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Serial Lesson 49
From Course III, Spiritual Alchemy, Chapter 1
Original Copyright 1931, Elbert Benjamine (a.k.a. C. C. Zain)
Copyright 2011, The Church of Light
Subheadings: The Language of Symbolism Different Kinds of Alchemy Process Always the Same Spiritual Transmutation The Metals of Spiritual Alchemy The Reverberatory Furnace The Laboratory Salt, Mercury, and Sulphur The First Matter The Philosopher’s Stone The Elixir Vitae The Great Work
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The Doctrine of Spiritual Alchemy
FROM antiquity we have inherited definite traditions concerning magic, astrology, and alchemy. The magic of the ancients, now termed variously Mental Science, Christian Science, Metaphysical Science, and New Thought, is today being used with satisfactory results by many esteemed people. Astrology is the foundation upon which has been erected in the course of time the modern science of astronomy. As astrology, furthermore, it is helping an ever-widening circle of humanity to overcome the difficulties offered by life. Like magic and astrology, alchemy was laughed at by the schoolman until the twentieth century gave indisputable proof of transmutation in his own laboratory. Transmutation and the flying machine, as the older generation well remembers, were the two standing jokes. Anyone interested in either was supposed to be ridiculously credulous. But transmutation can now be produced at will by our chemists, magic under another name is gaining in popularity, and astrology is being verified by thousands every day. It is time, therefore, that someone should seriously set forth a clear exposition of what the ancient alchemists really thought and taught.
The learning of the ancients, in so far as it existed outside secret occult orders, was collected in the Alexandrian Library. This library was begun by Ptolemy I in the third century B.C., and was added to in great measure by Ptolemy II. With the ascendancy of Christianity no pains were spared to destroy every record, monument, or scroll of more ancient times, either in the fear that it would contradict the Bible, or in the belief that it was pagan. The second Library in the Serapeum was completely destroyed when the Christians sacked that temple in 390 A.D. The main library also disappeared under persistent hostile influences, the Mohammedans, when they gained the power, finishing the work of destruction commenced earlier by the Christians.
Libraries elsewhere met a similar fate at the hands of Christian bigots and Mohammedan fanatics. But though the libraries were destroyed, the statuary wrecked, and the evidence of ancient culture largely erased, not all of the scrolls were consigned to the flames. Some found their way to secret, safe sanctuary in the heart of the Arabian Desert.
From thence, at a later date, mathematics, magic, astrology, and alchemy found their way to Europe. The word Alchemy, therefore, is Arabic, being derived from “al,” the, and “kimia,” hidden, or occult. To the Arabians alchemy was the science of hidden properties and essences. It dealt with the occult attributes of things.
It is nevertheless linked up through association with the art of transmutation; for a long line of alchemical experimenters sought to change base metals into gold. In addition they sought the philosopher’s stone, the elixir of life, and the accomplishment of the great work.
The sciences, brought to Europe by Arabian scholars, were not universally welcomed. Certain monks, like Placidus de Titus, expounder of the semi-arc system of directing, were fortunate enough to be allowed to delve deeply into astrology. Magic, of course, was widely frowned upon. Friar Roger Bacon and certain others made notable discoveries while conducting alchemical experiments. But all such delving into nature’s mysteries was commonly considered to be a matter that depended upon trafficking with the devil. Inside the sacred precincts of the Church it was occasionally permitted, but any delving by outsiders met quick disapproval of the ecclesiastics.
It was not an age of free speech. It was an age of terrorism to anyone guilty of discovering some fact at variance with the teachings of established religion. Spiritual truths could not openly be proclaimed. If they were to be conveyed to another, a secret code must be used to escape the accusation of heresy. Otherwise, the torture chamber awaited.
The Language of Symbolism
Not all alchemists, however, were interested in searching out the origin, history, and destiny of the human soul. Some there were who sought to make gold that might be exchanged for coin of the realm. Those that found this secret felt an obligation to society. They knew that should the process be learned by unscrupulous persons it might well upset the economic relations of the world and enable knaves and criminals, through vast wealth easily acquired, to rule and oppress more honest men. Against this they must guard by keeping the method a secret.
