Book of Alchemy
Success in alchemy depends on the discovery of the First Matter. Yet, “discovery” does not mean to find, but to uncover, or reveal, as to open a book.
The High Priestess is herself a symbol of the First Matter, and refers not to the quest for something in the world around us, but rather the unveiling of the true nature of something within us.
This unveiling is an act of recollection. The secret of the First Matter is hidden deep in sub-consciousness, and the first step in the Great Work of alchemy, as in Yoga, is to bring it to the surface.
Without faith in its actual existence, we may never discover it, for it takes confidence to persist through the preliminary stage of the work, through day-to-day practice through the test periods of trial which show no outward proof of success.
Here again is the intimation that the discovery is made by the mind alone, (by our Mercury); for the beginning is a rational process, and the first glimpses are by the mind’s eye, in the light of reason.
One of the powers of human self-consciousness is this ability to direct the “unknown force” of gravitation. Mercury, (Hermes), was the “god” personifying the form-determining power of mind. Magic is the art of using this power to congeal invisible, formless substance into tangible, physical forms.
In most humans, this dwells merely in potentiality. Christian practice also begins with the acts of conscious attention, which enables one to direct and adapt modes of light vibration from the self-conscious level.
The object of alchemy is liberation from the bonds of delusion, not to abandon the world, but to know it for what it really is.
The First Matter “is that which is not known, because in this world (of sense), it is discerned by reason, without the uses thereof, which are sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch….the creature which is cognized in none of these five ways, is a sublime creature, is neither seen nor felt, but is perceived by reason alone…The sublime creature has no need of the light of the Sun, because the Sun is beneath that creature, which is more subtle and more lucid….Know also that the created world is composed of two dense and two rare things, but nothing of the dense is in the sublime creature.”
Here we understand that the First Matter is discerned by reason, in this world of senses; yet, the rational perception is but a prelude to the actual discovery, which is not made in the world of sense. --- Thus, there are other worlds to which man has access, through the unfoldment of higher perception, for which reasoning is but the making conscious, of its existence.
This reasoned inference is not the discovery, any more than the label on a package is the discovery of the qualities and enjoyment of the contents. It infers, or draws a reasoned conclusion; but true discovery must go far beyond this reasoning.
Man’s conceptions of reality are largely derived from sensations of mass, weight, and solidity. Actually, a solid is frozen mind-stuff. Solidity is an illusion. We think of gold as being solid because we are accustomed to seeing it at a temperature below that at which it crystallizes.
We think of mercury as a liquid, because our ordinary experiences of this metal are sensations of its appearance at a temperature above its point of crystallization. By thought-controlled use of energy within us, it is possible to congeal mind-stuff into physical forms, and the substance on which this operation is performed is the First Matter.
The object of your desire is the one thing out of which all things are made. It is one, and contains within itself all that is needed.
This one thing is transformed from invisibility into visibility by what we call weight, or gravitation. A yogi controls gravitation, and thus, he can levitate his own body. He knows gravitation as a mental power, working at the level of awareness of his conscious mind.
Some call the First Matter a “chaos,” intimating that the primary chaos of Genesis (the Hebrew word, “Bohu” translating as emptiness, chaos, or void) is the stuff thoughts are made of, and that it is, also, a mode of vibration closely related to sound.
Anastratus said, “It’s birth is in the sand.”
The reference to sand brings to mind the ancient observation of desert whirlwinds, tossing the sand into spiral shapes, seeming to be alive.
The origin of the First Matter is actually a spiral, twisting motion like that made visible by sand in a desert storm. It is also a motion directly connected with sound and with thought. Thought-force is a real force, and thought-substance is a real substance.
It is said to be “the distilled moisture of the Moon, joined to the light of the Sun,” because it is identical with the lunar and solar currents of Prana, an actual substance which moves in spirals throughout bodies.
This union of solar light and lunar moisture is “congealed,” or brought into a solid state by a process involving a gradual loss of heat.
