Alchemy Journal Vol.6 No.1

Vol.6 No.1

Spring 2005

ARTICLES

The Gnostic Science of Alchemy

Alchemical Art

The Philosopher’s Stone

FEATURES

From the Fire

New Releases

Announcements

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EDITORIAL

From the Editor 

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The Gnostic Science of Alchemy

By Vincent Bridges

 

According to Zosimus of Panopolis, a fourth century alchemical apologist, the “sons of God” mentioned briefly in Genesis taught the alchemical arts to their human lovers in gratitude for having sex with them. Tertullian, an early Church Father, agreed with this and thought that these “fallen angels,” or nephilim, had the evil intention of seducing human woman with the joys of “mundane pleasures.” Zosimus was just repeating the accepted wisdom of the Jewish and Christian sages of that era. As he warmed to his subject though, Zosimus related the story of the first alchemist, Chemes, who wrote the teachings of the fallen angels in a book called Chema. The nephilim used this book to instruct the daughters of men in the spagyric arts and therefore the art itself came to be called Chemia. This was indeed the Greek word for alchemy, to which the Arabs added the article, al, of their own language.

As clever as this explanation is, like all statements in the study of alchemy, it should not be taken too literally. If we take it as a parable wrapped in a fable and disguised as an allegory, we would be closer to the truth.

“Al Chemia,” as a name for the substance of the mystery, is both revealing and concealing of the true nature of the work. “Al-khemi,” another Arabic derivation from the Egyptian for “the black,” also refers to the darkness of the unconsciousness, the most prima of all materia, and to the “Black Land” of Egypt. In this sense, we can see Zosimus’ “Khemes” as simply the “Black One,” or Osiris. (Perhaps even taken from Osiris’ original title of Khenti-Amenti, “Lord of the Western Darkness.”) His “Khema” is no mere book, but the civilization of Egypt itself, its monuments, history and literature. What Zosimus’ fable seems to be telling us, then, is this:

In the dim pre-history of mankind, a god-like race of beings inter-bred with humanity and taught them creative and generative forms of cultural wisdom. The first human master of this science codified the canon of its knowledge (wrote the book on it we might say) from which the children of gods and men built an advanced civilization. As we know from the Bible, the great flood wiped out this civilization. But its wisdom survived to start a new pattern of civilization in Egypt, the Black Land of the wise Osiris. Zosimus is suggesting therefore that alchemy is at the core of an ancient pre-deluge science, one that was revealed to mankind through sexual contact with semi-divine entities. Before we dismiss this out of hand as some sort of religious paraphilia, let’s look at what is possibly the earliest surviving alchemical manuscript, “Isis the Prophetess to Her Son Horus” found in the Codex Marcianus, a medieval (11th century) collection of Greek fragments. This work seems to be a unique blend of Hebrew mysticism and Egyptian mythology that could only have come from Alexandria early in the first century of the Christian era. Isis tells Horus that while he was away fighting and defeating Set, she was in Hermopolis studying angelic magick and alchemy. She relates that “after a certain passing of the kairoi and the necessary movement of the heavenly sphere, it happened that one of the angels who dwelt in the first firmament saw me from above. . .” The angel, a being of the lower realm between the earth and the moon, is enflamed by passion, but can’t answer her questions about alchemy. He bargains on another encounter by offering to bring a higher angel who will tell her everything she wants to know. The first angel shows Isis the magickal sign of the higher angel, a bowl of shining water and a moon sign that resembles the emblem of the moon-god Khonsu of Thebes.

At noon the next day, the angel returns with the higher angel, here called Amnael, who also finds Isis desirable and is willing to trade information for sex. He reveals the mystery of his sign and then swears her to a great oath. In this oath, we find echoes of the great mystery and the keys to its explication. “I conjure you in the name of Fire, of Water, of Air, and of the Earth; I conjure you in the name of the Height of Heaven and the Depths of Earth’s Underworld; I conjure you in the name of Hermes and Anubis, the howling of Kerkoros and the guardian dragon; I conjure you in the name of the boat and its ferryman, Acharontos; and I conjure you in the name of the three necessities and the whip and the sword.” After this oath, Isis is never to reveal the secret to anyone but her son, Horus, her closest friend. The knowledge will make them one, as the knowledge has now made Isis and the angel one.

