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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thoughts on Alchemy

Voarchadumia, ars distincta ab Archimia et Sophia is the title of a work published by Giovanni Agostino Pantheo in 1530 in which the author attempts to create some order amongst various interpretations of the methods and aims of Alchemy. In 1518, Pantheo published Ars transmutationis metallicae and he was perhaps the first to relate the Alchemical Work (Cabalisticum archimicae artis magisterium) to the Kabbalah, by introducing the Hebrew names of the Tetragrammaton and Gematria into his treatises. With the term Voarchadumia he firmly specifies the difference between Alchemy, a term which refers to the ignorant and fraudulent and Archemy (from archè = principle and mia = one, therefore ‘the principle of unity’) namely, the True Art of the Transmutation of Metals and the Elixir of Life.

This treatise on ‘spiritual ‘metallurgy which inspired the greatest Hermeticists and alchemists of the epoch, narrates that Voarchadumia was also a Hermetic and Rosicrucian Society (probably of Portuguese origin though its most important general quarter was to be found in Venice). Custodian not only of esoteric mysteries and scientific knowledge (then heretical) but also practices of an alchemical, magic and tantric nature, it interwove occult relationships between Hermeticists and Scientists. It was often forced to remain hidden, along with the powerful of the time, in order to preserve and develop knowledge because of the obscurantism of the Church and the narrow mindedness of Aristotelian thinkers. Certainly the Jesuits, just as in the case of the Illuminati of Bavaria[1], sought, in every way possible, to obstruct these forms of spiritual search, free experimentation and circulation of knowledge. They even went so far as to produce counterfeit documents and certificates, many of which today, for example, are waved around as proof of the existence of a connection between the Bavarian Illuminati and the ‘Illuminati’ of conspiracy theorists, or those of the New World Order and its mysterious and powerful elite, behind which hide notorious alien hierarchies and ancestral families of hybrid terrestrials.

Without negating the existence of large scale political-economical influence, we need to neatly distance ourselves from conspiracy theories as they are presented today (most of all those with a disputable historical basis, which in turn trigger likewise disputable ‘Evemeristic’ reconstructions[2] of myths and human archetypes). Unfortunately, today the term Illuminati is now mostly used to definitively indicate this true or purportedly true global elite.

The Voarchadumia also seems to be linked with the so called ‘Hungarian Lodge’ (in its turn linked to the ‘Himalayan Lodge’) as well as a mysterious Secret Society operating in the XVI and XVII centuries in Europe, also noted in 1470 as ‘The Fog’ or the ‘Angelic Society’.

Such derivations lead back to more archaic fraternities like that of the (mythical) Naacal, however we must also bear in mind that all initiate societies seek to trace their origins back in time, sometimes alleging outlandish pseudo-historic concatenations to ancient Egypt, Atlantis and so on, rather than to Chaldean priests. Even though their historical attempts may prove to be inadequate, it is important to consider the symbolic and archetypical connections they have with such values at a spiritual level of elective affinities and magic revival.

The myth arising around this Rosicrucian Order with its bizarre name, talks of a document known as the Protocol of the Elders of Caldeirão, of Atlantean origins which is kept in the pyramids of Giza. The writings supposedly hand down the traditions of Agartha, a kingdom inside the Earth’s core governed by a ‘King of the World’, whose access is guarded by ethereal hyperborean guardians in strict alliance with the grand Masters such as: Hermes Trismegistus, John Dee, Nicolas Flamel, Cagliostro, Saint-Germain and therefore Blavatsky etc. Members of the Voarchadumia, included many artists, philosophers, scientists and Renaissance alchemists, the same John Dee (the Order widely used the method of evocation outlined in the ‘Keys of Enoch’), Giordano Bruno, Giorgione, Francesco Colonna and perhaps Galileo.

There exists an Alchemy of Living Forces, an Alchemy of Spent Forces and a series of successive classifications (Tantra, Alchemy of Characters, Alchemy of the People, Alchemy of Metals, Genetic Alchemy, Spagyrical, Temporal and so on).

