A Case for Transmutation
Alchemy is a philosophical practice that arguably dates back to 3500 BC. The defining objectives of alchemy are typically one of the following: the creation of the fabled philosopher’s stone; the ability to transmute base metals into the noble metals (gold or silver); the development of an elixir of life, which would confer youth and longevity.
Although many of the writings on ancient alchemy have been lost, it is often suggested that its origins coincide with that of metallurgy; ancient Egyptian documents contain recipes for dyeing and making artificial gemstones, cleaning and fabricating pearls, and the manufacturing of imitation gold and silver. The possibility of alchemy became more and more popular in Medieval and Renaissance Europe; with the increasing knowledge of chemistry, the concept of transmuting base elements became an incredibly alluring and intriguing prospect to scientists (including Isaac Newton).
Of course, with the emergence of empirical science, alchemy became disregarded as the possibility of transmuting base metals was discovered to be unfeasible. However, the concept of alchemy survived and has continued to be a source of intrigue to this day. Most notably, alchemy has been explored by philosophers and psychologists, with the practice of transmutation being applied as an analogy for personal transmutation, purification, and perfection – this is sometimes referred to as internal alchemy.
One of the more prominent advocates of internal alchemy was Carl Jung, who presented the inner meaning of alchemical work as a spiritual path. Alchemy became an important part of his psychoanalytical studies, particularly in the achievement of individuation.
Exploring the alchemical process is an interesting way to consider how we can shift our perceptions and grow as individuals. Perhaps you can’t yet turn your copper taps into gold, but internal alchemy is a good place to start exploring how to change anything, including yourself, from one state of being to another.
Published: October 14th, 2014