Thursday May 28th, 2015
For the 1st experiment, I wanted to make a simple Spagyric tincture. As stated earlier, the word Spagyric means to divide and recombine and this is what is done with herbal materials. This can also be done with metals and minerals but that is going into deeper areas of alchemy which require advanced knowledge that is attained through working with plants. Medicines made in this manner are said to possess significantly more potency when compared to a typical tincture because they include all three principals which are said to compose everything: Mercury, Sulfur and Salt. These are not actual mercury and actual salt but rather philosophical names which have imparted their qualities to the matter they are referred to. So, in our case, the salt of a plant would be its body after the mercury, which is the alcohol, has extracted the Sulfur, which is the oil, out of it. I wanted to attempt the procedure described by Mark Stavish from his “Practical Plant Alchemy Part One” entitled “Basic Spagyric Tincture” (http://hermetic.com/stavish/alchemy/plant1.html). In this process, Mr.Stavish recommends a plant to start with and this is Melissa also known as Lemon Balm. He recommends starting on the day of the week which coincides with the particular planet that rules the plant, this being the planet Jupiter. This idea is an astrological one which was prevalent in ancient times. The seven days of the week were named after the seven known planets of some ancient people. The following chart which I derived from a presentation by chemist and alchemist Robert Bartlett will help to illustrate the idea:
From both the table above and from the book “Culpeper’s Herbal”, which was written by 17th century physician and astrologer Nicholas Culpeper and which has been used by several modern day alchemists, I chose 7 different plants for the 7 ancient planets coinciding with the 7 days of the week:
1.) St.John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
2.) Chickweed (Stellaria media)
3.) Plantain (Plantago major)
4.) Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
5.) Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
6.) Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
7.) Shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa pastoris)
Understanding astrology is something I never took too much time to do thus my opinion of it is still at the moment shaky but this is due to a lack of knowledge concerning the issue. Modern scientists scoff at the idea that planets could ever influence our daily lives the way astrology claims. The following quote from a known modern chemist and alchemist will express to the reader why I feel the attempt should be made to understand astrology:
“Astrology is intimately connected with the Hermetic Philosophy and supplies much of the guidance for practical applications of the Alchemist’s Art. The forces of nature have their reflection at all levels of reality– the Salt, Sulfur and Mercury. Man is a microcosm inseparable from his macrocosmic environment. The Sun has always been considered the source of all life and light in our system. The Sun radiates out; the planets absorb what they need then radiate the excess. This forms the complex interplay of subtle energies that reach our planet and form the basis for astrological studies. The stars also exert their energies and enter into this constant interplay. Advances in Radio Astronomy have shown that we are constantly receiving energy “fingerprints” from many stars as well as the planets”
–Robert Bartlett, Real Alchemy
Of course, only personal experience, study and experimentation can provide one with the right knowledge base to make an informed decision on this often scientifically ridiculed aspect of Hermetic Philosophy. I was going to start with only Lemon Balm and wait the three or so weeks it would take to make the Spagyric tincture but I decided to try my hand right away at the 7 basics. This is a beginner’s procedure where one gathers particular plants according to each day of the week as stated above and makes a Spagyric tincture from said plants, afterwards taking the tincture on the given day which a planet rules a particular herb. This is said to cleanse and replenish certain organ systems which said herbs are meant to work with and also to prepare the individual for more advanced plant and eventually mineral and metal works. As has been said before by alchemists, the plant world in alchemy is fairly safe. One can make mistakes and get away alright. This is not so with the mineral and metal world, where a mistake could cause a serious reaction leading to an explosion or other hazardous consequences. I used 95% Everclear for this process. A more ideal and proper Spagyric tincture would contain the alcohol extracted from the plant one is working with rather than grain alcohol but for a start this will do. Some photographs from the process:
As stated in the experiment instructions by Mr.Stavish and as elaborated upon by Mr.Bartlett, one should let the plant and the alcohol mixture sit in a dark, warm place. One should shake it twice a day or more to ensure proper mixing of the two. Eventually one filters out the alcohol and oil from the biomass using a coffee filter. From there one ignites the biomass outside in a heat resistant dish and then calcines the ashes to a white colour where they can be ground further to obtain the salt of that plant. From there one mixes the salt with the extracted alcohol and oil of the plant and lets that stand in a warm place for a week, shaking it as before. After this, one is to filter the mixture yet again and let stand for 48 hours. This is to see if any further insolubles settle out. To quote Bartlett:
“This is now a simple Spagyric elixir containing the three essentials of the plant in an exalted form and able to express the plant’s truest and most powerful healing potentials on the various levels of our constitution”.
