Materialists laugh at the old alchemists because modern science knows that it’s not possible to make money by transmuting lead into gold. The new alchemists laugh at the materialists, because they know that the transmutation of lead into gold is nothing close to what the materialists conceive of it as. This essay explains.
The story of alchemy that my high school science teacher told me was this. Lead is a common metal, found everywhere. Therefore it was plentiful and cheap. Gold, by contrast, is the rarest of all metals, and therefore the most expensive. Anyone who was able to take lead and transmute it into gold would effectively have the power to buy anything they wanted for the rest of their lives.
The ancient alchemists, I was told, were fools who had developed a superstitious obsession with turning physical lead into physical gold in the vain pursuit of material wealth. Led astray by promises of infinite riches, these poor wretches wasted their lives on primitive chemistry experiments, achieving nothing but early deaths from mercury poisoning.
If a clever person heard this story, they would know that lead wasn’t the most common metal anyway. Iron, zinc, nickel and copper are all more abundant in the Earth’s crust, and all of these metals were known to the ancients. Therefore, anyone seeking to transmute something cheap into something expensive would have started with iron or copper, not lead. The materialist explanation doesn’t add up.
The truth is that alchemy is not about physically transmuting lead into gold. Alchemy is about seeking a much, much more valuable treasure than mere mountains of physical gold. It’s about transmuting spiritual lead into spiritual gold.
What could one mean by “spiritual lead”?
In an alchemical sense, lead is a metaphor for the basest of all metals. Lead is heavy, soft and dark – it is yin and feminine in all aspects. The reason why the alchemist begins with lead is because lead represents the primal, animal urges that all humans are born with, and which intensify further with puberty and the onset of adulthood.
Gold is a metaphor for the most precious of all metals. Gold is bright, and the way it shines is similar to how the light of God brightens the life of those it touches. Gold is the most precious of all metals, and this is true whether one is thinking in physical or spiritual terms. Gold represents the enlightened state of being that arises when one is philosophically complete.
Lead, then, is the frequency of consciousness that people enter the world with. The alchemical task is to raise this frequency of consciousness from the basest level, through levels where one gets lucky, strong, striking, smart and creative (in that order), before finally reuniting one’s will with the Will of God. These seven stages correspond to the seven masculine elements.
Turning lead into gold is the art of transmuting one’s True Will, from that of the selfish, aggressive and ruthless primate one is born as, to that of an angel who wills nothing else than an end to the suffering of all sentient beings. It is to complete the mystic process. Someone who has done so can be said to be in possession of the Philosopher’s Stone (also a metaphor).
The final result of the alchemical process is not a pile of physical gold. It is a frequency of consciousness that grants absolution. A person who has completed the Great Work is enlightened. They have accepted the nature of reality for what it is, and their personal will is aligned with the Tao. This type of personality is so powerful and so rare that it has a similar effect on people to physical gold – it instills a sense of joyous awe.
Although this is understood by few, a person at that frequency of consciousness will have a much easier time of things than other people. A person on the frequency of gold will not struggle against the Tao – they will go with the flow and live a life without resistance. This will mean that other people generally treat them much better, perhaps even with reverence.
Few people even attempt the process of transmuting spiritual lead into spiritual gold, as the vast majority of people fall at one of the three spiritual hurdles. Of those who attempt it, only a small fraction succeed. Physical gold is present in the Earth’s crust at the rate of four parts per billion, and there’s no reason to think spiritual gold would be more common than this.
For those who do succeed in transmuting spiritual lead into spiritual gold, the rewards are infinite. A person in possession of the Philosopher’s Stone has no fear of death, for they know that the physical body (like all suffering) is just an illusion and that the True Self lives forever. This is a treasure that cannot be stolen, and is therefore greater in value than all the physical gold in the wide world.
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