A Modern Alchemy: The Great Work in the Consumerist society
ALCHEMY a modern view The great work in a Consumerist Society
Alchemy has all but disappeared but some of the great scientists were practitioners, including Sir Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle. Unbeknownst to most, Newton, as well as an Alchemist was also a dowser. It would seem that these two esoteric disciplines might well be happy bedfellows since some time ago I was moved to use dowsing to explore the periodic table in earnest. A surprising pattern emerged which put Alchemy at the centre of my work.
It began when I noticed that high levels of copper were showing up both in the intestines and the right side of the brain in those clients with a gluten allergy. To investigate further I dowsed through all of the elements and found that Palladium, a precious metal was poorly absorbed in that same area of the brain. Palladium, though present in the body, as most of the elements are, is found only in the parts per million and thought to have no biological role. It was in the past however used as a treatment for Tuberculosis before antibiotics. This information chimed with something I had already realised – all those with a gluten allergy had a predominant Tubercular miasm.
Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) founder of homeopathy hit on the theory of the miasm. Although he cured many patients some returned with ailments that had moved site, as in the case of a skin rash, or with altered symptoms e.g arthritis had become headaches. He felt that this obstacle to health, this miasm, was caused by an ancestor’s disease leaving its mark on his/her descendants i.e a genetically inherited trait. Tuberculosis was one such disease; Leprosy, Gonorrhoea and Syphilis comprise the others.
Seeing a possible link between a miasm and a precious metal I investigated further. A very obvious pattern emerged. Those with the leprosy (psoric) miasm were low in Lithium (an exception to the precious metal rule), and high in Strontium, the gonorrhoea or sycotic miasm showed up as low Platinum and high tungsten, the Tubercular I confirmed as showing low Palladium and high Copper. The Syphilitic miasm was the most revealing however as there was a lack of gold and excessive lead.
It felt at this point as though this line of enquiry began to point to Alchemy’s main goal, Chrysopoeia, the transformation of lead into gold. Of course I felt I was seeing the opposite imbalanced state where lead replaced gold. An obvious question arose. Is the body the real crucible for this ‘transmutation’ a process leading to internal health not external wealth? After all the base metals; copper, tungsten, strontium and lead oxidise taking crucial oxygen out of the body. Precious metals don’t oxidise they are immortal and untarnishing. If, according to Hahneman, the miasms are responsible for chronic disease the precious metals may play a part in maintaining health. Taking a holistic view of health this could have implications far beyond the merely biological especially since these deficiencies could be inextricably linked to devastating epidemics throughout our past our relationship to these metals may well have shaped our entire human history.
Although dowsing is one of the great tools for uncovering hidden truths, in order to fully explore the web of relationships I was uncovering I found myself turning to those other powerful and subtle methods of revelation; etymology, history and mythology.
Cities of Gold
Aurum the Latin for Gold comes from the Roman word Aurora; the morning glow or the light of the dawn. On a poetic level this has always meant one thing to us humans the return of the sun, the promise of a new day, ultimately hope. Lead can be summed up in such phrases as heavy as lead or leaden-hearted. Plumbum is Lead’s Latin name. Plumbing the depths is associated with having reached a low point. If gold is associated with the return of the undying light of the sun, lead is the nadir of that state a plunge into the murky oceans, devoid of light. It represents a state of unchanging hopelessness or despair.
This hopelessness is exactly what gold is used to treat in homeopathy. Aurum is a remedy for depressive, hopeless people, for those likely to commit suicide for whom the dawn never comes.
And so to Syphilis itself that terrible disease. Does it have a connection to Gold, the Sun and to Hopelessness? Story, myth and etymology again clear the shifting miasms that veil a deeper story.
The sweat of the Sun
In 1495 Naples’ citizens succumbed to a disease that disfigured their features and ate them down to the bone. German humanist Joseph Grunpeck wrote that the sickness was “So cruel, so distressing, so appalling that until now nothing more terrible or disgusting has ever been known on this earth."