As the days pass I will be working with a different herb each day according to the planet which rules that day. From there I will be making the seven basics and will report.
Friday May 29th, 2015
Today I did the same procedure but on Peppermint. I had been excited to work with this plant because the scent of it is truly refreshing and stimulating. The only thing I did not do was do the process between the hours of 3.26 a.m and 6.52 a.m, which are said to be the hours in any given day where the planet ruling that day is at its strongest influence. I am not sure how much this will affect the procedure but I hope it is not by much. I derived the aforementioned astrological times from a chart in the book “Spagyrics” by Manfred Junius, a late professor of Biology at the University of Calcutta and a practicing alchemist. In it, professor Junius speaks of several different systems of astrological timekeeping but the following chart is the one which he prefers and is the one which he states as being most popular:
While going through the same book to find this graph, I found some paragraphs which I had forgotten about but which will be of further interest to the reader concerning the modern reassessment of astrology:
“About twenty-seven years ago, the French statistician Michel Gauquelin began his collection of ten thousand astrological data from medical doctors, politicians, sportsmen, artists, and members of the armed forces, with the aim of refuting astrological ideas. In spite of his publicly admitted negative attitude toward astrology, this investigation ended with a confession of positive, statistically provable findings that support astrology. Gauquelin’s investigations likewise support the view held by astrology that hereditary factors can be recognized in a horoscope. He has discovered statistically important connections between the astrological positions of parents and children. Too high a valuation of statistics alone may be problematic in connection with the stratification and the infinite possibilities of variation of the planetary positions. It would be presumptuous to believe that such a differentiated consideration as the astrological rests only on statistics, since every horoscope belongs to an individual personality. Nevertheless, statistical investigations in this connection have their worth, at least in part.
Dr. Eugen Jonas, director of the Institute for Birth Control, supported by the Czechoslovak government, has proved that a method of astrological birth control is 97.7 percent reliable. Based on the position of the moon at the time of conception, he has also developed a method for predicting the sex of an unborn child.
John H. Nelson, electro-engineer at RCA, has discovered that magnetic storms harmful to health occur when planets stand at angles of 0°, 90°, and 180° to each other. In connection with measurements of radio interference, he has proved that interference-free fields are produced when planets form angles of 60° and 120°.
Professor Helmut Berg at the University of Cologne has discovered that times of magnetic disturbances and solar eruptions are periods when pulmonary diseases and hemorrhages are critical.
Professor H. Bertels of Berlin has discovered that microbiotic reactions, changes in the weather, and chemical reactions are connected with solar flares.
Professor A. L. Tchijensky at the University of Moscow and later Dr. Robert O. Becker of the Syracuse Veterans Hospital have discovered that historic epidemics of typhus, cholera, smallpox, and the plague occurred at the time of maximum sunspot activity.
Dr. Maki Takata of Toho University, Tokyo, could prove that the compositions of human blood changes with the eleven-year sunspot rhythm. A change also occurs during the daily rotation of the earth, for which sunrise is especially important. “Man is a living sundial.”
Dr. Abraham Hoffer of the University Clinic in Saskatchewan, Canada, has discovered that neurotics have particularly intense experiences in January and July; depressives in March.
In 1970, Jan Gerhard Toonder and John Anthony West began the attempt to critically examine astrology. Here now is their verdict after the conclusion of their research. They say, “It is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the impression that Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, Ptolemy, Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus, and Johannes Kepler were right in their assessment of astrology, at least in principle, while all of modern science is wrong.”
