Alchemical Symbols

Alchemical Symbols Cover The alchemist, in the formulation of Wayne Shuhmaker, “did not analyze but analogized,” and his own universe, metallurgy, provided the mythical imagery and stimulated new meanings. The alchemical opus centered on the change of matter, and transmutation of matter turned into the recurrent theme of the alchemist’s cult. To him, the soul imprisoned in matter symbolized the spirit striving to purify itself from the roughage of the flesh. Matter was represented above all by metal and symbolized life and man, its growth comparable to the growth of the fetus. “The achievement of metallic transmutation became symbolic of the religious regeneration of the human soul” (Sheppard, Ambix 17, p. 77). With technical alchemy providing the similes that expressed Gnostic religiousity, the two-tiered semantic construct evolved that was characteristic of Hellenistic and medieval mystic language: the worldly, exoteric lexicon furnished the “surface,” the sensus litteralis, but when applied to esoteric experience it yielded the hidden meaning, the sensus allegoricus. Many lexical items were drawn into the process: thus, in the Valentinian system of Gnosticism (deriving from the second-century Egyptian Valentinus), metallurgical terms such as the following symbolized spiritual concepts. Pneuma signified, first, the product of natural sublimation, then, “divine spirit”; ebullient (“boiling up”), referring to the alchemical process of “separating the pure from the impure,” was applied to wisdom; sperma (the “embryonic germ”) yielded the “seed” of gnosis; in a similar way, such terms as refine, filter, and purify acquired spiritualized meanings. The transfer, through alchemy, from the literal to the symbolic realm contributed richly to the language of religion and, generally, abstraction. It indicates a conscious effort of the alchemist to frame his views in the terms of his craft.

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

Dion Fortune - The Mystical Qabalah
Arthur Edward Waite - The Pictorial Symbols Of Alchemy
Pansophic Freemasons - Masonic Symbolism
Baron Tschoudy - Alchemical Catechism