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Thread: Aspects of Alchemy

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    Aspects of Alchemy

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkostheGnostic View Post

    This book was my constant companion from the 6th grade. I learned of alchemists and philosophers in the opening pages, and performed every experiment at least once. It was my difficulties with numbers and the old fashioned slide rule that prevented me from changing from biology to chemistry as an undergraduate. Of course, it was because of imbibing certain chemicals that my intention to become a physician was replaced by my becoming a philosophy major in college instead.

    A scan of that book can be found here:

    http://chemistry.about.com/library/goldenchem.pdf

    The author expresses (page 7) the typical opinion of chemists regarding alchemy & transmutation: stating that no one has succeeded in making even a speck of gold by making any substances react with one another. A rather bold assertion based no doubt on theoretical conjectures and assumptions, considering the huge number of substances and their possible combinations/interactions under a number of different conditions, which not even modern chemistry has been able to empirically test all of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    A scan of that book can be found here:

    http://chemistry.about.com/library/goldenchem.pdf
    It seems that the link is not ok. I found the book here: http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvin...goldenchem.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by theFool View Post
    It seems that the link is not ok.
    It was working earlier when I posted it. Don't know why it changed to another page.

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    Thanks for posting that link! I saved it, even though I still have my original copy. But, what's your point? Paracelsus was mentioned favorably, and for me, this book was the food that fed my sense of awe and wonder and gave meaning to the values of knowledge, experimentation, of creating and observing phenomena on a level that was far more rewarding than the ball games and social games that most children play. As it turns out, people who are INTPs according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator have chemistry as the first, most prevalent occupation.

    Producing Gold from base metals is only one aspect of alchemy, and as I see it, it is part of the religious mythology of alchemy. It is scarcely different than turning water into wine, withering a fig tree that refuses to bear fruit out of season, or walking on water for that matter. IF any of these preternatural events physically occur, they do so only in connection with a human consciousness that has been transmuted in a way that is incomprehensible. 'Miracles' besides Synchronicity (the miracles of everyday life) are symbolic for the transcendence of physical law, of space-time, cause-effect.
    γνῶθι σαὐτόν - Gnothi Sauton - Know Thyself

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkostheGnostic View Post
    Thanks for posting that link! I saved it, even though I still have my original copy. But, what's your point? Paracelsus was mentioned favorably, and for me, this book was the food that fed my sense of awe and wonder and gave meaning to the values of knowledge, experimentation, of creating and observing phenomena on a level that was far more rewarding than the ball games and social games that most children play. As it turns out, people who are INTPs according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator have chemistry as the first, most prevalent occupation.

    Producing Gold from base metals is only one aspect of alchemy, and as I see it, it is part of the religious mythology of alchemy. It is scarcely different than turning water into wine, withering a fig tree that refuses to bear fruit out of season, or walking on water for that matter. IF any of these preternatural events physically occur, they do so only in connection with a human consciousness that has been transmuted in a way that is incomprehensible. 'Miracles' besides Synchronicity (the miracles of everyday life) are symbolic for the transcendence of physical law, of space-time, cause-effect.
    I never understood how could anyone believe this claim that the transmutation of metals is only "one aspect of alchemy", as if it was only something incidental to the subject. Is there any other aspect to alchemy (besides the medicinal one, I mean)? One thing are the religious and/or philosophical views of any particular alchemist, a subjective topic, and another very different one is what they were doing and achieving in their labs, which is not subjective. An empirical fact does not depend on someone's beliefs. People who do not believe in gravity (yes, there are some out there) still get killed when they fall down a precipice, no matter how much they deny that such a thing exists. Gravity does not care if you believe in it or not. It just "is". The literature of alchemy is heavily concerned with the transmutation of metals, nothing much else (except medicinal/longevity claims, which is another common topic of the literature.) If transmutation is real, then it is possible to be achieved by you, me, a Dominican monk, a Protestant pastor, a Buddhist, a Taoist, a pagan, an atheist, etc. regardless of whatever our respective beliefs are. Unless you can prove that there is some intelligent and all-powerful entity out there in nature arbitrarily barring people who hold certain beliefs from achieving it. In which case you would have solved an even bigger mystery that has been preoccupying the mind of man even more than whether or not gold and silver can be made from other metals.

