Having written two weeks ago about various expressions of the vessel as cup, chalice, cauldron and grail, I am brought to the question of what fills this cup. This comes from a recent purchase of mine, Alchemy and Mysticism by Alexander Roob (Taschen) being a book of art of the Western mystery tradition and images from Liber Mutus, or the silent book, an alchemical text which depicts the collection and processing of dew. This mirrored nicely something I had read in the writings of Aleister Crowley in looking at the question of the cup. He speaks as follows:
"There is, however, a universal solvent and harmonizer, a certain dew which is so pure that a single drop of it cast into the water of the Cup will for the time being bring all to perfection. This dew is called Love. Even as in the case of human love, the whole Universe appears perfect to the man who is under its control, so is it, and much more, with the Divine Love of which it is now spoken."ALEISTER CROWLEY, BOOK 4"
The universal solvent can be considered an image of the Philosophers Vitrol or the Green Lion. It is a watery aggregate of the prima materia, or base matter. I have had a long, but not a very deep or practised interest in alchemy. I originally was of a school of thought that believed in alchemy as allegory and symbol, but the more I understand the nature of this scientific method, the more sure I am that literal, physical or lab alchemy is needed. It is a misfortune that I do not have the space or facilities at present to set up a lab, but wonder how it is that I can take aspects of lab alchemy in my own practice.In looking at banishing and the nature of the salt and water, we have seen that water is quite an influencable medium. The lab alchemist (apprenticed under Frater Albertus) Robert Bartlett speaks about this quality.
"In the liquid state materials are much more susceptible to astrological influences (especially through the Moon) and we use this to impress or augment a planetary power in our subject. It is not uncommon to repeat this process of solve et coagula a number of times using distilled water or a specially prepared type of water which has already captured certain astrological influences during its manufacture. With each cycle, the subject becomes more powerful."ROBERT BARTLETT "REAL ALCHEMY" PAGE 38 (2006)"
"Water is a strange creature. It is the only substance on our planet that exists in solid, liquid and gaseous states at the same time under the normal range of temperatures and pressures we experience... This universal fire of life is one of the alchemist's Secret Fires. As this spiritual fire hits our atmosphere, it condenses in the air and is carried by it. As the air fills with moisture, the universal Fire condenses even further and moves into the water."The water, charged with the Secret Fire (a Universal Mercury) becomes determined for use by a particular kingdom when it hits the Earth."ROBERT BARTLETT "REAL ALCHEMY" PAGE 49 (2006)"
As much as the water, or dew is determined for use by what it hits, we can work to cultivate a truly universal solvent by collecting dew from none of the established kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, man), for example by pitching out a sheet of plastic to collect dew. This can be further distilled, or exposed to certain 'determining' features, for example, through acts of ritual magick. True distillation is not feasible for me without a lab, so the dew holds a more primitive manifestation, holding Hydrogen, oxygen, and trace elements of alkalies (ionic salt)as an expression of fire, water and air, being added to and working upon any medium it is added to.I wonder, with Crowleys words describing the dew as Love, whether this refers to active devotional practice. To be devoted to something, to work closely with any substance, is to engage in an act of connection, engagement and alignment, or love under will. We also find the dew as the philosophers stone in the Eastern tradition as immortality or amrita. Crowley speaks thus:
"In Hindu symbolism the Amrita or dew of immortality.1 drips constantly upon a man, but is burnt up by the gross fire of his appetites. Yogis attempt to catch and so preserve this dew by turning back the tongue in the mouth."ALEISTER CROWLEY BOOK 4"
The Amrita, or dew of immortality is often referred to as a nectar. In many ways it is synonymous with the Soma, an energising ritual drink in the Indian tradition. We meet a similar theme in the Zohar which links the dew with the manna, or spiritual bread on which the "souls of the just nourish themselves"Dew is normally 'harvested' in the late spring, during April and May. In Britain there is a belief that if dew is collected on a May day morning, itr can be used to affect healing or the appearance of the skin. If collected on a medium other than that of the four kingdoms (ie plastics) it can be collected and dedicated to a given purpose, as opposed to dew which is collected on mineral or plant mediums, thus pre-dedicating them to certain energetic correspondences.. I am intending to experiment with this in the coming months and to integrate this special substance into my occult practices. I have much still to learn but I must admit that I am intrigued...
"Love is the law love under will"
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