Distillation: A Debt to Alchemy

We owe plenty to alchemy, but we especially owe our spirits of alcohol and our essential oils. The very words come from hermetic practice, the essence and the spirit.

Tonight I’m partaking in one of my favourite past times. With a couple pounds of eastern white pine needles processed and ready, I begin painstakingly assembling my glassware. These instruments seem so delicate and yet they withstand intense heat and an ADHD mind, clumsy hands, and an unorthodox setup.

The medieval alchemist also distilled oils using these same methods. Very little has changed aside from the use of electricity to power my heating and cooling elements. These oils weren’t considered a finished product though, in spagyrics and creation of philosophical stones essential oils are considered the imprint of the soul, the personal identity, one of three components of the whole. Within plants this is the chemical components that form the oil.

The soul of pine is made up of hydrocarbons, terpenes. I truly believe we can view a soul under a microscope. Our flesh and our spiritual material are intrinsically connected, such is why dried plant matter loses many of these special components as it dies. When we die the special parts of us also begin to dissipate.

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