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The Alchemical Dream

Rebirth of the Great Work
Mystic Fire / Sacred Mysteries
November, 2008
In stock now: 
$19.95 CAD
Banyen's Description: 

In 1996, psychedelic raconteur Terence McKenna set off to Europe with a film crew to make a movie about an esoteric period of European history that scholar Frances Yates dubbed “the Rosicrucian Enlightenment.”   McKenna died in 2000 but others have pieced together the footage into this film, The Alchemical Dream.

At the dawn of the 17th century, a small group of Protestant nobles, magicians, and reformers dedicated themselves to a vision of a new social order informed by alchemy, mysticism, and the progressive mysteries of the emerging Rosicrucian movement. This network embraced, in McKenna’s words, “the myth of the alchemical marriage”: a moment when ideas, esoteric practices, and politics came together to change society. This budding movement was killed in the Thirty Years War, a nightmare from which Europe woke to find itself changed. In those bloody decades, Europe became “modern,” with alchemy now relegated to the history of charlatanism and the metaphors of poetry.

Adopting a tweedy demeanor, Terence tells this tale against the backdrop of his alchemical and cultural speculations, and the result is a rather satisfying romp through politics and the imagination, historical facts and occult romanticism.  

Visiting an alchemical laboratory that still lurks in the bowels of the castle of Heidelberg, he characterizes the goal of alchemy as “the self that we are trying to recover… the light trapped in matter, the lux natura… the universal medicine curing all ills, the answer. It is what everyone is looking for and no one can find.”

Inevitably, psychedelic shamanism rears its feathered head. McKenna makes the claim that the alchemical imagination “appears to be the identical phenomenon” as the psychedelic rapture achieved through plant medicines. Once psychedelics are mentioned, we leave the esoteric underbelly of Europe and enter the world of jungle shamanism, where he posits psychedelic shamanism to be a living alchemical tradition that “is not seeking the stone, but has found the stone.”

He acknowledges that LSD and rock ’n’ roll were insufficient Rosicrucian triggers: “a failed alchemy instead of the dissolving and re-crystalizing at a higher angelic level.” Yet he puts his money on the spirit of novelty and life, which he sees as an energy of dissent waged against materialism and the confines of the modern ego.

Particularly beautiful is his understanding of the alchemical gold as neither a material mineral nor a merely psychological product, but as meaning itself, a reflection of the recognition that “meaning lies in the confrontation of contradiction, the coincidentia oppositorum, the rediscovery of the real ambiguity of being.” The Alchemical Dream offers up a glimpse or two of that imaginal garden through the keyhole of historical time. (T hanks to Erik Davis for this review)






Publisher’s Description: 

In the mid-1990’s Terence McKenna and Mystic Fire’s Sheldon Rocklin teamed up to make this rich and exciting film. Little did they know that this would be their last film. Originally titled Coincidencia Oppositorum: The Unity of Opposites and filmed in Prague with Terence portraying his usual erudite rendition of the Irish Bard, this filmed classic takes us on a journey into the alchemical renaissance of Europe.

"It sounds incredible, but in this film, McKenna outlines the political economic and alchemical history of Europe and the entire hermetic tradition virtually from itÆs inception to the 17th Century. Like all skilled storytellers, he draws the viewer along with him into a half known world of intrigue, espionage and mystery. The background scenery is gorgeous and the film is stunning in itÆs cinematography. With this film, the viewer gets more than expected. It is truly a legacy for modern mankind.
--New Dawn Magazine

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