A is for Alchemy

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A very basic explanation of alchemy is that it transforms something common into something special. Derived from the Arabic word al-kimia, alchemy can be either a practice, or a way of life:

As a practice, the focus of this ancient art is an attempt to change base metals into gold—making the alchemist outwardly rich—financial gain.

As a way of life, the focus is on living with intention, achieving wisdom, and doing the work it takes to become a little more enlightened every day—making the alchemist inwardly rich—inner wealth.

What area of your life could use a touch of alchemy?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan


© 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

28 thoughts on “A is for Alchemy

  1. A is for Alchemy. Teacher, is there going to be a quiz at the end? (Smile…) I love alchemy! I love that the common is really precious precious gold and silver. What area of my life could use a touch of alchemy? Always, always, I would love to realize the total enlightenment of what already exists. To realize with the whole body and soul that this–THIS–is precious beyond everything. The deepest alchemy.

    • Kathy – Yes, yes. You’re talking about alchemy of the heart. In my experience, this occurs when a person comes into a full realization that they’re an extension of source energy.

  2. Laurie,

    Good morning,

    I could use some alchemy this morning to change my attitude !! I feel cranky, and ready to burst for no reason.

    I generally my alchemy is and has been a practice, I have had many false leads, yet I have had just as many creative active awakenings…

    I am Love, Jeff

    • Jeff – It sounds like your creative juices are all dressed up with no place to go. Can you grab your camera and get out of the house today — right now — and go somewhere you’ve never been to let those creative juices burst as you shift your perspective through the camera’s lens?

  3. My inner alchemist has been anxious for no outward reason. Usually if I write down what needs to be done on a “to do” list I can relax and do it by the numbers. Over the past few weeks this hasn’t worked as well. With an unusual and annoying ringing in my left ear and muscle pain across my chest on the same side from time-to-time as my frozen shoulder continues to thaw, I have had to reassess and slow down due to the distraction. I am in need of deep inner calm in abundance as I prepare for two days of open studio Nov 13 and 14.

    • Terrill – wrapping you in the energy of rich emerald green. With every in-breath, intentioinally draw in calm — letting it embrace you, inside and out. With every out-breath, release anything that’s not serving you well (tension, chaos, time-table, pain, worry).

      • Thank you Laurie 🙂 I just checked my collection of scarves and there is no emerald green. But there is one that is gorgeous with a sea green and cobalt blue, cadmium yellow and hot pink. I am going to where it even if it doesn’t perfectly match my outfit. I am not sure how much it is calming as it is uplifting. This combined with your emerald green wrap should carry me through the next few days with ease and grace. Plus, the homemade chicken vegetable soup is about ready. Thank you again!

      • Terrill – Your scarf sounds absolutely perfet. And of course chicken vegetable soup has been a cure-all for centuries 🙂 I’d say we’re cookin’ with oil!

  4. Hi Laurie and Team

    Alchemy is a fascinating story. The origin is far older than the Arabic, and the derivations include modern chemistry and astronomy.

    It is a fascinating story, as it shows in one sense how starting from any assumption, however far off that assumption is, and by testing the assumptions against reality, we can eventually (with a lot of trial and error) get to a position of reliable and accurate knowledge (within known limits).

    The Oxford gives the Etymology of Alchemy as (Note some of the characters of foreign words don’t work – use imagination):
    [a. OFr. alquimie, -emie, -kemie, -camie (also ar-), ad. med.L. alchimia (Pr. alkimia, Sp. alquimia, It. alchimia), a. Arab. al-kWmWQ, i.e. al the + kWmWQ, apparently a. Gr. vgl¬a, vgle¬a, found (c. 300) in the Decree of Diocletian against ‘the old writings of the Egyptians, which treat of the vgl¬a (transmutation) of gold and silver’; hence the word is explained by most as ‘Egyptian art,’ and identified with vgl¬a, Gr. form (in Plutarch) of the native name of Egypt (land of Khem or Khamè, hieroglyphic Khmi, ‘black earth,’ in contrast to the desert sand). If so, it was afterwards etymologically confused with the like-sounding Gr. vÚle¬a, pouring, infusion, f. vt- pf. stem of vŒ-eim to pour, cf. vÚl¾| juice, sap, which seemed to explain its meaning; hence the Renascence spelling alchymia and chymistry. Mahn (Etym. Unt. 69) however concludes, after an elaborate investigation, that Gr. vÚle¬a was probably the original, being first applied to pharmaceutical chemistry, which was chiefly concerned with juices or infusions of plants; that the pursuits of the Alexandrian alchemists were a subsequent development of chemical study, and that the notoriety of these may have caused the name of the art to be popularly associated with the ancient name of Egypt, and spelt vgle¬a, vgl¬a, as in Diocletian’s decree. From the Alexandrians the art and name were adopted by the Arabs, whence they returned to Europe by way of Spain.

    The alchemists started out by assuming that it was possible to transmute base metals into gold by ordinary sorts of practices. That assumption eventually proved false. We are now very confident that It is only possible to change base metals into gold with the sort of energies one gets at the core of a very large exploding star (much larger than our sun). And along the way, they figured out the beginnings of what is now our modern chemistry and astronomy.