In the Horusian tradition, the term ‘Spent Forces’ is used to describe the energies closed inside minerals, in the Earth, Air, Water and Fire - even though the latter possesses peculiar characteristics that distinguish it from other ‘spent’ elements. –

If material Form is individuated into basic elements (although this is described in very different terms in Eastern Alchemy), the distinctive parameters for all planes of existence are:

·        The number of dimensions
·        The level of density
·        The temporal direction

It is clear how, at a certain level, Alchemy fuses with Esoteric Physics and the latter with Magic and therefore mysticism: the distinctions  between such disciplines however, should only be seen as purely conventional and didactically useful.

All the forces that derive from life are ‘Living Forces’, those that originate from living, human, animal and vegetable Form, or of a subtle or divine nature.

‘Living Forces’ contain vital essence, the intrinsic quality of living Form, the emotional element, the function or specific ability, or else the particular state of consciousness expressed in a given moment, represented and supported by a simulacrum (witness) that can also be – but not necessarily – an animal, a plant or its parts.

The fundamental precepts of Alchemy are: To Know - To Dare - To Want -To Be Silent.

The Alchemist investigates and evolves him/herself by means of the world; investigates and evolves the world by means of him/herself. The true aim of Alchemy is in fact to realize the Complete Human Being or to reassemble the Primordial Androgen. The whole of the alchemical process is a ritual and it is necessary to be ‘initiated’: The Esoteric Order is in its turn an alchemical Atanor (crucible) of Living Forces.

The interdisciplinary investigation into the extraordinary relationship between alchemical allegory and the psychology of the inner self can be found in the admirable work of Carl. G. Jung. On this occasion it is important to know that in every pure alchemical element, expediently dealt with and conserved, precise equilibriums and priorities of derivative laws are combined in a fixed and immutable composition.
Knowing the specific dominances, in every element, the alchemist is able to indirectly manipulate the fundamental laws of our world by using alchemical elements, rather than operating directly on the time matrices which is the goal of Magic - although at a higher level – be it alchemical or magic/realizational. This relationship with reality is searched for inside the self, where the functions of the world are recognized as expressions of one’s own working Consciousness.

By Alchemy we are talking about operating on ‘maya’, of finding the correspondences for moving – by means of the essences – the fundamental constituents of the forces of Nature, while with Alchemy and Magick – the term used by Crowley to distinguish this high level of Magic from its lower and more distorted expressions – we explore the reflections of our world/consciousness on the real and vice versa.

When dealing with Alchemy it is necessary to mention an important concept that is often neglected: the Shadow element.

In this world where we forget
We are shadows of who we are,
And the real actions we perform
In the other world, where we live as souls,
Are here wry grins and appearances.
                                                          Fernando Pessoa

The existence of ‘something’ is always preceded by the idea of its absence, or else by its non-existence. After all, in our daily lives is it not true to say that we only realize the value of something when it is missing?

When a universe is born a counter universe, is also born as compensation (0 = (+1) + (-1)): the shadow universe, or ‘universe B’. It has nothing to do with anti-matter and is a profound and complete antithesis: an immaterial universe.

In fact, from the processes of the cosmic creation, described in the first chapter, the manifestation of the universe of Form not only emanates at various levels and existential planes, but also its ‘shadow’: a counter-universe whose door of  access is represented on the Tree of Life, by the mysterious and controversial sphere of Daath. There we find the point of union (and separation) not between mass and energy, but between the Absolute and the Universe, between Empty and Full, between Creator and Creation, between Reality and Illusion, between Knowledge and the Abyss.

In the same way, when we ‘create’ an element in alchemical operations, we ‘extract’ it from the All and, as compensation, the corresponding counter-element is generated in the shadow universe.

For example, in Hebrew tradition, revived and re-elaborated by modern esoteric schools of thought, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, with its Sephiroth, represents the universe as luminous and manifest. But another universe also exists, that of the shadowy and destructive Qliphoth: the dark side of that tradition.

