Book of Alchemy
All through the myriads of writings of which are called metaphysics, or what is called the ancient mystery teachings, we have reference to the four elements of Creation, Fire, Air, Earth and Water.
The element of Air is the home, or the abiding place of the other three for the Fire, Water and the Earth are encased in Air, enclosed, as it were.
Every mortal thing is shut off from all the immortal things. In other words, the seen world is shut off from the unseen world. The same as though there was a wall between the two.
Just as there is nothing that appears within the egg from the outside, as to what there appears on the inside, so the shell of the earth, and the shell of the dense world, divides the heavens and the earth.
The Air, again, is like a skin into which has been stored up a body, the whole body of the earth, wherein all earthly things are contained, preserved, and nothing can burst through within.
The Air is breath with the Life Force in it, from which all draw their life and vitality. This is truly Air itself, and puts forth the Air that nourishes the four elements, and at the same time, sustains the pure life. Without this element, no other element could advance, no wind could blow, nor rain or snow could fall, no Sun would shine through, -- no Sun on earth to sustain the Life of Man. All this force motivates from the Air, and is attracted by the other three elements.
For, as the lungs inhale, so does the earth, while the water and the Fire each do the same thing. They are truly not a means of Life, but it is the first element, -- of the Fire, which makes the wind blow.
The correlation between the element of Fire and the Mind, brings us to the conclusion that the Mind is the highest force of the Universe.
This created the Heavens and the Earth. It has changed wildernesses into fruitfulness, and linked distant countries together into a beneficent ministry, one to another, or at least it should be that way.
For, brute force never won or accomplished anything. Art, skills, the intellectual and moral energies that man owes his mastery over earth to, it is Mind which has conquered matter.
To fear them is the calling forth of a people’s mind in a negative way, which only brings starvation and poverty, and is but a frightening shadow of Reality, or Unreality.
The electro-magnetic forces of the body or materials, may be measured, but not the forces of the Soul; nor can the results of increased mental activity be foretold, for man may do anything that man can conceive of, except break the basic laws of Nature.
Power of Man lies in the control of Mind, which, if fortified and
enlarged, will bring external things into harmony with itself.
it can create a new world around
itself, corresponding to itself, if it so desires.
if, however, man errs in his belief and he does not improve the minds of the multitudes, then industry becomes less productive; but, let us not sacrifice the Mind of the people for wealth in the material form.
Let us now speak briefly on the elements of Fire. It is a scientific fact, that without the existence of this element, there would be no material composition in this, our solar system.
First, let us understand and appreciate what we mean by the term “Fire,” for we are not talking about a violent chemical action that is co-existent with combustion of the ingredients of fuel with the oxygen in the air. This is only a resultant after the primary state of heat exists.
For, heat is due to increased motion and agitation of molecules or atoms. In the beginning, the vibrations that emanated from the Divine Source, generated heat and motion before any manifestation of the physical world or material form was existent.
One of the best answers that science could afford was that it was a principle of Nature that is a form of energy manifesting itself to one’s subjective senses, as a sensation of hot and cold.
We know the great distributing source of energy is the Sun, for there is the outpouring of the energy of the Father into our material world and its supply. Later on, in our work, we will go further on the origin of heat.
For, it is a known fact that you cannot produce Fire without the presence of combustible material, and even with these, we must increase the rate of vibration; then, we will have the manifestation of what our five objective senses qualify as fire or heat.
When we use the word, Fire, in relation to the four primal elements of nature, it means the conditions exist at the time that our senses register this manifestation through our objective faculties, but we must not forget that heat is a basic state which exists even though it is unperceivable to our senses.
A good example, if you hammer a piece of metal until it is hot, you may then Light a match or kindle a fire, for the iron atoms have been agitated by the pounding of the hammer and have increased the vibration of the metal; thus, we have heat.
Whatever superstitions may have gathered about it in the course of the ages, the custom of maintaining a perpetual fire probably sprang from a simple consideration of practical convenience. The primitive mode of making fire by the friction of wood is laborious at times,
and it is especially so in wet weather. Hence, the savage finds it convenient to keep a fire constantly burning or smoldering in order to spare himself the trouble of kindling it. This convenience becomes a necessity with people who do not know how to make fire.
