Psychic and Spiritual Alchemy

By Norman D. Livergood


"Is not experience the basis of true knowledge, and rational experiment the proper road to attain it? How then can we hope for an understanding of spiritual causes without entering in upon the proper ground of their experience?"

Thomas Vaughan (1622-1665), Anima Magia Abscondita


     There have always been two conceptions of alchemy:
  1. As a materialistic transformation of baser metals into gold or silver

  2. The spiritual transformation of the human person into a higher state of being
     Some alchemists claimed that alchemy was the inner teaching within Christianity; that the manufacture of the philosopher's stone (lapis) was equivalent to the Christ-experience, the new birth. Likely, some of these were actual teachers within the Perennial Tradition, using the symbolism of alchemy to explain--or cover--their activities. The church issued several encyclicals and papal bulls against alchemy, but a number of church leaders as well as scientists and philosophers defended the art.

     This essay presents exercises 1 in realizing 2 the Higher Consciousness and overcoming our bewitchment by the bodily senses. As the chart below indicates, the Higher Consciousness is the active principle within the spiritual level of being.

     Ontologically, the Higher Consciousness is our essence--what we were before incarnation into the body on the terrestrial plane. The Higher Consciousness is also what we are now, though we are less aware of it because of our fascination 3 with the physical body. The Higher Consciousness is also what we will be after physical death.

Level of Being  Characteristics   Entities   Faculties 

Spiritual

Eternal
Unchanging

Forms
Higher Ideas

Higher Consciousness

Metaphysical

Intellectual
Nonmaterial

Higher Concepts
Higher Symbols

Higher Intellect

Terrestrial:
Conscious

Measurable
Tangible

Persons
Objects
Concepts

Lower Consciousness
Sensing, Feeling, Thinking

Terrestrial: Subconscious

Non-rational
Malleable

Images
Symbols

Unconscious,
Instinct


     The above chart helps us get a sense of our multi-dimensional being: participating in four different levels of being at the same time. We ordinarily identify so exclusively with our conscious terrestrial state of being that we're unaware of subsistence in the other three planes.

     Psychic and spiritual alchemy involves becoming progressively aware that other dimensions are constantly, in specific events, interpenetrating ordinary reality. When we experience things which seem inexplicable to us, it's because of this intervention. We don't recognize the participation of the " higher worlds" in our own, because we assume that "reality" is merely the ordinary world of commonplace awareness.

     Alchemy involves learning to retain in your mind the possibility of higher dimensions impinging upon the ordinary world so that your higher consciousness becomes activated.

      This is no mere concept or theory; it is literal participation in a higher state of consciousness. You learn it by participating in exercises which project you into those higher dimensions. The distinguishing feature of Perennialist teaching material is its power to produce psychic upheaval in a prepared mind and transport that mind to a higher dimension.

    The purpose of the preliminary exercises presented in this essay is to put the Lower Consciousness into abeyance and realize our union with the Higher Consciousness so it becomes the primary activating force. The outcome of the exercises should be:
  • The experience of the dimension of Higher Being

  • The opening up of a different world of Higher Consciousness

  • Regeneration into a new life of the Spirit

"The deeper secrets and laws of our being are self-protected; to learn them requires an adaptation of character and purpose, and a humility of mind and spirit, inconsistent with those displayed by the perverse or merely curious enquirer. To understand, let alone practically to explore, the Hermetic Mystery is not for every one--at least, at his present state of evolutional unfolding. . . . Only to those whose spiritual destiny has already equipped them with a certain high measure of moral and intellectual fitness will even a rough notional apprehension of it be practicable."

Mary A. Atwood, Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy


     The exercises presented in this essay are integral parts of more advanced mastery in the Perennial Tradition and require your prior study (more than merely reading) of this prerequisite material:
     To continue with this essay you will need to have read the two prerequisite sources listed, taking the test linked below, and either proceeding to the next section of the essay or returning for additional study of the prerequisite material.
  • To demonstrate that you have assimilated the prerequisite material, click HERE.

  • To discontinue studying this essay and return to your previous document, click HERE.

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1 These exercises should be approached as open-ended--not necessarily completed. Revisions and additions to the exercises should be made as you see fit.

2 The Higher Consciousness is actually our identity, so these exercises concern realizing (making real) this union with the Higher Self. The Higher Consciousness is already active but in a subliminal state.

3 We are literally fascinated by our bodily senses: they transfix and hold us spellbound by their seemingly irrestible power. We are bewitched by our sensory manifold.