Discover more from a sorcerer's notebook
A Sorcerer's Notebook: Part 3
Alchemy: It's dope
Welcome back to the third installment of this house of Tarot Cards: A Sorcerer’s Notebook. If you are joining us for the first time it will be a lot easier for you if you checked out part 1 here.
But for those of you who don’t want to do the work and read all that, here is the basic premise:
The emerging spiritual practice coming out of the last few years is local, earth based, every person is clergy in their own temple, every community gets to decide on doctrine, belief, practice, and application. Home to home. Community to community. Person to person. This will lead to what many will mislabel as Synchronization, or re-Synchronization, of Christian, Jewish, and yes Muslim beliefs, but this Mediterraneancentric view is actually another product of empire. There are only three “sanctioned” frameworks to understand what's happening to our world. One cast as eternal victim. One cast as eternal enemy. The other as eternal conquer. This completely western and platonic view will filter out any indigenous, queer, or subversive way of understanding what the Divine is up to. The notebook is the ramblings of someone who has floundered down most esoteric paths and made all the mistakes for you.
Basically I think shit is going to get undeniably weird over the next 20 years. All the notebook is attempting to do is give you a point of reference. I make no claims to validity, application, or results in your world. As always I have no idea why you are interested in what I consider perhaps the most dangerous practices there are, but to each their own. I came for healing and I found a lifelong mystery that I am calling the Divine. God. The very full room in my heart Jesus walked into when the church finally took notice of me.
Today we talk about Alchemy: a thing one can Know, a thing that one can be Taught, a thing one can See, and a thing I have Done.
So the first thing I want to address is that Alchemy is just really shitty ancient chemistry, which I mean in one sense if you looked through the endless grimoires, formulas, spellbooks that claimed to be everything from the Philosopher's Stone, to being able to create gold from straw. If one took the cold post enlightenment view of the empirical, the measurements of empire, you are going to come up way short of anything like a solid understanding of what the alchemist role is in the universe or in esoterica. You would be like most so-called historians and make the assumption that the world around us, and the way it reacted to different elements being used in multiple configurations, and the results then, are exactly as they are today. The crystallization or conforming of what we call the world around us into a universal framework.
Basically your average post enlightenment scholar believes the report of his own eyes and peers rather than the report of the ancients. When it comes to the laws of the universe they dismiss the reports of those who experienced them as the feeble minds of an unlearned people, and look for the “grain of truth.” Combine that with the incredibly white suprmacist paradigms most early anthropology operates under, I believe this leads to a fundamental misunderstanding of what esoterica is, and the laws of the universe, at the very least, a full understanding of ancient practice. This is easier to see when applied to early western anthropological studies of Indigenous cultures. It’s based on the premise that “humanity” is all that is within the centered set and has only experienced the world the way we are currently. That perception is somehow static.
This is why a grimoire from 500 years ago doesn't “work.” The recipes are perhaps written for a different world or a different sense of the world. Recipes and formulas written to accentuate a different process than adding one chemical to another.
Also, some of these cats drank mercury. It's a real yes, and kind of situation. But if you were going to start studying Alchemy I am not going to suggest anything from Lewellyn, or Crowley, or any of the orders, Golden, Rosey, or Masonic. Not that the theory they possess isn't valid or powerful, in many cases it is. It’s also not that they don't have fine teachings, teachers, books, adepts, or anything you need. There are treasure troves of solid information out there but if you are going to take my advice, and you are apparently, then I would start with one of the most influential thinkers in esoterica, spirituality, psychology, and in my opinion one of the Arch Mages or Aeons (to be defined in later newsletter) of our time, Carl Jung.
Who did you expect, Merlin? I suggest one get this book: Psychology and Alchemy.
Many editors have taken these works written by Jung, but this edition that I have linked seems to be the most dry and informative. Dry and informative is better than sensational and wrong in this realm folks. In the wake of very personal trauma, Jung turned to alchemy and it’s symbols, and studied how they spoke to the unconscious mind of the masses, and how that interacted with the Christian dogma of modern age of western thought and society. The trauma, being his split from Frued, was so hard for Jung to recover from on so many levels he turned to the esoteric symbols that were burned into his deep subconscious to start generating healing from within. When speaking about the imitatio Christi, is that is only an outward expression and not a hint of an inward expression.
“The mistaken idea of a merely outward imitatio Christi is further exacerbated by a typically European prejudice which distinguishes the Western attitude from the Eastern. Western man is held in thrall by the “ten thousand things”; he sees only particulars, he is ego-bound and thing-bound, and unaware of the deep root of all being. Eastern man, on the other hand, experiences the world of particulars, and even his own ego, like a dream; he is rooted essentially in the “Ground,” which attracts him so powerfully that his relations with the world are relativized to a degree that is often incomprehensible to us. The Western attitude, with its emphasis on the object, tends to fix the ideal—Christ—in its outward aspect and thus to rob it of its mysterious relation to the inner man. It is this prejudice, for instance, which impels the Protestant interpreters of the Bible to interpret the Kingdom of God as “among you” instead of “within you.” I do not mean to say anything about the validity of the Western attitude: we are sufficiently convinced of its rightness.”
