to look for Causes (as opposed to being limited to observable effects), in yourself and in your surroundings, in nature, in life, in everything.

    Part of the task is seeking the 'Motor' of the Universe, the invisible Source which is later to be rendered manifest in the Great Work and in Lesser Works.

    IME, it starts with training your mind to 'see' like a Philosopher, acquiring 'Hermetic Vision', or as my friend Salazius calls it, 'Virgin Vision'.

    I also HIGHLY recommend reading his post How to... get into the Weird, Wild, Wise, Wide Sacred Science of Alchemy? and the subsequent replies, as well as his Blog (at least the English parts ).

    Then I'd recommend to start reading the 'good books', which I have already linked to earlier on this thread. But not just books about practical (lab) Alchemy.

    Books on Hermetic Philosophy (rare), the great philosophers in general, books dealing with fringe/advanced science (non-mainstream), etc...

    It can take a lot of time of simultaneously pursuing the above tasks (and more) until a coherent picture slowly begins to form, and still is subject to continuous change.

    In strictly classical/traditional terms, it's a thankless pursuit. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

    Perhaps for one in MANY, there may come a series of 'aha' moments, when the chips gradually start falling into place and a process of 'Internal Revelation' is initiated.

    This is when you start seeing nature and all the books you've read in a new light. It is the 'point' that I would call the 'Beginner Stage'.

    This is only my personal 'advice' (for lack of a better term). Your path is probably 'waiting' to meet you somewhere along the road, as it has been patiently waiting for me.

    That's all I can come up with for now...

    Wishing you back-wind!

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghetto alchemist View Post
    I suggest that you start with making alcohol.
    That sounds like an interesting idea. I'm not much of a drinker, myself, but you're right! I'd have a real skill which is useful in the real world and could potentially help me with my other endeavors. Thanks a lot!

    Quote Originally Posted by Androgynus View Post
    Hey TJ,

    I suggest starting like everything starts: In (your) 'Mind'.

    I suggest to see/visualize/conceptualize what it is that you wish to accomplish, in the best possible detail.

    It may be a good idea to look for Causes (as opposed to being limited to observable effects), in yourself and in your surroundings, in nature, in life, in everything.

    Part of the task is seeking the 'Motor' of the Universe, the invisible Source which is later to be rendered manifest in the Great Work and in Lesser Works.

    IME, it starts with training your mind to 'see' like a Philosopher, acquiring 'Hermetic Vision', or as my friend Salazius calls it, 'Virgin Vision'.

    I also HIGHLY recommend reading his post How to... get into the Weird, Wild, Wise, Wide Sacred Science of Alchemy? and the subsequent replies, as well as his Blog (at least the English parts ).

    Then I'd recommend to start reading the 'good books', which I have already linked to earlier on this thread. But not just books about practical (lab) Alchemy.

    Books on Hermetic Philosophy (rare), the great philosophers in general, books dealing with fringe/advanced science (non-mainstream), etc...

    It can take a lot of time of simultaneously pursuing the above tasks (and more) until a coherent picture slowly begins to form, and still is subject to continuous change.

    In strictly classical/traditional terms, it's a thankless pursuit. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

    Perhaps for one in MANY, there may come a series of 'aha' moments, when the chips gradually start falling into place and a process of 'Internal Revelation' is initiated.

    This is when you start seeing nature and all the books you've read in a new light. It is the 'point' that I would call the 'Beginner Stage'.

    This is only my personal 'advice' (for lack of a better term). Your path is probably 'waiting' to meet you somewhere along the road, as it has been patiently waiting for me.

    That's all I can come up with for now...

    Wishing you back-wind!
    Thanks so much Androgynus! I appreciate all the help you've given me. I found a book on Pseudoscience today in the library, which I reasoned from the perspective of "real science" the topics studied in Alchemy would be classified as pseudoscience, and it had several interesting ideas I think I could play around with. I'm also in agreement with you about "Real Alchemy" by Bartlett. I started to read some into that, but it was real shallow and disorganized. Of what I read of it, of course. The list you posted earlier should give me a lot to do here in the mean time, though!
    Last edited by Floyd; 04-10-2014 at 02:42 AM.

  6. #16
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    Since Androgynus brought it up, too ...

    Here's my current reading list --

    Alchemist's Handbook, Albertus
    The Complete Idiot's Guide to Alchemy, Hauck
    The Path of Alchemy, Stavish
    Herbs in Magic and Alchemy, Zalewski
    The Way of the Crucible, Bartlett
    Eastern Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs, Peterson Field Guides, Foster/Duke

    A quick critique of each:

    Alchemist's Handbook -- Although praised in other books, I find the full depth of this book elusive. Much of it is quotes from old texts, in Old English, and little interpretation is offered. In a way, the author assumes you know what the original writer meant. That requires a full knowledge of a form of English that isn't spoken anymore, at least not here in the United States. I would have preferred in-depth translations and interpretations.

