Further Thoughts on Alchemy

firecirclealchemybookThe very nature of alchemical language is intentionally cryptic. Even our modern word gibberish comes from an Arabic alchemist's name, Jabir -- whose cryptic alchemical notes were incomprehensible to the uninitiated.

"Universal Fire Circle Alchemy explores the metaphors and symbols of alchemy to create an experiential laboratory for safe and sacred play. We enter the vessel as individual elements. As we dance the sacred fire, we separate ourselves from that which separates us from ourselves and others. Dancing the fire, we deepen our relationships and forge lifetime connections. By playing, praying and blending together, we share our heart songs, offering our joys and tears, individuals dissolving into a solution.

As we refine our work and play, in the liquid embrace of rhythm and community, we discover the deepest mystery, a mystery that has been called the elixir of life, and the philosopher's stone. The Fire of Nature accelerates our growth, transforms our consciousness and lovingly evolves those of us participating in this Great Work. Alchemy is the magic by which we are transforming the leaden or heavy experiences of our lives into golden realizations and spiritual illuminations."
--J. Magnus McBride


"Alchemy is the ancient art of transformation. Alchemy presents a paradigm of transmutation, from the leaden to the gold, from the gross to the subtle, from the raw to the cooked, from the first matter to the philosopher's stone. It transcends all religious and cultural boundaries, and is an accessible map for seekers. By drawing on metaphors from alchemy, we are able to better understand the deeper workings of the fire circle."
--Abbi Spinner McBride

"Alchemy is the gentle acceleration of growth through the use of the fire of nature."
--Paracelsus


"Alchemy is the process of changing lead into gold; at least this is its most popular definition. It was practiced in many countries throughout the world for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years. As a result, alchemy has many definitions. It meant one thing to an Egyptian high priest and quite another to a fifteenth century apothecary...
--Thom Cavalli, Alchemical Psychology

"The philosopher's stone is a divine spark within us all, which can become a candle to illuminate our whole self. It is the embryo of our subtle body which lives on after the decay of our flesh. It is a crystal in the cave of our consciousness. It is a seed which can put forth golden shoots and blossom into a golden flower. It is a symbol of the wholeness and fulfillment to be attained when our body, soul, and spirit sing together in unison, when the stars within dance with those without, when the sun and the moon lie in tender embrace, and when the original harmony between heaven and earth is finally restored.

As the ancient alchemists said, the philosopher's stone is a stone and not a stone. It is the most precious thing in the world, and the most common, the most difficult, and child's play, to be found nowhere and everywhere. If allowed to grow, it will indeed bring everlasting life and untold riches, both here on Earth and in the world around the corner.

Whatever may happen to us in our lives, we can all be transformed from dead stones into living philosophical stones, of that I am certain."
--Peter Marshall, The Philosopher's Stone

Alchemical Traditions

*Practical Metallurgy -- Alchemy was born at the tribal fires of Paleolithic societies where people discovered that the fire acted on different materials in different ways. This led to the fire workers creating secret societies to protect their knowledge and power over fire and metals.

*Proto-Chemistry -- Medieval alchemists in European and Arabian countries sought to find the philosopher's stone through their chemical experiments on matter and metals. Many of these experiments lead to discoveries in medicine and eventually archaic alchemy transformed into modern chemistry, due to the works of many scientifically inclined, yet spiritually inspired, visionaries such as Paracelsus, and Isaac Newton.

*Spiritual -- In ancient Egypt, the legendary Thoth was the creator of magic, mathematics, language and writing. The Greek aspect of Thoth was the mythic figure of Hermes Trismegistis, whose "Emerald Tablet" was said to contain the secrets of alchemical transmutation. The Emerald Tablet was re-discovered in the West during the renaissance, and led many alchemists of that time to study both Arabic and Western Alchemical texts.

*Sexual Alchemy -- In the East, both Chinese and Indian traditions incorporate sexual imagery into the understanding of alchemy, the union of opposites, yin/yang, yoni/lingam, man/woman, and other dualities are unified into the "one thing," the great mystery. These traditions transmute sexual energy into union with the Divine.

*Psychological Alchemy -- One of the most important psychologists of the 20th century, Carl Jung, discovered the wealth of alchemical images that appear in dreams. Jung's work re-popularized the nearly forgotten study of alchemy in the twentieth century.

*Shamanic Alchemy -- Often, in shamanic traditions, we find sacred medicines, or elixirs, used to alter the state of consciousness of the shaman, as he or she enters healing trance. The preparation of this elixir is a further example of the alchemical process, and the dissolution of the individual ego in the shamanic state of consciousness is similar to the dissolution of metals in the alchemist's laboratory. The shaman's journey of death and resurrection mirrors the alchemist's experiments of dissolving and re-combining materials.
Michael Wall and Marthajoy Aft.