The alchemical panacea

From Wikipedia:

The panacea, named after the Greek goddess of universal remedy Panakeia, Panacea, also known as panchrest, was supposed to be a remedy that would cure all diseases and prolong life indefinitely. It was sought by the alchemists as a connection to the elixir of life and the philosopher’s stone, a mythical substance which would enable the transmutation of common metals into gold.

Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panacea_(medicine)>

As well as knowledge Faust might seek immortality

[As well as knowledge, Faust might seek immortality, but, oh, right….

Immortality was something he didn’t ask for (though an eternity in Hell is a kind of immortality), but for many seekers of knowledge-at-all-costs, that is their prime pursuit – to find the alchemical elixir of life. Today we still look for it, but in the health and sports supplements section of the store. The elixir is real: at least every generation thinks they’re about to discover it. It’s part of the search for God’s secret knowledge, and it was the “other” tree in the Biblical Garden of Eden – the one we didn’t eat from. We’re still trying to make up for that omission.]

From Wikipedia on the elixir of life:

“The elixir of life, also known as elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher’s stone, is a mythical potion that, when drunk from a certain cup at a certain time, supposedly grants the drinker eternal life and/or eternal youth. This elixir was also said to be able to create life. Related to the myths of Thoth and Hermes Trismegistus, both of whom in various tales are said to have drunk “the white drops” (liquid gold) and thus achieved immortality, it is mentioned in one of the Nag Hammadi texts. Alchemists in various ages and cultures sought the means of formulating the elixir.”

[…]

“The Elixir has had hundreds of names (one scholar of Chinese history reportedly found over 1,000 names for it.), including (among others) Amrit Ras or Amrita, Aab-i-Hayat, Maha Ras, Aab-Haiwan, Dancing Water, Chasma-i-Kausar, Mansarover or the Pool of Nectar, Philosopher’s stone, and Soma Ras.

The word elixir was not used until the 7th century A.D. and derives from the Arabic name for miracle substances, “al iksir”. Some view it as a metaphor for the spirit of God (e.g., Jesus’s reference to “the Water of Life” or “the Fountain of Life“). “But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

The Scots and the Irish adopted the name for their “liquid gold”: the Gaelic name for whiskey is uisce beatha, or water of life.

Aab-i-Hayat is Persian and means “water of life”. “Chashma-i-Kausar” (not “hasma”) 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.” Soma was a psychoactive drug, by which the poets of the Vedas received their visions, but the plant is no longer known. Later, Soma came to mean the moon. “Ras” later came to mean “sacred mood, which is experienced by listening to good poetry or music”; there are altogether nine of them. Mansarovar, the “mind lake” is the holy lake at the foot of Mt. Kailash in Tibet, close to the source of the Ganges.

Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elixir_of_life>

[Incidentally, Mt. Kailish is a mountain which mountaineers do not/may not climb out of respect.]

“Comte de St. Germain, an 18th-century nobleman of uncertain origin and mysterious capabilities, was also reputed to have the Elixir and to be several hundred years old. Many European recipes specify that elixir is to be stored in clocks to amplify the effects of immortality on the user. Frenchman Nicolas Flamel was also a reputed creator of the Elixir.”

Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elixir_of_life>

Potions can fulfill all of our alchemical and Faustian aspirations

[Potions can fulfill all the alchemical and Faustian aspirations of humans, from finding God, to gaining secret knowledge, to restoring health and promoting long life – even immortality. At least that’s what we’ve imagined over time. These are essentially also the same things promised by the two trees in the Garden of Eden in the origin story of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.]

“The Fountain of Youth is a spring that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, appearing in writings by Herodotus (5th century BCE), the Alexander romance (3rd century CE), and the stories of Prester John (early Crusades, 11th/12th centuries CE). Stories of similar waters were also evidently prominent among the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean during the Age of Exploration (early 16th century), who spoke of the restorative powers of the water in the mythical land of Bimini.

