The Alchemy Academic Forum 101-150

From January 25th 1996, the Alchemy forum was restructured and the messages were sequentially numbered prefixed with the letter A. This is an unedited extract of messages 101-150.
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Subject: A0100 AMORC and alchemy

Date: Fri, 13 Sep 1996 11:55:49 -0700
From: tim scott

> From: Gilbert Arnold
>
> My understanding is that Frater Lewis used a technique to change the
> colour and density of a piece of zinc. Such techniques are documented in
> metallurgical "alchemical" texts of both western and eastern traditions.

Dear M. Arnold (and anyone else):

Could you direct me to some of this documentation? Stories of
transmutation seem quite rare and credible ones even more so.

Unfortunately I am to all intents and purposes an English monophone
but I would still appreciate any bibliography you could indicate.

Best regards,
Tim Scott
tims@vigra.com

Subject: A0101 AMORC and alchemy

Date: Fri, 13 Sep 1996 17:32:38 -0500
From: ayindaath

>From: Roy M. Liuzza
> In the histories and biographies put out by AMORC it is said that
>the founder, H. Spenser Lewis, once achieved a transmutation of some base
>metal into gold (I forget the details). He did this with newspaper
>reporters present and the event was, supposedly, reported in the press.

Was it real, documented and tested gold? I mean, did it have a density close
to 9.2 g/cm3? Otherwise it was probably copper. I've seen it in High
Schools, in Chem classes. The copper turns silvery, then into 'gold.'
Actually, the color wears off after a while.


ayindaath

Subject: A0102 Bibliotheca chemica curiosa

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 1996 11:36:02 +0200
From: Maurizio Nicosia

A reprint of Manget's Bibliotheca chemica curiosa (2 volumes in-folio,
pages 1858) has been published in Italy by

Forni Editore, via Gramsci 164, 40010 Sala Bolognese (Bologna) Italy
tel. 0039 51 6814142, fax 0039 51 6814672.

Now it costs £ (italian lire) 620.000 (approximately U.S. $ 400-420)
To order it contact the editor or

Libreria IBIS, Via Castiglione 31, 40124 Bologna (Italy)
tel&fax 0039 51 239818 (ask for Cesare Pilati)
Payment (8% discount) will be made: cash on delivery (only for E.E.C.
countries); against invoice on Postal account n. 27580406

Sat Sep 14 13:26:20 1996
Subject: A0103 The wet and dry ways

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 1996 11:20:37 +0300
From: Gerard

The 'wet way' could be another name for dissolution and
the 'dry way' an other name for coagulation.

Gerard

Subject: A0104 The wet and dry ways

From: Jerry Bujas
Date: Sat, 14 Sep 1996 11:53:06 -0400

> From: Gerard
>
> The 'wet way' could be another name for dissolution and
> the 'dry way' an other name for coagulation.
>
> Gerard

Gerard, you have pierced my heart with a sword like the *Chevalier killing
the Dragon*. Dry and wet way = solve et coagula, this is an equation that I
have been contemplating for some time. The wet way -- the solve phase of
the work -- is the fiery sea of the philosophers where they catch their
*Fish*. The dry way -- the coagula phase -- is the egg, which also appears
in the form of a chestnut in a transparent shell, inside of which there is
the yolk. The chestnut shell sticks to the walls of the crucible during
coagulation, forming the renown golden fleece. The egg dies during the
dissolution to be born again and grow stronger in the coagula phase. The
wet way is also the long way, since it takes more time to keep the matter
in the liquid phase under certain conditions and perform certain
operations.


There is only one way, dry and wet.

jerry@interlog.com

Subject: A0105 AMORC and alchemy

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 1996 13:31:09 -0400
From: Russ House

Roy M. Liuzza wrote:
>In the histories and biographies put out by AMORC it is said that
>the founder, H. Spenser Lewis, once achieved a transmutation of some base
>metal into gold (I forget the details). He did this with newspaper
>reporters present and the event was, supposedly, reported in the press.

This work was done in an AMORC Lodge in New York City, by H. Spencer Lewis,
founding Imperator of AMORC. It used a number of ingredients (all said to
be non-toxic) which were used to effect a change in a piece of zinc metal.
The 'tincting' of the metal took place in a crucible over relatively low
heat (candle flame) and in a short time. This was done in a
semi-ritualistic setting, modified because of the presence of the invited
newspaper reporter. The year was 1916, I think, but some of my papers on
the topic are not readily available as I write.

> Does anyone know anything more about this? what really happened? Is
>there a source for this that is not an official AMORC publication?

There is a little known followup in the March, 1926 issue (page 27) of The
Mystic Triangle, an AMORC publication:
"When a demonstration of the transmutation process was made officially by
our Order in New York City a number of years ago, a piece of zinc was so
changed in its nature that it looked like gold and stood the acid test of
gold; in other words it would have served the same purpose as gold. But the
transmuted piece of metal did not weigh the same as gold would weigh, and
therefore in that regard it was not gold. ... Just because nature in her
process of creating gold selects certain minerals and impurities which, when
made into gold by her process, have a certain weight, is no reason for us to
believe that all artificial or transmuted gold must have the same weight as
nature's gold, which has impurities not existing in the other. The
transmuted piece of gold changed into gold, in the demonstration referred to
in New York City, weighed less, apparently, after it had been transmuted
into gold than before the transmutation. This is entirely a reversal of
what was expected. ..."

I hope that this is of some value. Regarding the topic of atomic weights of
materials in alchemy, there are some suggestive ideas in Frater Albertus'
"Alchemist of the Rocky Mountains" (out of print) in the chapter "The
Inkilabs of Bit Nur", page 123.

Further, in the AMORC alchemy labs in the early 1940's, transmutation
experiments along the lines of those of F. Jollivet-Castelot were conducted
with partial success. These 'push' silver a bit in its evolution in a dry
way using antimony, arsenic and some other materials (again my notes are not
at hand). The yields of gold are miniscule. Frater Albertus was involved
in this experimentation at AMORC.

Regards,

Russ House
alchemy@mcs.com

Subject: A0106 Peacocks

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 1996 16:09:39 -0400 (EDT)
From: Anthony F Deluca

I need to be refreshed on the subject of peacocks and their
mythological/alchemical significance. Could someone be so kind as to
direct me?

great thanks

Anthony DeLuca

Subject: A0107 AMORC and alchemy

Date: Sat, 14 Sep 1996 17:51:31 PST
From: Albert C Yuen

I was reading about metallurgy and the process of changing base
metal into gold. I also came across a process of 'turning' copper into
a 'goldish' substance. This is a do-able thing which -I've heard- is an
experiment quite common in modern day chemistry classes. Does anyone
know what the procedure for doing this is?

Albert

Subject: A0108 Alchemical music

From: Adam McLean
Date: 15th Sep 1996

I have just uploaded two new pages to the alchemy web site that play the first two 'fugues' from Atalanta fugiens. This uses a new Netscape plugin from Yamaha which emulates a midi synthesiser in software so users don't need special midi synthesizers on their soundcards. The Yamaha plug-in, which I believe only works with Netscape 2.0 (and above) on Windows and the Mac, is available as a beta copy, free to download. The url is given on my alchemy web pages. I would welcome any feedback on how well this system works. If it is successful I will set up the other 'fugues' in due course.

With best wishes,

Adam McLean


Subject: A0109 Zozimos

From: Bev
Date: 15 Sep 1996

Does any one have any information on the early Greek alchemist Zozimos? Any files on the Internet.

