Alchemy...Carl Jung/Harry Potter/Star Wars etc.....all the same meaning.

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Alchemy...Carl Jung/Harry Potter/Star Wars etc.....all the same meaning.

Post by Sparrowhawk on July 1st 2010, 10:28 am

Alchemy

From The Spiritual Venturer

By Rev. Bette Jo Benner

Part
1 The Four Elements
2 The Union of Opposites
3 The Lessor and the Greater Work
4 The Chemical Marriage
5 The Androgynous Man
6 Parabola Part I
7 Parabola Part II
8 The Tetragrammaton
9 Stage One; The Lessor Work
10 Stage Two & Three; The Lessor Work
11 Stage Four; The Greater Work
12 Stage Five; The Greater Work
13 Stage Six; The Greater Work
14 Stage Seven; The Greater Work

The Four Elements

From The Spiritual Venturer, Jan. 1999

By Rev. Bette Jo Benner

Alchemy, as they told me in high school, was the progenitor of chemistry. It gained notoriety in the middle ages when people hoped to become rich by turning lead or other base metals into gold. Even kings and popes were hopeful of benefiting from its methods. Eventually its popularity waned and as "physical science" has become dominant, it has been relegated by the general public to the dump pile of forgotten ideas.

As with many teachings from peoples from our ancient past, it bears a second look. It is not my intention to delve into the physical chemistry involved in their processes or to teach the method whereby gold may be derived from the lesser metals. My interest is in the underlying religious and philosophic ideas hidden in their jargon of symbols.

In Europe, during the middle ages, it was not safe to express ideas which varied from those accepted at the time by the church. In order to communicate ideas considered heretical without being persecuted, some very learned people began to write using the ancient symbols of alchemy to express ideas. Today the symbols seem fairly easy to interpret, but in those early times, they were sufficiently veiled to convince the church that their intent was purely chemical and physical.

The word alchemy comes from al which means the and chemica which means chemical. Whereas chemistry deals with scientifically verifiable phenomena, alchemy teaches a hidden reality which is the essence of all truths and of all religions. The perfection of this essence can be realized only if consciousness is altered and transmuted (changed)from the base, normal level (lead) to a high spiritual level (gold).

Alchemy can be traced back to Zoroaster and the Persians of about 700 B.C. But, it is said to have originated still earlier from the ancient Egyptian god-king, Thoth or Hermes. From Egypt, it made its way to Byzantium, to Arabia and Spain. Plotinous and Plato were influenced by it. Roger Bacon, Thomas Aquinas, Raymond Lully and Paracelsus, to name a few practiced and wrote on alchemy.

It differs from mysticism and has become the basis for a western metaphysical tradition some what different from that found in eastern religions. Where the essence and aim of mysticism is union with God, a sort of nirvana where the individual ceases to exist; the goal of alchemy is an inward process, the perfecting of the individual and the immortalization of the Soul.

Whether or not you accept its concepts, it is difficult to understand western religious traditions, especially the so called New Thought and New Age movements without having some understanding of this ancient teaching.

The alchemists wrote using symbols. Great truths have often been taught using symbolism, parables or metaphor. The symbols can be interpreted on many different levels, and as a person gains greater understanding his interpretation of a symbol will gain a greater depth. "A picture is worth a thousand words," and the same is true of a symbol, parable or metaphor. Symbolism is the most universal language that can be conceived.

All of the outer procedures had an inner correspondent, so that they described inner procedures as well as those in the outer chemical laboratory in the same words. This is based on the Hermetic Law: "As above; so below. As without; so within." The alchemists taught that the first goal is to find the Philosopher's Stone or the Elixir of Life, the Key to Immortality. Then, the Stone is applied to the lead, or man himself, to change it into gold, or the immortal.

Alchemy teaches the raising of vibrations: the belief in the ability to transmute or change matter to a higher level. One of the most important principles that the alchemists used has to do with the basic duality of the universe. The method of procedure to achieve the Philosopher's Stone is the harmonizing of this duality.

Alchemy is not a religion. "It is primarily neither theological, metaphysical nor ethical. It looks on the play of the powers of the Soul from a purely cosmological point of view, and treats the soul as a ‘substance' which has to be purified, dissolved and crystallized anew." Yet, as Dr. R. Swinburne Clymer continues, "All of the Sacred Art is to be found in Holy Writ if one has ‘eyes to see."

There are those who claim that one of the examples of this is Tubal Cain, mentioned in Genesis. A descendant of Cain, his name, translated from the Aramaic, means mineral principle, metals and physical power. He is described as an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron. He was knowledgeable in the art of metals. He is the first person in the Bible to be so described.

Clearly, alchemy is applicable on two different levels: the outer or physical and the inner or spiritual. In this discussion, we will treat the outer in a cursory manner and emphasize the inner, which is consistent with our purpose.

The alchemists reasoned thusly: everything that grows comes from a seed. The fruit or highest form of the thing must be contained in the seed. They believed that there are four elements: earth, air, water and fire. In addition, something called the quintessence which may be thought of as life force, was also required. These four elements are the seeds from which all physical creation comes.

Their approach was contrary, in that they looked on material things qualitatively or spiritually; and soulual things quantitatively or materially. Dr. Clymer said, "Man is the central subject in all Alchemical books; yet, not man as he is a person, but as he is a nature, containing or manifesting the great world, or as he is the Image of God."

The process of developing the Great Elixir or Philosopher's Stone is the transmutation of the base metals, which mean the base or animal passions into pure gold or pure love. The actual process is described in detail. It is broken down into the fore work or the Lesser Work and the main work or the Greater Work.

There are some basic ideas we need to understand. They found that when a material is heated it goes through a consistent process. First it gives off water. Second it gives off gas or air. Third it burns or gives off fire. And finally, all that is left is ash or earth. And so they found in this process the evolution of all of the elements.

They taught that there are four natural qualities as well as four elements. They arise from the interaction of the four elements. Fire and earth interrelate to form dryness. Earth and water interact as coldness. Water and air interact as humidity. And Air and fire interact to produce heat. They diagramed them as follows. Note that they are arranged as opposites.

The basic process involves three materials: Sulfur, Mercury and Lead or sometimes, Salt. Sulfur symbolizes fire, spirit, the sun, masculine, the creative principle, and the intellect, and is represented by the color red. Mercury symbolizes water, the moon, feminine, the nurturing or love principle and the heart, and is represented by the color white. To be reborn of the water and the spirit is the goal of this ancient art.

The making of the Philosopher's Stone requires the combination of the purest possible Sulfur and the purest possible Mercury. They are to be combined in a vessel called an athanor which is an oven usually shaped like an egg. This egg shaped vessel represents the person, for in truth, we are dealing with these principles within each person. |Top|

The Union of Opposites

From The Spiritual Venturer, February 1999

By Rev. Bette Jo Benner

In our previous issue, we discussed the four elements, Fire, Water, Earth and Air. The Alchemists believed that all created matter was composed of one or more of these four elements. Consistent with Hermetic Law which is the basis for Alchemy, this includes man himself. Hermetic Law says "As above; so below; as without, so within." All outer conditions are reflections of, or correspondences of inner conditions.

