alchemy:  Ancient Discipline of Holistics

If there’s one word in the English language that everybody uses, but nobody seems to understand, it is “alchemy.” If you ask, most folks would probably define it as “an archaic and totally obsolete pseudoscience, whose goal was to turn lead into gold.”  Yet that isn’t the way the word is used:  instead, it is widely used in modern English as a way of describing various processes and pursuits (i.e., “modern alchemy,” or “alchemical synergy”).  The meaning in such cases seems clear and contemporary, if hard to define, which strongly suggests that the concept itself is far from obsolete.

But is it archaic?  One who studies the origins of any of the arts or sciences will hear:“…of course this concept originated in the thinking of the alchemists, who believed…”

The strong implication is that the alchemists lived a long time ago, poor things, and were trying their very best back then to tackle subjects that were far too difficult for them to successfully handle with “the primitive and largely unworkable conceptual tools available in that distant time.”

This certainly does make it sound like it was an archaic pursuit. And, that is true, to the extent that “archaic” simply means “very old,” because alchemy is indeed ancient in origin – the very earliest historical documents mention alchemists and their activities.

So, alchemy is at the very least several thousand years old, and most of the existing
documents that refer to the origins of alchemical thought describe it as much older than that.  It is said by the people that knew it best to be a word from the original
language, the language spoken before people and their languages became separated.

Therefore, it is at least 100,000 years old, and perhaps much older.  A few traditions hold that it predates writing, and therefore should never be written down, and quite a few traditions hold that it, at the very least,  predates capitalization, and, therefore, the word itself should never be capitalized (which latter tradition I choose to honor.)

Having said all that, just what exactly is alchemy?  Well, it is an ancient, but far from
obsolete, discipline of holistics – a study at the multidimensional intersection where
science, religion, magic, art, and mystery – joined by symbols, the power of thought, and the spoken word – become the fabric of reality.  It was the origin of all of the arts and sciences:  chemistry, metallurgy, mysticism, sculpture, physics, spiritualism, medicine, astrology, psychology, symbolism, healing, the making and using of pigments – and again, perhaps even writing itself.

There were no specialists in those days – an educated person recognized that true power lay in the intersections, where concepts join together, and sought not to isolate them, but rather to seek knowledge at the places where they interact.  And that concept is as true, as alive, and as worth pursuing today as it ever was.