Skip to main content

Alchemy, Transmutation of the Soul- The Great Work


Hermes Trismegistus - "As Above, So Below"

“If then you do not make yourself equal to God, you cannot apprehend God; for like is known by like. . .But if you shut up your soul in your body, and abase yourself, and say “I know nothing, I can do nothing; I am afraid of earth and sea, I cannot mount to heaven; I know not what I was, nor what I shall be,” then what have you to do with God? ~ Hermes Trismegistus

In spite of the seeming pretense of the above quote, Alchemy requires an intense personal humility. The alchemist sees everything they encounter as sacred. The esoteric science/art of Alchemy is referred to as divine chemistry. All of life is about relationship, how we relate to ourselves, our environment and circumstance. If we don't envision ourselves as extensions of the Creator, then we cannot see others as divinity; we will relate to others and things in a mundane, less than reverential manner.
The Alchemist knows much of life is learning, from embracing the inherent contradictions of this life, turning the surface base elements into the metaphorical precious metal (gold) of understanding. Yes, alchemy is the practice of the trans- formative experience, the transformation is inward. This is the 'transmutation of the soul'. Applying the vitality of the soul to the daily experience of living.
Hermes says -
“The excellence of the soul is understanding; for the man who understands is conscious, devoted, and already godlike.”

God is Love, Love is a high degree of understanding, among others things. Seeking understanding of self, someone or something, a non-exploitative understanding, is the highest expression of Love. Quantum physics is beginning to understand the role consciousness plays in observing and working with matter. Science is returning to its roots, the alchemist's endeavor was to be as open and as conscious as possible when studying or working with materials, expose him/her self to the material, and in turn, trust the material, the matter, the elements will reveal its secrets, in trust. Reciprocity.


The Alchemist His or Her Self is The Great Work

"Paracelsus summarized this rather well when he pointed out that the alchemical transmutation was impossible unless the alchemist HIMSELF was in the process of transformation. He could not sit back with his bottles, and test tubes, and retorts - and consider his art simply another way of advancing chemistry or a way of replenishing his own financial needs." ~ Manley Palmer Hall

Transmutation of the soul signifies ones soul transforming the mundane, material, physical experience of this life. The conscious, paradigm shift on this planet, is humanity moving past left brained, materialist, commercially based science. Humanity is remembering the esoteric, the mystical perspective of living, the divine conscious assimilation of the masculine and feminine principle into higher evolved expressions of themselves in us. This is alchemically referred to as generation and polarity...the correspondence, vibrational and rhythmic principles and the aspects of cause and effect that is all tied to together by mind, not the singular individual mind; but the Universal mind, the conscious mind that permeates everything seen and unseen in the universe. Tangible matter, and the unseen, non-tangible 'dark' energy and matter. As spelled out in 'The seven Hermetic Principles'.

The Seven Hermetic Principles


None of the Hermetic principles are more essential than the others. Each is a portal to understanding the whole. All must be mindfully considered when engaging in the greater work of soul transmutation. The patriarchal Judeo-Christian cosmology, including Islam; diverted the nature and character of humanity's relationship to unknowable divine source, these patriarchal beliefs diminished the feminine, material, aspect of nature in favor of a masculine, authoritative, old testament punisher, God, more a reflection of the human male ego, than loving reflection of its creation.

Alchemy is attributed to the Egyptian deity Thoth. Thoth's feminine consort was Ma-at. They were equal in every sense. When the Greeks assimilated Egyptian culture into their own, they adopted Thoth, changing his name to Hermes, but they left out the feminine aspect of Ma-at.
Thus patriarchal European religion and in turn government and culture became male dominated. Greece, being the progenitor to Rome, and the European dominated culture and religion that the world has experienced for over six hundred years.
The feminine principle was relegated to servitude and submissive obedience.
Hence the Judeo-Christian hierarchy became 'God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit.


