Where’s the fire? Deep inside, as is the way of the dragon.
Alchemy uses a series of beliefs that I myself practice. Both intuitive and literal observations of matter and the natural world, but it is more focused on artifice. It even had a doctrine that doesn’t really defy common sense; That nature doesn’t create finished products. This is why alchemy had an almost moral agenda to it. They believed that by refining the material of nature they could at least partially reinstate the first “perfect” state of source. They didn’t know that the universes most primal energies were toxic to us in extreme states. Though even if we had never achieved nuclear fission, radiation exposure would still happen. It is natural and even to a degree necessary for our well being. So they did draw some conclusions from their intuitions, that like prophecy have proven to not be completely true. But I myself feel people threw the baby out with the bath water so to speak.
What sort of understanding on the nature of matter was around? Did alchemists also try to accomplish other goals, in regards to creating fire, energy, etc.? Indeed they did. They saw all states of matter as stemming from one first state, not unlike zero point field theory today. They saw the four states as emerging from a process of breakdown. They of course placed a value judgement on that primal state of matter. That it was morally superior.
Later Jung would discover alchemy to serve as a perfect model for psycho analysis, and much of his work takes from old alchemical treatises as well as other “arcane” sources. The root alchemical process is symbolized by the thaumaturgists triangle. They felt that the source to mastery of matter, and mastery of self indirectly, was reconciliation of opposites.
So in the alchemical process of finding answers to anything:
- You take the observation and the seeming truth of it;
- You take the exceptions, the anti-thesis of the observation;
- Consider both arriving at the synthesis of the two dynamics. The “ultimate truth”.
Simple example: The sky is blue, observation. The night sky is perceived to be black, counter observation. Synthesis, the sky is changeable based on a dynamic not connected to color. Intuitive as well as scientific truth.
When was the alchemist heyday? Hellenistic Greece according to historical record. It’s very difficult to find proper literature on alchemy. They wrote, but like any grimoire, in deliberately obscure ways at times and a lot was destroyed. There was a lot of alchemical work in the library of Alexandria that was burned. Searching on Jungian psychology and Taoist alchemy may be more helpful in finding other references.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.