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John Reid's Course on Practical Alchemy - Introduction

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We meet outside Magickal Childe in New York City on a pleasant afternoon in May. There were three of us. One was a struggling actor, the other a mystic and student priest, the last, still searching for his place in life. We were all interested in alchemy. Each of us had studied either Albertus, Jung, or Junius. We agreed to undertake practical lab experiments in the quest to find out if what we had read in the old books were true or false. The searcher had compiled a library of works on alchemy comprised mostly of material written by Frater Albertus and the publications of the Paracelsus College and Research Society in Salt Lake City, Utah. We all believed in the validity of what we had read. In any event, we had convinced ourselves that what we had read was the gospel. Yet none of us really knew! Albertus was dead and as far as any of us knew there was no other teacher.

We had each other though, and our combined knowledge and zeal. We were fascinated by a strange coincidence. Our three birthdays were just three days apart. The actor on the 15th of May, the searcher on the 18th, and the mystic on the 21st. Our meeting was just three days after the mystic's birthday. Surely, we were meant to work together.

Within three weeks, the actor dropped out of the group. He was after all interested only in the spiritual aspects of alchemy. He was convinced that the terminology of alchemy dealt only with the subconscious. This left the mystic and the searcher. They started a lab together; cleaning the basement of the searcher's house, waterproofing the walls and asking Divine Providence to bless the place and their efforts. Three months later, and close to a thousand dollars of expense, the mystic dropped out. He was tired of looking at glassware trying to imbue the life-force into objects. The work was too tedious, boring, and expensive. Perhaps, the actor had been right in his assessment of the situation, perhaps it was all just spiritual.

The searcher pleaded with the mystic, surely what they had read in the old books and recent publications by the college must be true. There was, after all, a dual aspect to alchemy, the spiritual and practical part. Let us keep on a bit longer the searcher pleaded. The mystic would not hear of it, he had become involved with another learning system.

That left only the searcher. The seeds of doubt and fear had been planted in his mind, threatening to grow unchecked like a field of dandelions. He was afraid of walking that long road to the alchemist's inner sanctum alone. Sure of the failures that would meet him along the way, would he ever meet with success? Or would it end dismally? If failure did come, would it be because of the inadequacies of his being? Was he pure enough? Would it be because, as the actor and mystic had stated, alchemy was just a spiritual science after all? The searcher had only himself, and that stubborn taurine personality of his. It will be my life's work he vowed!

Yes only himself or so it seemed at the beginning. Slowly, it became evident there were forces that came into play far beyond his control. When an old book was needed that was so hard for others to find, it was a matter of him just picking up the phone and asking for it. The work in the lab for the first three years went slowly, but not the work on the personality. He would be initiated into a healing system. A lovely priestess would help rid him of a haunting dark past that had followed him through many incarnations. Finally, he would meet his Soror Mystica and the work would unfold grandly before his eyes.

I suppose much of this sounds like fiction, but it is not. All that is written is true and not embellished in any way. An interesting book could be written about those experiences, but this book is not meant for that.

Many years after my first tentative experiments into making a simple spagyric herbal extract, I am still that searcher. It is not whether the tenets laid down in alchemical writings are true or false. They are true, as I have proven to myself. The search continues now for the new vistas that alchemy can take me to. I leave my record of accomplishments to you as the search continues. This I swore before Divine Providence to do, should success ever be met with upon this royal road to the palace of the King. Success has been achieved, but the credit for it belongs to Divine Providence and not myself.

It was through prayer and work that light was shed upon the operations described by the old masters. Admittedly, many times the anticipated outcome was not what came about. Always a key to one of the many locked doors was given and in time the language and meaning of the alchemist was understood.

Therefore, this book is not a rehashing of the books before it, or a going over of the history of alchemy. It is a book written from personal experience and the lessons received in those quiet and still moments during meditation in the lab. This book goes beyond those that I have learned from as it gives the entire herbal processes in a clear and precise way. True, there is some thinking that needs tobe done on your part, but it is well worth the brain strain.

In closing let me say that it is true when Hermes Trismegistus wrote. "What is below is like that which is above and what is above is like that which is below for performing the miracle of one thing."

The processes in performing the herbal work coincides exactly with that of the mineral work as laid down in the old books. It produces phenomena as they described; that you can hold in your hand and see with your eyes. Substances like the Virgin's Milk or Glue of the Eagle, the Red Mercury, and the White Mercury. As Cockren points out, the philosophically prepared body will drink the two Mercuries and rise like dough. There are many surprises in store for you in this little book and the pictures it contains. So please, Ora, Lege, et Labora! (Pray, Read, and Work!)