The science of alchemy is first and foremost a spiritual process of transformation and purification. However, there are two types of alchemy that often overlap. Practical alchemy, also called laboratory alchemy, is concerned with transforming a base material into a higher and more purified substance, such as the turning of a base metal into gold, or the extraction of a medicinal substance from a plant in order to create a healing elixir. Spiritual alchemy, which is also called theoretical alchemy or inner alchemy, is concerned with the transformation of the human soul from a state of baseness to one of spiritual enlightenment.
The classical texts of alchemy are rich in symbolism and allegory. Some of these treatises contained little more than alchemical prints and illustrations. Alchemical works that contained numerous illustrations were far less concerned with the practical aspects of laboratory alchemy than with the esoteric knowledge of spiritual alchemy and the sublimation of the human soul. These books would become the illustrated textbooks of the Rosicrucian movement in the seventeenth century.
Contemplation of alchemical diagrams and pictorial symbolism is meant to intrigue and inspire the viewer on many levels—conscious as well as subconscious—and speak directly to the human soul on the true nature of the alchemist’s "gold."
The "gold" spoken of by the alchemists is not what most people think of as mundane gold, the gold used for currency and ornamentation. Alchemical gold has many names that help define its qualities. It has been called the Stone of the Wise, the Magnum Opus, the Celestial Ruby, the Elixir of Life, and Lapis Philosophorum (or The Philosopher’s Stone). Gold is a symbol of humanity's lower nature transmuted into the Higher Self. It represents true spiritual attainment, enlightenment, and illumination. The search for the Philosopher’s Stone is the search for ultimate Truth and Purity. In spiritual alchemy gold refers to the transmutation of the Lower Self into the Higher and Divine Self.
The Philosopher’s Stone, published in 1938, was Israel Regardie's first in-depth examination of spiritual alchemy. At the time it was written, Regardie was convinced that practical alchemy was a blind for what was actually a psycho-spiritual process of inner growth. He maintained that the laboratory operations of alchemy said to work on various substances in order to change "lead into gold" were, in reality, focused squarely at man's mind, soul, and spirit. The goal of alchemy was, according to Regardie, the internal wellbeing of the human soul.
The main text of Gold: Israel Regardie's Lost Book of Alchemy was written between 1938 and 1941 as a sequel to The Philosopher’s Stone. Like his earlier book, the subject of Gold was spiritual alchemy. However, Gold takes up exactly where the earlier book left off, comparing the Great Work of alchemy to the goals of Eastern mysticism—samadhi of yoga and satori of Zen Buddhism. At the same time he was writing Gold, Regardie was also immersing himself in the study of psychology and psychotherapy, just as he had studied Golden Dawn magic a few years before. He applied much of what he learned in the pages of Gold, and extended the spiritual teachings of inner alchemy into the realm of psychotherapy, providing readers with a systematic and holistic approach to physical, psychological, and spiritual healing on all levels.
In Gold, Regardie describes the symbols of alchemy as focal points for visualization and the willed manipulation of vital and cosmic forces. Magnetism, or the energetic stimulation of invisible natural forces, can result in real, physical effects, including healing. Regardie firmly held that the transmission of vital power was a valid and tangible reality that could be taught and mastered by any average person. Personal experience with this power over a number of years enabled Regardie to develop a simple therapeutic method based on internal stimulation, using Golden Dawn techniques of color visualization, magical correspondences, applied willpower, and the vibration of divine names associated with specific forces. He described how the colors of the various energy centers can be utilized for healing, physical and mental regeneration, and inner alchemy. Regardie’s ingenious technique for healing illness in oneself as well as in others is included in Gold. One example of this is our own Healing Ritual of Hod, given below.
Hod is the Eighth Sepirah on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. On the human body this energy center is located at the right hip joint, but it also relates to the planetary energy of Mercury, which rules over the respiratory system, central nervous system, the brain, the thyroid, and the hands. The energies of Hod could be used to aid the healing process due to an illness or imbalance in any of these body systems.
If the magician is performing this ritual to heal him or herself, the receptive or Queen Scale color of Hod (which is orange) will be used. This is because the feminine color tends to make one's aura open, passive and receptive. If the ritual is to be performed for the benefit of another, then the Projective of King Scale color of Hod (violet) will be used.
A Healing Ritual of Hod
Begin by establishing a pattern of deep rhythmic breathing and relaxation.
Follow this with the basic Exercise of the Middle Pillar:
If you are performing the ritual for your own benefit, visualize your Hod center, located at the right hip, filled with a bright orange light. Concentrate on this warm orange color—the Queen Scale color of Hod—at your right hip. With rhythmic breathing, see this orange glow begin to expand outward from Hod until it fills your entire aura. Imagine yourself completely bathed within a brilliant orange egg of light. Vibrate "Elohim Tzabaoth," the divine name of Hod, several times. Concentrate on the specific healing that you wish to attract into your sphere, firmly visualizing the illness or imbalance being dissolved away, leaving only healthy tissue.
When you feel that the work of the exercise has been accomplished, complete and seal the ritual by performing the Qabalistic Cross.
If you are performing this ritual for the benefit of another person, perform the preliminary Middle Pillar Exercise as described above. Visualize your Hod center filled with violet—the King Scale color of Hod—at your right hip. With rhythmic breathing, see this color begin to expand outward from Tiphareth until it fills your entire aura. Vibrate "Elohim Tzabaoth," the divine name of Hod several times, while continuing to visualize the color of violet. Concentrate on the specific healing that you wish to project to the other person. When you feel that sufficient energy has been generated from Hod, visualize and project the violet energy from your Tiphareth center (the center of balance and projection), to the Hod center of the other person. Visualize his or her aura filling up with this color and its corresponding Hod energy. Then visualize the aura of the other person changing color from violet to bright orange as the light transmutes your projected Hod energy to the receptive Hod energy of the person receiving the beneficial effects of this force. Concentrate on the specific healing that you wish to attract into the other person’s sphere, firmly visualizing the illness or imbalance being dissolved away, leaving only healthy tissue.
Once you feel that the work of the exercise has been accomplished, complete and seal the ritual by performing the Qabalistic Cross.