When I tell people that I’m an alchemist or a student of alchemy, I always have to elaborate further. And I think for the most part people are less interested in what alchemy is about than what I do with it.
In fact, it’s ironic that so many alchemists focus so hard on alchemical philosophy or spiritual alchemy or physical alchemy that they disregard the value of the others. Everything is made up of the three essences, alchemical practice included, and to study that while then ignoring the imbalance in practice is completely antithetical to the whole pursuit.
Still, what I think is missing from the practices and pursuits of many alchemists is the application beyond their own purposes. Studying alchemy, doing the work, and then not looking for ways to apply it to the world at large is like making a bunch of spagyric elixirs and then just letting them sit in a cabinet unused.
So I look at all of my alchemical work – philosophical, spiritual, or otherwise – the way I look at spagyrics. I can do it to learn things, I can do it as a way to prompt thought, but then the results have medicinal uses. It’s not just about improving myself, it’s about creating healing substances. My pursuits can result in a more evolved self, but it’s also about making me more effective at creating change in the world.
And that means that part of my spiritual and philosophical work has to be centered on finding ways to change the world.
Much like we make tinctures and elixirs for specific purposes, choosing the herbs and materials for their properties with an effect in mind, the rest of alchemical practice should work the same. What do I want to heal in the world around me, and what, then, do I need to work with to create that ability within me?