Thus Begins My Research

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Thus Begins My Research

Post  WCH on Sun Aug 24, 2008 8:21 pm

I'm a student of Sociology at the University of Toronto, and have been studying drug culture for the past three years. Over the course of the past year I also studied Jungian psychology, and this summer when it came time to decide on what I wanted to do my major research project for this coming year, it occurred to me that in Alchemy was the perfect marriage of the two different kinds of research I've been taking part in these last years -- the sociological analysis of drug users, and depth analysis, to be precise.

I will admit right now that I at present know very little about alchemy. However, I intend to, over the next few months, make myself an expert in the subject, and early in 2009 I will write a paper documenting my research.

There are to be three prongs to my research, as with such a subject it is important to come at it from different directions simultaneously:
1) I intend to read as many alchemical textbooks and books about alchemy as time allows for. Recommendations will be helpful.
2) I will be performing interviews with alchemists to determine what alchemy means in a 21st century context and how alchemists fit into a broader culture. If you would like to be interviewed, send me a message -- I live in Toronto, so if you're local we can meet for coffee somewhere, or if you'd just like to talk on MSN or by email, that'd be fine as well.
3) I will be doing personal experimentation and research, creating tinctures and the like so that I will know some of the subject matter first hand -- participant observation, we call it, which is another way of saying that I will not consider myself qualified to write about alchemy until I am comfortable calling myself an alchemist. Any advice you may have for where to start will be appreciated.

My focus within sociology, if we want to get technical, is the non-medically supervised use of psychoactive substances and the culture associated with such use. My most recent paper on the subject was a comprehensive discussion of Ketamine use in Toronto -- if you'd like to read it, I'll email it to you. For the purpose of this paper I will be focusing on entheogenic (or psychedelic) drugs, the transformative power of which parallels the Science of Transformation, but the drugs will not be the exclusive focus of the paper, merely as one part of alchemy, which is of course the topic.

Hopefully this forum will prove beneficial to my research, and I also hope that I may be able to contribute in some significant way. Now, though, I've got to go to work, so I'll start looking around next time I'm on the internet.
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  BeautifulEvil on Wed Aug 27, 2008 9:58 am

Hi WCH, please excuse me for not welcoming you sooner!

If you would like to be interviewed, send me a message -- I live in Toronto, so if you're local we can meet for coffee somewhere, or if you'd just like to talk on MSN or by email, that'd be fine as well.
I would be most happy to chat with you through MSN in a week or two.

Alchemy fits very well with the entheogen realm. In a sense, some would say the ultimate goal of an alchemist is spiritual transformation: active stimulation of the pineal gland, and in return the pineal gland produces native psychoactives (think indoles, particularly DMT). This is a personal belief, but my work with english gematria also backs up the claim.

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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  deviadah on Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:05 am

Hi there.. a bit late but you know what they say...

WELCOME!

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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  Salazius on Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:27 am

Welcome !

I will not consider myself qualified to write about alchemy until I am comfortable calling myself an alchemist.

Well ... good luck.

Before being an alchemist, you have to be an hermetist, knowing how to look at Nature, Life, understanding Her, Her purpose, approaching Her with respect an love. And then, imitating Her in microcosm.

Alchemy is not distillation, calcination etc -chemist do it very well-, alchemy is the realization that everything is ONE, by the means of techniques and of matters. But that is only a way, a material and physical way of transformation.

Alchemy is refining mater, and let it be so clear and pure, that the Nature's Life Fire can radiate through it. This is the Stone, this is the Union with Life.

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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  WCH on Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:10 pm

Thank you. Smile

As I suppose should be expected, most of this forum is well above my head, dealing primarily with chrysopoeia whereas my interest lies primarily with the spagyric... but I'll try to follow along and hopefully understand a bit better in a few months.
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  BeautifulEvil on Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:16 pm

Spagyria and plant alchemy is a really great place to start alchemy! You will learn the modus operandi while doing plant alchemy, and this will help you better grasp some of the advanced work in the other kingdoms.

