One thing to remember when we learn about this topic is that there are multiple truths to this universe and not everything should be taken literally. Alchemy wasn’t only about turning metals into gold. Alchemy was a trial and error process used to study our material universe as well as other possible dimensions that we may or not be aware of in order to transcend fate. It gives rise to universal patterns and the way the universe may work. It may give you a glimpse of ‘god’s’ mind and the deep allegorical patterns and symbologies that exist in it. But if god is non-existent in your mind, alchemy is merely a group of methods to overcome fate using the possible principles that govern our universe.
So let’s delve into the history of this practice. It’s origins go way back to Ancient Egypt where the very word derived from Al Khemet which means “from Egypt.” Khem means black and back in those ages, Egypt was known as “Black Land.” Thus, Alchemy in it’s very definition translates into “Black Art.”
This Practice derived from the mystery schools of Ancient Egypt and was passed on through to the Greeks as these two civilizations had been in contact for decades. The two ancient forms of magic met and merged and the God that supposedly created this discipline was called Toth in Egypt and Hermes in Egypt and is now known as Hermes Trismegistus. It was him who was the author of science, geometry, mathematics, medicine, philosophy and religion and his wife Maat who was the force that maintained the universe. As a goddess, she represents the unification of spirit and matter which is a vital part of alchemy.
One important aspect of Alchemy is called the Tria Prima. It is the connection of spirit and matter or the veil that separates our material realm from higher realms. As the saying on the emerald tablet goes “As above, so below.” The Tria Prima consists of three elements each representing the aspects of this veil.
Sulfur is the omnipresence spirit of the life representing the fluid, fluctuating astral realm. Murcury is the fluid connection between the high and low. Salt is the base matter that represents all that we see in the three dimensional material realm.
The most important aspect of alchemy is the spiritual transcending of a person. In this discipline, there are seven steps if followed, one will gain enlightenment or the ‘philosopher’s stone.’ Each spiritual step corresponds to its chemical counterpart as chemistry stemmed from alchemy.
The first step is Calcination. Chemically this is the heating of a substance over an open flame into ashes. Spiritually, this is the destruction of the ego or everything we identify with and all the material things we are attached to. This is to ignite the fire of introspection and self evaluation. In this step, we analyze all that we are and why we are the way we are. This is to question everything especially ourselves and our preconceived ideas and our conditioned state.
The Buddhists try to reach this step by emptying themselves from all attachments of the material world and achieving a state of ‘nirvana’ which in it’s truest form means a peaceful state of mind.
Dissolution is the proceeding step. Chemically this is to dissolve the ashes into water. When we apply this process to ourselves, this is the breaking down the psyche and allow the surfacing of subconscious and buried material. This is opening the flood gates and allowing new energy flowing through. This is done through not only questioning everything about ourselves through ‘shadow work’ and ‘inner-child work’ and identifying our triggers. When this is done, you’ll realize that not only do you understand yourself, you’ll understand those around you at a deeper level. This will allow you to carry out acts of kindness without traditional biases and preconceived ideas. This is the opening up the kundalini process.
Separation is next in line on the path to spiritual enlightenment. Chemically this is the isolation of components of dissolution by filtration and discarding any unwanted parts. Psychologically, this is finding our essence and reclaiming the dream and visionary parts of previously rejected by our rational parts of our minds of our psyche. This is what we have been taught to hide. This is to review and refine our personalities and letting go of the self inflicted restraints of our true nature so we can shine through. In its simplest forms, this is to go against traditional norms and not holding back our creative expression in the truest sense. It is to not hold back what we want to do and all that we are meant to do when we were placed into this world.
The next process that takes place is Conjunction. This is the recombination of elements of saved elements into a new substance from a chemical perspective. Psychologically this is to empower our true self and to unify the feminine and masculine sides of our personalities to form a new belief system or intuitive state of being. This is when you finally get in touch with every lost aspect of your being, all your memories and who you are outside of the ego or the identity that you put forward, and being more aware of your reality on a daily basis. This is to find your purpose and empowering yourself. Success in this process is to be in a state of non-resistance. Writing a journal about daily occurrences, feelings, and thoughts help in this process. Dream journals and synchronicity journals are helpful in this part. This is achieving the lesser stone and synchronicities start taking place. You will see your life as a pattern and daily occurrences start forming a relation to the previous occurrence and all of a sudden, everything starts making sense.
The next process is called Fermentation. This is the introduction of new life. Chemically this is the growing of a ferment bacteria. An example of this would be the fermenting of grapes into wine. As a spiritual process, this is gaining inspiration from spiritual powers from above that reanimates and enlightens the alchemist. This is gaining the ‘peacock’s tail,’ that is the display different colours and meaningful visions. This is usually achieved through deep meditation, trans-personal therapy, deep prayer, psychedelic drugs and deep desire for mysticism. Fermentation is the living inspiration of something that is beyond us.
Distillation is the second last process. Chemically is the boiling and condensation of the fermented solution to increase it’s purities. Psychologically, it is the agitation and sublimation of psychic forces to make sure that no impurities of the inflated ego is incorporated into the next and final stage. This is to raise the content of the psyche to its highest potential. It frees someone from emotions and even their identity. It is the purification of the mind, and the ‘unborn self.’ This is to realize all that we truly can be. This is the raising of the life force. This is called the ‘circulation of the light.’ This is to have your third eye open.
Coagulation is the last and final process. Chemically, it is the precipitation of the purified ferment from distillation. It is the new confidence that is beyond all things and it is experienced as a permanent vehicle of consciousness that embodies the highest aspirations of the mind and that releases the astral body or the soul to exist in all planes of reality. This is gaining enlightenment or the ‘philosopher’s stone.’ This is returning to the garden of Eden.
There you have it. This is the seven spiritual disciplines of alchemy. This spiritual discipline was used to transcend the normal state into having having more power over your fate and surroundings. It is to go from the materia prima; the ordinary state of being to achieving the philosophers stone or enlightenment. This is what the Rosicrucians considered alchemical marriage. This is the marriage of our soul to the divine universal force that takes place through merging our feminine and masculine aspects. This is the achievement of the higher self. This is a detailed way to not only achieve ‘nirvana,’ achieving a peaceful state of mind unattached to materialism but also to use our spiritual self to attain a higher state of being and an ability to control our perception of reality and altar it.
One thing to note about the art of Alchemy is that this discipline was coded in allegories. The motive of turning metal to gold is an allegory itself for turning oneself into it’s highest potential possible. It is achieving the ‘higher self.’ It is rooted in rich symbolism such as elemental and minerals and a dose of ancient paganism. The reason behind this was to escape persecution from religious fanatics and keep this wisdom away from those deemed unworthy.
The Alchemist believes in duality. This is marked by the unification of opposites such as the unification of femininity and masculinity in the form of twin flames. It believes in the unification of the right and left hemisphere to form a balanced mind. This is when the ajna chakra or the third eye is opened. This is alchemical marriage. This process is symbolically represented by Prometheus giving the torch of light to humanity or the snake in the Garden of Eden telling Eve that her eyes will be open and she shall know what the gods know.
Now whether you take these stories literally is up to you. But alchemy in it’s spiritual sense is self development and to find a connection with a universal force or all that exists. This art is an empowerment of the self and finding our own path.