Promiscuous Metals and Lascivious Minerals

February 14, 2018 | Author: gourdgardener | Category: Alchemy, Semen, Yin And Yang, Shiva, Smelting
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This paper is a teaser of future projects on delving into the sexual associations in metallurgy...





Promiscuous  Metals  and  Lascivious  Minerals:  The  Sexual  Nature  of  Sacred                   Metallurgy  and  Alchemy  by  Frederick  R.  Dannaway    



                                                   “As  in  metal,  so  in  the  body”  ~  aphorism  from  the  Rasarnava                                                                              

  A  Metallurgical  Romance   There   is   something   instinctively   sexual   in   the   mastery   of   fire.   “Fire   itself   was   looked   upon   as   the   result   (the   progeny)   of   a   sexual   union”   (Eliade   1956).     The   confining  of  heat  and  hot  flames  to  coax  a  living  volatility  from  mater,  alchemically   impregnating   metals   and   minerals   with   spirit   climaxing   in   a   magical   fusion   of   the   mystery   of   the   trinity:   how   two   become   one   and   three.     The   oldest   myths   conjure   the  associated  sexual  magic  of  procreation  and  creation  in  the  womb-­‐like  foundry.   The   bellows   and   breath,   so   crucial   in   sexual   inner   alchemy,   must   be   focused   to   constantly  raise  the  temperature  until  the  metal  glows  red-­‐hot,  then  pounded  with   rhythmic   violence   and   suddenly   cooled   and   quenched   in   the   afterglow   of   hissing   steam.     It   is   the   heat   that   draws   out   the   inner   lattice   patterns   and   crystalline   structures   in   the   humid   sweat   of   passion,   fusing   and   blending   the   two   into   one.   Mining   is   a   descent   to   the   nether  regions   of   the   earth   goddess,   into   her   deepest   and   darkest   caverns,   where   her   precious   ores   and   minerals   lie   concealed.   The   vegetal   and   mineral/metal   kingdoms   were   highly   sexualized   as   a   sympathetic   act   to   the   macrocosm,   from   the   orgiastic   rites   of   grafting   plants   to   the   sexual   taboos   of   metallurgy.    The  potter,  the  shaman  and  the  smith  all  master  the  sacred  and  profane   fires   that   burn   within   and   without   of   the   warring   passions   of   creation   and   destruction.   The   fire   purifies   but   entices,   and   the   inner   heat   of   ascetic   action   paradoxically   brings   forth   ecstatic   bliss   that   can   exalt   and   seduce   yogi,   monk   and   priest   alike.     Fire   purges   impurities,   allowing   opposites   to   reconcile   in   union,   alloying,  amalgamating,  wedding  and  welding.  

    The  Mother  Land  

    Africa’s   tribal   smiths   and   secret   societies   demonstrate   sexual   associations   with  metallurgy  from  the  most  ancient  times.  The  early  traditions  and  taboos  drifted   and  influenced  much  of  the  ancient  world,  even  if  much  of  the  original  observances   and  folklore  are  inverted  (Blakely  2006).  Tribes  like  the  Kitara  divide  ores  into  male   (hard,  black,  found  at  the  surface)  and  female  (soft,  red  and  from  deep  inside  mines)   “and  the  mingling  of  the  two  ‘sexes’  is  indispensable  to  fruitful  fusion”  (Eliade  1956).   Ores  were  like  embryos  “they  ‘grow  ripe’  in  their  telluric  darkness”,  and  in  ancient   Egypt,  the  same  word  bi  meant  both  “uterus”  and  “mine”  (Eliade  1956).  The  entire   smelting   process,   for   many   tribes,   is   a   complex   code   of   restrictions   that   usually   involved  explicit  sexual  dancing,  singing  of  bawdy  lyrics  and  yet  restricting  the  sex   act  and  limiting  contact  of  women  with  the  smith  and  the  furnace  itself.       The   West   African   tribes   have   metallurgical   guilds   and   associate   smiths   and   metalwork   with   sorcery.   Early   missionary   accounts   were   fascinated   with   the   “gynecomorphic   furnaces”   and   as   Blakely   (2006)   notes,   “the   symbolic   equation   of  

metal   production   and   human   sexuality—especially   female—is   among   the   most   remarked-­‐upon   aspects   of   African   metallurgical   traditions.”   Blakely   discusses   at   length   the   connections   that   lingered   from   ancient   cultures,   primitive   societies   converging   in   the   sexual   symbolism   and   metalworking   with   a   special   emphasis   on   ancient  Greece  and  certain  African  tribes.  The  furnaces  are  marked  with  breasts  and   symbols   of   female   genitalia,   and   various   words   for   furnace   parts   are   the   native   terms   for   vulva,   breasts,   and   bellows,   while   tuyeres   are   distinctly   phallic,   and   the   acts   of   heating   involves   thrusting   phallic   objects   into   the   womb   or   mouth   of   the   furnace.   Slag   takes   on   the   native   term   for   placenta   while   blocks   of   iron   are   called   “son  of  the  woman”,  while  the  furnace  as  a  whole  is  thought  of  and  referred  to  as  a   “nubile   woman”   and,   eventually,   the   “wife.”   A   smith   must   abstain   from   his   human   wife  during  the  period  of  the  smelt  or  he  is  guilty  of  “adultery”  with  the  feminized   furnace,   which   may   cause   failure   of   the   operation.   Pieces   of   after-­‐birth   or   genitals   and   magic   herbs   are   thrown   into   the   fire   to   magically   assist   the   fusions,   and   the   product   is   thought   to   have   potent   magical   and   aphrodisiac   effects.   Slag   is   thought   to   be  a  powerful  medicine  to  cure  infertility  (Blakely  2006).       Like  alchemical  processes  the  world  over,  the  alloying  of  metals  or  chymicals   was  thought  of  in  overt  sexual  and  marital  ways.  Blakely  (2006)  notes  that  the   taboos  are  to  keep  the  sexual  powers  in  reserve  in  uniting  the  “male  and  female   ores”,  (possibly  deduced  by  observations  of  male/female  plants)  as  expending   energy  might  cost  success  in  the  smelt.  The  wife  must  not  commit  adultery  either,  or   the  final  product  might  contain  many  holes.  Central  to  the  rites,  sexuality  and   spiritual  energies  of  the  tribes,  like  the  tapas  of  Indian  ascetics,  is  heat.  Heat   provokes  conception,  allows  fusion,  and  like  fire  itself  can  create  and  destroy  if  it  is   not  controlled  with  true  mastery.  It's  a  laborious  process,  fraught  with  dangers  of   failure,  and  the  sexual  lyrics  of  which  men  compete  to  be  more  obscene,  help  pass   the  time  for  the  lengthy  process.       (A  video  of  a  smelting  ritual  may  be  viewed  here:  

