How does one practice alchemy?

topic posted Mon, October 10, 2005 - 8:22 AM by  Devin
I'm interested in alchemy, but know nothing about it.
I know there is the whole scholarly side to it, but what is the practice? What outside of alchemy can you compare it to? is it like meditation? or ritual magic? I realize that it is it's own thing, I'm just trying to get some kind of idea. What specific things does one do on this path?
posted by:
New York City
  • Unsu...
    I am sure there are many varied answers to your query, Devin, but here are mine:

    Spiritually, practising alchemy pretty much means recognising the alchemical process in all of Life, the Universe, and Everything, and behaving accordingly. If you practise meditation and/or ritual magick, then you integrate those behaviours with/in your alchemical weltanschauung.

    You can also practise laboratory alchemy as spiritual technique--like some some spirituality in painting, or music, dancing, fencing, etc.

    Speaking of practising alchemy, I recently discovered a home-study program that caught my interest:
  • Unsu...
    >> ok, maybe I need to be more specific. If you were
    >> working to turn something from gold to lead, what
    >> would you do? sit there and meditate on the substance?
    >> Is there chanting? what are the nuts and bolts of practice?

    Devin, sorry for the lack of clarity on our part. Let me give a brief overview of the theory and practice as I understand it. Alchemy is a pattern of spiritual development based upon meditative and magical practices. Alchemy has been a part of many of the worlds great religions, however it is not necessary to follow any particular religion in order to practice alchemy. As far as I can tell, however, it is necessary to believe in a Universal Force that underlies all phenomenon. Some people refer to this Force by the name of God, but it doesnt really matter what you call it or how you tend to think about it. The goal of all alchemical practice is to allow one to recognize, utilize, communicate with, and eventually unite with this Force.

    There are both eastern and western alchemical traditions. I would recommend familiarizing yourself with some of the western esoteric teachings at first, such as the Emerald Tablets and the Kybalion, as the eastern traditions are sometimes a bit harder to understand due to cultural and linguistic differences. Ive listed some links below. Most of these links provide a theoretical basis to allow you to better understand the goals of alchemical practice. The last link is a description of practices that one can undertake. I do not use these particular practices, but this should give you an idea of what alchemical practice is like (it utilizes aspects of meditation and ritual magic). I strongly recommend finding yourself a particular system of alchemical practice and sticking to that system. I prefer the Hermetic system myself.

    The Emerald Tablet:

    Commentary on the Tablet:

    The Kybalion:

    Hermetic practices:
  • Good question. Most of the posts here have some good info, particularly the links provided. I assume that you are asking about the Western alchemical tradition, but even this path has many subdivisions.

    Meditation? That can be beneficial on this path. Ritual Magick? Hmmmm. Most practitioners of "ritual magick" I have met meet the criteria for several mental disorders, have incredibly week egos centered around narcissistic needs, and most also have very little discipline (how many "ritual magicians" have actually PRACTICED the exercises that Crowley put into the first part of the introduction to Book 4? Not very many). Most of these folks simply want to find the "one true ritual" that will allow them to put a "spell" on a woman or man to make her/him want to have sex. How sad. I have met a number of men and women who practice "ritual magick" and find that their practices coincide with their alchemical practice. Some folks I find to be very respectable practice alchemy through their ritual magical techniques. Hope this helps a little.
    • i want to study alchemy but,.. is it possible to find these materials from our surroundings?
      • Unsu...
        Yeah, as far as I know, most of the equipment is typical lab equipment, and alot of materials are common enough, sometimes you can get them from your backyard. Check out the book Spagyrics by Manfred Junius, which deals with plant alchemy (plant alchemy is supposed to be mastered before you move on to minerals).
        • Unsu...
          except for splurging for some nice glass tubintg and some condensers,(and a really boss flask) all the equipment is easily made. It is your work and focus that moves it past plant extraction. the minerals are the medicines that can make permanate change.
      • Unsu...
        (Practical Plant Alchemy, Manfred Junius, Inner Traditions publishing)

        alchemy, in its very basic sense, IS your surroundings.

        the plants for spyragic arte, are innumerable, and subject to your intrest, expertise acquired, and culture of plant extraction.

        for the arte mineral, the materials (in terms of ingredients) are not all that numerous or hard to find. cost, is another question. gold and platinum, rhodium, iridium, etc are very costly to obtain enouph laboratory clean material to liberate the ions of.

        again, my 2 cents only. :)
  • Unsu...
    Devin,one practices alchemy in their own way, by their individual spiritual transformation; by going in the direction once synchronicity is more than just a word...but a way to tap into wisdom. Specifically, i am not at liberty to say what one does on the path. But, one thing is true; the study of the Great Work. Good Luck brother.

    Blessed Be,
    • Unsu...
      Obviously alchemy and alchemical symbolism have a wide range of applications/ interpretations, but I think for the purposes of this discussion it's more useful to focus on what have historically been the practices of alchemists through the centuries, usually revolving around some kind of practical and experimental work with plants and minerals. Even the more "spiritually" oriented alchemists referred to such practices, however symbolically. The more esoteric principles are of course harder to talk about, but I think we can at least discuss some of the practical elements involved in alchemy.
      • Unsu...
        alchemy, as in spyragic arte, consists of a basic principle - to separate the basic essential orders - salt, oil, mercury, from the plante material in use, purify each of them separately, and then recombine them in a way that they become whole once again. So in a simplistic sense, you purify the matter, and make its particle size to be on the scale of the ion. (Its the ions of gold, for example, that are absorbed from gold medicines, or the colloids)

        so it is obvious that the analogy both applies chemically, as well as spiritually. Some persons separate metaphor and spiritual analogy away from the actual gross physical matter. So, within the spheres of influence they occupy, each are authentic. Some 'alchemists' (i prefer 'worker') have both the spiritual and intellectual accumen, and physical skills, to combine both metaphor and chemistry. Those, by nature of what is involved, are rare.

