Tag Archives: samuel scarborough

Becoming an Alchemist

Samuel Scarborough reviews Sorcerer’s Stone: A Beginner’s Guide to Alchemy [Amazon, Bookshop, Abebooks, Local Library] by Dennis William Hauck at Becoming an Alchemist in the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition archive.

Hauck Sorcerer's Stone

Ever wanted to be an alchemist? Just how does someone understand those old alchemical drawings that describe the processes that are used to create fabulous elixirs and powders? The very word “alchemy” conjures up images of bearded old men in dark laboratories turning lead into gold, or creating some elixir for extended life. Can this apply to the modern magickal person; can we create that hidden gold or extend our lives?

Dennis William Hauck’s interest in alchemy began while he was in graduate school at the University of Vienna. Now he is the editor of the Alchemy Journal, an instructor in the Alchemy Home Study Program and with Flamel College. Mister Hauck serves on the Board of Governors of the International Alchemy Guild and regularly gives lectures worldwide on alchemy.

Dennis William Hauck, a practicing alchemist and one of the leading experts in the world on this ancient art and science, offers a basic introduction to alchemy in this book that is not full of the hidden meanings of some of those ancient texts on the subject, but has clear explanations. As a matter of course he explains just what those odd alchemical drawings from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries mean and how to decipher their codes so that you as a modern alchemist can follow their instructions. He also provides practical experiments, and moving meditations.

Mister Hauck has written a book with fifteen chapters and two appendices which follow a pattern of general history and overview, to the explanation of the planetary archetypes used in alchemy, and finally to the operations of alchemy where you can personally perform your own purification and alchemical operations. In this latter part, Mister Hauck looks at both Spiritual Alchemy, the method of meditation and study used to create within yourself the Great Work on a mystical level, and he looks at Practical Alchemy, the creation of elixirs and powders physically, as well as how to blend these two versions of alchemy together. The book is richly illustrated with many old alchemical drawings with explanations that are clear throughout. The two appendices are very helpful. The first one is a glossary of alchemical terms with clear definitions, and the second one is a list of resources for the practitioner from online sites, to books that are recommended for reading. The chapters of the book are:

  • What is Alchemy?
  • The Golden Thread That Runs Through Time
  • The Principals of Alchemy
  • The Kitchen Alchemist: Making Tinctures and Elixirs
  • Climbing the Ladder of the Planets
  • Saturn’s Child: The Base Metal Lead
  • Jupiter’s Rule: The Courtly Metal Tin
  • Mar’s Challenge: The Angry Metal Iron
  • Venus’s Embrace: The Loving Metal Copper
  • Mercury’s Magic: The Living Metal Quicksilver
  • The Moon’s Reflection: The Lunar Metal Silver
  • The Sun’s Brilliance: The Solar Metal Gold
  • The Operations of Alchemy
  • Personal Purification
  • Becoming an Alchemist
  • Appendix A: Glossary of Alchemy
  • Appendix B: Resources

Finally here is a book that helps break down some of the mystery of alchemy so that anyone can better understand this ancient art and science, which has been called the Royal Art of the Hermetic Tradition. Dennis William Hauck has made a great contribution to the oft-neglected art of alchemy with this book, and it should be included in any person’s library that is interested in the Hermetic Arts, the Western Mystery Traditions, and especially in Alchemy.

Two on Practical Spagyric Alchemy of Plants

Samuel Scarborough reviews Alchemist’s Handbook: Manual for Practical Laboratory Alchemy [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Frater Albertus and The Practical Handbook of Plant Alchemy: An Herbalist’s Guide to Preparing Medicinal Essences, Tinctures, and Elixirs [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Manfred M Junius at Two on Practical Spagyric Alchemy of Plants in the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition archive.

Albertus Alchemist's Handbook

Junius The Practical Handbook of Plant Alchemy

For those interested in performing practical or laboratory alchemy there are two books written in the modern era that are indispensable. These two were written in the twentieth century by practicing alchemists. Both authors give good instruction as to what a budding alchemist will need for a modern alchemical workshop, and they even discuss some of the most basic techniques in spagyric (spa-geer-ic) or plant alchemy, which is traditionally the first type of alchemy that is worked with by an alchemist.

