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Chapter 1
The Doctrine of Spiritual Alchemy
FROM antiquity we have inherited definite traditions concerning magic, astrology,
and alchemy. The magic of the ancients, now termed variously Mental Science,
Christian Science, Metaphysical Science, and New Thought, is today being used
with satisfactory results by many esteemed people. Astrology is the foundation upon
which has been erected in the course of time the modern science of astronomy. As
astrology, furthermore, it is helping an ever-widening circle of humanity to
overcome the difficulties offered by life. Like magic and astrology, alchemy was
laughed at by the schoolman until the twentieth century gave indisputable proof of
transmutation in his own laboratory. Transmutation and the flying machine, as the
older generation well remembers, were the two standing jokes. Anyone interested in
either was supposed to be ridiculously credulous. But transmutation can now be
produced at will by our chemists, magic under another name is gaining in popularity,
and astrology is being verified by thousands every day. It is time, therefore, that
someone should seriously set forth a clear exposition of what the ancient alchemists
really thought and taught.
The learning of the ancients, in so far as it existed outside secret occult orders, was
collected in the Alexandrian Library. This library was begun by Ptolemy I in the third
century B.C., and was added to in great measure by Ptolemy II. With the ascendancy
of Christianity no pains were spared to destroy every record, monument, or scroll of
more ancient times, either in the fear that it would contradict the Bible, or in the belief
that it was pagan. The second Library in the Serapeum was completely destroyed
when the Christians sacked that temple in 390 A.D. The main library also
disappeared under persistent hostile influences, the Mohammedans, when they
gained the power, finishing the work of destruction commenced earlier by the
Christians.
Libraries elsewhere met a similar fate at the hands of Christian bigots and
Mohammedan fanatics. But though the libraries were destroyed, the statuary
wrecked, and the evidence of ancient culture largely erased, not all of the scrolls were
consigned to the flames. Some found their way to secret, safe sanctuary in the heart of
the Arabian Desert.
From thence, at a later date, mathematics, magic, astrology, and alchemy found their
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way to Europe. The word Alchemy, therefore, is Arabic, being derived from "al,"
the, and "kimia," hidden, or occult. To the Arabians alchemy was the science of
hidden properties and essences. It dealt with the occult attributes of things.
It is nevertheless linked up through association with the art of transmutation; for a
long line of alchemical experimenters sought to change base metals into gold. In
addition they sought the philosopher's stone, the elixer of life, and the
accomplishment of the great work.
The sciences, brought to Europe by Arabian scholars, were not universally
welcomed. Certain monks, like Placidus de Titus, expounder of the semi-arc system
of directing, were fortunate enough to be allowed to delve deeply into astrology.
Magic, of course, was widely frowned upon. Friar Roger Bacon and certain others
made notable discoveries while conducting alchemical experiments. But all such
delving into nature's mysteries was commonly considered to be a matter that
depended upon trafficking with the devil. Inside the sacred precincts of the Church it
was occasionally permitted, but any delving by outsiders met quick disapproval of
the ecclesiastics.
It was not an age of free speech. It was an age of terrorism to anyone guilty of
discovering some fact at variance with the teachings of established religion. Spiritual
truths could not openly be proclaimed. If they were to be conveyed to another, a
secret code must be used to escape the accusation of heresy. Otherwise, the torture
chamber awaited.
The Language of Symbolism
--Not all alchemists, however, were interested in searching out the origin, history,
and destiny of the human soul. Some there were who sought to make gold that might
be exchanged for coin of the realm. Those that found this secret felt an obligation to
society. They knew that should the process be learned by unscrupulous persons it
might well upset the economic relations of the world and enable knaves and
criminals, through vast wealth easily acquired, to rule and oppress more honest men.
Against this they must guard by keeping the method a secret.
Because they were secretive about a matter of such tremendous importance to the
selfish ambitions of others they were often sadly persecuted. Some were murdered
by villains in the expectation that the recipe for making gold would be found about
their persons or concealed in their lodgings. Others were hailed before feudal lords
and potentates with the demand that they make gold. Refusing this, they were
imprisoned and promised freedom only at the price of the secret process. Not a few
were tortured, and some were killed, in the effort to compel them to perform
transmutations or to reveal how it was done. Take it all in all, whatever they may have
gained through the possession of alchemical knowledge they well paid for in lack of
peace and comfort. For they have been hounded from place to place no less than the
traditional Wandering Jew.
