Alchemy Index


Three Gems of Alchemical Initiation

Part 1: Powers of Transformation

What is the alchemical laboratory? What is alchemical spiritual development? The answer is that the alchemical laboratory can be any system that cooks up alchemical energy.

Alchemical spiritual development depends upon the consumption of useful power. The Taoist alchemists have given us the best revelations about useful power. This alchemical manna comes in three flavors in a paradox. Though the three flavors are different they are one and the same. And you cannot have one without the others.

The Taoist alchemists called these powers chi, ching and shen. Chi, we will call continuation power. Ching, we will call creation power. Shen, we will call manifestation power. One circulates Chi power; one sublimates Ching power; one distills Shen power. Lu K’uan Yu, Taoist alchemist (born 1898) said in, Taoist Yoga Alchemy and Immortality, "You should sublimate the three precious elements, namely the generative force [ching], (vital) breath [chi] and spirit [shen] to restore their original strength and the foundation will be laid when these three elements unite; only then can immortality be attained."

The concept of chi is more familiar to Western pilgrims than ching or shen. Ti Chi and the martial arts are based on physical exercises that enhance the circulation of chi in the practitioner's body. Every living being circulates chi power to continue existence. For humans breathing air into the physical body unconsciously and automatically circulates chi. Lu K’uan Yu said concerning Gathering the Microcosmic Outer Alchemical Agent, "The human body is like a rootless tree and relies solely on the breath as root and branches. The outer alchemical agent is produced by means of fresh air breathed in and out, laying the foundation (chu chi)."

You must become conscious of the circulating chi in order to develop spiritual power. When you are conscious of chi circulation you will become aware of your subtle body. You can apprehend the subtle body by sublimating ching or distilling shen. Everyone does these things unconsciously and automatically, but you must become conscious of the sublimations and distillations. This is much more difficult than becoming aware of circulating chi. So circulation of chi is the initial alchemical gemstone. Indeed, many people learned to circulate chi consciously through practices taught by various esoteric schools. Some Rosicrucian societies in the West and Hindu sects in the East have taught breathing exercises that consciously circulate chi. Alchemy refers to circulating chi as inner circulation.

By inner circulation I mean that system of movement existing in contrast and complement to the physical systems within the human organism. There are the circulatory system, nervous system, respiratory system and other biological systems that are studied by biology and medicine. These biophysical systems generate within their networks complex psychic systems that precipitate behavior which is studied by the social and behavioral sciences. The complex psychic systems congeal perceptions and sentiments that direct the movement of the organism as a whole be it fortuitous or disastrous.

Alchemically speaking the biophysical and psychic systems in the human organism have a subtle counterpart that is necessary for them to exist. That subtle counterpart is the inner circulation, and it is metamorphic just as the psychic system is a metamorphic condition generated by the biophysical system.

The Emerald Tablet is the prima materia of alchemical initiation. Imbedded within this brief gem is the process to initiate the inner circulation. The inner circulation is described in detail by the Taoist alchemists and to a lesser extent the Hindu alchemists. The Rosicrucians in the West also taught the separation of chi from the oxygen molecule in the breath of air in order to power the inner circulation (Rosicrucians never called It chi.).

I have been practicing the inner circulation for over twenty years. It is as safe and natural as walking and running. In fact practicing the inner circulation will stabilize energy imbalances of all kinds that may afflict the microcosm of the operator.

The Emerald Tablet is the oldest Western text yet found that contains the breathing exercises that can power the inner circulation with chi or Outer Microcosmic quintessence. The Smagdarine gem offers much more than an esoteric breathing exercise. It’s a transcendental map that expands as the energy of the inner circulation expands within the operator.

Emerald Tablet:

‘Tis true without falsehood, and most real: that which is above is like that which is below, to perpetrate the miracles of One thing.  And as all things have been derived from One, by the thought of One, so all things are born from One by adoption.

The Sun is Its father; the Moon is Its mother.  The Earth is Its nurse; the belly of the Wind carries It.  Here is the essence of every Perfection in the world.  Its strength and power prevail when turned into earth; thou wilt separate the earth from fire, the subtle from the gross, gently and with great care.