Because they were secretive about a matter of such tremendous importance to the selfish ambitions of others they were often sadly persecuted. Some were murdered by villains in the expectation that the recipe for making gold would be found about their persons or concealed in their lodgings. Others were hailed before feudal lords and potentates with the demand that they make gold. Refusing this, they were imprisoned and promised freedom only at the price of the secret process. Not a few were tortured, and some were killed, in the effort to compel them to perform transmutations or to reveal how it was done. Take it all in all, whatever they may have gained through the possession of alchemical knowledge they well paid for in lack of peace and comfort. For they have been hounded from place to place no less than the traditional Wandering Jew.
They lived in an age antedating science. No terminology as yet existed for expressing many of their ideas in ordinary language. Words were coined, therefore, to meet the demands of the occasion. Thus it came about, as a little reading of the alchemical works left by them makes obvious, that the same thing was called by a different name by different alchemists. This at first sight is very confusing. But it need not remain so, for in common language we have different words, called synonyms, to express the same idea. What we must do to understand their writings is to determine the basic idea that may be expressed by a variety of these synonyms.
They wished to conceal their knowledge from the vulgar and to reveal it to the worthy. It often served to protect them from the designing to talk, write, and act as if mentally unsound. They needed a code to convey information, and such a code came to them ready at hand from the same source as came the science of alchemy. Astrology and alchemy arrived in Europe together. A language that was applicable to one was likewise applicable to the other. Astrology teaches that everything on earth has its correspondence in the sky, and everything in the sky has its correspondence on earth. This is the key to alchemical synonyms.
A thing on earth is ruled by a planet or sign in the sky. This planet or sign rules other things on the earth having the same vibratory quality. The principle or quality or spiritual bias designated by an alchemist may be called by the name of any one of the various familiar objects ruled by the same astrological influence. Thus did the alchemists write and talk and think in the language of celestial correspondences.
Different Kinds of Alchemy
There is a great similarity to be found in the language used and in the methods of procedure advocated by alchemists living in different centuries and in different lands. One who delves into the rare and musty tomes still extant concerning the Hermetic Art, as it was called by these sages, cannot fail to be struck by the parallel methods of those who obviously sought different ends.
A sifting of their writings reveals that some wanted mineral gold with which to buy leisure, comfort, and luxury, and with which, perhaps, to help the poor. Some, however, had no thought of this, but labored to transmute bodily fluids and forces into magnetic power with which to perform wonders. Knowing nothing of the Yogis, they yet desired to do the things the Yogis are reputed to do. Some worked solely with the vegetable kingdom, some with animals, and still others sought to establish an ecstatic rapport with the source of all life, light, and love to the end of transmuting the gross trials of life into golden spiritual treasures.
Process Always the Same
In spite of the wide variety of ends sought, the principles followed and the succession of steps must be the same in all transmutation. A process carried out on one plane gives the same result as when carried out on another plane, except that the result as well as the process is on a different level. The tones C, G, and E sounded in combination on one instrument, and in one octave, give a resultant chord that is similar to C, G, and E sounded in combination in another octave on the same instrument, in the same octave on a different kind of instrument, or in another octave on another instrument. The same combination of tone vibrations produces a similar result whatever the instrument or whatever the octave, but it may be on a different vibratory plane. Likewise, the combination of alchemical elements by means of similar processes gives the same result if carried out in the mineral kingdom, in the world of vegetation, in the mental economy of man, or in the realm of spiritual potencies. The only real difference is that the result as well as the operation is on a different plane.
To state the matter mathematically, let us call certain definite things on one plane, A, B, C, and X. Then the things on any other plane having the same astrological (astral) vibration, or rulership, let us call A', B', C', and X'. A' has the same astrological vibration as A, B' the same as B, C' the same as C, and X' the same as X. Then if A plus B plus C equal X, it follows that A' plus B' plus C' must equal X'.
What the things are on one plane that correspond to definite things on another plane may be determined through their astrological rulership. Everything in existence on any plane vibrates in its inner (alchemical) nature to some astrological tone.