The Earth “without form and void” as referred to at the beginning of Creation, was undoubtedly the mere rudiment or principle of Earth, having no determined figure.
The alchemical Earth is not that which is regarded as earth by average humanity – not the rigid solidness of fixed forms. Rather, it is a synthesis of those things represented by his Fire, Air, and Water, and is declared as the Mystery of Union, or the fusion of Causes to present Effect in manifestation. It is the Primal Root of the elements.
Earth is the result of the condensing and finitizing properties symbolized by Saturn. It is the finished product, or goal of the Great Work of Alchemy. It represents the congealed result, of that which was adapted from the One Original Essence of All.
In the Christian Mystery of the Nativity, the birth of Christ, the Virgin is often depicted in the manger scene sitting between an ox and an ass. The ass is symbolic of the First Matter of alchemy, and the ox symbolized both creative powers and Life-Breath. The Virgin birth brought into earthly embodiment, the Divine Being, amid these homely earthly symbols of Primary Principles of Creation.
The element, Earth, refers to all that is tangible or corporeal. The Way of Attainment is not escape from the world, but gaining knowledge of its true nature, and the right uses thereof in obedience to Universal Law.
Only through total obedience to this law, do we come into harmony and unite with the directive Power of God. It is said that the subtle principle of sound is the mixing bowl of the elements, the Quintessence. We control this Fifth Essence through Initiation. This instruction from within leads us to correct work with outer embodiments of the Life Power’s activity.
If, as science claims, mass and energy are equal, then the element Earth, by its weight should express a great deal of working power, in view of the underlying vibratory nature of the radiant light energy which permeates matter.
The invisible, “Magical,” earth is said to be the same as the Quintessence, or Akasha. The Akasha is said to be made up of essences akin to the combined influences of Saturn, Mars, Mercury, Venus and the Moon.
Invisible Earth refers to the subconscious level of Divine activity, and it also is said to be made up of the subconscious aspect of the Cosmic Mind-Stuff. Too, it is attributed the colors black and indigo, because it refers to the original substance, without form and void, which becomes the substance of many forms in our environment.
The exaltation of Moon in Taurus indicates that the most powerful manifestation of this invisible earth is active in sound and hearing. “Through sound the world stands.” Physical Earth is a reflection of the invisible Earth – the Limitless Light. This “magical earth” is visible only to those whose purified Sight has resulted from spiritual evolution.
Though God transcends all distinctions of gender, He is commonly thought of in terms of masculinity. But, the actual working power of the “Void,” the chaos, or dark abyss, which is also the essence of primordial humanity, is always represented in feminine terms.
The symbol for this alchemical “Water” is a down-pointing triangle,
, to represent its integrating or form-producing work; whereas that of the positive or “masculine” essence
of Fire, is a triangle pointing upward .Together,
, they interlace to form the Star of David.
It is the consensus of alchemists that the element of Water contains the potencies of all manifested forms. They often call it “Mother,” or the First Matter of the world, and the Source of form.
The Hebrew Bible concealed within its scripture, the whole science of alchemy, from the very first chapter, where it said in essence, “The Life-Breath of the Creative Powers brooded upon the face of the waters.”
Since all things are part of One Reality, it would seem that the multiplication of form is really subdivision of the One, into many.
The number ascribed to the Hebrew letter-word for Water, Mem, is 40. The number 40 is much used in the Scriptures as a preliminary to manifestation – 40 years in the wilderness, 40 days for Jesus, etc.
Alchemical Water is the Life-Power in its aspect of substance, or the principle of embodiment – in contrast with the more masculine aspect of this same Life-Power in its aspect of energy or the principle of movement.
With this substance aspect of the First Matter, is also associated the idea of alchemical Salt, as one would think of the seas as being made up of salt water.
The Water is given permanence by the Fire, hidden within it. Substance without the inherent force of the Life-Power could not survive.
This is suggested by the dictum that the alchemists “burn with Water.”
Whereas Alchemical Fire is the Sulphur, or activity-aspect, of the One Reality, Water is the Salt, or substance-aspect, of the same One Thing.
A common function of water is that of dissolving substances, as well as that of holding them in suspension.
The alchemical term, “dissolution” signifies the act or process whereby a solid substance is changed to liquid form, or homogeneously mixed with a liquid.