Again, we quote from the Turba Philosophorum:
“Know, all present, that no true tincture is made except from our copper. Do not exhaust your brains and your money, lest ye fill your hearts with sorrow."
“I will give you a fundamental axiom, that unless you turn the aforesaid copper into white and make visible coins, and then afterwards, turn it again to redness until a tincture results, verily, ye accomplish nothing.”
“Burn, therefore, the copper, break it up, deprive it of its blackness, by cooking, imbuling, and washing until the same becomes white. Then rule it.”
Note that not only is copper the metal of Venus, but in alchemy, it relates also to the Venus or throat center, which has to do with the desire nature.
To change the copper into white, is to raise the activity of the Venus center to the level of the Moon center behind the root of the nose.
To “make visible coins,” is to produce tangible physical result as a consequence of the operation. Coins refer to the plane of concrete, manifested results.
To make copper into white is to utilize the desire force of creative imagination, “feeling,” and raise it to the higher level of clear recollection.
Active desire is the raw material, but it has to be purged of the separateness which is mixed with it. We must rid our desire of the quality of personal attachment, then consider clearly how our personal wants may be put into right relation with other features of the cosmic pattern.
Our copper, or personal desire, has to be subjected to fire, or to the influx of spiritual energy. It has to be broken up, or analyzed into its component elements. It has to be deprived of the blackness of ignorance and attachment. Then it becomes clear white, because transformed into some aspect of the great pattern of universal law, or the recognition thereof. Thus, it becomes white, or “our copper becomes our silver.”
It must then be turned again into redness. Red is the color of Mars, and always refers to action. When the white of a clear perception of truth is permeated with the redness of action, then the Tincture is made, and the silver is transmuted into the gold of complete realization.
“Then rule it.” It is the purified desire nature which must be ruled, and to rule it, we must act, for the rulership is the control of activity.
One does not attempt to concentrate on the “centers,” for the wise realize that the quickest way to insure their desired function is to set up behavior patterns of thought and action, which are safe as well.
This means control of the power which produces mental images. Even the most abstract thinking requires imagery.
In abstract thinking, the images of physical objects are replaced by symbols, such as numbers or letters, or musical notes.
While a great many mental images must be used as patterns for muscular or mechanical action on the physical plane, before they can be made manifest as tangible realities.
Some materializations are evanescent, others are relatively permanent, like those of the miracle of the loaves and fishes.
The power to produce this kind of materialization is latent in every human being. It really is the power to control etheric vibration.
these are words that can give ideas of the nature of jacob’s ladder:
Degree work: Crossing of Threshold
The 1st degree of the air, like looking in the front of a book before reading it.
2nd degree: Study of will and coming Soul. Mental development, memory.
3rd degree: Demonstration of alchemic principles; mental phenomena. Cause and Effects in God.
4th degree: We introduce member into next state, open that door and illustrate the mysteries of Life.
Origin and nature of Life Force; how to control and direct it. Mystery of body cells; development of Aura. Prepare mind for regeneration of vehicles by which man may serve the Great Host.
5th degree: Ritual. Understanding. Receiving ancient philosophy. Time for psychic development with less study. Open psychic door.
6th degree: Bestows honor on the individual. We prepare to be healers and doctors in healing, study charts, lessons, and exercises. Explain secret processes of human body.
7th degree: Beginning of psychic initiation, dispensing with reality of material life and earth matter. Projection of psychic body, development of aura and Lost Word. Prepare for complete psychic realization.
8th degree: Recapitulation and preparation for final study of higher principles. Projection through space.
9th degree: Is final hours of earth, the final physical initiation, using actual patterns and figures, as we go through this play, of this degree. Certain ritual, paraphernalia lights, and incenses, and certain time. Under soft lights.
All involve the 4 points of the compass. All involve the use of light, some of water, some of oil. And they all bring one to a state of consciousness of one degree or another of reality, and they leave a stamp which the individual may not remember, but will learn to use.
10th, 11th, and 12th degrees are given psychically, on other planes. The Illumination and Realization are now gifts on the earth level.