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The Great Work is a Spiritual Process
Some alchemical manuscript describe laboratory chemistry. Others were written using chemical symbols to describe a spiritual process. very few alchemists really attained the end of the Great Work. That means that a lot of the alchemical writers were just rehashing other texts. others were writing down their spiritual experience, sometimes clear and direct, sometimes in an allegoric way. Some of them used symbols but explained in clear language that it is a spiritual process. These works were meant as a guide. Alchemists had contact with each other. It was s aid that alchemists would gather in the back of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, and exchange their experiences, knowledge and wisdom. Everyone experience is a bit different from the other, thus alchemical symbols are a general way of describing these experiences. When engaged in a practice one can use these manuscripts and symbols to adjust one's own experience to gain better results.