Syphilis was most likely introduced to Italy by Columbus’ sailors returning from ‘over the ocean blue’. If this is true Syphilis’ bacteria shared a voyage with the news of the New World’s discovery. If my theory is correct as the Mayans, Aztecs and the Incas were being robbed of their Gold on a grand scale, Syphilis was stripping the Gold from European bodies on an equally grand scale.
And Syphilis why that name? In 1530, it was the title of an allegorical poem by Italian physician and poet Girolamo Fracastoro which described the disease’s ravages. It was written as a myth centred around a shepherd boy, Syphilis, who instead of sacrificing to Apollo begins to look to humans for guidance. The Sun god punishes the boy with the symptoms of the disease. The disease became synonymous with the boy. An extraordinary coincidence since this gold robbing disease is brought from the continent that used that metal to worship its Sun Gods. Many of these civilisations had the sun as its major deity. Gold, seen by the Aztecs as the sweat of the sun was removed from the sun god’s temples as the sweat of syphilis formed on European temples. In time we tamed this deadly beast that stampeded through Europe. However it is a recent victory, the advent of antibiotics insulated us from the fear it engendered for 500 years. But its legacy goes marching on in the bodies of all those with the miasm.
Gold, hope, lead, hopelessness the sun and syphilis a group of elements, emotions, disease and a celestial body that when written seem to defy connection. The connections also seem to defy causality and throw up more questions than they answer. Is the disease a punishment from an angry god? How does gold connect to the Sun? Clarifying these connections required me to look for a simple but elegant answer. Only one presented itself, one that Newton might have approved of, the classical, alchemical element of Fire. The fire of the sun, the fiery colour of gold, the burning nature of the disease and fire’s absence in the darkness of the depths. The classical Elements (capitalised from now on) , a ubiquitous notion in ancient and indigenous beliefs but dismissed as childish in a rationalist world may actually be the lens through which such diverse connections can be spoken of being Poetic, visceral and Universal all at once.
Yet each man kills the thing he loves Oscar Wilde To further illuminate this Elemental view it is worth exploring Tuberculosis to see if the interweaving patterns uncovered by exploring the Syphilitic miasm can be seen in this more recent epidemic.
Etymologically Palladium is named after Pallas Athena the Greek goddess of wisdom. Copper, the base metal for Palladium, is named after the Greek island of Cypress. No obvious connection perhaps but if one simply digs deeper the parallels become more obvious.
Athena took the epithet Pallas from her closest friend that she accidentally killed during sparring. She took the name of her friend as her own and was known subsequently as Pallas Athena. The island of Cypress is named after the tree which in turn is named after a youth called Cyparissus who was given a deer as a gift from the besotted God Apollo.
Cyparissus inconsolable after accidentally killing his beloved pet told Apollo that he wished to weep for ever. Apollo reluctantly turned the boy into the Cypress tree, whose sap resembles flowing tears.
How do these parallel stories of self-induced loss relate to tuberculosis? One of the main symptoms of Tuberculosis is pleural effusion, a filling of water in the membranes of the lung and the other is what gives it its other name
consumption. The sufferer literally drowns in his own water and wastes away or is consumed. This describes Cyparissus’ state. He is filled with tears and consumed with grief.
If gold represents Hope due to its name then in what way may Palladium represent Wisdom? The Tubercular miasm’s state is one of restlessness, however it is something that emerges out of a feeling of isolation or grief, feeling left behind or separate, wisdom may in this case be seen as being the opposite of this state, an understanding that we are never truly separate or that death is never the end but also that the self is not so identified with the other that we lose ourselves. Athena herself embodied a memorial to her friend and so found a way to deal with tragedy and loss and continued into her Godhood.
The Elemental principle that ties Palladium, Copper, Wisdom, Isolation and Tuberculosis together is of course Water, the Element that leaks from us as we wish to reconnect with the thing we have lost.
Retail Therapy or As Within so Without
To most of us the miasm diseases seem confined to a bygone age, antibiotics have largely consigned them to being shadows of the killers they once were. In 1815 1 in 4 of the population of Britain was killed by consumption, in 1999 it killed 393 people. In what way then can Alchemy and an understanding of the Elements be relevant to the unbalanced way we are living today.