The Alchemists' four elements correlate to four of the basic elements of organic chemistry:

Earth-----carbon
Water-----hydrogen
Air-------oxygen
Fire------nitrogen or sulfur

In turn, they each have a rarefied elemental essence:

Earth – rarified – Gnomes
Water - fluid essence - Nymphs
Air — intangible - AEth - Sylphs
Fire - etheric flame - Salamanders

And consistent with their love of opposites: Earth must become weightless, Water must become fiery, Air must become solid and Fire must become liquid. The four elements were at one in a mysterious object. This object is man. And so Alchemy has to do with a balancing of opposites within ourselves.

The Alchemists' materials which they used in their physical art also symbolize the aspects of the Great Work of spiritual development. Three materials involved in the Alchemical processes correlate to the three aspects of man; body, mind and spirit. Sulfur symbolizes the intellect, the conscious or masculine. Mercury or Quicksilver symbolizes the emotions, the unconscious or feminine.

The great secret, which for centuries was known only to the Initiated, was finally exposed by General Ethan Allan Hitchcock, a century ago, is that Lead, the prima materia, which is called by a hundred names, every one a riddle, symbolizes the unregenerate man himself.

This lead is us before we have become spiritual beings. It is the base material, negative thoughts, lustful passions and harmful emotions which the aspirant of alchemy must change or transmute into the spiritual or gold. Lead represents the chaotic, heavy and sick condition of metal or the inward man. Gold expresses the perfection of both metallic and human existence.

Remember we said that the Alchemists believed that everything could be raised to a higher level of being. And recently, science has shown that even elements may be changed from one to another, something that was unthinkable only a few decades ago.

This idea was most important as it related to man. The process of raising the level of man has become known as The Great Work. There are three stages to this Work:

1. The Lesser work, also called the fore work or the purification.

2. The Greater work, also called the Main work, the making of the Philosopher's Stone or Grand Elixir.

3. The After Work, the projection of the Philosopher's Stone upon the lead to turn it into gold.

The Lesser Work, the successful completion of which is called Luna, is the spiritualization of man, the purified, exalted emotions that have been stabilized or sublimated - brought into the sublime. It is symbolized by the purest possible Quicksilver, which when completed is symbolized by Silver. It is the result of faith followed by works.

The Greater Work, which when completed is called Sol, is the embodying of spirit; an operation of the Holy Spirit which penetrates from without. It is symbolized by the purest possible sulfur, which when completed is symbolized by gold. It is the result of the preparation of the mind followed by grace.

The completion of these two stages of the Work result in the Philosopher's Stone, that which will transmute Lead, the base man, into gold.

The After Work, or third stage, is almost never discussed. The culmination of this third stage is Illumination.

The Seal of Solomon or the Star of David: Using the symbolism above for the masculine and feminine duality of the universe, we will use Fire for the former and Water for the latter. Fire then, represents the intellect, the spirit and the masculine. Water represents the emotions, the unconscious, the heart and the feminine.

This same symbolism can be found in the story of creation in Genesis. "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." It is the two coming together which is necessary for creation. Together they provide the synthesis of all elements, the union of all opposites.

An equilateral (meaning that all three sides are equal in length) triangle with its apex pointing upward, is used as a symbol for Fire. The same equilateral triangle with its apex pointing downward is a symbol for Water. When the two come together, as in the Seal of Solomon or Star of David the two intertwined triangles represent the union of the opposites both within man and out in the universe.

These two triangles can be symbols in another way as well. The triangle with its apex pointed upwards also represents man. This is part of the symbolism of the pyramid on the dollar bill.

On the lowest level of the triangle is the physical or animal man. This correlates to the level of most of mankind and is the starting point in the Lesser Work. This is the body.

The second level of this triangle is the level of desire. It relates to the appetites and as yet unregenerate desires of the flesh. This is the heart or emotions.

The third level of the triangle is the level of the intellect, as yet unenlightened. It is in the realm of concrete thought. It represents the mind. These three aspects make up the mortal, unregenerate man: body, mind and heart.

If we are to reach Spiritual Illumination, the triangle must be inverted. The top of the first triangle becomes the bottom of the second. The mind, now on the first level, must change and become regenerated and capable of more abstract thought. It becomes higher mind, imbued with higher ideals. This is the First Degree.

The second level, the heart or desire nature becomes purified and through its lofty desires reaches the point of communion with the Hierarchies. This is the Second Degree.

Finally, on the third level, the fully regenerated or spiritualized mind and heart enable the regeneration of the mortal into the immortal. This is the true self and the Third Degree.

Insert image: a:Regeneration.gif

The Lessor and the Greater Work

From The Spiritual Venturer, March 1999

By Rev. Bette Jo Benner

The understanding of metals and the processes that affect them are of vital importance to the work of the Alchemists. Not only for their material, chemical work but also, and integral to it is the understanding of the spiritual principles symbolized by the work.

The more important metals with which they deal are also symbols for astrological bodies and spiritual ideas. These astrological references were used because almost all of the western world was familiar with the meaning and interpretations of these symbols.

Lead is an imperfect metal. It is represented astrologically by Saturn. The Alchemists taught that all secrets are in Saturn. Remember, this lead of the Alchemists, or Saturn, represents the unregenerated man; man in his low, animal state. It is heavy, chaotic and the sick condition of the inner, unregenerate man.

The lead of man is absolutely essential to the Work; for it is man who must be transmuted to gold or Illumination. It is represented by the death of the first born, the death of the earthly carnal self. This helps to explain the many stories in the Old Testament where the first born, who according to Jewish law would inherit, does not. For it is the second born or spiritual level of consciousness which will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Lead then is the basic material, the prima materia.

Sulphur is one of two of the substances which the Alchemists used to act on metals. It has a masculine character and is symbolized by fire. Sulphur represents the mind, the intellect. It is related to the color red and symbolized by the Sun.

One of the two substances which they used is Mercury or Quicksilver. Its character is feminine and it is symbolized by water and the Moon. It represents the heart, the emotions. It is related to the color white.

These two elements, Sulphur and Quicksilver when elevated or transmuted into their highest possible expression become Gold and Silver, respectively. The process can be represented symbolically as follows:

The First Stage or The Lesser Work:

1. SaturnSaturn
Lead
black

2. Jupiter
Tin
gray

3. MoonMoon
Silver
white

This process is the spiritualization of the body. It is the result of faith. When completed, it is pure white; Luna; the glorified emotions or Heart, the feminine or Bride in the chemical marriage to come. Take special note of the symbols used in the process.

In the first level the moon is beneath the cross which represents man. This indicates that at this level, the emotions are subservient to the carnal man. In the second phase the moon is beside the cross which indicates that the emotions are being elevated. Finally, in the third phase the carnal man is overcome and the elevated emotions or heart are free of the influence of the lower passions.

The Second Stage or The Greater Work may be represented as follows:

1. VenusVenus
Copper
yellow

2. MarsMars
Iron
orange

3. SunSun
Gold
red

This is the process of embodying of the spirit. It is the development of the mental consciousness so that it may be worthy of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is the result of grace. When completed it is crimson and the Sun, the spiritualized intellect, or mind, the masculine or Bridegroom in the Chemical Marriage. |Top|

The Chemical Marriage

From The Spiritual Venturer, April 1999

By Rev. Bette Jo Benner

In continuing our discussion of Alchemy, I first want to elaborate on some of the material from last month. I ended the last article with a symbolic representation of the Lesser and Greater Work. It is one of many ways to subdivide the processes of spiritual alchemy. It may seem to over simplify the processes involved, but it is a short hand way to represent them and understand what is involved.