It ascends from earth to heaven, descends again to earth and receives the power of the higher and the lower.  By this means, thou wilt have the glory of the world.  And because of this, all obscurity will flee from thee.  Within this is the power, most powerful of all powers.  For It will overcome all subtle things, and penetrate every solid thing.  Thus the world was created.  Wonderful adaptations will emerge from this; It is the Way.

And for this reason, I am called Hermes Trismegistus, having the three parts of the philosophy of the world.  What I have said of the Sun’s operations is complete.

The first paragraph describes the unifying Principle in the universe. The ontology of One is listed to help focus the pilgrim on the way of transcendence. The second and third paragraphs tell you where It is and how to move It and what powered metamorphosis It will unleash when circulated.

"The Sun is It‘s Father; the Moon is It’s Mother," says It is born in the mysterium conjunctionis of the cosmic pair of opposites. "The Belly of the Wind Carries It," says It is in the air. "Thou wilt separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross, gently and with great care." tells one to separate the subtle essence of It from the gross air. This is done gently and with great care, meaning no great force is needed --- just careful attention.

When It is separated from the air It naturally ascends and descends in sync with breathing in and out. One rotation completes a circuit the Taoist alchemists called the "microcosmic orbit". Rotating It through the inner circulation generates power needed to transcend limitations. Perception expands in scope as the operator practices the inner circulation once the floating Point at the center of the forehead in activated. To initiate the inner circulation first find a quiet tranquil place where one can be alone. Sit comfortably. Calm the internal noise. Use whatever meditative technique you’re familiar with or just sit quietly for a few moments.

The Inhalation: Place the tip of your tongue softly to the roof of your mouth. Inhale gently and steadily through the nose. "Imagize" a subtle force separating from the air you are breathing in. Breath in until the lungs are full. The gross air travels on down your throat into the lungs; pay no attention to it. Instead focus on the image of a subtle force energizing above the nose. "Imagize" It arcing from the forehead down to the base of the skull then down the spine as the breath is drawn in. Pressing the tongue to the roof of the mouth gives one a physical location, a kind of switch, that helps initiate the sense of separation needed to "pare" it from the air. Some people need a prayer or incantation to invoke during initiation praxis. The essence thus separated is very subtle in the early stages and too much attention and concentration upon It will cause It to dodge your attention and concentration like an impish sprite. At such times concentrating on the invocation while breathing solves the problem. Here is the prayer/incantation that I have used for years to steady the inhalation separation: say quietly to yourself, "Spirit descending upon the air ignite the fire of life; energize imagination, inspiration and vitality". It’s simple and exact in prosaic content parallel to the process you’re initiating.

The Exhalation: Move the tongue to the bottom of your mouth just below the front teeth. Exhale through your mouth slowly and steadily. Imagine the essence of It rising from the base of your genitalia upward through the viscera up the center of your chest. At the throat the energy forks below your tongue and then rises into the hemispheres of your brain. Exhale completely but don’t make yourself uncomfortable in so doing. Here again an exhalation prayer/invocation can be helpful to keep the circulation focused. Say quietly to yourself as you exhale, "Body rising through the earth fortify the water of life; manifest strength, determination, will power and health".

Practice this operation as long as you like, however about twenty minutes time is necessary to get an effective circulation going in the initial stages. The spirit descending is dry and cool; the body rising is warm and moist. You may feel It pulsing gently in the groin region at the end of the inhalation. It will expand pleasantly, a glow or cloud-like feeling in the brain field at the end of the exhalation. When you can rotate It up and down feel It with your Will (fixed sulfur). See It with your Imagination (volatile sulfur). Play with It your bird of Hermes.

In the beginning the inner circulation is a simple orbit. After some familiarity, you’ll find the direction of rotation can be reversed. In fact the inner circuit can be used to sublimate ching the Inner Microcosmic quintessence to power further psychic and spiritual transformations that reveal other mechanisms that enhance the microcosmic orbit. The remaining two gems of alchemical initiation will be revealed in future installments.