Thanks,

Bev from Denver

Subject: A0110 Help with Latin translations

From: Adam McLean
Date: 15th Sep 1996

I have uploaded a Latin parser and translator program for Windows which I have written over the past year or so.

It is available at: http://www.levity.com/alchemy/latin/latintrans.html

This is a beta or developers copy of a Visual Basic program for Windows which I have designed to assist people in translating from Latin into English.

I would welcome any feedback, so I can iron out any bugs or problems.

With best wishes,

Adam McLean

Subject: A0111 Ulrico de Maguncia
Cc:

Date: Sun, 15 Sep 1996 15:37:56 GMT
From: Rafael Cruz

Does somebody know who has books written by
Ulrico de Maguncia ( A great alchemist from the middle age)?

Does somebody know any information about CORPUS HERMETICUM now?

Thanks

r.cruz@codetel.net.do
Rafael Cruz Vittini

Subject: A0112 General questions on alchemy

From: Sean Blosl
Date: Sun, 15 Sep 1996 13:30:59 -0080

A general questions for anyone to answer.

Is alchemy viewed as the actual "physical" transmutation of base metal
into gold?

Is alchemy a process or an outcome?

Is alchemy natural?

Are alchemical formulas always transforming themselves? Or do they hold
a rigid recipe?

Does the work of current alchemist rely on the work of alchemist
past? And the work of those in the past rely on alchemist to come?

Is alchemy an unavoidably collective effort?

Subject: A0113 General questions on alchemy

Date: Sun, 15 Sep 1996 21:48:30 -0500
From: Alex Isidoro


Is alchemy viewed as the actual "physical" transmutation of base metal
into gold?

>> No. Although theoretically possible with enough faith.

Is alchemy a process or an outcome?

>> It is the most generic process.

Is alchemy natural?

>> It is a process used by nature as well.

Are alchemical formulas always transforming themselves? Or do they hold
a rigid recipe?

>> They interact with the subject but the basic principles never change.

Is alchemy an unavoidably collective effort?

>> .. as for any human endeavor ...

Subject: A0114 Zosimos

Date: Sun, 15 Sep 1996 23:49:00 -0700 (PDT)
From: Bermudez, Pablo


Zosimos of Panopolis was supposed to live in Egypt between 200 and 300 A.D.
It was also supposed that he wrote the first encyclopedia about alchemy,
consisting of 28 books dedicated to her sister. Only fragments remain.
Holmyard says his books were a compilation of older texts lost in time.
Zosimos works appeared published by Berthelot and Ruelle
in 1887-88. There is an English version by Sherwood Taylor of some of his
works.

Andrea de Pascalis refers to him, as "one of the fathers of Hellenistic
Alchemy". Zosimos claims to know "ancient and divine scriptures"
about the falling angels mentioned by Enoch, who taught "all the arts
of nature" to men.

De Pascalis also mentions "It is not until Zosimos of Panopolis that
alchemical tradition is first linked with the name of Hermes Trismegistus".
"It seems he worked in Alexandria around the year 300 A.D. He had
a sister named Theosebeia who was also involved in the Sacred Art"

It seems he was a man of great knowledge, as he worked with alchemy,
magic, hermetism, Archimedes discoveries in applied mechanics,
astrology, the more important Gnostic beliefs"and other works of
mystico-religious nature"


Some Works by Zosimos I can recall.

-TREATISE ON INSTRUMENTS AND FURNACES
-ON VIRTUE
-COMMENTARY IN THE LETTER OMEGA
-FINAL ACCOUNT

Subject: A0115 Alchemy & poetry

Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 08:49:39 GMT+0100
From: Thomas Vaessens

Could anyone help me collecting titles of books or essays on alchemy as a
source of inspiration for 20th-century poets?

Best regards,

Thomas Vaessens

Subject: A0116 Zosimos

From: Leonid M. Kokun
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 96 12:42:01 +0300

The work of Zosimos from Panopolis named "Cheirokmeta" (dedicated to
Theosebeia) which consisted of 28 books in the antique sense of the
word has come to us only in fragments: important quotations are
contained in the works of Pelagios (IV cent.) and Olympiodoros (V cent.).

Subject: A0117 General questions on alchemy

Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 10:13:07 GMT
From: Rafael Cruz


>From: Sean Blosl
>A general questions for anyone to answer.


>Is alchemy viewed as the actual "physical" transmutation of base metal
>into gold?

Maybe, but not most important thing for human race. From the viewpoint we
have now as humans.

>Is alchemy a process or an outcome?

It produces a process, it is only a theory to be practiced.

>Is alchemy natural?

It has to produce a natural process, only a natural process is real.

>Are alchemical formulas always transforming themselves? Or do they hold
>a rigid recipe?

Alchemy is a theoretical science that you have to practice, but it is always the
same, that the reason it is valid since it began. But maybe to teach it to
another person you need to teach additional [adecuate] explanations to this time.


>Does the work of current alchemist rely on the work of alchemist
>past? And the work of those in the past rely on alchemist to come?

>Is alchemy an unavoidably collective effort?

Subject: A0118 Bibliotheca chemica curiosa

Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 09:22:19 -0500
From: George Leake

*and also, I have confirmed that the Harry Ransom Center at UT has the 2
volume set published 1702 in Geneva. If anyone wants to come study them
here, write me for details at

taliesin@mail.utexas.edu

Subject: A0119 Islam and Alchemy

Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 09:18:02 -0600 (CST)
From: Mackie Blanton


I am wondering whether any forum participants have some
collective or collected wisdom, albeit perhaps only in the form of
personal observations, on the following observation:

Within Islam, motifs of the visionary journey and its
climatic communion [with The Divine] occur in alchemical
texts, even though Muslim alchemy was a major locus of
Neoaristotelian rational mysticism [i.e., discursive
reasoning].

--Daniel Merkur, 1996, "Comments," *Mystical Union in Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam: An Ecumenical Dialogue*, Moshe Idel and
Bernard McGinn, Eds., New York, The Continuum Publishing
Co., P. 1.

=Mackie Blanton=

Subject: A0120 General questions on alchemy

Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 10:15:24 -0500
From: George Leake

*Sean, next time be so kind as to include your email address in your sig line

>From: Sean Blosl
>A general questions for anyone to answer.
>Is alchemy viewed as the actual "physical" transmutation of base metal
>into gold?

*depends who you talk to. My guess is that most of us don't think so.
There's so much debate about this type of point. See back issues of Gnosis,
see Frater Albertus' Alchemist's Handbook, see Jung's Psychology and
Alchemy, the section entitled "Religious Ideas in Alchemy".

>Is alchemy a process or an outcome?
*see answer above. Most will tell you a process.

>Is alchemy natural?
*ditto. Leaving aside the definition of alchemy itself, I'm not even sure
there's consensus out there on what is considered "natural".

>Are alchemical formulas always transforming themselves? Or do they hold
>a rigid recipe?
*behind this I think there's an assumption that there is some kind of
static or at least consistent tradition of alchemy. Personally, I think its
rather diffuse.

>Does the work of current alchemist rely on the work of alchemist
>past?
*the work of current alchemists? Depends on who you ask. And which
alchemists of the past you mean. Some yes, some no.

And the work of those in the past rely on alchemist to come?
*are you asking whether the alchemists of the past relied on the work of
alchemists in the future? I somehow doubt it. Unless say Isaac Newton knew
one of the Time Lords

>Is alchemy an unavoidably collective effort?
*theoretically, some could put forth that argument, but by observing events
of the past, one cannot deny its largely been a solitary affair

George Leake
taliesin@mail.utexas.edu

Subject: A0121 Islam and Alchemy

Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 12:20:57 -0500
From: George Leake

>From: Mackie Blanton

>I am wondering whether any forum participants have some
>collective or collected wisdom, albeit perhaps only in the form of
>personal observations, on the following observation:
>
>Within Islam, motifs of the visionary journey and its
>climatic communion [with The Divine] occur in alchemical
>texts, even though Muslim alchemy was a major locus of
>Neoaristotelian rational mysticism [i.e., discursive
>reasoning].

