Rosicrucian Writings Online

Modern Alchemy

By The Imperator
[H. Spencer Lewis]
[From The Rosicrucian Digest February 1933]
THOSE of us who are familiar with the progress of physics and chemistry and the advancement in the science of metallurgy, were astonished recently by some statements made in a court of law during the trial of a man who claimed the privilege to criticize publicly, and otherwise, the claims made by those who are still actively engaged in the search for unrevealed laws and principles of alchemy and chemistry.
This man, evidently wholly devoid of any interest in the reading of modern text books or even scientific news as reported in the newspapers, and otherwise showing an inferiority of comprehension that wanted to vaunt a superiority complex, made the bold statement that in his belief anyone who thought that transmutation of metals was possible, or who claimed that gross metals could be transmuted into gold, was insane. He made his statement with all of the positiveness and sureness of a person who had no idea that he was making an absurd statement, proving his unfamiliarity with subjects supposed to be his special study. In other words, he was posing as an authority on subjects with which he proved himself to be utterly unfamiliar. We often find such types in our every-day affairs and we have noticed that those who know the least about a given subject are the ones who make the most positive statements and are ready to voice their opinions publicly with more vehemence and more explanations than the person who is well-versed in any subject.
The man's statements caused a flutter of surprise, and judge, jury, and spectators alike could not help smiling. But we wonder how many persons know just to what extent the ancient art of alchemy is still being carried on in this busy modern world. Few intelligent persons, familiar with the progress of scientific achievement, have any doubt any longer regarding the possibility of the artificial making of gold from base metals, for the transmutation of zinc, lead, or similar metals into a chemical imitation of pure gold has been made in many of the university laboratories and in the laboratories of industrial institutions, and there is neither any mystery nor secrecy about the process. It is merely the combining of various processes of nature in an artificial manner so as to produce gold in the very same way in which nature produces it. The chemical or physical difference between a piece of zinc or lead and a piece of gold is well known to scientists and the scientific steps necessary to change the zinc into gold are also well-known. But to carry out these steps and imitate nature in her processes is a tedious and extremely costly thing to do. For this reason, the artificial manufacture of even a very small grain of gold in the laboratory is too costly to ever make the process possible for commercial benefit. It would be much like taking one thousand dollars worth of gold and reducing it to a piece that would be worth less than ten dollars and claiming that this process is of value to the arts or the industries. It probably will be many a day before science will be able to artificially produce a piece of gold with as little expense as the average man or woman can get the same amount of gold in the mountains of California. In fact, thousands of persons who were unemployed have taken to the mining of gold in California in the past two years and by every member of a family working hard and carefully from early morning until sunset, these families are able to extract from the earth about four to five dollars worth of gold per family per day. This enables them to live and sustain themselves during the upset business conditions and while a few have made more money than this in the simple mining process used by them, still the taking of gold out of the earth is far more profitable than any process that can be invented in the scientific laboratories.
However, just as the ancient alchemists, mystics, and Rosicrucians spent many years of their lives in experimenting with transmutation merely for the sake of testing and proving nature's fundamental laws, so the laboratories of industry and science today feel that it is worth while to spend thousands of dollars to make a grain of gold that is worth only a few dollars.
In some parts of the world alchemy is still a science separate and apart from general chemistry. It is considered a synthetic art and one of the hermetic sciences and for that reason is kept quite distinct from modern chemistry. Of course, the man who made the statements in court knew nothing of this fact and did not know that his ridicule of anyone's interest in alchemy was casting a slur upon the intelligence of thousands of men and women of great learning, and especially men whose daily activities are connected with metallurgy, physics, and chemistry in a highly scientific manner and who devote their evenings or spare hours to the intensely interesting hobby of alchemical research.