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    Twice, you made exceptions to the notion of medicine (i.e., Paracelsus, the Taoists and Chinese alchemy, and Indian Rasayana). Non-dualistically speaking, the division of subjectivity and objectivity is illusory, and even from a dualistic perspective, the differentiation is permeable at best. Psi-functions have illustrated this to me for decades. As to empiricism, the idea of some theoretically pure objectivity, is strictly 19th century thinking. Consciousness and space-time, as Jung and Pauli never got to systematize, are two sides of the same coin. This principle is central to transformation as it applies to alchemy. The intentionality of the Operator is intrinsic to the form that transmutations take, whether it is the 'matrix' of spagyrics that embody the planetary spirits or metallic transmutations. In the former, the inner planets of the chakras motivations (microcosm) and the outer planetary bodies are in correspondence (the sympathetic magickal aspect plus the astrological).

    Physics is capable of producing atomic transformations in a particle accelerator. Laboratory alchemy's claim to atomic transformations are on a par with cold-fusion as a possibility. I see a conflation of spiritual symbols and physical reality - the same problem that has devalued religion in post-modern times. The ancients conflated physical phenomena with metaphysical explanations in their myths and alchemy is yet another religion which often does the same thing. The biblical language of Resurrection, for example, is a spiritual verity, but not a physical resuscitation (at least for Paul of Tarsus). Resurrection is not a historical, empirical, scientifically verifiable phenomenon but an inner movement of spiritual experience wherein one's egoic (or physical) death allows for a Realization of one's Eternal Nature. The alchemical myth s an alternative aspiration of personal immortality and unbridled wealth, both issuing from the Philosopher's Stone. The exaltation from such an attainment is probably metaphorical for the Realization of Resurrection in earthly and comprehensible emotions.

    I do laboratory work, but a 'puffer' is not what I am. Silver and Gold plus indeterminate life-span yields in the imagination a total loss of 'death anxiety,' an unsurpassed enthusiasm, but also a dark and vampyric greed for existence. I seek cessation of my thirst for existence in form, and an acceptance of Eternal Life as quite distinct from a life described in terms of wealth and immortality. I seek the Transcendental in alchemy, as in all things. While in existence, I also seek quality of this life, and that translates into health and well being. I have retired from striving for the motivations of the lower chakras beyond the maintenance of my established life-style.
    γνῶθι σαὐτόν - Gnothi Sauton - Know Thyself

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkostheGnostic View Post
    Twice, you made exceptions to the notion of medicine (i.e., Paracelsus, the Taoists and Chinese alchemy, and Indian Rasayana). Non-dualistically speaking, the division of subjectivity and objectivity is illusory, and even from a dualistic perspective, the differentiation is permeable at best. Psi-functions have illustrated this to me for decades. As to empiricism, the idea of some theoretically pure objectivity, is strictly 19th century thinking. Consciousness and space-time, as Jung and Pauli never got to systematize, are two sides of the same coin. This principle is central to transformation as it applies to alchemy. The intentionality of the Operator is intrinsic to the form that transmutations take, whether it is the 'matrix' of spagyrics that embody the planetary spirits or metallic transmutations. In the former, the inner planets of the chakras motivations (microcosm) and the outer planetary bodies are in correspondence (the sympathetic magickal aspect plus the astrological).