And then a curious thing occurs. When the mystery is revealed, it seems strangely flat, as if something is left unsaid in the answer. Horus is told to watch the peasant, who may or may not have been the boatman Acharontos, and then is given a lecture on “as you sow, so shall you reap.” Horus is told to realize “that this is the whole creation and the whole process of coming into being, and know that a man is only able to produce a man, and a lion a lion, and a dog a dog, and if something happens contrary to nature, then it is a miracle and cannot continue to exist, because nature enjoys nature and only nature overcomes nature.” Isis goes on to relate that she will now give the secret of preparing certain “sands.” She says: “one must stay with existing nature and the matter one has in hand in order to prepare things. Just as I said before, wheat creates wheat, a man begets a man and thus gold will harvest gold, like produces like. Now I have manifested the mystery to you.” The instruction then passes to hands-on lab work in melting and preparing metals such as quicksilver, copper, lead and of course gold. At the end of this lengthy preparation, Isis exclaims: “Now realize the mystery, my son, the drug, the elixir of the widow.

What are we to make of this strange story with its curiously flat revelations? Our very earliest alchemical text presents us with the same problems and ambiguities that we will find throughout the entire alchemical corpus. There seems to be something in the very subject itself that forces its images toward the surreality of pathological metaphor. Is it merely diseased imagination or are there meanings beneath the fantasy?

Marie-Louise von Franz, one of Carl Jung’s disciples, thought that this story in particular represented the emerging anima, of the individual and of the world itself. In her 1959 lecture on Alchemy at the Jung Institute, Ms. von Franz notes that “we can recognize the symbolism of the anima, for the story of Eve is even more true for the anima than just for women, and here there is the same idea expressed symbolically from the unconscious. The goddess Isis has beside her the sign of the moon. In these late times, Isis was identified with Hathor, the cow goddess and the moon goddess, and the sky goddess Nuit.”

Ms. von Franz then goes on at great lengths to explicate the life giving power of the divine female, drawing a connection between instinct and archetype. From her discussion, it is hard not to see the basic alchemy of the psychological process, the internal darkness of the “black,” as somehow a psychosexual one. In that sense, we can recognize the internal component of Alchemy, the key to the lost science of the last epoch, as essentially sexual. Perhaps this accounts for the ambiguity of the metaphor, its insistence on the transubstantiation of the ordinary into the sacred. Even Ms. von Franz lapses on occasion into a kind of guarded incomprehensibility, as if she dared not say it too openly.

With all of this in mind, we can see that “Alchemy” points to the ancient science, as revived by the Egyptians, and to the darkness of the unconsciousness where powerful psycho-sexual forces can be encountered and used in the process of transformation. Egyptian science, with its concern for stellar movements as the background of mythical dramas, points us another step down the road toward solving the mystery.

As we noted above, the “Isis the Prophetess” fragment is in many ways the origin point of alchemy in its modern sense. It is the first text in which mysticism becomes confused with laboratory procedures. In the text, though, it is clear that Isis first imparts a philosophical understanding, and then conducts a physical operation, supposedly along with Horus, in order to demonstrate the principle and illustrate her mastery of the process of transmutation.

We might even think of this as the Alchemical Method: revelation, demonstration and transmutation. The key then becomes the source of the revelation. Where is the information coming from? In the Isis fragment, the knowledge comes from a higher order of angel, implying at least a planetary level being, who bears the signs of Nuit and Khonsu and is called “Amnael.” This angel is of course unique, appearing nowhere else in Hebrew angelology. There is a faint resemblance in name to the angel of Venus, Hanael or Anael. However, this line of conjecture quickly comes to a dead end; Isis is the Morning Star, is she learning from Herself?

