The State of the Art
To express the common current idea on Alchemy, I feel compelled to use the canonical words of those who know this ancient discipline only through disparaging readings:
The complex of practical (metallurgical, pharmaceutical, etc.), philosophical and esoteric knowledge which, developed in the Arab world and Europe in the Middle Ages, advocated, among other things, the transmutability of base metals into gold; its end occurred at the end of the Renaissance, with the rise of the experimental method in the sciences and the decline of magical practices...
Lapidary words, which do not admit replies except that the transmutation of metals is only a trial to test the dissolving perfection of Mercurius. The general misunderstanding about the emission of the higher octave of the philosopher’s egg during the last cooking – therefore, the construction of a cosmic resonator, with all the philosophical and theurgical problems that this operation entails – is precisely the reason that leads to today’s identification of Alchemy with spagyrics and the Baroque age iatrochemistry.
True classical alchemy is about physics, not chemistry – but it is now useless to repeat Fulcanelli’s words. The focus on chemistry by modern historians has diverted the neophyte from the observation of nature and from what should be the ultimate goal of alchemy: indeed, not the manufacture of gold, but the repetition of Genesis. Alchemy is a theurgic act.
I am perfectly aware that classical alchemy is of little interest today, partly due to the complexity of the baroque age treatises on the subject, partly due to the modern mystification mentioned above, partly because it is poorly chemical for chemists, unacceptably philosophical for philosophers, not very lugubrious for theurgists, not too coarse for magicians. Ultimately, unattractive.
It makes me smile with sadness to see those who have read sagas mentioning philosophers’ stones and the alchemist Flamel, just to let themselves be involved in the sentimental and entertainment aspect of them. No wonder that’s what fiction and narrative are about, but not even curiosity was raised.
All the better this way: I still remember the theurgic and divinizing claims of some friends of my generation. Today’s disinterest – sorry, lack of market – is still better than my generation’s megalomania.
Nonetheless, many will not like the site’s expansion into other spheres of knowledge: well, it’s still a matter of understanding what we’re doing. We are not chemists (even if I was a student of pharmacological sciences); we are esotericists. Trying to understand the “why” leads us inevitably to expand our minds. And, perhaps yes, the younger generation’s reasoning is much more expanded. We have to accept it.
Will we, dear alchemists, be able to raise our eyes and hands beyond laboratory tools? Experience tells me it’s impossible: most operators have not read and do not mean to read Canseliet. The reason is simple: they don’t accept the philosophical egg; they are still stuck in Basilius Valentinus’ allegedly gazing at the philosopher’s stone in the palm of his hand.
Do you want to know when I fell into my alchemical crisis? Not when I realized that a large part of Greek mythology did not match my laboratory knowledge – and therefore, the final part of Hypnerotomachia, as well as Daniel Cramer’s second series of emblems, were incomprehensible to me – but when I read pieces of evidence of what took place inside the king’s chamber of the Giza’s great pyramid. I suddenly realized that the Egyptian sages had got to the point and reached the alchemical core. Of course, not everyone has the same opinion – indeed, very few – however, I began to suspect that those “shepherds” who came from the Euphrates knew how to speed up the ordinary course of our work. After all, we’re always talking about physics; let’s not forget that.
All the same, if it is true that lab Alchemy is an indispensable resource for giving a structure to philosophy, theurgy, magic, etc., a question arises spontaneously to me: why did the operative proceedings of the Baroque age progressively become more and more complex – and with the increased complexity, they have also acquired a greater propensity for failure – until they fall into iatrochemistry and metallurgy? Was it an ingenious disguise system? Or rather, was something operationally important missing? External conditions? Astronomical, solar? Climate changes? I think some terrestrial “repeaters” have been missing, so to speak, the role that mythology assigns to divinities such as Hephaestus or Vesta/Hestia, whose task was to amplify the weak emissions from the remote celestial regions. I mentioned the Baroque age here, but the adverse conditions have probably been known for thousands of years. Since everything has changed for thousands of years, you will ask me why I’m stubborn with operational Alchemy, then? I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get weird ideas about the time. Past? Future? Don’t tell me these are idle observations; we are not mere chemists.
