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Debate on Alchemy at the Green Room

Kris Evans, a writer from Kenfig, will lead a debate on Alchemy at the Green Room (4-5 James Street [above SUSSED], on Friday May 3rd, at 8pm). Kris is currently working on his first collection of poems,’The Nomad’s Garden.
Kris’ words:
Many of us think of the alchemists as primitive scientists, or even charlatans, vainly attempting in their ramshackle labs to transmute lead into gold, or simply empty the pockets of credulous patrons. While this was certainly true for some, it is not the whole picture. At its peak in the 17thC alchemy was the practical application of the principles of the legendary Hermetic philosophy. Applying themselves to the processes of “The Great Work,” the alchemists attempted to transform the “lead” of routine consciousness, into the “gold” of an illuminated consciousness capable of perceiving and aligning itself with the living presence of the divine in the world. As William Blake put it in his now famous phrase “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.” This “Great Work” has had a profound impact, especially in the arts, influencing Shakespeare, Dante, Milton, and Newton at its height, and closer to our own times, W.B. Yeats, Pablo Picasso, the Surrealists, and Ted Hughes, to name just a few. But alchemy is now largely forgotten, replaced by the new rationalist Science more familiar to us today: objective, realist, materialist and of more immediate use to society. In the talk, I’ll look at the causes and the consequences of the rejection of alchemy, and look closely at its claims and processes and influences and ask what insight it might offer us in this time of global turmoil. After all, we have created a world where pollution is profitable, mass extinctions of species are unavoidable, ancient rainforests are destroyed to grow cattle feed and billions are spent on resource wars by rich countries awash in apathy while millions go hungry. Something has gone badly wrong. We stand at the precipice. Did we take the wrong path?