In Course IX, Mental Alchemy, I have considered the mental plane, and show how to bring about those mental transmutations that conduce to material happiness and success. But now it is the spiritual plane that interests us. The word spirit comes to us from the Latin, “spirare,” meaning, to breathe. It connotes the breath of life. As used here it signifies the inmost principle. Spiritual Alchemy, therefore, is concerned with the most interior plane. It works to transmute that which is commonly gross into spiritual gold.
Now what can spiritual gold be? This we must find out by applying the law of correspondences.
It is said that gold is the most perfect of all metals. Therefore, spiritual gold, as applied to man, must be the most perfect part of his constitution. Gold is extremely malleable and ductile. Consequently we must seek a human principle that adapts itself to numerous states and conditions. Gold is practicably indestructible, so that which we seek in man must be eternal. Gold is not tarnished, nor is it readily attacked by other chemical elements. Let us then explore human existence for an unchangeable element that remains pure and resists the acids of criticism and the fire of affliction. Gold is a precious metal that is used as a standard of value. What is the standard of value in man?
This auriferous principle cannot be the body; for the body is neither changeless nor durable, but easily corroded by external influences. It cannot be the soul; for the soul is affected by all that man contacts. The most characteristic thing about the soul (the sum total of experiences that persist as mind) is its ceaseless change and movement.
The Ego, however, answers all requirements. What the Sun is to astrology, and gold to economics and industry, the ego is to individual man.
It is an imperishable spark of Deity. It is malleable; for it adapts itself to the requirement of every form of life through which the soul in its journey passes. It is ductile; for its vital rays reach out to energize the soul wherever the soul may sojourn. It is not tarnished by contact with external life, nor does it deteriorate when exposed to the acids of criticism or the fires of affliction. It is man’s most precious possession. It is the standard, likewise, of the value of human life; for in so much as the ego expresses itself through the character the noble qualities are made manifest and the man attains true greatness.
The ego, undoubtedly, then, is spiritual gold. Yet as the ego already exists, a spiritual potency supplying energy to the soul as the Sun supplies light to the Moon, what need is there for transmutation?
Reading the works of the alchemists we find that there are two kinds of gold. There is natural gold, and there is transmuted gold. And these alchemists assert that the transmuted gold is far finer than that found in a natural state. Furthermore, they maintain that it takes gold to make gold, and that some natural gold must be supplied before transmutation is possible.
The ego, according to Hermetic tradition, is unable to contact the physical plane directly. During its involution it descends only as far as the boundary of the sixth and seventh state of the spiritual world. From thence it sends the dual souls on the further journey to contact external conditions, and adapts itself to the astral and physical planes by the rays of vitality that it sends to the souls.
These souls experiencing life on the external plane may raise the vibrations of their mental states to a point where energy is communicated not only to the astral plane, but also to the spiritual level. Such vibratory rates, experienced by an individual, affect spiritual substance, and may build up a spiritual body. This spiritual body is composed of the substance of the plane occupied by the ego. Like the ego it is relatively imperishable, and it partakes in great measure of the other qualities of the ego. It is not natural gold, but transmuted gold.
This imperishable spiritual body persists after the second death, which takes place in the astral realm. In this transmuted gold of the spiritual alchemist the soul must finally function if it is to survive. It is finer and more valuable than the ego because, while the ego is imperishable, such a golden form provides for the persistence of self-consciousness. Immortality of a kind is already assured to the ego, but by the addition of this transmuted gold it acquires a value it did not have before. It has acquired the priceless treasure of Self-Conscious Immortality.
The Metals of Spiritual Alchemy
The material alchemist works with the common minerals, such as copper, lead, tin, and iron, in the endeavor to change them into a metal more valuable. The mental alchemist follows similar principles; but the elements with which he works are his thoughts. He seeks to flux them one against the other, reduce them in the astral light, and recombine them in a mental gold that will attract to him ability, wealth, power and success. The spiritual alchemist goes a step still further. In fact, he takes the highest step possible to embodied man. He uses as his metals the various experiences of life. If some are not at hand that are necessary for this transmutation he seeks them out. He purifies them, fluxes them in proper proportion, dissolves them in the spiritual light by the aid of a reverberatory furnace, and if the resultant transmutation is successful he comes into possession of a golden chariot in which his soul may wing its heavenly flight through boundless time and eternity.