An easier solution, without straining at angelic spellings, is to take the name as it is: Amn – el, the angel of Amon. This makes sense within the fragment’s Egyptian background, giving us an image of the triple divinity of ancient Thebes. Isis learned the secrets of alchemy from a complex angelic being who combined the aspects of the star, Nuit, the moon, Khonsu, and the sun, Amon-Ra. The Hebrew spelling gives us a clue to the nature of this composite being. The name spelled in full adds to 123, the number of the three-part name of God, AHH YHVH ALHYS, attributed to the top three sepherot on the tree of life, Binah, Hokmah and Kether. If we break the name into Amn and ael, we get 91 and 32, both references to the Tree of Life as a whole. This composite being can be seen as the sum of all the knowledge in the Kabbalah, the very spirit of transcendence. But before it will share the secret with Isis, it swears her to a great oath. The first part of the oath creates the cube of space, a sort of matrix for reality. And then the great angel goes: “I conjure you in the name of Hermes and Anubis, the howling of Kerkoros and the guardian dragon; I conjure you in the name of the boat and its ferryman, Acharontos; and I conjure you in the name of the three necessities and the whip and the sword.”

Hermes and Anubis are plain enough; they are Thoth, or Tehuti, and Anubis, two Egyptian god-forms who preside over the act of Judgment by Osiris. The “howling of Kerkoros” suggests the Keres, a dog-like form of Greek Valkyrie. Ker is fear or malice, and koros can be rendered as cross. This makes the oath conjured by the “Evil Cross” and the guardian dragon, an interesting combination. The boat and ferryman are the vehicle and the guide, a motif that would later become one of the foundational concepts of several Sufi orders. The three necessities and the whip and the sword suggest countless Masonic initiations. After this oath, which is really an initiation, the great Being tells Isis the secret: “Only Nature can overcome Nature.” She demonstrates this to Horus by means of a physical, transformational process. The transmutation is successful and she produces “the drug, the elixir of the widow.”

From this we can determine that the alchemical secret is three-fold, or rather three transformations in one. The inner transmutation involves the conscious refining of the psychosexual energies and fluids. The outer is the ability to use those energies to effect transmutations of physical states, including the elements. The third transmutation is that of time itself, from the darkness of the Iron Age to the splendor of the golden age. Remember, Isis could not begin the process until the stars were in the proper place.

We are now prepared to see the nature of the transmutation at the core of alchemy. It is not only a transmutation involving a personal or local effect to our environment. It is global and universal, involving the nature of time, and the times, in a completely unique way. Our earliest alchemical text confirms this perspective. A big part of the secret involved time: “…after a certain passing of the kairoi and the necessary movement of the heavenly sphere…”

As the secret was passed down through the various forms of the Company of the Widow’s Son, the information fragmented. In this way, some initiates received only the internal and transformational processes without the full understanding of how the parts related to the whole of the ancient science. The most guarded secret was that of time itself, and the secret of all secrets, according to the Builder texts at Edfu, involved the beginning and end of “time.”

Vincent Bridges. This article is taken from The Gnostic Science of Alchemy by Vincent Bridges ©1999. Vincent is also co-author of The Mysteries of the Great Cross at Hendaye: Alchemy and the End of Time, Destiny Books, 2003. More of his work is available at http://www.vincentbridges.com, including “The Gnostic Science of Alchemy” and “The True History of the Holy Grail and High Weirdness,” a collection of articles by Vincent Bridges and his Mysteries co-author, Jay Weidner. He was featured in The Learning Channel’s documentary Atlantis in the Andes (June 2001) and was historical consultant and on-camera tour guide for the History Channel’s groundbreaking biography Nostradamus: 500 Years Later. Vincent Bridges currently lives in the Uwharrie Mountains of North Carolina, with his wife, the artist Darlene, and their four cats.

In the dim pre-history of mankind, a god-like race of beings inter-bred with humanity and taught them creative and generative forms of cultural wisdom. The first human master of this science codified the canon of its knowledge (wrote the book on it we might say) from which the children of gods and men built an advanced civilization.

Marie-Louise von Franz, one of Carl Jung’s disciples, thought that this story in particular represented the emerging anima, of the individual and of the world itself.

We might even think of this as the Alchemical Method: revelation, demonstration and transmutation. The key then becomes the source of the revelation. Where is the information coming from?

More Alchemical Art

by Laurel Price

This feature is a second series of paintings by Ms. Price. The initial group of paintings with comments was published in the Winter 2004 issue.

Mercury 

Oil on Canvas

I painted Alchemical Mercury when I wanted to invoke the alchemical process itself. This painting was a bit like a prayer, a way of showing my respect. This is a whimsical and lighthearted painting, a kind of alchemical “Peaceable Kingdom.” I didn’t give much thought to the meaning of the painting; it just arose from my subconscious mind. I had no conscious reason for choosing the alchemical animals that I did, they just seemed to want to be there.  Mercury stands between the earth and the heavens, between day and night. He appears white, but is metallic silver. This painting is a celebration of alchemy and life.

Conjunctio

Oil on Canvas

Conjunctio is about the Conjunction, The Sacred Marriage, The Marriage of the Sun and Moon. It is about the uniting of opposites. This is the Red King and the White Queen of Alchemy. In my own chart my Sun is in opposition to my Moon-Pluto. This painting symbolizes balancing our male and female energies, our right and left brain, our conscious and unconscious, our yin and yang, the physical and the spiritual, our light and dark sides. As we explore and learn to accept that which seems foreign to us as part of ourselves, we become more whole. As we become more whole, we have more tools to enrich our own lives and the lives of others. We are more grounded, more objective, and more sane. We start to become who we really are, not what other people may want us to be. We become more and more authentic. We start to accept all of our self. We become stronger and more content. The blossoming rose and fertile fields symbolize the blossoming that can take place when we have reached the stage of Individuation. The light part of the picture is shaped like an egg, symbolizing rebirth.

Tree of Life 

Oil and Gold Leaf on Canvas

I was on holiday, staying on a farm in the Devon countryside. I woke up early and sat outside watching the daybreak. When the fog cleared, I saw a lone oak tree on the edge of a field; it inspired my painting – Tree of Life. I currently live in London and my dream is to live in the Devon countryside permanently. I have always lived too much “in my head”, and now I crave more earth energy. This is the place I long to put down my roots. The Tree of Life represents my new life in the country. The tree symbolizes strength, stability, balance, and becoming centered and grounded. The Ouroboros encircling the painting signifies wholeness. The ripe field signifies abundance, fertility and growth. I am ready to give up working for other people, I want to be self employed, and spend more time doing the things I truly enjoy. I believe I could blossom in a place like this. I think we all need to question whether we are in the right place for us. It is so easy to get caught up where we are, working at jobs we don’t really like, just to pay the bills. It is easy to get stuck and sometimes difficult to get out. We may think: “One day…” But if not now, when? Soon, I plan on trading these grey concrete streets for something more alive and soft beneath my feet.

Laurel Price is an artist who lives and works in the United Kingdom.  Her web site is: http://www.alchimia.uk.com and she can be emailed at alchemia1@mac.com.

The Philosophers’ Stone

by Rubellus Petrinus

Here is one of the biggest secrets in alchemy: the Philosopher’s Stone! According the teaching of our great Masters the Philosopher’s Stone is the culmination of the Great Alchemical Work.

Few have been the alchemists who had the happiness of contemplating it and those who did it. Only one, as far as we know, left us the visual testimony of this achievement: he was Kamala-Jnana. Not even Fulcanelli (Jean Julien Champagne) who, in Dwellings of the Philosophers describes it in so much detail, succeeded in materializing his great dream. Neither he nor Pierre Dujois arrived at the end of the work.

In Dwellings of the Philosophers, which was mainly Dujois’ research, he describes it in so much detail that we, simple students or researchers of the Hermetic Art, can have a concrete idea of that so longed for Philosophical Stone, so as not to be deceived by pretending adepts. From pages 134 and 135:

“Many educated people call the hermetic gem a ‘mysterious body’; they share, about it, the opinion of certain spagyrists of the 17th and 18th Centuries, who classified it among abstract entities, styled non-beings or rational beings. Let us therefore inquire so as to obtain, about this unknown body, an idea as close as possible to truth: let us study the descriptions, rare and too brief for our liking, that certain philosophers have left us, and let us see what certain learned people and faithful witnesses have reported.