*Aleister Crowley speaks to this connection in his chapter on Mysticism in
Magick In Theory and Practice, (book one)

George Leake
taliesin@mail.utexas.edu

Subject: A0122 Documents sur Canseliet, rep a J. Tetard

Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 22:17:29 +0100
From: Christian, Daniel Dumolard

En réponse à Joel Tetard,
Recherche de documents sur Canseliet :

>I'd much appreciate if somebody could provide me a tape copy or a
>transcription of the "Radisocopie" made by Jacques Chancel and
>broadcast on the 23th of June 1978 on France-Inter.

1) J'ai conservé cet interview sur cassette audio et le tiens a votre
disposition.
Contactez-moi directement sur mon adresse electronique, - signature en fin
de mon message, - afin de me donner votre adresse postale, que je puisse
vous envoyer une copie de ma cassette.

2) Des espagnols ont pu recuperer TOUTE la correspondance de Canseliet,
adressee à "son ami d'Espagne" Gifreda, l'alchimiste.
La premiere lettre de Canseliet date de 1930. Il y parle de la lettre "G",
car il travaillait, a l'epoque, sur la gallene, autrement dit sulfure de plomb.
La premiere fois qu'il travailla avec de l'antimoine, ce fut en 1950, grace
a un morceau cache dans un gateau que lui offrit son ami Gifreda, quoiqu'il
connut depuis longtemps deja cette "terre".
Dans une lettre plus tardive, Canseliet lui ecrit : "Souvenez-vous, vous
avez vu chez moi deux fioles. L'une etait remplie avec du ... (?) sec,
cassant, l'autre avec du vert foncé vitrifié." Dans cette lettre il ecrivait
aussi sur la non-utilisation la premiere fois des scories, sur leur
imbibition par la rosee, sur la purification de celles-ci pour parvenir a
l'Adam rouge (Sur "Adam, l'homme rouge", relire dans le livre de G. Dubois
intitule "Fulcanelli devoile" la lettre du 4-12-1933, reproduite, que
Canseliet adresse a Schwaller de Lubicz pour lui quemander un
eclaircissement a ce sujet que Champagne avait obtenu aupres de Schwaller,
mais qu'il n'avait pas partage avec lui).

Helas, ces personnes , - que j'eu la chance de rencontrer a Paques 1985 et
qui m'ont faire lire quelques lettres de Canseliet, - devaient publier ce
courrier.
Seize ans apres, elles ne l'ont toujours pas fait, et j'ai completement
perdu leur traces.
Dans combien de temps, - d'annees, - cela ressortira-t-il ( car rien ne se
perd) ?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Christian et Daniel DUMOLARD
6, rue de la Liberté
38000 Grenoble, France
(+33)76443992
E-mail dumolard@alpes-net.fr
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Subject: A0123 General questions on alchemy

From: Sean Blosl
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 20:01:19 -0080


More general questions, based on answers--

> From: George Leake

> >Is alchemy natural?
> *ditto. Leaving aside the definition of alchemy itself, I'm not even sure
> there's consensus out there on what is considered "natural".



What does an Alchemist consider natural?



> >Does the work of current alchemist rely on the work of alchemist
> >past?
> *the work of current alchemists? Depends on who you ask. And which
> alchemists of the past you mean. Some yes, some no.
>
> And the work of those in the past rely on alchemist to come?
> *are you asking whether the alchemists of the past relied on the work of
> alchemists in the future? I somehow doubt it. Unless say Isaac Newton knew
> one of the Time Lords
>

I'm wondering, if Alchemy is a timeless affair?
Is it a thing which begins and ends?
Does it have a finale' ?
Is Alchemy a cumulative endeavor which is built upon indefinately?


On obtaining the gold, is the Alchemist then done?


Sean Blosl
osis@eskimo.com
osis@speakeasy.org
http://www.speakeasy.org/~osis/

Subject: A0124 General questions on alchemy

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 08:22:40 -0400
From: Ed Maw

In response to all of the recent messages on 'General Questions'...and I
apologize if this has been asked before...but...

1/ Is alchemy 'literal' or 'figurative'?

2/ Is the 'gold' physical gold...or 'a state of being' to be achieved?

3/ What is a good introductory text for one who speaks/reads/writes only
English?

Thanks for everyones assistance.

Ed
Edward J. Maw
victory@iaw.on.ca

Subject: A0125 General questions on alchemy

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 08:46:27 -0500
From: George Leake

>From: Sean Blosl
> What does an Alchemist consider natural?
*is there a particular Alchemist you're asking about? Or is this based on
the assumption that all Alchemists share the same set of beliefs?

> I'm wondering, if Alchemy is a timeless affair?
*in what sense? Clearly in some ways it is not--it takes time to read
texts, just for starters.

> Is it a thing which begins and ends?
*perhaps not. If all indeed is connected, somewhere in this "holographic
universe" (if one subscribes to that theory or if it has any merit I
suppose), everyone who's ever engaged in alchemy is still doing it.

> Does it have a finale' ?
*that certainly depends upon the individual. Some say its a life's work.
Some believe the finale is finishing an exercise, or perhaps even a certain
task.

>Is Alchemy a cumulative endeavor which is built upon indefinately?
*there's not hard and fast rules for this.

> On obtaining the gold, is the Alchemist then done?
*depends on what one means by gold and the individual alchemist; I would
imagine after doing so, the alchemist should then wash his/her equipment

George Leake
taliesin@mail.utexas.edu


Subject: A0126 General questions on alchemy

From: Marcella Gillick
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 16:48:53 +0000

Ref the recent 'commentary' on general questions on Alchemy:-
I have come to the opinion that such questions simply do not
have any one answer. No, maybe that should read, do not have
anyone qualified to give the answer that is right FOR THE ASKER.
For example, I don't think I would be any the wiser if I knew for sure
whether George was being serious in his replies to Sean, whether he
was having sport, or whether he was being purposefully obtuse
(and I don't really want to know either). And if I did know for sure
that he was being serious, I certainly would be none the wiser
anyway. It seems to me that (at least as far as Alchemy goes)
asking such questions is a bit of a waste of time. That's just my
opinion and, believe me, I would dearly love to be corrected!
I would like however to raise the question as to WHY
Alchemy remains such a secret? - I have doubts as to the usual
explanation (vis historic religious persecution etc etc) - I have an
inkling that its more likely to do with having to find your own
answers within yourself - maybe nothing else would be valid?

Best regards

Marcella (GILLICKM@forbairt.ie)


Subject: A0127 General questions on alchemy

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 14:38:58 -0400
From: Gilbert Arnold


Marcella (GILLICKM@forbairt.ie) wrote;

" I would like however to raise the question as to WHY
Alchemy remains such a secret? - I have doubts as to the usual
explanation (vis historic religious persecution etc etc) - I have an
inkling that its more likely to do with having to find your own
answers within yourself - maybe nothing else would be valid?"

A quick review of Adam's websites and the archived material would seem
to indicate that there are not many useful things that are kept secret.

Within the Archives of the alchemy forum there are experienced operators
of all types of alchemy (laboratory, mental, Jungian, psychological, ect.) who are more than glad to help in specific cases. And for good measures,
there is also an assortment of useless babble, sales pitches, untruths,
suspender snapping and pontificating.

