Alchemy and the Goddess

My posts have been sparse lately as we travel coast to coast and back home. Experiencing all these climates has been enjoyable but a bit hard on the environmental body controls. Rosemary and I are both a bit under the weather (so to speak) from the changes. It was good to get home to Colorado last evening and back to our regular schedules. My posts will be regular again as well!

Last night Rosemary and I hosted our “First Monday” Spiritual Exploration Group meeting here in Colorado Springs. We had a good turn out for our topic of the month: What’s All This Hype about 2012? What’s the Basis for it and What Do We Think Might Happen? I found some interesting references to both Alchemy and the Goddess in my readings in preparation for the discussion. There seems to be a strong synchronistic potential at work in my life. The books I am choosing to read and the topics I am choosing to write about and discuss all align with the topic of this post. More of this as we work through the week

The first story of my current book on Alchemy (Alchemy, an Introduction to the Symbolism and the Psychology by Marie-Louise von Franz) is from the Codex Marcianus. It is called The Prophetess Isis to Her Son and is about Isis seeking the secret of “the holy technique” – the preparation of gold and silver. Interestingly Alchemy and the Goddess are immediately linked not only in my mind (see my post on March 25) but in the very first material I take up on the subject!

The story itself is fascinating: Isis encounters an angel who wants to have sex with her in exchange for the knowledge of alchemy. She puts him off until she obtains the knowledge; then he admits this is above him and he needs to hand her off to another more powerful angel. The next day the more powerful angel appears; this one too wants to have sex with Isis. Again she refuses until she receives the secrets of the preparation of gold and silver. In the story the recipe is actually presented but the names of the various substances used are so arcane as to be not identifiable today. But Isis does obtain the secret knowledge and is allowed to share it with her son, Horus.

The significant part of this is where von Franz takes the discussion: she draws the parallel between this myth and the creation myth of the Bible where Eve is the source of the “fall” when she suggests Adam eats the apple whereby they gain knowledge. Of course the Isis story is a positive one: not only does Isis succeed in gaining the information she sought, but she also avoided payment for it by not having sex with the angels. The Eve story is negative: the payment for the knowledge gained is expulsion from the garden. Von Franz would say both stories are archetypal and related; they likely have the same source. The Biblical story is much younger than the Isis story. How is it that the newer story was twisted to have a negative outcome to the gain of knowledge?

And this becomes the crux of the evolution of western civilization, even consciousness! There was an ancient track that seemed to consider knowledge as good. And women were the seekers and keepers of knowledge. This track was diverted a few thousand years ago to declare knowledge as evil; and the cause of this evil was Woman! What is this all about?

Is knowledge good or evil? You might think this is a silly question in the post-modern world of today when science and technology are supreme icons of advancement. But this debate continues. How many people today would still say Eve was wrong in offering the apple, knowledge, to Adam? How many people today deny the science behind the evolutionary process? Believe it or not there is still a sizable portion of the population of this country that believes the Earth is the center of the Universe! (And I suspect these people do not want to discover anything that would contradict their beliefs.)

Is knowledge evil; is ignorance bliss? The question is not as simple as it seems. My posts will continue to consider the question – as we seek answers through knowledge!

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