I was entranced by this slightly set honey I found in a piece of loose comb from the beehive this week. It shows the hexagonal comb form so well, and each piece has slightly crystallised to the texture of Edinburgh rock. The taste of this honey is beautiful – blossom, flowers, the taste of summer, none the worse for having sat in the bees’ store cupboard all winter. Honey lasts, it does not ‘go off’. They found honey in pyramids when they opened Egyptian tombs.
This is the first clue to alchemical gold. It describes something which is eternal. Lasting. Something which will not tarnish. This is why we use gold for wedding rings. It is a symbol of that which will not spoil. This is obviously very different from most earthly things, which do in the end spoil, go off, pass away. So here is the interesting juxtaposition – how and where do you find the eternal in the ephemeral? When you hit that point – you have gold. This is what the alchemists were talking about.
It is also precious. To produce one jar of honey (a usual sized, one pound jar) the bees must visit 2 million flowers. That means they must fly 55,000 miles. One teaspoon of honey is the entire life’s work of twelve sister worker bees.
Think about this – the beauty of flowers transforms in to the sweetness of honey. Here is another feature of the alchemical gold – it is achieved through transformation. It also has the power to transform. Here in the analogy with honey we have to drop through to a deeper level to get this – sweetness is the transformative medium here – sweetness is felt in the heart. When you transform your bitterness to sweetness, and learn the mechanism for doing this in your heart – when you do this then not only is your own being transformed but you can become an agent for transformation. That is alchemical gold.