If you’ve ever watched those great tv movies of old, the ones about King Arthur, or at least that period, invariably there’s someone wanting to change a base metal into gold, or something similar. ‘Ah, alchemy’, you say. We know it’s not going to happen, though the movie is (probably) fiction so you never know, but we’ll watch the movie, anyway.
Ofcourse, when we look back to yesteryear we see things through twenty-first century eyes. The Celts of old had a different world viewpoint to us, and as best as we can, we need to develop a new way of perceiving things if we’re aiming to take hold of some of those ancient, but oh-so-relevant ways that are much-needed, today.
It may not be a word that many of us use, but the ‘idea’ behind it is known to each of us, and in many (if not all) religions and spiritualties,, it is commended.
‘I had discovered, early in my researches, that their doctrine was no mere chemical fantasy, but a philosophy they applied to the world, to the elements, and to man himself.’ W.B. Yeats,
Some alchemists, experimenters of that period, whilst not producing gold, did actually make some amazing discoveries which advanced science, so that’s something to be grateful for.
And, this got me thinking.
Thought #1: Suppose the idea of changing a cheap metal into an expensive one was never the intention of alchemists in the first place, but it only appears so now, from our mind-set, or via film-makers’ scripts which we’ve accepted blindly? Maybe, our thinking about alchemy is wrong?
‘The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.’ William Blake
Alchemists, as explorers!
Thought #2: Suppose, that real alchemy, or real alchemists are not the ones who, then, used chemistry to change (just) the appearance of things, but are people, like you and me, that change(d) events for other people, for the good?
Alchemy. There’s more!
‘If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.’ Proverbs 25:21, The Book
So, two friends have an argument and you intercede, and their friendship is restored! Someone is about to make an unwise decision, maybe, they’re about to misuse their money or book a not-so-good holiday destination, and you use your knowledge to prompt a different course of action, and they then use their money wisely, and are happier for it. Someone is having a tough time, and you suggest a good book for them to read that might ‘talk’ about some of the issues they’re facing, and it buoys their spirit. Someone is not well and you pray for them or lay on hands, or (just) spend time being with them and they appreciate your time and effort! Something is happening locally (or indeed on the other side of the planet) and you feel motivated to protect the environment (or, minimise the impact)…..and so on. Then, you are an alchemist! You’ve elicited a change that would otherwise not have taken place.
Thought #3: Suppose, true alchemy takes place in the human heart, when a change occurs between two people, or perhaps even (just) within ourselves, or between us and nature – a change of understanding, a depth of thought never achieved before, something now considered that wasn’t considered before, a thought followed by an action? That’s real alchemy, and that makes us all (potential) alchemists.
‘If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.’ Lao Tzu
Alchemists are change-makers. Another word for alchemy is metanoia – to change one’s mind.
Twenty-first century alchemists could then be: teachers, artists, peace-makers, those involved in ritual, or authors, people who share an uplifting word at the right moment, a Christian praying for someone, a Celt extending real hospitality, a Druid performing a much-needed ritual of protection for someone in need; an artist, a musician’s song ‘enlivening’ someone’s soul, a poet’s challenging verse, people like you and me who takes steps to protect the environment and/or build-up other people, or extend a helping hand; people whose perception is changing to a glocal (global and local) viewpoint. People like us.
People who love, that’s what alchemists are.
‘Love life. Live your life with joy so you may fill the world with joy. Let no one leave your presence without feeling the joy of life.’Debasish Mridha
Thought #4: Suppose, you already are an alchemist?