    Physics is capable of producing atomic transformations in a particle accelerator. Laboratory alchemy's claim to atomic transformations are on a par with cold-fusion as a possibility. I see a conflation of spiritual symbols and physical reality - the same problem that has devalued religion in post-modern times. The ancients conflated physical phenomena with metaphysical explanations in their myths and alchemy is yet another religion which often does the same thing. The biblical language of Resurrection, for example, is a spiritual verity, but not a physical resuscitation (at least for Paul of Tarsus). Resurrection is not a historical, empirical, scientifically verifiable phenomenon but an inner movement of spiritual experience wherein one's egoic (or physical) death allows for a Realization of one's Eternal Nature. The alchemical myth s an alternative aspiration of personal immortality and unbridled wealth, both issuing from the Philosopher's Stone. The exaltation from such an attainment is probably metaphorical for the Realization of Resurrection in earthly and comprehensible emotions.

    I do laboratory work, but a 'puffer' is not what I am. Silver and Gold plus indeterminate life-span yields in the imagination a total loss of 'death anxiety,' an unsurpassed enthusiasm, but also a dark and vampyric greed for existence. I seek cessation of my thirst for existence in form, and an acceptance of Eternal Life as quite distinct from a life described in terms of wealth and immortality. I seek the Transcendental in alchemy, as in all things. While in existence, I also seek quality of this life, and that translates into health and well being. I have retired from striving for the motivations of the lower chakras beyond the maintenance of my established life-style.
    The problem is that alchemy does not present itself as a "myth", but as a fact. When alchemists speak of transmutations and wonderful cures or feats of longevity by means of their "Philosophers' Stone" or "Elixir", they are describing these things as empirical facts that not only are possible in theory but that many of them have in fact achieved, and they are just kindly enough passing the achievability of these facts onto others. Many of them, however, interpose their religious beliefs into these claims and conjure up a "divine intervention" that supposedly will keep "unworthy" people from achieving the same things they have achieved. But you can tell that the alchemists who made such a claim did not really believe what they were saying. If they really did, they would have had no problem at all writing the whole procedure for the Stone/Elixir in plain clear words that anyone can easily understand and follow, and let this "divine will" keep on selecting who succeeds and who doesn't. But instead we can clearly see them doing the total opposite: using obscure allegories, "decknamen", contradictions, riddles, paradoxes, etc., basically a whole bunch of literary tactics to make it "not so easy" to find out how to replicate what hey claim to have achieved, which, again, would be totally unnecessary if they really believed there was this "divine will" going around arbitrarily selecting who succeeds and who doesn't. So this brings me back to my original point: empirical facts are one thing, speculations/theories/conjectures/beliefs are another thing. Facts work independently of what one believes to be true or not. If the Stone/Elixir really exists, it should be achievable by anyone, independent of what he/she believes. Empirical facts are not subjective, they just "are". They exist whether you believe in them or not. They are just as real for a Franciscan monk in a medieval monastery as for a Sun-worshiper in an ancient temple. What they believe respectively is inconsequential to the empirical fact.

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    Facts work independently of what one believes to be true or not. If the Stone/Elixir really exists, it should be achievable by anyone, independent of what he/she believes. Empirical facts are not subjective, they just "are". They exist whether you believe in them or not.

    This is true of chemistry, NOT alchemy. Alchemy, just as the descriptions of the New Testament, as myth in general, are presented as historical events in space-time. The historical events, be they of 1st century Judeans or medieval alchemists, have their transformative power in symbols, which according to Jung (and I concur) are living psychic realities.

    You are speaking from a position of empiricism, and scientific materialism, which certainly has its practical place in the utilitarian world of replication of physical and chemical changes at STP, etc. But you are conflating chemistry with alchemy, in which the astrological and sympathetic magickal aspects are integral, not to mention the 'inner planets' of sympathies between chakra motives and 'planetary spirits,' or the Qabalistic parallel with corresponding sephira. This is the entire difference between alchemy and its earthy offspring chemistry. Alchemy is not merely a primitive and undeveloped chemistry, it is a premise about the permeability of matter and spirit, or more contemporarily speaking, space-time and psyche. I will not even venture into a quantum analogy of wave collapse and particle paradox with regard to the presence of an observer of quantum experiments (partly because of my limited understanding and partly because it is a digression), but consciousness is an integral part of alchemy. Read The Philosopher's Stone by Israel Regardie, and get his take on why he could not get certain mineral glasses to manifest for him. He eventually conceded, begrudgingly, that despite careful laboratory procedure, HE was to blame.

