Excerpt from “The Morning of the Magicians”
Louis Pauwels / Jacques Bergier
The modern alchemist and the spirit of research – A description of what the alchemist does in his laboratory – The infinite repetition of the experiment – What does he expect? – The preparation of darkness – The electronic gas – The dissolving liquid – Is the philosopher’s stone the suspended energy? – The transformation of the alchemist himself – Beyond this limit begins the true metaphysics
The modern alchemist is a person who studies the treatises of nuclear physicists. For him, it is clear that transformations and even more extraordinary phenomena can be achieved with relatively simple means and techniques. It is the alchemists of today who find the spirit of the isolated researcher. The preservation of such an attitude is very valuable for our epoch. Over time, we have convinced ourselves that research progress is no longer possible without a huge team, an enormous apparatus and enormous financial resources. However, the fundamental discoveries, such as radioactivity or wave mechanics, were made by men working in isolation. America, the land of large work teams and big agents, today sends agents all over the world to track down original minds. The head of the American Institute for Scientific Research, Dr. James Killian, declared in 1958 that it was completely wrong to rely solely on collective work; one must try to get in touch with self-employed men who have and develop their own ideas. Rutherford has made his most important experiments to study the atomic structure with the help of tin cans and twine. Jean Perrin and Marie Curie sent their employees to the flea market on Sunday before the war to buy some material. Of course, we do not wish to deny that generously equipped laboratories are necessary today, but nevertheless we believe that it would be important to establish a certain link between these laboratories, these teams and the scholars working in isolation. The alchemists, however, will probably escape this invitation. Their rule is silence. Their ambition is of a spiritual nature.”There is no doubt that René Alleau writes “that the handles and activities commonly used in alchemy serve as a support for an inner asceticism.” If alchemy is a science, then this science is only a means of entering a higher state of consciousness. Hence the need not to let it enter the circle where it would become an end in itself.
What does the tool of the alchemist consist of? From the same devices used by the chemical researcher who treats minerals at high temperatures: furnaces, melting pots, scales, measuring instruments, which are still used today by modern devices for the determination of radioactive radiation, such as Geiger counters, scintillation counters, etc.
This tool may seem ridiculously inadequate. An orthodox physicist would never admit that it is possible to fabricate a cathode that emits neutrons by simple and costly means. If we are taught correctly, the alchemists will accomplish this feat. In an era in which the electron was regarded as the fourth state of matter, extraordinarily costly and complicated devices were invented to generate electron currents. Some time later, in 1910, Elster and Gaitel proved that for this purpose you only need to heat lime in a vacuum to dark red glow. We do not yet know all the laws of matter. If alchemy achieves the same results by simpler means than official science, it is superior to it, at least in this respect.
We now want to try – and this is what we know is happening for the first time – to describe exactly what the alchemist is actually doing in his laboratory. We cannot presume to present the alchemistic method in its entirety here, but we do think that we have some very interesting information about this method.
First of all, the alchemist has been engaged for years in deciphering old texts, into which “the reader must go without the help of an Ariadne thread, in which he appears as if in a labyrinth, which is consciously and systematically designed in such a way that the unprofessional gets into a hopeless mental confusion”. Patience, humility and faith have finally led the alchemist to a certain degree of understanding. If he has reached that point, he can start the actual alchemistic experiment. We will describe this experiment, although one of its elements is unknown to us. We know what is going on in the laboratory of the alchemist. But we do not know what happens in the alchemist himself, in his soul. It is possible that everything is closely linked. It is possible that the spiritual power plays a major role in the physical and chemical manipulations of alchemy. Perhaps a certain way of attaining, concentrating and directing the spiritual power in one direction is essential for the success of the alchemistic “work”. None of this has been proven, but on such a difficult subject we cannot avoid referring to a word of Dante: “I see that you believe these things because I tell you them. But you do not know the reason, and so things, although you believe them, remain no less hidden from you.”
Our alchemist begins by producing an intimate mixture composed of three substances in an achachast mortar. The first ingredient, which is 95 percent of the mixture, is a mineral: a sulfur gravel, for example, or an iron ore that contains arsenic and antimony as impurities. The second component is a metal: iron, lead, silver or mercury. The third component is an organic acid: tartaric acid or citric acid. For five or six months, these materials now have to be crushed and mixed by hand. Then the whole thing is heated in a melting pot. The alchemist gradually raises the temperature and continues this operation for twelve days. He has to be very careful. Toxic gases develop: the mercury vapor and especially the arsenic-containing hydrogen has killed some alchemists already in the first stages of his work.
