The True Meaning of Alchemy

What the Gnostics Knew and What We’re Re-learning in Esoteric Schools like Druidry

A long time ago there was a legend about wise men turning lead into gold and discovering the secret to eternal life. This school of mysticism was known as Alchemy and created the foundation of modern chemistry, but while it had it’s practical uses, there was an element of spirituality to the Order which was hidden from everyone except the initiates.

Roughly two years ago I joined the druid society of OBOD: The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. They’re a school of pagan mysticism and I highly recommend their courses if you would like to join them. At that time I was already well and truly on my path of awakening, having studied with a group of mediums for a year.

OBOD teaches many philosophies as well as the art of Celtic Shamanism, but the thing I found most intriguing was the idea that alchemy is not just a material-world practice, but something much deeper.

Using symbolism, alchemy teaches us about transmuting pain into growth.

Combined with the schools of astronomy and astrology, alchemy provides insight into how energy flows from one state to another and is never designed to stay still or to stagnate. A lot of the symbols used in astrology actually come from alchemy.

In our modern world of trying to eliminate risk, we’re increasing taught that life is supposed to be safe and certain. We’re taught to fear uncertainty, to avoid pain, and to avoid responsibility for ourselves by placing blame. This mindset is that of the “victim” narrative and it keeps us stuck in disappointment and trauma. We let our set-backs define us instead of transcending them.

On my arm I have a tattoo of planetary alignments with a bow and an arrow nocked ready to go in the centre and another arrow further ahead.


I got this etched into my skin so that I would see it every day and remind myself that in times when it feels like life is pulling me back, its actually the bow drawing back the arrow, ready to launch it into a new phase of my life. It’s up to me which direction the arrow is pointing and when the time is right to release it. My logo is also based on the symbol of the arrow.

In true spiritual alchemy, the lead symbolises the set-backs in life. Those situations that weigh us down and make us feel dull and hopeless. Transmuting it into gold symbolises the art of taking disappointment and being grateful for the lessons it provides, then using it to create growth and wealth within the soul.

In my work I have seen people who survived horrific circumstances and who bear massive scars for life. People who are literally missing limbs and yet they still have their humanity in tact and they still have a sense of humour and joy about them. I don’t pity those people at all. I admire them.

The people I truly pity are the ones who have told themselves in life that they cannot do it. They don’t have what it takes to do x, y or z in order to overcome obstacles. So now they’re stuck and helpless. Perpetual victims. Those are the same people who will blame you for their problems, squander every opportunity you give them to fix their circumstances, and repeatedly tell the same story of woe for the rest of their lives.

Their entire identity is build around the worst things that have ever happened to them. Without that narrative they don’t know who they are or what they’re capable of.

We can create victims of circumstance in our own children if we never let them handle their own adversity. We can enable victimhood in others if we continually take over the responsibility for action from another person. This stunts their personal growth and is very disempowering. There’s nothing wrong with helping someone, but it should always be a collaborative effort.

Using pain and difficulty as a means of growth is like burying a seed in cow manure. It can seem like the worst possible circumstance to be in, but without all that crap the seed wouldn’t have the material it needs to transform into a plant. That’s why we need to be grateful for adversity; because it is a catalyst for growth. If we’re too comfortable in life, we never move. Discomfort is always your friend. Make sure you’re using it.

As for the secret to eternal life…

The soul is pure conscious energy and it cannot be destroyed. It merely changes states of being and so death is never the end of the story, merely the start of a new chapter.

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