The How-to of Alchemy;
On the evening of October 27th 2010, I went to the pub and bought two drinks. The place was empty except for a group of people beside the door, one of whom may have been a friend of my sister at one stage. I had taken two books along with me; English and American Surrealist Poetry, Edited by Edward B. Germain, and Ovid / The Serpent's Teeth.
On the subject of how to interpret surrealist poetry, Germain insists "that it is absolutely necessary to take the poem literally. Critics who dismiss surrealism as senseless––meaning nothing–or as fantasy–meaning nothing real – fail at this initial step. If the poet writes 'A horse galloping on a tomato', that is exactly what he means, not that the horse trod on a tomato while passing by."*
*This method is also of key importance to Wayfinding in Psychogeographic Intelligences (or Psychint).
In The Serpent's Teeth, Cadmus attendants are attacked, and devoured, by an enormous serpent while collecting water at a spring. Cadmus goes in search of them and, confronting the beast, manages to pin it against an oak tree with his spear. Then Pallus, the hero's patroness, tells him 'to plough up the earth, and to sow the serpent's teeth, as seeds from which people would spring.' When he does this, a whole host of warriors grow up out of the ground and commence battle. The survivors of this battle are Cadmus' attendants resurrected from the grave. Anyone who is at all familiar with the mysteries of alchemy will certainly note them here.
The bubbling springs, the black serpent, and the oak tree are all archetypes of the Great Work. The third of Arthur C. Clarke's Three Laws states; Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. As we know, Alchemy is a total science of energy transformation. With alchemy it is possible to;
- to slow or halt the aging process
- change one elemental material into another
- change any element into pure energy
- transform energy into any material object you desire,
- and to shift these objects into different dimensional plains, past or future.
For thousands of years, adepts and initiates have struggled to unravel the secret of the Great Work, to achieve these stated ends. Few have succeeded, and those that did were destined to live out the remainder of their days in secrecy; no doubt exiled on the White Mountain. But, I am about to reveal to you the alchemical mystery, because all but a handful of you will be able to recognise it.
Seeing as how alchemy is obviously the most technologically advanced science there could possibly be, its application is rightly 'indistinguishable from magic.' Anyone who has ever seen 'Harry Potter' will know that magical spells are cast by incantation, which– contrary to public opinion– does not have to be proclaimed aloud, but can be recited silently to oneself, much like a prayer. An example of an alchemical formula can be found wherever alchemical archetypes occur in their proper proportions, and in their proper context. The Serpent's Teeth by Ovid is a good example of such an occurrence. As with all magical incarnations, timing is all important. Conjunctions between planets and stars, as well as cross-quarter days, can have either positive or negative effects on your alchemical formulation.
And now a warning. There is a well-known saying in alchemical circles, which goes; Beware the serpent. The serpent is a wily, cunning character, with many tricks up its sleeve. The ancient alchemical symbol of the ouroborus (the snakes that eats its own tale) is a good indicator of this. The ouroboros has different meanings to different societies, but its true meaning––in these circumstances––is that of the law of the winds of Karma. If you dare cast an alchemical spell, you had first better atone for all your sins, or at least fear God, because every pain you ever dealt another will be repaid upon you in full. One important clue to this comes from the line spoken to Cadmus, after he has defeated the black serpent;
Son of Agenor, why stare at the snake you have slain? You too, will become a serpent, for men to gaze upon.
The Serpent's Teeth Formula is particularly insidious, in this regard, because it also represents a closed loop. The men are devoured by the snake, which is murdered by Cadmus, who sows the serpent's teeth and in turn regenerates the men who were devoured by the snake, which is murdered by Cadmus... it just goes on and on. For this reason, you should be certain that you can live with the consequences of that which you desire, as anyone wishing to break this spell will need to expound an awful lot of energy in order to do so.
An example of the negative equity incurred is most apparent in the case of immortality. Anyone who is immortal processes energy in a completely different way from an ordinary human being. Being immortal means they no longer have to eat or sleep. So, if you are in anyway accustomed to either of these luxuries, you will find this lifestyle extremely uncomfortable and generally unsatisifying.
Walking home from the pub that night, I passed a empty and parked car with only one headlight glowering in the darkness, like a single eye. My thoughts, although distant, raced with a fury. They were deeply involved in the retelling of a theological debate between Horselover Fat and his friend Kevin, from Philip K Dick's novel Valis. Kevin repeatedly denied the existence of a loving-God on the grounds that a such an entity would have prevented his cat from being run over. I listened to this debate with a certain amount of incredulity, as I had never allowed myself take a back seat to my own internal dialogue so completely before. I was only asked for my opinion at the very end, when I had to confirm that Kevin's argument was fallacious. I now suspect that the discussion I overheard was between God and the parked car–attempting, no doubt, to absolve itself of any unwarranted guilt.
Perhaps, theological conversations of this kind are going on between inanimate objects and God all the time, and the conclusions they come to, in turn, populate our minds as profound thoughts. Given the events that followed I suspect that the car was VALIS, or the plasmate, in disguise, and that it was probably at this precise moment that I was ambushed by the One-True God.
From reading Valis, it is apparent that the goal of the Hermetic Alchemists––to locate the Holy Grail which gives eternal life––is commensurate to the discovery of the plasmate; an alien creature that existed in inter-species symbiosis with Jesus Christ. It is also apparent that the only thing needed in order to achieve this end is the desire of the equivalent, and the incantation of one of the alchemist's formulas; namely that of the Serpent's Teeth Formula (STF).