Finally, it dissolves the contents of the melting pot by means of an acid. In the search for a suitable solvent, the alchemists of earlier times discovered acetic acid, nitric acid and sulfuric acid. This solution process must take place under polarized light: either in weak sunlight reflected by a mirror or in moonlight. Now the alchemist lets the liquid part evaporate and the solid one burns out anew. For several years, he will repeat these operations thousands of times. why? We don’t know. Perhaps in anticipation of the moment when the best conditions meet: cosmic rays, earth magnetism, etc. Perhaps also in order to achieve a “fatigue” of matter in its deepest structures, which is still unknown to us. The alchemist speaks of “holy patience”, of a slow condensation of the “universal spirit”. Behind this para-religious language there is certainly something else.
This working method, in which the same manipulation is repeated infinitely, may seem to a modern chemist to be pure madness. He was taught that there was only one valid experimental method: that of Claude Bernard. Their principle is change. You repeat the same experiment thousands of times, but you change one of the factors: the mixing ratio of the different components, the temperature, the pressure, the catalyst, etc. One notes the results obtained and concludes from them some of the laws which are decisive for the phenomenon in question. This is a method that has proved its worth, but it is not the only one possible. The alchemist repeats his experiment without changing anything until something extraordinary happens. He basically believes in a law of nature that is similar to the “exclusion principle” formulated by the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, Jung’s friend. For Pauli, in a given system (the atom and its molecules), there cannot be two elementary particles (electrons, protons, mesons) in the same state. Everything in nature is unique: “No other is equal to your soul…” That is why one goes directly, without intermediate stage, from hydrogen to helium, from helium to lithium and so on the path that the periodic system of the elements shows the atomic researcher. If one adds an elementary particle to a system, this elementary particle cannot assume any of the states present inside that system. It assumes a new state and, in conjunction with the already existing elementary particles, creates a new and unique system.
Just as there are not two identical souls, two identical beings, two identical plants (Pauli would say: two equal electrons) for the alchemist, two identical experiments are not conceivable. If you repeat an experiment thousands of times, something extraordinary will eventually happen. We are not competent enough to say whether the alchemist is right or wrong. We limit ourselves to pointing out that a modern science, the science of cosmic rays, uses a method that can be compared with the method of the alchemist. This science studies the phenomena that occur when particles originating from certain stars, which have an extraordinary energy, encounter a radio telescope or a plate. These phenomena cannot be caused arbitrarily. We will have to wait and see. Sometimes you notice a very unusual appearance. It happened, for example, that in the summer of 1957, in the course of the investigations carried out in the United States by Professor Bruno Rossi, a particle driven by a hitherto unregistered, enormous energy, which perhaps came from a distant Milky Way system, simultaneously knocked out 1500 meters within a radius of eight square kilometers and left a huge sheap of shattered atoms on its way. One cannot imagine a machine capable of producing such a quantity of energy. Scholars do not remember that such an event would have ever occurred before, and one does not know whether it will ever be repeated. Now what seems to await the alchemist is an extraordinary event of earthly or cosmic origin, which affects the contents of his melting pot. Perhaps he could shorten the waiting time by using means that are more active than fire, that is, if, for example, he heated his crucible in an induction furnace by means of the levitation method or even if he added radioactive isotopes to his mixture. In this way, he could repeat his manipulation not only a few times a week, but several million times per second, thus multiplying the chances of capturing the “event” necessary for the success of the experiment. But the alchemist of today, just like yesterday’s, works in secrecy and considers waiting to be a virtue.
Let’s continue in our description. After a few years in which our alchemist has done the same work day and night, he finally comes to the conviction that the first phase has been completed. He now adds an oxidizing agent, e.B potassium nitrate, to his mixture. In its melting pot, it has sulfur formed from sulfur gravel and coal formed from an organic acid. Sulfur, coal and nitrate: in the production of this mixture, the ancient alchemists invented gunpowder.
Now the alchemist again begins to dissolve the contents of his crucible and then burn it out, and continues this activity through months or even years. He is waiting for a sign. About the nature of this sign, the alchemistic works give contradictory information; but this circumstance can perhaps be explained by the fact that there are several possibilities. Some alchemists speak of the formation of star-shaped crystals on the surface of the liquid, others of an oxide layer that appears on this surface, then disintegrates and reveals a luminous metal in which both the Milky Way and all constellations seem to reflect on the smallest scale.
When he has received this sign, the alchemist takes his mixture from the melting pot and, protected from air and moisture, lets it “ripen” until the first day of the next spring. When he then resumes his work, it will, as it is expressed in the old texts, be aimed at the “creation of darkness”. Recent research on the history of chemistry has shown that the German monk Berthold Schwarz, who is commonly credited with the invention of gunpowder in the Occident, never existed. He is a symbolic figure of this “creation of darkness”.