It is up to the individual to figure out how and why they will acquire
information.

Regards and Blessings,

+Gilbert

Subject: A0128 General questions on alchemy

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 16:13:56 -0500
From: Alex Isidoro


In response to Marcella Gillick:

>>I would like however to raise the question as to WHY
>> Alchemy remains such a secret?


It is a secret because it is dangerous. Fortunately peoples that may
mishandle it have a mind such that they will hardly understand its
(divine) simplicity.

Marcella, what is the rabbitt behind Fulcanelli's oak tree ? and why is
the grass sparse ?

Alex Isidoro

Subject: A0129 Alchemy & poetry

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 16:50:53 -0400 (EDT)
From: fred hatt

>From: Thomas Vaessens
>Could anyone help me collecting titles of books or essays on alchemy as a
>source of inspiration for 20th-century poets?


"The Alchemical Tradition in the Late Twentieth Century", edited by Richard
Grossinger, North Atlantic Books, 2800 Woolsey St., Berkeley, California
94705, includes a number of alchemically-inspired poems and other modern
writing, along with a variety of ancient and new material related to the
title subject.

"Theatre and Alchemy", by Bettina L. Knapp, Wayne State University Press,
Detroit, Michigan 48202, analyzes a number of theatrical works from
different cultures according to a Jungian approach to alchemical symbolism.
Among the authors treated here are W.B. Yeats and August Strindberg.

"Alchemy: The Medieval Alchemists and their Royal Art", by Johannes
Fabricius, Diamond Books, 77-85 Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8JB (a book
noted for many fine-quality reproductions of alchemical engravings and a
doctrinaire Freudian approach to everything), mentions a work by the same
author entitled "The Unconscious and Mr. Eliot: a Study in Expressionism"
(1967). I haven't seen this and no further bibliographical info is offered.
There is however an outline here relating all of T.S. Eliot's major works to
the various stages of the alchemical opus.

I'm sure others can suggest additional resources to you.

Fred Hatt (hatt@interport.net)


Subject: A0130 General questions on alchemy

From: Adam McLean
Date: 17 Sep 1996

>>I would like however to raise the question as to WHY
>> Alchemy remains such a secret?

>It is a secret because it is dangerous.


In these remarks I can barely recognise the subject I have studied for the last thirty years. I don't see how alchemy is a secret. It is as well documented as most domains of human knowledge. There is certainly no lack of material to investigate.

How can alchemy be dangerous? I just don't understand this remark. Unless someone is stupid enough as to go drinking sulphuric acid, in what way can it be dangerous?

These seem just pointless romanticisations, that do not lead us any closer to ou subject.

Adam McLean

Subject: A0131 General questions on alchemy

From: Sean Blosl
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 14:04:13 -0080

> From: Marcella Gillick
> Ref the recent 'commentary' on general questions on Alchemy:-
> It seems to me that (at least as far as Alchemy goes)
> asking such questions is a bit of a waste of time. That's just my
> opinion and, believe me, I would dearly love to be corrected!

Here is your correction:

No question is a waste of time.

Answers from anywhere, or in anyway, with whatever flavor of
intention can spark in the asker what they would like to know. Asking
questions "may not" be a giving up of finding your own answers within
yourself. Asking questions "Might even lead" to answers within
yourself.

"The stupidity of people comes from having an answer
for everything. The wisdom...comes from having a
question for everything. ...it seems to me that all over
the world people nowadays prefer to judge rather than to
understand, to answer rather than ask..."
--Milan Kundera

(for the record. The general questions are just that. "General
questions". Not looking for absolute answers.)

Sean Blosl
osis@eskimo.com
osis@speakeasy.org
http://www.speakeasy.org/~osis/

Subject: A0132 General questions on alchemy

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 17:22:56 -0400 (EDT)
From: Donny

> From: Marcella Gillick

> I would like however to raise the question as to WHY
> Alchemy remains such a secret?

Perhaps this is because it is hard to convey a secret which is not
given to verbal expression? Forgive me if you were referring to history
and not the secret(s).

Sincerely,
Donny

Subject: A0133 General questions on alchemy

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 14:10:52 -0500
From: George Leake

>From: Marcella Gillick
>Ref the recent 'commentary' on general questions on Alchemy:-
> I have come to the opinion that such questions simply do not
>have any one answer.

*its hard to say. I'm not even sure if they were meant to be answers for
the overall field of alchemy, or whether one should answer for themselves
only.

No, maybe that should read, do not have
>anyone qualified to give the answer that is right FOR THE ASKER.

*hard to say. We one can infer though an opinion the asker has based on the
types of questions. As far as being qualified, indeed! These are things one
has to discover on their own to a large degree.

>For example, I don't think I would be any the wiser if I knew for sure
>whether George was being serious in his replies to Sean, whether he
>was having sport, or whether he was being purposefully obtuse
>(and I don't really want to know either). And if I did know for sure
>that he was being serious, I certainly would be none the wiser
>anyway.

*obviously, a little bit of levity always helps, but one should only take
it that way to a certain extent. Its difficult answering these things as
asked. I still want to see clarification on some of my questions.

> It seems to me that (at least as far as Alchemy goes)
>asking such questions is a bit of a waste of time. That's just my
>opinion and, believe me, I would dearly love to be corrected!

*they should be asked, but more clearly stated.

>I would like however to raise the question as to WHY
>Alchemy remains such a secret?

*that sounds a bit like one of Sean's questions. Perhaps because it
involves experiences of gnosis, inner knowledge--experiences you can allude
to but never fully explain

- I have doubts as to the usual
>explanation (vis historic religious persecution etc etc) - I have an
>inkling that its more likely to do with having to find your own
>answers within yourself - maybe nothing else would be valid?

*some of those were pretty valid for the likes of Henry Cornelius Agrippa

George Leake
taliesin@mail.utexas.edu

Subject: A0134 Dangers in alchemy

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 16:08:40 +0000
From: Matthew Phillips

Adam said:

> How can alchemy be dangerous? I just don't understand this remark.

The answer is so simple. Can psychology/psychotherapy/psychoanalysis be
dangerous? Of course it can, that's why we bother to license our
practicioners. I beleive you have answered your own question in a book
you yourself penned. Think about the material Adam for instance in The
Alchemical Mandala. You mention in the beginning some of the precautions
and preliminaries to follow before going on to more advanced work.
Imagine not taking your relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, and
your inner egg meditation (or some equivalent of some sort) seriously
and instead just foraging on blindly without preparation to tackle the
more advanced material or aimlessly making your own alchemical mandalas
(another warning of yours in this book)! Obviously, just diving in
without thinking twice into the harder material would be psychologically
challenging/hazardous. Alchemical images (let alone any of the more
arcane processes alluded to in these images) are powerful stuff, not to
be taken with a mere grain of salt.

Adam said:
Unless
> someone is stupid enough as to go drinking sulphuric acid, in what way can
> it be dangerous?
> These seem just pointless romanticisations, that do not lead us any closer
> to our subject.

Given the brevity of both of their respective messages, I am not sure
either threader merits this judgement (true or no) of yours, especially
when both seem to be honest inquiries/comments which are NOT totally
indefensible. Maybe we want to ask for clarification from Marcella and
Alex before we shut them down, possibly warn of some romantisizing
attitudes/habits often found in this connection?

Yours in the Great Work,
Matthew Phillips
geni@sprynet.com

Subject: A0135 Dangers in alchemy

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 20:10:17 -0400
From: Raymond P. Cullen

> From: Adam McLean
> How can alchemy be dangerous? I just don't understand this remark.

