The Alchemical Dream  Video
The Alchemical Dream

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The Alchemical Dream (2008)

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In the mid-1990's Terence McKenna and Mystic Fire's Sheldon Rochlin teamed up to make this rich and exciting film. Little did they know that this would be their last film. Terence portrays his usual erudite rendition of the Irish Bard who takes us on a journey into the alchemical renaissance of King Frederick V and his wife Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia.

Playing the role of John Dee, court magician for Queen Elizabeth of England, Terence McKenna shows us how the promise of a return to the tradition of alchemy was almost instituted in Europe. He also shows us that this early attempt at the creation of an alchemical kingdom actually lead to the European Renaissance and the institution of Cartesian science. This was the beginnings of rationalism within the western mindset.

This incredible film is not only beautifully filmed, but is Terence McKenna’s finest performance and a worthy eulogy to his genius.

Terrence McKenna, Ptolemy Mann, John Claude, Raphael Cohen
Sheldon Rochlin, Maxine Rochline, Morgan Harris

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negutron, posted on February 21, 2015

So first of all, disclaimer: I'm a huge TM fan. I wish so much I had met him, but alas. This film is one of his best works, because it was one of his favorite subjects: alchemy and the life and work of one of the most famous alchemists during the time of Queen Elizabeth: John Dee. There are no clockwork machine elves of dmt hyperspace in this one. Just the facts, some beautiful cinematography, and an easter egg of Terence in a dress looking like a droll Elizabethan poet.

Terence's other big subject was shamanism in the context of ethno-anthropology. He believed that shamanism and alchemy were part of the same process in two different continents. Or rather that the tribal people of south america had their own alchemical tradition that was the shamanic-directed, communal use of plant hallucinogens such as ookoohei, yopo snuff, ayahuasca, and psilocybe mushrooms, that acheived a similar goal through singing and the exploration of the mystery as the jungian-hermetic tradition does through mentalism, symbolic meditation and careful application of a linear process of metaphorical, metaphysical protochemistry. He attempted a grand theory of hyperspace both as his quasi mathematical model the timewave as well as a human model of unification of juxtaposed alchemy traditions. I'm stilll trying to piece it together. Terence is so engaging that I could follow him down an infinite rabbit hole of nonsense, if that is all there is--so be it / its a hell of a journey.

This film takes a step back and looks at the roots of the alchemy and shows how the gnostics failed at bringing about the great leap forward in human ascention and had to shrink from scrutiny of the church into the invisible college, where the footsteps start to disappear into the snow of the next few centuries.

stusmith, posted on September 27, 2014

Terence understood the true history and revelation of alchemy like no other. His archaic revival prediction has already come true in our California culture. The materialists continue to argue its insignificance for modern science. Our current mainstream scientists want to label spirit as "dark energy" and is something separate from mind or consciousness. But this is theoretical stuff. And it's ironic that the only difference is trivial as a label or name.

elainebennett, posted on July 29, 2014

That was truly excellent.

negutron, posted on May 13, 2015

"Here the essence is collected, the quintessence. And always the hope was that the next experiment, the next combination of materials, would yield the elixir vitae, the lapis philosophorum, the completion that the alchemist sought. And so all this fantastic apparatus that we see around us is, is really not so much in the service of channeling liquids, gasses, but in the service of channeling spirit out of matter and into the higher realms where it then can be refluxed, recondensed and the lapis philosophorum, the stone of the philosophers, the central mystery brought to completion.

It's the self that we are trying to recover.

This is lumen naturea the light trapped in matter. The lux natura. This is the universal medicine curing all ills. It is the answer. It is what everyone is looking for an no one can find. And so... the alchemist toiled over the centuries. The torment of the sulfur. The torment of the cinnibar. The search for the triumphant cheriot of antonome. The search for the quintessential essence that represented the union of all the world that the alchemist saw around them.

We have come to understand that the work of Alchemy is not abut the transmutation of crude metals into gold, but was in fact a kind of dance of the imagination in which the psychological complexes within the alchemist were mingled in an amalgam of chemical processes creating a kind of mythology of matter; a landscape in which the green lion, the red dragon, the hermaphraditic queen, the four-headed dog were figures moving to and fro in the fevered speculations of the so-called philosophers.

And the belief was: that man could work with nature--a full partner with the devine process, and redeem the light fallen into matter. And in so doing, redeem himself."

jennsouth.bc, posted on July 27, 2014

so were they doing hallucinogens to achieve the "alchemical state"?

negutron, posted on February 21, 2015

I have wondered the same thing. As in, either the flasks and beakers were a set up to extract magic alkaloids from plants, or they were an elaborate ruse to manufacture white phosporus from human urine, with a backstory that they were trying to make gold--so that both the Royals and the Church would leave them to their nerd devices ("well, go to it, nerd. let me know when you've made me my gold"). Meanwhile, they were staring at posters of symbols and using either deep meditation kundalini techniques or popping mushroom caps or something when the powerful interrupters weren't looking, zoning out into hyperspace and exploring the mystery.

Personally, I think you are right in your question. That they *were* psychonauts. That they *had* discovered the secret recipe of Soma/Kykeon/Manna/Ambrosia: ergotized bearded darnel, or morning glory seeds or mushrooms of some sort that would have been available to them (not psilocybe cubensis--doesn't grow that far north--could have been maybe liberty cap or amanita or something that's extinct).

The whole urine thing (order of the golden dawn--collecting the first urine of the day and boiling it down)...could have been a nod in the amanita direction, in that the urine of someone who has eaten an amanita muscaria will itself be an effective entheogen for a subsequent urine drinker. Also, amanita as soma is a nod to John ALlegro's (ancient languages/biblical scholar) allegation that the dead sea scroll he translated indicated that the Essenes (ancient Jewish hippy mystics--early Christians) ate this mushroom and that it was an allegory for Jesus Christ.

rodas56, posted on May 1, 2014

thank you..

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