        Both can have and achieve perfections, in various ways. So, for the sake of discussion, i would find it more appropriate to compile a glossary of terms - there are many on the net- both relating to both aspects of the arte. when we are on the same page with our language and understanding, than conversations can be fruitful. Alchemy is not just finding the one medicine, and unveiling your light- Its about unveiling the Light of others, as your service to the universe.

        Chinese Alchemy is much more extensive, both technique and spiritual analogy. Reading treatises and scriptures on chinese alchemy makes it easy to be conversant with different schools of thought, both physical and metaphoric, from my experience, that is.

        The mineral stone is just like the vegetable, it has to exist in an ionic, and/or atomic particle sizes, to be transformed into medicine. :)
        The process, of liberating the ion, gives one way more than ample time to go thru an inner transformation as well. The only problem with learning mineral preparations as opposed to plant ones, is it is very easy to kill oneself if the ingredients are not purified correctly (arsenic, cinnabar/mercury, lapis, malachite, etc, etc.), and that is best done under the experienced tutelage of someone who can guide the process until your first transformation is performed.

        my 2 cents, good evening gentlemen. :)
  • Jacob Needleman on alchemy:
    • thanks for that bit. i'll open a subscription to that person's Youtube channel.
      • a few guidelines are

        understand that every moment contains the spectrum of emotions and the contrasts of living

        understand that every one is limited by what they know

        understand that what we don't know is so much more than what we do know

        underdstand that what works for one person isn't the same for another person

        understand that once a word is placed on something , then it also contains the limits of that word

        understand that no person has the right to place their limitations on you

        understand that not everything has to be analyzed, or over-analyzed

        understand that the most beauitiful sound will never heard by anyone except for you,

        and everyone has to find their own rythym
  • What one does to practice alchemy depends on the path one has chosen...

    Alchemy can be like chemistry, psychiatry, philosophy, natural science, astronomy, astrology, mathematics, musicology and some spiritual practices, depending on what part of it you look at. It started in the Egyptian culture, and since then has picked up contributions from Asian, European and Middle Eastern cultures.

    Alchemists were trying to gain knowledge about the natural world and how it worked, and if you look at the educations of many "classical" alchemists, they had very strong liberal arts background, i.e. grammar, rhetoric, logic, geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy.

    So, that's how you practice alchemy.
    • the transformation of lead into gold is possible on many different levels... fundamentally speaking (pun intended) it is the transformation of something heavy, toxic, common, and base; into something valuable, useful, beautiful, and transcendent... many examples of spiritual alchemy have been presented... here are some simple physical examples:

      taking surplus army weapons containers and junk windows, and turning them into solar ovens...
      using recycled soda bottles, garden hoses, and speaker magnets to create tools for other alchemical processes... (see the ormus post)
      using recycled wood from remodeled houses to make musical instruments...

      what is the lead in your life? how can you transform it into gold?
      • hum, I always thought the allegory of transforming lead into gold was about raising the mundane to the spiritually energetic.

        Taking the shadow and enlightening it to become a magickal healing tool.
        • Unsu...
          its both metaphoric and real. gold has been created in the laboratory in the modern era, by rearranging the atoms of base metal into the aurum spectrum.

          one can be metaphoric- and it has its place.

          but there is a living fact - rarified atoms of gold suspended in water significantly change conciousness, both in perception, and processing ability - especially communication between both hemispheres. It is clinically proven to have a significant effect on depression, and in severe inflammatory conditions. It is used to suspend ineffecient immune systems, to halt the progress of certain types of cancer and HIV. Leading reasearch indicates that gold and platinum repair damaged dna sequences. I now produce and sell water soluble gold colloids - and i have never seen such positive results with a medicine - even in the input from high school students that study well and regularly. The information encoded into your being becomes tangibly concious and available for your processing use.

          i was supposed to be dead 15 years ago, yet i am healthier than most folks my age, and feeling better like my pre-twenties in energy. So yes, we can wax metaphoric, and it has its application. But this is the modern world - Aether has now been used successfully to liberate the very essence of gold - it is available to the common man now. No excuse to not at least investigate. You have available - one of St. Germains and the Golden Dawns 'alleged' alchemical preparations - in this wonderful modern world. Not just reserved for selected adepts. The furnaces of old, with an unweildly number of workers needed to maintain such heats - are obsolete. A simple perview of the life work of Nikola Tesla will tell you this much.

          so heck with conjecture - try a 6 month period of mental/internal alchemy

          then, try 6 months of good attitude and ingestion of gold properly.

          between the two - the real gold of manifestation exists. don't take my word for it. experiement. any colloid of gold is safe (chlorides are not).
          a year of true introspective experimentation can yeild a life of vibrancy, and the energy to further pursue the Great Work, whatever that has come to mean to you. Thinking is nice. The TIME is ripe for you to actually try it out.
  • At its most basic level, alchemy is any (seemingly) magical power or process of transforming one thing (of base quality) into another thing ( of seemingly finer quality). The whole chemistry angle has to do with making it complicated that without rigorous training and a seemingly structured scientific approach, one could not access the means of (seemingly) magical transformation. That is old school. This is the Age of Aquarius and information and freedom are available for the taking to those who dare to pursue them..
    The metaphor of alchemy has more relevance today as the old school structures are being replaced with more user friendly fluid models that can be accessed by anyone desiring to do so.

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