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They lived in an age antedating science. No terminology as yet existed for expressing
many of their ideas in ordinary language. Words were coined, therefore, to meet the
demands of the occasion. Thus it came about, as a little reading of the alchemical
works left by them makes obvious, that the same thing was called by a different name
by different alchemists. This at first sight is very confusing. But it need not remain so,
for in common language we have different words, called synonyms, to express the
same idea. What we must do to understand their writings is to determine the basic
idea that may be expressed by a variety of these synonyms.
They wished to conceal their knowledge from the vulgar and to reveal it to the
worthy. It often served to protect them from the designing to talk, write, and act as if
mentally unsound. They needed a code to convey information, and such a code came
to them ready at hand from the same source as came the science of alchemy.
Astrology and alchemy arrived in Europe together. A language that was applicable to
one was likewise applicable to the other. Astrology teaches that everything on earth
has its correspondence in the sky, and everything in the sky has its correspondence on
earth. This is the key to alchemical synonyms.
A thing on earth is ruled by a planet or sign in the sky. This planet or sign rules other
things on the earth having the same vibratory quality. The principle or quality or
spiritual bias designated by an alchemist may be called by the name of any one of the
various familiar objects ruled by the same astrological influence. Thus did the
alchemists write and talk and think in the language of celestial correspondence.
Different Kinds of Alchemy
--There is a great similarity to be found in the language used and in the methods of
procedure advocated by alchemists living in different centuries and in different
lands. One who delves into the rare and musty tomes still extant concerning the
Hermetic Art, as it was called by these sages, can not fail to be struck by the parallel
methods of those who obviously sought different ends.
A sifting of their writings reveals that some wanted mineral gold with which to buy
leisure, comfort, and luxury, and with which, perhaps, to help the poor. Some,
however, had no thought of this, but labored to transmute bodily fluids and forces
into magnetic power with which to perform wonders. Knowing nothing of the Yogis,
they yet desired to do the things the Yogis are reputed to do. Some worked solely with
the vegetable kingdom, some with animals, and still others sought to establish an
ecstatic rapport with the source of all life, light, and love to the end of transmuting the
gross trials of life into golden spiritual treasures.
Process Always the Same
--In spite of the wide variety of ends sought, the principles followed and the
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succession of steps must be the same in all transmutation. A process carried out on
one plane gives the same result as when carried out on another plane, except that the
result as well as the process is on a different level. The tones C, G, and E sounded in
combination on one instrument, and in one octave, give a resultant chord that is
similar to C, G, and E sounded in combination in another octave on the same
instrument, in the same octave on a different kind of instrument, or in another octave
on another instrument. The same combination of tone vibrations produces a similar
result whatever the instrument or whatever the octave, but it may be on a different
vibratory plane. Likewise, the combination of alchemical elements by means of
similar processes gives the same result if carried out in the mineral kingdom, in the
world of vegetation, in the mental economy of man, or in the realm of spiritual
potencies. The only real difference is that the result as well as the operation is on a
different plane.
To state the matter mathematically, let us call certain definite things on one plane, A,
B, C, and X. Then the things on any other plane having the same astrological (astral)
vibration, or rulership, let us call A', B', C', and X'. A' has the same astrological
vibration as A, B' the same as B, C' the same as C, and X' the same as X. Then if A
plus B plus C equal X, it follows that A' plus B' plus C' must equal X'.
What the things are on one plane that correspond to definite things on another plane
may be determined through their astrological rulership. Everything in existence on
any plane vibrates in its inner (alchemical) nature to some astrological tone.
Spiritual Transmutation
--In Course 9, Mental Alchemy, I have considered the mental plane, and show how
to bring about those mental transmutations that conduce to material happiness and
success. But now it is the spiritual plane that interests us. The word spirit comes to us
from the Latin, "spirare," meaning, to breathe. It connotes the breath of life. As used
here it signifies the inmost principle. Spiritual Alchemy, therefore, is concerned with
the most interior plane. It works to transmute that which is commonly gross into
spiritual gold.
