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Thread: How To Read Alchemy Texts

  1. #1
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    How To Read Alchemy Texts

    These treatises were not written openly, nor were these writings ever meant to be taken literally. A massive problem comprehending the texts stems from reading the words at face-value instead of reading into the spirit of what was being said.

    The Masters wrote their works in ways meant to be understood Philosophically (esoterically). When we read their books literally (exoterically) we many times miss the entire point the initiated Adept was attempting to convey when delivering his words.


    One of the best descriptions of How To Read Alchemical Texts comes from a user called Flightoffire...

    If you recall what an acid does in your school science labs... no, not chemical theory but more the 'classical physics', the practical application, the observable effect - it fizzes, bubbles, foams and dissolves many things.

    What about snow. It is white, light in weight, comes 'from above', gently falls down, has a 'flaky' appearance, is very pure, rests on top of things, and so on.

    Eagles, although they are just another bird, do have a 'nostalgic' or 'majestic' quality overlaid on them, mostly in America. As a side note, I might point out that in The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall (a 33rd degree mason at the time and very knowledgeable man), the original eagle was actually a Phoenix.

    Thus, when looking at an eagle, it flies high, makes it's nest in mountains, has a white head dress, is strong (being a larger bird), and also comes down to the ground to find food then returns to the mountains and so on.

    Now. If we take the qualities, characteristics and attributes of these real world items, we can find a better understanding of the alchemical equivalents like eagles, acids, snow on mountains, rains, toads, leavening, fermentation, and so on. They are usually not literal but are described a particular (or several) qualities derived from the literal because that is what we can more tangibly see and understand with our primary senses. We then overlay them onto our alchemical symbols.

    For example, when we read of 'the eagles' in our work, go look at what an eagle bird does in the real world. It rests 'high up', and 'comes down; to pick something up (usually food) then returns back up into the mountain, usually to feed it's chickens. Over time the chickens get stronger and stronger as a result of these 'cycles' that the parent eagle is doing. It comes down, picks up something, flies back up to the mountain then repeats this. These repeating cycles of the bird is 'strengthening' chicken in this case.

    In Our Work (did you notice the capitals?) we have Our Eagles which symbolically is the same. Something is 'picked up' from 'below' and caries up gently with our 'evaporation'. It then rests on the 'mountain' at the top of our flask only to drip or flow down again, and so the cycles repeat.

    Same with an acid. We have all seen real acids fizz, bubble and foam on many materials. Well, at one particular stage of my Work, (during the Eagles actually), when the stuff above drips down from above or runs down the side of the flask, when it reaches the matter, "earth", below, it fizzes, bubbles and foams, just like an acid. However, I have NEVER used any sort of acid in my main Work.

    Thus, research, even a little, what the literal substance, plant, animal and so on does in the real world, then overlay these qualities, characteristics and attributes onto your Work and you might find that thing will make a lot more sense.

    Artephius sums it up very well too...

    Now the whole magistery may be perfected, work, as in the generation of man, and of every vegetable; put the seed once into the womb, and shut it up well. Thus you may see that you need not many things, and that this our work requires no great charges, for that there is but one stone, there is but one medicine, one vessel, one order of working, and one successive disposition to the white and to the red. And although we say in many places, take this, and take that, yet we understand, that it behoves us to take but one thing, and put it once into the vessel, until the work be perfected. But these things are so set down by obscure philosophers to deceive the unwary, as we have before spoken; for is not this ars cabalistica or a secret and a hidden art? Is it not an art full of secrets? And believest thou O fool that we plainly teach this secret of secrets, taking our words according to their literal signification? Truly, I tell thee, that as for myself, I am no ways self seeking, or envious as others are; but he that takes the words of the other philosophers according to their common signification, he even already, having lost Ariadne's clue of thread, wanders in the midst of the labyrinth, multiplies errors, and casts away his money for naught.

    Another elucidation can be found in "The Temple In Man" by Rene Schwaller de Lubcicz...

    The sages have always endeavored to hand down to posterity the revelation of the spirit disguised in the form of the words and parables of the sacred texts. These texts are syntheses of Knowledge whose basis is always the same, though adapted to the times and to the state of consciousness of a people or peoples.

    The means adopted for transmitting this teaching are manifold, comprising legends, tales, and customs, as well as monuments, statues, and temples. Thus, up to the end of the Middle Ages, the Christian tradition assigned specific attributes to a given Saint, sculpted or painted, and these attributes are a veritable scripture revealing what cannot be said in plain words. Temples—whether Hindu, Egyptian, Jewish, Christian, or Moslem—are always conceived according to a canon that respects certain elements which explain the teaching.

