Introduction

I have this CD, in my enormous CD collection, with the powerful title: ‘Shut up and play your guitar’ by Frank Zappa. He made this CD to encourage other people to just ‘shut up’ and pick up any instrument they loved and start playing. In my humble opinion this title means: ‘Do not think to much, just do the work and things will happen.’ If you want to learn to play an instrument the only thing that you need to do is practice, practice and practice. You can read al the books in the world about ‘how to play’ an instrument but if you only read about how to play or if you only think about ‘o’ I am going to play on an instrument but only keep reading and thinking about it and hardly or never practice, you never learn to play an instrument.

 

We tend to make alchemy complicated

Plant alchemy for example, isn’t very difficult. It is our thinking mind that makes it difficult. Our mind just loves to be occupied, especially the lower part of our mind. Sometimes referred to as Ruach. It loves to think! And al those spinning thoughts can make your mind dizzy and ‘drunk’ on thoughts. And keep you away from the actual work. We have to be smarter and try to tame our Ruach! When your ordinary mind takes over, there is less room in your mind for growth. You have to be armed and aware, controlling the lower mind is an ongoing process. As Shunryu Suzuki said: ‘Always keep your beginners mind, in the beginners mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few (Suzuki, 1987).’

The thoughts we can have are: ‘Where to begin?’ ‘What to buy?’ ‘Or I think it will be very expensive!’ ‘Or, I have to have this perfect space first where I can build a lab.’

So, when these ‘risings’ come, stand still for a moment! Sit down with a pencil and paper and look at your thoughts again. Ask yourself: What are these thoughts? Where do they come from? Are those thoughts important? Are my thoughts helping me? Do these thoughts bring me anywhere? Write the answers down on that piece of paper and when your answers are mostly negative, stop them! Instead go into action.

A simple trick to get into action instead of only thinking

Pick up a new piece of paper and contemplate for a moment. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is it that you want to do or make?
  • What do you need?
  • What budget do you need?
  • What book(s) do you want to buy?
  • What lab equipment do you need?
  • Who can you contact for help?
  • Add your own questions.
  • Break it down in little parts.

And most important be patience, building a lab and starting alchemy takes time. Next is a photo of the lab build by my husband and me.

Where to begin?

Begin with the art of distillation. My first alchemy teacher told me more then eight years ago, start with distilling wine, at least 3 liters of 90% alcohol. It is a good thing that he didn’t saw my face when I was reading his e-mail otherwise he would have seen my disappointment. Because I thought I would start with making some fancy tinctures. In the beginning I didn’t enjoy it very much but at some point it changed. I started to see and feel that the alcohol I was distilling was the foundati
on of my work. The vessel, that carried or hold all other ingredients. That was one of the greatest lessons I learned on my path of practical alchemy.

It taught me to be patience. It taught me to tune in on my work on a deeper level. What happened in the lab, also got in sync with my mind and soul. Nowadays, I still distill my own alcohol out of red wine. And it brings me inspiration, joy and gives me a lot of energy. January/February is an excellent time to do it because then you have your alcohol ready, when at the end of the summer your herbs are ready, you can continue your work and stay in the flow.

So I encourage you to do the same. Start with distilling red wine, buy wine that is around 14%. Distill it at least 6 times, it gets stronger every round. Try to get it around 80 or 90%. Much higher isn’t needed if you store it. When you want to use your alcohol you only have to distill it one more time to get it to that 99% or 100%.  I know there are a lot of other ways to do the distilling much quicker but
if you give this a change you never want to use anything else ever again. Grapes are attributed to the Sun and have a lot of energy. And it gives your tinctures much more taste and what I have noticed myself is that the aura around the tinctures is larger, more vibrant.

I already spoke about that it gave me the opportunity to tune in on my work on a deeper level. When you are not familiar with this and want to experience this as well. You can do a meditation in your lab.

While in your lab, sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor, let your hands rest on your knees, palms down. Do not sit with your back against the back of the chair. Keep your back straight. Now breathe in slowly, like if you are smelling a flower, breathe out slowly as well. You can keep your eyes open or closed. Tune in on the work you are doing and observe what happens in your mind and body. Do this for about 10 minutes. If you like you can take notes after your session.
Well I hope that this article gives you inspiration to start on the path of alchemy or even better continue on your path.