But in this case she does it, and now it looks as if he is the liar. Abigail is asked about it, she and the other girls start a scene again and say Mary has bewitched them, so she does not have to answer the accusations, which is very clever of her. This is a character-trait we have known from the beginning of the play, she does everthing to aviod trouble even if it means to harm others. So he is arrested. Three months later we see Proctor and Elizabeth in his cell, they discuss whether he should confess, because that would save his life.
There we see how much they mean to each other, how deep their love is. She promises to support him in his decision - no matter what it is - and so he decides to confess because he is convinced that he is already a fraud, and he has no qualms to lie to the court in order to save his life. When the judges question him, they want him to sign a confession, but he does not want to do so, because then they would use his good name to justify the death-sentences. I have given you my soul; leave me my name! This is the prerequisite for the development in Salem. The very first time Proctor gets to know that there are witchcraft-trials in Salem is when he comes home from the fields one day and has a conversation with Elizabeth about Mary, their servant.
He does not know what court she is talking about and cannot believe what his wife tells him about the events in Salem. He knows that the girls, who have behaved strangely since that ominous night, were not bewitched, but they just had a shock because they were discovered dancing in the woods. He knows that from Abigail, who told him about it when they were alone. He wonders if the people in town will believe him because they do not doubt Abigail.
After his wife has accused him that he hesitates because he still longs for Abigail, he decides to go to the court to tell his story. Proctor is the first to make him think that the prisoners have only confessed to save themselves from being hanged, but Hale still believes that this is a case of witchcraft. In this conversation he says that Elizabeth was mentioned in the courtroom and soon the witch-hunters arrive and take her to jail.
Proctor goes to the court with Mary and when she finally tells the truth, Abigail denies it of course. Proctor wants to help Mary, calls Abigail a whore and admits his adultery. It looks as if he is the liar, but from this moment on Hale believes Proctor and sees what is really going on in this court. When Abigail is asked about it, she and the other girls start screaming, begin to shiver as if a cold wind is blowing and say Mary has bewitched them. Proctor is amazed how the town has developed and is arrested. Hale rushes away because he has realized now that the girls are frauds and he cannot be part of such a court any more.
Three months later Proctor is still in jail and on the day of his hanging Elizabeth comes to his cell. She tells him what has happened in the meantime and they talk about if he should confess, because that would save his life. He decides to confess because he does not want to die. But for reasons mentioned above he tears up his confession and goes to the gallows.
When reading this play it is useful to have background information which shows us why Arthur Miller wrote this play. So he investigated the American people whether they were somehow involved in Communism. Because of that he knew several writers who used to go to Communist meetings and supported these ideas, but he always refused to denounce them so that the police could arrest them. The second point is the real historical background.
Arthur Miller did some research on the real witch-trials of Salem in because he was very interested in them. The historical Salem was a Puritan town, so it is useful to talk about what the Puritans were and how their society was structured. The Puritans in the USA had decided to create their own social system.
They believed in the words of the Bible without any comment of a clerical person. There are also some interesting facts about the historical persons of Salem. In reality John Proctor was over 60 years old and Abigail was eleven. Miller changed that, otherwise the affair between them would be somehow inconceivable. Proctor was also not a farmer but a tavern keeper. He employed this technique so that the readers could identify themselves with the characters of that time. So you have the feeling you are among the people of Salem with all their emotions and actions.
For instance, he makes Proctor speak his mind openly so that we discover how limited some people and the judges are. Bly, W. D Agnes Dulian Author. Add to cart. Synopsis When reading this play it is useful to have background information which shows us why Arthur Miller wrote this play. The first important point is McCarthyism, which stands for the hunt of Communists.
Miller, The Crucible p. Sign in to write a comment. Read the ebook. Amerikanistik - Literatur Die dramatische Umsetzung des "T Anglistik - Literatur Die Darstellung innerer Konflikte und Amerikanistik - Literatur Die Desillusionierung des amerikanisc Anglistik - Literatur Wirksamkeit von Literatur im Amerika Publish now - it's free.
What is the human body but a constellation of the same powers that formed the stars in the sky? He who knows what iron is, knows the attributes of Mars. He who knows Mars, knows the qualities of iron. What would become of your heart if there were no Sun in the universe? What would be the use of your Vasa Spermatica if there were no Venus? Alchemy is not just a psychological process, nor is it a simple spiritual allegory, or an outdated chemical demonstration. It is a harmonious blending of physical and subtle forces, linked together through hidden correspondences, which lifts the subject, be it man or metal, to a more evolved state of being.
Alchemy What is alchemy and where did it all start? The origins of alchemy are presently lost to us in the mists of prehistory; perhaps they will be rediscovered in some future time. The traditions have been passed down to us through several thousand years of practitioners and there are many theories as to when and where it all began. A gift of the Gods, a gift from angelic beings, remnants from an ancient advanced culture, a spiritual knowledge passed down by numerous patriarchs of several religions, the list goes on.
Where and when are of lesser importance to us compared to the message itself. The alchemist Eireneaus Philalethes, writing in the late s, put the whole matter to rest very simply, saying: If it is founded on the eternal verities of Nature, why need I trouble my head with the problem whether this or that antediluvian personage had a knowledge of it? Enough for me to know that it is now true and possible, that it has been exercised by the initiated for many centuries, and under the most distant latitudes; it may also be observed that though most of these write in an obscure, figurative, allegorical, and altogether perplexing style, and though some of them have actually mixed falsehood with truth, in order to confound the ignorant, yet they, though existing in many 11 THE WAY OF THE CRUCIBLE series of ages, differing in tongue and nation, have not diversely handled one operation, but do all exhibit a most marvelous and striking agreement in regard to the main features of their teaching— an agreement which is absolutely inexplicable, except on the supposition that our Art is something more than a mere labyrinth of perplexing words.