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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  phliosehea on Thu Aug 28, 2008 1:55 am

However, I intend to, over the next few months, make myself an expert in the subject, and early in 2009 I will write a paper documenting my research.

You're asking alot of yourself in such a short time...considering it may take a lifetime to become expert. There are plenty of "papers" already written by "experts", and the lot of them are on par with tourist pamphlets. For the most part there is no beginning and the end is far from sight, yet plenty of middle ground to cover. If a thesis is all you're here for then there is much to see. But the depth you reach may be that of a wading pool, when in fact there is an ocean before you to find.
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  WCH on Thu Aug 28, 2008 2:28 am

Yes. Perhaps my use of the word "expert" is unfortunate... I know that there is much to know and that it's a very esoteric practice; I don't expect to become an "expert alchemist," but rather an expert in the academic study of alchemy -- which is a much easier thing to do. I want to write about it from a sociological perspective, not from an alchemical one, and as such need to know as much as I can about it, but not be a master by any stretch.

Apologies if I sounded arrogant, that wasn't my intention.

Right now my plan is to make a couple tinctures until I've got the technique sorted, then seven ens (one for each planet/day) and then a spagyric stone. Is that a reasonable amount to accomplish by April with minimal experience? Where I go from there will depend on the success of this work.

Or should I not have a plan, and simply work on one thing at a time, move onto whatever seems "right" after each step is finished?
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  phliosehea on Thu Aug 28, 2008 6:48 pm

Ultimately you'll decide what's best, I'm sure you could accomplish those tinctures in the amount of time and have plenty to write about. I'd be curious to read the interviews you have planned, any idea who you intend on interviewing?
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  WCH on Thu Aug 28, 2008 10:36 pm

A number of friends of mine to start, as well as whoever they refer me to, and anybody else I come across who is willing and able to be interviewed (for instance, anybody on this forum who's willing). For a "formal" interview they need to be able to meet me in person and be legally competent to consent -- which in turn requires them to be at least 16, sober at the time of the interview and of sound mind.

For an informal interview, on the other hand, they simply need to be able to communicate in English, as my French is atrocious and I know no other languages. Tongue

So, really, whoever's willing. The "kind" of person I want in particular is those who've ever used alchemy to create or transform a psychoactive substance... which would include everything from tinctures of fly agaric to extractions of crystalline DMT to the production of hashish, and everything else. Even simple distillation of alcohol -- if for the purpose of consumption -- would qualify.

The above may however give the impression that I'm not interested in interviewing you if you *haven't* done any of the above. That isn't actually the case... if you haven't, I would very much like to hear any explanation you have of why not, or your opinion of those who have. I recognise one limitation I'm faced with is that I can't possibly determine what ratio of alchemists use alchemy to create drugs... for now I simply know that *some* do, and these are the topic of my paper (as I said, my specialty is drug culture), so those who do not are relevant insomuch as they have knowledge or opinions of those who do.
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  Salazius on Fri Aug 29, 2008 2:24 am

I would say : an "alchemist" using "alchemy" to create drugs ... is not an alchemist and do not practice alchemy. This is spagyria.

If the guy is looking only for a trip, so he is a "technician junkie".

A real spagyrist wants to heal with plants etc, maybe some times with psychoactive plants. Looking for the spiritual aspect of the initiation with the spirit of the plant, like shaman.

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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  WCH on Fri Aug 29, 2008 3:09 am

If they were only making drugs, I'd agree with you, not alchemy. That isn't necessarily the case, though... often they are legitimately into alchemy, and also into entheogens, and naturally find that the two are quite easy to combine. Or they may have gotten into alchemy because of their interest in entheogens, or they may have gotten into entheogens because of their interest in alchemy. Many such things are possible. It's also possible for someone to use the word "alchemy" to describe what they do despite not being what you would call an alchemist. Trouble is that words do not have objective meaning... all we can conclude is that they and you are using the same word in a different sense, and any controversy on this point is entirely relevant to my research -- I'll certainly already be devoting a page or two to broad definitions, and will include anything that seems worth mentioning.

and, yes, it's spagyria I'll be focusing on in my paper, as that's the part of alchemy that can be used for drugs. Doesn't mean that's the only part I'm interested in, or the only part my research subjects practice.