The  rhythmic  pounding  of  the  hammer  and  anvil,  also  sexualized  as  phallic   and  vaginal  symbols  in  certain  tribes,  on  red-­‐hot  iron  has  a  sexual  cadence.  The   concentrated  forces,  thrusts,  and  banging  of  metal  on  metal  unleashes  the  inner   passions  of  the  metals,  lowers  their  inhibitions,  their  structural  integrity  until  they   abandon  and  exhaust  their  individual  forms  to  unite.  The  refined  metal  emerges  for   war  and  agriculture  or  ritual,  bloomed  and  birthed  with  a  new  strength.        


  Foundry  of  the  Gods   When  the  work  of  bisection  was  complete  it  left  each  half  with  a  desperate  yearning  for  each  other,   and  they  ran  together  and  flung  their  arms  around  each  other’s  necks,  and  asked  for  nothing  better   than  to  be  rolled  into  one.    Aristophanes,  Plato’s  Symposium    

Blakely   (2006)   deftly   moves   back   and   forth   from   tribes   in   Africa   to   the   metallurgical   mythos   of   Greece.   The   Greek   gods,   daimones,   and   heroes   are   often   linked  with  divine  metallurgical  associations.  These  connections  arose  from  archaic   myths  and  initiatory  rites  linking  metal-­‐craft  with  apotropaic  magic,  fertility,  and  a   powerful   sexuality.   The   priapic   metalsmith   Daktyloi   and   the   Telchines   abound   in   mysterious  chthonic  energies.  Their  magical  metalworking  was  behind  statues  that   would  “breathe  and  move”,  crafting  such  godly  weapons  as  Poseidon’s  trident,  and   they   were   skilled   in   the   pharmaka   of   entheogens   and   herbal   magic.   These   shape-­‐ shifting,  amphibious,  metallic  sorcerers  all  dance  ecstatically,  with  swinging  phallos,   in  attendance  of  the  Great  Mother.  Blakely  (2006)  notes  that  “the  more  metallurgical   the   daimones   are,   the   more   hostile,   magical,   and   invisible   or   bizarrely   deformed   they   may   be.”   Speaking   of   deformation,   it   is   suggested   that   Hephaistos’   deformity   was   from   arsenic   used   in   arsenical   bronzes   that   often   poisoned   smithies’   limbs   (Blakely  2006).  We  have  but  dim  glimpses  into  an  elaborate  mystery  tradition  that   blended   metallurgy   with   entheogens   and   the   Mysteries.   For   a   discussion   of   alchemical   symbolism   and   the   organs   of   generation   and   Traditionalism   see   Blackhirst’s  (2008)  thought  provoking  Primordial  Alchemy  and  Modern  Religion.     The  promiscuity  of  the  Greco-­‐Roman  gods/planets  wander  into  astrological,   metallurgical,   entheogenic   and   alchemical   realms   as   their   relationships   are   suggestive  of  techniques  concealed  in  myths.  The  cuckolding  of  Hephaistos  and  the   alloyed  “Net”  is  discussed  below  in  the  research  of  Starkey  and  Newton,  but  another   relevant   and   primary   example   is   Venus/Aphrodite.   We   can   do   no   better   than   to   quote   a   section   from   the   superb   article   The   Metal-­‐Planet   Affinities   by   Nick   Kollerstrom  (retrieved  2012):    

“To  trace  the  connection  of  copper  with  Venus  we  have  to  go  back  to  a   distant   mythological   era:   back,   in   fact,   to   a   Mediterranean   isle,   once   ruled   by   a   love-­‐goddess   -­‐   the   island   of   Cyprus.   This   island   was   regarded   as   the   domain   of   Venus-­‐Aphrodite.   Aphrodite   was   referred   to  as  the  'Cyprian  goddess'.  In  Botticelli's  picture,  The  Birth  of  Venus,   she   is   depicted   as   being   born   from   the   sea   on   to   the   shores   of   Cyprus.   It   is   from   the   name   of   this   island,   Cyprus,   that   the   word   copper   derives.  The  word  copper  comes  from  the  Latin  word  cuprum  and  this   derives   from   the   Greek   work   Kyprus.   Cyprus   was   in   antiquity   the   principal  source  of  copper,  and  so  the  metal  was  named  after  it.  Venus   was  felt  by  antiquity  to  dwell  just  where  such  large  amounts  of  copper   had   condensed.   Venus   was   credited   with   a   sea   origin,   and   copper   reminds  us  of  this  connection  with  the  water  element.  All  copper  salts   are  sea-­‐coloured,  blue  or  green.  All  the  ores  and  all  the  salts  of  copper   are   hydrated,   water   containing.   Nearly   all   copper   salts   are   highly   soluble   in   water.   The   iridescent   hues   of   a   peacock’s   tail   derive   from   green-­‐blue.”   To   this   we   shall   have   more   to   add   in   a   forthcoming   monograph   on   the   alchemical   uses  of  sea-­‐water,  which  has  a  long  history  of  use.  Venus’s  birth  of  a  scallop,  a  source   of   calcium   oxide   for   lime   and   lye,   and   the   sea   foam   and   water   contain   a   living   philosophic  nitre,  like  dew,  thunderstorm  rain  and  urine.  As  Eliade  (1956)  quotes  of   the   Bergbuchlein   explains   the   “birth   of   copper   ore   by   the   influence   of   the   planet   Venus,   that   of   iron   by   the   influence   of   Mars   and   that   of   lead   by   the   influence   of   Saturn.”                                                                                            