Alchemical Water is called the Seed of the Metals, seven in number. It is also that which stands behind all beginnings, the great Unknown.
It is the subtle fluid, whose currents flow through our veins and nerves, to be shaped and controlled by ourselves and is akin to electro-magnetic energies.
Paracelsus says: “The first principle with God was the ultimate matter which He Himself made to be the primal, just as a fruit which produces another fruit. It has seed; and, this seed ranks as Primal Matter.”
Likewise, out of the ultimate matter of minerals, the primal element was made, that is, it was made into seed, which seed is the element of Water….So, then, the element of water of the Mother, seed, and root of all minerals; and the Archeus therein, is he who disposes everything according to a definite order, so that each comes to its ultimate matter, which at length, man receives as a sort of artificial primal matter; that is, where Nature ends, there the Art of Man begins, for Nature’s ultimate matter is man’s Primal Matter.
Through such wonderful methods, has God created Water as the first matter of Nature, so soft and weak a substance, yet from it as a fruit, the most solid metal, stones, etc., -- the very hardest from the very softest, -- and, so that the Water, Fire should issue forth, beyond the grasp of Man’s intelligence, but not beyond the power of Nature.
In the bosom of superior Nature, is found the sea of things invisible, wherein all “conceptions” wrap themselves before embarking in the shell.
In this sea is retained the species of all things, and it also is the receptacle of all things after dissolution. But, this sea is of the Nature of Water combined with Air.
For, “Air is a fleeting, indeterminate substance, but Water is his vessel; for Water being figured by means of Earth, the Air also is thickened and figured in the Water.”
“The element of the Air was appointed for no other purpose than to be the abode of the other three, each to be conserved, as it were, within its close in the following way:
“The air enclosed in itself, every mortal thing, and shuts it off from what is immortal, as a wall divides a city from the fields. It strengthens the world and keeps it together, as a dam does a marsh.
“Just as there is nothing in an egg to one who looks at it from without, or outside the egg, which agrees with what is inside, so the sky is a shell dividing heaven and earth, just as the eggshell separates the egg from what is outside it.
“The Air, again, is like a skin in which is stored up a body, the whole world, to wit, and wherein the earth is contained and preserved. The Air, then, is this sky, a skin, or eggshell, or wall, or mound, beyond which nothing can burst through, and within which nothing can break in.
“Moreover, the Air is Breath, from which all draw their life. This is truly Air Itself, and puts forth the Air which nourishes the four elements, and at the same time, sustains the life of man. Without it, none could live.
“Without this, no element could advance, no wind could blow, no rain or snow could fall, no sun could shine, no summer could flourish, no water could flow, no earth could sustain. All this force proceeds from the Air, and is attracted by the four elements.
“For, as the lungs every moment inhale Air, so does the Earth, while the Water and Fire each do the very same thing. That is a palpable error which lays it down that winds are caused by the Air. They burst in upon us like poison, not as a means of life. The first element brings Air, but Fire gives the winds.
“Air is a fleeting, indeterminate substance, but Water is his vessel; for Water, being figured by means of earth, the Air also is thickened and figured in the Water.”
The Ancient Book of Formation mentions two words which may be translated as “Air” – one is Ruach, or Life-Breath, signifying the primitive or original Air, not the element.
The second word is Eveer (Aleph, Yod, Vav, Resh) which signifies Air, space, or vacuum – that is, atmospheric air. The above book said the wind, or atmospheric air, is from the Spirit or elementary Air.
As one’s personal atmosphere is formed by a projection of the Inner Light, so it is assumed by some that the Earth’s atmosphere comes about through a projection of the currents of “astral light” from within its own body.
To Air is attributed the property of locomotion, or moving from place to place. Air is called the “envelope of the life of our sensitive spirit.” It is also indisputably “the fuel of the vital, sensual fire, without which we cannot subsist a minute,” according to one alchemist.
It is called a medley of extremes. To the Ether of space, are ascribed such contradictory qualities as both the thinnest and most dense of all things, at the same time, most rigid and most elastic.
Fine workmanship requires dexterity, a quality related to the planet Mercury, who rules both hands, arms and the lungs with which we breathe.