Lynn Osburn is co-author of Green Gold: the Tree of Life, Marijuana in Magic and Religion published by Access Unlimited. For more information email

Three Gems of Alchemical Initiation

Part 2: Sublimation of Ching, the Second Gem of Alchemy

By Lynn Osburn

The sublimation of ching is the second alchemical gemstone. When ching is sublimated through the inner circulation you can become aware of your subtle body. Chi circulates through the inner circulation. Ching can rise through the microcosmic orbit and enliven or activate the dormant subtle body. The subtle body is the complement of the gross (physical) body. When enlivened by the reverse flow of ching the dormant subtle body begins to develop. The old Taoist masters called this development of the immortal fetus.

Ching energy is produced naturally by your physical body. This natural product is sexual energy. Ching is creation power. As sexual energy it is unconsciously produced and driven by biological instinct instilled by the great mother Void Chaos. The physical portal for the production of this microcosmic quintessence is the sex organ systems in men and women. When these complementary powers intermingle through sexual intercourse a new life can be created. The gross (physical) life created is the embryo that can become a new human being provided the electromagnetic and biochemical cascade of matter in the embryo has enough shen to complete its course.

Physical life is created by the union of outward flowing semen in men with the transmigrating egg in women. This unconscious intercourse produces a new human being. When a man prevents the outward flow of semen during sexual practice while drawing the orgasmic energy upward the subtle body can become manifest. The subtle body is in this way enlivened with ching power. Being slowly coalesces there; the immortal fetus is born. Consciousness, feeling and sensation are able to precipitate there.

The Taoist alchemical classic Secret of the Golden Flower, details this process but it does not address the Prima materia --- sexuality --- openly. Classic Western alchemical texts never speak of sexuality. Instead symbolic sexuality is linked to processes going on inside of sealed laboratory equipment. Often a king and queen are pictured in cohabitation upon waters in an alchemical vessel. Those European adepts referred to the process as mysterium conjuctionis—mysterious conjunction.

This marriage of the King and Queen is seen as an allegory for the enlivening processes going on inside the alchemical vessel. Indeed many a chaste Medieval Christian alchemist was barred by religious prejudice from discovering even the possibility of sublimating orgasmic energy.

I was first exposed to the idea of sublimation of sexual energy when I read Taoist Yoga Alchemy and Immortality by Lu K’uan Yu. This is a translation of his teacher’s nineteenth century manuscript. I was a young man when I first read it and rejected the notion of sexual sublimation for it barred orgasmic ejaculation. That was antithetical to my sexual drive at that time. In fact sexuality and lusty thoughts were called evil in the text. Years later I discovered this negative attitude toward sex was an influence first from Buddhism then Christianity. I had all but forgotten about sublimation of sexual energy for alchemical purposes until I read the work of Mantak Chia, a modern master of Taoist alchemy from Thailand. I had been a journeyman alchemist for twenty years by then. I had been circulating chi for ten years but my old incredulity return when I first read his book, Taoist Secrets of Love, Cultivating Male Sexual Energy.

However, I had learned to circulate chi by syncretizing certain Rosicrucian breathing exercises with the circulation patterns outlined in Taoist Yoga Alchemy and Immortality. I was no longer a youth and approaching middle age. My sex drive had become somewhat tempered, and I had gained too much respect for the Tao to dismiss the idea of sublimating sexual energy as laid out by Mantak Chia. He was using the same Taoist microcosmic orbit to flux sexual energy. I studied the book and followed the exercises. I found that sublimating ching was not that difficult since rotating chi through the inner circulation had become second nature for me by then.

