Alchemy, broadly speaking is the process of taking something, or multiple somethings, and transforming it, or them, into something else of a higher value. In this case, the text is teaching the reader how to take their experiences: the ups and downs of their lives, victories, traumas, and patterns adopted from society and their ancestors, and turn these events into spiritual evolution.
Like recycling plastic bottles and turning them into a purse or a home, the process of internal alchemy can allow one’s history to become one’s greatest asset and a springboard for living an embodied, present, and aware life.
Our modern world is fueled by alchemy. However, the fossil fuels, industrial agriculture, financial institutions, military complexes, pharmaceutical concoctions, and labor markets are based around external alchemy.
These scientific manipulations of matter produce tremendous outputs, but their advancements have outpaced the growth of the spiritual nature of the participants. It seems that when technology and intellect grow without spirit and heart, the output of the alchemical processes stray far from the natural order.
Legend states that the alchemists of olden times could only succeed in turning lead into gold when their internal alchemy practice was of a high order. Chasing external results without doing the inner work often led to disaster. For example, ingesting attempts at the pill of immortality caused individuals to feel the effects of being high, only to crash back down.In their quest to find this feeling and continue to reach these artificially-achieved high states, many overdosed and died from the experimental compounds. The reader can decide for themselves if there are parallels between these experiments of old and the modern quest for more and more by our societies.