Let us look more closely at the most prevalent miasm of these times, Tuberculosis and in particular its colloquial name Consumption. This comes from the Latin Consumere "to use up, eat, waste," emere means "to buy, take". Consumption in terms of the disease is to be eaten or used up and waste away, but if this internal experience is externalised it is to consume, eat up, to buy and to waste.
This is where a picture of holistic health with Alchemy at its heart becomes a radical notion. It poses the question that what if this consumerist society we find ourselves embroiled in is the result of a deficiency of a precious metal effecting our own internal experience of the outside world giving us a distorted view of what our needs are. Since the majority of us are affected by this miasm it would mean that there would be nowhere to turn for relief since every organisation, business or government would share this distorted view and therefore short-termist or addictive behaviour.
In order to explain why this might be happening I shall pose another question; what if the symptoms of this disease are to be expected? That they are a crucial part of our evolution. Just as childhood diseases are said to be there to be part of a child’s development – what if we, humanity, are passing through a particular phase, a Consumptive, Tubercular phase, a phase of Water or more commonly as these things are expressed a Palladium age. An age where the imbalance within us is reflected out there in our acquisitive, destructive and wasteful urges. Where water is rising, ice caps are melting, rainfall changes are key, water is the new Gold and our own sense of collective grief at the state of the Earth we love is so deep. Cypriassus’ deer could well stand in for the gift we have been given and yet through our own wayward actions are destroying.
Ages of Man
Defining our collective disease or era in this case might be the beginning of a way through, the beginning of a light at the end of the tunnel or the light of the dawn. It does seem that a way of defining our particular time frame has been lost and with it some perspective.
If alchemy can show us that we are in a Palladium age with water as its defining Elemental principle, it must be possible to use that knowledge to reveal the rest of the picture, and preceding ages.
To do this I shall return to the Elements and in particular pay attention to the order they are commonly written; Earth, Air, Fire and Water and the miasms that they are linked to.
Of course the Elements when linked in this way to an era are used as a lens through which all human activity can be looked at, be this the physical aspects such as dwellings and transport to modes of thought and even the predominance of emotional states. This clarifying allows certain patterns to emerge such as the predominant energy used e.g coal, gas, or electricity, the extent to which people were able to interact e.g ship, plane, internet as well as what couldn’t be achieved until there was a transition to the next phase of human development.
The Earth or Stone Age:
Ian Watson in his book looks at the psoric miasm as though it were the ‘first challenge to humanity’; its expression is in terms of survival, temperature fluctuations, thirst, hunger. It is a body at war with itself and like all the miasms it embodies a dichotomy in this case War and Peace. Lithium is the metal for the Psoric miasm; this comes from litho meaning stone. It is a time when humanity dwelt close to the earth often in caves and used just the body or an animal for power and transport (it also represents slavery). The tribe or neighbouring tribes would have been all that was known. It also represents a love of one’s land or country. A psoric struggle might be defending one’s country from invasion.
The Platinum Age:
The Sycotic miasm I relate directly to Air. There is no handy etymology to fall back on. Platinum means little silver but the diseased state is very forthcoming. These people find it very difficult to speak out. Tungsten, meaning heavy metal, sits on the lungs when it is in excess and these people can feel a great deal of shame which halts their expression.
This shows the dichotomy it embodies; Beauty and Shame. It was also the time when rational thought was birthed, the written word invented and the great religions came into being. Anyone challenging religious codes could be shamed for instance. Art also flourished during this era and the renaissance may have seen its height. The Platinum age would be a time when the power our ancestors used came from wind for sails and mills. It was a time when travel would take place between other nations or states by land or sea. It also represents a love of ideas, laws, moral codes and religion. A sycotic struggle might be a war over an idea or religion such as the English civil war or the troubles in Northern Ireland.
The Golden age:
whose disease is Syphilis could still be seen to be on-going since it is concerned with Fire. Its power is combustible from coal, oil and gas. Of course this encompasses the industrial revolution. Other continents became easily within reach using steam and eventually flight. This also represents the love of family and one’s identity. A Syphilitic struggle would be represented by the Civil rights movement in America or anti-Apartheid in South Africa.