Sublimating ching can be dangerous. Ching is much denser power than chi. It travels up the spinal column concentrating subtle body base capacitor qualities in the medulla-cerebellum. From there It penetrates inward into the light gathering organ, the pineal gland; a pulsation is felt as the floating Point opens in the middle of the forehead. If the charge is sustained in the subtle capacitor, It then loads into the port and starboard shen channels saturating Sylvian brain fissures (Called the Supreme Ultimate and Immaterial Spirit respectively by the Taoist alchemists.). Ching in the shen channels can induce power surges into the optic nerves because of the proximity. That surge of energy can cause clusters of blood vessels to blow out. To avoid the danger of ching build-up in the shen channels one must circulate chi after sublimating ching. The excess ching in the subtle body is converted through circulation into life sustaining chi power.

I highly recommend reading Mantak Chia’s book(s) before proceeding. Sublimating ching is not harmless like circulating chi. If one adheres religiously to the traditional methods taught by Mantak Chia then sublimating ching is fairly safe. However the alchemy of ching power spills out well beyond the confines of the traditional methods. If you succeed in sublimating ching and create your own immortal fetus by awakening the subtle body you will become aware of the painful conundrums of sexual power.

To sublimate ching one must collect sexual energy then concentrate It. You do this by stimulation sexually to a point near orgasm. The closer to orgasm you get, the more ching there is. That energy builds in the groin area and must be drawn upward. This is accomplished by drawing in a deep breath while pulling the hot sexual energy up the spine through the inner circulation. This is the opposite direction as in circulating chi.

To keep the power from flowing into orgasmic energy you should clinch the buttocks and fists while pulling the energy upward. It first moves into a cavity near the bowels. Store It there and build another charge and store It the same way. Collective charges stored there from multiple surging concentrates until the sexual fluids that usually carry orgasmic energy become overcharged. Thus overcharged they will escape; the sages say do not spill your seed.

With the supercharge of ching collected stop the sexual gathering and concentrate on drawing the ching up the spine with each inhalation. You will feel It getting dense at the base of your skull. With each inhalation more of It will collect at the base of your skull until this subtle body basal capacitor is fully saturated with ching power. Then the power will jump to the center of your brain and cause a sensation in the middle of your forehead; that is the Floating Point Navigator opening. Should you have enough ching still rising to keep the capacitor charged the density fans out to the left and right saturating the Sylvian fissures above the ears. This signifies the shen generators are charging in the Lateral Ventricles. Should you have still more ching rising the density can be drawn to the crowning point at the top of your skull. Should that open you will know ONE and become Ion. (Personification in eternity)

This process can be seen in the following drawings. First: Ching power rising in the main channel saturating the brain in a man; from Taoist Secrets of Love Cultivating Male Sexual Energy, by Mantak Chia. Second: Ching power flowing in complete circuit in a woman. (from Healing Love Through the Tao, Cultivating Female Sexual Energy by Mantak & Maneewan Chia).

The Point at the top does not open easily and It is better not to open unless you have some shen to distill. If power rises to the crown do not leave It there. Rotate It down to the bottom between the stomach and the bowels. Do this by practicing the inner circulation. It will settle down and balance out in chi.

Once I had become proficient at sublimating ching, I realized how much the experience of the process revealed still more of the Emerald Tablet axioms.

...  Here is the essence of every Perfection in the world.  Its strength and power prevail when turned into earth; thou wilt separate the earth from fire, the subtle from the gross, gently and with great care.

It ascends from earth to heaven, descends again to earth and receives the power of the higher and the lower.  By this means, thou wilt have the glory of the world.  And because of this, all obscurity will flee from thee.  Within this is the power, most powerful of all powers.  For It will overcome all subtle things, and penetrate every solid thing.  Thus the world was created.  Wonderful adaptations will emerge from this; It is the Way.

When ching rises into the original cavity of Spirit behind and between the eyes insight and intuition evolve; one can perceive and feel the essence of every Perfection --- the mystery of ONE.

Sexual power is quite strong. It wants to get out and create. When you turn It within --- into your earth Its strength and power prevail. That means ching turned inward saturates the subtle body with strength and power thus enlivening It.

First, the (subtle) sexual sublimate energy must be separated from the (gross) material sexual secretion systems. This is done with great care (concentration) and no force is necessary -- just will power. It, the sexual energy sublimate, ascends from the groin (earth) to the original cavity of spirit in the head (heaven). It empowers the subtle body and receives the powers of the higher (insight, intuition, inductive configuration, deductive penetration, refined concentration, enhanced imagination).

