Book Club Post

The Ritual of High Magic: Chapter 12

With this post we continue a monthly chapter-by-chapter discussion of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by Eliphas Lévi, the book that launched the modern magical revival.  Here and in the months ahead we’re plunging into the white-hot fires of creation where modern magic was born. If you’re just joining us now, I recommend reading the earlier posts in this sequence first; you can find them here.  Either way, grab your tarot cards and hang on tight.

If you can read French, I strongly encourage you to get a copy of Lévi’s book in the original and follow along with that; it’s readily available for sale in Francophone countries, and can also be downloaded for free from If not, the English translation by me and Mark Mikituk is recommended; A.E. Waite’s translation, unhelpfully retitled Transcendental Magic, is second-rate at best—riddled with errors and burdened with Waite’s seething intellectual jealousy of Lévi—though you can use it after a fashion if it’s what you can get. Also recommended is a tarot deck using the French pattern:  the Knapp-Hall deck, the Wirth deck (available in several versions), or any of the Marseilles decks are suitable.


“Chapter Twelve:  The Great Work” (Greer & Mikituk, pp. 289-295).


A few chapters back, when our text discussed initiation, it was necessary to talk about one of the places in which Eliphas Lévi’s reach exceeded his grasp. In this chapter we have to return to another of those misses. There’s an important difference between the two chapters, though. The art and practice of initiation is much better understood now than it was in Lévi’s time, and with the benefit of more than a century and a half of occult literature and some guidance from my own experiences as well, I was able to talk about what Lévi got right, what he got wrong, and how to learn from the one and avoid the other in pursuing the work of the mage.

The first of the twelve figures of Basil Valentine, a classic emblem of alchemical lore. How much sense can you make of it?

With this chapter’s subject—alchemy—that’s not an option. I wish it were!  The difficulty is that despite the same century and a half of hard work by students of occultism, alchemy isn’t much better understood than it was in Lévi’s time.  There’s no shortage of theories about what the old alchemists meant by their fantastically obscure jargon and symbolism, and plenty of people who have bought into one or another of those theories insist that they know the unalloyed truth about alchemy. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, however; we have an abundance of people talking about alchemy but a distinct shortage of genuine adepts with unlimited funds and improbably extended lifespans.

Let’s start with some basics. If we take the writings of the alchemists at face value, Lévi’s brief summary of the goals of alchemy—“to be always rich, ever young, and never die”—is, as he says, the point of all those labors.  This goal is to be reached by creating a mysterious substance, the Stone of the Philosophers, which prolongs human life indefinitely, cures all diseases, and can convert other metals into pure gold.  (It was also supposed to turn ordinary pebbles into precious stones and makes glass flexible and malleable, but Lévi doesn’t mention those properties.)

The Stone is easy to make—it is child’s play, the old alchemists say repeatedly. All you have to do is find the right substance to start with, the prima materia or first matter, which is very easy and cheap to come by, as most people consider it to be completely worthless. Then you have to prepare the right reagent, a liquid in which the prima materia will dissolve, and apply to the resulting solution a certain secret fire. Keep it going in a sealed container at modest heat for forty days, observing it closely as it goes through various changes, and increase the heat gradually as the changes proceed. It becomes black, then white, then passes through a series of iridescent colors, and finally turns ruby red. Take a tiny grain of the red substance and put it into a crucible of hot mercury, and the mercury will instantly transform itself into gold. It’s that simple!

The second of Basil Valentine’s twelve figures.

Of course the simplicity is deceptive. Nowhere in all the works of the alchemists does any one of them say in so many words what the prima materia is or where it can be found. Nowhere is the process of preparing the solvent described clearly, and nowhere is the secret fire called by its proper name. These secrets of the art are presented instead in the form of symbols. Turn the pages of alchemical texts and you’ll quickly find yourself in a realm of weird and vivid imagery: green lions devouring the sun, kings boiled alive in cauldrons, furious giants dismembering bodies with a sword, naked lovers fusing together into a single hermaphroditic being.

To say that it’s not immediately obvious what any of this has to do with laboratory work is to understate things considerably. For the last four centuries or so, accordingly, plenty of people have insisted that it has nothing to do with laboratories at all. Mystics like Arthur Edward Waite insist that all this is a metaphor for the quest of the soul for Christ; moralists like Ethan Allen Hitchcock insist that it’s a metaphor for a kind of proto-Protestant moral theology, hidden in all those symbols to distract the Inquisition; psychologists like Carl Jung insist that it’s a metaphor for psychological changes that the old alchemists, out of sheer simplemindedness, projected into the contents of their crucibles.

Maybe one of these theorists is right, for that matter. On the other hand, none of them offers any evidence for their claims, other than the insistence that alchemy can’t have had anything real to do with laboratory work, and the fact that it’s possible to read alchemical symbolism their way and make something more or less coherent out of the result. Their efforts remind me of the earnest guy back a century or so who proved to his own satisfaction that Lewis Carroll’s mock-epic poem The Hunting of the Snark was really all about macroeconomics: the fact that you can read the narrative of your choice into any sufficiently baroque set of symbols doesn’t prove that the inventor of those symbols had that narrative in mind!

The eleventh figure from the same set.

So we don’t know what the alchemists were actually up to. We do know that it had something to do with laboratories—in there with the green lions and the hermaphrodites, alchemical texts include such useful tips as recipes for flameproof stoneware and rules for finding the right temperature for reactions in an age before thermometers. The alchemists constantly talked about gold, but liked to put warnings like this into their texts:  Our gold is not the common gold.  They also insisted that the secrecy was utterly necessary: in the wrong hands, they claimed, the knowledge they passed on could destroy the world.

They occasionally protected that secret with terrible ruthlessness.  There are purported recipes for the Philosophers’ Stone which are designed to kill the person who follows them. One in my collection takes a modest amount of gold, subjects it to a complicated process involving acids, and produces a set of reddish crystals, which are to be pounded up in a mortar and then thrown into red-hot mercury. That first stroke of the pestle will be your last, because the recipe yields something like eight ounces of hideously unstable gold fulminate, a close chemical cousin of the mercury fulminate used in tiny amounts in blasting caps. Ignited by impact, friction, or heat, that’ll blow you, your laboratory, and the rest of the building to kingdom come.

What was the secret the alchemists guarded so carefully? I have no idea, and clearly neither did Eliphas Lévi.  He offered a fascinating speculation, however, that he may or may not have gotten from his teacher Hoene Wronski, and may or may not be a crucial clue. He suggests that alchemy takes place on more than one plane—that it is spiritual and philosophical as well as chemical—and that the spiritual and philosophical dimensions have to be mastered first before the would-be alchemical adept can apply the same principles in the laboratory.

…and the twelfth. Figured it out yet? Neither did Lévi.

It’s an intriguing idea, and it has certain parallels in less exotic aspects of human experience. Many of us have learned from experience that food takes on the emotional state of the person who makes it.  There are sauces you can’t make if you’re in a rotten mood—no matter what you do, they won’t come out right—and there are people whose good will radiates so strongly into the food they cook that the simplest dish they cook is satisfying in a way the finest of haute cuisine can’t match. Every handicraft I know of has similar phenomena—we all know, to cite only one example of many, of gardeners whose “green thumb” enables them to get even the most finicky plants to thrive.

Lévi’s suggestion, in effect, is that this same effect pushed to its extreme can make things happen in an alchemical laboratory that will not happen otherwise. Our modern science is hostile to such suggestions, since its fundamental keynote is the raising of the highest possible barriers between the experimenter and the experiment. That was a fruitful approach in its day, and it yielded a bumper crop of discoveries, but like everything else it has its limits; the law of diminishing returns applies to science as well as to all things human. The replication crisis that gets so much worried muttering in scientific circles, where it’s not simply a reflection of the pervasive scientific fraud and statistical gamesmanship that plays so large a role in science these days, is one measure of the awkward way that different experimenters get different results, no matter how tightly all the other conditions are controlled.

Of course Lévi has an explanation for this. Those readers who have been following along since the beginning of his book already know that the explanation is the astral light, the great secret of magic in Lévi’s system. This, he argues, is the secret fire of the alchemists, the arcanum that allows the Great Work to take place. The astral light surrounds us and pentrates us, it binds the galaxy together (ahem), and Lévi holds that it is responsible for all magical and miraculous events due to its ability to shape the material world in subtle and not so subtle ways. He may be right, for that matter, but it’s at this point that he starts engaging in handwaving in an attempt to justify what he has not been able to prove.

The burst of Hebrew in the middle of this chapter is a case in point. The document it comes from, a Jewish commentary to the Sepher Yetzirah—the oldest surviving text on the Cabala—was nothing like as rare as Lévi claimed, and the passage itself is potentially of alchemical interest but doesn’t exactly reveal any stunning secrets. In English translation, it reads, “The Thirty-first Path is the Perpetual Intelligence, and why is it so called?  Because it regulates the motions of the Sun and Moon in their proper order, each in an orbit convenient for it.” It’s hard to avoid the suspicion that Lévi included the text in Hebrew, but not in French, because he wanted something that would look impressive to the unwary reader.

It’s a little later on in the chapter that he plunges into a giddier burst of handwaving. Having talked about Heinrich Khunrath’s enigmatic Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae (Amphitheater of Eternal Wisdom), he goes on to reference “the Cabalistic figures of Abraham the Jew,” which play a role in Nicholas Flamel’s account of his alchemical transmutation. (Yes, J.K. Rowling borrowed the name of a real alchemist for that bit of the first Harry Potter novel.)  He identifies those figures as, you guessed, it, the tarot trumps, and further identifies these with another set of classic alchemical images, the twelve keys of Basil Valentine.

