Updated -- 15 November 2010
Major Update -- 29 August 2011
Alchemy is not a term easily defined. There is the alchemy practiced by those working with metals, substances, and processes in laboratories, as well as those taking the alchemy symbols into artistic creations, while still others take a more spiritual approach, suggesting that alchemy is about transformation of the soul. There is even symbolic significance, in thinking of alchemy as an interior exercise of the mind. About the only common denominator is that alchemy is Transmutation of metals, minds, souls, or whatever happens along the path (aka the tao).
The word itself, may have been derived from one of several sources. When ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics are transmitted through Arabic, the result is “al-khem”. On the one hand, “km.t” forms the native name of Egypt, while “Chem” means “black earth”. On this basis, one derivation of the word alchemy is “Egyptian art”, or the ‘art of the black earth.” This is the suggestion that alchemy is more about soul transmutations, instead of merely working the earth for fun and profit. On the other hand, derivations from the Greek, “chemeia”, found in the writings of Diocletian, the art of making metal ingots, and “chumeia”, the art of extracting juices or infusions from plants, and thus herbal medicines and tinctures, are clearly more practically oriented.
According to The Alchemy Web Site one way to secure a sense of alchemy is to base it on the body of Alchemical knowledge, preserved in libraries from through-out the world. “Those who do not found their opinions and perceptions on this body of tradition, are often drawn to airy speculations and personal belief systems, which cannot be investigated and researched, but only accepted through an act of belief. This was not the way of the alchemists of previous centuries -- they did not rely merely on belief, but were constantly investigating, exploring the texts and ideas of previous generations of alchemists, and struggled in their own writings to find their own truth. We should beware of any one-dimensional interpretation or definition of alchemy.”
To appreciate the library of knowledge, Levity.com offers “over 90 megabytes of information on alchemy in all its facets. Divided into over 1300 sections and providing tens of thousands of pages of text, over 2000 images, over 200 complete Alchemical texts, extensive bibliographical material on the printed books and manuscripts, numerous articles, introductory and general reference material on alchemy.”
That should be enough.
The key is to recognize that, “the wide sweep of different ideas and perspectives found in Alchemical literature, both in printed books and manuscripts, shows us that alchemy in many ways holds in its kernel, philosophies and ways of looking at the world that are still entirely relevant to us today. The fact that there is also a metachemistry designed to make everything from gold (from base metals such as lead) to the Philosopher’s Stone or the Elixir of Life -- the “Great Work” -- does not detract from the broad sweep of Alchemy.
[11/15/2010] The extent of Alchemy's sway can be demonstrated in part by the possibility that the ORME, or ORMUS, is often associated with such exoteric subjects as morning dew. On the one hand, Alchemistra is a fantastic video on morning dew... [you definitely want to check this one out!]. And while you're there, you can also check out the numerous other related videos and websites listed as related topics. Thus any number of such versions can lead the serious student in the many paths of such esoteric subjects.
For example, Ramsdigital. com, a group that has been researching old alchemy books, has concluded that there are 3 ways to make the elixir/stone: by morning dew, by blood (Starfire comes to mind), and by sea salt. Saint Germain's elixir is also reported to have been concocted with sea salt or dew. Reportedly, Nicholas Collette describes the process... as well as this page on Wikipedia.
Some researchers have even gone to the point of claiming that the real elixir it has nothing to do with monoatomic gold or Ormus. And yet, all of this might be nothing more than talking about different elixirs... possibly some for health, some for longevity or physical prowness... or just some for special abilities (such as enthusiastically getting out of the bed on very cold mornings and stoking the fire).
Meanwhile, Levity.com advocates the idea that alchemy can be viewed, as a minimum, as:
A proto-chemistry, such as preparation of medicinal remedies,
A source of symbolism, combining powerful archetypal symbols,
Insight into the inner archetypal structure of human thinking and feeling,
A meditative exploration of the human soul via undertaking allegorical journeys ,
A type of mysticism, Alchemical transformation via mystical experiences,
Insight into the metaphysical, “which in a strange way elaborates parallels between alchemy and the investigations of present day physics”,
An influence on cultural history, “alchemy is now seen by historians of ideas as an important shaper of the world view of various writers, artists and musicians.”
Taking the tact of being a bit more specific, a few relevant quotes (from Levity.com) include:
“Scholasticism with its subtle argumentation, Theology with its ambiguous phraseology, Astrology, so vast and so complex, are all children's games when compared with alchemy.” -- Albert Poisson
“These are not fables. You will touch with your hands, you will see with your own eyes, the Azoth, the Mercury of Philosophers, which alone will suffice to obtain for you our Stone.... Darkness will appear on the face of the Abyss; Night, Saturn and the Antimony of the Sages will appear; blackness, and the raven's head of the alchemists, and all the colors of the world, will appear at the hour of conjunction; the rainbow also, and the peacock's tail. Finally, after the matter has passed from ashen-colored to white and yellow, you will see the Philosopher’s Stone, our King and Dominator Supreme, issue forth from his glassy sepulcher to mount his bed or his throne in his glorified body... diaphanous as crystal; compact and most weighty, as easily fusible by fire as resin, as flowing as wax and more so than quicksilver... the color of saffron when powdered, but red as rubies when in an integral mass...” -- H. Khunrath Amphitheatrum
“The Alchemical operation consisted essentially in separating the prima materia, the so-called chaos, into the active principle, the soul, and the passive principle, the body, which were then reunited in personified form in the coniunctio or ‘chymical marriage’... the ritual cohabitation of Sol and Luna.” -- C.G. Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis
Early alchemists of note include: Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas (13th century), Geoffery Chaucer (14th century), Henry Cornelius Agrippa and Paracelsus, followed by Giordano Bruno and Francis Bacon (16th Century), and Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton (17th century). The latter two are noteworthy as Boyle is considered a founder of modern chemistry, while Newton is easily the patron saint of classical physics.
Sangraal.com, The Gnostic Science Of Alchemy, provides what it calls, “An examination of the history of alchemy and eschatology from 1st century Alexandria to the Black Death,” while The School of Alchemy provides for the ingredients of a transmutation of the soul. Meanwhile, Laurence Gardner and others have laid out the case for the ORME being one of the prime, modern day candidates for preparing the physically based Elixir of Life and Philosopher’s Stone. The so-called White Powder of Gold (the Food of the Gods) is worthy of note, as is the ORME Physics, which might actually suggest the reality of Transmutation on a grand scale (as if it’s not already being regularly practiced in Biological Transmutation!
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