This is a message I've post on an Alchemical Forum for a young neophyte, I though it could be good here.
Without Hermetical Vision, all the labware is of no use, all the books read are not understood, you go nowhere. If you don't have this "Hermes" in you, you could be on the right track/Path to the Stone you wouldn't understand a bit of data of what you're doing.
If you are marked as alchemist, you will know, if you have this Hermes, you will know, and if you have this flame in your heart, this second nature in you, this "knack", you will notice it.
How many so called "alchemists" have been in fact puffering around for years and years ? Doing "alchemy" and finally never going nowhere with that. They even opened schools and tried to give *their* 'vision' to people. THE vision of nature is non cultural, it is universal. To reach the level of universal vision ask a long work of unlearning the cultural visions, even at the subconscious level.
The Hermetical Vision is a whole view of Creation, with no necessity of the nowadays scientific view (both are sometime not incompatible). Explaining this vision is not easy.
I'll give you an example about this "Vision" :
If you take wine, and distil it, you'll have a fire, as sulphur principle, but also a fire, as volatile and fix alkaline salt - or element air, a spirit (which is also a latent fire, because it can burn) - superior air, and a phlegm as element water, plus a fix opaque salt, as earth.
Being able to see the elements in the matter is the Hermetical Vision, ability to see the signatures of matters, cycles, composition, and hermetical structure (big roots in plant mean more earth signature for example), is the capacity to understand Hermetics for the lab process.
You have to understand life as a universal fluid, running everywhere, every time. The Fluid is God.ess, the quint.essence of Nature.
Grasp the true essence of Nature into Nature Herself. ALL the answers are there. Nowhere else.
The first time I practiced lab alchemy, I was on the right track for the Stone, I had a good guidance, and I never read a book of/upon alchemy. But I didn't really understood what I was doing.
At first, then, before buying anything, ask yourself what you are seeking in Alchemy. Is it a medicine ? A long life ? Enlightenment? Gold / money and wealth ? Healing yourself and people ? What are you seeking *exactly* ? Alchemy or the Stone will NOT resolve your problems, it will only bring them out and stress them at first in order for you to deal with them, but it is not a psychotherapy.
Do you even know where you are putting you feet by wanting to practice alchemy ? Do you know how it can ruin your life ? Do you know how it can enhance your life ? Do you even know what happen during a damned simple & stupid process when you are linked to evolving matter ? Do you think you are ready for that ? To be confronted to your wild subconscious archetypes ? To the black stage you could produce and all the depression that will arise in first place ? Will you be able to bear that and to live in such state ? You 'll encounter lions, tigers, snakes, spiders, and dragons... Each time you'll have to master them.
When you practice alchemy you have to pay the price for the crossing of the Styx. When you leave, and when you come back.
Think twice before putting yourself in such a process, Nature will chew you, eat you to the bone and spit all the dirt out of you. It's long, hard, complicated and difficult, painful for the neophyte when the process run effectively. Because I guess that if you want to make alchemy you don't want to puffer around. We are speaking of real & effective alchemy. This is a spiritual Path, for those who truly want to break the matrix. For those who NEED to break it out ! Do you understand what can be this profound need to know this universe in which we live in ?
What and how many will you be able to give for the Stone then ?
Even at the end the Stone will take your life, of course, it will give you another, but anyway, you'll have to quit a world in order to join another, are you able to envision that ?
If you ask for the Power of Alchemy, Power will test you until you are able to handle it. You pass the test or you don't.
Alchemy is Wild, Wise and Wide. This is our WWW. A big net in Nature. Your spirit is your browser, you can only reach what you are inside. The other levels are not reachable until you embrace them, and for this you have to change yourself inside, to put order into your Chaos.
I don’t want to kill your ambition, but Alchemy is not a game, you engage yourself to the marrow in the process. It’s just a little of what I experienced in my Alchemical life, which is short. This is a reality that every neophyte should know and ponder deeply.
Good luck. Do everything in due time, and at the right place. This is a first step to wisdom.