“I think of the postmodern attitude as that of a man who loves a very cultivated woman and knows that he cannot say to her “I love you madly”, because he knows that she knows (and that she knows he knows) that these words have already been written by Barbara Cartland. Still there is a solution. He can say “As Barbara Cartland would put it, I love you madly”. At this point, having avoided false innocence, having said clearly it is no longer possible to talk innocently, he will nevertheless say what he wanted to say to the woman: that he loves her in an age of lost innocence.”Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
Known as the “Father of Alchemy,” Thoth is the Egyptian God of wisdom, writing, science, magic, art and judgement. Considered “the divine intermediary between spirit and matter,” he is also the God of the dead.
In the myth of Osiris, it was Thoth who gave Isis the words she used to resurrect him after she had gathered all the dismembered pieces of Osiris’ body.
According to Budge’s The Gods of the Egyptians, “The ancient Egyptians regarded Thoth as One, self-begotten, and self-produced.” It was said that he spoke the first Word of Creation; what he speaks, he creates. It was he who brought all the other Gods into existence.
According to some sources, Thoth was born at the beginning of time “from the lips of Ra” and was even known as the “god without a mother.” According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, “Thoth is self-created at the beginning of time and, as an ibis, lays the cosmic egg which holds all of creation.”
Thoth was also known as “Lord of Ma’at”, “Lord of Divine Words”, “Revealer of the Hidden”, and “Lord of Rebirth.” Later, the Greeks would know him as Hermes Trismegistus.
He is credited with writing thousands of scrolls containing ancient wisdom and knowledge. Among these are:
- The Book of Breathings — teaches spells and breathwork that can be used by humans to become like Gods.
- The Book of the Dead — teaches how the departed can navigate the underworld to reach the afterlife.
- The Book of Thoth — this text is said to have “revealed the true story of the creation of mankind and described an afterlife in the stars for those who followed his teachings” (Hauck).
“To be sure, I am a forest, and a night of dark trees: but he who is not afraid of my darkness, will find banks full of roses under my cypresses.”Friedrich Nietzsche
“This is our meditation practice as women, calling back the dead and dismembered aspects of ourselves, calling back the dead and dismembered aspects of life itself. The one who re-creates from that which has died is always a double-sided archetype. The Creation Mother is always also the Death Mother and vice versa. Because of this dual nature, or double-tasking, the great work before us is to learn to understand what around and about us and what within us must live, and what must die. Our work is to apprehend the timing of both; to allow what must die to die, and what must live to live.”Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run with the Wolves
This is what I must do now.
This is a turning point for me, and I must choose what will fall away, and what I will carry forward with me into the future.
I’m starting to come to terms with what has happened to me. I’m starting to be ready to see where I need to go next. And who I need to be, in order to get there.
Why has the practice of or interest in alchemy endured for so long?
Many would say it’s because of what is now known as the “perennial philosophy.”
This term was first used by Leibniz to describe the eternal philosophy underlying all religions, and it was later popularized in the 20th century by Aldous Huxley.
It has now come to describe the idea that there are certain underlying principles which form the core of all of humanity’s experiences, in particular with regard to “the nature of reality and the meaning of existence.”
According to this philosophy, the basic tenets of all religions are similar and shared — it is only the cultural and historical additions added by each that cause all of the disagreement.
The following are some “perennial principles”:
- The material is just one aspect of reality. Actually, this physical world of materiality can be thought of as being the expression of a higher order or spiritual plane (similar to the Platonic ideal, or world of forms).
- Humans are also dualistic in nature: they have an (imperfect) physical body and a (perfect) spiritual body. This is unified by the divine energy inherent in all things: the life force, or what is known in alchemy as the Quintessence (the Fifth Element).
- All people have the capacity to perceive both realms, but few try to do so. According to perennial philosophy, this is unfortunate, because it is only in perceiving and using this knowledge of the spiritual or ideal world that men and women “can become who they are truly meant to be and achieve mastery and self-actualization on Earth.”
It is this insistence on duality in the manifestation of the universe, as well as the necessity of realizing the higher to truly understand the lower, that defines perennial philosophy and makes it integral, according to some, to the process of Alchemical Work.
I have no right to call myself one who knows. I was one who seeks, and I still am, but I no longer seek in the stars or in books; I’m beginning to hear the teachings of my blood pulsing within me. My story isn’t pleasant, it’s not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories; it tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves.