Notes on alchemy

12 11 2009

Mercury was, for them, the seminal essence of a god who (pro-)creates the universe sexually; indeed the origin myth of mercury tells us that quicksilver first arose when Siva spilled his seed at the end of a long bout of lovemaking with his consort, the goddess Parvati. This seed once spilled, became polluted through its contact with the earth. The alchemist’s craft therefore consists of returning mercury, through a series of chemical reactions of incredible complexity, to its original pristine state. Once he has perfected it in the laboratory, the alchemist may then ingest this mercury, which then transforms him into an immortal human, a “second Siva”.

-David Gordon White, “The Ocean of Mercury: An Eleventh-Century Alchemical Text” in Religions of India in Practice
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