  The  Way  of  the  Smith  

“Smiths  and  shamans  come  from  the  same  nest”  Yakut  proverb   Yu  the  Great,  the  divine  smelter  “could  distinguish  male  from  female  metals”   and  “for  this  reason  he  saw  a  parallel  between  his  boilers  and  the  two  cosmological   principles   of   yang   and   yin”   (Eliade   1956).   Eliade   (1956),   on   the   ancient   Chinese   concepts   of   the   “marriage   of   metals”   notes   that   Yu’s   cauldrons   were   divided   into   male/female  types  and  the  smelting  was  attended  by  virgin  youths  “who  sprinkled   the   water   over   red   metal.”   This   symbolism   extends   into   the   tempering   of   swords   and  alloying  of  metals  as  a  marriage-­‐rite.  Other  Chinese  myths  involve  the  husband   and   wife   magically   trying   to   influence   the   fusion,   or   Ancient   Masters   marrying   a   girl   to   the   presiding   spirit   of   the   Furnace.   The   sex   in   Daoism,   where   the   sperm   is   steamed   in   the   inner   cauldron   to   repair   the   brain,   corresponds   to   the   alchemical   crucible   that   is   hermetically   sealed   against   leaking.   As   in   Tantric   yoga1,   the   adept   must   bring   the   heat   up   slowly,   careful   not   to   orgasm   or   force   a   distillation   or   sublimation,   and   fix   the   energy   as   to   be   stabilized   just   to   the   brink…   of   evaporation/explosion   or   ejaculation.   This   is   repeated   over   and   over   again,   the   circulating   liquids,   chi   and   vital   energies   slowly   open   themselves   up   to   their   more   noble   states   of   philosophic   exaltation,   to   become   the   subtle   ingredients   for   the   elixirs,  internal  and  external.       Processes  of  alchemy,  internal  and  external,  were  described  in  sexual  terms   of   metals.   Cinnabar   was   Yang   but   Quicksilver,   Yin.   Gold   and   Jade   and   “True   Lead”   are  Yang  while  “True  Mercury”  and  Silver  are  Yin.    Sivin    (Needham  1980)  wrote  in   his  The  Theoretical  Background  of  Elixir  Alchemy:     “The   Five   Minerals   (wu   shih)   are   the   seminal   essences   of   the   Five   Planets.  Cinnabar  is  the  essence  of  the  mature  Yang  (thai  yang),  Mars.                                                                                                                   1  the  adept  must  hermetically  seal  both  the  crucible  and  his  body  to  prevent  “leakage”  of  essence,  the  heating  and  

Magnetite  is  the  essence  of  the  mature  Yin,  Mercury.  Malachite  is  the   essence  of  the  young  Yang  (shao  yang),  Jupiter.  Realgar  is  the  essence   of   Divine   Earth   (hou   thu),   Saturn.   Arsenolite   is   the   essence   of   the   young   Yin,   Venus.   A   medicine   made   from   the   essences   of   the   Five   Planets  can  give  a  man  perpetual  life,  exempt  from  death  forever.”   To   reemphasize,   both   inner   and   outer   operations   of   alchemy,   sought   to   steam   the   ching  (seed,  semen)  of  man  and  metals  in  a  complex  correspondence  with  celestial   cycles  influencing  the  macro-­‐  and  microcosmic  universes.  Capturing  the  yang  energy,   sexually  and  internally  inside  the  adept  and  externally  in  the  crucible,  used  the  same   sexual   terminologies.   “Realgar   occurs   in   the   same   mountains   as   orpiment,   and   is   formed   by   the   transformation   of   orpiment.   (This   latter)   great   medicine   of   heaven   and  earth  (i.e.,  of  the  natural  order)  is  called  'doe  yellow'  (tzhu   huang).   When  eight   thousand  years  have  passed,  it  transforms  into  realgar,  the  variant  name  of  which  is   'imperial   male   seminal   essence   (ti   nan   ching).   After   another   thousand   years   have   passed   it   transforms   into   yellow   gold,   with   the   variant   name   'victuals   of   the   Perfected  (or  Realized)  Immortals  (chen  jen  fan).”     The   pairing   of   elixir   ingredients   formed   families,   as   alloys   fused   and   produced  a  third  unique  product.  As  Sivin  (Needham  1980)  again  writes,  “The  point   is   reinforced   by   the   image   of   a   family,   in   which   the   immature   Yang,   or   Wood   (identified  by  its  visceral  and  colour  associations)  is  the  father,  the  immature  Yin,  or   Metal,  the  mother,  and  the  mature  Yin,  or  Water,  the  son.  This  feminine  son  redeems   his   family   through   a   return   to   the   Centre,   that   is   to   say   through   his   role   as   an   intermediary   in   the   formation   of   the   Yellow   Sprouts   from   which   the   Elixir   is   grown.   The  oral  formula  says:  'Use  8  oz.  of  lead,  which  is  Yang,  the  Masculine,  and  the  Tiger;   and   9   oz.   of   quicksilver,   which   is   Yin,   the   Feminine,   and   the   Dragon.   These   two   ingredients   may   metamorphose   into   a   Lead   which   is   also   Yin.   It   corresponds   to   black,  Water,  and  the  number  1,  and  is  Yin  (Sivin  in  Needham  1980).                        





