back to The Secrets
of Hermetic Alchemy
Some hermetic alchemists said that at the very
being of their Great Work is Chaos. As the hermetici relied heavily on
Greek mythology one needs to understand the term Chaos in this way.
Chaos was described as an original state of existence from which the
first gods appeared. In other words, the dark void of space. It is made
from a mixture of what the Ancient Greeks considered the four elements:
earth, air, water and fire.
After encountering chaos, the Great Work
starts in which the gods appear as the traditional seven planets and
their metal equivalent. The process in the Great Work is also described
in terms of the four elements. At the very start we have Earth, which
turns into water by putrefaction, then distillation turns water into
air, and later on, by coagulation air turn into fire.
The state of
Chaos and the birth of the Gods might be viewed as cosmological events,
but one must always remember that originally they stood for human
experiences. When ordinary man starts the process of introspection, like
meditation, the very first thing he experiences is chaos. You can easily
find that out for yourself. When you start to become aware of your self,
that is of what is inside of you, you will find a bunch of emotions and
feelings that are running around, bodily tensions that pops up and
bother you, and especially a constant flow of random thoughts that
doesn't care if you want to have them or not. When you close your eyes
and go sit in meditation, it is a complete mess in there. That is the
chaos the alchemists spoke about. Then the cleansing process of the
Great Work starts.