Money Messiah part II
Exploring the evolutionary significance of money, and consciousness
Satoshi the Alchemist
If all this sounds strange to you (as it does to me), you may be interested in knowing that many before us have encountered and wrestled with very similar ideas.
For example, such a proposition, that discovering and engaging with an ‘incorruptible’ substance could somehow reveal and instantiate a fundamental ‘ordering truth’, in the same manner as did ‘Christ’ (or any other ‘Messiah’ character), is actually not new. In fact, it was the primary pursuit of the ‘Alchemists’ for millennia.
Contrary to common perception, the alchemists were not simply a bunch of medieval European pre-chemists, greedily seeking riches through the transformation of ‘base metals’ into gold. ‘Alchemy’ was a diverse system of philosophy, ritual, history and proto-scientific experimentation, which was practiced in ancient China, India, Egypt, Europe, the Muslim world, and likely elsewhere.
Far from some kind of ‘get rich quick’ scheme, by and large the pursuits of the alchemists were of a much more ‘spiritual’ nature.
“Alchemy — considered most generally as the precursor of modern chemistry — was in fact a twenty-centuries-long endeavour to understand the ‘transformations of matter’. The alchemical matter, however, was not the matter of modern science — logically enough, as the ancient alchemist practiced in the absence of the presumptions and tools of modern science. It was a substance more like Tao — ‘that which produced or constituted the flux of being’; something more like ‘information’ in the modern sense.”
Georg von Welling, a notable alchemical writer from the 16th century, elaborates:
“That our intentions are not directed towards teaching anyone how to make gold, but towards something much higher, namely how nature may be seen and recognized as coming from God, and God in nature.”
While a number of interpretations and proposed etymologies exist, a common definition of Alchemy reinforces this view, by describing it as ‘the process of transmutation, by which to fuse or reunite with the divine or original form.’
To the alchemists, gold represented a ‘pristine’ state of matter, and the act of taking relatively ‘imperfect’ matter, and speeding up the natural processes of nature (which were seen as perfecting all things with sufficient time), by refining it and eliminating its ‘corruptive’ influences, was tantamount to doing the same for the ‘self’.
The alchemists interpreted reality as having a fractal-like structure, and that therefore truths revealed in the microcosm, could be applied to the macrocosm, and visa versa.
As a result, and as man is inextricably a part of nature, ‘purifying nature’- accelerating the ‘perfection of matter’-necessitated, and even unavoidably facilitated, the ‘purification’ of oneself.
Mircea Eliade, a Romanian philosopher and religious historian, expands:
“We should not forget that the transmutation of metals into gold also has a spiritual aspect; gold being the imperial metal, ‘perfect’, freed from impurities, the alchemical operation must seek to imitate the perfection of nature which is, in the final instance, its absolution and its liberty… Since alchemical processes play out their part in the very body of the adept, the perfectibility and transmutation of metals correspond to the perfection and transmutation of men.”
Here again, subject and object are not seen as exclusively separate, but rather consisting of a relationship of the (potentially) utmost meaning, and, if constituted properly, cultivating both immense value, and profound transformation.
As a result, it was in ‘matter’ which the alchemists searched for a closer relationship with a ‘fundamental’ ordering principle or truth — a closer relationship with ‘god’.
Unsurprisingly, this was not always a popular or socially-sanctioned pursuit.
“The alchemists were searching for a method to redeem corruption. They applied their fantastical reasoning to redemption of corrupt matter, which seems absurd from the modern viewpoint. However, experience of the physical world had been formally damned by the church — for reasons which had their own logic — and the lost value this experience represented stood therefore in dire need of redemption. The search for lost value led the alchemists deep into consideration of the nature of corruption, or limitation, and past that, into its transformation, and redemption. Their devoted concentration upon the nature of this problem set in motion fantasies associated with the archetype of the way, which always emerges of its own accord, when individuals face their limitations and come into contact with the unknown. And it must be understood: although the alchemists conflated ‘the psyche’ and ‘objective reality’, their conflation was meaningful. The alchemist did ‘redeem’ himself by studying the ‘redemptive’ transformations of matter — most simply, because exploration ‘releases’ information that can be used to construct personality; more complexly, because the act of voluntary exploration, outside the domain allowed by tradition, constitutes identification with the creative hero.”
This form of identification often ran counter to the cultural belief systems of the time.
“Alchemy was a living myth: the myth of the individual man as redeemer. Organized Christianity had ‘sterilized itself’, so to speak, by insisting on the worship of some external truth as the means to salvation. The alchemists (re)discovered the error of this presumption, and came to realize that identification with the redeemer was in fact necessary, and acted out, rather than believed, in some abstract sense. This meant: to say that Christ was ‘the greatest man in history’ — a combination of the divine mortal — was not sufficient expression of faith. Sufficient expression meant the attempt to live out the myth of the hero, within the confines of individual personality — to voluntarily shoulder the cross of existence, to ‘unite the opposites’ within a single breast, and to serve as active conscious mediator between the eternal generative forces of known and unknown.”
In this way, the alchemists’ pursuits both sought, and elicited, the emergence of the spirit of the regenerative hero.
“The final value, the goal of the pursuit of the alchemists, is discovery and embodiment of the meaning of life itself: integrated subjective being actively expressing its nature through manipulation of the possibilities inherent in the material / unknown world. This final goal is the production of an integrated intrapsychic condition — identical to that of the mythological hero — ‘acted out’ in a world regarded as equivalent to the self. Production of this condition — the Lapis Philosophorum — constitutes the ‘antidote’ for the ‘corruption of the world’…The Lapis is ‘agent of transformation,’ equivalent to the mythological redemptive hero — able to turn ‘base metals into gold’. It is, as such, something more valuable than gold — just as the hero is more valuable than any of his concrete productions.”
The alchemists were, in effect, those who identified the ‘corrupted’ state of man, rejected the culture which such corruption produced, and sought in themselves, and in the world, the redemptive spirit.
“The essential message of alchemy is that individual rejection of tyranny, voluntary pursuit of the unknown and terrifying — predicated upon faith in the ideal — may engender an individual transformation so overwhelming that its equivalent can only be found in the most profound of religious myths.”
What the alchemists were pursuing, the so-called ‘incorruptible substance’, was in fact that which represented the principles by which reality could be most fruitfully engaged — that is, that which best mediated, or most balanced, the forces of chaos and order. It was the same as pursuing the principles of Christ (or other central archetypal heroes), just in different form, and by other means.
“The alchemists believed that perfection was characterized by a state of unity, in which all ‘competing opposites’ were united…The incorporation of all competing states of motivation into a single hierarchy of value presupposes recognition of all diverse (painful, uncomfortable, difficult to manage) desires, and the ‘forging’ of an agreement between them. This can be most accurately viewed as a potentially ‘redemptive’ expansion of self-consciousness.”
A supra-hierarchy, instantiated through the most ‘truthful’ principles, which best organizes all states of motivation into an maximally harmonious whole, to provide pristine signals for the construction of a consciousness that may, as a result, most capably pursue what is of the utmost value and meaning.
This was alchemical ‘perfection’, and precisely the description of an incorruptible money — of bitcoin.
In Part 13, we will look at the personal transformations experienced by Bitcoiners through the prism of alchemy…
Thank you for reading ✌🏻