Saturday, January 28News Written in the Stars

I feel stuck in my learning of Alchemy. Ive wathched and listen to a lot of stuff now explaining what Alchemy is. But i would like to lear how to ”translate” and understand alchemical texts, symbols and art. Where should I go? : alchemy

Well, if you want to go to the source and not rely on secondary translations and documents, first you’d probably have to have at least working knowledge of the The Classics, which is to say both the classical texts and mythologies that many alchemists might have used to encode their work and the Classical languages, Ancient Greek and Latin. Probably wouldn’t hurt to learn Hebrew as well.

Then you go into classical astrology, astronomy, biology, and other sciences and mathematics… as they were at the time. So, you know, you want to learn how people in the past may have understood the Solar System (the Ptolemaic model for example) and not how it’s known today. Again, this would be mostly to pick up on encoded messages. Old alchemical texts would often be heavily encrypted for safety reasons (in many places, Alchemy was illegal, and not even for the reasons you’d think … hilariously, it was often rendered illegal because the powers that be feared that it would succeed and the influx of gold would destroy the economy, though religious reasons were also a thing). In short, it could be helpful to essentially get the same education (both official and unofficial) as the alchemists you’re trying to delve into, so that you’re equipped to attempt to decode any genuinely hidden or occult meanings hiding in the work, perhaps even in plain sight.

Then of course there’s all the more modern scholarship to go through …

Now you’re probably picking up on a mildly satirical strain in this message (meant good naturedly) . I say “mildly” because it’s not that the above is utterly absurd to attempt. Someone who is very well suited to academia could have a ton of fun with it. But oh boy is it discouraging to a lot of people. Plus, all of that in itself won’t necessarily render one an Alchemist, more of an Alchemy scholar, as in one who studies Alchemy. Even if you were to Da Vinci code all of the secret messages in every manuscript, a lot of what you’ll get is archaic science, perhaps pioneering science for the time but common knowledge now, personal philosophical musings, unverified personal gnosis, math, knowledge that is common now but was simply considered heretical at the time, proto-chemistry (I know people use the term Alchemy to refer to this, but we know that’s not all it was), and so on.

All of that stuff is super rad and interesting, but it isn’t in itself the essence of Alchemy. So I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s all required. I sure as heck don’t have time for a huge chunk of that and wouldn’t fault anyone else either. Then there’s the problem of the Magnum Opus itself. Thing is, as far as we know, very few people, if any, ever actually got there. If they did, I don’t think we have a proper record of it.

You’ve got the Compte St. Germain, of course … honestly kind of hard to explain him away, due to him featuring in some very notable primary sources, but, assuming he really figured out the Philosopher’s Stone, I don’t think anyone’s ever found surviving notes or documents that would contain the actual answer. Maybe they are sealed away in a vault somewhere, placed there by one of the kings he was friendly with? Some guy came out in the 70’s or whatever claiming to be him and supposedly even demonstrating the process of turning a base metal into gold on camera, but … I mean … who knows, I guess, but I’m not really sold on that, though even if it is a con, it is nevertheless a very enjoyable one.

Fulcanelli is a more recent figure, but ironically somewhat less compelling, since apparently nobody but his two closest disciples and maybe some nuclear physicists ever actually saw him/her/them in person (and in the case of the physicists, they spoke to someone who claimed to be Fulcanelli … and apparently bore a striking resemblance to one of those disciples), and some of the stories get a bit hard to credit. Apparently, there was some serious alchemical work done around said figure, whether they were real or not, but only Fulcanelli themself was said to have actual actual knowledge. The disciples who may or may not have been impersonating him all along didn’t seem to ever quite finish the Magnum Opus themselves.

Personally, I live somewhere between the “it’s all a metaphor” and “there’s actual stuff that does stuff” camps. I don’t really think there’s a specific “formula” or physical process that results in the stone. As such, I kind of suspect that outside sources are at best an aid, something that might jog something within the alchemist, but every alchemist must, ultimately, start from scratch at some point in their process. Kind of like with art. You might start by strictly following the Masters, doing copies, painting from life, but eventually you’re gonna want to do your own thing.

If Alchemy is ultimately the refinement of the “soul,” then it most likely has to do with the soul, the individual soul. While we might all be one on some level, your individuated soul is going to be made of different “stuff” than my individuated soul, so we will likely be starting our process from different places, and may have different parameters.