Notice that each stage is represented by a color. These colors may originate with the metallurgic aspect of Alchemy which comes from the processes used in the transformation of metals. Black is the absence of light. White is purity; light undivided or not broken down into colors. It is color at its greatest intensity.

These colors, black, white and red are often represented in heraldry. One finds these symbols in various places. All of the colors in between represent different states of spiritual development.

The Lesser Work is the spiritualization of the body, a lifting up of the carnal man; an ascending movement. The Greater Work is embodying the spirit, a coming down of the Holy Ghost to indwell in the now purified body; a descending movement.

The First Stage or The Lesser Work:

1. Saturn, Lead, black

This is the consciousness at its lowest stage of development. It relates to the thinking and passions of the material world, chaos. There is no understanding of spiritual things. The process needed to pass out of this stage is what the Alchemists called mortification, symbolized in the Bible by the death of the firstborn and the Passover of the Israelites.

2. Jupiter, Tin, gray

Once across the Red Sea this next stage is one of growth into the newly recognized spiritual person which must be undertaken to reach the goal. This is the development of the soul's receptivity. The Alchemists called it sublimation. It is represented in the Bible by the 40 year wandering of the Israelites, seeking greater understanding of what their God required of them.

3. Moon, Silver, white

The final stage of the Lesser Work is that of spiritualized, purified emotions and heart. The accomplishment of this stage, what the Alchemists called the completion of the Lesser Work, represents the regeneration of the feminine side of man. The lunar crescent has raised above, dissolved and now contains, all the potentialities of the soul which were in the original chaos of Saturn. They have now been united and purified. It is the perfection of the Heart, the Bride, and is represented by the Blessed Virgin. It is being reborn of water (heart).

The Second Stage or The Greater Work may be represented as follows:

1. (Image of Venus) Copper, yellow

The first stage of the Greater Work indicates the beginning of contact with the Holy Spirit. The very highest level of the human, + is just able to reach up to the lowest level of the Spirit, O. The Alchemists called this process crystallization. It is the birth of the Christ, the rising of the inward sun, which is only possible after the preparation of the Lesser Work.

2. Mars(Image of Mars) Iron, orange

The second stage of the Greater Work indicates an active descent of the Spirit into the lower levels of human consciousness. The body itself is completely penetrated by the spiritual forces from on high. This new creation is not yet perfect, for the spiritual sun, represented in the symbol, is not yet detached from the cross of the elements, the material man. This is called by the Alchemists coagulation. This transformation is one of the body into Spirit-become-form.

3. Sun(Image of Sun) Gold red

This is the final stage in the Greater Work. It represents the completion of the embodiment of the spirit. It is the highest level of the intellect, or masculine. The Alchemists called it the completion of the Greater Work. The Sun or Spirit has now incorporated all aspects of the lower, material intellect. This is the red; the fire. The completion of this process is the Baptism by Fire. This is the Bridegroom. It is symbolized in the Bible by the resurrection.

Throughout this process and guiding it at every step of the way is the Will, symbolized by Mercury, which is also the symbol for Mercury, or Thoth. Notice that this symbol contains both the feminine Moon, horizontally across the top, the masculine Sun, in the middle, and a cross, which is one of the symbols for man, at the base. The implication is that the Will is a combination of Thought and Desire. The sign of Mercury does not represent a stage of the work but is a key to the whole. There are seven planets represented, those known to the known to the ancients, but there are six phases of the work.

The first two steps in each stage include the cross + which is man. The placement of the Moon and the Sun Sun (which represents the feminine heart and the masculine intellect, respectively), in the symbols used helps to identify the progress which has been made.

These two processes are not necessarily sequential. More often they proceed side by side, for they are related. Once the two states of the Work have been accomplished, the Bride, or perfected heart, the white unites with the Bridegroom, or perfected intellect, the red.

This then is the Chemical Marriage. The Alchemists represented this concept as a male-female androgyne: a person, half male and half female. It is also the marriage of "the red and white." And as we shall see, many classical stories contain references to the red and the white. The spiritually enlightened person is indeed a balance of heart and intellect, of feeling and reason. From this combination, is prepared the Philosopher's Stone of the Great Elixir.

With this final resource, the ultimate goal is assured. The Illumination of the Soul is accomplished, and of course, "all else will be added unto you." |Top|

The Androgynous Man

From The Spiritual Venturer, May 1999

By Rev. Bette Jo Benner

We have been discussing some of the symbols used by the Alchemists to represent their philosophy. There are a few more to explain and then we can use our understanding to interpret a famous Alchemical Drawing called The Androgynous Man.

The Philosopher's Egg has been used to represent the body of man. It has also been called the Athanor which means oven. And it is used in the Chemical and metallurgical operation. It is the "oven" in which the elixir is prepared. Whether oven or egg, the meaning as far as the Great Work is concerned is the same. The Work is to be done within us.

The most important element in the oven is Fire. For the spiritual work, this is love - elevated and spiritualized, but passionate. Fire corresponds to the generative power. It must first be aroused and then tamed or controlled. For this reason Alchemists have always warned against a violent or unsteady fire.

Another symbol for this same concept is the serpent or dragon. This is the serpent which must be lifted up as demonstrated by Moses in the wilderness. This is the dragon that must be overcome as demonstrated by the Knights of Camelot. This is the same force as the creative force of God, in whose image man was made.

Sometimes the representation is that of two serpents; one red and one white. The red relates to the Masculine, Sol, and the white to the feminine, Luna. The two intertwined up the staff represent the harmonious union and balance of the opposites or dualities. They are always headed up the staff to indicate that they have been lifted up and spiritualized. This is the caduceus.

This spiritual fire, just as the physical fire, requires air - in this case, the breath. In the Bible you will find numerous references to the breath. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man become a living soul." (Gen. 2:7) "And when he (Jesus) had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." (St. John 20:22) Regulation of the breath is required for the fire to burn properly.

The globe is another representation for a person. When winged, it denotes a person who is spiritually elevated. The circle or globe is a perfect circle to describe the balancing of all aspects and attributes which is to be accomplished by the spiritualized person.

The carpenter's square and the compass are symbols which are used in Alchemy and also in Masonry. The square on one level, means to be honest and trustworthy. On a deeper level, it represents the physical or manifest universe; the material and is denoted by the number four and a square. On one level, it represents the unmanifested, spiritual universe and is denoted by the number three and an equilateral triangle.

Now let's apply this information to the interpretation of a famous alchemical figure, The Androgenous Man or Rebis, from Materia Prima by Basilius Valentinus, published in Frankfurt, in 1613.

The Androgynous Man

The Androgynous Man

"I am the Egg of Nature, known to the Sages only, who, pious and modest, engender from me the Microcosm."

Interpretation:

The entire figure is encompassed within an egg. This is the body and so we know that all the things alluded to are inner processes which each of us must accomplish to complete the Great Work. The name of this figure, "Rebis," comes from res bina and means double thing.

The equilateral triangle with the number three, and the square with the number four, stand for all creation, manifest and unmanifest. The three and the four added together give us the number seven which is the number of perfection.