The legend became particularly prominent in the 16th century, when it became attached to the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, first Governor of Puerto Rico. According to an apocryphal combination of New World and Eurasian elements, Ponce de León was searching for the Fountain of Youth when he traveled to what is now Florida in 1513, but this is a myth. The legend says that Ponce de Leon was told by Native Americans that the Fountain of Youth was in Bimini and it can restore Youth to anyone.”
Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountain_of_Youth>

The Fountain of Youth, 1546 painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder



Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fountain_of_Youth>

The elixir of life also known as elixir of immortality

[The idea that there is a substance – in this case a drink – that will restore health and youth and vigor has entranced humans. It is found in ancient texts, in the foundations of alchemy, and in religion. In the biblical story of the Garden of Eden we find there are two trees – one being the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, from which our unfortunate ancestors took a bite, and the other the Tree of Life, which we assume, would confer long or eternal life.]

“And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Genesis 3

Cherub. Source unknown.
Cherub. Source unknown.

[Some alchemists, such as Flamel (below), were believed to have found such an elixir. There are stories of others, such as the Compte de St. Germain, who were reputed to be too long-lived and youthful to be naturally so. Are there people living among us who are far older than they appear to be; who have lived generations past their own natural lifetimes? Such a potion is one of the apparently undiscovered secrets of God, which many Faustian types have sought after for millennia. We always think we might be close to finding it. Not Faust, though. He had agreed to spend eternity in the realm of Hell, thinking, perhaps, he’d enjoy the company better. A good Christian, too, might forgo the joys of eternal life if it meant never entering into the presence of God.]

From Wikipedia on the elixir of life:

“The elixir of life, also known as elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher’s stone, is a mythical potion that, when drunk from a certain cup at a certain time, supposedly grants the drinker eternal life and/or eternal youth. This elixir was also said to be able to create life. Related to the myths of Thoth and Hermes Trismegistus, both of whom in various tales are said to have drunk “the white drops” (liquid gold) and thus achieved immortality, it is mentioned in one of the Nag Hammadi texts. Alchemists in various ages and cultures sought the means of formulating the elixir.”

Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elixir_of_life>

“Comte de St. Germain, an 18th-century nobleman of uncertain origin and mysterious capabilities, was also reputed to have the Elixir and to be several hundred years old. Many European recipes specify that elixir is to be stored in clocks to amplify the effects of immortality on the user. Frenchman Nicolas Flamel was also a reputed creator of the Elixir.”

Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elixir_of_life>

‘Some view it as a metaphor for the spirit of God (e.g., Jesus’s reference to “the Water of Life” or “the Fountain of Life”). “But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) ‘

Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elixir_of_life>

The search for secret/hidden/lost knowledge still goes on today…

[The search for secret/hidden/lost knowledge still goes on today, with a special emphasis on drug use, including the restoration of knowledge of plant use by other cultures which was in many cases concealed in the contact with European who strongly disapproved of “pagan” practices. Terence McKenna and his brother worked to those ends in the second half of the twentieth century. Both DMT and Psilocybin are powerful entheogens. DMT and harmine are in plants which feature in the Bible – Acacia and Syrian Rue.]

After the partial completion of his studies, and his mother’s death from cancer in 1971, McKenna, his brother Dennis, and three friends traveled to the Colombian Amazon in search of oo-koo-hé, a plant preparation containing dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Instead of oo-koo-hé they found fields full of gigantic Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, which became the new focus of the expedition. In La Chorrera, at the urging of his brother, McKenna was the subject of a psychedelic experiment in which the brothers attempted to bond harmine (harmine is another psychedelic compound they used synergistically with the mushrooms) with their own neural DNA, through the use of a set specific vocal techniques. They hypothesised this would give them access to the collective memory of the human species, and would manifest the alchemists’ Philosopher’s Stone which they viewed as a “hyperdimensional union of spirit and matter”. McKenna claimed the experiment put him in contact with “Logos”: an informative, divine voice he believed was universal to visionary religious experience.

Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terence_McKenna#Studying_and_traveling>

Philosophers are sworn, aye, every one….

