After some years of communication via the internet, it was our good fortune to be in a position to invite Steve Kalec to present at the Fourth International Alchemy Conference in Long Beach, 16-18 September 2011. His presentation, entitled Initiatic Potentials of Alchemical Operative Work – a certain highlight of the gathering’s ‘traditional track’ – is described as follows:
This presentation provides examples that will express the mastering of the alchemical art as being an initiatic path opening the elusive portals of realisation into the higher understanding of the alchemical process. Once realised, the initiate will see it everywhere around him as his world is transformed. In the operative laboratory work, the vigilant alchemist knows that at all times he is in his crucibles, boiling flasks and retorts as he realises the spiritual and corporeal physical forces converging through sympathetic resonance helping and exalting each other. A most wonderful magistery on the volatilisation of the fixed Tartarus salts will be expounded on with pictures depicting the steps of an accomplished work. Van Helmont’s hidden circulation and secret digestion will be discussed revealing nature’s Arcanum in the conversion of the common into the more noble, rendering the spagyric into the alchemical and glorified elixir.
For those in the unenviable position of having been unable to attend Steve’s presentation, note that it remains possible to purchase a DVD of his presentation.
During the course of the weekend, Steve mentioned that he was planning to travel to ‘the old country’ – Slovenia – in October 2011, and while there to try to source some wine stone (Tartarus Crudus or crude tartar). We remarked that the sourcing of wine stone had been discussed among participants of an alchemy seminar we attended in Nanango, Australia, almost one year prior – most in attendance reported difficulties in obtaining this salt crust, despite having approached vineyards and wineries in Australia, the United Kingdom, the U.S.A., and Spain. I neglected to mention that Steve has long moderated the Alchemystica Yahoo discussion group. His mid-October post read:
Greetings Alchemystica, My vacation in the old vine hills of Slovenia was truly enchanting. Being here I had the opportunity to go off on a hunt for some wine stones. I truly had a great time. I met a lot of people still working the wines the old ways with oak barrels, but it is getting rarer even in these parts in a Slovenian wine hills area.
My brother in law is a master wine maker and even he is slowly shifting over to stainless steel containers. They are easier to clean, maintain and handle. Oak barrels need to be very meticulously kept clean and free of our very mysterious slow fire process of alchemy called putrefaction. Barrels ruin easily due to bacteria and moisture. As you can see in this picture [below], the stainless steel containers are claiming their space. Still there are many who still use the oak barrels. The good people here collected for me five kilos in all.
I also found a lot of old cut vines stacked up as fire wood. I took the opportunity to incinerate and calcine a good amount of it and sent the ashes home via mail for further leaching work to get at the salts. While I was at this, I also used the fire to calcine two kilos of the wine salts since I was outside up on the hills in the open fresh October air. As we can see [below], lots of ashes were produced. I pretended and felt a little as the ancient alchemists did working with their makeshift athanors. It was great fun and joy. Even my walks through such meditation paths up to the wine cellars were enchanting being in the thick of nature. I was thinking how great it would be to organise a trip to here as a working get together as a group on some alchemical work such as the Tartarus Magistery some time in the future. It would make a great vacation.
All best wishes to all, Steve Kalec.
Steve’s post made for compelling reading for many in the Alchemystica discussion group. A handful of people expressed interest in the prospect of an alchemical get together revolving around the Tartarus Magistery, and there is of course a chance that something along these lines may eventuate. Steve knew of our interest in the Magistery, and generously offered to send a box of Tartarus Crudus to us here in Chiang Mai. The box – weighing in at 1.9 kg and labeled ‘Tartar Salt’ – arrived one month to the day from our initial dialogue. More posts to follow as we navigate this Magistery.
Steve Kalec’s Slovenian wine stone … far from home in Chiang Mai, Thailand (photographs copyright © Salamander and Sons):