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Science and Spirit: Metaphysics and Alchemy
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Thelema and Metaphysics

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Page Contents:

Secrets of Magic Symbols

Most symbols of western magic, astrology, and alchemy are based on a common symbolic alphabet. Knowing the secret system behind these symbols can provide an incredible amount of insight into even the most inscrutable signs and symbols. -- Article at About.com Alternative Religions website

Part 2: the serpent and the egg...read more

Religious Symbols: An illustrated glossary.

Alchemy

In spiritual traditions from around the world, fire has long been associated with the ancient practice of alchemy. On a material level, alchemy is the process of transforming baser elements such as lead into more purified forms such as gold. On a more subtle level, alchemy involves the process of purification and spiritual transformation that we humans experience. For example, in traditions such as yoga, yogis work with the heat developed in certain postures to "burn off" karma in order to reach a higher spiritual plane.

Though this may sound complex, many of us are involved in alchemical processes in our lives. When we go through counseling to work on issues, we are consciously choosing to delve into painful experiences in order to release them and transform ourselves into happier individuals. Athletes who train hard spend many long hours disciplining their bodies in order to hone their skills and become better at what they do. Anyone who goes to school for a long period of time to train themselves in a new skill is practicing a form of alchemy. All of these practices involve dedication, discipline and effort.

Alchemy, The Process of Applying Heat for Transformation

We can think of alchemy on a simpler level as the process of baking bread. Dough that has risen is allowed to bake in an oven at a certain heat for a certain period of time. If there is too much heat, then the bread will get burnt. If there is not enough heat, then the bread will be underdone and too raw. Like baking bread, we need to adjust our own thermometer in the alchemical practices we are undertaking. Each of our projects require a certain amount of heat, or effort, for it to come out right. If we are starting a business, we need to give a lot of energy and effort to the initial process, but we need to watch out to avoid overdoing it and burning out. If too little energy has been expended, then it is likely that the business will fail.

Our lives are filled with numerous processes that are going through transformation. Cooking a meal, tending a garden, raising a child and making money are all fluid, alchemical processes that go through transformations. Each situation requires a certain amount of heat to make them come out right. Regulating our own internal flame is key to being successful in all of these processes. If we burn too hot, and tend to be over excited and too wired, that energy will translate into our projects and cause greater strain and burn out. If we run too cold, we can tend to be lethargic and not get enough done in our daily work. Finding the right balance of internal heat is one of the keys to living a successful life.

Nourishing a Good Flame

Numerous practices have been developed for regulating internal heat. Tai chi and yoga are both wonderful practices that still the mind and help energy currents flow easily throughout the system. This in turn promotes a proper balance of heat and energy in the body and will naturally regulate the its temperature, bringing greater warmth to those who are cold while cooling the body down if it is overheated. During this Leonine lunation, it can be helpful to examine our natural inclination to be either cold or hot and then try to bring balance with exercises that offset that natural state. If we run too hot and tend to move too quickly and nervously through life, we may want to do exercises such as meditation and deep breathing to calm us down. If we are too cold and lethargic in life, we may want to include more aerobic activity to help act as bellows to augment our internal flame.

By developing a steady, persistent and even flow of heat in our system, we can translate this into the ability to be more happy and healthy in our daily life. We can begin to see the world as the alchemists did, as a process of transformation that requires just the right amount of fire to be successful. -- Excerpted from Lunar Health Cycles, 2003 by Jonathan Keyes

Fellowship of Earth, Moon, and Sky
Fellowship Newsletter Archive Index
Newsletter Archive Index

The Life and Legacy of Hermes Trismegistus

Conflicting views exist on whether Hermes Trismegistus was a man or a god. Frances A. Yates suggests those living in Renaissance times believed he was a man: "It was on excellent authority that the Renaissance accepted Hermes Trismegistus as a real person of great antiquity and as the author of the Hermetic writings." A city known as Hermopolis that existed in Egypt in ancient times strengthens the claim.

Other scholars conjecture that different individuals completed the Hermetic writings over several hundred years. Perhaps the most important piece of evidence to back up this claim is the Syrian philosopher Iamblichus crediting Hermes with writing over 20,000 books and an Egyptian priest named Manetho crediting him with writing more than 36,000 books. Both of these men lived around 250-300 BC. Iamblichus went on to state he had seen forty-two of these books, thirty-six of which contained "the whole of human knowledge".

Many scholars have long held Hermes Trismegistus to be the equivalent of the Egyptian god Thoth, which certainly suggests he was not a real person.