Now what can spiritual gold be? This we must find out by applying the law of
correspondences.
It is said that gold is the most perfect of all metals. Therefore, spiritual gold, as
applied to man, must be the most perfect part of his constitution. Gold is extremely
malleable and ductile. Consequently we must seek a human principle that adapts
itself to numerous states and conditions. Gold is practicably indestructible, so that
which we seek in man must be eternal. Gold is not tarnished, nor is it readily attacked
by other chemical elements. Let us then explore human existence for an
unchangeable element that remains pure and resists the acids of criticism and the fire
of affliction. Gold is a precious metal that is used as a standard of value. What is the
standard of value in man?
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This auriferous principle can not be the body; for the body is neither changeless nor
durable, but easily corroded by external influences. It can not be the soul; for the soul
is affected by all that man contacts. The most characteristic thing about the soul (the
sum total of experiences that persist as mind) is its ceaseless change and movement.
The Ego, however, answers all requirements. What the Sun is to astrology, and gold
to economics and industry, the ego is to individual man.
It is an imperishable spark of Deity. It is malleable; for it adapts itself to the
requirement of every form of life through which the soul in its journey passes. It is
ductile; for its vital rays reach out to energize the soul wherever the soul may sojourn.
It is not tarnished by contact with external life, nor does it deteriorate when exposed
to the acids of criticism or the fires of affliction. It is man's most precious possession.
It is the standard, likewise, of the value of human life; for in so much as the ego
expresses itself through the character the noble qualities are made manifest and the
man attains true greatness.
The ego, undoubtedly, then, is spiritual gold. Yet as the ego already exists, a spiritual
potency supplying energy to the soul as the Sun supplies light to the Moon, what need
is there for transmutation?
Reading the works of the alchemists we find that there are two kinds of gold. There is
natural gold, and there is transmuted gold. And these alchemists assert that the
transmuted gold is far finer than that found in a natural state. Furthermore, they
maintain that it takes gold to make gold, and that some natural gold must be supplied
before transmutation is possible.
The ego, according to Hermetic tradition, is unable to contact the physical plane
directly. During its involution it descends only as far as the boundary of the sixth and
seventh state of the spiritual world. From thence it sends the dual souls on the further
journey to contact external conditions, and adapts itself to the astral and physical
planes by the rays of vitality that it sends to the souls.
These souls experiencing life on the external plane may raise the vibrations of their
mental states to a point where energy is communicated not only to the astral plane,
but also to the spiritual level. Such vibratory rates, experienced by an individual,
affect spiritual substance, and may build up a spiritual body. This spiritual body is
composed of the substance of the plane occupied by the ego. Like the ego it is
relatively imperishable, and it partakes in great measure of the other qualities of the
ego. It is not natural gold, but transmuted gold.
This imperishable spiritual body persists after the second death, which takes place in
the astral realm. In this transmuted gold of the spiritual alchemist the soul must
finally function if it is to survive. It is finer and more valuable than the ego because,
while the ego is imperishable, such a golden form provides for the persistence of
self-consciousness. Immortality of a kind is already assured to the ego, but by the
addition of this transmuted gold it acquires a value it did not have before. It has
acquired the priceless treasure of Self-Conscious-Immortality.
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The Metals of Spiritual Alchemy
--The material alchemist works with the common minerals, such as copper, lead, tin,
and iron, in the endeavor to change them into a metal more valuable. The mental
alchemist follows similar principles; but the elements with which he works are his
thoughts. He seeks to flux them one against the other, reduce them in the astral light,
and recombine them in a mental gold that will attract to him ability, wealth, power
and success. The spiritual alchemist goes a step still further. In fact, he takes the
highest step possible to embodied man. He uses as his metals the various experiences
of life. If some are not at hand that are necessary for this transmutation he seeks them
out. He purifies them, fluxes them in proper proportion, dissolves them in the
spiritual light by the aid of a reverberatory furnace, and if the resultant transmutation
is successful he comes into possession of a golden chariot in which his soul may wing
its heavenly flight through boundless time and eternity.
