“Alchemy is that science which results from a knowledge of God, Nature, and Man. A perfect knowledge of either of them cannot be obtained without the knowledge of the other two, for these three are one and inseparable. Alchemy is not merely an intellectual, but a spiritual science; because that which belongs to the spirit can only be spiritually known. Nevertheless, it is a science dealing with material things, for spirit and matter are only two opposite manifestations or ‘poles’ of the eternal One. Alchemy is an art , and as every art requires an artist to exercise it, likewise this divine science and art can be practiced only by those who are in possession of the divine power necessary for that purpose. It is true that the external manipulations required for the production of certain alchemical preparations may, like an ordinary chemical process, be taught to anybody capable of reasoning; but the results which he would accomplish would be without life, for only he in whom the true life has awakened can awaken it from its sleep in the prima materia, nd cause visible forms to grow from the chaos of nature.” ~Franz Hartmann
Knowledge of God, Nature, and Man
Hartmann says that Alchemy results from the knowledge of God, Nature, and Man. But virtually all of us have some knowledge of each of those things, yet we cannot claim to be a true Alchemist. So it might be better to say that Alchemy is the science that results in complete knowledge of God, Nature, and Man. He notes that there are those who have perfect knowledge of one or two of the three, but not all. Those people, he says, cannot be true Alchemists. They will be the kind of Alchemists who deal with material things only and are therefore only ordinary chemists. Of course, if you look up “Alchemist” or “Alchemy” on sites like Wikipedia and Dictionary.com, you will see that this phony type of Alchemist is how they define the whole science. But as Hartmann says, real Alchemy is as much a spiritual science as it is an intellectual one. And the purpose of the real Alchemists was not to transform base metals like lead into valuable metals like gold, it was to transform the leaden consciousness of materialistic men and women into the golden consciousness of the spiritual adept. The word Alchemy itself tells us this. It is derived from words that mean “to Transform” which didn’t mean changing one metal into another.
Spirit can Only Be Spiritually Known
I put that line in bold font in the quote because it is a very important statement. Too often materialists try to prove or (more often) disprove the things of spirit using the science of matter. This will never work and the materialists think that proves that spiritual things and spiritual worlds are fantasies, or at least unknowable. But spiritual things can be known by spiritual methods and there are spiritual sciences developed over many centuries that are just as reliable in the spiritual realm as conventional science is in the realm of matter. So before you scoff at the idea of spiritual realms and spiritual beings, start using the proper sciences to investigate such things. In order to know God, Nature, and Man, you need to know the spiritual as well as the physical.
Poles of the Eternal One
While it is true to say that the realms of spirit and matter are two opposite poles of the eternal One, it can be misleading. It sounds as if you are saying they are but two sides of the same coin, but they are not. First, the realm of spirit is the creation of the real God and is intentional. The realm of matter, on the other hand, was created by the fallen angels called the Demiurge in Gnostic teachings. So matter is not just the other side of spirit. It is a distortion of spirit, a disease of spirit like cancer. And like cancer in the physical body, it must be cured or removed. The great transformation that has already started, and is at least partially responsible for what is called “global warming”, will turn matter back into spirit and heal it.
Art and Artist
While Alchemy, or any form of spiritual discipline, is a science, it is also an art and requires an artist to do it properly. That will likely change with time.
From the 1940s through the 1960s, the study of computer programming was far more art than science. Even when I entered the field in the 1970s. But over the decades, businesses and universities worked to make things in that field more standardized and more predictable making it more of a science than an art. Yet there still remains a bit of art to it.
While the idea of being an Alchemist may no appeal to you, try replacing that word in this article with “Gnostic,” “Mystic,” or “Spiritual Adept”. Those terms mean nearly the same thing and everything that is said here about Alchemy is true of all of those disciplines. So is the idea that we need to know God, Nature, and Man to achieve Gnosis.