Back to Alchemy
The Impossible Machine
Transmuting lead into gold was the
chief pursuit of the alchemists,
according to historical accounts.
While it serves as a metaphor for
spiritual illumination and
self-improvement, the quest of the
alchemists is remembered today as
extremely foolish in its simplest
form, as reflected in the phrase
"fool's gold".
Close up of gold-plate. Gold,
unlike silver, is known as an
untarnishable metal.
Even in medieval times there were cheats and
swindlers who would attempt forgeries of gold
coins, by plating a lead disk with gold foil for

Balancing scales were a common tool in ancient
times for determining whether or not coins were
forged, since different metals have different
weights. This may be the origin of the concept of
the "Golden Scales" or "Scales of Truth" reflected
in the zodiac sign Libra, which has come to have
cosmic connotations, especially in relation to

Elementally, gold is symbolic of glory, splendor,
and possibly "guilt". The color yellow is associated
with honey, as in "the land of milk and honey", as
well as with radiant light, a symbol for superior
intelligence. The sense I have is that it is a
distillation of "the best of the worst"--the product
of time and labor, or the workings of power.

The expressions "golden days", "you are golden",
"golden opportunity", and "gold medal"
reflect these meanings.

Transformatively, it seems that gold is always
earned: one does not transmute to get it, yet one
must transform to acquire it. If one is not "made of  
gold" then it is always something bestowed, as
though from a higher power.

Yet metaphorically the gold of spirit may not be
material gold, or one might say that gold isn't gold
without a golden spirit. Ultimately the lesson of
gold is that value depends on meaning. Without a
valuing spirit, there is no value.

The nature of the Golden Scales then becomes
apparent only to those that value scales, that
value judgment. Likewise for any given thing,
value is derived from form and function.

Only when we are capable of realizing the  beauty
and function of form do we recognize that the
scales are made of gold. Paradoxically, the golden
scales are useful in discovering the gold in any
given thing, and to possess such scales is
necessarily to be satisfied with the value in all

This is one of the reasons the Librans of the
zodiac are known to be very easy-going.
The scales of truth
are supposed to
make final
judgment on
values, or
determine truth
from falsehood,
with the possible
exception of the
contested beauty
of three
goddesses in
Greek myth.