September 6, 2007
I conjure up symbols from the æther, assemble them into an informational hierarchy, where they, in turn, control and manipulate metallurgic elements in the external world. What am I?
Alchemy is the ancient craft of turning lead into gold. Jung wrote volumes in defence of this harshly debunked medieval superstition. Jung believed that the alchemical texts should be understood metaphorically, and that the authentic alchemists were actually talking about transforming a leaden consciousness into a golden one. This is hinted at by the famous alchemical saying Aurum Nostrum Non Est Aurum Vulgi… [our gold is not ordinary gold]
Combining Jung’s interpretation with traditional Hermetic teachings, the secret of true alchemy shines through. The Emerald Tablet, attributed to Hermes, relates the idea “As above, so below”. In other words, everything inside of our subjective awareness is mirrored in outside in the external world. In fact, there is an equivalence and identity relation between the two realms.
It is my understanding that one alchemical method for achieving a golden consciousness was to choose a craft, and carve out a small corner of the external world within which to work their magic. By introducing order, harmony, elegance, and beauty into their little section of the external world, they would necessarily induce a corresponding transformation in their inner world.
The real trick is getting it to work in reverse 😉
The attitude I take towards software architecture, design and development is somewhere along these lines. Thing is, I’m not interested in gold. I much rather manifest paper inscribed with numbers, hopefully with lots of trailing zeros. More of a paper-to-paper transformation than a metal-to-metal one. And besides, where’s a guy supposed to find a good bar of lead? And what on earth would I do with all that gold?
Maybe this is just a fancy way of saying that if you love what you do you become a better person. Not to say that all programmers are alchemists – depends upon whether they view their work as an art and a labor of love. And of course, alchemists have a wide array of choices regarding the medium in which they chose to work.
Reconciliation of material wealth and spiritual integrity
In any case, I’m still an apprentice, and am just getting my feet wet. The Alchemist’s world-view offers a framework where material wealth is compatible with spiritual wholeness, science is compatible with religion, and the One is compatible with the Many.
See also – my post on Issac Newton’s Alchemy – Can you keep a dark secret?