The first book that we are going to look at is, The Alchemist’s Handbook by Frater Albertus (Albert Reidel), a major contribution to alchemy in modern times. The author covers the basic principals of alchemy, gives directions for setting up a home alchemical laboratory with illustrations of the basic equipment, and also gives step-by-step instructions for working within the plant kingdom. The chapters of the book are as follows:

  • Forward
  • Preface to the First Edition
  • Preface to the Second Edition
  • Chapter I: Introduction to Alchemy
  • Chapter II: The Lesser Circulation
  • Chapter III: The Herbal Elixir
  • Chapter IV: Medicinal Uses
  • Chapter V: Herbs and Stars
  • Chapter VI: Symbols in Alchemy
  • Chapter VII: Wisdom of the Sages
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix
  • Alchemical Manifesto

The Forward to the book was written by the noted Golden Dawn magician Israel Regardie, in which he describes this book on alchemy as “… unique and a genuine masterpiece.” After this Forward there are two Prefaces that give the reader an idea as to how to best use the book and the material in it.

Chapter One is an introduction to alchemy. Frater Albertus describes alchemy in the most basic of terms so that anyone picking up this book will have a working idea as to just what alchemy is. He compares alchemy and modern chemistry, and discusses the prevalent attitudes towards alchemy in the modern day. The real meat of the book though comes in Chapters Two through Five, in which Frater Albertus describes how to set up an alchemical laboratory, the processes to gather the herbs to be used and to begin working with them alchemically. Also, he discusses the medicinal uses of the elixirs or tinctures that can be made using the herbs and processes discussed in the previous chapter. Then Frater Albertus discusses the planetary relationship that many herbs have and how to use this relationship in making elixirs and tinctures. Frater Albertus gives us a chapter on the various sigils and symbols used in alchemy along with their meanings. This section of the book is highly illustrated with these sigils and ciphers.

The rest of the book contains a basic description of the next phase of alchemy, metals, from a Rosicrucian document written in 1777. After this chapter, Frater Albertus gives his conclusions on how to continue the work. Finally, there is an appendix and a manifesto that help promote the use of alchemy in modern times.

The Alchemist’s Handbook should be on any alchemist’s shelf whether you practice spiritual alchemy or practical alchemy. The style of the heart of the book is like a textbook on chemistry in some regards, which is what Frater Albertus was aiming for as a means to demystify the art of alchemy. He brings the ancient art into the modern world by linking the old art of alchemy with the more modern practices of chemistry.

The second book that we will discuss is Manfred M. Junius’, The Practical Handbook of Plant Alchemy. Manfred M. Junius is a former biology professor who also served as the production manager of spagyrics for Australerba Laboratories and was head of the Australian School of Ayurveda in Adelaide. His training and knowledge of western alchemy came from many years of personal instruction from the Swiss alchemist Augusto Pincaldi.

The book is similar to Albertus’ The Alchemist’s Handbook, but has a bit more detail in the operations dealing with the plant kingdom and the making of plant elixirs. Junius gives a fairly good overview of what spagyrics are and how to obtain them in a step-by-step manner. The chapters are as follows:

  • Preface
  • Spagyria and Spagyrics
  • Advice of Basilius Valentinus
  • The Three Philosophical Principles and the Elements
  • Mercury, Sulfur, and Salt in the Plant World
  • The Extraction of the Three Philosophical Principles from Plants
    1. The Extraction of the Essential Oils, That Is, of the Volatile Sulfur
    2. Mercury
    3. Fixed Sulfur and Its Salt
    4. Salt
  • The Stars
  • Preparation of Spagyric Tinctures and Essences
  • Circulation
  • The Plant Magistery of Paracelsus
  • The Circulatum Minus Urbigerus
  • Elixir – Clyssus – Vegetable Stone
  • Alchemical Signs and Symbols
  • Old Weights
  • Epilogue: How Can We Heal?
  • Notes
  • Bibliography

Just to hit on the overall highlights of the book, the author gets to the real meat of the subject in chapters four through eight, in which he discusses in detail the making of a tincture from a plant using the various techniques available to the alchemist. These are covered in some detail in chapter five. In some cases, the details can be a bit overwhelming and having a practical class or two in general chemistry really helps to understand what Junius is discussing with these techniques.

Chapter six, The Stars, presents the idea that the alchemist should also be something of an astrologer too. Junius shows that astrology and alchemy are closely linked using archetypical forces of the universe. He discusses how the various astrological effects of Sol and Luna have on living organisms, and how in plant alchemy the effects of these two heavenly bodies, along with the other ancient planets has an affect on the alchemical operation. Junius gives a break down of each of the planets and the plants associated with them from an alchemical medicinal view. Further in the chapter, he discusses the use of the planetary hours to begin the alchemical operation and even the casting of astrological horoscope for the outcome of the operation.