Both the square and the triangle are imposed over the winged globe, which represents the illumined soul. Sitting on the globe, is the dragon. Still breathing fire, but apparently harmless. Note that the dragon is also winged. This must mean that the physical passions have been successfully lifted up or spiritualized.

The person astride the dragon represents the luna and sol within in perfect harmony and equilibrium - the balance of the heart and the intellect. This is the meaning of the person depicted as half female and half male.

The female is holding the carpenter's square and the male is holding the compass. Again, these are symbols of the entire creation and here indicate that the illumined soul has an understanding of both.

To the right, on the female side are pictured the three planets which represent the Lesser Work, the feminine side, Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon. To the left are the three planets which represent the Greater Work, the masculine side; Venus, Mars and the Sun.

Finally overhead, is the symbol for Mercury or Thoth who represents the Will and is the Key to the entire process. |Top|

Parabola

From The Spiritual Venturer, June 1999

By Rev. Bette Jo Benner

We have been explaining much of the symbolism used in Alchemy to enable us to interpret the stories they told. Now let's read one of the stories and see if we can understand it.

Parabola

A young man was walking down the road one day when he came to a fork in the road. One way was evidently well traveled, the other much less so. Our young man, let's call him our Hero, took the one less traveled.

The man walking down the road represents each of us as we go through life. Remember the poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken. It ends:

"...Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."

In our story as well, our Hero's taking the less traveled road made all the difference.

Another symbol for this same concept is the serpent or dragon. This is the serpent which must be lifted up as demonstrated by Moses in the Wilderness. This is the dragon that must be overcome as demonstrated by the Knights of Camelot. This is the same force as the creative force of God, in whose image man was made.

Each of us must at some point make a choice and become one of the few who seek for a more spiritual life in this material world. For "many are called, but few are chosen."

At first the way was pleasant, but after a time the road became steep and narrow. At last he came to a precipice and it seemed he could go no further. He attempted to turn back and retrace his steps, but a sudden, extremely strong wind made that impossible. Finally, with little alternative, he steeled himself for whatever fate had in store, and jumped.

The spiritual path is steep and narrow at times, but for those of us who have chosen it, there is no better way. Sooner or later, each of us comes to a serious challenge. Going back to the material life is then a temptation, but the well developed conscience, here symbolized by the wind, will not allow it. Here is where our faith will be tested. If we have sufficient faith, we will jump into the abyss, even though the outcome appears bleak.

Surprisingly, our Hero landed safely and found himself in a lush valley. At some distance, he saw a group of men talking. As he approached, they were discussing philosophy. He joined in the conversation and found them to be very interesting and knowledgeable. After some time, he inquired as to whether he could join their association.

When we do our very best even in the face of danger, somehow things turn out all right. We land safely in spite of our worst fears. The group of men symbolizes those who have the spiritual wisdom to impart to the seeker on the path.

They responded affirmatively but with one condition. He must first slay their lion.

Now a lion symbolizes many things. It is similar to a dragon and when not controlled or conquered represents the power of our emotions. These are the passions which rage within us and have tremendous power over us. These are the dragons which must be defeated by the Knights of King Arthur. And when they are vanquished, they are the source of great power, Which may be used by the one who controls them. This is the same as the fire breathing dragon which Rebis, the androgynous person was astride in the symbol we presented last issue.

Our hero accepted the challenge and sought out the lion. He found him and after some effort on his part was able to kill him and dissect him. When he did so, he found only white bones and red blood.

Remember that this story is a philosophical metaphor for what goes on within us. So the dissecting of the lion is like facing our dragons and finding out what they are and where they come from. (Something psychology tries to help us do.)

To find only white and red indicates the two goals of the spiritual work. The Lesser Work, which culminates in the elevated heart, emotions, Luna is indicated by the White. The Greater Work, which culminates in the elevated Mind, Consciousness, Sol, is indicated by the Red. These are the results of conquering the dragons and being in complete control of our subconsciousness.

He returned to the philosophers whereupon he was given a bouquet of red and white roses.

The Rose, like the lily and the lotus, represents the Soul. The white and the red re-emphasize the necessity of developing the Mind and the Heart and indicated that he had been successful in doing so.

As he continued on his way, he was passed by the beautiful maiden, dressed in white satin. Soon, he was passed by a noble youth, dressed all in scarlet or red. These two clearly represent the male and female aspects of the work.

The two had just been wed and were on their way to consummate the marriage. They entered into a crystal room, shaped like an egg. (Remember the Egg of Nature from last issue.) It was water tight or "Hermetically sealed."

The coming together of the male and female aspects within us must happen if we are to achieve Spiritual Illumination. |Top|
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Re: Alchemy...Carl Jung/Harry Potter/Star Wars etc.....all the same meaning.

Post by Sparrowhawk on July 1st 2010, 10:29 am

PART 2

Parabola, Part 2

From The Spiritual Venturer, July 1999

By Rev. Bette Jo Benner

This is the second part of an Alchemical story called Parabola which was originally published anonymously about 1785.



A young couple, the male dressed in red and the female dressed in white, had just entered into a crystal room, shaped like an egg, which was water tight or "Hermetically sealed." Our Hero was placed in charge of guarding them.

Guarding the couple, who represent the intellect and the heart, respectively, refers to the work of the conscious mind (Our Hero), which must at all times be responsible for the actions of both the intellect and the heart, especially during the time in which they are developing their spirituality.

White is purity; light undivided or not broken down into colors. Red is the epitome of color; color at its greatest intensity.

The embrace of the intellect and the heart can only take place after a long period of preparation. That is what has been symbolized by Our Hero's journey to this point. The heart or emotions must be elevated above the negative feelings and base sexual passions of our former, ignorant state, to the spiritual expression of Love; emotionally and physically. (This process is what the Alchemists referred to as the Lesser Work.)

So also, the intellect must be elevated above the material thinking, including the selfishness, misuse of power and greed, of our earlier unregenerate state, to the spiritual expression of Wisdom. (This process is what the Alchemists referred to as the Greater Work.)

It is helpful to understand that both processes happen at the same time. The process of spiritual growth includes the development of both heart and mind and they usually progress together.

When this preparation is complete, represented by the woman in white and the man in red, the Chemical Marriage - the coming together ‘as one' of the Intellect and Heart - may proceed.

Soon after the couple entered into the crystal room, they began to consummate their marriage. Their activity was so passionate that a great deal of heat was generated with nowhere to dissipate.

As indicated earlier, the crystal room or vessel is a symbol of the body, in this instance, the body of Our Hero. We must understand that everything that happens within this vessel is, symbolically, what must happen within each of us, if we are to succeed to the spiritual goal of the Alchemists.

When the two join together in the Chemical Marriage, the process is symbolized by fire and here the fire of the passion of the union is used to indicate this concept. The most important element in the vessel is Fire. For the spiritual work, this is Love, especially passionate love - elevated and spiritualized - but passionate. Fire corresponds to the generative power. It must first be aroused and then tamed or controlled.

The fire in the burning bush which appeared to Moses is the same idea. In his case, the bush, which was not consumed, was used to symbolize the body instead of the vessel.

The heat continued to increase until the groom was finally melted from his intense passion. The bride began to cry uncontrollably and her tears soon covered them both in water so that she was drowned.

