“Alchemy is an initiatic system in which you have no delusions. It is the only initiatic path where there is an objective control in the laboratory. So if your experiment shows you’ve gone beyond the ordinary material laws of the universe, it shows that you’re an alchemist that has had an interior awakening, and that corresponds to the rule which says, ‘You will transmute nothing if you have not transmuted yourself first.”
From Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s Libri tres de occulta philosophia:
Chap. xxvii. Of the proportion, measure, and Harmony of mans body.
1. “[..] the measures of all the members are proportionate, and consonant both to the parts of the world, and measures of the Archetype, and so agreeing, that there is no member in man which hath not correspondence with some sign, Star, intelligence, divine name, sometimes in God himself the Archetype.”
2. ” Also the four square measure is the most proportionated body; for, if a man be placed upright with his feet together, and his arms stretched forth, he will make a quadrature equilateral, whose center s in the botom [bottom] of his belly.”
3. “But if on the same center a circle be made by the crown of the head, the arms being let fall so far till the end of the fingers tough the circumference of that circle, and the feet spread abroad in the same circumference, as much as the fingers ends are distant from the top of the head; Then they divide that circle, which was drawn from the center of the lower belly, into five equale parts, and do constiturte a perfect Pentagon; and the Heels of the feet, having reference to the navile [navel], make a triangle of equal sides.”
4. “But if the Heels being unmoved, the feet be stretched forth on both sides to the right and left, and the hands lifted up to the line of the head, them the ends of the fingers and Toes do make a square of equall sides, whose center is on the navile [navel], in the girdling of the body.”
5. “But if the hands be thus elevated, and the feet and Thighes extended in this manner, by the which a man is made shorter by the fourteenth part of his upright stature, then the distance of his feet having reference to the lower belly, they will make an equilaterall Triangle; and the center being placed in his navile [navel], a circle being brought about, will touch the ends of the fingers and toes.”
6. “But if the hands be lifted up as high as can be, above the head, then the elbow will be equal to the crown of the head, and if then the feet being put together, a man stand thus, he may be put into an equilaterall square brought by the extremities of the hands and feet; the center of this square is the navel, which is the middle betwixt the top of the head and the knees.”
We had still not seen the corpse of our wise and prudent Father, and so we moved the altar to one side. Then we could raise a strong plate of yellow metal, and there lay a beautiful, illustrious body, whole and uncorrupted…, and in his hand he held a small parchment book, written in gold and entitled T., which, after the Bible, is our greatest treasure, one that should not be lightly submitted to the world’s censure.
Fama Fraternitatis Roseae Crucis
When, awakened from this sleep called life,
We find out what we are and what
This fall into Body was, this descent
Into the Night that obstructs our Soul,
Will we finally know the hidden
Truth about all that exists or flows?
No: not even the freed Soul knows it
Nor does God, who created us, contain it.
God is the man of a yet higher God.
A Supreme Adam, He also feel.
Our Creator, He was also created,
And was cut off from the Truth. The Abyss,
His Spirit, hides it from Him in the beyond.
In the World, His Body, it doesn’t exist.
Before all that there was the Word, here lost
When the already extinguished Infinite Light
Was raised from Chaos, the ground of Being,
Into Shadow, and the absent Word was obscured.
But though it feels its form is wrong, the Soul sees
For waters are variously flavored and weather changes, and the character of the people at every place where one stops differs from their character at the next. The traveler needs to learn what is useful from each situation. He is the companion of each one for a night or an hour, and then departs. How could ease be reasonably expected by someone in this condition?
We have not mentioned this to answer the people fond of comfort in this world, who strive for it and are devoted to the collection of worldly rubble. We do not occupy ourselves with or turn our attention to those engaged in this petty and contemptible activity. But we mention it as counsel to whoever wishes to hasten the bliss of contemplation in other than its given Realm, and to hasten the state of fana’, annihilation, elsewhere than in its native place, and who desires absorption in the Real by means of obliteration from the worlds.
The masters among us are scornful of this (ambition) because it is a waste of time and a loss of (true) rank, and associates the Realm with that which is unsuitable to it. For the world is the King’s prison, not His house; and whoever seeks the King in His prison, without departing from it entirely, violates the rule of right behavior (adab), and something of great import escapes him. For the time of fana’ in the Truth is the time of the abandonment of a station higher than one attained.
Revelation corresponds to the extent and form of knowledge. The knowledge of Him, from Him, that you acquire at the time of your struggle and training you will realize in contemplation later. But what you contemplate of Him will be the form of the knowledge which you established previously. You advance nothing except your transference from knowledge (‘ilm) to vision (‘ayn); and the form is one.
(In contemplation) you obtain that which you ought to have left to its proper Realm, and that is the House of the Other World in which there is no labor. So it would be better for you if, at the time of your contemplation, you were engaged in labor outwardly, and at the same time in the reception of knowledge from God inwardly. You would then increase virtue and beauty in your spiritual nature, which seeks its Lord through knowledge received from Him through works and piety, and also in your personal nature, which seeks its paradise. For the human subtle nature is resurrected in the form of its knowledge, and the bodies are resurrected in the form of their works, either in beauty or in ugliness.
So it is until the last breath, when you are separated from the world of obligation and the Realm of ascending paths and progressive development. And only then will you harvest the fruit you have planted.
- excerpt from Ibn Arabi’s - Journey to the Lord of Power, trans. Rabia Terri Harris (Inner Traditions, 1989)