Philalethes, Metamorphosis of Metals Franz Hartmann, the German occultist and author of numerous works in the latter half of the s, described alchemy in the following words: Alchemy is a Science of Soul that results from an understanding of God, Nature, and Man. A perfect knowledge of any one of them cannot be obtained without the knowledge of the other two, for these three are one and inseparable.
Alchemy is not merely an intellectual but a spiritual science, because that which belongs to the spirit can only be spiritually known. Nevertheless, it is also a science dealing with material things, for spirit and matter are only two opposite manifestations or poles of the eternal One. In other words, how that generation, which is accomplished during long periods of time in the due course of the action of evolution and natural law, may be accomplished in a comparatively short time, if these natural laws are guided and supplied with the proper material by the spiritual knowledge of man.
It is true that the external manipulations required for the production of certain alchemical preparations may, like an ordinary chemical process, be taught to anybody capable of reasoning. However, the results that such a person would accomplish would be without life, for only he in whom the true life has awakened can awaken it from its sleep in matter and cause visible forms to grow from the primordial Chaos of nature.
Alchemy in its highest aspect deals with the spiritual regeneration of man and teaches how a god may be made out of a human being or, to express it more correctly, how to establish the conditions necessary for the development of divine powers in man. For as the alchemists agree, the intention of Nature is that all metals attain to the state of gold, the perfect and incorruptible metal.
Through the Law of Correspondences, this attainment is true for all three kingdoms and planes of existence. Alchemy is the art of perfecting the metals, say the ancient sages; not only the metals of the forge, but those same metallic essences as reflected in our constitution. We see a shadowy reflection of this connection in our daily speech, such as having a heart of gold, or nerves of steel, or a cast iron stomach.
Each of our experiences in life can be attributed to the metals, from the leaden heaviness of grief, sorrow and poverty to the power and prestige of gold. Our attitude to the experience will determine whether it shines with metallic value or becomes tarnished by corruption. After obtaining our gold, we would certainly want to live long enough to enjoy it to the fullest. The goal of the alchemist is the search for perfection, bringing health on all levels, body, soul, and spirit; complete freedom from disease coupled with longevity and spiritual clarity.
For man or metals, this is the real transmutation, this is the Great Work of the alchemist. The alchemists admonish us to follow Nature, for Nature generously provides for all her creations. However, Nature has all of time to bring things to their destined state of perfection. The alchemical art is concerned with helping this transformation along more quickly, whether it be the perfection of metals or of ourselves. The work of the alchemist is concerned with the preservation of vitality and consciousness within his subject and ultimately provoking its evolution into a more refined being.
The changes we see in the laboratory do not take place without a corresponding change of conditions on other planes of existence. The crude body of matter is a reflection of its disorganized and immature spiritual counterpart. The processes of alchemy seek to remove the hinderances to this spiritual maturity, leading to the formation of an incorruptible spiritual body and its reflection in the outer world. The seeming differences between things are entirely due to varying rates and modes of vibration.
The alchemist seeks to follow Nature and keep in time with the music, the constant flow of consciousness. The Earth radiates a living field of energy and is constantly rained down upon with the energies of the cosmos. The influence of the Sun and Moon are especially important to the alchemist; they are the outer garment of the spiritual fire, the Celestial Fire, we seek to incorporate into our matter, or we seek to awaken the inherent fire already residing within. As a practical example, during the processes involving the deliquescence of salts, this is not just a simple dissolution of the matter; instead we seek to infuse into our subject the life energy radiating from earth, and the celestial fire raining down from the heavens.
The medium of exchange for this is the moist vapor which surrounds and permeates our planet. Water is the carrier of these subtle energies. Our matter draws in this energy, concentrating and condensing it into a vehicle we can work with. Think about plants, getting infused all year to develop their healing potentials and then think about minerals getting infused for millions of years, and you will understand why the sages have all claimed that the most powerful medicines are to be found in the mineral realm.
The cycle of the seasons, the pulse of Nature, is the first and most obvious of the external influences which affect alchemical works. The practical alchemist can learn a great deal by working in a garden and observing the course of Nature throughout the year. The positive phase of the year, from the spring equinox to the autumn equinox, is dominated by the Volatile, active elements of Air and Fire.
During this time the vital essence and Celestial Fire are actively on the rise. This is the time to begin new works. The deliquescence of salts to capture Celestial Fire, processes of exaltation such as distillation and sublimation, regeneration by cohobation and circulations are all favored at this time of the year.
The negative phase of the year, running from the autumn equinox through winter to the spring equinox, is dominated by the Fixed energies of Water and Earth. The life force begins to hibernate and things start to fall apart. This is a time for works of fermentation, putrefaction, incineration and calcination. A time to separate the pure from the impure.
It is also a time to work on salts by dissolution and recrystallization. Each day of the week is under the rule of a particular planetary energy; in fact our names for the days are derived from the planets themselves or from the names of gods and goddesses associated with the planet. These associations are shown in the table below. For example, if we are working with a Venus ruled herb, we should schedule the various operations to be performed on Fridays. However, as a practical limit, consideration of planetary hours is as far as we need to go. The concept of planetary hours derives from the ancient Chaldean astrologers who divided the time from sunrise to sunset into twelve equal segments called the day hours, and from sunset to sunrise into twelve segments called the night hours.
The progression of these hours is always the same, running from Saturn to the Moon in the same order as the spheres arise on the Qaballistic Tree of Life. The traditional method for calculating the planetary hours involves finding the times of sunrise and sunset for a specific location and dividing that interval by twelve to obtain the length of the planetary hour for that day.
The length of these hours changes by about four minutes each day, being longer in the summer and shorter in the winter. The same process is applied to the time interval between sunset and sunrise, to obtain the night hours. It all seems like a nightmare of calculation, but there are tables and programs you can find on the Internet which do all the work for you; all you have to know is what day it is and where in the world you are.
There is an easier method which is popular among many artists and was the method favored by Frater Albertus at the Paracelsus College. The method derives from an earlier Rosicrucian teaching. In this method the twenty-four-hour day, from midnight to midnight, is divided into seven equal periods. The periods follow the same order as above, and the time period that encompasses sunrise to am is ruled by the planetary ruler of that day.
The following table illustrates the divisions which are used year round and based on local time for any location. Wednesday, between am and am, would be ideal, but we have other appointments to keep and cannot do the work until the weekend. Saturday has a Mercury hour between pm and midnight, but the influence of Saturn is constrictive and cold, not very conducive to our present aim. Sunday has a Mercury hour between am and pm and the exalting influence of the Sun will add power to the extraction process, so this would be a much better time to do our work.
For all of these elections of time, get to know the nature of the planets so you will be able to determine if their influence will help or hinder the work you have planned. Since all of the various systems of planetary hour division agree that the hour of sunrise is ruled by the planet of that day, it is always your safest bet for important works. In fact everything on our planet is heavily influenced by the course of the moon. Some believe that the earth and moon share the same subtle etheric body and the cycles of the moon modulate this energy body in a predictable manner. The practical alchemist utilizes this modulated energy to assist works in the laboratory.
The first and most obvious lunar cycle is that of the waxing and waning of the moon each month. The Waxing Moon is good for Enriching an Essential element by circulations, sublimations, or distillations. Its magnetic influence draws things up, volatilizing, exalting, spiritualizing them. The Waning Moon is good for Separating the Pure from the Impure whether by fermentation, extraction, or calcination, etc. Each month, as the moon circles around us, the signs of the zodiac become a backdrop to it, one by one.
The moon concentrates these zodiacal energies and focuses them upon the earth. In this way, the alchemist has an opportunity to harness the power of a particular sign in his operations on a monthly time scale. The traditional correspondence between signs and operations is shown below. This gives rise to what are known as the 28 Mansions of the Moon. The table below lists the 28 Mansions by their name, derived from the names of stars closest to their starting point.
Also listed are the sign and planetary ruler which indicate the type of influence imparted by the moon. This system became very popular with astrologers and magicians of the Renaissance period, for election of times to undertake various actions. In laboratory alchemy, it provides another guide for opportune times in which to perform operations and capture the momentum of celestial energies.
In the use of astrology to prepare medicines specific for an individual, the advice Nicholas Culpepper gives in his Complete Herbal, written in , is still of great utility: To such as study astrology who are the only men I know that are fit to study physick, physick without astrology, being like a lamp without oil you are the men I exceedingly respect, and such documents as my brain can give you at present being absent from my study I shall give you, and an example to shew the proof of them.
Let your Medicine be something antipathetical to the Lord of the Sixth. Let your Medicine be something of the nature of the sign ascending. If the Lord of the Tenth be strong, make use of his Medicines. If this cannot well be, make use of the Light of Time. Be sure always to fortify the grieved part of the body by sympathetical remedies. Inner and Outer Work Laboratory work as meditation or spiritual exercise develops concentration and focus as well as a little dexterity when performed with intention, as all alchemical works should be.
Mental and spiritual practices of the alchemists, working in conjunction with the products of the laboratory, work upon transforming all levels of the operator. You become fully involved, body, soul and spirit. Before we go any further, you should remember that notebooks and note taking while studying alchemical texts are part of your personal alchemical fixation. Also it is important to make notes, and draw diagrams or flowcharts of the works you plan to attempt. Taking the time to write down your notes and thoughts fixes them firmly in the subconscious mind.
They also serve as a logbook and documentation of your progress. You can use a bound notebook or a loose-leaf binder to allow additions or rearrangement. Later, during periods of Meditation, which is part of the alchemical circulation, your thoughts and concepts are digested and matured into a fruitful harvest of insight. The nature of internal works is a personal choice of the individual. One part of the internal work of the alchemist which we might call Mental Alchemy involves the transformation of our habitual thought patterns.
Our thoughts have power to attract circumstances into our lives and these circumstances are related to the types of thoughts we constantly entertain. If we are filled with anxiety and fear, we attract events that are of a similar vibration. If we are positive, determined, and optimistic, we attract a corresponding type of circumstance into our lives.
Each type of thought has an astrological association to a particular planet and thus, through the law of correspondence, represents the metals upon which we work to transmute. Just as the various types of tissues of the physical body, such as bone, nerve, and muscle, are organized into the structures that make up the body, the subtle substance of thoughts are organized into structures within our subtle body according to their specific range of vibration; these are our interior stars.
All of the circumstances and events handed to us by nature are the crude metallic ores upon which we must work. Here we learn to separate the dross of external appearances from the true metal, which is the central lesson we need to acquire for continued growth. It is our attitude towards the events and our power of discrimination which separates the pure grain of metal from the impure matrix.
