From the old French alkemie; derived from the Arabic al-kimia: "the art of transformation."
At the very heart of Alchemy is the Magical Art of Transmutation. Humans have been Artists and Magicians of Transmutation from the early dawn of man. Transmuting wood into heat and light on demand through the use of fire, or transmuting a round flint stone into a razor sharp blade. Transmuting wet clay into a waterproof pot, or animal skins into fine leather. The Transmuting of leaves, roots, seeds, animal venoms, minerals etc. into medicines or poisons. Transmuting certain stones into metal objects, or transmuting the force of moving water and later heat, into mechanical power. Indeed, one could say that the single Art all humans share regardless of Environment or Culture, is the Art of Transmutation.
Now the Natural Arts of Transmutation can not create something from nothing, the starting material of any transmutation must already exist in Nature, the Human Arts of Transmutation simply converts those things Nature provides us, into more usable things or forms, not found as such in Nature. All transmutations have a certain process or series of steps that must be followed to achieve the desired end result and all transmutations also require equipment and tools specific to the transmutation work intended to be done.
So adept have modern people become at the Arts of Transmutation that we have forgotten that we are surrounded with transmutated objects, and life forms. We forget that the steel in our beautiful car was a dump truck load of iron ore, limestone and coke. We forget that wheat, barley, rice, corn etc. were once tiny seeded wild grasses, till they were transmutated by generations of men. While the goal of some Alchemists of changing lead into gold, is impossible, the Art of Transmutation is evident everywhere in the human world.
Long before Alchemy had it’s name, there was one of the earliest Arts of Transmutation which is the Transmutation of Soma, recorded in the Rig Veda and the Sama Veda. This ancient magical Transmutation process spawned many later religions including Christianity, it is the ancestral root of magic and medicine, and survived to be found thousands of years later in some branches of Alchemy.
The Transmutation of Soma begins with the “Hiranyagarbha” the Golden Embryo which is Divinely created and born on the mountains, immaculately conceived from thunder. This Golden Egg is the most Divine being on the whole Earth: it is the Father of the Gods, a worker of wonders, a healer of Disease, and from this primeval Immortal Golden Embryo springs the fountain of Immortality. The Golden Embryo is very unique and even more mysterious, and thus very hard for the ancients to classify and describe in normal terms, for example is it a stone or a plant? The Golden Egg is also very Sacred and often described with names such as the Sun on Earth, or the Sun under the Earth.
Photo by Neil
When the Golden Egg first hatches it separates into two distinct rounded parts, the upper part resembles the Sun while the lower part resembles the Moon, together it resembles the Sun & Moon joined together on the Earth. So remarkable is this resemblance that the Astronomical Sun and Moon were even thought to be the parents of the Golden Embryo, at the very least the Heavenly power of the Sun and Moon was thought to be present in this Golden Egg. The magic Golden Egg also resembles a leathery Reptile egg much more than a hard shelled bird egg, and so the Golden Egg also carries the names of the Serpent’s or Dragon’s Eggs, and is often represented as a serpent. Anciently the Golden Embryo is also likened to a Stone growing from the Earth and is called a “living stone” a “water stone” or the “Philosophers Stone”, since mushrooms are obviously not animals or normal green vegetables, they were often thought of as being some type of living stone or some type of vegetable/mineral.
When fully grown the Golden Embryo can stand 12 inches high and be 10 inches across, the upper part is colored red or gold with small white warts scattered on it’s surface. The underside of the upper part and the lower part are colored white. The gills found on the underside of the upper part also resembles a white bird wing’s primary flight feathers, leading to the legend of the red and white Phoenix bird, which hatches from a Golden Egg, grows to adult hood and dies, turning to ashes, all without ever leaving it’s nest, from the “ashes” (spores) a new Phoenix bird arises the next year, often in the same “nest”.
Once gathered; the Golden Embryos must be throughly cleaned of dirt etc. and dried at moderate temperatures (less than 120 F) or sun dried, until completely dried, this is the very first step in the Transmutation of Soma in the Soma Ceremony.
Photo by Don
Photo by Don
In all the Hymns of the 9th book of the Rig Veda, Soma is called Soma Pavamana as an official title. Soma is the “pressed one" while Pavamana means "self purifying" so the title literally means the “pressed one, self purifying." Now the concept of "self purifying" as applied to Soma automatically implies several things; first that the Soma Nature provided is some how "impure" and must be purified before being used. Second that Soma is the active agent in its own purification during the process of the Soma Ceremony as described in the Hymns of Rig Veda book 9.
To begin; we will look at the Soma Transmutation process described in the Rig Veda.
1. Previously dried Amanita muscaria mushrooms are re-hydrated in a small bowl by sprinkling them with water or soaking them in a small amount of water (both methods seemed to be used).
2. After proper re-hydration the mushrooms are pressed to recover the Soma Juice using "fingers" "wooden boards" or pressing "stones" which correspond to the first, second and third pressing of the mushrooms, as the same Soma plants were re-hydrated and pressed three times in one day. The expressed juice was caught in a small bowl for the next stage of the process.