The situation of astrology is not unlike that of serious alchemy. Many old views are now confirmed by modern research, whereby old symbolic concepts are often replaced by modern ideas and discussed in a language adapted to those ideas. Whether this always brings about a clarification is another question”
I myself do not claim whatsoever to be an expert in the ancient tradition of astrology. I am only someone who has a critical yet open mind and is willing to investigate the matter for myself to see if there is any veracity in it by not only performing these spagyric procedures but also gathering research similar to what professor Junius did in the aforementioned paragraph. Below, some photographs of the process with peppermint on this second day:
Saturday May 28th, 2015
Today, I was set to work with Shepherd’s purse, which is a plant ruled by the planet Saturn and thus supposed to be worked with on a Saturday. The issue here was that as I proceeded to grind the Shepherd’s purse with my mortar and pestle, I realized that this herb was not going to be nearly as easy to grind as the Lemon balm and Peppermint were. In fact, I ground for almost an hour and did not get very far. I will probably have to get a hold of a coffee grinder to get this herb ground down to a sufficient degree so that the alcohol may do its work in extracting the essence from it. Here is the herb and as will be seen in the photograph, it bears a striking similarity to small pieces of hay. Quite tough to grind by hand:
While I was reading yesterday and going through some books I have, I came across a few paragraphs from the book “Israel Regardie & The Philosopher’s Stone” by Joseph C. Lisiewski. The book is an alchemical tour de force wherein Mr. Lisiewski, a physicist, tells of the story of how he met legendary modern alchemist Frater Albertus and psychologist and scholar of the occult Israel Regardie and how they set upon an alchemical learning journey together. There are some very fascinating passages in this book, but the ones I wish to quote from now are concerning the Seven Basics which was the operation I wanted to embark on as my first attempt at making Spagyric tinctures. Here now, are a few passages concerning the matter at hand:
“Armed with these herbals, Regardie set to work in the small alchemical lab he had established in a tiny shed in his backyard in 1959 (the herbals in question are “A Modern Herbal” by Mrs. M. Grieve and “Culpeper’s Herbal” by Nicholas Culpeper). As Frater had taught him, his first task was to produce the “Tinctures of the Seven Planets.” One tincture had to be prepared for each day of the week using a herb that was assigned to the planet ruling each of the seven days of the week. Thus, seven tinctures were prepared. One would use a plant said to be ruled by the Moon, for Monday, ruled by Mars for Tuesday, ascribed to the rule of Mercury for Wednesday, ruled by Jupiter for Thursday, under the government of Venus for Friday, under the dominion of Saturn for Saturday, and a plant that was under the auspices of the Sun for Sunday. These alchemical tinctures were said to remove gross, malformed or putrefied material from the body, thereby gradually returning one’s body to a state of natural health. That is, these herbal, alchemical tinctures are said to remove such material from those organs and biological processes that are ruled by each of the Seven Planets of the Ancients.
After the removal of this material, according to Frater Albertus, the Tinctures of the Seven Planets of the Ancients proceed to refine the physical nature of the individual further, thus enabling the spiritual nature to come through more powerfully than ever before. As a result, the individual’s entire nature–physical, mental, emotional, and psychic–are purified and equilibrated, allowing one to more easily and completely manifest one’s own will and the Will of God that flows through one’s nature, into the world of form, or Malkuth. These tinctures are then to be “imbibed” on each day of the week over the course of an entire year. Thus, on every Monday of each of the fifty-two weeks in the year, the tincture of the Moon is to be imbibed. On Tuesday, the Tincture of Mars. On Wednesday the Tincture of Mercury. On Thursday, the Tincture of Jupiter. On Friday, the Tincture of Venus. On Saturday, the Tincture of Saturn, and on the Lord’s Day, the Tincture of Sol (the Sun). This is how the aspiring alchemist began his training under the guidance of Frater Albertus and his seven year course of instruction at the PRS (Paracelsus Research Society).
Regardie produced these Tinctures of the Seven Planets of the Ancients in 1959, and as he told me very candidly, was extremely happy that he did. Not only did they help restore his waning physical vigor, but they eased and checked his chronic stomach, lung and eye conditions, along with an intermittent bowel problem. (I too can attest to the virtue of these tinctures, having made and used them immediately after my Prima Class in 1975. They aided enormously in actually eliminating some lung and sinus problems I had for years, and which conventional medicine was utterly inept in relieving, let alone ‘curing.’)”
There is much more that could be quoted from the ongoing passages that follow the aforementioned ones in the book, for they describe the meticulous process that Regardie used to produce these tinctures. These processes are far more advanced than the ones I am utilizing and this is because of a lack of funds at the moment. Eventually, I too wish to make these Tinctures of the Seven Planets of the Ancients in the way Regardie did, for their potency would be presumably greatly increased. At the moment, I am coming to a stark realization: I will not have enough grain alcohol to make all of the 7 simple basics. I may be only able to make two more, making the total made a 4 out of 7. This is unfortunate but at the same time it is ok, for I can wait until more Everclear becomes available and thus carry on the process from there. Time will tell, but as of now, equipment to do these beginning procedures has had a curious way of appearing where I least expected them to be. It seems that there truly may be something to what some alchemists have said concerning the idea that as one needs certain pieces of equipment, these have an interesting way of showing up.