Lastly, with entheogens we have substances which heal by virtue of their psychoactive properties -- ie, the two are not mutually exclusive. Certainly for my own spagyric work I plan to make non-psychoactive things... and maybe one or two that are (possibly fly agaric if I can find some that's positively identified).
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  Salazius on Fri Aug 29, 2008 3:49 am

Ok, I see.

Do you know "wild dagga" ?

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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  WCH on Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:57 pm

I've heard of it, but know next to nothing. I remember one guy on another forum I'm on mentioning buying some online but not being all that impressed, and one of the people I interviewed for a past study listed it among the things he'd tried.

What can you tell me about it? Would you recommend it as something to make a tincture or ens of?
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  phliosehea on Fri Aug 29, 2008 4:43 pm

I suppose I'll bite, when I was much younger and relatively new to alchemy; the first thing I and many others who are interested in this field do is plant related spagyrics. I stayed in this field for a brief time as I really didn't see the benefits of "plant" stones made in the ways readily taught by the contemporaries of the time. For the most part I liken it to snake oil, and am skeptical of supposed experiences with these "stones", "tinctures" ,"elixirs" etc... Eventually I extracted DMT from mimosa hostilis and Salvinorin-A from salvia more or less to experiment with them and to better understand and refine my organic chemistry as a new student. Aside from their waxy crystalline structure(s) they bear no resemblance to alchemical creations (when not in chrysalis form) and even though it was my intention I never experienced their hallucinogenic properties. It never felt correct to do so...however (as I'm sure you're aware) it should be noted that dimethyltryptamine production within man is something of a curiosity. I would elaborate more but feel that is enough. I do not believe that the alchemist of olde, and the many doctrines written are in any way shape or form related to plant entheogens...not soma, not amrita, not nectar, and not ambrosia.
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  WCH on Fri Aug 29, 2008 8:47 pm

Thanks. Smile

DMT and Salvia are tricky substances... even if you've extracted them correctly, they commonly still don't "work," likely due to smoking technique... but sometimes the person has followed all of the steps as indicated, for some reason it doesn't work, and there's no way to know why. I once smoked DMT (which had been extracted from mimosa hostilis by an alchemist, notably) and, though I'm sure I did everything correctly, I had no visual effects at all... but talked to other people who had some of the same batch and they apparently had amazing, ecstatic experiences on it (although they were also on LSD at the time, and it was during an eclipse... that's one invite I regret turning down... I already had plans! Bah). You just never know until after you've smoked it.

Anyway, what you're saying suggests to me that the interests in entheogens and alchemy intersect heavily, but that the two aren't intrinsically related... that means that while alchemy doesn't normally produce entheogens, alchemists are likely to be interested in entheogens, and people who enjoy entheogens are likely to think alchemy is "way cool." This is the camp I fall into (and, where before I was cheap and lazy, making the excuse of doing an academic study on the subject means that I'll be able to investigate for myself things I've long found interesting but largely stayed out of until now. The social sciences are great that way). We'll see where the research goes, though... maybe by April I'll have something more definitive to say on the subject.
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  phliosehea on Fri Aug 29, 2008 11:21 pm

Oh no...it's not that they didn't work, I chose not to do them. They worked fine for everyone I gave them too.
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  phliosehea on Fri Aug 29, 2008 11:28 pm

WCH wrote:
Anyway, what you're saying suggests to me that the interests in entheogens and alchemy intersect heavily, but that the two aren't intrinsically related...

