Alchemy is the millennia-old precursor to contemporary hard science.
Using principles of observation, experimentation, and deduction, alchemists sought to understand the universe in which they found themselves. Although not recognized as an orthodox branch of religious pursuit, most alchemists saw themselves as spiritual beings, exercising and strengthening their faith through experimentation in the physical world. The quest to discover secrets of transmutation was in large part an allegory for the drive to discover how to overcome the more tragic and damaging parts of the human condition and prove worthy of salvation or enlightenment.
Greene and Anca, fellow curators of Cat’s Cradle Antique’s Museum of Haunted and Mysterious Objects in Provo, Utah, invited me to participate in a “living alchemy” exhibit at the Museum. We included objects I had made informed by my alchemical pursuits, as well as several tinctures and enses I had prepared painstakingly following medieval alchemy recipes to the T. In addition, they asked me to make a series of elixirs responding specifically to the haunted and mysterious objects on display in the rest of the museum.
Although in many ways these enses, tinctures, and elixirs are related to modern medicinal counterparts, alchemically prepared “medicines” are different in a couple remarkable ways.
Alchemists were aware that we do not exist in merely a physical, mechanistic form – there are always strong spiritual and immaterial resonances that may very well be even more “important” than physical existence. When an alchemist prepared a “medicine” for a client, in many cases it was more important for the matter to be close to the client’s awareness than for the client to actually ingest it – good thing, too, because some of the stuff was nasty! So placing a drop or two in a diffuser or with incense was just as (or more!) effective as taking it.
Another element always present in the alchemist’s mind is intent. Each herb is processed according to the best time of the year, month, day and hour to allow planetary “influence” to have the greatest impact on the medicine (elixir, tincture, ense, etc.). This seems ridiculous to us on the surface, until we start to remember the documented effects observation has in physics, or the remarkable experiments of Dr. Masaru Emoto on the effects intent has with water crystals.
In preparing this series of protective elixirs, one for each day of the standard week, I collected organic herbs of the highest quality, created a menstruum specifically for the compounds, and started the process on the first day of the New Moon in October – the very best day for starting a healing or warding elixir – and began each elixir at the hour of its respective planet’s influence.
Many times elixirs sit in the menstruum (the medium used to “draw out” the best affects of the plants used, usually alcohol or vinegar based) for extended periods in total darkness, but I used sunlight and moonlight to help extract the essence from the plants used. Each step of the process is designed to help coax the greatest amount of beneficial properties into forming the final potion, and to most effectively strengthen its potential positive effects.
The process so far as the elixirs are processing (hey, nobody said alchemy was exciting!):