  Tantric  Metallurgy  

The  subtle  sexuality  of  the  yin  and  yang  of  Chinese  alchemy  becomes  much   more   overt   in   Indian   alchemy.   Here   the   adept,   like   the   Daoist   who   must   fast   and   purify,   must   free   himself   of   temptation   and   devote   himself   to   the   gods.   But   the   actual   procedures   often   involve   “erotic   rituals”   and   center   upon   the   worship   of   a   phallus   or   rasalingam   of   “fixed”  (alloyed   with   silver   and   herbs)  mercury   for   Shiva.   Mercury  itself,  like  all  the  alchemical  substances,  is  overtly  sexual,  as  it  is  known  as   Harabija  or  the  “semen  of  Shiva.”  Mineralogical  expressions  of  the  Goddess’s  sexual   fluids  manifest  in  her  sexual  emissions  as  mica  and  her  menstrual  or  uterine  blood   as   sulfur   (White   1998)(as   depicted   in   the   title   graphic,   over   a  microscopic   view   of   blood   and   semen).   Shiva   is   the   blue-­‐throated   swallower   of   poison.   But   in   another   instance  it  Shiva’s  toxic  semen  that  is  spilled  when  he  was  interrupted  with  having   sex  with  his  consort  by  the  god  Agni  (fire).  Shiva  commands  Agni  to  drink  the  semen,   and  Agni  tries  to  “swallow”  the  sperm  (mercury)  but  he  could  not  retain  it.   White’s   descriptions   of   mercury,   semen   and   Shiva   is   truly   inspired,   and   here   is   a   but   a   portion  on  mercury’s  ability  to  “swallow”  metals:     “A   ‘seed’   (bija)   of   gold   or   silver   is   planted   in   mercury   (whose   powers   of   absorption  have  been  massively  enhanced  through  a  series  of  treatments  in   sulfur.   Mica,   and   other   mainly   ‘female’   elements),   which   then   becomes   possessed   of   a   ‘mouth’   capable   of   ‘swallowing,’   of   absorbing   into   itself,   according   to   the   alchemical   scriptures,   millions,   and   even   billions   and   trillions,   of   times   its   mass   in   base   metals…for   the   alchemist   to   swallow   the   mercury  in  question  to  himself  become  a  second  Siva:  an  immortal  superman   (Siddha)  (White  1998).”  

  Siddha   alchemical   texts   abound   in   the   sexual   nomenclature   of   the   essential   alchemical   substances,   with   the   standard   attributes   “of   the   sulfur-­‐mica   as   the   menstrual-­‐sexual  emissions  of  the  Goddess  Gauri”  and  the  mercurial  semen  of  Shiva   (White  1998).  The  legend  is  that  Shiva  was  having  intercourse  with  Parvati,  and  just   at  the  verge  of  ejaculation  he  was  interrupted  by  demons.  He  chased  them  away,  but   discharged   his   semen   while   pursuing   and   when   it   touched   the   earth   it   became   mercury   (Puri   2007).   The   gods   were   intending   to   procure   a   son   to   kill   the   demon   Tarakasura.  Some  traditions  have  the  gods  send  the  fire  god  Agni  in  the  form  of  the   dove  to  stop  the  seemingly  endless  coition,  and  discovering  that  the  prying  eyes  of   the   bird   was   Agni   caused   Shiva   to   become   shy   and   cease   the   sex   act.   But   he   ejaculated  at  the  same  time  and  hurled  the  semen  at  Agni,  who  couldn’t  bear  its  heat   and  threw  it  into  the  river  Ganga,  which  also  could  not  bear  the  potency.  “Out  of  this   semen,   emerged   different   kinds   of   metals,   which   are   capable   of   making   the   body   stable  (Reddy  2007).”  The  sperm  lowered  into  deep  wells,  and  due  to  its  heaviness  it   sunk  down  deep  into  the  earth.  Other  legends  tell  of  Nagas  closing  up  the  Rasa  wells   with  mud  and  stones  and  denying  the  potent  Rasendra  (Reddy  2007).   Puri   (2007)   writes,   “In   Indian   alchemy   mercury   symbolizes   the   union   of   Siva   and   Sakthi   (Parvati),   and   it   is   termed   as   Siva  beej  (the   seed   of   Shiva),   and   sulphur   Parvati  beeja  (the  seed  of  Parvati).  It  signifies  the  universal  law  of  creation,  that  is,   unless   both   female   and   male   gametes   do   not   unite   there   will   not   be   any   further   creation.”    It  is  no  wonder  mercurial  drugs  are  highly  touted  all  over  Asia  as  potent   aphrodisiacs,   and   sexual   fluids   themselves   are   magical   power   substances   that   alchemically  transform  into  amrta,  the  nectar  of  immortality  (see  elaborate  details   of  this  in  White  2003).  This  fits  into  a  large  complex  of  rasa  or  sap  or  liquid,  fluid,  or   juice.   Gold  was  also  associated  with  divine  semen:    “Indra,  intoxicated  with  soma,   began  to  “flow  out”  “every  kind  of  creature,  plant  and  metal.  From  his  navel,  his  life-­‐ breath   flowed   out   and   became   lead,   not   iron,   not   silver;   from   his   seed   his   form   flowed   out   and   became   gold”     (Shatapatha   Brahmana   xii,   7,1,7)   (Eliade   1956).   Similar   myths   are   found   in   other   Aryan   cultures   The   Primordial   Man   of   ancient   Iran   whose  body  was  made  of  metals,  “allowed  his  seed  to  flow  to  earth…(and)  the  seven   kinds   of   metal   appeared   from   his   body.”(Eliade   1956)   In   the   Zath-­‐sparam,   x,   2   “when   he   died,   the   eight   kinds   of   mineral   of   metallic   nature   came   forth   from   his   different   members,   namely,   gold,   silver,   iron,   brass,   tin,   lead,   quicksilver,   and   diamond;   and   gold,   in   virtue   of   its   perfection,   issued   from   actual   life   and   from   the   seed.”   (Eliade   1956).   Metals   were   thought   to   be   alive,   but   in   various   states   of   perfection,   in   a   hierarchy   of   decreasing   nobility   from   gold   to   the   lead.   It   could   be   extrapolated   as   a   model   for   world   ages   and   caste   systems,   just   as   the   heat   of   distillation   likely   informed   many   notions   of   a   spiritual   afterlife   in   which   a   subtle   essence   is   removed   from   its   dross   shell,   alighting   upwards   in   a   spiritual   form.   But   the   alchemist   could   transcend   the   time   involved   in   the   natural   process   and   with   art,   mature  embryonic  ores  and  veins  of  metals,  transmuting  them  to  their  nobler  forms.    