Here, I’m sorry to say, he’s shoveling smoke. The figures that Nicholas Flamel received from his Jewish teacher are known, and they have essentially nothing in common with the tarot.  Here they are:

The hieroglyphic figures of Nicholas Flamel.

The twelve images of Basil Valentine are also available, as shown above—you can find the whole set here—and if you can find much in common between them and the tarot trumps you’re doing a good deal better than I am. It’s quite possible to interpret the tarot in an alchemical light, or at least to match up various theories about alchemy with the symbols of the tarot, but it’s an open question whether this interpretation will lead you to the secret of the Great Work.

Certainly, though, that secret still inspires the same kinds of passionate quests that it did in the Middle Ages. Lévi cites three alchemists of modern times—Jean-Baptiste Aliette, who wrote books on tarot under the pen name Eteilla (his last name spelled backwards); Louis Cambriel; and an unnamed friend.  Many more could be added to the list from after Lévi’s time: Archibald Cockren, whom many modern alchemists believe accomplished the Great Work; the enigmatic French adept Fulcanelli; Albert Reidel, who published as “Frater Albertus” and taught an entire generation of American alchemists; Jean Dubuis, who did the same thing with a worldwide audience later in the twentieth century.

For that matter, I’ve met a significant number of people over the years who will never be famous, but who have devoted years of their lives to the study and practice of alchemy. Thus the quest goes on. Will Lévi turn out to be correct in his guess concerning the nature of the alchemical process and the nature of the secret fire?  That remains to be seen.

Notes for Study and Practice:

It’s quite possible to get a great deal out of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic by the simple expedient of reading each chapter several times and thinking at length about the ideas and imagery that Lévi presents. For those who want to push things a little further, however, meditation is a classic tool for doing so.

Along with the first half of our text, I introduced the standard method of meditation used in Western occultism:  discursive meditation, to give it its proper name, which involves training and directing the thinking mind rather than silencing it (as is the practice in so many other forms of meditation).  Readers who are just joining us can find detailed instructions in the earlier posts in this series. For those who have been following along, however, I suggest working with a somewhat more complex method, which Lévi himself mention in passing:  the combinatorial method introduced by Catalan mystic Ramon Lull in the Middle Ages, and adapted by Lévi and his successors for use with the tarot.

Take the first card of the deck, Trump 1, Le Bateleur (The Juggler or The Magician). While looking at it, review the three titles assigned to it:  Disciplina, Ain Soph, Kether, and look over your earlier meditations on this card to be sure you remember what each of these means. Now you are going to add each title of this card to Trump II, La Papesse (The High Priestess): Chokmah, Domus, Gnosis. Place Trump II next to Trump I and consider them. How does Disciplina, discipline, relate to Chokmah, wisdom?  How does Disciplina relate to Domus, house?  How does it relate to Gnosis?  These three relationships are fodder for one day’s meditation. For a second day, relate Ain Soph to the three titles of La Papesse. For a third day, relate Kether to each of these titles. Note down what you find in your journal.

Next, combine Le Bateleur with Trump III, L’Imperatrice (The Empress), in exactly the same way, setting the cards side by side. Meditate on the relationship of each of the Juggler’s titles to the three titles of the Empress,  three meditations in all.  Then combine the Juggler and the Emperor in exactly the same way. Then go on to the Juggler and the Pope, giving three days to each, and proceed from there. You’ll still be working through combinations of Le Bateleur when the next Lévi post goes up, but that’s fine; when you finish with Le Bateleur, you’ll be taking La Papesse and combining her with L’Imperatrice, L’Empereur, and so on, and thus moving through all 231 combinations the trumps make with one another.

Don’t worry about where this is going. Unless you’ve already done this kind of practice, the goal won’t make any kind of sense to you. Just do the practice.  You’ll find, if you stick with it, that over time the relationships between the cards take on a curious quality I can only call conceptual three-dimensionality:  a depth is present that was not there before, a depth of meaning and ideation.  It can be very subtle or very loud, or anything in between. Don’t sense it?  Don’t worry.  Meditate on a combination every day anyway. Do the practice and see where it takes you.

We’ll be going on to Chapter 13, “Necromancy,” on June 12, 2024. See you then!


  1. Hi Archdruid, there is a question which I have been meaning to ask you for a while now. Do you know about the Nyāya school of Logic which was developed in India sometime towards the close of the Iron Age (quite possibly after the introduction of writing in the country)? I looked into it a few years back, and one of the things I noticed is that it incorporates the idea of a Commonplace instead of dismissing it in favour of high abstraction. A Commonplace (called “Drishtanta” in Sanskrit, which translates to “Evident”) is defined in Nyāya as a “Something a layperson and an expert in the relevant domain both agree upon”. I pondered on this for a while, and I realised two things. First, that there is a rationale to this criterion – if the expert does not accept the idea, it may be a delusion born of ignorance. If the commoner does not accept it, then it is a pure abstraction and may well be something the experts indoctrinated themselves into. Second, I tried to think of things which are agreed upon by domain experts and laypersons, and I realised that most of them are actually related to observation and concrete experience. I was reading some of the older articles you composed on Ecosophia a few days back, specifically those relating to the Topics and the Commonplaces, and I remembered The Evident from the Nyaya philosophy.

  2. Around two years ago, before I started reading your posts on magic (I have been reading your blog for around ten years but usally skipped or skimmed these kind of posts; not that I was a hardcore materialist anymore by that time, but would usually roll my eyes when hearing about these subjects), I read a book that suggested to try to understand what your dreams were trying to tell you (past, present, future, hints, ideas, precognitions, and so on).
    A few months later, in a dream, I was reading a newspaper who had posted some job offers. The name of the newspaper was “La Gran Obra” (“The Great Work”, in Spanish, although to me at the moment it could be better translated as “The great/large building site” or similar).
    Once awake, I recorded the details of my dream, and not long after, I was a bit puzzled about that, so I did a search online, found something about alchemy (up until that time I had read absolutely nothing about the subject), then a translated book from french with that same title in spanish by a french author called Émile Grillot de Givry, available to download (for those interested, available in english from the same website you linked above) and started reading it —its a set of twelve meditations— without a clue of what was the purpose of the book or what, if it had any sense at all, my dream was trying to tell me. Nonetheless, I kept reading and doing its meditations, and here we are today!

  3. I would propose the idea that, in the present, Alchemy has been most successfully practiced by that mysterious and semi-secret organization known most commonly as the “FED”. The head wizard of the FED, ” J POW” mumbles a few incantations and uses the elixir created to buy up bonds issued by the US government with no gold on hand or in sight. Literally nothing turns in to something. Now the federal government can use the proceeds of the bond sale ( which they are theoretically required to pay back someday), to generate electronic transactions ( an intermediate step in the alchemy) which can be deposited in small amounts in the bank accounts of retirees or in large amounts to various kinds of Lenocrats. These digital electronic symbols can now be traded for real material goods and even gold. So in a multi-step process the wizard “J Pow” has turned nothing in to gold ( yes the gold did exist but not yet in the hands of the Wizards friends and subjects.)

  4. I found your previous discussion “On The Varieties of Alchemical Experience” to be helpful in understanding all the different ways the term has been given meaning. I’m not sure if that is the correct title -and I can’t seem to find it using duckduckgo even …(search engines really aren’t what they used to be)…

    Anyway, if nothing else, Levi was an Alchemist du Verbe.

  5. Has anyone read Patrick Harpurs Mercurius? You have to really be into alchemy and/or the great work to enjoy…which I did. Fiction with lots of history with it.

  6. Dear Mr. Greer – So, what’s the topic for the 5th Wednesday? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂 The suspense is killing me. Lew

  7. I remember reading some of the works of Brian Cotnoir on laboratory alchemy at the same time I was looking at Mark Stavish’s introductory coursework. There seems to be a peculiar disjoint around how magical practice is to be conducted in the process of working with the various instruments and inputs of the alchemical process, like a whole initiatory and ritual structure is missing in action.

    Thinking on the previous chapter, how does one find an astral chain that’s gone MIA? Can spirits actually help with any of this, or do we have to wait for alchemy itself to awake from slumber?

  8. I hope comments on earlier chapters are permitted, because I had a fairly significant thought I’d like to share here, because I think I might be on to something quite important here. We discussed the rejection of the Swastika as being a possible source of a lot of the weird dysfunction society has had over the last few decades because it still holds its inherent meaning, but there is another Nazi symbol that is instantly recognizable to most people: the “Hitler Salute”. In Circles of Power, you mention that the Golden Dawn used it as a sign of Earth from the start, and suggested replacing it with another sign that has caught on with the Golden Dawn offshoots.

    Given that in a very real sense, “The Golden Dawn” and “20th century Occultism” are almost interchangeable, this means that the occult community of the second half of the 20th century actively rejects a sign of earth; and a lot of the problems in contemporary occultism, ranging from the excess of fantasies and lack of reality testing to the grossly inflated egos, all emerge symbolically from the rejection of the element of earth.

  9. For those who may have missed it on Magic Monda, as an addendum to last months conversation on the Magic Chain, here is a feature article I wrote for Igloo Magazine:

    It is on the subject of a new album “Return to Archive” by electronic music duo Matmos for Smithsonian Folkways celebrating the 75th anniversary of Moe Asch’s label. They delve into the archive of all of Asch’s “sound” albums (children on playgrounds, mud dauber wasps, morse code -Asch recorded and put out records on all kinds of sounds) and create a new amalgamation from the prima materia of those records.