The Reverberatory Furnace
--One of the most essential features of the laboratory of any chemist or alchemist is
some means of increasing the vibratory rate of the materials upon which he works.
On the material plane when the vibratory rate of the molecules of matter is increased
the object is said to be gaining in temperature. That is, heat is an increase in the
vibratory rate of matter. If the heat be increased still further until the object glows,
and thus emits light, the molecules have reached an intensity of vibration that enables
them to affect a substance interior to matter; for light is not a vibration of matter, but
an electromagnetic movement.
If an electromagnetic rate is greatly increased, in a like manner energy is imparted to
the substance next interior to it. Astral substance is thus set in motion and effects are
produced on the astral plane. This is the plane of substance in which memory resides.
It is the plane occupied by the unconscious mind while embodied, and by the soul
immediately after death. By our thoughts we build on the astral plane.
If the vibratory rate of our thoughts is still further increased, these motions in astral
substance, following the same general process, reach an intensity in which they
impart their motion to the plane next interior to them. As a bar of iron when it reaches
a certain temperature emits light, which is an effect in a substance inferior to matter,
so a man's thoughts when sufficiently raised in their vibratory rate, impart motion to
the substance next interior to the astral. By these thoughts, or mental attitudes that
have their vibration intensified in a marked manner, man can build upon the spiritual
plane.
By them he can construct a spiritual body in which to function after death without a
preparatory sojourn on the astral plane. Commonly after death man continues his
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progress on the astral plane for a long time while he gradually acquires the ability to
raise his consciousness to an intensity that enables it to build up a spiritual body. But
the spiritual alchemist expects to skip this extensive astral sojourn. While yet on
earth he does the work that most accomplish only long after death. He builds his
spiritual body while yet occupying the physical form.
The mere raising of the vibratory rate does not result in transmutation. It does enable
the substance of an interior plane to be affected. Thoughts sufficiently intensified do
affect spiritual substance, but they may or may not build an immortal spiritual body.
A form to be immortal must have a high degree of perfection. All its parts must be
there. They must be there in proper proportions. But transmutation is not possible
without, in addition to the proper ingredients that have been fully purified and
present in the right amounts, there being a marked increase in vibration. Proper
fluxing the materials assists in making it possible to raise their vibrations. But in
addition to this, heat must be applied to the substances.
Some kind of furnace is essential to both the chemist and the alchemist. A
reverberatory furnace enables the metallurgist to obtain the heat necessary to melt his
ores. Such a furnace is equally valuable to the alchemist. By its means very high
temperatures are produced. On the mental plane, of course, it is a mental
reverberatory furnace. The necessary vibration, or heat, is produced by controlling
the feelings that accompany the thoughts. As molecular motion is the vibratory agent
of the furnace on the physical plane, so the feeling of pleasure or pain is the vibratory
agent used by the mental alchemist to control the conditions on the astral plane.
The spiritual alchemist, who operates on the experiences of life, follows a similar
plan. He uses, to control and determine effects on the spiritual plane, not merely
pleasure and pain, but still higher and more interior vibratory rates known as
aspiration and inspiration.
This reverberatory furnace of the spiritual alchemist has a heat, or energy, or
vibration, of a very definite kind. To be sure, it is feeling, but a feeling that arises from
unusual spiritual perception. This spiritual perception embraces the all of life. It
recognizes the universe as an organic whole, moving toward intelligible ends. It
views itself as one unit of the cosmic plan. And the desire arises to assist in the great
universal work of progress. An insatiable longing is present to use every faculty and
power to advance the welfare of all. A relation is established between the soul and the
universe. It is felt that nothing, not even life itself, is quite so important as
contributing something to the general good.
It is a feeling, but it derives from the spiritual plane. It enters into rapport with the
divine in nature. There is a higher state of consciousness. The heart overflows with a
zealous religious devotion to cosmic prosperity.
This reverberatory furnace of the spiritual alchemist is fed by an outpouring of love.