White’s  (1998)  research  gathers  much  sexual  lore  of  Siddha  alchemy  that  one   must   consult   his   text   for   more   details.   But   some   other   primary   examples   might   center  upon  the  role  of  the  alchemist’s  assistant  and  her  menstruation  cycles,  “Her   menstrual   blood   (then)   becomes   efficacious   in   the   fixation   and   calcination   of   mercury”   and   sources   “instruct   the   alchemist   to   place   said   mercury,   wrapped   in   a   piece   of   cloth,   deep   in   his   wife’s   vulva…or   to   macerate   sulfur   in   a   woman’s   menstrual   blood   in   order   to   increase   its   potency.   On   the   term   sulfur   umayoni-­‐ samsarga,  White  (1998)  writes:  “that  which  issued  from  the  vulva  of  (the  Goddess)   Uma,   states   that   mercury   can   be   bound   and   made   complete   (samskrta)   only   by   entering   into   that  yoni   i.e.,   sulfur.   Reproductive   symbolism   is   explicit   here:   mercury,   of   which   one   name   is   suta   (‘that   which   is   born,   generated’),   …here   enters   into   the   womb   of   the   Goddess   (sulfur)   to   become   activated.”   Elsewhere   sources   stipulate   sexual   intercourse   is   “essential   to   the   activation   of   the   mercury   the   alchemist   has   ingested  (and  adds  that  said  mercury  turns  him  into  a  sexual  animal)  (White  1998).       Noting   the   choice   of   the   term   menstruum   as   a   solvent,   from   the   menstrual   blood,   I   would   add   that   this   blood   appears   when   reproduction   is   possible.   Its   first   arrival  signals  womanhood,  or  the  emerging  sexuality  and  puberty  and  the  ability  to   procreate.   The   moon   and   menstrual   connections,   as   well   as   the   connections   of   copper  and  the  blood  biology  of  women  point  to  deeper  metallurgical  mysteries.  As   discussed  below,  alchemists  spoke  of  the  seeds  and  menstrual  fluids  of  metals,  and   the  monthly  blood  signaled  that  pregnancy  had  not  occurred  following  the  “wedding”   or   coitus.   These   metaphors   ring   true   from   Africa   to   India   to   the   American   alchemist   Starkey.  The  inner-­‐alchemical  Tantric/Daoist  cults,  and  some  Islamic  and  Christian   gnostic   sects,   viewed   sexual   fluids   as   sacraments   and   “power-­‐substances”   and   as   deeply  magical.                                            


  Adulterous  Metals,  Chymical  Nuptials,  and  Copulating  Minerals                        The   gods’   sexual   exploits   are   notorious,   and   range   from   affairs   and   erotic   trysts   to   more   deviant   sex   acts   like   rape   and   pederasty.   In   the   case   of   the   divine   smith   Hephaestus/Vulcan,   his   stunning   wife   Aphrodite/Venus   as   copper,   was   promiscuously   exploited   in   most   of   the   metallurgy   uses   from   ritual   to   domestic   to   military.   Her   affair   with   Ares/Mars   as   iron   adulterated   this   pure   metal   into   the   service  of  a  new  level  of  warfare.  In  some  sense  this  myth  captures  the  successive   metallic   ages   transitioning   from   the   Bronze   Age   (copper   and   tin)   to   the   Aryan   dominated   Iron   Age.2  Alchemists   have   been   intrigued   by   this   myth   up   to   the   time   of   Newton   and   Starkey.   The   sexualization   of   alchemical   processes   can   be   found   in   many  of  the  earliest  Western  texts.  Metals  are  base,  unless  they  be  the  pure,  chaste   and   perfect   gold,   and   likewise   have   impurities,   flaws,   faults   and   lusty   desires.   It’s   this   last   quality   that   the   alchemists   seeks   to   exalt,   to   enflame   and   to   consummate.   Copper  is  a  beautiful,  easy  metal,  easy  to  work  and  easy  to  mix  and  mingle  with  the   other  metals  in  various  combinations  of  alloys.     Alchemists   like   Eirenaeus   Philalethes   (George   Starkey),   Robert   Boyle   and   Isaac   Newton   took   the   adultery   of   Venus   (copper)   with   Mars   (Iron)   and   their   subsequent   discovery   by   Vulcan   (fire)   as   a   process.  As   told   by   Ovid,   Vulcan   casts   his   “Net”  over  the  two  passionate  lovers   to  shame  them  to  the  gods  and  they  are  caught   or   “fixed”   and   fused.   Like   many   alchemists,   Boyle,   Starkey   and   Newton   were   obsessed  with  antimony  sulfide  and  the  regulus  of  copper  and  antimony  that  has  a                                                                                                                      Some  cultures  thought  demonic  iron  smithing  as  ushering  a  degenerate  age,  and  in  Vedic  texts  it’s  considered  demonic.  It   was  introduced  by  the  Asur  as  demons.  The  smelting  of  metal  is  often  regarded  as  a  sinister  operation  requiring  the  sacrificing   of  the  human  life.  (Eliade  1956).   2


