A Simple Way to Make the Philosopher’s Stone
The following essay was originally published on February 11, 2010. It is being republished here for your consideration.
I was reading through some notes I took at an alchemical conference over a decade ago and came across a notion on a ‘simple way to make the Philosopher’s Stone.’ The comments were really more in passing than in the form of instruction and illustrate very well the problems we face when reading alchemical, or any occult material for that matter, from the past or present. That is, in every statement there are embedded assumptions of knowledge, often a level of knowledge that can only be gained by experience, thereby showing that even the simplest methods have a great deal of content hidden behind them. The instruction penned in my notebook consisted of the following: incubate Mercury with Gold for six months to one year and it revives the gold and gives you a Red Stone.
Pretty cut and dried, right? Well, not so fast.
To clarify my notes I call a friend who was at the seminar and discussed the process. Even here, in order to discuss the topic a certain level of knowledge is assumed. For example, when we speak of Mercury we are talking about Hg that has been made ‘Philosophical’ through the process of repeated distillation. Earlier in the same presentation it was mentioned that when Mercury has been distilled ten times it becomes “alive”. Yet, it was earlier stated that distillation beyond seven times was extremely dangerous. Second, there is the notion of incubation, what does that mean? In alchemy it can mean both a temperature – 100 or so degrees Fahrenheit, or about “that of a hen hatching its eggs” – as well as a length of time. If it is a length of time, we have that given, six to twelve months. If it is a temperature, then we need to be sure of what that is. In fact, it may be both. There is also the ratio, while not stated; my friend informed me that the ratio is generally four parts Mercury to one part Gold. Since volume is not important, a few grams of will suffice for the experiment.
The next issue is one of when to begin. Classical alchemical texts state that the Work is to be started in the spring or summer months, and when the sky is clear and free of clouds. So, we have the issue of finding a location that is clear during the spring or summer. There is also the timing astrologically, a waxing moon is considered more favorable, but was not stated, this is simply what could be considered ‘common knowledge’ of practicing occultists. There is also the question of what day is best to commence the work on. Given that nature of the Work being mineral and its goal a Red Stone, Sunday would be the logical choice, although a good argument could be made for Saturday. In an earlier lecture it was stated that Sunday was the most important day, as this allowed for a greater opening of the heart – the doorway to unitive consciousness of spiritual and material worlds – or Tiphareth in qabala. Of course, the first planetary hour of the day, or immediately following sunrise, would be the time to start the Work.
Now, this may all sound a bit odd, but it is important to note that much of early alchemy was based upon the energies in nature rather than the energies in man. Mercury has long been associated with the mind, and it is common for alchemists to have a small amount of it in a sealed container their oratory as well as laboratory as it is said to amplify the power of one’s thoughts. Gold of course is well known as an agent of healing, wholeness, illumination and wealth. However simply having possession of these minerals will do nothing for us if our mind is not being trained to be focused and sharp, and our heart open and compassionate. To adequately direct the energies of nature, one must first have a partial understanding of their own inner self – that is, the energies at play within the regions of the mind that are generally below the threshold of daily consciousness. As above, so below. As within, so without. Therefore, for this or any process to work, we still must bring to bear a harmony within our consciousness, a harmony that includes the totality of our experiences and is neither spiritual nor material but both, even if not fully understood.
So then, how do we raise our inner energy to the required state of intensity and focus? The most often given method is extended and regular meditation on the Elemental Fire within. Qabala and alchemy generally use symbolic meditations to attempt this, whereas breathing exercises, often of a very simple nature are used within Indian, Tibetan and Chinese tantra or esoteric practices. Scientific studies carried out on Tibetan monks performing the practice of tummo, or Inner Fire, have shown that they can in fact raise the temperature of their body extremities to a demonstrable 117 degrees Fahrenheit. Clearly warm enough to turn their own body into a walking incubator. Frater Albertus was said to be virtually immune to fire when handling extremely hot laboratory equipment.
What also came up in our conversation was the necessity of saturating, or imbibing one’s mind with the alchemical information one is seeking to understand. This thorough saturation creates an inner synthesis, or what has been called by Dr. Joseph Lisiewski and Dr. Stephen Flowers in their respective works, a Subjective Synthesis, and by me in various books as a Subconscious Synthesis. This very notion of creating the proper environment to attune to the mind of the adept that created the document one is working from is also explained in detail in the Edouard Blitz’s Preface to An Alchemical Treatise on The Great Art by Antoine-Joseph Pernety. Blitz was at one time the Grand Master of the Martinist Order in the United States under Papus.
So, going through my old notebooks and a telephone conversation they sparked on a snowy day, brought some light to bear on a peculiar statement made a decade ago in passing by an alchemist. Everything is not as clear as it seems, for even when it is, it is through our own understanding, and our own lens of consciousness that is must be understood. It is through slow and steady practice, opening our mind to greater levels of ‘the possible’, and constant imbibing of our consciousness with the symbols and ideas of our Path that one day, everything becomes at least a little bit clearer.
“Subjective synthesis – perhaps through constant immersion and repetitive ora et labora the mind becomes similar to a supersaturated solution wherefrom a new shape/form will crystallize when a seed-thought is dropped into it. (Even years later…) If the process is intense enough these crystals could easily manifest in dreams or, perhaps in laboratory results viz your thoughts of fire out on the porch and the exploding experiment on the stove.”