Nothing raises the vibrations as quickly as love. It is the love of the oxygen of the air
for the carbon in the fuel that gives the material furnace its intensity. Love operates
on various planes. But only unselfish love affects spiritual substance.
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Any exalted and unselfish love has this power. The love of a mother for her babe, of a
man for his mate, or a welfare worker for her charges may have this exalted and
unselfish quality. More often, however, these are too mixed with the coarser rates
derived from ambition, possession, or passion to affect spiritual substance. But the
love of God and His works when devoutly felt lifts the soul above all that is sordid. A
higher state of consciousness is experienced. The adoration of Deity, and the
thirsting to be of utmost service in his scheme of things, provides the spiritual
alchemist with a furnace that may ever be relied upon.
The Laboratory
--In the writings of nearly all alchemists there appears a reference to the place of
gold in nature. It is one of their cardinal doctrines. Eireanaeus Philalethes states it
more clearly and concisely than most. He says:
All metallic seed is the seed of gold; for gold is the intention of nature in regard to all
metals. If the base metals are not gold, it is only through some accidental hindrance;
they are all potentially gold.
The alchemists thus consider gold the climax of metallic evolution. Souls
undergoing their journey through the Cycle of Necessity when they first incarnate in
the metallic realm enter the lowest and basest form. By means of their experiences in
this lower metal they acquire the ability, when this metal runs its life course, of
attracting to themselves and incarnating in, the form of a more complex, or higher,
metal.
When a metal decomposes and releases its astral counterpart, this counterpart
undergoes a period of assimilation of its experiences. In due time it is carried along
by the life-wave to a new metallic incarnation, this time entering a metal a step higher
in the scale of evolution. Its experiences in lower, or less complex, forms give it the
ability to function in a form of higher construction. This process continues,
according to the alchemists, until at last it reaches the highest and most perfect metal.
It becomes incarnated in gold.
Gold is the highest form or principle possible to any particular realm. And because all
souls are evolving, on the plane they occupy, toward its highest state, it is, as
Philalethes says, "the intention of nature in regard to all metals." If they have not yet
reached this highest state, or condition, it is because they have not yet had sufficient
experience to mold about themselves a golden form. This is an "accidental
hindrance; they are all potentially gold."
The same thought, encompassing a vastly wider scope was stated by a Hermetic
Master: "Every immortal soul is the seed of a universe."
In this he has gone even above the plane of spiritual alchemy; for he is dealing with
the alchemy of the angelic state. Having accomplished the Great Work, he was
looking to the plane next above his own level, and imparting his conception of what
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he there saw to one still below who was struggling yet with the problems of spiritual
transmutation.
All souls are the seed of spiritual gold. They are undergoing those experiences,
slowly or rapidly, by which ultimately they will be able to build about themselves a
perfect spiritual form. It is the intention of nature that they become immortal, and
unless some untoward circumstances arise, ultimately they will arrive at that exalted
state. Their experiences with life may as yet all be base metal, and mostly dross at
that. Nevertheless, there is a grain of pure gold within. It is the eternal ego. In due
time, under the slow process of nature, all will be changed into gold.
But the spiritual alchemist does not wish to await the slow and ponderous workings
of unaided nature. The fact that in centuries to come she will ultimately convert all his
metals into gold is interesting philosophically and scientifically, but it does not
satisfy his present ambition. He has no desire to await a long process by which
additional experiences may be had on the astral plane and through which these and
earthly experiences may be more fully assimilated. If he is to have an immortal
spiritual body, why wait perhaps countless eons? Instead of permitting nature to do it
all in her deliberate way, why not help her? Why not accelerate the process and by
intelligently directed effort build up this immortal form so that he may have it now?
This is what the spiritual alchemist determines to do.
He, like other alchemists, must have a laboratory in which to labor. The laboratory of
any alchemist is determined largely by the kind of work at hand. The material
alchemist must have a place where he may keep his furnace, cupels, chemical
reagents, retorts, crucibles, test tubes, fluxes, and the metals upon which he
experiments. But the spiritual alchemist needs a more comprehensive laboratory.
The metals with which he works are the experiences of life. His materials he collects
from the whole domain of nature. These he converts to his uses in the laboratory of
his own soul.
