Sunday Reflections with Mystics: On Alchemy and Spiritual Transformation

by April Bender

Sunday Reflections with Mystics is an effort to collectively honor our ancestors and those wisdom-bearers that have helped illuminate the way. I thought it would be lovely to carve out one day a week in which to reflect on their wise words and counsel around a particular theme or topic. Please enjoy this interlude by allowing the following words and resonance to wash over, inspire, and uplift you. 

Topic: Alchemy and Spiritual Transformation

"This is why alchemy exists," the boy said. "So that everyone will search for his treasure, find it, and then want to be better than he was in his former life. Lead will play its role until the world has no further need for lead; and then lead will have to turn itself into gold. That's what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too."
                                                                                    -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

“The secrets of alchemy exist to transform mortals from a state of suffering and ignorance to a state of enlightenment and bliss.” 
                                                                                   -Deepak Chopra, The Way of the Wizard

"Alchemy is about the generation of a psychic construct, a wholeness, a thing which has many properties, which is paradoxical, which is both mind and matter, which can do anything."
                                                                                   -Terence McKenna

"That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing. And just as all things have come from this One Thing, through the meditation of One Mind, so do all created things originate from this One Thing, through Transformation."
                                                                                  -The Emerald Tablet

"The Above is the abode of One Mind, and the Below is the abode of the One Thing. You need know nothing more because nothing more is knowable; you cannot know the ineffable. Work instead with the tiny spark of consciousness of which you are possessed; that spark can be fanned into blazing gnosis that burns away the falsity of your tragic self-deception. Thereafter can you verify for yourself of that of which I speak. You can behold the One Mind; you can touch the One Thing."
                           -Dennis William Hauck, The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation

"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."
                                                                                  -William Butler Yeats

"Shamanism is essentially a living tradition of alchemy that is not seeking the stone but has found the stone."
                                                                                  -Terence McKenna

“It’s said that the shuffling of the cards is the earth, and the pattering of the cards is the rain, and the beating of the cards is the wind, and the pointing of the cards is the fire. That’s of the four suits. But the Greater Trumps, it’s said, are the meaning of all process and the measure of the everlasting dance.” 
                                                                                  -Charles Williams

"If you become more sensitive to beauty, to poetry, that means your love has blossomed. And all the energy that has been left by fear, anger and hate, will be taken over by your love, your sensitivity, your compassion, your creativity. This is the whole alchemy of changing base metals into gold."

“Medicine rests upon four pillars—philosophy, astronomy, alchemy, and ethics. The first pillar is the philosophical knowledge of earth and water; the second, astronomy, supplies its full understanding of that which is of fiery and airy nature; the third is an adequate explanation of the properties of all the four elements—that is to say, of the whole cosmos—and an introduction into the art of their transformations; and finally, the fourth shows the physician those virtues which must stay with him up until his death, and it should support and complete the three other pillars.” 
                                                                                  -Paracelsus, Paracelsus: Selected Writings

“The Alchemical world view, in stark contrast to the scientific world view, where rational deterministic man is completely separated from both Nature and the Self, in fact the Self does not even exist. In the alchemical world view, all three are inextricably woven together and in 'synchronistic' or 'archetypal' events and amp; occurrences in one's life, all distinctions between them blur and almost disappear.” 
                                                                                 -Craig Nelson

"It takes a little time to create a gap between the witness and the mind. Once the gap is there, you are in for a great surprise, that you are not the mind, that you are the witness, a watcher. And this process of watching is the very alchemy of real religion. Because as you become more and more deeply rooted in witnessing, thoughts start disappearing. You are, but the mind is utterly empty..."

"One of the oldest secrets of alchemy is that every living thing, from the most complex creatures right down to the simplest leaf, carries the seeds of its creation within itself. DNA."
                                                                                 -Michael Scott

"Alchemy is really the secret tradition of the redemption of spirit from matter."
                                                                                 -Terence McKenna

"Only by discovering alchemy have I clearly understood that the Unconscious is a process and that ego's rapport with the Unconscious and its contents initiate an evolution, more precisely, a real metamorphosis of the psyche."
                                                                                -Carl Jung