The Reverberatory Furnace
One of the most essential features of the laboratory of any chemist or alchemist is some means of increasing the vibratory rate of the materials upon which he works. On the material plane when the vibratory rate of the molecules of matter is increased the object is said to be gaining in temperature. That is, heat is an increase in the vibratory rate of matter. If the heat be increased still further until the object glows, and thus emits light, the molecules have reached an intensity of vibration that enables them to affect a substance interior to matter; for light is not a vibration of matter, but an electromagnetic movement.
If an electromagnetic rate is greatly increased, in a like manner energy is imparted to the substance next interior to it. Astral substance is thus set in motion and effects are produced on the astral plane. This is the plane of substance in which memory resides. It is the plane occupied by the unconscious mind while embodied, and by the soul immediately after death. By our thoughts we build on the astral plane.
If the vibratory rate of our thoughts is still further increased, these motions in astral substance, following the same general process, reach an intensity in which they impart their motion to the plane next interior to them. As a bar of iron when it reaches a certain temperature emits light, which is an effect in a substance inferior to matter, so a man’s thoughts when sufficiently raised in their vibratory rate, impart motion to the substance next interior to the astral. By these thoughts, or mental attitudes that have their vibration intensified in a marked manner, man can build upon the spiritual plane.
By them he can construct a spiritual body in which to function after death without a preparatory sojourn on the astral plane. Commonly after death man continues his progress on the astral plane for a long time while he gradually acquires the ability to raise his consciousness to an intensity that enables it to build up a spiritual body. But the spiritual alchemist expects to skip this extensive astral sojourn. While yet on earth he does the work that most accomplish only long after death. He builds his spiritual body while yet occupying the physical form.
The mere raising of the vibratory rate does not result in transmutation. It does enable the substance of an interior plane to be affected. Thoughts sufficiently intensified do affect spiritual substance, but they may or may not build an immortal spiritual body. A form to be immortal must have a high degree of perfection. All its parts must be there. They must be there in proper proportions. But transmutation is not possible without, in addition to the proper ingredients that have been fully purified and present in the right amounts, there being a marked increase in vibration. Proper fluxing the materials assists in making it possible to raise their vibrations. But in addition to this, heat must be applied to the substances.
Some kind of furnace is essential to both the chemist and the alchemist. A reverberatory furnace enables the metallurgist to obtain the heat necessary to melt his ores. Such a furnace is equally valuable to the alchemist. By its means very high temperatures are produced. On the mental plane, of course, it is a mental reverberatory furnace. The necessary vibration, or heat, is produced by controlling the feelings that accompany the thoughts. As molecular motion is the vibratory agent of the furnace on the physical plane, so the feeling of pleasure or pain is the vibratory agent used by the mental alchemist to control the conditions on the astral plane.
The spiritual alchemist, who operates on the experiences of life, follows a similar plan. He uses, to control and determine effects on the spiritual plane, not merely pleasure and pain, but still higher and more interior vibratory rates known as aspiration and inspiration.
This reverberatory furnace of the spiritual alchemist has a heat, or energy, or vibration, of a very definite kind. To be sure, it is feeling, but a feeling that arises from unusual spiritual perception. This spiritual perception embraces the all of life. It recognizes the universe as an organic whole, moving toward intelligible ends. It views itself as one unit of the cosmic plan. And the desire arises to assist in the great universal work of progress. An insatiable longing is present to use every faculty and power to advance the welfare of all. A relation is established between the soul and the universe. It is felt that nothing, not even life itself, is quite so important as contributing something to the general good.
It is a feeling, but it derives from the spiritual plane. It enters into rapport with the divine in nature. There is a higher state of consciousness. The heart overflows with a zealous religious devotion to cosmic prosperity.
This reverberatory furnace of the spiritual alchemist is fed by an outpouring of love. Nothing raises the vibrations as quickly as love. It is the love of the oxygen of the air for the carbon in the fuel that gives the material furnace its intensity. Love operates on various planes. But only unselfish love affects spiritual substance.
