Between november 15 and 16 there appeared an interesting exchange of discussion on the International Golden Dawn Forum between some students of alchemy, including yours truly, and a genuine Master Alchemist belonging to a secret fraternity continuing an unbroken link of succession counting back to the times which predates that of Master Jesus, and which preserves the ancient wisdom of the Egyptians and Chaldeans, today referred to as Hermetic Alchemy and Magic. I have been granted permission to publish these commentaries of the Master Alchemist on my blog by the G.H. Chiefs of the R.R. et A.C. I have edited the text somewhat, besides correcting typos, while in the process tried to preserve the words of the Master in their original form as much as possible. It is well worth its reading as it in a very erudite and candid manner explains the differences between the two paths of Alchemy, the Internal and External Ways. The original text is written in a unknown European language and was translated by David John Griffin into plain English. The words of the Master has been thought provoking and evoked some questions from several students of which I have inserted some below - S∴R∴
These somewhat ambiguous words from the Master prompted some questions on my behalf:In alchemy there are actually two paths and ways of processing. One path is the “voie externe” or external way, which is the way of powders and filters, and the other way uses inner substances. Each initiate follows one path or the other and each arrives at the same goal, although the way of Inner Alchemy is faster and more effective.It is not, however, true [...] that [in] acting symbolically upon symbols [...] analogical, outer, lunar alchemy arrives at the same result as the solar, direct way in virtue of the laws of Hermes that must be understood very differently and not so simplistically as [...] non-initiates understand them. The Hermetic maxim “As above, so below” is principally applied in the practice of the alchemical art and occults an important alchemical key, which can not be revealed to the profane and the uninitiated. It is a true operative key and thus there is little that I may reveal to you about this publicly. In any case, [...] alchemists [in general] ...spoke ENTIRELY IN CODE AND CIPHERS THE KEYS TO WHICH ARE HELD BY US AND FEW OTHER ORDERS. Thus you should also bear in mind the other alchemical maxim found so frequently in the works of... [alchemical] authors..., that “where we have spoken most clearly is exactly where we have misled you.”
Alchemy has nothing to do with chemistry and the alchemy... [one often] refer [to] ...is nothing but Spagery, which is something else and not to be confused with alchemy itself which is ENTIRELY DIFFERENT AND UNDER PERENNIALLY SEAL, WHICH MAY ONLY BE REVEALED UNTO THE MINDS OF THE ELECT. NOT EVEN AN ALCHEMICAL MASTER MAY TEACH UNLESS THE SOLAR INTELLIGENCES ILLUMINATE THE MIND OF THE DISCIPLE. Alchemy speaks of the union of nature and its processes give application to the HUMAN BEING and its nature and the PRODUCTION OF INTERNAL SUBSTANCES, THE NAMES OF WHICH HAVE BEEN TAKEN FROM VULGAR CHEMISTRY. You should read the introduction of Dom Antonio Pernety to Greek and Egyptian myths and perhaps you shall find the correct road to begin to understand that true alchemy has nothing to do with tantric or sexual yoga or Crowleyan Sex Magick. A mere study of this one text should prove enough to dispel the theses of the head of an ass.
1. What is the difference between the “voie externe” of alchemy and the way of mineral spagery, both being outer experimental or laboratory paths?
2. Can outer ALCHEMY (as opposed to spagery) gain the same results as the way of Inner Alchemy? I.e. can the Philosophers Stone be produced in either of these two ways, the external and internal?