Salt, Mercury, and Sulphur
--Not because I shall refer to them thus in these lessons, but because they appear in
the writings of nearly all alchemists, some explanation should be made of salt,
mercury, and sulphur.
It is a cardinal principle laid down by all that these three are the elementary
constituents of everything.
The most familiar example of crystallization is that of salt. When Lot's wife, as
related in the Bible, looked back, she crystallized. So does anyone who becomes so
attached to present objects and conditions that he does not look ahead in the direction
of progress. Salt is extensively used. Because of its recognized state of crystallization
it becomes a universal symbol of the physical. The physical body is the salt of the
alchemist.
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Of things that burn with great heat, sulphur is widely recognized. Lakes of fire and
brimstone are alluded to from the pulpit. Sulphur, because of its association with
intense heat, becomes the symbol of fire. Within all life there is a spark of the divine
fire. This eternal spark of Deity that furnishes the energy to impel the soul ever
onward in its toilsome journey through the vastness of life is well represented by a
more than common fire. The indwelling spirit is the sulphur of the alchemist.
No wonder the alchemists must conceal under universal symbols their ideas from the
church; for they believed and taught that not only man but everything possessed of
life has not merely a body but a spirit and a soul. The function of this evolving soul is
to penetrate the realm of form and gather those experiences that ultimately becomes
love and wisdom. Quicksilver penetrates quickly where water will not go. It may be
strained through a chamois-skin bag. Of amazing activity, its globules run hither and
thither, and actually gather up, or amalgamate with, precious metals. It is like the
intellect in its activity and power of acquisition. Mercury is a universal symbol. To
the alchemist, when mentioned in relation to salt and sulphur, it signifies the soul.
The First Matter
--Schoolmen well could laugh at the alchemical doctrine of the first matter so long
as the various elements of chemistry remained indivisible. Now, however, they
know that the ancient alchemists were right; for all the so-called elements are
composed of positive electric charges, called positrons, and negative electric
charges, called electrons, which are positive and negative concentrations of the
universal field, commonly called ether.
The nucleus of an atom embraces one or more proton, which is a combination of
positrons and electrons having one more positron than electron, and thus carrying a
positive electric charge. The nucleus of an atom may also embrace one or more
neutrons, which is a combination of an equal number of positrons and electrons, and
is thus electrically neutral.
Around the nucleus, to balance the positive charge on each proton, revolve as many
electrons as there are protons in the nucleus. The number of protons in the nucleus is
the element's atomic number. Uranium, the heaviest natural element, has 92 protons.
Remove 4 of these and the result is radium, which has 88 protons. From uranium
remove 10 protons, or from radium remove 6 protons, and the result is lead, which
has 82 protons. From uranium remove 13 protons, or from lead remove 3 protons,
and the result is gold, which has 79 protons. From gold remove 53 protons and the
result is iron, which has 26 protons. From iron remove 25 protons and the result is
hydrogen, which has only one proton, and is the lightest chemical element.
The usual approach of the alchemist to the problem of transmutation, however, was
not the attempt to knock protons from an atom having more than the desired metal.
Instead, the attempt was made to build up the precious metal by bringing together,
under proper circumstances, other metals that would furnish electrons and protons in
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proper number and under such conditions that these protons and electrons would
enter into combination in the numerical proportions of the desired metal. If gold was
desired it was necessary to furnish 79 protons and 79 electrons. Although not all the
electrons and protons of metals thus brought to the combination might enter into the
final product, enough must be available that would enter into the process to build up
the necessary 79 pairs.
But merely bringing together silver and lead and tin and other ingredients does not
produce gold. The proper ingredients must be present in certain proportions, it is true.
But before being transformed into gold they must be reduced to a state which makes
recombination of the protons and electrons possible. This is called reducing them to
the first matter. The energy used in the process is variously called the universal
solvent, the alcahest, the sophic fire, the supreme secret of alchemy, azoth, and the
Water of Pythia.
