The Path of Mankind: The Journey From Created To Creator. In theory, the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’, or the extracted quintessence, was a corporeal allegory for a foundation or corner stone, in turn symbolising the attainment of wisdom—this is the reward Hermes Trismegistus pronounced, the dispersal of the darkness of ignorance: “And all obscurity will flee from you. This is the power of all powers.”
Gnostics identify Yaldabaoth as the Creator God of the Old Testament, who decides to create archons (angels), the material world (Earth), and human beings. Although traditions vary, Yaldabaoth is usually depicted as having been tricked into breathing the divine spark or spirit of his mother, Sophia, that formerly resided in him into the human being (espe-cially Apocryphon of John; echoes of Genesis 2-3).
Therein exists the Gnostic version of the human dilemma. We are pearls in the mud, a divine spirit (good) trapped in a material body (bad) and a material realm (bad). Heaven is our true home, but we are in exile from the pleroma. Luckily for us, salvation is available in the form of gnosis, or knowledge imparted by a Gnostic redeemer, who is Christ, a figure sent from the higher God to free humankind from the Creator God, Yaldabaoth.
The gnosis involves an experiential and intuitive perception of our true nature and origin, the metaphysical reality hitherto unknown to us, resulting in the Gnostic’s escape (at death) from the enslaving material prison of the world and the body into the upper regions of spirit. How-ever, in order to make this ascent,
Gnostics must pass by the archons, who are jealous of their luminosity, spirit, or intelligence, and who thus try to hinder the Gnostics’ upward journey. To a significant degree, the basic Gnostic myth is recapitulated in The Matrix films, with respect to both the problem that humans face and the solution.
Like Sophia, we conceived an offspring out of our own pride, as Morpheus explains: “early in the ant century, all of mankind was united in celebration. We marveled at our own magnificence as we gave birth to A.I”. Like the Gnostic Yaldabaoth, this malformed offspring of ours created other imperfect offspring (programs, more machines) as well as humans (grown in fields), an illusory material world (the Matrix) in which to imprison them, and archons (Agents) to patrol them I
Just as Yaldabaoth traps humankind in a material prison that is not the ultimate metaphysical reality, so does Al imprison humanity, as Morpheus ex-plains: “As long as the Matrix exists, the human race will never be free” (Matrix).
Rereading the above quote from the Apocryphon of John in terms of the final battle between Neo and Smith in Revolutions is also surprisingly coherent, revealing the depth to which the Gnostic structure holds throughout the plot: the knowledge imparted by Sophia (the Oracle) from within the chief archon, Yaldabaoth (Smith), results in a perception by the human creation (Neo) that the archon programs cannot comprehend, and the human becomes a luminous presence that overcomes their darkness, resounding even from the lowest region of matter (the pit in which Neo and Smith fight from within the Matrix).
Sleeping and dreaming in Gnosticism are said to be the best metaphor of the human ‘ s imprisonment in the alien world . Similar is in The Matrix . Intelligent machines – the Archons – created the world , in which they trapped mankind by putting it to sleep . Human beings were deprived of one of the most important thing in humanity given by God – the free will.
Goethe busily worked at his furnace to produce the same mystical salt formula, and progressed to the Liquor Sillicum: “Now were the strange ingredients of the macrocosm and the microcosm handled in an odd, mysterious manner, and before all I attempted to produce neutral salts in an unheard of way.”182 At first, however, Goethe became so engrossed with the practical application that he made the mistake, like many alchemists, in believing that physically producing the desired transmutation of substances was the end in itself and would provide the answers he sought in particular in a manifest form, i.e. to literally find God in Nature. As Steiner observes, Goethe had not yet penetrated the deeper meaning of alchemy, at least not at the beginning:
“So [Goethe’s] frame of mind […] can be described in the following words: I have found nothing. These seekers into nature can only give me dry, empty ideas; anything that can be squeezed out of them is life’s water. I have busied myself with much that has come down to us from the past from those who declare that they saw into the secrets of life. But the way. the way drives one to despair!”
“Nevertheless. the mysteries of alchemy continued to influence Goethe throughout his life: he gradually came to understand this craft to be an allegorical system, that it was studied by the ancients and medieval scholastics to conlempbte the spiritual and physical aspects of the universe. As the years progressed, Goethe began to use alchemical imagery in his writings, encoding his works in an esoteric allegorical code perceptible only to the attentive initiate.