    I tie this in with a discussion of the centennial of Harry Smith’s birth and the new book “Cosmic Scholar” on him by John Szwed, the clincher being that:

    “Now that Matmos have tackled the part of the archive dedicated to the “so called non-musical”​ sound albums on Folkways, it would be great to see them manifest an album riffing off the​ material from Harry Everett Smith’s famous anthology, giving it their studied and nuanced​ treatment. ”

    Anyway, it was fun to write.

  10. Hello JMG and all good folks hereabouts,
    So what might be or not be the connection to this Western Alchemy and the Eastern version(s)? such as Secret of the Golden Flower and Taoist Alchemy?
    5th Wednesday vote for Jung or Gurdjieff – Did these two ever meet or could they have been aware of each other? As it seems they were contemporaries in Europe for a time.
    13 thank you’s, honey in the heart, long life and love reading your writing

  11. Rajarshi, I’d heard about it in passing, but hadn’t looked into it in any detail. That’s wonderful, that they made room for commonplaces! Those were also an important element in Western logic until the end of the Renaissance. when they got tossed in the trash as part of the embrace of Cartesian hubris. Do you happen to know if there’s much on the Nyāya school translated into English or French? I’m sorry to say my knowledge of Sanskrit isn’t quite up to texts on logic… 😉

    Eduardo, dreams can have important messages, as you found out. Synchronistically enough, I’ve started recording my dreams again — I’ve done it at intervals — and I take your comment as encouragement.

    Clay, nah, that’s not alchemy, because the gold doesn’t actually exist. Have you considered the possibility that this J POW entity is actually a malicious elf? The fairy folk are well known for their habit of casting spells to make dry leaves and the like look like gold, so it wouldn’t be beyond their powers to cast a glamour on electrons to make them produce the illusion of gold…

    Justin, I wonder if it was this one:

    DMekel, I haven’t, but I may make time for it.

    Lew, it’s going to be the occult dimensions of music. Several others also got plenty of votes but that one led by a modest plurality. The others will doubtless have their turn!

    Jeff, the ritual and contemplative dimensions of laboratory alchemy have been being explored by a handful of groups for a while now, but I don’t know of a good book on the subject yet. As for your question, you need to attune yourself to it, and it has to want to be found. My guess is that the chain of alchemy will remain in hiding until industrial civilization implodes; if the secret really is as dangerous as the old books claim, do you really want to run the risk that people like Bill Gates might get hold of it?

    Taylor, you do like hitting ’em out of the park, don’t you? Yes, I’ve been contemplating that very point for a while now. I suppose you’ve also noticed that Hitler made a different sign in response…

    Justin, thanks for this.

    Hankshaw, that’s an exceptionally complex question. There are broadly speaking three great traditions of alchemy — Chinese, Indian, and Western (including Muslim and European, since they followed very similar patterns and used many of the same texts). They’re not identical by any means, but there’s a fair amount of common ground to all of them, and all three of them include laboratory work (in Chinese, waidan, the Outer Elixir) and spiritual practice (in Chinese, neidan, the Inner Elixir) as overlapping but distinct traditions.

  12. Sometimes my meditations go full circle and I end up revisiting something I thought I understood, and then I realize my initial understanding is inadequate….
    During involution, if an Adept in Yetzirah got his Body/Salt as perfect as can be, does that Salt become a Kether in Assiah?

  13. Thanks John, it might have been. It was an essay about all the different varieties of alchemy. I thought it had been a 5th wed. topic at some point. or maybe it was just suggested, but this is the sentence that pointed to that idea:

    “alchemy is not a single field of study like chemistry or physics, but a universal method that can be applied to many different realms of human experience. We really should be talking not of alchemy but of alchemies, each of them applied to some different subdivision of nature in exactly the same way that different sciences apply themselves to particular clusters of phenomena.”

    Is there any place to find detailed information about R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz’s Station Scientifique Suhalia that he established as something of an alchemical bauhaus in Switzerland?

    Best to all.

  14. One thing you regularly admonish your readers about is the error of attempting to use “magic” (change in consciousness) to affect things solidly in the realm of physics. I don’t know how that could possibly have been clearly evident until quite recently.

    The last few days I’ve been musing about will, “magic”, and When something profoundly, shockingly, Manifests, it necessarily blurs the line between the practical and the other realms.

    Reading today’s essay on alchemy, I started off thinking about how many people have been “fooled” through the centuries into pursuing “alchemy” to transmute elements. But then I tried to step into the shoes of those from centuries past. It wasn’t until 1810 something like the periodic table began to be considered. And the biggest tipoff, in my opinion, was “In 1815, British physician and chemist William Prout noticed that atomic weights seemed to be multiples of that of hydrogen.[9][10].”

    Consider that it wasn’t until the 1900s that Freud’s theories of a distinct subconscious began to gain purchase, and I think the conflation of the like-magic changes manifest via chemistry with the like-magic changes Manifest via changes in belief/awareness, merits some mercy. And, if you further layer on the overwhelming evidence that piled up on the later 1900s that neither time itself, nor space, nor “solid” matter were actually “real”? Well, I think the earlier alchemists weren’t really all the far off the track!

  15. I reread the article that you linked to for Justin.
    It made me think that Jung might have purposely downplayed the laboratory approach to alchemy because it is dangerous.

    But this makes me think :
    “The Stone is easy to make—it is child’s play, the old alchemists say repeatedly.”
    That it might be related to urine or feces, something so “easy” to make that children do it.
    Urine could be the solution that has dissolved the prima materia (food? maybe a particular type of food? Food prepared a particular way?)
    Food would certainly have contained the life force.
    Your digestive system breaks down the food (one of the key steps in an alchemical process is to break something down )
    The secret fire might be the Astral Light directed inwardly?

    Hrmmm… i don’t know but there may be something worth thinking about?

  16. A few observations:

    D Mekel #5: It’s published by “The Squeeze Press” ? Does that take us back to last week’s topic?

    @JMG “Have you considered the possibility that this J POW entity is actually a malicious elf?” Now that is seriously funny!

    If Levi is so in the dark regarding alchemy, I wonder why he chose it for this chapter. Is there anything in trump XII that demands it?

    @JMG: Do you consider the “Book of Lambspring” and “Splendor Solis” to be any less opaque than the images you posted?

    It has seemed to me at times that Evola’s “The Hermetic Tradition” and Andre Vandenbroek’s “Al-Kemi” were more lucid on this topic than most of what I’ve read, and that includes quite a lot.

  17. Random, there are many different ways to interpret each of the terms you’ve used here, so the answer can only be “it all depends on what you mean by each of those words.”

    Justin, no doubt if you read French and have access to French and Swiss libraries you can find something, but I’ve never found anything in the sources accessible to me.

    Gnat, that’s fair. It’s like perpetual motion — lots of people tried it and failed, but it wasn’t until the law of the conservation of energy was proposed and tested that there was a solid theoretical understanding of why it always failed.

    Dobbs, good. You’ll be interested to know that alchemical experimenters in the 17th century put a lot of work into those, which is why phosphorus was discovered:

    That’s the alchemist Henning Brandt, the guy who discovered it, in a fine romantic painting.

    Phutatorius, I don’t think he realized how far in the dark he was. As for the Book of Lambspring and the Splendor Solis, no, they’re about equally abstruse. I’m a definite fan of Vandenbroeck’s book, though I haven’t read the one by Evola.

  18. JMG,
    Wouldn’t a ” group of malicious elves trying to pass off dry leaves as gold”. be an apt description of our current financial system all the way from the Fed to the Banks. It seems that the main game for the elites at this stage of the empire is to convince people that the dry pile of leaves they control is in fact valuable, and thus they deserve to be followed and obeyed?

  19. There’s a question I’ve been mulling over for a couple months now, and since questions on older chapters are permitted: what happens when the symbolic reality changes drastically? To provide one extraordinarily powerful example, a huge swath of human experience, including symbols, change beyond recognition whenever a new planet comes into focus, or when one fades away into the background. Since it’s a prime example, there are a host of things which resonate strongly with Pluto: volcanoes; the Grim Reaper; Satan and fallen angels; outer space; the deep ocean; sexuality and its various symbols; the symbolic meanings of far away places and times; the afterlife, including heaven and hell; all of which, from 1900 have been pulled in a radically different direction than they were before by the presence of Pluto as an archetypal organizing force that is utterly unlike any of the other planets in important ways.

    Given this, can we really be so sure that from 1900 the Swastika, or any symbol for that matter given Pluto’s obnoxious habit of concealing itself even while powerful, and it’s equally annoying habit of exerting its influence in some of the most unlikely of places, has the same meaning it did in 1899?

    Things become even more complex with the other planets; I have saved news articles from NASA declaring Eris, Sedna, and Chiron planets when they were discovered; my own chart does not make sense without factoring in the near perfect sextile between Eris and Venus, and the broader effects she has on the stellium Venus is part of; and many astrologers use Chiron, which makes perfect sense if it functioned (and maybe still does) as a sort of quasi-planet; and then there’s the set of temporary planets from the Romantic Era, including Ceres.

    I’m far from sure what kinds of answers these questions have, if human beings are even able to figure this out: all I can say is that the last few months have had some remarkably interesting sessions of meditation.

  20. I’d like to apologize for the double post, but as seems to happen, the moment I hit post something else fell into place, and now that it clicked, I can’t believe I’ve spent weeks meditating on this and didn’t see it earlier, but if the swastika is the sun, and the Nazi salute is the Earth, and both are evil, then what is left as good?