Each type of lesson provides a subtle tissue based on its astrological affinity, so we seek to acquire the lessons from each of the seven ancient metals of alchemy. The active agent affecting all of these transformations is fire. In the laboratory, we use fire to heat a substance, which in turn raises its vibratory rate. On the mental level this fire is emotion, the fire of desire and enthusiasm, the intensity of pleasure and pain. At the spiritual level it is the fire of aspiration and inspiration.
Although it is convenient to classify them as material, mental and spiritual alchemy, they are all really one Art, the alchemy of transformation. As we proceed through the various sections ahead, we will develop these ideas in greater detail. The ancient cultures of China and India also developed alchemy into a high art. The terms may be different from those of the West but the philosophical principles are the same. Chinese laboratory alchemy employs many exotic materials like jade, pearls, mercury, and arsenic, in medicines and in the quest for the Elixir of Immortality.
The transmutation of base metals into gold was also part of Chinese and Indian alchemy, but never considered the primary goal of the art. The West is always going for the gold, and for a long time the whole focus on alchemy was making gold; they became synonymous in the popular mind. The art of alchemy became very distorted, labeled fraud, even outlawed during various periods of history. Paracelsus changed that idea around and directed the focus back onto superior medicines prepared through the alchemical art, and lifting mankind from a dark age.
His Memorial plaque reads: Here is buried Phillippus Theophrastus Paracelsus, the distinguished doctor of medicine, who by wonderful art healed malignant wounds, leprosy, gout, dropsy and other incurable diseases of the body, who gave his possessions for distribution among the poor. Eastern alchemical ideas represent a tradition which is over years old, so it is useful for the practicing alchemist to be familiar with this body of knowledge.
The writings from the East very often shed light on subjects which were only disclosed under a heavy veil of secrecy and symbol in the West. We can use them to help guide us through the labyrinth of alchemy. Taoist alchemy, Ayurveda, and Alchemical Medicines Even in very ancient times, India and China had communication and in both lands, alchemy developed along similar lines; the terms and associated mythology may have differed but most of the basic concepts are the same or at least closely parallel.
Taoist alchemy of China developed in two parts: nei tan, which is an internal process in which the body and physiological fluids of the alchemist himself formed the vessels and ingredients of the work; and wai tan, which involves laboratory alchemical works. In India, there developed two medical traditions which shared the basic tenets, one to the north called Unani which received Persian, Islamic, and Greek influences , and a more indigenous tradition to the south known as Siddha.
Indian alchemy, and particularly the Siddha tradition, developed a wide variety of alchemical processes for the preparation of metals used in medicines for regeneration of the body and transmutation of metals, in which metallic mercury played a key role. The texts concerning this part of alchemical works are known as Rasa Shastra, one of the eight branches of ayurveda and traditionally held to have been vouchsafed to mankind by the god Shiva himself.
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The goals of Rasa Shastra are to establish perfect health of the body and mind, enhance longevity, and effect the transmutation of base metals into gold. Sound familiar? In his book concerning the life and doctrines of Paracelsus, Franz Hartmann presents the possibility that Paracelsus traveled to India and studied there for nearly 15 years. Even a casual pursual of his works will reveal the remarkable similarities to the concepts put forward by the Indian adepts of the time. The common thread running through all of these ancient traditions is that alchemy presents its adherents with a truly holistic approach to individually effecting the changes necessary in body and mind, which result in perfection of self and spiritual enlightenment.
We are the base metal that becomes transmuted into incorruptible spiritual gold. Manfred Junius also mentions the close connection of ayurveda and Western alchemy in his excellent work The Practical Handbook of Plant Alchemy. In this system, as in Western alchemy, the ultimate source of All is consciousness, infinite living mind. The gunas are universal qualities through which we perceive Nature.
The Indian alchemists perceived ten pairs of opposites through which reality manifests. The elements in turn form the three essentials of the natural world, called Vata Air , Pitta Fire , and Kapha Water , which express through a body. This blending of elements also gives rise to the six tastes which we will discuss later. Each of the doshas vata, pitta and kapha is also subdivided into five types or subdoshas; thus there are five types of vata, and five types of pitta, and kapha, each with specific properties within its dosha.
The qualities associated with each dosha are listed in chart 2 of appendix I. When our particular blend of the three doshas becomes unbalanced, our bodies begin to malfunction leading to disease and premature aging. The key concept in ayurvedic medicine is that everything we eat, drink, think, and do has power to increase or decrease the influence of the doshas within ourselves and in anything else for that matter. In this way, the food we eat, the thoughts we entertain, and the types of activity we perform can be a medicine or a poison to us.
Ayurvedic physiology recognizes that each of the doshas has unique places of residence in the body and systems of circulation. The physical vehicles of these subtle energies form the structural components of the body, called Dhatus or tissues. There are seven dhatus, listed as plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, marrow, and reproductive essence.
These tissues are formed during the process of digestion and each has an associated waste product that must be removed from the body in order to maintain our dosha balance. Ojas is part of a trio of sublimated qualities we will look at later. So, when we eat normally, the food is first refined into a nutritive essence plasma with urine and feces as the waste product.
This plasma is refined and incorporated into blood with mucus as the waste product. Muscle is further refined into fatty tissues with excretions from the eyes, nose, and throat as waste. Fat is refined and the essence moves into bone with sweat as waste. Bone is refined into marrow with hair and nails as waste, and marrow is refined into reproductive essence sperm or ovum with skin oils as waste.