The mixture is placed in a transparent container of rock crystal, which is closed in a special way. There is little evidence of the type of closure, which is referred to as the “Closure of Hermes” or hermetic closure. From now on, the work consists of heating the container, taking extraordinary care to the correct dosage of the amount of heat. The mixture in the sealed vessel still consists of sulfur, coal and nitrate. The aim is to bring this mixture to a certain degree of white heat without oxygen entering and thus causing an explosion. We have heard of numerous cases in which alchemists have suffered severe burns or been killed, since the explosions that occur during this stage of work are particularly violent and develop extraordinary degrees of heat.
The goal that is now being pursued is the formation of an “essence” or a “fluidity”, which the alchemists sometimes call the “raven wing”.
Let’s take a closer look at this process. In physics and modern chemistry, there is nothing to put at his side. After all, we know about analogue phenomena. When a metal, such as copper, is dissolved in liquid ammonia gas, a dark blue-colored liquid is formed, which plays over into the black at a strong concentration. The same phenomenon occurs when dissolve hydrogen or organic amines in liquid ammonia gas under strong pressure to obtain the volatile compound NH4, which has all the properties of an alkali metal and is therefore called “ammonium”. There is reason to suspect that this blue-black colouring of the liquid substance obtained by the alchemists, which is reminiscent of a “raven wing”, is exactly the colour of the electronic gas. What is “electronic gas”? For modern scientists, it is the totality of free electrons that form a metal and preserve its mechanical, electrical and thermal properties. This current term corresponds to what the alchemist calls the “soul” or the “essence” of metals. But it is this soul or essence that separates itself in the hermetically sealed vessel of the alchemist.
He heats the contents of the vessel, lets it cool again, heats it anew and continues this activity for months or years. Through the rock crystal, he observes the development of what is also known as the “alchemistic egg”: the very mixture that has turned into a blue-black liquid. Finally he opens the vessel in a dark room. As soon as the fluorescent liquid comes into contact with the air, it hardens and divides.
In this way, the alchemist receives completely new substances, unknown in nature, which possess all the properties of the chemically pure elements, that is, cannot be further broken down by chemical means.
Modern alchemists claim to have fabricated considerable quantities of new chemical precursors by means of this method. For example, Fulcanelli is said to have extracted twenty grams of an absolutely new element from a kilo of iron, the chemical and physical properties of which do not correspond to any of the known chemical precursors. The same method, it is claimed, is applicable to all the precursors of the periodic system, with two new elements resulting in the majority of cases for each substance used.
Such an explanation is likely to offend the ordinary scientist. Theoretically, nowadays only the following decompositions of a chemical raw material are possible:
The molecule of an element can take on different states, such as dividing into ortho-hydrogen and para-hydrogen.
The atomic nucleus of a base material can take on several isotopic structures characterized by the different number of neutrons. In lithium 6, for example, the atomic nucleus contains three neutrons, but in lithium 7 it contains four.
In order to isolate the various allotropic states of the molecule and the individual isotopic variants of the atomic nucleus, numerous and extremely complicated devices are required in today’s state of the art.
In comparison, the means of the alchemist are ridiculously simple, and yet he wants to achieve not only a change in the state of the substance, but also the creation of a completely new substance, or at least a decomposition and transformation of the existing matter. All our knowledge of the atom is based on the Rutherford-Bohr atomic model, which assumes a nucleus and electrons orbiting around it on ellipse orbits. However, it is not excluded that a future new theory will allow us to achieve state changes and splitting of chemical elements that still seem unthinkable for the moment.
Our alchemist has now opened his container made of rock crystal and obtained one or more new substances by cooling the fluorescent liquid in the air. Slags remain. He will now wash these slags for several months in triple distilled water. Then he will store this water in a room where it is protected from light and temperature fluctuations.
This water now has, as is claimed, exceptional chemical and medicinal properties. It is the universal solvent, the elixir of life of tradition, the elixir of Doctor Faust.
Here the alchemistic tradition seems to be in harmony with the avant-garde research. For ultramodern science, water is actually an extremely complex mixture in which a wide variety of chemical reactions can occur. The researchers working on the question of oligo-elements, in particular Dr. Jacques Ménétrier, have found that virtually all metals are solvable by adding certain catalysts, such as glucose, and by making methodological temperature changes. The water can also form hydrates, i.e. real chemical compounds, under the influence of noble gases such as helium or argon. If one knew which component of the water is responsible for the production of hydrates in contact with a noble gas, it would be possible to increase the dissolving power of the water and in this way obtain a true universal solvent. The thoroughly reputable Russian magazine, whose title in translation is “Knowledge and Power”, wrote in its number 11 of 1957 that one day this result could perhaps be achieved by “bombarding” the water with nuclear radiation, and that the universal solvent of the alchemists could become a reality before the end of this century. This journal also considered a number of possible applications, including tunnel boring with the help of a beam consisting of activated water.