    The void between the stars. The obsessive fixation with leaving the solar system, with travelling between the stars is the logical consequence of adopting a symbolic reality in which both the solar and telluric currents are evil: only out among the stars, away from all the influences of both the Earth and the Sun, is it possible for there to anything good. This also explains why people are clinging so desperately to their Star Trek future: to say that Star Trek cannot happen is, symbolically, to say that we are forever going to live in a world permanently ruled by evil….

  21. @Dobbs: thanks for looking at my article again. As for prima materia in music you might listen to the Coil album Scatalogy. Their song “solar lodge” on that one is a fave of mine.

    An alchemixal way of looking at sampling in music would be thst the transformations raise the vibration if what was sampled.

    @JMG: I hope to acquire the ability to read French. I put a little time into it at the beginning of this Levi journey. Just reafing parallel translations of poetry might help with the motivation.

    Question for you and commentariat: do you think a Spirit Condenser could be preserved using vegetable glycerin? I have only read about them in your Natural Magic Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, and briefly scanning your Way of the Four Elements. Not doing that book yet, but have been wanting to incorporate more Natural Magic. I want to try making a spirit condenser. I use vegetable glycerin to preserve diluted mixtures of bach flower remedies for myself now. Had not heard of spirit condensers outside of your books.

    Thanks again. I’ve gotten a lot of this book club, but Im sure there is still mire gold within it to refine.

  22. Clay, my point exactly. It’s them elves, I tell ya! 😉

    Taylor, that is to say, that particular kind of gnostic attitude tends to spring up in decaying civilizations like ours. I suspect it’s because it’s easier to fantasize about plunging into the void than it is to give up the perks and privileges that come from doing your bit to prop up a decadent system.

    Justin, you’d have to make the experiment to be sure, but I know of no reason why not.

  23. Hello JMG, I struggle between spiritual belief and materialism. As of today i would say evolution is my go to for understanding the “big” questions. That said, if i compare the statistical mathematics of entropy and evolution it becomes difficult to assume evolution is mathematically sound since new mutations are first rare, and selection does not seem frequent enough to preserve current complexity against the entropy of bad mutations, let alone foster new good mutations. Wondering if you think evolution has strong explanatory power as i know you have talked about the complexity of systems and how simple creatures like dragonflies will be here long after us, etc.

  24. @JMG,
    I’m still working on Splendor Solis. I have an understanding (not *the* Understanding 😉 ) of the Parables and the Flasks, but then I get to the last four cards and it seems like there is too much in just four cards. I wanted it to have symmetry with the first four cards (which seem to me to be Ain/Ain Soph/Ain Soph Aur, then Kether, Chokmah, Binah), but Child’s Play seems very much related to the Planets/Flasks, and Women’s Work seems very much related to the Parables, and the Black Sun seems to be the Veil of Reflection. If Child’s Play and Women’s Work represent two axes (Spirit as time/frequency and Spirit as space/density), then you get a cross. But you could also get a square (which is a 2D cube, and cubes represent Salt). And then the image gets very similar to the square-in-a-circle (with four arms coming out of the square) that I have in my Chapter 4 (Magic, not Ritual) notes (I think the image came from you… yellow triangle, red/blue two-triangles, then green circle/square/cross). But why in a circle? Maybe because it is because it is evolving back to a Unity, which is represented by a circle…
    But for our swarm, since we are at the bottom of the planes, we have to work our way back up (to the double-triangle). So I thought if in the World above our World, a Divine Spark involved to the green circle/square/cross, then that Unity (his perfect Cube of Salt) becomes our Kether.
    And I remember way back when there was the comment that the Malkuth of one World was the Kether of the next, so I was wondering if this is what that meant.

  25. Hi John Michael,

    Dunno much about this subject, but my impression was that it was the work the alchemists did which produced the transformation, and much like magic, the effort and energy would have reflected where appropriate.

    In many ways the loose talk of hot chicks, wealth and prolonged life-spans resulting from the activities may not necessarily be inaccurate. Aren’t people still talking about Plato’s Republic, some millennia after it was written? That’s a form of immortality, and it’s hard not to notice that the dude was a philosopher.

    On a very pragmatic note, the work the alchemists did, may have pushed the understanding of materials in random directions that civilisation would never have reached otherwise. It’s not a bad option at all. Much like Sun Tzu utilising diviners to provide random elements to a battle plan. And if the lore became economically useful, well the gold may flow.

    It’s been my observation that err, oodles and gold and wealth, can sometimes make up for deficiencies in personality and aesthetics, and err, so hot chicks. Alas, I’ve never had enough wealth to put this theory to the test, not to mention anything about general competency to do so! 😉

    So, my hypothesis may be on some solid ground there, maybe. What do you reckon?



  26. Thank you for a most helpful and useful essay.

    I’d like to second DMekel’s recommendation of _Mercurius_. As I recall, it focuses on an obscure school of thought within Alchemy (something about the. phases of transmutation is not “standard”, and the narrative acknowledges that) but what makes the book memorable is the deft sensitivity of the writing. More than one character is progressively revealed, with surprises right up to the end, and the complex motivation that drives the alchemist’s quest is treated with empathy and subtlety. As he pursues the Great Work, the protagonist comes face to face with his own flawed character. He is a clergyman, so he interprets the experience in a Christian way. The psychology rings true.

    Another pertinent book is by one Joseph Lisiewski about his time working on alchemical projects with Frater Albertus and Israel Regardie. It is *extremely* interesting and, I understand, controversial. In Lisiewski’s telling, Regardie comes across as a tragic figure –depicted, however, with affection and respect.

  27. Is it possible that the alchemists of old were part of a magical chain that we can no longer access? Your posts on disenchantment put me in mind of this – we live in an age where more people than ever energetically support the occult, but perhaps the smallest percentage ever of those support alchemy.

  28. Alex, don’t confuse evolution with natural selection, and don’t confuse either one of them with phylogenesis. Evolution is simply a statement of the fact that living things have changed considerably over time; natural selection is Darwin’s theory about why that happens; phylogenesis is the process by which genetic novelty comes into existence. Current ideas about phylogenesis by way of genetic mutation can be entirely wrong without disproving either natural selection or evolution — we know that something causes novelty to emerge, even though there may be problems with current theories about what that something is. Given novelty, whatever its source, selective pressures will drive natural selection, and result in the evolutionary sequence well documented in both fossil and living forms. If water is coming out of a pipe, to use a metaphor, you may be wrong about where the water comes from, but that mistake does not mean that water isn’t coming out of the pipe!

    Random, a fine meditation on a very intricate set of alchemical images! Keep going.

    Chris, it’s certainly worth exploring, though I’m not sure how to put it to any kind of test.

    Grey Hat, thanks for this.

    Leo, yes, it’s quite possible, and may even be quite deliberate.

    Kerry, er, I have no idea. Care to clarify?

  29. From #8: “the “Hitler Salute”. In Circles of Power, you mention that the Golden Dawn used it as a sign of Earth from the start”
    From #11: “I suppose you’ve also noticed that Hitler made a different sign in response…”
    From #20: “if the swastika is the sun, and the Nazi salute is the Earth, and both are evil, then what is left as good? The void between the stars. […] This also explains why people are clinging so desperately to their Star Trek future”

    Hence, my play on this in #28: “… and the Star Trek salute signifies …”
    No idea if it actually has an occult meaning. 🙂

  30. JMG, thank you for that! The separation of those processes helps me understand evolution theory much better! I’ll indulge and ask another question:)
    How Do you think humans evolve differently during growth and decline cycles? For example our low fertility parallels fertility decline during the long descent of ancient rome, so it seems this response is normal albeit this time wider in scope. Do you think humans face more pressure during down cycles and are more evolved for that? Or do you think we are beyond the same evolutionary processes as animals?

  31. There’s a synergy of both language and process between the French radiesthesists and the temple technology they revived, and the writings of the old alchemists. They do speak of an energy known as “gold”, which is a quality of life force. It’s a good energy, highly beneficial. But there are other energies there that can, and have, killed people stone dead.

    I am not certain, but it’s more than coincidence to me, and I’m sure that there’s a subtle reason why those texts haven’t been fully published, and why practitioners don’t really pass on all their material.

  32. Archdruid, there is indeed an English translation of the original Nyāyasūtras of Gautama, the first manual of logic produced by the Nyāya school. But do note that later texts in the field did introduce changes in the doctrine and methods of Nyāya. Specifically, the second text of the school introduced a fourth kind of reasoning, and further schools incorporated the study of the mind’s inner workings, including figurations. Sadly, some of the best texts of the school have never been translated from Sanskrit, at least to my knowledge. The original Sutras of the school have five chapters, and the first, second, and fifth are still interesting to read in our time. The third and the fourth contain now obsolete theories of physics and ontology, but they give us an interesting glimpse of the worldview of classical Indian thinkers. A PDF of the Nyayasutra is available on the Internet Archive here:

  33. In Indian and Chinese alchemy the goal is to transform the human body into a quasi-divine form that has a lifespan of around a hundred thousand years. This same process occurs when humans drink the nectar of the gods, or eat a feather from a certain divine bird (that’s nearly impossible to encounter). Despite the difficulties involved a number of alchemists apparently succeeded in their quest. Some years ago a friend of mine met two of the Chinese Immortals at a remote temple, which they were visiting as tourists.

  34. At this link is the full list of all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared at and, as well as in the comments of the prayer list posts. Please feel free to add any or all of the requests to your own prayers.