    Sometimes, pure chemistry can lead to alchemy - the obverse of the historical trend. If you become familiar with the story of Dr. Albert Hofmann after he discovered and experimented with LSD-25, he was transformed. His Christian identity was transformed. In fact, I have correspondences with the man from the 1980s.
    γνῶθι σαὐτόν - Gnothi Sauton - Know Thyself

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    The problem is that alchemy does not present itself as a "myth", but as a fact. When alchemists speak of transmutations and wonderful cures or feats of longevity by means of their "Philosophers' Stone" or "Elixir", they are describing these things as empirical facts that not only are possible in theory but that many of them have in fact achieved, and they are just kindly enough passing the achievability of these facts onto others.
    Cause they are facts, as well as myths. They are literal, as well as symbolic. The language is on multiple levels, thus is subjective to your understanding-level.

    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    Many of them, however, interpose their religious beliefs into these claims and conjure up a "divine intervention" that supposedly will keep "unworthy" people from achieving the same things they have achieved.
    No, the "unworthy" keep themselves from achieving the same things, by remaining unworthy. The only person who is ever in your way, is yourself.

    Spiritual Truths are often robed/wrapped in the religious covering of the area, and while their may be some "conjuring" involved (i prefer to say communion ) it isnt in the sense of it being fake/non-existent.

    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    But you can tell that the alchemists who made such a claim did not really believe what they were saying. If they really did, they would have had no problem at all writing the whole procedure for the Stone/Elixir in plain clear words that anyone can easily understand and follow, and let this "divine will" keep on selecting who succeeds and who doesn't. But instead we can clearly see them doing the total opposite: using obscure allegories, "decknamen", contradictions, riddles, paradoxes, etc., basically a whole bunch of literary tactics to make it "not so easy" to find out how to replicate what hey claim to have achieved, which, again, would be totally unnecessary if they really believed there was this "divine will" going around arbitrarily selecting who succeeds and who doesn't.
    Actually, we try to tell people, try to show them. The thing youre not understanding is that the language we are using is on multiple levels of being. Following the levels, the jumps, the spiraling thought, is initiatory and prepares for the manifesting of the achievements. You cannot manifest that which you are not, and you cannot become that which you desire to be if youre not willing to walk the Pattern.

    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    So this brings me back to my original point: empirical facts are one thing, speculations/theories/conjectures/beliefs are another thing.
    Actually, they are all facts - depending on the context/level of thought per each one. They say crystal-ball, we say iPhone. Same idea (speculations/theories/conjectures/beliefs), different manifestation/fact - equally valuable. Just because i know how to use a crystal-ball as well as an iPhone, and my dad doesnt, doesnt invalidate either of them, and just because he only believes in the phone, doesnt invalidate the crystal-ball. Different levels.

    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    Facts work independently of what one believes to be true or not. If the Stone/Elixir really exists, it should be achievable by anyone, independent of what he/she believes.
    It is achievable by anyone - when they do what is required. Everyone has the potential, but they limit themselves, due to their belief/non-belief.

    For the sake of this context: The non-believer can witness a transmutation, but the believer is the one that performed it.

    Understand, ofcourse, im not talking about belief, which is stagnant dogmatic BS - im talking about True, experienced, realized Spiritual relationship being manifested. If you cannot see or hear, then how can you read or interpret correctly?