Having empowered the higher, It descends to the lower, the original cavity of vitality above the crotch and below the kidneys, there It empowers the lower (cogent feeling and sensation, refined will power and emotions). Thus empowered and within the subtle body you will have the glory of the world. And through your evolution in the subtle body and because of the higher and lower development you will attain the most powerful of all powers: knowing the way of things.

Lynn Osburn is co-author of Green Gold: the Tree of Life, Marijuana in Magic and Religion published by Access Unlimited. For more information email

Three Gems of Alchemical Initiation

Part 3: Distillation of Shen, the Third Gem of Alchemy

Lynn Osburn

Shen is the manifestation power of existence. When Shen is distilled things manifest. When Shen is distilled within the subtle body transcendent evolution can be attained. The human being distills shen naturally. In the drawing to the left above are shown the ventricles of the brain where the alchemical distillation takes play. The mechanisms of the cerebro-spinal system are akin to the furnace and retort/receiver bodies used in mundane distillation. In this analogy the distillation chamber itself is in the brain. The natural production of shen within the human being is mind power. Do not think shen is mind for shen is much more than mind. Mind is a manifestation of shen.

The major religions and philosophies direct the pilgrim to calm the mind using the analogy of a still pond that reflects distortion free the mysterious transcendent inspiration of cosmic origin. The still pond reflector state is passive shen. When one receives the manifestation of passive shen --- the reflection of inspiring ideas upon the still mind, and then returns to the outer world and puts the ideas into action so that they become manifest, then one is using active shen power to manifest the idea (passive shen) in the world. Shen is the power to do things.

Will and imagination are fed by shen power. In alchemy will is fixed sulfur and imagination is volatile sulfur. Both are conditions of the alchemical soul. When you "imagized" the chi power in the circulation praxis of the first gemstone you were employing basic shen through volatile sulfur to manifest the chi power. However if you tried to entertain both concepts in the beginning the manifestation would more than likely fail thus discouraging you from further attempts.

The important thing in the first gemstone praxis is to feel the chi power; you cannot feel the chi power in the beginning if your natural shen power of mind manifests instead of the chi power: If your mind makes a phantasy of It losing the chi into an idle dream. Once you can feel the chi power in the circulation shen will ride with It instead of consuming It.

You use shen power through volatile sulfur to configure the concept of the inner circulation. You use shen power through fixed sulfur to set the inner circulation concept into motion. Imagination and will in this way stir spirit into motion. Moving spirit is chi. It is felt as vibration which is waveform energy. When you feel vibration in the circuits of the subtle body that is chi power energizing you. Chi power engenders feelings of calmness and serenity.

You use shen power through volatile sulfur to configure the ching sublimation concept. You use shen power through fix sulfur to hold back and redirect the natural pleasurable surge to orgasm during the ching praxis. You redirect your earthly ching power with fixed sulfur. Earthly ching power has an intimate affinity with fixed sulfur. It clings to fixed sulfur so will power can turn the direction of sexual energy --- will power can sublimate sexual energy into pure ching power.

Sublimated ching does not vibrate like chi power, It pulses and surges as discrete energy quanta more like bits than waveforms. When you feel the pulse as a fluid or gas-like plasma moving up your spine and packing density at the base of your skull that is ching power enlivening your subtle body. In this respect ching is likened to the alchemical salt that gives form to the subtle body so that It unites there.

After the chi/spirit, the ching/body and the shen/soul have each been separated from It by conscious awareness, feeling and sensation, so that one knows each power separately, They reunite as One in the subtle body which then evolves according to your nature.

First you used the natural spirit that moves all as a basis to empower your alchemical development --- you sent chi vibrating through your inner circulation. Second you used natural creation sensation to enliven your alchemical development --- you reversed the flow of ching recreating the inner circulation as the immortal fetus of your subtle alchemical body.

