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 What Is the Goal of an Alchemist?

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PostSubject: What Is the Goal of an Alchemist?   Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:28 pm

What would one be looking for that would motivate them to study alchemy? Most people think of alchemists as "gold makers", probably because of the great masters’ testimonies as to the transmutation abilities of the Philosopher’s Stone. Those reports seem so sincere that they motivate us to press on with the study and practice of alchemy. But we see the transmutation as not the end of the work, but as the proof of the Universal Medicine. This is the main reason for our quest, as you will see.

That which we look for is not the transmutation of Mercury or Lead as described by Philalethes in the Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King and by Flamel in Le Brèviére. In this day and age, it would only make sense to make gold in great amounts as Flamel describes in Le Brèviére, or in a way that makes alchemy a fact of science:

“So, if you intend to make a lot of gold, dear nephew, which is never advisable because it can bring inconvenience and damage, put one hundred thousand ounces of quicksilver in a great iron cauldron to strong fire. When it is hot to smoke, have already prepared one ounce of scarlet powder of the fourth imbibition, wrap it with wax as a small ball and throw it on the said quicksilver smoking. The smoke will disappear quickly. Activate the fire and soon it will change, part in mass and part in powder of yellow gold that you will melt in a crucible. You will drain in mass or ingot and you will extract of this whole mercury about 99,170 ounces of pure gold, of unbeatable quality, that you will use as you find best. Here you are, dear nephew, much richer than all the kings, because you will have more than they and more than they can dispose of in their entire mundane kingdoms. But you make gold little by little, with prudence, without revealing anything to anybody and without ever trusting anyone.”

Make a transmutation with 100,000 ounces (3.300 kg) of Mercury? I am not able to comment on this because we don’t really know what happened then, and have no way to believe in what Flamel wrote. It seems to be an exaggeration, but it would be very difficult to check out the truthfulness of this statement as it was written. Such an amount of gold, at that time, would have been very difficult to pass undetected, and the owner of it would be facing many dangers including capital punishment – as Philalethes tells us in the Open Entrance to the Closed Palace of the King:

“Men are so eager to have this Medicine that your very caution will arouse their suspicious, and endanger your safety. Again, if you desire to sell any large quantity of your gold and silver, you will be unable to do so without imminent risk of discovery. The very fact that anyone has a great mass of bullion for sale would in most places excite suspicion. This feeling will be strengthened when people test the quality of our gold; for it is much finer and purer that any of the gold which is brought from Barbary, or from Guinea Coast; and our silver is better even than that which is conveyed home by the Spanish silver fleet. If, in order to baffle discovery, you mix these precious metals with alloy, you render yourself liable, in England and Holland at least, to capital punishment; for in those countries, no one is permitted to tamper with the precious metals, except the officers of the mint, and the licensed goldsmiths.”

These days, gold can be sold in small ingots without this sort of problem. As long as it has been duly analyzed and certified as to its purity, there will always be an interested buyer. To illustrate, I once wanted to sell a little over 250 grams of gold (in nuggets) that was purchased in Angola around the time of its independence. I went to a shop that was recommended to me, but I was told that they could not buy it until it had been analyzed for its purity and was given a reference to a firm that could do this.

I was able to personally help an employee there melt the gold with gas and oxy-acetylene torches. He put the nuggets into a small crucible and applied heat for 20 minutes or more. When it was melted completely, it emitted a dry, cracking sound. I thought this to be quite wonderful, and asked why it did this. He answered: "It is the song of purity; fine gold sings when melted." It was truly beautiful to see and hear. When it was well liquefied, he poured it carefully into small molds to prepare ingots. After it was cooled, he weighed it minutely in my presence and gave me a document certifying its purity, which he was qualified to do. The other day, I found the certificate; the gold was reckoned at 99.8 percent, just two tenths of a percent from pure gold.

I went back to the previous shop to sell it, and the proprietor (apparently quite a profiteer) said that he would buy it to do me a favor. I did a little calculation on his offer and knew that he was really trying to take advantage of me. I told him that he needed to pay me the market price discounted by the two tenths of a percent. He quickly considered that I must be “inside the business” and agreed to the price. He did, however, want to pay me in bank notes which are a bit dangerous when traveling, but, after some discussion on the matter, I got him to pay by check. This increased his admiration because he usually bought gold from people who are in need of fast money, but this was not my case.

I just told this story to let you know how these days, you can always find a buyer if you just go through the formality of certification and have proper identification. In the case of the modern alchemist, it would just not make sense to make gold by transmutation, because the Philosopher’s Stone has other much more interesting characteristics and is actually more valuable than gold. Let us see how Fulcanelli describes these characteristics in Dwellings of the Philosophers:

“The masters of the art teach us that the goal of their labours is triple. What they seek to realize first is the Universal Medicine or the actual Philosopher's Stone. Obtained in a saline form, whether multiplied or not, only to be used for the healing of human illness, preservation of health, and growth of plants. Soluble in any alcoholic liquid, its solution takes the name of Aurum Potabile (although it does not even contain the least atom of gold) because it assumes a magnificent yellow colour. Its healing value and the diversity of its in therapeutics make it a precious auxiliary in the treatment of grave and incurable ailments. It has no action on metals, except on gold and silver, on which it fixes itself and to which it bestows its own properties which, consequently, becomes of no use for transmutation.”

“Finally, if we ferment the solid, Universal Medicine with very pure gold or silver, through direct fusion, we obtain the Powder of Projection, third form of the Stone. It is a translucent mass, red or, according to the chosen metal, pulverizable and appropriate only to metallic transmutation.”

Here then, we see in the writings of a modern master that he, and probably our old masters, did not see gold as the main purpose. Their search was for the Universal Medicine that would allow a human being to live in perfect health and extend the normal lifespan. Today, with the degradation of the environment and rampant disease, this Universal Medicine would be more valuable than all the gold in the world!

Rubellus Petrinus is a Portuguese alchemist who offers an excellent multi-language website devoted to the operative and speculative aspects of alchemy at http://pwp.netcabo.pt/r.petrinus.

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