In chapter ten, he looks at a classic work of alchemy, The Circulatum Minus Urbigerus, which was originally printed in 1690. The various aphorisms of the original are used to illustrate the practical laboratory technique that Junius later explains following these aphorisms. This chapter illustrates the ability of Junius to thoroughly discuss the material so that a person wanting to follow an older text would be able to.

Finally, in the epilogue, Junius approaches alchemical tinctures and elixirs pretty much as Paracelsus did over 450 years ago. Diagnose the illness, and treat it with the suitable tincture or elixir after creating it. He also cautions that this sort of work in the healing area should be undertaken only with great care, but that it could be done with the aid of those around the alchemist.

This book is full of various drawings and illustrations of alchemical as well as chemistry equipment showing not only what it looks like, but also some of the basic techniques used to create these tinctures and elixirs. There are also many older illustrations from older alchemical works showing the various phases and ideals of the work, not to mention Junius has included a rather in depth list of signs and symbols used in alchemy in one chapter that would be useful for the practicing alchemist. Even though there are some complex descriptions and techniques in Junius’ book, it should be on the bookshelf of any practicing alchemist, or more likely, like Albertus’ The Alchemist’s Handbook, will be open as a reference for the practicing alchemist.

Wiccan Genius or Pagan Savant?

Samuel Scarborough reviews What’s Your Wicca IQ? [Amazon, Abebooks] by Laura Wildman at Wiccan Genius or Pagan Savant? in the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition archive.

Wildman What's Your Wicca IQ?

How well do you know your Wiccan or pagan material? Are you just starting on the path or have you been practicing for years? Have you ever wondered just how you could test your knowledge of the material that you should know as a practicing witch or pagan? Well, here is a book that will be able to help you out. The last twenty years have seen the growth of interest in Wicca, witchcraft, and Neo-Paganism. Wicca has been acknowledged one of the fastest growing religions in North America, and there are innumerable websites and books on the subject.

Laura Wildman is a Third Degree Gardnerian Witch trained in the Protean tradition. She has taught and lectured on Wicca for more than fifteen years and is a legally recognized Wiccan clergy in Massachusetts. Mrs. Wildman is also a faculty member and chair of the Interfaith Development and Community Rites of Passage Department at Cherry Hill Seminary, a Pagan seminary in Vermont.

The book is broken down into six distinct chapters that each deal with a specific topic, and a seventh chapter to grade yourself as to where you fall in the Wiccan IQ scale, but if you are expecting just another run of the mill recipe book on paganism or Wicca and witchcraft, then you will be disappointed. Each chapter has several sections of questions with multiple-choice answers and a few matching questions that relate to a more narrowed focus within the broad categories of the chapter. There is no other information on the topic of the chapter, other than the very brief introduction. The answers to each section of questions are at the end of the chapter. The object is to test your knowledge of the topic at hand. The chapters are as follows:

  • Chapter 1 – You Believe What?! Witches, Wiccans, Pagans, and Their Beliefs
  • Chapter 2 – Tools of the Trade. Within, Without, and All About the Circle
  • Chapter 3 – Which Witch is Which? The History of the Witch
  • Chapter 4- Burn Two Candles and Call Me in the Morning – Spellcraft
  • Chapter 5 – Unraveling Entrails – The Art of Divination
  • Chapter 6 – Cerebellum Ceremonium – Ceremonial Magic
  • Chapter 7 – Putting It Together – What is Your Wicca I. Q.?

Unlike many books that have questions and answers in them, Mrs. Wildman actually explains the answers in some detail in the answer section of each chapter. This is not simply a question 1. A; format, there is a brief explanation of the answer and in many cases a cite as to where the information can be found, i.e. what book, etc. Also, in many cases there is a listing of a book or books that may be of help on a particular subject listed under the question. Her reason for this format on the answers to show the subject taking the test where their strengths lie and what they need to work on, not just to parrot back a series of answers to the questions. Finally, in each chapter is method to calculate your score in that chapter, along with a maximum test score possible in that chapter.

Chapter seven of this book is where it is all comes together. This is where you tally your scores from the previous chapters and then tabulate the score. This score can range from 0-1234. The scores are further broken down into four categories.