The alchemical development described thus far will take time to gestate through practice. Your new alchemical body --- immortal fetus will evolve. That evolution is unfolding manifestation and fed primarily by shen power.

True you will circulate chi daily to keep power in your channels. Not to do this is to invite general crapulence and senility, such is the path leading to mortality. The alchemical being that you now are will naturally avoid lethal intervals of toxic crapulence.

Also true you will continue to sublimate ching or evolution of the alchemical body will not have the creative power to manifest. You will become uninspired by sex without alchemy because you will either drain your partner of ching or drain your ching into your partner. The latter will not enliven the alchemical body of your sexual partner --- unless your partner is an alchemist. Instead your alchemical ching thus given to a non-initiate will be diverted into channels of physical vitality by unconscious mechanisms within your partner.

Continue Creation into Manifestation: This is the Power most powerful of all powers. This is distilling shen. When enough alchemical power has saturated the shen collectors in the ventricles of the brain, the left and right shen channels open like magnetic fields around parallel rods on either side of your head. That placid calm pond of a mind state upon which images manifest begins to heave like turbulent seas, until the shen rotates in toroidal motion. It boils away from the rotating center like waters separating in an alchemical retort. These waters of shen distill the alchemical body through space/time into Eternity where one is ONE at the center.

One is now able to go forth from here to Eternity and return without transition through death the usual route. Pilgrims describe near death experiences many with similar circumstances. A white light or tunnel appears. The pilgrims travel into the light or tunnel. As they go revelations impress themselves upon these travelers. At some point for some reason or circumstance the person returns to the Macrocosm with visions that affect their lives profoundly.

I have never been able to distill enough shen from sublimating ching to open the shen channels. You can charge them with density and refine your powers of perception and concentration, but the channels will not unfold. I believe it is Entropy that keeps the conversion ratio too low to open the channels. When the Supreme Ultimate and the Immaterial Spirit unfold, the Point at the crown of your head opens and the light or tunnel or shaft leading to the Cosmic Egg is revealed.

Distilling shen from separating chi and sublimating ching is not complete. The separated chi is the Microcosmic outer alchemical agent, and the sublimated ching is the Microcosmic inner alchemical agent. One must also prepare the Macrocosmic inner and outer alchemical agents and combine them with the Microcosmic alchemical agents. Then the circulation will have enough power to distill shen to the Supreme Ultimate and Immaterial Spirit.

The Macrocosmic inner alchemical agent is prepared by the body in the form of saliva. The Taoist alchemists called this "enchymoma". The Macrocosmic outer alchemical agent must be prepared from a substance found outside the body in one of the three kingdoms: mineral, plant, or animal.

When the elixir is ready to use one should begin separating chi into the inner circulation. After a few rotations smell the aroma of the elixir on the inhalation. Feel the energy that is added to the chi. At the end of the exhalation place a few drops in your mouth on the tongue. Mix with saliva and inhale through the nose and do the next rotation. Upon the exhalation as the charge rises more saliva will flood the mouth. Mix it with the elixir. When you have enough saliva swallow at the inhalation and draw this fusion into the circulation. Draw some of the vapors from your mouth into the stream of air going into your lungs. Let the alchemical fusion expand up the front channel.

Rotate as long as you like; stop when you will. For more energy add a few drops to the circulation. If you add enough of the elixir the energy rotating will begin to distill. You will feel It rising like dragon fire up the center channel (very colorful but does not burn). It distills into the lateral ventricles. The pressure expands out the Sylvian fissures above the ears. The dragon wings open feeling like great magnetic fields extending about one foot from the head. More fire and the dragon wings unfold again and extend the field down the length of the body.

The energy is now flowing up the center channel out and down the wing channels (Supreme Ultimate and Immaterial Spirit) and drawn back up the center channel. The shen distills into an energy toroid with an intense void in the center. A portal opens in the center of the void and shen distills into Eternity.

Lynn Osborn is co-author of Green Gold: the Tree of Life, Marijuana in Magic and Religion published by Access Unlimited. For more information email