While an indispensable domain of concentration must always be mankind's stature amidst the cosmos, awareness of this basic facet of existence seems to be an even more urgent necessity in this day and age. This premise assumes support from developments in what have heretofore been perceived as bastions of Christianity. By way of example please consider how in the United States of America reliance on God as society's guiding light is being replaced by individual autonomy; as is evidenced via homosexuality being trumpeted as a desirable alternative lifestyle (a recent pro-homosexual film, Brokeback Mountain, has been nominated for seven awards), the insistence on abortion as a right, belief in the self as god/goddess giving rise to a breathtaking increase in New Age involvement (as seen by the phenomenal popularity of Harry Potter books and movies), and other tragic departures from Christ-centered existence. The sweeping mania of Harry Potter serves as an especially revealing development in that the author, J.K. Rowling, acknowledged the fact that over a third of all content involves actual occult practices (cf., 20 October 1999 National Public Radio interview on the Diane Rheim Show). Actually, the seven Harry Potter books trace the seven year Ordo Anno Mundi training in a witchcraft course of studies program.
Consequently, Spiritual Alchemy surfaces at a crucial juncture of modern history and intends to serve as a catalyst for humanity's return to the Christ-centered life. This objective is accomplished in three parts: Part One (The Fall) addresses mankind's need for healing, Part Two (The Cure) focuses on ways to pursue this requisite path to spiritual health, and Part Three (The Jesus Prayer) concentrates on how the Prayer of the Heart exists as the ultimate vehicle for spiritual alchemy.
This pilgrimage through the landscapes of our human condition commences in Part One (The Fall) with a brief snapshot of man's pre-Fall state in order to both explicate our primordial mode of existence and to erect a paradigm for us to pursue. When apprehending the way of being into which God created us we then possess a glimpse of His intent and can then endeavor to return to the Garden.
Having outlined mankind's condition in the Garden of Eden's pre-Fall residence, Spiritual Alchemy voyages onward to confront variant consequences of the Fall. An essential component in the struggle for reunification with God encompasses a firm knowledge of what occurred to each and every person at the Fall and Spiritual Alchemy covers this realm with care. The reader will learn that the soul possesses three intrinsic components - the intelligent (knowing), appetitive (desiring), and incensive (fervent) aspects - which were intended to be focused solely on God. From this platform the reader will then encounter how these three parts of the soul were corrupted at the Fall. Further elaboration on this infected turn of events points to not only losing the single focus on God but ventures on to expose the vast array of damage inflicted by this fatal occurrence; including impacts on the body and the soul, such as the heart's six primary illnesses of ignorance, forgetfulness, hardness, blindness, contamination, and impudence.
In this poisoned, and thusly weakened, condition the enemy gains easier access to inner space and Spiritual Alchemy traces how demons employ this state of vulnerabilrity to pursue their agenda of evil. For instance, the list of eight chief vices - gluttony, lust, avarice, dejection, anger, despondency, vainglory, and pride - are discussed and the five-step cycle toward sin is outlined. The five-step cycle toward sin serves as a particularly revealing movement by which foul attendants of Satan (1) engage in an initial assault by presenting the suggestion of sin, (2) move on to coupling, the stage where we entertain their nefarious approach, (3) encourage consent, or yielding, to evil, (4) secure a capturing, or abduction, of the heart, (5) which culminates in passion, a state wherein evil has become entrenched in the soul. From the soul's single-minded focus on God (the Uncreated), to it having been scattered onto external (created) things, to enslavement is one consequence of the Fall traced by Spiritual Alchemy.
Having elucidated results of the Fall in Part One Spiritual Alchemy journeys on to investigate different modes of treatment in Part Two (The Cure). That is, once having exposed humanity's disease Spiritual Alchemy then turns its focus on healing our rnaligned condition. Several chapters go into detail on repairing various parts of our unhealthy being; including the body, soul, nous, thoughts, and heart. The constituency of the mind is discussed and prayer as a curative agency is prescribed, which leads to the actuality of Christ as our supreme Medicant.
Part Three (The Jesus Prayer) possesses a comprehensive colloquy on the Prayer of the Heart. Spiritual Alchemy begins this exposition with some historical framework before then discussing the myriad benefits of reciting the Jesus Prayer. Focus then turns to setting up a daily Jesus Prayer practice in exquisitely detailed fashion while elaborating on our ultimate aim of cleansing the mind via the Jesus Prayer and then inciting its descent into, and purification of, the heart it is Spiritual Alchemy's treatment of establishing a Jesus Prayer routine that facilitates a greater likelihood of returning to likeness of God.
Mention must also be made of the addenda contained in Spiritual Alchemy. There exists a comprehensive glossary that presents many obscure terms in a readily coherent manner. This glossary is accompanied by, among other things, a bibliography that provides easy reference to additional materials that will further the reader's journey to reunification.
It is hoped that amongst these most challenging times that Spiritual Alchemy will provide a clear understanding of our common disease; an awareness that will motivate the onset of treatment and which will lead to the transformation of interior terrain. May we ceaselessly call upon the Physician of our souls.
Anthony of the Desert
Florence, AZ (USA)