Alchemy is a mysterious and obscure art. It's beginnings are shrouded in the mists of time. It's meanings obscured in legend and myth. How are we to penetrate the mystic veil which conceals this strange and elusive art? What exactly is alchemy? Some say it is the forerunner of modern chemistry, the pseudoscience of the transmutation of metals-lead into gold. Even the meaning of the word, "alchemy" is not clear, having both Egyptian and Greek origins.
Al-khem, the Black Land, after the native name of Egypt, which name comes from the black soil found along the Nile. Some have said "Khem" means the Wise, hence, the wise art. Greek derivations include, chemeia, the art of casting metals and chumeia, the art of extracting medicinal properties from plants. Stranger still, when one begins to delve into this mysterious art, through the writings of alchemists, or the intensive study and meditation on alchemical symbolism, it is revealed that an association can be found with all of these things.
What of the people who practice this art? Kings, queens, statesmen, popes, saints, scientists, physicians, and monks? But also, paupers, struggling artists, wandering nomads, and humble shoemakers?
Can't quite get your finger on it yet?
If alchemy can be practiced by all of these people from various stations in life, it certainly suggests that what is needed to practice is held in common by all.
Fast-forward from the Renaissance to the 20th century, Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung, in the course of his work, observes a link between the symbolic material arising spontaneously in the dreams of people going through inner crises, and the symbols found in alchemical writings and emblems.
Alchemical wisdom is drawn from that deep reservoir of inner truth which resides in man.
It is so abstract that it requires metaphor, symbols, and parables to give expression to it at all. When that truth is grasped, it leads to personal transformation and liberation. The truth may be freely available, but one must be ready to receive it. What qualifies one to receive it? Plain and simply...effort. It requires work, disciplined action. How is the truth of it revealed? By what means is the veil of Isis rent? By revelation, in a very up-close and personal way. This then is the Great Work spoken of by the alchemists of every generation. When the rules, yes...rules, of the Great Work are discovered, they must be applied in our lives. To do so has lasting change, the reconciliation of Heaven and Earth, the Above and the Below, the Chymical Wedding.
Here is a simple number meditation for your enjoyment:
1 : 3 : 7: 12