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Transmutation, Science and Deception

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.magick,alt.occult,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage,alt.consciousness.mysticism
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: Transmutation, Science and Deception
Date: 12 Jan 1998 12:48:07 -0800

49980110 aa2 Hail Satan!

[accompanying text removed as per elist standards]

re the where chemistry ends and alchemy begins:
the dividing line betwixt the two is adequately described when
Greg responds to Carlos directly below.  generally chemistry
concerns only the physical, objective processes, while
alchemy also includes components of consciousness and more
subjective phenomena (some say uniting them or discovering
their identity).

it is not the case that chemistry and alchemy are *necessarily*
inseparably tied to one another.  this has been demonstrated
by modern scientific chemical endeavors and the numerous
variations on alchemical process carried on solely interior
to the individual without external, chemical processes.

part of this depends on the definition of 'alchemy', of course.
some will define it as necessarily requiring such a physical
correlate.  in such a case the answer supporting their original
presumption becomes tautological.  it is more logical to look
at the history of what has been *called* "alchemy", separate
this from mere charlatanry (as is represented by a variety of
shamans and con-men), and identify the process involved.

re the difference between an alchemist and a chemist
the chemist tries to achieve certain results or explores 
the possibilities which can result from enacting certain 
changes to the *physical* materials associated with 
chemistry.  the alchemist may or may not do this, but
typically also intends an interior result.

practically, alchemists
are of a variety of backgrounds and intellectual presumptions,
inclusive of those who probably should be classified as 'chemists'
despite their association with esoteric literature and the
supposed creation of precious substances or objects.

re knowing that transmutation takes place
this is more than many scientists know.  typically 'transmutation'
(whose root relates to 'changing across [essential categories]')
is associated by materialists with changing lead into silver or
gold or some other precious substance or object (the Sacred
Medicine, the Pill of Immortality, the Stone of the Philosophers
with its attendant magical effects, the Golem, etc.).

I have presumed, using Occam's Razor, that the claims made by
historical alchemists are akin to the various "siddhis" or
magical powers attested to by yogis and mystics throughout
the world.  they are symbolic of important inner experiences
but are only fallaciously reflective the physical abilities
or changes which become the attraction to the mystery.

re reviewing the 'evidence' for such transmutation
a study of magic (stage magic, deception, illusion and sleight
of hand) and the various claims and evidence by and about
mystics the world over would be an important preliminary to
assessing this 'tangible evidence'.  there is a great deal of
power to be obtained by persuading others that the effect
has been achieved, regardless of its actuality.

charlatanry in these matters is rampant, and being of a mere
hard science background can become a severe impediment, as has
been demonstrated in the examination of of psychics and
spiritualists for a hundred years or more.

re remnant powder and materials of alchemists:
"the alchemist's powder and transmuted materials" has at least
two categories of referent.  the first relates to physical
components which may or may not have special properties.  those
which have special properties may be empowered by a means of
suggestion and inheritance (a kind of magical potency), or they
may be rare or interesting substances in a material sense.

the latter (material rarity) is usually the claim of the
'successful' alChemist -- a term I would use to distinguish them
from those who do not need or use chemistry to obtain similar
results or those which have interior parallel and are symbolized
by (what I claim to be false or superficial) transmutation that
has ostensibly taken place through the process they describe.

the second category of referent is an internal one, in which
the 'powder' relates to a specific formula of mentation or
mystical activity that has produced personal transformation
and has the capacity or potential to produce similar changes
in others.  the 'transmuted materials' are the elements of
the personal consciousness, sometimes expressed through
symbols and allegories.

re the claim that modern science precludes alchemical transmutation:
scientific tradition, honestly approached, precludes nothing.
what has been established is a long history of failure to
adequately obtain this elemental transmutation.  this failure
is what inspires me to claim that such claims are false or
misunderstood, and that, like those made by mystics and con-men,
they are based on a misperception of the events or results.

re the history of alchemy:
like the stories of mystics the world over, these are typically
instructional of content and symbolic inner development or
esoteric conception.  the development of Western historical
methods parallels those surrounding physical (hard) sciences,
attempting to eliminate projection, falsification and mytholo-
gizing for the purposes of ascertaining accurate information
of a literal and physical character.

in fact most stories about older religious and mystical figures
are mythological and unsubstantiated by all but very rudimentary
facts or legends.  this is also the case for alchemy, where the
glories of the Art are mythologized, along with those surrounding
occult lore as a whole, so as to mystify, entrance, attract,
provide inspiration to devotion and dedication, and generally
to deceive.  such deception of course varies in motivation.

re occult societies and their claim of possessing legendary substances:
as long as this is understood in an inner sense -- that these
occult fraternities may contain important psychotransformative
technologies -- then it is fairly accurate, though the spread
of ready information is making the scarcity which inspired
these secret societies into a different kind of social
organism than they once were.

the 'substances' are the dedicants themselves, and the knowledge
and techniques that they have procured and developed in their
venture into mysticism.  to presume otherwise plays into their
hands in their attempts to deceive the individual into giving
up one's way of life to the Art, at best achieving inner
maturation, at worst wasting one's time in useless endeavors.

re the value of secret societies as 'saving the secrets for posterity':
except that the political and religous structures of the West
have changed drastically enough that this 'saving' is no longer
truly necessary except as a fundamental security measure.  the
censure by religious authorities over competing mystical
disciplines and techniques has given way to a kind of open
market of obscured products.  eventually there will be 'Good
Housekeeping' review organizations and, as the information and
methods involved become more widespread and better understood,
a more cooperative and less deceptive means of propagation
(as is done only for the physical sciences presently in the
public educational systems) will become standard.

re mythologizations of alchemy and its product of immortality:
...while it is not inferior or inaccurate merely by virtue
of its mode of expression, one may easily begin to believe in
hearing it that the fabulous substances and powers implied or
claimed have strict form.  in fact this is not the case in a
physical sense (lead into gold, Sacred Medicine, Pill of
Immortality, etc.).  the best I have seen could be understood by
these symbols (metaphors) is a specific relationship to the
development of mature and deepened consciousness.

in this case, for example, 'immortality' relates to presence and
attunement to the cosmos, expanding one's perceptions and notions
of 'time' whereby the natural course of life (perhaps also
extended by physical scientific principles of diet, the protection
of the organism from adversaries, etc.) is intensified and appears
to lengthen by virtue of subjective significance (on par with the
results of certain psychedelics, though without the distortion and
limitations of duration).

re 'making gold' by tinting lead to appear to have transmuted:
this is likely the case with almost every 'miraculous' alchemical
derivation -- founded, in a physical sense, on deception,
fundamental misunderstandings of physical processes, and the
distortion of actual phenomenal transmutation into allegory.

the failure of modern science is that it takes the exaggerations
of historic alchemists as indicators of their total charlatanry,
whereas the student of mysticism understands that these deceptive
tricks are standard hooks to draw the dedicated (and deluded)
into self-transformation.  the possibility of abuse is of course
the main concern, and thus mystics deserve the scrutiny they
receive from the hard scientific community for maintaining this
style of initiation.

re the goal of alchemy:
the goal of alchemy is described in a variety of ways, sometimes
rendered 'equivalent' by virtue of allegorical comparison in a
manner not unlike the construction of the uber-myths by writers
like Joseph Campbell.  while the patterns of the myths that are
associated with alchemy historically may be important in
discerning what is its result, the most important and essential
transmutation is internal and individual, ineffable and of a
specific character which cannot easily be generalized outside
of symbolism.  some within the transpersonal and jungian fields
of psychology have made important headway in more scientific
and objective description of this process.

re the deception in the alchemical transmutation event:
the ignorance of the viewer can be capitalized upon
for deceptive purposes.  what was known to be 'lead' now
becomes 'gold', despite a lack of fundamental change.

re the terminology of alchemical and magical texts:
part of the difficulty in studying alchemy is obtaining an
understanding of how the terminology, ostensibly similar but
at times quite different than modern usages, varies.  an
excellent example surrounds the term 'element', which in
modern scientific theory takes on physicalist limitations.

the alchemists of old meant something different when talking
about "elementary substances" like 'Earth', 'Air', 'Fire' and
'Water'; or 'Mercury', 'Sulphur' and (the later Paracelsian)

it is the mistake of the beginning student to think that modern
science is an improvement when in fact it is an Aristotlean
physicalist co-option.  this may be discerned by the review
of what can be known of pre-Socratic philosophy, with
writers like Hegel (e.g. on fragments of Anaximander and
others) deconstructing the paradigmatic bias of Western
historians of philosophy by re-translating with accomodation
to what can be known of original culture and mindset.

re the process of alchemy and its product of a 'Tincture':
modern magicians (occultists) of any depth describe this also as
an internal process.  where intellectual, it includes the pairing
of one perspective which its polar opposite, heating their paired
consideration with the combustion of logical hypothesis and
analysis, and synthesizing a new conceptualization in the
vessel of the mind.  this metaphorical descriptive ought also
(but is not always ;>) applied to every other area of personal
experience, the 'Tincture' being the rarefied and precious
consciousness or spirit of the person who undergoes the process.

re completing the alchemical process:
there would be some who would argue that this
process (the 'Great Work') cannot ever be "completed" in
any kind of linear, terminal sense.  we are only capable
of "completion" in the sense of 'perfecting' or 'achievement',
a moving artistry, comparable to the New Age Buddhist
'attaining enlightenment' or its precursor 'nirvana'.

re the siddhis of mystics and con-men:
they are best dismissed until and unless some greater degree
of attention can be provided to them from the perspective of
the Skeptic (see Gardiner, the Skeptics Society, others of
this debunking mentality, who are spearheading the disilluion-

that there is mystical and religious value to deception is
beyond question, and this is probably why it has endured.

re how to go about ascertaining the reality of such siddhis:
the serious alchemist will require laboratory or controlled
demonstrations.  magic tricks are beneficial for drama,
entertainment and deception by shamans and charlatans, but
they are not part of any honest and level tradition of

re the effect mystics have upon their devotees by virtue of deception:
of course there will be those who will confuse the planes and
argue that the transmutation took place in the devotees.  while
this may be the case and 'alchemy' or 'magic(k)' or 'power'
has been demonstrated in the manipulation of appearance before
an audience of those who want to be deceived, this does not
constitute the same TYPE of transmutation as that which is
typically claimed by the charlatan, the deceived and/or wishful.

re the motivation and role of deception:
as a scientific endeavor I feel there is really no room for it
except when acknowledged AS a deception.  the motivation, in
this case, is quite beside the point.  if there is some
reason that deception need be used in order to effect some
transformation of consciousness (another, more rational
objection to eliminating the shenanigans), then more rigid
control of when and how these deceptions are effected are
certainly required (as during ritual, for example).

re the counter-claim that just since it CAN be deception it need not be:
traditional scientific presumption is that those who make
the more extraordinary claim also are furnished with the
burden of proof to substantiate it.  that sleight-of-hand
can explain the wonderous effects ascribed to mystical
individuals and processes is of significance where it is
more reasonable and elegant (per Occam) than competing
data which would conflict with observed regular principles.

blessed beast! (nagasiva)
(emailed replies may be posted);; 408/2-666-SLUG
  join the esoteric syncretism in alt.magick.tyagi; 

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