Fons Vitae is pleased to announce the publication of a new edition of Alchemy, dedicated to Madame Edith Burckhardt. Spiritual attainment has frequently been described in the terminology of the alchemical tradition whereby man’s leaden dull nature is returned to its golden original state. This has often been referred to as ‘spiritual alchemy.’
In this wonderfully insightful volume, we are treated to some of these metaphors which have been found useful for establishing certain attitudes in the soul, including: trust, confidence, hope and detachment. For example, there is a clear symbolic relevance in the following analogy: When any substance or entity undergoes dissolution (this could be even a relationship), it must eventually be resolved or re-crystalized in a new form.
This opens the possibility that the new entity could re-congeal in a higher and nobler form. This what Rumi means by, "Feel joy in the heart at the coming of sorrow." Ibn ‘Arabi mentions in his Wisdom of the Prophets that distress is to be welcomed as it incites the soul to move forward.
Titus Burckhardt, the son of Swiss sculptor Carl Burckhardt, was born in 1908. His youth was devoted to studies in art, art history, and oriental languages and to journeys through North Africa and the Near East. In 1942, he became director of Urs Graf-Verlag, a publishing house specializing in facsimile editions of ancient manuscripts. He remained there until 1968. In addition to writing books in German, he has translated many important works from the Arabic.
Of his own books, An Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, Sacred Art in East and West, Moorish Culture in Spain, The Art of Islam, Sienna, Fez, City of Islam, Chartres, and a collection of his essays Mirror of the Intellect have all appeared in English. The last three, as well as Alchemy, were translated from the German by Dr. William Stoddart.
"Muhyi’d-Din ibn ‘Arabi regards gold as the symbol of the original and uncorrupted state (al-fitrah) of the soul, the form in which the human soul was created at the beginning. According to the Islamic conception, the soul of every child unconsciously approaches this Adamic state, before being led away from it again by the errors imposed on it by adults. The uncorrupted state possesses an inward equilibrium of forces. This is expressed by the stability of gold."
". . . since nearly all traditional forms in life are now destroyed, it is seldom vouchsafed to the conservative man to participate in a universally useful and meaningful work. But every loss spells gain: the disappearance of forms calls for a trial and a discernment; and the confusion in the surrounding world is a summons to turn, by passing all accidents, to the essential."