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        Of The Basis and Creation of Reality

It would not be far fetched to suggest that much of the alchemists' understanding of the nature of the laboratory process is based on the Hermetic view of ideas about the nature of the condition which is the underlying basis of physical reality, and how physical reality grows out of that 'basis' condition.

To the old alchemists the entire canon of laboratory practice revolved around one laboratory technique, which itself is composed of a number of steps and has one specific goal. The technical terminology which is central to an understanding of alchemy, the names which the old alchemists often gave to specific substances and operations, were given with a view to their understanding of the place the substance or operation held in this single laboratory technique.

When we define what we consider the meaning of alchemy to be, we should consider, firstly, that alchemy is a specific way of manipulating substances, conditions and situations in any area of human endeavour. When we say ... this is alchemy, or, that is alchemical ... we are considering alchemy as a verb (a word describing an action), because 'alchemy' is a name for a specific method of manipulating things. So, for example, there may be ten ways to produce a transmutation agent (a substance which is like the philosopher's stone), but any one of these methods can only be considered to be 'alchemical' if it adheres strictly to the spagyric method of achieving the goal. Whatever the other kinds of methods might be, they would not be following the alchemical approach.

The method which is specific to alchemy, which Paracelsus rightly called the 'spagyric method', has been described by many of the old Adepts to be a microcosmic process based on the way in which nature herself brings substances into physical reality, maintains them here, and then decomposes them and removes them from physical reality. Therefore, when the expert alchemist is meditating on the operations of his lab work he is attempting, in his mind's eye, to build up a picture of the corresponding relationship between his lab technique and the system that is the mechanism of physical reality. In this way his laboratory process becomes an analogical model of nature's process, and by contemplating the former, he can come to more deeply understand the less obvious, and secretive, processes hidden in nature's machinery. By this means the alchemist can eventually come to 'see' the way in which nature herself deals with the Great Work of evolving substances, conditions and situations toward (what I refer to as) the Q-state (the quintessence). Because the specific method of work which gives alchemy its character has the end goal of producing quintessences from the substances, conditions and situations it operates on.

If the above situation is an accurate definition of alchemy, then when attempting to come to an accurate practice of the alchemical method we must first understand just what the old Master Alchemists understood by the spagyric process ... the method by which nature creates, sustains and decomposes the pieces of our reality which compose physical (and psychological) nature.

Our understanding of the alchemical process of the creation of our reality must begin with an understanding of the unified field which forms the non-physical basis of physical reality, and from which physical reality emerges. The old Hermetic Adepts referred to this 'condition' usually by one of four names: either the Anima Mundi (spirit of the world), the Chaos (or Hyle), the Prima Materia Remotissima (remotest first matter) or the astral light (or firmament). If we were going to use a modern term to label this condition of nature we might call it the collective (or universal) unconscious. That is ... the ground-bed of physical reality is an aspect of the mind.

The term Anima Mundi (which you can see used in the Catena Homeri - The Golden Chain of Homer) speaks of this place in nature as being the mind or spirit of nature. We might also call it the memory of nature, and this idea is associated with the concept of the alchemical 'Chaos of the Elements'. A place where the bits of nature which are the basic building blocks of our reality ... the 'Elements' ... are all mixed up together in like a soup of potential rules or patterns. This condition of nature is also the remote first matter because in a manner it is the 'stuff' from which our reality is constructed, even though it is a non-physical stuff. It is the 'astral' (of the stars) light, because of two ideas: (1) the fact that (as Paracelsus points out) the ancients often talked about the mind, the non-physical side of our reality, as being a firmament (starry heaven), and (2) because the first place where the 'matter' of this mind-field enters physical reality is through the stars. (See the Golden Chain for a more detailed explanation).

