*Excerpt taken from my online course: Spagyria 1010
To learn more visit: https://www.phoenixaurelius.org/pages/online-courses
There are dozens of Psycho-Spiritual pathways that have been used throughout History to Accompany Alchemical Practices. Even though Spagyria and Alchemy differ in their approach and purpose, Spagyria requires a person to be well-versed in Alchemy, as defined by Paracelsus as one of the Pillars of Spagyria, and therefore it is suggested to adopt a Spiritual Pathway of Alchemy. What this entails is that a Person comes to develop Disciplines [Discipline is Spiritual Exercise] that help them existentially understand and eventually gain mastery of Nature, both Esoterically and Exoterically. Esoteric Disciplines are those of the Soul and Inner World whereas Exoteric Disciplines are those of the Body and the External World.
It is critical to understand that Discipline is the method by which Spirituality is exercised and anything you do with great discipline is your Spiritual Path. The Spirit is not really corruptible, in and of itself, as it is a Holographic Representation of the Monad. So to Transform the Spirit is not really something that is possible. But exercising and purifying the Spirit is something that must happen to Allow the Psyche [soul] to be Transformed. And this is mirrored in Alchemical Practice, because you start your life just like a Ferment. At first, you're just Water, Sugar, and the Seed of Fermentation [which we now call Yeast]. Throughout your youth, the conditions you are subjected to create the Ferment that conditions your Spirit. A ferment only contains the Spirit in small quantities, though, which exists alongside a great deal of extracted liquid substance [Impure Astral material] that dilutes the potency of the Spirit. If the Spirit is to be Concentrated and Purified, the Ferment must be distilled and rectified. It takes repetitious distillations, The Art of which teaches us great discipline, to yield a Pure Spirit. The same is true in your Transpersonal Approach.
Your Spirit will have become Purified when everything you do is permeated and penetrated by the Feeling of Fulfillment. Until you can metaphorically smile upon your creations and your works in life with the same feeling of being "Good" as the Elohim did in Genesis during the 7 days of Creation, your Spirit still craves and needs discipline to become pure. Remember that without Vacuum Distillations, or the use of molecular sieves, or Salt of Tartar, a Spirit only can ever be about 95% pure, and it will always retain some of the identity of the plant from which it came. For instance, there is a big difference between the taste and effects of Brandy and Whiskey - this is because the first came from Wine and the other from Malted Barley. They each retain an identity that is noticeably derived from the ferment from which the Spirit originated. So do not think that just because you are purifying the Spirit that you will lose your inherent talents or interests. Instead, by purifying the Spirit through discipline, you become much more readily capable of employing those inherent Talents and Interests of the Soul.
Furthermore, as one can witness in the Spagyric Tincture Making Process, a Pure spirit is capable of Integrating the Soul and Body of your Existence, which will help you become the most Potent and Valuable YOU that you can possibly become while leaving all that is dross, or excess, behind. Just to reiterate, Spiritual Purity is attained by focusing on your Disciplines, which can be conceived of as Transpersonal Distillations. Discipline of Esoteric Practices and Exoteric Practices will help you perform Alchemy on yourself.
Exoteric Mastery includes Developing Disciplines that allow a student practitioner to inherently purify their own physical body and to understand and profess mastery over The Outside World. Things such as Diet, Exercise, Cosmic Cycles, Agriculture, Ecology, Microbiology, and all the Terrestrial Arts and Sciences are aspects of Exoteric Mastery. Attaining the knowledge and wisdom of all these Arts and Sciences is not something that you can hope to attain in a single year, or in most cases, even a single lifetime. It is a Life Path of Consistent Evolution driven by the Inherent Interests and Talents of the individual and elaborated upon through Self Awareness.
For instance, if your talents and interests lie in the field of Mycology, you start your path there. If you want to connect with Herbs and Trees, start with Agriculture, particularly with Biodynamic Agriculture. If you love Forestry, then start there. If Animals, start there. If with Crystals and Minerals, start there. If Metals and Metallurgy, start there. If Music, start there. I think you get the point.
Eventually, regardless of where you start your journey, your Awareness will continue to grow and your interests will naturally expand and evolve to encompass a wide range of Terrestrial Arts and Sciences, as the Whole of Nature is inherently connected and no one Art or Science is complete without learning how it connects with ALL other Arts and Sciences. They all bleed together in ebb and flow. Because we are working with the Terrestrial World, you must Let Nature be Your Guide. In the words of the famous Rosicrucian, Michael Maier, "Follow In Nature's Footsteps" and learn from Her. Nature provides for and sustains every Interest imaginable on this planet, and therefore must be approached as THE TEACHER we learn from to Purify our own Exoteric Nature. Likewise, your Laboratory work will be inspired by the Study of How Nature Performs the processes of the Emerald Tablet in relation to the particular aspect you are studying and focusing on.
Remember that Exoteric Disciplines correspond to the Body, and therefore they will reflect the first four processes of the Emerald Tablet. This means that your work here begins as a Seed that is Impregnated, then Gestated to fruition, then are born fully, then Nursed, and then you have the ability to Exalted and Perfect the Exoteric Nature "If Turned Into Earth". You have learned and performed [or soon will perform] the processes involved here in the Laboratory. Be present with what you are doing and the allegory will come to life within you and your understanding of how Purify your own Exoteric Nature will become apparent to you.