Physical alchemy can be dangerous to the operator and the environment.
My lab could burn or blow up due to a chemical error. The company I work
for is in the business of physical alchemy (nuclear weapon manufacture).
We have classified data, fences, guards, endless procedures,
containment, radiation sensors, and subsequent cleanups costing
billions.

The other forms of "practicing" alchemy are probably only dangerous to
the operator. I know of one person who had to spend a few years in a
"mental institution" as a direct result of some "mental" alchemical
experiments.

I agree with you, Adam, that "academic" alchemy is safe. Unless, of
course, one of your bookcases full of old tomes falls on you.

Ray
rcullen@groupz.net

Subject: A0136 General questions on alchemy

Date: Wed, 18 Sep 1996 00:48:59 -0400
From: Rawn Clark

Dear Sean Blosl,

>>Is alchemy viewed as the actual "physical" transmutation of base metal
>>into gold?

Your questions presuppose that "alchemy" is a singular thing, or that it can
be defined in such a way that *all* alchemists would agree with. The reality
is that alchemy is practiced in literally countless ways.

As a broad generalization, one could say that there are two extremes in
alchemy: A strictly symbolic interpretation of alchemy which posits it solely
as a psychological- slash-spiritual tool of self-transformation -- vs -- A
strictly literal interpretation which regards alchemy as pertaining only to a
physical materia transformed in a laboratory. Most alchemists fall between
these poles. Some work with base metals and seek to transform them into
gold. Some employ other materia. Some work a dry-way; some, a wet-way.
Some work entirely with the creation of spagyric remedies, never pursuing
gold. Some work solely with subtle energies and see alchemy as an extension
of their magical practice, while others see magic as unnecessary to alchemy.
Some work entirely upon their psyches using alchemical formulae, although
most probably combine work upon self with work upon an external materia. Et
cetera, et cetera.

As you can see, there is no single answer to your question. I recommend
further study on your part, paying especial attention to discerning what
perspective each author is writing from. In this way, you will come to see
the various "branches" of alchemy, and then be in a better position to ask
more specific questions. As you study, you will develop an affinity for
certain ideas and interpretations, and slowly *your* perspective of alchemy
will emerge. In the words of the Mutus Liber:
Ora
Lege Lege Lege Relege labora
et Invenies.
["Pray, read, read, read, read again, labor, and discover."]

The initial expectation that we can ask questions about alchemy and get
answers that will clearly and forever after satisfy our need to know, is best
set aside, for it will remain unfulfilled no matter who we ask. The only way
to truly understand alchemy is to experiment, to experience its precepts . .
. regardless of which "branch" one pursues.

>>Is alchemy a process or an outcome?

This is not really an answerable question. Again, I recommend more study.
The Alchemy Web Site is an excellent resource!

>>Is alchemy natural?

I understand this question to be asking if alchemy is miraculous, or somehow
in defiance of the Laws of Nature. The answer of course, depends upon who
you ask. In my opinion and experience, alchemy is an extension of Hermetic
Philosophy, and as such, works *with* the Laws of Nature. I find this to be
true in my physical practice of alchemy as well as in the more spiritual
aspects of my practice. In both, I use Nature's forces and ways to achieve
my goals.

>>Are alchemical formulas always transforming themselves? Or do they hold
>>a rigid recipe?

Again, more study! ;) This is an unanswerable question.

>>Does the work of current alchemist rely on the work of alchemist
>>past?

In the sense that our initial understandings of alchemy come from reading the
writings of past alchemists: yes. And certainly there are "schools" and
traditions of alchemy which continue work begun by past alchemists, or which
teach a specific perspective and practice of alchemy. Alchemy is definately
a "living tradition", with lines of continuity here and there.

Your question though, when tied to your next -- > And the work of those in
the past rely on alchemist to come?< -- lead me to think you are supposing
more continuity than actually exists. I guess that in a deeply mystical
(i.e., not very practical) sense, such lines of dependence could be said to
have meaning. There is however, no grand work upon which all alchemists have
consciously toiled together over the centuries...if that is what you're
asking.

>>Is alchemy an unavoidably collective effort?

Perhaps on the aforementioned deeply mystical level, but alchemists are quite
often solitary. I'd say alchemy is an unavoidably *personal* experience.

Best to you,
:) Rawn Clark
17 Sep 96

Subject: A0137 General questions on alchemy

Date: Wed, 18 Sep 1996 01:54:07 -0500
From: Alex Isidoro

>>>I would like however to raise the question as to WHY
>>> Alchemy remains such a secret?
>>It is a secret because it is dangerous.

>In these remarks I can barely recognise the subject I have studied for the
>last thirty years. I don't see how alchemy is a secret.


As a body of knowledge, Alchemy is morally neutral. It can be misused,
as for any scientific knowledge, and the XX Century is full of examples.

It is true that most of the potential of Alchemy is now made explicit,
but do we know all about it yet ?

Let me quote:

Fulcanelli: "Anyone revealing the secret should be punished."
Canceliet: "After 50 years of research, I am proud to call myself
a student".

For your information, any good european beer contains a bit of sulphuric
acid. I will never say that Alchemy is dangerous again, that's dangerous
...

Alex

Subject: A0138 Dangers in alchemy

Date: 18 Sep 1996
From: Adam McLean

I said:
>> How can alchemy be dangerous? I just don't understand this remark.

Matthew Phillips said:
>The answer is so simple. Can psychology/psychotherapy/psychoanalysis
>be dangerous? Of course it can, that's why we bother to license our
>practicioners.

So simple perhaps I missed the point.

I am not sure why you parallel this with alchemy. Is alchemy a branch of
psychotherapy? Are you suggesting that people who practice alchemy
should be licensed? Should I seek I a license for the alchemy web site?

I believe you misunderstand the situation regarding psychology/ psychotherapy/ psychoanalysis. Our society is full of practitioners of psychotherapeutic methods who are not licensed in any way - from regression hypnotherapists, scientology auditors, tantric therapists, 1001 varieties of counsellors - we all see adverts for these people's activities every day. There is no control in the UK over anyone setting themselves up to practice psychotherapies (and I think this is broadly true in most of the states in the USA). No one needs a licence to practice, they just take out an advert, or drum up some interest through public meetings, get some tasteful headed notepaper, employ a receptionist to make the appointments and collect the cheques, and away they go. One does, of course, need a license recognised by state bodies, in order to get funded by public moneys, or employed by the Health Service, or by some insurance companies in order to get indemnity insurance.

I questioned the broad statement that alchemy is dangerous.

In order to counter my questioning you need to show in what ways it is dangerous, rather than producing a simplistic parallel that proves, when examined, to be a bit crumbly in texture.

If alchemy is dangerous then surely I must immediately retract all my work over the past decades, issue warning notices to everyone on my mailing list to desist from alchemy, promptly close down this forum, drown my books, close the web site and devote the rest of my life to cultivating new varieties of orchids.

The 'orchid web site' and the 'orchid forum', now that would be an interesting project with which to end my days, and, I am sure, definitely safe (or are some varieties poisonous - I must go now and urgently look that up in the library).

Adam McLean

Subject: A0139 General questions on alchemy

Date: Wed, 18 Sep 1996 14:00:13 +0200
From: Maurizio Nicosia

> From: Sean Blosl
> Is alchemy natural?

Is the Nature alchemical?