The Alchemist has to manage both sides of reality harmoniously and elevate him/herself above duality and appearances.

[1] The Illuminati or to be more precise the Order of the Illuminati, is the name of a secret Bavarian society of the XVIII century. The name has been associated, for the most part wrongly, with numerous secret societies of occult origin. The Order of the Illuminati was founded in Ingolstadt (Germany) in 1776 by Johann Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830). At the beginning its members were just university students, with the declared intent of promoting the works of ‘Lumi’ inside the state of Bavaria, which prohibited many such writings. In reality, the thought of Adam Weishaupt which was much more occult, sustained that “Every man is capable of finding the Inner Light inside of himself... becomes equal to Jesus, that is Man-King...”. The society was formed as an alternative to the newly born German Masonry, maintaining its character of secrecy and hierarchical divisions on the basis of initiation. According to the judicial deposition of Professor Renner during the legal proceedings in Bavaria: “The Order of the Illuminati should be clearly distinguished from that of the Freemasons. But this difference is not recognized by simple Freemasons, neither by new initiates of the Minervale Grade. The Illuminati no longer fear to be recognized by this name”. From the Middle Ages to modern times various organizations have defined themselves as the ‘Illuminati’ for example: the Confraternity of the Free Spirit, the Rosicrucians, the Alumbrados, the Illuminés, the Martinists and the Palladists.
From the 1800’s, especially in the field of conspiracy theories, a widespread socio-pathological phenomenon for a couple of centuries if not more, the term ‘Illuminati’ has been generally associated with followers of secret societies inspired by occult a/o globalist ideas, independent of whether they were in fact really correlated to the Order of the Illuminati: Skull & Bones, Round Table, Pilgrim Society, Fabian Society, Royal Institute of International Affairs, Council on Foreign Relations, Bohemian Club, Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, the Club of Rome, the Carnegie Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation etc.
[2] Evemerism was a position on the philosophy of religion held by Evemero, historian and philosopher of the Hellenistic age who sustained that the gods represent deified human subjects.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Thoughts on Magic

Magick takes every thought and act for its apparatus; it has the Universe for its Library and its Laboratory; all Nature is its Subject. […] There are a great many people who quite misunderstand the nature of Magick. They have an idea that it is something vague and unreal, instead of being, as it is, a direct means of coming into contact with reality.

Aleister Crowley - Magick in Theory and Practice

A universal science exists through which we can know and work on different planes of reality and different levels of Consciousness. Through it we can contact and connect together laws, entities, natural and spiritual forces of whatever order or grade, both inside and outside of us.

Today we might define it as the ‘ dynamic of the dimensions’, or the science of correspondence that – calling upon Hermetic principles[1]:

·        through true Will
·        applying the correct Knowledge
·        employing the necessary energy

allows us to overcome the limits of space and time, acting ‘as Above so Below’, on ‘similar responds to similar’ and where ‘Thought creates’.

During the Renaissance, Magic was correctly referred to as the “Art of making things happen”. In fact in its most abstract sense magic was seen as a method of obtaining precise advantages from the relationship between Will, Knowledge and Energy.

More recently, in a certain sense, magic has also been defined as the unknown or forgotten ‘science’.

We can read in the Lemegeton, or The Lesser Key of  Solomon, that “Magic is nothing more than the highest, most absolute, divine knowledge of Natural Philosophy, made to progress towards the complete efficacy of its wondrous workings through a correct understanding of the inner and hidden virtues of things…”.

Papus (Gérard Encausse, 1865-1916), in his Methodical Treatise of Practical Magic says: “Magic is the projection of vital energy driven by the human Will“.

Aleister Crowley writes, in his Magick:

Magick is the Science and Art of causing change to occur in conformity with Will.
Man is capable of being and using anything which he perceives, for everything that he perceives is in a certain sense a part of his being. He may thus subjugate the whole Universe of which he is conscious to his individual Will.
Magick is the Science of understanding oneself and one’s conditions. It is the Art of applying that understanding in action.