If you refer to the diagram I have attached to this email, this source-field of reality is represented by the sphere which contains the number '1' with the symbol for infinity above it. I have also labeled this sphere 'mind' because it is the place in nature where 'information' is stored. As such, this information is stored in such a way that it forms the intellect of nature. This aspect of nature is that which alchemists refer to as the alchemical Principal, Mercury. (Note: not 'Principle' - an ideal, but 'Principal' - a foremost thing). The alchemists called this thing Mercury not because, as is often assumed, it is a medium between man and the gods, but because Mercury is the *medium of communication*. That is, it is the means by which intellect expresses itself. Language and speech are the structure and vehicle of intellect ... of information.

This part of our reality is where all of the information about reality is stored. It is the memory of nature. For example, when an embryo is conceived in the womb, and is beginning its development there, the instructions it receives from nature about how it must be structured and how it must develop are stored in the Anima Mundi (universal unconscious). In the same way, when an atom arrives in to physical reality, the information which tells the atom how it should be structured and how it must behave ... the 'rules' which govern the nature of an atom ... are stored in the Anima Mundi. The patterns for all things are in this way stored in the Anima Mundi, and tell all things how they must be formed, how they will develop, and how they must decompose at the end of their existence. By this means 'everything' in nature has the Principal Mercury within it. Everything has information within it that tells it how it must be structured and how it is allowed to behave. The rules of its existence. (See Rupert Sheldrake on the subject of Morpogenic fields).

In its native state this Anima Mundi is a chaos ... an homogeneous soup of the Elements of creation and existence. Because it is homogeneous we can say that relative to our existence this Anima Mundi exists in a 'unified state'. It is a state of nature which is in equilibrium. A state which is in harmony with itself. For this reason the old Hermetic Adepts liked to represent this Anima Mundi, mathematically, by the number '1'. If we take a close look at the famous Emerald Tablet of Hermes, we can see there some essential ideas about this 'One' state described. In fact we can say that the Emerald Tablet is a description of what the One State is, and how it evolves into our reality, exists here, develops, and reaches its zenith.

This unified-field, the Anima Mundi, exists behind physical reality ... and because we can equate this state with 'the mind' this gives us a reference point when trying to contemplate just what this unified-field might be like. Because we all have a mind and we all know a little about that. In my diagram, then, everything above the dashed line (d) is non-physical - or 'mind matter'.

Now, the problem with this unified-field is that because everything contained in it exists in a state of balance, where each of its parts is in harmony with the others, no growth or evolution can happen in that state. In order to have growth we must have a condition where one thing can relate to another thing. In other words, we must have a 'two-thing' condition, which does no exist in the Anima Mundi. So the Anima Mundi is simply a store-house. It is not a place where things grow and develop. Because of this, if we want to grow and develop ... to 'express' all that is 'potential' in the Anima Mundi, we must create another condition where that can be possible. In the more religious descriptions of Hermetic theory this situation is sometimes explained as ... God (the Sole existent One Creator), decided to extend out from Himself, and by doing-so, divide Himself in to two halves, or in two.

In the attached diagram we can see this 'act' in parts 'a' and 'b' - which are the 'will' of God (the creative act) to move from One to become Two.

When this occurs we have now in existence everything we see in the diagram below the line 'd'. Everything below the line 'd' is what we commonly refer to as our reality, or physical reality, and which we might technically refer to as Binary existence.

This binary condition is the very foundation of our reality. We might say it is the universal and ultimate 'rule' that governs everything we experience in our reality .... after the unified condition. Because of this we can never find anything here that is unified and wholly in balance with itself. Because unified and completely balanced things are always stored in the non-physical, beyond the average person's reach. Therefore, when we are investigating our reality, which is based on binary law, everything we find here displays this binary nature. From this fact we get things like ... male and female things. Positive and negative electric poles. Positive and negative magnetic poles. Day and night. Up and down.Left and right. Back and forward. Fixed and volatile, observer and observed, etc, etc.