Newly added to the subject list at About.com's Alternative Religions is Freemasonry. Masonry is not a religion, but shares many of the same aims -- the betterment of the human condition and the dispersion of ignorance. Explore Masonic history (Templars? Bricklayers? Egyptian priests?), Co-Masonry (Women)...read more.

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Evolution and the Bible

Features an overview of the history and practice of Kabbalistic astrology.

Features Bill Heidrick's booklet of exercises and meditations relating to the cabalistic concept of the tree of life.

Features background on lore and traditions connected with trees such as speaking trees and the co-existence tree.

Book Review: The Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness

Robert De Ropp was naturally led by his childhood fascination for magic, ritual and the occult aspects of life to become a professional scientist and delve into laboratory research.

Born in London in 1913, he explored diverse cultural frameworks during his life. As a young man, after moving to the US, he became a colleague and friend of Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, and Carlos Castaneda. He met GI Gurdjieff during the latter's New York tour. Meanwhile, De Ropp managed to earn a doctorate in biology and work in the fields of plant and animal cell research, cancer research, and the uses of drugs and biofeedback for modifying and understanding consciousness.

De Ropp is responsible for a tremendous contribution to Western thought, in the field of what are now known as the extent of Gurdjieff's influence is becoming apparent as 'Fourth Way studies'. According to the Fourth Way system, the development of higher consciousness in man is part of natural law, but requires deliberate effort on the part of the individual to be carried to completion, often overcoming obstacles put in place by nature itself.

De Ropp was one of the first seekers to approach this map for personal evolution with the rigorous discipline of a scientist, understanding it as the very practical technology that it ultimately is, and presenting his findings in a clear, precise and compelling way to his contemporary American audience.

His book, "The Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness Beyond The Drug Experience," was first published in 1968, and soon became a cult bestseller, earning praise on corporate media like the New York Times and Time Magazine. It represents a remarkably lucid overview of some of the major tools of self-study, self-knowledge and voluntary evolution, along with a succinct yet exhaustive introduction to basic Fourth Way ideas for the uninitiated, all in 245 pages.

As he paints, in broad and vigorous strokes, a picture of the practical possibilities available to aspirant players of the Master Game, De Ropp touches on several key issues that any serious practitioner of 'gnothi seuthon' ("know thyself) is bound to encounter.

Before going "beyond the drug experience", he dedicates an entire chapter to psychedelics and other kinds of consciousness modifiers, putting their use and their value in perspective beyond sterile debates for or against drugs. It is only when these chemicals are taken in light of what they have to offer to the seeker determined to evolve to a permanent state of full consciousness, that a comprehensive view can be reached. De Ropp's description of the remarkable insights that he himself has derived from drugs is powerfully vivid and reaches at times poetic highs (is this a pun? -- Cat), but he never forgets that without the higher wills to self-transcendence and meaning, man can never gain the key to full consciousness.

"It is possible that the drug experience, by momentarily opening the doors of the locked rooms, may awaken these wills. But drugs cannot strengthen the higher wills", and furthermore: "They can never, no matter how often they are taken, enable the investigator to change his level of being."

His critique of Timothy Leary's over-enthusiasm for LSD may sound obvious today, but it may have been nothing short of vital for many serious seekers in the middle of the psychedelic maelstrom in the years of the book's first edition, and indeed it represents a useful set of guidelines and caveats to this very day.

In guiding the reader beyond illusions of instant awakening into a description of the realities of a lifetime of work on self, De Ropp delineates a clear map of the possibilities that confront the serious explorer of the frontiers of consciousness, all the while reminding us that the methods, rhythm and direction of journeying must be determined by the practitioner himself; that there are no formulas, no 'magic diets', no safe way of accomplishing one's aims by being told what to do by someone else. In so doing, he provides a lucid critique of 'spiritual teachers' and their communities, warning against the specific dangers of such delicate territories with descriptive efficacy, obviously the result of profound first-hand experience.

However, what De Ropp accomplished with this book ultimately goes beyond a mere verbal description.

The Master Game carries with it that particular feeling of everything on one's mental map suddenly shifting into focus in that distinctively elusive yet sharp way, the feeling of a regained perspective and reestablished route. The taste of a breathing living consciousness behind the veil of words and linear time exudes throughout the pages; it rekindles the emotional memory of those who have seen it, if only for a moment, and hints at an experience outside any existing categories for those who only intuit its existence. This book can help the seeker to discover, again and again, that there are ways of building one's own approach to the Master Game on healthy, solid foundations; it may assist in the creation of gaming strategies that actually have a chance of being successful.

Are we ready to play?

The Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness By Robert S. De Ropp

Nevada City, CA: Gateways Books (0-89556-150-6), 2002

-- Edited and excerpted from Disinformation Newsletter

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