Any exalted and unselfish love has this power. The love of a mother for her babe, of a man for his mate, or a welfare worker for her charges may have this exalted and unselfish quality. More often, however, these are too mixed with the coarser rates derived from ambition, possession, or passion to affect spiritual substance. But the love of God and His works when devoutly felt lifts the soul above all that is sordid. A higher state of consciousness is experienced. The adoration of Deity, and the thirsting to be of utmost service in his scheme of things, provides the spiritual alchemist with a furnace that may ever be relied upon.
In the writings of nearly all alchemists there appears a reference to the place of gold in nature. It is one of their cardinal doctrines. Eireanaeus Philalethes states it more clearly and concisely than most. He says:
“All metallic seed is the seed of gold; for gold is the intention of nature in regard to all metals. If the base metals are not gold, it is only through some accidental hindrance; they are all potentially gold.”
The alchemists thus consider gold the climax of metallic evolution. Souls undergoing their journey through the Cycle of Necessity when they first incarnate in the metallic realm enter the lowest and basest form. By means of their experiences in this lower metal they acquire the ability, when this metal runs its life course, of attracting to themselves and incarnating in, the form of a more complex, or higher, metal.
When a metal decomposes and releases its astral counterpart, this counterpart undergoes a period of assimilation of its experiences. In due time it is carried along by the life wave to a new metallic incarnation, this time entering a metal a step higher in the scale of evolution. Its experiences in lower, or less complex, forms give it the ability to function in a form of higher construction. This process continues, according to the alchemists, until at last it reaches the highest and most perfect metal. It becomes incarnated in gold.
Gold is the highest form or principle possible to any particular realm. And because all souls are evolving, on the plane they occupy, toward its highest state, it is, as Philalethes says, “the intention of nature in regard to all metals.” If they have not yet reached this highest state, or condition, it is because they have not yet had sufficient experience to mold about themselves a golden form. This is an “accidental hindrance; they are all potentially gold.”
The same thought, encompassing a vastly wider scope was stated by a Hermetic Master: “Every immortal soul is the seed of a universe.”
In this he has gone even above the plane of spiritual alchemy; for he is dealing with the alchemy of the angelic state. Having accomplished the Great Work, he was looking to the plane next above his own level, and imparting his conception of what he there saw to one still below who was struggling yet with the problems of spiritual transmutation.
All souls are the seed of spiritual gold. They are undergoing those experiences, slowly or rapidly, by which ultimately they will be able to build about themselves a perfect spiritual form. It is the intention of nature that they become immortal, and unless some untoward circumstances arise, ultimately they will arrive at that exalted state. Their experiences with life may as yet all be base metal, and mostly dross at that. Nevertheless, there is a grain of pure gold within. It is the eternal ego. In due time, under the slow process of nature, all will be changed into gold.
But the spiritual alchemist does not wish to await the slow and ponderous workings of unaided nature. The fact that in centuries to come she will ultimately convert all his metals into gold is interesting philosophically and scientifically, but it does not satisfy his present ambition. He has no desire to await a long process by which additional experiences may be had on the astral plane and through which these and earthly experiences may be more fully assimilated. If he is to have an immortal spiritual body, why wait perhaps countless eons? Instead of permitting nature to do it all in her deliberate way, why not help her? Why not accelerate the process and by intelligently directed effort build up this immortal form so that he may have it now? This is what the spiritual alchemist determines to do.
He, like other alchemists, must have a laboratory in which to labor. The laboratory of any alchemist is determined largely by the kind of work at hand. The material alchemist must have a place where he may keep his furnace, cupels, chemical reagents, retorts, crucibles, test tubes, fluxes, and the metals upon which he experiments. But the spiritual alchemist needs a more comprehensive laboratory. The metals with which he works are the experiences of life. His materials he collects from the whole domain of nature. These he converts to his uses in the laboratory of his own soul.
Salt, Mercury, and Sulphur
Not because I shall refer to them thus in these lessons, but because they appear in the writings of nearly all alchemists, some explanation should be made of salt, mercury, and sulphur.
It is a cardinal principle laid down by all that these three are the elementary constituents of everything.
The most familiar example of crystallization is that of salt. When Lot’s wife, as related in the Bible, looked back, she crystallized. So does anyone who becomes so attached to present objects and conditions that he does not look ahead in the direction of progress. Salt is extensively used. Because of its recognized state of crystallization it becomes a universal symbol of the physical. The physical body is the salt of the alchemist.