3. What is meant with “acting symbolically upon symbols in analogical, outer, lunar alchemy”? Does the Master refer here to “spiritual alchemy” or laboratory? I get the sense that he refers to using descriptions of analogical or outer processes in a symbolical way, i.e. not direct and operative - S∴R∴
Dear Sincerus Renatus,I am pleased to answer your questions, albeit constrained by tradition to speak in cipher and in veiled terms as has always been the rule with the Sons of Hermes. I can assure you, nonetheless, that I speak the truth and I am not in any way misleading you down a false path.The are two principle alchemical paths (ways), which follow two methods of alchemical action, active and passive (called Solar and Lunar by the ancients). These two principle paths may be practiced either in an “external” (outer) or “internal” (inner) manner. When I speak of “internal” or “Hermetic Inner Alchemy”, I do not make reference to so-called “Spiritual Alchemy” (as has been misunderstood or mistakenly implied by [...] others), which is but a form of mysticism and of little interest to the true alchemist.In contradistinction to mysticism, including the mysticism mistakenly and confusingly called ‘Spiritual Alchemy’ in certain modern circles, Hermetic alchemy is an operative (practical, experimental) practice and a true technique that has no need of “morality” or “habits” (qualities, attributes) to be practiced or to reach the greatest of attainments. In fact, a disciple of the Royal Art can achieve alchemical attainment equally along a positive or a negative (black, sorcery) path, which is one important reason why true Hermetic alchemy, unlike magic, has been at all times guarded under a veil of strictest secrecy!Magic functions according to the ability (quality) of the magician. In Hermetic alchemy, on the other hand, results are obtained independently of the skill of the alchemist, according to laws and principles as impersonal and inexorable as those of chemistry, whether for good (positive) or for evil (negative). Thus the ancients have called alchemy a precise practice (technique), which in modern terms one might call a science.Hermetic alchemy is based entirely on physical principles and alchemical doctrine has nothing at all to do with spirituality in the mystical sense.ALL IS ONE and thus neither ‘matter’ nor ‘spirit’ (energy) exist, but only one unique stuff (fabric, matter), which through alchemical elaborations in various stages be transmuted from gross to subtle and vice versa.Hermetic alchemy does not only wash (purify) material substances rendering them subtle (spirits, alcohol), but may also by inverse process incorporate or densify spirits (alcoloids, subtle essences of plants, or oils of metals) so much as to produce a minimal particle (or “powder of projection”).All of this may always be done, is repeatable, and may be accomplished either externally or internally. When I speak of “Externally”, I specifically mean spagerically or chemically in a properly equipped laboratory. When i speak of “Internally,” I also mean spagerically or chemically, yet entirely “within the human being.”
This yields the following formula:The transmutation is possible of one’s own “inner” matter (“Inner” in the sense of the dense and material human body) to the point of reabsorbtion into its subtle principles in two manners:
1. either using external agents, spagerically or chemically elaborated in an external and well equipped laboratory and applying these to the human body, or
2. by using the precise correspondences of these external agents, but produced entirely within the internal laboratory of the human body, likewise transmuting the physical body using alchemical processing.
The end result is the same.1. The first, “Hermetic Outer Alchemy” is the way of the external laboratory and uses filters and powders.
2. The other way, “Hermetic Inner Alchemy”, is completely corporeal, using the human body of the alchemist itself thorughout.To avoid confusion and dispel the clouds of those who would deceive you as to the true nature of Hermetic Inner Alchemy, I must repeat that it has nothing to do with the mystical, so-called “Spiritual Alchemy” of Martinist and New Age derivation that has caused so much confusion regarding the true nature of alchemy in modern times.Fulcanelli in his works speaks of the way of Hermetic Outer Alchemy, that is to say, the way of alchemical processing in an external, well equipped laboratory.Philalethes, on the other hand, speaks, for example, in his works of the means of processing of Hermetic Inner Alchemy, which uses the human body itself exclusively throughout the processing.
I sincerely hope that I have shed light to further clarify this matter to the extent that it is to me permitted. Indeed, I have spoken here more clearly than most Hermetic philosophers who have spoken out before me.
He speaks of two ways, i.e. of the Active and Passive or the Solar and Lunar paths respectively. He also confirms that BOTH paths can be practiced as an Internal OR as an External Way. But some of his comments raises further questions.
I have hierto come to understand the difference as:
Active and Solar = Inner, or direct
Passive and Lunar = Outer, analogical
In my opinion this rule is more applicable to Inner Solar Alchemy in contradistinction to the Outer Lunar Path in virtue of the high innate potencies of the substances used with Inner Alchemy. Outer Alchemy, requiring much more manipulation on the subatomic levels for its substances and matters to be truly potent, in this respect is more similar to Theurgy or Magic, of which the Master speaks is dependable on the inner attitude and moral maturity of the Adept. Therefore Outer or Lunar Alchemy requires an inner spiritual development as well as a true understanding of the operations and processes for results to manifest in the Outer Laboratory. This notions are confirmed both by older and contemporary Masters such as Paul Foster Case, Frater Albertus and Jean Dubuis, of which I have great admiration, but also by my own personal teachers or mentors of which I have much respect.