“network”  of  striations  or  net-­‐like  appearance.  Examples  of  the  star  Regulus  and  the   purplish   “net”   are   shown   below   overlaid   on   top   of   Newton’s   manuscript.   The   alchemist   would   refine   antimony   from   stibnite   with   iron   and   then   add   copper,   which  creates  “minute,  regular  crystals.”  Starkey  then  added  sophic  mercury  and  let   the  whole  digest,  as  was  the  procedure  for  a  normal  regulus  of  antimony  (Holmes  et   al.  2003).  


    The   sexual   language   of   “conception”   or   conjunctio   or   impregnation   and   chymical  nuptials  and  weddings  is  ubiquitous  in  much  of  the  European  alchemy.  We   have   dealt   with   the   “urine”   of   youths,   virgins   and   children   in   a   previous   paper   (Dannaway   2012)   and   intend   a   full   monograph   on   the   symbolism   of   virginity   in   alchemy,  with  special  emphasis  on  Our  Lady  the  Virgin  Mary.  Christ  was  the  Word   made   flesh,   cenceptio   per   aurem   (conceived   through   the   ear   by   the   Holy   Ghost),   spiritualizing   matter   supernaturally   re-­‐conceiving   the   “something   from   nothing”   intoned  creation  of  Genesis.  But  its  role  in  the  sexual  context  of  minerals  and  metals,   briefly,   speaks   to   an   ever-­‐renewing   purity,   latently   primed   with   kinetic   creative   energies.  Virginal  matter,  or  virginal  mothers,  represents  the  womb,  the  cavern,  the   cave,  the  depths  of  the  earth,  the  introitus  (vagina),  which  is  acted  upon  by  spirit  and   made  to  birth  new  life.  It  is  therefore  an  entrance  to  a  closed  palace  or  sacred  cave,  

an   exit   from   which   creation   emerges,   a   threshold,   hollow,   warm,   moist   suddenly   pregnant   with   possibilities.   What   follows   are   a   few   primary,   or   colorful   examples   amongst  many.       Esteemed   alchemists   such   as   Bernard   bernard   trevisan   argued   against   the   use   of   corrosives   or   caustics   as   they   damaged   the   seed   or   semen   or   sperm   of   the   metal.   He   likened  the  alchemical  impregnation  of  metals  as  a  process   similar   to   human   generation,   which   was   thought   to   combine   male   semen   and   female   sperm   at   conception.   Alchemically,   these   become   the   masculine   elements   fire   and   air   and   water   and   earth   as   the   feminine   (Newman   2003).  The  philosopher's  stone  is  produced,  then,  by  two  sperms,  one  from  mercury   that  is  the  'passive  feminine  seed'  which  is  acted  upon  by  'masculine  seed  in  gold"   (Newman   2003).   The   sexual   theories   of   metals   are   also   found   in   Van   Helmont,   as   in   his   concept   of   the   semen,   and   can   be   traced   back   to   the   Latin   Geber   and   the   (distantly   different)   Arabian   Jabir   complex   of   seeds   and   ferments   in   a   context   of   vitalism.   Van   Helmont   and   Geber   describe   mercury's   resistance   to   chemical   "marriage"  as  the  modest  protection  of  virtue,  or  mercury's  "virginity,"  his  Chymical   Marriage,   made   famous   in   Rosicrucian   texts,   has   a   long   history   in   the   ritualized   formation  of  the  philosopher’s  stone.     In   Von   Helmont's   theory,   this   alchemical   prelude   involves   the   insemination   of   mercury,   an   impregnation,   raising   the   libido   of   metals   and   impressing   the   microcosmic   "libidinous   images"   (Newman   2003).   The   12th   century,   on   Turba   Philosophorum,  one  of  the  first  texts  to  be  translated  from  Arabic  to  Latin,  states  “on   the   authority   of   the   god   Horus:   "The   proper   end   of   the   whole   art   is   to   obtain   the   semen   of   the   male   secretly,   seeing   that   all   things   are   male   and   female.   Hence   [we   read   further]   Horus   says   in   a   certain   place:   Join   the   male   and   the   female,   and   you   will  find  that  which  is  sought;  as  a  fact,  without  this  process  of  re-­‐union,  nothing  can   succeed,  for  Nature  charms  Nature,"  and  to  conjoin  the  male  and  female.  It  is  said,   the  male  is  said  to  be  lead  and  the  female  orpiment  (Redgrove  1920).     The   Turba   says:  "Know,   we   are   told,   .   .   .   that   out   of   the   elect   things   nothing   becomes  useful  without  conjunction  and  regimen,  because  sperma  is  generated  out   of  blood  and  desire.  For  the  man  mingling  with  the  woman,  the  sperm  is  nourished   by   the   humour   of   the   womb,   and   by   the   moistening   blood,   and   by   heat,   and   when   forty  nights  have  elapsed  the  sperm  is  formed....  God  has  constituted  that  heat  and   blood  for  the  nourishment  of  the  sperm  until  the  foetus  is  brought  forth.  So  long  as  it   is  little,  it  is  nourished  with  milk,  and  in  proportion  as  the  vital  heat  is  maintained,   the  bones  are  strengthened.  Thus  it  behooves  you  also  to  act  in  this  Art.”  




                                                            "Raymond   Lull"   or   "pseudo-­‐Lull"   as   he   is   referred   to,   followed   Jabirian   tradition  in  sexualizing  the  minerals  and  metals,  as  well  as  the  earth  itself.  Lull,  like   many  other  alchemists,  conceived  that  "mercury  contains  its  own  nature  within  the   concavity  of  its  womb."    As  Newman  (2003)  wrote  of  Lull's  cosmology,  "the  manifest   elemental   earth   contains   a   true,   'virgin   earth'   at   its   center"   and   Lull   writes   at   length   on   the   "sexuality   of   minerals"   in   the   Testamentum.   Lull   figuratively   divides   the   mineral   kingdom   into   a   three-­‐fold   sexuality,   "active   seed,   passive   seed,   and   menstrual  blood"  (also  hermaphrodites)  (Newman  2003).  "The  first  sort  of  mineral   seed   is   that   found   in   the   precious   metals,   gold   and   silver.   The   second   occurs   in   base   metals,   as   also   in   sulfur   and   mercury.   The   menstrual   blood,   finally,   is   found   in   minerals   per   se,   such   as   the   salts,   alums   and   the   like,   from   which   a   "menstrual   humidity"  can  be  made  (Newman  2003).  Newman  writes  of  Lull,  "In  order  to  unite   substances  in  a  'real  union'  rather  than  in  a  factitious  blending,  one  must  join  them   with  the  'bond  of  love'."    



    Sexual  themes  of  different  types  of  semen  and  menstrual  fluids  of  metals  and   minerals  are  common  among  the  great  alchemists.  Such  are  well  studied  in  certain   writings  by  Thomas  Norton  and  George  Ripley,  and  are  abundant  in  the  writings  of   Paracelsus.   Norton   writes   evocatively   in   his   Chemical  Treatise  of  Thomas  Norton,  the   Englishman,   Called   Believe-­‐Me,   or   the   Original   of   Alchemy:   “Laudabile   Sanctum,   ascribed  to  Hermes,  uses  the  following  expression  of  the  Red  Tincture:  "There  lies   the   snowy   wife   wedded   to   her   red   spouse."   That   is   to   say,   in   the   white   Tincture   you   have   a   beautiful   woman   of   snowy   whiteness   espoused   to   a   red   husband.   If   your   white  Stone  is  exposed  to  the  heat,  and  through  the  action  of  the  fire  becomes  red  as   blood,   then   the   marriage   is   valid   and   perfect—as   in   the   act   of   copulation,   if   it   be   fruitful,  the  male  seed  obtains  the  ascendancy,  and  assimilates  the  female  seed  to  its   own  nature.  That  this  fact  is  so,  those  who  have  observed  the  nature  of  the  embryo   have   been   taught   by   experience.   When   this   has   been   brought   about,   our   Stone   is   perfected.  The  Sages  say  that  it  should  be  nourished  with  its  own  poison  till  it  has   had   enough.   When   this   has   been   done,   you   may   go   wherever   you   like,   for   it   will   defray  all  your  expenses.  Thus,  then,  I  have  expounded  to  you  the  subtle  part  of  the   work  with  all  its  appurtenances,  and  more  I  need  not,  cannot,  and  will  not,  reveal.”   Redgrove   (1920)   sums   it   up   nicely,   “When   the   alchemists   described   an   element  or  principle  as  male  or  female,  they  meant  what  they  said…,  to  the  extent,  at   least,  of  firmly  believing  that  seed  was  produced  by  the  two  metallic  sexes.  By  their   union   metals   were   thought   to   be   produced   in   the   womb   of   the   earth;   and   mines   were   shut   in   order   that   by   the   birth   and   growth   of   new   metal   the   impoverished   veins  might  be  replenished.  In  this  way,  too,  was  the  magnum  opus,  the  generation   of   the   Philosopher's   Stone-­‐-­‐in   species   gold,   but   purer   than   the   purest-­‐-­‐to   be   accomplished.   To   conjoin   that   which   Nature   supplied,   to   foster   the   growth   and   development   of   that   which   was   thereby   produced;   such   was   the   task   of   the   alchemist.   ‘For   there   are   Vegetables,’   says   Bernard   of   Trevisan   in   his   Answer   to   Thomas  of  Bononia,  "but  Sensitives  more  especially,  which  for  the  most  part  beget   their   like,   by   the   Seeds   of   the   Male   and   Female   for   the   most   part   concurring   and  

conmixt   by   copulation;   which   work   of   Nature   the   Philosophick   Art   imitates   in   the   generation   of   gold.”   The   consistency   of   sexualized   operations   in   alchemy,   though   they   become   inversed   from   the   male   associations   of   mercury   with   Shiva   to   a   feminine   identity   in   Arabian   and   European   alchemy,   speaks   to   the   primordial   traditional  and  the  true  perennial  philosophy  that  informed  and  preserved  genuine   lineages  of  initiation.     Speaking  of  mines,  Eliade  (1956)  quotes  from  the  16th  century  German  book   on   mining   folklore   Ein   nutzlich   bergbuchlein   of   widespread   beliefs   of   the   Middle   Ages   that   ores   are:   “generated   by   the   union   of   two   principles,   sulphur   and   mercury…Furthermore,   in   the   union   of   mercury   and   sulphur   with   the   ore,   the   sulphur   behaves   like   the   male   seed   and   the   mercury   like   the   female   seed   in   the   conception   and   birth   of   a   child.”   This   “Little   Book   of   Mining”   also   discusses   the   formation   for   metals   as   controlled   by   stars,   as   gold   grows   under   the   influence   the   Sun.     The   uniting   of   celestial   male   solar/Sol/gold   and   female   lunar/luna/silver   energies  in  alchemy,  in  the  microcosmic  sexual  couple  or  the  laboratories  crucible,  is   the  highest  mystery  of  practical  and  spiritual  alchemy.    The  traditional  associations   of   sexuality   and   mining   in   caves   or   recess   of   the   earth   harken   back   to   the   truly   ancient   notions   of   the   Mother   goddess   and   the   feminized   earth.   Sworder   writes,   (2008)   “Since   the   metals   had   a   life   of   their   own   and   were   capable   of   maturation,   their  natural  condition  in  the  earth  was  compared  to  that  of  an  embryo  in  the  womb.   Similarly  the  furnace  of  the  alchemist  was  a  kind  of  womb  in  which  the  baser  metals   would   come   more   quickly   to   their   final   state.   Some   believed   that   the   baser   metals   were  originally  gold  but  had  deteriorated  like  the  rest  of  nature  as  a  result  of  Adam’s   fall.”   Taboos   and   rituals   often   governed   operations   and   mining   was   a   truly   sacred.   For  a  beautiful  and  thoughtful  study  of  the  degeneration  of  the  sacred  in  mining  and   metallurgy   one   can   hardly   find   better   than   the   work   of   Roger   Sworder’s   (2008)   Mining,  Metallurgy  and  the  Meaning  of  Life.  