    The Complete Idiot's Guide to Alchemy -- Great book. Simple to understand, yet has some depth to it. Plain [American] English. Well organized, and although a tad repetitive in its structure (as all Idiot's Guides are), it walks you through both physical and esoteric basics, even touching on advanced study.

    The Path of Alchemy -- A decent book, but heavy on Astrology, Qabalism and Spagyrics. One flaw I didn't care for was a lack of emphasis on which herbs can do which benevolent thing. Lots of herbs are listed, but little is said about their benefits. Also, despite the plethora of Astrology citations, the connections or even conflicts with Astrological energies is lacking. It's all well and good that Alchemical processes follow Astrological guidelines, but tell me why. Don't just present a mandate to adhere to a complex set of rules only Astrologists understand.

    Herbs in Magic and Alchemy -- A sort-of junior encyclopedia. Not a lot of detail on the herbs themselves. Some basics on Alchemical preparation. Lots of Astrology reverences, also lacking detail. A couple of recipes, but I find their use and purpose convoluted.

    The Way of the Crucible -- As the name implies, it's a Mineral Alchemy book. Highly detailed. Plenty of historical references, equipment and apparatus are thoroughly covered. Particularly towards the end of the book, you'd better be a very seasoned Alchemist to attempt these practices.

    Eastern Central [U.S.] Medicinal Plants and Herbs -- 400+ pages. Thorough and complete book on plants and herbs, but like all reference material, they sometimes lack cross references. An index of types of medicinal value would have been nice. As it is you virtually have to read and memorize the entire book in order to access the breadth and variety of plants, or simply mark out the ones that perk your interest.

    I never read a book cover-to-cover. I pick at them when I have time.

    Oh ... and as far as alcohol ... I'm virtually a tea-totaller myself, save for my reenacting events or in social circumstances. I believe Androgynus was eluding to the production of alcohol for Alchemical purposes, which I also mentioned earlier. "Alchemical Alcohol" is strictly medicinal (so the theory goes) ... used in the creation of tinctures and elixirs. That's why you distill it seven times. Boozers don't care and would lap up the first batch like a parched camel ... **grin**
    Last edited by DonSweet; 04-10-2014 at 04:13 AM.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonSweet View Post
    I believe Androgynus was eluding to the production of alcohol for Alchemical purposes.
    Androgynus was 'eluding to' what? Where?

    Quote Originally Posted by ghetto alchemist View Post
    I suggest that you start with making alcohol.
    Perhaps you meant alluding and perhaps you were referring to what Ghetto Alchemist was saying?

    Because I don't recall even remotely mentioning alcohol on this thread...

  8. #18
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    The beginning is as much about you as it is about anything you may read. Ask yourself what brought you here and why.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonSweet View Post
    I'm going to pretty much let the path lead me rather than forcing my way down the path
    This has been my philosophy since the beginning and I believe it works. I don't know if it is just a psychologically imagined phenomenon or not, but it appears to work if you are seeking.

    Many weird/wyrd things begin to happen once you start the questioning.

    Alchemy will be confusing, frustrating, amazing, scary; in fact it will pull and push you through all the different emotions possible.

    IMO the information you need will present itself to you as and when it is right for you so don't be intimidated by the plethora of information out there, much of it is pure bunkum and this is where you will need to trust your intuition.

    "Patience is a virtue" is a saying that I'm sure was created in respect of the Alchemist.

    A few things I would add to what others have said here is keep your eyes open for signs, always question in your own mind as this is where answers seem to present themselves and keep your mind open to all possibilities.

    On the alchemical path, as with any other path, if you don't walk you wont get anywhere else; that's ok if you like where you are right now.

    I guess what I have said here is as vague and open-ended as most alchemical texts, but that IMO is Alchemy.

    Ghislain
    Last edited by Ghislain; 04-10-2014 at 05:56 AM.

  9. #19
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    Yes Androgynus ... My mistake. It was Ghetto. And also on grammar.

    Ghislain ... spot on.

  10. #20
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    Hey guys,

    What about reading real books about Alchemy ?

    Why not reading RAMS instead with all the good authors like Digby, Flamel, Glauber, Zachaire, Kirchwegger, Cosmopolite, Trevisan, St Didier, Villeneuve, Reusenstein, ICH ...
    That's Full Contact Alchemy.
    Salazius

    http://dartigne.blogspot.com/

    My Works

    "I want to transmute everywhere" ~ The Spirit of Alchemy.

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