One of the great leaders in the alchemical movement throughout Europe, and perhaps the foremost alchemist in the world today is Mon. F. Jollivet Castelot of Paris. He is not only an eminent scientist who has devoted most of his life to the study of transmutation and synthetic chemistry, but he is director of the Societe Alchimique de France and Editor of a quarterly magazine called La Rose-Croix which bears the Rosicrucian emblem. He is also an honorary member of the Rosicrucian Order in America, AMORC. Some years ago we published a photograph of Frater Castelot in his laboratory in our Triangle Monthly, and we have continuous reports from members of his association regarding their joint and individual achievements. Their monthly publication is filled with interesting items from their laboratories and quotations from other newspapers and scientific magazines regarding the art and science of alchemy and transmutation.
One would think that after having accomplished the feat on numerous occasions of producing small amounts of absolutely pure gold the quest for the process and the search for the principles would be brought to an end. But here, again, I remind the reader that the real quest is not for the purpose of making gold nor is the search intended to reveal a more simple manner of producing gold. The whole idea of the alchemists' studies and experiments is to observe nature's laws at work and to find more simple ways of demonstrating them. In the process of transmutation and in the study of alchemy generally, more of the fundamental principles of the universe are revealed than in any other laboratory experiments that might be conducted and this is what makes the whole subject so fascinating and so fraught with new and surprising conditions, situations, and revelations.
It was in 1894 that Frater Castelot published his first book dealing with the great studies of his life in alchemy and transmutation after having been a student of the Rosicrucian and mystical principles, which revealed the work and secret process used by the early mystics and alchemists. In 1904 Frater Castelot published other important instructions regarding the science of alchemy. Since then his writings have been read before the most learned scientific societies throughout the world and quoted in many popular books and treatises dealing with scientific subjects. In 1896 Frater Castelot and others founded the alchemical society of France and it has many active and honorary members with constantly increasing interest in the subject. The articles appearing in their own magazine representing their discoveries and findings are quoted in many of the newspapers and magazines of the world, showing a wide-spread interest in the subject of alchemy and transmutation.
Occasionally those who seek to criticize the Rosicrucians as being impractical people because of their advanced ideas and progressive programs, point to the fact that the ancient Rosicrucians were interested in alchemy and in the search for artificial gold. They think that this search constitutes evidence that the Rosicrucians were dreamers instead of practical men. Such persons do not realize that the father of modern chemistry was alchemy and that although the child in the form of modern chemistry has grown to be a great and universally recognized science, the parent has not passed out of existence or out of the universal picture, for alchemy was limited to certain lines of research and those fields of research have not yet been exhausted even by the most modern achievements of science.
As stated before, the Rosicrucians and mystics who performed so many experiments in their laboratories, were seeking, through the material laws of the universe, to discover universal principles which had their action and reaction in the spiritual world as well as material world. They believed that just as the difference between gross metal and pure gold was a difference in character, constituted by the various rates of vibrations and by the presence of impure or unevolved elements, so the differences in human character were the result of impure and inharmonious elements which might be transmuted and changed into the pureness of spiritual life here on earth.
Much is said these days about vibrations and their effect upon our health and our lives generally, and we are coming to learn that all of life consists of vibrations which affect us and, in fact, compose everything of which we have any sense or understanding. It was in the laboratories of the alchemists and mystics that the law of vibrations was first discovered and proved to be an actual fact. And while these mystics sought for an elixir of life which would prevent disease, old age, and so-called death and change gross material into pure gold, they found laws and principles which would enable man to cure disease and to overcome many of the obstacles to old age. They also found ways and means of producing many of the modern metals such as bronze and various alloys, which have been extremely valuable to industry and commercial interests. So we have these ancients to thank for many modern achievements which they turned over to mankind as worldly benefits, while they still continue their searches and their inquiries.
Dreamers they may have been and dreamers many of them may still be, but they are the sort of dreamers who test their dreams in the crucible of materialism as well as the crucible of spirituality and they seek to turn their dreams into practical account and to practical application, and from their efforts we have derived so many benefits that it does not behoove anyone to criticize the mystics and their dreaming.

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