Trying to define Alchemy is almost impossible task taking into account the immensity of its complex content. Sometimes it seems that the only way to give a proper definition is by perceiving it on three different levels: on the practical level – as both forerunner and the successor of natural sciences; on the spiritual level – as applied system of philosophical teachings; and on the absolute level – as a “blueprint” of Creation and its workings.
As the practical discipline, Alchemy is regarded as the precursor of the modern sciences, but with the mystical or spiritual components. Numerous procedures, methods, formulas, and devices, created and developed by Alchemists, are still in use in modern chemistry, pharmacology, medicine, and physics. They are credited with the identification of many chemical elements and the formation of the basic periodic table. Their contribution to metallurgy was significant as well, particularly in developing methods associated with the use of fire to purify or change physical attributes of the metals.
Most of those interested in practical Alchemy today are pursuing research in holistic medicine and much less in the transmutation of basic metals into gold. So, in many ways, practical Alchemy today could be regarded as proto-chemistry. However, new and exiting discoveries of modern physics and Quantum theory are causing that contemporary physicists are turning more and more their attention to the Alchemical hermetic concepts of our inner world and of the universe in order to explain some puzzling aspects of their findings.
On the spiritual level, as applied philosophical concept Alchemy is a process of inner separation, transformation, and new integration. Our minds and our bodies are nothing else but vessels for purifying and transforming many levels of our consciousness. By changing our own consciousness, we change our relation to the universe. Famous Alchemist Paracelsus describes Alchemy as “the voluntary action of man in harmony with the involuntary action of nature”. We can say that Alchemy is a broad philosophical vision of the whole creation, built on the universal correspondence system. It is a mystical quest, with the main objective of liberation of the soul from the world. Alchemy teaches about unity of existence underlying mind and body, psyche and matter. It is an art of resurrection of spirit in the realm of matter that raises our consciousness about who we are, where are we coming from, and where are we going. It is a method of aligning ourselves with the whole of the creation.
On the absolute level, as a “blueprint” of Creation and its workings, it is concept rooted in the ancient Hermetic philosophy, of the complete unity and interactivity of the existence of man and the limitless realities of the vast Creation in all its perfection, beauty, and harmony. "As above so as bellow" as it was written on the Emerald Tablet......
( From "The New Alchemy" by Stevan V. Nikolic)