Author Archive

And thus it ends…

May 13, 2015 5 comments

The primary purpose of this site was to prevent the uninformed from being misinformed and misled by psychologists, academics, charlatans, occultists, etc. It did not exist to satisfy curiosity about what one might assume was important.

An opportunity was provided for people to learn from complex impacts and indirect teaching, but this has not been recognized nor utilized; rather most questions answered in a way that did not match the format desired and expected by the questioner received no attention (or negative attention).

When it was pointed out that practice must inform theory, it was assumed that such a response was from a position of subjectivity and that such was an example of cultic activity.

We had been determined to stop teaching and pull down the whole site quite some time ago, and perhaps we should have done so. It would appear that there is little to no value in the alchemystical format for people at this time and in this place (at least not with our humble self at the helm)—and since such a format is not at all necessary, if it happens to serve as a distraction it is best discontinued.

Just to be clear, this ceasing of activity is not the result of any one person’s actions or any one event … it is the result of broad issues and has been a long time coming.

Now, that said, we have both enjoyed our time with you; but as that does not justify the continuance of activity, we bid you Godspeed on your quest. We will leave portions of this site up so that it may continue to serve its original function.

It would almost surely be more useful for persons to take the texts of the Traditionalist and Shah schools and use them to inform their practice of one of the revealed World religions (Buddhism, Christianity and Islam).

One final bit of advice: beware of what you desire, beware of what you think you know, and always, with every breath, assay your mettle.

Best wishes to you all,

james & Xiaoyao

P.S. Xiaoyao and I are acutely aware of our failure to be of greater assistance to you, our fellow wayfarers, and we wish you all well for your future travels along whatever path you may choose to follow.

Categories: Uncategorized

Of Mines, Metals, Minerals and Natures

March 5, 2014 8 comments


“Within this Mine two Stones of old were found,
Whence this the Ancients called Holy Ground;
Who knew their Value, Power and Extent,
And nature how with Nature to Ferment.
For these if you Ferment with Natural Gold
Or Silver, their hid Treasures they unfold,
According to their Natures then proceed,
And take care properly each one to feed;”

– The ‘key’ lines from Verse on the Threefold Sophic Fire


The First Four Lines:
“Within this Mine two Stones of old were found,
Whence this the Ancients called Holy Ground;
Who knew their Value, Power and Extent,
And nature how with Nature to Ferment.”


The technical term ‘Mine’ is the root of the term mineral, which latter means: ‘that which is drawn from a mine’; which is why, in alchemy, the term is sometimes used in reference to both metals and minerals.

The term ‘mine’ also, more generally, refers to ‘an excavation in the earth from which ore or minerals can be extracted, as well as the site of such an excavation, with its surface features and tools’. It also means ‘an abundant supply or source of something valuable.’

The ‘two stones’ that are found here are the two natures: Absolute and relative, Universal and Individual, Agent and Patient, Objective and Subjective, Active and passive, Gold and Silver.

A ‘mine’, in the alchemystical sense, is thus ‘Holy Ground’ because it is the source of all that we are, were, or can be. We have become estranged from our true Nature, but the mine (as abundant source of that which is most valuable and necessary to human life) is ever there should we desire to return to it and uncover the ‘root’ or ‘radix’ (referred to elsewhere in this text as the ‘radical humidity’) – which is also the soothing ‘balm’ of our true Nature. That root (or radix) being recovered, the individual is then a walking ‘mine’ (a repository of essence, liquor, elixir, alchahest, azoth, stone, tingeing powder, etc.) from which others may receive ‘tincturing’ (which term refers to the process of ‘projecting the stone’). The recovery of Universal Nature (Original Infinite Life) provides one with the capacity to serve as a source for the fermentation of other individual natures.

The hermetic axiom associated with this process/function runs thus:

Nature delights in nature,
Nature conquers nature,
and Nature masters nature.


Let us examine each of these functions individually.

Nature delights in nature [sympathia]
This means that the universal Nature delights in the individual nature – the Universal is the salvation of the individual (this relationship is termed ‘value’ in the third line) – the Biblical correlative of which would be “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever has faith in him should not perish but have eternal life“.

Nature conquers nature [antipathia]*
This means that the Universal Nature penetrates the Individual nature through and through (this relationship is termed ‘extent’ in the third line) – the Biblical correlative of which would be “I in them and thou in me, that they may be Perfect in One“).

Nature masters nature [magisteria]
This means that the Universal Nature overcomes the individual nature (this relationship is termed ‘power’ in the third line) – the Biblical correlative of which would be “Be still and know that I am God.“)


The Greater Ferment
This ferment can be had direct from the source. It deserves to be called Greater Ferment inasmuch as it remains absolute beyond dualism and contingecies and is the sole or at least primary source of ferment used in the sudden or solo work. The greater ferment could also be called Natural Gold.