Note that the fire and water, the masculine and feminine are both required. The deaths by fire and water here symbolize the passing away of the former heart and mind, which must die before the new person or Illumined Soul may take their place.

Our Hero was dismayed by this bizarre sequence of events. But, before he could decide what to do, he noticed a cloud beginning to fill the vessel. The cloud proceeded to rain down on the blackened bodies of the couple below. As he watched, the rain washed the bodies and they gradually lightened to gray and finally they were turned to white.

The heat which is symbolic of love continues to act upon the bodies and the vessel they are in. This heat causes the water to form into clouds and results in the cleansing rain. This same love is required throughout the process and grows stronger as the spiritual aspirant attains higher levels of consciousness. It is at once a requirement of the process and its result.

Right before his eyes, the couple became animated, opened their eyes and arose. It seems that even their souls could not escape the "Hermetically sealed" vessel, and were able to re-enter their bodies. They donned raiment of gold with purple cloaks and each was wearing a golden crown. Our Hero opened the vessel, on their request, and they embraced and thanked him and told him that he would be rewarded with anything he could ever want.

The Soul never dies. And so, we are resurrected a ‘new being,' crowned with the halo of Soul Illumination - a new being which comes from the combination of and rebirth of body, mind and heart. We are cloaked in fine raiment, for in truth we have a new immortal body. We (our Soul) are crowned as King for we have complete dominion over our entire being and are given all that we could ever want: "all else will be added unto you." |Top|

The Tetragrammaton

From The Spiritual Venturer, August 1999

By Rev. Bette Jo Benner

In past editions, we have discussed some of the teachings of the Alchemists. One of the ideas that we have not yet discussed is that of the Tetragrammaton. This is the name for the four letter holy name of God; IHVH. It appears in the Old Testament and has been translated into Jehovah

According to the Alchemists and the Kabbalah, the four letters represent the manifest universe and each one is a symbol of one of the four elements. The first letter, I or yod, is fire and masculine; the second letter, H or he, is water and feminine; the next, V or vau, is air and the second H or he, is earth. These are further represented in the Tarot by Wands (fire), Cups (water), Swords (air) and Pentacles (earth).

But notice that though there are four letters in the name, two of them are the same. There are only three distinct letters. In one sense it is a name of four letters, in another it is a name of Three letters. This paradox results in both the number three and the number four.

Three represents the complete Divine: the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The four represents the complete manifest world, the four elements from which all matter is made.

Combined, they total seven. Seven is a very important number. It happens to be the number of the then known planets. According to the Alchemists, it is the relationship between the four and the three that is responsible for the construction of the world.

The reference in philosophical works to the four-square man and the threefold man are connected with this same concept. The four-square man is the person who has balanced his material self. It is symbolized in the four-sided, square base of the pyramids of the Egyptians. The three-fold man is the man who has become spiritualized. It is symbolized by the three-sided, triangular shape of the upright part of the pyramids, with its highest point reaching toward the heavens.

Three therefore is perfect, while four is flawed. From the point of view of physical structures, it is well known that a triangle is the strongest geometric shape, while a square must be supported with triangular braces to withstand heavy stress.

Consider a three-legged stool or table. It is always stable regardless of the evenness of the surface on which it stands. A four-legged chair or table is not stable unless all the legs are equal in length, relative to the surface on which they stand. The three legs result in three points (the end points of each leg) which always lie in the same plane, regardless of their length. When you add the forth leg, you are adding another dimension, the dimension of matter.

It is this fourth dimension which allows for choice. It makes doubt possible while also giving us free will. For the Alchemists, understanding this contradiction was a very important challenge. They used the symbol of squaring the circle to represent these ideas. The circle represents God, the original unity, from which arises the trinity or triangle and then the square, its manifestation in the universe.

Dr. R. Swinburne Clymer wrote:

"The extraordinary or spiritualized threefold man is the outgrowth of the four-square-man. After the ordinary man has awakened to a sense of something higher than life as we daily see it, and has sought for and found the means to the greater life, if truly interested he will then take active steps to develop every department of his fourfold nature. This means that he will seek to learn just what the body requires, what it should be given and what should be withheld. He will endeavor by every means in his power to bring his body into as perfect a state as possible and...make use of as much "spirit" as is necessary and becomes "spiritually alive," that is to say, full of vitality, magnetism, virility or whatever we wish to name his life-full state.

By gradual degrees, he applies the mind to the development of the germ of the Immortal Soul within himself. He becomes the Builder. The Soul Spark is awakened and eventually becomes Illuminated. The Soul takes the place of the mind and man completes the circle. He has reversed the squaring of the circle and once again becomes a threefold being; a circle symbolized by the triangle."

The Alchemists represented these concepts with symbols. You may remember from a previous issue the drawing of Rebis, the Androgenous Man. The globe of the world upon which he and the dragon were perched shows the triangle with the number 3 and the square with the number 4 inscribed within it. Another of its renderings is shown here:


Squaring the Circle

|Top|

Stage One; The Lessor Work

From The Spiritual Venturer, Sept.-Oct. 1999

By Rev. Betty McFerson Benner

We will now go into detail regarding the spiritual application of the operations or stages of Alchemy. Though there is an important physical meaning for each of these operations, we are here concerned with how we can apply this information in our own spiritual development.

The first operation or stage is blackening or Calcination and is represented by Saturn (see April, 1999 edition). The dictionary defines it as to change to ashes. The Alchemists called this the blackening stage.

What must be driven off in the process is the "humidity" or water and other volatile compounds. In man, this is referring to the material, non-spiritual part of us that must be removed, in order to find the spiritual or soul that remains.

Basilius Valentinus says:

"All flesh, born of the earth, will be destroyed and given to the earth again, just as it has already been earth. Then the earthly salt will bring forth a new birth by means of the breath of heavenly life."

It is the dying to the old way of life; the old ideas. A ‘dying to the world' which must occur if we are to progress on the spiritual path. As we grow-up we tend to lose touch with our inner spiritual selves. We must turn inward to find the pure condition of our youth. "Ye must become as little children." Or as a great Alchemist wrote, "The philosophical work is to dissolve and calcine the stone into its mercury, so that it is reduced and brought back to its prima materia, i.e., original condition, purest form."

Man can only know his real self when he has renounced all in him that is perishable, or unreal. It was common that ancient initiatory rites included the symbolic death, burial and resurrection of the neophyte. These ancient rites often involved the death of the mystic or god, who was killed and frequently dismembered. (Osiris is one example.)

The sacrificial experience of the death of the god was to demonstrate that death is only of the mortal, that the god did not die, but remained immortal, timeless and indivisible.

These fires of calcination are to be used to expose deep layers of our essence in order to uncover our true selves. Without diligent effort, it is all too easy to immerse ourselves in the material world and never have time for this inner work. In the loving way God works, if we do not apply this heat or fire to eliminate the extraneous, external and materialistic self (which I shall call ‘ego' then our experiences in the world will help to do it for us.

It is the gradual application of Love, love of God, love of another, but Love (intense desire) which eventually enables us to let go of our ‘ego.' Until we have done so, life can be hell. During this process, the extravagances and illusions we have built up during our lives are eliminated.

Physical possessions are not the real problem. It is the significance we give them that is the problem. This is symbolized in many stories which tell of the death of the king, (‘ego') in order to benefit the inhabitants of the kingdom (the remaining parts of us.)

