Category Archives: alchemy

‘Aye’ of the Unicorn…

Image result for Alchemical unicorn

*

With almost prescient clarity

we commenced our summer workshop in a graveyard!

*

Except, not quite, for before we entered the graveyard,

we stood by the swiftly flowing waters of the river Spey

and entered into a guided meditation.

*

The Unicorn of Spirit

sailed down the Spey

disembarked from its boat,

and invited us all astride its back

for a tour of the elements…

*

Somewhat unsurprisingly then,

our first pentagram was that of Spirit,

which could be called the ‘parent’ of the elements.

*

Have the bodies buried in the earth,

hereabouts, had their constituent parts

returned to spirit?

*

One might well hope so!

*

In Macbeth, the Bard uses the three witches

to represent the spiritual realm.

*

As with a lot of things he wrote

this is simultaneously;

a joke,

a reflection of characterised psychology,

and can also allude to something far deeper…

*

We all enjoyed ‘hamming up’ the witches as we are meant to.

*

Does the feminine aspect of the spirit appear

‘bearded’ to those with purely political ambition?

*

Whatever our perceptions,

this realm moves and motivates all…

*

 

Dance of Fire and Water: Relations…

‘…As all things are discovered by one,

alone through contemplation,

so all things are born from this one,

alone by permutation…

*

*

… Its father is the Sun,

its mother is the Moon,

the Wind bears it in its belly,

the Earth nurtures it in its heart…’

The Emerald Tablet

Dance of Fire and Water: Tablet…

 

‘In truth, it is certain and without doubt,

that whatever is above tends toward that which is below…

*

*

… And whatever is below tends toward that which is above,

for the accomplishment of the One Perfected Thing…’

The Emerald Tablet

 

Dance of Fire and Water: Planets…

Image result for moon symbol

White represents the Crescent of the Soul:

a vision of the tides of life, their ebb and flow…

Image result for Mars symbol

Red represents Matter over Spirit:

when to act in peace and war, we all must know…

Image result for Mercury symbol

Grey represents Spirit which mediates between Soul and Body:

a communion of truth and wisdom…

Image result for Jupiter symbol - orange

Orange represents Expansion through Wisdom:

and tempers justice with compassion, to protect and to serve…

File:Venus symbol (green).svg

Green represents Spirit over Matter:

acting from love with a generous heart…

Image result for Saturn symbol

Black represents Contraction through Matter:

as the bread of life is sown and reaped…

Image result for Astrological sun symbol - yellow

Yellow represents the Circle of the Spirit:

an outer light and the greater light within…

*

 

Dance of Fire and Water…

Circle – Sun – Spirit

*

… After satisfactorily explaining

the nature of the Earthly Realm,

The Alchemists turned their attentions to the stars…

Crescent – Moon – Soul

*

To those heavenly bodies

which seemingly ‘wandered’ across the fixed backdrop of the constellations,

they gave the generic name planets,

and held them in especial reverence.

Cross – Earth – Body-Matter

*

The symbolic system they developed

to designate the planetary beings

also linked them to the human psyche.

*

Magical Elements: Unfurling…

*

… Not content with speculations

on the nature of the physical world,

their deductions led the Alchemists to contemplations

of a metaphysical nature…

*

If Magical Elements could be transmuted

each into the other

then they must ultimately be equivalent.

*

They posited a fifth element

which possessed all the properties of the other four,

and called it the ‘Quintessence’…

*

 

Magical Elements: ‘Alchemy’…

 

 

*

To lessen the confusion between Fire and Water

and to accentuate the difference between

Earth and Air,  the Alchemists coloured their symbols…

*

… Alchemy is one of the oldest techniques known to mankind.

The Ancient who first cast a weather eye at the heavens,

licked a finger and held it aloft in the sky,

in order to ascertain which way the wind did blow… was an ‘Alchemist’.

*

One of the first things the Alchemists noticed about the elements was their mutability…

They seemed to be caught up in an endless round of transmutation,

and were forever striving to become each other.

That apart, they were incredibly stable in themselves, and also incredibly dynamic!

*

Small wonder then that the equilateral triangle,

with its base-line and its point,

presented itself as such a fitting symbol of their being.

*

These and other observations led the Alchemists to conceive a set of qualities

for the Magical Elements which would  explain their transmutation from one to the other.

*

Earth is Cold and Dry… Water is Cold and Moist…

Air is Moist and Hot… Fire is Hot and Dry…

Make Earth Hot to get Fire. Make Earth Moist to get Water.

Earth cannot become Air without first becoming Fire or Water and vice versa.

Similarly, Fire cannot become Water without first becoming Earth or Air and vice versa.

*

*

All of which, upon consideration, is an extremely subtle conception

to be entertained by mere ‘primitives’.

Magical Elements…

Air

Earth

Water

Fire

From such simple devices the ancients sought to traverse the stars

*

Most people, if asked, would claim to be familiar with these elements largely because in the physical world they can recognise substances which, today, go by that name.

“I know what earth, air, fire and water are,” they might haughtily declare before moving on to something infinitely more befitting their lofty opinion of themselves.

But they would be wrong.

Nobody knows what the elements are.

We may be able to recognise them and in some instances we may also be able to predict what they will do, how they will operate, what results will follow from their mutual interactions, but we do not know what they are, anymore than we can ever claim to know what electricity is, except, perhaps, in very vague terms…

Electricity is a force of nature which can be harnassed…

The elements are forces of nature which can be harnassed…

So mysterious are these forces that some mystical schools refuse to call them elements at all, referring to them, instead, as principles.

For modern man this mystery is a failing, so it is not accepted and certainly not talked about…

For ancient man this mystery was a joy, embraced with open arms, and became something of a raison d’etre.

The ancients never tired of observing the kaleidoscopic interplay of these forces constantly taking place around them.

Consequently, they discovered some pretty amazing things about them.

They called this study, Alchemy…

Ars Geometrica: Red Rock…

*

We are reminded of an ‘old’ Poem:

THE CONVERSION OF ADAM

We call you Red-Rock
Rain-Stone
Mud-Man…

We breathe and you move
Amazed and wondrous
Made ponderous and slow by millennia…

How can you
Adam
When naming beasts of air
River and sea
Field and tree
Adam
Loathe the toil of earth?

And inevitably of the First Matter which comprises three Spirituous Essences…
And suddenly the ‘penny drops’…

There are only three elements because we comprise the fourth,
Or the first: Salt is not of Earth it is of Water,
Fire is Sulphur and Mercury is Air.

…And then the ‘cogs’ begin to turn.

Just like the leaves of an ancient tome…

*

Ars Geometrica: Many Tongues…

hm15-1471

*

Leaves ‘Seven’ and ‘Eight’:

*

‘…What is sown ingloriously is raised in glory…’

*

‘…What is sown in corruption is raised incorrupt…’

*

But no, as it turned out, many were the tongues and many the hands employed in the endeavour though the Mind alone appeared to be one…

The illustrated operations were clearly linked to that first image and to the directions and descriptions of the ‘second’ leaf.

For ‘glory’ read gold, the incorruptible metal…

The symbols were those familiar to any magician as the elements, Water, Air, Fire and Earth.

What deeper meanings did they contain?

What lay behind the reflected image?

We turned the ‘Eighth’ Leaf…
…And found the earlier reflection split.

Leaves ‘Nine’ and ‘Ten’

*

‘…The first Adam was made a living soul, the last shall be a quickening spirit…’

*

‘…What is sown a natural body will be raised a spiritual body…’

*

Is the First and Last Adam even a concept in, ‘The Book’?

Nature and spirit, sowing and being raised…
Souls alive and Spirits quickened?

*