The Magick of Transmutation
When all is said and done, magick is all about transmutation, which simply means changing one thing into another. The alchemists of old are famous for their attempts to turn lead into gold, and Aleister Crowley is equally famous for saying that ‘Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will’.
The only reason why anyone would ever consider practicing magick is in order to change something. The desired change could be physical, as with those who want to transform their health, career, finances and relationships. It could be mental, as with those who want greater peace of mind and happiness. Or the desired change could be spiritual, as with those who want enlightenment, or to attain the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
What many modern magickians fail to recognise (especially those who are relatively new to the subject) is that the magick of transmutation requires something to begin with. Transmutation is about changing or transforming one thing into another – it is not about manifesting things out of thin air.
The alchemists didn’t attempt to make a noble metal out of nothing. Instead, they started by taking a base metal, such as lead, and only then made an attempt to turn it into a noble metal by changing its composition. They didn’t succeed in turning lead into gold, as far as we know, but that desire may in fact have been a metaphor for the process of transmutation itself.
We are discussing this today because far too many modern magickians fall into the trap of viewing the current circumstances and situations of their lives as stumbling blocks to the attainment of their desires. One person might view their current state of obesity or poor health as a stumbling block to their desire to be in good physical shape. Another might view their current career difficulties as a stumbling block to their desire for success. Yet another might view their constant anxiety as a stumbling block to their desire for peace of mind.
To view seemingly negative current conditions as stumbling blocks is a big mistake, because those very conditions are the base metals which we must begin with and change in order to achieve our desires.
There are numerous anecdotal accounts of people who have only achieved greater levels of success and happiness thanks to their earlier experience of what they originally viewed as rather negative situations. Consider those who have lost jobs that they loved, and have then turned their situations around by starting businesses of their own and subsequently thriving. Or think about how many people have experienced a health scare which led them to change their lifestyle and get in the best physical shape of their lives. And then there are those who have experienced the breakdown of a long-term relationship, only to end up in an even better one further down the line.
In these cases, and others like them, it could be argued that the experience of the seemingly negative event or situation was actually necessary for the positive eventuality to manifest itself. Without those apparently negative situations, the people concerned may never have made the changes that were required for them to achieve their deeper desires.
Bearing this idea in mind can help any magickian to view the whole of his life in a positive way, including the seemingly negative aspects. This does not mean that he needs to actually celebrate negative events and conditions, but if he were to view them merely as the arrival of more ‘base metal’ which he can then transmute into gold, they would have little power to affect him on an emotional level.
Consider this concept the next time you encounter any event or situation which threatens to upset your equilibrium, and instead of berating it, think instead about how you can take whatever ‘base metal’ you have been presented with, and transmute it – through your practice of magick – into something which actually adds value to your life.