In metallic alchemy the first matter is, of course, field, commonly called ether. And
the force applied must be of an electromagnetic nature. It must be an energy which is
capable temporarily of overcoming the affinity of the positrons and electrons for
each other. These building blocks of the atom must be freed from their present
attractions so that they may recombine in a different arrangement.
In spiritual alchemy we are dealing with something still more recondite. We are
dealing with spiritual elements. They therefore must be reduced to their spiritual
components. That is, a force must be applied that so overcomes their previous
internal attachments that they are free to recombine in a different arrangement. This
energy, for want of a better name, we term the spiritual light.
To better illustrate what I mean, let us have recourse to simple mathematics. Let us
suppose, for example, that the transcendent gold for which we seek is represented by
the number 1. The alchemist, then, let us say, has at hand only fractions, representing
the other elements from which synthetically he hopes to produce gold. After much
research and study he may decide that there are three fractions in his possession that
if properly combined will give him the desired gold.
Let us assume these three fractions, representing metals, are 1/2, 1/3, 1/6. Each of
these fractions is a distinct numerical element, differing from the other two. Try as
we may we find it impossible to combine them, while they still express their
individuality, into one element. Merely to add them as they stand is to produce only a
mechanical mixture. Thus do metals, if added together without being first reduced to
the first matter, united, not in transmutation, but in an alloy.
But if we reduce these three fractions to their first matter, to a common denominator,
they may be added together to give a new and distinct individuality. That is, they may
be transmuted. Thus reduced 1/2 becomes 6/12, 1/3 becomes 4/12 and 1/6 becomes 2/12.
Now added together their sum is 12/12. This is no longer spoken of as a fraction, but is the
integer, number 1. Here the number 12 is the universal solvent. The alcahest on the
mental plane is the astral light. On the spiritual plane it is the spiritual light. As in this
instance we reduced to twelfths, so in like manner the alchemist operating on any
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plane seeks to reduce his metals by using the common denominator, or Water of
Pythia, of that plane.
The Philosopher's Stone
--The chief ends sought by alchemists in various ages and climes were four in
number: 1. To perform transmutation. 2. To obtain the philosopher's stone. 3. To find
the elixir of life. 4. To accomplish the great work.
The philosopher's stone, according to repute, is a stone that has the power of
transforming all it touches into gold.
As the gold we seek is spiritual permanence, and the base metals upon which we
operate are the experiences of life as they are gathered day after day, our
philosopher's stone, as spiritual alchemists, must be something that touching any
experience of life can transform it into a permanent spiritual treasure. It must be
capable of giving it the quality that is necessary for it to persist as a component of the
immortal spiritual body on the plane yet above the astral.
One thing there is that is changeless. That is gold. One thing there is also that
touching other things makes them partake of its all-enduring quality. When truth is
pressed against them, the eternal principles expressed by things are revealed, and
thus are objects and forces transformed through the process of spiritual
understanding, from base objects or experiences into the gold of their underlying
spiritual nature.
"The Truth That Sets You Free" is the touchstone of alchemy. But as an intellectual
process only it has no freeing power. The truth of any object, experience or force
embraces a full comprehension of its various relations. Truth is correct knowledge.
This correct knowledge embraces a comprehension of the relation of the thing to all
other entities and forces. It embraces a correct knowledge of the relation of the thing
to God, to man, and to the universe. It reveals its true spiritual significance in the life
of man.
Such truth is a freeing and transmuting power, for when the spiritual relations are
completely realized there is more than an intellectual perception. There is also
present an emotion, a feeling of the stupendous privilege of life, and deep gratitude
for its glorious opportunities. When correct knowledge is fully realized within there
springs into existence as a component part of it, as the things inevitably conditioned
by its presence, a deep aspiration, and an unutterable longing and determination, for a
higher and better method of living. This Truth is the Philosopher's Stone.
The Elixir Vitae
--The fountain of eternal youth has been sought in many lands. The alchemists,
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instead of exploring the earth in the hope of finding it ready prepared by nature,
undertook its manufacture. They diligently worked to prepare a fluid which they
styled the elixir of life, in which to bathe and indefinitely prolong both youth and
existence. With the philosopher's stone they would change other metals into gold.