Of the Creative Word, or Logos, John wrote that “through Him all things were made….”
Certain schools use sounds, through words or tonal incantations, to control atmospheric vibrations, and increase the feeling of inner harmony. It is said that the written mantra alone is valueless, for the words must be spoken or the sounds intoned, in order to set up the desired atmospheric conditions.
The element Air is called the “Magician’s back door”, which opens on the Inner Realm, known only to him and his trusted friends. Control of this element is necessary to his success, and this may be gained to some extent, through correct breathing. The results of the work performed here are later perceived through the front windows, referring to outer sensation.
Right meditation is of great assistance in helping us to reestablish proper breath control. Thus, meditation is said to “restore the Creator to His throne.” It is also associated with the idea of alchemical dissolution, in its function of dissolving false barriers and delusions, which keep us from union with our Creator.
Here is a clue to the Air-sign Aquarius, being known as the Water-bearer. For, in this function of dissolution, both water and air have a part, and the very symbol of Aquarius is the
same as that used to indicate the process of dissolution.
The Archangel of the element air is Raphael, whose name means, “God is the Healer.”
The Qabalists seemed to regard the element air in its highest aspect as the connecting link between the universal Self of All, and the Father or Divine Life-Force. And again, it was by the transmission of His own breath that God brought Life to original Man, Adam.
There is a correspondence between Fire and Air, in that the “Life Breath of the Creative Powers” is represented by the element Fire. The Fire Triangle is made a symbol for Air by adding a cross-bar thus:
Proper control of the element of Air, or Life Breath, is said to modify the vehicle and Consciousness, to produce the “copper coins of Venus,” which further equate with the element Earth.
When it is difficult to break away from intellect, for a beginning student, or over-active mentality, have him go just one step above his head into a transparent dome lighted as though by the sun.
The light shining through turns the dome itself into the loveliest rainbow colors.
Straight ahead at the altar, burns one single, open flame, before which he kneels to pray.
Then, he may do another exercise while here, or just meditate.
The (triangle pointing up) represents One God in three Persons.
The dark circle represents the chaos, which in the beginning, God created.
The Cross, within the Circle, the Light by means whereof He developed the chaos.
The Square, the four elements into which it was resolved.
The Triangle, again, the 3 principles (Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury), which the intermingling of the elements produced.
This clear perception of Truth makes “our copper” white, for copper refers to the desire nature. Thus, the first stage of success is called the White Work, or the work of Luna, and refers to purification of the automatic consciousness.
Next comes the Red Work, or work of Sol, where the purified physical vehicle is made instrumental for the various works of power. At this stage, we turn the "white" purified copper again to a state of redness, by channeling it into action, as symbolized by Mars, and this is the Alchemical Tincture. Then is the silver transmuted into the gold of Spiritual Realization.
Then, the alchemist says we must rule the desire nature in activity. Rightly understood and directed, this power becomes an instrument of our liberation.
The alchemical symbol for Salt is (the circle with a horizontal line at the center), showing a balance between that which is above, and that below. Alchemical salt is the finitizing principle which “breaks down” the homogenous quality of the Infinite to produce a complex web, which seems sometimes a tricky illusion. This is, again, related to the Maya of the Hindus, the comparative unreality of that which the ignorant accept as total reality. “Maya” is indeed similar to the word, magic. The Darkness obscuring Wisdom, encourages inactivity, sloth or delusion.
Some properties of alchemical Salt are inertia and darkness, as well as compaction, congealation, and unification. The union of the two other outstanding principles, called Sulphur and Mercury, is a process which aids in overcoming these static effects.
For, Salt is purified as Sulphur assimilates the Mercury of the Sages. Salt refers also to fixed conditions, particularly in the habitual impulses of the Subconscious. The influx of power through Mercury from above, plus mental control of thought and action, assists in purging and purifying the Subconscious by volatilizing, or causing to be dissolved, the complexes of these fixed conditions. The intervention from Superconscious levels results in an influx of new and beneficent fixations. The Salt must be purified.
There is no attempt to dissolve all “complexes,” or to keep them
dissolved. We merely try to rid
ourselves of the wrong kinds of complexes. (These
complexes merely consist of groups of mental forces clustered around a nucleus.)