  • 0-307: Dedicant
  • 308-676: First Degree
  • 677-1046: Second Degree, Priest or Priestess of the Craft
  • 1049-1243: Third Degree, High Priest of Priestess of the Old Religion

These sections are further explained as to having the general knowledge that would go along with having that particular degree within a Tradition or bestowed upon you by the gods. Having answered the questions to the level of 677-1046 does not make you a Priest or Priestess within the Craft; it just means that you understand the material to that level.

Also, in chapter seven, there is a section for evaluating each chapter on a similar scale of Dedicant through Third Degree. This is like the rest of the book used to see what sections you may need to strengthen so that you can better use the knowledge of your chosen path.

Here is a book that will help you with your knowledge of paganism and Wicca and witchcraft that any person on that path can use regardless of learning or time practicing. Do not expect an easy time in taking the tests. The material covered in these questions is very thorough and will take some thought on the part of the person answering the questions.

Overall, this book should be in any personal library of any practicing magician regardless of Tradition. From Neo-Pagan to Ceremonial magician, this book has something to offer any practicing magician.

Adept Magic in the Golden Dawn Tradition

Adept Magic in the Golden Dawn Tradition by Frater YShY, preface by Sandra Tabatha Cicero, foreword by Samuel Scarborough, from Kerubim Press, hardcover available directly from the publisher, paperback due for wide release in September, may be of interest.

Frater YShY Adept Magic in the Golden Dawn Tradition from Kerubim Press

“Within this tome are the secret instructional papers of a modern Golden Dawn order. The first half of the book contains an advanced exegesis of the Neophyte Ceremony using Lurianic Kabbalah, Freemasonry, modern Wicca and Greek mythology. The second half includes the author’s own application of the same magical formulae in his personal rituals. Among these are an example of his fusion of evocation and classical statue Theurgy, a careful interpretation and re-contextualisation of the Adept invisibility formula with new advanced visualizations, a Shamanic-style transformation ritual, and a higher genius or ‘higher self’ working that the author personally conducted over many years.” [via]

“Preface by Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero
Foreword by Samuel Scarborough
Introduction by Frater YShY
Chapter One: Zeta 1, Sephirotic Attributions to the Neophyte Hall
Chapter Two: Zeta 2, Planetary Attributions to the Neophyte Hall
Chapter Three: Zeta 3, Three Principal Officers
Chapter Four: Zeta 4, The Four Elements at the Equinox and Neophyte Ceremonies
Chapter Five: Zeta 5, Neophyte God-forms
Chapter Six: Zeta 6, The Hierophant’s Speech From the Throne
Chapter Seven: Zeta 7, The Seven Floor Officers as the Seven Planets
Chapter Eight: Zeta 8, The Zodiac and the Wheel of the Year
Chapter Nine: Zeta 9, Violence, Hazing and Power Struggles in Masonic and Magical Ritual
Chapter Ten: Zeta 10, The Ten Sephiroth Combined in Seven Palaces in the Neophyte Hall
Chapter Eleven: Solitary Z2 Workings
Z2 Yod: Planetary Evocation Ritual
Z2 Shin of Aleph: Invisibility Ritual
Z2 Shin of Mem: Transformation Ritual
Z2 Shin of Shin: Gathering the Divine Sparks, a Spiritual Development Ritual” [via]

Hermetic Virtues, Vol 6 Iss 1

Hermetic Virtues Magazine begins its 6th year with its 21st publication, Vol 6 Iss 1, available as a PDF via single issue download or 4 issue subscription. The Magazine is a project of the Hermetic Virtues site, which site is intended to be “a repository for hermetic knowledge and research. It is designed to be a place where people of good will from all orders, groups, places and backgrounds can communicate to freely share what they have discovered in the course of their exploration for the greater good of all and the expansion of our intellectual and spiritual horizons.”

Hermetic Virtues lamen

· The Alchemical Hexagram – Chic and Tabatha Cicero
· The Emperor by Harry Wendrich
· The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet – a book review by Aaron Leitch
· Group Work – an unpublished Whare Ra document – Mrs. Felkin with a commentary by Nick Farrel
· Hidden Treasures of the Golden Dawn – a book review by Samuel Scarborough
· Invocation of the powers of Aquarius – Jayne Gibson
· Astrological Magic – A book review by Samuel Scarborough
· Becoming the Star Child – Nick Farrell
· An Invocation of Kether – Samuel Scarborough

You can find an index of past issues at the Hermetic Virtues Magazine Index.