My story of an Alchemist and his daughter was first aired in Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt Flames #writephoto, it was entitled Ignis. The short tale can be read on many levels, with alchemy at its heart. The simplest definition I can find so far of this venerable art comes from Cherry Gilchrist’s book “Alchemy: The Great Work”, obviously this is only one source. Adam McLean’s website at http://www.alchemywebsite.com is a thorough and comprehensive library on the subject, worth a look. Now for the definition from Gilchrist:
“Alchemy is the art of transformation. The work of the alchemist is to bring about succeeding changes in the material he operates on, transforming it from a gross, unrefined state to a perfect and purified form.”
There are several dimensions to the alchemist’s work, physical, psychological and spiritual. The physical involves the transmutation of base materials via various chemical operations into gold. On the psychological and spiritual levels this would involve a process by which the self engages in a quest to perfect it’s nature. Alchemical texts can be often shrouded in symbolism, mythology and allegory. This allows the texts to be interpreted on many levels. Although it doesn’t mean that the material is either easy to decipher or understand until further research and work is undertaken by the seeker. This can take a whole lifetime! Of course it’s always best to read the original alchemical tracts if you can. Production of a substance called The Philosopher’s Stone (variously called the Elixir or Tincture) is the aim of the alchemist’s work. It’s thought to contain the power of transformation on both material and spiritual levels. A key to knowledge and only to be used wisely and responsibly. A noble undertaking, although as human history has illustrated again and again, ‘wise’ and ‘responsible’ don’t always feature strongly on the agenda.
Apologies to any alchemists out there, this is a rather simplistic viewpoint but sufficient for this exercise I believe. What this exercise is, is an ongoing contemplation of my place in the Universe. Many, many years ago I met a man in a qi gong class in London who confirmed what I’d been feeling for years. He commented that once someone had begun a journey to seek answers they would be changed forever. It would be a lonely path and their loved ones would not either recognise who they’d become or accept the new person. The world can never be viewed in the same way again.
What of the main players in this story? Time has moved on and we find the father and daughter in a different place. Father may be an Alchemist primarily but he is also many other things as is his daughter:
The child stares at her reflection with great curiosity. Same eyes, same nose, same lips. The mirror remains silent, waiting. Her father watches with intense interest. Such curiosity and thirst for knowledge in one so young! Children like her are quite rare, for she is the attainment of the Great Work. The human spirit contains within it a seed of the eternal Sun. The man’s eyes reflect his temporary withdrawal from this world. How many lifetimes has it taken in the quest for knowledge and perfection? He would willingly live yet many more lifetimes to see and experience all that has gone before. Once the mysteries of the world have been glimpsed one cannot return to the old life and self. The world is not what we perceive it to be; its atoms being self-aware shift and remould themselves into, what they desire to be. They also reflect what we desire and choose to see. Much like the mirror the child is looking into.
He is brought back to the present by the gentle touch of the child’s hand and looks down at her with much warmth and love. She sits on the ground and beams a brilliant smile at him. Her young eyes are like two deep pools, bottomless and wise beyond her years. She contains the sum of all knowledge and experience in the Universe. There is no sadness within her. She knows of what lies beyond the human experience, for it has been transcended. That is not to say she has not experienced grief and loss, anger and pain. They have informed the eternal and immortal being within, tempered their distance with compassion and understanding.
The infant hands the adult a picture she’s drawn. Her father scrutinises it carefully. Adam Kadmon (“primordial man”), a divine blueprint. She looks at her father and waves a chubby little hand, he laughs in response at the numerous drawings spread out on the floor of the living room. She has been busy. A pillar of light materialises in the western corner of the room. It shimmers like a ray of moonlight, white interspersed with silver. They hear the sound of bells, delicate sounds swimming in a sea of light. Then the figure of a woman appears in its stead, youthful in appearance but emanating great wisdom and power. She looks directly at the infant. The child gives her father a knowing look. It now begins.
Here ends my discourse.