To most of us, the word “alchemy” calls up the picture of a medieval and slightly sinister laboratory in which an aged, black-robed wizard broods over the crucibles and alembics that are to bring within his reach the Philosopher’s Stone, and with that discovery, the formula for the Elixir of life and the transmutation of metals. But one can scarcely dismiss so lightly the science — or art, if you will –that won to its service the lifelong devotion of men of culture and attainment from every race and clime over a period of thousands of years, for the beginnings of alchemy are hidden in the mists of time. Such a science is something far more than an outlet for a few eccentric old men in their dotage.
What was the motive behind their constant strivings, their never-failing patience in the unravelling of the mysteries, the tenacity of purpose in the face of persecution and ridicule through the countless ages that led the alchemists to pursue undaunted their appointed way? Something far greater, surely, than a mere vainglorious desire to transmute the base metals into gold, or to brew a potion to prolong a little longer this earthly span, for the devotees of alchemy in the main cared little for such things.
The accounts of their lives almost without exception lead us to believe that they were concerned with things spiritual rather than with things temporal. They were men inspired by a vision, a vision of man made perfect, of man freed from disease and the limitations of warring faculties both mental and physical, standing godlike in the realization of a power that even at this very moment of time lies hidden in the deeper strata of consciousness, a vision of man made truly in the image and likeness of the One Divine Mind in its Perfection, Beauty, and Harmony.
To appreciate and understand the adepts’ visions, it is necessary to trace the history of their philosophy. So let us for step back into the past to catch a glimpse of these men, of their work and ideals, and more important still, of the possibilities that their life-work might bring to those who today are seeking for fuller knowledge and wider horizons.
(cont page 2)