The science of alchymy I like very well, and indeed, ’tis the philosophy of the ancients. I like it not only for the profits it brings in melting metals, in decocting, preparing, extracting and distilling herbs, roots; I like it also for the sake of the allegory and secret signification, which is exceedingly fine, touching the resurrection of the dead at the last day.
Martin Luther’s Table talk
The matter lies before the eyes of all; everybody sees it, touches it, loves it, but knows it not. It is glorious and vile, precious and of small account, and is found everywhere… But, to be brief, our Matter has as many names as there are things in this world; that is why the foolish know it not.
The Golden Tract
I had discovered, early in my researches, that their doctrine was no mere chemical fantasy, but a philosophy they applied to the world, to the elements, and to man himself.
W.B. Yeats, Rosa Alchemica
It is erroneous to confuse alchemy with chemistry. Modem chemistry is a science dealing only with the outward manifestations of matter. It never produces anything new. One can mix, compose and decompose two or three chemical substances any number of times, and make them reappear in different forms, but in the end there is no increase in substance; there is only the combination of the substances used at the outset. Alchemy neither composes nor mixes: it increases and activates that which already exists in a latent state. Therefore alchemy can be more accurately compared with botany or agriculture than with chemistry. In fact, the growth of a plant, a tree or an animal is an alchemical process taking place in the alchemical laboratory of nature and conducted by the Great Alchemist, the active power of God in nature.
Transmute yourselves from dead stones into living philosophical stones.
Scholasticism with its subtle argumentation, Theology with its ambiguous phraseology, Astrology, so vast and so complex, are all children’s games when compared with alchemy.
These are not fables. You will touch with your hands, you will see with your own eyes, the Azoth, the Mercury of Philosophers, which alone will suffice to obtain for you our Stone… Darkness will appear on the face of the Abyss; Night, Saturn and the Antimony of the Sages will appear; blackness, and the raven’s head of the alchemists, and all the colors of the world, will appear at the hour of conjunction; the rainbow also, and the peacock’s tail. Finally, after the matter has passed from ashen-colored to white and yellow, you will see the Philosopher’s Stone, our King and Dominator Supreme, issue forth from his glassy sepulcher to mount his bed or his throne in his glorified body… diaphanous as crystal; compact and most weighty, as easily fusible by fire as resin,as flowing as wax and more so than quicksilver … the color of saffron when powdered, but red as rubies when in an integral mass…
H. Khunrath Amphitheatrum
The alchemical tradition assumes that every physical art or science is a body of knowledge which exists only because it is ensouled by invisible powers and processes. Physical chemistry, as it is practiced in the modern world, is concerned principally with pharmaceutical or industrial research projects. It is confined within the boundaries of an all-pervading materialism, which binds labor to the advancement of physical objectives.
Manly P. Hall, from Meditation Symbols in Eastern and Western Mysticism
The alchemical operation consisted essentially in separating the prima materia, the so-called chaos, into the active principle, the soul, and the passive principle, the body, which were then reunited in personified form in the coniunctio or ‘chymical marriage’… the ritual cohabitation of Sol and Luna.
C.G. Jung Mysterium Coniunctionis
Crave wisdom of God, the sense to understand,
Else meddle not herewith, nor take it in hand.
For it will cost thee much wordly wealth;
But trust not to other, but do it thyself.
Learn, therefore, first to cleanse, purify and sublime,
To dissolve, congeal, distill and sometime
To conjoin and separate, and how to do all,
That when you think to rise, thou do not fall,
Trust to thyself and not to another;
I can say no more to thee if thou were my brother.
Simon Forman, 1597
One becomes two, two becomes three, and by means of the third and fourth achieves unity; thus two are but one…. Invert nature and you will find that what you seek… Join the male and the female, and you will find what is sought…
Maria the Jewess, 300 A.D.
Once I had this beautiful book in my possession, I did nothing but study it night and day, learning very well all the operations it described, but not knowing with what material it should be started. This caused me great sorrow, kept me in solitude, and made me sigh incessantly. My wife Perenelle, whom I loved like myself was greatly astonished at this, so I showed her this beautiful book, with which, the moment she saw it, she fell as much in love as I, taking extreme pleasure in contemplating the beautiful covers, engravings, images, and portraits, of which figures she understood as little as I did. Nevertheless, it was for me a great consolation to talk about it with her, and to consider what could be done in order to find out their meaning.
Nicolas Flamel (supposedly 14th century) Book of the Hieroglyphic figures, 1612.
Alchemy is the art of manipulating life, and consciousness in matter, to help it evolve, or to solve problems of inner disharmonies.
King Calid: Give me yet the explanation upon this thing.
Morienus: Why should I use many words unto you? For this thing is extracted from thee, and thou art its ore; in thee they find it, and, to speak more plainly, from thee they take it; and when thou hast experienced this, the love and delight of it will be increased in thee. And thou shalt know that this thing subsists truly and beyond all doubt.
King Calid: Have you at any time known any other Stone that may be likened unto this Stone, by whose effect and power this self same thing might be perpetrated?
Morienus: I have not known any Stone which might be likened to this Stone, or which may have the effect of it. For in this Stone the Four Elements are contained, and it is likened to the world and the composition of the world.
De Transmutatione Metallica, in the section entitled The Interrogations of King Calid, and the Answers of Morienus in MS Sloane 3697.