Effectively in the sixteenth century Jacob Boehme (1575-1624), in his De Electione Gratiae Questiones Theosophicae describes the determining mechanisms of the power of Will in this way:

The will is the ‘mysterium magnum’, the great mystery of all wonders and secrets, and yet it driveth forth itself, through the imagination of the desiring hunger, into substance. It is the original of nature; its desire maketh a representation; this representation is no other than the will of the desire, yet the desire maketh in the will such a substance as the will in itself is. The true ‘Magia’ is no substance, but the desiring spirit of substance; it is an unsubstantial matrix, and revealeth of manifesteth itself in the substance. The ‘Magia’ is a spirit, and the substance is its body. The ‘Magia’ is the greatest hidden secret, for it is above Nature; it maketh Nature according to the form of its will.

Another interesting definition is supplied by Evelyn Underhill in Mysticism (1930):

Magic in its uncorrupted form claims to be a practical, intellectual, highly individualistic science, working towards the declared end of enlarging the sphere on which the human will can work and obtaining experimental knowledge of the planes of being usually regarded as being transcendental.

Today we can define magic as a form of active and aware mysticism. I would like to discuss those aspects of magic knowledge that can be found among the basics of the discipline of ‘Esoteric Physics’[2].

Aldous Huxley, citing the Philosophia Perennis of Leibniz, spoke of

A metaphysics that recognizes a divine consubstantial Reality in the world of things, lives and minds; it is a psychology that discovers in the soul something similar to divine Reality or even identical to it: an ethic which assigns Mankind as its final goal, the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Foundation of all that which is.

Spiritual realization does not consist of reaching any particular certainty but of a continuous openness to change, of the continuous capacity to ask questions, to search, to grow and to renew oneself.

Man is a microcosm: that is, an image (concentrated around the point of consciousness) of the macrocosm, or Universe. This theorem is guaranteed by the hylo-idealistic demonstration that the perceptible is an extension, or phantasm of the nervous system.

Aleister Crowley – Little Essays Towards Truth

According to all creation myths, the human being is a great primordial Consciousness that ‘decides’ to have a new experience by renouncing its oneness to reflect itself in a multiplicity of Form, renouncing all omniscience to explore unpredictability and therefore free will, to  transform an existential mechanism into a conscious process. Mankind, forgets immortality to live in time and to experiment with transience and death, adventuring into the labyrinth of the possible to re-comprehend the cosmic sense of Self by means of life; our same life.

Form, worlds and every being are thus the pieces of a puzzle to be put back together according to a unitary and complete design that we conserve inside ourselves; that incorruptible memory of the All. We are Gods all intent on becoming human: we are humans in gestation. 

[1] Hermes Trismegistus is a legendary figure from the Hellenic Age, venerated as a Master of wisdom and the author of the ‘Corpus Hermeticum’. The foundation of the philosophy known as Hermeticism is attributed to him. Hermes Trismegistus literally means ‘Hermes the threefold greatest’. With this name he wanted to assimilate Ermete, Greek god of logos, Thoth, the Egyptian god of writing, numbers and geometry. According to the scholar Athanasius Kircher of the XVII century: ‘The Arabs called him Idris, the Hebrews Hadores(...), the Phoenicians (...) Tauto, the Egyptians (...) Thot, but also Ptha, and the Greeks Ermete Trismegisto.’ Hermeticism had a notable influence over Medieval and Renaissance culture.
[2] ‘Esoteric Physics’ is a term that I still use as a result of the experience I had in Damanhur up until 2004, during which I was the author of numerous essays on the subject. Having left that Community experience many years ago in order to pursue my own research in a freer and more authentic way that was closer to my feelings, I have taken it up again, integrated, compared and developed it in a direction all of my own – having discussed with many researchers in the broadest of multi-disciplinary contexts the exploration of what is an exceptionally vast subject.