Of things that burn with great heat, sulphur is widely recognized. Lakes of fire and brimstone are alluded to from the pulpit. Sulphur, because of its association with intense heat, becomes the symbol of fire. Within all life there is a spark of the divine fire. This eternal spark of Deity that furnishes the energy to impel the soul ever onward in its toilsome journey through the vastness of life is well represented by a more than common fire. The indwelling spirit is the sulphur of the alchemist.
No wonder the alchemists must conceal under universal symbols their ideas from the church; for they believed and taught that not only man but everything possessed of life has not merely a body but a spirit and a soul. The function of this evolving soul is to penetrate the realm of form and gather those experiences that ultimately becomes love and wisdom. Quicksilver penetrates quickly where water will not go. It may be strained through a chamois-skin bag. Of amazing activity, its globules run hither and thither, and actually gather up, or amalgamate with, precious metals. It is like the intellect in its activity and power of acquisition. Mercury is a universal symbol. To the alchemist, when mentioned in relation to salt and sulphur, it signifies the soul.
The First Matter
Schoolmen well could laugh at the alchemical doctrine of the first matter so long as the various elements of chemistry remained indivisible. Now, however, they know that the ancient alchemists were right; for all the so-called elements are composed of positive electric charges, called positrons, and negative electric charges, called electrons, which are positive and negative concentrations of the universal field, commonly called ether.
The nucleus of an atom embraces one or more proton, which is a combination of positrons and electrons having one more positron than electron, and thus carrying a positive electric charge. The nucleus of an atom may also embrace one or more neutrons, which is a combination of an equal number of positrons and electrons, and is thus electrically neutral.
Around the nucleus, to balance the positive charge on each proton, revolve as many electrons as there are protons in the nucleus. The number of protons in the nucleus is the element’s atomic number. Uranium, the heaviest natural element, has 92 protons. Remove four of these and the result is radium, which has 88 protons. From uranium remove 10 protons, or from radium remove six protons, and the result is lead, which has 82 protons. From uranium remove 13 protons, or from lead remove three protons, and the result is gold, which has 79 protons. From gold remove 53 protons and the result is iron, which has 26 protons. From iron remove 25 protons and the result is hydrogen, which has only one proton, and is the lightest chemical element.
The usual approach of the alchemist to the problem of transmutation, however, was not the attempt to knock protons from an atom having more than the desired metal. Instead, the attempt was made to build up the precious metal by bringing together, under proper circumstances, other metals that would furnish electrons and protons in proper number and under such conditions that these protons and electrons would enter into combination in the numerical proportions of the desired metal. If gold was desired it was necessary to furnish 79 protons and 79 electrons. Although not all the electrons and protons of metals thus brought to the combination might enter into the final product, enough must be available that would enter into the process to build up the necessary 79 pairs.
But merely bringing together silver and lead and tin and other ingredients does not produce gold. The proper ingredients must be present in certain proportions, it is true. But before being transformed into gold they must be reduced to a state which makes recombination of the protons and electrons possible. This is called reducing them to the first matter. The energy used in the process is variously called the universal solvent, the alcahest, the sophic fire, the supreme secret of alchemy, azoth, and the Water of Pythia.
In metallic alchemy the first matter is, of course, field, commonly called ether. And the force applied must be of an electromagnetic nature. It must be an energy which is capable temporarily of overcoming the affinity of the positrons and electrons for each other. These building blocks of the atom must be freed from their present attractions so that they may recombine in a different arrangement.
In spiritual alchemy we are dealing with something still more recondite. We are dealing with spiritual elements. They therefore must be reduced to their spiritual components. That is, a force must be applied that so overcomes their previous internal attachments that they are free to recombine in a different arrangement. This energy, for want of a better name, we term the spiritual light.
To better illustrate what I mean, let us have recourse to simple mathematics. Let us suppose, for example, that the transcendent gold for which we seek is represented by the number 1. The alchemist, then, let us say, has at hand only fractions, representing the other elements from which synthetically he hopes to produce gold. After much research and study he may decide that there are three fractions in his possession that if properly combined will give him the desired gold.
