It is interesting that the roots of the 17th-century mechanistic world view can be found in ancient mystical religion. Indeed, the mechanistic view was a synthesis of two traditions of thought, both of which were based on the mystical insight that reality is timeless and changeless. One of these traditions stems from Pythagoras and Plato, who were both fascinated by the eternal truths of mathematics. In the 17th century, this evolved into a view that nature was governed by timeless ideas, proportions, principles, or laws that existed within the mind of God. This world view became dominant and, through philosophers and scientists such as Copernicus, Kepler, Descartes, Galileo and Newton, it was incorporated into the foundations of modern physics.
From Fortean Times, here is an April 2012 book review by Steve Marshall, of The Science Delusion by Rupert Sheldrake. Marshall says, “Sheldrake maintains that memories are stored somewhere outside of the brain and retrieved by morphic resonance. So could these memories – and perhaps ideas – be accessed by others? I once met the late Bob Moog at a Theremin convention and thanked the Great Man for inventing voltage-controlled synthesisers. To my surprise, he looked slightly embarrassed and shrugged: ‘Oh, it was no big deal, just an idea that was going around at that time – it was in the air. Lots of other people must have had the same idea, but I was just lucky that I was able to do something with it.’ Most creative people have experienced the zeitgeist at some time or other; had Sheldrake, I inquired, ever known any materialist scientists to complain of falling victim to it?”
The uninitiated might not expect a blog called Bookslut, with a feature called The Indie Heartthrob Interview Series, to feature such books as Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung (W.W. Norton & Company) by Arthur L. Miller and Naming Infinity: A True Story of Religious Mysticism and Mathematical Creativity (Belknap Press), by Loren Graham and Jean-Michel Kantor.
Several of my short stories, as well as my upcoming novel, Tamper, explore the intersection between science and spirituality, and the two books mentioned above will be the next two books I read.
The Alchemy Website was created by Adam McLean, a well known authority on and enthusiast for alchemical texts and symbolism, the editor and publisher of over 40 books on alchemical and Hermetic ideas. One of the many, many fascinating articles on the Alchemy Website is The Alchemical Process of Transformation, written by Nigel Hamilton in 1985. Here is an excerpt:
“Now apart from a few of the most enlightened alchemists, most practitioners in medieval times believed that they could literally transform lead into gold. The literature shows that the frustrated would-be goldmakers became entangled in a subterranean labyrinth of fantasies, hallucinations, visions, and dreams. Thus, what appeared to be the greatest mistake of the majority of “alchemical hopefuls” turned out to condition their greatest achievement: in the darkness of their blind alley the “sons of Hermes” had come to discover, through their activated imaginations, the unconscious.”
“Carl Jung discovered that many of the dreams and states of consciousness that his clients reported corresponded remarkably to the descriptions recorded in the alchemical texts. Jung subsequently felt that the knowledge of Alchemy could be used in understanding the process of psychological and spiritual transformation as a tool for use in psychotherapy.”