3. The resulting juice was poured on to the high end of a wooden trough a few feet long, set at a shallow angle lined with the "eternal fleece". The purpose of this is to filter the particles of Soma plant from the Soma juice. When dried Amanita muscaria is re-hydrated, in three days or less it displays its Immortality as it "calls forth the out spun thread" and grows mycelium that greatly resembles Sheep Wool and that this Soma created "wool" is the "eternal fleece" used to filter the Soma juice; thus the meaning of the Rig Veda Title Pavamana "self purifying". It must be remembered that not only is the mushroom "immortal" but also that every drop of the Soma juice is capable of coming back to life in three days and creating its own out spun threads, so any new wooden or terracotta vessel used to hold the Soma juice will be alive with woolly mycelium in a few days.
4. The now purified juice fell into a large wooden vat sitting at the end of the filtering trough, that was also growing the eternal fleece from previous use, into this vat a cooled previously cooked mixture of barley, water, milk, and honey was added to the small amount of Soma juice in the vat. (This is one of three recipes I decoded from the Rig Veda; the Eternal fleece loves its food, "Soma grows great with food") Note; it is unclear if the strained cooked barley water brew was also poured on the filtering trough or simply poured into the wooden vat.
5. After a certain time had passed during which specific Hymns were sung, the Soma was dipped out of the large vat using wooden ladles coated with the eternal fleece, into wooden or terracotta pitchers also growing the eternal fleece. The Soma was then poured into the individual wooden or terracotta cups of the Soma ceremony participants. Now, if that cup had been used to drink Soma previously it too, would be lined with the eternal fleece.
6. Each contact of the Soma juice with the eternal fleece living in the different vessels used in the process would greatly increase the strength of the Soma drink. The resulting Soma in a cup is orders of magnitude stronger than the undiluted original juice pressed from the re-hydrated Amanita muscaria mushrooms.
7. Not only is the self purified Soma far stronger than the original dried mushroom juice, it has different qualities compared to the original juice which seems some what toxic to many people producing nausea, stomach upset, sweating. The Soma drink self purified with its own eternal fleece produces a smooth experience generating almost no negative physical symptoms and a higher quality spiritual experience.
8. It is the magical Alchemical process of the Soma ceremony that creates something unattainable directly from Nature. The Soma ceremony is a glorious transmutation process in which Natures gift of the Amanita muscaria mushroom is multiplied, strengthened, and self purified. The presence of the Living Vessels or Holy Grails growing the Eternal Fleece are very important factors in the original Soma ceremony, which all previous researchers into the Soma Question have missed entirely.
Photo by Don
9. The Golden Embryo is also capable of other Transmutations based upon it’s ”Immortality” expressed as the “eternal fleece” these yield the Ambrosia wine, Ambrosia mead and the magical multiplying Living bread.
Photo by Don
A few Rig Veda references
The "Eternal fleece" Rig Veda 9-1-6
Soma as "Immortal God" Rig Veda 9-3-1
"Thou callest forth the out spun thread" Rig Veda 9-22-7
"Eternal Pavamana" Rig Veda 9-78-3
"born Immortal" Rig Veda 9-108-12
"Purified in his fleecy garb" Rig Veda 9-16-6
"living drops" Rig Veda 9-64-17
"the Everlasting One" Rig Veda 9-72-6
"it's threads are standing separate, glittering with light"Rig Veda 9-83-2
"Immortal Soma" Rig Veda 9-84-2
Considering the ancientness (pre 1400 B. C.) and vast geographical area of the Indo-European Soma Ceremony, it should be no surprise that many of the early 4 century B.C. Indian and Chinese Alchemists sought to rediscover the original Soma, the “Elixir of Life” the great medicine, a honey flavored drinkable golden fluid made from and identical to the Philosophers Stone, just as Soma the “plant”carries the same name as Soma the “drink”. Like the Vedic Soma, the Alchemist’s Elixir of Life has had hundreds of names, many of which it shares with Soma, including Amrit Ras or Amrita, Aab-i-Hayat, Maha Ras, Aab-Haiwan, Dancing Water, Chashma-i-Kausar, Mansarover or the Pool of Nectar, Philosopher's stone, and Soma Ras. Note: Aab-i-Hayat and Aab-i-Haiwan are Persian and both mean "water of life". "Chashma-i-Kausar" is the "Fountain of Bounty", which Muslims believe to be located in Paradise. As for the Indian names, "Amrit Ras" means "immortality juice", "Maha Ras" means "great juice", and "Soma Ras" means "juice of Soma". The actual word “elixir” was not used until the 7th century A.D. and derives from the Arabic name for miracle substances, "al iksir" while the modern name “Alchemy” derives from the Arabic “al-kimia”: "the art of transformation." There is also a Medieval Christian Alchemical tradition that equates the “Jesus” references to "the Water of Life" or "the Fountain of Life" with the fabulous Elixir of immortality and the “living stone” of St. Peter (1Peter 2:4) to be the true Philosophers Stone. This same Christian Alchemical tradition holds that the true knowledge of the Elixir of Life and the real Philosophers Stone are essential to understanding the Secrets of the true Holy Grail.
Vitriol acrostic (originally from Basil Valentine) in Johann Neithold Aureum Vellus; oder Güldenes Vleiss, Frankfurt, 1733.
Hermes Trismegistus pointing to the Philosophers’ Stone, from Maier Symbola aurea mensae, Franckfurt, 1617.
Related Ambrosia Society links