“Alchemy is a rainbow bridging the chasm between the earthly and heavenly plans, between matter and spirit… Alchemy, the royal sacerdotal art, also called the hermetic philosophy, conceals, in esoteric texts and enigmatic emblems, the means of penetrating the very secrets of Nature, Life, and Death, of Unity, Eternity, and Infinity.” – Stanislas Klossowski de Rola Alchemy: The Secret Art
This Klossowski de Rola quote is in the first chapter of Mark Stavish’s The Path to Alchemy, a book I’ve been reading/studying for months now. Although alchemy’s origins stem from many stories (many say Egypt, some say China, the list goes on), alchemy will always be more about inner transformation than anything else regarding the transmutation of metals or exploiting any kind of relationship between Earth and Heaven. Through processes that require patience and open-mindedness, much of what alchemy can teach you inevitably braids itself into your personal philosophies. Even the technical procedures, such as making sure you start and finish an alchemical process at a specific hour and day, challenges your level of respect for how forces outside of yourself affect your work, your mentality, and your aura. The procedures, prayers, and meditations learned by the alchemist create a more fulfilling understanding of the self and the world, emphasizing the act of “penetrating the very secrets of nature”. Overall, alchemy is a very interactive philosophy that demands your dedication, your honesty, and your resilience as a co-creator in life.
Mark Stavish is well known as the Director of Studies for the Institute for Hermetic Studies and over 35 years of Traditional Western Esotericism making him a leading authority in Hermeticism today. You can read more about his academic and publishing history here, but I’m sure his reputation proceeds him for those who have already delved into the Hermetic Qabalah teachings. Some of his books, including The Path of Alchemy were published in the early 2000s, but he’s published many articles and is running a current blog here. As for the why, I think it’s pretty clear Stavish is dedicated to the occult sciences. After reading his interviews, he seems pretty down to earth as someone who acknowledges and is respectful of the different paths one can take to pursue magic, yet stands his ground as to why Hermeticism is essential to his life path.
My Take on The Path of Alchemy
I truly appreciate the informative tone of this book. I don’t know if you’ve experienced the dissatisfying ceremonial or hermetic magicians who are arrogant or publish books that are more fluff than education, but I’m sure over it. I take avid notes while reading The Path of Alchemy, constantly looking forward to dive deeper in this practice. Although most of my own magical practice has been folk/pagan based, I respect the scientific and philosophical background of alchemy Stavish has presented so well.
There isn’t any pretentious bias from what I’ve read so far. It’s not purely instructional either. If you respect the study of astrology and the study of the Qabalah teachings in Hermeticism (which is different than the Jewish Kabbalah or Jewish Mysticism), you’ll grasp the teachings from Stavish quickly. Astrologically, a lot I have read so far just clicked. Hopefully when I finish, I can do a full book review, but for now, I really like it.
If you’ve read this text already and have more you recommend, comment below. Let’s chat.
Today was a fabulous research day! Today’s research topics helped me flesh out the history of two characters who, for lack of a better term, gave me major feels while writing them. Now that I’ve worked through their lives a bit more, I can continue writing their about their pain 🙂