Inner alchemy archives - Origins of alchemy

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Date: Mon, 07 Apr 1997
From: Richard Roberts

To George and Michal:
By now you will have read my posting of yesterday and have seen that I agree
with your observations on the nature of our alchemical colloquy. As to the
origins of alchemy, several months ago I suggested that when Tantra came
into the West, it took the form of an alchemical code to enable its
practitioners to escape the stake. Note that the work is performed with a
*soror.* Then it went further underground in some Tarot decks, Waite's
Golden Dawn pack being especially alchemical in symbology. On the cover of
the new edition of my book "Tarot Revelations" I put this theory out front
by showing King Sol and Queen Luna in Tantric embrace with their bodies
consisting of fiery and watery trines coming together in the *coniunctio's*
six-pointed star. Steve Kalec has long held to the same theory and he sent
me an affirmative email. I'm sure
our group would profit from hearing from others who may have evidence
or intuitions on this stimulating theory

Richard Roberts


From: Jeffrey
Date: Tue, 8 Apr 1997

>As to the origins of alchemy, several months ago I suggested that when
>Tantra came into the West, it took the form of an alchemical code to
>enable its practitioners to escape the stake.

What do you mean? When did tantra come into the west? What do you mean by
tantra? We can trace alchemy back now to about 200 BC and to the writings of
Bolos of Mendes. Mythologically alchemy seems to have originated from a
combination of Egyptian practices, Greek philsophy (especially Aristotle and
the Stoics), motifs from metallurgy (See Eliade, The Forge and the Crucible).
There is also some suggestion of alchemical practices in Mesopotamia before
Hellenistic times. Alchemy sems to derive from a number of sources that go
back to ancient philsophies and mythologies. To give but one example, in
metallurgy may be found the archetypal image of metals growing deep within
the earth, the earth being the womb of the metals. It is possible that
eastern influences played a role in the devleopment of alchemy in the West,
but to attribute it to the influx of "tantra" does not make much sense to me.

Jeff


Date: Tue, 8 Apr 1997
From: George Leake

>From: Jeffrey
> We can trace alchemy back now to about 200 BC and to the writings of
>Bolos of Mendes. Mythologically alchemy seems to have originated from a
>combination of Egyptian practices, Greek philsophy (especially Aristotle and
>the Stoics), motifs from metallurgy (See Eliade, The Forge and the Crucible).
> There is also some suggestion of alchemical practices in Mesopotamia before
>Hellenistic times. Alchemy sems to derive from a number of sources that go
>back to ancient philsophies and mythologies.

I've also heard of a Welsh version of alchemy that's completely divorced
from the rest of these traditions. This all begs the question, what exactly
IS alchemy? If its just something with some form of Union, as in Tantra and
the Chymical Wedding, then the whole of Divine Merging cum Theurgia would
apply. If it involves transformation, then one could conceivably apply many
many other practices

George Leake



From: Jeffrey
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 1997

>This all begs the question, what exactly IS alchemy? If its just something
>with some form of Union, as in Tantra and the Chymical Wedding,
>then the whole of Divine Merging cum Theurgia would apply. If it
>involves transformation, then one could conceivably apply many
>many other practices

Dear George

What do you mean "begs the question." Alchemy is a discipline
with a definite and fascinating history going back 2000 years or more. It is
a system of practices and symbols, which, while lending themselves to very
different interpretations, are consistent and clearly interrelated. We
cannot reduce alchemy to say a system of transformation adn then simply apply
a myriad of other traditions and techiques. If one wishes to understand
alchemy is it not necessary to study its history and symbols and then make
applications in a practical or psychological fashion. Only in this way, in
my opinion, could one ever answer the question as to what alchemy in its
uniqueness really is. After all it is possible to reduce any tradition to
any other tradition, but what would be the point?