    I love the way that it demonstrates that in a very real sense, it does not matter what we start out believing, as long as we believe the evidence of our senses, as we try out our beliefs in reality, and modify those beliefs to align with what we observe. Eventually, if we follow this process long enough, we will all reach an equivalent understanding – whatever our starting point, and whatever our particular path through the possibilities presented to us.

    To me, this seems to apply to the internal, as well as the external, and to discerning the links between them. And some of it takes a whole lot of reading ad investigation, and a lot of trial and error – some of it intensely painful and or disorienting.

    • Ted – I see you there front and center and I love the history that you shared, thank you. I especially appreciate when you said, “…it does not matter what we start out believing…whatever our starting point, and whatever our particular path through the possibilities presented to us.”

      yes, Yes, and YES again!

  5. How I make a living could definitely use some transformation; although I am good at what I do and have a good job (secure, excellent pay, health benefits), I know that I am not involved in a line of work that I love. I am merely working at what I am competent at. I need to get into the laboratory and see what kind of transformational processes I can mix together.

    • Barbara – I think that timing is everything. You’ve been providing value at your current place of employment. When the time is right, you’re going to move onto the next stage of serving humanity. I don’t know the particulars behind it (maybe even your own business), but it’s going to suit you to a “T” because it will align perfectly with your life purpose. I’m just excited to be a spectator watching it unfold from the sidelines and cheering you on!

  6. I am the night school student!
    Welcome to all, I have learned so much by reading your comments.
    I like where Ted was going with explanations about Chemistry and astronomy, that is my base understanding of the word-Alchemy.

    What area of my life could use alchemy?

    I would have to say my relationships…It seems like the energy or lack of is affecting the chemisrty that is there and making it dificult to determine the final outome of the reaction.

    • Well hello there, Miss Kim. I’m glad you arrived for the evening session. I think the comments are the best part of “class.” Perhaps you’ll find the perfect ingredient that will positively effect the chemistry of your relationships.

  7. What area of my life could use alchemy?

    Where does time management fit here? Now that I’m back to working finding time to do artwork, blogging, and keeping up with daily life there doesn’t seem to be enough time. Time is golden so I suppose I’m living alchemy as a practice right now.

    • Jean – Just wait my dear friend until we get to “T” – I think that class will serve you well. In the meantime, what if you test-drove a different perspective just for the weekend. Here’s the challenge: instead of “finding” time, as you mentioned, try “making” time instead. In other words, what if you scheduled the things you want to accomplish right in the pages of your planner — like an bona fide appointment — and keep them just like you would an appointment with your dentist, friend, or attorney. Give your time the same deserved respect. As you said, time is golden.

  8. A touch of alchemy always for me comes down to hoped for effectiveness in getting through to the kids in the classroom. There is nothing more rewarding than making inroads in writing with students who have (particularly) overcome the language barrier in a heaviy Hispanic school system. The “inner wealth” sought by the practicing achemist can be achieved with that extra effort that isn’t always easy to navigate.

    On another note, Laurie, Lucille and I picked on a gallon of George’s Aloi Vera yesterday at a local ‘Vitamin Shoppe.’ It was available in a store! It is indeed just like drinking water, and you’d almost think that it is water! Ha! But all kidding aside, I will followed the regimen and hope it’s a head start to whatever implications await after the diagnosis, whether it be DV, IBS or impacted colon. As always thanks so much for the muc-valued advice!

    • SamOhhhhhh to be a youngster on the receiving end of your teaching. I can just hear the passion you have for the classroom. I’m grateful we have caring, dedicated teachers like you.

      I’m thrilled that you found George’s Aloe Vera juice. I didn’t know they carry it at the Vitamin Shoppe — thank you for letting me know! That makes it helpful when sharing that information with others. Have a wonderful weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on tap for Monday over at Wonders In The Dark.

      • Sam – That’s a great price because when a person buys it on-line and have it shipped, they have to pay shipping as well and a gallon of aloe vera juice weighs about 9 pounds, or so. Have a fantastic weekend!

  9. Ok, I am a little late, but I am here for class. I LOVE Alchemy. I just finished reading The Alchemist (modern classic) and thought perhaps I must have been the last person on the planet to read it, but almost everyone I have shared my experience with has not read it yet! Now it just keeps coming up daily……hhmmm. I think that Paulo Coelho is my new favorite author since I also loved The Witch of Portobello and his own life story is quite interesting. THank you Ted for the great history, too, I feel like I know you since I was privileged to meet you through distance healing.

    • Lisa The Alehemist is among my all-time favorite books. One of my favorite parts of the book is when the camel driver says, “All of our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.” (I had to read The Witch orf Portobello twice before I could wrap my head around what was taking place in the story line).

  10. I’ve long been fascinated with the science of alchemy – what a neat new way of looking at it. I’m hoping that it will take place here on the journey thru the alphabet.

    I’d have to say that having energy would be the area of my life most in need of alchemy.

    Lisa, I just finished “The Devil & Miss Prym” this weekend – good! I discovered Coehlo a couple of years ago so he’s new to me, too.

    • Cindy Lou – Okay, I’ve just added another book (The Devil & Miss Prym) to my reading list — thank you for the recommendation! When you say “having energy” would be the area for alchemy in your life, do you mean energy as in physical vitality and stamina?

    • Futureabroadkz – It’s my perspective that alchemy can, indeed, be a way of life. Each day with an eye on what is positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing — transforming.

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