Spagyrics is a combination of 2 Greek words that mean “to separate and recombine” or more accurately “to separate and reawaken.” In all spagyric practices a plant is separated into its 3 Philosophical Principles, called Sulphur, Mercury and Salt, each being purified and exalted physically and spiritually through various laboratory processes. The process is completed by recombining the parts back together into what is considered a more holistic, evolved state of its medicine. In this way, all of spagyrics can be boiled down to three basic words: separation, purification, and recombination- all of which is being done to these 3 principles in the plants.
Because the Sulphur, Mercury and Salt is present in the medicine, it will operate upon the human Soul, Spirit and Body together as one, initiating a process of deep transformational healing. We will explore these 3 Philosophical Principles in more detail below.
The spagyric process can be thought of as the cycle of life: birth, death and re-birth. A plant is taken through a rite of passage, an initiation, where it leaves its body behind as its soul is volatilized into the heavenly realm through distillation. Then moving into the underworld as the body is slowly fermented, putrefied, decayed, and gradually gives up its volatile Spirit through the generation of alcohol. This spirit is resurrected through rectification, the alcohol being subsequently distilled, further exalting the plant physically and spiritually. The Body is then purified through Fire, Water, and Earth in order to yield a pure, crystalline mineral salt.
These 3 purified principles of the plant are then re-united, where the life of the plant is reborn and reawakened as it went through a process of transformation. Not just a process of transformation, but the process of transformation that everything in life goes through in order to further its evolution. The way I see it, this process is actually healing the archetype of the plant. Traditionally, this process is usually described as bringing that particular species to a greater state of perfection.
Each step in the spagyric process is a reflection of the processes all of nature goes through in her cycles of transformation. It is exactly how we go about enacting change and healing in our own lives. Each process reflects a certain stage of development, a certain phase of life that we all go through- each of which is necessary in order to refine us into the human we were destined to become. Some people learn the lesson of each stage, others get stuck somewhere in the process. The mere act of practicing alchemy gives you insights into these life cycles, and doing the work directly accelerates your movement through them- again, helping to consciously assist your evolution.
The Three Philosophical Principles form the crux of herbal alchemy, for it is these principles that you work with in order to produce the wide variety of alchemically prepared medicines. Whether making simple spagyric tinctures or essences, or the complex preparations such as the Quintessence or the Plant Stone, it is these Three Philosophical Principles that you are directly working with in laboratory alchemy.
The spagyric process is intended to separate out the base
or coarse matter of a plant, potentiate the spirit of the plant
to higher energetic levels, and then reunite the plant
with its original essence.
The Three Alchemical Principles
In the alchemical philosophy, it is said that everything in the universe can be separated into three basic principles.
These 3 components represent the physical, spiritual, and energetic components that are separated and recombined during the spagyric process.
Sulphur 🜍 Soul – Essential Oils: In plants, the essential oils are symbolized as the spirit of the plant
Mercury ☿ Spirit– Alcohol: the Mercury components of the plant are the water and fermented alcohol.
Salt 🜔 Body – Mineral Salts: The Salt component of the plant involves the physical matter.
Spagyric remedies combine the phytotherapeutic effects of botanical medicine with the energetic aspects of homeopathy. The preparations themselves have active biochemical constituents based on their specific herbal, and sometimes homeopathic metal, components. However, the spagyric process itself then potentiates the energetic signature of the plants in much the same way succussion and dilution do in the homeopathic process.
Alchemical Principles in Ancient Plant Alchemy
History of Alchemy
Spagyric remedies have their roots in ancient Hermetic, Egyptian and medieval alchemy. More specifically, spagyric medicine is the application of alchemical philosophy and techniques to create medicinal plant remedies. Alchemy as a science was always more than just the pursuit of turning base metals into gold. It stood for the much broader concepts of refinement, transformation, and turning the mundane into the divine. Its application in the field of herbal medicine is what initially inspired Hahnemann’s early energetic theories.
Throughout the centuries, the goal of alchemists was to attain a comprehensive understanding of nature. A holistic philosophy served as the basis of their undertakings. The central point of this philosophy was the understanding that all levels of existence stand in a relationship to each other based upon natural laws. The ancient alchemical text, The Emerald Tablet, by Heremes Tristemigus, describes these laws, such as the Law of Polarity and the Law of the Rhythm of Nature, which help serve as the basis for spagyric philosophy and practical application.
Why Do We Study Alchemy ?
Alchemy is concerned with the elevation of all organisms to their highest attainable level of perfection . When speaking of an organism this includes all forms of matter, whether they are organic or inorganic, as the alchemist considers all matter to be alive (or it could not continue occupy space or maintain its physical form). Each organism possesses a differing level of the vital life force. Some have enough vital force to keep their form, while others have such an abundance of life that they can reproduce and further energise and/or stabilise the vital force in other lesser organisms. To understand the ambitions of the Alchemist, one must simply understand five simple tenets of the Art and Science. Modern Alchemist John Reid, most effectively summarises these five basic tenets of Alchemy when he writes:
“That the entire universe is divine in origin. Therefore wisdom and guidance must be sought from the source from which all creation flows”.
“That all organisms, no matter how subtle or gross they are, have within them the divine
spark of life and are interrelated with each other. It is therefore our task to understand this kinship, so that we may utilize inspired knowledge to aid in our understanding of how to prepare the quintessence of our matter”.
“That all organisms are in a state of constant evolution as they continue their synthesis towards perfection”.
“That humans are a part of the universe. Therefore, they are divine in origin and they can affect all organisms on all spheres of existence by their actions or inaction”.
“That humans, by understanding the basic laws that govern their beings and conversely the entire universe may learn to recognize the divine spark of vital energy in all organisms, isolate it, purify it, and manipulate it to speed up the processes of evolution”.
These five tenets of Alchemy signify that there is a system by which man can learn about the mechanics of the universe, that by this knowledge one can in some small way begin to comprehend the Divine and thereby to elevate ourselves and other organisms by applying this knowledge. This is why we study Alchemy.
Alchemy is not a science used to ‘make stuff’. The production of elixirs, potions, and remedies is not the reason we study or work in Alchemy. Granted, these wonderful materials are often a by- product of the work we do in the laboratory and they do figure into the concept of how Alchemists achieve physical and spiritual balance and how we prepare ourselves to be receptive to initiatory experience.