First, let us say that, according to the sacred language, the term philosopher’s stone means the stone which bears the sign of the sun. The solar sign is characterized by its red coloration, which can vary in intensity, as Basil Valentine’ says, “Its color ranges from rosy red to crimson red, or from ruby to pomegranate red; as for its weight, it weighs much more than it has quantity.” So much for color and density. The Cosmopolite, whom Louis Figuier believes to be the alchemist known under the name of Seton, and others under the name of Michael Sendivogius, describes in this passage its translucent appearance, its crystalline form, and its fusibility: “If one were to find,” he said, “our subject in its last state of perfection, made and composed by nature; if it were fusible, like wax or butter, and its redness, its diaphanous nature or clarity appeared on the outside; it would be in truth our blessed stone.” Its fusibility is such, indeed, that all authors have compared it to that of wax (64° C); “It melts in the flame of a candle,” they repeat; some, for this reason, have even given it the name of great red wax. With these physical characteristics the stone combines some powerful chemical properties – the power of penetration or ingress, absolute fixity, inability to be oxidized, which makes it incalcinable, and extreme resistance to fire; finally, its irreducibility and its perfect indifference to chemical agents.”

And from pages 137 and 138:

“Let us leave aside these processes and tinctures. Above all, it is important to remember that the philosopher’s stone appears in the shape of a crystalline, diaphanous body, red in the mass, yellow after pulverization, dense and very fusible, although fixed at any temperature, and which its inner qualities render incisive, fiery, penetrating, irreducible, and incalcinable. In addition, it is soluble in molten glass, but instantaneously volatilizes when it is projected onto molten metal. Here, in one single object, are gathered physiochemical properties, which singularly separates it from a possible metallic nature and render its origin rather nebulous. A little reflection will get us out of our difficulty. The masters of the art teach us that the goal of their labors is triple. What they seek to realize first is the universal Medicine or the actual philosopher’s stone. Obtained in a saline form, whether multiplied or not, it can only be used for the healing of human illnesses, preservation of health, and growth of plants. Soluble in any alcoholic liquid, its solution takes the name of Aurum Potabile (although it does not even contain the least atom of gold) because it assumes a magnificent yellow color. Its healing value and the diversity of its use in therapeutics makes it a precious auxiliary in the treatment of grave and incurable ailments. It has no action on metals, except on gold and silver, on which it fixes itself and to which it bestows its own properties, which, consequently, becomes of no use for transmutation. However, if the maximum number of its multiplications is exceeded, it changes form and instead of resuming its solid crystalline state when cooling down, it remains fluid like quicksilver and definitely non-coagulable. It then shines in darkness, with a soft, red, phosphorescent light, of a weaker brightness than that of a common night light. The universal Medicine has become the inextinguishable Light; the light giving product of those perpetual lamps, which certain authors have mentioned as having been found in some ancient sepulchres. Thus radiant and liquid, the philosopher’s stone is not likely, in our opinion, to be pushed farther; desiring to amplify its igneous quality would seem dangerous to us; the least that could be feared would be to volatilize it and to lose the benefit of a considerable labor. Finally, if we ferment the solid, universal Medicine with very pure gold or silver, through direct fusion, we obtain the Powder of Projection, third form of the stone. It is a translucent mass, red or white according to the chosen metal, pulverizable, and appropriate only to metallic transmutation. Oriented, determined, and specific to the mineral realm, it is useless and without action in the two other kingdoms.”

Here we have the physiochemical features that identify the true Philosophical Stone (see photo above). We have said it over and over regarding the so-called “medicines” achieved by certain alchemists. While these self proclaimed “adepts” keep calling their productions the Universal Medicine, these aforesaid “medicines”, as far as we know, are far from having the features specified by Fulcanelli. It is nevertheless noteworthy that Fulcanelli in his text never refers to the medicine obtained from his work. This is due to the fact that he actually never achieved it. Justice should be made to him for his great humility!