The Intermediate Ferment
This ferment can be had from a more proximate locus in the form of an inheritor or exemplar of the tradition, in which case the ferment is not as absolute as the former, but neither is it as susceptible to misuse and abuse as the lesser ferment (see below). This ferment is intermediate inasmuch as it has the benefit of infusions of essence/baraka (through projection of the stone), but though it also uses encoded laws, rules and regulations there is nevertheless an agent able to interpret and reinterpret such laws as necessary for a given time, place and people. The intermediate ferment could also be called manufactured or sterling Silver.

The Lesser Ferment
Lastly, ferment may be had indirectly from the textual and cultural remains of the tradition: in moral codes, regulations, rules, laws and rites. Such ferment is impaired to the extent that the encoding of such material participates in the inevitable limitations of language, concepts, dualisms and contingencies. This lesser ferment could also be called crude Copper (which nevertheless has the seed of gold within it).

The primary intent of the text regards the Greater and/or intermediate ferment and its use in each of the three actions: sympathia (or value), antpathia (or extent) and magisteria (or power) in relation to either the solo or cooperative work.


The Second Four Lines:
“For these, if you Ferment with Nat’ral Gold,
Or Silver, their hid Treasures they unfold,
According to their Natures then proceed”
And take care properly each one to feed;


By the use of the plural, ‘Natures’, is here meant ‘Gold’ (Universal, Essential Nature) and Silver (individual, formal nature) – or also see above for an alternate interpretation where these refer to the quality of the ferment. Rather than eliminating the one or the other nature, we establish that balance which is the unique and defining characteristic of the ‘Man of Insight and Reason’, which our Sufi parent tradition defines as

Someone who sees Truth in creation and creation in Truth, without either of them being veiled by the other; rather he sees one existence in its reality – as Truth from one point of view, and as creation from another. Thus he is not veiled by multiplicity from witnessing the face of the One and Only in its Essence. Nor does he have any difficulty contemplating the multiplicity of the manifestations of the Oneness of the Essence, by which he is illuminated. Similarly, he is not veiled by the oneness of the face of Truth from witnessing the multiplicity of created things; neither does he have any trouble witnessing the Oneness of the Essence revealing itself in the manifestation of multiplicity.


Or, as Ibn al Arabi (aka ‘Doctor Maximus’) relates:

So in creation lies the essence of Truth
If you are a Man of Insight;
And in Truth lies the essence of creation
If you are a Man of Reason;
But if you were a Man of both Insight and Reason,
Then you could not help but see:
The essence and the form of a thing are one.


The phrase “And take care properly each one to feed” finds its Biblical correlative in “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”). Neither nature is to be clung to over against the other for to do so creates imbalance. Nor should either nature be mistaken for, or given the prerogatives of, the other.

In the alternative interpretation where Gold and Silver refer to the quality of the ferment, this line about feeding is in reference to the cooperative work, and the Exemplar (who is responsible for projecting the teaching current and the current teaching) is being advised to take care to project each one properly for the benefit of all concerned.

Understanding the technical terms and phrases embedded in traditional literature is the minimum requirement for even the most basic, surface-level conceptual comprehension. Be that as it may, as was mentioned in the explication of the Epistle of John Pontanus, accurate theory follows upon successful practice, and successful practice takes its direction from accurate theory. One without the other creates imbalance and nurtures error.

*note – antipathia, as a technical term, means ‘opposed’, as for instance when two forces are working at cross-purposes. There is no animosity, hostility, oppression or aggression implied in its usage in such a context.

Categories: Raeding and Wrighting

Washing with Fire, Burning with Water

October 26, 2013 8 comments

Regarding the affective soul, alchemists often mention that ‘we wash with our fire and burn with our water’ – which is very descriptive of the effects that result from the inclination of our desiring – which word (inclination) has, here, multiple meanings: in the sense of habit, direction and slope.

The phrase has two basic raedings:

1) in the first, water refers to downwardly (outwardly) directed desire (appetite) which burns in the sense that it is the source of pain and suffering. Fire, in contrast, refers to upwardly (inwardly) directed desire that washes in the sense of making clean/pure [during the black and white works].

2) in the second raeding, water and fire are one, and their action is one, due to bringing the focus of ALL desiring to The One, such that even when the sensorium observes external objects these only serve to remind one of The One. In this case water burns in the sense of purification of the superfluous from sensation and fire washes in the sense of a gentle cleansing since there is no scoria to burn [during the red work].

So, the following phrase has reference to the second raeding, which refers to the state or station of being in the world but not of it:

“He who can burn with water and wash with fire makes a heaven of earth and a precious earth of heaven.”

