(i) Spiritual Alchemy Introduction
Spiritual Alchemy occupies a major role in understanding the Thoth Tarot Deck by Aleister Crowley and so we include some general principles in this article. The main purpose of spiritual alchemy is the purification of the body spiritually and the return of the soul back to the oneness of God.
1. Explain the principle of Transmutation chemically and spiritually.
Chemical Transmutation = the conversion of base metals into gold or silver.
Spiritual Transmutation = our awareness evolves from being stuck in matter to being free in spirit.
So chemical transmutation is an analogy for spiritual transmutation and the only true alchemy is one in which the soul is returned back to God.
2. Explain the principle of Multiplication chemically and spiritually
Multiplication reflects the expansion process involved for example
(i) The seed grows into the tree.
(ii) The cell the organism.
These again are analogies to the growth and expansion we have in awareness on the spiritual journey.
3. Explain the principle of Paligenesis biological and spiritual
Paligenesis = the process of reduction
Biological Paligeneses = A plant is reduced to ashes/carbon via fire.
Spiritual Paligenesis = reduction of mans vision from duality and its reflections to the Oneness of Being.
4. Explain the principle of Dissolving
The process of something loosing its identity/structure/form. This is what happens in meditation when we dissolve into the spiritual and let go of the physical. We let go of the physical form which we identify with and dissolve into spirit.
5. What role have Hermes and Paracelsus had in the ancient history of Alchemy ?
Here we look at these influential figures in the development of spiritual alchemy through the ages.
This last account of how Hermes Trismegistus received the title “Trismegistus,” meaning “Thrice Great,” is derived from statements in the The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, that he knows the three parts of the wisdom of the whole universe.The three parts of the wisdom are alchemy, astrology, and theurgy.
Hermes is perhaps alchemy’s most important ancient figure, and a patriarch of the art. Hermes Trismegistus was the god of mathematics, writing and scholars and the reason why alchemy is now often known as the “Hermetic Art”.
Despite the significance of the Hermetic texts to the study of ancient civilizations and the belief systems of ancient times, the study of alchemy quickly became the poor cousin of chemistry as the world entered the Industrial Revolution and the modern age. Alchemy concentrated first on the purification of the mind followed by self-knowledge, but chemistry skipped straight to the lesser, physical aspects of the art.
(ii) Paracelsus (1493 – 1541)
Paracelsus also had some training in alchemy, from which he picked up the principle that metals were the key elements which made up the universe, and that they were subject to control by God, the ‘great magician’ who created nature.
Paracelsus argued that the body was a chemical system which had to be balanced not only internally, but which also had to be in harmony with its environment. On the basis of this idea, Paracelsus introduced new chemical substances into medicine, for instance the use of the metal mercury for the treatment of syphilis
6. What are the seven base metals and corresponding planets ?
- Lead = Saturn
- Tin = Jupiter
- Iron = Mars
- Copper = Venus
- Mercury = Mercury
- Silver = Moon
- Gold = Sun
As we move from Lead to Gold we spiritually evolve through matter to increase our spiritual awareness to Enlightenment with the Sun.
7. What are the effects of the base metals on the body ?
Lead = is associated with the spleen and affects the thickness of the Etheric Body, with increasing thickness slowing the energy passage through to the physical body.
Tin = associated with temperature between one part of the body and another and the hypothalamus.
Iron = has earthing properties due to it being magnetic. Also linked to the emotions and the moon.
Copper = prevents ossification and rigidity allowing softness and compassion. Also associated with the kidneys.
Mercury = related to the nervous system and connecting body parts.
Silver = associated with the lymphatic system and water balance, the tides,emotions and instincts.
Gold = sense of self, identity,ego. Can cause depression and lack of self-worth if in shortage. Helps to synthesise other elements
8. What are the three alchemical principles ?
1. Sulphur = Spirit/Soul.
2. Mercury = life force bridging the body and spirit.
3. Salt = body (matter) through which the soul and its life force work.
9. Explain the alchemical symbolism behind these three
Upward pointing triangle = fire
Cross = matter
It has properties of being masculine, hot and dry. So we have the activity and fire of the soul /spirit within man rising above the confines of matter. It is the volitive.active nature of sulphur which makes this happen.
Crescent Moon = a receptacle
Circle = infinity
Cross = matter.
Put together me have the light of the infinite nature of God channeled into matter, the body. This equates with its bridging principle in alchemy.
Salt represents matter and yet the circle stands for completeness and cannot be divided. However the horizontal line within represents TIME, beginnings and endings, the limit of matter and life within the context of the eternal circle (spirit).
10. How are these three related to the four kabbalistic worlds ?
sulphur = fire = emanation (archetypes).
Mercury = air = formation Yetzirah
Salt = earth/water = Briah/Assiah creation/manifestation
The 3 agents contain the 4 elements and so 3×4 = 12 or the 12 zodiac signs in which man is trapped and where his identity resides.
11. Explain the significance of Fire
As well as the 3 alchemical agents there are 3 types of fire which are said to make up creation and they are
(i) Spiritual = Light
(ii) Frictional = Conflict
(iii) Solar = Nuclear
God is the all consuming fire.
12 . What is the relationship between the 3 alchemical agents with the 3 gunas ?
13. Describe the alchemy in the Thoth Tarot Deck
See the following articles :
(ii) Meditation Link