Secrets from the Fire: A Note on the Noble Art of Alchemy

It has become common place that many people today use the words alchemy and alchemical incorrectly. There is glamour to the Art that all desire, but empty words are empty words. New Age spirituality has all but bankrupted the common mind through confusion spawned by idealist notions that “if I name it thus it is.”

Alchemy is a science with ancient lineage and is at its core concerned with material things. After all we cannot transmute what is immaterial. The work of alchemy is the assisting of Natura in her perfection of all things. We are taking the material and spiritualizing it, not the other way around, by the freeing of the core principles of its being: Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt.

The three essentials, hidden within all things, are ever present, the very epicenter of our being resides in the eternal cycles of these three. But through the labors summed up in the alchemist’s motto, solve et coagua*, we elevate a material being by separating and purifying each of these principles before recombining them. The recombining of the Three Essentials constitutes the “resurrection” of the matter we began with, now elevated by philosophical means.

Each step of the way is an initiation that can only truly be grasped by doing it. The mysteries of this Art will never be revealed by the pages of books alone. There are secrets that fire alone can reveal. Fire after all is the most spiritual of the elements, it’s sparks ever rising higher. It is a medium of transmutation as we continue to elevate the herb with which we began into a philosophical medicine. But there are primary and secondary to fire in our work.

Pyromancy, or flame scrying is a divinatory technique that can be employed whenever we are using fire in our magic. The hypnotic dance of a candle or from our crucibles can reveal hidden influences and the outcome of our workings. This is the secondary use of fire in calcination. As we free the salt from the physical being of the prima materia we also free its spiritual virtues to be seen in the flames of its pyre. Only the alchemist can understand these secrets by way of daring to do the work. The salamanders, or fire elementals, believed to lie in the heart of ever flame, are the ones who complete our work alongside us in the crucible. Remember the old motto: Igne natura renovatur integra “Through Fire, nature is reborn whole.”

Planetary affirmations of Being

“I am the one who chooses my boundaries, beliefs and promises.

I am the one who upholds my faith, values and  morals.

I am the one responsible for my anger, outbursts and mistakes.

I am sovereign over my life, the ultimate authority over myself and my actions, incomparable to any other.

I am the one responsible for my appetites, affections and relationships.

I am responsible for my words and the one to speak for myself, my words are valuable and deserve to be heard and remembered for good or ill.

I am the one responsible for my body, caring for it, accepting it and loving it.

As my soul descended through the chain of being, from ultimate Godhood, to physical form, I took on these gifts of the planets and bring them with me from my celestial journeys into my embodiment here and now.

I am. I was. And I will return.”

These seven affirmations are inspired by the nature and virtue of each of the seven classical planets. They are written with the intent of observing a moment of mindfulness through the lens of astrology and Hermetic religious beliefs. I wrote these hoping to give myself something I could use alongside the skills of dialectical behavioral therapy to promote the use of the mindfulness skills especially when dealing with black and white thinking and other cognitive distortions. It is also inspired by the belief that when we are born we descend through the various celestial sphere, from the first moved, to the fixed stars, to the planets and then to our body, here on earth, bringing along certain gifts and lessons and sometimes hardships to be overcome during life. I have personally found adopting this belief system to help me feel more at home in my body and accepting of myself, traumas and all. I hope others find it helpful too and even if you don’t I hope you keep healing in the ways best suited for you.