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To: alt.magick
From: tyagi nagasiva
Subj: Alchemy (
Date: 49930121

I've seen lots of postings here about the 'supposed' possibility of
changing the constitution ('transmuting') of one metal into another.

I've also seen other more reasonable treatments of this as a
metaphor (deeply rooted in chemical processes BECAUSE of this
supposition, perhaps) for personal tranformation.

Until someone comes on here and claims to have done this or seen
evidence for it, why don't we simply treat it as an effective 
magical metaphor?  I.e. why don't we apply Occam's Razor a little and
suppose that people were engaging physical processes, identifying 
themselves with their 'experiments' and then undergoing personal
transformation as a result?  

Certainly it could be considered an effective magical practice
without the metal ever physically BECOMING gold, could it not?  I.e. we
don't expect the little doll with hair and fingernails to actually
BECOME the person we are associating with it, do we?  We don't expect
that the Athame will physically BECOME a penis and spurt sperm into
the Chalice, which has just become an engorged vagina, right?

It seems to me that while the physical science of chemistry 
developed from the practice of alchemy because the mages were skilled
at observation and forming metaphor around what they saw in the world,
to assume that their psychological expressions based upon this metaphor
ALWAYS extended into the physical realm is like starting to believe in
mythology as literal fact.

Now I realize that this is quite popular these days - to take what
was in all probability meant metaphorically literally and vice versa. 
Yet this is what alchemy and the more physical disciplines of magick
began to challenge, no?  Didn't the understanding that there might be 
certain limitations to what people could do with OTHER things, yet
no insurmountable difficulties in changing ONESELF lend the value
to such scientific endeavors as alchemy?

I propose that once such limitations (principles, if you will) were
accepted, and the deep association between the personal and physical
transformation was lost, all the heart went out of the practice.
One thing that DID remain in it, however, was a hint of skepticism.
Why assume that these 'alchemist stories' are true when there are
so many people who are willing to twist metaphor into literality
and trick us into giving up our power for their own reasons?

What those of us who study and practice Magick CAN see, however, is
that these writings are mythical scratchings, symbolic traces of
a psychological evolution.  We can understand that for the alchemist
hir practice wasn't neatly divided into 'chemistry' and 
'self-transformation'; 'physicality' and 'spirituality'.  

What we need be careful about is that we don't throw OUT our
skepticism (watchfulness) and doubt regarding these things.  How can
we discern where (and if!) the line was drawn between metaphorical and
literal writings if we are not willing to doubt the most extravagant
and unsupported of the presented claims? 

I don't contend to know whether metals can be transmuted.  I HAVE
experienced personal transformations, though.  While these are in
more abundant supply I am confident to claim that the expressions
of alchemy conform to common patterns in many magical disciplines.

What I DON'T understand is the attitude of any who are willing to 
accept that there is reason to assume physical transmutation of metals
HAS occurred.  Until we see it with our own eyes, what SOLID
evidence is there to support such an assertion?

I offer a tidbit that I hope you'll find interesting.  It is from
an amusing source in which I have sometimes found incredible value:
the world of ROLEPLAYING.  :>

"Historical Alchemists are deeply devout Christians who merge aspects
of Astrology, Theology, and Symbolic Magic into a mystical calling
which attempts to transform both themelves and their world.  The
mysterious doctrine of Alchemy seeks to reveal a hidden reality of
the highest order which constitutes the underlying essence of all
truths and all religions.  This can only be accomplished by radically
altering consciousness from the ordinary (lead-like) level of everyday
perception to a subtle, pure (gold-like) level.  Alchemy bridges the
earthly and heavenly planes.  The sacred science of Alchemy (or
Hermetic philosophy) conceals, in esoteric and enigmatic texts,
the means of penetrating the secrets of Nature, Life, and Death.
Alchemy cannot be restricted to a single system of thought, because
it transcends all dogma and religions.  Alchemical research by
Chinese, Indians, Greeks, Arabs, and Egyptians contributes to the
flowering of mediaeval Alchemy."


"With minor cultural variations, alchemy and its principles
developed in many societies all over the world.  Strong alchemical
traditions occur in diverse regions such as ancient China, Australia,
India, Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Celtic Europe, and Central and South
America.  However, it seems likely that alchemy sprang up among
the skilled metallurgists of the Middle East, possibly Mesopotamia.
From there the practice spread east and west along caravan routes.
Alchemy also influenced major religions such as Christianity,
Daoism [sic], Islam, and others.

"Also known as 'Ars Magna' or the royal art, the study of alchemy
was first codified (written down) in Alexandria, Egypt.  The heart
of alchemical theory is attributed to the Emerald Tablet of Hermes
Trismegistus.  This tablet was discovered in an Egyptian cave
clutched in Hermes' mummified hands by Alexander the Great."

_Alchemy Companion_, principally authored by Tim Taylor, published
in 1992 by Iron Crown Enterprises, Inc.  Pages 6 and 7.

I assume that this is occidocentric and biased, yet would
like to hear support and/or criticism of its contents.  Thanks.

tyagi nagasiva

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