"The mind, as well as all the metals and other elements, can be transmuted from one state to another, one condition to another, one polarity to another, from one vibration to another. True hermetic transmutation is a technique, a method, a mental art."
As previously indicated, the hermetic practitioners were the true originators of alchemy, astrology, and psychology, with Hermes the founder of these schools of thought. Modern astronomy has been derived from astrology, chemistry arose from alchemy, and mystical psychology was the forerunner to modern psychology. But it should not be supposed that the ancients were ignorant with regard to what modern schools believe to be their exclusive property. The inscriptions recorded on the stones and monuments of Egypt prove conclusively that the ancients possessed a most refined knowledge concerning astronomy. The construction of the pyramids reveals a close relationship between their design and knowledge of astronomical science.
Neither should it be supposed that they were ignorant of chemistry. Discovered fragments of old writings show that the ancients were very familiar with the chemical properties of various celestial bodies. In short, their theories regarding physics have been verified and confirmed by the latest discoveries of modern science, especially in what is called the composition of matter.
Far from ignorant of the claims of modern psychology, the Egyptians were very contemporary with it, and especially certain branches that are being ignored completely by modern schools. Such is the case with the "psychic sciences" that are so puzzling to today's psychologists, though they have finally conceded that, "after all, there must be something to it." It is certain that along with their knowledge of chemistry, astronomy, and psychology (that is, psychology as an aspect of cerebral functioning), the ancients possessed a momentous knowledge of what is called mystic psychology. And they not only possessed this as an inner knowledge, but as external knowledge also - the latter being the only one known to modern men of science. Among the many specific topics of secret knowledge known to the Hermetic practitioners was what is known as "mental transmutation", the subject we address in this chapter.
"Transmutation" is the term generally used to designate the old art of transmutation of metals, especially those of little value, into gold. The word, "transmute" means "to change the nature of a substance in such a way as to make it into a different substance. To change one thing into another." (Webster).
And in accordance with this definition, "mental transmutation" means the art of transforming, or changing the condition, quality or nature, of the mind from one condition to another. In this we can see that mental transmutation is a kind of mental chemistry, or if you prefer, a special practice of mystic psychology. But this has a much more expansive meaning than what appears at first glance. Alchemical transmutation on the mental plane is so important in its effects that it ought to be one of the most important studies for man to undertake. This is precisely the point. Let us consider why.
The first of the seven hermetic principles is that of mentalism, affirming, "EVERYTHING that exists in the universe is mental". What this means is that the only reality that exists is mental; the universe is a mental creation that exists completely within the mind. We will consider this principle in successive lessons but for the present will study its effects, and the nature of certainty.
If the universe is of a mental nature, then mental transmutation must be the art of changing or transforming the conditions of the universe, whether matter is a manifestation of energy or of mind. Therefore transmutation is nothing other than the magic of which the ancient writers spoke in their mystic works, but regarding which they gave so few practical instructions. If everything is mental, possession of the skills to transmute mental conditions makes the practitioner both guide and controller of material conditions as well as mental functions.
It is very certain that nobody, except the most advanced mentalists and alchemists, has attained the degree of power necessary to control the most dense physical conditions, such as the elements of nature, the production and ceasing of the tempests, producing and stopping earthquakes, or physical phenomena of any other class. But that such adepts have existed and now exist is a matter that no occultist, of whatever school, doubts. The best instructors assure their pupils that the Masters exist, because personal experiences have justified their belief.
These Masters don't make public exhibitions of their powers, but on the contrary, keep to themselves so that they are able to act and work on the path of realization effectively. We mention their existence here only to call to your attention that their powers are entirely mental, and that their operations are mental transmutation of the highest order. It is of this mentalism that "The Kybalion" says, "The Universe is a mental creation".
However, the students and hermetic practitioners of lower degrees than the Initiate Masters and Instructors are also able to act and work freely on the mental plane. All that we call "psychic phenomena, mental creating, mentalism, etc." is mental transmutation because the same phenomenon takes place regardless of the name it is given.
Someone who practices mental transmutation works on that plane, transforming conditions and mental states in agreement with more or less effective formulas. The various "treatments, affirmations, autosuggestions, etc." of the mentalist schools are nothing other than the same formulas (very often imperfect and empiric) of the hermetic art. Most of those who practice them are ignorant when compared with the old Masters in that they do not possess the basic knowledge on which their operation is founded.
Not only can one's own mental states can be transmuted according to the hermetic methods, this can also be done to others. Indeed, we all experience mental transformations of various kinds unconsciously. Generally these actions are unconscious, though someone who is knowledgeable about the governing laws and principles can do them deliberately if the effected person is ignorant of the methods for protecting themselves from such actions.
Many skilled mentalists know that material conditions depend on the minds of others, and can be transmuted, or changed, in accordance with a person's desires to change conditions in their lives. This is so commonly known today that we don't find it necessary to discuss it in detail. Our purpose is only to show the action of this hermetic principle that is covertly used in several ways, both for good and ill, because the energy can be employed in both ways, in accordance with the hermetic principle of polarity.
In this work we will define the basic principles upon which mental transmutation is founded, doing so in such a way that all who study it can understand the application of the laws. Possessing in this way the master key, they will be able to open the many doors of the principle of polarity.
We will proceed to consider the first of the seven hermetic principles, that of mentalism, which explains and develops the axiom that EVERYTHING is mental, that the Universe is a mental creation, in accordance with the words of "The Kybalion".
This principle needs to be studied carefully because it is in fact the foundation of the whole Hermetic Philosophy and hermetic art of mental transmutation.