This creates an indissoluble union between the fixed and the volatile.

Categories: Raeding and Wrighting

Knowing and Being

December 22, 2012 Comments off

Alchemy is not a science that is learned by piling fact upon fact until one is compelled by reason to accept some conceptual proposition. It is not dependent upon belief or knowledge (at least not as contemporary pedagogy conceives of knowledge). The difference between the traditional alchemist and most contemporary students of alchemy is that the alchemist has mended the wound caused by the severing of epistemology and ontology, knowing and being. Information accumulation may change your mind (or pattern of ideation) but it will not transform your desire, imagination or will and so cannot prevent or even ameliorate or mitigate against the development of faulty belief systems, cognitive dissonance, depression, obsession, prejudice, selfishness, magical thinking, fear or despair. In short, such ‘knowledge’ will not transform you alchemystically.

Alchemy is not to be believed and alchemists have no desire to teach. For the most part, contemporary students want to learn or to be taught alchemy when, in fact, it can only be imbibed or caught. Alchemy is a ‘gradual’ method of transformation in the sense that it uses expedient means to prepare (or shorten) the way to true self-knowledge. But, though alchemystical transformation does not happen without effort (or rather, perseverance), all such effort is preparatory rather than causative. The nigredo merely prepares one to be able to respond to the transformative moment during the final stages of the albedo when knowledge of one’s self transforms into knowledge of one’s Lord. Alchemy is a ‘sudden’ method of transformation in the sense that it recognizes that the actual transformation is wholly a matter of grace/baraka. One cannot know truth without being truth. One cannot know alchemy without being an alchemist. One cannot know god, without knowing self; for to know one’s self is to know limitation, emptiness and dependence. To acknowledge limitation, emptiness and dependence is the necessary prerequisite for restoring the unity of knowing and being, removing the veil between one’s self and one’s Lord. It is only selfless love and complete devotion that removes the final veil and permits the whole and the part to become intimately reacquainted.

…[alchemists] want to force those who seek this wisdom to feel their dependence upon God (in whose hand are all things), to obtain it through instant prayer, and when it has been revealed to them, to give all the glory to Him. – Sophic Hydrolith

Categories: Knowing and Being

Experience and Authority

May 12, 2009 5 comments

There is, in alchemy, a very pronounced tension between the need for and value of authority —whether embodied in texts or in the person of a guide— and the need for and value of first-hand experience and discernment. Either one without the other creates imbalance.

Count Michael Maier provides the balancing perspective:

If anyone will not acknowledge the force of reason, he must needs have recourse to authority.

The phrase ‘force of reason’, as Maier is using it, refers to the power of the rational soul to ‘remember’ (in the Platonic sense of anamnesis) true reality when exposed to it. The purpose of authority should be to awaken the ‘memory’ and ‘taste’ for the experience of reality in the soul of the disciple so that his/her practice is founded upon accurate theory, in order that theory may then be confirmed and further informed by accurate practice.

Context and Guidance

May 12, 2009 39 comments

Another factor which contributes to the current lack of success in interpreting alchemical texts is the loss of the proper context: a group of students under the discipline of a guide with firsthand experience of the fruits of alchemical practice. Such a guide would need a solid working knowledge of a sufficient range of alchemical texts, be able to support all interpretations of these texts through reference to the literature of the Hermetic/Alchemic Tradition, and have intimate knowledge and experience of the states, stages, and stations mentioned in the texts. It is probably needless to say that the opportunity for such study is exceedingly rare in these times, and never common in any time.

Qualities and Requisites

May 12, 2009 2 comments

Alchemy —like any science— requires certain qualities in its students: sincerity, earnestness, compassion, austerity, and discipline, to name but a few. It also requires a background in those traditional literatures on which it is based. For alchemical texts written in European languages this would most likely include (at the very least): Torah, New Testament, the Gnostic, Apocryphal and Inter-testamental scriptures, the Corpus Hermeticum, the Timaeus of Plato, the Enneads of Plotinus, etc. Whomsoever enters into the study of alchemy without the necessary qualities and requisites is about as likely to succeed as one who would begin the study of physics without any knowledge of math or scientific methodology.

Paradigms and Templates

March 4, 2009 6 comments

Existing paradigms for reading and interpreting alchemical texts are less than adequate. For the most part these paradigms concern themselves with reading and interpreting these texts according to literary/mythological, psychological, chemical/herbal, or occult templates; or some eclectic amalgamation of these. Such interpretive templates and the reading paradigms which rely on them are foreign to alchemical theory and practice and their use should be re-evaluated by scholars and practitioners alike.

%d bloggers like this: