Western Alchemy

Western Alchemy Image
At one time alchemy was generally regarded as being a dead-end pseudo science which was obsessed with transmuting base metals into gold. The modern rational science of chemistry evolved out of the muddled thinking of the alchemists, which is of no further relevance.

However, a modern re-evaluation of alchemy by Jungian psychologists has shown that much alchemical work was actually ritual intended primarily to bring about spiritual realisations in the mind of the alchemist, rather than changes in the states of matter, which were symbolic aids to visualisations:

'Carl Jung reexamined alchemical symbolism and theory and began to show the inner meaning of alchemical work as a spiritual path.
[...] The practice of Alchemy seemed to change the mind and spirit of the Alchemist.
[...] Organic and inorganic chemical substances, physical states, and molecular material processes as mere metaphors for spiritual entities, spiritual states and ultimately, transformations. In this sense, the literal meanings of 'Alchemical Formulas' were a blind, hiding their true spiritual philosophy, which being at odds with the Medieval Christian Church was a necessity that could have otherwise led them to the "stake and rack" of the Inquisition under charges of heresy. Thus, both the transmutation of common metals into gold and the universal panacea symbolized evolution from an imperfect, diseased, corruptible and ephemeral state towards a perfect, healthy, incorruptible and everlasting state; and the philosopher's stone then represented a mystic key that would make this evolution possible. Applied to the alchemist himself, the twin goal symbolized his evolution from ignorance to enlightenment, and the stone represented a hidden spiritual truth or power that would lead to that goal' - Wiki

So behind the facade of attempting transmuting physical substances, the alchemists were really transmuting mental qualia.

Presumably, by claiming that they were actually doing something 'practical' like transmuting lead to gold they could hide their true intentions and thus avoid charges of heresy and the attentions of the Inquisition. Alchemical symbolism and visualizations provided vivid and immediate analogies to 'external' operations in familiar artisanal processes such as brewing, smelting, churning, rendering, herbal extraction, distilling etc to bring about transmutations of 'internal' mental qualities.

Also try this free pdf e-books:

Roger Bacon - The Mirror Of Alchemy
Howard Phillips Lovecraft - The Alchemist
Arthur Edward Waite - What Is Alchemy

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