An Alchemist Forma Mentis
My primary school teacher taught us that plants eat light. And that fascinated me (of course they live mainly on carbon dioxide and water, but for an eight-year old it was incidental). Living on light seemed an extraordinary destiny. I remember a glass bottle in which few leaves were immersed in ethanol and the extraordinary bright green color of the solution. In an old biology book of my father was written: “the chlorophyll granules are the brightest green color you have ever seen.” Then the last sentence, the one that really made me jump read as follows: “If you hit the chlorophyll solution with ultraviolet rays it will turn red, because the photon …… or …..electron ….. when reflecting light moves to a lower energy level …” or something. I immediately thought of my mother quartz lamp, but I remembered that it was among the most dangerous things that could have put the curious children in trouble and, because my father was not the best friend of curious children, I thought of it no more.
The encounter with my master was by chance and rather unwanted. At age 13 a banal surgery caused me a hemorrhage that nearly killed me. And because at that time in Italy it was very dangerous to undergo a blood transfusion, my mother refused and I had to somehow restore my health over time. I was extremely weak for months, so I ended up not going to school in that period and spending my days in my father’s library. Where, among many old books, I found few Basilius Valentinus’ treatises. Some years later I had plans to open an alchemical laboratory to treat my severe anemia, and began to study pharmaceutical sciences. Only lately I realized that Alchemy was a different thing and, having understood that the implications of Alchemy were enormous, I gave up and took a job of the ancient art dealer. One day I came to buy a sixteenth century medical book by Andrea Matthioli for some customer, over a framer shop in Venezia. I stood in a corner and started to go over the book. An old man was watching me. He approached me and said that the book I was buying for a customer would have then be destroyed to cut off the engravings and sell them separately. I said that then I’d have kept it intact, but the book was too much expensive for me and I could not afford it without then reselling it. So I began to read it eagerly and scroll through all the pages. I stood for a couple of hours in a corner learning as much as possible. The old man came back and asked me if I was interested in Alchemy. Someone inside me answered ”very much”. I was 21 and that man would have become my teacher. Please do not suggest I was a brilliant student. I was a superficial girl at the time. And I struggled to get the “Why” before the “How”.
On the Prohibition of the Real Name
As stated before, what I have always heard is the prohibition to exhibit one’s real name, for nobody should be spotted as an alchemist, but after his/her death. The reasons are clear: alchemist’s personal negative points can be transposed as Alchemy negative points; alchemist’s charisma can prevent other people from equally interacting; and, last, no human should possibly know what happen to an alchemist when the last cooking inside the crystal dome has been successfully achieved. Think what if the over exposed Canseliet had reached the ultimate goal. Would he have disappeared or stayed and kept going through walls and slept inside a rock? Definitely there would be a sticky situation absolutely to avoid. Canseliet saved Alchemy from vanishing, he couldn’t have asked more.
My Master has always dissented from that. Being aware of my devotion to the french alchemist, he usually told me:” Canseliet did not save Alchemy, he saved the term “ Alchemy” and I’m not sure this was a good thing.”
On the Pitfalls of becoming too practical: my late Master
Venetia, mid 1980s: “Why do you ask me to be taken as an apprentice? There’s no worse person like an alchemist. Only an exhibitionist, reckless, rude daredevil can accept the challenge to decrypt symbolism. The average person engaging in the contest, or competition for it turns into a competition, is a male in his twenties. Just the kind of person who should, conversely, be kept away from Alchemy. They are also fond of secrets societies, like templars or masonry, in which they can be ranked one above the other. You are a girl, don’t lose your time with geeky warriors and smelting metals. Go and help your mother with the gardening, buy yourself a telescope and learn some ancient greek. I myself have nothing more to teach a girl”. He/she who has never been acquainted with a zen master can’t understand the cranky and inscrutable way of teaching of an Alchemy Master. Nothing like Harry Potter and his courses. I strongly believe that these earthy teachings come with no or little changes directly from archaic ages. Canseliet itself was said to have educated his apprentices no more clearly than he wrote in his books.
“A spiritual person tends to stay at a distance from laboratories while a practical one tends to stay at a distance from books. They are both scared of being corrupted“. My Master was able to recognize at once which category did one belong to, and that in spite of all your formal announcements: the ones fond of humid way were spiritual, while the ones interested in dry way were practical. The detecting question was: “do you like firecrackers?”. “ I find them intolerable”. “ah, ah,….why?” . “ They are against all aesthetics principles”. “ Very interesting, I have never heard of humid way as the aesthetic way. Anyway you don’t need a Master. Masters are only for dry way” .“ But…I need a Master” . “ Perhaps! Sure you don’t need dry way companions. They tend to gather in groups around a teacher, while those of the wet way tend to stand alone, and groups do not tolerate solitary individuals. You might be attacked, as a new hen having the misfortune to arrive in a yard” .
Actually there could be another category, but they tend anyway to stay at distance from any Alchemy Master: mystery hunters, neither spiritual, nor practical.