In the most fundamental understanding of alchemy this binary condition and rule of nature is encapsulated in the symbolism of the two-thing view of the alchemical process, which we see in symbols such as the King and Queen; the Lion and Eagle; the winged and wingless dragons, etc. When alchemists are describing their laboratory process in terms of these binary symbols, they are telling us that they are looking at their process from the point of view of the binary law which governs any 'cosom (micro or macro).

In the diagram I have included here these binary conditions are the spheres labeled '2' with a '+' symbol and '3' with a '-' symbol, respectively. All things in manifest reality are both part of some binary, as well as containing a binary. So, for example, you yourself are part of a male-female biological binary. But you also contain within yourself a male-female psychological binary (akin to Jung's anima and animus). So each part of a binary is also a binary in itself ... and in this way 'all' things are subject to binary law.

I have also labeled the poles of the binary condition (2) 'Energy' and (3) 'Form'. In this way the energy pole of the binary is where the system gets its fuel and power from. In the terms of modern physics this is what is recognised as heat, work or energy in any system and the laws of thermodynamics stem from this pole. The 'form' pole is what gives dynamic (living) systems there structure. In the terms of alchemy 'energy' is referred to as the Principal 'Sulphur', because mineral sulphur burns and is associated with heat, fire, light and expansion. It is the expansion faculty of the Sulphur Principal that allow the 'unit' (1) to expand and become a two-thing (binary). The form pole is referred to by alchemists as the Principal 'Salt', the reason for which should be obvious when we consider that it is the basis of all structure. Again, in the terms of modern physics, the energy and form poles of the binary are governed by the laws of the conservation of matter and the conservation of energy ... which tell us that we cannot change the amount of energy and matter in the universe (the quantity is finite), but that they may be converted the one into the other.

We cannot forget, though, that while all things we commonly experience are defined and based upon binary law, at their root is a unified harmonious commonality (the 1 sphere), and that because that unity is the origin or source of everything else, it maintains the position of ruler or governor. Because of this there is always an urge within the binary state to return to the unity state. In animals, for example, this is the source of the urge to procreate. In Hermetic philosophy, it is the basis for the ideal that 'love' is the governing force in the universe.

But the Creator did not create the binary reality so that it can be escaped from. It was created for a specific purpose, and that is because in unity no growth can occur, and the Creator desired evolution and expression. So the binary reality was created in order to stimulate and support growth and development. But because everything in binary existence possesses an urge to return to unity (balance), in order for the two poles of the binary mechanism to be kept apart another force had to be created that would maintain binary existence. This fourth force I have labeled 's' in my diagram.

This 's' force is the very thing that sustains binary (physical) reality. Without it everything we know would collapse back into passive unity. Because the 's' force maintains binary reality ... and that in order for a binary to exist, each pole of a binary must be to some degree out of balance, the 's' force is also the maintainer of imbalance, opposition, tension, conflict and ... decay. From this angle the 's' force is the origin of what modern physics refers to as entropy(the predisposition of things to decay if energy is not imposed on them to be maintained in good condition).

In the process of their work real alchemists (as I pointed out earlier) are always concerned with attaining the goal of producing Q-state materials. In doing so their interest must always be attracted not to the perfection in things, but to the imperfection (the 's' force) that exists within things. Because it is the 's' force which forces things to be imperfect, and it is only be neutralising or removing the effect of the 's' force that a substance can be perfected and allowed to embody the attributes that are found in the unity (One) state. If the real alchemist wants to succeed in his or her work, a full knowledge and understanding of the nature of the 's' force and its mystery must be grasped. In this way the alchemist could be said to be focused on producing substances in which the force of entropy is negated.

So in this diagram, and my explanation, we have what we might consider is the most basic view of what any living (dynamic) system is composed of, alchemically. The structure of this mechanism and its dynamic, and how that structure and dynamic can be manipulated, are the focus of the alchemist and the alchemical process. This is how things are 'built' and it is from this understanding that we can next consider how things work ...