Sunday, September 19, 2004

topic 4 - alchemy

Alchemy: The science of decomposing and recomposing things, as well as of changing their essential nature and raising it higher -- transmuting them into each other. While chemistry deals with lifeless matter, alchemy employs life as a factor, and deals with higher forces of nature and the conditions of matter under which they operate. In its lowest aspects, it deals with physical substances, but in its highest aspect it teaches the regeneration of the spiritual man, the purification of mind, will and thought, and the ennobling of all the faculties of the human soul.

Transmutation of Metals: The goal of the alchemists; especially the transmutation of...baser elements into gold.

Transmutation of the Body: The supreme goal of alchemy, the restoration of man to the state of beauty, perfection and physical immortality.

[Pursuit of these goals was also known as The Great Work.]
(definitions from the Dictionary of Mysticism, ed. Frank Gaynor)

These seem like quotes appropriate to the quest for human exaltation...

There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or in your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.
Martha Graham ~ as quoted in Dance to the Piper

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us: It's in everyone. As we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Nelson Mandela ~ Inaugural Speech, 1994

Bonus content: Divination:

"Gentlemen...I invite you to go and measure that [lottery] kiosk. You will see that the length of the counter is one hundred and forty-nine centimeters -- in other words one-hundred-billionth of the distance between the earth and the sun. The height at the rear, one hundred and seventy-six centimeters, divided by the width of the window, fifty-six centimeters, is 3.14. The height at the front is nineteen centimeters, equal, in other words, to the number of years of the Greek lunar cycle...With numbers you can do anything you like."

from Foucault's Pendulum, by Umberto Eco

For this section I wrote a first draft of a paper about the art and imagery of the Tarot... here it is if you are curious.


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