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The Impossible Machine
Alchemy is an extension of symbolism for the
purposes of transformation on personal, social, and
intra-personal levels.

While on one level it might be linked to chemistry
including medication, illegal drugs, and magickal
potions, in truth each of those is more directly
linked (at least in the public mind) to its own set of
associations--e.g. modern chemistry, youths
experimenting, and magic herbalism.

On a deep level there is a connection amongst all
three, however in my mind the connection is
through symbolism, that is through Alchemy in its
original sense.

Mercury is symbolic of change and flux, and may
equally be equated (in medication) with the ability
to cope with changes, (in illegal drugs) to create a
"rush" or experiential fixation on change, and (in
herbal magic) to improve (i.e. change) oneself
through a careful assessment of the deep
potentials of ingredients.

In some sense gold, by comparison, is the
perfection of the moment or realization of self. In
medication this would mean creating a situation
where the individual is no longer compromised. In
illegal drugs this would mean a high, or more
practically a consistent high (notoriously difficult
due to physical dependency and gradual immunity
or loss of endorphins). In magic herbalism gold is a
kind of pinnacle of self, conceived as a state in
which mana is accessible and intuition is strong.

Silver in modern medicine is the ability to see
clearly (as contrasted with

clouded or inhibited thinking, and emotional
overwhelm). In illegal drugs silver might be
equated with profound insight beyond what is
normally possible (having the reputation of coming
only at the price of madness or irreversible
detachment). To magic herbalists silver is
associated with clairovoyance, the balanced ability
to see things beyond the ordinary, with or without
chemical aids. A natural psychic would need only a
healthy supply of mana to tap into this, while others
would need some sort of strange shock to the
senses, as might be possible with drugs.

Lead has always had very negative connotations,
not least because it was discovered as the cause
of dementia in certain Roman revelers. It is now
known as a harmful substance that can damage the
brain even in small quantities. It then seems just to
connect lead with the worst aspects of each of the
aforementioned fields of alchemy.

In modern medicine, lead is brain disease. Within
the subject of illegal drugs, lead is a bad trip. To
magic herbalists lead is the evil that
saps strength,

fancifully depending on the field of study, could be
death to a necromancer, a base element to the
summoner of a golem, psychic confusion to a seer,  
barren normalcy to an enchantress, lovelessness
or impotence to the maker of a love potion,
weakness to a seeker after power, a feeling of
gloom or spiritual bankruptcy to mystics, etc.

More later...
The Elements
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