    If I missed anybody, or if you would like to add a prayer request for yourself or anyone who has given you consent (or for whom a relevant person holds power of consent) to the list, please feel free to leave a comment below.

    * * *
    This week I would like to bring special attention to the following prayer requests.

    May Christina, who passed away on 5/8, experience a peaceful repose; may the minor child she leaves behind be cared for, and the needs of all affected me met; and may her family be comforted in this difficult time.

    May Frank Rudolf Hartman of Altadena California (picture), who is receiving chemotherapy, be completely cured of the lymphoma that is afflicting him, and may he return to full health.

    Jay (SDI) and his family are in the process of moving. May they settle quickly and easily into their new town, and may their old house find its way to whoever is best to care for it next.

    May Erika’s partner James, who passed away on April 4th after a battle with cancer, be blessed, soothed, and lent courage in his soul’s onward journey; may Erika be blessed with the support she needs in this difficult time, and be granted the strength and self-understanding to avoid unhealthy levels of darkness and despair.

    Tyler A’s wife Monika’s pregnancy is high risk; may Mother and child be blessed with good health and a smooth delivery, and be soothed and healed from their recent pains and discomfort in a manner that supports a positive outcome to the pregnancy.

    May Deathcap’s friend Mike, who has begun a 5 week course of radiation treatment after a nearly fatal surgery for a malignant tumor on his leg, be healed of his cancer and return to full health quickly and as completely as possible.

    May new mother Molly M recover quickly and completely from her recent stroke and the lingering loss of vision and slurred speech that ensued, and may newborn Lela and husband Austin be comforted and strengthened through this difficult time.

    May John Michael Greer’s wife Sara Greer, who passed away on February 20th, be blessed and soothed as she moves into the next stage of her spirit’s journey. And may John Michael Greer be blessed and lent strength in this most difficult time.

    May Just Another Green Rage Monster‘s father, who is dealing with Stage 4 Lymphoma, and mother, who is primary caregiver, be blessed, protected and healed.

    May Kyle’s friend Amanda, who though in her early thirties is undergoing various difficult treatments for brain cancer, make a full recovery; and may her body and spirit heal with grace.

    Lp9’s hometown, East Palestine, Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people, animals and all living beings in and around East Palestine, and to improve the natural environment there to the benefit of all.

    * * *
    Guidelines for how long prayer requests stay on the list, how to word requests, how to be added to the weekly email list, how to improve the chances of your prayer being answered, and several other common questions and issues, are to be found at the Ecosophia Prayer List FAQ.

    If there are any among you who might wish to join me in a bit of astrological timing, I pray each week for the health of all those with health problems on the list on the astrological hour of the Sun on Sundays, bearing in mind the Sun’s rulerships of heart, brain, and vital energies. If this appeals to you, I invite you to join me.

  35. @JMG,
    OK, then next question:-)
    In Splendor Solis, the author states the First Grade is when the Sun is in Aries, the Second Grade is when the Sun is in Leo, and the Third Grade, the Sun is in Sagittarius. I’ve found Aries. I’ve found Leo. And I’ve found Scorpio. But not Sagittarius.
    But the first image of Lambspring has someone by a furnace (so heat (but not burning? just baking?) ) with a sword (Air) and a wand (Fire) (and thunderbolts are Air and Fire, so definitely Zeus-y, and Sagittarius is diurnal Zodiac sign of Jupiter). Then the picture after the preface is two fish, and Pisces is noctural Jupiter sign.
    Are you aware of any authors who have considered Lambspring as describing the Third Grade, rather than starting with the First Grade?

  36. Take a substance of a somewhat mysterious nature that’s nonetheless not particularly rare or valuable, “dissolve” it within a suitable “container,” then maintain its needs through a series of visible changes until it yields a product associated with prosperity and immortality… may or may not be a valid recipe for the Philosopher’s Stone, but is a pretty reliable way to make a kid.

    Of course not all the details fit… shouldn’t that be forty weeks? (Though in older writings “forty” is often an expression meaning a distressingly large number of, rather than a specific quantity, so there may be no contradiction there at all.) But it seems likely at the very least that alchemists seeking to achieve a profound nearly-divine transformation of materials would look for inspiration to the most miraculous and inexplicable material transformation they observed in daily life. Homunculus and golem lore suggests at least some alchemists considered that connection as a lot more than a metaphor.

    If indeed alchemists were trying to replicate or tap into the forces responsible for the mystery of generation, they were right (and deeply insightful, IMHO) to approach it as at least in large part as a material, i.e. laboratory, process, rather than an ineffable divine intervention. But they were wrong to think it was accessible to their material methods, however exotic their secret fire might have been. Biochemistry does involve separating and combining particles of substance (its key processes such as respiration can be summarized in those terms), but its processes also require intricate molecular machinery duplicated in vast numbers, a different plane of methodology. The material aspect of generation as we currently understand it involves computation; that is, networks of interacting sequential nonlinear causality.

    But if alchemists somehow did manage to work at that level, and with inorganic as well as organic materials, the Philosopher’s Stone might be some sort of nuclear nanobot. Dangerous indeed…

  37. Kerry, okay, but I don’t know what the Star Trek salute is. It’s been getting on for fifty years since I last watched an episode of the original series, I’ve never seen any of the later series, and, er, it’s not exactly something I follow!

    Alexander, we’re certainly subject to the same processes of individual variation and natural selection as any other living thing, but in species with a long lag between birth and fertility, as ours has, evolution is a very slow process. The rising and falling cycles of civilizations are eyeblink-fast compared to the slow multimillennial creep of genetic drift and selective pressure.

    Peter, that doesn’t surprise me at all. I’ve begun collecting texts and will be reading them, in French, once I have a little more free time to devote.

    Rajarshi, thanks for this! I’ve just downloaded it.

    Tengu, that same state is one of the goals of Western alchemy, but if we’ve got any immortals here they’re very, very good at staying out of sight.

    Quin, thanks for this as always.

    Random, no, I don’t know of that suggestion anywhere; I was taught to treat those three grades as relatively straightforward measures of heat — hot as the sun in April, hot as the sun in August, and hot as the sun in December, respectively.

    Walt, granted, and in fact there’s an extensive tradition of sexual alchemy that works with that process in an entirely unmetaphorical manner!

  38. Perhaps it’s my rationalist training coming out, but I’m inclined to identify the “secret fire” as nuclear reaction, since that’s how elements are transmuted on the material plane (eg stellar nucleosynthesis). Of course, there could be more to it, but just because our culture focuses exclusively on the material, doesn’t mean we should avoid it entirely. It would also explain why they guarded this knowledge carefully, and claimed it could destroy the world — because that’s actually true of nuclear power.
    The fact that alchemy was studied by various ancient cultures, just as astrology was, leads me to believe that there is some greater truth at the foundation of this, albeit obscured from us. Modern chemistry has its uses, but its a pared-down materialist version of alchemy — more advanced in some ways, but only within its narrow window.

  39. JMG, Since human evolution is slow it may be safe to assume people say 10,000 years ago were practically the same, and i may even go so far to say that humans have been intelligent for 100 thousand years or more? If that is the case it seems unrealistic that civilization is a ~12,000 year old phenomenon. while there is no evidence for anything older than that its hard for me to imagine intelligent humans were just sitting around for 80,000 doing nothing. Im wondering if you subscribe to the current story of our historical technology timeline. And maybe more generally what in our current scientific story about evolution, human history, do we get wrong? Now that you have dispelled the myth of progress for me (which was core to my worldview) i am now working through my skepticism on other subjects. Thanks!

  40. JMG, if no one beats me to it, you can see a jpg of the “star trek salute” here.

    In the frame of reference of occult philosophy, this will be familiar from several Tarot designs for The Devil.

    I believe the gesture originates in Jewish practice from the pre-Rabbinic period and was associated with the Temple priests, perhaps as a sign of blessing.

    The back story is that Leonard Nimoy (the actor) was Jewish (and fluent in Yiddish) and I recall that it was he, not the screenwriter, who introduced the sign into Star Trek.

  41. @Alexander Thurber

    Hello. You may reconsider the speed of evolution. Maybe, just maybe, in the early stages could have been random failures and natural selection, but some broader techniques are used by our genes in order to evolve.
    First, you have the recombination of old code. A large enough population carries within large chunks of genetic code that apparently serves for nothing, but given the right external conditions, these genes express themselves.

    Then, there’s the amazing way in which bacteria share successful genetic code, allowing them to evolve while being alive.

    And finally, there’s culture, a different way to store memories of successful practices by the means of teaching them to earlier generations that is much much faster than genetic evolution, but that may not exist without the latter.

    Now we have writing, another way to pass information on to generations further down, meaning that cultures evolve even more.

    If you want to learn more about evolution and its relationship with the spiritual realms, I suggest studying “The Cosmic Doctrine”, by Dione Fortune.
    It’s explained in the first chapters, although you have to meditate on the images to make some sense of it.

  42. Xcailbur/djs, that’s entirely plausible. I’ve wondered for years if the fuss around “cold fusion” involved an accidental replication of an alchemical reaction.

