Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
No. 18, Vol. 2. Vernal Equinox 2010
Alchemy Journal, Vol. 10, No. 2, Paul Hardacre, ed. Salamander and Sons, Northern Autumn/Southern Spring, 2009. 96 pages. $30/year - 2 issues.
This second issue of the 10th volume of the Alchemy Journal is in some ways a follow-up to the first issue of the volume, containing a number of articles on the feminine (and female) in alchemy. As with the previous issue there is a mixture of alchemical approaches, laboratory, psychological, spiritual, etc., presented here, something that is a hallmark of the Alchemy Journal’s approach to the subject.
This issue of the Journal contains eight featured articles. Of these, the first three focus on the feminine and female in alchemy. The first two, one a retelling and interpretation of stories surrounding the Babylonian goddess Tiamat and the other a piece on transformation via the “Dark Goddess” take a fairly psychological, almost Campbellian approach to their subjects. Of special interest to me was the second of these, written by Emma Restall Orr, who is perhaps better known for her modern Druidic writings. The third of these papers is historical but also something of a memoire, detailing Dr. Robin L. Gordon’s research into women alchemists and how that research affected her own approach to the subject.
The next article in the Journal moves away from the feminine but keeps to the visionary theme found in the first two. Here alchemist Paul Cowlan describes to visionary experiences of his own and how they related to the Great Work and, importantly, his growing understanding of that process. Saari’s “Mystery of the Ouroboros” delves into the various forms of serpents devouring themselves found across the world and attempts to understand how the symbol may be useful in alchemy, whereas James Rodgers’ “The Mystic Way and the Emerald Tablet” present a comparison between Evelyn Underhill’s steps in the process of the mystic to a spiritual or psychological approach to alchemical operations. This is an important comparison that should not be missed if you are interested in either of these subjects.
The last two papers are somewhat different from the others. The first is a series of excerpts from the forthcoming Book of Revelation, the Philosopher’s Stone, the Easy Way by an alchemist writing under the name of Artofferus. From what is given this book appears to be an alchemical reinterpretation (or, according to the author, the correct, secret interpretation) of the biblical Book of Ezekiel where it turns out that his vision is in fact an alchemical code. In extreme contrast to this is the last article which discusses one alchemist’s experimentation with modern recreations of classical alchemical apparatus’ such as the tribikos, pelican and kerotakis. Here the author, Daniel Coaten, shows his own renditions of these tools and how they can be used both symbolically and practically.
With its usual eclectic approach, this issue of the Alchemy Journal combines quality, information and experience. As with the previous issue, with its wide variety of approaches it does not matter what your interest in the art is; there will be something there for everyone. Again, the articles are written in such a way that anyone can read them, you do not necessarily need to be an adept; with perhaps one exception even a rank novice can understand them. Available by subscription, the Alchemy Journal is a valuable addition to the library of anyone engaged in the Western Mysteries.