The reproductive essence is further refined into Ojas and this is the difficult part. We naturally produce a certain amount of Ojas which maintains health, but it is hard to produce a sufficient amount which will allow the full expression of its power to perfect us body, soul, and spirit; this is where alchemical medicines come in.
Soma is the super refined essence that sustains Agni, the fire and light of consciousness. In a sense the doshas are the waste products of the three Mahagunas sattva, rajas, and tamas , which are the essential qualities of consciousness. The doshas provide a medium for the expression of a unique consciousness in the physical world. Orchestrating this whole process of refinement is the digestive fire Agni which also has its several types forming the various hormones, enzymes, etc. The concept of Agni is much more than just digestion of food and we will come back to it later.
The products of digestion, including waste, are circulated through the body by a series of ducts or channels Nadis which allow communication and transport between the tissues Dhatus. Each of these things affects the balance of our blend of doshas, our constitution. The diet we have ultimately becomes digested into consciousness. When our doshas become unbalanced, the digestive fire is thrown out of control, being either too hot or too cold to function correctly. This produces materials toxic to our systems such that disease conditions can arise.
These toxins can be divided into three main types. Ama is the most common toxin we accumulate through eating the wrong foods or overloading our digestion with excesses. Ama makes you feel heavy, weak, and tired. If ama continues to build up over time, it can spill over into the various duct systems and begin circulating through the body. It then generally settles in some weakened organ or part of the body and obstructs the flow of vital fluids. Visha means irregular, unstable or poisonous. Amavisha can react with each of the seven tissues Dhatus and their waste products as well as the sub-doshas of the system it is lodged in, to create the various disease symptoms.
This class of toxin includes pesticides, preservatives, food additives, spoiled food, as well as heavy metals like lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic ; even household products like detergents and the quality of air we breathe can be sources of garavisha. The alchemical work is concerned with the removal of all these toxins, establishing the balance of the doshas proper to our constitution, clearing out obstructions in the various channels, and the perfect refinement of substance and mind.
We cultivate consciousness. Life is the alchemical process going on around us everywhere and at all times. The alchemist strives always to live in harmony with Nature and to assist Her in bringing things to their highest state of perfection. And this applies most importantly to the work upon ourselves in order to achieve a happy, healthy, holy life as Nature intends.
In addition to our work in the laboratory, there are many practices we can adopt in our daily routine which can assist us on the path of the Great Work. Food, water, and air form the prime materials our bodies need in order to function correctly. The type of lifestyle we lead, including our habitual thought and emotional patterns, provides the subtle food that keeps our mind healthy. And both of these, substance and thought, interact with each other as well, both are aspects of the One.
Cooking is alchemy; we prepare our subject with a regulated heat and adjust its elemental balance with spices, then it becomes our elixir of life. The inherent qualities of different foods will increase or decrease our unique elemental or doshic balance, so we need to become aware of those qualities and how they affect the doshas. Try to eat organically grown foods as much as possible and prefer those that are fresh off the vine from local growers; they contain much more solar prana. Clean all of your food carefully to remove external impurities as much as possible.
Prefer warm freshly cooked foods. Cooking is an art which assists the digestion and assimilation as well as the doshic balance of a meal. Use cookware which is made of earthenware, glass, iron or stainless steel. Cook only when you are in the right frame of mind. Our thoughts and emotions influence the whole meal during preparation. Avoid improper food combinations. Prefer foods which are more Sattvic in nature.
More on this later. The manner in which food is cooked will also affect the doshas. Stir-frying with oil balances vata and if the oil is ghee, then pitta is also balanced. Steaming helps to balance pitta and kapha. The lessons we learn in the kitchen will go a long way in guiding us in the laboratory. The digestion process is our central fire and must be carefully tended. A weak digestion is kindled slowly to flame with the proper foods and spices instead of being smothered with improper fuels. Food becomes consciousness.
Alchemy and the spice trade have a long association. Indeed the Arabian countries controlled the spice trade to the western world for centuries. We use spices to adjust the taste of food to our palate, though not always with good judgment. Eating the proper diet for your particular elemental balance maintains health of the body and the mind. Learning the effects of various foods and spices on the doshas is the first step. Most of this is just common sense; for example, hot, spicy foods will increase the fire element or pitta. Cold and wet foods will soothe an active fire. We are going to examine some of the factors involved in determining the qualities of a material and how a particular substance, food, spice, or whatever will affect our balance of elements.
This information forms the basis for why a particular medicine is applied and the art of preparing effective herbal combinations. Count St Germain, an alchemist of the 17th century, was known to be very particular about preparation of his food when he was out and about. He is also known for his excellent health and longevity.
These are the properties we experience through the senses as reality, and everything expresses itself through these properties. The combination of influences surrounding a particular material creates a sort of signature which we can read in order to understand its essential character. Chart 2 in appendix I lists these essential qualities and their relation to the doshas.
The elemental quality of a thing is assessed by noting which qualities it manifests. The peel is somewhat bitter and that is a vata quality. If you have a lot of pitta in your constitution, you might be prone to acid indigestion or skin rashes, or be irritable, even aggressively hostile; eating foods which increase pitta qualities is just going to make things worse. To regain balance you would choose foods and spices which are cooling and soothing.
If your constitution has an excess of vata qualities, you may experience various aches and pains, nervous disorders, worry, and anxiety. Cold and rough foods like raw vegetables will increase vata, as will dry foods like crackers and chips. To bring balance you would choose foods which are warm, soft and oily, and tastes which are sweet, salty and sour. When we venture out into Nature, we can observe the various qualities at work around us and learn to read their signatures.