Nextly, we must discuss Esoteric Disciplines. Esotericism is not a Public Practice because each Soul is different, and only the Volition of the Soul can initiate the Life Path of the Individual. True Esoteric Study is a pathway of Gaining Mastery over your own Soul, or at least it is if approached properly. I know many esotericists who have aggrandized their egos instead of purified their egos through the study thereof. This is why an Alchemical Approach is strongly suggested when performing Esoteric Study, as it provides a strong context of the Purpose of the Study in the first place. With proper context, Esoteric Discipline promotes a Complete Extraction and Purification of the Soul.
Every Human, unlike every plant, incarnates with Volatile Sulfur, which is to say a "Higher Self." This same concept is conceptualized as a "Holy Guardian Angel" in Qabala and is talked about in myriad ways in other traditions. Some Esoteric Traditions may help you to find ways of Integrating or Extracting the Fixed Sulfur and Volatile Sulfur [Personality and Higher Self], but ultimately their purification is your Responsibility. The Purification Process involves developing keen sensitivity to the Intuition, which is the voice of the Higher Self. Further Purification will open up the Psychic Faculties, which, contrary to popular belief, simply allow your Higher Self to Dialogue and Connect With the unseen energy of other created things. To perform Alchemical Integration, you want your Higher Self, or Volatile Soul to be as pure as your Spirit is able to be, so the two can be conjoined and Distilled over the Helm [via discipline] as a single, conjoined Substance. Furthermore, the Baser Instincts, or Fixed Sulfur, needs to be purified enough work in tandem with the purpose and goals of the Higher Self, or Volatile Soul, to create an integrated individual whose interests are not conflicting. When performed properly, this allows the Volition of the Soul to be Animated by the Life Force of a Pure Spirit, thus allowing your Thoughts, Emotions, and Desires in Life to be Experienced with the sense of Grace and Personal Fulfillment of the Purified Spirit. In other words, you walk through life feeling a sense of completion and able to perform Conscious Evolution as opposed to being stuck in ruts and feeling conflicted about what to be doing in life.
If a person does not perform PRACTICAL Laboratory Alchemy, or at least perform Spagyria as the type of Alchemical Practice being utilized, to test and subsequently integrate the theories and insights postulated by various Esoteric Traditions, then it is very easy to deceive and delude oneself and to grow further and further away from the type of Purity described above. To be congruent with the Purpose of Alchemy, all Esoteric Paths should help you understand and MASTER your own Inner Nature so you can ultimately Integrate all Aspects of yourself more readily. In Jungian Psychology, this would be described as the Conscious Integration of the Subconscious and Unconscious components of the Self.
Studies that draw you too far away from your own inner nature or that unnecessarily complicate that goal are only distractions, no matter how 'Pure' they might seem at a glance. Esoteric Discipline is not meant to distract you from achieving your Goals in life, but to provide you with detailed information on how to identify and transcend the Traumas holding you back from achieving the Volition of the Soul and to Achieve your Goals Gracefully.
There are dozens of Esoteric Pathways that can guide a practitioner in successfully Extracting the Higher Soul. Alchemy has had legitimate Esoteric Pathways using Ancient Greek Religion, Early Islamic Faith, Islam-Inspired Sufi Traditions, Ancient Roman Religion, Zoroastrianism, Hasidic Jewish Faith, Taoism, Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism and Pre-Buddhist Faith, and also in Renaissance Europe as Christian Inspired Alchemy. Many people today get interested in Western Esoteric Practices, as they are more or less a conglomerate of Christian, Jewish, Roman, and Greek Pathways and can go hand-in-hand with Renaissance and Modern Alchemical Practices.
As a result, it is most common for Westerners involved in Modern Alchemical/Spagyric Practices to study Traditional Western Esotericism as a foundation upon which they can build. Hermetic Science, at least by modern standards, is based around Alchemy, Astrology, and Magic. Hermetic Science is the cornerstone of Western Esotericism today. The coursework of the Rosicrucian Orders in France and the United States during the early 20th century are some of the most well documented Western Esoteric studies, and this lineage has survived into the modern day. Though many who claim to be Hermeticists or Western Esotericists study Alchemical Topics, yet they are not practical alchemists. A visit to any R+C chapter, Freemasonic Lodge, or Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn chapter will prove as much. It is largely because of just a few key figures such as Orval Graves, Frater Albertus, Jean Dubuis, Russ + Sue House, and a few others, that Practical Alchemy even maintained a presence throughout the 20th century in Western Esotericism.