What could these repeaters be? I’m thinking of those flows, that is, of that alchemical water element that encloses everything in motion: streams, of course, but also wind, sound, air and electron movements, and the crackle of burning wood too. What can disturb all this? Canseliet was very worried by radio and television waves. Others from the constant background buzz of electric cables. Of course, if we consider the entire range of electromagnetic waves, we see that everything is a wave. We emit waves. Minerals and trees emit waves. Not to mention the human chatter. But all this has always existed; the Mercurius itself can be defined as a wave – this can be seen above all from the dry alchemical path. When we speak of Mercurius, we are talking about life itself.
So we should investigate the examples of architecture that we might consider favorable to Alchemy: the Giza plain pyramids, the underground of Ancient Jerusalem, the Parthenon in Athens, and even Abbot Bérenger Saunière’s bizarre restorations. And I would also add that in Europe, in medieval times, the starting part of the construction of many cathedrals was the building of a well, which then had to remain hidden in the crypt. So, we note that a common factor is groundwater basins or channels. Sahara desert people know there is a connection between groundwater and the stars. A significant concern is the modification of our subsoil: drilling, depletion of water tables, underground cables, roads, and underground tunnels.
But is it just a matter of overexploitation of the land? Of course not. Along the air ducts initially obtained in the structure of the Great Pyramid, the remains of quartz lenses were discovered, or instead, in just one duct because everything was uprooted in the other three, leaving few traces. Quartz lenses have also been found in temples in the Euphrates area.
It is known that Fulcanelli sought the so-called Ars Brevis, a more direct route than the classic metallurgical one. And he spoke about it with Pierre Curie, but the French alchemist then diverted his attention toward his wife’s research, Maria Curie, even if he didn’t tolerate her.
Different minerals, but both with strong similarities: the union with two oxygen atoms. However, the most intriguing one presents a heavy metal with its promising electron cloud; the other is a too ubiquitous non-metal. Many alchemists of the time, more or less unconsciously, enthusiastically plunged into the “intrinsic usefulness” per sé. The rest came by itself. Alchemy made that marvelous leap forward that detached it from antiquity and definitively became a visionary precursor of modernity.
Suppose you don’t know what a device is for; not only that, but you also ignore the idea behind it since it only applies to the object that is its final receptacle. As if you were to pick up a smartphone, destroy it, and judge it only by the “intrinsic usefulness” of the materials that compose it.
To conclude, do we want to assume the mentality of human industries, where one tries to grab the exclusive right to very simple ideas realized through very complicated – and therefore exclusive – methods and means, without accepting that Ancient alchemy was instead a bunch of very complicated concepts – and therefore exclusive – accomplished through means and methods by primitive men – and therefore potentially accessible to all? Sure, that they (we) want this. In fourteenth-century England, someone asked for exclusive rights on the alchemical works to obtain gold. And the King thought it was a good thing, so much so that he granted those gentlemen the kind of a patent. If few of us have ever heard of that bizarre history, it is because we know how it ended.
Alchemists do not fully know the forces involved in their work, barely sense the intervention of nature, and above all, they do not fully know their final goal. Not knowing what will happen to them in case of defeat and, least of all, in case of victory, they therefore are perpetually in search of writing-reading. In short, the supreme book, the secret manuscript “that explains everything in the clear”.
The need for this “magic pill” is perennial in the neophyte’s mind. Indeed it is precisely the abandonment of this delusional research that marks the border with the age of disclosure: when one begins to understand, then one feels the reverse compulsion to re-read the books already read. Let me open a parenthesis here. The legend of the secret manuscript written by the secret brotherhood headed by the secret master was the classical system and the quintessential cultural and social substratum on which the exchanges between alchemists were based. Who basically behaved like collectors: “I own the manuscript of Master X, and if you have the manuscript of Master Y, we can exchange them so that we will have a special bond.” They knew the two manuscripts were similar and analogous in lies and truth. Still, only a slight difference in the words, examples, or symbols was enough to make the alchemist “think” and generate new knowledge. Then the manuscripts and books piled up in monstrous collections, so vast that they couldn’t be consulted in a single lifetime.
Laypersons talked. Maybe they too have something to say.