Correct, in my opinion many wrongly assume the two are related...it's not to say that an alchemist does not, or rather has not used plant based entheogens at some time. Once you start delving deeper into alchemy, and read enough material from the old sages you'll see that the heights of ecstasy they reached were in confecting the philosophers stone, amrita, red lion, or whatever they choose to call it. This is akin to revelation, not hallucination...one's holy, the others more of a business trip.
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  BeautifulEvil on Sat Aug 30, 2008 10:23 am

Once you start delving deeper into alchemy, and read enough material from the old sages you'll see that the heights of ecstasy they reached were in confecting the philosophers stone, amrita, red lion, or whatever they choose to call it. This is akin to revelation, not hallucination...one's holy, the others more of a business trip.
Yes, this is a good way to look at the situation.

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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  Salazius on Sun Aug 31, 2008 3:24 am

WCH wrote:What can you tell me about it? Would you recommend it as something to make a tincture or ens of?

Yes, I would, even if I didn't do an tincture of it, it's Leonitis leonorus or ocymifolia or Phlomis leonorus, also called "lion tail". This is an orange red flower, very solar and fiery, *very* relaxing. With a very powerful effect taken by the dry way (smoking), and a smooth and longer presence by the wet way (infused, chewed...). Must have a good stomach if you smoke it.

But, making an ens, or a tincture of it, even if it's not an dangerous plant, must be undertaken with cautions, the tincture will enhance the power of the flower.
Also remembering that these kind of plants have a very powerful spirit, shamanic rituals are important to relate the mind to the spirit and create a link, it's important to respect that when you prepare the tincture, and more importantly, when you take it.
The plant will give you, what you *really* expect. Not what you think you expect.

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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  WCH on Sun Aug 31, 2008 4:33 am

Cool, sounds worthwhile. You say the tincture makes it more powerful... what kind of dosages are we talking about here? Like how much plant matter (once ground and extracted) for how many doses?
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  Salazius on Sun Aug 31, 2008 5:34 am

It's not a matter of quantities, but qualities.
As all the components of the plant will be elevated, it will have a quality effect more powerful, also different maybe, more spiritualized.

I guess that a normal (Dosage ... take the plant and immersed it with alcohol, plus 3 cm. That the dosage LOL ) concentration of the mercury will give you a strong effect with 10-20 drops (1 or 2 ml).
With a spagyric tincture, 3 drops are required for a treatment.

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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  Arcanium on Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:23 pm

Since this is my first my first post in many months let just say high to all the new faces here. This forum is growing well and I hope it continues to do so.

Anyway, Iím very interested in your research. Narcotics have always been a interest of mine in all there facets. Weather that be for healing, learning or just fun. Though I have never heard of the older alchemist taking mind expanding drug to further their Work I would be interested in knowing if they did. I would like to hear more about them making psychoactive drugs in a alchemical context. Also I want to hear peoples opinion on the use of drugs for the purpose of learning or expanding someoneís mind.
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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  BeautifulEvil on Sun Sep 07, 2008 10:09 pm

Though I have never heard of the older alchemist taking mind expanding drug to further their Work I would be interested in knowing if they did.
Ah, even back in the middle ages, a few of the more "important" psychoactive plants were considered illegal, and often death was the punishment for partaking of such things. If they did, they were have to hide it under many veils to escape the authority of the ruling bodies.

Even the word "narcotic" hints to something mysterious. Just the same as "arcane."

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Re: Thus Begins My Research

Post  WCH on Sun Sep 07, 2008 11:43 pm

It's unlikely that any European alchemist before the 19th century used any mind-expanding drug. Arabian, Egyptian and Chinese alchemists may have, and any in the past 150 years or so would at least have had the potential to. Medieval Europe simply wasn't aware of just about any hallucinogenic drugs... whether or not they would've taken them, there were none to take.

Paracelsus used opium, certainly, and a lot of it. Actually he claimed it to be a panacea... "I possess a secret remedy which I call laudanum and which is superior to all other heroic remedies."

So there we have a famous alchemist making a drug extraction as part of the Great Work. At least according to ethnobotanist Terrance McKenna, whose interpretation of Paracelsus I read. That's opium, though, not psilocybin, lysergic acid, DMT or even harmine. It's very likely that Arabian alchemists experimented with Hashish operations, but I don't want to speculate too broadly.
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