It's important to realize that the entire reason why we still have European Alchemical Practices available in the modern day as preserved from the Birth of the Scientific Revolution is solely because of the Rosicrucians, who adopted Alchemy into their cosmology, rankings, and teachings until the Modern Day. As a result, one might think it a good idea to join A.M.O.R.C. [Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis]. In the 1940's + 50's, Laboratory Alchemy Instruction in the United States took place there under Orval Graves, but then they stopped offering Alchemy classes. They still offer written correspondence lessons in North America, though I find that this organization is now distanced from Practical Alchemy almost entirely. That said, due to the efforts of Dennis William Hauck, they do have an Alchemical Museum and have been working on opening an Alchemical Laboratory at their headquarters, called Rosicrucian Park, in San Jose, CA. When A.M.O.R.C stopped offering classes in the 50's, that's when one of their adept members and alchemical instructors, Frater Albertus, advertised in the Rosicrucian Digest that he was offering Practical Laboratory Classes through the newly developed Paracelsus Research Society when his doors opened in Salt Lake City circa 1960 and he continued offering lessons until his death in 1984. Following in that same tradition in the late 80's and 90's, Jean Dubuis teamed up with Russ House + Jack Glass [who had completed Frater Albertus entire coursework 6 times when Frater Albertus died] to create the Philosophers of Nature organization in North America.
Dubuis' work, under the American Egregore of The Philosophers of Nature [PoN] and published by Triad Publishing, contains the majority of that information in plain English. I personally like Dubuis' approach and admire his work, largely because it is fully integrated with Practical Alchemy. In fact, Dubuis was quoted as having said, “I believe alchemy is an initiatic system in which you may have no delusions. It is the only initiatic path where there is an objective control in the laboratory. So if your experiments show you've gone beyond the ordinary material laws of the universe, it shows that you're an alchemist.” From an Interview with Mark Stavish.
I personally find the teachings of Modern Rosicrucian Orders to be very slow-moving and the lectures are too didactic and have an air of pretentiousness that I find to be unfounded. Very Typical of the type of materials that you would find as part of the late 19th Century Occult Revival and early 20th Century Theosophical Factions. That flavor just doesn't sit well on my palette because it's very haughty and pretentious and not very scientific at all.That said, the information is useful in certain regards, but Dubuis' work sums up all the important parts with much less pomp. Notice that I didn't say that Dubuis' work is void of that pomp - it's still very much so present, but it's toned down significantly. His approach, though I don't necessarily agree with all of it, is quite digestible and provides a strong context for the disciplines of Western Esotericism.
Another R+C [Rosicrucian] Inspired Organization whose works I feel are quite applicable are those of the B.O.T.A. [Builders of the Adytum] based out of Los Angeles, CA. Founded by Dr Paul Foster Case, their lessons have a similar air to those of A.M.O.R.C. but contain much more practical and directed information, particularly as it pertains to the Tree of Life and the Tarot. I have, myself, been influenced by this tradition. If one is not interested in suffering the didactic tone and immense years of correspondence study [15+ years of coursework available] in the B.O.T.A., then Paul Foster Case has a number of books available that offer Practical Information concerning the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot. One Such Book is The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages. He has many other works, including R+C inspired books concerning Alchemy, Astrology, and other Traditions; perhaps most notable is The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order. Largely inspired by Golden Dawn material, Paul Foster Case adapted those teachings to fit more within the Structure of Rosicrucianism, which is far more Alchemically intact than the Golden Dawn Work, which is based solely in Ceremonial Magic. The Golden Dawn material was, and continues to be, very influential to modern Esotericists of the Western Tradition. If you have no interest in Ceremonial Magic, the Golden Dawn Material will be a waste of your time.
If none of these pathways suit you properly, you can create your own Esoteric Disciplines with Alchemical Philosophy and Practice being an important cornerstone of your practice. For instance, though I do have a firm background of 15+ years of Western Esotericism and Hermetic Science, my Esoteric Disciplines today are based heavily in Irish Celtic and Norse Gael Philosophy perceived through an Alchemical Angle. Though my path is very unique to myself, I'm not the only one who developed a tradition along these same lines, as John Michael Greer, who is also a Spagyrist and Druid, has been writing books since I was just a wain. In fact, his Celtic Golden Dawn material has been a wonderful resource for me to help integrate the Hermetic Teachings common in the Western Esoteric Tradition into the infinitely more resonant Druid lineage that I have incorporated into my own Esoteric Disciplines. But finding or developing your own practices may take quite some time - I know it has for me. And were it not for a firm foundation in Western Esoteric Practices that I studied and practiced first, the unique Esoteric pathway I am on today would be little more than a way of aggrandizing the ego by amassing knowledge without having any context for what to do with it.
For those who have no resonance whatsoever to the Western Esoteric Tradition, you are invited to look into the Taoist Tradition[s] of China and also the Rasashastra Practices of the Vedic Tradition. Sadly, though I am familiar with both of these traditions, I don't speak or read Chinese or Sanskrit, and I don't know nearly enough about the cosmology, theory, or lab practices of either tradition to provide Practical Instruction in these methods. So unless you can find a teacher, I can be of very little help in this regard. And if neither of these are of any interest to you, you can, of course, create your own tradition as I mentioned above. Just make sure that everything you are creating lines up perfectly with what you can demonstrate in the lab, otherwise you are creating a Dogma that requires Belief as opposed to a viable Pathway that is holographically and fractally demonstrable and parallel with Nature…