    Alex, of course. Occultists have been saying for a long time now that ours is only the latest of several cycles of advanced civilization on this planet — in the usual teaching, ours is the fifth great cycle of human civilization. The last one, which collapsed as sea levels rose dramatically at the end of the last ice age, is the one dimly remembered in the legends of Atlantis. One important detail to remember, though, is that every human culture explores its own unique way of understanding the world, and comes up with technologies appropriate to that way; thus ours is the first with our kind of advanced technology — for example, there’s no evidence that anyone else in the past was dumb enough to dig up huge amounts of fossil carbon and burn it fast enough to destabilize the climate! Ours is not the only kind of advanced technology. I’ve talked about that here:

    Gray Hat, oh, Spock’s “live long and prosper” sign. Gotcha. I do remember that, just didn’t know it’s called the Star Trek salute these days. Yes, it’s apparently Jewish in origin but you’ll have to ask an observant Jew for its traditional meaning.

  43. Re: The goals of alchemy.

    The goal of “to be always rich, ever young, and never die” is succinct and straightforward. And it’s a goal that Jeff Bezos could support, too. But was it the real goal of alchemy? If we read Corpus Hermeticum, one of the fundamental texts of the alchemical tradition, we can see that physical immortality could not have been the primary goal of alchemy. Indeed, being locked in the same body forever would be seen as a curse.

    The text says, “If you do not make yourself equal to God, you cannot understand Him. Like is understood by like. Grow to immeasurable size. Be free from every body, transcend all time. Become eternity, and thus, you will understand God… But if you lock up your soul in your body, abase it and say: “I understand nothing; I can do nothing; I am afraid of the sea; I cannot reach heaven; I do not know who I was nor who I shall be”, what have you to do with God? For you cannot conceive anything beautiful or good while you are attached to the body and are evil.”

    So, hermeticists and alchemists sought immortality that would make them independent of any body. That doesn’t mean the alchemists didn’t practice laboratory alchemy. But the immortality and riches they thought were not in the ordinary meaning of these words. One may also quote Lao Tzu, who said: “Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy.”

  44. @Abraham @JMG. Thank you both for the reading material! With those different civilization cycles and with likely different technologies i wonder if there is major differences between those humans and us. And my bias towards a story of “progress” has me curious if there is a place evolution is taking us or if there is an end to the cycles. Having 5 cycles so far suggests a beginning and end rather than an infinite churn?. Another theory is that humans and life in general are an agent of entropy. Trees consuming light and releasing a less complex energy as heat. Animals eating complex plants and reducing the chemical complexity to form energy and so on. Ill start those readings! I also hope to evolve out of my human centric view however i want to respect the journey my curiosity insists on.

  45. The first of the twelve figures of Basil Valentine picture is obviously taken from the royal cannabis field . Where my lady is bringing over a big fatty to be burnt on the fire bowl tubes (early predecessors of the modern bong)
    The dog is just running away frightened because the man with the scythe wants to chop him up for when my lady gets the munchies. Back then all animals where referred to as “meat sticks”

  46. @ Taylor Burges

    The problem is I think, deeper than just the nazi symbolism associated with the earth element. From my own quirky sensitivities, I think there’s an attachment to the earth element itself which needs to be cleared but is way above what humans have the capacity to deal with.

  47. @JMG,
    Sometimes I forget there can be simple explanations. 🙂 Thank you!!!

  48. Hi John Michael,

    There are sections of our society who seek those three goals. They walk among us. Pick-up artists seek hot chicks. Scientists seek knowledge, and some are even desirous of prolonged life. And there are always those who hunger for wealth.

    A common pattern emerges from those three disparate groups: The hunger for ever more displays the inherent worth of the goals.

    My social goals are not so lofty, and so they meet my needs. Contentment is found for me in: Friends; Hobbies; and Purpose. Other peoples goals may differ. 🙂

    Makes me wonder what the alchemists learned about themselves when plying their ancient practice? Do you wonder about that?



  49. Ecosophia, “our gold is not the common gold.” Equally, their youth may not be the common youth, and their life may not correspond to a biological definition. That’s one of the many complexities surrounding alchemy!

    Alexander, evolution is not the same thing as progress. Evolution is simply adaptation to changing conditions. The old occult lore, btw, expects there to be two more cycles of human history after this one, after which it’ll be some other species’ turn…

    Travis, it’s a wolf, not a dog. When I was young, “meat stick” meant something rather different…

    Random, on the other hand, what I learned may not have been correct!

    Chris, the hunger for ever more may display the inherent worth of the goals, but it may also display the inherent worthlessness of the methods used to pursue them. If you hunger for a cheeseburger, and you get one and eat it, you’re probably not quite so hungry for another…

  50. @JMG,

    As you’ve said before, there are no wrong answers in meditation. Your responses always inspire a new way of looking at something and learning something from that new perspective. 😉

  51. I have a rather limited understand of European mysticism, but the elements are associated with the signs of the Planets, and in turn with the guiding forces within human beings, are they not? So that Gold and Silver are the Sun and the Moon, for instance, and Lead is Saturn. So a transmutation of baser elements into gold may well have had an astrological significance, in the sense of elevating weaker energies by making them a part of our nature?

    Also, a philosopher loves wisdom (from etymology), and “stone” is a word for gems. Hence a philosopher’s stone may well be a philosopher’s gem, which may be Science (absolute understanding, as Levi defines it) or Truth.

    The primary material for building truth out of is probably commonplace knowledge, alongwith bits and pieces of more abstract ideas known to experts of the age. The reagent which dissolves it is cold logic, applied without remorse or feeling. Most newcomers to the reasoning game expect that if they apply cutting logic to everything they know about the universe, the veil will give way and the Truth will be revealed to them. They are quickly disappointed to discover that their entire ontology – and not just the veil – gives way, leaving behind an existential emptiness and a nihilistic pessimism. The only certainty is that nothing is meaningful and nothing lasts forever. Many people give up at this stage, but I a think this is the Putrefacto, the Negredo, the stinking pile of black muck which marks the first accomplishment of the Great Work.

    This is just a guess I am hazarding, but I think the Philosopher’s Stone may well be an accomplishable possibility, at least in the Philosophical Realm.

  52. I wonder now if a careful study of the rationalisms of other societies would reveal a common pattern in their use of symbolism. Specifically, if it’s possible to identify at least one major symbol of the sun and one major symbol of the earth that got tangled in ways similar to the way ours treats the swastika and the old sign of earth in other societies where this sort of gnostic attitude took hold, then that could provide evidence that it is the symbolism which matters; not just an unwillingness to break with the system.

    The question of how solar and earthen symbolisms evolve during the fall of civilizations could be an interesting research project to take on once I wrap up my current one and so have more free time: even if it turns out my hypothesis is false, I’ll still end up with quite a bit of useful material I could probably take in some interesting directions I won’t even be able to imagine right now.

    “If you hunger for a cheeseburger, and you get one and eat it, you’re probably not quite so hungry for another…”

    This is not true, for me at least, with most types of fast food I’ve had the misfortune to eat, which is a fairly good way to prove your point!


    I think you missed my point. My point is that by rejecting Earth, by trying to clear away an attachment to earth, only misery can ensue. My point is that a rejection of the old sign of the earth, because it was used by Nazis (not because it is Nazi symbolism; there is a subtle but important difference here) creates conditions where certain kinds of human dysfunction reliably occur; because these kinds of dysfunction reliably happen when human beings try to reject earth, because it is such an important part of our lives and our beings.

  53. JMG, looking more into those cycles and the links you sent others with similar questions on the post you sent me to read. more links are appreciated .

    Another species turn?! Turn to be intelligent? If intelligence is valued in some way by our universe it seems to me we are made to observe the universe.

  54. Random, thank you for this.

    Rajarshi, and those are also potentially valid interpretations. One of the things that makes alchemical study so fascinating is the sheer variety of possible meanings — more than one of which, of course, can be correct.

    Taylor, oh, I didn’t mean fast pseudofood. I meant a real cheeseburger! Your broader project sounds fascinating and I hope you pursue it.

    Alexander, one of the many functions of matter is that it serves as a substrate for life; one of the many functions of life is that it serves as a substrate for mind, and one of the many functions of mind is that it serves as a substrate for spirit. Whether this is the purpose of any of these things is not something I claim to know. I don’t have any other links handy just at the moment, I’m sorry to say.

  55. OT… (except for maybe the historical cycles brought up)…

    “The year 1910 marks an astonishing, and largely unrecognized, juncture in Western history. As the spectacle of Halley’s Comet pierces the skies of Europe, traditional harmonies fade away and dissonance dawns.” -blurb from 1910: The Emancipation of Dissonance by Thomas Harrison.

    I thought that was an interesting thing to read on the inside of a book jacket, considering what I’ve learned from here about comets. I don’t know that harmony fades away forever, but I’d say perhaps it leads to harmonies in the plural (alternate tuning systems -which can have their own centers of harmony).

    Anyway, I enjoyed the astrology article from your Patreon this week on the 1928 Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in comparison to the 2010 one. This book on the art world of Europe in 1910 just came in on hold today…

  56. These paintings blow my mind with all the inlaid meaning within every little detail.
    High level art

  57. I think the point Chris and Ecosophian were getting at is that taken literally, from the viewpoint of occult philosophy the stated goals of alchemy (paraphrased previously as longevity, wealth, and hot chicks) are unwise at best. Where in The Cosmic Doctrine is there a passage like “…except the ones who find the Philosopher’s Stone and thereby get to stay in one incarnation indefinitely?” Where in the larger cluster of Ecosophian text is there any suggestion that attaining unlimited unearned wealth would lead to anything good? (One could argue that the difficulty of the task is so great that the wealth would be earned, but I can’t quite see it that way, if the P-Stone fits its conventional description as a personal boomerang-toomerang-soomerang that only enriches the wielder and must be jealously guarded from the rest of the world.)

