Alchemical Cosmology

"Nature comprehends the visible and invisible Creatures of the Whole universe. What we call Nature especially, is the universal fire or Anima Mundi, filling the whole system of the Universe, and therefore is a Universal Agent, omnipresent, and endowed with an unerring instinct, and manifests itself in fire and Light. It is the First creature of Divine Omnipotence". From the golden Chain of Homer

For the alchemist all things in the universe are apart of, and composed of the Universal Mind, which the above quote calls the first creature of Divine Omnipotence. The alchemist recognizes this Universal Mind in three modes. In its original and universal state it is cold, still, immaterial, it is timeless and occupies no space. In this tranquil very fundamental state man can not use it, and yet it is found everywhere, and makes up all things thus making it omnipresent.

In the second state of the Divine Mind, the stillness is replaced by motion and a subtle yet expansive heat is generated. This action is best described as the friction of the Divine Consciousness moving over itself, as it explores itself. Here subtle lights are separated from the Chaos, producing a nutritive heat –relatively speaking- that on a universal scale are analogous to the inner heat or friction caused by fermentation.

In its third and final stage it takes on material form, in which violent agitation produces a burning fire, which as long as it has a subject to act upon will manifest itself continuously, when this subject is consumed it returns to its first tranquil and omnipresent state. The ancients said that in this stage the Divine mind shows itself as light and heat. This should not just be connoted with the visible light and heat, both of which are expansive and imply motion, but also the unseen light and indeed the dance of the atom and its particle’s, which help manifest the visible discernable universe around us. Interestingly enough physicist say that reaching absolute zero is impossible because the vibration of atoms in the subject matter which is to be frozen, will always produce some heat. Or as the ancients would say only the "NO-Thing is still, everything is in motion".

It is said that all life, indeed all things are nothing but congealed starlight and that all life in the universe depends on light for its existence. This statement is absolutely true for there is no life in darkness. Indeed there is no darkness for black is not the absence of light but rather the absorption of all visible light into a subject. Indeed the abundant life found on the bottom of the ocean by what are termed "black smokers" which are vents in the ocean floor, where extremely hot gas and water are emitted, may have no visible light to our eye, but heat is light as any infrared camera would show.

Light therefore is the main concern of the alchemist, all matter for him is nothing more than condensed light. It is the light of the sun -which is really the outlet of the Divine Mind- that the alchemist seeks to work with. He looks also to the planets and other celestial bodies, which absorb the nutritive light, taking in the colored rays as food and expelling and adapted colored ray, which it does not need.

Our Earth is bathed also in these colored rays and there interplay gives rise to an astounding variety of life and form on the planet.

In the next part we will examine how the alchemist interacts with this Divine mind as we explore the Spagyrics and Alchemy or the 3 and 4 of it.

Woodcut from William Cuningham The cosmographical glasse, 1559 Hand-colored watercolor by Adam Mclean Copyright Adam Mclean used by permission. Text copyright 2006 John H.Reid III

Ora, Lege, et Labora