Rubellus Petrinus is a Portuguese alchemist who offers an excellent multi-language website devoted to the operative and speculative aspects of alchemy at http://pwp.netcabo.pt/r.petrinus.  

FEATURES

From the Fire (by Dennis William Hauck)

In developing methods of modern alchemy, such as the Alchemergy project at www.Alchemergy.com, I have been trying to focus on a combination of spiritual and psychological methods of manifesting the contents of the True Imagination in practical reality. I want to demonstrate the ancient truths in modern terms for everyone to see. I want to show that consciousness is a force in nature whose power most of us are unaware. I feel these modern applications of alchemical principles will manifest in human reality in terms of health and wealth, which are the practical concerns we all share.

I realize I am walking a fine line between the spiritual and the mundane worlds. I have spent most of my life in spiritual pursuits, not only my interest in ancient spiritual traditions but also in my “professional” work in pure mathematics. In fact, I cannot think of a more meditative discipline than mathematics; I have spent many days and sometimes weeks living in my head. That may seem a little pompous or that I am touting my spirituality — but believe me I am thoroughly ashamed of being able to live in my head and subsist on thoughts. That for me is nothing to be proud of. If I live only in my head, I am no better off than a religious zealot who denies physical reality and lives only to punish the worldly and seeks his reward in the afterlife. The alchemists are clear on this: It is just as bad to be too spiritual as it is to be too materialistic. The Great Work of transformation takes place here, in the real world between heaven and hell, in the Earth.

That said, I ran across something purporting to be “modern alchemy” that sorely tests my resolve to remain balanced in the world. Just as the mercenary “puffers” of the Middle Ages soiled the reputations of genuine alchemists everywhere, so today are there alchemical charlatans plying their wares on an all too gullible public. I am referring to an auction now taking place on eBay which offers a “gold making machine” for which the bidding starts at $250,000. Under the heading “Gold Maker Millenium” (sic – can’t spell “Millennium” – my confidence is already shaken!), the machine is not shown but its output is depicted with a picture of a huge stack of gold bullion. In the background, the music of Abba’s “Money, Money” is playing. The unusual offering is described thus:

“This auction is for the patent-pending invention –  Gold Making Machine. It will replicate or create any metal sample (gold, platinum) in unlimited quantities, no raw materials required. Food and diamond replicating feature can be added by request. You will profit from your investment in the first few hours. Part of the revenue from this sale will go for future design of the heaven re-creation machines and time travel industry development. Please contact us prior to bidding as we are only interested in serious bidders. A very unique opportunity for a serious gold investor. If you are a bank institution, a credit line option can be discussed. NOT A SCAM! The heart of the gold replication system is a pair of molecular matrix matter replicators. A sophisticated quantum geometry transformational matrix field is used to modify the matter stream to conform to a digitally stored molecular pattern matrix. If you are a bank institution, credit line option can be discussed. Weight: 10,000 lbs approx; Floor space: 10′ x 6′ x 7.5′ Tall; Electrical 110/220v 3ph 60hz; Control: Molecular Matrix. Includes Raw Material Dematerialization Module, Optical Interface Module, Replication Probe Chamber, High Precision Optical Laser, LCD Operational Monitor, Manuals and Schematics.”

What a deal! The sad thing is that, even if this is a complete hoax, there are people who take it seriously. I have received a half dozen emails asking for my opinion! However, if you really need to buy it, I am not going to stand in your way. Place your bid at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=15154&item=4991089746&rd=1 .

New Releases

The Black Sun: The Alchemy and Art of Darkness

by Stanton Marlan

Hardcover: 288 pages; Publisher: Texas A&M University Press (February 2005). ISBN: 1585444251

<< To order this book online, click on bookcover.

The Black Sun (Sol Niger) was one of the best-kept secrets in alchemy, for it was considered a source of great transformational power. Basically a symbol of unconscious energy, it is a paradoxical and “negative” image that has rarely been dealt with in Western culture. In this book, Stanton Marlan, an advanced student in the Alchemy Home Study Program, tackles this difficult subject from the perspectives of both alchemy and psychology. Marlan is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Pittsburgh. He is president of the Pittsburgh Society of Jungian Analysts and an adjunct clinical professor of psychology at Duquesne University. He is also the editor of the Journal of Jungian Theory and Practice and has written numerous articles on depth psychology. Marlan has edited two previous books on alchemy (Salt and the Alchemical Soul and Fire in the Stone: The Alchemy of Desire).