Our alchemist is now in possession of a certain number of simple substances that are unknown to nature. In addition, he has some bottles with an alchemistic water, which has the ability to considerably prolong his life by rejuvenating the tissues.
He will now try to reconnect the simple substances he has received. He mixes them in his mortar and melts them at low temperatures with the addition of catalysts, the nature of which is only given very vaguely by the old texts. The further one penetrates into the study of alchemistic manipulations, the more difficult it is to decipher the texts. In any case, this new work will take our alchemist several more years.
It now receives, it is assured, substances that are entirely similar to well-known metals, especially metals that are good conductors of heat and electricity: alchemistic copper, alchemistic silver, alchemistic gold. Classical tests and spectroscopy would not be able to discover anything new in these substances, and yet they have completely new and surprising properties that differ from those of the known metals.
If our information is correct, then the alchemistic copper, so similar to ordinary copper and yet so different, sets an extraordinarily weak resistance to the electric current, comparable to that of the superconductors, in which the physicist achieves a resistance close to the zero point. The use of such copper would mean a revolution in electrochemistry. Other substances that are produced by this alchemistic process are said to have even more astonishing properties. One of these should be solvable in glass at a relatively low temperature, and this dissolution takes place even before the melting point of the glass is reached. When this substance comes into contact with the slightly softened glass, it penetrates into it and gives it a ruby red coloration, which spreads a mallow-colored shimmer in the dark. The powder that one obtains when the glass thus altered is crushed in an agate mortar is what the alchemistic texts call the “philosophical powder” or the “philosopher’s stone”. “Thus,” writes Bernard Graf de la Marche Trévisane in his philosophical treatise, “the production of this precious stone is achieved, the value of which far exceeds that of any gemstone and which represents an immeasurable treasure for the glory of God, who lives and reigns eternally.”
We know the miracle stories told by this stone or powder. It is known that he is credited with the ability to perform transmutations of metals in weighable quantities. Above all, it should be able to transform certain worthless metals into gold, silver or platinum. But that would only be one aspect of its wonderful properties. It is claimed that it is also a kind of reservoir of the nuclear energy that has been abolished and that it can now be used at will.
We will come back in a moment to the questions that are pressing on modern enlightened man in the face of alchemistic methods. But first we want to stop where the alchemistic texts stop. The “Great Work” is finished. Now a transformation is taking place in the alchemist himself, which these texts mention, but which we are not able to describe, since only very inadequate terms are available to us for this. This transformation would be something like a realization, revealed by a single privileged being, of what awaits all of humanity when it has made its spiritual contact with the earth and its elements: a rising in a higher spirit, a concentration on a fixed spiritual point, the establishing of connections with other spiritual centers across cosmic spaces. Little by little, or even in a lightning-like inspiration, the alchemist discovers the meaning of his long toils. The mysteries of energy and matter lie openly before him, and at the same time the infinite perspectives of life are revealed to him. He holds the key to the mechanics of the universe. He himself establishes new relationships between his own, now “animated” spirit and the world spirit striving for concentration in eternal progress. Should certain radiations of the “philosophical powder” be the cause of the transmutation of the psyche? René Alleau writes:
“Thus the Philosopher’s Stone represents the first stage that can help man to rise to the Absolute. Beyond this stage begins the mystery. And on this side of it there is no secret, no esotericism, no shadows other than those who cast our desires and above all our arrogance. But just as it is much easier to settle for ideas and words than to accomplish something with your hands, with pain and effort in silence and loneliness, it is also more convenient to do something in the so-called <Pure> Thoughts to seek his refuge, as chest to chest to wrestle with the heaviness and darkness of matter. Alchemy forbids its students any subterfuge of this kind. She confronts them face to face with the great mystery … It promises us only one thing: if we fight relentlessly to free ourselves from ignorance, the truth itself will eventually fight for us and in the end win victory over everything. Then perhaps true metaphysics will begin.”
 The method consists in the fact that, by means of a magnetic field, the mixture that is to be melted is hung up in a vacuum, i.e. without it coming into contact with any body.
 Professor Ralph Milne Farley, a member of the U.S. Senate and professor of modern physics at the Military Academy at West Point, has drawn attention to the fact that certain biologists ascribe the phenomenon of aging to an accumulation of heavy water in the organism. The elixir of life of the alchemists would therefore be a substance that has the property of separating out and eliminating the heavy water. Such substances are contained in water vapour. Why should they not also be present in a liquid water treated in a special way?