From Isaac Newton's thinking:

"The changing of Bodies into Light, and Light into Bodies, is very conformable to the Course of Nature, which seems delighted with Transmutations"

Isaac Newton, "Opticks", 1704. (See B. J. T. Dobbs, "The Foundations of Newton's
Alchemy", 1975, p. 231.)

> From: Ed Maw
> 2. Is the 'gold' physical gold...or 'a state of being' to be achieved?

Is All One?

"The way up..." (see Alchemy Academic Forum N° 0081)

With best my wishes,
Maurizio Nicosia

Subject: A0140 Secrets

From: Marcella Gillick
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 1996 17:28:41 +0000

In response to:
> ...it is as well documented as most domains of human knowledge.
> There is certainly no lack of material to investigate.......these seem
> just pointless romanticisations that do not lead us any closer to our
> subject..
and
> ...a quick review of Adam's websites seem to indicate that there are
> not many useful things that are kept secret...
and
> ...people that may mishandle it have a mind such that they will
> hardly understand its divine simplicity...

??? Yes, well ... I am indeed well aware of the large collection of
information on Adam's website, and do sneak through it whenever
my boss's head is averted, but 'Divine Simplicity'? Crystal clear
obviously, to those who are blessed with the Divine Revelation, or
to those who have already undertaken the journey, found the stone,
or whatever you personally call it - clear as dirty dish water to me
however.
When I read those posts I felt myself in a considerable dilemma -
like a child made stand in the corner of the classroom and made wear
the dunces hat, subdued and slightly mortified. My initial reaction
was to 'put up and shut up' - keep quiet and try to learn, as I'm
always promising myself - unfortunately my mouth gets in the way.
I am too egotistical to conclude that I'm very stupid, and too self-
righteous to think I'd mishandle it, so, WHY is it so clear to you all
and so obtruse to me (no, don't answer!). But at least I'm humble to
accept what you say, with gratitude....and keep knocking!
Most sincerely
Marcella

Subject: A0141 Secret or enigmatic?

From: Adam McLean
Date: 18th Sep 1996

Marcella Gillick raised the question "why Alchemy remains such a secret?"

I don't really believe that alchemy is secret. Secret implies, something purposively hidden from us, and I don't recognise that in my own research into alchemical source material, or indeed in my dealing with individuals who study or practise alchemy. Of course there were(and may still be) alchemists who wished to keep things secret, but the alchemical tradition that remains to us today, the body of documents, books and manuscripts is not secret, only awaiting the leisure and inclination of people to investigate it.

Alchemy is undoubtedy enigmatic, obscure and and mysterious, indeed it is the quest to discover the meaning of some mysterious text, emblem or symbol that leads us on to investigate the depths of alchemy. Just as some great paintings, such as the triptychs of Bosch, Botticelli's Primavera, or many of the surrealist works, challenge our minds with an enigma, alchemy likewise is nourished by its enigmatic heart. Paintings like those of Bosch, the Primavera, etc., will doubtless never be adequately explained. They will still bear their charge of mystery for the human soul in 500 or in a 1000 years, and it is this that will consolidate their reputation as artworks. I believe much the same is true of alchemy. There will still be small groups of people working with its obscure and recondite ideas in hundreds or even thousands of years from now.

It is not secrecy but enigma that keeps alchemy alive.

Secrecy lock us out, but enigma draws us in.


Adam McLean

Subject: A0142 Dangers in alchemy

Date: Wed, 18 Sep 1996 16:26:43 +0000
From: Matthew Phillips


Matthew Phillips said:
>The answer is so simple. Can psychology/psychotherapy/psychoanalysis
>be dangerous? Of course it can, that's why we bother to license our
>practicioners.

>Adam replies:
>So simple perhaps I missed the point.
>I am not sure why you parallel this with alchemy. Is alchemy a branch
>of psychotherapy? Are you suggesting that people who practice alchemy
>should be licensed? Should I seek I a license for the alchemy web site?

Matthew counters:
I am not quite sure why you missed my parallel with alchemy given that
your web site (see Levity alchemy intro) makes this parallel. No, I am
not saying alchemy is a branch of psychology (Are you?). No, I am not
saying that people who practice alchemy should be licensed. No, I don't
think you need to seek out some license in order to run your alchemy web
site. Nothing in my message implied any of these ridiculous suggestions
you mention.

Adam said:
> I believe you misunderstand the situation regarding psychology/
> psychotherapy/ psychoanalysis. Our society is full of practitioners of
> psychotherapeutic methods who are not licensed in any way - from reg

No, I didn't/don't misunderstand the situation regarding this whole
field, thank you. I think I have these basics you mentioned down pretty
well, thank you. Nothing in my message implied this ignorance which you
claim I might hold.

> In order to counter my questioning you need to show in what ways it is
> dangerous, rather than producing a simplistic parallel that proves, when
> examined, to be a bit crumbly in texture.

I hardly have the time to do this one justice and I'm sure neither of us
is too interested in addressing this much further but I will briefly
explain myself. Another easy way to justify the idea that alchemy is
dangerous is to think of physical alchemy and its combustible compounds,
as a previous poster mentioned. I agree Adam that if you are intelligent
and use your head that all should go without any extreme danger
presenting itself, especially if you stick to non-physical academic
pursuits, but being intelligent and using your head was never implicitly
understood as a given in this our discussion. When they are a given,
I'll definately not be talking about issues of safety or secrecy in
regards alchemy, at least not such as I am presently.

My simplistic parallel was meant to be no more than just that. It was
hardly the foundation of my argument though. It was augmented by a short
consideration of simple breathing exercises, etc. which were included in
your book The Alchemical Mandala. Did you want to address these more
substantive portions of my argument or did you want to set up a straw
man here? More importantly my message contained a suggestion that
romantisization or no, these people need not be shut down so hastily.
Maybe these are not subjects you wish to talk about Adam, that you are
personally not thrilled about, but maybe you want to let US make our own
decisions when doing so will not thwart the alchemy forum's founding
principles?

> I questioned the broad statement that alchemy is dangerous.

Fine. I myself even reflexively object to this particular kind of
generalization, but to rule the subject out as pointless to even ever
think of discussing, well *that's* even more against the spirit of
academia than anything else under consideration here, IMHO.

Matthew Phillips
geni@sprynet.com

Subject: A0143 Secrets

Date: Wed, 18 Sep 1996 16:18:40 -0700
From: Norm Ryder

Marcella Gillick wrote:

>WHY is it so clear to you all and so obtruse to me (no, don't
answer!).

Frankly Marcella I wonder how many truly understand. I have met several
that have been working on the stone for quite a period of time. None
have made the stone. If after years of study and sacrifice these people
have not been succesful, it hasn't been clear to them yet.

--
Norm Ryder
nryder@qb.island.net
http://qb.island.net/~nryder/index.html

Subject: A0144 Dangerous and Secret?

Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 12:56:52 +1000
From: Don Foster

In my experience, alchemy is both potentially dangerous and holds
superlative secrets (occult) to the serious and practical student.