But to be able to enjoy this gold they must have life. To reap its advantages in
fullness, old age must be defeated and death defied. Therefore, to perpetually
rejuvenate themselves, they must prepare this most precious elixir.
It was the policy of these alchemists, whatever they sought, to follow closely, though
striving to accelerate, the processes of nature. Watching her, they could only decide
that life wherever found springs into existence through the interaction of positive and
negative potencies. Where sex is not there is no life.
The life of each atom of matter depends upon love. For instance, the sum of the
components in the helium nucleus, or alpha particle, is 4.0332 mass units, yet the
actual mass of helium is only 4.0027 units. Thus considerable of the mass of the
components is converted into binding (love) energy. The binding energy of such an
alpha particle is 28,000,000 electron volts. And it is the binding (love) energy
released in the fission or in the synthesis of certain atoms that is the source of
so-called atomic energy.
Mineral crystals are sensitive to poison, grow, and reproduce themselves. They are
made up of atoms. These crystals continue their lives until, through age or other
polarizing forces, the love of the atoms for one another is overcome. When such
attractions cease the crystal disintegrates.
In the vegetable kingdom, also, the power of growth and duration depends upon the
strength of the attraction between the cells, and their love for the nutritive materials
carried to them by circulating fluids.
All life, thought, and activity are the result of sex. Sex expresses itself as movement,
as fire, as passion, as enthusiasm, and as exalted unselfish love. It is convertible. It
may be base and ignoble, or it may ascend to the very throne of Divinity. But
wherever there is life there is some form of love.
The alchemist, then, perceiving that life is dependent on love concludes that spiritual
life must depend on a spiritual love, and that immortal life must depend on an
immortal love. And what so quickly can restore youth as love? Even the surgeons
endeavoring to restore youth and prolong physical existence by transplanting tissues,
utilize in a material way this principle; for they use the glands associated with love.
The problem of the spiritual alchemist who seeks the coveted elixir thus becomes
clear cut and definite. Life depends on love, and immortal life in a spiritual realm
depends on an enduring spiritual love. It is this love that he seeks to find.
The Great Work
--Many think that the possession of the fruit of the great work comes by chance, that
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it comes without much effort, or that it is given by nature to the unworthy.
My own observation of life convinces me that this is a pernicious fallacy. The very
few whom I have known who came into its possession certainly well merited any
blessing that life could offer. Invariably they had accomplished some important task
for the welfare of society. Through their interest in, and concern for, the
advancement of others they had blended the finer emotional elements within
themselves into the precious elixir of life. They already had quaffed the immortal
fluid.
The alchemist, also must have been convinced that it comes only as a result of some
special effort. Otherwise they would not have called it a work, but a recreation.
This great work, about which so much has been written, is the reunion of twin souls in
the spiritual realm. As such it is the highest result of spiritual alchemy, because after
thus united their potencies expand and they move from the highest level of the
spiritual plane to angelic vistas that are beyond the imagination of embodied man.
The union that results from the accomplishment of the great work is more than a
fusion of the spiritual bodies that already have been constructed by each. It is a
permanent union of souls.
No such fusion, even of spiritual bodies, can take place until there are spiritual bodies
to fuse. How can there be any recognition of a spiritual union by those who as yet
have not expanded their consciousness sufficiently to contact the spiritual plane?
The greatest truth may, by its very greatness, be the most potent snare when
misunderstood. Feeling an intense attraction for another, it is easy to imagine the
soul-mate has been found. Most such affinities are merely the result of magnetic
attraction.
The great work can only take place when an active soul is capable of functioning in a
well-constructed spiritual body. Few people have as yet such active souls, or such
fully formed spiritual bodies. When such a spiritual body has been constructed by an
active soul, there is no need to wander about looking for the soul-mate; for by virtue
of this spiritual activity alone they are bound to be attracted one to the other.
Therefore, let those who long for the soul-mate learn that mere wishing and seeking
will never suffice; for it is an accomplishment requiring the utmost spiritual effort.
Let them remember that alchemists call this reunion of twin souls the Great Work.
The first step in its accomplishment is to build up the spirituality. This is the task of
spiritual alchemy.