Let us now turn our attention towards two very interesting questions (showing deep and initiated knowledge of the Royal Art) posed by “Ormus” which eagerly was answered by the Master R.C. of which I find interesting enough to reproduce here - S∴R∴
Ormus: What is Mercury in the Human Body, and where can we find it IN and where OUT?And now I feel compelled to present some final words of wisdom and pertinent questions from the Master R.C. addressed to all students of Alchemy which may feel sceptical to his words or perhaps find them overly controversial - S∴R∴
RC: I may only point you towards the keys of the Mutus Liber in your quest to understand where the “raw Mercury of the Gods”, for the Opus may be found. Observe, however, that Mercury is the volatile part of the created composition; alcohol in the vegetable kingdom as oil in the mineral. Now what could this be in the animal kingdom and specifically in the human body?
Ormus: What is the secret of the Diamond of the Sun?
RC: I invite you to meditate upon the following words: from carbon the diamond arises as well as from carbon arises the skeletons of all things. There exists in the human being a part that is indestructible, which is the most noble part once transformed.
From black, white. From soft, hard. From carbon, diamond. From the Moon, the Sun. From Mercury, Sulphur. From the thin, thick.
Remember that in alchemy the Sun is always understood with duplicate meanings, be it as analogy to the Sun as well as to the light. It is symbolical as well as physical and therefore manipulatable by proper alchemical techniques. For alchemy the diamond is nothing else but the Sun on Earth, or “obdurate light;” in the human body as well as externally in minerals.
Please excuse me and grant understanding, as both vows and Hermetic tradition proscribe me from expressing myself more clearly on these matters in public.
In an attempt to avoid further misunderstanding, however, please excuse me for once again presuming to admonish you not to further conflate Hermetic Inner Alchemy with either Tantra or Crowleyan sexual magick.
Aleister Crowley was never a Hermetic alchemist and what is practiced by the OTO is not Hermetic alchemy, but rather something else.
The practices of the OTO comprise an Occidental interpretation certain Oriental Tantric notions filtered through a particularly Western filter. This is certainly not Hermetic alchemy, however, which is something else entirely.
Might I further presume to ask you a couple of elementary questions, on which subjects a well educated practitioner of the Hermetic arts [...] ought be pleased for the opportunity to expound upon for the edification of us all.
I therefore respectfully submit the following two lines of inquiry to you in aspiration of further illumination for us all.
To begin with, would you mind to please explain to us:
1. Where are the fires located inside the human being and what are the athanors, in both Internal and External Hermetic alchemy?
Also, please bear in mind, that it is written in the entire world that the mysteries are divided into Lunar, or external and analogical and Solar, internal, and direct.
To this, I would like to add that in the various temples everywhere of the Golden Dawn, all of the arrangements made for the various grades are made in such a way as to carry the symbols into the mind of the initiate so as to speak directly to the subconscious in “symbol” suggesting “immediately” the true meaning of the “internal” mysteries.
My second, directly relevant question [...] therefore... [pertains to one of the] ...Grade[s of] ... [the] Golden Dawn.
2. Would you therefore please illuminate us regarding the “true” meaning of the symbol presented [...] during... [the] Zelator grade advancement known as the “Hermetic Cross”? I am not referring to the “symbolical” meaning that has always been given in the lower, “Lunar,” “symbolical” grades [...] of our order but rather its “true,” higher, operative meaning as directly relevant to the practice of Hermetic alchemy?
I eagerly await your answer for our further edification as I am certain do many other of the readers of this... [blog].
Should you by chance, however, feel humbled by these sincere yet simple lines of inquiry, might I respectfully suggest that it would be most unwise for any of us to remain imprisoned in the prejudice of our preconceived notions about Hermetic alchemy and the Golden Dawn.
Would it not be far wiser to diligently continue with our studies and to aspire to Hermetic wisdom with genuine humility and a pure and noble heart, rather than to harshly judge the expositions of others based merely on an “as yet” incomplete and imperfect understanding of both Hermetic Alchemy and the Golden Dawn?