Potentially dangerous because of the intense focussed inner/outer work
that the more advanced stages of alchemy demands. Potentially dangerous
particularly to the imbalanced and obsessive seeker, to their psyche,
family relationships and bank balance. Alchemy is often attractive to
obsessive seekers and I know personally of more than one instance of
schizophrenia induced and exacerbated by obssessive, imbalanced focus on
external alchemy, without the concurrent inner work being done. As the
student approaches closer and closer to the core of the work in the
laboratory, a greater awareness and separation/ sublimation of the
unconscious into the conscious is demanded in order for the outer lab
work to be revealed. The danger can therefore come from the contents of
the unconscious flooding into the conscious when the student has not the
requisite psychological/ emotional balance and base to handle this
catharsis.
This problem has also been written about historically with warnings to
would-be students of occult subjects. Such warnings have also come
metaphorically as for example.... the higher the student climbs, the
rocky crags become steeper and more lonely, the air is thinner and more
ethereal, and it is easier to lose one's footing and fall. Such 'falls'
can also be associated with 'the 7 deadly sins', etc... of pride, lust,
etc., because the aspiring student's inner credentials are challenged
more severely the closer he or she attains to the core of the outer
laboratory work which is none other than a mirror of the inner work. The
outer gold is not found until the inner gold is obtained. The outer gold
really only serves as a proof of the inner attainment.

Of course, alchemy is all about secrets, the mystery of mysteries,
Mysterium Magnum, etc. The secret of the real meaning of all life, its
generation, its potential, its purpose. Why am I who I am? This is it's
real attraction to those who want to know, who want gnosis,
understanding, and power over their own limitations.
As to why these things are secret. It is because these things cannot
actually be told verbally, or read in a book, or even taught easily.
Alchemy is about the evolution of consciousness as well as matter.
Awareness, intuition, insight, realization.... cannot be learnt by
reading, and these factors play a great role in alchemy. The traditional
alchemists used a kind of phonetic cabala to communicate (see
Fulcanelli's "Mystery of the Cathedrals"). This was known as "the
language of the gods" or the "language of the birds". Through this
language, alchemists were able to communicate not only facts and ideas,
but also pass intuitive insights.
To those who say that there is no secret, let them state to us the name
of the prima materia, what needs to be prepared from this, and what is
the earth with which it must unite.

Don Foster

Subject: A0145 Dangers in alchemy

Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 00:52:26 -0400
From: Russ House

I am snipping a fair bit of text here... presumably readers have been
following the thread about secrecy vs enigma and danger vs not-dangerous in
Alchemy. It was just too hard to resist the idea of the 'orchid' web that
Adam proposes.

>If alchemy is dangerous then surely I must immediately retract all my work
>over the past decades, issue warning notices to everyone on my mailing list
>to desist from alchemy, promptly close down this forum, drown my books,
>close the web site and devote the rest of my life to cultivating new
>varieties of orchids.

It is certain that some procedures in Alchemy are dangerous... some of the
published works where an acidic solution of gold are precipitated with
tartaric preparations yield highly explosive gold fulminate; one *perhaps*
promising method of making a red stone uses mercury bichloride which is
exceptionally toxic even in tiny amounts. It is possible to be poisoned
slowly, rapidly, or even detonated in the metallic works. Still, most of us
are much more likely to be severed from our denser vehicles in an automobile
accident, in a violent crime, or by complications from tobacco use than from
the relatively few hours we can spend in the lab.

As a person with some degree of responsibility for publications and training
for a practical school of Alchemy (the Philosophers of Nature), I have
struggled with issues of secrecy (it is a *strong* tradition and difficult
to overcome) and responsibility concerning the publication of potentially
dangerous procedures (and their legal ramifications). After much soul
searching, this seems to fit my sense of what is responsible action... If
there is a risk, explain it; if the process is of some potential value, give
it; if the secrecy is one of habit, question it; if you can help someone who
is working (even in a future generation) then help them or be silent. It
seems that this does not agree with the choice of my earlier teachers, but
the world is different now than the world they knew.

One of the problems of "secrecy" is that there is such a volume of work, in
which one author does not, at least on the surface, agree with the next. It
is more confusion than secrecy, perhaps. Still, the alchemical literature
is full of blinds. Read the "Alchemical Writings of Edward Kelly" in the
chapter called "The Humid Path" where he suggests that you "dissolve
purified gold in distilled vinegar". A resulting product is distilled,
giving an "oil of Mercury". Perhaps this is a blind, and some other metal,
such as lead should be substitued for gold, since it will behave as
described when its acetate is dry-distilled. Others may say that gold is
indeed correct, but that the vinegar must not be the common one, but rather
the vinegar of antimony, which should, they say, dissolve gold. The fact
that Kelly says that you must end up with 24 pounds of gum from the 'gold'
solution suggests that a less rare material would probably be used. This
mystery is to be solved by one who works and, like many of the books, it
becomes clear only when one already has some part of the key.

There is the saying that 'one book unlocks the other' or that 'one key
unlocks the other'. This is a sort of "secrecy" that is an intentional
masking of information by substition of names for products. It is simple to
make 'inside jokes' between initiates who share the same references...
imagine how two stangers who have seen the movie Monty Python and the Holy
Grail half a dozen times can have long, esoteric conversations that leave
outsiders standing in stunned amazement.

Probably, the Alchemical authors often built upon the work of previous
artists, so that keys are spanned across several texts, and several
centuries. Certainly, they would give keys in rather boring theoretical or
theological parts of their writings that must be used to unlock the practice
they unfolded in another part of the same text.

Secrecy that exists solely to help the bearer of the secret to remain above
others, to hold out power and promises, to create an illusion of mystery
seems questionable, and at the least uncharitable. It seems possible,
however, that there is some value in discretion... It does not make sense
to withhold that which is of use, nor to give that which is of harm.
Perhaps there is no easy answer, no absolute for all times and situations.
While much of the so-called secrecy in practical Alchemy has been unveiled
in the past 25 years by Jean Dubuis, Frater Albertus, Manfred Junius, and
others, at least the first two of them, whom I have known, have felt that
there is some limit as to what may be said, and that the rest is to be
discovered through personal effort. One can either complain about what is
not said and say that there are limits to their generosity, or take up the
work where they have left it. In the latter case, at least there would be a
satisfaction that supercedes mere intellectual pride in knowing *facts*, and
the possibility of some interior illumination or revelation that is achieved
in a state of wonderment.

Perhaps my ramblings have taken us a bit too far from the intent of the
thread... I suspect that the greater danger is in never having distilled --
not in speaking about what one may distill.

Regards,

Russ House
alchemy@mcs.com

Subject: A0146 Dangers in alchemy

From: Adam McLean
Date: 19th Sep 1996

Matthew Phillips wrote (suggesting that I was avoiding his point):

>It was augmented by a short consideration of simple breathing exercises,
>etc. which were included in your book The Alchemical Mandala.
>Did you want to address these more substantive portions of my argument
>or did you want to set up a straw man here

If I may, I will respond to the substantive portions of your argument (which prove actually to be composed of a rather strawy material):

Please note, I have never advocated the use of breathing exercises! If you care to read what I say in my book, instead of reading what you want into it, you will find no mention of breathing exercises.

My warnings were about working with fragments of mandalas not about the alchemical process in general. Working with alchemical symbols can be disturbing and disquieting, but this is not dangerous. Indeed if I believed that working with these alchemical 'mandalas' was dangerous, why should I write and publish a book advocating people to use them, and encourage people to actively explore this material. Can I really be so unaware a person as to wish to lead people into danger by publishing dangerous material?

Matthew, I know you like to stir up contraversies and polarise discussion, but please think a bit longer, and try to separate out what is actually said from what you believe is being said. Think with your mind and not with your beliefs. Try not to leap to conclusions so quickly. There seems little point in people like myself writing a book if readers merely filter it through their own ideas and then take me to task for something I didn't actually say. Many of us on the forum have spend many years struggling to understand certain ideas, I hope I never find myself making an instant pronouncement on something I know little about.

We, on the forum (who, I expect, share my love and delight in alchemy) should think long and hard before applying the word 'dangerous' to our subject.

I am sorry if you don't always appreciate my sense of humour but I find I can sometimes only respond to your messages through irony.