While I hate his use of “pagan” here, I don't think he is referring to non Christian, I think he is referring to anyone who hasn't experienced their innermost God in their interior selves and experienced transformation after encountering Christ. He goes on to say:
“It may easily happen, therefore, that a Christian who believes in all the sacred figures is still undeveloped and unchanged in his inmost soul because he has “all God outside” and does not experience him in the soul. His deciding motives, his ruling interests and impulses, do not spring from the sphere of Christianity but from the unconscious and undeveloped psyche, which is as pagan and archaic as ever. Not the individual alone but the sum total of individual lives in a nation proves the truth of this contention. The great events of our world as planned and executed by man do not breathe the spirit of Christianity but rather of unadorned paganism. These things originate in a psychic condition that has remained archaic and has not been even remotely touched by Christianity. The Church assumes, not altogether without reason, that the fact of semel credidisse (having once believed) leaves certain traces behind it; but of these traces nothing is to be seen in the broad march of events. Christian civilization has proved hollow to a terrifying degree: it is all veneer, but the inner man has remained untouched and therefore unchanged. His soul is out of key with his external beliefs; in his soul the Christian has not kept pace with external developments. Yes, everything is to be found outside—in image and in word, in Church and Bible—but never inside. Inside reign the archaic gods, supreme as of old; that is to say the inner correspondence with the outer God-image is undeveloped for lack of psychological culture and has therefore got stuck in heathenism. Christian education has done all that is humanly possible, but it has not been enough. Too few people have experienced the divine image as the innermost possession of their own souls.”
So why would I recommend a book from a writer who clearly doesn't think that Alchemy, or these things are anything more than, “pagan” thought and heathenism? I think one has to look at a lot of factors when judging Jung’s belief, or lack of belief, in the esoteric or the occult. On one hand he waxes philosophical, with a lot of vigor and love for all things esoteric in this book, on the other he is using very dogmatic and Christian language. I think one has to really take their time when parsing through Jung, I mean people dedicate their whole lives to unraveling what this man was up to. But I would not underestimate the man who literally wrote the book on Archetypes using Christian archetypes and language to get some rather dangerous or even subversive ideas across the average psychiatrist.
This book is a rather comprehensive deep dive into the common symbols you will run across in your studies of alchemy.
So finally, what is Alchemy by my definition then? As it turns out, you are probably practicing it in some form. It is the combination of symbols, smells, matter, objects, and the human psyche in a dance with your own subconscious to change your experience of reality or the universe, or in hopes this altered state and perception of the universe would change the universe itself in some permanent and quantifiable, measurable way for the practitioner.
This is important. Alchemy is often concerned with the interior world, inner, esoteric, or the realm of the mind, changing the physical world of the practitioner. Not the world writ large. If one were to read the average book on spellcraft or sigils, one could walk away with the belief that they will be able to cause great changes in their world. And perhaps you can, but I doubt it’s because of the book you just bought a few weeks ago; it helps, but most people who can do this really-difficult-to-maintain-magical-system already had that innate ability in them. They are folks whose entire life is built around the movement of prayer, intention, or thought, with the symbols they use in their life, in combination with sacred , archaic, or esoteric text and oral traditions. They may use titles like priest, although all priests don't seem to have the same magnetism. They use the title witch, but it seems more like you're in the same room with divine feminine herself. They call themselves aesthetics but are still connected to the world enough that you can find them. They use masks like psychologists, therapists, or spiritual directors. They call themselves artists since art is the only place one can throw all life has to offer in one place without being locked away by family and friends.
Alchemist are those of us who seem to be able to move sacred story, symbols, and elements like the “new awareness” around crystals, perhaps massage and bodywork, even tantra, with candles for for fire, cups full of water or a calabash, an altar and your body being the earth, and frankincense and myrrh to remind you of the winds of heaven or the winds of change. They do this naturally, or have predisposition for it. We call them theologians in some circles, or influences in another, but somehow using words, symbols, and practices we have seen before they cause a new feeling, effect, or reaction in your spirit, which in turn helps you to transform your world.
And all the science isn't “Pseudo Science.” An example of this is Polygenesis: A thing one can Know, or can be Taught. I will define it next week. But as a primer check this article out of India: https://www.indiatoday.in/science/story/big-bang-didn-t-start-our-universe-there-was-another-universe-before-it-nobel-laureate-roger-penrose-1730064-2020-10-09. One of the presuppositions of much Alchemy is that this isn't the first universe, and there are many layered worlds, realms, or universes on top of each other. You know the stuff in Marvel you believe and know is true but they kind of make fun of? Even grand storytelling the way movies do in this age is alchemy in a way, either opening us up to or closing us off from these sorts of concepts that have bubbled up from the collective consciousness over the centuries.
Next Newsletter: Polygenesis: multiple creators or expression of the Creator, realities, or points of origin.
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