Let us assume these three fractions, representing metals, are 1/2, 1/3, and 1/6. Each of these fractions is a distinct numerical element, differing from the other two. Try as we may we find it impossible to combine them, while they still express their individuality, into one element. Merely to add them as they stand is to produce only a mechanical mixture. Thus do metals, if added together without being first reduced to the first matter, united, not in transmutation, but in an alloy.
But if we reduce these three fractions to their first matter, to a common denominator, they may be added together to give a new and distinct individuality. That is, they may be transmuted. Thus reduced 1/2 becomes 6/12, 1/3 becomes 4/12, and 1/6 becomes 2/12. Now added together their sum is 12/12. This is no longer spoken of as a fraction, but is the integer, number 1. Here the number 12 is the universal solvent. The alcahest on the mental plane is the astral light. On the spiritual plane it is the spiritual light. As in this instance we reduced to twelfths, so in like manner the alchemist operating on any plane seeks to reduce his metals by using the common denominator, or Water of Pythia, of that plane.
The Philosopher’s Stone
The chief ends sought by alchemists in various ages and climes were four in number: 1. To perform transmutation. 2. To obtain the philosopher’s stone. 3. To find the elixir of life. 4. To accomplish the great work.
The philosopher’s stone, according to repute, is a stone that has the power of transforming all it touches into gold.
As the gold we seek is spiritual permanence, and the base metals upon which we operate are the experiences of life as they are gathered day after day, our philosopher’s stone, as spiritual alchemists, must be something that touching any experience of life can transform it into a permanent spiritual treasure. It must be capable of giving it the quality that is necessary for it to persist as a component of the immortal spiritual body on the plane yet above the astral.
One thing there is that is changeless. That is gold. One thing there is also that touching other things makes them partake of its all-enduring quality. When truth is pressed against them, the eternal principles expressed by things are revealed, and thus are objects and forces transformed through the process of spiritual understanding, from base objects or experiences into the gold of their underlying spiritual nature.
“The Truth That Sets You Free” is the touchstone of alchemy. But as an intellectual process only it has no freeing power. The truth of any object, experience or force embraces a full comprehension of its various relations. Truth is correct knowledge. This correct knowledge embraces a comprehension of the relation of the thing to all other entities and forces. It embraces a correct knowledge of the relation of the thing to God, to man, and to the universe. It reveals its true spiritual significance in the life of man.
Such truth is a freeing and transmuting power, for when the spiritual relations are completely realized there is more than an intellectual perception. There is also present an emotion, a feeling of the stupendous privilege of life, and deep gratitude for its glorious opportunities. When correct knowledge is fully realized within there springs into existence as a component part of it, as the things inevitably conditioned by its presence, a deep aspiration, and an unutterable longing and determination, for a higher and better method of living. This Truth is the Philosopher’s Stone.
The Elixir Vitae
The fountain of eternal youth has been sought in many lands. The alchemists, instead of exploring the earth in the hope of finding it ready prepared by nature, undertook its manufacture. They diligently worked to prepare a fluid which they styled the elixir of life, in which to bathe and indefinitely prolong both youth and existence. With the philosopher’s stone they would change other metals into gold. But to be able to enjoy this gold they must have life. To reap its advantages in fullness, old age must be defeated and death defied. Therefore, to perpetually rejuvenate themselves, they must prepare this most precious elixir.
It was the policy of these alchemists, whatever they sought, to follow closely, though striving to accelerate, the processes of nature. Watching her, they could only decide that life wherever found springs into existence through the interaction of positive and negative potencies. Where sex is not there is no life.
The life of each atom of matter depends upon love. For instance, the sum of the components in the helium nucleus, or alpha particle, is 4.0332 mass units, yet the actual mass of helium is only 4.0027 units. Thus considerable of the mass of the components is converted into binding (love) energy. The binding energy of such an alpha particle is 28,000,000 electron volts. And it is the binding (love) energy released in the fission or in the synthesis of certain atoms that is the source of so-called atomic energy.
Mineral crystals are sensitive to poison, grow, and reproduce themselves. They are made up of atoms. These crystals continue their lives until, through age or other polarizing forces, the love of the atoms for one another is overcome. When such attractions cease the crystal disintegrates.