The Tubercular or Palladium age
is very much now. It is concerned with Water and its power is electricity, the power of lightning and hydroelectricity. Electricity enables global near instantaneous communication as well as travel into our solar system.
The pattern shows an expanding consciousness of the world we inhabit and increasing globalisation. The power harnessed in each era increases greatly almost exponentially through each age. Of course there are overlaps as with oil and electricity being easy bedfellows as there is when the miasms are expressed in the human body and psyche. In fact it is notable that the previous era’s power is always still an important part of the current era. Just as in this age electricity is used for the most pioneering endeavours say in computing, whereas petrol, goal and gas fuel many of the ‘mundane’ tasks. This was true for wind during the time of the industrial revolution with sailing vessels for transport being superseded only in the early 20th century around the same time that electricity was becoming commonplace in people’s lives.
In the interests of getting a holistic view another template may be applied to these eras by asking the question, what if each age not only represented a timespan in humanities’ life but also stood for periods in an individual’s lifespan? Through dowsing I set these ages at 7 years, except the first, Lithium again is a special case. The cave-like womb represents the age of Earth. The age of air, includes the beginning of speech and is infancy up to 7. The first kindling of desires and wants of childhood is Fire and takes us up to 14. Water represents the teenage years awash on a sea of emotion, able to travel further out into the world, with more power but a certain lack of equilibrium. Changing perspective again this time from individual to humanity would mean this Platinum age is humanities’ teenage consumerist, irresponsible years. If this is so what does adulthood and maturity look and feel like on planet Earth?
The Fifth Age
The pattern set up by uncovering an alchemical way of looking at our past and present eras might appear to be problematic when it comes to looking to the future since many might think there are only four Elements.
Fortunately there is a fifth Element, a fifth miasm and a fifth precious metal to complete the pattern. It is these gems that will show the true worth of a modern Alchemy, a way to illuminate a way out of our diseased state.
I see clients with the Fifth miasm and dowse for their absorption of precious metals. Although one of the first four miasms will still be showing in the right parietal lobe they all show a deficiency of a precious metal on the left side of the brain as well. This pattern is of Carcinosin or Cancer. This disease unlike the other tamed miasms, still strikes fear into the heart. Last year in the UK a third of all deaths were due to it. If the fifth miasm and age is related to Cancer we are well and truly beginning to grow up. And what is the age we are moving into? It is the Silver Age.
Silver is the most electrically and thermally conductive metal known in the universe and has been shown to have extraordinary healing capabilities. For instance shattered bones which fail to heal with other methods will mend when silver electrodes are used on either side of the break.
The relationship between Silver and its base metal are at the heart of a fundamental story for many on planet earth. Silver in Latin is Argentum which comes from the Greek root Arg- which means white or shining, silver is the white, shining metal - Nickel is its base metal. Nickel’s name comes from Germanic miners who consistently mistook Nickel for Copper and therefore named it after a Goblin, a mischievous Sprite or Demon in their folklore, Nick. In Britain this becomes something more sinister since we have our own version ‘Old Nick’ aka the Devil.
The Devil has many other names Lucifer and Satan being the most common. It is worth looking at their etymology, it is a confusing read. Satan is a Hebrew word meaning "one who opposes, obstructs’ Satan in Greek is diabolos (the Devil) which means "slanderer literally one who throws something across the path of another.” Lucifer is Latin for carrier of light. Why are these definitions confusing? They appear to have nothing to do with the meaning we give them today. Lucifer seems to have been the name attributed to the King of Babylon and Satan was not used originally to denote any individual entity.
