Alchemy is the study and practice for transmutation and perfection, deeply rooted in the blending of spirituality and science.
The practice of alchemy predates modern chemistry to create, transform and transmute matter into its perfect form and to create elixirs that could be used for healing purposes.
If you have an interest in the esoteric, the occult and science, alchemy is a study that may be one to consider at least reading about its theories.
The practice of alchemy in and of itself can be a dangerous one, taking years to attempt and master.
However, the practical theories within alchemy can help to deepen any occult practitioner’s understanding of spirit and the elements.
“It ascends from earth to heaven, and descends again, new born, to the earth, taking unto itself there by the power of the Above and the Below. Thus the splendor of the whole world will be thine, and all darkness shall flee from thee.”
– Verba Secretorum Hermetis, “Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus” (excerpt from Real Alchemy: A Primer of Practical Alchemy by Robert Allen Bartlett)
This tarot spread here, the Alchemy Elements Tarot Spread, is designed to help understand your own connection to the basic components and elements of Prima Materia (“The First Matter”).
We won’t get into great detail about alchemy theory, but this may be enough to spark your interest and curiosity.
Alchemy Books to Read
To begin your study of alchemy, these books are recommended to read:
- Real Alchemy: A Primer of Practical Alchemy by Robert Allen Bartlett
- The Emerald Table: Alchemy for Personal Transformation by Dennis William Hauck
- Alchemist’s Handbook by Frater Albertus
- The Weiser Concise Guide to Alchemy by Brian Cotnoir
Since this post is also about tarot, this book is a must-read:
- Alchemy and Kabbalah in the Tarot: The Keys of Radical Spiritual Transformation by Samuel Aun Weor
The Alchemy Elements Tarot Spread
The Alchemy Tarot Spread is adapted from the book Real Alchemy: A Primer of Practical Alchemy by Robert Allen Bartlett. Also available at Indigo and on Kobo (Canada).
Highly recommended for anyone interested in knowing more to get Real Alchemy by Robert Allen Bartlett. There’s a ton of info and it moves pretty quickly through the teachings. The material can be quite advanced for some folks, but if you’re up for the challenge, definitely buy it.
“That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing. And just as all things have come from this One Thing, through the meditation of One Mind, so do all created things originate from this One Thing through Transformation.”
– the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus (excerpted from “The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation” by Dennis William Hauck.
If this Alchemy Elements Tarot Spread is a bit confusing at first, that’s OK.
We’ll break the tarot spread down to what each card position means and show how the tarot spread flows.
Here are the card position order for the Alchemy Elements Tarot Spread:
- Prima Materia
The Alchemy Elements Tarot Spread flows naturally from cards one to eight, but are also read as interconnected or related:
Cards 2 and 3 are connected and related. These cards are read separate, but must keep in mind how they can be connected.
Cards 4 and 5 are connected and related. These cards are read separate, but must keep in mind how they can be connected.
Cards 2 and 3 flow into card 6 – i.e. Earth and Water create Salt. When reading card 6, consider how cards 2 and 3 have influenced or created what is shown in card 6.
Cards 4 and 5 flow into card 7 – i.e. Air and Fire create Sulphur. When reading card 7, consider how cards 4 and 5 have influenced or created what is shown in card 7.
Cards 3 and 4 flow into card 8 – i.e. Water and Air create Mercury. When reading card 8, consider how cards 3 and 4 have influenced or created what is shown in card 8.
The Alchemy Elements Tarot Spread Card Positions
These card positions have been adapted from alchemy theory and practice.
They have also been modified so that divination/tarot can be used as a way to understand the self and its connection/relation to Prima Materia (The First Matter – Chaos – The One only One, that All is from One.)
For more about what Prima Materia is exactly, find out here.
A note on interpreting the cards in the positions:
When reading the card positions, it can be helpful to use astrological associations with the cards (planets and signs.)
Alchemy is closely connected to astrology, so reading the tarot spread by using astrological associations will help to deepen your interpretation.
For a quick reference on the major and minor arcana cards and their astrological associations, get the free mini e-book How to Make Time Predictions using Tarot.
Card 1 – Prima Materia (The First Matter)
For this card position, we look at what is your connection to The All, The One; your relation to The First Matter, to Chaos, to how everything is connected to everything, yet is separate at the same time.
This card position, no matter how many times the spread is done, will likely have a different card for each person in the possibilities of a 78 card tarot deck.
Yet, the card placed in this position, will also be a reflection of yourself and how you view the Prima Materia – The All, The One, the Chaos, Celestial Fire – this is the Fundamental Truth underlying everything, all that is absolute.
When reading this card position, allow yourself to go deeper into the card placed in this position and look deeper to the profoundness of it.
Card 2 – Earth
This card position represents the energy of your physical body.
This can be best described as your strength, when you rest, when you’re not moving and your stability.
To better understand how this energy works, think of Newton’s First Law of Motion: “An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless a force acts upon it. An object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless a force acts upon it.”
Earth is a cold and dry element – keep this in mind when reading the card position.
Use your intuition to interpret the card in this position and relate it to the Earth element; try using astrology to help piece it together.
Card 3 – Water
This card position represents change and mutability.
This card is for your subconscious mind – things that you’re not fully aware about, but which influence your actions and feelings.
These are all that are hidden, concealed, innate and involuntary within yourself.
Water is a cool and wet element – keep this in mind when reading the card position.
Use your intuition to interpret the card in this position and relate it to the Water element; try using astrology to help piece it together.
Card 4 – Air
This card position represents moving, dispersing, transfixing.
This card is for your self-conscious mind; self-introspection and your perception of feelings, thoughts and your awareness; separate from your physical existence.
Air is a wet and hot element – keep this in mind when reading the card position.
Use your intuition to interpret the card in this position and relate it to the Air element; try using astrology to help piece it together.
Card 5 – Fire
This card position represents light, expansion and illumination.
This card is for your superconscious mind; this is your highest level of awareness, the Universal mind.
Fire is a dry and hot element – keep this in mind when reading the card position.
Use your intuition to interpret the card in this position and relate it to the Fire element; try using astrology to help piece it together.
Card 6 – Salt
This card position represents the physical body.
While Earth is also connected to the body, it is more about the energy of the physical world and body rather than the physical components and make-up/structure of the body.
Salt is the mixture of Earth and Water to create the physical form.
In this position, you may interpret the card as related to your physical appearance, your physical health, and how you “fit in” with your physical world and surroundings.
This card is about everything that’s physical and is tangible.
While Earth is the concept and idea of the physical energy, Salt is the manifestation of that energy that we can see, feel and touch.
Card 7 – Sulphur
This card position represents the soul, who you are as an expression of your consciousness, your intelligence and personality.
Sulphur is the combination of Air and Fire which gives the creation and life to the soul.
In this position, you may interpret the card as an expression of your Soul, what lies within your soul, what your “will” and determination is, what “fire” burns within you, what drives you.
Card 8 – Mercury
This card position represents the Spirit, the life force and essence.
Mercury is the combination of Air and Water to give the manifestation of Spirit.
Spirit is the energy that bridges Sulphur and Salt (Soul and Body).
In this position, you may interpret the card as related to the essence of Spirit and how it is connected to your soul and body.
And that’s the Alchemy Elements Tarot Spread.
This tarot spread can be used to gain a deeper understanding into the elements and how the elements are connected to yourself and to others.
The cards in this tarot spread can be meditated upon and be used for journaling to gain further insight and knowledge.
Until next time / Donec iterum!
Stacey & the Tarot Pugs
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