Salt also refers to the Sphere called the Great Sea of Understanding. It is not the salt you purchase in a shop, or use to season food, but rather the sharp, magnetic “desire of Nature” which draws Life Force down into itself. It also refers to the principle of condensation. Here the stream of Cosmic Energy descends to involve itself in form and the four elements.
Table salt is used to retard decay. This is due to its quality of inertia. This preservative principle of referring to precedent and past conditions are what caused Lot’s wife to change to salt.
Salt crystallizes into cubes, as does galena, an ore of lead (the Saturn metal). Thus, the symbol of a Cube correctly represents salt and lead. The Cube symbolized the physical plane, or world of embodiment.
Five stages in the preparatory work of alchemy are:
1. Calcination – which consists of the purgation of the Philosopher’s Stone by gentle heat, in order to expel the volatile matter.
2. Dissolution – This breaks up “complexes” of subconscious patterns through self-control, study, or devotion, and establishment of good habits.
3. Separation – observing the workings of the Mind, and the flow of ideas.
4. Conjunction – Extending the previous state to an actual uniting of opposites within oneself.
5, Putrefaction – Changing and controlling the nerve currents in the body to affect the subtle states of subconsciousness and promote life-expression through the dissolving of complexes which block that goal.
Alchemical Sulphur is a fiery energy synthesized from the seven “metals.” Hermes said, “It receives the powers of the highest and lowest planets.”
The secret Fire is a spiritual force which permeates even the hardest minerals. Even the densest forms of matter are actually composed of particles of energy (made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons), which are separated by comparatively great distances. While non-physical, this secret fire is under the direction of Mind.
Force is the essence of desire, and Sulphur also identifies with the desire nature, and has association with the nerve force which energizes the reproductive organs. Alchemical processes are used to divert this nerve force to effect changes in the subject of the work.
Sulphur is called, “the womb into which all must enter, in order to become reborn.” One has said that “Gold is nothing, but Quicksilver congealed by its Sulphur.” The Sun Center is directly connected with the heart-action, and with the function of the spleen, as well as with the admission of radiant energy into the sphere of personality.
Sulphur is the transforming power active in self-consciousness, desiring and increasing its growth. It either emphasizes man’s desire for sense-gratification, or works for his release from this. It is sometimes called “the sensible, desiring, and growing life.”
The “Secret Fire” burns in the athanor or furnace, which is itself termed, “Essence of Fire.” This philosophical fire is shared by all, as is the alchemical furnace, for everyone has both. Seek not outside yourself for the things of alchemy. The furnace indeed is three-fold: with the Body as Salt, the Soul as Sulphur, and the Spirit as Mercury.
“Sulphur is of three kinds: that which tinges or colors; that which congeals Mercury; and essential Sulphur, which matures it.” Whereas Salt, referred to Subconsciousness, is a less-evolved manifestation of Life Power, and Mercury, or superconsciousness is a higher phase of the activity of Life Power, neither is expressed so fully in life as the self-consciousness and feeling of Sulphur. Therefore, Sulphur is called, “more mature,” more developed, and requires more attention or conversation; for, it tinges all human experience.
Sulphur “congeals” Mercury by bringing down the volatile aspects of superconsciousness into the definite area of self-conscious awareness. The Magician depicts the power to perform this congealation of Mercury by Sulphur.
The essential Sulphur acts as the positive polarity toward the receptive or indeterminate aspects of superconsciousness, in the establishment of forms.
At the “white” or lunar stage of the Work, the Vital Soul is purified and perfected. While changing to “red”, or the solar stage completes the Great Work, and brings about personal Illumination through the contact with Christ Light.
The Alchemical Fire is the radiant energy of the Sun, which is also the substance of all earthly things. It behaves exactly like water, flowing in streams, with drops and currents, and waves.
Though invisible, the effects of its hidden energy are seen. The Secret Fire is akin to blood itself, and to Mercury and Sulphur and combined. “Dam” is the Hebrew name for blood, and “Damascus” is a place of mixed races or bloods. (also “activity”)
While the fire within is natural to everyone, the “excitation” of it is artificial. It must be called out from within to manifest its potential. This fire is derived from a non-material source.
Fire is sometimes called the Life Breath of the Creative Powers, which entering the abyss of manifestation must pass through many transformations until the circle of its activities is completed in resurrection, or “rising again.”