How do we know how much control our ‘ego' or "king" still has over us? How much energy do we spend defending it? It actually is a parasite and a detriment to our true self. Are we easily embarrassed? Do we frequently blame others for problems? These are all actions of the ‘ego.' They interfere with our true self by focusing our attention and wasting our energy on unimportant things.

How can we eliminate our ‘ego?' A very good way is through mediation or contemplative prayer. (See Contemplative Prayer by George Benner available from the Spiritual Venturer.) It is the art of turning inward to contact the essence of our true self. For the alchemists, meditation is more than just quieting the mind, it also involves using the imagination to bring up images that will then guide us to their source, yielding valuable self knowledge.

The Alchemists used many symbols to represent this process. These symbols contain subliminal messages that speak directly to the unconscious. Carl Jung, the noted psychologist and Alchemist discovered that these Alchemical images convey archetypal meanings which are universal. Images of Calcination include skulls, purgatory, torture, ravens, and dragons.

The fires of calcination create a heightened awareness which combines body, mind and soul in a new way. This heightened consciousness or elevated consciousness is one of the most powerful forces for transformation. Breathing, combining as it does, the elements of Fire and Air, is a powerful combination of Alchemical forces. This combination of fire and air or Will power is the real element of change.

The process of calcination is the reason why the Alchemists were sometimes know as the Fire Philosophers. Allegorically, they sought to consume themselves in spiritual flames in order to find their true, pure, essential selves. The furnace or athanor was the human body, where hardened thoughts and emotions (metals) were to be heated in the hermetically sealed vessel of the mind until purified.

But this is only the first process. |Top|

Stage Two & Three; The Lessor Work

From The Spiritual Venturer, November 1999

By Rev. Betty McFerson Benner

We continue to go into detail regarding the practical application of the operations or stages of Alchemy.

The second operation or stage of the alchemical process is Sublimation, Dissolution or Separation and is represented by Jupiter (see April, 1999, Part 4). The dictionary defines sublimation as to change a solid to a gasious state without going through an intermediate liquid state.

Once the First Matter, or man, has been Calcined and all negative emotions have been transmuted or replaced by positive and healthy ones, what remains are ashes. These ashes must be either Sublimed or Dissolved in water and then the desired material may be extracted and Separated.

In man, this is referring to the negative emotions that must be replaced, in order to find the true spiritual part of us or our Soul. Hermes, the creator of Alchemy wrote:

"The Second Key dissolves the compound of the Stone, and begins the separation of the Elements in a Philosophical manner: this separation of the elements is not made but by raising up the subtle and pure parts above the thick and terrestrial parts."

The ‘subtle and pure parts' are the parts we wish to retain. The ‘thick and terrestrial' or earthly parts are the parts we wish to discard or change. Dissecting and discarding what is no longer relevant or useful is the important goal of this second process.

We must confront the inner emotional baggage which we have brought to light with the first stage or Calcination. This is the territory of the unconscious, where we have hidden the memories, thoughts and desires which we wish to forget.

The process includes further heating, filtering and sorting. Heating refers to Love which, along with Will, is required throughout; love for the Great Work of spiritual development as well as love, patience and forgiveness for the self and others.

This is the process which happens after the travail of the First Operation. It is picking up the pieces of our lives and sorting out what is useful and really important from what isn't. It is possible that we may go through a process like this more than once.

Each time we release a little more of ego, and the material and transitory things it values, we come closer to those spiritual values which - last, and truly bring us happiness and fulfillment.

The process may be painful while we are going through it. But, when we look back from a distance, we frequently recognize that these experiences are important and have a lasting positive impact on us.

Symbols of this separation or filtering include images of tools such as knives, hatchets and swords; all of which may be used to separate things; decapitation, dismemberment, and mutilation. It is a process of sorting through and saving those essences of the inner self which are worthy of the Illuminated Being which we are trying to develop.

The third operation or stage is Coagulation or Conjunction and is represented by the elevated Moon which was called Luna (see April, 1999 Part 4). The dictionary defines Coagulation as to cause to become a soft, semisolid mass or a joining together or being joined together, union.

After the spiritual essence has been sorted out, it must be joined with the heart, which as a result of this clearing process, is full of love and compassion. This is the completion of the Lesser Work. Its color is silver or white. It is the Virgin because it is sinless, spotless and innocent.

There is a certain subtleness involved in this stage which has to do with the acceptance by the heart of its own purity. It is what Jesus meant when he talked about becoming as a little child. We must not be embarrassed of or feel superior to these pure emotions, for at this stage, they are our closest link to God. This aspect of the heart is actually the developing reality of the Soul. These elevated emotions will cause us to feel different from others around us. It is this stage that Jesus was referring to when he spoke of the need to be ‘in the world but not of it' Once these emotions are in harmony and we have eliminated those ideas which heretofore have limited us, we will change the way we live, for we will be intolerant of our own past hypocrisy and limitation.

This perfected feminine, or heart is the culmination of hard work and brings us to a most elevated state of the emotions: a peace and joy which is above the opposition of the duality of the natural. The soul's full potential has been developed and brought to light. This is the state in which Mary, the Blessed Virgin waited to receive the Divine word, the annunciation from the angel. It is the completion of the Lesser Work, and ascending movement, as we reach higher and higher levels of spiritual development.

How can we eliminate our negative emotions? Besides replacing them with positive ones (transmutation), a good way is through meditation or contemplative prayer. (See Contemplative Prayer by George Benner available from the Spiritual Venturer.) It is the art of turning inward to contact the essence of our true self. |Top|

Stage Four; The Greater Work

From The Spiritual Venturer, January 2000

By Rev. Betty McFerson Benner

We continue to go into detail regarding the practical application of the operations or stages of Alchemy.

We discussed the third operation or stage in the November issue. It completes the initial process of purification of the emotions, to prepare for the stage that follows. It is the Lesser Work, the baptism by Water, which prepares for the Greater Work, or the baptism by Fire.

Now, we will begin the Greater work which covers the next three stages. As we have purified and elevated our emotions (the feminine), in the Lesser Work, with the accomplishment of the exalted Luna; now we must return to the original matter, specifically the mind or material intellect (the masculine), and spiritualize it. The enlightened mind will then incorporate or embody the spirit and together with the enlightened emotions, build a Spiritual Body, a proper Temple for the Soul.

The fourth operation or stage (the first of the Greater Work) of the alchemic process is Fermentation and is represented by Venus. It is the infusion of spiritual energy from a higher level. The Dictionary defies fermentation as the breakdown of complex molecules in organic compounds. This is the breakdown of complex mind into its components so that the essential spiritual aspects may be discovered and separated.

The first part of the Fermentation is Putrefaction; when matter is allowed to rot and decompose. This is the necessary preliminary step for the mind to be spiritualized. Fermentation then follows. The mind's impurities or gross materiality, like those of the emotions, must be separated.

We must guard against depression in this process. For the insight gained from the elevation of the emotions enables us to realize our inherent deficiencies. This is sometimes referred to as the "dark night of the soul." Or the valley of the shadow of death." But, gradually, as we persist, the white light of resurrection begins to dawn, like the light at the end of the tunnel.

There is a danger here also of pridefulness. It is absolutely necessary that we avoid this pitfall, for it can destroy the Work. If we are successful, the ego is sublimated and gradually becomes willing to give up control to the developing Soul.