As a general rule, vata predominant plants have sparse foliage, very cracked bark, crooked and gnarled branches. Pitta type plants have bright flowers, and moderate strength and sap content. Although they tend to grow in straight lines, they can also exhibit the spreading qualities of pitta, can be full of stickers and can have poisonous or burning qualities as well.
Kapha plants show luxurious growth with abundant leaves and rounded lines. They have heavy, succulent leaves and stems containing a lot of water and sap. The taste associated with each plant also provides valuable information on their elemental or planetary rulerships. The Six Tastes and their Elements Taste provides the body with important information concerning the digestion of the food it is receiving.
In preparing a meal, we can use mixtures of common spices to adjust the qualities it expresses, thus making it more compatible with our elemental balance. Taste affects not only the body, but the mind and emotions as well. The Elements of Taste Sweet The sweet taste is said to increase the vital essence of life.
It is found in many foods, such as sugar, milk, rice, dates, bananas and raisins. It increases Kapha and decreases Vata and to a lesser extent, Pitta. It is a cooling taste, which helps in building all seven body tissues. With proper use, it increases strength and promotes longevity. In excess, it causes congestion and laziness, builds toxins and causes obesity. It is made of the elements earth and water. Sour The sour taste is found in fermented foods and citrus fruit, sour cream, many types of cheese, and vinegar.
It increases Kapha and Pitta and decreases Vata. It is a heating taste, which counters thirst, helps maintain acidity and improves appetite and digestion.
In excess, it increases acidity and causes excessive thirst, heartburn and ulcers. It is a stimulant and can energize the body as well as enlighten the mind. It is associated with the emotions of appreciation, recognition, envy, jealousy, and hate. It is made of the elements earth and fire.
Salty The salty taste is found in sea salt, rock salt, and seaweed. It is a slightly heating taste, which maintains proper electrolyte balance and metabolism, helps cleanse the body of waste and improves appetite and digestion. It is associated with the emotions of enthusiasm, courage, greed, and addiction. It is made of the elements water and fire. Pungent The hot taste is found in hot spices, like peppers or ginger; also in vegetables like onions, garlic and radishes.
It increases Pitta and Vata and decreases Kapha. It is drying and heating in nature, which improves metabolism, appetite and digestion, clears the sinuses, and promotes clarity of perception. In excess it causes burning, choking and sexual debility. It can also increase irritability and anger. It is associated with the emotions of vitality, clarity, anger and violence. It is made of the elements air and fire. Bitter The bitter taste is found in many herbs, like aloe vera, turmeric, golden seal, and coffee.
It is a cooling and drying taste, which tones the organs, increases appetite, relieves fevers, and is detoxifying. In excess, it damages the heart and causes sexual debility. It is associated with the emotions introspection, selfawareness, grief and disappointment. It is made of the elements air and ether. Astringent The astringent taste is found in many common herbs and green vegetables, such as alfalfa sprouts, green beans, okra, and chickpeas. It decreases Kapha and Pitta and increases Vata.
It is a cooling, drying taste, which reduces secretions, particularly sweating. In excess, it causes dryness, constipation, heart spasms, and thirst. It is associated with the emotions of groundedness, fear, and anxiety. It is made of the elements air and earth.
Sour, salty and pungent are heating in their effect, while bitter, astringent and sweet are cooling. Chart 4 in appendix I summarizes the effects of taste on each of the doshas. Our teeth are the mortar and pestle of the body, grinding the raw materials together with the appropriate digestive fires, provided by the saliva, into a homogeneous mass with determined qualities. The senses and their associated sense organ have an elemental affinity as shown in the table below.
By understanding our constitution, we will understand the types of therapies that will be most effective on us, providing many options for treatment through each of the senses, such as light therapy, aromatherapy, massage, etc. Chart 3 in appendix I will help you determine what your dosha blend is like in a very generalized way. See how it compares to the elemental balance indicated in your astrological chart. We all possess qualities from each of the three doshas, but in different proportions.
Examine the various characteristics listed, then look across the columns to select the phrase which fits you the best. Answer the questions carefully and truthfully, not how you would like your answers to be. When you are done, tally up the numbers for vata, pitta, and kapha. Most people show a prominent dosha and often two doshas may be equally dominant. Very rarely all three doshas are in balance; these people tend to be very healthy all the time.
The different qualities that are expressed through the doshas are of differing prominence. For example, a person with vata predominant may have enhanced dryness, while another vata person may express more of the cold quality of vata. The combinations are infinite. This little bit of self-knowledge is key to maintaining the health of your body and mind.
It represents the balance of your unique blend of Alchemical Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury, and that is the balance you need to maintain in order to stay healthy on all levels of your constitution. We naturally tend to gravitate toward foods and activities which are like our nature, and so accumulate an excess of the associated doshas.
So a vata dominant person will enjoy dry crackers and chips which are also full of vata dry qualities, while a pitta predominant person will enjoy spicy hot foods. If we accumulate too much of an excess beyond our usual constitution, we become unbalanced, our digestion is impaired and toxins ama are formed, which can lead to disease conditions.
After you have determined your basic constitution or blend of the doshas, you can use the same form to determine how the doshas are acting in you presently. Just go through the form and answer according to conditions as they exist now. For example you may have a tendency to gain or lose weight in recent months, or a tendency to constipation, or have dry skin or loss of appetite which seems abnormal compared to your usual self.
