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John Reid's Course on Practical Alchemy - I. Chapter 5.
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Anyone with a little know-how on the subject of alchemy will realize that the information presented in the last four chapters is no one individual's exclusive domain. Yet a review of certain basic facts is indispensable when dealing with a subject such as this. Most of the information presented so far can be gleaned from many of the titles listed in the suggested reading section of this book.
Concluding Remarks on Theory
For those persons who think that I am trying to revive pre-Newtonian physics with a liberal sprinkling of superstition because of the last chapter on astro-cyclic pulsations, it is suggested that they read the works by Lillian Kolisko and Agnes Fayfe. If still more proof is needed, then the experiments on capillary dynomolysis can be reproduced by the individual. It is a fascinating thing to see these experiments unfold before one,s eye. After a while there can be no doubt about the connection between celestial bodies and terrestrial matter.
I would also like to mention the Qabbalah here. When a light and sporadic study of this subject was started a few years ago, I did not think it could really help me in alchemy. After all, how could a funny looking glyph impart any useful information. As I have gotten deeper into the lab work, correlations between substances and the tree of life developed in my mind. The glyph of the qabbalist known as the tree of life will aid the aspiring alchemist in his/her quest to understand the universe and how the subtlest intimations and the grossest manifestations are interconnected. I will not try to write on this subject as I am still trying to master it.
Finally let me say that it is indeed a truth when they say that hermetic science is made up of three disciplines: alchemy, astro-cyclic pulsations (astrology) and Qabbalah. The aspiring alchemist should at least have a working knowledge of the theory of all three of the disciplines. After this, one,s own natural predisposition will set one upon the appropriate path with which to start. For me, it was the laboratory work, because from childhood I have always been fascinated by the laboratory and its apparatus. After doing experiments in the lab for some time I realized that at times it seemed that certain procedures were expedited or impeded for some unknown reason. When checking back over my lab notes a pattern soon emerged that was inescapable and it dealt with the moon. Therefore, astrology had to be learnd if the work was to run as smoothly as possible. This of course led to the question of why planetary positions would affect the outcome of a lab experiment. The only way to understand this would be the study of Qabbalah.
One need not necessarily start in the lab, one could start with astro-cyclic pulsations or qabbalah. In the end, however, if you are meant to be in this science and you have enough persistence, the three will join into one. Experience is the best teacher, because it brings the subject matter to life in a very personal way. Of course, it is nice to have a mentor who will give you a pointer or actually show you how to do a procedure every once in a while. The great thrill, though, comes from actually doing it yourself. Would you have been contented or even wanted someone to always experience or describe your "First's" to you? Would you have wanted them to see and experience for you your first snow, taste of sugar, feel of rain, sight of death, burn of a flame, your first kiss or congress? I would think not. Each of these things no matter how sweet or unpleasant has allowed us to grow by experiencing them. This, after all, is the crux of alchemy, to grow in knowledge and evolve through experience so that after some time, we can with wisdom imitate the cosmos at will.