In this highly recommended work, Marlan draws on a wide variety of sources. He refers not only to clinical cases but also to classical literature, such as Goethe’s Faust and Dante’s Inferno, as well as the art of Rothko and Reinhardt and original treatises of both Eastern and Western alchemists. His work confirms that the Black Sun is one of the most numinous images of alchemical psychology, although he takes it beyond its usual and simple association with the unconscious to reveal it as a living force in all of us. The Black Sun divides consciousness as an independently existing Self. It is our deepest expression of Mercury, an example of the greater archetypal imagination as distinguished from the lesser humanistic imagination rooted in Western metaphysics and associated with the solar thinking function. The Black Sun breaks up the logical life of the soul and represents the “crack” in our psychological armor through which the light of true understanding can get in. The Black Sun is an alchemical force that is impossible to classify or “fix” in rational terms, and thus offers a truly new level of change. Within the dark effulgence of the Black Sun, modern psychology stands at the threshold of powerful new tools for healing and transformation.

Marlan does a good job of showing how the Black Sun is part of the dark night of the soul and accompanies not only the most negative of psychic experiences but also the most sublime. It is a key element in understanding archetypal images, psychological depression, spiritual trauma, and the transformation of the soul. But there is an added bonus to this book that only surfaces as you read through it. This work is a treasure trove of insightful information on many alchemical traditions. He offers fascinating glimpses into the nature of mystical experiences, the mystery of the Kabbalah, the Buddhist notions of the void, and the black light of the Sufi Mystics. His section on Taoist alchemy (Chapter 4: Lumen Naturae) is one of the clearest expositions of the subject available with lots of initiatic information on the formation of the subtle body, the astral “body of light” in alchemy. He also reveals new information on several original Taoist manuscripts he researched on one of his trips to Nepal.

In all, this book is an important contribution to the understanding of both alchemy and psychology. It leaves the reader feeling connected to the deeper aspects of self and allows us to see into our many-layered souls. Without doubt, some people will be frightened off by the idea of taking an excursion into the dark side of their being. But as any alchemist will tell you, no matter how paradoxical it may appear, we must work with both aspects of nature and of ourselves to accomplish true transformation. This idea is stated most eloquently by T.S. Eliot in a poem quoted in this book:

In order to arrive at what you do not know,

You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.

In order to possess what you do not possess,

You must go by the way of dispossession.

In order to arrive at what you are not,

You must go through the way in which you are not.

And what you do not know is the only thing you know.

And what you own is what you do not own.

And where you are is where you are not

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On working with many individuals using alchemical principles, it has become apparent to me that many of us put our lives on hold whilst we wait for something that we consider to be wrong or unjust to be corrected. Oftimes, we wait for a parent or spouse to notice us, or put our dreams and life on hold waiting for someone that has hurt us to apologise. One of the fundamental foundations of any process work is understanding that having peace, rather than the need to be right, is much more important. Our need to be right, or a need to be acknowledged, can be very destructive as we stubbornly refuse to live our dreams so that those that have not loved us in the way we expected can notice our suffering and perhaps through that be motivated to make amends. Often, through traditional forms of therapy, we can bemoan our losses and spend a long time entwined in the story we have built up about our lives, thinking of many reasons why we cannot achieve certain things. The important thing to remember is that those that have either stifled or hurt us in some way, are rarely even aware of their role and so unable to respond. – John L Payne info@fourprinciples.com

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EDITORIAL

From the Editor (by Duane Saari)

This issue of the Journal includes three perspectives of alchemy from individuals who have different relationships with the Art. Rubellus Petrinus highlights Fulcanelli’s description of the Philosopher’s Stone for us. Vincent Bridges casts a light on the Gnostic origins of alchemy. Laurel Price shares more of her alchemical art and herself. I would like to add a fourth.