  Like   attracts   like.   Between   doctrines   of   sympathies   and   signatures,   Nature   plays   the   coquette   and   all   of   creation   beckons   like   a   lover   to   the   alchemist.   Bacon   and   his   fraternity   might   think   she   is   a   “wanton   harlot”   and   that   She   must   be   “bound   into   service”   and   made   a   slave.     But   she   is   at   once   both   whore   and   Virgin.   Promiscuous   in   infinite,   sensual   service   she   is   yet   immaculate   and   forever   new.   Flirtatious,   bawdy,   sometimes   abused   and   shamed   she   is   the   Magdalene.   Full   of   Grace,  and  Blessed  Amongst  Women  she  is  coredemptrix,  mediatrix,  and  advocate.   She   is   the  theotokos,   undefiled   and   yet   Mother.   Divided   for   the   sake   of   union,   our   first   mother   Eve   was   lured   away   from   paradise.   Between   original   sin   and   wise   Solomon’s   bedchambers   is   a   sweet,   serving   and   lusty   Nature.   She   is   free   with   her   affections   and   she   is   still   ever   Virtuous   and   Chaste.   Beautiful,   mysterious   and   cunning,   the   toxins   of   her   wrath   defy   the   furies   of   hell   should   she   be   scorned,   ignored,   or   rejected.   So   Jealousy   must   yield   to   chivalry,   to   humbling   servitude   and   protection.   The   seduction   of   her   Arts,   the   coaxing   of   Sophia   to   delicately   deliver   a   glance   through   veils   teases   lovers   and   metals   in   the   passions   of   slow,   gentle   pulsations  and  thunderous  explosions  of  raw  energy  safely  in  the  sexual  crucible  of   true  Love.    Kyrie,  eleison                                        



  The  wise  alchemist  quietly  follows  alluring  Nature,  exposing  her  beauty  for  all  but  leaving  a  path  for  the  Wise.  

  Though  more  modest  here,  Nature  still  reveals  a  little  skin.                        

The  Master  Solazaref  presents  some  erotica  and  metallurgy  in  his  texts,  commenting  on  the  place  of  eros  in   paganism,  and  the  lusty  heat  of  a  fleshy  goddess.  And  a  rather  interesting  photo  combining  the  metal  of  a  Harley-­‐ Davidson  motorcycle  with  a  French  beauty,  with  sage  advice  to  truly:  live,  no  matter  what  the  form.  From  Ars   Brevis,  Volume  1  Les  Feux  du  Ciel:  


  Metals,  like  people,  enzymes,  and  molecules,  are  alive,  promiscuous,  and  alchemically  sexual   attracted.      


    References   Blackhirst,  R.  2008.  Primordial  Alchemy  and  Modern  Religion.  Sophia  Perennis.     Blakely,   Sandra.   2006.   Myth,   Ritual,   and   Metallurgy   in   Ancient   Greece   and   Recent   Africa.  Cambridge  University  Press.     Dannaway,  F.  R.  2012.  Urina  Peurorum  and  The  Fountain  of  Youth:  From  Soma  to  the   Philosopher’s  Stone.­‐puerorum/   Eliade,  M.  1956.  The  Forge  and  the  Crucible.  University  of  Chicago  Press.     Holmes   et   al.   2003.   Reworking   the   Bench:   Research   Notebooks   in   the   History   of   Science.  Springer.   Kollerstrom,   N.   Retrieved   2012.   Copper   and   Venus   in   The   Metal-­‐Planet   Affinities.   Needham,   J.   1980.   Science  and  Civilization  in  China  V.5,   Pt.   4.   Cambridge   University   Press.     Puri,   H.S.   2007.   Ayurvedic   Minerals,   Gems   and   Animal   Products   for   Longevity   and   Rejuvenation.  Sri  Satguru  Publications.   Newman,  William  R.  2003.  Gehennical  Fire:  The  Lives  of  George  Starkey,  an  American   Alchemist  in  the  Scientific  Revolution.  University  of  Chicago  Press.     Reddy,  K.  2007.  Text  Book  of  Rasa  Sastra.  Chaukhambha  Sanskrit  Bhawan.     Redgrove,   H.S.   1920.   Bygone   Beliefs:   Being   a   Series   of   Excursions   in   the   Byways   of   Thought.     Sworder,  R.  2008.  Mining,  Metallurgy  and  the  Meaning  of  Life.  Sophia  Perennis  .  

White,   D.   G.   1998.   The   Alchemical   Body:   Siddha   Traditions   in   Medieval   India.   University  of  Chicago.     White,   D.G.   2003.   Kiss  of  the  Yogini:  Tantric  Sex  in  its  South  Asian  Contexts.  University   of  Chicago  Press.      


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