Sunday May 31st, 2015
Today was the day I was going to work with an herb which was ruled by the Sun. For this herb, I chose St.John’s Wort. The herb itself was not as hard to grind as Shepherd’s purse but it was a little close. Here are some photographs of the process:
Tuesday June 2nd, 2015
Yesterday and today I worked on the tinctures I was set out to make for these respective days. These were Chickweed for Monday and Plantain leaf for Tuesday. The Chickweed went rather unexpectedly. I had to add more parts alcohol and water than the initial 25A:75W. These stand for 25% alcohol and 75% water. I got these ratios from a book called “Making Plant Medicine” by Richo Cech. It seems that the Chickweed has a tendency to become overly saturated by the liquids poured on it in the jar. Because of this I am not sure how good the tincture coming out of it will be in terms of yield and also quality. We will see. Below are some photos of the Chickweed process, which I did not upload yesterday:
Below here is the Plantain leaf:
Wednesday June 3d, 2015
Today, I set upon working on the tincture of Valerian. For this, I utilized Valerian root as the component to be ground and macerated. I was concerned whether or not the root of Valerian would give way to the mortar and pestle and I was pleased to discover that there was no issue grinding it to a semi-fine powder. I then did as before and poured a mixture of alcohol and water, the respective ratios being 75:25. This worked out excellent. The sad part of today is that I ran mostly out of grain alcohol thus I will not be able to complete the last tincture which was going to be made from the herb Shepherd’s purse. I will now wait around 2 to 3 weeks for the maceration and digestion to occur before I begin to filter the tincture from the biomass and then follow up by burning said biomass and calcining the remains to acquire the salts. Some photographs of today’s process:
Thursday October 15th, 2015
It has been almost 4 months since I updated this blog with the results of my experiments. I ended up doing 6 tinctures instead of the 7 I wanted to due to there being a shortness of the solvent. The plants I used were Plantago major (Plantain leaf), Valeriana officinalis (Valerian root), Stellaria media (Chickweed), Mentha piperita (Peppermint), Melissa officinalis (Lemon balm) and Hypericum perforatum (St.John’s wort). I chose these herbs for the reasons outlined in the previous entires above. The results were quite pleasing and this marked my first attempt at making my own spagyric tinctures. There are several photos missing from the entire process. These include the photos of what happened after the month long maceration. I was able to acquire some nice white salts from the caput mortuum of each plant. What happened is that I lost my cell phone which is also my camera as well as all the photos of the later processes. This was most unfortunate and I will be more careful next time in saving the photos. There is a great deal more to learn and several mistakes were made along the way. Still, I was able to make the tinctures and with the solvent I utilized, 95% grain alcohol, they will last anywhere from 2 years to 5, 10 and some have even said 50 years. Alcohol of such high proof makes for not only an excellent solvent but a formidable preservative. I have used Valerian for sleep troubles since it is a sedative as well as a nervine (a medicinal agent utilized to calm the nerves) and the first time I used it, there was a notable improvement in my sleep. I slept very comfortably that evening. I have utilized it in different doses and I am still understanding it’s proper dosage application. The thing with utilizing plants in medicinal manners is that their effects are usually brought about rather gently as opposed to the immediate and strong action of synthetic pharmaceuticals. Just this morning I had a painfully upset stomach upon awakening. I took 20 drops of the tincture of Peppermint in a glass of distilled water (distilled because I have read in the books that tap water tends to diminish and leach the medicinal chemicals of the tincture but I still need to understand the specifics of the differences between distilled water and tap water as a vehicle for ingesting the tinctures). Since Peppermint is a carminative (a medicinal agent used to relieve flatulence) amongst other things, I suspected its use may be appropriate. The relief did not take long and it was pleasantly noted. St.John’s wort is known as a natural anti-depressant and I have only taken a bit of the tincture I made thus I cannot fully report on its effects on me just yet. The same goes for the other tinctures, which I have not taken as much as the ones I just mentioned. There is a great deal to learn in the realm of herbal medicine as well as the realm of Spagyrics. My inspiration came from reading about wonderful cures and which were made by men and women who possessed within them the appropriate wisdom to bring forth what is hidden in nature; the divers medicinal properties of plants, metals and minerals. This is but the beginning of what I hope is a life long interest in creating plant medicine.
Here are a few photos of the finished products: