The Plant Kingdom
Here we enter the realm where presently most of my focus lies, within alchemy. Plants are our ancient companions and ancestors. We owe the air we breath to them, the fruit and flowers bestow upon us joys of delight to our senses and our being. They are the most ancient and true form of medicine known to man.
The Plant world equally shares in different planetary correspondences. One must note though that in the Plant Kingdom correspondences aren’t as straightforward as being limited to one ruler per plant.
Stinging Nettle is known generally as a Plant governed by Mars for example, but it is interesting to consider that when it is used as fiber for rope or string it also manifests a correspondence to Saturn who is a binding/limiting archetype, like the quality of rope which is used for binding, tying, fastening.
Another Plant in which we can observe this ambivalence quite clearly is the Hemp Plant. This marvelous plant is considered in most ancient texts of correspondences to be a plant governed by Saturn, which is quite obvious since Hemp was used throughout all of ancient history as the main source of fiber for ropes and clothing being remarkably strong and durable. Interestingly enough most of these texts applying Saturn as Ruler have very little information regarding the other uses of Hemp.
From my own experience the psychoactive properties of the Hemp-Flower are highly Mercurial in their effects. She has strong correspondence with Mercury and also with Venus by increasing sensuality and intimacy. Yet the strong Saturnian Influence can be seen to spill over into her more psychoactive application when it is used with the wrong intention or abusively, then she tends to manifest as a binding, limiting, sedating force and loses her mercurial expanding properties. She is very easy to communicate with when under her effect and she will share much knowledge on her properties and use if approached with respect. A true Master Plant Teacher. Being Stigmatised as being governed by Saturn is a shame, for in her most exalted form and appearance she exudes an expansiveness that is reminiscent of Jupiter with strong Mercurial Transformative Qualities.
Difference between Tinctures and Alchemical & Spagyric Elixirs
Generally today when we prepare a plant as medicine, we use the method of tincturing it or we use the radical modern method in which we isolate one single molecule out of hundreds/thousands from a plant and use that to treat a disease or symptom.
Both methods are incomplete and while a normal tincture does hold quite a few medicinal benefits it is lacking in a very important component.
This missing component in alchemy was known as the SALT of the Plant which is contained in the leftover matter that is filtered off and generally thrown away when making a traditional tincture.
To further clarify, alchemy believes in 3 principles that make up every thing that exists.
Sulfur,Mercury and Salt
Sulfur being the individual Soul or consciousness. Mercury being the universal Spirit/Mind. Salt being the Physical Aspect. In the Plant realm Sulfur=Essential Oil, Spirit=Alcohol, Salt=Mineral Salts (obtained by burning Plant to ashes.)
Outside of Alchemy/Spagyrics when we make a standard tincture we are extracting only the soul of a plant(sulfur) into the spirit of alcohol(mercury). But we throw away the Salt/Body. To understand what this might do to the effects of a plant when ingested, we can take notice that a regular tincture will effect us more strongly on a soul(spiritual) and spirit(mental) level, rather than the physical, since it is constituted of only those elements. The Salts act as an important vehicle for the proper assimilation of the medical constituents into the body.
In Alchemy we generally create an elixir by first water-distilling the plant matter to obtain its essential oil(Sulfur), we then take the plant matter and ferment it to produce our alcohol(mercury). The leftovers from the fermentation are taken and carefully burned to a fine white ash. We then take this white ash and pour distilled water over it to leech out the water-soluble salts that have been released from the plant matter through burning.
By evaporating the water we obtain highly alkaline salts, which we purify several times by dissolving in water and again evaporating until they form beautiful crystals.
This is the Purified Perfect Body/Salt of the Plant. It is these Salts that when added back into the tincture allow the body to actually effectively absorb and assimilate the medicinal constituents of the plant.
In Spagyrics we still use all 3 ingredients but we use a less refined method to prepare and work with these constituents. Here we can take a short path in which we simply extract the soul of the plant(plant oils, compounds) with the spirit(alcohol),instead of using fermentation to obtain our spirit, we can skip that step and use high proof alcohol 95-96% minimum. The Body is still purified by calcination to obtain the salts, and all 3 principles are then recombined.
Furthermore what is interesting from a chemical/scientific perspective is that we have elaborate esterification processes occurring when we mix the Soul of the Plant with the Mercury.
The Essential Oils of the Plant react with the Alcohol to form complex Esters. When we add the highly alkaline salts to this solution, we have further saponification processes which begin a whole series of catalytic acid-base reactions with all the different organic molecules contained within the plant. Many Pro-Drug reactions happening, the compounds transformed into a new state using nothing other than the plant itself. It is exactly this process that produces as a result medicine that is truly exalted and which works on all levels of ones being spiritual, mental and physical.
The Alchemists of old understood how to evolve a plant into a more refined and complex panacea of wonders compared to its original state of being an herb.
This is why these Alchemical Elixirs are Potent Talismans of Transformation. By using all 3 components of a plant we are effectively attuning it to work on all 3 systems within our own self. Furthermore we are completely killing the plant breaking it apart into its most fundamental 3 principles and then recombining them into a higher more evolved state, raising it like a phoenix to new life.