In the vegetable kingdom, also, the power of growth and duration depends upon the strength of the attraction between the cells, and their love for the nutritive materials carried to them by circulating fluids.
All life, thought, and activity are the result of sex. Sex expresses itself as movement, as fire, as passion, as enthusiasm, and as exalted unselfish love. It is convertible. It may be base and ignoble, or it may ascend to the very throne of Divinity. But wherever there is life there is some form of love.
The alchemist, then, perceiving that life is dependent on love concludes that spiritual life must depend on a spiritual love, and that immortal life must depend on an immortal love. And what so quickly can restore youth as love? Even the surgeons endeavoring to restore youth and prolong physical existence by transplanting tissues, utilize in a material way this principle; for they use the glands associated with love. The problem of the spiritual alchemist who seeks the coveted elixir thus becomes clear cut and definite. Life depends on love, and immortal life in a spiritual realm depends on an enduring spiritual love. It is this love that he seeks to find.
The Great Work
Many think that the possession of the fruit of the great work comes by chance, that it comes without much effort, or that it is given by nature to the unworthy.
My own observation of life convinces me that this is a pernicious fallacy. The very few whom I have known who came into its possession certainly well merited any blessing that life could offer. Invariably they had accomplished some important task for the welfare of society. Through their interest in, and concern for, the advancement of others they had blended the finer emotional elements within themselves into the precious elixir of life. They already had quaffed the immortal fluid.
The alchemist, also, must have been convinced that it comes only as a result of some special effort. Otherwise they would not have called it a work, but a recreation.
This great work, about which so much has been written, is the reunion of twin souls in the spiritual realm. As such it is the highest result of spiritual alchemy, because after thus united their potencies expand and they move from the highest level of the spiritual plane to angelic vistas that are beyond the imagination of embodied man. The union that results from the accomplishment of the great work is more than a fusion of the spiritual bodies that already have been constructed by each. It is a permanent union of souls.
No such fusion, even of spiritual bodies, can take place until there are spiritual bodies to fuse. How can there be any recognition of a spiritual union by those who as yet have not expanded their consciousness sufficiently to contact the spiritual plane? The greatest truth may, by its very greatness, be the most potent snare when misunderstood. Feeling an intense attraction for another, it is easy to imagine the soulmate has been found. Most such affinities are merely the result of magnetic attractions.
The great work can only take place when an active soul is capable of functioning in a well-constructed spiritual body. Few people have as yet such active souls, or such fully formed spiritual bodies. When such a spiritual body has been constructed by an active soul, there is no need to wander about looking for the soulmate; for by virtue of this spiritual activity alone they are bound to be attracted one to the other. Therefore, let those who long for the soulmate learn that mere wishing and seeking will never suffice; for it is an accomplishment requiring the utmost spiritual effort. Let them remember that alchemists call this reunion of twin souls the Great Work. The first step in its accomplishment is to build up the spirituality. This is the task of spiritual alchemy.
Ethel Barrymore Chart
August 15, 1879, 10:00 a.m. 75:11W. 39:57N.
1891, first chance to give real stage performance: Sun conjunction Uranus r.
1901, became New York stage star: Sun trine Mars r.
1914, appeared on movie screen: Sun trine Mars p.
1923, divorced: Mars semisquare Saturn p.
1933, appeared again on movie screen: Sun opposition Saturn r.
1941, May, received the Barter Theatre Award for the season’s outstanding performance and was acclaimed the undisputed First Lady of the American Theatre: Sun sextile Sun r, Venus sextile M.C. r.
Evalyn Walsh McLean Chart
August 1, 1886, 4:30 p.m. 104:59W. 39:45N.
1897, father struck it rich, life changed radically: Sun semisquare Uranus r.
1902, visited King Leopold of Belgium: Venus sextile Neptune r.
1904, went to Paris to study: Mercury semisquare Uranus p.
1905, crippled in automobile accident: Sun square Neptune r, Saturn square Mars r.
1908, married: Venus sextile Uranus r.
1911, bought famous Hope Diamond: Mars semisextile Jupiter r.
1924, husband accused of graft: Venus semisquare Venus r.
1927, started “life over again”: Mercury semisextile Uranus r.
1948, daughter died: Mars opposition Neptune r.