A Daily Log Sheet Was Attached To The Animal Room Meaning of Alchemy: Turn Lead Into Gold

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Meaning of Alchemy: Turn Lead Into Gold

You’ve probably heard the legend that alchemists—magicians of a sort who were like a combination of chemist and wizard—could turn, or try to turn, lead into gold. But is alchemy really just about getting rich quick? Or is the precursor and root of modern chemistry something deeper than that?

First, we can find clues to what alchemy really is when we study the origin of the word. What does alchemy really mean? Well, one translation is “black earth art”, because the original name for the lands of the ancient Egyptians is “khem”. The soil along the Nile River is black and considered to have life-giving and spiritual qualities. Let’s not forget how magical and focused on the afterlife the ancient Egyptians were. But after that, we can also look at its allusion in the Greek word “chemeia” found in the writings of Diocletian. This root of alchemy refers to the art of making metal bars. And then we have another Greek word, “chumeia,” and when we consider this root, which means “juice” and is implied to come from a plant (hence a “secret,” which gives us our present-day English word “secret “) refers to taking extracts from plants and using them for medicinal purposes.

It is said that ancient Egyptian alchemists (priests) knew how to create a holy white powder that gave them second sight and possibly other “magical” qualities. In the tradition of modern alchemy, this sacred white powder, often depicted in Egyptian drawings as gathered in a cone shaped like a traditional magician’s hat, is perhaps what is now known as the Philosopher’s Stone.

This Philosopher’s Stone is now regarded as the catalyst that makes possible the transition from lead to gold. Those familiar with modern chemistry know the importance of a catalyst in making any reaction possible. Some people today even believe that this Philosopher’s Stone is actually ancient, mysterious “mana” and that it is a form created from gold that can grant psychic powers and immortality to those who eat it. The Philosopher’s Stone in traditional alchemy is also thought to be able to bestow immortality by being dissolved in an elixir of life and drunk. As for the actual making of lead into gold, the alchemist allegedly knew to apply a magical herbal solution to the process to use it as a catalyst: here is our “chumeia” at work.

But we also need to look at the chemical elements that are said to be involved in all alchemical reactions: mercury, sulfur and salt. All three of these have familiar symbols attached. Mercury is “soul”; sulfur is “spirit”; and salt is “earth” or “body.” Perhaps most significantly, mercury or quicksilver (mercury is silver in color and liquid at room temperature) is used chemically to help extract gold from its natural ores. Sulfur is used to make sulfuric acid, which is naturally used in metalworking, such as etching. And salt is the great preserver: “Thou art the salt of the earth!” Incidentally, gold and platinum (a rarer chemical form of gold) are the most efficient conductors of electricity of all metals. Gold is also used by space exploration agencies to shield satellites and spacecraft from cosmic rays.

However, what does all this mean for us? Well, the great psychologist and esoteric explorer Carl Jung said that alchemists projected something from their subconscious minds into their work. By this, he meant that the appearance of gold using alchemy to make it out of lead – the lowest metal – is really a metaphor for the transformation of a base or animal-like human nature – obsessed with appetite, desires, and raw emotions – in an enlightened or spiritual being. There is a process involved in this transformation, a process that in real or more literal terms takes a long time, perhaps decades of one’s life, to achieve. The catalyst for all of this, the Philosopher’s Stone, would symbolize one’s return to the truth that the great philosopher Socrates spoke: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

But the literal process by which gold can be transformed into holy bread (this would also be a way to transform “base” gold into “spiritual” gold, paralleling the transformation from lead to gold) that gives great powers and immortality? Is it true? Maybe time will tell. But in the meantime, we can consider the process of alchemy as a ritual for transforming our lives from those of lack and emotional dullness to extraordinary experiences and manifesting our inner gold—our inner abundance—in this way.

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