Magical Alchemy

Finding 'the golden' in unexpected places . . .

January 8, 2005

By this title, you might be expecting a long treatise on alchemy. No, this is just the tale of one day's magical acquisitions and the surprising significance they have for me.

Today featured a visit to an antique show. We found many lovely items and here is the tale of two. We started at the perimeter of the large room filled with many dealers' wares, traveling clockwise and proceeding gradually to its center. I'd already gotten to the center, when a small brass mortar and pestle called to me from the perimeter. With sore feet, we trudged the exterior again and found the gathering of mortars and pestles in various sizes. There were several larger than this one, there was even one much smaller.

The mortar and pestle is probably the most ancient invention one is likely to find in a modern scientific laboratory or kitchen. The definition of a mortar is "a strong vessel in which material is pounded or rubbed with a pestle", usually a "club-shaped implement for pounding or grinding substances". Grains, herbs, and other food substances can be pulverized, as well as medicines and other materials used by chemists.

When I picked up the various examples, only this one felt right. And I knew where I wanted it to be. As this is a device used by chemists, it became to me a symbol of magical alchemy, whereby the alchemist learns "a power or process of transforming something common into something special". Furthermore, in medieval times, alchemy was both a science and philosophy "aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life".

The only place I wanted this small treasure to be is on my altar:


2 1/2in wide by 2in tall (5.1cm wide by 6.3cm tall)

Another of the lovely items that came home with me is a pewter plate with a crowned dragon amidst flames:


9in across (23cm across)

I felt it imbued with Set energy, as to me the dragon is one of his forms. However, Julia told me the figure on this plate is a Salamander. Was my crowned critter a dragon or not? After a bit of research, I learned that a salamander is indeed a form of Dragon. A salamander is a very special type of dragon, one who lives in fire and delights in it, being an energy elemental. Not only that, alchemists declare his Spirit of Fire essential to convert matter into gold!

So thus it is, an item of brass and an item of pewter have become 'golden' in their significance! May I find many ways to turn the commonplace into the rare!

© Joan Ann Lansberry
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