As mentioned in previous chapters of our study, alchemy is generally perceived to be an ancient quest for the knowledge of how to turn base metals into gold and to procure the elixir of immortal life, marvels that could be accomplished with the discovery of the ‘philosopher’s stone. These simplistic descriptions arc misleading. for alchemy in its original context was more than the search for earthly wealth— it was an all-encompassing philosophy, a ‘Great Science of Knowledge’ that allow man to comprehend his world and the mom realm of the Divine.
Alchemical traditions first originated from the classic pagan and Gnostic ideologies of the creation of the universe. Aristotle taught that the cosmos was fonned by a ‘Prime Moser’ who arranged the four elements into their ro.pective order, all bound together with a mystical fifth element. the lillingettalre. Gnostic doctrines (2nd° to 3rd century AD) were derived from the gradual inclusion of Egyptian. Persian. Greek and other oriental precepts, thus a more complicated belief system in the duality of spirit and matter emerged.
The ancient (inosties acknowledged the existence of a great immortal spirit.emity or deity who is unreachable and incomprehensible. A series of lesser ‘gods’ generated and proceeded from this Being by ’emanation’. In cenain Gnostic myths, the last of these lesser divinities was Sophia. a Wisdom. but she desired to attain full knowledge of the First Absolute Being, and with this illicit desire, she corrupted the process of emanation, begetting the evil spirit. entity called the derniorge.
The world of corporal matter. including the human race. was then created by the demiurge. who reigned with legions of althorn (niters) in the planetary spheres. The physical world was often considered ‘evil’ and corrupt by the Gnostics for it was ruled by rebellious anchons, while the upper sphere. remained the kingdom of the good entities.
The uppermost sphere of Saturn was believed to form a boundary between the lower physical world and the higher spiritual realm. However, the Supreme Being did not desire the eternal destruction of the human race, and thus sent into the physical world divine ‘sparks’ fragmented from Itself that all became confined in matter: a form of the ‘quintessence’ or ‘divine spirit’ in Creation—an internal cosmic map leading man back to that union with the Supreme Deity.
Thus, according to Gnostic ideas, humans were a combination of both wodtb. a body and soul formal from physical matter, while simultaneously possessing a third spintual element called the paciona. or ‘divine spark’ that displayed the divine origins of man. 1″ Humans remained trapped in the physical world unless they received divine knowledge of their hue nature through mysterious messages imparted to a chosen fcw, whose sacred duty it was to transmit this knowledge, or gnosis, to their brethren.
However, knowledge of the physical universe and how it worked was also essential if mankind could hope to overcome this ‘trap’ of corporeal matter ruled by the evil archons. not only to obtain spiritual salvation. but also to attain a certain degree of pease and harmony while on earth. A considerable measure of Gnostic cosmology was adapted from the teachings of Ileraclitus of Ephesus (540-475? BC). a Stoic philosopher who believed the physical realm also operated according to the laws of life and death.”s
It was born in the element of fire. and progressed through the various elements until it would sutler ‘death’ by fire. but as it dies, it leaves a ‘seed’ from which the cosmos is reborn. To initiate this nowth, a universal ‘male’ and ‘female’ clement was required to form a cosmic union. i.e. the ‘divine’ with the ‘physical’, an idea that would be included into the craft of alchemy. Thus, the regeneration of the universe was an eternal series of cyclical ages that proceeded and returned through the divine element of fire. an Important Image in the science of alchemy. As time progressed, many writings recording the various processes in attaining gnosis were compiled, and eventually attributed to the legendary Hermes Trismcgistus. One of the most famous and comprehensive of these texts concerning alchemy is the Emerald Tablet, which mystically explains how to obtain this knowledge to unlock the secrets of the ‘quintessence—the key to understanding the union between heaven and earth:
This is the truth, the whole and incontestable truth, Without one word of falsehood. That which is above is the same which is below. And that which is below is also that which is above. These are the miracles consummated in the One. And, how all things are derived from the One, through your mediation, Also, all that is created by the image of this One Thing through adaptation. The Sun is your father, your mother the Moon. The wind transports it into your belly, and the Earth nourishes it. It begets all the marvels of the Universe. Your power will be complete when you return to the Earth. Separate Earth from Fire, the subtle from the vulgar, Gently and with great ingenuity, Ascend from the Earth to the Heavens and return to the Earth. Combining the superior powers with the inferior. In this manner you will achieve the glory of the Universe. And all obscurity will flee from you. This is the power of all powers, For this goes beyond all subtle things, And penetrates all solid things. In this way the world was created. And in this way turns to new works. And so this is the process. For this I am called Thrice Greatest Hennes For I am the master of the three principles of Universal Wisdom. This concludes what I have to say Of the work of the Sun.'”
At first, this tablet would appear to ask the initiate to seek and acquire secret magic powers, for example, to learn how to ascend to Heaven, and other similar impossible feats. However, the text is not that fantastic in application: Hermes advises the alchemical philosopher to discover how to ‘adapt’ the elements of the earth to build models of the universal forces to observe the cosmos, and extract the quintessence. By observing the celestial forces at work on earth, a philosopher comes to an understanding of the ‘One’ or Supreme Deity and how the created can reunite with the Creator.
The key to divine union and harmony would be the discovery of a ‘bridge’ between the two realms symbolised by the extraction of the quintessence, that the corrupt matter of earth could transform with this divine element and be ‘reborn’ in a state of perfection—in other words. alchemy was an elaborate visible parable for spiritual contemplation. Let us examine this concept further.”” When it is stated “what is above is also below”. it was understood by alchemists that the heavenly kingdom was mirrored on earth and represented by the planets. metals, plants. life forms, and so fonh. Recreating the cosmic forces by anificial means and applying them to these various substances. one could observe the process of transformation from corruption to perfection. Thus alchemists identified or invented various procedures to isolate and observe the circle of life at work in the physical realm, which are usually seven in number. presumably to symbolise the seven planetary steps of the geocentric Macrocosmos ascending to that realm of the spiritual kingdom. These may differ in order depending on the perception of the philosopher:
1) Calcination: Process of burning the materials to white ash. considered a procedure of purification. symbolises the secret fire that destroys all corruption. Represented by the planet Saturn.
2) Dissolution: The ashes, usually calcinated plant material ‘sal stalls’, is dissolved, part of the symbolic process of “dissolving” the corrupt body and “solidifying” the spirit. i.e. separating the “Earth” from “Fire” according to Hermes. Represented by the planet Jupiter.
3) Separation: The process of separating the ‘male’ and ‘female’ elements as they arc not in harmony. Pan of removing the “subtle from the vulgar. Represented by the planer Mars
4) Conjugation: The “marriage” of materials, for example the ‘male’ (Sun) clement of sulphur combined with the ‘female’ (Moon) element of mercury, to produce the ‘chile— salt. This trinitarian process was used in gold alchemy.
5) Fermentation: Symbolises the putrefaction of death. Represented by the planet Venus.
6) Distillation: An invention of the alchemists to liberate volatile essences, the venical spiral tubing represented purification of the spirit and soul as they ascend to heaven and return to earth. Represented by the planet Mercury.
7) Solidification: Solidifying the materials and collecting it in the alembic once distilled. “Dissolve and solidify”—the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ is perfected.
In theory, the ‘Philosopher’s Stone’, or the extracted quintessence, was a corporeal allegory for a foundation or corner stone, in turn symbolising the attainment of wisdom—this is the reward Hermes Trismegistus pronounced, the dispersal of the darkness of ignorance:
“And all obscurity will flee from you. / This is the power of all powers.” Alchemy was practised on all substances, plants. mineral and organic material, as the divine quintessence was trapped within all matter. In this manner, many medieval therapeutic remedies were prepared. for as mentioned. organic material and minerals were associated with the different planets, which in turn were indentifted with different personalities and diseases. For example, let us examine the ‘Elixir of Saturn’. The deity and planet Satum in alchemy was associated with inhibition and concentration, and with the skeletal structure, to name only a few qualities. Certain afflictions connected with Saturn were melancholy. rheumatism. lethargy, and aging for example, hence the expression “satumar. An alchemist might take one of the medical plants affiliated with Saturn, and on Saturday of course, would perform one or more of the various seven steps to extract the healing essence of the plant for the patient. However, many alchemists were obsessed with finding the key to transforming base metals into gold for it was a metal associated with divine insight: wise King Solomon’s kingdom was so plentiful with gold that silver was not reckoned with his wealth. The pagan god Mercury. or Hermes according to Greek mythology, was a divine messenger that bridged the heavenly kingdom of gods, and the earthly world of men: his mission as messenger and guide to souls journeying to the afterlife was symbolised by the caduceus. a golden wand surmounted by two wings or a crown, and entwined