Jeff



Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997
From: Hil Cato

George, you say -
>I've also heard of a Welsh version of alchemy that's
>completely divorced from the rest of these traditions. This all begs the
>question, what exactly IS alchemy? If its just something with some form
>of Union, as in Tantra and the Chymical Wedding, then the whole of
>Divine Merging cum Theurgia would apply. If it involves transformation,
>then one could conceivably apply many many other practices"

Ok, basically, i'd like to stop debating what alchemy is and where it
came from and who started it, etc, and instead, see the knowledge/search
as another thing symbolized by the orobouros... i know, we're here to
discuss... of course a symbol doesn't need explanation, in fact,
explains things unknowable through only words, expresses the flexibility
of both meaning and understanding, and i like talking things out, don't
get me wrong, but the beauty of it seems to be that the more a symbol is
discussed, the more open to interpretation it becomes, the more it
becomes a representation of a specific-yet-identical chunk of the
universe, from which anything and anywhere and any idea can be
explored. alchemy itself can be a symbol, which i think is where this
discussion is going ((oh, and don't forget what passionate alchemists
the taoists were, in both the metaphorical and literal sense...
particularly the T'ang dynasty, which lost many of its emperors (5?) to
the search for the great elixer of life. they, too, saw semen as a
precious expression of life-force, and integrated retention of semen
into their lovemaking practices... (richard r, i'm sure you knew this,
and i totally dig your commentary) oops, i'm getting into another long
discussion ...))

Hil


Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997
From: Hil Cato

richard, i think tantra and alchemy are definitly related, the external
acting-out of internal processes of transcendence is one way for us to
actually have experience, to be brought for a time into the focus of a
task that must be done... for life-students (who will study all of their
lives) and students-of-life (who will study all that their lives bring
them) may think they search for different things, but i think the deeper
truth has something to do with devotion. with both tantra and alchemy,
one must involve oneself, trust, question what and why one trusts, no
door left closed, no blind faith, but instead the brave ability to
question, to interact with energy in a conscious way....

sure would make sense if tantra was hidden in alchemical code so it's
western practitioners could study, although i tend to think in terms of
less concrete answers. to my mind, they reflect and inform, sparking
this discussion, for example, which is a small flame of its own. the i
ching of course relates, and talks about time and placement, for
example. take the idea of fire and water...

you say: >>I put this theory out front by showing King Sol and Queen
Luna in Tantric embrace with their bodies consisting of fiery and watery
trines coming together in the *coniunctio's* six-pointed star.<<

the readings of the i ching form hexagrams, six-line characters made of
yin and yang lines. the hexagrams are each made of two trigrams, which
represent (among many other things) elementals such as fire and water:
________ ___ ___
___ ___ ________
________ ___ ___
(fire, the clinging) (water, the abysmal)
(middle daughter) (middle son)
it is the placement and relationship of these things to one another
which reveals part of the teachings... i don't know how much to explain
about the i ching. when the trigrams of fire and water form a hexagram,
an equal number of yin and yang lines are present, so the hexagram is
full of possibilities. here are two readings:

________ ___ ___
___ ___ ________
________ ___ ___
___ ___ ________
________ ___ ___
___ ___ ________
("before completion") ("after completion")
(caution and deliberation, (transition from confusion to order)
bring forces to their appropriate place)
fire-above-water is read as "before completion", the 64th hexagram, the
end and beginning of the i ching. water-above-fire is read as "after
completion", the 63rd hexagram. and each of these hexagrams contains
reflections of the other inside, in the nuclear trigrams, they contain
each other within. oh dear, i'm now sensing that to go further into
this discussion i should find out if you see the relevance and are
interested. well, xox,
hil.


From: Noel Kettering
Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997

What if we consider Alchemy to be a set of symbols used to
describe the process and effects of a transformation toward
union with a transcendant reality?

Yoga might be considered another set of symbols describing
the same process and effects.

So might Qabalah, or shamanism, or mythology, or naometria.

Couldn't all the 'sacred sciences' be considered to be sets
of symbols describing the process or effects of this same
transformation toward union?

Like separate languages, yet interrelated by many years of
translation and interpretation, couldn't we see them as
dialects of One Universal Language of Symbols?

To the speakers of one dialect, the symbols of another might
seem to be gibberish, or worse, to point to some "other",
reality. But, to some, the similarities of the dialects
allow some degree of translation.

Perhaps if we examine each of the symbol dialects we can
find various 'Rosetta Stones' that will allow the walls of
separation to be disolved.

With great respect,

Noel


Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997
From: George Leake

>From: Jeffrey
>What do you mean "begs the question."

I think I was responding to the thread on Tantra and Alchemy. Are we just
talking about Union Paradigms?

George Leake