These can serve as indicators of unbalanced dosha activity from our natural constitution and show where we can apply ourselves to reestablishing our balance. In astrology, each of the planets, as a living being, also has its own unique blend of the doshas. How this blend of elemental qualities expresses itself is modified by the sign of the zodiac in which the planet is residing.
The cool moisture of the Moon may turn into steam in Aries or ice under the influence of Capricorn. This includes qualities of the sign and its associated element as affecting the more prominent energies of the planet. These influence tone or modify the planetary energy and determine which characteristics of the planet will be increased and which will be passivated, like adding spices to our food when we cook. If your birthchart shows a lot of water and earth qualities, that would be kapha. Fire predominant indicates pitta tendencies, while a predominance of activity in air signs will indicate vata qualities.
How our natal chart is affected by current astrological conditions can provide a valuable key allowing us to make adjustments to our daily routine which will keep us healthy, just like preparing for seasonal weather changes. Maintaining our balance amidst constantly changing conditions is the goal. Vata and Kapha are pacified with the warmer colors of red, orange and yellow, while Pitta is pacified with the cooler colors of blue, violet and indigo.
Green is somewhat tridoshic and can pacify all of the doshas. The opposite qualities of hot, wet, and heavy will decrease Vata, while dry, cold, and heavy will pacify Pitta, and the light, hot, and dry qualities pacify Kapha. Mars has a lot of fiery Pitta qualities. The Sun also has a lot of pitta but shifted toward a lighter, moist, digestive fire. Saturn manifests the cold, dry, and heavy qualities of Vata and Kapha. Materials can be conveniently classified, based on their dominant qualities, into one of the seven possible combinations of vata, pitta and kapha and thus how they will affect our doshic balance.
Chart 6 of appendix I lists a number of herbs and spices and their effect on the doshas their VPK Factors , as well as their overall heating or cooling quality. Such a regimen was entirely inappropriate for their particular blend of energies or balance of doshas, whereas for another, the same diet helped them regain a state of excellent health. If we overburden our fire, our systems get choked by the smoke of unburned food and then we get problems; you could even choke the fire out. We usually favor food and activities which are like our dominant dosha, so a vata dominant person for example will always be on the go, love dry crackers and chips; all the things that increase vata.
A kapha dominant person will love milk, cheese and ice cream, as well as naps in the daytime. All of these will increase kapha. The pitta person will pour on the hot spices, adding fire to fire. Maintaining balanced elimination is also important. You will recall from above that the formation and maturing of each bodily tissue have an associated waste product. In the West, it seems to be one of those topics of little discussion, but we should keep a vigilant eye on the quality and frequency of our waste streams.
The color, texture, odor and quantity of the various wastes give valuable clues to our health and balance of the elements within. In modern society, we often adopt a tendency of repressing or postponing the urge to void wastes. This can lead to problems later as blockages develop in the free flow of energy through our Nadis or subtle energy structure. The mind and body are a whole, so the condition of one reflects the condition of the other on a variety of levels. Mental and emotional activity associated with each of the doshas is indicated in the table below.
As an example, vata predominant people tend to be hyperactive, always on the go and filled with anxieties and insecurities. They need to channel that energy into creative pursuits, be flexible and attentive to what Nature is trying to teach. This will also affect the body in a negative way, obstructing vital channels, disrupting elemental balance and initiating diseased conditions.
The alchemist strives to cultivate the positive aspects of thought and emotion for personal spiritual development, but also because the mental states will affect the sensitive materials worked upon in the laboratory. Daily and yearly cycles of the doshas The doshas have their cycles of influence on a yearly and daily scale as indicated by the following charts.
The hot summer months predominate in pitta qualities and it is easy to accumulate an excess of pitta during this time. Summer gives way to the cold dry months of autumn. The plants dry up and shed their leaves, the winds pick up and the days become colder. This is the season of vata, and exposure to these qualities can lead to an excess of vata. The cold and wet winter months predominate in kapha qualities. Everything slows and begins to break down. The moist heat of spring is a blending of the doshas pitta and kapha. The nurturing quality of this moist heat brings the rebirth of nature, and the cycle begins again as pitta slowly takes prominence and summer is upon us.
Knowing this cycling of influences, we can take measures to dress appropriately, eat the proper foods and perform the proper activities which will maintain our balance and avoid accumulating an excess of the seasonal dosha. On the daily level, each dosha is prominent in four-hour periods. For example, during the hours of 10 am to 2 pm, pitta dominates and our digestive fire is at its peak. This is the time at which we should eat our largest and heaviest meal.
If we sleep in later than 6 am, we will accumulate kapha rapidly and feel heavy and slow throughout the day. In the laboratory, vata periods are subtle and volatile, so distillations and sublimations are enhanced during these periods. If we can additionally work under the appropriate moon phase and planetary hour, the effects are especially enhanced. These are the three primary colors giving rise to all the colors. These three universal qualities affect both our minds and our bodies. The doshas are a reflection of these qualities at a lower level, and just as all materials express a blending of the three doshas, so do all things express a combination of sattva, rajas and tamas.
Some things are predominantly sattvic in nature, while others are more tamasic. The essential properties of the three Mahagunas are as follows: Sattva—The principle of equilibrium, potential energy, cognition, intelligence, understanding, and wisdom. The most subtle Mercury which unites and balances the powers of Sulfur and Salt. Rajas—Principle of kinetic energy, action, responsible for all movement. The most volatile Sulfur.
Rajas is said to give rise to all the activities of prana, which we will examine in more detail later. Tamas—Principle of inertia, responsible for heaviness, slowness, sleep, unconsciousness and decay. The essence of Salt. Tamas is said to give rise to the Five Elements, earth, water, fire, air, and ether quintessence , and their associated senses, touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing.