    For that matter, If manipulating subtle forces to decrement the atomic number of materials is such a noble goal, how about a Stone that turns an indefinite amount of elemental nitrogen into far more valuable elemental carbon? If I find such a wondrous transformative catalyst I promise to try reasonably hard to keep it from coming in contact with our atmosphere. (Some presently unemployed experts from Wuhan might be available to advise me.) Should any sane person be rooting for my success?

    I guess in the end I’m a bit hostile to Lévi’s suggestion for how laboratory alchemy might work or what it might achieve, for reasons apart from upholding scientific objectivity. At the same time, I find some of the more symbolic interpretations quite compelling.

  58. Taylor Burgess

    Oh I gathered that and wasn’t disputing that. My point was that the avoidance to the earth element may not be entirely avoiding the earth element for the sake of avoiding the earth element. My reason for saying that is that I’m oddly sensitive to earth, can sense earthquakes, that sort of thing(I’ve always been like that) and currently it’s not safe to relax into the earth current in a serious way, there’s a nasty attachment to it,so the avoiding it could be secondary to another issue rather a primary issue. But that’s just a random observation and postulation of an idea from little me so don’t take it too seriously lol.

  59. Re the Vulcan salute: I remember reading (I think in Nimoy’s first autobiography) that the hand is being held in the shape of the letter Shin. Here’s a webpage where he’s quoted about that a bit:

    Re Hitler’s response gesture: looks like half the sign of Air? Unless the angle of the photographs is misleading me (or I’ve been mis-picturing the sign of Air itself). When I went to see if I could find a picture of the sign of Air used by the Golden Dawn, I unfortunately discovered a Greek “neo-Nazi” political party called the Golden Dawn, of which I’d previously been unaware, which made the search results less useful than I’d hoped.

  60. Something of a side note, for those who are interested in Levi Beyond this specific text. There as been quite a bit of recent work on Lev, his context, and sources, some of which is gradually becoming available in English. There are two recent books that may be of particular interest.

    First, The Rosicrucian Practices of Eliphas Levi, edited and translated by Mathieu G. Ravignat . It’s a topical compilation of material from Levi’s own writings, both published and unpublished (or just recently published). The compiled material is both magical and mystical/spiritual, with many practical applications. Ravignat’s commentary and interpretation are also very useful.

    Second, Rhymes and Reason: The Lost Poems of Éliphas Lévi , edited and translated by Stewart McClelland, with a very useful introduction by Ravignat — including a sketch of the background of Levi’s teachers, especially such Polish occultists as Hoene-Wronski.

    Both contain references that will open up avenues for further investigation.


  61. Hi John Michael,

    Ha! Thanks for the reply. My comment was deliberately vague. 🙂 I have unfortunate tendencies towards the mystic. However, I agree with your analysis, although the concept of ‘value’ does vary with the observer. I for one avoid cheeseburgers, although if civilisations production volumes of cheeseburgers were an indicator of value, then society has other notions as to their worth.

    As to the methodologies and techniques used obtain those three cheeky goals I mentioned, well, it may have been remarked upon elsewhere that an ugly heart is hard to hide. Dunno.

    I’ll second Justin’s comment regarding your most recent Patreon essay. Oh my! Looks like we’re in for a wild ride. Looking into the ol’ crystal ball, my best guess is that there will be currency crises sooner or later. What it looks like to me is that you guys are sinking other currencies in order to stay afloat in an election year. That’s what a strong US economy looks like when all others are weak. It’s a paper option, but just like the actions of pick-up-artists, the costs build up and eventually reflect back.



  62. Travis wrote: “These paintings blow my mind with all the inlaid meaning within every little detail.
    High level art” Yes. It would appear that one of the wolves has violated the Pythagorean maxim!

  63. It seems that nobody has any really good idea about where heavier elements like gold come from. I did a wee bit of reading (wee as in tiny) to get some clue of the state of knowledge out there. It looks like there’s not a lot.

    I used to read that a lot of elements were and are produced by nuclear processes inside of stars. But, apparently, not all of them. I read an article about neutron star collisions and how one was spotted by astronomers in 2017 and how a lot of gold was produced by the fantastic energies of that event.

    But it appears that such collisions are inadequate in frequency to account for the quantity of heavier elements like gold in the universe. And so a lot more scientific theorizing and observation is needed.

    So back to alchemy. Making an element from another element can be done. But it takes gigantic energies to do it. Maybe ‘secret fire’ like that of a nuclear process like those found in neutron star collisions. And maybe also processes as yet unimagined.

    As to what I read, it was a May 8/24 article in Big Think by Ethan Siegel: ‘Our best idea for the origin of gold doesn’t add up.’

  64. Perhaps there were once practical artisans in Egypt who labored with substances and sought to produce new substances from them. Then as they became increasingly wealthy and influential, they became a sort of intellectual club with their own mysteries – sort of like the masons of Scotland and England in the late renaissance. Then philosopher’s were recruited into their “workshops” as adoptive members. And so the mysteries of the Great Work may well have nearly the same meaning as the great secret of the Tyrian architect.

  65. Justin, that’s fascinating indeed. I wonder if the blurb writer considered looking back at what happened on previous visits of the comet.

    Walt, and of course that’s also an element of the puzzle.

    Adara9, good! Here’s Hitler giving his sign:

    And here’s the Theoricus sign from the first edition of Regardie’s The Golden Dawn:

    His followers are making the Zelator sign, corresponding to Earth, and he’s making the Theoricus sign, the sign of the next grade up, corresponding to Air. No, he wasn’t a Golden Dawn initiate — the GD traced its lineage back to Germany, and if there was anything to that claim, there may have been other offshoots in Germany that ended up mingling their ideas with the Ariosophical magical lodges that gave rise to the Thule-Gesellschaft.

    LeGrand, thank you for both of these! I’d managed not to hear of either one.

    Chris, you’re quite right, of course — there are frantic efforts being made to prop up the moribund hulk of the dollar, and the vaster and even more decrepit corpse of the US economy, just long enough to get Biden back into the White Nursing Home. That’s going to blow back spectacularly — the question is just how long we’ve got left.

    Smith, fascinating. I wasn’t aware of this. I suppose the astrophysicists probably won’t be open to the suggestion that stellar logoi practice alchemy…

    Rajarshi, that’s entirely possible, and in fact it’s been suggested by several scholars over the years.

  66. Smith, JMG,

    I’ve recently been researching some basic chemistry, and have come to the conclusion that scientists who try to say that anything about what is chemically or even physically possible are full of smoke. Non-ionized noble gas molecules exist; but based on the near universal model for chemistry they should be impossible. Noble gasses have full a valence electron shell that is completely full; molecules require elements share electrons, filling an open spot in their valence electron shell with joint electrons. So Carbon, which has 4 open spots, can bind with up to four other elements; hydrogen, with one open spot, can bound with one other element; and the noble gasses, with no open spots, can’t bind with anything according to this model.

    If an electron is knocked out of position, ionizing the noble gas, then theoretically this could enable a noble gas to bind with something; but according to the standard model non ionized noble gas compounds should be impossible; and yet they’ve been known for more than 50 years and I haven’t seen very many people dealing with the implications of this. Instead, they dug up some old research where someone tried to ionize noble gases back in the 1930s, and said “See, it was predicted! Nothing to see here!”

    Since the effects with electrons is based on some of the foundational physics which modern chemistry is based on, it would not surprise me if the “laws of physics” which rule out alchemy are also incorrect, or at least not universally applicable. And if human beings can turn other elements into gold, which would help explain alchemy’s longevity, then it seems almost certain to me that there would be natural processes which do it as well.


    I wonder though to what extent there actually is anything wrong with the energies of earth, and to what extent what is happening is a result of a subconscious association between earth and evil in a lot of people’s minds. Even if you don’t share this link, given the astral light the fact nearly everyone around you does is going to shape a lot of things, some of them in fairly subtle ways.

    My experience includes having a very strongly earthen goddess decide to take me under her wings, and she has been among the most powerful and helpful spiritual beings in my life. So my experience is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the telluric current right now.

  67. @Taylor Burgess,
    I am not disagreeing with you that scientists should not say what is (or is not) possible (unless they are stating a hypothesis that they hope to prove or disprove). But I wanted to share with you a model that was proposed because of recognized deficiencies in the “electrons as particles in shell” model. The best overview I could find is here: Briefly, just as light exhibits properties of particles and waves, so do electrons. (Does it provide a rationale for how noble gases can make compounds? I think it could, but I haven’t found any articles that address this specifically.)
    What is more fun about your comment (at least fun for me) is it made me think of electrons as electro-magnetic waves. Previously (on an Open Post or Magic Monday), I had asked JMG something about the Five Rites and his response led me to see electro-magnetic radiation (like as etheric and astral (not really united, but adjacent). Well, electrons have a tiny mass (material) and they are electromagnetic (so etheric and astral).
    (So when electrons and protons combine to form neutrons, is that an alchemical marriage?!? 🙂 )
    I am having fun going down the physics rabbit-hole. Thank you for the inspiration.
    (IIRC, first generation main sequence stars don’t fuse elements heavier than iron. Iron symbolizes Mars, which symbolizes Strength. If you consider Strength to be Fortitude (Strength of Mind), that is what is required for the first spiritual alchemical marriage (based on readings I’ve done so far) (which could be wrong…) So maybe there is a way to align other stellar processes (supernova, etc) to the other alchemical marriages.) (Because why wouldn’t the stellar logoi be alchemists?)
    Fun, fun.

  68. Taylor, I’m not a scientist, my science courses stopped at the high school level and everything I’ve learned in that realm since then has come from recreational reading. So my opinion on science is worth roughly what you paid for it.

    But I’ll give it anyway. Are scientists full of smoke? They’ve had some astounding successes but to my eyes they seem to have gone rigid. It looks to me like they’ve spent decades expending ungodly sums barking up the wrong trees like with string theory and dark matter. But they keep doing it.

    They say that quantum mechanics is fantastically successful as a theory, it’s just that nobody knows what any of it means. Nobody is allowed to suggest that maybe we went up a blind alley. So just shut up and calculate. It looks to me like the professorship has got science by the throat and is choking the life out if it.

    Suppose that young and innovative thinkers came to the fore to break the logjam. Would people like Einstein (a government clerk) be given the time of day nowadays? When you hear terms like ‘settled science’ and about all the woke mumbo-jumbo making incursions, I think it’s over. Maybe it’s time to give it all a rest, get away from the hidebound and the harpies and and start from scratch where nothing is settled and we don’t know anything.

  69. Taylor & co.,

    I have a degree in biochemistry and I teach high school science for a living. The models you’re describing are not held dogmatically by scientists. You can think of them as useful tools that work particularly well for elements whose atoms have low atomic weights. (Though even with those there are exceptions. For example, carbon monoxide….) Things get somewhat murkier as you go down the period table.

    I was not required to study quantum chemistry in detail, but modern chemists supposedly have more sophisticated models that do a better job dealing with many of the “anomalies” that the relatively simpler models, as taught at introductory chemistry classes, can’t handle or account for. Yet the simpler models are still used because they don’t require too much knowledge of or sophistication with quantum mechanics, which is typically the case for your average college student. And besides, these simpler models work well enough in most fields of study.

    As for noble gases, I am not a historian of chemistry but I was taught that some chemists took the apparent lack of reactivity of the noble gases as a challenge early on. They eventually coaxed many (though not all) of the noble gases to react with other elements by subjecting them to extreme conditions. But under the common conditions we normally find ourselves in, the models you mentioned still work well for noble gases.

    (For the record, I also have a graduate degree in pharmacology, so I am painfully well aware of the many, many faults of modern science.)

  70. Hey JMG

    Firstly, A joke. The 2nd image of Valentine looks like a man who has used one of the “forbidden techniques” for winning a duel, which is to attend it while wearing a costume from that special Cabaret that he can’t tell his parents that he works at.

    Secondly, it just so happens that I have a book about alchemical imagery called “The alchemical mandala” by Adam McLean, full of imagery just as confusing as the ones you have shown. Are you familiar with it?

  71. On atomic physics and chemistry: the actual model used for research is wave functions, as first described by Schrödinger and Heisenberg a hundred years ago. Since they cannot be solved exactly for any system more complicated than a hydrogen atom, approximations are made. One such approximation is the valence shell model, but like all approximations it is useless in certain cases, including well- known carbon monoxide.

    Since the advent of powerful computers, closer and closer approximations have been calculated. I am not aware of cases where the basic wave function model of matter disagrees with experience.

    Delving deeper into matter, one gets quarks etc. Physicists would dearly love to find any experimental evidence that disagrees with their standard model, but to their great disappointment, haven’t been able to find any such evidence in lab experiments yet. Cosmology does offer plenty of data that disagrees with the standard model.

  72. @ Mr. Greer: I know that we’re starting to stray off topic here, so I completely understand if you don’t post this.

    @ Aldarion & co.,

    I’m not a physicist, but I’ve read that there are massive problems with fields like quantum electrodynamics. For example , a guy called Alexander Unzicker has written books and YouTube videos (posted on his channel) where he talks about what appears to be major shortcomings in a lot of modern physical theories. His coverage of quantum electrodynamics was particularly jarring and interesting. (I stopped watching his videos after a while, though…. Like I said, I am not a physicist or even a “full chemist.”)

  73. Hello JMG and Rajarshi @#1 &33
    Sorry so late to read exchanges and respond but wanted to mention the free online content on the Nyāya Sūtras by one of my teachers, Dr. Edwin Bryant: under the lists of his online lectures.
    Thanks to all
    Jill C

  74. I thought that somewhere in The Doctrine and Ritual Levi made the claim of creating gold but upon review, I cannot find a firm claim to have made gold. I think I misremembered the statement on pg. 115:

    “In the past we created gold with science…”

    Levi sure enough implies (but again does not directly claim) on page 179 that he knows how to make gold:

    “……with the stone of the sages, which is an amalgam of salt, sulfur, and mercury combined three times in azoth by a triple sublimation and a triple fixation.”

    I’m in the middle of arranging my thoughts but they are leading me to think that he is talking about gold on multiple levels. His take on physical gold is more along the lines of “trust me, bro, it can be done in one day or maybe after some months or years”.

    Levi’s mention of azoth/astral light as part of the recipe of the stone of the sages is interesting. I won’t list my whole thought process here but I wound up at Chapter 1 of the Ritual of High Magic. Page 112: “You are a mendicant and you wish to make gold: put yourself to work and never stop”. Levi’s simple alchemy: “What must be done first? Believe that you can, then act.” The two following examples Levi gives are powerful, especially if we create our gold on the astral or mental level and our effort then pays off on the material plane.

    The enigma is I feel Levi was sincere in his belief that physical gold could be created but is not being honest when implying that he has done it.

  75. The higher the atomic number the further away from the nucleus the valance shell electrons are, or more accurately the “outer” electrons spend more time further away from the nucleus. Furthermore there are more “inner” electrons shielding the outer ones from the nucleus.

    The net result is that xenon’s valence electrons are not as tightly bound as they might be, and an electron greedy element (high electronegativity is the technical term) like fluorine can latch on to a xenon atom.

    That also holds for krypton, but fewer compounds are possible. I don’t recall if any argon compounds have been made for more than a few seconds at very cold temperatures before the argon atom goes “mine!” And steals its electron back.

    Then there are gold and mercury whose odd properties are best explained by the inner shell electrons being drawn so close to the nucleus that they achieve relativistic velocity.

  76. JMG,
    I am guessing you saw this, but if not, one of your quotes heads up Kunstler’s Blog Post Today.

    “My take is that the US is incredibly unstable right now, and could go in almost any imaginable direction between now and the election, as well as some unimaginable ones.” —John Michael Greer

  77. Hi John Michael,

    Do I detect that you are taking a deep dive into an arcane and esoteric subject?

    The economic divination signals are becoming clearer, and that’s a bad sign. Not to overly simplify things, but rapidly escalating debt never was a solid foundation to build upon. It looks absurd to me. The question in my mind was where was the weakest link in the entire edifice? Seems like the floating currencies were maybe not such a bright idea after all. In order for other countries to prop them up, they have to sell their assets (or future assets) to, well, you guys. Sooner or later cheaper alternatives will be sought, and a longer historical perspective suggests that even those too will only ever be a short term solution. Oh well.



  78. Today, I did some research on ‘time’, inspired by some of the comments on Magic Monday and ended up with a metaphor that relates to some of the things we’ve discussed concerning Levi (mostly about the importance of Will).

    There is something (or many things) in our universe that we cannot detect with electromagnetic radiation, but it does emit gravitational radiation. Physicists distinguish between ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’, but for this metaphor, it is just something with gravity that we cannot observe.

    We perceive time linearly. One of Einstein’s professors came up with the idea of a ‘light cone’ ( There is a diagram of one here that fits my metaphor:

    If I am the Observer, I am at the intersection of the Space axis and the Time axis. That is my present. As Time passes, I move up the Time axis (and the Light Cone travels with me, so the point where Past and Future touch is always my Present). Everything that is in my past fits within the Past Light Cone. Everything possible in my future fits within the Future Light Cone. If I do not use my Will to change my trajectory (and if nothing else influences my trajectory), my Time axis will keep its same orientation and I will keep moving in a straight line.

    But some other physicists have come up with something called a Closed Timelike Curve ( Basically, something with a lot of gravity (they use the example of a star) can pull on the Light Cone and cause it to tilt. When the Light Cone tilts, the Time axis tilts, too.

    If a mage uses his Will effectively and tilts his Light Cone, the trajectory of his path changes. The past is still the past, but the future has changed.

    But perhaps rather than using Will, a mystic prays for an entity (deity, angel, something outside/beyond our plane, so not constrained within our Light Cone) to intercede. Maybe the entities are like dark matter/dark energy… they have lots of gravity, so they can tilt the Light Cone. (Or maybe they are more like Fortune’s description of being Pressure, and they push the Light Cone.) Either way, they change the trajectory of Light Cone.

    (So, JMG, perhaps when you make a talisman and it works but it required something to have happened before you made the talisman doesn’t mean that the entity you invoked with the talisman (don’t know if that is the right wording… I haven’t made a talisman) had to go back in time to make that event happen, it just tilted your Light Cone to the future you wanted and if you hadn’t made the talisman and used your Will, etc., that past event still would have happened. But your Future Light Cone wouldn’t have included the thing you wanted.)

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic of the current post are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views expressed here, and I try to respond to each comment as time permits. Long screeds proclaiming the infallibility of some ideology or other, however, will be deleted; so will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed; so will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flamebaiting and the like -- I filled up my supply of Troll Bingo cards years ago and have no interest in adding any more to my collection; and so will sales spam and offers of "guest posts" pitching products. I'm quite aware that the concept of polite discourse is hopelessly dowdy and out of date, but then some people would say the same thing about the traditions this blog is meant to discuss. Thank you for reading Ecosophia! -- JMG

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