Featured art by Sophie Adams
Avery Hopkins of Kymia Arts is among the finest examples of the old esoteric axiom, “When the pupil is ready, the master arrives.”
A dedicated researcher and practitioner of alchemy for well over a decade, Hopkins’ work has culminated in Kymia Arts, a purveyor of fine alchemical elixirs, metallic oils, and animal essences with the potential for astounding health benefits in body, mind and soul.
“Kymia Arts was created about four years ago,” Hopkins explains. “People were really interested in my research and [lab practices], so I decided to… focus full-time on my alchemy research and practice. I want people to understand it, participate in it, practice it, and work with it.”
Hopkins got his start in the art world, studying to become a painter. Midway through his studies, however, he grew disillusioned by his Christian faith and took up a study of the sciences. While illuminating, hard science provided only material answers to what were fundamentally spiritual questions. Following the path of the seeker, Hopkins dedicated himself to a study of the world’s religions and philosophies. This study eventually led him to the discovery of alchemy.
“After I went through [the first book I read on alchemy],” Hopkins reminisces of his earliest experiences, “I could see that everything I had ever been interested in or had studied… seemed to be woven together at one focal point which was called alchemy. But I didn’t understand alchemy at all, I just recognized that it was the central factor and that the Truth would most likely be in there.”
Hopkins followed that labyrinth to the very center, where he discovered an indestructible truth: alchemy is alive and real in the modern world. He has brought back his discoveries to share with the world at large through his brand Kymia Arts. The site is a veritable library of alchemical wisdom, featuring volumes of free material on the alchemical art written by Hopkins himself. But it also functions as a medical apothecary where you can purchase his arcane creations, such as metallic oils, animal spagyrics, and plant medicines—which have all demonstrated significant healing potential.
Speaking with Hopkins is to catch a glimpse of an adept in the midst of the Great Work. If you aren’t paying close attention, you stand the chance of missing vital information that may take lifetimes before you hear again. But dial in your focus and you will flow with a master of the art, receiving volumes of sage wisdom that you will spend those same lifetimes unpacking.
Below are three brief lessons in alchemy from Hopkins.
What is Alchemy?
Hopkins defines alchemy as the study and understanding of the relationship between consciousness and matter.
His research has led him far beyond the armchair and into direct contact with the fundamental compounds of existence: sulphur, mercury and salt.
“Alchemy has its principal philosophies behind it,” expounds Hopkins, “[and] the principles come down to three: sulfur, mercury and salt. These are code words for the soul, the spirit and the body. Alchemists throughout all of time have declared that every form of matter—whether it was material or immaterial—is made out of these same three things. Every rock, every plant, every animal, every thought, every star, every sensation can be split into these three principles: the soul, the spirit and the body.”
Paramount to the study of alchemy is the axiom “as above, so below,” derived from the Emerald Tablets of Hermes. This has its corollary in the similar axiom “as within, so without.” This principle is known as the Law of Correspondence, or the doctrine of signatures.
“Everything that is out there in the world is reflective of what is inside of you,” Hopkins elucidates. “[It’s] going on in your mind and your body. Everything corresponds. Everything is related and stitched together. And everything comes down to one central point, which they called the prima materia or the first matter.”
Practical alchemy takes you into the laboratory to directly work with the three principles of alchemy.
“You’re taking the material and you’re splitting it into its three principles,” Hopkins explains. “You end up with an oil, a liquor and a salt—with nothing left over. The oil corresponds to the soul, the liquor corresponds to the spirit, and the salt corresponds to the body… When you end up with these things, what you have are medicines.”
These medicines have less in common with the industrial pharmaceuticals of the modern medical establishment. They are more aligned with the mysterious Soma of ancient India, which promises immortality and union with the divine. This is a ride to transcendence that takes you far beyond the comforts of the armchair to a direct communion with source.
“Alchemists believe that the oil of anything was its soul,” explains Hopkins, “and its soul was synonymous with its consciousness, [which] was found to be the central factor of everything that existed—it was the prima materia. When you consume an oil, they believe you are consuming the consciousness, or the source, of that thing. You are going into a state of communion where your consciousness communed with the consciousness of the material. It was teaching you and strengthening you, and also providing you with access to source.”