This is the Yellow stage and indicates that we are indeed approaching the Gold which is our goal. As the fire of Calcination, the beginning stage, comes from the raw passions and emotions; the yellow warmth of Fermentation comes from the inspiration from Above uniting with the Imagination of the developing mind below.

This stage requires the opening up to these higher realms and maintaining a state of acceptance to these spiritual forces. This step is accomplished through the inspired imagination. Symbols of this state include ladders, thunderstorms and lightning.

Dr. Carl Jung wrote of the process:

"The concept of Imaginatio (imagination, ed.), is the most important key to understanding the Opus (Work, ed.). We have to conceive of these imaginal processes not as the immaterial phantoms that we readily take fantasy pictures to be, but as something corporeal, a subtle body. The Imagination, or the act of imagining, was a physical activity that could be fit into the cycle of material changes - an activity that brought these about and was brought about by them (Alchemists-ed.) in turn."

Where the Lesser Work involves the feminine, this first step in the Greater work begins to involve the masculine. It is the first stage of the transmutation of the intellect. |Top|

Stage Five; The Greater Work

From The Spiritual Venturer, February 2000

By Rev. Betty McFerson Benner

We continue to go into detail regarding the practical application of the operations or stages of Alchemy.

In our last issue, we discussed the fourth operation or stage of Alchemy called Fermentation. We continue now, with the fifth operation which is called Distillation. The dictionary says that Distillation means boiling and condensing of liquid; the process of separating, concentrating or purifying liquid by boiling it and then condensing the resulting vapor.

The purifying fire (love) cleanses and spiritualizes the impurities which were separated out during the fourth operation of Fermentation. Distillation is represented by Mars and the color orange. In this operation the Spirit, which has begun to descend into the body in Fermentation, now completely enters the body.

Mars is the god of war and here represents death. This death is that of the material, 'first-born" consciousness which must give way to the newly evolving Spiritual Consciousness.

This is matter becoming spiritualized. It is the creative energy of a glowing globe of orange; vibrant and alive. We have stripped away the dross and are now preparing to emerge from the darkness, reclothed in the Light. As Venus represents the feminine or Heart aspect of this work, so Mars represents the masculine or Mental aspect.

The setting sun represents the spirit becoming engulfed by the earth. The dawning sun represents the spirit returning from the earth or the physical, out of the darkness; reborn and reclothed in Light. Its solar rays are the rays of the spirit infusing the body. All repeating the symbolism of this process, the embodying of the spirit.

It is here that the gold first begins to appear. The sun is still sinking, (into the body of the physical), and yet there is a beginning of Illumination. In Alchemical terms, ‘the moist earthly body yields to the dry.' The ‘dry' refers to heaven or the sun, while the moist refers to the earth and the material body. This is the awakening of the consciousness in which it becomes aware of its own light.

During this period we will have experiences which will cause us to fall back on our own resources, where we will learn to depend on our own inner guidance. These experiences may not be pleasant, but they will be instrumental in our awakening of Sol, our masculine: just as our Luna or feminine was awakened in the first three stages or Alchemical operations.

As we begin to perceive the Light, though at first dimly, we can use it to help to overthrow the hold of the ego. The spiritual aspects are then removed from the fermentation by this process of Distillation. But the Distillation process must be repeated many times before we arrive at a higher level.

This operation may not only be painful, it is also usually slow. It is the masculine coming into touch with and claiming its own power and perception, especially the Will. Thus, it is about manhood, or a man finding himself. For a woman, it is about finding her masculine, positive attributes and internalizing them rather than seeking those attributes from without. It is what each of them needs to accomplish in order to be free, independent and Spiritually Illumined beings.

As the heat rises, the moisture (referring to the Earth or material) is evaporated. What remains is the dryness (referring to the sun or heaven). This distillate or remaining material is solidified or fixed. This is called coagula. It symbolizes the need for constancy and stability. We must learn to stand our ground and be dependable and responsible. The need here is to continue our spiritual growth, not to be daunted by the negative or painful feelings, until we ‘catch fire' and have the strength of the rising sun or Sol.

The white light of luna gradually changes to the golden light of Sol. The above and the below come together. The body is penetrated by the ‘incombustible sulfur.' While the heat of calcination of the first stage comes from the emotions of the heart, (see Alchemy, Part 9), the heat of Distillation comes from the inspiration from Above and the imagination from Below.

An important aspect of this process is to open up to the higher realms and accept its influence in our lives. We must open to the Love of God if we are to achieve the Philosophers Stone. The noted Jesuit philosopher, Teilhard de Chardin said:

"Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then for the second time in the history of the world, man will discover Fire."

But this is only the fifth stage, there are still two operations or stages left. This ‘new creation' is not yet perfect, for the Sol or spiritual fire is still contained within the earthly body. |Top|

Stage Six; The Greater Work

From The Spiritual Venturer

By Rev. Betty McFerson Benner

We continue to go into detail regarding the practical application of the operations or stages of Alchemy.

We are now ready for the sixth stage of the Alchemic process. This operation is called Coagula. It means Coagulation. The dictionary says that Coagulation means to cause a liquid to become a soft, semi-solid mass.

In this stage, all aspects of our life are becoming more solid - stable, flexible, but no longer changeable. The body is made spiritual and the spirit is made corporeal. This is the result of the spirit indwelling the body. Coagulation is represented by the Sun and the color red. Nicholas Flamel, the great Alchemist, said,

"The scarlet color of the flying lion, which resembles the pure and clear scarlet of pomegranate seeds, indicates that this color is now genuinely and harmoniously completed. It is like a lion which devours all the purely metallic nature and transmutes it into its own substance, namely, into true and pure gold, finer than that from the best mines."

The Sun represents Light. This is the Light of a new day dawning. When completed, the symbol changes from the Sun to Sol. It is also symbolized by the metal Gold.

This is the realization that to become immortal, we must embrace our mortality, to become truly spiritual beings, we must accept ourselves as we are, and also as we are becoming. As the French Alchemist, Francois Trojani said,

"In Alchemical language, it is facing up to the darkness of matter, the darkness of death, and beyond that to the ‘darkness which is darker than dark,' which is none other than my truest Self, or Source. Which could just as well be described as boundless and infinite Light."

It is the diamond and the coal; opposite in value and beauty, yet made from the same material. This is the great paradox expressed. Grojani continued,

"The Coagulation, the deep and relentless asking of the question ‘Who am I?' is not other than the solution of the question. The coagulated Salt is not other than the dissolved Salt. ...An ancient Alchemical expression of the paradox is: from the One towards the One, by means of the One."

When this stage is completed, it allows for the chemical marriage of Luna and Sol, the enlightened heart and the illumined mind. The result of this marriage is the ‘The Philosopher's Stone.' This is the King (Sol) and the Queen (Luna) joined together.

It is also the ‘androgynous man' which reminds us that this marriage is an internal one. We are each the masculine and the feminine; the mind and the heart. And it is only after these two have come together, spiritually uplifted and in harmony, that we can perform the final work. This union results in the great Elixir or the Philosopher's Stone which is required to complete the process of producing Alchemical Gold.

