Over the past few months, I’ve been reading an awesome book that Gate-Walkers and Ninzuwu will find useful in their work. Alchemy―The Great Work: A History and Evaluation of the Western Hermetic Tradition (Mind, Body, Knowledge) by Cherry Gilchrist offers some very useful insights that prove to be an aid in cutting down the superstitions about the alchemical work. Gilchrist is able to provide a clear and concise definition of alchemy and its history, which is of vital importance for working-class ceremonial magicians, shamans, and spiritualists alike.
Cherry Gilchrist makes a bold synopsis of one of the oldest sciences known to the human family. Although the theme of the work discusses alchemy from the standpoint of the Western Hermetic Tradition, the book provides sapience into Chinese alchemy as well. Overall, readers catch glimpses of alchemy’s worldview and traditions, as it is a science that has been practiced in most regions of the world since the days of remote antiquity.
The book begins with a wonderful foreword by Mark Booth, who does an effective job of providing a brief overview of alchemy and some of the remarkable things about Gilchrist’s approach to the topic. Cherry Gilchrist is an excellent author that is very effective in making the subject of alchemy understandable even unto the layman. One of my favorite quotes from the book is found in the chapter titled The Phoenix: Alchemy in the Twentieth Century, where we read:
“Alchemical teachings were absorbed into a number of twentieth-century esoteric teachings. Some occultist, like Barbault, saw in alchemy a potential magical framework, its ceremonial approach and vivid mythological imagery leading itself to the development of psychic abilities and the harnessing of subtle energies. Magic can be briefly defined as the process of learning to understand, manipulate, and interpret energies that exist in ourselves and the natural world. Most students of magical traditions would agree that magic itself is natural but involves working at a higher level of awareness and sensitivity than normal…”
Alchemy-The Great Work is able to maintain its continuity by Gilchrist’s straightforward approach and knowledge on the subject. This book gives both the novice and the adept an essential understanding in the great work.