    In Egypt, in India, as well as later, in the Gothic period of Christian cathedrals, the temple was a book revealing an "esoteric" teaching. Esotericism should not be understood as a rebus or a secret writing, but rather as the "spirit of the letter"—that is to say. that which cannot be transcribed clearly, not because there is any desire to conceal it, but because of the "cerebral" intellect's inaptitude for comprehending it.

    The character of the means of transcription of this esotericism should therefore be such that it addresses the faculties of the reader; the latter will read and understand it depending on his own faculties, whether normal or superior (intuition, spatial vision). Each will see in the parable or in the architecture of the true temple, what he can see: utility, aesthetics, myth and legend, philosophical principle, or vision of material and spiritual genesis.

    We see a similar description of the way our Teachers wrote when we read words from "The Secret Teachings Of All Ages" from Manly Hall...

    The religious and philosophical writings of all nations abound with acroamatic cryptograms, that is, parables and allegories. The acroamatic is unique in that the document containing it may be translated or reprinted without affecting the cryptogram. Parables and allegories have been used since remote antiquity to present moral truths in an attractive and understandable manner. The acroamatic cryptogram is a pictorial cipher drawn in words and its symbolism must be so interpreted. The Old and New Testaments of the Jews, the writings of Plato and Aristotle, Homer's Odyssey and Iliad, Virgil's Æneid, The Metamorphosis of Apuleius, and Æsop's Fables are outstanding examples of acroamatic cryptography in which are concealed the deepest and most sublime truths of ancient mystical philosophy.

    The acroamatic cipher is the most subtle of all, for the parable or allegory is susceptible of several interpretations. Bible students for centuries have been confronted by this difficultly. They are satisfied with the moral interpretation of the parable and forget that each parable and allegory is capable of seven interpretations, of which the seventh--the highest--is complete and all-inclusive, whereas the other six (and lesser) interpretations are fragmentary, revealing but part of the mystery. The creation myths of the world are acroamatic cryptograms, and the deities of the various pantheons are only cryptic characters which, if properly understood, become the constituents of a divine alphabet. The initiated few comprehend the true nature of this alphabet, but the uninitiated many worship the letters of it as gods.

    Further understanding can be learned from "De Augmentus Scientiarum" by Francis Bacon...

    There is another method of Delivery, similar in its object to the one already described, but in reality almost the reverse. Both methods agree in aiming to separate the dull among the auditors from the select; but they vary in this, that one makes use of a way of delivery more open, the other a way of delivery more secret. Let one be distinguished as the Exoteric method, the other (of which I am going to speak) as the Acroamatic, a distinction observed by the ancients chiefly in the publication of books, but which I transfer to the method of delivery itself. The ancients used it with judgment and discretion; but in the later times it has been disgraced by many who have made it as a false and deceitful light, in which to put forward their counterfeit merchandise. The intention, however, seems to be by obscurity of delivery to exclude the vulgar (that is, the profane vulgar) from the secrets of knowledge, and to admit those persons only who have received the interpretations of the enigmas through the hands of teachers, or have wits of such sharpness and discernment that they can of themselves pierce the veil.

    If we read the words of Francis Bacon again in "De Sapientia Veterum" the same message is explained...

    In the old times, when the inventions and conclusions of human reason (even those that are not trite and vulgar) were as yet new and strange, the world was full of all kinds of fables, and enigmas, and parables, and similitudes; and these were used not as a device for shadowing and concealing the meaning, but as a method of making it understood; the understands of men being then rude and impatient of all subtleties that did not address themselves to the sense. For, as hieroglyphics came before letters, so parables came before arguments. And even now, if anyone wish to let new light on any subject into men's minds, and that without offence or harshness, he must still go the same way and call in the aid of similitudes.

    "The Philosophy Of Education" elucidates more...




    And lastly from "A Biblical And Theological Dictionary: Explanatory Of The History, Manners, And Customs Of The Jews And Neighbouring Nations: With An Account Of The Most Remarkable Places And Persons Mentioned In Sacred Scripture; An Exposition Of The Principal Doctrines Of Christianity: And Notices Of Jewish And Christian Sects And Heresies"...



