Alchemy Zines by Brian Cotnoir
Zines by renowned author, alchemist and award-winning filmmaker Brian Cotnoir.
Alchemy and Music: Sound, Text and Vision
An initial look at some of the points of contact between alchemy and music. Common to both, at heart, is the view that the Cosmos (and all within) arises and moves in proportion and harmony. In understanding this deep interplay both alchemy and music work with their respective elements to make change in the world and to assist and guide in the soul’s ascent to the One.
Taking primary sources as entry points into this question, Greek harmonics, alchemical theory, theurgic practices, the intersection of the Elements, Planets, Pitch, and Vowels are explored. The point of this all is to identify a basis for a music to provoke profound change in this practice of ascent.
Included in this zine are instruction on how to make and use a monochord, a philosophical instrument.
Dream: the Lunar Realm of Alchemy
Is a collection of quotes, primary sources, notes, and random comments regarding the role of dream and vision in alchemical practice. Alchemy, most broadly defined, is the art and science of bringing something to its final completion — completion in the sense of a finished work of art.
Included is the essay “…saying these things I went to sleep…” It first appeared in “Brooklyn Rail” June 2014.
On Alchemy and the Symbolics of Color
Alchemical practice entails physical laboratory work with minerals and metals as well as a more Neo-Platonic meditative practice concerning the ascent of the soul and union with the One.
Color is used to express the processes and stages in both of these aspects. This zine, working with the idea that a symbolics is “contained within sensory images,” looks at how our experience of color arises. It begins with the cosmos and alchemical theory and moves to the physics and biology of color and color vision, early theories of color perception, psychology, and spiritual frameworks.
By no means exhaustive, the zine is a source, a collection of trail heads into the question of how to create a symbolics of color.
ΝΟΤΕ: This is Not a color symbol codebook.
On Alchemy and the Timing of Things
This zine is a meditation on time and its relation to alchemy and by extension any creative act. Through a collection of primary sources, quotes, etc, Kronos (linear chronological time) and Kairos (the “now” that opens onto eternity) are explored in light of practice. Several timing systems are presented and included is a centerfold Lord of the Hours Time Snail. A very useful tool for determining planetary hours.
On the Animation of Statues
Is a collection of quotes, primary sources, notes and comments on the late-antiquity practice of “ensouling” statues in order to commune with the gods. Drawing from Iamblichus, Proclus, Greek Magical Papyri, Corpus Hermeticum, hymns, poetry and music, although the practice is never explicitly described, a hazy outline emerges. One thing, the composition of statues and talismans is, like alchemy, a hieratic art.
Included is a translation Michal Psellos’ Epistle 187 a text on the animation of statues.
On the Homunculus
The Homunculus (Latin for "little man"). An artificial, created “rational animal,” or human being that, according to Paracelsus, “has all the limbs and features of a child born of woman, except much smaller.” This ‘zine is a collection of excerpts from a range of texts and images, from Aristotle to the 17th century, dealing with the generation of life both natural and artificial. Included are translations from The Book of the Cow, and Jabir ibn Hayyan’s Book of the Concentration. This small work is more or less a little reader on the homunculus.
On the Mystic Magick Talismanic Alchemical Practice of Zine Making
This zine is a description of alchemical practice through the making of zines. Alchemy is the art and science of bringing something to its final perfection or completion. And, being perfected, can in turn perfect. It is about making change in the world for the betterment of the world and the soul. You know, like Marx said, “the philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.”
The Alchemical Wedding
The Alchemical Wedding, or the union of opposites, is the sought after moment, the turning point in the process to perfection. This is often depicted as a King and Queen in sexual union, or as a “Rebis,” a hermaphroditic being with two heads. This zine looks at this union in relation to ideas of perfection, the “place” of this union, and ideas of perfectibility through human action both on an inner personal level and in the social political sphere.
The Golem and How It Came to Be
A golem is a man of clay brought to life through the power of the word – the written word. Of all the legends and stories of golems, perhaps the most famous is the story of Rabbi Loew and the Golem of Prague. Rabbi Loew, as the story goes, in the 16thcentury during the reign of Rudolph II, in Prague using secret practices from the kabbalah, brought to life a clay man to defend against anti-Semitic attacks. This story has resonated for generations and has been retold many times in a variety of media. What truths are there in this story, how did this Golem come to be? This zine looks into the mystical practices of Judaism that are at the heart of the legends and examines how this story evolved over time and was re-told in a variety of media, such as Paul Wegener’s silent film Der Golem, the play The Golem by Leivick and Julien Duvivier’s 1936 Le Golemfilmed in Prague and in the Altneu synagogue. Included in the zine are some of the earliest legends and stories of the golem. Most notably, translated here for the first time, is Franz Klutschak’s 1841 Der Golam Des Rabbi Löw, one of the earliest versions of the Rabbi Loew and Golem story.
The Monochord is not a musical instrument but a philosophical instrument used by Pythagoras, Euclid, Quintilianus, Harry Partch, etc. to explore the underlying structure of the cosmos through the study of Harmonics. This little zine provides an overview of the theories but as important it provides instructions on building a monochord and some exercises and charts with which to begin study and practice.
NOTE: The contents of this little zine are in the Alchemy and Music zine. That is, the monochord related material was pulled out of that zine and put into one risograph single sheet print. It’s for those who might not want all the esoteric stuff and just want to work with a monochord. It’s cute too.
Prelude to A Hymn To Hekate
Based on key phrases from the Chaldean Oracles, a journey after death guided by Hekate, goddess of the crossroads is imagined.This zine is part one of a two part zine. It is the Prelude to a forth-coming zine on alchemy and music Hymn to Hekate which will explore music as a means of ascent.
The Hieratic Art of The Alchemy of Talismans
The Hieratic Art, or Priestly Art, is the art of composition for affecting change in the world. The composition is of symbols. These may be material things, images, words, letters, or elements. The Hieratic Art is also concerned with the ascent of the soul to the one, the divine, as is alchemy. Starting from first principles this zine explores this non-discursive way of thinking, speaking, writing in affecting change. The aim of all art.
De Sorore Mystica
De Sorore Mystica or "On the Sister Mystics", is an exploration of partnership in mystic, spiritual, alchemical, and/or artistic practice. More than a collaboration, the soror mystica is found throughout alchemical literature . First coined apparently by C.G. Jung in his alchemical writings, this partnership is more than the psychic projections of the alchemist.
This zine puts Jung’s psychological concept aside and looks at actual alchemical partnerships, from the Alexandrian alchemists Zosimos and Theosebia to the 17th century mystics Jane Lead and John Pordage, and considers the other meanings and possibilities that arise. And, from this, sketch an outline of the distinguishing features of this relationship towards a definition. Also considered in this zine are the relationships of Leonora Carrington, tantra, mirror neurons, the golem, Atalanta Fugiens, and a couple of recipes.