The Thirteenth Alchemist
Alchemy,  Mind Mastery

The Alchemy of the Mind: Unveiling the Power of Thoughts

In the dimly-lit confines of the alchemist’s workshop, curses and snarls filled the stale air, as a gnarled man stared at the blackened remnants which lay curled and smoldering, as if in shame, on the bottom of a hanging crucible still being heated by a dying fire. The workshop itself was a dreary thing, tucked away in a labyrinthine alley in an 18th century city, the heaviness of failure hanging from every rafter. 

Here, amidst shelves laden with dusty tomes and rows of glass vessels containing mysterious substances, the alchemist collapses in despair. His lifelong dream of discovering the elixir of life which he desperately needs to help his sickly son literally goes up in flames, he does not stir. As the hours pass and the candle flames wane, the alchemist seemingly catapults from the floor. “I’ve got it”, he muttered inaudibly, his eyes gleaming with wonder and a new found clarity, “I’ve got it”.

“What’s the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked. “It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”

Paulo Coehlo

Thoughts Are Things

What this ancient alchemist figured out, we may never know, but what we do know is that there’s been one common thread that has been evident in all religions, creeds, ancient tomes of knowledge from the beginning of time, and that is that, ‘thoughts are things’.

At its core, alchemy is a practice that seeks to reveal the hidden nature of reality and its processes of transmutation. Though primarily associated with the quest to turn base metals into nobler ones, alchemy as a philosophy does in fact delve way deeper than the material realm. It is firmly anchored in the study of the ways in which thoughts can be transmuted into matter.

So could it be that this was what our dear alchemist happened upon in his eureka moment? You see, what the esoteric side of alchemy is really declaring is that our physical experience is not separate from our psyche. They are part of one solid continuum or spectrum. In this case our thoughts would be synonymous with the prima materia, the raw material from which our realities are shaped. 

The fact that our physical world is a reflection of our mental landscape has been known and taught for eons. Although to be entirely candid, this simple fact has been deliberately obscured in allegory and symbology until recently. It has pretty much  been disseminated entirely through a ‘boy’s club’, of sorts, kind of like ‘IYKYK’. 

If you will, let’s leave the chemically addled world of our alchemist behind and, if you dare, let’s delve into a mystical world where we discover that our thoughts are not mere ephemeral whispers of consciousness, but they are in fact, the crucible to greatest alchemical process known to man.

Magic or Madness?

Isn’t a thought just a mere function of the mind? 

We have thousands of thoughts daily, how could thoughts ever truly matter? 

All this talk of ‘thoughts being things’ is mere fancy and will amount to nothing but madness and time wasting, or so they say.

The physical alchemical process involves the dissolving of a substance so that it can be coagulated into another substance altogether. So it is with our beliefs – which are simply strong opinions that we have held – outdated limiting ones must also be dissolved so that we can create bigger, better, more empowering ones.

So what are thoughts? Let us, as students of the esoteric skip over the generic unimaginative Googled response to this question and seek for a definition that will actually aid us on our quest. Thoughts are mental events that are a representation of something. Now a representation is a ‘standing in’, an act of presenting somebody or something in a particular way, a depiction. For example: an image, a painting, a mold or a map is a representation of that object. 

And according to Hermetic wisdom, our reality operates according to certain immutable principles, the first one of which is the principle of mentalism – the fact that the universe is mental in nature. In other words, the substance of what we call reality is woven from the substance of consciousness itself. Therefore, thoughts are not merely fleeting farts of the mind but are potent creative forces that shape the very fabric of our existence.

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t”


Not to be outdone by ancient wisdom, quantum physics has also entered the chat with their own unique discoveries which corroborate and seal the deal as it relates to the nature of thoughts. The observer effect, as explained by physicists, state that the act of observation (intent, paying attention to, focus) unequivocally influence the behavior of subatomic particles. So due to the  focused intention of the mind, thoughts ripple out into the quantum field, shaping our reality and guiding the unfolding of events.

“Your religious book(s) mentioned the power of mind thousands of years ago so WHY do you have to wait until the science proves it in the 21st century? Let others wait to realize/prove the facts not you.”

Maddy Malhotra

Alchemy of the mind

Image via Midjourney

Now that we’ve unequivocally ascertained the true potency of our thoughts, it might be relatively easy for us to decode the way our lives have played out thus far. Our lives, as hard it it may be to accept, are an exact replica of the quality of the thoughts we’ve consistently allowed to run amok in our minds. We could debate it – but honestly, what would be the point? What would be more beneficial, would be to find a way to filter our thoughts into way more beneficial channels and so creating improved life experiences going forward.

“Practitioners of all schools now realize that a very large part of our weal and woe is the result of our thinking”

Emile Coue

And herein lies our dilemma, for although we are not our minds, for far too long we have allowed the mind to reign supreme and we have now found that that which should be serving us, alas, is now our master! And here is where effort on our part comes in. To alchemize the mind requires discipline and mental effort initially. Understand that mankind has full agency in one thing on ths plane, and that is, the thoughts that he chooses to think.

Yes chooses!

It’s at this juncture that many may be apt to point out that they can’t control the thoughts that race through their minds. Control might be a strong word in this context, a more appropriate one is ‘choose’ – as one can certainly choose the thoughts one wants to entertain.

And this is The Great Work, because do not be fooled, it is work!

“Choose ye this day whom ye shall serve”

The Bible

So the work now is simply this, trade mental passivity for mental vigilance – train the mind! You see, life is an ever-emergent creative process and there are tools we can use to shape our experiences and circumstances. And reigning supreme over this creative process we call life, are our thoughts. Under every belief, action, visualization attempt and imaginative act, lies a thought, from which all else springs. Too many of us live as if the lives we covertly long for is ‘out there’, ‘somewhere’, and we will arbitrarily and eventually happen upon it as our life progresses. Some quality time spent with those who are nearing the end of their lives will swiftly rid us of this fallacy.

We are the active agents in the fulfilling of our own dreams. When we train our thought processes to flow through a channel of our choosing we are ultimately giving direction to the unformed substance contained in every thought. Any idea held steadily in mind is bound to come forth in experience. Persist in this and the thin veil between your thoughts and reality will dissolve and the universe will intricately mold itself to the whispers of your heart’s intent.

Never forget that every physical thing, whether for you or against you, was a sustained thought before it was a thing. Thought, as thought, is neither good nor bad; it is creative action and always takes physical form.

Therefore, the thoughts you dwell upon become the things you possess or do not possess.

Geneveive Behrend