  2. #2
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    Thank you for taking the time to post this info

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aham View Post
    Thank you for taking the time to post this info
    You're welcome, Aham

    I take the time to write up and post stuff like this because the sheer amount of ignorance of such Knowledge even by those who claim to study Alchemy. It seems everybody wants the answers but nobody wants to do their homework!

    This quote by Paracelsus sums it up well. The entire quote speaks volumes in fact...

    "Coelum Philosophorum"

    Moreover, in this Art nothing is more true than this, though it be little known and gains small confidence. All the fault and cause of difficulty in Alchemy, whereby very many persons are reduced to poverty, and others labour in vain, is wholly and solely lack of skill in the operator, and the defect or excess of materials, whether in quantity or quality, whence it ensues that, in the course of operation, things are wasted or reduced to nothing.

    If the true process shall have been found, the substance itself while transmuting approaches daily more and more towards perfection. The straight road is easy, but it is found by very few.

    Any one can at pleasure learn this Art in Alchemy, since it is so simple and easy; and by it, in a short time, he could make any quantity of silver and gold. It is tedious to read long descriptions, and everybody wishes to be advised in straightforward words.
    Last edited by Schmuldvich; 01-20-2018 at 04:04 AM. Reason: added quote

  4. #4
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    put the seed once into the womb, and shut it up well
    The womb can mean either the flask OR a complementary matter to the 'seed'

    For example, in some texts it is implied that our matter is one, but twofold in its manifestation (i.e. 'Dew of Heaven' and 'Fatness of the Earth', etc...)

    In the work I have done as well as in the research of others that I have witnessed, the 'Earth' can be derived/coagulated from the 'Heaven' (I suspect this is the 'Chemical Moonshine' approach), but there are other ways that give a much more powerful 'Earth', which is in essence the same 'matter' as our 'Heaven', but in its dormant/inert state.

    The 'Golden Chain of Homer' is very useful in this regard: The Nitre (Heaven) and Salt (Earth) are the same in essence and origin but different in qualities and in the role they play in the Work. The 'Nitre' corresponds to the Acid Principle (although it is not acidic from a chemistry POV), while the 'Salt' corresponds to the Alkaline Principle and serves as the 'Base' The 'Secret Fire' is much more powerful/concentrated in the 'Base', however, it is inert & dormant and needs to be 'awakened' by the Heaven/Acid principle, not unlike like in the 'Sleeping Beauty' fairy-tale

  5. #5
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    Great information Schmuldvich, thank you.

    I haven't had the words to describe this so cleanly, but see the texts as quite amazing descriptions of the process. All the talk about ingredients and mixing, and distill this 3 times and that seven seem to be out of place with the rest of the text they are written in, at least as I continue to read and understand them. But the actual processes seem quite clear. You will see this happen, then that, then that. I think many times, I haven't been able to descern what they mean by conjecture, but when I go back and read again, I can almost follow along like a little white ball bouncing over song lyrics, and the process described is nearly perfect, at least pieces of it, for me.

    When the right procedures and protocols are followed, we should observe exactly what is said, and strange things seem to come of simple, noble processes sometimes. I think I realized this, because I prefer to describe what I see in my own flask in the same manner, almost without thinking. A black earth rising from a pool of blood sounds awesome, especially when I have no way to verify the exact chemical make-up and reactions. Allegories are able to describe the processes without hanging up on specific identification of each piece, especially when these pieces are not seen the same way now by chemistry as they once were. Everything was a mystery, resolved only when a certain substance was isolated, purified, and named. It's easier to call a thing ash then to try pinning down the exact concentration of every metallic or organic ion contained in it. Even if you could, you would destroy the thing you're trying to describe.

  6. #6
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    Actually, with the only exception of the first two quotes, none of them come from people who were alchemists or who were particularly knowledgeable about what actual alchemy is. And, ironically, the "Artephius" quote is actually the most malicious and misleading in his entire "Secret Book", most of which is in sharp contrast to the misleading statements he says in the above carefully selected quote. If what he said in the above quote was true, that would in fact render his entire "Secret Book" a bunch of malicious, useless, misleading nonsense, LOL! Some people do indeed have to learn to get better acquainted with the generally mischievous mentality of the alchemists. Most of these guys had no qualms whatsoever about confusing and misleading into blind alleys all those who, according to the snobbish elitist mentality of the average alchemist, were considered as "unworthy", just to make their lives miserable and make them waste their time & money in impossibilities/implausibilities.

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