    Quote Originally Posted by JDP View Post
    Empirical facts are not subjective, they just "are". They exist whether you believe in them or not. They are just as real for a Franciscan monk in a medieval monastery as for a Sun-worshiper in an ancient temple. What they believe respectively is inconsequential to the empirical fact.
    Fact is, Spirit Is. Proof is in the consciousness and Order of all systems, living things, and creation itself. Two dimensional "scientists" that cannot tap into whats behind the veil, do not have the facts, only their beliefs about them.

    Alchemy, on any level (physical, mental, spiritual) is the Art of Life: of Transmutation/Transition/Transcendence Change/Ascension.


    __________________


    Markos,

    Well said.

    Alchemy is the Root and Fruit of all Arts and Sciences.





    ~Seth-Ra
    One fatal tree there stands of knowledge called, forbidden them to taste. Knowledge forbidden? Suspicious. Reasonless. And why should their Lord envy them that? Can it be sin to know? Can it be death? And do they stand by ignorance, is that their happy state, the proof of their obedience and their faith?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkostheGnostic View Post
    Facts work independently of what one believes to be true or not. If the Stone/Elixir really exists, it should be achievable by anyone, independent of what he/she believes. Empirical facts are not subjective, they just "are". They exist whether you believe in them or not.

    This is true of chemistry, NOT alchemy. Alchemy, just as the descriptions of the New Testament, as myth in general, are presented as historical events in space-time. The historical events, be they of 1st century Judeans or medieval alchemists, have their transformative power in symbols, which according to Jung (and I concur) are living psychic realities.

    You are speaking from a position of empiricism, and scientific materialism, which certainly has its practical place in the utilitarian world of replication of physical and chemical changes at STP, etc. But you are conflating chemistry with alchemy, in which the astrological and sympathetic magickal aspects are integral, not to mention the 'inner planets' of sympathies between chakra motives and 'planetary spirits,' or the Qabalistic parallel with corresponding sephira. This is the entire difference between alchemy and its earthy offspring chemistry. Alchemy is not merely a primitive and undeveloped chemistry, it is a premise about the permeability of matter and spirit, or more contemporarily speaking, space-time and psyche. I will not even venture into a quantum analogy of wave collapse and particle paradox with regard to the presence of an observer of quantum experiments (partly because of my limited understanding and partly because it is a digression), but consciousness is an integral part of alchemy. Read The Philosopher's Stone by Israel Regardie, and get his take on why he could not get certain mineral glasses to manifest for him. He eventually conceded, begrudgingly, that despite careful laboratory procedure, HE was to blame.

    Sometimes, pure chemistry can lead to alchemy - the obverse of the historical trend. If you become familiar with the story of Dr. Albert Hofmann after he discovered and experimented with LSD-25, he was transformed. His Christian identity was transformed. In fact, I have correspondences with the man from the 1980s.
    There is no reason why alchemy should be judged by different standards than other scientific claims, since it claims to achieve some peculiar physical phenomena. I suppose you know that the Jungian interpretation of alchemy has been widely criticized by historians of science. Jung basically took a lot of random quotes from alchemical literature out of their proper context and placed them into his own conception of the subject, which was obviously not the one of the alchemists he quotes. To them the Philosophers' Stone was a quite real, physical, tangible substance (many of them even clearly describe its color and density) and it did what they claimed. It was not any "transformation of the psyche". The fact that some of the alchemists that Jung quotes even clearly say that the alchemist who can afford it should have lab assistants who can help him conduct the operations while he is busy attending to other matters should have given him a hint that the "psyche" of the alchemist has little to do with this subject.

    By the way, even occultists like A.E. Waite had to admit, after a closer inspection of the literature, that alchemy was really mostly concerned with transmutation and medicine/longevity, not much else. Whatever little evidence he found for "spiritual alchemy" claims was rather late (from about the 17th century onward.) I recommend you read his very interesting last book on the subject, "The Secret Tradition in Alchemy", if you have not read it yet. Even modern historians of science who specialize in the history of alchemy like Lawrence Principe and William R. Newman were impressed by Waite's rather "critical" review of the subject and commend him for that.

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