My Master used also to say: “a man can perfectly maneuver his low capacity ; a woman has got impressive capacity which can’t steer. Perhaps it is for this very reason that women are the most charitable and magnanimous masters, while envious masters are not a rarity among men. ” I realized that my master was not unfamiliar to envy when he refused to unveil the name of his she-Master. Sometimes he pretended her to have been a venetian noblewoman, some others an abbess of a nunnery in Umbria. But, of course, he shamelessly lied. Can you imagine an old abbess to like her drinking while spending nights stirring up coal in a furnace? (which were the things my Master did better) Be serious. As for venetian noblewomen, you are allowed to imagine whatever. As far as I know they reached legendary high mercenary ranks. A feature directly imported from Byzantium, along with the Codex Marcianus.
Little Conspiracies in the Last Strongholds
Ancient Venice was the only place in the world where aristocracy and common people were living together in an unselective and constrictive space. This caused upper classes to be more willing to divide their knowledge with common people. But this was not the case elsewhere with european aristocracy at large. Indeed were the Fulcanellis to lead Alchemy out of its confined and exclusive world. This introduction to say that little and ludicrous conspiracies are still managing to be in existence nowadays. Due to my middle age, I have attended old researchers not so willing to share their knowledge with american people and english speaking world at large. Conversely modern Rosicrucians, like Amorc, mostly share an american common origin. And we know that Amorc denies operative Alchemy. In ancient times latin was the official authorized Alchemy language and researchers could share treatises and experiences. Bernardus Trevisanus, in fifteenth century, was able to send and received letters from all over Europe. Then latin felt in disuse and young generations were unable to communicate beyond their country. From the late seventeenth century on hermetic nationalities began to close off and Alchemy seems to fall asleep. Still in 1980’s books publishers could decide the reading of people inside a country and deny translations or limit what to be translated. In these conditions no wonder hermetic world returned to an obscure age. And strange alliances took place. Nothing new under the hermetic sun.
Rumour has it about a sleeping call due to the cataclysm of the French Revolution. But to me it was precisely the lack of a real purpose to have made Alchemy to slide into oblivion, and not a cultural change, even if shattering. Just to give an example, Schwaller de Lubitz at some point in his life decided to leave for Egypt to find out, not the roots of Alchemy, but the raison d’être of the sacred science.
My Blog’s Purpose
Alchemy cannot but be explained on our classic texts. Which today are very easy to download and collect. But, as you might have already become aware, only they who get Alchemy keys can correctly read them. If you can’t read the textbooks, their collecting easily turns into bibliography and philology. My purpose is teaching you the keys to help yourself with these Classics reading. Code Symbols will be disclosed to you in what they really are: a lock system. Alchemy is the bunch of keys.
The Alchemy mystery has been caused by the symbols secret code protecting it, whose roots deepen in a very ancient chemical, as well as social and cultural, lexicon. A general opinion is that symbolism has today become a stand alone topic, to the point that Alchemy and its secret code may diverge. To a dangerous extent, since people interested in enigmas are the worst, the best give up sooner. Indeed very few of us are really interested to Alchemy.
To get the “Why” before the “How”
Another aim of this site is to make the reader to deeply understand the “Why” before the “How”, in every alchemical stage. In fact it is useless to think to have technically grasped a whole process without having grasped the reason behind. The mere imitation, will lead you in an operational cul de sac.
To re-connect the disconnected cultures
Art, literature and myths of the ancient are still widely undeciphered. It is my firm belief that they contain a lot more Alchemy than in the treatises with the name. The artistic and mythological symbols say things that books could not say.
Spokespersons & Free Will
I have read in some contemporaries books and web sites that an adept doesn’t write books, but charges a spokesperson to do it. I never heard about that. First of all I would like to know what these authors mean by “ Adept”. An alchemist who has reached Mercurius, or projection powder, or is attending the last cooking? or has successfully achieved the end of last cooking, or has reached immortality( after death)? Nevertheless in Alchemy nobody charges or entrusts anyone to do anything. For two reasons: First, because of the law of free will, nobody can give an authoritative order, nor an Adept can. Secondly, Adepts generally don’t speak, mainly because they have lost their glottis ( they do some exceptions with children under seven, or probably children under seven are able to understand them, but also in this case the free will is the law).
Real immortal adepts were unknown, nameless, reserved and often secluded persons, prepared since childhood to their frightful journey inside the labyrinth (death world). In the past they mostly were noblewomen secluded and isolated in their castles or poor hermit men living separated from life. This kind of personalities, instead of giving orders or charges, are very fond of mess around with the lives of limited human researchers until the last ones feel compelled to write. Communication between earth and sky usually happens in such an unorthodox way like in Mel Brooks “Young Frankenstein” movie, when Gene Wilder tried to mimic to his assistants the word “sedative” while the monster was strangling him. Nothing like the pretending flying letters of H. Blavatsky. Or perhaps these authors by “Adept” actually mean a kind of Great Master of some hidden order, like a highly ranked mason or Rosicrucian.
Of course, at this point, anybody can purchase a house setting on a hill and start an esoteric or hermetic order. In this way, you Great Master or Emperor could charge someone to write in the name of your organization ( but, in my opinion, to enable this privilege one should at least go through walls and sleep inside a rock).
Alchemy belongs to all of us. It is not a symbolism collectors, bibliography scholars, masonic brothers and laboratory crackerjacks exclusive property.