Alchemy is a creation-centered spiritual pursuit. Our view is not that we are somehow "fallen" or under some sort of curse but that everything is a blessing and that everything in nature has a purpose. Furthermore there is an invisible interconnection that permeates throughout the material world which the natural sciences are now beginning to better appreciate.
It is now known that trees, for example, are communicating with each other through networks in their roots and also through intermediary systems such as mosses like mycelia that share their habitat. Through these means the forest inhabitants are continually sharing nutrients and information. They can even impede the potential spread of unwelcome plants by emitting toxic chemicals. And these networks can continue for many kilometers.
But this wisdom is ancient and has been known to sages and alchemists for centuries - perhaps thousands of years. This concept of the interconnected and interdependent nature of creation is described in spiritual alchemy in terms of the anima mundi or "world Soul" which also explains the highly animated level of trees and other inhabitants of our world which were considered by the purely materialistic sciences to be inanimate.
This concept of the world Soul is expressed in this illustration which is called "Universal Man". It is an illumination from the manuscript Liber Divinorum Operum: a 12th-century "Book of Divine Works" by the Rhineland mystic, visionary and alchemist, Hildegard von Bingen.
(photo: Biblioteca Statale, Lucca).
The occult axiom "As above: so below" is a paraphrase of this same principle and in Hildegard's painting we see that the microcosm of the individual person is a reflection of the macrocosm of the universe.
This photo is taken in a vacant section here in Germany and is "overgrown" with "weeds". There are at least a dozen highly potent healing plants growing here which we have foraged for medicinal use. Before I describe them and their application, I want to share an experience that my partner Doreen and I had when she was pregnant with our first child, Indra.
This second illustration is the more well-known "Universal Man" or "Vitruvian Man" by Leonardo da Vinci who was also an alchemist.
We can see that, again, the correspondence between the sacred and the profane is represented by sacred geometry. In this second example the esoteric principle of "squaring the circle" is central to the composition.
This woodcut is Emblema XXI Of Michael Maier's 1618 alchemical work, Atalanta Fugiens. Once again we see the symbol of Squaring the Circle. The details of this symbolism is dealt with at length in our up-coming book:
The Salamander: Keeper of the Secret Fire. (Available September 2020).
Returning to our subject at hand; there is a supra-conscious level to nature that we are beginning to recognize in formal science thanks to more sophisticated and sensitive methods of observation.
Spiritual alchemy is no "pie in the sky" speculation but a down to earth system. The concept of the Magic Garden is one of many practical elements that explains how some of this knowledge can help us in pragmatic ways in our day to day life. There is a very important aspect of the universe that can be accessed by the healing nature of many plants that are considered weeds. In fact it is very often the plants that are considered "weeds" that can have the greatest healing properties. Stinging nettles, for example, are full of nutirents and are a proven remedy for rheumatoid arthritis.
The reason for this and a central aspect of the concept of the "Magic Garden" is that the soil itself is also communicating to the greater ecosystem and it will magnetically attract the plants that it needs to provide what nutrients that it is lacking for a well-balanced and healthy constitution. In other words, a soil that is lacking nitrogen, for example, will draw lupins or other plants to grow in it which can bring the lacking and needed element.
Therefore it follows that it is the poorest soils which cannot sustain many plants that will attract the plants which can provide the most nutrients. It is these plants that have the most powerful healing properties.
I was living in a house in a rural district in Germany and soon after Doreen and I learnt that she was pregnant she moved in with me. Within weeks of her moving in clusters of a plant known as Frauenmantel or Lady's Mantel began popping up in the yard and growing like "weeds" by our house.
The botanical name for this plant is Alchemilla vulgaris and it has a larger variant Alchemilla mollis which is more commonly grown in cultuvated gardens. The name is attached to alchemy because it was believed that the water droplets that the plant's leaves sweat in summer produced the most pure form of water. They were thought to be an elixer for sustained youth and were used in attempts to turn base metals into gold.
Amongst its common names in English are: lion’s foot, bear’s foot and nine hooks. It belongs to the rose family.
The plant is rich in tannins, salicylic acid, essential oil, bitter substances and phytosterols. It also contains vitamin C and numerous minerals. A traditional use of the herb is in the making of an herbal tea which acts to strengthen the uterus and thereby to facilitate easier birth. The herb is also known to enhance milk production after birth and it reduces pain associated with menstruation.
So it is not just the needs of the soil that are catered for by the interconnected intuition of the dynamics of the world soul but also the needs of those who can use the benefits of the minerals and substances that are provided by these natural medicines.
Returning to the "weeds" in the photo above, we will now look at them individually.
This plant derives its Latin name partly after Achilles who famously used yarrow as a field dressing for his battle wounds and covered his body with a tincture made from the leaves to stay invincible against arrows in the Trojan War. Millefolium translates to "coming of a thousand leaves," which refers to its many small, feather-like leaves
Yarrow is an aromatic perennial plant from the aster or Asteraceae (Compositae) family - a close relative of chamomile and chrysanthemums.
Among its many common names are; carpenter's weed, bloodwort, knight's milfoil, old man's pepper, staunchgrass and nosebleed.
A leading and commonly available medicine plant, Yarrow is a complete first-aid treatment for wounds and nosebleeds. It can also be used as a circulatory system remedy that both stops bleeding and moves stagnant blood which acts to clear blood clots and prevent further problems. It tones the blood vessels and lowers high blood pressure.
Yarrow can also be used for a wide range of menstrual problems, and is a first-rate fever herb, used as a hot tea to induce sweating.
Yarrow stalks can also be pounded and made into pulp that can be applied to ease swollen body parts, bruises and sprains.
Further uses of Yarrow:
* Helps fights bacteria and viruses.
* Promotes digestion and detoxification, Yarrow stops gall stones from forming and promotes appetite.
* Because of its drying effect, Yarrow works as a decongestant and can be effective against mucus formation caused by coughs and sinus infections.
* Alleviates allergies caused by dust, mold, pollen and dander.
* Can be used as first-aid for burns and ulcers and can treat certain skin conditions such as eczema.
* Because of it anti-inflammatory properties, it relieves pain from arthritis and rheumatism.
* Drinking a yarrow tea or tincture or placing a yarrow poultice or compress over the affected area can soothe the symptoms of Hemorrhoids .
This is a photo of some of our herbs drying with Yarrow top centre.
Coming soon: Mugwort: