By John H. Reid III
Copyright 1997 John H. Reid III

Invariably the aspiring alchemist will come face to face with the question of if they should charge for their herbal preparations and services? Somehow the notion of accepting money for alchemical work has taken on a deriding tone and many circles see it as somehow tarnishing the work, weakening or absolutely negating it's "spiritual energy". On the one hand this frame of mind no doubt rose as a protective shield against being considered a puffer or quack. Lets face it alchemy has a long line of charlatans who during it's heyday made off with the fortunes of na´ve customers who's eyes bulged with gold lust. On the other hand it can set up some false notions concerning the spirituality of the practitioner, and act as a spiritual blind which hinders their progress.

Anyone who has done a modicum of reading concerning alchemy knows that making any of its preparations is time consuming, therefore giving it away truly does seem to be miraculous to those lucky few who can obtain it. If alchemy has any hope of participating in the 21st century renaissance of "spirit in medicine" it is going to need more exposure and be much more accessible to the masses than the "select few" who jealously guard and use it's majestic preparations. Alchemical mineral products need to be investigated thoroughly by competent individuals trained in the required orthodox sciences. Just as modalities like acupuncture, meditation, and healing touch have become accepted healing-modalities after undergoing proper investigation, so too must alchemy. We also need many more practitioners in plant alchemy; none of the so-called alternative modalities would have become widely known or accepted if "practitioners of the art" had not expanded in number. This expansion of competent practitioners would never have happened, had they not been able to sustain themselves in this world by the practice of their art.

Just as a painter must paint and a writer must write, we do what we do because we love it, irrespective of obtaining wealth or status. To not do it would be to deny what we consider to be essential within ourselves. Just as the painter or musician dreams of the day of liberation, when they will be able to support themselves solely by their art, so to do alchemist. In my encounters never has an alchemist been meet that did not wish they were able to devote their full time and effort to the art without having the grind of a 9 - 5. They would much rather wake up at 5 in the morning to harvest dew or start gentle exhalations of the wine spirit in a converted barn.

Why is it perceived to be nobler to give what we consider "divine", second rate status by spending the majority of our time in what we consider lower mundane task. Would it not be better to strive toward being fully occupied with what we consider our calling? If one strives to master a thing be it a musical instrument, sport, or alchemical practice, time, persistence, and determination are the deciding factors to obtaining success.

If we accept that "The One-Life" is in control, then the present system is that which it has deemed necessary for this cycle of manifestation. The question is not whether to operate within the system but with what intent we operate within it. Alchemy is indeed a spiritual practice, but so too is all the rest of life. To give freely and abundantly means much more to me than just handing over some herbal tincture gratis. It speaks of a state of mind, the tone of the soul, where the true healing energy radiates from with completely unconditional love.

Would a person solely interested in making money go through the laborious process of making Aqua Vitae, after all 200 proof synthetic ethyl alcohol is cheaper and much easier to procure. Why bother to collect spring dew or summer thunderstorm water when tap or grocery self spring water is so close at hand. Only a person enamored with the art will go to such lengths to make substances that are easily and cheaply produced by modern methods. Easier and cheaper does not mean better, the ancients speak of their plant and mineral preparations as being sweet, this is not the case with alcohol produced using modern methods and equipment. Frankly you can not buy such devotion to an art, it must be given freely and abundantly by the practitioner, only then can alchemy take place. No amount of money can repay an alchemist for the vast amount of time spent in study and experimentation. No money is required to prompt him to enter into that all-beautiful state of bliss when charging, and elevating his magistries. Yet our practicing alchemist must maintain a lab, have housing, food, clothing, and all the other so-called mundane necessities of life.

"One either starts the work pure, or the work will make them pure", is a well-known alchemical maxim, as is " all desire originates from the divine". It has been my experience that these two statements are absolutely true. One can not got through the manual operations of this work, and posses a rudimentary knowledge of the philosophy behind the operations and not have their consciousness effected by it. Looking back on my original intentions for getting involved in occult practices and alchemy, it has been my pleasure to see them ripen and mature into nobler versions of themselves, that cast forward seeds of desire for a continual and more profound realization of that which is.

As we move into the 21st century let us embrace those parts of our art and heritage which make us unique, and discard those which were born in the paranoia of the burning times. If we are to forsake any worldly vice let it be the production line mentality of quicker is better, and rather let us take our consort nature, in the lingering embrace of passionate lovers, in anticipation of the copious flow of her waters.

Remember we are spirits in a spiritual world, all we do is spiritual, including the way we manifest the tool called money, the intent that resides in your heart should be your only barometer.