The Daily Discipline of The Greater Work

Most erroneously think Alchemy solely refers to the transmutation of material base metals into gold. That is the lesser work. This is not to diminish the significance of the material expression in relation to its energetic mirror reflection. One is not possible without the other. To see a reflection in a mirror, there needs to be a physical presence. The arbiter of object and reflected image, is the soul.

For example, the beautiful woman that avoids mirrors because she is dissatisfied with the reflected image of herself, and conversely, the awkward appearing woman that emotes a conscious presence of grace and beauty. The former woman is only seeing herself with the critical eye of others, while the latter woman is experiencing herself from inside out...her soul is her beauty.

The great work is of the soul, applying the soul to transmute ones life experience, from the metaphorical base metal like lead, into gold. The lead to gold transformation is metaphorical.To be re-minded of the eternal nature of life, past the temporary nature of the physical, material body. That living through this human body is a temporary experience of an eternal conscious Presence..."As Above, So Below, As within, So without."

I don't doubt for one second that literally, alchemically, changing tin or lead into gold is possible. But it is virtually impossible as we are now. We entertain leaden thoughts, ideas and attitudes that prevent us from changing anything in our personal surroundings, we can't even change how we relate to each other. We need to initiate the greater work of the seven Hermetic principles in ourselves.

One outstanding alchemical practice I have discovered is cooking and eating. Ponder the alchemical properties of the food you're preparing, and make the preparation a meditation, do it with Presence, a reverence for the ingredients, for the process of preparing a meal. Make meal preparation a sacred practice, even if you're only making a to smell new scents in foods you thought you knew, feel it, touch for new experience in the texture...make it a sensual experience, really feel it. Let your soul transmute the cooking and eating experience.

In subsequent writings I want to explore medicinal alchemy. For now I will let this introduction suffice. I thank you for exploring this life science with me.

One Love...

Duane Townsend

© 2015 Duane Townsend


threekeys on May 04, 2016:

I understand...

I enjoyed your hub.

And I feel I want to remove the new age emphasis on law of cause and effect especially when it is being hammered as the law of attraction. It doesnt make sense as we have too many gross inequalities. What would be your personal take on the law of cause and affect Duane?

Duane Townsend (author) from Detroit on November 24, 2015:


Actually what I wrote does say that...exactly.

Philosopher's stone? Yes it's an alchemical term that I didn't use for this because...I didn't need that term to convey what needed to be expressed here.

Fundamentalism screws up alchemy too.

Attlas on November 24, 2015:

Scroll to Continue

This link does not describe Alchemy. Alchemy is the transmutation of the LEAD of the ego into the GOLD of the human soul. To do this requires the philosophical stone, SUPRA-SEXUALITY.

Duane Townsend (author) from Detroit on November 22, 2015:

Thank you Travlr101...Yes, that shift is indeed in process.

Travlr101 on November 22, 2015:

Very interesting read especially regarding the paradigm shift/ awakening that is occuring on this planet.

Jewels from Australia on November 20, 2015:

The Emerald Tablet is one of my favourite versus which I recite often. Transforming the soul, (or Astral Body in some doctrines) is something I've been doing for the last 15 years. Together with building subtle bodies, revealing structures that are within, this inner alchemy is an all consuming endeavour. I highly recommend it. May the forces be with you!

Duane Townsend (author) from Detroit on November 20, 2015:

Much appreciated Larry...

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on November 20, 2015:

Interesting analysis.

Duane Townsend (author) from Detroit on November 17, 2015:

I am honored Sufi Poet...thank you.

John Evans from Idaho, USA on November 17, 2015:

Yes, a very intriguing read....I wish to go over it many times to grasp a fraction of the knowledge but you did well. Thanks for sharing.

Duane Townsend (author) from Detroit on November 17, 2015:

Thanks annasmom. It is a captivating subject.

annasmom on November 17, 2015:

Whoah, way over my head and yet interesting. Thanks for the information, I will re read and hopefully understand it better!

Related Articles