These oils are like the commands of the operating systems of consciousness and matter. They directly affect the endocrine system, producing physiological and psychological effects. Some act like stimulants, others as sedatives. Consuming with them is like hacking the code of consciousness. They work with you to co-create a new experience of reality.
“The practical aspect of alchemy is like the keys to the physical world,” explains Hopkins. “It allows you to open and close doors of perception, and its very very powerful when used appropriately.”
The Alchemical Laboratory
Foundational to these operations and discoveries is the laboratory.
“[The lab] is kind of a sacred space,” explains Hopkins, “I can even be totally honest in saying that I have a hard time sharing that space with other people, because it is where I go to explore myself and explore nature. You kind of find yourself in these meditative zones while working. You’re just more aware and more conscious of what you are doing, so you’re creating more of a refined product. The lab is interesting… it really embodies and encompasses everything.”
Yet there is a darker inherent to lab work that may go unnoticed in a private zendo, but is no less present. Something must be sacrificed when peeling away the skins of truth to gain an understanding of reality.
“I also view [the lab] as a torture chamber,” Hopkins points out. “If you take the alchemical philosophy seriously—that everything in life is imbued with soul and spirit or mind and consciousness—then that means that you are basically killing all of these products to relieve them of their soul. You’re destroying plants—you’re killing them—and you’re capturing spirits in a bottle. Genies in a bottle, or souls in a bottle.”
And while Hopkins has had to face the deadly truth of his operations, it has imbued him with a profound respect for life.
“It’s hard to think about killing a stone when you submit it to an acid bath,” explains Hopkins. “But when I do these things I feel the pain that that thing feels. It’s really hard and really destructive, and you know that you’re doing it for a good cause and with righteous reasoning but it still can be hard to take life over and over again. I think that’s something that most people don’t recognize within the alchemical art… you’re basically taking the role of an undertaker where you’re just wiping out everything you can imagine that is false. It can be pretty tough.”
The alchemist experiences an internal death similar to that of their materials, clearing away the dross of the ego. In the pursuit of wisdom, the fool must slain.
“The products that you’re creating in the lab [are] going to help you be more self-reflective,” Hopkins elaborates, “be more consciousness and see aspects of ego or delusion within yourself.”
“The truth hurts, you know?” he bluntly points out. “But you’ve got to face it. And when you face it, you overcome it… you are free from those shackles of limitation.”
The Age of Aquarius
As the 21st century unfolds, the precession of the equinoxes will slowly begin shifting humankind into the Age of Aquarius. Far from being a New Age fantasy, the Age of Aquarius is an actual stellar event that will have profound effects on the affairs of humankind. Beyond the love and light fabrications, the Age of Aquarius will be a difficult while illuminating time. Aquarius, the sign of the innovator, demands that we take personal responsibility before we can push past the boundaries of the unknown and take control of ourselves; and its ruler, Saturn, is a harsh taskmaster who rewards those that dedicate themselves through hard work and disciplined action rather than free love and self-expression.
Hopkins sees this as a fertile time for the alchemical resurgence.
“There’s infinite possibility there,” Hopkins says. “Everything that’s going on out there in the stars, all these different rotations and equinoxes or whatever—all of that stuff affect[s] what is going on internally. When you change internally, your external world will also change.”
“Alchemy’s place in the future is basically teaching people how to drive the vehicle of their mind,” he continues. “If you can drive that vehicle, then you can navigate this illusionary dream world of experience and you can create and destroy at your will. And it is totally possible and capable.”
What Hopkins has found is that alchemy is a great ocean feeding the rivers that have defined civilization—and the key to a civilization built upon personal responsibility requires that we delve deep into this ocean to search for the treasures submerged within.
“Every spiritual path teaches that you are the way, you are the truth, you are the light,” he goes on. “We’re all connected to this one thing. We all have this divine spark within us. And when you function from that place you are a creator. Alchemy is basically the knobs and levers of how to do that. It’s the greatest key, in my opinion.”
The alchemical resurgence and magical revival entwine around the modern soul like the serpents of the caduceus. Armchair heroics are long past expiration, for the spirit of the age calls for direct experience. The lectern of the professor and the feet of the guru no longer serve the needs of the modern mind—true learning must take place in the body. The legacy that Avery Hopkins has built with Kymia Arts is a panacea for the malady of modernity, for it allows us to see beyond the idol on the altar and behold the divinity to which it points.