“The Hebrew term the Satan describes an adversarial role. It is not the name of a particular character. Although Hebrew storytellers as early as the sixth century B.C.E. occasionally introduced a supernatural character whom they called the Satan, what they meant was any one of the angels sent by God for the specific purpose of blocking or obstructing human activity. [Elaine Pagels, "The Origin of Satan," 1995]”
A pattern emerges when it comes to the naming of Nickel and the origins of the devil, things become cloudy and obscured. I will therefore attribute Nickel with not a story of evil but perhaps its original Germanic and Hebrew meaning a mischievous or even divine obstruction or illusion. Silver by contrast is the most clarifying element. It is the most reflective of all elements with the ability to hold the memory of an image hence its use in mirrors and photography – ‘the photograph never lies’. Silver and Nickel; white and shining to mischievous and illusory – the dichotomy they represent I believe is summed up in Enlightenment and Illusion.
How does this relationship relate to cancer? It could be summed up in the two words ‘know thyself’. Ian Watson writes
‘A major theme that is relevant to the cancer miasm is the journey towards individuation. Carl Jung coined the term ‘individuation’ to describe the process of becoming a whole human being, a whole person in your own right and living your own life to its fullest expression.’
If one relates this to the lesson of silver and the holistic model of health it is to see oneself reflected in the clear mirror of the self as one truly is not confused by others fears or the majority view or the illusion that Nickel is strangely associated with. In essence this means, I believe, that we must find what we are here to do, our purpose. It is for me the essence of graduating to adulthood on planet Earth.
‘As we progress through adolescence, there is a healthy throwing-off of the authority and expectations of those around us which is essential if are to find our true individual path in life.’
To uncover ones purpose and to find fulfilment theoretically frees us from the need for control over others. This is reflected in the inner tyranny of the disease which invades and takes over healthy tissue. Maturity on earth then looks very much like freedom from slavery, oppression and control and I mean that in the widest sense including all beings and the environment.
The Fifth Element
What is the Fifth Element, what do we get when we are given the keys to the shiny new car on our 21st? Aether - the Quintessence (fifth essence) the all-encompassing, omnipresent substance that infuses all things. In classical Greek thought it was the pure fresh air or clear sky the pure essence that the gods breathed and all other classical Elements emerged out of.
Aether was accepted as a scientific theory until the late 19th century as a medium which carried light and for Newton (possibly the grandfather of the industrial revolution)was integral to his early ideas on Gravity. It was also a preoccupation of Tesla’s (the grandfather of the electrical age). It was a substance that filled the vacuum of space, a medium through which all things passed and had their being. It was a theory that seemed to die with Einstein’s theory of Relativity, and several experiments that seemed to refute its existence. Einstein’s and Newton’s more mechanistic theories seemed to be enough to explain the action of gravity and light and yet there are anomalies that will not go away.
Gravity is still a mysterious force since quantum gravity and general relativity do not marry up and the graviton has never been found, dark matter and energy seems to be everywhere without being observable and the speed of light is now not quite what it was. There are many out there who are clamouring for a return to an Aether based science.
I shall not fully throw myself into the debate here and will simply outline what is speculated to be possible if Aether itself is understood and harnessed. But I will say that if we are to wrest ourselves free from the grip of purely mechanistic science an Aether based science may be our best hope. A connecting force pervading all things would make sense of many phenomena including dowsing and homeopathy and may well be the definition of Holism.
The power of the Silver Age may be the most controversial aspect to Aether since it inevitably points towards Free energy and Anti-gravity, the holy grails of side-lined and ridiculed cranks and charlatans. However we may not wish to be so quick to judge since we should remember we are looking through the distorted lens of the miasms and the pica fuelled addiction to oil and electrical devices that accompany them. Fixing these lenses would mean changing our story drastically, we may have to give up tyranny, misogyny, illness, and both killing our planet and grieving for it along with a whole host of other stories.
An Aether-based science might fill the gaps in sense that have been created by relying solely on causality and mechanistic science. It would in short put back meaning, art and holism into the story we tell ourselves about ourselves and our world. If however the power used in each successive age does multiply exponentially controlling the primal force of Aether would require us to be enlightened responsible adults free from the taints of War, Shame, Despair and Grief with the ability to see ourselves clearly in the mirror of the Silver Age.
References Watson, Ian (2009) The Homeopathic Miasms: A Modern View, Cutting Edge Publications. Online Etymology Dictionary, www.etymonline.com Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org