Celestial Agriculture. The art and science of alchemy has been found throughout many times and regions. Its ancient principles still apply today, the truth in reality then, remains true now. Our endeavor is their adept convergence with modernity. We can speak of Chinese alchemy, Indian alchemy, Hellenistic, Arabic and European. The earliest alchemy came from Egypt. The god of alchemy is Thoth, known to the Greeks as Hermes. This is why alchemy is known as the Hermetic Philosophy.
After the center of alchemy in the ancient world, the Great Library of Alexandria with its famous Pharos Lighthouse, was destroyed in the 5th century CE, most of those practicing the Hermetic Philosophy fled Egypt and migrated east to the Arab lands not occupied by the Romans. It was here that the Arabic prefix Al was added to the Greek Khemia to give us Al-Khemia, later to become Alchemy.
The powerful secrets of alchemy were closely guarded and often handed down in coded images and writing. Sometimes alchemists suffered terrible persecution. Hypatia of Alexandria was the last librarian (tragically murdered) of the Great Library and is credited with discovering that planets have elliptical orbits.
To take what has been given to us and transform it, hoping and praying for the better, lies at the heart of what has been called over the centuries and millennia: The Royal Art, The Way of the Philosopher, The Hermetic Philosophy, The Sacred Science, The Great Work, The Art of Transformation, The Divine Art, or simply The Art, that is: Alchemy.
The alchemical tradition encompasses an elegant philosophical worldview and corresponding set of practical laboratory techniques to harness the potencies of the natural world, plants and minerals, and offers a vital alternative or complementary set of remedies for health and well-being.
Alchemy is innovative, problem-solving and experimental with mastery earned over time, study and considerate effort. Each alchemist's expression of the Art is unique. An alchemist will typically have a library of books dedicated to their work.
Alchemy cannot be bound to a single system of thought, any more than it can be reduced to a single symbolic interpretation, because it transcends all dogma and all religions.
One must not forget that at one time or another, sometimes in turn and sometimes simultaneously, Egyptians, Greeks, Arabs, Jews, Chinese, Indians, and Europeans have practiced the art and have been stewards of the ancient tradition. Alchemy was practiced during Shakespeare's time and Prospero from The Tempest may have been based on John Dee, the renown English alchemist who was a contemporary.
Nature is the physician, not you. From her you must learn, not from yourself. She compounds the remedies, not you. See to it that you find out where Nature has her pharmacies, where her virtues have been written down, and in what boxes they are stored.-- Paracelsus
Alchemy is a rainbow bridging the chasm between the earthly and heavenly planes, between matter and spirit. Like the rainbow, it may appear within reach, only to recede if one chases it merely to find a pot of gold.
True alchemy consists in perfecting metals, and in the maintenance of health. False alchemy in destroying both the one and the other. The first employs Nature’s agents and imitates her operations. The second works on erroneous principles and employs the tyrant and destroyer of Nature as her agent. The first, from a small quantity of a vile matter, fashions a most precious thing. The second, from a most precious matter, from gold itself, fashions a matter most vile, smoke, and ashes. The result of the true alchemy is the prompt cure of all ills afflicting humanity; the result of the false consists in those same ills that commonly befall puffers.
-- Dom Pernety, Dictionnaire Mytho-Hermetique (1758)
There are considered to be six types of alchemy:
Practical, Therapeutic, Artistic, Psychological, Social and Spiritual.
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