The Alchemical Fire must be known, in order to be controlled. The Great Work deals with the process of transmutation through the intelligent direction of this Fire.
There is a direct correlation between the chewing, breaking down of form, as food is digested, then assimilated into the body, and the alchemical process of "dissolution.” And, the incorporation of this assimilated material into the blood and tissue of the physical body corresponds to the alchemical process of “fixation.”
On the mental level, this process consists of analyzing experience with the help of Mercury, or mentality, in order to synthesize the newly-discovered laws and principles. Analysis and synthesis, aided by creative imagination, bend their efforts toward the introduction of new manifestations.
Forms are communications of the past being brought into the present.
Symbolism is only to show us the reality of creative form, and as we come closer and closer to the Mind of God, we can thus, better understand the Great Ones, and when we come to the Mind of God, we can throw away the books, -- we have the Truth.
* * * * * * *
The eye is the first circle. The horizon which it forms is the second. And, throughout Nature, this primary picture is repeated without end.
It is the highest emblem in the cipher of the world. Saint Augustine described the Nature of God as a circle, whose center was everywhere, and its circumference nowhere.
We are all our lifetime reading the copious sense of this first of forms; one moral we have already deduced in considering the circular or compensatory character of every human action.
Another analogy we shall now trace, that every action admits of being outdone. Our life is an apprenticeship to the Truth that around every circle, another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep, a lower door opens.
This fact, as far as it symbolizes the moral fact of the Unattainable, the flying Perfect, around which the hands of man can never meet, at once the inspirer and the condemner of every success, may conveniently serve us to connect many illustrations of human power in every department.
Prayer of balance (When retiring)
Father, Thou makest me perfect.
Christ, Thou lightest my way and
my body with the light and life.
Thou preparest a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies,
So I accept ____________,
I thank you.
End that theme, and don’t think more of it. Do not end the prayer. A completed prayer will not bring you what you have been looking for.
* * * * * * *
Ultra-violet, nitrogen, and chlorophyll, form tiny globules in the air, and the raw ultra-violet creates in the atmosphere cosmic rays. Cosmic rays aren’t really Cosmic – they’re our own.
Oil is an insulation to electrical energy that we generate, is a conductor to cosmic rays.
In the test tube, which is our atmosphere, the affinity of radiations come together and this makes this possible to generate. These things are becoming more evident.
Cosmic rays cause vortices, which travel across the face of the earth like tornadoes. This causes most plane crashes.
The test tube is the individual.
The key to the sacraments – you must remember this one thing! and be able to sense and realize that the human body with which we are performing the sacraments is just the same as a test tube, putting the elements in it. That’s what we’re doing. Putting something in – changing things. That is why we don’t have emotions in performing the sacraments, but we do have feelings; that’s the difference.
Most churches use the sacraments as something they have been instructed to do, and so they just go through the form.
* * * * * * *
Over the door to this chamber is written: “Ye who enter here, leave all evil thoughts behind.”
You may not be perfect, but you’ll follow the discipline, and administer it to yourself.
Can there be any dead matter in the universe? Is not a stone held together by the cohesion of its particles, and attracted to the earth by gravitation?
These, cohesion and gravity, are energy – and energy the Soul, an interior principle called force, which produces an outward manifestation called matter; but, which ultimately is identical with force and substance. Then, all things possess life, all things possess Soul, and there may be Soul-beings, whose outward forms are not so gross as ours, and who are therefore, invisible to our physical sense, but which may be perceived by our own soul.
What is a man without intelligence? Intelligence is an attribute of Spirit.
The Will, as universal power, holds together the bodies in space. It manifests itself in you. You have no will of your own. Personal will is only a perversion of a bit of the universal, only in opposition to the greater.
Your will is strongest if you have no will of your own.
The adept guides existent power with his intelligence. Man’s intelligence is the only thing we can properly call his own. We guide the laws of nature by our intelligence (not work against them), in “miracles.”
Only he who has succeeded in fixing a certain amount of the Life-Principle with his permanent Inner Self may call that life his own, to retain it after the death of the form.
To know anything, we must feel, see, and understand it. Most so-called “knowledge” is merely memory, and not real knowledge.