Philosophers are sworn, aye, every one,
That they will thus discover it to none,
Nor in a book will write it for men here;
For unto Christ it is so lief and dear
That He wills that it not discovered be,
Except where it’s pleasing to his deity
Man to inspire, and also, to defend
Whom that he will; and lo, this is the end.

And thus do I conclude, since God in heaven
Wills that philosophers shall not say even
How any man may come upon that stone,
I say, as for the best, let it alone.
For whoso makes of God his adversary,
To work out anything that is contrary
To what he wills, he’ll surely never thrive.

The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale:
From The Canterbury Tales (by Geoffrey Chaucer, c. 1343 – 25 October 1400).

Why is the recipe of the philosopher’s stone still a secret?

It is scarcely surprising that in the atmosphere of superstition….

“It is scarcely surprising that in the atmosphere of superstition and ignorance which reigned in Europe during the middle ages Bacon’s achievements were attributed to his communication with devils, and that his fame spread through Western Europe not as a savant, but as a great magician! His great services to humanity were met with censure, not gratitude, and to the Church his teachings seemed particularly pernicious. She accordingly took her place as one of his foremost adversaries, and even the friars of his own order refused his writings a place in their library. His persecutions culminated in 1279 in imprisonment and a forced repentance of his labours in the cause of art and science.”

Alchemy Rediscovered and Restored: Part I: Historical: Chapter VII: English Alchemists: by A. Cockren, 1940.

Roger Bacon (c. 1214–1294) suffered the suspicion of others. There are other views though: some feel that Middle Age society was more forgiving of scientific endeavour.

From the bottom of our hearts we ought to thank the modest men who held in their hands the magical Emerald Formula

“From the bottom of our hearts we ought to thank the modest men who held in their hands the magical Emerald Formula that makes a man master of the world, a formula which they took as much trouble to hide as they had taken to discover it. For however dazzling and bright the obverse of the alchemical medallion, its reverse is dark as night. The way of good is the same as the way of evil, and when a man has crossed the threshold of knowledge, he has more intelligence but no more capacity for love.”

History of Alchemy: Mystics and Seers of All Ages by Reginald Merton (1935)

A hollow stick – take heed, sirs, and beware!

A hollow stick – take heed, sirs, and beware! –
In end of which an ounce was, and no more,
Of silver filings put, all as before
Within the coal, and stopped with wax, a bit,
To keep the filings in the hole of it.
And while the priest was busy, as I say,
This canon, drawing close, got in his way,
And unobserved he threw the powder in
Just as before the devil from his skin
Strip him, I pray to God, for lies he wrought;
For he was ever false in deed and thought;
And with his stick, above the crucible,
Arranged for knavish trickery so well,
He stirred the coals until to melt began
The thin wax in the fire, as every man,
Except a fool, knows well it must, sans doubt,
And all that was within the stick slipped out,
And quickly in the crucible it fell.

The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale: From The Canterbury Tales (by Geoffrey Chaucer, c. 1343 – 25 October 1400).

The alchemist’s man tells the story of their road to ruin. Con artists would conceal silver or gold in a wax tip of a wand, and use it to stir a crucible of material to be transmuted.

…by our pure and chaste country Jerusalem!

“…It is true that the theatres never now carry me away, nor do I now care to know the courses of the stars, nor hath my soul at any time consulted departed spirits; all sacrilegious oaths I abhor. O Lord my God, to whom I owe all humble and single-hearted service, with what subtlety of suggestion does the enemy influence me to require some sign from Thee! But by our King, and by our pure and chaste country Jerusalem, I beseech Thee, that as any consenting unto such thoughts is far from me, so may it always be farther and farther. But when I entreat Thee for the salvation of any, the end I aim at is far otherwise, and Thou who doest what Thou wilt, givest and wilt give me willingly to follow Thee.”

Confessions, Book 10, by Augustine (5th century), a digital book in the International School of Theology’s Cyber Library.

…by our pure and chaste country Jerusalem!