Seeking to understand alchemy to an ever deeper degree, has taken me in two directions. One is an application of the principles of alchemy in three laboratories: my special space filled with books, burners and beakers; my inner self; and my environment. The other is an attempt to understand the origin of Art. This latter direction has been a journey of reading what the masters have written down for us to know and the works of others from fields of knowledge related to alchemy.

R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz has contributed to the understanding of ancient Egypt and the formation of the field of Egyptology in a legacy of writings based primarily on his years of living near and studying the Temple of Luxor. His perspective on symbology and the “Pharaonic mind” illuminates alchemical principles and I would like to share a few of his thoughts from his book, Egyptian Miracle, with you.

Most students of alchemy as well as alchemists would agree that essential to the success of practicing the Art is realization obtained through demonstration and application; thus the Hermetic adage: Solva et Coagula. According to Lubicz: “But gnosis (which we designate as inborn knowledge concerning the “secret of becoming”) cannot be formulated; it must be realized. Obviously, an Opus [Oeuvre] is involved here, and not philosophical dialectics, an Opus, moreover, whose phases of realization reveal the subtle composition of man as well as the phases of human and suprahuman becoming.”

All alchemists experience the challenge of actually doing the work of alchemy, of being a participant in the creative process with all the awareness and responsibility involved. Ancient Egyptians, based on Llubicz’s research, believed that: “There is something fearful in the fact of creative labor. The Kabbalah speaks of the infidel angel who falls into earth, the Ptah of Memphis. Yet mortal man places all his joy, all his glory, in the fact of laboring creatively. It will be the Great Work, the Magnum Opus [Grand Oeuvre], if the aim is to recognize the cause of the fall; it will be fixation in earth, damnation, if the aim is confined to the maintenance of the Opus on earth.”

Alchemical timing is as precise and subtle as that of a ballet artist and as significant for success as the farmer’s planting of certain crops. The sacred science of ancient Egyptians was based on an understanding and use of analogies as well as timing: “In addition to knowledge of the analogues, sacred magic demands mastery of the proper gesture in the consonant ambiance and at the corresponding cosmic moment.”

May the words of our three feature authors and those of the ancient Egyptians help you find your journey to understanding and embracing alchemy.

Submissions

Submit your articles on any aspect of alchemy. We are looking for biographies, historical articles, practical laboratory work, spagyric recipes, philosophical pieces, experiences in personal transformation, spiritual insights, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, book reviews, film and video reviews, website reviews, artwork, etc. Please submit your material or queries via email to AlchemyEditor@yahoo.com

Subscriptions and Archives

The Alchemy Journal is published quarterly at the annual solstices and equinoxes. Issues are posted at the Alchemy Lab website on the journal archives page at www.AlchemyLab.com/journal.htm. This page also contains a Directory of Past Issues and an Index of Articles. To subscribe to the journal, simply send a blank email to AlchemyJournal-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Alchemy Resources

 

I painted Alchemical Mercury when I wanted to invoke the alchemical process itself. This painting was a bit like a prayer, a way of showing my respect.

Few have been the alchemists who had the happiness of contemplating it and those who did it. Only one, as far as we know, left us the visual testimony of this achievement: he was Kamala-Jnana

I have been trying to focus on a combination of spiritual and psychological methods of manifesting the contents of the True Imagination in practical reality. I want to demonstrate the ancient truths in modern terms for everyone to see. I want to show that consciousness is a force in nature whose power most of us are unaware. I feel these modern applications of alchemical principles will manifest in human reality in terms of health and wealth, which are the practical concerns we all share.

Marlan does a good job of showing how the Black Sun is part of the dark night of the soul and accompanies not only the most negative of psychic experiences but also the most sublime. It is a key element in understanding archetypal images, psychological depression, spiritual trauma, and the transformation of the soul.

R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz has contributed to the understanding of ancient Egypt and the formation of the field of Egyptology in a legacy of writings based primarily on his years of living near and studying the Temple of Luxor. His perspective on symbology and the “Pharaonic mind” illuminates alchemical principles and I would like to share a few of his thoughts from his book, Egyptian Miracle, with you.