Home > Blog Posts, Series 1: Alchemy > Alchemy Unveiled – Part 2: Preparations for Alchemy

Alchemy Unveiled – Part 2: Preparations for Alchemy

Before getting much further into the study of alchemy, I think that it’s important to discuss the preliminaries. That is, how can a person prepare herself for the study and practice of alchemy so that they will be balanced and safe in the process?

There are a myriad of ways which people have used through the centuries, though certain modern Hermetists have devised some extremely safe and efficient methods which work much better for the majority of people than previous systems. These ware the approaches I favor and are thus the approaches which I will recommend.

First, I recommend a foundation in general Hermetic theory and practice. This is best gained through the careful and disciplined approach of Franz Bardon’s Initiation Into Hermetics (2001, Merkur Publishing). At least the first three steps of Bardon’s training system should be perfectly mastered before moving on to alchemy. I myself waited significantly longer than that, though that was because I was not privy to the arcana of alchemy at the time. It also depends upon which stage of development you are at: that of a magician, or that of a mystic. If you are at the stage of magician, you should work your way through most or all of Initiation Into Hermetics before considering any intensive practice of alchemy.

As you work through the initial stages of IIH, it is a good idea to study some of the finer points of the theory behind sacred magic and alchemy. For this, there is no better book than The Philosophy of Magic by Arthur Versluis (1986, Arkana). Study this book deeply.

Two other books are of primary importance in this preliminary training. These books are of both practical and theoretical import: The Tarot by Mouni Sadhu (2007, Hermetica Press) and Meditations on the Tarot (anonymous; 2002, Jeremy P. Tarcher).

A number of other works are of secondary importance. They can be done without, but they are extremely helpful in clarifying certain points. First among these is the Bhagavad Gita. In addition to being a fascinating look into Hindu mystical cosmology, the material within on the three gunas is quite useful in coming to an understanding of the three principles of alchemy. Next is Mouni Sadhu’s In Days of Great Peace, a beautiful and fascinating book describing Sadhu’s own spiritual quest and especially his time in the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharishi. The Way of Hermes (2004, Inner Traditions), an outstanding translation of the Corpus Hermeticum and the Definitions of Asclepius, is the primary set of Hermetic scriptures and is well worth study and contemplation. Finally, The Kybalion by Three Initiates (1914, Yogi Publication Society) is a modern exploration of Hermetic practical concepts.

Of course, Alchemy Unveiled by Johannes Helmond (2000, Merkur Publishing) is a wonderful guide to alchemy, though it is necessarily quite dense and difficult reading. I suggest it be added to any Hermetic library.

All of this should present years of work, and more than enough for a balanced ascent.

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