Recorded 1996 in Stoffwechsel, Mannheim, Kurpfalz. This talk was recorded during the time Terence McKenna and Sheldon Rocklin were filming the documentary for Mystic Fire, which was originally titled “Coincidencia Oppositorum: A Union of Opposites”
Terence McKenna’s legendary speech on Friedrich V Elector Palatine, the later Winterking of Prag & Bohemia, and Elisabeth, the first “Queen of hearts”, their life in the castles of Heidelberg, Prague & elsewhere, and their “bohemian” scene of Shamans, Alchemists, Freaks, Psychonauts & the Great Spirit of descent.
In The Alchemical Dream, a film produced by Sacred Mysteries and directed by Sheldon Rochlin, visionary author and counterculture luminary Terence McKenna relates some of the curious history of European alchemy, and the attempted creation of a religious utopia based on alchemical principles. Dressed as the famed Hermetic magician John Dee, McKenna strolls wistfully through the crumbling ruins and sweeping castle vistas of Eastern Europe discussing the lost secrets of alchemy. He gives us a tour of the last remaining alchemical laboratory in Heidelberg, and tells a fascinating story of political intrigue and bohemian experimentation in the 16th century.
The alchemists were after what McKenna describes as a magical theory of nature. They used precise and calculated methods that would pave the way for the future intellectual development of some important sciences such as chemistry, biology, phenomenology, and psychology. Their intention was to transform the human spirit and the physical body itself into something divine and wholly other, something resembling the odd and spectacular alchemical art of the time. They experimented with myriad combinations of special chemicals, magical formulas, and complex distillation processes designed to produce the fabled “philosopher’s stone”: a metaphorical goal which can be read in many ways. In essence, the alchemists were trying to bring heaven down to earth by merging spiritual mysticism with the physiological exploration of alchemical mixtures.
According to McKenna, the group of European alchemists who centered around John Dee and the British court of Queen Elizabeth I in the late 1500’s believed that the spiritual philosophy of alchemy was so profound and full of potential that it should be embraced as the popular religious paradigm of the day. The Christian preacher Martin Luther had started a Protestant reformation in 1517 with the 95 Theses and now, a century later, Dee felt that the world was ready for an alchemical reformation. With this idea of a religious reformation in mind, Dee and a group of court alchemists traveled to the palace of King Frederick V of Bohemia in 1618 with the intention of establishing a new alchemical kingdom.
Art: Brett Whitely – Alchemy 1972-73 (Detail)
Watch The Alchemical Dream…