Through out time, the facts and myth of alchemy and magic seems to have been intertwined and mixed as being one and the same. It is true that magic is a sort of alchemy, as it transmutes energies and changes the frequencies of reality. Alchemy, which is not in existence any longer, although sharing the use of magic, and some of the spiritual views about Earth, was quite different, based on a theory that became a sort of obsession with alchemists of old. So what is the difference? and do they share any similarities in modern times?
According to historic records, Alchemy, which goes back to the year 100, reaching its pinnacle in medieval times, was practiced with the base of experimentation and partly upon magic. The alchemy of medieval times has come to be known as the search to convert lead into gold, but alchemy had roots of a spiritual worldview. To the practitioner of alchemy everything surrounding human beings was seen as containing some sort of universal spirit and metals were believed to have life. Base metal such as lead was thought to be a spiritually immature form of higher metals; like gold.
Alchemists, did not consider metals the exclusive substances that form part of the Periodic table. Rather the metals were perceived to be in different phases of evolution on their journey to spiritual ‘perfection.’ Ancient Alchemists, would center their research on a ‘mythical’ substance they knew as the ‘philosopher’s stone’ which they believed had the power to prolong life, heal and change metals into precious metals like gold. For the alchemist, the ‘philosopher’s stone’ was not a literal stone but rather a substance that held magical powers. They did not seek the change of metals into gold out of greed. Gold symbolized the highest development in nature and came to personify human renewal and regeneration. Their theories were based upon those theories of Aristotle, in which the world and everything in it are composed of four basic elements: Earth, Water, Air, Fire, together with three that were called ‘essential substances’: Mercury, Salt and Sulfur. So, if lead and gold consisted of the blend of the four elements, then according to their theories, lead could be transformed into gold, as gold is superior to lead, and which contained the perfect balance of the four elements. Though alchemy is long gone, the contrast between lead and gold remains; lead is a common, poisonous metal that can harm children and lead to brain damage; gold is highly valued, and often worn as jewelry.
Magic is the belief that with focused intention, we can create changes through a combination of tools chants, meditations and connecting to our own spiritual center which aids the spiritual practitioner to achieve the desired result . We believe that indeed, the four elements are an important composition not only of Earth but of each human being. The forces of Nature empower magic. Thus we use nature’s energies to aid, to bring changes. Like the alchemists of old, we strive to achieve something through the garnishing of the elements. But unlike them, we do not seek perfection, but a better sense of who we are. As alchemy is transmuting something common into something else, so does magic helps to ‘transmute’ and change ordinary situations into something different.
Magic is a belief and means to an end, but not and end unto itself. Magic is not seen, but felt. If there is no belief, there is no result to be had. The use of magic requires the practitioner to evolution, to open their minds, to accept that Nature is ever-changing. We adapt to the changes and learn new things with each magical effort and result we achieve. Alchemy of old was it seems, immutable non-changing, searching for something that was not to be achieved in the way these ancient alchemists believed. Although their theory of the four elements was sound, the way they went about their quest, was I believe the reason they failed. Even though we as magical practitioners use physical items to achieve a change, we do so as a point of focus, to ground us to the goal in mind. The results are not something solid per say, like asking for a car, and voilà! the car materializes out of nowhere. This is not to say we cannot obtain something material in the physical realm, but that it is achieved through a string of events that brings the desired result.
That dear reader, could be said to be our own form of achieving the ‘gold’. But alchemy did not exist for nothing after all. It is thanks to these men of old, that we have what is now Chemistry. And thanks to them, that we as spiritual practitioners know the difference between achieving the obtainable while aware that such ancient theories like the existence of the ‘philosopher stone’ is best left where it belongs, in medieval tales of myth.
Until I write again,
Copyright© 2015-Witche’s Gazette-Magickal Newsletter
First Publication: 2014
A Flower Power House Publication.
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