These are the objects of perception, the most subtle energy of the five elements through which the gross elements evolve. Although the elements are born in the womb of tamas, they each contain all three mahagunas in varying proportion. Earth is primarily tamasic, Water is tamas and sattva. Air is a balance of sattva and rajas, while Fire is intense rajas with sattva, and Ether is pure sattva.
Sattva is creative, rajas is preservative, and tamas is destructive. Tamas opposes the activity of rajas and the illuminating nature of sattva.
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Sattva is the observer, rajas is the observation, and tamas is the object to be observed. Remember, these diagrams are just maps to aid our discussion; they rarely describe the whole picture, but provide seeds for insight to blossom. The map is not the territory. One never acts without affecting the others.
This is the Triplicity inherent in the One. These gunas or attributes are always uniting, separating, and uniting again. Everything in this world results from their peculiar arrangement and combinations.
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Though cooperating to produce the world of effects, these diverse tendencies of the gunas never coalesce with each other. Alchemy and Metallic Medicines, Dash, p. The Doshas are often thought of as the Mala waste product of the Three Mahagunas, acting at the physical level. Each of the three doshas, vata, pitta and kapha, reflect a signature blend of the Three Mahagunas or fundamental characteristics of consciousness.
Ojas, Tejas, and Prana are their sublimed reflection active at a subtler, more energetic level. Although they are also composed of the five elements, they tend to act through the more subtle of the two elements that make up the corresponding dosha. Vata, being composed of the elements air and ether, shows its sublimed essence as Prana, working mainly through the ether element. Pitta, being composed of fire and water, has its essence as Tejas, which is active through the fire element.
Kapha is water and earth; its refined essence is Ojas, operating through the water element in particular. We mentioned Ojas earlier as the refined essence of the body, responsible for the glow of health surrounding us. Its energy is protective and nourishing with a distinctly Lunar nature. Tejas is the burning flame of pure intelligence, illumination of a Solar nature. Prana is the universal energy of life and the flow of intelligence. Another way to state this is that Tejas is intelligence, Prana is the flow of intelligence and Ojas is the medium through which the flow happens.
Tejas creates Ojas and Ojas protects Prana. This refinement of essences does not stop here. Soma, like Ojas from which it derives, is related to Lunar energies, the Cosmic Plasma and the most subtle form of matter; it is the food of cells which becomes the highest expression of consciousness within us. Soma is transformed by Tejas into Prana, allowing the flow of Supreme Consciousness. Ayurveda says that Soma is the mother of Prana and Tejas is the father of Prana. The qualities of Ojas have been described in ancient texts as heavy, cool, soft, smooth, viscous, unctuous, sweet, stable, clear, and sticky.
It has the color of ghee, the taste of honey, and the odor of fried rice. Foods such as ghee, milk, dates, almonds, basmati rice and avocados help to replenish ojas. Herbs such as ashwagandha, amalaki, and shatavari nourish ojas. Behaviors which promote the formation of ojas include yoga, meditation, reading sacred writings, chanting mantras or prayers, practicing selfless anonymous generosity and right thinking.
Remember that any quality applied to a substance will increase that quality in that substance. If a substance is exposed to qualities such as those embodied in ojas, then that substance will become more ojas-like. This includes mental impressions a substance receives. Plants and minerals also contain their own forms of Soma, which are separated and concentrated in alchemical works in order to create powerful transformative Elixirs in the service of the alchemist. Sattvic foods promote clarity of perception and calmness of mind.
They are foods which favor spiritual growth. Rajasic foods stimulate activity and the passions. They are generally hot, spicy foods which induce restlessness and disturb the equilibrium of the mind. Eating too fast or with a disturbed mind is also considered rajasic, as is watching TV or reading while eating.
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Rajasic food should be avoided by those whose aim is peace of mind, but can benefit those who generally feel sluggish and heavy. Tamasic foods induce heaviness of the body and dullness of the mind, and ultimately benefit neither. Most meat products, canned foods, leftovers, and fermented foods are tamasic in nature.
Overeating is also tamasic. The traditional advice is to fill the stomach half with food, one quarter with water, leaving the last quarter empty. Sattva is defined as the quality of purity and goodness. Sattvic food is that which is pure, clean and wholesome. A sattvic diet is food that gives life, strength, energy, courage and self-determination. In other words, sattvic food gives us more than the gross physical requirements of the body; it also gives us the subtle nourishment necessary for vitality and clarity of consciousness. Food is a carrier of the life force or prana and is judged by the quality of its prana and by the effect it has on our consciousness.
In order to enhance spiritual development, the ancient masters recommend we follow a diet high in sattvic foods. The traditional sattvic diet is described as pure foods that are rich in prana and especially those foods which grow above ground in the solar prana filled air. Today, organic foods are recommended for both their purity and vitality. The food should be fresh as possible and freshly prepared. Leftovers of cooked food more than five hours old are considered tamasic, as the vital force begins to dissipate. They are best prepared with love and awareness. Remember that just as our food affects our mind, our thoughts and emotions also affect our food.
The following is a short listing of foods considered to be sattvic in nature and thus recommended as dietary mainstays for your journey along the alchemical path. Fresh Organic Fruits: Most sun ripened fruits, including apples, apricots, bananas, berries, dates, figs, grapes, melons, lemons, mangoes, oranges, peaches, pears, pomegranates and plums, are considered especially sattvic.