This is a full write up of my notes from Druidcast 92 all about Alchemy.
Alchemy is traditionally about the transformation of base (negative) to gold (positive) but is important in this context as an approach to personal transformation. The Alchemist is a person attempting to transform their base nature, negative character traits or bad patterns of behaviour into their higher nature by understand and awakening their inner deity. Fundamentally the alchemical process is about making positive change.
The Alchemical Pattern
Alchemy says that there is only one way to learn; through action. The ancient emerald tablet was supposedly created by Hermes/Thoth and describes the alchemical process. Essential to understanding the view of Alchemy is Pattern recognition that fire (for example), whether it be real fire or emotional fire, behaves in a similar way. The principle is that similar elements behave in similar ways.
Speaking out loud is the Mercury/Hermes method for the great transformation of human wishes into divine intentions and back into human reality whilst “Thoth was the god of writing and knowledge. The ancient Egyptians believed that Thoth gave them the gift of hieroglyphic writing. Thoth was also connected with the moon.” After Alexander the Great when his Greek successors became kings of Egypt Thoth became associated with Hermes and thus a written method for Alchemical change.
The emerald tablet allegedly contains the wisdom of Thoth, or his ancient priesthood. They were written on green stone (emerald in the ancient world could cover green jasper or any other green stone). The earliest known versions of the tablet are from the early medieval period. This is the new translation from Fulcanelli:
- 1) It is true without untruth, certain and most true:
- 2) that which is below is like that which is on high, and that which is on high is like that which is below; by these things are made the miracles of one thing.
- 3) And as all things are, and come from One, by the mediation of One, So all things are born from this unique thing by adaption.
- 4) The Sun is the father and the Moon the mother.
- 5) The wind carries it in its stomach. The earth is its nourisher and its receptacle.
- 6) The Father of all the Theleme of the universal world is here.
- 6a) Its force, or power, remains entire,
- 7) if it is converted into earth.
- 7a) You separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, gently with great industry.
- 8) It climbs from the earth and descends from the sky, and receives the force of things superior and things inferior.
- 9) You will have by this way, the glory of the world and all obscurity will flee from you.
- 10) It is the power strong with all power, for it will defeat every subtle thing and penetrate every solid thing
- 11a) In this way the world was created.
- 12) From it are born wonderful adaptations, of which the way here is given.
- 13) That is why I have been called Hermes Tristmegistus, having the three parts of the universal philosophy.
- 14) This, that I have called the solar Work, is complete.
So how does all this Alchemy relate to our brain functions?
- Left Brain/Right Hand & Masculine learning which comes from text books (e.g. The Alchemist)
- Right Brain/Left Hand & Feminine learning which comes from art (e.g. the Azoth Mandala)
The alchemical process is about harmonising our masculine and feminine energies to bring about the child of change.
The Alchemical Flow
In the Alchemical Mandala the 7 rays move in a pattern starting at Saturn / lead and moving onto Jupiter/tin, Mars/iron, Venus/copper, Mercury/mercury, Moon/Silver and finally Sun/Gold.
The alchemical flow is a way of resolving problems such as personal ones. These are the steps in the Alchemical process which can have both positive and negative aspects...
The 7 Steps or Changes
Thinking - Saturn & Lead - Calcification: these represent heavy dense objects that won't move e.g. inertia or the leaden ego. Willfulness in the rejection of good patterns often heard as the childish inner voice that stamps it's foot saying I don't want to, bad habits and depression can be aspects of this inertia. Fire is the energy to transform the darkness, the first step in the alchemical process is recognising it though. Burn into a powder, once burnt it can be usable as a powder. This may represent getting angry about the blockers in life. The shadow side is in staying inert just thinking or just staying angry and not harnessing its energy.
Feeling - Jupiter & tin – Dissolution: (feel it) this effect can be seen in our big blusterous over-inflated ego. Tin looks like silver but is a cheap, weak imitation. The leftover ash of the previous process is used here. Add water to dissolve it, this dissolution can emotionally be the shedding of tears. The letting go and flowing (tin is easily melted) of water. The shadow side is to get stuck in a pattern of feeling sorry for yourself, to stay crying and not moving forward.
The 2 above are the dark phases but all good stuff starts in the s-h-one-t! Philosophically the flower representing this in the eastern tradition is the Lotus and in the western tradition it is the Rose. Both of these need murky mud at their roots for their heads to produce glorious flowers. Once the two steps above have completed a dark soupy liquid is now created, like oil which can be an explosive mixture. Caution is now required when moving through the next step...
Rationalising - Mars & iron – Separation: the mixture is now full of power and charged with energy (iron is magnetic). Once you can see the real situation and your emotional responses to it then the rational intellect (the iron rod) can be used to categorise and understand it. Mars' shadow is the self destructive reaction to steps 1 and 2. Notice that the process of change doesn't start with the intellect it starts with the problem or situation and your emotional response to it. Only once you've dealt with these two can you start separating what you have found. Now the desire to move forward, the light phase, comes once you can see clearly...
Rectifying – Venus & copper – Conjunction: The root of this is the love or emotional desire to change. Now the you have all the essences separated but which parts do you want to discard and which to recombine? Conjunction is which direction you want to go and the desire to move in that direction. Venus' shadow is the profligate side which is dangerous, leading to a lack of direction. The conjunction allows paths to be chosen... remember the right path is usually the harder one.
Now the masculine, Mars, and the feminine, Venus, have been harmonised the 3 steps below are the light phases of the flowering of the desired change now that the elements are ready to be worked...
Dreaming – Mercury & quicksilver – Fermenting. Now is the dreamtime; to see the vision, get drunk on it and communicate it. In fermentation something has to decompose before coming to life again. Mercury becomes the god of awen for finding your direction, it's about building the dream and discovering the direction to bring it to life. Fundamentally this is the part of identifying the divine intentions (as each person has the divine within) but the shadow side is analysis paralysis; too much thinking about it and not doing it, whatever it is.
Condensing - Moon/silver the mirror, subconscious reflective side - Distillation. The process of change but the shadow side is to be like narcissus looking into the pool and keeping a static view marvelling at how far you've come but not completing the journey. Condensation is a reflection of the dream but the way to move it forward is via the divine water. The moon controls the tides which reflect the moons energy & movement as the fastest of the alchemical planets. The point is that sometimes you need to keep going, despite the highs & lows of the tides. See the bigger picture of the motion of the tides not the emotion of a low or high tide.
Realising - Sun/gold the visible completion - Coagulation. Blood starts off as liquid but coagulates into a solid. It is about allowing the process to work, not seeking to control the flow but allowing the natural realisation, or making permanent, of the previous steps. If the coagulation doesn't work it usually means moving back to a previous step and fixing what failed. The coagulation is the bringing forth of the change into reality – ensuring new positive patterns stick and become permanent. When I stopped looking I found what I was looking for.
Other References - The Emerald Tablet by Dennis William Haulk