Adam McLean

Subject: A0147 Secrecy - the language of the birds

From: Adam McLean
Date: 19th Sep 1996

Don Foster wrote regarding secrecy in alchemy:
>The traditional alchemists used a kind of phonetic cabala to communicate
>(see Fulcanelli's "Mystery of the Cathedrals"). This was known as "the
>language of the gods" or the "language of the birds". Through this
>language, alchemists were able to communicate not only facts and ideas,
>but also pass intuitive insights.


I don't really understand this at all. I have never come across the 'Language of the birds' in all my reading of alchemical texts. So, I looked up this 'Language of the birds' in Fulcanelli's 'Mystery of the Cathedrals'. The relevant section is on page 44. I must confess I don't really understand what Fulcanelli is saying here, or actually how one can practically apply this 'Language of the birds' to our understanding of alchemical texts.

Fulcanelli states "Today we find its [The language of the birds] character... in the language of the gipsies". I must confess I cannot believe that we need to study Romany in order to understand alchemy. It is a long tradition to evoke or resort to 'gipsies' as carriers of a secret knowledge, as in their supposed transmission of tarot cards (which is actually a conceit of late 18th century / early 19th century French occultism and appears to be without any foundation in fact.)

One of the more significant use of 'birds' in an alchemical text (leaving aside their appearance in emblems) is Michael Maier's 'Jocus severus' ['A serious joke, or earnest game'], 1617, in which an assembly of birds is convened to decide who among them is the best. This is a thinly disguised satire in Maier's best style. I wonder the person who wrote the Fulcanelli books was not here reworking Maier's joke.

Individual alchemists often played elaborate games with words in order to amuse or confuse their readers, but there is no evidence of the coherent (or even concerted) use of a secret language by alchemists. It seems to me that we can only understand an alchemical text by seeing it in its historical context and placing it in the stream of philosophical ideas which it is addressing. It seems to me to be a romantic fantasy that there is a key 'phonetic cabala' or secret language that unlocks the meaning of alchemical texts. If this is what we mean by 'secrecy' in alchemy then I think we are deluding ourselves.

Adam McLean

Subject: A0148 Peacocks

From: Marcella Gillick
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 11:11:40 +0000


In response to:-
> A0106 Peacocks
> From: Anthony F Deluca
> I need to be refreshed on the subject of peacocks and their
> mythological/alchemical significance. Could someone be so kind as to
> direct me?

I'm quoting the following extracts out of a book called 'Fruits of The
Moon Tree' by Alan Bleakley (Gateway Books 1984,
ISBN 0-946551-08-1 or 0-946551-10-3)
(It is a bit long in case you want to zap it now. It is also a bit
disjointed as I picked bits from here and there):

'....We learn from Greek myth that the goddess of rainbows, Iris, is
attendant to Hera, wife of Zeus. Iris is said to have birthed Eros
himself, life-force and erotic love, out of a union with the West
Wind. As Hera's messenger, Iris usually heralds a change, as the
rainbow heralds a change in weather. (Once the message is given,
Iris, the rainbow, disappears). Iris' and Hera's bird is the
peacock, with its magnificent irridescent feathers. We also learn
about Iris that she is 'at everyone's beck and call'; and that Iris
carries the lion that Hercules kills and flays as his first Labour,
to the Nemean Mountains. Hercules adopts the lion's pelt as a
protection, and for courage....'
'...In describing the Work in the vessel as actual bodily
transformations, the alchemists' psychological work consisted largely
of introverted 'body consciousness', of deepening ego consciousness
to the interior realms of the body. The so-called transmutations of
base metals, first to silver and then to gold, are described as
revelations; a revealing of capacity, of resource, of unboundedness
to the human use of imagination, but related directly to body and
substance, to the actual changes in material in the alchemists' outer
flasks and alembics - the laboratory work. The dark, heavy but
pliable 'lead', the limitations of substance as opposed to spirit and
imagination, could be polished to reveal 'silver', and further
transformed into the glittering, rare and ductile 'gold'. This was
the making of a rainbow bridge, a contact with Anima (silver - as
soul, a 'little death'), leading to the opening of a true in-sight
(gold - as spirit, a rebirth). The appearance of the'rainbow body',
or 'peacock's tail', heralded success in this work....The fiery
spirit would then be seen to impregnate or inspire soul (the earthy
interior senses 'revealed'), through a deepening to the irridescent
dream body (the rainbow within); and out of this alchemical womb the
magical child would be born, whose substance is the 'peacock's
flesh', that is said never to decay. Of which Augustine says, "Who
was it but God that made the flesh of a dead peacock to remain always
sweet, and without any putrefaction?"...'
'...The alchemists talked of a certain mystery that signified success
in completion of the Work: the appearance of a shimmering array of
colours within the vessel after the preliminary work of 'facing the
shadow' (the nigredo) or descending to dialogue with unconscious life
- dream states especially. The called this the cauda pavonis
(peacock's tail), an allusion to the shimmering rainbow hues of the
peacock's fanned tail. Jung suggested that, in the laboratory work,
this may be a reference to the irridescence on the surface of the
molten metal in the vessel. Psychologically, this may be the range
of feeling-values in a person that needs to be integrated, and the
adoption of an 'open' attitude to unconscious material, however
bizarre it may appear to the ego.'
'...The peacock, sacred to Juno and to Isis, is also 'the bird of
Hermes' (Mercury), and the rainbow colours are seen on the surface of
chemical mercury, or quicksilver, as an irridescence. We already
noted that the alchemists also talked of a 'dry water', that is an
excellent description of fluid metal, of mercury. When they talk of
'quicksilver' however, they usually do not mean ordinary chemical
mercury, but a mercurial experience, a transcendent moment ruled over
by the bringer of magic, Hermes or Mercury. It is said that such a
mercurial moment (also called 'the blackness of the raven's head'
because of its irridescence), occurs 'at the hour of conjunction'; at
a 'true' eclipse of the sun and of the moon, when they both dive into
the 'dark mercurial sea', at the moment of coagulation of the matter
in the vessel...'

With very best regards
Marcella (GILLICKM@forbairt.ie)

Subject: A0149 General questions on alchemy

From: Marcella Gillick
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 11:11:40 +0000

Re: A0126 General questions on alchemy

Alex, I've never heard of Fulcanelli's oaktree, never mind his
rabbits or the sparse grass, but I suppose I could speculate...(like
which way was the rabbit looking? Or was he eating clover?)
I'd ask you to elaborate, except that I anticipate the answer would
be to: "Ora, Lege, Lege, Lege, Relege, Labora et Invenies"
Incidently, one of the things I DID read was that we should
"Burn all our books" (These non-existent secrets are really confusing!)

Subject: A0150 Secrecy and Danger

Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996 09:01:09 -0500 (EST)
From: DHARKNESS@CENTER.COLGATE.EDU


I've just come onto the group, and have been following the questions and
answers about the secrecy and danger of alchemy.

It's always been my understanding that certain aspects of the alchemical
art were kept among the practitioners and adepts so that, like trade secrets,
you would need to be an acknowledged and supported member of the group
of practitioners in order to fully engage in alchemy. Whenever I read
the alchemical texts on Adam's website or anywhere else what always strikes
me is that the missing link is a practicing alchemist of the period in
question who was conversant in the oral traditions of alchemy, not just
the written traditions.

I don't think alchemy was kept secret because it was dangerous. It was
kept secret because it was powerful. Yes, of course, power can be
dangerous but it's all a matter of emphasis, isn't it?

Deborah Harkness