Nicholas Flamel says,

"...This color has the power to remove man from this vale of sorrow, that is to say, from the evil of poverty and sickness, by raising him up with its own wings from the foul waters of Egypt (the ordinary thoughts of mortals), so that he will despise worldly life with its riches, and think day and night of God and His saints, desiring the Empyrean and thirsting after the sweet springs of eternal hope."

The Lesser and the Greater Work come together at this point and are joined in harmony. It is not that one is less important than the other, or easier, but the Work must begin with the Heart or feminine, for it is the source of the Desire and progresses to encompass the mind and body.

This is the joining of opposites on all levels. Titus Burckhardt in his wonderful book Alchemy, says,

"It can be said that through the reconciliation or marriage of these two initially hostile forces, the opposition between ‘above' and ‘below' also disappears, to the extent, in fact, that the darkness is dispelled by light."

This is symbolized in the stories of Alchemy by the relationship between marriage and death. Burckhardt continues:

"Closely related to the symbolism of marriage is that of death. According to some representations of the ‘chemical marriage,' the king and queen, on marrying, are killed and buried together, only to rise again rejuvenated.

"...On ‘chemical marriage' Quicksilver takes unto itself Sulfur, and Sulfur, Quicksilver. Both forces ‘die' as foes and lovers. Then the changing and reflective moon of the soul unites with the immutable sum of the spirit so that it is extinguished, and yet illumined, at one and the same time." |Top|

Stage Seven; The Greater Work

From The Spiritual Venturer, April 2000

By Rev. Betty McFerson Benner

We come now to the seventh and last of the stages of the Alchemic process; the Rubedo or Philosopher's Stone.

The first three stages, representing the ascending and purification of the inner or emotional self, culminated with Luna, the symbol of the perfected feminine. They are called "the Lesser Work."

The second three stages, represent the descending of the Spirit which results in the purification of the outer or body and material consciousness, culmination with Sol, the symbol of the perfected masculine. They are called "the Greater Work".

Titus Burkhardt said, "The lesser work has as its goal the regaining of the original purity and receptivity of the soul, the goal of the ‘greater work' is the illumination of the soul by the revelation of the spirit within it."

These six stages have been designated here as Calcination, Sublimation, Coagulation, Fermentation, Distillation and Coagulation. Notice that under this nomenclature Coagulation appears twice, once as the completion of the Lesser Work and again as the completion of the Greater Work.

The six stages remain the same with most of the major Alchemic authors, but they are very inconsistent with the order and the names. Some sources use Mortification in place of calcination. Some use Dissolution in place of Sublimation; and Conjunction in place of Coagulation. Crystallization is sometimes used instead of Fermentation and so forth. For spiritual purposes, the concepts are the same regardless of the names applied or even the order. Most aspirants report that they are involved with several processes simultaneously; that there is overlapping and repetition. So the exact order is probably not important.

However, if one were attempting to produce these results in the chemical laboratory it would be important to choose one author and follow his scheme altogether. it is apparent that each author was consistent within his or her own framework.

Most authors also designate procedures or stages within each of the six major categories. For example: Coagulation of Coagulatio may be made up of the separatio, fermentatio, illuminatio, nutrimentum, fixatio, multiplicatio, revificatio and sublimatio.

Once the six stages have been completed, whatever you choose to call them, the seventh operation is the joining of these two aspects, Luna and Sol, in what the Alchemists called the ‘Chemical Marriage.' This has also been represented as a male-female androgyny.

The result of this conjunction is called the Philosopher's Stone or just ‘the Stone.' This is true integration, true wholeness; the sacred marriage of the mind or consciousness with the heart or unconsciousness in one totally conscious being. At this point of conjunction, all opposition has been overcome.

There are several aspects to this accomplishment of wholeness. One of them is that we learn to embrace our shadow, for ‘the Stone' is composed of both light and shadow. In the end, we find that we must embrace our shadow, for we need our dross as well as our light. For gold comes from the dross yet it is more than the light alone.

Another aspect to this stage is called ‘the squaring of the circle.' A motto in one of the alchemical writings reads,

"Make a circle out of a man and woman derive from it a square, and from the square a triangle: make a circle and you will have the Philosopher's Stone."

The symbolism is not as difficult as it may at first appear:

The inner circle around the man and the woman symbolizes the Chemical Marriage of the Mind and the Heart. The square around this smaller circle represents the four elements; fire, earth, air and water which are incorporated in the process. Being four sided, it also signifies the number 4, which reflects wholeness, the four directions, and so forth.

The triangle surrounding the square indicates the union of the body, soul and spirit and the implication of the result of this union. The apex, or the third point above, indicates the spiritual perfection which is thus achieved.

Finally, the circle enclosing the whole diagram represents a transformation of the body, mind and soul so complete that the man becomes the woman and the woman becomes the man. The two truly become one. Without both the man or mind and the woman or heart there would be no Christ Consciousness or Illumination.

The most important result of this marriage of heart and mind is the subsequent birth of the Soul, the Christ; sometimes called ‘the child of the Work.' This is the beginning of the building of an actual second body, the spiritual body wherein the Christ consciousness will dwell. It is the building of this spiritual body which will enable us to reach immortality. It is in this spiritual body that Christ was resurrected and appeared to his disciples. And it will be in this spiritual body, this temple, that the Christed Soul will appear to each of us as we progress in this stage of the Work.

In many ways, the stage of Rubedo incorporates all the other stages of the Alchemic process. Mercury, which represents the Will, is a necessary ingredient throughout the entire process. It is the Will which enables us to begin the journey in the first place. And it is the Will which enables us to continue even when the Path is difficult. A strong Will is a necessary ingredient for one who wishes to be successful on the Path to Illumination.

The final aspect of Rubedo or Illumination is the desire to minister unto others. It is for this reason that many Masters return to earth, though they are not required to do so. Once we have achieved this spiritual goal, we may want to share this wisdom and love with others who are less advantaged. It is a sacrifice for those who choose this path for it means to be reincarnated once again into the mortal plane; with all its attendant pains and problems.

We owe a great deal to those who have made this sacrifice throughout the ages, in order to teach and guide us so that we also may find the Path to our own Soul Illumination and Immortality.

As R. Swinburne Clymer said, "When the Soul is once awakened and has succeeded in attaining Illumination then nothing on earth or in hell can destroy it."

The End |Top|

Sources:

Alchemy, by Titus Burckhardt
Morals & Cogma, by Albert Pike
The Mysticism of Masonry by R.S. Clymer
The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly Hall
The Emerald Tablet by Dennis William Hauck
The Initiates Vol. IV by R. Swinburne Clymer
Tetragrammaton by Donald Tyson
Alchemy, the Art of Transformation, by Jay Ramsay
The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation, by Dennis William Hauck
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Re: Alchemy...Carl Jung/Harry Potter/Star Wars etc.....all the same meaning.

Post by Sparrowhawk on July 5th 2010, 10:36 am

[i]Reflect on this, children of the living God........

This is not a theory.....

Nor a religion......

This is the Mystical tale of your own Life unfolding and growing.......

Growing back to the home you left just a moment ago!

The symbols in this story will enter into dreams to tell you where you are,

what you are experiencing!

Know this:

When dreams of Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, the Moon and the Sun enter your dreams................

You are beginning to Awaken to your True Self.
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Re: Alchemy...Carl Jung/Harry Potter/Star Wars etc.....all the same meaning.

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